There is a time for everything . . . so we are told.
The man who some 50 years ago was my favorite supervisor during my long career in writing and publishing also was one of the best communicators I've ever known. One day when he was sharing his thoughts on public speaking, he presented a small list of keys to success in that field. The last one was, "When you've said what you needed to say, stop."
Since celebrating my 82 birthday a few weeks ago, I've started writing several posts but stopped with the realization that I had told that tale before on this blog. Really, I've nothing more to say. So, with fond memories of contacts with readers over the past 11 years, this is the time to stop.
I've enjoyed the journey. May yours be equally satisfying.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
As one who is a half-dozen years older than her, I hurried to share the optimism by making a few entries in the Year 2022 section.
Friday, July 21, 2017
My how salaries of American professional football players have changed.
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recently turned down a long-term contract offer of $53 million. In 1924, the Green Bay Packers payroll for the entire team was $12,000. The 1924 team consisted of 18 players.
Ah, but inflation changes the picture. Yes, but the 1924 dollars are equivalent to only $171,530 in 2016 dollars. That would be about $9,530 per player, hardly a living wage. Of course, the 1924 salary money was not divided equally. Curly Lambeau was the Packers' player-coach that year, and he certainly got a bigger share than most, of not all, of the other players. Players in those days had to have other sources of income to survive.
We don't know the details of Cousins' $53 million contract offer, except that both he and the team have said the money was guaranteed, and not dependent upon performance or other factors. We do know that top star quarterbacks in the National Football League are paid in the $10 million to $15 million per year range. Although Cousins has shown considerable potential, he is not yet an established top star. So let's assume his offer was for 5 years.
Is Cousins, or any athlete, worth $10.6 million per year?
Those who contend that professional football players are worth their huge compensation packages point out that careers can be cut short by injury at any time and the players cause teams to make the huge profits that enable them to pay top dollars to compete for talent.
Hogwash. Pay for professional football players has become ridiculous. Although some top surgeons in the
U.S. can earn $1 million per year,
average earnings for doctors in family practices, who strive to help rather
than hurt others, are in the $200,000 per year area. The salary of the president
of the United States
is $400,000 per year.
|Racing toward self-destruction?|
A large share of the income of professional football teams is revenue from television contracts. Nevertheless, game ticket prices have soared to levels as exorbitant as player salaries and costs for food and drink in stadiums are likewise elevated.
There is mounting concern in this country about inequality in incomes between the rich and all others. A start at correcting the situation could be made in pro sports by winding down salaries of wealthy players and using the savings to reduce the costs for Joe Fan by lowering outrageous prices for tickets, hot dogs, and beer.
The current salary situation is well on the way to making me an ex-fan, and declining attendance figures for some teams indicate many already have become former supporters. Pro football is on a path of self-destruction if drastic changes are not made .
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
I recently was given a small volume of Will Rogers' sayings, and it proved to be a gem in several ways. Of course, it was fun to once again be entertained by the words of one of
America's most beloved humorists.
But of more interest, I thought, was how applicable many of Rogers'
sayings are to today's political and social situations.
started his career in 1902 touring with a Wild West Show and then a circus in South Africa , Australia,
and New Zealand.
He performed in U.S.
theaters for three decades, appeared in 70 movies, and published his
observations on just about everything in some 400 newspapers until he died in
On Female Inequality
You can't pass a park without seeing a statue of some old codger on a horse, it must be his bravery, you can tell it isn't his horsemanship. Women are twice as brave as men, yet they never seem to have reached the statue stage.
There ain't no civilization where there ain't no satisfaction and that's the trouble now. Nobody is satisfied.
On the Pace of Life
I have never yet seen a man in such a big hurry that a horse or train wouldn't have got him there in plenty of time. If fact, nine-tenths of the people would be better off if they stayed where they are instead of going where they are going. No man in
if he didn't get where he is going would be missed.
On American Prosperity
We'll show the world we are prosperous, even if we have to go broke to do it.
I don't see why a man shouldn't pay inheritance tax. If a country is good enough to pay taxes to while you are living, it's good enough to pay in after you die. By the time you die you should be so used to paying taxes it would almost be second nature anyway.
On High Food Costs
Got a wire today from an old boy in Parsons, Kansas, and he wanted me to enter in a hog-calling contest; you know I used to be an awful good hog caller when hogs were cheap, but the way hogs have gone up in price it's changed the whole system of calling 'em. It would take Henry Ford hollering with his check book to get one to come to you nowadays. I hollered all morning just for three slices of bacon and it didn't come, so there ain't much use of me howling my head off to try and get a whole hog to come.
