Rainbows, Windex and MSNBC

There’s a lot of cynicism, self-importance, and preening in the blogosphere, but every once in a while you come across a blog so sweet that you momentarily forget all of those “Bush is a fascist!” and “The Democrats are helping the terrorists!” posts that infect the ‘sphere. Such is the case with “The Adventures of Art Lad,” also known as Thomas, a six-year-old who likes “to draw a lot.” Here’s his most recent post, “Rainbows and Lightning!”:

Alyssa is coming over!

Alyssa is a funny girl in my class. She will be in first grade with me. We ride the bus because she lives on the other street near me. Her brother is my friend.

She is coming over right now!

Her mom had to go out so she is coming over ‘til she gets back. Her brother is coming too.

Last year Alyssa sat at my table. I made her this picture.

But I didn’t give it to her.

It’s rainbows and lightning all together.



Wanna see the picture, a refrigerator-ready impressionist watercolor? You’ll have to click here.

From one of the Internet’s youngest bloggers to one of its oldest: 79-year-old Mildred Garfield, also known as Thoroughly Modern Millie. This past weekend, she decided to clean her beloved bedroom telephone with Windex. But then, “after a great day at the pool,” she went to make a phone call, only to discover that the phone wasn’t working. “I quickly went to my kitchen phone, called Radio Shack, explained that I had cleaned my phone with Windex and now the numbers weren’t working,” she writes. “The salesperson told me that I should not have used that product on my phone, it caused interior corrosion and I would have to buy a new phone.”

Luckily, Garfield is an optimist, and she decided to try the phone again the next day. “[A]nd what do you know, it worked!” she writes. “But I did learn a lesson.”

Ah, it’s so nice to hang out in this corner of the blogosphere, with its gratifying normalcy and freedom from Hitler comparisons. But we should probably get something a bit more substantive into the blog report, so here’s Michael J.W. Stickings of The Reaction, “[a]n independent, non-partisan, and mostly liberal-to-moderate blog on politics, philosophy, and culture,” using the return of Maureen Dowd to the New York Times to lament what he sees as the sorry state of the paper’s columnists:

You know, I used to like her. And I want to like her again. I really do. (Honest.) But now, like Thomas Friedman and his “flat” earth theory, she just preaches the predictable with repetitive abandon. Read one and you’ve read ‘em all. Such is the unoriginality that plagues the formidable op-ed page of the nation’s newspaper of record.

And it’s not just Dowd and Friedman. Tell me honestly that anything one of the other columnists writes ever surprises you. Paul Krugman and David Brooks are fine writers, but do you ever read one of their columns and say, “Wow, that’s brilliant!” Hardly.

Bob Cesca at HuffPo comes to the defense of Keith Olbermann, who was reportedly chewed out by MSNBC president Rick Kaplan following Olbermann’s emotional on-air discussion during a tribute to Peter Jennings of his own brush with cancer. Kaplan reportedly said Olbermann was “out of control” and “not to be trusted.” “Olbermann urged smokers (like me) to quit now and included descriptions of the aftermath of a tumor he had removed from his mouth due to pipe and cigar smoking,” writes Cesca. “And yeah, it was a little graphic. Not ‘ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry’ graphic, but he mentioned blood. Gasp! See? He’s out of control! MSNBC viewers want everlasting geysers of child-touching news. Not blood and cancer stories. Stupid Keith.” He adds, “Did Kaplan ever race into the newsroom shouting invectives like “[you’re] not to be trusted” when Joe Scarborough or Pat Buchanan (who filled in for Scarborough for what seemed like years) spouted half-truths, lies, or outright hate speech? What about when Buchanan compared the removal of Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube to ‘Nazi crimes against humanity’? Or when Congressman Joe said that Democrats are ‘celebrating’ the anniversary of the Abu Ghraib photos?”

Finally, on a sad note, we turn to a post from Greg Piper about Akilah Amapindi, who died far too young:

It had all the makings of a great movie — a young graduate travels to Namibia on a journalism internship, hoping to reconnect with her father in his native land. She anchors the evening news several times and retraces the exile of the country’s first president through the countryside — where, unlike the city, malaria-infected mosquitos are plentiful. The nets don’t keep them all out, and she dies weeks later attending a journalism convention in Atlanta. I knew a guy in college who traveled to Africa more than once on missions and got malaria twice, but he was well-prepared and treated right away. It’s hard to fathom how someone in the West could contract the disease and die so shortly. She didn’t have health insurance, and the U.S. Embassy, apparently not knowing her itinerary, told her malaria wasn’t a risk in the area where she’d do her internship. The first hospital she tried in America released her with no diagnosis.

Akilah Amapindi was 23.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.