The News Biz

It’s nearly impossible to find unfiltered news coming from the driveby sources. The New York Times runs a story on Hillary Clinton’s emails, then the Old Gray Lady furiously backpedals from it. The Washington Post tells us that the reason that Donald Trump is surging in the polls is due to stupid, white people. So much for our vaunted “fourth estate” and its objectivity.

News isn't what it used to be.

News isn’t what it used to be.

There’s a reason why many conservatives don’t trust the media, citing its liberal bias. That suspicion of mainstream news isn’t limited entirely to those on the right, either.

My decision the past few weeks to bypass many of the mainstream sources where I’ve sought news in the past, has been a beneficial one. In fact, despite the continued protests of Hillary supporters by people that ought to know better, “educated” white people (for want of another term), about some supposed “right-wing conspiracy” against her, I’d say that much of the information I’ve been finding on the right, while slanted for sure, serves me better than the garbage being peddled from the left.

Leaving your usual corner of the interwebs, and departing from your tried-and-true circles of ideological knee-jerking is guaranteed to open you up to new and different ways of parsing the news. You might even be less impressed (bamboozled?) by candidates on the left and the right.

Thanks to Glenn Beck, I now know that Bernie Sanders lacked the good sense back in the 1980s not to put out an atrocious record (as in singing, not voting). Other non-driveby sources show Bernie to be less of a socialist, and more of a good Democrat.

Of course, both the left and right (with a few exceptions) continue to lob stones at Donald Trump, explaining away his support as simply a case of stupid (white) people.

Keep up the stellar reporting, media types.

Brighten Up

There’s no shortage of depressing topics to tackle on any given day. For whatever reason of late, the news seems worse than ever.  Even our local stories have been angling towards the negative.

I was thinking about offering my two cents worth about our “fiscally conservative” governor granting raises ranging from seven to 23 percent to a group of his administrators. Then, like nearly everyone else, I’ve gotten sucked into the Marcy’s Diner news and Facebook vortex. But alas, the thought of stirring up controversy on a perfect Friday morning during the height of Maine’s tourist season is just too freakin’ depressing.

So instead, I’m touching down today on talk about female empowerment and volunteerism. Can’t get in any trouble with that, can you? Continue reading

Parenting Skills

Whatever happened to that tried and true, time-tested axiom about children—that they were to be “seen and not heard”? Apparently, it went out the window with many other common sense conventions from yesteryear.

On Saturday, a local restaurant owner basically told two stupid parents unable to control their toddler that it wasn’t acceptable for their kid to scream and carry on for 40 minutes in her restaurant. And of course, social media—whose biggest claim to fame is that it gives a platform to dolts with opinions not warranting the light of day—has been flooded in typical lynch mob-style, with tirades from “internet moms” against her via Facebook.

Screaming kids ruin restaurant dining.

Screaming kids ruin restaurant dining.

Note to parents (yes, you doltish “internet moms”) of young children; your kids aren’t the center of my universe, especially if I’m eating in a restaurant and your kid’s acting like a brat. Address the boorish behavior like an adult, or take the kid out of the restaurant. Don’t leave it up to the owner of a busy diner to deal with your lack of parenting skills. Continue reading

The Speed of Information

Technology, despite all the tributes, alms, as well as religious devotion delivered via never-ending paeans to its superiority and ability to make us a nation better than ever before, simply enhances our downward drift. Leading the way for the obeisant is social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and who knows what else.

I have a 94-year-old man that I spend two mornings a week with. He suffers from macular degeneration and is legally blind. I read him the Wall Street Journal, and some local news from either the Bangor Daily News, or the Portland Press Herald. I then wrap up my visit with something history-related from a book we’re working our way through.