On the Criminal Justice System
There are two types of larceny, petty and grand, and the courts will really give you a longer sentence for petty that they do for grand. They are supposed to be the same in the eyes of the law, but the judges always put a little extra on for petty, as a kind of a fine for stupidness. "If that's all you got you ought to go to jail longer."
On Characteristics of Politics
Common sense is not an issue in politics; it's an affliction. Neither is honesty an issue in politics. It's a miracle.
On Political Parties
If we didn't have two parties, we would all settle on the best men in the country and things would run fine. But as it is, we settle on the worst ones and then fight over 'em.
We have the best Congress money can buy.
On Foreign Relations
Several papers have asked, "What would
Europe do if we were in difficulties and needed
help?" So this is in reply to those inquiries: Europe
would hold a celebration.
Communism is like Prohibition; it's a good idea but it won't work.
On International Travel
A bunch of American tourists were hissed and stoned yesterday in
but not until they had finished buying.
On Cars and Driving
The trouble with us is
America is just muscle bound from
holding a steering wheel; the only place we are callused from work is the
bottom of our driving toe.
On War and Peace
If we can just let other people alone and do their own fighting, we would be in good shape. When you get into trouble five thousand miles away from home you've got to have been looking for it.
On How He Wanted to be Remembered
When I die, my epitaph or whatever you call those signs on gravestones is going to read: "I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like." I am so proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. And when you come to my grave you will find me sitting there, proudly reading it.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Some of us who reach a certain age become convinced we've seen, read, or heard just about everything--at least everything of any importance. Then along comes a bit of impressive wisdom that had completely escaped our notice.
That happened to me last weekend. As a part of the prelude to a talk by a local Rabbi at my church, a program coordinator read part of the poem "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann. A fellow geezer stopped me after the program and asked if I had heard of Desiderata. I said no, and he said, "We ought to check it out, that reading was wonderful." So I did.
The background was interesting. Ehrmann was a lawyer and poet who lived in
He wrote Desiderata in 1927, but only circulated copies locally and the poem
was largely unknown during his lifetime. Because a clergyman in New York included it in
an array of writings he mislabeled, some who did learn of it thought it was centuries-old
philosophy. When Adlai Stevenson, an Illinois
politician who unsuccessfully ran for president of the United States
against Dwight Eisenhower, died in 1965 a copy of the poem was found on a night
stand beside his bed. We are told that Desiderata then became hugely popular
with counter-culture people in the late 60s and early 70s.
It seems reasonable that I would have heard of any bit of philosophy that was "hugely popular" for a decade or more during prime years of my lifetime. However, I definitely was not part of any counter-culture movement and also have never been much of a fan of poetry. I thus missed inspiring advice on what is desirable for those striving to live a good life, and some powerful words of hope during trying times. I think it is worth sharing:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons then yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
# # # # #
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Beautiful wife Sandy and I consider ourselves to be quite expert at playing deuces wild poker on slot machines. We practiced for years during short vacation trips to
Wendover, Nevada, from our long-time home in . Ogden, Utah
Of course, we didn't need many trips to learn the golden rule of slot playing--stay there long enough and you will lose. Casinos are not charities, and the odds are not in your favor. I also learned the hard way that my father's advice about gambling in general was wise counsel. "Never play any games you don't thoroughly understand, and don't risk a penny you can't afford to lose," he said.
Those good old days are long gone, but an occasional 15-mile drive to an elegant casino operated by a local Indian tribe provides exceptional meal offers to seniors like us and has a few slots we enjoy playing. So we go there about once a month to savor the food and risk a bit of surplus money.
Our gambling strategy is simple. We start with equal small cash stakes. We play only deuces wild poker on machines that accept nickels, because we know how to play them well to improve the odds a little, and at worst our stakes will last quite a while. We play only five nickels at a time, although messages on most machines strongly encourage playing ten. We establish a time when we will leave no matter what. If one of us loses the stake, he or she simply waits for the other to lose or the departure time arrives. If we happen to hit a substantial jackpot, we cash it out as it happens and go home with the proceeds.
We are the ultimate low rollers. But sometimes we leave with a profit. Yesterday was one of those times. The biggest deal of the day was when
broke our rules by accident.
Four deuces popped up on
Sandy's machine, and the jackpot bells
started ringing. I knew that was a $50.00 winner for her quarter investment, so
was amazed when the total went higher than that. "What's going on?" I
She laughed and said, "I made a mistake. I looked over at a lady who was acting strangely a couple of machines away and hit the ten nickel bet button instead of the five."
