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Monday, June 01, 2015

Random Thoughts

There are more people walking through the hallways of the World Series Of Poker wearing backpacks than in ten US middle schools combined. I'm surprised Jansport isn't a WSOP sponsor.

No media outlet that has already written off Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign as being "too far outside the mainstream" should be allowed to report, with a serious face, on 80% of contenders emerging from the GOP clown car, without explaining how high they measure on the Removed From Reality chart. That includes the quadrennial bullshit about Donald Trump considering running. He never has, never will, and has less chance of being the GOP presidential nominee than Caitlyn Jenner. The only thing Trump has in common with the rest of the Republican field is a future on the payroll of Fox News Channel.

I've written often about the security theater that is the TSA at our airports, and while it presents a facade of safety, it is ineffective in accomplishing that goal. For more proof, there's a new internal report which says that, in internal tests, TSA agents failed to identify 95% of undercover security threats -- including one guy who literally had explosives on his back. Think about that the next time they make you throw away the bottle of Mighty Mango Naked Juice you absent-mindedly put in your carry-on bag before heading to the screening checkpoint.

In 2002, the documentary "Spellbound" focused on kids competing in the National Spelling Bee. It was nominated for an Oscar and made millions, a rarity for docs. It revealed the intensity of the competition and the hours (years!) of study those teens put in, and also exposed the gap between kids from upper-class homes (with parents who have the resources and time to help their children excel) and those from lower-class homes (with parents who may not have had much education themselves and don't have much time to help with studying because they're working longer hours and more than one job to get by). Now, Smithsonian magazine has tracked down the "Spellbound" spellers and offers an update on what's happened to them since the competition and the film.

There have been few TV journalists as classy and downright good at their jobs as Bob Schieffer was. His parting words yesterday, after 46 years on CBS, marked the end of an era -- not just for "Face The Nation," but for the kind of TV news person who barely exists anymore. Schieffer was all substance and no gloss. He wasn't a showman -- the phrase "news personality" never applied -- but rather a reporter whose love for his job was reflected in the high quality of his work. I can't think of another person currently in the TV news business who can match the storytelling, inquisitiveness, and ease of communication that made Bob Schieffer one of the best ever.