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The Morning Grumpy – 1/23/2012

23 Jan

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Flo Rida, “Low

1. The Buffalo News story about 97 Rock’s morning show left me asking a few questions.

Since late 2008 — Norton has been broadcasting most of his morning show — announcing school closings, celebrating Bills victories and bashing local leaders — from Florida.

“We were hesitant to talk about this story because I don’t want to offend listeners who think that somehow I’ve given up on Buffalo,” Norton, 55, said over the phone from his home in southwest Florida. “That’s not the case at all. I came down here for good reason.”

What’s his reason for being in Florida?

For years, Norton’s father Wallace “Wally” Norton lived in Cape Haze, Fla., where he had moved after losing his wife, Bertha, to cancer in 1995.

“[Barb and I] had been going down here almost every month checking on him, getting him to the doctor. He asked if we could take care of him, because he didn’t want to go into a nursing home,” Norton said. “It’s what I had to do. He was my father.”

Well, I know I would do the same thing if I were in Larry’s shoes. Family always comes first with me as I’m sure it does with you, but that isn’t the issue.

Larry’s father passed away nearly two years ago, but Larry is still in Florida. Noting the emphasis I put on Larry’s quote at the beginning of this story, why didn’t the reporter ask him why he is still there? Why has Larry not moved back to the city “he hasn’t given up on”?

Norton may very well have a good reason and I suppose he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about his residency. However, if a reporter is going to do this story, asking why he isn’t back here full time seems like the logical followup, doesn’t it?  Since Larry tried to assuage concerns of his listeners who might be upset that he doesn’t live here anymore, the reporter should ask why he doesn’t. Half-assed reporting annoys me, even when it’s a silly little story like this.

2. The intellectual dishonesty by the executives featured in this story is simply breathtaking. In short, why does Apple make the iPhone overseas?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

Really, I wonder what they mean when they say “flexibility, diligence and industrial skills”? Oh, here it is!

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Ah, yes, the lament of America’s wilting middle class. If only we were willing to live in tiny dormitories, working in hostile conditions, exposed to unregulated and dangerous chemicals, paid less than $17 per day, forced to work 16-18 hour shifts six days per week and forced to sign a pledge to not commit suicide due to the live/work conditions…we’d all have jobs from our benevolent corporate masters.

I guess we’re just not “flexible” or “diligent” or “industrious” enough. America’s new motto should be “Maximizing Shareholder Value”.

3. Next time you hear Newt Gingrich talking about Barack Obama being the “food stamp President” or hear other Republican candidates imply that the unemployed are lazy, maybe watch one of these videos. People waiting on lines for hours on end for the chance to apply for a job. This is America. People with real problems, living lives of quiet desperation in search of their piece of the American Dream. Yes, Newt is running for President on a platform of ridiculing a program which kept people from starving during a recession they had little part in causing. GOP 2012!

4. The fruits of abstinence-only sex education in schools.

A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant. In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third said they didn’t use birth control because they didn’t believe they could pregnant.

Nationally, teen pregnancy rates have been falling, but they are up significantly in the south and southwest regions of the country. Broadly speaking and due largely to religious influences on school curriculum, these regions are leaders in the promotion of abstinence-only sex education in schools. Where kids are taught about birth control and STDs, pregnancy rates are lower. Big shock.

5. Respected journalism professor and media critic, Jay Rosen, linked to a story the other day which highlighted the polarized media that now influences elections and politics.

With just hours remaining before South Carolina’s Republican primary, it’s clear to campaign strategists and voters alike that the revolution in how Americans get their news has dramatically altered the political process. There’s more campaign news and commentary out there than ever before, but more and more citizens are tucking themselves inside information silos where they see mainly what they already agree with. The result, according to voters, campaign strategists and a raft of studies that track users’ news choices, is an electorate in which conservatives and liberals often have not only their own opinions but also their own sets of facts, making it harder than ever to approach common ground.

The reporter rarely, if ever, asks the $64,000 question. What role did we play in this and why? Did we drive them away? Until editors ask themselves that question rather than blaming the audience, newspapers will grow increasingly irrelevant. If Marc ever puts my WNYMedia archives back online, I’ll link to the dozens of articles I’ve written about his issue over the years. It merits serious discussion in this one newspaper town.

Fact of The Day: Keep buying that cheap shit at Wal-Mart, if you hate America. The world’s biggest retailer, U.S.-based Wal-Mart was responsible for $27 billion in U.S. imports from China in 2006 and 11% of the growth of the total U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2006. Wal-Mart’s trade deficit with China alone eliminated nearly 200,000 U.S. jobs in this period.

Quote Of The Day: “The business of government is justice” – Millicent Fenwick

Song Of The Day: “Girls In The Backroom” – Ike Reilly

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Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]