Drunken Confusion in Punxsutawney

. Friday, March 26

There are times when it seems like, no matter how many times you point to a picture and say, "This is an opossum," it just won't make any difference. Some will just go ahead and call the animal a "possum" and that's that. By now, it's culturally accepted, and no big deal. That animal above is a possum. Fine.

Possums just aren't cute or cuddly or attractive. They don't do cute things. And, they certainly aren't famous for anything more than carriers of the EPM virus that is particularly harmful to horses.

Somehow, some way, basic information like this gets lost, once some people get a few too many drinks in them. An instance like this made the news today. Donald Wolfe, 55, of Brookville, PA, not far from Punxsutawney, tied on a good one and decided to attempt to resuscitate a possum that had been dead along side the road for more than just a few days. To give ol' Donald some credit, he tried to communicate with the possum first by holding a seance before trying mouth-to-mouth.

I can only imagine the conversation that took place:  "Oh my, I found Punxsutawney Phil dead along the road! Oh, I have to save you, Phil! I'll save you, I'll save you. Hush, don't try to talk now, Phil. I have to breath into your mouth."  Oh, what a possum has to put up with when he's mistaken for a groundhog...

Beware: Bee Attacks are on the Rise

. Saturday, March 20


The day was gorgeous, so two women decide to take a stroll to enjoy the beautiful weather of springtime in Phoenix, Arizona this past Thursday. Walking along, chatting away, suddenly, their stroll becomes a nightmare in reality, a scene from a bad horror movie.

Without warning, a swarm of bees attacked these two women, covering them to the point where no skin remained visible. They were stung so severely that by the time authorities arrived to spray foam on them, they had stopped fighting. A passerby tried to help by spraying a fire extinguisher, but had no choice but to back off when he too was stung countless times.

It’s possible that the bees were irritated by kids who had been throwing rocks at a hive near an apartment complex. Or, it might have been that the women were attacked because of the colors they wore, or that they moved just right at the wrong time. It’s impossible to say why they were swarmed and attacked, and it is suspected that the bees may be of the “Africanized” variety instead of the everyday honey bee type.

This is the active time of year for bees with flowers starting to bloom and heavy vegetation from recent rainfall. Authorities expect calls on bee attacks to surge up to 600 per day. And, they won’t respond unless reported bees are aggressive.

The two women remain in critical condition.

FCC: Internet is Priority, Releases Broadband Speed Test Apps

. Saturday, March 13


The Federal Communications Commission will propose a vast, 10-year plan to establish the Internet as the US’s dominant communication network to Congress on Tuesday, March 16, according to the NY Times. As usual, the plan is expected to spark resistance from major telecommunications and television providers.

The proposal reflects the government’s expectations of the Internet growing to replace telephone and broadcast industries and provide access to the one-third of the country now without to bring the country up from behind in broadband and high-speed access.

“The plan envisions a fully Web-connected world with split-second access to health care information and online classrooms, delivered through wireless devices yet to be dreamed up in Silicon Valley.”

The shift will include a cut in subsidizing phones to support broadband access and affordability. It will also include freeing up over-the-air spectrum from television broadcasters who argue that they still provide a much needed and valuable public service in emergencies and that the proposal would cause signal gaps in coverage.

“Broadband will be the indispensable platform to assure American competitiveness, ongoing job creation and innovation, and will affect nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives at home, at work, and in their communities,” said Julius Genachowski, FCC Chairman.

To kick off the initiative to increase broadband access, the FCC released two tools to test broadband service and to report areas without broadband access: the Consumer Broadband Test and the Broadband Dead Zone Report, both available at broadband.gov. The Broadband Test application is also available in mobile versions through iTunes and Android mobile app stores.

Books: Content Will Always Be King

. Sunday, March 7


Paper, or digital? Digital, or paper? Either way, content is king.

Content is always king. If design – physical or visual – gets in the way of content, then it is no good. Period.

Going green, a recent trend in today’s culture, hasn’t really spoken up about how many trees would be saved if print died out as a distribution model. Newspapers and magazines are still viable advertising options for spreading the idea of “going green.”

And, according to one former book designer, poetry or text with graphics still fare better in print form. But, Craig Mod believes that novels and non-fiction, both that are “divorced from form” lend themselves nicely to digital distribution instead of paper. The digital format stays out of the way of the content.

That, in a nutshell, is the true value of a book, no matter what form that book takes. As long as the book is read, its value remains intact 100 percent.

Bringing the infinite number of books into digital format would make all the content readily available at a moment’s notice. Best sellers won’t run out of stock, country folk can download immediately instead of waiting for the next trip to town or UPS to deliver an Amazon order, and best of all, it is readily available for full content searches.

Mod proposed that the growth of digital and the pruning of paper form will cause us to rethink how we tell stories. He says that the linear beginning-middle-end story construction is static and that the digital format will “prompt a new range of thinking about stories and how to tell them.”

Without the linear beginning-middle-end, my thinking is that, instead of readily available, unlimited information will degrade into chaos and lose all value. That’s too close to schizophrenia for my comfort.

Content is the king, and the value of the written word.

Unemployment Extensions Restored

. Wednesday, March 3


The Senate voted on Tuesday to pass HR 4691 by a healthy margin: 78 to 19. Senator Jim Bunning gave a final plea to find the money to pay for the $10 million needed to go forward with unemployment extensions, COBRA, flood insurance, small business loans, satellite TV licensing and road projects. He even suggested that the money be taken out of a stimulus package instead of increasing the deficit before he stepped aside and let the vote happen.

House Minority Leader John Boehner defended Bunning by saying his argument was legitimate in light of the fact that legislation passed last week requiring bills not to increase the deficit.

The President weighed in as well, releasing a statement:

The bill passed tonight by the Senate will extend access to health care benefits for workers who have lost their jobs, help small businesses get loans so they can grow and hire, and extend unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans who are looking for work. I'm grateful to the members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle who worked to end this roadblock to relief for America's working families.

What is less known about this whole fiasco is that HR 4691 is a 30 day extension bill. What this means to the actual programs it funds is beyond my ability to decipher amid all the political posturing and gimmicks.

What I can understand is that the federally funded unemployment extensions are now available once again. The two-day lapse caused much headache and worry for millions of unemployed, and even more red tape to wade through for each state to deliver to those that need it.