Spam, Spam, Spam, And Spam

WordPress, which publishes our humble blog, provides a program that detects “spam” comments and segregates them from apparently legitimate comments.  Every once in a while you need to go into the spam folder and clean it out.  That is one of my jobs.

Most spam is self-evidently spammy.  The less inventive spam will just give a reference to a sex website.  Other times the would-be spammer tries to write something sufficiently generic that you conceivably might think it was written about your posting — if you were desperate enough for comments.  Here’s an example:  “Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you really understand what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally talk over with my site =). We will have a link change contract among us.”  Huh?  Like this example, most spam probably was originally written in Croatian and then translated, badly, into English.  The words are familiar, but the sentences may as well have been written by chimps randomly stringing words together.

I always think of the classic Monty Python spam song as I am doing my spam deletions:

Obsessing over Trayvon

Okay I have to admit it – I have been obsessed with the Trayvon Martin shooting after listening to the 911 tape (below) on You Tube where you can hear someone screaming numerous times for help, then gun shots, then silence. Each morning I wake up and the first thing I google is the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Brief details as to what happened on February 26, 2012 – Trayvon Martin a seventeen year old was a guest at the residence of his fathers girlfriend who lived in Sanford Florida. Trayvon went to a convenience store at 7:00 pm to get an iced tea and skittles. When he returned to the gated community George Zimmerman a neighborhood watch coordinator for the condo association took notice and placed a call to the police department reporting suspicious behavior on Trayvon’s part stating “he was walking around looking about”. During the call to police Zimmerman said that Trayvon “was starting to run and that he was going to follow him”, but the police dispatcher told Zimmerman that it wasn’t necessary and that they didn’t need him to do that because police were on the way. Zimmerman said “okay I will meet the police by the mail boxes”, but before hanging up he said “actually could you have him call me, and I’ll tell him where I’m at”. A confrontation occurred between the two, they got into a scuffle on the ground and Mr Zimmerman who had a gun shot Trayvon once in the chest and is claiming self defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

It should be noted that a number of burglaries had taken place in Zimmerman’s condo complex in the past year or so, but there are a few things about this story that just don’t sit right with me.

Is it fair on Zimmerman’s part to assume that because a person is “walking around looking about” that they are up to no good ? It was dark and raining, could Trayvon have been lost or confused as to which was the condo he was staying at.

Zimmerman did his job by alerting the police, but does he have the right to pursue Trayvon especially after he’s told not to do so ?

If Zimmerman had not had a gun would he still have pursued Trayvon ?

When they got into a scuffle on the ground does it seem reasonable for Zimmerman to claim self defense under the Stand Your Ground law when he was the one armed with a gun and outweighed Trayvon ?

If charges are brought against George Zimmerman I am hopeful that a public trial will answer some of these unanswered questions and I will be glued to court TV watching. It’s only my humble opinion, but every story has two sides to it, if charges are in fact brought against George Zimmerman then he will have the luxury of deciding whether or not it is in his best interests legally to tell his side of the story. As for Trayvon Martin, he can’t tell his side of the story because he’s dead.

Mike Wallace Signs Off

Mike Wallace died over the weekend.  He was 93 years old, and he left behind a true broadcast journalism legacy.

Wallace was synonymous with the CBS show 60 Minutes, where he was a regular contributor for more than 30 years.  His hard-hitting stories helped to make the broadcast the most popular show in the land, because watching Mike Wallace relentlessly drill down on a sweating interview subject was great television.  I’m confident that every sleazy politician, corporate executive, or head of a charity who got a phone call that Mike Wallace was doing a story and wanted an interview felt a cold chill and inward pucker, knowing the jig was up, the awful truth would be exposed, and there was nothing they could do about it.

Although people associate Wallace with his tough on-air persona, he also was a very capable journalist.  Unlike most modern broadcasters, he wasn’t all about theatrics.  His interviews and stories were usually thoroughly researched and carefully presented.  His approach followed that of radio and early TV newsmen who sourced their pieces just like print reporters did; they were simply using different technology to present the story.  At some point, broadcast “news” veered off into the land of preening personalities, titanic egos, empty suits, ambush interviews, and advocacy stories that never would have made it past an old-line editor.  Does anyone think that Katie Couric, Bill O’Reilly, Diane Sawyer, or Brian Williams — or any other modern newscaster — is comparable to Mike Wallace?

Wallace’s death not only marks the passing of a broadcast icon, it also marks the final and unfortunate end of an era.