Gimme Rewrite! Newsspeak = Newspeak


From Merriam-Webster Free Online Dictionary:

definition of MILITANT

: engaged in warfare or combat : fighting
: aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative <militant conservationists> <a militant attititude
The story gives an account of one boy who was kidnapped, and turned up the next day beheaded in the local livestock  market and goes on to report a spate of such killings recently.  Snatching and decapitating unarmed teens is certainly not combat, but I suppose you could characterize lopping off heads as being “aggressively active.”

Examples of MILITANT

  1. an angry and militant speech
  2. political radicals with a militant unwillingness to compromise on any issue

Well, sure, beheading does indicate a certain intransigence.

Definition of ATTACK

: the act of attacking with physical force or unfriendly words : assault
: a belligerent or antagonistic action
a : a fit of sickness; especially : an active episode of a chronic or recurrent disease b : a period of being strongly affected by something (as a desire or mood)

Well, okay, head-taking certainly would fall under the legal category of assault, and whoever did this most certainly got up in the morning feeling more than a little belligerent.

Then lost his head, so to speak.

And even definitions 3a and b work,since these guys definitely have a strong desire  to sever skulls, and do it repeatedly,

Now, this really isn’t funny: neither the actions themselves, which bad as they are, can be expected from the quarter whence they come.  What is worse is this kind of reporting which day after day reduces horrors to the mundane, and eventually banal, and sanitizes evil as savagery is called militancy in a cause.  It as if Holocaust histories were written without those grainy photos of heaped corpses, and instead used MSexcel generated graphs.

Here’s how they might have done it i the old days when there were no journalism schools, and reporters wore fedoras, smoked cigars and yelled “gimme rewrite” just before deadline.

“Islamic terror leaves headless kids across war torn Mogadishu.”

A more uptown approach might have been something on the order of:

“As Al Shabab Islamists emulate the barbarism  their prophet founder, Muhammed, first demonstrated against the Jews of Khaybar in the Seventh Century, the headless corpse of Qadar Omar Siyad, 19, was found among trash and offal in the city’s cattle market.  He was the latest victim in a string of brutal murders of young boys over the last few weeks.”

Note the parenthetical historical context, of the sort most reports on such actions in the Islamic world never contain.  This would refer later to a wrap up paragraph showing that beheading is inherent in Islamic texts and actions, across regions and history.

Not bad as a lead in, if I do say so myself. “Trash and offal” set the scene economically,  in a sensory manner.  You can smell the filth and see the flies, and this boy’s body given no more consideration than the waste of the slaughter house.

The story writes itself from there.  I learned this stuff in high school.  What they appear to learn in journo school these days is a a kind of etiolated prose that fills column inches, but sucks away meaning, so that “news providers” have become a self reinforcing constellation of ministries of truth, a gulag archipelago for language from which truth rarely escapes, with nary a Winston Smith or Solzhenitsyn among the workers  feeding the memory hole.

Gimme rewrite.

What’s in a Name?

Sometimes nothing.

I have a problem with Palin.

Not Sarah, Bristol.

Don’t get me wrong  I have nothing against the kid; it’s her name,

Why does someone name child after a historic British coal port( the Bounty was a refitted Bristol collier: just had to throw that in. I know a lot of stuff), particularly  someone named Sarah, with its Biblical   resonance of patience and hope, a name much favored in in colonial America, and parenthetically, the name of a beloved grandaunt of mine?

If her parents had continued with the same theme,  perhaps they would have named Trig and Track Weymouth and Dartmouth.  Kinda classy, eh? As to Willow and Piper, I’m out of ideas here.  Cardiff seems a bit butch, and Southhampton pretentious.

This is a good point to say that I am not going after Ms Palin here.  The governor has had more than her hare of scurrilous ad hominem attacks, as any fair minded person would note, regardless of one’s opinion of her politics.

Rather, Bristol’s name is a prominent example of a phenomenon that has irked me for decades,  Made up names with no etymology that suddenly appear, so that suddenly every other child you meet bears them..

