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Friday, January 30, 2009

The ultimate multitasker focuses over Galena

Warning! The following puzzle contains some serious satire:

Doing Six Things At Once ~ Mr Harry Kahne demonstrating his ability to read, write, invert, add, divide, and converse, all at the same time. The figures on the smaller boards are provided by members of the audience. Those on the larger board are written intermittently by Mr Kahne whilst he is copying the headlines from a newspaper held upside down. He writes the figures and letters alternately, thus carrying out two distinct mathematical calculations whilst he is performing the four other mental feats, not the least difficult of which is the ansering of questions as to the populations of various towns!

Figure 1: Doing Six Things At Once ~ Mr Harry Kahne demonstrating his ability to read, write, invert, add, divide, and converse, all at the same time. The figures on the smaller boards are provided by members of the audience. Those on the larger board are written intermittently by Mr Kahne whilst he is copying the headlines from a newspaper held upside down. He writes the figures and letters alternately, thus carrying out two distinct mathematical calculations whilst he is performing the four other mental feats, not the least difficult of which is the ansering of questions as to the populations of various towns!

Some Cingular-minded blowhards have been complaining that driving over Galena pass while holding stimulating cell phone conversations is unsafe. Not only that, but they also moan that texting; the spice of our new age, is somehow a menace to other drivers. Next thing you know, these closed-minded blogcritics will probably implore ITD to ban distracting car radios, and soon after that, prohibit families from singing together in perfect harmony!

They will say that we never created the Sawtooth Recreation area for singing. If you want to sing praises of nature, take it inside to a real church! Yet a few courageous ones will penetrate through, whispering light good-vibration exultations under their breaths. Eventually, enlightened choir members will realize that they can claim their singing is that of a recreational nature, just as groups of constructive cell phone conversationalists will rightly claim, talking next to a waterfall, is a favorite method of theirs for recreating.

This epiphany will create a new problem for our courts, when recreating chorus groups gather on sacred government ground, daring to chant The Ten Commandments.

Three long words are suggested by members of the audience and written on the smaller board. Mr Kahne memorizes them; then, hanging head downwards, he proceeds to jumble them into an apparently meaningless scrawl, at the same time reciting any popular poem requested. A careful examination of the writing --- taking every third letter --- will reveal that he is in the act of writing Indianapolis correctly (as seen from the readers point of view), Idiosyncracies upside down, and Constantinople upside down, backwards, and reversed (legible when viewed in a mirror).

Three long words are suggested by members of the audience and written on the smaller board. Mr Kahne memorizes them; then, hanging head downwards, he proceeds to jumble them into an apparently meaningless scrawl, at the same time reciting any popular poem requested. A careful examination of the writing --- taking every third letter --- will reveal that he is in the act of writing "Indianapolis" correctly (as seen from the reader's point of view), "Idiosyncracies" upside down, and "Constantinople" upside down, backwards, and reversed (legible when viewed in a mirror).

Back to the multitasking mantra: If we are never encouraged to develop our multitasking skills, then surely those talents will deteriorate. Certainly, our roads are filled with drivers of various skill levels, some of who cannot handle more than one task at a time. Some of them probably have no business being on the road, but that’s a hard call; snatching away somebody’s freedom like that. Distractive driving is a subject more complicated than most media are making it out to be. When you consider that one in ten drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, devices we’ve sometimes pigeonholed as distractive, such as car radios, cell phones and truckers’ lively banter over C. B. radios, can suddenly be looked at as awakening tools.


the right hand is writing backwards and revesed, whilst the mouth is writing backwards but correctly).

A demosntration of multiple concnetration of both mind and muscle which Mr Kahne frequently gives before doctors and psychologists. Note: the right hand is writing backwards and revesed, whilst the mouth is writing backwards but correctly).

Henry Kahne was known as the man with the multiple mind, whose brain could thrive on six things at the same time. In a 1925 Strand Magazine interview, he talks about how he first began to develop his remarkable talents:


“When did you first discover your ability to direct your mind into several channels of thought simultaneously?”

