In short, one might conclude that all knowledge, wisdom, and wit are confined to those who inhabit New York City, Washington DC, or Hollywood.
As I creep inexorably toward nearly 70 years of life experience - which was gained in many cities in the U.S. and in about 30 foreign countries, I decided to put down some ongoing thoughts in a series I call "The View From the Outback." That experience has included the U.S. Marines, law school, the ATF, the CIA, Fortune 500 executive, writer, public speaker, educator, editor, and publisher - for openers. For over 20 years, I have written articles off and on for various magazines and newspapers. I've had an enormous number of letters published in major national publications. The Outback is the rural area in Northeast Texas where I have lived for the past 11 years. Each Saturday (or so)I will attempt to post a new set of musings from the Outback.
Desperate to avoid the Anthrax hysteria and hype, I decided to watch "Wheel of Fortune." The contestant, a law student, had just hit the $3500 segment on the wheel. The puzzle was "It's the only _A_E in town." He asked, "Is there a 'P'"? A "P"? This was a law student. "It's the only PANE in town?" A town with one window? It's the only CAPE in town? Must be in South Africa. It's the only PAGE in town? Must be a very small newspaper. There is no hope for our educational system.
"What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" If a columnist in Bismark, N.D., had written that line about Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Emmy Awards, can you imagine the flack he or she would have taken from the PC crowd? But Ellen said it herself, with millions watching. The Hollywood community could hardly object. They asked her to host.
Somebody did a study of how many minutes were devoted in prime-time TV news to reporting on the (very limited) civilian casualties in Afghanistan. ABC news lead the pack. Do you suppose that this has anything to do with the fact that as a young foreign correspondent Peter Jennings had an intimate relationship with an Arab woman who is now the prime spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority? Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, said that the reports of civilian casualties have been exaggerated. What a weird world we live in. A former KGB agent and president of Russian is telling the truth to a larger degree than ABC news, who are playing up the casualties. The Taliban does not need a PR firm. They have the liberal American media doing their propagandizing for them. Makes you proud.
FoxNews and others have run incessant ads for EnerX, which is supposed to increase your sexual performance. Now, some also have ads for Passion-ZX, which is similar to EnerX. The audience for FoxNews has been growing steadily. Mr. Ailes, (FoxNews president) are these two pathetic products the best your ad salespeople can come up with? If the EnerX and Passion-ZX factories ignited from their own pent-up sexual energy and were destroyed, it would be a blessing for humanity.
On Friday, during a serious discussion on the NewsHour on PBS, they began to run a "crawl" for a program that is to air on PBS next Tuesday. Over and over it ran. I went immediately to the computer and sent a message (email@example.com) in which I suggested that if they kept doing stuff like that, they might end up doing a closed-circuit show - entertaining only themselves. I also referred them to the Outback for Oct. 28 (TV "Crawls" - Annoying and Distracting). And I asked them if they had seen the segment on 20/20 about crawls. Even Barbara Walters said the things made her cross-eyed. Message completed, I switched channels. Please join me in inundating with e-mails all these morons who run crawls - until they stop it. Thank you.
Weary of the Anthrax paranoia, I considered making the following label to put on all my mail:
Contains No Ant Tracks (below were to be little ants from some clip art)
Finally, I decided that it bordered on the sick humor I so often deride. Damn, it was a clever idea. Hated to waste such a good one. I bet somebody else did it.
Wall Street Journal Letter-to-the Editor 11-6-01
In 30 years of reading the Journal I do not remember such a gratuitous bit of condescension as was in your Oct. 30 editorial "EchoStar Power": ". . . those who choose to live in a cornfield have no claim on the rest of the economy just to subsidize their entertainment options."
Satellite TV and Internet are our only options here in the Outback to get a decent TV picture, wide TV program selections and a high-speed Internet connection. We do not want to be subsidized. But we get a little nervous with the prospect of only one provider for both TV and Internet services, just like you might if there were only one Merlot dealer or one BMW dealer in New York City.
(For the record, I do not live in a cornfield. I live in a former cow pasture.)
Richard C. Rhodes
Honey Grove, Texas
(See Letters to the Editors on my main Web page)
Real Anxiety - Texas Jail Inmates Break Out Weekly
In an earlier column, I commented on the anxiety created in this country by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the Anthrax business. The average person has only a very remote chance of being the victim of a terrorist action.
At the height of the national anxiety, five prisoners escaped from a North Texas jail, about 60 miles from my home. They stole two pickup trucks and kidnaped a lady just three miles from my son's house. Part of the gang held up some hunters and took their rifles. On the weekend, a rural couple about 10 miles from my house came home and found two of the escapees inside their home. The convicts stole yet another vehicle and kidnaped the lady. The five escapees were eventually captured.