In the 80s there was Brittany, and I wondered where her sister Normandy might be.  Then came Brie, who surely merited two stalwart brothers, Roquefort and Camembert.  Good names for musketeers.

And first came Kimberley.  If you are going to name your daughter for a South African gold field, why not go on?  Siblings might be Durban for a boy, and Pretoria for his sister.  The was a Nicholson movie in the 80s( Possibly “Heartburn”), wherein Jack recounts some of his less well advised flings to a woman he is getting to know.  When he mentions a “Kimberley,” his date raises her eyebrows and Jack explains, “She was one of the early Kimberleys,” Kimberley then already a cynosure( I’ve been waiting ever so long to stick “cynosure,” in somewhere, maybe since high school.)  for vapid, very young, and probably blonde.

My antipathy for this kind of name, may spring in part from my Catholic upbringing.  Catholics had proper names – the names of saints, even if some, like Philomena and Christoper, turned out never to have existed.  Rich proddies, of the old Anglo ascendancy we still resented, had last names for first names, like Everett and Eliot.  Names from the old testament were mostly for long dead people in American history, although half the Jewish boys we knew seemed to have been named Joshua.

So what’s behind these faddish names from nowhere?  Even when I was quite young, I resented signs such as Ye Old Malt Shoppe( I’m not making this up; it was on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, New York)  This was America, not “Merrie Englande” and we didn’t need to pretend to be anything other than what we were.

I’m much too lazy to follow this line of inquiry on the internet; someone must have studied it  – someone has studied pretty much everything, and instead,prefer to speculate.  The names, I think, represent an inchoate longing for a status or history that is perceived as superior to one’s own.  An early example of this was in second generation immigrant kids with Anglo names.  Everyone knows a Jewish Seymour ( Surely no kin to Lady Jane).  I had a fifth grade classmate called Aldrich Carmenini.

In my view the phenomenon is most sadly apparent in names that have become popular in black America since the Civil Rights Era.  The parents of Rashads, Maliks, ,and Jamals surely had no knowledge of the Arab slave trade.  As to Taneisha, Kenisha, Sheneika and so on, they are categorized as afro-centric, but look at a few newspapers from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, and you find that they certainly are not African.  As for the many names beginning with La, and others with superfluous apostrophes and ending with accents graves(D’vonte ), their origin may be  the same fawning reference  to Europe  as the height of “class” seen in “ye olde.”

This is a pity.  I am in the middle of Simon Schama’s “Rough Crossings: the Slaves, the British and the American Revolution,” and reflect as I often have, that no community is more deeply rooted   in American history than Black Americans.  There would be no shortage of names to reflect this   Martin is pretty obvious, but Douglass tells a story, and if Sojourner is a mouthful, Truth would be a lovely name for a girl.

I do wonder if  the naming customs I speak of reflect a loss of a sense of place, origin, and continuity, when the past is forgotten, and the future obscure   Perhaps I simply fret too much, and in years to come, other generations will be named in memory of the deeds and accomplishments of a host of  Bries, Kimberleys, Latoyas and D’Vontes.

And to any Kimberleys and others who might chance upon this: nothing personal. A name is what you make of it.


CNN Watch

While the parachute jornos are celebrating the fall of the dictator in Tripoli, and the advent of democracy(Note a draft Constitution with a shariah dominance provision is up on the net, provenance unsure, but we shall see),  the rewrite squad is busy back home making sure events fit the narrative.

“Israeli warplanes strike Gaza”Aug 25 2011 )3:21GMT

The obligatory shot of casualties being rushed to hospital leads off.

Let.’s see, “missiles struck a social club”.  I wonder if they were playing dominoes And then there is an air-strike on a tunnel between Rafa and Egypt.  What are these tunnels for?  Not for legitimate cargoes which Israel passes through every day.

An Islamic Jihad “militant” killed is described as “a victim”

I lose track; how many ceasefires this week from Hamas( of course Islamic Jihad and such have nothing to do with Hamas, who is only the government.)

