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January 15, 2011

Writing columns for fun OR money?

By Bob Patterson

How much money would Rush Limbaugh earn in the time it takes you to read this column?


We have noted the relative sparse news coverage in American media of the floods in Brisbane Australia and in an effort to write about something that isn't on this week's Top Ten Blog Topics in the USA, we thought maybe we'd travel over to Brisbane California and see if there were any local angle stories there about efforts to help the folks in the city in Queensland.   Will the residents of Brisbane California do anything to celebrate   Australia Day on January 26?

In Berkeley, while debating that possible column topic, we encountered Sarah from Fremantle (in Western Australia), who was soliciting donations for the work being done by the Sierra Club.   After chatting about our fond memories of her hometown, we promised to mention the work being done by the Sierra Club and their continuing need for funds.

Thinking about the group, a favorite of Ansel Adams, and the work they do to preserve the treasures of nature which can be found in the USA, reminded us that in the latest news letter from the Beat Museum they mentioned that the US government was seeking help in manning the fire watch tower on Desolation Peak, which is the very same place where Jack Kerouac once worked on the same job.   It was while working on that job that he gathered the material used in his "Desolation Angels" book.   Here is the link from the newsletter:

Thinking about the scenic splendors of the American West reminded the writer that one of the big glaring omissions in our efforts to go everywhere and see everything is that we have never been to Sequoia National Park.   Since we have been having some difficulty trying to convince a high school classmate that California offers visitors both remarkable outdoor scenery and world class automobile museums that are just as good (or perhaps fueled by a resident's pride we might say "better"?) than those available in his adopted home state of New Jersey.   We may have to go there and write a "based on personal observation" column asserting that a visit there is worth the expenditure of some funds and effort for a fellow who owns a camper and lives near Newark.

Ilsa she-wolf of the World's Laziest Journalist's accounting department is very parsimonious about authorizing the expenditure of funds in an effort to gather material for use in columns written for posting on liberal websites.  

If we go to the Sequoia National Park, with or without Jersey Bill along on the venture, we would have to drop in occasional references to George W. Bush's cavalier attitude regarding the preservation of the natural beauty of places such as Yosemite, the Tahoe basin, the Monterey Peninsula, and Joshua Tree.   The inclusion of that partisan information would be an effort to placate Ilsa and various M.E.'s.   

At recent staff meetings at the World's Laziest Journalist's home office, we have made very tentative inquires to Ilsa about getting enough funds to travel to Germany to assess the various automobile museums there.   Her immediate response was to snarl "Nein!"   We amended the request and couched it in terms of taking a reading of the public opinion regarding America in cities such as Paris and Berlin.   It's been almost 67 years since the Yanks liberated Paris.   Have the existentialists' approval ratings of America slipped since then?   Does the Berlin airlift still count for points in the average German citizen's thinking about the USA?   We could intersperse that kind of information among the critiques of the various automobile museums encountered in the expedition.

The sad fact is that even if the exploration adventures gets Ilsa's approval, we would still have to be extremely cautious in the expenditure of funds because it's only the folks from the conservative media who earn exorbitant salaries and are not constricted by the rigors of   a tight budget.

The conservative propagandists have fewer restraints about the truthfulness of what they can say.   We were again made aware of the conservatives' liberal (oxymoron?) interpretation of the journalist's obligation to report only true facts while listening to a recent broadcast done by "America's anchor" Rush Limbaugh.   He astounded us by casually asserting that because the Tucson shooter was involved in a traffic stop early on Saturday morning, the local sheriff knew what evidence was in a safe at the home of the perp's parents. Does he do piece work and get paid so much for each and every lie he tells?

If el Rushbo's audience can't figure out that such a statement is absurd because the law enforcement officers couldn't know information gathered after the crime when something happened before the shooting started.   If logical contradictions don't' bother his legions of teabagging listeners, then the task facing those presenting an opposing point of view is tougher than the Sisyphus challenge.   Name for me one teabagger who insists that:   An argument is valid if and only if its corresponding   conditional is a logical truth.

Doesn't Rush's salary compute out to something like three dollar a second, one hundred eighty dollars a minute (exceptionalism?   Do you think that he is personally concerned by the pragmatic effects of lowering the minimum wage rate?), ten thou an hour, 32+ thou   for a three hour day, 160+ thou a week, $8 mil a year and doesn't that add up to make the reports of a 5 year contract worth $45 mil?   It's no wonder that he sounds so folksy and just like one of the boys in the local pub.   Not!   Think he has a personal interest in lower taxes for the rich?

Tossing casual references concerning inductive and deductive reasoning, syllogisms, and ad hominem arguments at a bunch of college educated liberals is one thing, but throwing them at teabaggers, who are certain that Rush is infallible, is an act of futility raised to the tenth power.   That existentialist errand brings to mind the old joke about the expert mule skinner who always started his first training session by whacking the animal in the face with a piece of lumber saying:   "First, ya gotta get their attention."