“At the age of 14, when I was at school. In most lessons, excepting mathematics, I was rather backwards — not because I hadn’t the ability to learn, but because I did not pay attention. I was an absent-minded youth, a daydreamer — always letting my mind wander, thinking out little mechanical inventions, planning new forms of code writing, or evolving plots for short stories. One day my teacher fired a sudden question at me, and finding that I was not paying attention, hauled me out for corporal punishment. It was really the feeling of his cane that first turned my thoughts in the direction of multiple mind concentration. I did not want to give up my daydreams, but on the other hand, I had a distinct aversion to corporal punishment. So after a while I got into the habit of letting one part of my brain wander into the realms of inventive fancy whilst I kept the other alert for an enfilade fire of questions from the teacher.”

Some people highly capable of handling the multitasking mental storm are sometimes looked upon as freaks.

“But to talk to Mr Kahne is to discover that, although he has exceptional abilities, he is not by any means a freak. If he displays genius, it is not the kind that is akin to madness, but rather of the more creditable variety, generally spoken of as “an infinite capacity for taking pains”. “It is all a matter of development and practice”, he told me. “Just as the acrobat or juggler trains muscles and nerves that even an athlete overlooks, so have I trained brain cells which the average mental worker seldom attempts to being into use.”
Solving A Crossword Puzzle While Suspended Head Downwards ~ Mr Kahne recently performed this feat in response to a challenge, and completed the puzzle correctly in 13 minutes.

Figure 4: Solving A Crossword Puzzle While Suspended Head Downwards ~ Mr Kahne recently performed this feat in response to a challenge, and completed the puzzle correctly in 13 minutes.

Surely, I mostly jest when it comes to texting over Galena Summit and wouldn’t even recommend it to Henry Kahne, unless he was a captive passenger. However, after reading about the ultimate multitasker, I’ve become curious about what other tinhorn and high-altitude serious bloggers find to be their most useful and entertaining multitasking talents. And if we come up with enough good ones, perhaps we should hold a demonstration day up near the summit, to encourage further development of these high-valued skills.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What is your favorite method of multitasking?

a. Texting Wolverine photos, while dribbling basketballs over Galena Summit

b. Unicycling over frozen snow out Adams Gulch, while smoking a cheery pipe

c. Blogging on SV Online, while jogging on a treadmill.

d. Filling my SUV with the engine running, on a three-way cell call.

e. Juggling medicine balls, while swallowing fire, while critiquing Donovan

Tinkering with voting machines, while bashing Obama on Soul Train

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Power lines could also bring other benefits

draft 2

Utility companies’ vast plans to cross South Idaho with more power lines could actually benefit travelers, by symbiotically bringing improvements to the rudimentary Minidoka to Arco road. Ultimately, if planned right, in conjunction with farsighted transportation department leaders, an improved road through that remote area would save motorists who travel the evermore popular route between Magic Valley and the Challis / Salmon area, a few hours each trip.

A workable plan like this, reminds me of another unique power-line solution proposed by an idealistic friend, which I would like to elaborate on in the MagicValley.com reader discussion forum, if the Times-News print this letter.

A third item, not many people are blogging about, is another important costly infrastructure aspect, which we will likely be saddled with, inside of 10 years. It’s easy to predict that older power lines across the country will begin deteriorating en masse, due to the reaching of the end of the line of their expected lifespans. As will ancientfied bridges, water, sewerage, gas & oil pipelines.

However, it’s not fashionable for politicians to blow a bunch of hot steam complaining about imminently needed infrastructure improvements, when so few of their constituents are willing to listen to the tedious subject. And why should our elected officials waste their precious time writing the words to a sermon no one wants to hear, until after the collapse? Who wouldn’t agree that liberating expensive ski hills from fires and hauling in truckloads of sand for washed-out resort beaches are more apt issues of the day for the leaders’ fickle constituents?

In the meantime, notch a friendly reminder onto the beginning of your next Mayan Calendar, to be prepared for frequent brownouts and worse, throughout our country within the decade, due to our infectious infrastructure-deficit-disorder.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Power lines could also bring other benefits

Two utility companies’ vast plans to cross Idaho with more power lines could actually benefit travelers, by symbiotically bringing improvements to the dangerous dusty Minidoka – Arco jeep road. Ultimately, if planned right, in conjunction with farsighted transportation department leaders, an improved road through that remote area would save motorists who travel between Magic Valley and the Challis / Salmon area, a few hours each trip.

