minutia press.
Numerals and numbers; symbols and values; Bush and the NY Times

I've always been a fan of the distinction between a numeral and a number. The Arabic numeral 7 and the roman numeral VII all denote the same number. The number is a conceptual thing -- more important than any numeral that denotes it.

It was reported today that Congress is again considering measures to protect our American flag -- a symbol -- from desecration. It was also reported today that President Bush is angry -- finger jabbing angry -- at the New York Times for disclosing the secret program that snooped on citizens' financial records. Bush said there was nothing wrong with the program, but disclosing it was somehow unAmerican.

The flag is but a symbol, but the values it denotes are those of our country and Constitution. As I recall, we are free to express ourselves, and the media is free to report what it wishes. I think those values are very important, and our colleagues in Congress should be told to worry about more important things than symbol protection.

President Bush, what kind of a message are you sending to our children? You should be proud of our country and the protection it offers our media to publish freely. On NPR I heard you say that our democratic process is good, even though those who disagree with you are doing so only to gain votes and attention as elections get closer. So why, exactly, are you calling our media coverage disgraceful?