Thursday, July 17

Hand-Wringing Optional -

Poynter recently reported that women still constitute only a small percentage of Op-Ed writers in the institutional American media such as newspapers.

This simply underscores the important contributions being made by independent female bloggers.

Angles and Agendas: In a past era, a senior editor might assign a reporter or news columnist to generate a new angle for a story being covered by a dozen other publications.

Today, Agendas have largely replaced Angles. And, looming heavily among those agendas, the Marketing Department has become a dominant influence.

Also weighty among the dynamics in play may be demographic trends in the region or advertising considerations.

Bunko, Babes and Basketball: This void of female news commentators may be why the ongoing Donald Sterling story has seemed to be more of an Elder Abuse and Exploitation story for me than the currently prevailing dogmatic propaganda suggests.

Can You Hear Them Now? South Florida has become the epicenter of cell phone store burglaries lately.

Not coincidentally, pervasive illiteracy in this region has necessitated a widespread dependency on oral communications culture here, making these new smart phones an expedient crutch for many.

Each One Teach One: Speaking of Literacy, word has come to us that Rachel Jeantel has achieved some level of reading and writing skills in English over the past year, having earned her high school diploma or GED with the help of lawyer Rod Vereen.

"When people see Rachel Jeantel now, I want them to say, 'Wow, there was something good that came out of something so tragic,'" Rod Vereen said.

Off The Cuff and Sneakernet: Google's Eric Schmidt has visited Cuba? I thought Americans were not allowed to visit Cuba. Anyway, I don't think the Cuban GeezerComs would buy American technology for internet connectivity even if they could because of their entrenched paranoia.

You're Nicked! When the Policewomen of Broward County cable TV series was originally aired, I wasn't able to catch it, although I don't remember why. Some repeat episodes were recently aired on the OWN channel which I was able to belatedly catch.

The series attracted a lot of criticism from Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, but I don't see anything worthwhile to be gained from criticizing the women; I believe the problem with the situation lies elsewhere.

+ Dodging thunderstorms around here.


Monday, June 30

Sidebar & Other Links -

I am updating my sidebar,
which I know I should do
more often, but better late than never . . .

In the upper section: I am replacing Martin Stabe with Jack Shafer. Stabe may have become too busy in his current professional activities to maintain his blog.

In the local section I am adding Tim Smith who writes a hyper-local blog based in Fort Lauderdale.

*  *  *  *  *
"Thanks to infamous run-ins with vulgar and sometimes violent defendants, Broward Judge John "Jay" Hurley is garnering a huge online following."

Even if you are not interested in this particular judge, some readers may find something else at this website of interest.

# Meet Bina, the Activist Android.

# Felix Dennis has passed away.


Monday, May 26

Closed System Catastrophe -

There has been a flurry of media coverage of Amanda Knox again, but it is mostly running on vapors this time. Nevertheless, there are a few points I want to address.

# Knox appeared on Cable TV with CNN's Chris Cuomo who gave her the opportunity to roll through her repertoire of emotional affectations as if she were trying on a disjointed series of blouses. Worse yet, she continued to erupt in laughter and smiles at inappropriate moments - seeing this habit for the first time can be jarring to a viewer. What's going on here?

I believe that Knox's use of the phrase "mask of an assassin" is useful in understanding these emotional affectations. I had already formed the impression from her many previous appearances that she is an emotionally disturbed person, and my impression of her in this regard has not substantially changed.

# Perhaps you can see this only in retrospect: There came a moment in the course of this unfolding crime scenario when this case went south for Knox. It was the moment when Law Enforcement initially arrived at the cottage, but they were not brought there by Knox; instead, they were summoned by someone else entirely. It was like a bolt of lightening out of the blue.

I believe that their unexpected arrival threw Knox off balance and that ever afterward, she kept trying to regain control over the situation, but to no avail.

Why couldn't she succeed?
A crime scene is not a closed system . . .

If you believe in God, it is subject to the Hand of the Almighty. If you don't believe in God, it is vulnerable to existential contingency. Even insurance companies allow for "Acts of God."

This means that there is always the possibility that a plane could crash into the building or a tornado could blow it away. Knox's imaginary closed system over which she could exercise absolute control, in effect, collapsed on top of her.

# Is there one piece of evidence that is a "clincher" here? No. The evidence in this case is a large mosaic or jigsaw puzzle.

The odd thing about this case, however, is that it is Knox herself who was the author of much of the evidence against her, and I believe it is important for the reader to understand why. Knox's persistent efforts to "regain" absolute control over a situation she believed to be a closed system impelled her to make foolish mistakes.

