Sunday, February 29, 2004

If God had wanted us to subscribe He would have given us a [real] newspaper

Arggh. Yesterday's editorial in The Union (to paraphrase: "All the candidates are competent but a couple of them played dirty by pointing out that their respective main opponents are a) funded by development interests and b) two-faced") was a bit over the top (as was this post, 24 hrs ago; italics indicate further editing)

For background info, Friday article: Beason: Diaz got negative (not "Diaz: Beason is negative"?):
Recent rain showers in Nevada County moistened the earth and left plenty of mud for slinging ...
[Diaz's campaign sent out a mailer covering ground similar to the Straight Talk post below - and no, I had no idea it was coming]

[Diaz:] "I have conducted my campaign on three principles: Say what is in your heart, run on what you believe, and let the people know what the other guy is doing."

The mailer says Beason claims to be "a man who listens to both sides and tries to find common ground (but) his own words tell a different story."
It's a pity The Union couldn't link to the stories in its own archives, thus helping its readers to make up their own minds.

Saturday's editorial, Solid list of candidates to pick from [but]
District 1 supervisor candidate Olivia Diaz's recent mailer misuses* partial quotes by her opponent, Nate Beason. Some are blurbs from columns written for The Union two years ago, which, by design, were point-counterpoint comments about opposing columnists' views**, not about Diaz or issues relevant to 2004...Others are...
I'm not going to defend all of the quotes; some are relatively weak. But the substance of the mailer is correct; the writings of the pre-campaign Beason and the recent Beason do not appear to come from the same person. And this speaks to the issue of integrity; a person with integrity is not a chameleon.

*And to argue, as the editorial board does, that exposing Beason's "effluvium-laden columns" commentary is a "misuse" of the quote because it doesn't directly impact Diaz or the current "on the table" campaign issues is either naive or disingenuous. Character matters. Judgement matters. Being able to disagree amicably and constructively with civil people matters. Beason's columns (links in Straight Talk) demonstrate a glaring deficit in this area.

I've sent the following questions to The Union's editor and publisher; I hope they will have the grace to respond:
[quote from editorial:]
"District 1 supervisor candidate Olivia Diaz's recent mailer misuses partial quotes by her opponent, Nate Beason. Some are blurbs from columns written for The Union two years ago, which, by design, were point-counterpoint comments about opposing columnists' views, not about Diaz or issues relevant to 2004. Others are taken from Beason's recent interview with the Editorial Board which, when read in context, offer a different meaning. No doubt the same results could be achieved by selecting "sound bites" from Diaz's transcript."
When I read this passage, the impression I get as a reader is that you [editorial board of The Union] believe that Diaz and Beason are no different in tone, and that if anything, Diaz is a bit more slimy (or has received poor campaign advice) since she is trying to insinuate that there is a difference.

  • Is this the impression that you wished to convey?

  • Do you believe that the quotes used in the mailer do not accurately reflect the tone of Beason's past writings?

  • Do you believe that the tone of Beason's past writings is no different from the tone of Diaz's past writings?

  • Do you believe that good planning, civil civic discourse, and maintaining Nevada County's quality of life are not issues that are "relevant to 2004"?

  • ** Do you believe that what someone says in their "point-counterpoint comments about opposing columnists' views" - especially when compared to those opposing (and infinitely more civil) columns - is not relevant to judging the integrity of their character and their fitness for office?

  • Do you believe it is the duty of The Union (and, by extension, its editorials) to accurately reflect reality? (still over the top; sorry)

  • Do you believe that the reader would have been more accurately informed if you had provided links to the writings in question, rather than just quoting a single paragraph?

  • Do you consider what The Union does to be journalism?

  • Was this an editorial column that you, personally, feel you can be proud of? Did it meet your standards for quality, fairness, and accuracy?
And, not in the letter, but fundamental: What are the ground rules? - when a candidate does grossly misrepresent himself in an attempt to fool the voters, who has the responsibility to bring this to light, and how? Is there a way to do it that is not "mud slinging"?

My limited personal experience:
The only District 1 supervisor candidatethat I've actually spoken with has been Nate Beason. Early in the campaign, he came to my door, and said he was running for Supervisor. I said "Sorry, I'm voting for Peter" [Van Zant, one of the "leftist and left-leaning functionaries of the Board of Supervisors spewing, to wretched excess..." in Beason's words]. Mr. Beason smiled a polite smile and said "Well, if he doesn't run, maybe you'll vote for me?", giving no indication that there was any difference in political outlook between them.