A workable plan like this, reminds me of another unique power-line solution proposed by an idealistic friend, which I would like to elaborate on in the MagicValley.com reader discussion forum, if the Times-News print this letter.

A third item, not many people are blogging about, is another important costly infrastructure aspect, which we will likely be saddled with, inside of 10 years. It’s easy to predict that older power lines across the country will begin deteriorating en masse, due to the reaching of the end of the line of their expected lifespans. As will ancientfied bridges, water, sewerage, gas & oil pipelines.

However, it’s not fashionable for politicians to blow a bunch of hot steam complaining about imminently needed infrastructure improvements, when so few of their constituents are listening to the tedious subject. And why should our elected officials waste their precious time writing the words to a sermon no one wants to hear, until after the collapse? Who wouldn’t agree that liberating expensive ski hills from fires and bringing in truckloads of sand to fill washed out resort beaches are more apt issues of the day for the leaders’ fickle constituents?

In the meantime, notch a friendly reminder onto the beginning of your next Mayan Calendar, to be prepared for frequent brownouts and worse, throughout our country within the decade, due to our infectious infrastructure-deficit-disorder.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Technological tools of peace



I finally joined up with facebook. Funny thing too, the opportunity opened, right after listening to Horace Axtell, a Nez Perce elder speaking and performing prayer-songs at the Community Library. After returning home that evening, I noticed that some of my former coworkers invited me to submit story ideas for their new facebook forum. To submit ideas I was required to sign up for facebook.


This was remarkably parallel to when I signed up as a blogger two years ago, after going to the library to see Native American poet Louise Erdrich and Joy Harjo speak and then discovering that the settings on Joy’s blog was such that you had to sign up, to contribute comments. I signed up and here is the first comment I ever made on a blog.


Both events reminded me of a resonating piece of advice coming though the South American shaman three years ago when he suggested that I, "Listen to the indigenous" I find it interesting that by doing so, it's been leading me to better technological tools for crafting constructive words of peace.


Another prank that backfired

Last year, I gave my current roommate a get-off-the-phone excuse machine. You can actually test one here: http://www.prankplace.com/p_excuses.htm

The bottom right button produces a door knocking sound effect, followed by an oriental accented man, loudly proclaiming, “Chinese Food Delivery.” She went around showing some friends this trick gift, and then one day at the hospital (a place sometimes considered a portal for paranormal happenings and where you’re not supposed to carry cell phones anyway) the machine went haywire, incessantly repeating that same phrase, precisely as a Chinese family exited from the elevator. It happened so fast, that she was too stunned to quickly stuff the toy into the drinking fountain or something, and she turned beet red from embarrassment, certain that the folks suspected that she had pressed this button on purpose and kept holding it down!

Smiling at the Department of Frownland Security

Since I recently moved and bought a newer truck, the other day I dashed over to the Idaho Ministry of Motor Vehicles to update my information. As the clerk prepared to take my photo, I suddenly remembered reading a news story about how Indiana’s motor vehicle department, does not allow you to smile, because smiling supposedly messes up facial recognition technology, making individuals harder to identify.

I almost smiled when I saw there was no line at the Idaho DMV. Waiting in long lines often automatically erases smiles, so Indiana department heads could use this as an excuse to cut staff, purposely creating longer waiting lines to erase those insidious cheese-eatin’ grins.

These thoughts were crossing my mind at the flashbulb instant they shot my photo, which came out with a slight grimace. Not only that, but I looked like I had more chins than a Chinese phonebook! Some friends suggested that if we were to go around celebrating a high level of jocularity all day like Smiling Bob in the Enzyte commercial, this would be a good way to subvert, facial recognition technology. However, soon Department of Frownland Security clowns would then mandate smiling against the law everywhere. Since any smiles could be construed as deceptive attempts to avoid identification and no mechanical tool better than human intuitive judgment has yet been proven to measure the absolute purity of princely smiles, (and ways to profit off these measurements) -for now anybody who smiles must be deemed a terrorist.

Maybe this explains why I always get a funny feeling; whenever I see; Smiling Bob broadcast his upside-down frown.

