Saturday, April 23, 2005

A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time

Frank Rich editorialized in The New York Times Whatever your religious denomination, or lack of same, it was hard not to be swept up in last week's televised pageantry from Rome: the grandeur of St. Peter's Square, the panoply of the cardinals, the continuity of history embodied by the joyous emergence of the 265th pope.

There were a number in the Main Stream Media that took various swipes at the new Pope because they said he was too Conservative.
As a show of faith, it's a tough act to follow. But that has not stopped some ingenious American hucksters from trying.

Tonight is the much-awaited "Justice Sunday," the judge-bashing rally being disseminated nationwide by cable, satellite and Internet from a megachurch in Louisville. It may not boast a plume of smoke emerging from above the Sistine Chapel, but it will feature its share of smoke and mirrors as well as traditions that, while not dating back a couple of millenniums, do at least recall the 1920's immortalized in "Elmer Gantry." These traditions have less to do with the earnest practice of religion by an actual church, as we witnessed from Rome, than with the exploitation of religion by political operatives and other cynics with worldly ends. While Sinclair Lewis wrote that Gantry, his hypocritical evangelical preacher, "was born to be a senator," we now have senators who are born to be Gantrys. One of them, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, hatched plans to be beamed into tonight's festivities by videotape, a stunt that in itself imbues "Justice Sunday" with a touch of all-American spectacle worthy of "The Wizard of Oz."
The liberals have forgotten how disappointed they were the new pope was a Conservative; they can always attack him in the future. Now they need to focus on Bill Frist.
Like the wizard himself, "Justice Sunday" is a humbug, albeit one with real potential consequences. It brings mass-media firepower to a campaign against so-called activist judges whose virulence increasingly echoes the rhetoric of George Wallace and other segregationists in the 1960's. Back then, Wallace called for the impeachment of Frank M. Johnson Jr., the federal judge in Alabama whose activism extended to upholding the Montgomery bus boycott and voting rights march. Despite stepped-up security, a cross was burned on Johnson's lawn and his mother's house was bombed.
Do the Liberals have similar plans for Senator Frist, or will they be happy by just trying to belittle him?
The fraudulence of "Justice Sunday" begins but does not end with its sham claims to solidarity with the civil rights movement of that era. "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias," says the flier for tonight's show, "and now it is being used against people of faith."
And that is the truth
In truth, Bush judicial nominees have been approved in exactly the same numbers as were Clinton second-term nominees.
Lower court appointees were approved, but a number of appointments to the appeals court were fillibustered by the minority, and NONE of Clinton's nominees were fillibustered. They never made it out of the Republican controlled Judiciary Committee
Of the 13 federal appeals courts, 10 already have a majority of Republican appointees. So does the Supreme Court.
They may be Republican appointees, but several of them vote with the left much of not all of the time
It's a lie to argue, as Tom DeLay did last week, that such a judiciary is the "left's last legislative body," and that Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, is the poster child for "outrageous" judicial overreach.
It is true that Reagan appointed him, but he certainly votes with the left almost all the time.
Our courts are as highly populated by Republicans as the other two branches of government.
RINOs (Republicans in Name Only
The "Justice Sunday" mob is also lying when it claims to despise activist judges as a matter of principle. Only weeks ago it was desperately seeking activist judges who might intervene in the Terri Schiavo case as boldly as Scalia & Co. had in Bush v. Gore.
The Schivo case was a mistake; Congress should not have nterveined and Bush should not have signed it.
The real "Justice Sunday" agenda lies elsewhere. As Bill Maher summed it up for Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show last week: " 'Activist judges' is a code word for gay." The judges being verbally tarred and feathered are those who have decriminalized gay sex (in a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Kennedy) as they once did abortion and who countenance marriage rights for same-sex couples. This is the animus that dares not speak its name tonight. To paraphrase the "Justice Sunday" flier, now it's the anti-filibuster campaign that is being abused to protect bias, this time against gay people.
Activist judges are judges that legislate from the bench, whether it be to create a "right" to an abortion, or same sex marriage, or anything else. If you want things like that, you should persuade the legislature to approve them, as was done recently in Connecticut
Anyone who doesn't get with this program, starting with all Democrats, is damned as a bigoted enemy of "people of faith." But "people of faith," as used by the event's organizers, is another duplicitous locution; it's a code word for only one specific and exclusionary brand of Christianity. The trade organization representing tonight's presenters, National Religious Broadcasters, requires its members to "sign a distinctly evangelical statement of faith that would probably exclude most Catholics and certainly all Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist programmers," according to the magazine Broadcasting & Cable.
I don't know what the NRB requires for membership, but the Catholic Church, ans well as Jewish and Muslim religious leaders are opposed to abortion and homosexuality.


Iraqi Blogs

Iraq The Model blogged The increasing number of blogs emerging from Iraq is allowing us to get a better view at what's happening in different cities, small towns and even villages. Everyday there are more people starting new blogs either in Arabic or in English.
More people here are learning more about the simplicity of blogs, their capabilities and potentials in connecting people and overriding the barriers of distance.

I have always liked the horizontal conversation that blogs allow; no filters or chief editors omitting whole chunks from your article and you don't have to please anyone with your writing. It's simply a person to person conversation as you all know.

I am sure there are many others, but here are the Iraqi Blogs I have seen:


Sounds like oogle

ZDNet reports Google, the No. 1 search engine, filed a 68-page complaint against in the Eastern District Court of New York. The complaint alleges that proprietor Richard Wolfe, a New York state resident, illegally traded on Google's famous name and search brand for profit with a "nearly identical" mark.

Googtips blogged Never mind that was registered years before Google decided to name their own shopping site "Froogle." In Google's outrageous new legal argument, they claim they own exclusive use of any word that sounds like "oogle." How's that "Don't be evil" thing working out, Sergey?

This is ridiculous



IEBlog provided a few details on what to expect in I7 beta 1

  • Support the alpha channel in PNG images. We’ve actually had this on our radar for a long time, and have had it supported in the code for a while now. We have certainly heard the clear feedback from the web design community that per-pixel alpha is a really important feature.
  • Address CSS consistency problems. Our first and most important goal with our Cascading Style Sheet support is to remove the major inconsistencies so that web developers have a consistent set of functionality on which they can rely. For example, we have already checked in the fixes to the peekaboo and guillotine bugs documented at so use of floated elements become more consistent.
CyrusN asked What about tabs

Anonymous commented Web designers have clamored for it for years, since they saw what you could do with PNG images' multi-level transparency (now available in every major browser except Internet Explorer, and several minor ones).

Diggory Laycock commented Now we just have to wait another five years so that even "old" machines will be able to render them.

Shetil commented I am glad that IE7 will have png alpha channel support and CSS fixes. This is several good steps in the right direction. The problem is that IE7 will only be available to a subset of all Windows users and it will take a very long time before the majority of users will have a browser with proper CSS and PNG support. I think that Microsoft have mistreated their customers by abandoing IE for years. People that calls this "fantastic" needs to open their eyes. Their reaction is like applauding a student for delivering a paper several years too late.

It looks like IE7 will have some, but not all, of what Firefox has now.


The light at the end of the newspaper's tunnel

Phil Boas, the deputy editorial page editor for The Arizona Republic wrote Engaged bloggers are voracious newspaper readers, too. It's customary for anyone writing to the uninitiated about blogs to define them. This is a journalism trade publication and you are no ordinary reader, so I'll spare you the customary definition. Instead, I'll define blogs as they relate to you. They are your Nemesis in the making.

