The Mr. Nice Guy Show Blog

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My thoughts on what's goin' on in the world,

just like years ago on the radio.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

No Winn Situation

I'm guessing it's not just me: many of us - for some reason - are fascinated by the grocery business.

Maybe it's because of how important the products are to us; how often we visit.

Having lived in many places, I've seen the incredible variations in quality of products, service, design, etc. of these companies. Wegman's is the best grocery chain I've ever seen. In the markets they're in, Wegman's is practically a religion, never mind a supermarket company. Publix, bigg's, Hy-Vee and Tops are also very good. These companies know how to present themselves and their products to customers walkin' through the door.

And then there are the companies who don't.
A major offender is Kroger, America's largest grocery chain, operating under many different names. The stores are dark and dirty and dingy. The help is unfriendly and uncaring and the corporate attitude seems to be "You customers should be very grateful that we are here for you, regardless of price, quality or atmosphere. Give us your money. Goodbye." Places like P&C, and Food Lion (pronounced southern: "Food Lon") aren't much better. Some are just kinda middling, like Albertson's, Price Chopper and another Price Chopper.

Target Supercenters (I have no patience to make a link to 'em) are really not all that super. Wal-Mart Supercenters are dizzying and there are many "issues" with the way the company conducts business, treats employees, etc. The new concept Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (one opens about half a mile from me any day now) seems tolerable, but, again those issues.

However, the worst...the w-o-r-s-t...THE WORST grocery chain I have ever seen is Winn-Dixie. In Cincinnati, they operated under the name Thriftway. I think most of us, though would identify them using highly technical grocery industry jargon: shit.

These are the most unpleasant places I have ever visited in my life. Even darker and dingier than Kroger. Even less friendly. And what a shocker to know that corporate HQ is in Jacksonville, Florida, the worst city in the nation. A toilet, where they can't do anything (urban planning, traffic control, courtesy, public libraries) right.

So, wowee, it came as no surprise when, yesterday, these shit-for-brains announced that they would close 156 stores and fire TEN THOUSAND people.

Now...only now, when they must pull the rug out from under the lives of 10,000 people, does it seem to dawn on these jackasses that their stores look like shit and that just might affect the business.

Absolutely amazing.


Sinclair: Dinosaurs

The pResident of the United States doesn't want us to know that people get killed in a war. He has forbidden the publication of pictures of caskets returning from Iraq. His mother, a former first lady who many describe as an incredible, big, battleaxe of a bitch says "My beautiful mind" shouldn't have to be wasted thinking about such matters.

Until last week, an obedient, cowed, docile, gutless media complied like puppies.
Some pictures appeared in several places. Then TV's Nightline announced that it would spend its entire brodcast last nite doing nothing but reading names and showing pictures of the American casualties.

A shocking, un-American, anti-war, political statement?
No, it's what a journalist does: create a journal
of what's going on.

The heavily right-wing leaning folks at Sinclair Broadcast Group don't want to create so accurate a journal, because sometimes the truth hurts...and sometimes it hurts your big wallet.

They own 60ish TV stations around the country (probably some near you), eight of which are ABC affiliates. Corporate geniuses at Sinclair decided to not broadcast the edition of Nightline in question. Nice, huh?

Okay, pasted below is the email "Activism Alert" I received yesterday from the folks at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). Here's the quick snapshot of who these geniuses at Sinclair are. Especially noteworthy are the names of
Chairman, President, and CEO: David D. Smith
EVP and CFO: David B. Amy
VP Group Programming and Promotions: M. William (Bill) Butler
and the entire list of stations this company owns.

Some would say a call or letter to them is in order.
Some would say contacting their advertisers is in order.
Some would say refusing to advertise with them is in order.
And some would even say that if you run into anyone who works there - who profits from this kind of USSR-like manipulation of what people are fed as news [even the 25 year old anchorchick who got the job right out of her beauty contest win or the reporter who decided to go into TV news because he had such a deep, authoritative sounding voice], you should espress your concerns. Possibly even by spilling a drink or spitting on them.