The article later refers to the cross border incursion from Sinai

CNN mentions ten rockets fired from Gaza Wednesday, without casualties in Israel. Since Friday’s attack, I remember more than that, but I don’t have the patience to comb the wires for them.  The implication here, as it always is,  is “Hey no one got hurt.  Why get angry?”.

This same lopsided view is evident in some hand wringing reported from the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East who “remains worried about the continuing tensions, in particular the escalation of violence in Gaza and  Southern Israel.”

The only straight talk is from the IDF:

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israel citizens and IDF soldiers, and will respond with determination to any attempt to use terror against the State of Israel.”

Here’s where it gets really weird: this article is the mobile version.   Like a lot of people I scroll the headlines in the morning; it’s too much work to turn on the laptop.When I went to the full web page to paste the previous text, I fund a completely different, and I must say, more nuanced article, with an earlier deadline

Israel says it killed Islamic Jihad militant in airstrike

By the CNN Wire Staff
August 24, 2011 — Updated 0855 GMT (1655 HKT)

What is going on here?  I give up.  CNN?  I prefer Al Jazeera – at least, with the name, you know were they are coming from.

“I have Seen the Enemy – And It’s PowerPoint”

I don’t have an awful lot to do, so tonight after a pleasant dinner on the terrace, I went over to the State Department Counter terrorism  site( and had a look at “Defining the enemy.”

Al Qaeda is seen as the threat – others are not mentioned.  “AQ aims to overthrow the existing world order and replace it with a reactionary, authoritarian, transnational entity.”

This is known as the Islamic Caliphate. That’s what Qeeda calls it, as do many other groups, and as it has been known throughout Islamic history.  Just because Glen Beck has picked up on it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

While it does mention “intense religious convictions” the section manages to speak about Al Qaeda without ever using the words Islam, Islamic, or Muslim.  One notices the absence of Hezbollah, Hams and the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, omitted perhaps in deference to outreach efforts.

The rest sounds like the hand out at a particularity soporific PowerPoint presentation. “Perfect Storm” is used once, and I would bet there were plenty of “going forwards” as as well at the live roll out.

For a more nuanced view, try the National Counter terrorism Center, An Agency of USG(  Their World Wide Incidents Tracking System(WITS) is easy to use and clearly shows that most terrorists are Muslims, and sadly, so are most of their victims,  Or simply view the FBI’s most Wanted: there is a guy called San Diego( no kidding) on there but the rest are, you know…

I’m going to watch people doing stupid things on Youtube now,

End Game in Libya…

But more fun and games to come.

When I posted to blogs and Facebook my caveats on the Egyptian Revolution I was called a mean spirited pessimist.

The rise of the Brotherhood, something never in doubt, the increasing visibility of salfis, and the sweeping of the remnants of the face book crowd  from Tharir square by hundreds of thousands shouting for  a sharia state a couple of weeks ago, the ongoing persecution and killings of Copts , Death to Israel chants from the very beginning, the loss of control of the Sinai border – would ,  I should think at least give pause to optimists.

I am mean spirited towards tyranny, but as in Egypt, the happy multitudes in Green Square have my best wishes, but my doubts as to their future remain. The Arab history of tyranny and the deeply seated grip of Islam on ts adherents will, I fear, bring not freedom as we in the West define it, but more repression, a repression that will be embraced by many, if not most of those celebrating now.

Now, for a confession.

When Ghadaffi first took over, I sort of liked the  guy.  Its hard to picture now, when for decades he has cavorted on the world scene as a bloated and highly eccentric dictator with a rather odd taste in dress, a praetorian guard of multi-ethinc amazons, and has been a murderer of his own people and Innocent westerners, but he was once a slim, good looking young man.  He  had overthrown the US puppet king Idris, and modestly retained his rank of Colonel.  Being, at the time, in a mildly lefty third world romantic phase, I thought he was kinda cool.

Age may dim vision, but experience should dispel illusion.