If you've remained nonplussed as they took down Dan Rather and four of his Black Rock colleagues, if you haven't the slightest interest in acquainting yourself with the blogosphere, don't move an inch. You won't have to. Bloggers will be knocking on your door any day now. Or knocking it down. To many of you, bloggers are a presumptuous rabble-amateurs elbowing their way into the publishing world. You may not know them, but they know youyour face, your manners, your prejudices, your conceits. They're your readers. And, God help us, they've become the one thing we've always begged them to become ... Engaged.

The engaged reader in the world of cylinder presses and snail mail was much more manageable than the engaged reader in a wired world. Newspaper reporters and editors got their first glimpse of this not from bloggers, but from readers responding by e-mail. Where once you could duke it out with a reader on the phone over the facts of a story or slant of a column, you now do so with pause when that reader is on e-mail. You've learned from experience that the e-mailing readers can turn around and send every word of your dust up to the mayor, the governor, the competing newspaper, and your publisher.

That reader is now his own publisher. If that was disconcerting before, it is ever more so with blogs.

The Volokh Conspiracy blogged A really nice column on the how the MSM needs bloggers and vice versa. Whenever I blog about blogging, I often get an email insisting that bloggers need the MSM and are no replacement for it. I agree with this and this column, written to legacy journalists by a journalist, describes the symbiotic relationship between the MSM and blogging as succinctly as I have seen.

Ideoblog blogged Randy Barnett writes on the symbiosis between the MSM and bloggers, quoting a piece in the Arizona Republic. Bloggers add value to the MSM by commenting and correcting mistakes. I agree. There's an analogy in my paper on the Law and Economics of Blogging that I think usefully illustrates this point. I suggest that there is a

long-term equilibrium in the relationship between blogging and the mainstream media. Bloggers can be analogized to remora fish, who clean parasites from host fish such as sharks. The remora get food, and the sharks are healthier.
In addition to this item, which is interesting by itself, is the fact that I did not read it in The Arizona Republic. Rather I read it in which says it has 5,000,000 articles - not found on any other search engine. This is a reference source that I was unaware of before, but which is now in my Bag of Tricks, and which I anticipate I will be using more frequently in the future.

I did not search for this article. Rather I found it by reading a post on The Volokh Conspiracy who found it from Little Green Footballs who found it from a commentator on Roger L. Simon. I could have found it that way, since I frequently read Little Green Footballs and occasionally read Roger L. Simon, but in this case I found it by reading Ideoblog.


Pope Receives E-Mails

Yahoo! News reports 56,191 e-mails [were] sent in the first 48 hours that Benedict's Vatican e-mail has been operational, the Vatican said Friday. In English, the address is [Other addresses exist for email in Italian, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese] Of the e-mails received so far, the bulk have been messages of congratulations written in English — 30,844 at last count. Italian well-wishers were next on the list with 12,621, followed by 6,024 messages in Spanish, 2,961 in Benedict's native tongue, German, 2,286 in Portuguese and 1,455 in French.


National Cybersecurity Office

USAToday reports The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of H.R. 285, the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2005.

The bill would create a National Cybersecurity Office in the Homeland Security Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate. The bill would also replace the department's director of the Homeland Security Department's National Cybersecurity Division with a new assistant secretary for cybersecurity. That person would head the new office and coordinate protection of critical IT infrastructure in both the public and private sectors.

The assistant secretary would create and manage programs to respond to and minimize cybersecurity threats. It would direct and coordinate cybersecurity efforts within DHS and other federal agencies. The position would also create a warning system and make the private sector and general public more aware of cybersecurity threats.

The bill now goes to the House Homeland Security Committee for consideration.


Kerry Jealous

NYP reported A fuming John Kerry had "daggers in his eyes" after a fellow Democrat promoted Hillary Rodham Clinton for president — suggesting the 2004 loser is green with envy at a potential rival.

The flap was touched off two weeks ago when Clinton spoke at a Minneapolis Democratic dinner and Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) told the cheering crowd that he was introducing "the next great president of the United States."

Two days later, Kerry came over to Dayton on the Senate floor "with daggers in his eyes and said, 'What are you doing endorsing my 2008 presidential opponent?' . . . He was very serious," Dayton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Clinton's office declined comment but a friend tut-tutted: "Boys will be boys, even when they are senators."

John @PowerLine blogged The most striking thing about this story to me was that Kerry and Dayton were simultaneously present on the Senate floor. Rumor has it that Kerry is so determined to run again in three years that he has resolved, after twenty years in the Senate, to begin actually performing his duties there.

Betsy Newmark blogged Does this guy really think that the Democrats will trust him again with the nomination. So many of them think that he mucked up a golden opportunity to bring down Bush. He was a terrible candidate just as so many predicted. He's left now to mutter like Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny, "it was Ohio, it was Ohio." Complaining about past elections didn't do much for Al Gore and won't be enough to get Democrats to entrust their best chance for a victory in 2008 to Kerry. Someone tell Teresa to spend some of her money to buy her husband a clue.

I love to see Liberals fight.


Saturday, April 23

This Day In History

  • 1616   The Spanish poet Cervantes died in Madrid.
  • 1789   President-elect George Washington and his wife moved into the first executive mansion, the Franklin House in New York City.
  • 1791   James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States, was born in Franklin County, Pa.
  • 1896   The Vitascope system for projecting movies onto a screen was demonstrated in New York City.
  • 1899   Author Vladimir Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • 1908   President Theodore Roosevelt signed an act creating the U.S. Army Reserve.
  • 1940   About 200 people died in a dance-hall fire in Natchez, Miss.
  • 1954   Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves hit the first of his record 755 major-league home runs in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. 1969 Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.
  • 1968   The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to form the United Methodist Church.
  • 1971   The Rolling Stones' album ''Sticky Fingers'' was released.
  • 1985   The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, GA, made a showy, glitzy announcement that it was changing its 99-year-old secret formula. New Coke was called "the most significant soft drink development" in the company?s history. Yeah, well, so much for history. Fans of the original Coke were instrumental in bringing Classic Coke back. The way they did it was, actually, quite ingenious. They didn't buy the new Coke and it turned out to be one of the biggest corporate flops ever.
  • 1992   McDonald's opened its first fast-food restaurant in Beijing.
  • 1993   Labor leader Cesar Chavez died at age 66.
  • 1995   Sportscaster Howard Cosell died at age 77.
  • 1998   James Earl Ray, who confessed to assassinating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and then insisted he was framed, died at age 70.
  • 2003   Global health officials warned travelers to avoid Beijing and Toronto because of an outbreak of SARS.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1564   William Shakespeare (poet, playwright: Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, MacBeth and at least three dozen more plays and over 150 sonnets; died Apr 23, 1616)
  • 1791   James Buchanan (15th U.S. President [1857-1861]; never married; nickname: Old Buck [died June 1, 1868])
  • 1813   Stephen Douglas (Illinois politician who beat Abraham Lincoln for a seat in the state legislature; died June 3, 1861)
  • 1928   Shirley (Jane) Temple Black (child actress: Little Miss Marker, Curly Top, Heidi, The Little Colonel, Poor Little Rich Girl, Wee Willie Winkie, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; U.S. delegate to the United Nations and chief of protocol)
  • 1939   David Birney (actor: Oh, God! Book 2, Nightfall, Serpico [TV], St. Elsewhere, Great American TV Poll, Bridget Loves Bernie, Live Shot)
  • 1939   Lee Majors (Harvey Lee Yeary II) (actor: The Six Million Dollar Man, Big Valley, The Bionic Woman, The Covergirl Murders)
  • 1944   Sandra Dee (Alexandra Zuck) (actress: A Summer Place, Gidget, Tammy and the Doctor)
  • 1949   Joyce DeWitt (actress: Three's Company)
  • 1960   Valerie (Anne) Bertinelli (actress: One Day at a Time, Silent Witness, Ordinary Heroes, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, Touched by an Angel)


Friday, April 22, 2005

Citizen Journalism

Dan Gillmor blogged The citizen-journalism movement is one of the great opportunities for the radio/TV news folks, because a new generation of audio- and video-fluent people will supply more material than we can comprehend today. Much -- most -- will be garbage. So what? The good stuff will be a vital part of how people see and understand the world.