There are times when this movement just looks better and better.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The other presidents were just as bad

There's a piece to this effect making its way around the Bushosphere - I even got a fragment of it - goes more or less like this:
Let’s look at the "worst" president and mismanagement claims.

FDR led us into World War II. Germany never attacked us: Japan did.

Truman finished that war and started one in Korea, North Korea never attacked us...

John F. Kennedy started the Vietnam conflict in 1962. Vietnam never attacked us. Johnson turned Vietnam into a quagmire...

Clinton went to war in Bosnia without UN or French consent. Bosnia never attacked us. He was offered Osama bin Laden’s head on a platter three times by Sudan and did nothing. Osama has attacked us on multiple occasions...
The readers at Making Light analyze it and its origin. Apparently it was first posted at FreeRepublic, wasn't "from a paper in Durham, NC" as it [now?] claims to be, presumably is anonymous because what's in it is by and large untrue.

Long thread, but quite interesting.

a good summary is this one ("This response was compiled today from information found on the internet and from citizens around the country... The facts have been checked, and links (text in red) are provided so you can see for yourself & make your own decision. The opinions, mine and others', you can take or leave.")

TNH speaks:
I've been trying to track this down. It gets interesting. As you've seen, it's spread all over the place, never with proper attribution, and no one's taking credit. What's even more interesting... is that the earliest appearance of it I can find was posted on, 08 February 2004, by someone posting as "Keen-Minded" who appears to be one of the site's proprietors....
(also some fascinating reporting of FREEP community dynamics)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

odds and what looked like ends


philosoraptor: "In many ways, I'm basically a libertarian who happens to have been born without an undying faith in the free market."

Theresa Nielsen Hayden:
I frequently see denunciations from writers who say an editor can't possibly judge their novel from three chapters and an outline. Sure we can, even if the chapters are short and the first one's atypical. In many cases, three pages are enough. You don't have to drink the entire carton of milk in order to tell that it's gone bad.
Google is an intellectual amplifier: it makes smart people smarter, but it also makes dumb people dumber, since a naive Google search can easily lead you to information that's actually less useful than knowing nothing.
Being addicted to mediation and fairness, to exploration of complexity, is actually pretty exhausting. You get a lot of [fecal material] from everyone in all directions, and very little thanks for it.
...It would be liberating to stop bothering to instruct, cajole, plead, work with, mediate and persuade, to worry about nothing but one's own blazing righteousness and care little for the consequences or the results. That's rather like voting for Nader.
(Also, Nader's birthday cake)

ogmb in BDL comments:
"Is democracy possible?"

Yes if you believe in the drunken bicyclist theory of elected leaders which states that democracies are not inherently better at picking qualified leaders than oligarchic systems, they're just quicker to replace them with someone who will yank the handlebar around so that the bike veers over to the other side. And if you ever rode a bicycle drunk you know that this makes all the difference.

Update on the post below: I wuz wrong, or political pressure was subsequently applied*: the study's authors say calm down - "both the Emeryville futurologists and Pentagon officials stress the report's scary-sounding projections are highly improbable and extremely unlikely..."

(* It does sound like the latter - "uncertain and quite possibly small" becoming "highly improbable"
MSNBC reported 'This report suggests that because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change - although uncertain and quite possibly small - should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern,' they wrote..."

My question - when speculating on the likelihood of a given occurrence, why don't people go out on a limb and guesstimate just how likely they DO think it is, and with what confidence? Then after a while they'd have accumulated a track record and you'd be able to know how much weight to put on what they say.
And, if they won't volunteer to go there, why can't the press badger them into it?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

No, it's not certain. So should we ignore it?

Fortune Magazine on The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.
history shows that whenever humans have faced a choice between starving or raiding, they raid.
As the planet's carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern reemerges: the eruption of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies. As Harvard archeologist Steven LeBlanc has noted, wars over resources were the norm until about three centuries ago. When such conflicts broke out, 25% of a population's adult males usually died.
Calpundit thread discussing it here

Dan, in Calpundit comments:
I am a geologist with significant experience in climate change.