Footnote:

I realize that some frowny people might consider the above Chinese phonebook joke to be over the top, especially since today is MLK day. However, in the spirit of Pulitzer Prize winning columnists Leonard Pitts’ recent commentary: Where Clint Eastwood draws the line, my dream today is for people to sense this joke as funny enough to transcend racism. After all, I’ve shared healthy jokes with our Chinese cousins before, most recently on 9-11: (letter 2):

written near Smiley Creek, Idaho


Friday, January 16, 2009

Blessed Old Man River

Reading about the Miracle on the Hudson, it struck me that if the incident had gone another way, then naysayers would have likely interpreted this as a bad augury against Obama, with the potent synchronicity of a plane crash in New York at the beginning of his administration.

When I saw the photo of people miraculously balancing on wings atop water, this struck me as a very good omen; especially since peacenik warrior Pete Seeger has contributed folksongs about this mighty river, has led constructive environment efforts to restore the Hudson’s purity and while approaching age ninety, still thrives along its shores to this day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ranting about being Green is not always Pennywise (revised version)

An opposite-take essay on disposability

Trying to save money, I set out a few years ago to survive cold Idaho winters by plopping down on the edge of Hailey society in an affordable shack with minimal utility needs. Although, I attached much character to the poorly-heated hut; sometimes its confined quarters gave me cabin fever. The second winter habitating there; I begin having difficulty breathing and then nightmares. After a few nights of thinking I was suffering from a heart attack, I discovered that the substandard flooring and antiquated plumbing system were allowing poisonous methane fumes to seep up into the tiny living space, where there were no windows or ventilation.

The landlord then, thought it was high time to profit from its booming in-town location. That old shack is now smithereens and I say, “Good Riddance!” Like lots of thought to be cost-cutting measures, the quality of living, which dropped tremendously in that tiny shelter, proved to be more costly than any rent savings I might have imagined.

Around the next corner, in my warm new close-knit community, I was secretly relieved when I saw my next-door neighbor throwing away recyclables. She was an intern for an environmental concern, and I had been worried she would give me the evil eye if I did not rinse every can, spic and span, before plopping each into politically correct pristine containers.

Who has time to waste on this type of virtuous garbage anyway? It’s going to take some serious sustained efforts to convince many people and me that investing time to surface scrub every throwaway is worthwhile.

Take non-refundable glass for instance. There are only nine glass-reprocessing factories in the Nation. The closest one to Southern Idaho is in Portland for gush-sakes. Jeezum Crow! How can some people implore that wasting gas, by limousining glass over Oregon trails is better or even profitable with the rock bottom price glass has crashed to?

Moreover, the tree-huggers and whatnot brag that they mix their big-deal glass into road compounds. These people are making me sick! Does all this stained glass blind the bulging mountain of “Dudley Dew-Rights” into limited prisms of thought? While they’re out celebrating their tiny merit-badge highway clean ups; why don’t they just righteously tamp the beer bottles they find tossed off sides of roads, directly back into the sand from whence it came? After all, silica (sand), which glass forms from, is the single most abundant element on this planet!

Instead, the earth-muffins haul it back to the central scrutinizer transfer station, cut their vain little hands –probably getting hepatitis and God knows what else from the filthy glass–then crush it up for a waste of time photo-op, exposing negative chemicals to the wind. Environmental nuts like these should come clean and admit that they are posing to display their emerald vanities. I bet they have endless reasons as to why you never see them recycling their prized peacock styling mirrors over to the Gold Mine Thrift Store.

By the same token; many people admit to throwing pennies in the rubbish for the job-secure sanitation engineers to dispose of. That’s right, following our Government’s lead of greasing slippery economy inner-mechanisms by freely tossing money away! However, wheeling garbage around under well-designed plans is not all bad. The quicker we can stuff more landfills to the hilt, the sooner some more mountainous parks will come into play.

What’s a penny to buy anyway? It’ll cover my rent for about thirty seconds. There is no more penny candy to rot your teeth. Heck, for years the cost to produce a penny has far exceeded Lincoln’s face value. Nowadays, the materials alone melted into copper basins are more valuable than infinitesimal pennies of the same weight.

