Media Comment & Crimes

52 percent of us are certifiably insane

<![CDATA[Zogby International:

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

That’s all I have to say about that.]]>

Media Comment & Crimes

A devout fruit treat

<![CDATA[Praisins: The devout fruit treat

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Imagine the advertisements. A group of upright praisins rape a youth (you pick the sex) and the lead Praisin says: “Sure, you go ahead and cry ‘rape.’ We’ll be making cash on Sunday morning cable access by this weekend. It’s all in how you repent….”
Excuses, excuses.]]>

Media Comment & Crimes Social & Political

Self-serving doublespeak #1,002,987,337

<![CDATA[Chertoff: Illegals ‘degrade’ environment – Yahoo! News:

“Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I’ve seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas,” Chertoff said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment.”

“The worst thing you can do to the environment” is litter? Well, I suppose so, if you are one illegal immigrant. But another really bad thing for the environment would be ignoring the Kyoto Treaty if you are the U.S. administration. How about cutting clean water protection?
How about putting up a fence that won’t keep people out (it’s “virtual,” according to Department of Homeland Security, but animals will be prevented from reaching fresh water by said virtual fence)? How about failing to use treaty relationships to ensure safe and prosperous workplaces in the lands the immigrants come from–that was the point of NAFTA, after all.
Worse still, how about littering the American political landscape with junk thinking is pretty bad, don’t you think? We should send Michael Chertoff back to the private sector, build a wall around him, and keep America free of such self-serving doublespeak.]]>

Media Comment & Crimes

Quoted in the New York Times

<![CDATA[Even in a Virtual World, ‘Stuff’ Matters – New York Times:

Mitch Ratcliffe, an entrepreneur and blogger, was an early resident of Second Life and built a house with a lake. But he was soon disillusioned with the upkeep involved with owning the property. “I don’t see why I would want my second life to be about the same striving and profit that my first is,” Mr. Ratcliffe wrote in a blog entry about his Second Life adventures. He eventually reincarnated himself as Homeless Hermes.

“People come by, see the user name and tell me how sorry they are that I don’t have a home. Why?” he wrote. “It’s very middle class, very staid in the way economic stigma is attached to a failure to get to work.” In the meantime, Homeless Hermes took up buying and selling virtual land and has pocketed the equivalent of $800.

Drawn from this ZD Net posting of last year.]]>

Life & Everything Else Media Comment & Crimes

A call for a symbolic end for the Tour de France

<![CDATA[I'm an avid bicycle racing fan and have followed the Tour de France for many years. However, yesterday's news that the Cofidis team has been tossed because of the positive test result of one of their riders and that tour leader Michael Rasmussen was fired by his team, and consequently dropped from the race, because he had misled his team, Rabobank, about his whereabouts when he missed pre-Tour blood tests, has shaken the greatest bike race to its core.
In effect, the Tour has been gutted by these events, not merely because of the cheating, but because some riders, such as Levi Leipheimer and Cadell Evans, have built their strategy around falsely powerful opponents and may have nothing left now that those riders have been dropped.
Whoever wins, whether it is young Alberto Contador of Team Discovery Channel or not, the race has been contested based on false pretenses. Contador, Evans and Leipheimer—the only three who seem to be in a position to win now—should use their victory to wipe cheating from the history books by underlining it. Each is a great athlete and would be a great winner for the Tour, but they can do more. They can save the Tour for the future.
So, let me suggest that the riders stop before the final circuits of the Champs-Elysees on Sunday. You see, the winner of the race is decided before the riders begin looping the Champs-Elysees. If the leader were fall and on the cobblestones, they would not lose the race because the clock has already stopped.
The circuits of the Champs-Elysees are one of the great pageants of sport. Because the race is so tainted this year, the riders should dismount and end the race without that pageant as a solemn statement that cheating is not wanted or tolerated. Then, the race can begin afresh in 2008.

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Media Comment & Crimes

Tacoma, again….

<![CDATA[My community had a school shooting yesterday.
Impact on Tacoma’s reputation uncertain | | Tacoma, WA:

Tacoma’s name has re-entered the true-crime lexicon, as it did when it had a hometown serial killer, a local rifle used in a series of East Coast shootings, and a police chief who killed himself and his wife.

We all—humans, that is—are sick fucks on the inside (ask any Colorado Springs Baptist), but here in Tacoma it has a nasty way of oozing out all around the gilt edges, no matter how hard the city works at improving its reality and its image. I’ve gotten used to it, so yesterday’s shooting at Foss High School, while tragic, doesn’t make me think all my neighbors are crazed killers or that kids these days are insane or, even, that the school system is shot to hell so much that the kids shoot one another. It’s just that Tacoma lies at the psychic heart of the great middle ground that is American culture.
Tacoma has a lot to be proud about, if only we wouldn’t worry that it will reflect on everyone here when:

  • some dimwit from Tacoma has sex with the family dog (and the wife shoots some footage on her cell phone for the cops);
  • goes to the mall with a gun;
  • gets a job as police chief and then shoots his wife (Police Chief David Brame;
  • your kid’s school crossing guard gets nailed on gun and explosives charges;
  • or shoots people in Washington DC (John Muhammed, the DC Sniper);
  • or kills dozens of women (Ted Bundy, fellow alum of WIlson High School here in Tacoma).

