Monday, September 15, 2014

ELECTION DISTRICTS: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE



Election day approaches and lists are being drawn of key districts to watch.



The Herald-Leader focuses on 8 districts whose outcome could change who controls the Kentucky House. 5 of the 8 have had their district lines redrawn.

Cn/2 politics focuses on 10..and 5 of these have had their lines redrawn.

In both cases, the Democrats who control the House redrew lines for their advantage. (Had the GOP been in control, based on past history in almost every state, they would have redrawn lines to favor themselves.)

This is NOT the way government should be run.  Some states, 16 I think, have been smart enough to shift the responsibility for redrawing district lines after each census to a bi-partisan group (if not non-partisan.) In most cases it’s an independent commission composed of  specialists in population studies, geography, political science—often from state universities—as well as officials of both parties. Sometimes the legislatures can overturn those lines..by a super majority..and recourse can be had to the courts.

Kentucky needs to adopt such a system..and soon..long before the next census is held and this gerrymandering begins again. The presents lines were delayed this cycle because the first set of lines didn’t pass muster in the courts.

And it’s not just the states. The “gridlock” of Washington can fairly be traced to a GOP strategy  (not that the Dems would have been  different) of gerrymandering Southern states (especially Texas where the top GOP official responsible was convicted of violating the law and N.C. where new district lines were only as wide as the interstate highway they followed, and key state Florida, where the lines got redone just weeks before their most recent election.)

Not a way to run a railroad..or a nation that prides itself on democracy.  This is  not democracy. Only such minor issues  as war and taxes and health care, and new highways, small stuff like that, hangs on those votes.

I hope the presidents of UK and UL, which have faculties that study this situation, may become “pro-active”  (and pro-democracy) and suggest a way out of Kentucky’s current mess..it’s long, long overdue.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, September 8, 2014

THE DISPPEARANCE OF STAMPING GROUND


Over the weekend I drove up to Owenton to meet some friends. My usual route is from Lexington to Stamping Ground, having picked up one of my favorite scenic roads, Ky 227 at the historic Great Crossing.  (Those 2 towns get their names from herds of buffalo which swarmed over Kentucky in the 18 and 19th centuries!)

I have been on that road a half down times in recent years and thought I had the route down pat. I always take along the latest KY highway map, but this time, to be safe, I added a KY Atlas and Gazetteer from the well known map maker, DeLorme, which has GPS points.  (No GPS in my 20 year old wagon.)

I never got there.

Never found Great Crossing, and Stamping Ground must have disappeared.

I turned off the 460 by-pass onto 460 proper, and just a few miles down the road found new road construction right where the turn to Great Crossing should be (and I was certain it was.) But, there were NO signs..and I mean NO signs (except one saying..”Parents---school entrance”)

I drove on, happy for the new black top, but after a mile or so, realized something was wrong. I should have been at the Crossing soon, and even the Ground shortly..but no. Good blacktop; NO signs.

Miles later, when a pickup truck came out of a side road I signaled the driver to talk to me and asked the way to Stamping Ground. He told me I would see a “T” road a mile or so away, take a right and in time I would be in Stamping Ground. I thanked him and went on. (Once in Greater Downtown Metropolitan Stamping Ground I would have no trouble picking up 227 to Owenton.)

Maybe he meant left; whatever, miles later I was on Ky 32.

Once in a while..a great while..there would be a sign that assured me this was still 32..I route I had not travelled before (and not as scenic as 227.)

OK, enough of the jokes about men will never stop and ask directions.  A young man stopped his mowing to my simple plea “(I’m lost, How do I get to Owenton?”) He had never heard of Owenton (Was I that far back in the boonies? But he whipped out a smart phone, pulled up a map ,found Owenton and said to continue on and I would eventually come to I-75 at Sadieville. (I was going East away from Owenton, but at least I knew that exit and how to go from there.)

More driving on 32..No vehicles passed, very few signs to even acknowledge 32 let alone any side roads, which would have helped me using my Atlas. I even stopped a kind lady, when I was about to make a mistake and turn off 32 onto a side road because it was marked..and 32 wasn’t.

Finally, high enough ground near 75..and the sight of a cell tower allowed me to call and tell my friends I would be late.

Up 75 to the 144 exit, then west on 330..also new blacktop. So new in fact the sides had caved away in only a dozen places on my 22 mile journey to Owenton, during which not a single car was going in my direction (which was good because the entire distance has two yellow stripes down the center making passing illegal.)

30 Minutes late I arrived for dinner and made my apologies.

Now I appreciate road repairs and new blacktop as much as anyone..but DOT folks..more signs please. Just one sign at 460 could have saved me. Signs along 32 would have helped very much—and there’s a road that truly needs new blacktop.

Just look up the word “meander” in any dictionary. It says..”See KY route 32”

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, September 1, 2014

IT’s ALL “P.R.” : Personal Ruminations


“Paper or plastic?”  California is ending the use of one time only plastic sacks within a year---and Kentucky should do likewise.  Maybe then Kroger will have enough paper sacks to go around.  (Boxers or briefs?  Boxers, not that you asked!)



Why is it not possible for anchors and reporters on the same newscast to pronounce the same word the same way?  Amirli is an Iraqi town in the news, only 6 letters, but the weekend anchor pronounced it one way, the field reporter another. And, by the way, there is—as a famous book on foreign names once said..”no ‘cow’ in Moscow” It’s “MOSS-ko”, not that everyone at CBS agrees.



How did that wall sized-mural downtown ever get painted over? New owner said he just didn’t understand what it was and why there.  Meadow muffins. But to prevent such art atrocities from happening in the future, LexArts should publish a list of the 16 public murals we supposedly  have, their locations, and get signs on them as quickly as possible. This one disappeared, in part, because there was only an “oral promise” with the original businessman involved.



