BE POLITE: If ever there were a reason beyond common decency to mind your manners, it's the age of instant (and everlasting) communications ushered in by the Internet. If you thought you could make a private criticism or worse about someone else, better think again.
The king of Spain told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shup up" the other day; now Spaniards are downloading the outburst as a cellphone ringtone. Duane "Dog" Chapman, the TV bounty hunter, may be on the verge of losing his meal ticket because his son recorded a telephone conversation in which daddy repeatedly used the N-word to describe the son's girlfriend, then sold the recording to the National Enquirer, which posted it on the Web. And remember actor Alec Baldwin's recorded tirade in which he called his 11-year-old daughter a "thoughtless little pig?"
OK, we're not sure what point to make of all this, except that it's happening, it's inundating the culture and someone's making money off it all. Come to think of it, that IS the point. Be careful out there.
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PETA PROBLEMS: The group PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has cited the deaths of three polar bears in the Buffalo Zoo as evidence that the zoo's accreditation should be revoked. The federal Department of Agriculture also has expressed concern, and while a federal agency carries a certain credibility, PETA has . . . less.
We're thinking of 1996, when the group called for the Hudson Valley town of Fishkill to change its name because Fishkill sounded mean to fishes. Perhaps Fishsave would be nicer, it suggested.
That part of New York is dotted with towns and rivers carrying the suffix "kill," evidence of the region's Dutch past: Kill is the Dutch word for stream. PETA unaccountably expressed no similar alarm over Catskill or Beaverkill.
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POULTRY ENVY: PETA won't like this either, but did you catch the competition Buffalo's gift to gastronomy gave the more traditional target of Thanksgiving the other day?
During the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, CBS-TV's anchor team was distracted by a crowd visual showing a grandmother wishing her one-year-old grandchild a happy birthday back in Buffalo. The parade commentators immediately declared their love for Buffalo, home of the Anchor Bar and great chicken wings -- and this on Turkey Day!
What an in-your-giblets moment! Can it be that our primary image is changing from snowy cold to wings? Pass the hot sauce!