Each time the act is that of one sick jerk, yet Tacoma takes their crime and wraps it around itself like a homeless person does a cardboard box against the cold. Our city mothers and fathers think the stories in the news will change our reality and still crave more stories about Tacoma in the news—if only those were positive stories, they lament—so they end up beggared by a history of accidental history of their most bizarre neighbors. They want media coverage, which invites attention to the bad as well as the good.
Really, it’s just coincidence made worse by articles in our newspaper every time another bizarre event takes place. There’s nothing in the water or our genes that make all of us a certain kind of psycho peculiar, so relax Tacomans. Be less concerned about branding.
Imagine how the people of Waco feel after the Branch Dividians thing—you can’t get away from that kind of sticky weirdness, but they don’t publish stories in their papers about how bad being from Waco is portrayed in the press.
That dog guy wasn’t even from around here. I think he was from somewhere in the South.

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Media Comment & Crimes

Butchering the first draft of history

<![CDATA[Opinion/Editorial: The Low Profile: CNN and the New York Times Execute a Denial of History:

An existential question: If journalism is the first draft of history, then what is journalism that denies history? Is it still journalism?

The question came to mind Friday night as CNN’s Anderson Cooper led Americans through the initial moments following the execution of Saddam Hussein.

ElectronicIraq noticed the same thing I did about the bizarre irreality of CNN’s Saddam execution coverage, but goes into greater depth about the details of U.S. support over the years.

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Media Comment & Crimes

John Robb's book is comingWiley::Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization

<![CDATA[John Robb, who has blogged intelligently about terrorism and warfare for many years will soon book about it, as well: Wiley::Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization :

Terrorism has become global, and incredibly complex, because it exists inside a social and economic system that’s become global and complex. Globalization, unfortunately, has planted the seeds of its own destruction. Every new technology for improving the world system, is also a tool for undoing it. The question John Robb is most concerned about boils down to: will terrorism, in the end, be able to destroy the current system? The tragedy of 9/11 represents the pinnacle–and finale–of terrorism the old way. The goal was to inflict psychic damage, and nothing will ever top that–but they don’t need to. Most forward thinking military strategists understand that we’ve entered the age of “fourth generation warfare.” The first three “generations” of strategy revolved around the best way for one state’s large army to inflict massive casualties on the other state’s army. Political scientists are moving away from state against state thinking, to thinking about non-state actors. Our enemies are now much smaller than that: small, ad-hoc bands of like-minded insurgents, organized less like bees in a hive than like the millions of users for Wikipedia, each with its own competing, but complementary agenda.

As Brave New War explains, system disruption lies at the heart of the agenda. Instead of symbolic, or deadly attacks, we should be on the lookout for economically devastating attacks. Our enemy will be looking for gaps in the system where a small, cheap action–say, on an oil pipeline–will generate a tremendous return. It may not even make the evening news, except as a report on spiraling gas prices. Because of the open source nature of the enemy, they don’t all need to be smart. In fact, none of them need to be smart. They’ll just keep trying random acts until one really works, and then they’ll all copy it. That doesn’t take genius, just flexibility. Is this all just theoretical? No, it’s exactly what we’re seeing in Iraq, as their IEDs improve, their targeting abilities expand, and their networks become more invisible. But isn’t Iraq sui generis? Hardly. From Nigeria to Saudi Arabia to Chechnya and beyond, it’s spreading. Right now, the West is not prepared for it, and worse, we never can be truly prepared. No one can predict what the next catastrophic attack will be, because even now it’s beyond the imagining of those who will perpetrate it.

What’s the solution? What Robb refers to as deep resilience. We need to make our economic and communication systems more decentralized. If we can’t stop an attack in advance, we can mitigate it. Right now, we’ve left ourselves too open to attack, with all our resources too concentrated. A simple, successful attack in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, or New York could shut down the world’s oil, high-tech, or financial markets, costing millions. We have too few energy sources, too few shipping routes, too few companies making the components for all the things we need. Until Americans start seeing the world as John Robb does, we’ll spend all our resources preventing the last attack, rather than the next one.

I don’t see it on Amazon, yet. Congrats, John!

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Media Comment & Crimes

Great interview with Elizabeth Edwards

<![CDATA[Girl Geeks: Hanging out with Elizabeth Edwards | ScobleShow: Videoblog about geeks, technology, and developers:

You might have heard of Elizabeth Edwards. Her husband ran for president of the United States last time around. She’s not just a famous person, she’s also the geek of the family and helps run their blogs. She has been involved with building and participating in online communities since the very beginnings of the web and talks to Maryam Scoble about her experiences.

Maryam, whom I met today at the Blog Business Summit, does a great job with Mrs. Edwards. This kind of candor and easy access to the candidate is much needed. Come to think of it, I said so to the Senator a while back.

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Media Comment & Crimes

Over at ZD: A rumination on blogging and journalism

<![CDATA[Nicholas Lemann of The New Yorker has contributed a thoughtful piece to the debate over what a citizen journalism might look like, Amateur Hour: Journalism with journalists. My guess is that the blogosphere will take it badly, minimizing the argument as another "journalism vs. bloggers" rant. It's not.
The debate is not whether bloggers are journalists, though many believe they are, but whether there is a process, the one professionalized as "journalism," that is valuable enough to preserve in an era when barriers to communication are radically lowered. As a journalist-turned-turned blogger, I obviously see blogging as a channel for getting ideas out. I also recognize that what I am doing here and on RatcliffeBlog is not often journalistic. In my case, I draw on the rhetorical styles of essay writing much more often in my blogs. As Lemann points out, though, many bloggers mimic what they think is a good lede and call it journalism.
Over the past couple weeks, since the largely pointless blow-up between myself and another blogger on ZD Net, I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of what goes on in this genre of writing….
Read the whole thing: » Journalism of all kinds and the process of growing | Rational rants |

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