Friday, April 14, 2017
Just as President Trump seems somewhat distracted by world events from his war against news media, far right and alt-right Republicans are launching new assaults on the press, especially newspapers that serve small communities. My hometown newspaper in
published an appeal to readers to "oppose proposals to eliminate legals
from newspapers" by contacting elected officials.
Old-style progressive Republicans such as "Fighting Bob" LaFollette, once powers in the
must be turning over in their graves. As in many states, progressives led the
way in pushing adoption of legislation requiring openness in local government
operations and some private matters such as settling estates and debt
collection. Some key features were requirements to print notices of bid
invitations, election sites and hours, government employment opportunities, and
proposed regulation changes in a "newspaper of public record." These
"legals" or "legal ads" not only have long supported democracy
by helping to make government activities transparent, they have been important
sources of revenue for community newspapers. Badger State
I did a bit of calculating just how important legals can be to a small newspaper by measuring ads in my local weekly paper, a modest journal that usually publishes eight pages per issue. The number and sizes of ads seemed normal. Of the 197 total column inches of advertising, 74 or 37.6 percent were legal ads. A small newspaper simply cannot survive if it loses a third of its advertising revenue.
|Printed publication of legal notices shines light on democratic processes. Moves to rescind state legislation requiring publication of "legals" threaten many newspapers, especially small community publications.|
Newspapers, generally, have taken heavy hits in the last two decades. Many closed, consolidated with others, or made moves into internet publication to stay in business. Advertising revenues plunged. In the
display advertising revenue dropped 45 percent. Revenue from classified ads
went down 75 percent, with declines in real estate ads leading the way. Revenue
from just two forms of advertising--paid obituaries and legal notices--stayed
Losing legal ad revenue would be a crushing blow to many community newspapers. Wisconsin is not the only state where moves are afoot to eliminate laws designating "newspapers of record" and requiring legal notices be placed in them. In
Jersey, where governor Christie has had numerous
run-ins with the press, legislation to curtail legals has been introduced
several times and is said to have a good chance of passing this year.
The reasoning of proponents is simple, and difficult to argue against. They claim cities, counties, and townships would save considerable costs. Legal announcements could be made available just as well through the internet. Opponents say there are undefined but substantial costs in setting up and maintaining web pages to post legals. They also decry a loss of openness in public affairs without state laws requiring traditional publication of legals.
Unfortunately, I think those who would strip newspapers of their monopoly on publishing legal notices will prevail eventually. Printed community newspapers are destined to succumb to financial pressures and be replaced by some form of internet news media. What the effect on democratic processes will be is unknown, and that is frightening.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Greek philosopher Diogenes is said to have strolled about in broad daylight carrying a lamp as he looked for an honest man. Legend has it he found only rascals and scoundrels in the human race.
I found an honest man this week without searching.
Following our last winter snowstorm about two weeks ago, roads were icy in places. One especially treacherous stretch was a curved section near our driveway on the entry road to our community. Our home is set back far enough from the road so we seldom hear any traffic noises when we are inside.
In mid-afternoon, I answered the door and met Jim Beebe. To my surprise he said, "My 16-year-old son came home and told me he slid off the road onto your property. He grazed your mailbox and ran across part of the lawn. I do home improvement and repair work for a living, and want you to know we will take care of all damages."
Mr. Beebe handed me a business card and said I should call him to get the work done when the snow was gone and I had a change to assess the situation. He thought the mailbox was OK, but knew there would be some work needed on the lawn.
The first day of spring brought good weather, and beautiful wife Sandy and I checked things out. Big chunks of sod were gouged out of the lawn in three places. At first I thought the mailbox was a little wobbly, but probably would be all right.
thought otherwise. As usual, she was right. The plastic parts that
|Diogenes failed, but I found an honest man.|
I phoned Mr. Beebe. He said he and his son would be over that afternoon to take care of things. Kenny Beebe rang our doorbell at about 3 p.m. He said we should buy a mailbox, we would be reimbursed, and he and his father then would be over to install it and repair the lawn.
About an hour later we spotted Mr. Beebe and son working on the lawn damage. I told Mr. Beebe we thought the work would be done after we got a mailbox. He said, "I told Kenny that's not good enough. When we've done with this, we're going shopping for a box. When we have one, we'll ask you to approve it before I install it."
Two hours later, the Beebes reappeared with a mailbox that proved to be an updated version of the one that was damaged. They said they visited three stores to find just the right one. We agreed they had succeeded. Mr. Beebe did a beautiful installation job, and the result was a unit superior to the one it replaced.