We'll see and hear it one way or another, whether via a truly bottom-up method like video blogs or peer-to-peer networks. Yet established media can, and I believe must, embrace the emerging citizens media.

Mike Manuel blogged While participatory media is still arguably in its early stages, it’s hard to argue that enabling technologies like blogs and podcasts haven’t already delivered a swift back handed slap to the print and broadcast radio gatekeepers. Without question, there are tectonic shifts underway with respect to media consumption – some folks get this, others are fighting it and some just don’t have a clue – those who can adapt quickly, however, will dodge the next wind up because like it or not, another big slap is coming folks – this time right out of the TV.

Heather Green blogged I thought it was encouraging to read Dan Gillmor's post on how broadcast journalists are starting to get the grassroots movement. News gathering is richer and more pertinent when it brings in first person and eyewitness accounts. And citizen journalism is such a powerful force for helping inform the public, which is what most good journalists want to do. Sounds sappy, but it's the truth.

I am not trying to play down how hard it is for established media outlets to get their heads around citizen journalism. But along the lines of what Dan wrote, there are good signs that the smart established press outlets are sussing this out. Just check out what MSNBC and the News & Record are doing.

What's amazing is how much easier it's becoming this year for TV and radio broadcasters to dive into checking out video blogs and podcasts. With services like that help people publish and store videos and audios online, broadcasters now have a digital library of creative works at their fingertips. It's a great introduction into the different types of videos and do it yourself podcasts that people are creating. I am convinced these kinds of services will spur more traditional broadcasters to adopt citizen reports.

Trevor Jonas blogged NBC=National Blogcasting Corporation - Word on the street is that NBC is toying with the idea of getting its top anchors involved in the blogosphere. According to a Reuters article tonight, we could soon be reading what Brian Williams, Katie Couric and others at NBC think about the latest news, issues and current events.

Andy blogged Fred Wilson in his A VC blog also tackles a similar question in his entry "The Truth About Online Canibalization." He is particularly looking at the internet's impact on print media. Another excellent entry. I believe that blogging will have similar results on the print industry. It allows for a new guerilla marketing techinique. Using the online network of bloggers, a good idea or concept can spread quickly to reach thousands of online readers in a short period of time. If you attach a product to this, such as the likes of Seth Godin, it can create the exposure needed to create positive sales growth.

The concept of Citizen Journalizm is very interesting. We reported earlier this month about Bluffton Today, and today we talked about the cover article from Business Week. BW is also starting its own blog. I dont know where it will all go, but it should be a very interesting trip.


Blogs Will Change Your Business

Business Week reported Blogs Will Change Your Business
Look past the yakkers, hobbyists, and political mobs. Your customers and rivals are figuring blogs out. Our advice: Catch up...or catch you later

Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they're simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they're going to shake up just about every business -- including yours. It doesn't matter whether you're shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They're a prerequisite. (And yes, that goes for us, too.)

There was a time when businesses did not see a need for a website. Now a business that does not have a website is looked at as not really being up to date.
First, a few numbers. There are some 9 million blogs out there, with 40,000 new ones popping up each day. Some discuss poetry, others constitutional law. And, yes, many are plain silly. Let's assume that 99.9% are equally off point. So what? That leaves some 40 new ones every day that could be talking about your business, engaging your employees, or leaking those merger discussions you thought were hush-hush.

Give the paranoids their due. The overwhelming majority of the information the world spews out every day is digital -- photos from camera phones, PowerPoint presentations, government filings, billions and billions of e-mails, even digital phone messages. With a couple of clicks, every one of these items can be broadcast into the blogosphere by anyone with an Internet hookup -- or even a cell phone. If it's scandalous, a poisonous e-mail from a CEO, for example, or torture pictures from a prison camp, others link to it in a flash. And here's the killer: Blog posts linger on the Web forever.
While I am certain that is true, I look at the other side of the coin. A company that was thinking about trying something could blog their thoughts, and get valuable comments both pro and con, that they could use in deciding exactly what to do, and how to do it.
The printing press set the model for mass media. A lucky handful owns the publishing machinery and controls the information. Whether at newspapers or global manufacturing giants, they decide what the masses will learn. This elite still holds sway at most companies. You know them. They generally park in sheltered spaces, have longer rides on elevators, and avoid the cafeteria. They keep the secrets safe and coif the company's message. Then they distribute it -- usually on a need-to-know basis -- to customers, employees, investors, and the press.

That's the world of mass media, and the blogs are turning it on its head. Set up a free account at Blogger or other blog services, and you see right away that the cost of publishing has fallen practically to zero. Any dolt with a working computer and an Internet connection can become a blog publisher in the 10 minutes it takes to sign up.


Friday, April 22

This Day In History

  • 1451   Queen Isabella I, who sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus, was born in Madrigal, Spain.
  • 1509   Henry VIII became king of England following the death of his father, Henry VII.
  • 1864   Congress authorized the use of the phrase ''In God We Trust'' on U.S. coins.
  • 1878   The first Egg Roll was held on the grounds of the White House in Washington, DC. The first president on hand for the first Egg Roll was Rutherford B. Hayes.
  • 1889   Land Ho! At noon, the sound of a gun shot was the only signal needed for thousands of settlers to rush into the Oklahoma territory to claim their pieces of land. The U.S. Federal government had purchased almost two million acres of land in Central Oklahoma from the Crete and Seminole Indians and opened it up on this day to the settlers to claim their stakes. The purchase was made under pressure of cattle ranchers who needed more land for grazing.
  • 1898   The first shot of the Spanish-American War rang out as the USS Nashville captured a Spanish merchant ship off Key West, Fla.
  • 1889 The Oklahoma Land Rush began at noon as thousands of homesteaders staked claims
  • 1952   An atomic test conducted in Nevada became the first nuclear explosion shown on live network television.
  • 1954   The televised Senate Army-McCarthy hearings began.
  • 1970   The first Earth Day was observed -- with the purpose of reclaiming the purity of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the environment we live in. With the slogan "Give Earth a Chance", Earth Day continues to be celebrated on this anniversary or on the vernal equinox.
  • 1990   Pro-Iranian kidnappers in Lebanon freed American hostage Robert Polhill after nearly 39 months of captivity.
  • 1993   The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was dedicated in Washington, D.C.
  • 1994   Richard M. Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, died at age 81 in New York, four days after suffering a stroke.
  • 1997   Government commandos stormed the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru, ending a 126-day hostage crisis. All 14 Tupac Amaru rebels were killed; 71 hostages were rescued.
  • 2000   In a pre-dawn raid, armed immigration agents seized Elian Gonzalez from his relatives' home in Miami; the 6-year-old boy was reunited with his father at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.
  • 2002   Actor Robert Blake was charged with murder in the shooting death of his wife outside a Los Angeles restaurant.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1724   Immanuel Kant (philosopher: The Critique of Pure Reason; died Feb 12, 1804)
  • 1870   Nikolai Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) (Russian premier [1917-1924]; died Jan 21, 1924)
  • 1904   J. (Julius) Robert Oppenheimer (physicist: Enrico Fermi Award for work in nuclear physics: designed & built 1st atomic bomb; died Feb 18, 1967)
  • 1908   Eddie Albert (Edward Albert Heimberger) (actor: Green Acres, Teahouse of the August Moon, Roman Holiday)
  • 1923   Aaron Spelling (Emmy Award-winning executive producer: Day One, AT&T Presents [1988-1989], And the Band Played On [1993-1994]; Charlie?s Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place)
  • 1936   Glen Campbell (Grammy Award-winning singer: By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Gentle on My Mind, CMA Entertainer of the Year [1968]; Galveston, Wichita Lineman, Southern Nights, Rhinestone Cowboy; TV host: The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour; actor: True Grit, Norwood, Strange Homecoming)
  • 1937   (John Joseph) Jack Nicholson (Academy Award-winning actor: One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest [1975], Terms of Endearment [1983], As Good as It Gets [1997]; Five Easy Pieces, The Shining, Batman, Broadcast News, Chinatown, Easy Rider, Prizzi?s Honor, The Witches of Eastwicke, Little Shop of Horrors, A Few Good Men)
  • 1950   Peter Frampton (guitarist, singer: Show Me the Way, Do You Feel Like We Do, I Can't Stand it No More)


