Friday, February 04, 2005

Tonight's Forecast: Partly Stary with Widespread Darkness

Being the weather-face on a national news morning show must be just embarrassing. You stand in front of a map and tell a camera what the smiley-faced symbols behind you imply about the day's weather. You have to do this in the most general and benignly non-specific way possible. Your co-workers try oh-so-hard to make you seem significant and necessary. No one really buys it though. After all, you are imparting information that even the densest among us could improve upon by investing in a glance out the nearest window.

The smiley weatherguy's job reminds me of a story I heard several years ago about the Border Patrol.

Politicians were grousing about our borders once again. They seemed certain that if we prevent all those undocumented aliens from strolling into this country to work at minimum wage jobs, then we will have solved America's drug and welfare problems. The powers that be wanted to increase the presence of security types along our open border with Mexico. But God forbid we spend any money to hire actual people and then give them actual training for this job.

It was decided instead to hire someone's brother-in-law to manufacture a large number of cardboard border patrol agents. The pasteboard patrol, as it were.

These low-pay, non-union, agent substitutes were placed in official-type green vehicles and stationed along the border. Every few hours a three-dimensional border patrol employee - college-educated, linguistically trained and tactically prepared - came along and moved the vehicles a bit so it looked like they were actually patrolling the vast wastelands of the American southwest.

This continued for several months until an especially bright bureaucrat connected los carton verdes with the astonishing drop in morale and performance that had occurred in the border patrol. Seems that it is hard to put much effort into a job that could be performed just as effectively by a cardboard cutout. The cardboard agents were sent to recycling.

So what does this have to do with the continued existence of the network weather-reader? Nothing, really. Its just when I am forced to sit for long periods of time, with nothing to do but watch network television, my mind starts to wander. And wonder.

I gotta get a new book to read.

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