Let's put it this way, if things happen as fast this time around as they seem to have happened in previous cycles, then a LOT of people are going to be saying


Problem is, we did.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Update on "Straight Talk" post below

I have received an email from* John Gillander regarding my statements in the Feb. 17 "Straight Talk" post. The email is entitled "Remove your libel" ; excerpt as follows:
[Gillander quotes from my post]
"To my knowledge, however, it is undisputed that Martin and her supporters were the targets of an anonymous hit piece by Gillander - with the aim of helping Sutherland -that attempted to deflect blame onto the third candidate, Antonson. Could this be anything other than "nasty politics"?"
"To my knowledge" hey? A clever bit of puke. Not quiet clever enough. I deny each and every allegation that you are making regarding me participating in Nevada County elections during 2002. Further, your as regards me is completely untrue and libelous. I herein demand a retraction...
As you might have noticed from the arrest that you noted [BTW, I was acquitted] that I have access to very good lawyer now...
Not knowing any facts beyond what I read in newspapers and online, and not caring to be the recipient of legal action, and not caring to be the recipient of other forms of action, I am removing the offending section. I sincerely retract the statement beginning with "To my knowledge, however, it is undisputed..."; clearly it is disputed, by Mr. Gillander and perhaps by others. I would be happy to link to a webpage giving Mr. Gillander's side of the story.

* it being email, the "sender" field can be spoofed, so certainty is not guaranteed.

Here's more context:

From Oct 29, 2002 Yubanet article, Candidates Debate at Nevada County Board of Realtors:
[Bruce Conklin statement on the opposing candidate]: He didn't report mailers sent by John Gillander, even though the photos were shot directly under Drew's personal supervision at a Board meeting where a powerful, high-intensity flash was used to deliberately blind Board members during public discussion.
This election is about locally supported incumbents and challengers supported by hidden interests and powerful, out-of-town politicians. We cannot let the outside interests run our county; we need to retain local control.

Political hitpiece backfires:
A series of anonymous and allegedly illegal political "hit" mailers that blanketed Nevada County last spring have been traced to a Chico-based political activist with ties to a political consultant who was paid thousands of dollars by candidate Robin Sutherland, according to documents filed in Nevada County Superior Court.
A group identifying itself as "Nevada County Citizens for Ethical Government" sent the mailers, which attacked 4th District incumbent Supervisor Izzy Martin, who is running against Sutherland. The mailers also attacked a number of local residents who have gone on record as endorsing Martin. One resident named in the mailings filed a harassment lawsuit, which led to the revelations about the mailer’s identity and his ties to the Sutherland campaign.

But the mailers did not include a legitimate return address - an apparent violation of federal postal regulations. In addition "Nevada County Citizens for Ethical Government" has not disclosed its donors or officials to the State of California or Nevada County, a violation of California's Political Reform Act, which prohibits anonymous campaign literature....

The mailers did publish a "Hotmail" email address, in tiny print barely visible to the naked eye. Last week, a subpoena issued by Nevada County Superior Court traced that email address to Mr. John Gillander of Chico, CA.

Nobel laureates' Bush misuse of science report, and forseeable consequences

Tapped and Chris Mooney post on on the UCS Nobel Laureates' Bush admin anti-scientism report (here), with other good links, including Richard Florida's How the GOP's anti-elitism could ruin America's economy.

From this page of the report:
Political partisans have long disagreed over each administration’s politics and policy. But there is little disagreement about the need for elected and appointed officials to have access to rigorous, objective scientific research and analysis, and to fully understand its implications for addressing the problems they are trying to solve. To be sure, politics plays an unavoidable and, at times, valuable role in policymaking because many factors in addition to science and technology must be weighed in decision making....
There is, however, a crucial difference between political fights over policy and the manipulation of the scientific underpinnings of the policymaking process itself.

...the current administration has undermined the quality of the science that informs policy making by suppressing, distorting, or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies.
Lots of examples, including this - June 2003, the White House tried to make a series of changes to the EPA’s draft Report on the Environment...demanded major amendments including:
  • The deletion of a temperature record covering 1,000 years in order to, according to the EPA memo, emphasize "a recent, limited analysis [which] supports the administration’s favored message." 10
  • The removal of any reference to the NAS review - requested by the White House itself - that confirmed human activity is contributing to climate change. 11
  • The insertion of a reference to a discredited study of temperature records funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute. 12
  • The elimination of the summary statement - noncontroversial within the science community that studies climate change - that "climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment." 13
From the previously referenced(Feb 4 post) Wired "jobs flight to India" article -
[what's left for Americans?]
Now that the rest of the world is acquiring knowledge, and we're moving to work that is high concept and high touch, where innovation is essential but the path from breakthrough to commodity is swift, the more appropriate slogan - of both admonition and possibility - might be this: AMERICA DISCOVERS. THE WORLD DELIVERS.
Or rather, South Korea Discovers. US researchers losing edge in stem cell work -
You are going to start picking up Nature and Science and all the great [research] journals, and you are going to read about how South Koreans and Chinese and Singaporeans are making advances that the rest of us can't even study."

