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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You don't know, Dick

Former Vice President Dick Cheney — he of unparalleled low approval ratings and a foreign policy position maligned by most — predictably blamed President Barack Obama today for last week's attempted terror attack on a Detroit-bound jetliner.

News flash, Dick: No one cared what you thought for most of your eight years in office, and even fewer people care now. But tell me, oh valueless ex-veep: How is it Obama's fault that airport security employees in Nigeria and/or the Netherlands missed the potentially dangerous liquid-power mix that the suspect was carrying?


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The truth about weather forecasting

Sent to me by a friend in Rochester:

It was late fall, and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Because he was a chief in a modern society, he never had been taught the old secrets of predicting the weather.

When he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was, indeed, going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.

But, being a practical leader, he then called the National Weather Service and asked, 'Is the coming winter going to be cold?' 'It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,' the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. 'Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?' he asked. 'Yes,' the man at National Weather Service replied again. ‘It's going to be a very cold winter.'

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every stick and branch.

Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service one more time. 'Are you absolutely sure the winter is going to be very cold?' he asked. 'Absolutely,' the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it’s going to be one of the coldest winters ever.'

'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked.

The weatherman replied: 'Because the Indians are collecting a sh-tload of firewood'.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unfit for honors

The Associated Press today announced tennis player Serena Williams has been voted the news cooperative's Female Athlete of the Year.

This just four days after Professional Golf Association members voted Tiger Woods the PGA's Player of the Year and five days after the AP picked Woods as the Athlete of the Decade.

Does character count for nothing anymore?

I realize Williams and Woods both excel in their sports, but Williams' tirade at the U.S. Open - in which she threatened to kill a female line judge - and Woods' well-documented (and admitted) sexual encounters with numerous women other than his wife should have disqualified both.

Part of being an outstanding professional athlete is being a positive role model. And in that area, both Williams and Woods have failed miserably.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Right on! (red)

On Sept. 10 in this space, I complained about the city of Kingston putting a sign in front of the former Friendly restaurant on Washington Avenue that barred drivers from making a right turn on red onto Joys Lane.

Imagine my pleasant surprise last week when I noticed the sign was gone!

Maybe my argument reached City Hall. Maybe other drivers complained, and city traffic officials saw the error of their ways. Maybe the mayor got stuck in traffic there one day and demanded a change.

Or maybe the sign just got knocked over by a snow plow.

Whatever the reason for the sign's disappearance, I hope it's gone for good.

And now perhaps someone can convince the Powers That Be to get rid of the "No Right on Red" sign on Albany Avenue, in front of the Gov. Clinton building, that prohibits the turn onto Clinton Avenue.


This is news? Really?

You've probably heard by now that Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York got caught saying a naughty word on an airplane about a week ago after being told by a flight attendant to turn off his cell phone.

Schumer apparently muttered the word "bitch" as the woman walked away.

And how, exactly, did this become a news story? Because Schumer's comment was overheard by a Republican congressional aide who happened to be on the same plane and within earshot.

Good Lord. I can't even begin to imagine the sequence of events that followed the senator's comment.

First, the Republican eavesdropper had to decide the incident was newsworthy and that he wanted to play the role of childish tattletale. Then he had to figure out which reporter would view the incident as newsworthy. Then he had to screw up the courage to call the reporter and hope not to get laughed at. Then the reporter had to agree the incident was newsworthy ... and pitch it to his boss ... who also had to find it newsworthy. And then, maybe, the story would see the light of day.

Yeah, right. I mean, seriously, what are the odds of such a trivial thing clearing so many news filters and ultimately being reported by respectable media outlets?

Apparently pretty good. Because by midweek - in this era of "Any juicy, second-hand, unconfirmed tidbit qualifies as real news" - the story was all over the place.

The moral of the story, Sen. Schumer? Life's a bitch.


Brittany's turn

Sorry to hear about the death of actress Brittany Murphy on Sunday at age 32.

But there is a silver lining: Perhaps now all the tabloids and trash TV shows will give us a break from the endless parade of non-stories about Tiger Woods.


Retail reality

I read a news story today that said retailers are worried this past weekend's Northeast snowstorm - which kept people off the roads and out of stores in such major cities as Washington, Baltimore, Philly, New York and Boston - will hurt final holiday sales results.


The storm struck six days before Christmas. Anyone still shopping for gifts so late in the season obviously has a set list of what they plan to buy for family and friends. Does the fact that bad weather stopped them from shopping on Saturday, and perhaps Sunday, mean they won't still buy those planned gifts? Of course not. They'll just buy them on a different day.

And the retailers will make exactly the same amount of money they would have had the storm never come.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Too late to tame this Tiger

A few thoughts on Tiger Woods' Friday night posting on his Web site:

"I am profoundly sorry...." About what — that you cheated on your wife countless times or that you got caught?

"I would like to ask everyone, including my ... business partners ... for their understanding...." Translation: "Please, sponsors, don't drop me! Elin's about to take me for tens of millions of dollars in our inevitable divorce, and I need the money!"

"I need to focus my attention of being a better husband, father and person." A little late for that, don't ya think?

"I am especially grateful to all those who have offered compassion and concern...." There are people who have offered you compassion and concern? Seriously? Name one.

The bottom line, Tiger, is that you made your bed — more times than anyone can count, unfortunately — and now you have to lie in it. Probably without your wife.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Believe them ... or don't

Here are the first three paragraphs of this morning's story from The Associated Press about the nation's unemployment rate:

WASHINGTON – The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 10 percent in November as employers cut the smallest number of jobs since the recession began. The better-than-expected job figures are a rare note of encouraging news for the labor market.

Still, the respite may be temporary. Many economists expect the unemployment rate to climb into next year as the economy struggles to generate enough jobs for the 15.4 million people out of work.

The economy shed 11,000 jobs last month, an improvement from October's revised total of 111,000, the Labor Department said Friday. That's much better than the 130,000 Wall Street economists expected.

Do you see it?

In the second paragraph, we're told not to get our hopes up about the falling unemployment rate becoming a trend because "many economists" expect the job market to worsen in 2010.

Are these the same same economists who, one paragraph later, are proven to be completely clueless when it comes to predicting trends in the job market?

Perhaps these economists are the ones who should be unemployed.