Two news stories of personal interest to me happened over the last couple of days. I won't provide any links, since you can all Google this stuff if you really need to:
:: The city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has suffered massive flooding. I looked at the photos, and my jaw dropped. Cedar Rapids is about ninety minutes down the road from where I went to college, and both towns share the Cedar River, with Waverly being a hundred miles or so upstream. We drove through Cedar Rapids many a time between 1989 and 1993. We never spent a whole lot of time in Cedar Rapids itself, but we did stop there a few times for pit stops or shopping; and of course, since Cedar Rapids is Iowa's second-largest city, I had a number of friends from that area. How many of those old friends still live there, I don't know, but I hope they're all well if they're still there.
That's downtown Cedar Rapids there, all flooded out. That image astonishes me. That large bridge there, the third one up the river from the bottom, is Interstate 380, which runs northward from Iowa City, through Cedar Rapids, to Waterloo. That was the road we took through the city each time (when we drove that way; sometimes we took Route 20 east out of Waterloo toward Dubuque). Cedar Rapids always struck me as a lovely and pleasant town, and I dearly hope the place can withstand this disaster. All my best to those living there, as well as in all the other flooded locations in Iowa. (I think I may have a regular reader there, if I remember correctly from my referral logs.)
:: Tim Russert is dead. I personally tend to think of him more as Buffalo's current most famous native son on the national stage than a journalist; I was never a fan of his interviewing style, which seemed more geared toward confronting people with inconsistencies in their record and making them squirm than in actually discussing policy questions. I always felt as if a public figure's goal was more to "survive" an interview with Russert, and he also struck me as being, well, selectively tough on people. (Matthew Yglesias wrote the definitive article on the Russert approach.) However, as unenthusiastic as I was about Russert's approach, it still remains that Russert himself was a very likable guy, and it really does sadden me that now we don't have anybody on the national stage willing to say, "Yeah I'm from Buffalo and Buffalo rules and bite me if you don't like it." Anyway.