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Brain food

"Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan" revisited: analysis by Lawrence Lessig of whether Ralph Nader was responsible for Bush's election, using Nader's [earlier] reasoning (via)

Forget how the crow flies (via): "Obliquity is the idea that goals are often best achieved when pursued indirectly..."

Fascinating tale of reality by consensus (via, via Doc)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Straight talk, integrity, what you see is what you get? We link, you decide

This is a post in progress; links and wording may continue to change.

Updated Feb. 21 to remove disputed statements involving John Gillander

To quote Michael Kinsley -
One way to show your respect for democracy is to state your beliefs when running for office and then apply those same beliefs when you're elected. Democracy becomes pointless if there is no connection between the policies that citizens think they are voting for and the policies they get.
From this article on growth problems in Davis -
Further compounding the problem is the fact that most council candidates espouse slow growth and pro-environment platforms during their campaigns, and too often ignore these promises after they are elected. It can be very difficult for the voter to discern which candidates are "for real".

The Union's extensive coverage of candidates is here; the Q&A's are the most interesting.

In their interviews and statements, the candidates for Nevada County's District 1 Supervisor sound surprisingly alike; a much clearer picture of their differences emerges when you look at what they wrote about local issues before they decided to run for office.

The candidates are Josh Ramey, Olivia Diaz, and Nate Beason.

On Josh Ramey - I didn't find any pre-candidacy columns or letters from him in The Union.

Olivia Diaz has a couple -

Nate Beason was more prolific, and his writings more revealing.

From this article on his campaign -
[candidate says that:]
his ability to build consensus that makes him the best candidate...
he was disappointed by the polarization and divisiveness among the board [in fall 2002]. "It was so hateful"...
he doesn't represent any special interests or have a personal agenda...
From a letter to editor supporting this candidate - "reasonable, knows the issues and has strong convictions about integrity and honesty..."

Beason's pre-candidacy newspaper columns:
  • July 4 2002, Attacks on Bedwell say much about his critics
    Help me, Rhonda! Just as I was beginning to think that local political rhetoric had reached its nadir, things got worse. Hank Starr and Larry Shumaker took us to a new low of mean-spiritedness in these pages with their recent fairy tales attacking the character of Drew Bedwell. Their effluvium-laden columns, utterly barren of responsible commentary*, brought new definition to the term "meaningless braying of asses in the wilderness" and thereby debased the reputations of self-respecting donkeys everywhere...
    *emphasis mine

    Here are links to the "effluvium-laden" columns in question - if you have the time, please read them yourself, otherwise here are excerpts:

    • From Larry Shumaker, Bedwell may be a great dad but conducts mean politics (June 1 2002)- column starts as follows:
      Overheard while browsing through the plant offerings outside a Grass Valley store - one petitioner to a fellow signature gatherer working opposite sides of the entrance:

      "One guy came by and refused to sign this (property-compensation petition) because he said it was just a big land grab, so I told him that if that's the way he sees it, then, he must be a Communist if he didn't want to sign. That really gets 'em mad - when you call 'em Communists!"

      Loads of chuckles from both...
    • June 15 2002, from Hank Starr, In Nevada County there are no 'others,' only all of us (effluvium or prescience? you decide)
      Many young people are quite smart and a few may even be brilliant, but to attain wisdom you have to live a long time and gather together thousands of diverse bits of information and experiences from a myriad of different sources. Don't believe it when they try to tell you that experience is the best teacher. In the school of hard knocks, where experience is your teacher, you are given the test first and then, afterward, learn the lesson. That can be an extremely painful way to learn.
      ...[W]e environmentalists - we who are deeply concerned with preserving as much of our environment as is possible in this rapidly overpopulating world - are not "others," to be scorned and ostracized. We are your neighbors. If Bedwell persists in inciting war against us environmentalists, let it be known that our only enemies are overdevelopment, pollution, traffic jams, endless strip malls and demagogues who seek to set neighbor against neighbor.(link added by me)
      Aside: Both Starr and Shumaker have the distinction of being named lying liberal hitmen (same link as "prescience" above) by the now-incarcerated William Weismann. Watch how someone habitually refers to those he disagrees with...

