Just Above Sunset
April 24, 2005 - The End of Outrage?

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The new issue of Just Above Sunset was posted late last Saturday night.  Sunday morning Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, sent an email pointing out a misspelling on the home page, so I fixed that and reposted.  Is this any manner in which to spend a sunny weekend in Los Angeles – putting together, and reediting, an online virtual magazine?  Either your editor doesn’t have a life, or still is in the second week of a really appalling head cold.  Best guess?  Forty percent of the former, and sixty percent of the latter. [More corrections were be posted late Sunday evening. One should not be obsessive, but one should be correct.  And one should always have Kleenex at hand.]

But the last issue, while deeply steeped in politics and what would be sputtering outrage if this writer weren’t so cynical and sensed nothing anyone with similar views could do about anything anyway, was unusually deep in photography.

For example, Bob Patterson’s column on Einstein had two somewhat appropriate shots from Princeton.  Don Smith’s cool photo from Paris was supplemented by a matching one from lower Manhattan.  In fact, there were five photography pages, and links to two extensive photo albums.  Many recent pages have been illustrated with photos.

What’s up with that?  Is the publication shifting from words about the world to just images?  (And can you call a virtual magazine a publication if it is not really published?  There are now an average of ten thousand unique logons here each month, but is Just Above Sunset really a publication?)

There has been a bit of a shift, away from words.  This is perhaps not anti-intellectualism per se but something more like fatigue.  What more is there to say about how the world is going these days?

For example, I just didn’t have the energy to say anything about the plan to hunt down and kill cats in Wisconsin - a hot story out of the upper center of America the pervious week – even if two readers did suggest it.  In short?


MADISON (AP) Thursday, April 14, 2005 — Feral felines fearing for their lives in Wisconsin got a boost Wednesday from Gov. Jim Doyle, who said a plan to allow hunters to shoot wild cats at will is dead.

"I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," said Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. "What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now."

He said his office has received calls from throughout the country denouncing a plan passed Monday night at meetings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress that would classify wild, free-roaming cats as an unprotected species. …


Whatever.  What is there to say?

By the way, Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth-century poet and essayist, who wrote the first English dictionary, had a big yellow tabby he called Hodge, just as fat as Sam himself, and Johnson never wrote a word about Hodge.  Boswell mentions Hodge only once in his “Life of Johnson.”  It seems Beau Brummell (yes, THAT one) and his proto-frat-boys friends had been gadding about London shooting housecats for their amusement, and Boswell says when he mentioned this to Johnson, Johnson tickled Hodge in his lap, smiled wryly and muttered, “They shant shoot Hodge, they shant shoot Hodge…

You could look it up.  And see this - At 17, Gough Square, EC4, London, England - a brand new statute of Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge.  It stands opposite Johnson's house in Gough Square.

Well, they shant shoot my Harriet either.

But, cat-hunting aside, keeping up with what might seem moderately outrageous has been what this editor has been doing since starting the virtual magazine in late May of 2003, and the companion web log in mid-November of the same year. Are there really 685 entries there?  It seems so.

What can one do to keep going on with this?

One can, of course, surf the blogs in hopes of picking up some secondary outrage.  And lately a good place to start seems to be the Daily Kos from Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.  Kos can do the heavy lifting.

What do we find there?  An echo-chamber.

Early in the week Kos points to an item from David Sirota, a fellow from the Center for American Progress who points out that we Americans are not only systematically being denied information by out government, previous information to which we had access is simply disappearing.

Yeah, well, what did you expect?

Sirota quotes our president saying that "in a society that is a free society, there will be transparency."  Sirota takes that to mean that we have a government where the public gets to see as much information as possible about its government.

Really?  Here’s what he notes –


Knight-Ridder reports today [April 16] that the Bush administration announced yesterday that it has decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered."

When unemployment was peaking in Bush's first term, the White House tried to stop publishing the Labor Department's regular report on mass layoffs.

In 2003, when the nation's governors came to Washington to complain about inadequate federal funding for the states, the Bush administration decided to stop publishing the budget report that states use to see what money they are, or aren't, getting.

In 2003, the National Council for Research on Women found that information about discrimination against women has gone missing from government Web sites, including 25 reports from the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau.

In 2002, Democrats uncovered evidence that the Bush administration was removing health information from government websites. Specifically, the administration deleted data showing that abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer from government websites. That scientific data was seen by the White House as a direct affront to the pro-life movement.


Kos comments – "Can there be any doubt that this is the worst presidency ever?"



And Kos is upset by something else from the BBC.  Kos tells us that Aschiana is the name of an Afghan charity for street children.  It means "the nest", and it will soon be replaced by a five-star hotel.

The BBC item?


Afghanistan's internationally renowned charity for street children, Aschiana, survived the Afghan wars of the 1990s and the Taliban era.

However, the free market economics of Kabul's post-war boom now seem a more potent enemy than rockets and bombs.

Aschiana, which means "the nest" and provides support, food, education and a refuge to 10,000 street children, faces the closure of its main centre in Kabul.

It is the victim of rocketing rents and land prices rather than artillery.

The charity's compound on Char Rahi Malik Asghar, which it has occupied since 1997, has been sold by its owner to an international company.

A five-star hotel will be built on the site. ...


The comment from Kos?  "It's social Darwinism in action."

And so it is.  What is there to say?  The world has ever been different?
And Just Above Sunset just covered issues with the pending repeal of the Estate Tax here - and there is a whole lot of commentary all over on that.  It seems to grow and grow.  How outraged can you continue to be?

One blogger here is conflicted.


I've been taking care of some long-neglected yard work and prepping the place for summer …

Anyway, I'm back off to the outdoors, but first, because the issue of the Estate Tax is still pissing me off, I wanted to note that Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has a powerful piece up on the Estate Tax and its impact on charities, should the Senate repeal it. And in it he links to Max Sawicky's takedown of the stated defenses used by those benighted who still think that getting rid of it is going to ruin all those family farms (as opposed to, say, Archer Daniels Midland?).


Oh, go do the yard work.  Fred Clark points out our own government economists say the repeal of the Estate Tax will reduce charitable contributions to society from rich folks by at least twelve percent.  You can read the reasoning at the link.  And of course the idea that charity should not come from the government – as it destroys initiative and makes people forget personal responsibility - is covered too.  Okay.  And Max Sawicky is brilliant.  But….

Nothing will change.  Perhaps you will see more photos here.

Ah, and our friend, the high-powered Wall Street attorney, sends this along, a nice picture.  Our columnist Bob Patterson calls these "The Grapes of Un-Wrath."

Click here for separate image...


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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