We may not see another strong man in Libya, but committees can run enduring tyrannies, as Iran demonstrates.  Look for religious leadership taking a strong role in the new government,  and civil society organizations being sidelined.

And worse, as in the case of Mubarak, a bad guy who kept the lid on departs and things get worse,  Sources as disparate as the NYT,  WSJ, and Rolling Stone have reported on experienced Al Qaeda fighters, native to Eastern Libya, returning for Iraq to join the fight,

This is  not only an opening to radicalism, but also a strategic possibility for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and in time more pressure on the Algerian generals.

One thing I can predict with fair certainty will be calls from The US and EU to fund reconstruction  aid.  This would be a slap in the face to the recession( Never mind what the economists say, feels like a recession to me) bound. populations of these countries, but I have no doubt the coffers will be opened, Brussels has no accountability at all to those it rules; Cameron saw fit to cut UK higher education(real cuts – not baseline budgeting malarkey)  while forking over billions of quid for education in Pakistan, and I expect Obama very shortly to use executive fiat to send some “humanitarian” cash to Libya. He has shown no hesitance in using this power in regards to war making and immigration,

Par for the course, but still  a monstrous insult to the electorates of the West. The decades of failure in aid trnasfers, and trhe recent disclosures on millions transferred to enemy organizations and individuals in Afghhanistan should be lessons enough.  the MarshallPlan was essentially a family affair, but outside the West, aid has never produced prosperity, let alone gratitude..

Libya has oil. Let them pay their own bills,  We should send an accounting for  NATO’s role as well.

What do I know?

I’m not expert, but I can read, and remember, and learn.

More than the governing elites can manage.

Chillin’ on the Vineyard

Well they are off to Blue Heron Farm again.  Has a nice “green” ring to it, dontcha think?

The President has to work off that stress from…, I dunno…doing President stuff?  It certainly can’t be from serious and thoughtful considerations of economic policy options, since we’ve seen none.  And none are necessary since Bush and the Tea Party did it.  Let them fix it – whatever needs fixing,

Nor can it be from emergency sessions on  stemming Gunwalker from  turning.into Watergate,  The media, with the NYT leading the  defense, has the palisades guarded on that one,

And Potus surely isn’t exhausted from working up a common response with our allies to potentially apocalyptic events in the Middle East and South Asia, as we don’t have any allies – you know, states with real power who could like help if the shit hit the fan,  Who needs Israel when you’ve got Fatah and the Muslim Brotherhood?

Islamic terrorism?  Adapting the OIC anti- defamation of religion protocol will defuse that.  Once Israel is gone( Okay, maybe a one-state solution – anybody remember Zimbabwe-Rhodesia?) and we show a proper respect for Islam we will enjoy peace and the fruits of that religion’s genius, to which the president referred in his Cairo speech and Iftar dinner(this year, and last year, and the year before…sooner or later the message will get through).

Or is it that exhausting Iowa bus trip in a one million dollar plus Canadian ( I thought Democrats were against outsourcing)built bus?  Willy Nelson or Dolly Parton would have rented him theirs, I’m sure, If he asked,  Anyway, once we have an ineffectual army and universal health care, aside from the weather and a bunch of people who speak crappy French , nobody will be able to tell the difference between Canada and the US.

Oh wait a minute, they have a strong currency, resource driven economic boom, adequate energy supplies, and sound fiscal policy,  And high home ownership rate and healthy housing  market without ever having had a mortgage deduction or Fannie or Freddy, so the sunbirds are snapping up Florida second homes with the high flying Loonie.

Never mind, the real reason I’m pissed is the taxpayer bill for the Vineyard security, and the absolute contempt for the ordinary joe,  many of whom have no jobs to vacation from, that the location shows.  Well,ok, he doesn’t have a farm like Jimmy Carter, or ranch like Reagan and Dubya, or a Maine beach house like Bush the elder, or a Hyannisport compound like the Kennedys.  So Obama follows another parvenu, Bill Clinton, to the playground of old money,and new elite status, The Vanity Fair crowd will all be there.