Subject: What Sinclair Doesn't Want You to See on Nightline
From: "FAIR"
Date: Fri, April 30, 2004 2:59 pm
To: "FAIR-L"

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

What Sinclair Doesn't Want You to See on Nightline

April 30, 2004

This evening, ABC's Nightline broadcast will be devoted to reading a list of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. But some viewers won't be able to see the program: The Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns several ABC affiliates, has announced that it will not air Nightline on its stations tonight.

A statement on Sinclair's website explains: "While the Sinclair Broadcast Group honors the memory of the brave members of the military who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country, we do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of Nightline this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming."

Sinclair's rationale for the censorship of Nightline is explicitly political: "Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of the 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorists attacks since and including the
events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday." A response statement from ABC said that the network did broadcast a list of the victims of the September 11 attacks on the one-year anniversary.

This is not the first time that Sinclair's conservative political leanings -- 98 percent of its 2004 political contributions have gone to Republicans (, 4/29/04)-- have led the company into journalistic controversy. In February, a Sinclair news crew was sent to Iraq to cover the "good news" that was allegedly going unreported in the rest of the media (Baltimore Sun, 2/18/04). And shortly after the September 11 attacks, Sinclair executives required stations to air editorial statements in support of the Bush administration (Extra!, 11-12/01).

Sinclair controls about 60 TV stations, including eight ABC affiliates, some in substantial population centers:

WSYX-- Columbus, Ohio
KDNL-- St. Louis, Mo.
WXLV-- Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, N.C.
WEAR-- Mobile, AL & Pensacola, Fla.
WLOS-- Asheville, N.C.
WCHS-- Charleston & Huntington, W.V.
WGGB-- Springfield, Mass.
WTXL-- Tallahassee, Fla.

It's possible that some Nightline viewers, faced with how many American lives have been lost in Iraq, may become opposed to the war. It's also possible that others will see the show as an argument for fighting and winning in Iraq, so that these deaths will not have been in vain. Journalists, however, should not decide whether to report the reality of a
war depending on what they assume the political reaction might be. The American people need full reporting on the situation in Iraq-- including the toll in U.S. and Iraqi lives-- so that they can make an informed judgment on whether the war's goals are worth the costs.

Sinclair may claim that it honors the memory of the dead members of the military. It evidently prefers, however, that they should be remembered without being mentioned-- a dishonorable position for a media outlet in a democratic country.

ACTION: Contact the Sinclair Broadcast Group and share your thoughts about
the company's decision to censor the April 30 Nightline broadcast for
political reasons.

Sinclair Broadcast Group
Phone: 410-568-1500

Sinclair-owned TV station WLOS has announced that it will pass along email
messages to Sinclair-- send your comments to:


As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if
you maintain a polite tone. Please cc with your

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FAIR produces CounterSpin, a weekly radio show heard on over 130 stations in the
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Feel free to respond to FAIR ( ). We can't reply to everything, but we
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Fair Use Notice

Thursday, April 29, 2004

An Alternative

I don't think I've written about this yet, even though it's such a major part of my day. Linux.

I don't like Bill Gate$.
He's an amazing success story. He's obviously very smart and innovative and deserves to have big money (okay, maybe not as much as he's got, but still, pretty big money). He gives lots of money to libraries so they can buy computers [with his stuff on people become more dependent on him and he gets richer].

His CEO at Micro$oft, Steve Ballllmer, is also a good reason to avoid the products. As the story goes, at a presentation in front of the corporate troops to introduce Window$ 95 back-when, he was yelling ("motivating") "Window$...Window$...Window$..." so loudly, forcefully that he actually injured his larynx. Can you say "Corporate idiot?"

I think these two geniuses have got enough customers (94% of the market), so I use Linux.

Linux is another operating system, different from Window$, different from Mac. It's "open source," meaning the source code is freely available to anyone to work with, fix, tweak and improve on. Bill Gate$' code isn't.

Linux is graphical and useful, does most of the tricks Window$ does (Web, email, word processsing, spreadsheeeeet, presentations, chat, etc., etc.) and it's much more stable than Window$; not perfect, but an improvement on Window$.

There are different distributions ("distros"), variations from different organizations, but are all pretty similar and inexpensive...or free to download.

