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Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Phillips: Good intention, bad outcome
I'm sure everyone who follows politics is aware of "Christmas Tree Bills."
I first heard the term at a meeting sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce many years ago. Elected officials reported to those in attendance what was happening in Indianapolis that year.
One state senator talked about Christmas tree bills and the term captured my imagination.
A Christmas tree, of course, starts out as a single tree and then is "decorated" with lots of baubles and lights to make it prettier.
Likewise a Christmas tree bill starts out as a single entity, for one purpose, a purpose someone believes is very noble, a much needed piece of legislation.
Then, other politicians see the popularity of the bill as a means to sneak some of their pet projects through the General Assembly and on to the governor's desk.
It seems to me the recent religious freedom act in Indiana is a classic example of the subterfuge politicians use. While not a Christmas tree bill, and while the intent was very good, a bill is a legal document and the wording is crucial.
Being a college student isn't what it used to be
I am a child of the '60s, a decade from which we are still reeling, and if we aren't careful, historians will one day look back and remember it as a key time in the decline and fall of the American Empire.
I was a teenager during the '60s. That meant there were lots of questions, few answers and even more important decisions to make.
College was one of those decisions.
Neither one of my parents had formal education beyond high school. My grandfather worked on the railroad from a very young age. He put Uncle Doc and Aunt Jessie through college but did not go to college himself.
Uncle Doc became a dentist (hence the nickname, "Doc") and Aunt Jessie became a school teacher who taught English in the Gary school district while Doc had his practice in the same area.
So, when I was growing up, Doc and Jessie were two of my college role models. So were my cousins, Rick and Lou Ann. They were 6 and 12 years older than me and both attended Michigan State University long before I had to make any decisions about higher education.
Surviving storms and learning
This is the 50th anniversary of the dreadful Palm Sunday tornadoes. Ten tornadoes ripped through Indiana in the worst natural disaster I had seen in my short life in 1965.
We often complain about what the government does poorly or wrong, but weather forecasting has improved dramatically in the last 50 years thanks to satellites and cooperation between the National Weather Service and private industry, such as The Weather Channel and Accuweather. I would imagine a much larger database of weather patterns collected over the years has contributed to the improvement. Also, events such as the Palm Sunday tornadoes have made us more aware of the danger preceded by dark, swirling clouds.
People are still injured and tornadoes cost millions of dollars in damage every year but we do a much better job of warning people than in 1965 when the Palm Sunday storms devastated too much of the Hoosier state.
Even with technology, it's about people communicating
I wrote about social media (a.k.a. Facebook and Twitter) recently and how great it is. This week I have been thinking about the underlying foundation of social media -- the social part.
I am re-reading Stephen King's novel about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
King has said in interviews he carefully researched the history of the assassination and then he wove a fictional story about time travel into the true story for his novel, "11/22/63."
The premise is, "What would you do if you could travel back in time and stop the assassination?"
I don't want to give too much away, but his main character actually stops Lee Harvey Oswald and saves Kennedy's life. How is that possible? You will have to read the book.
This weekend, I was reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis in King's novel. I was 9 or 10 at the time and didn't remember too much about it; only that I walked home a different route after school on the day after Kennedy spoke to the nation on national
Phillips discusses skits, freedoms
We knew it was coming. Those "kids" of a couple decades ago are now officially in charge.
I suppose we can see it many places but today I want to talk about the people in charge at our national media outlets. Do the producers really get up in the morning and think, "It's all about me?" Or does it just seem that way.
Take for example . . .
A recent "Saturday Night Live" skit that made fun of a young woman being recruited by ISIS.
"Take care of her," the girl's dad said.
"Death to America" was the response.
Now, "Saturday Night Live" has always been edgy and quite often made people uncomfortable. Remember, "Let's kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas?" It was a skit about the upcoming execution of a murderer that was scheduled to take place around the holidays. That bothered me for obvious reasons.
Phillips offers take on net neutrality
I have Leonard Hofstadter's line on my phone from "The Big Bang Theory." The line is, "What's going on?" every time someone messages me.
Last week, I was on my way to an oil change when our school corporation texted me about a two-hour delay the following morning.
I pulled into a parking lot, pulled up our newspaper's website administrative page and quickly added the notification to our website's front page.
People learned about the school delay and made necessary arrangements hours before the delay would be on TV or any other media in our area.
General Assembly should ensure funding continues
I see The Indiana House may be taking budget matters into their own hands and that could mean no cut to the Indiana State Library. Earlier, Gov. Mike Pence announced his budget goals which included reductions to the library including the end of the Genealogy Department and the INSPIRE online research tool.
It probably won't be a surprise that this newsman likes books and the information libraries contain. In this time of social media we need all the balance we can get.
I have mentioned several times how much I enjoy social media. This column is not contradictory, but the fact is, we need information that has been carefully researched, accurate and more than eight minutes old.
I am very uneasy when I hear comments like, "I don't need to read the newspaper, I have Facebook and Twitter." Much of the information on social media is rumor and none of it is well researched. No opposing viewpoints are presented.
Phillips talks this and that
Dear Montgomery County,
It's Saturday morning and a little past 5 o'clock. It's also Valentine's Day and that means Linda and I will visit Red Lobster later today.
This is going to be about a few things. I am too satisfied to get on my usual high horse and develop one topic for several hundred words. This will probably sound more like one of Hawkeye Pierce's letters to his dad than a newspaper column.
Can politicians and journalists be trusted?
Politicians and journalists can't always be trusted. That is not a new revelation but follow me and you may be surprised where we go.
Think of politics and my generation thinks of Watergate. Think of journalists and many people think of uncaring, unfeeling, wielders of power who cannot be touched by human feelings and who have too much power.
I used to joke we have more responsibility than surgeons. They can only kill a patient, we can destroy a reputation.
Did you hit the NFL where it hurts for deflategate?
OK. I'm over it. It's time to move on.
When the Colts lost to The Evil no good-nik Boris Badenov Patriots and we learned that the Pats balls were under-inflated I was incensed.
The Pats perhaps didn't do it intentionally but suspicion indicates someone in the organization was responsible, so I went to social media and expressed my outrage.
"Boycott the Super Bowl," I said.
A few in that Twitter/Facebook court of no appeal agreed with me.
"Make a dent in that god of TV sports, the ratings," I said. "That is the only way to say we don't condone cheating."
I doubt it made any difference. A half dozen or so people retweeted what I wrote. About 20 people read it. Many others expressed similar outrage but what is that against millions of Super Bowl fans?
I did see one story that indicated last year's Super Bowl ratings had dipped slightly from the year before and I wonder why.
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