  • Beason's Oct 26 2002 column scorning the Sacramento News and Review article on dirty politics in Nevada County (Yubanet background piece here), which covered the apparent unmasking of the sender of the anonymous anti-Martin hit pieces sent to benefit candidate Robin Sutherland; the sender [fixed misleading wording, sorry] apparently tried to make it look like they were coming from Rene Antonson's campaign (from SacN&R:
    "The mailers did not have a name or return address on them, except one. It listed a non-existent group, Nevada County Citizens for Ethical Government, along with an e-mail address that belonged to someone named Bob Finch. Pezzaglia e-mailed the address and got a reply that came through an Internet provider in Chico. The response urged contributions to Rene Antonson...Pezzaglia was sure that Finch was someone named John Gillander, a Chico political operative who is a friend of Sutherland’s former campaign consultant, David Reade. Gillander, according to Chico’s assistant city attorney, has a past conviction in Chico for distributing pamphlets illegally
    Antonson also was angry about the mailers that used his name. He was convinced it was Gillander, working on Sutherland’s behalf.
    Gillander couldn’t be reached. A man who answered the phone at his house said, "Never call this number again," and then hung up.

    But, a few days later, the subpoenaed records arrived from the Chico Internet provider.

    In a court filing, the Internet company’s response to the subpoena seeking the name of the e-mail sender, lists John Gillander of Chico.
    [briefer article here])

    From Beason column:
    ...there recently was a story in a not-so-local paper that gave not-so-accurate coverage of one of the local politicians in an apparent attempt to conjure up some sort of image of her as a victim of nasty politics. According to that paper, all manner of low conduct is being waged in attempts to embarrass this politician.

    As it turns out, the newspaper featuring the story has a personal connection to the alleged "victim," and one might conclude that the story was more than coincidental and less than objective in content. The whole affair gives the appearance of media manipulation. In the first place, it looks like the "victim" story was contrived to gain sympathy for the subject politician. Secondly, it appears that there was a deliberate, calculated complaint to The Union about its lack of reporting of the story in an effort to gain more local coverage sympathetic to the politician involved. Fortunately, to the chagrin of the complainants, The Union followed up and stuck with the story long enough to get the entire fable out in the open.

Questions on this second column: what part of the coverage was inaccurate? what was the "fable"?

[Section removed; in which I laid out what I believed to be the undisputed facts. I was wrong; they are disputed. See Feb. 21 post for explanation.]

As for "getting the entire fable out in the open", here are (I think, more or less) all The Union's writings on the anti-Martin anonymous mailer story:
  • October 11, 2002, Possibly unethical mailings traced to Chico conservative
  • October 12, 2002, Consultant denies sending mailers attacking Martin -
    "Supervisor Martin is out of her mind," said Reade [not Gillander]. "I've never been involved in anything like what she's accused me of, nor have I been involved in what I've been described of here in terms of mailers."

  • October 8, 2002, The Union publisher expresses irritation at the partisan tone of the SN&R article; same general timeframe,The Union editor expresses irritation at what he says is an organized letter-to-the-editor-writing effort asking that The Union match SN&R's hard-hitting reporting. (Note: no "she says" for balance; she doesn't know.)
  • October 12, 2002, the Sac News and Review is owned by the sister of a friend of Martin's - this was not disclosed in SN&R articles, although the reporter says he was not aware of the connection and not pressured to write the article.

for context -
  • Google on Gillander including an arrest for assault (Update: he reports he was acquitted)
  • Google on Reade including this March 2002 article on tactics in a Chico election-
    On March 4 a recorded message was phoned to a number of local registered Democrats urging them to "stop the illegal gerrymandering" by voting yes on Measure B. The call was being made on "behalf of Chico Democrats," says the recording in a voice that is undeniably that of David Reade, the political consultant often credited with being the behind-the-scenes creator of Measure B.

    "We must protect our Chico neighborhoods from the extreme right-wing supervisors," he says.

    Incredibly, he then goes on to say, "Stop the illegal David Reade redistricting plan. Vote yes on Measure B."