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Forget Blogs

Graham Webster in Editor and Publisher says Forget Blogs

Are blogs the answer to newspapers' disappearing-audience problem? No way, says our young reporter. The right way to capture young readers, he says, is to work on smarter interfaces and new ways of delivering information.

Blogs are both a smarter interface AND a new way of delivering information
Among forward-looking media thinkers, many of them with more experience in journalism that I have on this earth, I have developed an apparently unpopular opinion. The blog craze has prompted dozens of newspapers and other news outlets to produce or plan blogs for their own Web sites. Inevitably, the argument is that it's a good way to reach young readers who rarely buy the print edition. My heresy? Blogs are a horrible way to deliver journalism. Forget them.
They certainly are not a good way to deliver journalism if you don't want people to be able to criticize what you write.
This is not to say that I don't read them. For someone sitting in an office looking for story ideas all day, blogs are great. You can check back with them every hour, and if the folks behind the blog are tireless, something new will have appeared. But you can say the same about many news sites, including E&P Online.
You do't want news outlets to consider blogs, do you also want them to drop their news site?
Are blogs journalism? How could the answer be anything but an emphatic "sometimes!" Blogging is a medium, and some journalists use it to deliver their work.

But the coming generation doesn't use blogs to get their news.
Some do. And others to augment the news they get from other sources.
Some young political junkies (read: political science majors and student journalists) have the time to plow through the likes of Wonkette, Talking Points Memo, and Andrew Sullivan's blog. For most of us, however, we want a page with what print designers would call multiple entry points. We want to see the most important news on one screen, ranked by an editorial filter we trust.
Then use Google News
That's why people between 18 and 34 are 35% more likely to get news at least once a day from a portal site such as and than from newspapers (or their Web sites), despite the fact that newspapers are considered just as trustworthy, according to a newly released Carnegie Corporation study.

Blogs are popular among some readers because they're fast, and bloggers often have a voice and attitude young people can enjoy reading. But blogging is an unfriendly medium. No one wants to have to go through clunky archives to try and find background coverage, and no one really wants to synthesize a bunch of chronological entries into a coherent view of the day's news.
News Sites have clunky archives, and my blog has a search feature.
The real story about blogs that most in journalism don't care about is the radical change in social interactions they promote among a certain portion of young people. This is where I admit that most of the blogs I read offer far from serious discussion. Many of my friends publish blogs; I publish one myself. It's one way for us to keep in touch at a stage in life when people constantly move all over the country and the world. Sometimes these blogs and their content streams will even bloom into very intelligent discussions about issues not addressed in academia. But most blogs my friends and I read are not journalistic material.
Just because your blog is not journalistic material does not mean that others are not.
We don't use blogs because they're a good way to deliver information. We use them because they're cheap and easy, and we're not putting a lot of time into it. The same goes for the journalists who run blogs. If they had the technical expertise and the money to create a more reader-friendly medium, it's no doubt this chronological "Web log" nonsense would end.
Untrue. There are many types of blogs, and I can't think of any of them that are likely to go away just because someone developed a more reader-friendly medium. If such a medium was developed, it might be used for some blogs, but that is not what he is talking about.
Even if personal bloggers and journo-bloggers can't afford to develop something better, newspapers can't afford not to. To attract young readers, newspapers should first lose the fixation on newsprint. The newsrooms that produce newspapers are "news operations" just like any other journalistic outlet. Producing lower-quality newspapers to hand out free in urban areas is exactly the wrong idea. Why would anyone take a paper with 12-hour-old news when their cell phone has seconds-old news on tap? NYU j-school professor Jay Rosen has caught the scent in his recent blog essay "Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die."

Next, newspapers should get serious about pioneering methods for online content delivery. Forget about blogs and invest time and money in developing a useful interface that customizes the online experience for every user. Remember also that the home or office PC is not the only way people access the internet. Take advantage of the information devices we all carry with us, and develop usable mobile phone interfaces, maybe even in cooperation with mobile service providers.
Have you ever heard of moblog (a mobile weblog, or moblog, consists of content posted to the Internet from a mobile or portable device, such as a cellular phone or PDA.)
Finally -- not that I need to remind anyone -- newsrooms cost money to run. Take a cue from cable television, where dozens or hundreds of channels attract very specifically segmented audiences, making them very attractive to individual advertisers. Go a few steps further than the Yahoo-type portals and customize the news mix for the individual reader (giving you a clear picture of who advertisers will reach). Beat the online portals in convenience and relevancy, and you've got a business model.

Rex Hammock blogged Webster's definition of clueless: I'm sure Graham Webster is a nice person and I don't want to suggest he's actually an idiot. But this column certainly is idiocy. The "young reporter" at Editor & Publisher says "blogs are a horrible way to deliver journalism...and forget them." Why is this statement idiocy? The basis for his observation suggests proves he's never used a newsreader, RSS, Topix, PubSub or many other ways that allow one to have dozens of "entry points" into blog posts. Geez.

Don't embarass yourself next time Graham. Ask around, perhaps say, "Am I missing something here?" I assume using RSS tools is not something they teach in J-school yet, Graham. The world is changing, however. Get over it. Also, Graham, for the record, the buzzword "entry point" is SO 2003. But maybe you missed it as you were depending on Yahoo's "portal" page (which is so, what, 1996?). Again, "young reporters" tend to display their limitations when they project their ignorance onto an entire generation. Graham, there are enough old geezers making stupid decisions at newspapers. Don't be a geezer before your time.


A Catholic Call for Dissent

Charles E. Curran wrote in the LA Times I grew up as a typical pre-Vatican II Catholic. I entered the seminary at 13 and became a priest 11 years later, never questioning church teachings. But as a moral theologian in the 1960s, I began to see things differently, ultimately concluding that Catholics, although they must hold on to the core doctrines of faith, can and at times should dissent from the more peripheral teachings of the church.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the Catholic Church feel differently. In the summer of 1986, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the powerful enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy around the world, concluded a seven-year investigation of my writings. Pope John Paul II approved the finding that "one who dissents from the magisterium as you do is not suitable nor eligible to teach Catholic theology." Cardinal Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — told the Catholic University of America to revoke my license to teach theology because of my "repeated refusal to accept what the church teaches."

I was fired. It was the first time an American Catholic theologian had been censured in this way. At issue was my dissent from church teachings on "the indissolubility of consummated sacramental marriage, abortion, euthanasia, masturbation, artificial contraception, premarital intercourse and homosexual acts," according to their final document to me. It's true that I questioned the idea that such acts are always immoral and never acceptable (although I thought my dissent on these issues was quite nuanced).

