Sound Off

Saturday, Feb 01 2014 08:00 PM

SOUND OFF: Who was really recognized with that standing ovation?

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    Robert Price is The Californian's executive editor. Email him at rprice@bakersfield.com.

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BY ROBERT PRICE Californian executive editor rprice@bakersfield.com

There wasn't a dry eye in the U.S. Capitol building, and perhaps anywhere in America among those who watched the final minutes of Tuesday's State of the Union address, when President Obama introduced and spoke briefly about Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, an Army Ranger who was wounded in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Obama met Remsberg in the summer of 2009 at an Omaha Beach anniversary of D-Day, shortly before Remsburg deployed to Afghanistan for his 10th overseas tour. A roadside bombing in Kandahar nearly killed him 10 weeks later, and he was in a coma for three months. He remains partially paralyzed and brain damaged but, as Obama stated, refuses to give up. Obama couldn't have selected a better coda to his speech; the ear-splitting, standing ovation for Remsberg lasted two full minutes and would have gone on longer if the president hadn't ended it.

One reader was offended by the wording of the wire story on the speech we published in the next day's paper, however.

READER: BLARING MISTAKE: This is in regard to the article Wed. Jan. 29, 2014, "Obama introduces soldier who wouldn't give up" by Evan Halper of the Tribune Washington Bureau. Though it was (distributed by) another newspaper, you should have caught the opening line, and been ashamed to publish it.

... It starts off "President Barack Obama got his longest standing ovation Tuesday night when he introduced Cory Remsburg." Make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THAT STANDING OVATION WAS FOR CORY REMSBERG ... NOT OUR SO CALLED PRESIDENT! How could anyone write or print that the standing ovation was for President Obama? What a courageous man Cory Remsberg is and (the) standing ovation was for him and no one else!

-- Katherine Beck, Bakersfield

PRICE: I don't believe anyone watching on TV, or from the floor of the House, believed for a second that the ovation was intended for Obama, and that includes Obama himself. Halper should have indeed worded his lead sentence a little differently. We don't often tweak wire stories, except to add local elements, but this would have been a good one to change. It was a fine story otherwise.

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READER (addressing our food critic, Pete Tittl): I wanted to congratulate you on the excellent spread in the Californian with your Pete Tittl's 2013 Dining Guide. I certainly enjoyed all the reviews of our local restaurants, and your introduction of new restaurants and dishes to the public. I am certain that all the new business owners were appreciative of the coverage you gave their new establishments.

I wish you much personal and professional success as you dine your way across town.

-- Harvey L. Hall, Mayor of Bakersfield

PRICE: And somehow, through it all, Pete has maintained his boyish figure.

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READER (addressing Assistant City Editor Steve Levin) : It was such a pleasure reading the article you wrote about Dr. Arthur Unger. Sharing his life story, involvement and passion in giving back to the community was remarkable.

-- Harvey L. Hall, Mayor of Bakersfield

PRICE: I'm pretty sure Mayor Hall is not planning on running for a fifth term, so this is apparently from the heart. Seriously, though: Art Unger, who died Jan. 25 at age 79, led a remarkable life, and Levin did a great job of capturing his humility, dignity and passion. Thank you, Harvey, for taking the time to applaud these efforts.

READER (again addressing Levin): Thank you very much for your tribute to Arthur Unger. I was impressed that you had done your research on Arthur's awards (which would have been a tad lengthy to include), and we are very pleased you interviewed Joe Fontaine, another incredible warrior for the environment.

People who knew Arthur through Sierra Club are sharing their remembrances now, thanks to your story reaching a wide audience. As a widow, I know how meaningful this will be to Lorraine.

Barbara L, a member of Sierra Club, wrote this touching note: "So sad to learn of Art Unger's passing. He once told me that his love of nature began when a friend brought a bunny to his childhood New York apartment. He was so kind and gentle."