Saving spendthrift pennies makes about as much sense as bronzing gold medals. Honest Abe. Only an untouchable person would stoop to pick up dirty coinage from the gutter and become the butt of cruel jokes. “Indisposed” Sun Valley girls won’t touch a man unless he has about a million starched greenbacks sticking out his back pocket, at ready stand-by for high-society squandering.

A modern fable related to this, has Bill Gates strolling along on a Segway: Suddenly, he spies a hundred dollar bill with his gold medal detector, blending in the green grass. If he clicks the kickstand with his penny-loafers, stopping to pick up the $100, the seconds spent doing so, in theory earn him (and the Gates Foundation) less money than he would have earned by not halting progress to grub up the lesser green.

On a more down to earth scale, let’s say that it takes you six seconds to lean down and pick up a glistening penny from Ketchum’s Gem Street. Is it levelheaded to do this? Some quick math: Six times ten is sixty seconds…times six again equals six dollars an hour. Therefore, if you are making minimum wage it does still “make sense” to take a break from harvesting potatoes, or bussing tables for Allen & Company to pluck up that fools gold!

Harping over this surprising new aspect makes me believe that perhaps I am a little green about some common cent facets. After all, legend has it that when Abe was an agile young man; he chased down an old Kentucky customer, realizing he had short-shifted the purchaser a couple of three pennies. Just as Lincoln later matured his own mind over larger issues, it’s only right that I should follow his lead, to reflect upon higher level spiritual items, rather than small change squabbles. It’s easy to see, gazing trancelike into Lincolns memorialized penny eyes, that as our founding Republican, he understood flip-flopping from heads to tails on some issues is often the healthiest thing for humankind.

Unfortunately, it’s also human nature, to discard such wisdom unthinkingly, while lazily living off the overabundant lard so easily scooped and gathered from our heartland’s arteries.

Before the grizzled men battered down my old hovel into Lincoln logs, my friend Brad came to visit there for a few days. It was good to see Brad back in town and we caught up on old times. On his last morning, hard rains spilled from the substandard shack roof, revealing by the front stoop a quicksilver mercury dime from WW2. When Brad turned this over to me, it was a priceless moment. We remembered steel pennies backing up steely nerves from that war effort; since every scrap of precious copper was ceremoniously cut, then cleansed on wings and prayers, for dumping throwaway bombs to “wipe out” expendable Japs and Germans.

In that era, the creed “Every Penny Counts” was treated like a religious doctrine. By utilizing that conviction, look to what degree we have ascended from earths touch. By accomplishing so many missions of far-reaching disposal, and standing haughtily like ill-bred Giants with food to burn, the rest of the world who must love us to death, say they want to greatly warship the United States!

On another Sun Valley trip the same season at Brad’s, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrapped up his visit here, he made an interesting observation about jetsetters. He said something to the effect that it’s remarkable, paper-rich people in our society pay handsomely to travel thousands of miles for meeting and celebrating with strangers in other lands; yet we do not invest free time to cross the streets to get to know our own neighbors. Reminds me of how often you see some broken-down motorist, desperately trying to flag down dozens of cars to no avail. Another message mostly lost on the somewhat-jaded crowd was that The Dalai Lama was interested in making a buck and was happy that his elite sponsor with connections here in the United States was helping him launch his enterprising new book, The Universe in a Single Atom. Here is a holy man who, through living poorly has done enough rich shadow work on himself that he can freely broadcast his wide smile to millions showing that he, too, is attracted to powerful fistfuls of dollars. Unlike handlers behind some high-preaching podiums, the Dalai Lama openly recognizes that within the purest of bright goods, lies balanced a minuscule seed of darkness and vice-versa. Identifying this innately human fact allows rational creatures to harness certain control over their inner conflicts, rather than be spooked from reflecting about the powerful prehistoric urges dormant, but still raring to go if needed, within us all.

From throwaway pennies to the chemicals creating people on them and even the religious convictions behind it all; disposability is an extremely broad and complex subject. Being able to openly listen and debate from many sides of the issue is a strong mark of established scholars. Some will argue that all of us are replaceable; yet at the same time, it’s clear that that the wiser you are, then the more distinct differences you can find between individuals. Each person has unique gifts of some sort. Sometimes these are hidden talents, unknown by the persons themselves and not revealed until later life fermentation.