Has the Weather Channel lost its mission?  Do we really want to see more shows such as “Fat Guys in the Woods?” (NO!) And the original two minutes of weather “on the eights” has now been cut down to one minute, and when slobby male shows are on, often disappears entirely.



Thank you Morgan & Morgan..if we must have lawyer ads, and D. Isaacs has lost his once  funny, appealing ads with catchy music to become…The Hammer!,  then this family firms’ ads are the best we see locally. (Is her name really Ultima?)



The UK moving in seemed worse than ever last week..I saw lines of vehicles from Lime all the way down Euclid to High and south  to as far as the eye could see..well beyond Cassidy School..at one point. There’s gotta be a better way.



I believe young people do need instructions in handling firm arms..at some point. That point is NOT giving a 9 year old an Uzi, whether there is an instructor nearby or not. (BTW, he’s  now dead due to this error in judgment.) 40 years ago when I came here, I remember seeing my first ad for an Uzi in an eastern Kentucky paper. It was sold by The Family Store.



Goodbye Diana Sawyer. You made us proud that this Kentucky native could do so well on network tv. We’re sorry you’ve left the ABC world news daily cast, but we do look forward to your special reports from time to time.

Monday, August 25, 2014

MARTYRS TO THE INFORMATION AGE



The recent brutal death of journalist James Foley, beheaded by ISIS, brings into focus something reporters have known for years, but not done a very good job of educating the rest of us.

It’s a brutal world out there for reporters in many places.  Right now, Syria is the most dangerous country on earth..for reporters trying to get their stories out.

A few years ago it was Iraq, before that the Balkans. As the news changes, so does the place of greatest danger..but the risks of being a journalist never cease. 13 have been killed, so far, next door in Mexico, most covering the drug wars there.

Since 1982 when the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) began keeping records, over 1070 reporters, photographers, etc have been killed. These are “confirmed” KIAs..so many others are merely “missing”, 39 in fact, with over 20 in Syria this year alone.

And that doesn’t count the more than 200 in prisons and jails all over the globe.

In 2009 and 2012 74 journalists died worldwide practicing their profession…for you. These were  the worse years ever. Not that 2013 was much better; only 70 died then.

As freedom is not free (ask any Gold Star family),  freedom of the press is not free. People die supporting it, practicing it, improving it.

The Information Age comes with risks and cost, not the least of which was so dramatically and tragically demonstrated by James Foley.

Once in a while, please remember him…and the many others..as you watch, read, or listen.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 18, 2014

MEDIA MATTERS



There are days when I wonder if any of our local reporters ever paid attention in 6th grade English class (or any other English class for that matter.)

The grammar mistakes they make seem to be getting worse and more numerous. (Let me concentrate on TV, my field, but let me assure you these pop up on radio and in our newspapers as well.)

Here’s the most numerous one:  “like I said earlier…like the mayor said.” No, it’s “AS I said earlier.” You can like me on Facebook, but for comparisons, etc..it’s “as.”

Or “he left the burning car quick.” No, adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs. “He left the burning car quickly.”

Or  “When me and my photographer arrived”.  Me arrived? Try “when my photographer and I arrived…”

Other mistakes involved bad journalism: the station that, while promoting its lottery report has the anchor say..”you can’t win if you don’t play.”  That’s a commercial for the lottery, and reporters/anchors aren’t supposed to do commercials---for sponsors or not.

On the constant failure to use alleged properly..as in convicting someone by your story..”the twin brothers had porn in their home.”  No, they had alleged porn in their home.” Or “Police say they had…” It is so easy to forget the presumption of innocence and local reports do it often.

Our lack of national and world news on local newscasts is another matter, not grammatical but perhaps far more important.

When Robin Williams died, his death not known in time to make the 6:30pm network news, our 10pm Fox newscast had a perfect chance to tell its viewers this “new” news, but instead led with a story about a S. Kentucky couple charged with keeping a too dirty home for their kids..one I saw on 27 at noon.

If you want to get the world (and US national)  news before bed, watch the BBC news on KET at 11pm. It's excellent.

Of course, NPR news is there much of the time; hopefully their people don’t make the simple mistakes of our local folks outlined above.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 11, 2014

WHEREFORE IF YOU HAVE DONE THIS TO MY BRETHREN:



Yazidis???

Who knew???

But this ancient, pre-Christian religious group has been much in the news this past week..as the terrible Islamic State army tore thru more of Iraq, threatening this sect with death on a craggy mountaintop.

President Obama did the right thing, the thing Americans have always done to help those in dire distress. He ordered food and water sent to them, as he ordered airstrikes on the fanatical group besieging them. (Already several thousand Yazidis have made it safely out of harm’s way.)

And the president used the presence of our consulate and 150 military “advisers” in Irbil, a major Kurdish town the Islamic army threatens, as justification. But “no boots on the ground.”

I hope it works out that way. The lessons from Iraq (and Afghanistan and Viet nam) are not hopeful. And, BTW, those military advisers are trained, with weapons, and if fired upon will fire back..actually, aren’t they “boots on the ground?”

It isn’t much of a stretch to point out it was President Eisenhower’s sending of “military advisers” to Saigon, after the French were defeated and left, that began our long running escalation of the war in 'Nam…and our defeat. We’ve never learned the lessons of Vietnam, and so have been destined to repeat our mistakes.

And yet, could we have done anything else but help these poor people..in any way we can? No, and it looks like the Brits and others will soon be sending aid as well.

The Yazidis.

Who knew???

THEREFORE HAVE YOU DONE IT UNTO ME.

I'm just sayin'...