Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Jan 11 2007

Just like that?

I don't belong to either of the two major political parties in the U.S., so this question is not bipartisan. How on earth did an anti-terror bill that was five years in the squabbling process pass so quickly all of a sudden? If bipartisan nit-picking really has gummed up the works that badly in our legislative branch then we are in need of another major party or something to at least upset this whole teeter-totter kind of playground complacency. Real legislative work for this country should be done between elections and not because of elections.

posted at: 10:52 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Did she ask for it?

We've all heard the phrase "the news behind the news". The public is almost as swift to react to those kinds of stories as it is to frontline reports. Take a look at the comments beneath an ABC report on New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall. The New York Times has taken its share of criticism, but it was disturbing to me that some people would see the attack on Ms. Gall as something she brought on herself and possibly even deserved.

It's true that everyone takes risks in their professions, but reporters often take risks that most of us would shun in favor of sitting in a long commute on U.S. freeways. Reporters are not soldiers and I doubt very much that they expect to be treated as soldiers. Most travel with very little protection and place themselves in harm's way in order to get a story. That's their choice, of course. What bothers me is the shift lately toward demonizing reporters in the midst of very complicated political issues that are straining diplomacy between even the closest of allies. Most of us have no real idea of the moves a reporter has to make in order to gather information that will expose the actions of very powerful, very angry, very frightened or very desperate people. We participate in journalists' work by proxy, reading a few words or looking at a few videos or still photographs. Sometimes we become a kind of Monday morning quarterback when we take in the news they gather and disseminate. We assume that what we see is all there was for the reporter. But news is more than a set of facts. If you don't believe me, think back to the last time you were at work at a company in the midst of an upper management scandal or other upheaval. How long did it take for facts, rumor and gossip to change alliances and erode trust between co-workers? How easy was it for you to find out what was really going on? Did you consider the possibility of having to do or say anything that you thought might compromised your own job or your own personal morals? And did you get much actual work done with the distractions going on at that time?

When we take in the news we have to remember that journalists are not just flies on the wall. They have to interact with law enforcement, politicians, informants, spin doctors, angry citizens, religious mobsters, paradoid insurgents, Mother Nature and the various people who just want to be seen on camera or have their names in print. They need to filter many voices at once and have eyes in the backs of their heads.

We each need to read and watch what is reported with a mind toward the true nature of a reporter. They aren't deities. And they chose their profession. But they don't deserve to be beaten on the job any more than a baker or computer programmer does. To think otherwise could be counterproductive to our own American ideal of freedom and could even contribute to the eventual death of the very important freedom of the press.

posted at: 07:41 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Check your credit card activity

We seem to be having some issues with small unauthorized charges to one of our credit cards, so I'm going to tell the rest of you about it, in case it happens to you. Thankfully, we have very quick-witted people who check our card activity and they promptly notified us about four separate charges that were for one dollar each. The phone numbers of the companies charging our card were 800-316-8774, 877-636-6858 and 800-333-1915. There were two separate one-dollar charges from that last one. We have no record of any business transactions or agreements with any of these companies. With a bit of research I'm finding names such as SavingSmart, At Home Rewards, Bargain Network and some outfit called Vertrue, Incorporated, which has addresses in Norwalk, Connecticut and in Omaha, Nebraska, and which seems to be associated with programs such as Deal Pass and Passport 2 Fun, among other interesting situations. Adaptive Marketing LLC/Homeworks Plus seems to be a part of all this conglomeration, and the Better Business Bureau has given them a rating of F, which is about as bad a rating as a business can get.

My spouse attempted to call the companies, but their automated answering systems demand a membership number before allowing access. We don't have a membership number to punch in because we are not, nor have we ever been, members of any of these companies or programs. If these unscrupulous people attempt to collect any funds from us they will get a swift, negative response.

If you use credit cards, be sure to check the activity on your card often. We have no idea how these particular companies got our card number, but we'll be passing along the information to folks who investigate these things.

posted at: 05:32 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!