:: CNN: Knox and Cuomo ::


Saturday, May 17

Some Recent Media Notes -

Recently happened to catch a TV interview with Jim Born, the FDLE agent who also writes mystery adventure novels. He's got a new one coming out called Border War which he co-wrote with Lou Dobbs. It is described here by Dirk Robertson.

# Jill Abramson has been fired as the executive editor of the NY Times. She is being replaced by Dean Baquet, the newspaper's first African American top editor.

# Havana-based Blogger Yoani Sanchez is launching Cuba's first independent digital newspaper next week called 14ymedio, according to Reuters.


Monday, April 28

Dragon's Teeth -

I never watched Miami Vice when it was first broadcast on TV, but recently I discovered the series is being aired again once a week on a cable channel and I caught a couple of episodes. It holds up pretty well!

Of course, South Florida has come a long way since the debut of Crockett and Tubbs - much more of it is being paved over with concrete and equipped with hi-tech security provisions.

Still, once in a while, we have incidents
evocative of the old days . . . like this one:

The other night, a Lamborghini, which allegedly was going in excess of 100 miles per hour on the MacArthur Causeway, became involved in a crash with an SUV.

Why was the Lambo going so fast?

# Can a leaking corpse damage your condo?
Attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger responds.

# The sentencing report by Judge Nencini for
the Amanda Knox appeal situation is expected
to be issued by Wednesday.

+ I'm still experiencing some connectivity problems.


Tuesday, April 22

Transmigrating Mysteries -

Publishers are reincarnating classic
detective characters both here in the USA
and across The Pond in the UK, too, nowadays . . .

The latest news of such a reincarnation is of Albert Campion. Jake Kerridge reports that Mike Ripley has completed an Albert Campion detective manuscript. Kerridge then uses this as an opportunity to write about Margery Allingham (1904-66) and her work.

Speaking of reincarnated detectives, have you thought of any candidates to portray the new Philip Marlowe yet? How about Richard Gere?

# There's been a lot of activity in
the realm of Italian Mysteries lately.

Adam Woog's monthly column gives a thumbs-up review to the new Inspector Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon which involves antiquarian book vandalism and theft.

And Italian Noir in English: The Milano Quartet, Giorgio Scerbanenco's A Private Venus, is reviewed at NPR.

# A feature on Swedish Mystery
writer Camilla Lackberg by Paul Connolly.

# An A-Z guide to the fiction
of James Ellroy by Jim Mancall.

# Debbie Meldrum ponders which version of The Thin Man she likes more - the original novel or the movie.

# A trio of Graphic Novels is reviewed at NPR. Maureen Corrigan gives glowing praise to a couple of them. And there is a memoir about a diner in the 1970's.


Monday, April 21

Inestimable Impacts -

Before I'd heard of Harry Potter, I knew of a fictional youngster named Adrian Mole. I don't remember how I had first heard of him, but he was a delightful discovery.

Recent reports inform us that Sue Townsend, the author who created Adrian Mole, has passed away.

Years ago, while I was still living up North, I was a somewhat active member of my local small town public library. One day, about a month before Christmas, when I approached the librarian's counter, she told me about a project she wanted us participate in which was aimed at underprivileged or disadvantaged children.

She asked us to select and donate a book for an unknown child's Christmas gift, leave it in an unsealed envelope, and mark on the outside of the envelope which gender and age range the intended recipient should be.

I decided to aim a book at the most difficult category to woo as prospective readers and book lovers: young boys about eleven years old.

In order to pick out an appropriate book for this project, I traveled to a nearby bookstore, sat down on a bench inside it, and listened to a recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons over the PA system.

After brainstorming for a quarter hour or more, Adrian Mole flew into my mind and I decided he was fit for purpose. I then searched for an inexpensive paperback version of Adrian's Secret Diary, as my modest budget would allow, and followed the librarian's packaging directions.

When I brought the book in to the library to donate it, I was surprised to discover our librarian had never heard of Adrian Mole. She asked me if she could read the book  before packing it off to its next destination, and I so consented.

I regret that I was never able to follow up on the results of that project. I could only hope that whichever eleven-year-old boy received the book developed an enthusiasm for reading from the experience.

NB: I have been experiencing horrendous connection problems lately. It appears that the Clear company has merged with the Sprint company. Ever since this merger came to light recently, they have been disconnecting me frequently after I am online for only a few minutes at a time.

Then, they asked me to update something with only vague directions on how to do that. I don't think they should entrust ordinary non-geek customers to handle such technical issues on our own. As it is, I've been paying for a connection that I haven't been able to use very much lately, and I am very irked and frustrated about it.

:: Sue Townsend - Telegraph ::

:: Townsend - Mail ::