What’s wrong with Camp David?  FDR starrted it up.

Um, it has knotty pine panelling.  Ike hung out there a lot.  It’s just so fifties,

As are integrity, competence and courage, as absent from this administration as will be the President from Washington for the rest of August.

Sometimes Love ISN’T All You Need

I went over to the Huffington Post today, as I do to Daily Beast and the Nation sometimes, just to see what the clueless are coming up with.

An article on the President’s roll back of illegal immigrant deportations caught my eye( I don’t use the term “undocumented:”  to me that means you lost your passport).

Expecting to see an endless thread of praise for the Wise Leader’s humane policy, I was pleasantly surprised to see comments running twenty to one against in the five pages I scrolled through.

At one point the HuffPo moderator commented that she wasn’t “feeling the love in this thread.”  This feel good and ancient bromide was a galvanic stimulus to the already agitated commentators.

There were as you might expect the usual all caps exclamations that the fate of the nation depends  removing the arch-traitor POTUS, but most  were well well thought out, and seriously concerned, and incensed at another executive end run around the law.

Wondering if I had chanced upon a late swell of “right wing troll” postings, I went to the end of the thread.  Here I found a slightly higher number of posters with the President, but still greatly outnumbered.  Moving forward from there, the outrage increased, and the defenders seemed to have just given up.

Immigration is set to be a major issue in the 2012..

Republicans – 2012: Here They Go Again

Republicans 2012: what do we have so far…

I said to myself  s more than a year ago that the  Republicans  would come  up with tired non starters like abortion, prayer in schools, flag burning,  family values and so on, when instead they have the opportunity to speak to economic and security issues of critical importance to Americans of all persuasions. With Perry and Bachman, we can only hope they stay on  message and don’t go off  tilting at their tired, but comfortingly familiar, windmills.


Michelle Bachman,  whose stance on gays means that she’s lost most of them, and their straight supporters, as well a people who just want to live and let live, can‘t seem to walk around the block without motioning her faith. The nature of the American electorate requires  even William Jefferson Clinton to shed a solitary tear in a black church, but this is excessive.

Rick Perry’s been praying  for rain.  Secularist conservatives like me may as well pray to a higher power for deliverance from Obama.  It doesn’t look like it’s coming from the Republicans.

Romney is a Mormon, so he loses the orthodox Christians who view Mormonism as a non Christian cult, which is surely is.  He was  responsible for a proto- Obama  care in Massachusetts so he loses the Tea Party  He is in the unenviable position of saying he was wrong to get them back, or perhaps saying he was right in the vain hope that some liberal progressives will take a look. The anti-RINO crowd won’t deal with him.  In any case the buzz is on Bachman and Perry, with the media already demoting him from frontrunner to has been status.

And it’s easy to go after muscular Christians: they make such easy targets.  Religion in public life troubles me; it scares the hell out of liberals who when encountering someone born again act as if they a had met one of the undead.

Michelle Goldberg in the Daily Beast today(August 15)  attempts  to slay the beasts as she writes to makes a case that Bachman and Perry have troubling ties to Christian Dominionists. This is certainly worth looking into, but I do wish Goldberg and others on her side of the fence would  also take a look at such phenomena as Hizbut Tharir’s recent convention in Chicago. Dominion seems scary only if it’s sought by Christians, while liberals seem to view Islamists as the kind of interesting folks they might encounter on a trip to Morocco,

In my view she goes for the racist knockout punch against Bachman, and overstates her case against Perry..  She does not, perhaps because she cannot, establish the existence of direct ties to anti-constitution Dominionists; rather, she cites “influences” at one or two removes.  Despite the ignorance of the anti slavery movement in American history she displayed on Anderson Cooper 360, Bachman does not endorse the “peculiar institution of the Old South,” as Ms Goldberg clearly implies by citing Bachman’s enthusiasm for the work of historian( I guess that’s what he calls himself) David Barton, who does.  One could point to Barrack Obama and Bill Ayres, degrees of separation: zero.  It would be uncharitable to refer to Joe Biden’s grasp of the history of electronic media.,