Had Kenny Beebe simply driven away and not told his father about the accident we would have had no way to know who caused the damage. I told Mr. Beebe that his son seemed like a fine young man. "Not quite," he replied. "He should have told you right away, not gone home to tell me. I've straightened him out about that."
I think there will be more than one honest man in the Beebe family if Jim has his way.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
These are stressful times as Americans and others vitally interested in American government policies ponder the damage caused by pronouncements emanating from the White House and quiver at thoughts of what is yet to come.
Responding to the excessive worry, experts in the workings of the human mind have produced hundreds of words of advice on how to cope with stress. Ideas range from hugging your puppy to taking a strenuous run through the park. So far, only a few I've read have suggested a hearty laugh.
Yet laughter can be good medicine in trying times. It was years ago when I was one of about 100 college students taking the final exam in Psychology 101. The multiple-choice test would determine a full half of our grade for the course. The lecturer was a newly appointed PhD who brought lots of enthusiasm to his task. He was serious about his work and had presented a ton of information. No one thought the final would be a snap.
Sure enough, there was dead silence in the lecture hall and sweat popped forth on more that a few foreheads as we started work on the problems. But after about 20 minutes a few snickers were heard. Then mild laughter filled the hall, followed finally by raucous guffaws.
Most of the students had reached the tenth question:
"10. The Fallopian tubes are:"
And read the third choice:
"Subways in Rome."
Sunday, January 29, 2017
On Friday, Donald Trump once again lashed out at the news media, this time for no apparent reason. He endorsed a comment by his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, that the media are "the opposition party in many ways."
Trump added, "I'm not talking about all of them . . . but a big portion of the media, the dishonesty, total deceit and deception. It makes them certainly partially the opposition party, absolutely."
That garbled prose seems to indicate that Trump is slightly narrowing the number of his journalistic enemies. Earlier, he exempted no one in a talk at the Central Intelligence Agency. There he said, "I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth, right?"
I'm a journalist. I've never considered myself to be a dishonest person, let alone one of the most dishonest on the planet.
By coincidence, two of the most principled people I've ever been acquainted with, both journalists, died recently. Their passing and Trump's assaults on the profession caused me to spend some time recalling my hundreds of encounters with journalists both as a newsman and as an information specialist in government and private industry. How many individuals do I remember practicing "deceit and deception?" Exactly two.
One was a young television reporter who interviewed me about a Forest Service program. Before he turned on the camera, we agreed that he would not ask questions in one area. To my amazement, his
|Trump will be scrutinized as no other has been|
The other miscreant was a reporter for a small radio station. He taped a speech I gave at a luncheon following the announcement of the closing of a
operated by RCA where I served as public relations coordinator. I was astounded
to hear his broadcast that evening. The tape of my talk had been edited to
completely reverse the meaning of what I said. That reporter merely was running
true to form. He was opposed to the Job Corps as part of his personal political
ideology, and took every opportunity to show the program in a negative light. Certainly,
there are people like him associated with media in small and large markets, but
I believe their numbers are relatively small. Job
It's only one person's experience, but two bad apples in a barrel with hundreds may indicate there is little reason to disparage the entire group.
Above all, journalists who follow the code of ethics that guides the profession attempt to be objective. They often fail. Humans develop biases and it is difficult, perhaps impossible, for anyone to completely set theirs aside when reporting events or selecting which items to include in print or programs and how to present the stories. Nevertheless, the true professionals strive for personal integrity in their work and balance in the products.
When anyone, especially a person who frequently displays his own lack of integrity, accuses journalists of deliberate dishonesty he is making a big mistake. I take Trump's remarks along those lines as a personal insult, and I've been out of the workaday information business for a long time. You can bet many in the media are going to have more than the usual struggle to keep their anti-Trump biases under control. They will try to treat him fairly, but they also will be extra diligent in their responsibilities to serve as watchdogs over government, and they will pull no punches in their reporting.
Mr. Trump can expect to see a whole lot of reports such as the one that appeared in the January 24 New York Times under this headline: "Trump Won't Back Down From His Voting Fraud Lie. Here Are the Facts." An editor who had not been insulted by the major player in the story might have created a more kindly label, yet it is not "dishonest and deceitful."
Trump's assaults on the media ensure his activities will be scrutinized as no other president's have been. Every move will be reported, and not kindly. Who will win this "war"? We might get a clue from an historic figure who participated in many wars:
"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets."--Napoleon Bonaparte