    It was an obvious attempt to confuse voters as to what a yes or no vote meant on the measure, because a yes vote in fact favors Reade's plan. Calls to Reade's office were not returned.
    ...The day of the election, the News & Review received a fax from the group Butte County Citizens for Fair Elections, which is operated by Reade and supported Measure B. Accompanying the fax was a copy of an e-mail message purportedly sent by Dolan "indicating her change of heart regarding support for fair election districts for Butte County Supervisors." ...The legitimacy of the attached e-mail is suspect at best..
    ...[Reade's group] tries to defend the use of the phrase "on behalf of Chico Democrats" by including the definition of the word "behalf": "for the benefit of."

Reade advised current District 2 supervisor (and current candidate) Sue Horne on her first run for supervisor.

Several past and present Nevada County Board of Supervisors candidates share a campaign advisor.

The other Beason columns:

Links to more coverage of county issues here

Any more articles I should link to here, please let me know.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Tall, light and handsome

In the Kmart shopping center today I met Ralph, who is looking for a home. He's about 2, border collie and maybe greyhound, tall without being massive, extremely beautiful, needs a place where he can run. He loves other dogs, is good with kids and strangers, hasn't had experience with cats but would probably like to chase them. He may be already taken, but if not - 271-5811. Good home only, obviously.

sure is handy to have that tiny camera in your pocket.

it being Valentine's Day, please to recall that SBF Seeks Male companionship - "I'm a young, svelte good looking girl who LOVES to play...I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me..."

also, the classic poetry of love

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Butterfly Effect - Michael Moore, you've redeemed yourself

Feb 18 update:

Calpundit Bush National Guard summary to date.

Off-topic but revealing article detailing how this administration supports our troops - the injured ones -"It's one thing to make a major misstep in Iraq; it's quite another to try to stiff the young people whose lives will never be the same because of it."

Please to forgive the breathless tone of this post in which your correspondent expected more stuff to break open all at once and quickly.

He may have inadvertently harmed Nevada County (rabble rousing yields local newspaper publisher backlash yields hair's-breadth margin electing this Supervisor yields, um, not exactly progressive majority county government) but it would seem that he gave the national press the jolt it needed to hunt down the truth.

And to see the truth emerge, ugly though it may sometimes be, is a glorious thing. Think boils, festering,
sunshine principle... ( [in journalism:] "A good question is: would I be proud of myself...if the facts of this case were laid out in a journalism review, in the media column of the Washington Post, or in the pages of my own publication?)

The places to go for info are the "'cleansing' of the records" posts at Whiskey Bar and CalPundit, also CJR Campaign Desk correcting the timeline (presumably correctly), and, o wonder of wonders, USA Today. It's great when papers of heretofore little stature stun you (again) with their courage.

Also fascinating - the way the FReepers have descended upon the Calpundit comments in the last few days, trying to browbeat proprietor Kevin Drum into shutting and giving up. They don't seem to be so hot on respecting the freedoms of others.

Moore himself (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) weighs in in Calpundit comments

from another Calpundit commenter somewhere in here - "It's fine to be pro-war if you're willing to back that war with your own blood. But to be pro-war and hide.. that's the height of cowardice."

Monday, February 09, 2004

still here, moderately comatose

Go read Jay Rosen's timeless I am Not Optimistic But I Do Have Hope, on how journalism could better serve, with examples. Many keeper quotes, the finding of which is left as an exercise for the reader.

particularly the section "Changing election coverage in Charlotte, 1992"

Also Tim Porter's Servant Journalism from Feb 7.

not a pointed comment, it's just really good stuff.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

two bits

Review of James Bond 007 tiny camera, with some not very impressive Nevada City photos. Important note: your correspondent is not responsible for the corny name.

