Top 5 Ways To Fall Back In Love With The South

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Ah, springtime in Crackerstan! As we recover from the flood of goober politicians and their moronic policies polluting our state legislatures, while ignoring the pending tsunami of awful political media designed to make Gomer Pyle’s chest swell, there really is no better place than the Deep South for springtime frolics. We’re prettier than the rest, so let’s get on with our fun, sun, and glory. Here are my suggestions to help remind the world of our beauty and our elegance. And yes, we do have a little bit left.

1.) The Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, SC. May 23 – June 8. You’ve stumbled into as much Old Euro elegance, grace and glamour as you’re going to get within our mostly Moon Pie walls with this one. Gorgeous people, gorgeous events, beautiful city, beaches, fabulous weather created just to show-off your best sundresses and sandals, even with its notoriously haughty and dull Charlestonians. And heck, even those people are on their best behavior during Spoleto. Just go.

2.) The Carolina Cup. A steeplechase race. Camden, SC. March 29. This one’s just genuine Old South. The ponies and understated 100% cotton finery give it away. And where else can you see adorable little college students hurling their cookies into the grass whilst wearing their Sunday best? (Other than on every southern college campus, of course.) Forget the SC colleges mass-partying on the infield though, and take in the horses and the serious equestrian scene around the paddock area. Southerners do horse stuff almost as well as rich Saudis. (You’ll even spot a few of those there too, but they’ll be wearing their Aiken-inspired southernwear as camouflage, and their womenfolk won’t be all covered up.) If you want a true Garden and Gun culture-feel of the South, you’ll find it at the Carolina Cup. Drink when you see an aspic on a tailgate eaten by a startlingly handsome young buck in a seersucker suit. You will, if you can stay sober for just a minute or so. Some of the gents are so comely they could give even Ralph Lauren’s male model, Nacho, a run for his horse-people money. Besides, it’s no secret now, not since that Appalachian Trail business, that South Carolinians and Argentinians have been cross-breeding for generations. It’s a polo thing. Don’t forget your Croakies, menfolk. Even if rain is predicted this year.

3.) Intown neighborhoods – Atlanta. Now until late May. If the traffic and the freeways and the Braves moving to bland, kinda ugly Cobb County have just worn you down, a calming Sunday afternoon drive through Atlanta’s oldest intown neighborhoods such as Ansley Park, Peachtree Battle, Brookwood Hills, even the more gaudy nouveau riche Buckhead enclaves like Blackland Road, will perk your spirits right up with their display of floral riches and lush, leafy tree canopies. Picture pretty lawns galore, and until some piece of shit ’95 Toyota Corolla wrapped together with Bungee cords and fishing line lunges into you, you can close your eyes and think you’re on the prettiest boulevard in France. Tom Wolfe describes it well in A Man In Full. Springtime as tonic.

4.) Lakes, rivers, and water-skiing. Anywhere South. Friends-with-boats are a good thing. Make some. Borrow some if you have to.

5.) The fields and valleys of Western North Carolina. Just go driving up there until you find them. You will. Take someone you’ve been hoping for with you, if you need to fall in love somewhere special. You will.

Atlanta, We Have A Media Problem

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I am deeply concerned about the dire condition of metro Atlanta online news outlets owned by the Cox Plantation (CP). Specifically the AJC and WSB-TV. Their homepaged car wreck carnage-media obsession is off the rails. Kinda literally, eh? I won’t bother to steal their freak show media and post it, or link to it, here though.

Headlining, banners, Tweets, Facebook posts, photos, alerts, whatever, on both sites (I don’t dare check on the broadcast product) are mostly scenes and shoutouts to ragingly gruesome car wrecks where people are mangled. To death. On our many metro Atlanta roadways. A never-ending supply of human roadkill. The more people killed in a single car, the more twisted and maimed the scene, so much the better for the Cox Plantation clickbait keyboard monkeys. And management too. More on that later.

But the CP will fall behind the times if they don’t soon turn their sicko and ghoulish headlining into that related to – suicide! The NYT (CDC) reports today that suicide rates in America have now surpassed death by car wreck. And this being Georgia, surely we’re way up on the top of that particular mortality listing, too.

Thus, the CP should have a good supply of suicide scene media for their homepages. Slide shows galore. The more hideous and bloody a suicide scene, the better for the CP. Suicide by gun can get top billing. Maybe even an award-winning (sure, tell the clueless intern that) shot of a family member discovering the scene of a relative hanging, dead of course, in a closet, if they’re lucky?

And if they’re really enterprising at the AJC or WSB-TV, their camera-burdened reporter bot/intern can sneak in some place and grab video of, hopefully for the management and data-watching team, some shotgun-blast-to-the-head video!

Hope it goes viral for them. Someone will get a pat on the head for their good-dog suicide scene multimedia efforting. Go for it, kiddies. And management too.

After all, it’s CP management that has allowed their deplorable, clickbaited editorial condition to deteriorate into mostly digital online news content that reeks of disgust and carnage.

Free America

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On freedom.

During the tedium of kids’ long, weekend sporting events (the wait around to wait around parts) the team moms’ thoughts turn to… Edward Snowden, whistleblowing, and the NSA. Naturally enough! Well, not really, but it can happen every now and then.