Kevin Drum blogged That's par for the course. Six out of seven of those items are related to sex and gender. In the end, that's what it's always about, isn't it?

Professor Bainbridge blogged I got a lot of flack from Kevin's end of the blogosphere when I said much the same thing about Andrew Sullivan the other day, but perhaps Kevin meant it as a critique of the Church rather than of Curran (most of the comments to that post seem to assume so). In either case, it seems to me that the Church is not preoccupied with sex or gender, it's simply forced to constantly deal with the incessant complaints of those who monomaniacally dissent from the Church's teachings in those areas.

Tim Dunlop blogged Curran's argument is that Catholics should dissent, though it is obvious that the Church's current leadership strongly disagrees. I won't rehash the arguments I made below, but the article is an interesting insight into the reality of the Catholic Church's management practices.

It seems strange to me that so many American Catholics seem to think that the Church should change it's teachings to agree with what they think. I always thought that one goes to church to learn what God wants, not to express what they think the church should teach. It they disagree so much with the Catholic Church's teachings, why don't they find a church that is closer to what they think. If they want a church where women can become priests, I think the Episcopal church can accomodate them. If they want a church that allows gays to marry, I think the Unitarians can accomodate them. I am not sure what church, if any, supports divorce, abortion, euthanasia, masturbation, artificial contraception, premarital intercourse and homosexual acts like Charles Curran wants, but I guess they can always create their own church. Whether it leads to salvation is a separate issue, but most of them seem more interested in the Here and not the Hereafter.


Ethics Committee

CNN reports Democrats protecting their own in ethics dispute

House Democrats are blocking the ethics committee from organizing in order to protect several of their members from ethics investigations, House Speaker Dennis Hastert charged Wednesday.

"We know there are four or five cases out there dealing with top-level Democrats," Hastert told the conservative Sean Hannity radio program. "There's a reason that they don't want to go to the ethics process and as long as they can keep someone dangling out there like they have with Tom DeLay, they take great glee in that."

His comment came the same day House Democrats rejected a compromise offer from the Republican chairman of the ethics committee that would have opened an investigation into ethics charges against Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas in return for the Democrats agreeing to formally organize the committee.

As long as the Dems can get the MSM to attack Delay, they not only do not need an Ethics Committee, the don't WANT one, because they know that the things they are critizing Delay for are not illegal or in violation of house rules.


Santorum reads nuke polls

Alexander Bolton, former assistant to David Corn at The Nation (News and analysis on politics and culture from the left) magazine, wrote in The Hill that Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a leading advocate of the “nuclear option” to end the Democrats’ filibuster of judicial nominees, is privately arguing for a delay in the face of adverse internal party polls.

Details of the polling numbers remain under wraps, but Santorum and other Senate sources concede that, while a majority of Americans oppose the filibuster, the figures show that most also accept the Democratic message that Republicans are trying to destroy the tradition of debate in the Senate.

Joe Gandelman blogged The GOP could get the votes and win on this. But if it does win it could lose a lot more in the longrun. And if it wins this vote there's an excellent chance the Senator will be sending resumes out come November, and probably land some nice, new job as a highly-paid lobbyist.

James Joyner blogged The Republicans are right on the issue--the vast majority of Americans support the idea that the president's nominees should get an up-or-down vote--but they've done a poor job of making their case. The Democrats have tradition on their side here and they've bolstered their position by getting the pejorative description "nuclear option" to stick.

While I disagree with Kevin Drum that the Republicans have "overreached," he's right that they have made numerous tactical errors and have been heavyhanded (not to mention hamfisted) in handling certain issues, notably the whole Tom Delay mess. Markos Zuniga is right, too, that Santorum's tight re-election polls are as relevant to this as the fillibuster polls.

Ed Morrissey is disgusted with the Republicans for having "taken a significant mandate from the November 2004 election to break the unprecedented filibusters on judicial nominations and turned it into a liability." It's not clear, though, how much of a mandate on this issue the GOP had. While the die hards among us found it important, I'm not aware of any evidence that it was a major factor in Bush's win over Kerry, let alone in the 435 House races or 34 Senate races in 2004. Such things are decidely inside baseball.

Paul Mirengoff hits the nail on the head:

[P]oll-based fear should not deter the Republicans in this instance. It also occurs to me that if the Republicans could make the Democrats actually filibuster Owen or Brown for an extended period, the public would conclude (a) that the Dems have had their opportunity for full debate and/or (b) that such debate, when undertaken by the Democrats, isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Right now, the Democrats are able to sell this as a fairness/balance issue. Making them actually go through with the messy business of shutting down the Senate to stop nominees that would appear reasonable to most people may well turn that around.

Steven Taylor adds that this would seem to belie the idea that interest groups dominate the agenda and Members ignore the public.

Democrats frequently distort things, to achieve their goals, and as indicated above, the article was written by Alexander Bolton, former assistant to David Corn at The Nation (News and analysis on politics and culture from the left) magazine.


Why Google Is Like Wal-Mart

Wired News has an interesting article: Why Google Is Like Wal-Mart

Wired has a capability for you to leave comments, and they say "We may publish messages marked as "feedback" in our Rants & Raves letters to the editor section" but they may just go into the bit bucket in CyberSpace, but Philipp Lenssen blogged about it in Google Blogoscoped and he has a section for discussions

It also has a link to Tools You Might Have Missed


Peggy Noonan

I missed this piece by Peggy Noonan, but thankfully The Anchoress brought my attention to it, and I want to share her excerpt with my readers as well:

We are living in a time of supernatural occurrences. The old pope gives us his suffering as a parting gift, says his final goodbye on Easter Sunday; dies on the vigil of Feast of the Divine Mercy, the day that marks the messages received by the Polish nun, now a saint, who had written that a spark out of Poland would light the world and lead the way to the coming of Christ. The mourning period for the old pope ends on the day that celebrates St. Stanislas, hero of Poland, whose name John Paul had thought about taking when he became pope. We learned this week from a former secretary that John Paul I, the good man who was pope just a month, had told everyone the day he was chosen that he wanted to be called John Paul I. You can’t be called “the first” until there is a second, he was told. There will be a second soon, he replied.

As The Anchoress said, read it all.


Big city newspapers get blog friendly

Market Watch reported The San Francisco Chronicle plans to launch blogs "in the near future," according to Robert Rosenthal, the newspaper's managing editor. But the "exact form and structure ... so that it fits journalistic standards," is up in the air, he told a reporter from the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times. Adding Web logs to its editorial mix will put the Chronicle in the company of several major publications, including The New York Times and the Dallas Morning News, which also have added bloggers' voices. "As long as we can stay within the bounds of accuracy and impartiality, and where it doesn't mean reporters are spending their day blogging instead of reporting, I see a place for it," said Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times.

Blogging was also the subject of a workshop program at the NAB, with the title "Are We Becoming Irrelevant?" An audience of about 50 attended, three of whom said they were bloggers, and most of whom said they read other peoples' blogs, reported. Most also indicated they knew what podcasting is, but only five said they listen to any of the audio programs which are delivered over the Internet for playback on portable media devices.

This is good news. I decided to try to see where these other papers were supporting blogs, and ran across A Blog Commentary on the NYT site, but it was about Annotated NYTimes which is a subset of BlogRunner. It is one of Pogue's Posts, but I really would not call it a blog, even though it does permit comments, because it

  • Has no RSS feed
  • Does not permit TrackBacks
The Dallas Morning News does have RSS feeds for its news stories, and it does provide forums, but I would not call either of them blogs.


