29 August 2008

But Before I Go...

So now it turns. The twist is in. Whichever party elects their candidate this November, it's History In The Making. I'm a little a-political at this point in my life, but I'm curious to see what happens. So many were so proud to possibly have the first African American in the Oval Office.

Now there's the choice of having a woman in the West Wing. It will be interesting to see which group holds more power.

Barack Obama is a voice for change, but the nature of the word "Minority" means strictly speaking, he's got fewer of "his people" behind him.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, just announced as the GOP Vice Presidential running-mate to John McCain, is very much the political newcomer, so she could bring new ideas, but she might also fall in line with the Republican Party Line. Well, as much as anyone campaigning with Mr. McCain can, anyway.

But she's not a minority. In fact, "her people," if you look at it from that standpoint, represent half of the voters in the country.

So... the playing field levels just a tiny bit more. Interesting. But... so are hurricanes. ha!

Gone for the "Holiday" Weekend...

Hey, I'm almost out of here. I just want to throw down on the pilates mat for 45 minutes, then grab a quick shower and I'm gone.

I'm off to Hurricane Gustav with ABC News. Please tune in and watch on your local stations. My coverage starts Saturday evening from New Orleans. Then again LIVE on Sunday morning. I had such a good time covering the floods, but this will be a different kind of assignment for me. I'm excited, but... curious, too.

I've never been to a Hurricane. I've always wanted to go. I joke with the bosses at ABC that "I pay extra for hurricane coverage!"

So I'm off. With a shoulder bag crammed full of waders, full rain gear, boots, two hats (Neither of which "Shame on you!" have the ABC logo on them. Oh well.) and notebooks that will have to be stuffed into ziplog bags before they can be used. They do take me to such glamorous locations around the globe, don't you agree?

I've got a bag of raw almonds, a box of nutrition bars, some "meat stix" (scary!) and my beloved Crystal Lite with caffeine.

Please pray for those poor people in New Orleans. And me. Because if you know me, you know what I'm praying for.

Have a great Labor Day weekend! I'll be laboring.

19 August 2008

What Are You Watching?

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, we're still getting our news from television. Whew! That's great news and very comforting to some of us.

The Pew Research Center's Biennial News Consumption Survey was released over the weekend andit shows that Americans still turn to traditional platforms, television is included in there, for their news. Yeah, yeah, they're going to the net. But a whopping 46 percent of those polled, the largest block, still head for the boob tube at some poit during the day.

Sadly, the survey also found this group skews the oldest, with a median age of 52 and is also the least affluent, with 43 percent unemployed. Aren't you glad you don't live in that neighborhood.

But here's an eye opener, the viewers of "fake news" like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the best informed of the group still glued to the tube. Scratch your head over that one, if you will.

They're far more informed than those who tune in for "real news" programs such as Larry King Live, the O'Reilly Factor and Lou Dobbs.

The survey also classifies news consumers in four categories: Traditionalist, Integrator, Netnewser or Disengaged. If you'd like to check your status, here's a web address:


18 August 2008

Can You Hear the Crowd Cheering?

It was great, wasn't it? For just a moment, to turn away from the problems, the worries, the troubles in all our lives and watch him be happy. It was great.

Michael Phelps won his 8th gold medal at the Beijing Olympics this weekend. And even in victory, it was truly great to watch him.

His final medal at this Olympics (it's tricky to state this correctly, because barring unforeseen circumstances, he'll be at the London Olympics in 2012) was part of a relay and my personal favorite part was immediately after the win when he turned to a teammate and shouted "Thank you!"

Not "Hurray! I've done it!" Not "Hurray, we're number 1!" But simply, "Thank you." They say in the Olympic Village, he's just "one of the guys." He eats where the rest of them eat and sleeps where the rest of them sleep. He hangs out and sees a few sights. And now he's being called the Greatest Olympian of All Time.

The previous guy with that title was Mark Spitz who won 7 medals during his run. Early last week, he was spotted making international news by complaining that "nobody invited" him to the Chinese Olympics. He said he didn't think it was right for him to just show up and sit in the stands. He expected to be invited, attended to, cosseted and fussed over. No fuss? No show. That's what he said.

When he was an Olympian, he was famously standoffish. He didn't eat the same things as the rest. He rarely spoke to the other athletes. He was focused, driven, and legendary for being a loner.

So now comes Michael Phelps, the 23 year old from Baltimore, who says he wants to soak up every second of this experience.

Saturday night at the Baltimore Ravens game in Phelps hometown, stadium officials told the crowd that they could stay after and watch him compete for that final medal on the jumbotron. They figured maybe 4000 would stay. At the end of the game, there was a delay but then the relay race began. And at the end, 20,000 Baltimore fans stood, screaming and cheering their homeboy on to his greatest win ever.

And at the end, Michael Phelps turned and shouted "thank you" to one teammate after another. But nobody invited Mark Spitz to Beijing? Hmmm, imagine that.

13 August 2008

Didn't We Want to Believe?

Another Presidential Campaign... another candidate with a secret. It's sad, because it seems we wanted to like him, didn't we?