In the kind of incestuous citation that passes for research these days, Goldberg quotes extensively from Ryan Lizza’s piece on Bachman in the New Yorker, who “ explains that Bachmann is a believer in a kind of Christian conservative re-imagining of slavery, where ‘many Christians opposed slavery’ but owned them anyway and didn’t free them because ‘it might be very difficult for a freed slave to make a living in that economy; under such circumstances setting slaves free was both inhumane and irresponsible.’ How charitable of them! “

Do you get the impression from the quotation marks that these are Bachman’s words?  I did, but after going to the New Yorker article, I learned that the enclosed quotes were from a book “Christianity and the Constitution,” by John Eidsmoe, for whom she worked as a research assistant..

The article goes on to describe Perry‘s “ties” to the Apostolic Reformation  Party.  In the usual shoddy journalism customary to any sort of partisan piece, Goldberg says that the Apostolics “see Perry as their ticket to power“.  And say that some members have told Perry that Texas is a “Prophet State”, a sort of home for a vanguard of chrtianists,  Was she present at this conversation?  Who said what.  Notice than Goldberg cannot quote Perry as saying anything on the subject. Goldberg’s thesis may well be true, but as he writes for the choir, apparently she sees no need to prove it,

So I could easily write all  this off as another progressive/liberal hatchet job   One wonders that such commentators reserve their ire for Christians of non- mainstream, or to be fair in the case of some of the people Bachman has worked with, radical views, but have nothing to say about the sorts of people who showed up at the President’s iftar dinner,( How’s that for separation of church and state?), but what troubles me most is the “reporting.”  I have no doubt that I will come across similar technique on the other side as well.  I’ll be looking, but damn, it gets tedious.

Journalists left  and right do themselves no favors by writing such convoluted pieces attempting to weave and delineate conspiracies, when the facts alone are compelling  enough, and if clearly spoken to, will support their case,  And they would save their busy readers a good deal of time.



Dark Thoughts

Not now — then! Ask ’em when they’re running out. Ask ’em when there’s no heat in their homes and they’re cold. Ask ’em when their engines stop. Ask ’em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won’t want us to ask ’em. They’ll just want us to get it for ’em!

“Three Days of the Condor” 1975

Have you ever, perhaps a night,alone thought.  The oil, just effen take it ?

No war for oil?  Why not?  In the event that an enemy cut our supplies, would that not be an act of war?  Roosevelt’s cut off of strategic materials to the Japanese was a major boost to the war party in Tokyo, and the impetus behind their drive south too Southeast Asia.

Of course, they were the bad guys.

The oil cartel has in the last four decades effected a transfer of wealth against which the plunder of the New World by European empires pales.

The irony is that the Middle Easter fields were discovered and developed by the Americans and the British.  These deposits then became the sovereign wealth of states mostly either created from the former empires, or under the  influence of the metropolitan countries – and the US.

Why do we put up with it,  Because we are not the bad guys anymore,  There was no War for OIl:so far,  not one drop from Iraq.  Kuwait did pay off its much smaller rescue Iraq says to shove off,.

But we don’t just take stuff anymore,  Instead we fool around with windmills and CAFE, put obstacles in the way of gas piplines from Canada, stop drilling in the Gulf, and subsidize domestic methanol when we could get it cheaper from Brazil. If( or when) one day an oil producing enemy, such as Iran and perhaps a radicalized Sauidi Arabia( which would have a differnet name) did interdict our supply a casus belli would exist.

The Eastern fields of Saudi Arabia are particularly vulnerable and could easily be secured. Iran’s production is localized as well.   Either of these would be, more than enough production to break the cartel.

So do I, in such a near armageddon, advoate coming in like PIzarro and Cortez?

No;  Oil could be pumped and paid for, at a fair market price, the monies perquisite in escrow for return after a just peace,

Because we are good guys.

