Thursday, March 19, 2009

Postcards from the Twitscape

Jon Stewart came up with the above term while skewering CNBC and Jim Cramer last week. The more I get back into my life in Grand Junction, the more enamored I am of a simpler, quieter existence.

This is especially in light of Pittsburgh columnist Reg Henry’s assertions yesterday (re-printed in the Sentinel) that Twitter and services like it are:
"..the symptom of a bigger, more fundamental problem. Our national motto is fast becoming: 'Attention Deficit Disorder -- It's Not Just for Kids Anymore.' Everything in the culture is now designed to cultivate minds like butterflies that flit from one subject to another and always alight softly."
I resemble these remarks, but luckily have not seen fit to embrace services like Twitter. Others seem to like it, but like many other things related to computers and the Internet, too much of my time is taken up with things related to these devices, and there are too many pieces of information that have the potential to subdivide my attention span worse than an Orchard Mesa annexation.

Here are a few things that caught a fragment of that attention span over the last few days:

A Noteworthy Irishman

The national media made note of several things going on at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day, from President Obama receiving a bowl of shamrocks from the Irish Prime Minister to the White House fountains spouting green water.

One item that wasn’t covered very much, however, was the President’s appointment of Dan Rooney to be U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. I had to look in a Pittsburgh paper for that. Mr. Rooney is the second-generation patriarch of the family that owns the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Rooney family is one of the most revered owners in the NFL, all the way back to when Dan was helping his father Art Rooney Sr. build the Steeler dynasty of the 70’s. The Rooneys are held in high regard for the way they have run their team and cultivated players. They know what they’re looking for, and have a demonstrated formula for success; witness only three head coaches in 40 years, with each of them winning at least one Super Bowl.

They have also let players seeking what might be perceived as unreasonable money go seek their fortunes elsewhere, and have continued to win as a team despite the loss of supposedly 'name' talent. Examples include Gary Anderson, Joey Porter, and perhaps most notably, Plaxico Burress.

The bottom line here is that the Rooneys know how to run their business, and know how to manage people. I think that these are ideal intangible qualities that will help make Ambassador Rooney's tenure a productive and beneficial one.

Congratulations, Dan. Maybe you can get U2 to play the Burgh more often. And maybe a few shows at Red Rocks while you're at it.

Marjorie Moves On

Peripatetic freelance writer, journalist, and Free Press columnist Marjorie Asturias made me drop my mail when I read her farewell column in Wednesday's edition. She and her husband are moving back to Texas to be closer to family.

Marjorie's life experiences as expressed through her columns, along with her blogs on everything from running to Francophilia, conveyed a richness of living that I could only hope to scratch the surface of. What a dynamo.

Marjorie, here's to safe travels for you and B., and a continued great gift for conveying the world to others through your extraordinary talent and joie de vivre. Keep in touch with us when you can; one can only hope that the powerful analysis and insight that you lent to western Colorado will only become more sharpened when the subject is Texas. I'll keep your blog in the sidebar for when you get back to it.

So Does Mills

Godspeed to District 51 Superintendent Tim Mills and his wife, Gail, as they move on to another opportunity in Oregon. Their youngest is slated to graduate this year (I think), so it's probably the best time for them to do this.

My disagreements with the District lie more with operating inefficiencies at the school level than with the broad brushstrokes of running such an enterprise. From my vantage point, Tim did as good a job of running the District as anyone similarly equipped could have. Best wishes for a fresh start. Enjoy the Northwest.

It Ain't Heavy, It's My Newspaper

I read Denny Herzog's letter to Sentinel readers while I was out of town, and the first thing that I was concerned about was imagining that Gary Harmon and Rick Wagner were lobbying hard to make sure that one of the 5 comic strips cut from the print edition was Doonesbury. Fortunately, cooler (and smarter) heads probably prevailed.

It would seem that the paper is not only thinner, but that the production runs on the non-peak days (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) have been reduced as well. Driving home from work in the afternoon I see a lot of empty vending boxes.

A lot of print content is making its' way to the ever-expanding Internet edition of the paper, perhaps signaling not only the Sentinel's attempts to spruce up the siding and trim in advance of the Open House, but to also acknowledge that the future of mass communication lies not in the clack of the multi-color printing press, but the click of the netbook and the elegant silence of the phone-based browser.

With the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week, and their announcement of a strictly web-based presence, the future of information delivery is being hastened by the loss of those tradition-based inefficiencies that can no longer be sustained in the current economy. The P-I's excellent investigative reporter Andrew Schneider now has his own blog, and I've linked to it in the sidebar.

Natasha Richardson

One of my co-workers said it best; "when it's your time, it's your time". Some Canadian media were trying to make a point about the EMS personnel that responded just after her fall being turned away, but it was also reported that she was the one who refused treatment. So it goes.
The larger debate brewing is about requiring skiers to wear helmets. That'll be interesting.

I remember Ms. Richardson best for her title role in the film version of one of the 1990's better novels, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Not the greatest movie, but she was understated and radiant at the same time.

Ms. Richardson seemed to be more at home on the stage, and I would have loved to have seen her in the planned revival of A Little Night Music alongside her mother, Vanessa Redgrave.

Like so many things, tragically not to be. Send in the clowns.

Time to get away from the machine, and enjoy this springlike evening with a small fire and warm conversation with my sweetie, too far away. Enjoy your vernal equinox.

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