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Opinion

As a staff member at the Macon County News, delivering the paper is the reward for working hard in the office to put together the newspaper. So on Thursdays, the staff are able to get out of the office into the daylight, move around a little and meet people outside the four walls in which we work so hard.

People line up on delivery day just to be one of the first to get this week’s paper. At the grocery stores, readers often grab papers before they are even cut from the bundle or taken out of the truck. Many take more than one for their mothers, their neighbors, their businesses or just so a husband and wife can each have one of their own to read. It is gratifying to know that our product is appreciated and sought after on a weekly basis. We also get to hear firsthand what folks really think about our publication.

“We just love this little rag,” someone said, offering a backhanded compliment to say the least. Others are not so subtle, “This is the best newspaper,” they say. For all your compliments and comments, thank you.

This June marks 30 years that The Macon County News has been a fixture in this area. Betsey and Gary Gooder had an idea for a free distribution newspaper and the rest, as they say, is history. It has undergone many changes through the years but the concept is still the same. In the very first issue, organizations were invited to “call, send, or bring in information about their activities, programs and projects.” Business pages were open to “personnel changes and appointments, growth and expansions of local retailers, realtors and brokers, service people and industries.”

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As this is being written, the debut of Facebook as a publicly traded stock is off to a rocky start with share prices taking a significant dip from its original offering. Being a mild critic of this web giant, I do have a small measure of glee. I believe that eventually Facebook will meet the same fate as the former king of the social networking hill – Myspace, that has faded into obscurity. But, then again, I also predicted the demise of karaoke and rap music.

In an earlier generation, television earned the nickname of boob tube for a reason. Too much of a good thing can be a waste of time. At least back then, data on what you watched or how much you watched wasn't being collected by various sources such as prospective employers. “George, I see you have been watching a lot of Three Stooges, any particular reason for this?”

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For those hoping to better understand how and why we arrived at this dismal point in our nation’s history, where individual freedoms, privacy and human dignity have been sacrificed to the gods of security, expediency and corpocracy, look no farther than America’s public schools.

Once looked to as the starting place for imparting principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens of the police state. In fact, as director Cevin Soling documents in his insightful, award-winning documentary The War on Kids, which recently aired on the Documentary Channel, the moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on. Between metal detectors at the entrances, drug-sniffing dogs in the hallways and surveillance cameras in the classrooms and elsewhere, many of America’s schools look more like prisons than learning facilities.

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As the war of words intensifies with Iran, perhaps it is some non-words that are a portent of things to come. Google recently decided to omit the name “Persian Gulf” from its online maps. Right now, it's just a large nameless body of water. So far, Google's only response has been a lame explanation that not all locations on their global maps are named. Fortunately, Franklin's geopolitical flashpoint – Lake Emory, is properly identified.

Barring the possibility of a computer programming glitch, the missing moniker may indicate a political back story. In recent years, there has been a trend for the U.S. Government to refer to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. Our ships aren't patrolling off the Persian coast – we're patrolling off the Arabian coast.

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