When Brad visited, I realized that I had been taking him for granted –almost as a throwaway friend. I was blind to my ignorance until after he moved on. Sometimes it takes moving experiences or even the death of a loved one for it to become clearly evident of how much of an energetic force they became. Once centered in your life, but then transformed into a puzzling vortex of barrenness.

On the other hand, even Copernicus had to wait for deadwood thinkers to drift out of the way before he could show off his new spin to the world.

Therefore, the paradox to keep in mind is that even though people are replaceable they are also, irreplaceable. If we knew that we never moved on, we would probably end up taking each other for granted. Having a near-fatal experience of being gassed by a shameful human waste disposal system, helped me concentrate that life is everfleeting, making it evermore precious.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Unknown News:

# Air Force Wounded Warrior

Your recent newslink to the Wired story about Air Force blogging protocols explains why there are no photos of wounded warriors posted here!

... I discovered this while searching for pertinent links, to include for this post:

Future Friedman: A place for healing war wounds?

Excerpt: After all, what should be more important than proper treatment for our wounded warriors who have patriotically served, even if some of these battles were fought for misguided reasons?

http://www.unknownnews.net/#13JB1128

Brave newspaper editors, publishers deserve praise

For the record, I would like to say that the Times-News appears to embrace innovation more than halfway. For starters, they allow letters to the editor up to 300 words and then allow elaborations and comments in this modern discussion forum. I am thankful for this and hope more advertisers recognize this, by supporting their hardscrabble efforts.

Perhaps, it’s idealistic dreaming, but I like to believe that if investigative journalism reaches a high enough level, then advertiser support will automatically follow. In the hundred or so opinion pieces, I’ve contributed to Idaho newspapers over the last five years; the above letter is the one that has generated my longest discussion with an editor, which further testifies to the Times-News inner motivation.

I do have a short wish list for subjects; I would like to see Idaho watchdog journalists investigate in further depth:

For many Idaho school newspapers, our half-thought-out-wars appear to be a subject too hot to handle. I would like to more student journalism editors ask their fellow students what they think about our wars. For those students who are considering enlisting or have already signed up – what are your motivations? What do you expect to gain from serving your country? Have you discussed the likelihood of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with your friends and family? Do our students think history textbooks should show that the Bush administration mislead our country in sending us to war?

Idaho Falls area newspapers, could best serve their community in the long term, by continuing to be vigilant watchdogs over the powerful nuclear industry.

As elusive as it may prove to be, I would also like to see some Idaho newspaper come along and conduct a more in-depth investigation on the hidden connection between Mad Cow disease and misdiagnosed Alzheimer’s. Of course, after seeing the powerful cattle industry lobbies almost crush Oprah, after she questioned their dubious practices, this would probably be too idealistic for any small-town Idaho newspaper.

related link:

http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2009/01/22/news/local_state/153374.txt

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Letter to Mt. Express regarding the power of enhanced newspaper archives:

This is a long suggestion, so I will submit it in two parts. Here is part one:

As much has been made of the fact the Express now owns 127 years of The Old Wood River Journal’s historical newspaper records; and hold these ancient archives in high esteem; I was surprised to learn that the equally important Wood River Journal online archive, which stretches back a decade or more, is no longer available. When I asked several of my former collegues at both newspapers about this, some of them believed that Lee Enterprises still holds the searchable archives. However when I questioned Lee’s management, they said the Express controls these.

If this is true, and it is the Express’s intent to keep these records offline, there are several reasons, why they should reconsider. Besides profiting in a karmatic way, they could also profit financially in this tough time for newspapers everywhere. First, I cannot imagine that keeping these precious archives up would even be very expensive. Especially when measuring that cost against the invaluable benefits, such historical records can contribute to communities. If the Express will reconsider, there are several workable solutions at hand, including a fundraiser here, oriented towards newspaper aficionados and local historical buffs. This episode is now reminding me of a well-received letter, I submitted last year, to curators at The Newseum:

Let’s not allow reporters epic efforts, sink down the memory-hole drain in vain

As more newspapers like The Albuquerque Tribune (and WR Journal) continue going out of business, we should make concerted efforts to preserve their precious archives. Many newspapers start out struggling; never knowing if they are going to make it beyond a few years. Therefore, they never budget annually, very much, in way of back scanning their archives (Though many State libraries make diligent efforts to do so.)