He was a successful businessman, heading up a company with more than 100 employees for more than 50 years with branches across the U.S. Like many men of his WWII generation, he cultivated a daily habit of reading America’s business paper. I mention all this to say that regularly consulting the WSJ is probably going to flavor an occasional blog post, or two. Like the following story. Or should I say, a hoax, a false flag, about Twitter. Continue reading

An Honest Conversation

So you want to talk about the road to success, eh? Seriously? Success often masquerades as Lady Luck. Finding the pathway that leads to the doorway of success isn’t simply maintaining the status quo, either.

How are you at managing adversity? Let’s talk when your prospects seem hopeless, and the light coming from the other end of the tunnel is most likely a train. That’s the kind of conversation I’m interested in having.

It’s never easy going through a rough patch. I think it becomes more difficult during these social media-influenced times, when it seems like everyone else is having a ball, and you’re sitting at home, alone, with a can of cheap beer and some second-rate movie from 1937 on the idiot box. When the losing streak stretches out for weeks and then months, being resilient is a requisite, but it sure as hell isn’t easy getting up each and every day and turning your frown into a big fat smile for the doubters to see.

And just like that, someone throws you a bone—or two—and the funk comes to an end.

Life’s funny like that.

At the Festival

I’ve probably written more about Moxie than any Mainer. I might even be approaching Frank Potter’s legendary output—who knows. Clearly, given that Mr. Potter’s Moxie canon is print-based and pre-interwebs, we know that he wasn’t Moxie blogging.

When I rewind back to 2004, the memories are still fresh of the late Sue Conroy, convincing me to take on the PR and marketing that year, joining the small band putting on the Moxie Festival. That was merely year 22 (if my Moxie math is right) of what’s now become the 33rd running of one of Maine’s, if not the nation’s, most unique and intriguing summer festivals. What began with 13 postcards and 500 people (according to one version) blossomed into a festival attracting upwards of 50,000 people to Central Maine and the sleepy town of Lisbon Falls. Continue reading

Rally Round the Hype

It’s Tuesday morning posting time, and I need a topic. I guess Bernie Sanders is as good as it gets right now.

In these late days of empire, Lady Liberty’s political process has become just as dysfunctional and corrupt as all of her other assorted accoutrements and jangling bangles. Take for instance the four-year political cycle for president—as soon as the new occupant’s wife changes the drapes at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s time to start thinking about the next election, shaking down voters for cash.

Of course, Mr. Obama can’t have a third term (thanks to Mr. Roosevelt). If he could, he’d be out doing what he does best, giving speeches and campaigning. Instead, we’re forced to endure the contrast of just plain tired,the old, and the hilarious—between Hillary, Bernie, and the ever-expanding Republican field—a full 17 months out from our next American coronation.

"Hello, Portland, Maine!!" (Troy Bennet photo/Bangor Daily News)

“Hello, Portland, Maine!!” (Troy Bennet photo/Bangor Daily News)

Continue reading

A Flag is Just a Flag

Painted-on flag; Georgetown, Maine.

Painted-on flag; Georgetown, Maine.

Flags come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Flags are imbued with symbolism and meaning, too.

Some people fly their chosen flags. Flags can be objects of veneration, instilling in some nationalistic fervor.

I’m not really much for flags, although flags painted on rocks are kind of cool.

Happy July 4th!

My Truth is Better Than Yours

Boiling every political argument down as being either conservative or liberal is a limiting critique—a binary straightjacket, so to speak. This kind of posturing has poisoned the current political well for sure.

What it’s also done very well is to create an undeserved smugness on one side, or the other. Where this smugness often gets exhibited in these heady digital days is on social media platforms—Twitter and Facebook, mainly.

Like the other day. Continue reading

Puzzle Pieces

Living in free agent nation is nothing, if not challenging. Sometimes your daily task becomes trying to find a way around those proverbial bumps in the road. Then, there are those stretches when the stars align and things magically slide into place. When that happens, you find it’s all too easy to get lulled into thinking that this could become the norm.

A project lasting six months, a regular monthly writing gig, or a grant to manage are all examples of the stability that I’m lacking at the moment.

Free agent puzzle-making.

Free agent puzzle-making.

Continue reading