Union editor Richard Somerville's Jan. 24 column with impressions gleaned from his contact with Bill Weismann, recently-sentenced local attempted murder-for-hire perp and property rights advocate. (Dec 3 and 6 posts for background)
(Thanks to reader for the heads-up - I'd missed this one.)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Beam me up, Scotty

Via Chris Mooney, creepy CalPundit thread on Bush admin's movement toward Conservative Lysenkoism, i.e. having science "peer reviewed" by industry-funded 'scientists'. Think the tobacco industry here. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but what comes next, are we all going to vote on what's true? if so, why bother to fund the research? From the thread -
"I'd make it a goal to make sure that local folks got to make the decision as to whether or not they said creationism has been a part of our history and whether or not people ought to be exposed to different theories as to how the world was formed."
George W. Bush, Nov. 14th, 1999
And an interesting point made in this comment, on motives for clamping down on publicly funded stem-cell research -
Ah. So we're establishing prohibitive regulation on government-funded research, while leaving privately-funded research alone. So those who want to develop stem-cell based cures and then charge huge amounts of money for them have an advantage...
In Wired today, privately funded research into life extension

Stereotypical, but too often true: "You believe that tobacco's link to cancer and global warming are 'junk science', but Creationism should be taught in schools."

New campaign promises, from The Onion

Ralph Nader, the world would be a much better place if you had never been born. Yet another reason to support
emergency contraception ("according to Planned Parenthood, EC will eliminate the need for more than 50% of the medical and surgical abortions in this country. Um, how can anyone argue that this would be a bad thing? ")

From Dave Pollard (can't find URL) - "the one decision we make that has the greatest impact on the environment is whether or not to have another child"

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

ways of living

From Wired article on information and tech jobs moving to India - this
computer terminology is littered with traces of what were formerly jobs: printers, monitors, file managers; even computers themselves used to be people, not machines.
and this
The [Bhagavad] Gita opens with two armies facing each other across a field of battle. One of the warriors is Prince Arjuna, who discovers that his charioteer is the Hindu god Krishna. The book relates the dialog between the god and the warrior - about how to survive and, more important, how to live. One stanza seems apt in this moment of fear and discontent.

"Your very nature will drive you to fight," Lord Krishna tells Arjuna. "The only choice is what to fight against."
From SJ Mercury News, a lesson in fairness

via Crooked Timber, then Brad DeLong, read Ken MacLeod on morality ("Morality has very little to do with choosing sides...")

CJR Campaign Desk on givers and takers, who (respectively) aren't who you'd expect:
"Republicans seem to have become the new welfare party," opines Pink, "their constituents live off tax dollars paid by people who vote Democratic." That's partisan spin, of course -- but the numbers he cites are not.
John Quiggin -
...the Internet is like a magic mirror. More precisely, it's like Harry Potter's Mirror of Esired, which shows the viewer whatever they most want to see. Among the academics and other geeks who built the Internet this was a co-operative world in which sharing based on mutual esteem would displace the profit motive and render large corporations obsolete. In the United States, where stock market mania predated the dotcom boom, the mirror showed a route to instant riches...
Michael Taht:
I remember life before spam. It wasn't that long ago, really. It was a good life. I could post to newsgroups, freely, and get back replies from strangers that I wanted to read. Now, sorting through my email is like machine gunning down a swarm of armed maniacs all trying to sell me something.
Excerpt from Temple Grandin on the motivation for working on Open Source software -
People in the business world are not able to comprehend why the computer people give their work away. I am unable to think about this without becoming emotional. It is no mystery to me why they download their intellectual ideas into the vast, evolving and continually improving computer operating system. It is because their thoughts will live forever as part of the "genetic code" of the computer program. They are putting themselves into the program and their "intellectual DNA" will live forever in cyber-space. As the program evolves and changes, the code they wrote will probably remain hidden deep within it. It is almost like a living thing that is continually evolving and improving.
Or is it more a reflection of the different ethical systems for the Information, Commercial, and Guardian spheres?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

misc on religion

yeah, you've seen it all before...

Melanie in Daily Kos on religion and liberalism. It starts about a page down and is well worth reading -
I'm both an intellectual, and religious. I know a whole lot of other people like me.

My [time] is spent in two parts of the Blogosphere: the liberal politics part, and the liberal religious part. Many, many other religious liberals have complained to me that the first part devotes a fair amount of energy to dissing or openly denigrating the second part...

