Our 'Est' Culture: How Should We Actually Measure Success?

On the way home from Virginia I read a piece in Time ("Hold The Cheers," 13 Dec. 2007) about the troop surge in Iraq. I wanted help in how to go for deeper understanding of how we're actually doing there - and not the processed nuggets of information we are fed by the national media.

This print article describes a much different yardstick for success than the Bush administration would have us use, and I thought it important to put it out there: while fewer combat deaths are of course desirable, circumstances on the ground make the calm there tenuous at best. Without a viable political structure, we can talk success all we want; you might want to think twice before you swallow the bullshit that the bragging administration spokespeople put out there.

Cut to this afternoon, when I caught The Situation Room reporting by Barbara Starr, which was, in my view, a gravely limited evaluation of what's going on over there. CNN's own sister magazine is reporting the whole story, but Starr's report - and the ensuing tag by Wolf - focused mainly on troop deaths. So, I fired off the following e-mail:

"To the Sit Room producers: Barbara Starr's reporting about combat-troop deaths was unbalanced and missing important pieces of how the country is still divided down religious and ethnic lines -- which, in *combination* with the so-called "surge," has produced lower fatalities.Does it actually matter that we've only lost 20 troops this month when 2.5 million Iraqis have been driven from their own country, and the ones who are there don't feel safe? This is YOUR reporting in Time, but it is apparently lost on CNN.In future reporting, please read articles like this one:


In it, Bobby Ghosh reports about the four elements that temper, and at worst, make irrelevant, any improvements in conditions there.I am SICK and tired of having CNN and other news outlets serve as an "EST" mouthpiece for the Bush administration ("fifth least", "safest month", "quietest week"). The time for that has come and gone now after pounding the drumbeat for war in the winter months of 2002.You are in effect doing their bragging for them -- you know as well as I do that they do that just fine without Barbara Starr's help.So... go back to the drawing board and pull these other threads into your reporting about combat deaths. otherwise, it's hollow, incomplete... and wrong."

All I'm urging you to do is not fall prey to flat, one-dimensional accounts of progress. And don't settle for a surface understanding (succumbing to highly palatable, simplified "Est" language) when something more meaningful is there when you dig deeper.

In Honor Of Boxing Day, A Slap In The Right Direction

Ah yes, it's time for our periodic review of all things aggravating... When that urge rises up in us to squeeze our young ones, our animals, our partners - even a stranger on the street - past the point of (almost) no physical return.

Ah yes, it is
Violent Affection Syndrome (VAS) at work. See below, and remember, VAS has produced at least one very important (and popular) spinoff in The Daily Slap.

Enjoy, and remember to be good to each other. Happy


On Christmas Day, A Lesson In Getting Along In Georgia

Every once in a while we are shown a reminder of how great we are as a people - as champions of goodwill, togetherness and, eventually, prosperity for young people. The International Community School is one such example, joining refugees from some 40 countries with other families in Decatur, Ga., for a unique and enriching learning environment in Stone Mountain, Ga.

The school's story,
told today in The New York Times, shows that our best learning begins with the environment and tone we set for our young people and their instructors -- not with quotas and false, pressure-filled benchmarks. The school's "experimental" status, says the NYT, means it is

"more at risk of closing if its students fail to make adequate yearly progress, the standard by which the national education law judges public schools."

In this case, "No Child Left Behind" can actually mean "No child left out."

Take a minute and click through to the NYT article and soak up this unique example of learning, compassion and inclusion.

Merry Christmas and Happy Happy to all today.

ARTvision 2007: Give In To The Spirit And Support ASP

Another shameless plug for our ARTvision artists -- we need to make a last-minute push to make some money!

Click through to
ARTvision now and browse for great pieces of sculpture, photography, art and music. 100% of proceeds go to AIDS Survival Project.


O Holy Night... Can It Be?

If you can get past the Disney-fied falsetto and the squeezed notes at the end, this is actually pretty good. Thanks to Musty for passing this along for the holiday season.

And yes, no foolin', this is a guy singing!


"Run For Justice" Raises $15,000

Hey, I did my part...

Ran for Justice to help those less fortunate... A 5K race to benefit Atlanta Legal Aid, a group that represents Atlanta's poor in civil cases (since 1924 I might add).

Oh yeah, and I ran to celebrate 5 full years of no Marlboro Lights. Happy Slow and steady, no stopping - and I survived the Virginia Highland hills, too.

Click here for fotos, and you can see I talked someone into snapping my pic post-race.

I'm in the cattle-shot in the beginning, but it's impossible to see me.


"Petticoat No. 10" Tears A Page From Old-school Telephone Poles

Did you know that these glass caps are collectors' items?

They were used as insulators in old-time telephone poles. If anyone has any additional info on them,
let me know.

You like? Go to
JPGmag.com and vote now!