Two of them had invaded another home, but were captured when one escapee shot the other one, apparently after an argument about whether to surrender. The shooter than came out. The wounded man was captured without further incident. They had about 10 guns and night-vision equipment. None of the several hostages taken over the few days were injured.
Boy, the guy whose partner shot him might choose his friends better during the next escape.
I have a standard "escapee welcoming plan." I lock the gate, charge up my million-candlepower searchlight, keep the .45 and 3 loaded clips nearby along with a semi-automatic .12 gauge police/military type shotgun. And the police scanner is always on and the cell phone at hand during one of these episodes, which happen with some regularity. Who needs "America's Most Wanted" and "COPS" when you live in rural Texas?
So, while millions of people were experiencing anxiety from a threat that would statistically probably not affect them, there were folks all over hunkered down with their weapons waiting for two guys in a pickup to come to the door and ask to use the phone (oldest one in the book). Especially if you live in Texas, where the jails are bursting at the seams and there is an "escape of the week." Maybe your state has similar problems, but it would be hard to beat Texas for jail escapes. Hardly a badge of honor.
Enviro-Terrorists Operate With Near Impunity - But Not For Long?
Environmental terrorists have claimed responsibility for at least five acts of sabotage in the past two months. One was a firebombing of a Federal coral for wild horses in Nevada. The groups taking responsibility for several arsons and other sabotage are the Animal Liberation Front, which asks that funds be sent to an address in Pasadena California, and the Earth Liberation Front, which offers an email link for press inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org (Canada). The E.L.F. indicate that they prefer e-mail encrypted with PGP.
The opening splash page at the Earth Liberation Front web site is a house being consumed in flames. One cheerful sidebar leads you to a download of a .pdf file entitled "Setting Fires With Electrical Timers - An Earth Liberation Front Guide." The guide is 37 pages long and even has a section on how to solder. Hmmm. Seems to me this may fall under "conspiracy to commit a terrorist act."
Here are a few excerpts from the home page of the Earth Liberation Front:
"Since 1997 E.L.F. cells have carried out dozens of actions resulting in over $30 million in damages. ... By operating in cells (small groups that consist of one to several people), the security of the group members is maintained. Each cell is anonymous not only to the public but to one another. This decentralized structure helps keep activists out of jail and free to continue conducting actions."
There may some bad news for these miscreants. Let's start with a definition: "Terrorist - somebody who uses violence or the threat of violence to intimidate, often for political purposes."
The new anti-terrorism bill is not easy to understand, mostly because it amends so many sections of existing law, with a word, a phrase, or a paragraph here and there. You have to have a copy of the U.S. Code, Title 18, at hand to sort out what the changes mean. But, there are some encouraging signs that the enviro-terrorists may easily fall under the new "anti-terrorism" bill in several places. Such as: "and inserting the following: ... (relating to arson and bombing of property used in interstate commerce)... (relating to harboring terrorists)." And so on.
Nowhere can I find in the new law a definition of "terrorist" that limits it to foreign terrorists. The domestic terrorists may well find that they are the targets of some of the newly-minted investigative powers and stiff penalties contained in the USA Patriot Act of 2001. We will watch carefully to see if the FBI manages to get around to the terrorists who flaunt their criminal activity in everyone's face - literally daring the authorities to catch them.
Hackers Are Terrorists, Too
In an earlier Outback, I suggested that those who hack into computers and cause financial loss or disrupt government computers, or spread viruses that cost millions and even billions in damages to computer networks - and collectively to individuals - are also "terrorists." I am pleased to see that the new anti-terrorism law appears to agree with each of my points. One section on Cyberterrorism speaks of computer intrusions that in a one-year period cause a loss to one or more persons, or an attempt that would have caused, an aggregate loss of $5,000. And there is specific language about intrusions into government computers used for the administration of justice, national defense, or national security. The U.S. Attorney General has already issued guidelines for pursuing hackers and other computer intruders who meet the criteria spelled out in the new law.
"Bob Patterson" TV Show Bites the Dust
In my "Outback" for July 28, 2001, even before "Bob Patterson" aired, I wrote:
"Jason Alexander, who played George on 'Seinfeld,' will have his own TV show, 'Bob Patterson,' in the Fall on ABC. Already, there have been two cast changes and a head writer quit. This reminds one of the inauspicious beginning of the 'Michael Richard's Show,' (Kramer) which tanked after only a few episodes. I got in late on the 'Seinfeld' mania. But I never understood the appeal of Jason Alexander or his character, George. The guy was as dull as dishwater - in a show Seinfeld himself described as being 'all about nothing.' Jason has a good reputation on Broadway and as a song-and-dance man. Being the star of a sitcom is a different gig. Ask Bette Midler. I suspect that Alexander cannot rise above the comedy dishwater level and his new show will vie with Drano to see which goes down the drain first."
