Sunday, February 24, 2008

Reginald the Navigator

Reginald the Navigator

Last Christmas I bought a GPS navigation system for my wife’s new car. She had wanting one of these for some time, claiming we always get lost on every trip. That could be debated. There is a difference between being lost and just taking the more scenic route.

The voice on our machine is male, so we named him Reginald. We soon found out that not only does Reginald have no sense of humor, but that we fear he will soon be a basket case due to his frustration with our inclination not to follow his directions. Do you suppose electronic devices can suffer a stroke?

Our first encounter with his frustration came on a trip from our home in Waynesville, in the mountains of North Carolina, to Chapel Hill. I had left Reginald on his default settings, so he assumed we should always take the Interstate Highways. Little could he know that in the past 22 years, we have made this same trip approximately 50 times. We know every thing there is to know about I-40 between here and Chapel Hill. To be very frank, we are just bored to death with this stretch of highway, and get off from it at every opportunity.

On this day, Reginald did just fine at first. As I backed out from the garage, I keyed in the addresses for my daughter in Chapel Hill. Reginald did great. He directed me through several twists and turns until he got me on I-40 at Exit 27. For the next hour or so, he was quiet as we buzzed east on I-40. At Statesville, some 130 miles into the trip, I ruined his day. By that time I was already bored with I-40, and decided to take the lesser byway. I exited and got on US 70, which took us through a part of Statesville I had not seen. Reginald almost went berserk! At every intersection he insisted I turn left, to return to his beloved I-40. I defiantly refused, determined to make my own path. From Statesville east, US 70 is parallel to I-40. At every opportunity, Reginald directed me to turn left and enter I-40. And at each command, I refused, as it was my intention to drive US 70 to Mocksville. There we stopped for lunch, hoping that poor Reginald could take this opportunity to rest and settle his nerves. Such was not to be the case.

As we continued on US 64, he was quiet. But, east of Lexington, he awoke with a vengeance! As we neared I-85 coming up from Charlotte, he insisted we get on it, with the idea of going 20 some miles out of our way to rejoin I-40 in Greensboro. I definitely refused again. A few miles further, we met another road going north, and again he insisted we take it. I was adamant! No deviations. On the west side of Asheboro, he had his last chance. US 220, going due north towards Greensboro, could take us back to I-40. I was steadfast. No unnecessary detours. I wonder if such devices really have a personality. I was sure I detected a note of total frustration and hysteria as he directed me to take the last possible way to return to I-40. I was afraid he was going to suffer a stroke.

Reginald was quiet as we traversed through Ramsuer, Siler City and east towards Pittsboro. But, as we approached Pittsboro, he woke up. Being the good fellow that he is, he found my current location (by some form of black magic) and was now resigned to take me to my destination, even if it was not the routing he preferred. He correctly directed me to exit onto US 15-501 north. Apparently he had given up on his plan to return me to I-40, and was now reconciled to the fact that I was not going to follow his earnest directions. As we approached Chapel Hill, he directed me through several turns, and took me to my daughter’s driveway. Stout fellow, even if we did not agree on the route!

The following day Reginald really proved his capabilities. I had a doctor’s appointment on the north side of Durham, in an area where I had never been. I had no idea how to find the office. I downloaded maps from Map Quest, but I know from experience that these are not always accurate. However, I decided that with the maps, and the help from Reginald, I could probably find the place. I did leave a little early just in case I had problems. As I pulled out of my daughter’s driveway, I keyed in the address for the Doctor. Reginald performed superbly! He directed me through several turns and some on and off ramps. When he announced, rather pompously, I thought, “You have arrived at your destination,” I was at the entrance to the parking lot.

How far have we come? Fifteen years ago, GPS were just coming on the market. Go back another thirty years, when I was riding a Navy destroyer, we sweated over star sights and loran for navigation. Now, anyone can have their own private navigator in a small electronic box that will fit in a shirt pocket. Will wonders never cease?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday

It’s Super Tuesday all through the land

National media says that it will be grand.

Just follow their lead

they’ll tell us how to think

As they make their sage predictions

with a subtle nod and wink.

Talking heads, empty thoughts, just puppets on a string

Prognosticating, prophesying, on each and every thing.