In November of '01, I installed Mandrake Linux on an old computer of mine. With only some minor help needed from an email list (many are available, many people eager to help), it was up and running pretty quickly and worked well for over two years...until I upgraded the machine.

I have RedHat Linux 9.0 installed on another computer to dual-boot with Window$. On startup, it lets me pick which operating system I want to use. Yeah, sometimes y'do still need access to Window$. This installation was a little over my head, since you first have to partition the hard drive to make room for two different operating systems.

Latest installment of the adventure was the upgrade I did on the '01 computer mentioned above. Last month, after doing a major hardware upgrade, an adventurous computer shop guy installed Window$ XP and SuSE Linux to dual boot. SuSE has a module that actually partitions the drive for you, rather than having to use another product.

Like RedHat and Mandrake, SuSE is quirky but gets me on the Internet and lets me do just about everything I need to do with a computer without enriching Gate$ any more.

Linspire [which was called "Lindows" until a few weeks ago when litigation from guess-who made 'em change the name] is another Linux product worth a look. Wal-Mart online and other vendors actually sell inexpensive computers with it pre-loaded, or you can just buy the software. Some folks aren't sure about the future of this one, but the creator seems to be a very dynamic guy.

I just learned the other day that there's even a product (a distro), Knoppix, that allows you to use Linux without the installation ordeal, just by inserting a CD.

All of this is fun and seems to result in a nice feeling knowing you're not in Gate$' clutches...yet there are risks and annoyances.

It might be worth the effort if you're in an adventurous mood.


Quotable Quote

A few months ago here, I actually said I liked the Fox show The Simple Life, after watching the first episode.

It will come as no surprise to you to know that, by episode three, I was digusted by it, turned off the TV and never went back.

Paris Hilton might be one of the most annoying, ignorant, repugnant people I have ever seen. How is it possible that with all that family's money, with all their success and - presumably some common sense - nobody ever told her she needs to get an education, learn about the world, people, and not just what she sees in the mirror???

Also creepy is the fact that she kinda looks
and acts like Linda F., one of my major crushes
back in the 1980s. Ick!

Anyway, on this fun subject, let's take a moment to thank Jacob Novak for this:

"Paris Hilton's mother Kathy will star in her own reality series for NBC called 'The Good Life.' But TV experts say Mrs. Hilton was a better fit for the upcoming MTV series, "'Pimp my Daughter.'"


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

It Ain't Peekaboo

Lenore Skenazy is a wonderful columnist who usually writes light, funny stuff.

I was surprised, but glad, to see her take on a serious subject, as reprinted here from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.


Right-Wing Hypocrisy Fun

Excellent article by Michelangelo Signorile, Dole Gets Wood..., dealing with - among others - one of my least favorite people, the witchy Elizabeth Dole.


Sophisticated About Technology,
Naïve About Sources

One of the highlights of my professional life as a librarian was about five years ago, when I saw John Berry, Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal, speak at the Tennessee Library Association's annual conference in Nashville.

He's a brilliant man with a good heart and soul who wants to make the world a better place...and knows libraries and librarians ("agents of social change") play a very important role in gettin' us there.

His editorial in the 4/1 issue of LJ, The Toughest Challenge, describes a major issue - maybe the major issue - we grapple with every day.

Even if you're not a librarian, it's worth the quick read.

Enjoy. Learn.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

What's for Lunch???

For years and years, I've gone to work and had the same thing for lunch practically every single day: a banana.

It's healthy, it's cheap, and it usually allows me to also take a quick nap.

W-e-l-l, you'll be so impressed to know that I'm branching-out. No, not to the sushi place or Wendy's or any of the other yucky places some of the co-workers hit at lunchtime. I'm just unwrappin' one of these. They are so good!!


Nine Years

In an excellent Newsday op-ed piece reprinted at AlterNet, Kristal Brent Zook gives us some real good reasons to turn off the TV and think about what we're missing.

" age 65, the average American will have watched nine years of television. Looking back on our lives from the rocking chair, do you suppose we'll wonder what grand dreams we might have chased with those hours instead?"