Roe's Birth, and Death

David Brooks editorialized in NYT reported ustice Harry Blackmun did more inadvertent damage to our democracy than any other 20th-century American. When he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since, and now threatens to destroy the Senate as we know it.

When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that's always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn't have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate. Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.

I know of many senators who love their institution, and long for a compromise that will forestall this nuclear exchange. But they feel trapped. If they turn back now, their abortion activists will destroy them. The fact is, the entire country is trapped. Harry Blackmun and his colleagues suppressed that democratic abortion debate the nation needs to have. The poisons have been building ever since. You can complain about the incivility of politics, but you can't stop the escalation of conflict in the middle. You have to kill it at the root. Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better.

Steve M blogged No, David, Roe v. Wade isn't why our politics is coarsened and polarized. Our politics is coarsened and polarized because conservatives want vengeance -- for the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, consumerism, and every other liberal change of the twentieth century. And they're not too thrilled about more recent developments, either -- overturning Roe isn't going to make them mellow out about gay marriage or embryonic stem-cell research or self-administered emergency contraception or laws that permit the removal of feeding tubes for patients in permanent vegetative states. Maybe you just focus on abortion because it's the rare issue on which liberals and Democrats fight back.

George W Bush is the first President that ALLOWED federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, he just limited it to a number of stem cell lines, and did nothing about State or Private sponsored research. And not all conservatives agreed with the action that was taken regarding Terri Schivo

Barbara O'Brien blogged There is no compromising with the Fetus People. I suspect that even if their entire agenda were enacted into law, and all reproduction rights organizations were to disband, it would still not satisfy them. The next step would be to make it a crime to even speak in favor of abortion rights, and then birth control would be criminal. And then on to burkhas. Their fevered obsession with controlling women won't stop with banning abortion.

It would be nice to find someone on the Extreme Left that was interested in a compromise, but clearly if Barbara is going to refer to Right to Life supporters as Fetus People, she isn't interested in compromise

Edward blogged But listen to a "Culture of Lifer" and you'd get the distinct impression that somehow a minority group of elitists is imposing their views on a hapless majority. Brooks uses his wobbly logic to then argue that the country will never have domestic tranquility until Roe v. Wade is overturned and the states legislate the issue individually.

The handfull of elitists are the USSC Judges that took it out of the hands of state legislatures and created a right to an abortion.

Juan Non-Volokh blogged It is also important to note that overturning Roe, by itself, would not be a pro-life victory. All it would accomplish is returning abortion policy to the states, many of which would never severely restrict, let alone prohibit, the practice.

That may be true, but at least the decision would be made by elected representatives and elected Governors, and that would be a LOT better than unelected judges making the decision.


'Life' Issues

NYT reported Pope May Color Debate in U.S. Over 'Life' Issues Like Abortion

The election of an unstintingly conservative pope could inject a powerful new force into the intense conflicts in American politics over abortion and other social issues, which put many Catholic elected officials at odds with their church.

Pope Benedict XVI ascends to power at a tumultuous time for his church in American politics: Catholic voters, long overwhelmingly Democratic, have become a critical swing vote. Republicans have become increasingly successful at winning the support of more traditional Catholics by appealing to what President Bush calls the "culture of life" issues, including abortion, euthanasia and research on embryonic stem cells. Mr. Bush carried 56 percent of the white Catholic vote in 2004, up from 51 percent in 2000 - a formidable part of his conservative coalition.

At the same time, some American bishops have become more assertive in urging their congregations to vote in accord with Catholic teachings on those issues - and in moving to chastise Catholic officials who disagree, in a few cases by threatening to deny them Communion. The bishops acted with the support and encouragement of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new pope, who at the time headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This standoff has pitted church leaders against some of the leading Democrats in the country, and came to a boil last year around the presidential candidacy of Senator John Kerry. He is a Catholic who supports abortion rights, and argued that he could not impose "my article of faith" on others who did not share it.

Analysts on the right and the left say it is impossible to predict a papacy, and on Wednesday Benedict XVI was clearly seeking a softer, more inclusive tone than some had expected. But they say he shows all the indications of wanting to preserve a bright line around orthodoxy, around what is an acceptable position for a Catholic and what is not.

Ann Althouse blogged This voting trend is longstanding and would have existed and continued even if John Paul had survived. But the point is that Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which backed American bishops who "have become more assertive in urging their congregations to vote in accord with Catholic teachings on those issues" and who have "chastis[ed] Catholic officials who disagree, in a few cases by threatening to deny them Communion." So there's a prediction that Catholic voter will keep feeling the need to vote based on "culture of life" values.

Maya blogged It so irritates me when non-Catholic Republicans like Bush start using Catholic dogma to further their agenda.

I've got news for you, Maya. There are a lot of protestants that are also opposed to abortion.
Okay, so are we or are we not a church-state? Because last I checked, our representatives did at least have to pretend to have the diverse interests of their constituency in mind.
There is no official state religion, so the First Amendment is intact, but there is nothing to say that representatives are not allowed to be members of some church, and they certainly may use their ethics and morals, even if they agree with their religious teaching, in deciding how to vote.
K. J. Lopez: blogged The new pope will likely talk about abortion being immoral. This will make Catholic politicians who support legal abortion increasingly uncomfortable. Thank you, thank you, New York Times.

Betsy Newmark blogged Perhaps this is the real reason why so many in America seem tobe so offended by the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger to be pope. Ya think a more earthly type of politics is what is motivating some of this obvious animus?

It would be nice if a culture of life replaced our current culture of death.


Gay Civil Unions reported Connecticut became the second state in the nation yesterday to create civil unions for gays and lesbians. The move disappointed some gay-rights activists who had hoped to see the state follow Massachusetts' lead in creating same-sex marriage and angered some conservatives who said the measure was a step in the direction of gay nuptials. The legislation was approved by a wide margin in the Senate and enacted swiftly by Governor M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, late yesterday afternoon. ''I have said all along that I believe in no discrimination of any kind, and I think that this bill accomplishes that, while at the same time preserving the traditional language that a marriage is between a man and a woman," Rell said after signing the bill into law. The measure pushed Connecticut to the forefront of the debate over same-sex unions and made it the first state in the nation to enact civil unions without a court mandate. Vermont created civil unions in 2000 when the state's highest court ordered the Legislature to extend the privileges of marriage to same-sex couples.

At least it was the legislature that passed the law, rather than some unelected group of judges.

Ace blogged Connecticut Approves Civil Unions... Through Democratic Means - I'm still very much undecided on civil unions, as I just consider them marriage light or, sorry DL, a backdoor method of obtaining marriage by another name. But... I am at least very happy that this law was enacted by, get this, actual law-makers 'n stuff. What a concept.

Orrin Judd blogged If we're going to tolerate homosexuality some kind of institutionalized contractual obligation will be adopted in at least the Blue states. One like this which makes clear that it's an inferior institution is probably the best that can be hoped


Bahraini woman chairs parliament

BBC News reported For the first time in the Arab world, a woman has chaired a parliamentary session in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
Alees Samaan, who is Christian, also became the first non-Muslim to act as speaker in predominantly Muslim Bahrain, if only for a few hours.
Details of the story are published on the front page of Bahraini newspapers, which describe the event as historic. The leading pan-Arab newspaper, al-Hayat, also reported the session on its front page.
The Bahraini press speak of warm applause as Ms Samaan walked up to the speaker's chair. At the end of the session, colleagues were said to have rushed to the podium to have their pictures taken with her.
But despite the apparent rejoicing by her male colleagues, this was equality by default rather than design. The speaker of the consultative council was absent and so were his two male deputies.
And according to the council's by-laws, the role of speaker had to go to the most senior member of the council, who happened to be Alees Samaan. There are only six women in Bahrain's two-chamber parliament.