In "The Politics of Protest" (The Skolnick Report to the National Commission on the causes and prevention of violence) it states:   "The most violent single force in American history outside of war has been a minority of militant whites, defending home, family, or country from forces considered alien or threatening."   (Ballantine Books paperback 1969 contained in the summary on page xxiii)   Do teabaggers give a tinker's damn about that?

Wouldn't el Rushbo dismiss the entire report with a snarky one liner?

If teabaggers are not going to be concerned with facts; why should a columnist, who isn't being paid scads of money, bother with finding factual material just to preach to the choir (as it were)?

Speaking of talk show hosts, lately our efforts to listen to the Mike Malloy radio show have been complicated by the fact that numerous times the station switches to Dons Basketball.  

That, in turn, reminded us that Herb Graffis, writing in the September 1943 issue of Esquire magazine (reporting on that magazine's Sports Poll on page 104) quoted Professor Scott Nearing (a poll participant) who had commented:   "professional sport, including horse racing, is a dope peddled by the ruling class to keep the masses diverted and to prevent them from thinking about their troubles."   Which TV network is the leading brand for sports programming?

There has been numerous times recently when this columnist has written something and then not posted it for a variety of reasons.  

We've thought about doing the work necessary to gather the material for a potential column and then balked at the daunting task.

This week CBS radio news alerted us to the story about the opening of the first Gay Museum in the USA.   (If Rush talks about that topic after you have read this column, would it be a valid example of the post hoc; ergo propter hoc school of reasoning, to jump to the conclusion that he must read my columns?)

There is going to be a gun show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco this weekend.   Is it worth the effort to go there and then write a column about the event?   Wouldn't the results be rather predictable?

Do the readers of this website care about the fact that the tenth annual S. F. Sketchfest opened and will run until February 5?  

A total lack of motivation had paralyzed activities at the World's Laziest Journalist home office.   Then, on January 13, we broke our New Year's resolution to abstain from drinking coffee and immediately, despite the fact that it was a drizzly day, overcoming the obstacles to gathering column topics, writing them up, and getting to a web connection to post them disappeared.   Look out, world, here we come!

Is the courtroom in Nuremburg, where the War Crimes Trials were held, still in existence?   Is there a good automobile museum nearby?

Will Jim Romenesko plug our efforts if we write and post our annual Columnists' Day column early this year?  

One of the basic principles for happy vagabonding is "travel light," and we might not take along our laptop.   Heck, there were plenty of internet cafes in Australia, so maybe France and Germany have kept pace?

Maybe, before we go, we will do the work necessary to get the Berkeley City Council to name Simon and Garfunkel's song, "Mrs. Robinson," as the city's official song?   That song was in the iconic Sixties film of the same name.   Who can think of the Sixties without thinking of Berkeley and Sproul Plaza?   That might get some good column material, eh?

San Francisco's ninth annual Noir City film Festival is about to commence.   Seeing some of the films that will be shown is sure to inspire some heavy duty political punditry on our part.

If a writer has a good cup of coffee available at six in the morning; who needs obscene amounts of dollars?   Especially if the columns that get written help inspire Jersey Bill to cross the California state line.   (At other times he's gotten as close as Oregon and Arizona.)   How much would Rush have earned in the time it took you to read this far?

On the topic of writing columns, George Will has been quoted (in "Pundits, Poets, & Wits:   An Omnibus of American Newspaper Columns" gathered by Karl E. Meyer Oxford University Press 1990) as saying:   "The amazing thing is that something this much fun isn't illegal."    Yeah, well if JEB Bush gets elected, he may figure out a way to have a law which makes columns written by liberals illegal; so it may be a case of enjoy it while can.

Now the disk jockey will play the "Best of Edith Piaf" album, the soundtrack album for "Cabaret," and John Wayne's album, "America Why I Love Her."   We have to go and look for a copy of "Europe on $5 a day."   Have a "Triumph of the Will" type week.

Authors Website:

Authors Bio:

BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future Pulitzer Prize winner. (Eddie Adams in the AP lunch room told him to get rid of the everready case for his new Nikon F). A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter broke BP in on the police beat for a small daily in Pa. By 1975, Paul Newman had asked for Bob's Autograph.
(Google this: "Paul Newman asked my autograph" and click the top suggested URL.)
His co-workers on the weekly newspaper in Santa Monica,(in the Seventies) included a future White House correspondent for Time magazine and one of the future editors high up on the Playboy masthead. Bob has been to the Oscar ceremony twice before Oscar turned 50.
He is working on a book of memoirs tentatively titled "Paul Newman Asked for my Autograph." In the gold mining area of Australia (Kalgoorlie), Bob was called: "Col. Sanders."