Margaret Atwood - "The hijacking of religion by those bent on power grabs is an age-old theme and by no means limited to the Muslim world..."

via Echidne of the Snakes -

McSweeneys says Pat Robertson says vote No on Jesus

and religion according to Swedish children -
  • Only the soul dies. The body continues living. (Elisabeth, 7)
  • When it is twelve o'clock, everybody turns towards Mecca and chews on the fringes of the carpet. (Raymond, 7)
  • Jesus was first a pupa, then a bug, then he grew wings and became a god. (Kate, 6)

via The Revealer ("The Revealer likes to harp on a theme, a rather vague notion of democratic religion writing -- the sort practiced by journalists more intrigued by the many manifestations of faith and faithlessness than by Religion's official proclamations and courtroom exhortations..."), a fascinating article in Harper's on so-called-Christian beliefs of The Family

On viewing equal treatment [of different religions] under the law as hostile to Christianity

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate:
There is a doctrinal tension built into the long tradition of walling off church from state, and also in the claim that this wall evinces no hostility toward the church. Of course chasing religion from the public square is hostile. The point is that it's the only means of avoiding a theocracy. The Rehnquist court has made its name by slowly chipping away at this wall. The good news for them: This case affords them a chance to do away with that messy tension once and for all. The bad news for the rest of us? The only way to do so will be to get rid of the wall altogether.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Of conspiracies and fascism

Also: CJR Campaign Desk on Those Loopy Conspiracy Theories

history tells us that there is nothing outlandish or kooky about suspecting the government of making things up to take us into war
via same source, "John Laughland says the real nutters are those who believe in al-Qa'eda and weapons of mass destruction" [connection to Iraq, presumably; can't check, link is now bad] :
...for some reason, it is acceptable to say, 'The CIA organised the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran in 1953', but not that it did it again in Belgrade in 2000 or Tbilisi in 2003. And in spite of the well-known subterfuge and deception practised, for instance, in the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s, people experience an enormous psychological reluctance to accept that the British and American governments knowingly lied us into war in 2002 and 2003.
- to say nothing of how public support for Gulf War I was mobilized:
[Nayirah] told how, as a volunteer at the Al-Addam hospital in Kuait, she had seen Iraqi soldiers taking babies from incubators and leaving them to die on the floor.
Only much later...did it emerge that Nayirah was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the USA, that she had been coached in giving the testimony by Lauri Fitz-Pegado, H&K’s vice-president, and that the story was entirely untrue.
Then you read about the North Korean gas chambers (via) and wonder, how can you judge what's real and what's just another deception to manipulate public opinion into supporting another war? Deceiving the populace is not a victimless crime.

Orcinus on Conspiracies and conspiracy theories:
what is really remarkable about this is the way the same people who accuse [X] of conspiracism have themselves trafficked in outrageous conspiracy theories over the years, particularly those aimed at liberals and Bill Clinton in particular. But then, Hofstadter also rather keenly observed that projection is a common trait...
From TPM interview with George Soros ;
This administration has no compunction in misleading the people. It has no respect for the truth. This, I think, is a real danger. It is the danger of an Orwellian world. It's not new, because obviously, Orwell wrote about this fifty years ago. But what he wrote in 1984, you know, the Ministry of Truth being the Propaganda Ministry, the use of words meaning the opposite of what they are meant to mean. The Fox News, "Fair and Balanced," the "Clear Skies" Act for permitting pollution, the "Leave No Child Behind" [that] provides no money for the legislation. All these things I think pose a real danger to our democracy if they succeed in misleading the electorate. And there is only one remedy: an intelligent and enlightened electorate that sees through it.
There is a cultural phenomenon --- an unscrupulous pursuit of your cause with disregard to truth...
CalPundit on the fascism analogy:
No analogy is perfect, but this one is close in that it describes how reasonable people stood by while nut cases took control and led the world to ruin...

Sunday, February 01, 2004


From - Milan Kundera wrote:
True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude toward those who are at its mercy: animals.

Seen by Doc Searls on bumper sticker: Be the person your dog thinks you are.

Big kitty - "Many of the scientists saw no reason to rethink basic assumptions of how cougars relate to humans," Baron writes. "They knew that mountain lions were not man eaters..."

A meditation on unwise pets and irrational love

whale and parrot in the news

Mad cow discussion here, including
Eliminate bone meal and blood meal from your gardening while you are at it. Go read the transcript from "The Brain Eater" on Nova's website. The prions stay viable for years in the soil, something you don't really want on your vegetables.
They do have a verified case of vCJD transmission via blood transfusion, and several verified transmissions from surgical instruments. I was appalled that there were no questions about my dad's surgeries before he died.
Dairy products should be fine. The disease is passed by contact with brain and spinal cord tissues. So as long as Farmer Brown doesn't bash Bossie's head in while she's on the milking machine we should be safe (I hope).
Dog food for human consumption; some handy cooking tips here.