It may have been accidental, but at least it happened, and next time it will be easier for it to happen intentionally.

Charles Paul Freund blogged A recent study found that "The number of women members of parliament in the Arab world has almost doubled in the last five years," to 6.5 percent of the region's MPs, according to a BBC report in March. "Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco contributed most" to that rise, "but the trend should continue thanks to the recent Iraqi elections."


Thursday, April 21

This Day In History

  • 1649   The Maryland Toleration Act, which provided for freedom of worship for all Christians, was passed by the Maryland assembly.
  • 1789   John Adams was sworn in as the first vice president of the United States.
  • 1816   Charlotte Bronte, author of ''Jane Eyre,'' was born in Thornton, England.
  • 1836   Texans led by Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, assuring Texas independence.
  • 1918   Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the German ace known as the "Red Baron," was killed in action during World War I.
  • 1960   Brazil inaugurated its new capital, Brasilia, transferring the seat of national government from Rio de Janeiro.
  • 1975   South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu resigned after 10 years in office.
  • 1977   The musical ''Annie'' opened on Broadway.
  • 1980   Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon, but she was disqualified when officials discovered she had jumped into the race about a mile from the finish.
  • 1986   A vault in Chicago's Lexington Hotel that was linked to Al Capone was opened during a live TV special hosted by Geraldo Rivera. Except for a few bottles and a sign, the vault was empty.
  • 1992   Robert Alton Harris became the first person executed by the state of California in 25 years as he was put to death in the gas chamber for the 1978 murder of two teenage boys.
  • 2002   In a huge upset in French politics, extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen qualified to face incumbent Jacques Chirac in the runoff for French president.
  • 2003   State-run media in China reported the government had dismissed Beijing's mayor following the disclosure of a steep increase in SARS cases in the Chinese capital.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1816   Charlotte Bronte (author: Jane Eyre, The Professor, Shirley, Villette; died Mar 31, 1855)
  • 1926   Queen Elizabeth II (Elisabeth Mary) (Queen of the United Kingdom [1952- ]; eldest daughter of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; married Philip Mountbatten [1947]: four children: Charles [Prince of Wales], Anne, Andrew, Edward)
  • 1951   Tony Danza (actor: Family Law, Who?s the Boss, Taxi, Angels in the Outfield, Baby Talk)


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Progressives and Benedict XVI

Jonah Goldberg editorialized As the Vatican's chief defender of theological doctrine, it's no surprise he [Pope Benedict XVI]'s already being condemned as a "traditionalist" and a "hardliner." Some believe there is a radical left wing in the Catholic Church that seeks to unravel the teachings of John Paul II, but this is an exaggeration of the Western - particularly, the American - press. The notion that you could find any cardinal eager to change church policy on abortion, for example, is simply a fantasy concocted by liberal journalists. Excepting, perhaps, the issue of distributing condoms in Africa, it's hard to think of a hot-button social issue that divides the church's leadership a fraction as much as American editorial pages seem to suggest.

If a committee made up of Andrew Sullivan, Gary Wills, Andrew Greeley, Paul Begala and Nancy Pelosi were given the power to select a pope from the current College of Cardinals, we would still have a pope opposed to abortion and gay marriage.... It takes the solipsism of American liberals to imagine that simply because America is divided over certain issues, the Vatican must be, too. And it takes the ignorance of the American media to think that a "liberal" in America is a liberal in Rome, Buenos Aires or Lagos.

Anchoress blogged Ding, ding, ding! Give that man a seegar!!!

I read this and find affirmation of what I have been thinking since yesterday, that the howls and putting on of sackcloth and ashes at the election of Joseph Ratzinger as new pope is a bit of a red herring. Yes, they don’t like Benedict XVI - they never did and never would. But I think all this hoo-hah is less about Benedict than about the Catholic Church, itself. That darned, immovable Church which refuses to lay down and obey, or to tumble.

As long as the obstinate Church refuses to get on board with the times, the progressive agenda cannot go forward without examination and debate. That is unpleasant to people who simply don’t like hearing the word “NO” unless it is coming from their own lips. I don’t believe the progressives really expected a pope who would be markedly different from John Paul the Great on matters of doctrine and morality. They couldn’t be that naive. They had to know that the next pope, whoever he was, would still not please them.

No, I think most of this is just a temper tantrum against the church-that-won’t-go-away. These folks are fuming because they saw that JPII stood against their agendas, and that they were quite, quite powerless against him because….well, because he was so BELOVED. Ergo. Make Pope Benedict easy to hate. He (and the Church) will be much easier to move against if the pope is hated, rather than loved. I can’t help it. I’m liking him more and more.

Betsy Newmark blogged This is the first time that I've ever paid attention to the selection of a pope and I'm amazed at how the American media treats it like just another political election.

I may be wrong, but as I indicated in an earlier post, I continue to be amazed at the number of points of Church teaching that American Catholics seem to think they can just ignore. I would not be surprised to hear them asking for a change in the way to achieve salvation, and rather than being expected to accept Christ as their Saviour, asking that Salvation become an entitlement, and asking that Christ accept them, and their lifestyle


Gallup Poll on Pope

Gallop poll shows U.S. Catholics' Reactions to Pope Benedict XVI More Positive Than Negative

U.S. Catholics' initial reactions to Pope Benedict XVI are more positive than negative, though substantial proportions have yet to form opinions of the new pontiff. Most American Catholics say they are not bothered by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's age, his service in the German army during World War II, or his opposition to allowing priests to marry. A majority, however, is bothered by his opposition to the use of birth control by Catholics. Most American Catholics say the choice of the church's leader has little or no effect on their commitment to the church. Consistent with that, Catholics say they are more likely to rely on their own consciences to decide on difficult moral issues than to follow the pope's teachings.

I am not Catholic, so I may not know what I am talking about, but I continue to be amazed at the number of points of Church teaching that American Catholics seem to think they can just ignore.

I would not be surprised to hear them asking for a change in the way to achieve salvation, and rather than being expected to accept Christ as their Saviour, asking that Salvation become an entitlement, and asking that Christ accept them, and their lifestyle

Ace blogged Sounds goofy to me, but they're asking the right track/wrong track question about the likely direction to which Benedict XVI will lead the Church. Right direction-- 39% Wrong direction--17%. And how about this for honesty and common sense? Don't know enough to say-- 47% The guy's been in office for 24 hours, for crying out loud.

Ntodd blogged I guess American Catholics disagree with God on his selection. Must be that streak of Yankee independence and self-reliance we hear so much about.


Soros says be patient

The Hill reports George Soros told a carefully vetted gathering of 70 likeminded millionaires and billionaires last weekend that they must be patient if they want to realize long-term political and ideological yields from an expected massive investment in “startup” progressive think tanks.... Ingersoll denied that progressives are merely trying to replicate Heritage and Fox News.

Charles Johnson blogged At a highly secretive meeting of “progressives” in Scottsdale, Arizona, George Soros began laying long-term plans to use his vast wealth to tilt US politics to the far left

andthenblammo! commented Any word whether these were distributed to the faithful for recognition purposes?

realwest commented Typical LLL response to problems: throw money at it. God forbid they should actually try to analytically think about the problems at hand. I hope Soros loses another 50 or 100 million bucks on the mid-term elections.

