Just Above Sunset
February 5, 2006 - Those Who Forget The Past ... Might Overlook A Great Topic For Their Next Column

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World's Laziest Journalist

February 6,2006

By Bob Patterson


One of the tricks of the trade, for columnists, is to keep a stack of publications handy, and when you need a new topic, use the old "I read somewhere" trick to get into a subject that might not have occurred to the writer, if he hadn't gotten the "assist."  Not that this week is slow- the decks are awash with evaluations of the State of the Union bore-a-thon, so directing our audience's attention elsewhere seemed like a good idea.


War coverage is a topic of perennial concern.  We noticed that the October 15, 1904 issue of Collier's magazine (the special Gibson Girl issue) had photo coverage of the Sino-Japanese war featuring work done on the Soviet side of the conflict, from June 10 to 14 of that year.  It seems that their photo coverage of the Japanese point of view had arrived on the editor's desk much earlier and that Victor K. Bulla's photographs (was he "embedded"?) had to travel by train across Siberia to St. Petersburg, be developed and printed there, and then sent to New York City.  We didn't think that we could stretch that item out and get an entire column.


Next, we turned to the Sunday magazine Section from the New York Herald Tribune for October 17, 1965.  They call the magazine "New York."  There was an article, written by Frances Fitzgerald, beginning on page 7, that made this outrageous prediction - "During the next twenty years, the whole of the publishing industry is going to change.  Electronic systems will supersede the printing press with the finality that the printing press superseded the medieval manuscript."  Did that ever happen?


We asked Just Above Sunset's beloved editor and publisher, Alan Pavlik, if we should do a column extolling the joys of recently starting work on our Summer tan, and his only response was to hold up a copy of Look magazine's June 28, 1966 issue, which was entirely devoted to one topic - "California."


After last week's WLJ column appeared, we learned that the cry of "Ya-ha-who-eeee," which we erroneously attributed to a Warner Brothers cartoon character, was actually copyrighted by the Disney company and the only cartoon character who can say that is Goofy.  So if you are out for a drive and you take your car off a bluff just like in Rebel Without a Cause, please come up with an original cry and don't try using Goofy's line.


A friend, who had read last week's column, called and used some explosive phrases which might not pass inspection and scoffed at allegations that some government agencies might be listening to what he said.  They only listen to calls to and from known al Qaeda members outside the USA, right?  After he used those suspicious words, we both heard some unusual clicking noises on the line. 


Speaking of last week's column, in it we made reference to an item, the House Joint Resolution No. 24, that is designed to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution (Presidential Term Limits), and when the fact checker used the link, it worked on a computer with an old web browser and a dialup connection, but, after it was published, when he checked it on a computer with a high speed connection - it didn't work.


That reminds us, since the CJR Daily web site often chides the Mainstream Media for stories that they are missing (or underreporting), we should probably send them an email and suggest that, perhaps, Steve Lovelady should assign one of his posse to tackle the question of why is the MSM not telling the Democratic readers of their publications about House Joint Resolution 24?  Yeah, they might spoil a surprise development in the 2008 elections, but they might gain some brand loyalty from the Democrats who might, just might, mind you, want to know about that particular item, before it gets passed.


We note, with envy, that the CJR Daily web site has sent one of their reporters to Iraq to cover the war and also the reporting of that conflict.  (If they can afford that, why can't Just Above Sunset underwrite a trip to Australia by one of their columnists?)


Speaking of criticism of journalists, recently we were waiting for the start of the PBS show Washington Week in Review on a quiet Friday night.  We switched over to a wrestling program until the political analysis program started.  At nine in the evening we clicked over to the PBS channel and when that half-hour of punditry concluded, we flipped back to the coverage of the wrestling again.  What would happen, we wondered, if the reporters covering the wrestling were switched with the Washington beat folks for a week or two?


Wouldn't it be interesting to see the wrestling experts add their emotion laden delivery to coverage of political events?  It might sound something like this - "Wow!  Byron, did you see that Senator get verbally bitch slapped by the Congressman from Tippecanoe?  Let's see if he's going to take that kind of crap or retaliate."  Meanwhile the political commentators would describe the wrestling devoid of emotion while adding as much historical background information as possible.  We'd hear things like (hypothetically) - "Wow, Dave we haven't seen anyone use that version of "the sleeper hold" that effectively since Strangler Lewis invented it."  Then Dave would calmly recite a brief biography of the Wrestling pioneer. 