After the subject was broached to me by another news-savvy mom, along the lines of: Edward Snowden – traitor or hero?, I realized framing the Snowden whistle-blowing saga in that way (traitor or hero?) has me in a bottleneck. As I simply cannot answer that question. As it is an infinitely vast issue I refuse to frame in that way – merely boiling infinity (moreorless) down to two simple choices and/or components.

But in the spirit of putting everything in their simplistic little boxes I will now say that I think of Edward Snowden as a dark angel. Sent to tell us Americans we are by no means free. Nor do we enjoy freedom. At all. And to pity the fool who thinks otherwise.

Where do we go now? As if we could answer THAT question.

Local Data Mining: Where No Georgia Press Dare Go

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Investigative tech reporting in Georgia is non-existent. Other than cheerleading, Chamber-type stuff from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. There are startups incubated at Georgia Tech in the for-profit business of scraping data from social media sites, and then selling it back to organizations and business people, particularly folk in law enforcement. What’s commonly called “enterprise data mining.”

I know this because one company tried to sell me their lovely dashboard thingee. To which I replied, in a business-like manner of course at the meeting, “No thanks, I roll my own.”

Georgia law enforcement stores (years of) data scraped and mined from the general (presumed innocent) public, via such technology as license tag scanning. Lord knows what they then do with such data, and where (NSA?) they then feed that data, and the associated metadata, on to.

The head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Vernon Keenan, announced that factoid, rather proudly, to a room full of journalists at the Atlanta Press Club this summer. Not a single follow-up story on that matter, at least any I’m aware of. Not one.

Hasn’t the data-mining dilemma revealed by Glenn Greenwald piqued the slightest bit of interest on local angles to the dilemma just a little bit amongst Georgia press leadership? Seems not.

Come on MSM in Georgia. Do better.

Stumbling Into The Fifth Estate. Movie Review.

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So I went to see a man about a dog and ended-up at a screening of The Fifth Estate. Who knew bringing about world information transparency was just a simple tale of a bro’mance gone sour?

Had Benedict Cumberbatch not been so convincing as odd-man-out, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the film would have been unwatchable, with its cheesy, thin dialog punctuated by periodic stabs at bold statements of moral grandeur from the bottom of a pint glass. Trust me when I say Captain Kirk used to make the exact same kinds of speeches, except Kirk had a better haircut and he meant it.

My big mistake was to go into the screening (thank you for it, Atlanta Press Club, regardless) expecting a grand newsroom drama, as that’s how I’d always framed the Assange/Wikileaks phenom in my head: as a newsroom-based struggle (to redact or not) between Assange and Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian. Especially after having read the excellent book on the matter, Wikileaks, by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding.

But in The Fifth Estate, Assange gets schooled-up and sent out in the cold by flat, wet noodle Daniel, so boring he doesn’t even warrant a last name, his Wikileaks partner who, as the dreary, millennial-like IT guy, wouldn’t have known a journalism ethic if he’d accidentally fucked one.

Which, surprise, is how the filmmaker attempts to tack some character onto little Daniel – by giving him a woman, whereas Assange, by comparison, doesn’t get a Princess lady figure. As if he doesn’t deserve one. He does. But let’s move on.

Alas, the film is not the edgy, excited newsroom drama it easily could have been. Rather, It’s a story about how an unenlightened IT guy stumbled briefly in and out of greatness by hanging-out with Julian Assange at a conference, once; then blinged-out for younger, flimsier minds with sparkly footlights of unreadable digi-screen data scrolls, what passes nowadays for set decor.

That said, if you’re a borderline Assange groupie (admittedly, that would be me) and you’ve been jonesin’ for him bad during his self-imposed exile, the film will set you up nice with the calm of a Benedict Cumberbatch paper cup of fascinating-actor methadone, if not the real deal.

In other words, you’re in no danger of having troubling nightmares over The Fifth Estate, so do something nice for yourself and go see Cumberbatch on a big screen. And wake-up with a smile on your face instead of a questioning, roiled mind.

Crisis Management As Reality Show

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Photo by Brett Zongker, WIVB.com

District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier

A crisis nowadays brings out the hardcore working women in positions of leadership. Unfortunately, that’s the only time we really see them in wide media, as they are certainly not pop stars, singers, actors, dancers, and two-bit celebs and such.

Two we met yesterday, via mass media, were District of Columbia Police Chief, Cathy Lanier, and Dr. Janis M. Orlowski, chief operating officer at Washington Hospital Center.

Youths, these are the faces of career women in positions of genuine leadership. Not made-up and styled-up for a TV show or a date-night-out, but caught out doing their jobs. And in a crisis at that.

There’s your reality show.

A Piece Of One’s Own Action

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You know what’s a little scary? This is:

While visiting my bank today (and I’m not going to link to them because I truly don’t want to get my “personal” banker in trouble; he’s a good guy) I was surprised to see just how much our bank(s) know about us. And how much data they’re storing. And likely selling to whomever. Or heck, giving away too, to the Justice Department, just like Facebook, Google, AT&T, etc. And those are just a few of the server farms I “contribute” to.

During our sit-down today, my “personal” banker quietly turned his computer screen towards me, so that I could see everything on the screen too, as we went along with a seemingly innocuous bit of business.

Wow! That bank is keeping all kinds of information on me/us. They know a scary amount of stuff about my life over the time they’ve had me as a customer.

And they had a very nice, er, “content management system” for it all too. It’s all just one click away. For anyone with access to that “content management system.”

Dammit! I want a piece of my own action back.