Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Archives: Feb. 2011

Feb.
28th

Wireless towers low on list of threats to children

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Bethel School District parents upset about the prospect of two Clearwire wireless towers on school property have the wrong target in their sights. They should be more concerned about possible long-term effects of cell-phone use on their children’s health.

While there’s no evidence that energy from wireless communications towers has negative health effects, at least some research points to potential problems with heavy cell phone use, particularly in children because their brains are still developing.

Just last week, a National Institutes of Health researcher publishing findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association that cell-phone use does affect brain activity. University of Washington bioengineer Henry Lai says the study shows that talking on a cell phone pressed to the ear “is not really safe.”

Even scientists who acknowledge that several more years will be needed to gauge whether long-term cell-phone use can lead to brain damage or cancer say they personally use a hands-free device to make calls just to be on the safe side. Those devices reduce the amount of radiofrequency energy exposure to the brain because the antenna, the source of RF energy, is not placed against the head. Read more »

Feb.
28th

The ‘most disturbing personality’ on cable television?

I have to admit, I can’t watch more than a few minutes of Glenn Beck. He gets so worked up, I’m afraid his head is going to explode.

Beck has long been a target for liberal commentators like Jon Stewart. But now some respected conservative voices are starting to speak out about him, including Joe Scarborough. Beck, he said Friday on his MSNBC “Morning Joe” show, “is losing it before our eyes.”

Scarborough cited a recent posting for Commentary by conservative blogger Peter Wehner. He writes that Beck “has become the most disturbing

Read more »

Feb.
28th

10 years ago this morning

The editorial board’s morning planning meeting had just broken up, and we were on our way back to our desks to start working on that day’s pages when the 6.8 Nisqually earthquake struck.

I dove under my desk and heard things falling off my shelves. Dave Seago, our now-retired editorial page editor, braced himself in the doorway. Patrick O’Callahan high-tailed it down the stairs, under the enormous Chihuly chandelier and out the front door. (I still kid him about how close he may have come to the notoriety of being an art-glass earthquake victim.)

After what seemed like an eternity,

Read more »

Feb.
27th

This state’s open elections dodge another bullet

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It’s settled: The crypto-political action groups that package their ads as “issue advocacy” in this state will still have to disclose their donors and donations.

Human Life of Washington fought that requirement all through the judiciary; it lost for good last week when the Supreme Court rejected its appeal of a prior loss in the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals.

The case was a little peculiar from the start.
Read more »

Feb.
26th

A small victory against the info-parasites of the Web

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

There are horses on the Web, and there are ticks. Google last week made life a little harder for the ticks.

The world-dominant search engine announced Thursday that it had overhauled its algorithm – the way it processes queries – to brush more of the parasites out of its search results. This is a small victory in a much larger war.

People who use Google – and that means the vast majority of people online – have been plagued by junk websites that muscle their way ahead of genuinely informative ones.

Search for a doctor, and you may wind up on an ad-saturated site that merely scraped the doctor’s name off some other site – and doesn’t tell you anything you need to know. Hit after hit provides similar results. If you’re lucky, somewhere far down the list is the actual website of the clinic.

Results like that get frustrating in a hurry. Nor are they accidental. Large, highly profitable companies exist solely to game Google’s algorithm and place content-free, auto-generated pages at the top of the hit parade.

Demand Media, for example, has struck it rich tricking Google into putting eHow and similarly skimpy sites on the first page of a search.

But even Demand Media looks good compared to outfits that assemble text almost at random to generate as many key words as possible. Your search terms lead you to the site and there’s nothing real there – except advertising.
Read more »

Feb.
25th

Kathleen Parker’s out at CNN

CNN announced today that Kathleen Parker, whose syndicated column used to run on The News Tribune opinion pages, is leaving the show she co-hosted with former New York governor Eliot Spitzer the last four months.

That departure has been rumored for a while; word was that she thought Spitzer was hogging the show and CNN honchos weren’t happy with her and were looking for ways to get the program out of the ratings cellar.

I blogged about the “Parker Spitzer” show last month when rumors started surfacing that there were problems with the low-rated program and

Read more »

Feb.
24th

The tanker goes to Boeing, comes to Washington

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington needs all the morale boosts it can get right now. It got a big one Thursday when Boeing won the $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s new aerial refueling tankers.

Hooray for the home team, or something like that. The Boeing Co. is now headquartered in Chicago, but most of the expected 11,000 tanker-dependent jobs will be created in Western Washington; perhaps 1,000 of those jobs will go to Kansas.

The planned gas-station-in-the-sky will be a modified version of the 767, an old model Boeing had planned to

Read more »