They tell us what is going to be

and how the vote will go.

Unless, of course, the polls are wrong

and then they just don’t know.

Hours and hours every day they ramble, rant and rave

They tell us what we’re supposed to do, and how we should behave.

Follow our lead, here’s how to act

no worry, bother or fuss.

But if the vote should go astray

you surely can’t blame us.

We read the polls, we poked and pried, we questioned everyone

We even have opinions from the chauffeur’s younger son.

His daddy drives the candidate

to every campaign stop.

He surely has some real hot news

that no one else can top.

Where is the scoop, the nugget, the juicy little bit

Something that our network has, but no one else has hit?

It may be true, it could be false

we can’t take time to test.

We’ll just put it on the air

and hope it’s for the best.

If we should be mistaken, in a statement strong

We’ll just ignore the error, for we cannot be wrong.

Pretend we did not say to you

which candidate will win.

Our experts have informed us

that 4 plus 5 is ten.

Should candidate X say black is white, and candidate Y says no

We’ll love that little argument, for we can make it grow.

We’ll twist their words, and mispronounce

whatever they might say.

To keep our job requires we have

new stories every day.

Although we may not always, be exactly true

We are National Media, no one would dare to sue.

So all day long we’ll tell you,

almost man to man

The things you have already heard,

and will shortly hear again..

Wouldn’t it be a strange little quirk

If these reporters really had to work?

If they dug a ditch, built a house

saw how real workers fare.

It would do a lot for Global Warming

by eliminating much hot air.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Roger Clemmons Hearing

I wasted several hours today listening to all this blather. What a circus this was! Supposedly this was a "fact-finding" hearing. HAH! It was soon apparent that the members of the committee already had their minds made up, and it soon became a witch hunt. One sad aspect of all this is that many of the members are lawyers. Yet, the way they acted would never be tolerated in any courtroom.

The first question one must ask is this: What the hell is Congress doing involved in this? This is not a question of national interest.
This is baseball, for God's sake! Congress, get back to work and do something useful.

The most sickening thing occurred at the end of the hearing. Most on the members rushed out to the hall so they could be interviewed by the lamestream media. And there we heard: "The people on the Republican (Democratic) side asked all the wrong question." What the hell does partisan politics have to do with a fact-finding hearing?

I am more and more convinced that most members of our congress should be dismissed and told to go find a job. They all seem to be interested only in furthering their own interests, or their parties position. The facts, the truth, the good of the country just does not enter into their thinking.

This is all indicative of the absurb position of the reactionary (read Talk Show wing) of the Republican Party. These idiots are threatening to vote for a "liberal" Democrat because the apparent Republican candidate has dared to work with the Democrats to get useful bills passed.

Maybe we really need a quiet revolution.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dumb national media

I don't know which group is the dumbest, or the most irritating: political or sport analysts? They are both heartily despised by any half-intelligent human being.

This past week, we have had an oversupply of both. Not only do we have the primaries, but we also have the super bowl. We have had 24/7 of talk, talk, talk on both subjects. Can you think of anything on either subject that hasn't been said many, many times.

Both breeds are alike. They are all looking for a nugget, something, anything that no one else has. It makes no difference if the so-called news item is factual, truthful or even possible. The reporters jump on it like a starving wolf on a bone. If their earth-shaking discovery proves to be wrong, as is too often the case, do they apologize? Not on your life! They just go looking for something else.

It's very obvious that both breeds are "scoop" driven. Get it before anyone else has it! In the old days, a scoop might be something to generate an entra edition of a paper, generating lots of sales. That is no longer important, but the the reporters cannot ignore their genealogy. They have to get something unique first.

Even better than a scoop is a controversy. It is often sickening to watch how reporters try mightily to generate a controversy. They are like starving dogs, hanging on to every word, licking their chops, hoping for a misplaced word, a facial expression, a sneeze at the wrong time-anything they can use to generate the illusion of a controversy. Why? Because it makes their job easier. They can get several stories from a simple misunderstanding.

After watching these examples of how reporters/analysts twist words and actions around to suit their needs, it is easy to recommend they should be strung up by their thumbs, on the town square, at high noon.

And they wonder why no one pays attention to them.