Interesting Stories from Recent Newspapers

Catching up on accumulated dead-tree newspapers from the past few days, I found a greater-than-usual collection of interesting stories. Here’s a sampling:

Fox versus Fox

The New York Times reports on how the animated Fox television program, The Simpsons, has taken several shots at its corporate companions, Fox News. One show opened with the above pictured Fox News helicopter which is emblazoned with the slogan “Fox News: Not Racist, But #1 With Racists.” The second jab was the same helicopter, but with the slogan “Fox News: Unsuitable for Viewers Under 75.” The producers of the cartoon seem to especially relish annoying Fox News icon Bill O’Reilly. But the producers also explain that these efforts to ridicule Fox are also an effort by a show whose episodes are prepared close to a year in advance to be more timely and relevant. Here’s how executive producer Al Jean describes it:

“We’ve really entered this new era,” Mr. Jean said, “where even a show like us, that’s produced so far in advance, turns into a sort of daily show, where you do something, you can throw something in that gets immediately around the Internet. It gets a response. It’s mostly just us trying to do our humor in the new way that humor is done.”

“You’re in the Army now . . .”

“You’ll always get your” . . . sunflower seeds? The Globe reports that the US Army has just unveiled a new approach to basic training that replaces traditional PT with “training methods similar to those offered to elite athletes preparing for competition – including greater use of athletic trainers, physical therapists, and strength and conditioning coaches.” At the mess hall, biscuits and gravy are giving way to fresh fruit and sunflower seeds, with Drill Sergeants monitoring what recruits put on their trays. The commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command said that this new approach to fitness and nutrition is necessary to counteract the poor eating and exercise habits prevalent in our society that are brought into the military by new troops.

“Get out of the personnel business”

The Globe editorial today is quite critical of the state legislature’s collective view that there is nothing wrong with its members recommending candidates for jobs in state government. The Globe editorial page disagrees, writing “steering people into government jobs is not part of a legislator’s role. Legislators have a clear-cut task: to pass and repeal laws. When they dabble instead as human-resource officers for other branches of government, they are overstepping their bounds.”

“proud to be a kid from Lowell”

Yesterday’s Globe carried the obituary of John Joseph Lardner, a Marine veteran who spent most of his adult life guarding US Presidents as a member of the Secret Service. He was born in the Bronx but in his youth moved to Lowell and graduated from Lowell High School in 1949. Here’s the opening paragraph of the obit:

When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, Secret Service agent John Joseph Lardner rode behind him on Pennsylvania Avenue. He was proud to be a kid from Lowell who grew up to guard the president, he told his family.