Friday, July 11, 2008

Missing the point

The story of the much publicized bashing of a motorist by a bicycle rider misses a glaringly obvious point. (Even the Oregonian’s folo story today overlooked it.)

Last Sunday’s nasty incident, in which a drunk bicyclist went ballistic and turned his bike into an assault weapon against a motorist, was wrongly framed by everyone — by-standers, bicyclists, those reporting the incident to police and the media.

What happened shouldn’t have been crammed into the stereotypical story about bicyclists versus motorists. It was about drunk drivers, never mind what kind of vehicles they were using, versus sober ones, never mind what kind of vehicles they were driving.

The driver (of what happened to be a car) was angered when another driver (of what happened to be a bike) ran a stop sign. The sober driver headed off after the drunk to chew him out for reckless driving.

Sure, the fact that the recklessness was by a bike rider may have emboldened the car driver to pursue. But what was he to do? There was no license number to report to authorities. In the name of vehicular equality, perhaps there should be.

And sure, the motorist, a bike rider himself when not in his Suburu, wanted to let the offender know he was giving all bike riders a bad name.

Then the bicyclist went into a rage, and the entire scene changed.

Forget bikes versus cars. The story's lead should have been about alcohol and a drunk driver.

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Will Columbia Sportswear win the Tour de France?

Corporate sponsors love it when the line between them and the athletes they back is blurred.

Headlines like the one today on the Oregonian’s sports page are making Columbia Sportswear swoon.

Kirchen puts Columbia in yellow jersey”

How’s that?

Kim Kirchen rides for Team Columbia, sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, headquartered here.

Lest we forget: As the leader of the tour, Kirchen, NOT Columbia Sportswear, gets to wear the yellow jersey. Oh, and Kirchen is from Luxembourg, which is not sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, Nike or Adidas and is NOT part of Oregon … at least the last time I checked.

What Columbia Sportswear gets to do is pay thousands (millions?) of dollars to sponsor “Team Columbia.”

In return, Columbia gets publicity. Lots and lots of publicity, especially if "Team Columbia" does well.

As the Oregonian sports page story notes, Columbia Sportswear’s CEO is ecstatic because the team has “drawn mentions in 2,600 news stories worldwide …” (Someone is actually paid to tally mentions… 2597, 2598, 2599 etc.). The story adds that the Columbia tally does not include another plus — mentions in blog entries.

Including, alas, this one.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

No, I can’t

When Sho Dozono was running for mayor, I noted that his campaign slogan, “Sho gets it. Sho gets it done,” left a lot to be desired. Starting with the meaning of “it.”

As the Obama campaign has gone wobbly on us in recent days, it is now clear that its two campaign slogans, “Change we can believe in” and “Yes, we can!” are equally vapid.

What, precisely is this “change we can believe in”? How can “we” believe in it if we don’t know what it is?

And “Yes, we can!” begs the question: Can what?

Like many others, I’m finding Obama’s changes tough to believe in. Wiretapping? Revisiting his Iraq pull-out deadline?

I’m not part of any “we” that believes in those changes.

In short — no, I can’t!

That said, given the alternative, yes, I still can vote for Obama — but cautiously and without the enthusiasm I felt when I voted in the Oregon primary. Ironically and sadly, I’m feeling about Obama the way I felt about Hillary (and Bill) Clinton. It has to do with trust.

Voting for Obama won’t be the first time I’ve voted skeptically for a presidential candidate.

But I was expecting more from Obama. Something like … a change I could believe in.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

City needs to crackdown harder on jobdango

So the City of Portland, invoking its anti-graffiti ordinance, is suing Jobdango, the job placement outfit, for its chalk scrawlings on downtown sidewalks.

Why doesn’t the city also file suit for the company’s illegally putting its signs on utility poles and planting them along the public right-of-way?

Jobdango also has strewn I-5 with its signs between here and Salem.

As I found out, complaining to the Jobdango about its corporate litter, earns you only insults. The CEO told me, “Don’t you have better things to do? Like get a job” and then hung up.

Jobdango and 1-800-GOT-JUNK are two of the worst offenders and should be fined for all their repeated infractions. Illegal signage is clearly part of their marketing strategies.

Interestingly enough, if you go to the Jobdango web site page describing their signage, the company says not one word about its illegal signs. They must know they are indefensible — and illegal.

I urge readers to join me and a few others in taking these signs down wherever they appear. (I have probably gathered 100 in the past three or four years).

And of course, refuse to do business with these renegade firms, and spread the word.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Common Sense versus Corporate Nonsense

So Big Pharma is going to cash in on kids with high “bad” cholesterol. And many physicians, rather than addressing the root of the problem (poor diet, lack of exercise, screen addiction) are simply going to write expensive prescriptions.

Many more apparently are balking at the recent recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The critics fear that prescribing the drugs will undercut addressing the root problems.

And then there is the little matter of possible side effects.

The next thing you know we will “solving” the energy crisis by drilling off-shore again, even though the president has admitted that the real problem is what he calls “oil addiction.”

Follow the bouncing analogy, George. Break the addiction; don’t feed it. Demand that Detroit retool (NOW!) and produce energy efficient vehicles (tomorrow). Who knows, we might even save the planet in the process.

The only problem corporations have with do-it-ourselves solutions is that they can’t figure out how to turn a buck on them.

That’s because common sense is free. You just have to use it.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Front page dots ripe for connecting

Before they disappear into the fog of old news, here are three front-page headlines from the Wednesday, July 2nd issue of The New York Times.

Taken separately, they inform in a sporadic way. Taken together, they cast a laser-bright light on these times.

On the top right of the page:



Directly beneath it:

Stock Exchange’s Former Chief
Wins Court Battle to Keep Pay.

(The “pay” in question was $187.5 million paid to Richard A. Grasso.)

And then over to the left on the bottom of the page, this:

Helmsley, Dogs’ Best Friend,
Left Them Up to $8 Billion

(The Helmsley in question is the late hotelier, real estate magnate and convicted tax-evader Leona Helmsley. Helmsley left her own dog, "Trouble" by name, $12 million. It was Helmsley who famously said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.")

There you have it. A journalistic snapshot of our American society on one summer’s day in 2008, the eighth year of the reign of George W. Bush.

I suppose I could throw into the mix one other story from the front page, but it is a dot harder to connect. Upper left on the page:



Military Used ’57 Study
of Steps That Led to
False Confessions

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Silver Falls Spangled, Part II

This continues yesteday's post of photos from Silver Falls State Park, which we visited on the Fourth of July.