Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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    Braking Breaking News

    By on February 12, 2014 in See It Here, The Way I See It, Writing

    TV and radio and webpages too—(gee, that sounds like the cadence to “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My”) use both words and color to get our attention when the topic is “Breaking News.” These are smart people who understand the way to keep a viewer or a listener is to subtly show how plugged in they are to the fast-changing world and how lucky the viewer/listener is to have happened onto this castle of information.

    As a result of these Media Mensa Members, “Breaking News” is provided even when it isn’t breaking news, sometimes when it isn’t news at all. You see, that doesn’t matter anymore. They get our attention and we stay tuned/clicked-in to learn more.

    MSNBC has been under fire because host Andrea Mitchell interrupted an interview she was about proposals to force the NSA from collecting phone records with former Congresswoman Jane Harman, an expert on homeland security issues and now head of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

    The reason? Justin Bieber had just been arrested for DUI in Miami. Obviously, the critics who can’t fathom the idea that a 19-year old punk in a rented Lamborghini who drove 60-mph through a residential area at 4AM after drinking shots and smoking dope think a few million stupid phone calls collected by the government is more of an issue.

    Get off the high (yeah, it was intentional) horse and join the real world.

    The government probably has the one phone call Bieber was allowed to make to his manager anyway. The point is, we need to know this stuff. Parents are talking to their children right now about how wrong it is to drive their Lamborghinis faster than the speed limit. It also turns out Mr. Bieber’s driver’s license expired 6 months earlier. I’m sure this is also part of the conversations taking place across America right now and for the next few days.

    MSNBC is to be commended. As for the phone record collected by the National Security Agency? I bet Edward Snowden is going to leak it.

    Help With Help

    By on February 12, 2014 in See It Here, The Way I See It, Writing

    As a phone call with my health insurance provider was coming to an end and they had told me I was not covered for a a medical device I needed, I was asked the following question:

    “Is there anything else I can assist you with today?”

    This comes from the Department of Not Listening To What has Just Happened (also called DNLWJH). The clowns who make a living as “Customer Service Technicians” think the customer wants to come away with a happy feeling after dealing with their company, you know, like suddenly wanting to skip while walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago or walking into the Carnegie Deli in New York City.

    I always feel sorry for these people who have to ask that half-ass question but then, I start to wonder if they have any idea about (1) the question being asked and (2) why anyone who has just been told “no” would want to keep this verbal shutout going?

    My answer is always the same: “No thank you, I do appreciate your assistance in helping me with this request and I look forward to our next conversation.” There is a brief pause and then I’m told “We’re always here to make your life better.”

    Jesus Christ.

    A few minutes later, I get an email asking me to take a survey “about your experience” which I am always glad to complete with “0” as my rating for each of 137 questions that are asked after that 5-minte phone call.

    We have all of this incredible technology for communication in front of us but we keep forgetting how to listen. The toys are fun but that’s not enough for a conversation.

    The Story of the Year

    By on February 12, 2014 in See It Here, The Way I See It, Writing

    The year comes to an end so every channel, radio station, magazine gives us a year in review with a list of the people we lost and some even try to tell us The Top 10 Most Important Stories (yes, the caps are mine) and it’s all done to maybe teach a lesson but more to quietly say, “a lot of stuff happened.”

    The story of 2013 is the lack of trust in government and there’s good reason for this being Number One (number one-number one-number one….)–OK, if you didn’t listen to jingles on Top 40 radio stations, you have no idea what I was doing there.

    Congress has an approval rating in the single digits and I’d be curious to see a few interviews with 277 people in the country who say they did a good job. For those making lists, it only passed 65 laws and that includes renaming a few post offices. The previous Congress (the 112th if you like numbers) passed 63 pieces of legislation (and no, I can’t tell you the number of post offices that were renamed that year).

    Think about it: Harry Truman looked at the 80th Congress at the end of 1947 and called it the “do nothing Congress” and those guys passed 395 rules. Now House Speaker John Boehner may have a point defending his work in the House saying don’t judge a Congress by how many laws it makes but, rather, how few laws it makes. That goes along the lines of the “government -can’t-do-anything-or-shouldn’t-do-anything” logic. My problem with this is only that ideas for laws should at least get the chance for a vote, instead of sitting in a committee someplace because a few don’t want it to see the light of day—or any of the rest of us to see it. Yes, those horrible Democrats do the same thing. Heck, they wouldn’t allow a vote on the 46 measures to repeal Obamacare. The shame.

    So by doing nothing, and having a government shutdown, it’s pretty easy to see why America thinks Congress is filled with a bunch of clowns who still call their political enemies “my good friend from (fill in the blank where their good friend is from). That’s complete theater–they aren’t friends. They’re playing games and do it extremely well. The result is distrust from the rest of us.

    Yep that’s the story of the year. I think it beats out the fact Justin Bieber wants to retire (though I dont trust him to really do that….)
    December 17, 2013

    Some years back, my wife and I attended a concert at Wolf Trap outside Washington D.C. to see Joe Walsh—the guitar player, not the tea party clown from Illinois.

    While he was in the instrumental of the classic “Life’s Been Good,” a much younger girl in front of me handed me her camera and said “take a photo of me with Joe playing.” Let’s just say that’s not the moment to ask a favor of a Joe Walsh aficionado. I handed it back and said, “enjoy the moment.” She started in with a few “Well, F’you’s” though it was hard to hear among everyone singing—and with Joe’s amp turned up.

    I thought about this when all the hoopla started about President Obama getting a “selfie” with British Prime Minister Cameron and his wife at the Mandela funeral. To his credit, he wasn’t the one who wanted it (Cameron’s wife did) but that wasn’t a moment for stuff like that.

    I have long wondered if there’s anything worthwhile in this “it’s all about me” society being seen every day? Vanity plates have long been thought of as showing one’s need to say “look at me” though shrinks have said it shows a high degree of feeling inferior. Social media lets us tell eachother that we’re standing in line at Starbucks on a Tuesday in Norfolk waiting to get a latte which—allow me to be a critic here—means absolutely nothing to anyone in the world, besides the guy standing in line. I may be missing something here but just because one can send a tweet or an email doesn’t mean there’s any reason to do so….unless it’s about you, of course.

    I don’t get it and if there’s something to get, I hope I never do. Oh my…three “I”s in one sentence.