ABC has mercifully canceled "Bob Patterson." I watched only one episode. It was sophomoric sexual titillation and sexual double entendre, with no plot and devoid of any real humor.
The arrogance of network executives continues to amaze me. They think they have their fingers on the pulse of the viewing public. I think they have their fingers in the wrong place - and it may be hard on the wrist. I predicted the demise of several ABC shows in earlier columns, including most recently "What About Joan" and "Bob Patterson." And I am just a single viewer in the Outback. Once again, Mr. Lloyd Braun and Mr. Stu Bloomberg at ABC, you gotta show these pilots to somebody outside of Hollywood. Those folks have no clue, and it is hard to find an audience there that is not stoned, drunk, on painkillers, or on tranquilizers.
Drop a line to Bloomberg and Braun at ABC (see Media List) with your comments on ABC shows. There is a small chance that the mail is still being opened at ABC in Hollywood (Century City) - especially if they think there is a check inside. So, put a voided check in there for $125,000, and when they hold the envelope to the lightbulb, it will be opened in a flash. God knows they need the money with all the flops.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P)
If you have Windows XP on your computer, you also have Internet Explorer 6.0 (which can also be downloaded free and used with, for example, Windows 98, 98SE and ME). In the Tools - Internet Options menu is a tab for Privacy. This sections give you a lot of control over Cookies. You can accept all cookies, block them, prompt you for a Yes or No, and so on. The P3P mainstay is where you check that you will accept Cookies from sites with Internet Privacy policies that conform to the disclosure standards imposed by P3P. In the Default configuration, you are presented with a slider whose choices are confusing. The choices range from block all cookies to allow all cookies. It is the in-between part that is confusing. You can click on Edit and manually add a web site where you want to block cookies or add one where you will allow cookies. It all seems convoluted and not terribly useful.
I think it is fair to say that most of us who study these matters closely have gone into Advanced and checked "override automatic cookie handling." Next we selected "prompt." Last, we continue to use Cookie Pal 1.7a from Kookaburra Software (www.kburra.com), or a similar program. This little gem lets you decide on an individual basis if you want to accept a cookie from a site. If the site prompts you and you say No, Cookie Pal remembers that the next time you visit the site and vice versa. I have said Yes about a dozen times (out of several thousand chances), to Amazon.com, my online banks, my online broker, a TV site where I have a customized TV listing, and so on. The list of NOs is as long as your arm. Cookie Pal is set to reject all third-party cookies, that is, ones that come from another site - most likely related to an ad.
If you don't have a cookie control software program, you can see how many you have accumulated at C:\Windows\Cookies. You can delete a cookie just like any other file. And you can read them in Notepad, but they generally will make no sense to you.
While you are at it, buy the download of Ad-Subtract Pro 2.30 from Intermute, Inc. (www.adsubtract.com), a program for which I would have paid twice the price. It blanks out banner ads, popup windows, underpop windows, animations (things that go blink in the night), and even background music if you make that choice.
I will guarantee you that the little money you spend on Cookie Pal and AdSubtract will be worth it many times over. I get no cut. You see no hyperlink (just a reference to the URL). I have refused requests to put ad links on my page for "per-click payment." I have said, in half-jest, that I will never put an ad link on my page(s) unless it is General Motors or HP. So far, neither has called. And I drive a Chevy truck and use a ton of HP gear.
Suggested Reading From Past Columns
(Right-click on an underlined link and select: "Open in New Window" to leave this window in place)
"U.S. Government in a Frantic Scramble to Catch Up" Sunday, Nov. 4, 2001
"Americans Succumbing to a Climate of Fear" Sunday, October 28, 2001
"Secure ID Cards and Visas" Sunday, October 28, 2001
"Anti-Terrorism Bill Sniping Begins" Sunday, October 28, 2001
"Various reflections on the events of Sept. 11, 2001 Thursday, Sept 20. Must read Outback re Sept 11 Events
"The World Trade Center & Pentagon Attacks!" Update on Sept. 11 to Outback for September 8, 2001
Global warming and environmental debate:
"Rush to Glacier National Park Before All the Glaciers are Gone" September 8, 2001
"Chipping Away at the Global Warming and Environmental Alarmists," September 1, 2001
"John Stossel And ABC's 'Tampering With Nature,'" June 29, 2001
"The Kyoto Protocol & Global Warming - A Monumental Scam?" June 16, 2001
"Public Interest Groups With Sometimes Very Little Public Interest," May 12, 2001
"Environmentalism For Dummies - Part II," April 21, 2001
"Environmentalism For Dummies," April 7, 2001
"Environmental and Animal-Rights Terrorists," March 24, 2001
"My Friend Senator Jesse Helms," September 8, 2001
"Forget Liar & Adulterer - Cong. Gary Condit is Simply Stupid," September 1, 2001
"Government Waste and Fraud," August 18, 2001
"President Bush's Excellent Adventure," June 29, 2001
"The Bush Budget - Fighting Over 4% Growth Versus 8% Growth Is Nonsense," April 21, 2001
"The Chinese Demand for an Apology Regarding the Aircraft Accident is Preposterous," April 7, 2001
"Campaign Finance Reform - A Senatorial Catharsis - And National Snow Job," March 31, 2001
"Florida Secretary Of State Literally Begged Networks Not To Call Election Early," March 24, 2001
"Charlton Heston Speech at Harvard," March 10, 2001 (about free speech, PC, et al.)