Arthur wore many hats within the Sierra Club right to the end. His death leaves us saddened and with a huge hole to fill. One "hole" being his job of putting our events in the Calendar working with the delightful Estella Aguilar ... and who will be as passionate in submitting LTE's to Opinion/Bob Price?

On behalf of our local Buena Vista Group, I send thanks you and Bob Price for having the Bakersfield Californian pay tribute to Arthur Unger.

-- Ann Gallon, Bakersfield

PRICE: Thanks, Ann. It couldn't have been easy for Art to represent the Sierra Club in a city that, generally speaking, isn't exactly cuddly with environmentalists. One of the best tributes his friends and colleagues can give him now is to keep writing those letters to the editor. I hope those who aren't fans of the Sierra Club will also keep giving us their take on these issues. Hopefully the conversation will maintain the sort of civil and respectful tone that was a hallmark of Art's many letters and public statements.

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READER: Bob, you were great on the response to the "riff" comment (in the Jan. 26 Sound Off). You might have also pointed out that the verb tense (of the reader's "conditional" sentence in question) is "subjunctive." When I lived in Spain and took Spanish lessons we arrived at the subjunctive tense and I said I had no idea what that was. Upon her explanation, I said "so that's why I have always said "were" instead of "was"!" Now I am wondering if they still teach it.

You said that Cryptoquip was not in the Sunday paper. I did not realize that, because I also read the St. Louis Post Dispatch and it has it on Sunday. Maybe your readers would like to have it also.

I am really happy that you were promoted. You do a great job and I still think the Californian far outshines the Post!

-- Kerry S. McGill, Saint Albans, MO.

PRICE: Thanks, Kerry. I am certain the Post-Dispatch is right on our heels, though. As for Cryptoquip, the next reader sets us both straight.

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READER: In response to a question in the Sound Off about Quiptoquip, Robert Price says Quiptoquip doesn't run on Sundays. But I just wanted to correct him. It does run on Sundays. And it appears in the Employment pages.

-- Sreenivasamurthy Venkatesh

PRICE: I really do need to start reading this newspaper. Quiptoquip runs Monday through Saturday in Eye Street and Sunday in Classified, the section that includes our job listings. The Sunday puzzle is a different animal, in part because its answers are published that same day. In answer to last week's question on the subject, the only place to find Saturday's answers are in Monday's Eye Street.

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READER: I have noticed in the paper recently, that the all-area sports recognition has the title BVarsity. Who came up with that one? If it stands for Bakersfield it is inaccurate since kids from Shafter, McFarland, etc. are mentioned. If it stands for the Bakersfield Californian, has the Californian licensed the letter B now? Maybe you guys are taking self promotion a little too far.

-- Bob Goon, Bakersfield

PRICE: Believe me, we could take self promotion much, much farther. But to your question. Put it this way: What does the "e" is ebay mean, and why doesn't it start with a capital letter? Has ebay licensed the letter "e"? Where exactly is this bay located, and can I water ski on it? Shouldn't it be E-Buy?

It's called brand marketing and it's a multibillion-dollar global industry. You associate that thick red circle with a big red dot in the center as representing Target stores because Target Corp. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars training you to. Chances are, when you go looking for the Target advertising insert in today's paper, you'll identify it by that distinctive bulls-eye logo, not the store name.

What does the "B" in BVarsity mean? Whatever you want it to mean. We've affixed that branding to our prep sports coverage because we believe it makes it instantly identifiable as our exclusive product in this market. It also ties our print product, the newspaper, to our ever-expanding digital video products, including our highly successful BVarsity Live. Forgive us for behaving like a for-profit company once in a while.

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The Californian welcomes your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voice-mail message or send an email to soundoff@bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won't be published.

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This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about news coverage. Your questions, which may be edited for space, are answered on Sundays by Executive Editor Robert Price.

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On the web:

Follow Robert Price on Twitter @BakoEditor

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