Maybe we should submit that suggestion in a letter to James Romenesko?  Perhaps it could be the basis of a TV reality show called "Switching Reporters," which would use a format similar to the one on the Switching Wives show?


We still needed a topic for this week, so we took a jaunt to a local thrift store to recharge our mental batteries and search for ideas.  We were almost about to leave when we spotted a large paperback book for sale.  It was titled Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (by Edward Rice) and was selling for a buck. (Richard Francis Burton was a British secret agent, linguist, explorer, translator and author and should not be confused with the actor Richard Burton, who was nominated for an Oscar seven times, but never won one.  Also, note this is not a review of that book, just a plane ole unvarnished plug for a book which we think our readers, who happen to be news junkies, might like to buy if they want some good background information on the Middle East.)


At the time Captain Burton first went to India in 1842, the various plots and spying efforts to learn what the diverse factions in a myriad of different countries intended to do, was called "the Great Game," even though there were times when thousands of soldiers might be slaughtered as a consequence.  An example would be when 16,000 people on the British side were killed while abandoning their garrison in Kabul, in late 1841.  The fellow who lived through the ordeal, Dr. William Brydonwas subjected to some intense cynicism and scorn regarding his ability to escape death, when he returned to Great Britain.


Captain Burton was able to disguise himself and attend Muslim religious ceremonies in Mecca.  He translated the literary classic Arabian Nights into English and the odds are that if you go to your local book store to get a copy, it will be a more recent edition of his work.


In addition to plenty of geographical details for folks who follow political and military developments in the Middle East, the book has some information about the local culture, customs, religions, and philosophies.


On page 124, readers will learn about the concept of Takiyyah and Burton's definition of it - "… the systematic concealment of anything that concerns their faith, history, customs, and in a word, any peculiarities the disclosure of which might be attended with unpleasant circumstances."


That makes it sound as if a Muslim who swears allegiance to the emerging Democracy movement, could, in good conscience, lie, cheat, and prevaricate in an effort to help the cause (such as his own religion) that he really wants to advance.  That makes it sound as if one of them could work for the Coalition, while secretly feeding information (such as where and when a visiting network news anchor will be traveling) to the Insurgents and not have any feelings of guilt.  Takiyyah would be (if I understand it correctly) like a born again Christian working in an abortion clinic, with the ultimate goal of seeing it closed down forever.


That in turn reminded us of another question for the Steve Lovelady posse - when ABC anchor Bob Woodruff was injured by the improvised explosive device (IED), his convoy was immediately involved in a heavy fire-fight, so how often is the use of an IED followed by an exchange of gunfire?  If it is rare (as I believe to be the case) doesn't that indicate that the likelihood of this being a deliberate ambush designed to gain maximum publicity from the death of a particular journalist?  If the use of an IUD is frequently followed by the use of rifles and machine guns, then this is just another example of shoddy conjecture.


The Just Above Sunset editor and publisher was very pleased that the Smirking Chimp website had reprinted last week's WLJ column and asked if we had any ideas about getting some more publicity.  We told him our plan.  Harry Shearer has a weekly radio show, which has a worldwide audience.  His weekly show includes a copyrighted segment titled "Apology of the Week," so we intend to steal that shtick.  Then when his lawyers send us a cease and desist order, we will comply and will also send him a very eloquent letter of apology, which he will, if he has a good appreciation for the absurd, then feature as the leadoff item in the following installment of his copyrighted feature.


In an article headlined "Washington, The Mecca of America," in the November 1927 (on page 14) issue of Country Life magazine, Miss Laura Harlan wrote - "One has only to mention the season when the Japanese Cherry Trees bloom along the Potomac, or the forest trees in Red Creek Park cloth themselves in autumn hues of gold, red, bronze, and green, as illustrations of the constantly varying beauties of Washington and its environs."  Was Miss Harlan intimating that politics had become America's religion?


Can you name a song that was sung in different movies by both John Wayne and Mick Jagger?  In The Quiet Man, John Wayne sang a song titled Wild Colonial Boy.  The disk jockey indicates that he has the Ned Kelly soundtrack album and will play the track featuring Mick Jagger singing that same song.  We'll ride out of here for this week.  Until next time, have a "Such is life!" type week.



Copyright (including logo) 2005 - Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com


The Magazines –

Collier's magazine for October 15, 1904
Collier's magazine for October 15, 1904

New York Herald Tribune Sunday October 17, 1965
New York Herald Tribune's Sunday magazine for October 17, 1965

Look magazine's June 28, 1966 California issue -
Look magazine's June 28, 1966 California issue -


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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