Monday, January 28, 2008

I learned something last week.

An "artifact" on one's mammogram film does not refer to an arrowhead, skeleton key, or pottery shard. Here's the medical definition of "artifacts:"

Artifacts are misrepresentations of tissue structures seen in medical images produced by modalities such as ultrasonography, x-ray computed tomography, and magnetic resonance Imaging.

In other words, there was some gunk on the film.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And now for something completely different.

You've barely had time to digest my gadfly media escapades and I'm up in your face with stories of my agrarian roots.

Sorry. Short attention span. So sue me.

I was home today recovering from a bout of ague and found this genealogy information about my great grandfather, Christian Schendel. Now we know where I get my workaholic tendencies. This man was a doer. (Click text to enlarge.)

It's lucky for everyone that I didn't come along until three generations later. (Not a fan of bugs in the house, outdoor plumbing, or hard physical labor.) In theory, though, I've always envied people who grew up on farms and got to show livestock at 4-H competitions and drive tractors and stuff.

Can't help it. It's in my blood.

Here's the link to the searchable ancestors site.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is there anything I don't have a problem with?

Apparently not.

The current targets of my wrath: newspapers publishing anonymous hate comments on "blogs."

In case you missed it, here's my most recent letter to the KC Star.

And, proving my point, here are the the anonymous online comments my letter spawned:

* * *
Never one to leave well enough alone, I sent a note to the paper's readers' representative questioning the Star's policy of publishing unsigned commentary on unmonitored blogs. I quoted a particulary offensive string of comments readers vomited onto the Star's Crime Blog.

The ombudsman's response:

"Ms. Wigand, can you please be more specific? Are you talking about the comments thread? If so, I will ask the Web editors to review them, but no, doesn't moderate comments. Editors reserve the right to remove things, though. As I've written multiple times on my blog, it's a problem all over the Internet, and I don't know any way around it. User participation is absolutely vital to a Web site, but some people demonstrate time and again that they can't behave. I'm afraid that's just the down side to the interactivity."

To which I replied:

"I understand that it's your job to be an apologist for the newspaper's policies. But you will never convince me that this type of anonymous commentary is of any value to newspapers and the communities they serve.

I am not a techno-newbie. I love the internet. And the First Amendment. But as a former journalist, I am appalled that newspapers are taking the low road and allowing their sites to be used for unsigned, vulgar exchanges.

It's like public stonings. Nobody knows where the comments are coming from, and unhealthy, irresponsible hysteria ensues."

* * *
For the record, I swiped the stoning analogy from my husband, and I think it's a good one.

Not every online newspaper blurs the line between reporting and commentary. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a separate Blogging section enabling people to comment on public affairs without compromising or tainting the reported content on news pages. It's dangerously deceiving to place the anonymous opinions right next to the
stories on line. People get confused as to where the facts end and the rabid opinions begin.

I miss the days when good reporting and thoughtful commentary sold papers. And I believe our society is damaged when the media equates unsigned, hateful, off-the-cuff frat boy slams with measured, reasoned discourse.

To quote the maitre d' in Ferris Bueller, "I weep for the future."

Next week's target: Officious medical bureaucrats. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The good thing about the Hollywood writers' strike... that it forces us to watch important films like this one:

Caught it on the late, late, late, late, late, late show on AMC tonight. Hope I don't have bad dreams.