I mean, the story was floating around for months. The National Enquirer, that pillar of great journalism, was running with it since February. But non-tabloid journalists, real journalists, we ignored it. Nobody wanted to look, and maybe that had to do with the exact instances. Who wants to prove the guy is cheating on his terminally ill wife who may take a turn for the worse when she sees it on the evening news? Heaven help Elizabeth Edwards because that's exactly what happened.

John Edwards was clean cut and good looking in an All-American boy kind of way. He was well educated, seemed to be hard working and family oriented. He stood by his wife as she battled cancer. They lost a child together a dozen years back. They were sweethearts, right? And he stayed in the race with her full support when it became clear that her fight wasn't going to be won.

Now we find out that he had an affair. He was involved with 40-something Rielle Hunter who gave birth to a child out of wedlock. (For a good laugh and dose of the reality of life in Los Angeles, please read this article: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-oe-miller10-2008aug10,0,6388212.story )

And his best defense? Edwards says that is not his baby (does anyone else hear Michael Jackson singing "Billy Jean" in the background whenever they read about this?) and he gave an exclusive interview to ABC's Bob Woodruff in which he made a point of telling his interviewer that the relationship was only "when his wife’s cancer was in remission.”

(And let's give credit where credit is due. Edwards' media handlers gave ABC the interview on the day of Opening Ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics. And oddly, the evening's Ceremonies drew the largest audience ever for Olympic starts: 34 Million Americans. Can you say "blip" for Nightline where ABC ran its Edwards' exclusive? Those are some smart media folk!)

Like a lot of Americans, I'm not sure that a spouse getting a medical "all clear" makes it acceptable to cheat. I haven't checked the Marital Rules Handbook in awhile but last time I looked, "okay to cheat" wasn't listed anywhere in there.

But I do see that since her giving him the high sign to go ahead with a Presidential Campaign while she was facing life threatening (and we now know incurable) cancer, he probably would want us to understand clearly that this peccadillo didn't happen when she was suffering. I mean, if using your wife's health in the public eye to your benefit is important, then certainly it would be best to offer such clarity when staging your indiscretions.

And yeah, I loaded those pictures in together on purpose. They seem to have more and more in common these days. What can I say? Anyway, you were already thinking it.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I flipped John Edwards' picture so that it would face the opposite direction of Bill Clinton's photograph. It's less accurate, technically, but I thought it looked better that way. Also, I am not the father of Rielle Hunter's baby.)

09 August 2008

In Memoriam...

I have spent the day feeling the loss of Bernie Mac, a comic who made me laugh at black people and white people and not feel one bit bad about either. I liked the way his mind worked. Too many comics with or without color make us feel bad. Bernie could say the ugly things but make them seem amusing and like we were all working on them. Together.

He died this morning in Chicago of complications of pneumonia. He's survived by his wife (and high school sweetheart) of more than 20 years, his daughter and a granddaughter.

08 August 2008

Have you noticed that the further we get into our computer-driven lives, the more alone we are? I saw a photo on a social networking site today. You know the kind of website I'm talking about. It's a place you go to socialize so that you don't have to actually go out to interact with others.

Look at this fellow above and to the right. This is one of three pictures he had online. He was all alone in them. And in this photo, he was not only alone but he took it himself. It's hard to hide that when you're home and alone, taking pictures of yourself, using your cellphone in the bathroom. I'm pretty sure that 30 years ago, someone would have told this fellow that such activities can make a guy go blind or at the very least, grow hair on his palms.

This next guy is an example of the very thing I saw on that social networking site. The photograph was titled "cheesy self-portrait. You have one, too. You know you do!" And clearly, this guy did. He took it himself. That's obvious from the angle of his shoulder toward the camera. Well, and the look on his face.

Do you think he would trust anyone else to take this picture with that grin? It's a look of "Hi there... I'm pretending I'm Joe Cool!" I sorta like the look on his face. He's a cute man, right? Clearly, he's willing to take a few risks by posting this photograph at all. He's comfortable in his skin.

But what I find sad is that fewer and fewer of us are willing to smile like that to our friends. We have to be alone to take such pictures. Where are our friends when we are taking pictures? It seems like more and more, we are alone in our photographs and taking them ourselves.

So here we are in 2008, alone in our homes, taking pictures late into the night, posting them on the internet for others to see. And why? In hopes of attracting friends. But who wants to hang out with people who spend all their time alone?

To me, it seems like we're making more of a statement about ourselves by our status in photographs than what we're seen doing. It seems a little sad. I wonder that that we're all alone, lonely, and using cell phones to take pictures in our bathroom mirrors.

And in the end we look at the camera and purse our lips as if to kiss someone. But like usual, no one else is there.

06 August 2008

Nature vs. Nurture?

Most of you know I'm fascinated by what people eat, right? I love to cook but more than that, I love to poke my nose into what people are eating that day. I love to ask "what're you eating?" And I've been known to randomly ask friends, "what's for dinner?"

So let's delve the subject just a little. I tend to be moderate in my views about food and nutrition. I don't go for vegetarianism, although I love vegetables. Outlawing steak just seems so wrong to me. And I actually think it's sorta rude to turn up at a dinner party and presume to rule the roost on menu selections.