"The Ever-Expanding First Amendment," January 26, 2001
"Bush Administration Needs To Review The Mission Of Federal Law Enforcement," January 26, 2001
"New York, What Were You Thinking?" November 13, 2000 (Re: Hillary Clinton)
"Lessons Learned In Election 2000?" November 13, 2000
"How the Federal Government Corrupts the Constitution to Intrude Into Your Life," October 30, 2000
"Let's All Make Fun of the Dumb Guy From Texas," December 15, 2000 (Pres. Bush)
"How the Media Should Cover a Covert War" Sunday, November 4, 2001
Prescription drugs - advertised on TV - abuses in the pharmaceutical industry - supplements:
"Prescription Drug Plans," September 8, 2001
"Baycol Cholesterol Drug Withdrawn From the Market," August 18, 2001
"Prozac Gets New Life!" July 28,2001
"The New Cholesterol Guidelines - Everybody Gets A Pill," July 7, 2001
"Bitter Pills To Swallow," June 2, 2001
"The Drug Companies Continue Their Assault On Your Pocketbook," May 19, 2001
"FDA Questions Practice of TV Ads for Prescription Drugs," March 31, 2001
"Prescription for Disaster," September 11, 2000
Health - General:
"Trans Fatty Acids - The Hidden Fat," August 4, 2001
"Your Body Clock," August 4, 2001
"My Medical Writing Credentials - Such As They Are," July 7, 2001
"The 'Eggs Are Bad For You' Alarmists Strike Again," May 12, 2001
"Herbal Remedies, Supplements, And Alternative Therapies," September 18, 2000
Computers and Technology:
"LCD Flat Panel Displays & Dual Monitor Video Boards," August 18, 2001
"DishNetwork's Personal Video Recorder Dish Pro 501," July 28, 2001
"Internet Via Satellite," June 16, 2001
"The Internet in China," April 21, 2001
"Mark Cuban is the Posterboy for Dotcom Mania," April 21, 2001
Interesting Books to Read:
"Your Body Clock," August 4, 2001
"Body of Secrets," by James Bamford, July 28, 2001 (About NSA)
A case history of horrendous abuse by Federal law enforcement:
"FBI Sniper At Ruby Ridge My Be Tried For Manslaughter," June 9, 2001.
Crime, guns, gun-control:
"Eyewitness Testimony is Suspect," August 18, 2001
"The AMA Is Losing Its Way," June 29 2001
"Doctors Have Written the Wrong Prescription for Guns," April 14, 2001
"The FBI and the Hanssen Case," March 10, 2001
"FBI Director Freeh Stays On," January 26, 2001 (Some clues to recent FBI failures)
"Aircraft Cockpit Security," December 29, 2000
Late Night TV Cruel Humor, et al.:
(I quit watching late night in disgust, so there are no new articles on the subject.)
"David Letterman Grovels For The Colombians," May 19, 2001
"Are Leno And Letterman Using The Same CD-ROM For Constructing Jokes?" May 12, 2001
"Late Night Comedians Struggle To Lampoon Bush," May 5, 2001
"Late-Night TV Sick Humor," August 28, 2000
"Late-Night TV Political Comedy," August 14, 2000
Hollywood, Entertainers, Celebrities:
"Celebrities Rush to Move Overseas in Protest of Bush Victory," January 5, 2001
"The Mother of all Hollywood Activists," December 22, 2000 (Jane Fonda)
"Elton John, Political Pundit - Druggie - Drunk - Compulsive Spender," Dec. 15, 2000
"Telemarketers, Caller-ID, et al.," August 4, 2001
"Rid Yourself of Telemarketers," October 23, 2000
"TV 'Crawls' - Annoying and Distracting"Sunday, October 28, 2001
"The Decline in the American Work Ethic," May 12, 2001
"Made in USA," January 5, 20001
"How Many Gigabytes in Your Brain?," December 15, 2000
COPYRIGHT 2001 Richard C. Rhodes
You are welcome to quote sections from this page - or the whole page, as long as the source URL is included. Of course, I would be flattered if anyone linked to this page. It is very hard to be the writer, editor, fact checker, copy editor, and publisher of anything. So, I welcome corrections of fact, notes of misspelled words, and so on.
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