Recently, (Wash. Post owned) Slate Magazine ran an article bashing their cross-town rival USA Today’s ambitious Newseum project, by comparing it to the new American Indian Museum on our National Mall. Essentially, Slate said that both museums “were designed to be the sumptuous setting for candle-lit fundraisers, where you can almost hear the clink of highball glasses and the jing-a-ling of jewelry."

However, many fundraisers are actually used for constructive purposes. I would like to submit to the USA Today and Newseum board of directors, that they consider holding an annual fundraiser with the intention to salvage several newspapers that have gone beyond the brink. They could set up a committee, with a set of criteria for eligible newspapers, using a simple algorithm that involves historical context, the age of the newspaper, past awards won, average circulation amounts, whether a library has preserved their precious records of antiquity, and other relative parameters for markers to see who is best qualified, to not have their reporters enduring efforts just tossed into recycle. Besides salvaging newspapers gone back to the wild, the Newseum or some other good-willed newspaper-aficionado entity could help protect the historical archives of a handful of newspapers every year, which are still struggling to hang in there. Such funding could help construct enhanced fireproof storage facilities and state-of-the art fire-protection systems; much as visionary librarians have installed, to better protect our priceless records of antiquity, which have not yet been back-scanned or mirrored.

Besides a fundraiser, the Express could start charging a small fee or kindly ask for donations from archive users over their secure server, with the simple explanation that donations help fund the searchable archives.

Some readers maintain that any news item that ran in the Wood River Journal can already be found in the Express’s archives. I strongly disagree, as many weeks the Journal ran a completely different set of excellent letters to the editor, had separate award-winning columnists, and sometimes ran feature stories, including featured businesswomen of the valley and a long running series on war veterans. Not only that, but their (your) website used to include on the drop down menu, a link to some of the best stories distilled from their 125 year history into a comprehensive anthology!

Here is part two of my suggestion:

Last year, I suggested a tribute to Idaho war veterans to (then publisher) Jerry Brady. With the Express’s acquisition of the Journal, makes for an opportunity to revamp that suggestion, augmented it with the dozens of articles Mr. Cordes and others have already written about our dedicated veterans:

“The dozens of articles that Journal and Express reporters have written about our armed service veterans over the past few years are greatly impressive. Over the last few years, I remember thinking, while reading key feature stories by Jeff Cordes, Kelly Jackson and Karen Bossick and others what a grand thing it would be for our community, if the newspaper did a little something more with these in-depth articles.

Since the stories have already been written, the paper could go back at limited expense and simply cobble together a magazine or small book about our veterans to present to each of the regional history department heads of our local libraries. Other places where such a book would be a good fit are the coffee tables of our senior center, local armory, American Legion, Blaine Manor, St. Lukes, the Sun Valley Lodge, Sun Valley Adaptive Sports vans, etc. Imagine how far those feelings of good will could go, if a newspaper presented a copy of this book as a gift, during next years ceremonious ribbon-cutting at the new Senior Center.

Another way the paper could keep our Veterans vast experiences alive is a link to these stories within a special button on their website. Again, as the stories are already written, and most already online within the database, it doesn’t seem that such a tribute would take more than several hours to organize and then link to as a Veteran’s feature archive.

If my estimate is off and the newspaper’s management deems such a project to be too costly, my father –who is an American Legion Commander (back east) –reminds us that many American Legions and other veteran groups usually have strong-willed volunteers available to freely contribute and work in conjunction with local newspapers on such meaningful tasks.

Perhaps the time is too tight right now to get something like this running by this Memorial Day; however, if the paper were to make an announcement for an intention for a soon enhanced tribute, this would please many veterans. Perhaps the staff could plan to hand out copies of this special limited edition magazine to interested readers, during Hailey’s Fourth of July parade this summer.

I believe that such powerful articles deserve to be reprinted and featured in several prominent valley locations as respectful reminders to those, who have patriotically served our great country.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestion. As the Express frequently runs strong editorials that speak against deftly airbrushing history, I trust that you will take to heart seriously some of the things I have said here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Letter to Lee Enterprises:

To Whom It May Concern:

Much has been made of the fact that the Idaho Mountain Express now owns the newspaper records of the Wood River Journal. Some of these ancient archives even precede electricity coming to this valley by several years! However, there seems to be some confusion around here regarding the Wood River Journal’s online archives.