I am always keenly interested in the raw experience because I had dinner at a raw restaurant in Atlanta about a dozen years back. As a result, the 3 hour drive back to Knoxville took approximately 5 and a half hours and I got a lovely Tour de Force (Trust me. This is the right expression) of restrooms in every gas station and fast food concessionaire between Atlanta and Knoxville. I always wonder when someone tells me they are into raw foods because I'm curious about their digestive tract. I know it's getting a better workout than mine!

But that's ok. I've always said I prefer to eat interestingly rather than well. I'd rather eat something new and different even if it's questionable over something traditional and known to be just "okay." I'd love to try the whole dining in the raw thing again sometime. And soon.

So here comes a new report about various aspects of our diets. It's actually a regimen proposed by the Weston A. Price Foundation, which espouses a diet of primitive origins. (I've been longing to use that word, espouses.) Devised by Mr. Price himself, a Cleveland Dentist who traveled the backroads in the early part of the last century to produce writings in 1939 that he titled, "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration."

In it, Weston A. Price concludes that a diet high in the vitamins found in animal fats and untouched by "modern" innovations such as refined flour, sugar and chemically preserved foods was the key to preventing chronic disease and tooth decay.

Our dentist then takes things a few steps further than the popular high protein twin-set of the Atkins Diet Plan or the South Beach Diet. He suggests raw milk. And in a convenience store full of cookies, candy, chips, and soda pop, he would call for you to seek out the pork cracklings. You gotta like a man with the chutzpah to do that and call it "healthful." But he did.

If you saw a recent comparative study of three extremely popular nutritional plans: low fat, low carbohydrate, and Mediterranean diets, then you know what is what. Researchers found that the low fat diet could help a person lose weight. Those on the Mediterranean diet (comprised of healthy fats, fruits and vegetables) lost more. But those who followed the low carbohydrate, high protein diet plans out there lost the most and kept it off. Maybe Weston A. Price wasn't so looney after all. Maybe he was recommending pork crackling ahead of his time.

I'm still thinking about the raw milk. I'm not sure I want to keel over after consuming uncooked cow juice. But slather on the butter? You better believe I'm in!

05 August 2008

The Power of Love

Forgive me. I've been at home with a summer cold for the last several days and now I feel better. I want to giggle.

And just in time, the First Lady of France is releasing a solo album. The very thought makes me smile. It actually makes me grin from ear to ear.

France's First Lady has only been First Lady for a relatively short time. It was only last February that she surprised the world by becoming the third wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Before that, she was the Italian model who broke up Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.

And of late, she's styled herself as the French Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. She stuns diplomatic circles with her chic style. And wherever she goes, the paparazzi follow.

But she wears it well. She also wears Chanel, Gucci, and several other things well, but that's another story.

It just seems odd to me that everyone who finds themselves famous decides that they suddenly have a great creative gift. Actually, it's not her first album. She's got a couple of other albums available for purchase on iTunes, priced at an economical $9.99 each.
But this time around, the song has changed. Bruni has apparently decided that monogamy is the way to go. And that hubby Sarkozy is God's love-gift to her. Here are some of her lyrical stylings:

"I who always sought fire/I am burning for you like a pagan woman/I who made men dance/To you I give myself entirely."

And in describing her lover-man:

"my drug/More deadly than Afghan heroin/More dangerous than Colombian white."

Are we to believe these insights about the state of marriage for France's First Couple? I think it's perfectly charming that she's so in love, but looking at photographs of the two of them makes me wonder, is it that love is blind? Or that power is the greatest aphrodisiac in the world?

Mrs. Sarkozy's album is available in stores starting today. It is titled under her maiden name, "The Power of Love," by Carla Bruni. It is mostly in French, but you be the judge. And let us know how it all works out for you. I'll be sitting here smiling to myself. No hurry.

01 August 2008

The End of the Innocence

A Maryland scientist who worked on a vaccine against anthrax has committed suicide. Prosecutors say 62-year old Bruce Ivins was about to be indicted in connection with the 2001 anthrax scares in Washington DC. The government's top lawyers were considering whether to seek the death penalty in the case when Ivins apparently killed himself.

For those of us who lived in Washington during the weeks and months after September 11, 2001, this is somewhat of a relief. A former colleague and I were discussing our "day of" stories earlier this week, and it all came flooding back: the shock and numbness of that horrible day; the regular sight of troops in the Nation's Capitol thereafter, and watching our countrymen turn from a happy, relatively naive status to victims of terrorism.

Then came the anthrax attacks. The government investigator's working theory is that Ivins wanted to highlight our vulnerability. His "highlights" killed five people and further terrorized the nation. It was a lesson that cost too much.

I don't know if Bruce Ivins was responsible, but I'm sorry for his loss. I'm also sorry for the loss of innocence in a nation that quickly joined the rest of the world in its understanding of terrorism. Things that hadn't been seen on our shores suddenly became real and have never been far from our thoughts since. Ivins' death won't restore that loss or bring back those good feelings.