Archive for June, 2012


June 29, 2012

The IMAX Experience at the National Infantry Museum is going to do what I thought it needed to do a long time ago, run a top-notch first-run IMAX movie. The Dark Night  Rises is going to open at IMAX the same day it opens nationally, July 20th.  Maybe this will attract enough people that the word will get around about the power and enjoyment of an IMAX experience. Of course, in my view, you get close to that experience when you watch a BigD movie at the Carmike 15.    

Go to this link to read all about it:  IMAX 

My Take on “Rather Outspoken” by Dan Rather

June 26, 2012

Dan Rather’s book “Rather Outspoken” was especially interesting to me, having met with him personally a few times, and having followed his career with CBS News.

Just as he did, I always thought of CBS News back in the old days as being the gold standard of broadcast journalism.  We both had great respect for the news organization that Edward R. Murrow built starting during  World War II.

Murrow’s gutsy reporting got too much for CBS head Bill Paley and he was forced out, but others, people  like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather continued that tradition, and were backed at crucial times such as the Watergate scandal by CBS President Frank Stanton and Paley.

But, Rather now says that changed and the network decided not to continue in  the CBS News Murrow and Cronkite tradition, opting to trend toward entertainment, and forcing him out in the process.  He also says the switch didn’t work, ratings fell, and now the network has decided to, fortunately, go back to practicing serious journalism.

Meanwhile, though 80 years old, he continues to do weekly news documentaries for the HDNet. And, as the flap of the book says, he would like to see more investigative journalism programs like his, “even in the face of corporatization, politization, and trivialization of the news”.

The flap also says, “Dan Rather also makes an eloquent case for the critical importance of a free and independent press as a check on political power, and its responsibility to be the voice of the people, to force government to be fair, reasonable, and democratic.” Amen.

He spends a lot of time in the book defending the report about former President George W. Bush’s alleged disobeying a direct order, and either going AWOL or being a deserter while in the Texas Air National Guard. That was the story that caused the network to force him out, he says. To this day, he maintains the report was correct.  Not everyone agrees.

All in all, the book was a page-turner for me.  He made a lot of enemies during his tenure at CBS News,  and he admits that and thinks making people angry is going to happen when investigative reporters do their jobs.  But, the fact is, he was and still is a courageous reporter, and it paid off for him for a long time. And he’s still at it.

It’s Not What You Say; It’s How You Say It

June 24, 2012

When incivility pays off – and sometimes it does very well, think Rush Limbaugh – it’s hard to curb it. But, it has gotten so bad that some places are actually initiating public programs to combat it.  There is one in Oshkosh, Wisconsin  called the Oshkosh Civility Project.  You can check it out at this link.

Why the 20th Century was the Most Violent in History

June 18, 2012


The 20th Century was not the century of two World Wars and a Cold War, but the century of a single Hundred Years War.

Nationalism didn’t cause the conflicts. Empires did. It wasn’t ideologies of class or the influence of democracy or socialism that drove the century. It was race.

Though we thought the West had triumphed, the truth is that power moved towards the Eastern empires.

Those are the controversial assertions of Scottish historian Niall Ferguson in his documentary series War of the World, which is also a highly acclaimed book.  I saw three of the documentary episodes on Netflix, but there is also a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers it free.  You can check it out by clicking this link.

The Ferguson doc is not only exceptional for the creative way it is written and produced, but for a new way of understanding why the 20th Century is the most violent in history. 

One of his interesting claims is that World War III is not in the future.  It started right after World War II.  In other words, the Cold War was actually hot. The United States and the Soviet Union couldn’t fight directly because of the guaranteed mutual destruction that a nuclear exchange would engender.  They fought it through proxy countries.  A couple of good examples were Korea and Vietnam. 

The shift of empire power to the East  started in 1905 when the Japanese sank two-thirds of the Russian fleet.  Up until then the West truly dominated the world, with its empires subjugating  the East. Those empires have since been demolished.  Nations like China and India are ascending.

 And he points out that  war can cause the good guys to be bad guys as they adopt the tactics of the bad guys, using as examples the massive killing of civilians by bombardment from artillery and the air in World War II.

His findings are controversial, but he has a good case for his positions.  Watch the series and tell me what you think.   

Howard “Bo” Callaway is in Intensive Care at Emory Hospital

June 10, 2012

Howard “Bo” Callaway at a recent Rotary Club of Columbus meeting

We are sorry to learn that former Sec. of the Army and leader of Callaway Gardens Howard “Bo” Callaway is in intensive care at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. He complained of a headache Wednesday,  was hopitalized in Columbus and transported to Emory.  A news release from Callaway Gardens says that it has been determined that the “85-year-old Callaway, who is otherwise in very good health, has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and underwent emergency surgery.”

Edward Callaway,  one of Bo Callaway’s sons, who is now Chairman of the Board and CEO of Callaway Gardens said, “Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated at this time.”

The family requests privacy as Callaway works his way to recovery.

My association with him goes back to 1964 when he became the first Republican from Georgia to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives since reconstruction.

I also covered him when he ran for governor and ended up losing in the Georgia House of Representatives to Lester Maddox.  The election ended up in the House when none of the candidates received a majority in the general election.

And I went to Washington to cover his swearing-in as Sec. of the Army.

He is definitely a Georgia historical figure who has achieved a lot over the years.

TV is not the Wasteland that it Once Was

June 4, 2012

Television may still be a wasteland, but no longer a vast one.  Former Federal Communications Chairman Newton Minow, who was appointed to the FCC by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, coined the “vast wasteland” phrase in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, complaining of the endless junk on commercial TV at the time.  

Newton Minow (Photo courtesy: Newton Minow)

He told the broadcasters at the NAB convention, “When television is good, nothing – not the theater, not the magazine or newspapers – nothing is better. But when it is bad, nothing is worse.”  Then he challenged them to sit down in front of their TV sets a for a day and watch their station’ s programming and added, “I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”

 At the time, in most cities, there were usually only three or four channels to watch, so that gave the three major networks a lot of power to influence the public.  With the advent of cable, that changed, and now we have hundreds of channels to choose from, and there is some really fine programming available, though, it’s definitely not in the majority.

For instance, I just finished watching  the PBS The War of the World series.  It has given me a truly interesting perspective on the causes of the many wars of the 20th century, the most violent century in history.  For instance, Niall Fergurson, the Scottish historian who wrote and narrated the series, maintains that World War III is not something that could happen. It’s something that has already happened.  More on that in a future post.    


CSU’s Coca-Cola-Space Science Center’s Venus Transit Project In USA Today

June 3, 2012

The CCSSC is making a national name for itself with its webcasting of the transit of Venus  on Tuesday. Go to the following  link to read the USA Today story.