If we weren’t, we would also calculate the monstrous overcharges from the OPEC Era and take that as well, inflation adjusted upwards.  I wonder if there would be any oil left at all by the time they paid us back.

Flyover State: Fort Wayne Indiana

The term  “flyover state” says it all: at best an amused contempt and frequent face palms for the folks who live between SFO/LAX and JFK( Not quite sure where  ORD fits here – perhaps Lakeshore Chcago and the Northwestern suburbs might be seen as a kind of lightly garrisoned base of the coastal mindset.) A place where Wallmart yobbos cling to their guns and religion

Recently  I had  the good fortune to spend some time in Fort Wayne.  What did I see out  in  the wasteland?

First, an airport, that with its aviation exhibit is a destination in itself,  Clean and airy, the design taking the eye to the open sky.  Friendly, helpful ground staff staff, both airline and TSA.  The cleanliness and order are a rebuke to the outright squalor of JFK and LAX/..(SFO I gotta say is looking good)

Supermarkets bursting with summer produce, a visual and olfactory feast.  You would expect that in the MIdwest, but how about an olive bar, with thirty odd varieties?  An array of cheeses including not only varieties from across the country and Europe, but local artisan products as well, in all a delicious  and dizzying spread of choices  that would require a gross of boxes of water biscuits to merely sample.

In the super the choice of wines and beers was excellent, but in a number of specialist beverage stores,it was truly stupefying.  Local craft beers, regional from across the country, and both the greats and lesser-knowns from Europe, Latin America and Asia.   And wine of course California, not to mention Washington, Oregon, Virginia, Indiana, and even Texas. Australia Europe, Latin America.  Staff are helpful and knowledgeable.  Prices: negative sticker shock after Cali.

My daughter,her husband and ew baby Leah livie in  a four bedroom house with a good size yard for $120,000, easily affordable on one salary,and large enough for their two dogs and as many children as they wish to have.

Lovely, shaded roads in good shape.  No bumps, potholes and half-assed patches as I saw in California. The country side green and ripe with the scent of high summer.  Starry nights, and a bone white moon without the penumbra of pollution. Clear, robin’s egg blue skys in the day.

Oh yeah, they have Blackberries and iPhones out there too.  What about “diversity?”  Well, the area is mostly white, which is an offense in some quarters, but I also saw black folks, East Indians, Asians, and Mexicans, all apparently having more or less the same amount of money to spend, some of which they are putting out for new cars.  The roads are not filled with the clunkers you see in Cali these days.

Yes there are a lot of very large people there, more than you see in SF, at any rate.  But there are also  trails filled with runners and walkers. And the lovely, fresh-faced girls the Beach Boys sang about.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the cultural scene but the local zoo has an astonishingly diverse and perfectly curated exhibit on the Indonesian rain forest.  The place was filled with people not only enjoying the animals, but listening to docent lectures and taking part in activities so that they could learn about, and help preserve an environment half way around the world, one that they may never see, but clearly care about.

There was a street fair downtown, but what with the granddaughter’s birth missed that.   Letters to the editor in the local paper, from both sides of the political divide, and the center, were thoughtful and literate.

I hit one outlet of Half Price Books, came away with a wonderful haul,and was impressed by the numbers of solitary browsers, couples, and families who encourage their children to read.

The hospital where my granddaughter was born was fairly new, had a terrific coffee outlet, and a cheap cafeteria.  How sweet is such a thing as the classic grilled cheese sandwich! In layout and feel it was like a good mid range hotel, say Double tree or Courtyard by Marriott. Doctors and nurses were attentive and efficient, but not to efficient to smile.

Food?  Well the Olive Garden is a big deal, and before you give a haughty sniff, try their desserts.  Pulled pork sandwiches – awesome!  And oh yeah, they got sushi, plenty.  And Mexican of course, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian.

So, fly over folks, book a non stop, or have a drink at ORD or DFW, don’t get off.  You will never know what you are missing,  As for me, I’m with the Jackson Five – “Going Back to Indiana.”