Friday, February 27, 2015

Under My Hat

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Someone once asked: "When it comes to doing newspaper work, what is the most difficult thing to write?"

The answer is easy, I said. "Quite often, the most difficult thing to write is the truth."

He gave me an odd look, as if to suggest that the truth should be the easiest thing to write.

I explained that writing the truth can be the most difficult for many reasons.

One reason is that the truth isn't necessarily clear; we don't always know what the truth is. The second reason is that people often don't want to know the truth.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nothing stands for BS better than biosolids, a made-up, friendly-sounding name for toxic mud.

Biosolids are the byproduct of sewage treatment. The legal term for this residue is sludge.

But sludge isn't a pleasant sounding name and so a government agency came up with the very pretty name biosolids.

It's lethal lipstick being put on a poison pig.

Sludge contains bacteria, viruses and heavy metals. And like any toxic waste, industry doesn't know where to dump it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I've been on a walking kick to lose weight.

It seems to be working. It'd work much better if I'd stay away from fruit pies, but treats are important. Walking is good for the health, but too much of a good thing becomes bad. When I tried walking 10 miles, I developed blisters on my feet. So I came to the conclusion that too much exercise isn't a good thing. Or course, too much pie isn't a good thing either.

And so I've learned to balance walking with eating pie. I've developed my own system of rewards. Each person needs to figure out what works best.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The 2010 U. S. Census likely will show that Pennsylvania has over two million more people than it did in 1950.

But you'd never know it by the attendance at public events.

Church festivals and civic celebrations don't draw the crowds they once did. In the 1950s, special events were packed. But that's not the case today.

The trend is seen nationally, too.

According to the folks at NASCAR, attendance has dropped in 14 of the first 19 races of the season. NASCAR figures to sell one million fewer tickets this year than in 2003.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Writers strive to find the most accurate way to tell stories and describe things. That's our job.

We use words as our basic tools, just like mechanics use wrenches.

We build sentences to convey thoughts, just like chemists concoct formulas.

We come up with words and phrases and string them together in ways we hope will work.

It's both an art and a science and not always easy. The art can be abstract and the science not exact.

Add to that our own limitations and you can see why mistakes happen.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I always enjoy the national news but I usually can't make sense of it.

This past week was typical. The national media tried to make us believe that virtually all Americans were concerned about the basketball career of LeBron James. I have a hunch that millions of Americans don't even know who LeBron James is, much less care about which city he moved to.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Alone in the world, Jean Stevens did the unthinkable.

She decided to live with her dead loved ones.

The 91-year-old Wyalusing woman was found to have in her house and garage the embalmed, mummified bodies of her late husband and her twin sister.

The discovery last week sent shock waves across the country, partly because of the circumstances: Jean Stevens is perfectly normal. She does not have dementia.

"She has all of her mental faculties," say social workers.

Pennsylvania State Police say both bodies had been there for quite some time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Here are some thoughts on best and worst fathers in acknowledgment of Father's Day.

Keep in mind there's no universal list and no consensus. No two people would reach agreement on this topic. So take the following with a grain of salt.

Top father

If the top father is the guy with the most kids, then the father of all time is Mulai Ismail (1646-1727), the last Sharifian Emperor of Morocco. By 1703 he had at least 342 daughters and 525 sons and by 1721 was reputed to have 700 male descendants.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do you remember when television was described as a vast wasteland?

It happened during a speech delivered to the National Association of Broadcasters. The criticism was leveled by an attorney named Newton Minow. At the time, he was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Minow felt that TV was not living up to its potential to serve the public interest.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A small-town, daily newspaper is special because readers feel a personal connection.

That was a prevailing sentiment I noticed among writers and editors attending an Associated Press annual meeting in Harrisburg last week. But newspapers are facing challenges.

Many said younger readers are less inclined to read a daily paper. Some said newspapers need to meld their print version with an online edition in order to stay vital in today's electronic age. Others said online newspapers need to be more like blogs.