Unless, I am clicking on the wrong link, the searchable online archives for the old Wood River Journal are down and have been for several weeks. When I mentioned this to some of my former colleagues at both newspapers, they told me that they thought Lee Enterprises still holds the rights for these online archives. If this is true, I wondered if the old archives are offline, due to a cost-cutting measure; because if so I cannot imagine that keeping these precious archives up would be very expensive. Especially when that cost is measured against the invaluable benefits, such historical records can contribute to communities.

If Lee Enterprises is struggling with this cost, several solutions are at hand, including a fundraiser here, oriented towards newspaper aficionados and local historical buffs. Before I go into further depth with those suggestions, I wanted to do a little homework, to discover if indeed these archives belong to Lee and if so, why they are no longer online.

If beetle infestations occur at Galena Summit, it makes for a stronger pro-cell tower argument, as this will have then made the area even more avalanche-prone, in a territory where young sports enthusiasts have already lost their lives after suffering needless communication delays.

I used to feel much the same way as the anti-monopine huggers. Then my mindset matured on that dark day when, I saw two young girls have their lives agonizingly stripped away from them, for want of an ambulance - if not for saving their lives, at least for relieving their horrible pain and that of their family's.

In this context, the cultural values of our SNRA should include providing these long overdue and potentially lifesaving cell towers.

It is great that an emergency landline will soon be installed at the Galena Overlook. About a dozen years ago, some friends and I stood at that exact spot witnessing a lightning-started forest fire spreading quickly, and wondered if we should dangerously rush down to the Smiley Creek payphones to report it, as none of the twenty witnesses standing there had any way of knowing if the Forest Service had yet been informed.

But what happens if crash victims are nowhere near the soon-to-be installed landline, or if it's disabled, or the crash disables the victims and their vehicles, so that they can't possibly cowboy up to it? In the event of one those probable cases, wouldn't most of us wish that we had the foresight to implement a dynamic back-up plan, logically starting with cell towers, as now most travelers use cell phones?

While it's true that our forebears did not use cell phones, as they recklessly cowboyed over Al Ross's ancient pass; back then they didn't have to contend with monster rigs barreling down the icy highway straight towards each other, at 65 mph +. And why is it that none of the fossilized-Flintstonians came out opposing the raising of the SNRA's Highway 75 speed limit to sixty-five, refusing to acknowledge the inherent and widely documented danger involved in operating a motor vehicle on narrow, twisting mountain roads at such high irresponsible speeds?

Moreover, disinformation in the above letter claims, "At best the proposed tower will provide a narrow band of cell coverage near the top of Galena Summit." This is a Baldy-faced lie, as the Galena tower will greatly fill in the gaps, not serviced by town towers. Extensive surveys conducted for the strongly capitalistic tower company have shown, that another simple cell tower strategically placed, way up yonder in the piney woods behind SNRA Headquarters will greatly augment 95% of the remaining most used recreation areas.

The above letter also states, "Proponents speak broadly of public safety concerns, but ignore the fact that the landline option is in development. They also refuse to acknowledge the inherent and widely documented danger involved in operating a motor vehicle on narrow, twisting mountain roads while talking on a cell phone." This makes me wonder how close these four expert authors have actually followed the issue. Either these pillars of the community are refusing to acknowledge, or have missed my widely published commentary; Cell phones, not cell towers, are the problem:

www.magicvalley.com

blog.sunvalleyonline.com - comment-66873

One of my friends wondered why Homeland Security would want to be involved with SNRA communications. Are we forgetting, the important dignitaries who often enjoy visiting, Idaho? Besides the annual Allen & Company event, in the last five years plenty of powerful figures have visited this area, including John Kerry, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, The President of Mexico, Tony Blair, One of Google's founders - the list is long.

Will Secret Service pointmen politely laugh, when they inform future Presidents who might want to visit this special place, that the SNRA is sadly out-of-bounds for their enjoyment, because we don't have simple back up plans in place for their important safety, and we're crippled by non-coverage without these interactive pillars for our community?