In Honor Of Shawn Mullins Playing Eddie's Tonight...

If you're going, you'll probably be treated to this soul-stirring song... At least that's what I'd be yelling for.

I keep begging him for "Pandora" and "Soul Child," but so far no dice. Happy


"Winslow Morning" Shoots To Capture Fishing As Zen

Mike, Nettie and Dean Pollock (and me) approached this scene at Snoqualmie Falls outside of Seattle.

As luck would have it, the fisherman was cold when we arrived, but soon after caught a few.

Go to the Seattle travel blog, or click through to vote at JPG Magazine!


A Song For Reeno: When "Isms" Could Easily Lead To LSD


The Pup With A Forked Tongue

I had to post this... Alex is a goof.

Alex "Fat Girl" Pollock just recently turned 17 and I've been cataloging her graceful move into canine geriatrics...

I've got YouTube vids of her, as well as this -- a capture of her forked tongue.

Hope you enjoy.

YouTube playlist appears below, with more to follow.


Missing Del Edwards (1955-2007) & Sharon Lester (1963-2007)

(Atlanta :: 21 December 2007) - As we approach the final days of the 2007 holiday season, many Atlantans - especially those in the tennis community - are feeling the loss of two great community leaders, friends and family members: Del Edwards and Sharon Lester.

Del Edwards, one of my first friends here in the city when I moved in 1994, died Nov. 13 of melanoma. Del was a 28-year veteran teacher, beloved by his students, family and friends. He is survived by his partner David, who led Del's uplifting and joyous memorial service at the Jimmy Carter Center. I've included some photos from the service -- but they don't do it justice. Del was 53. Go to the AJC story

Sharon Lester, when she wasn't busy running the Piedmont Tennis Center ship, was *always* keeping us laughing. She saw through the expert renovation of PTC, and fought to keep the city and the Conservancy from marginalizing the center and, in essence, shutting it down. Together with Joe and Daryl, Sharon (pictured here with Michael Graham) worked at PTC to inspire and motivate us to be that much better. Sharon was 44. Go to the AJC story

In passing, both Del and Sharon remind us all to love and live every moment. They would want us to... that, and to swing our tennis racquets as hard and as much as possible.


See the slideshows for: Del | Sharon


The 'Ol Hizzy Gets Her Day In The Sun (And On Camera)

The green renovation of my house has, it seems, some admirers... Lynn Saussy, the landscape architect for "Team Pollock" as we call it sometimes, hooked us up with HGTV's "Groundbreakers" show. Last week they came to the house and did some initial interviewing.

I was, as the saying goes, "a pig in shit." I'm hoping that I'm only on the 2nd of my 15 minutes -- because it was a TON of fun.

Thanks to Mary Grace, Justin and the entire crew for making the day so awesome.

Below is a bad export of one of the movies I took!


...And I'm Always Blaming The Dog

I overheard this on a travel-writer listserv:

"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life."

-Lawrence Kasdan

New Captures Loaded, With More To Follow


Take a look at some new event pictures:

- The
Velcro Show at Composition Gallery, and
- The
Therapeutic Art Show at Parkside Office Suites

More to follow later today, with an advance
ARTvision buying opportunity!

Happy 300th Episode To NBC's 'ER'

With all the yammering I do about Keith Olbermann, Law & Order, etc., you'd think I was a flak for NBC.

Alas, no, it's just me being a dork.

"ER" is still the best show on TV, and it just
celebrated 300 episodes -- endeavoring (successfully) to create fresh storylines and characters. Amazing.

For All My Fellow Sports Fans, A Tribute To The Football Gays


Tunes Page Updated!

My reviews feature had been disabled, but now it's live again!

Check it out

ARTvision 2007, Now Live, Celebrates The Nation's Musicians

ARTvision 2007 is now live! Click through to explore our artists -- a wide representation of the arts.

Today, we celebrate three talented musicians/groups who've agreed to participate this year. I'd like to extend personal thanks to them, and an invitation to other artists who share our drive to raise money before the end of the year to donate a CD, signed poster or something else that might raise some cash.

Even a testimonial would help our cause -- please
contact me for more info.

Adding this category was a no-brainer this year, given my love of music, performing and taking in live tunes. Check out ARTvision's new music vibe:

Julia Murney

The Wayne Fishell Experiment

Jennifer Paige

This year, ARTvision's beneficiary is AIDS Survival Project.

Check in at
www.artvisionatl.org throughout the month for some great buying (and giving) opportunities! More in this and other categories soon.


It's About Time... L&O Returns In Its Old Time Slot

Venerable NBC drama Law & Order will return next month in its old time slot, Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Junkies rejoice!


Take A Listen To Lara Johnston

Girl can blow... thanks to the YouTube user who sent this along.

Chaka would be proud.