Blue Chip commented They’re deluding themselves. They have money, name recognition and a fanatical base that hates GWB. What they don’t have is ideas. They’ve been riding a majority (in congress or control of the WH) for so long, now that they are truly out of power, they haven’t a clue how to come in from the cold. They think they can spend their way back in. Here’s a hint: Stop walking/running further into the wilderness. Your party has been hijacked by the left wing and moderate dems are treated like dirt. Stop letting Howard Dean/George Soros/Michael Moore drive the bus. You’re going over a cliff…….

Clayton Cramer: blogged The Billionaires Are Busily Plotting Behind Closed Doors Again - Whenever rich people get together, you can be sure that they will be figuring some way to fund leftist causes, so that they don't have to worry about Aspen and Sun Valley getting crowded with the riff-raff like you and me

Yes, be patient. Maybe in 40 years the pendulum will swing back to the left.


Sen. Jeffords Won't Seek Re-Election

Yahoo reports Sen. Jim Jeffords, an independent who triggered one of the most dramatic upheavals in U.S. Senate history when he quit the GOP four years ago, announced Wednesday he would retire at the end of his term next year, citing his and his wife's health. Jeffords, 70, had been adamant in saying he would seek re-election, but he told reporters he would not seek a fourth term.

I suspect the Republicans were going to target him, and that thought might have influenced his decision.

Orrin Judd blogged Lt. Governor Brian Dubie would be ideal and with Bernie and a Democrat splitting the vote he'd win.


The Revolution Continues

Michael Ledeen on National Review Online editorialized Blessed be we, who live in exciting times. Not only are we participating in a global struggle against tyranny, but, if we look carefully enough, we can see the collapse of the conventional wisdom about the relationship between tyrannical rulers and their subjects.

North Korea
Andrei Lankov.... points out, "the commonly accepted truth...was that the North Koreans do not rebel." And yet, on March 30, in the Kim il-sung stadium in Pyongyang, tens of thousands of North Korean soccer fans erupted in rage against the (Syrian) referee who had expelled a Korean defender in a World Cup qualifying match against Iran. The demonstrations pitted the spectators against the usual security forces of the police and army, and lasted for hours after the game (Iran won 2-0). Lankov notes that nothing of the sort had happened in the Hermit Kingdom within human memory: "for the first time in some 50 years a large group of North Koreans, acting openly and in the presence of foreign journalists and camera crews, dared to challenge the representatives of authority..." Lankov believes that the demonstrations bespeak a significant erosion of the regime's ability to repress its subjects. That erosion has sapped the will of the soldiers and police, who are now "often ready to look the other way, especially when there is an opportunity for a small bribe."

Meanwhile, across the border in the People's Republic of China, there have been several demonstrations in recent months, ranging from peasant protests (shades of Mao!) in the hinterland (when Communist-party officials were caught stealing money that was supposed to go to dispossessed land owners) to worker's agitation in the big cities along the coast.... Now come the monster anti-Japan riots.... So one must ask why the regime is encouraging these mass protests. Surely not, as some commentators think, because China is enraged at the very thought of a Japanese permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council (U.N. reform is not just around the corner). The answer is almost certainly domestic. The oligarchs know that the Chinese people are angry, and they are providing them with an outlet that serves the regime's purposes, as they have done several times in the recent past.... China threatens Taiwan with huge armies, but Taiwan threatens China with freedom, and may well win in the end.

The same process is even further advanced in Iran, where near-constant demonstrations, protests, and even armed attacks against the institutions of the Islamic republic have raged.... The popular contempt for the regime is so blatant that the mullahs' usual pretense that all is well, has been openly discarded, and replaced with mounting repression. Like the North Koreans and Chinese, the Iranian leaders' greatest fear is that their own people will bring down the regime, and the mullahs have taken desperate action against the spread of ideas within the country. Bloggers have been arrested and tortured, along with editors and writers from the dead-tree press.

It has long been assumed that a repressive regime could survive as long as it had the will to crush any opposition, and that clever tyrants could deflect hatred of their regime by conjuring up an external enemy. There is still a tendency, particularly among intellectuals, to assume that these principles apply to contemporary dictatorships like those in China, Iran, and North Korea. Yet recent events suggest that these three countries, which are united by common interests and which help one another with advanced military technology, from missiles to WMDs, are losing control despite their fierce determination to cling to power and eventually fight and win a great war against the West. All three have nearby examples of new democracies, and their peoples are asking, with increasing intensity, why they are not permitted to govern themselves.

TheAnchoress blogged Michael Ledeen.... has an interesting and encouraging piece at NRO today, suggesting that history is at a tipping point for tyrannical governments.

Roger L. Simon blogged Ledeen wants thing to go even faster - and maybe they are.

Ron commented "The truth shall set you free." Could it be that the internet and dissemination of truth to the people of the world can cause the down fall of tyrannies? There seems to be a direct correlation doesn't there, the blog's show that the dictator is wearing no clothes, that he lies, cheats and steals and murders. The truth is the most dangerous thing for the Tyrant other than a hangman's noose or a bullet in the head.

Ron Wrght commented US News & World Report (04-25-05) has an excellent article on point, and HSPIG Forums

It may take a while, but these three dominoes may be about to fall.


How the Community Can Work, Fast

Dan Gillmor blogged This Wikipedia article about the new pope did not exist 24 hours ago.

As noted in the comments below, there was already page about Cardinal Ratzinger. But the speed with which the Wikipedia crowd raced to update and augment the page tells us something about how the distributed community can respond to something big.

The page has already suffered vandalism, another Wikipedia trait. But over time it will settle down to something all sides can agree on.

Is the process perfect? Of course not. But it does achieve something important, and teaches us much -- positive and negative -- about communities.

Michael commented Technically speaking, it did exist, under the title [[Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger]]. But of course, you're right on the larger point -- the article's had more than 1,000 edits since being "moved" to its new title.

Dennis G. Jerz commented Shortly after Benedict XVI was announced, I googled the name... Google News turned up meaningful results, but the main search results weren't returning anything meaningful. I googled again a few hours later, and while the main search results hadn't changed, there were many more Google ads down the right side of the page.

I've posted screen caps, if you're curious. I just tried again -- Google is still pointing to pages that are purely speculative. I'll echo what Michael said -- Ratzinger was a well-known church figure, and a front-runner for the papacy, so his biography would have already been fairly extensive.

Stephen Downes commented For the few seconds between the announcement that Ratzinger was named pope, and the announcement of his choice of name, the Wikipedia entry was titled Pope Joseph... I just happened to catch it on the fly (it was changed before I could update it)...

Brian Slesinsky commented I'm sure it will be fixed (I didn't bother), but why do we have to see the vandalism while it's happening? Edits should be proposed and rejected behind the scenes.

blogged Dan Gillmor pointed out that Wikipedia has a thorough, scholarly article on the new Pope. I can improve on that: I happened to have the Sistine-chapel webcam in a corner of the screen when the white smoke came out, and observed the Wikipedia article when it was only minutes old. At which point I noticed that a defacer with a sense of humor had inserted something about the former Cardinal Ratzinger dreaming of retiring to “a small Nazi village”, but it had been fixed by the time I got there. Just now, I decided that the phrase “Benedict XVI is the 8th German pope in history;” would be improved by losing the words “in history” so I nuked ’em. Which is to say, Dan’s got a point. I see a future in which, when you want to talk about anything worth talking about, you link either to its URI, or its Wikipedia entry, or both.

This is a good example of Wikipedia, the free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Today it's top news item has links to seven Wikipedia articles: German   Cardinal   Joseph Ratzinger is elected   pope   on the second day of voting in the papal conclave   , and takes the regnal name   Benedict XVI   .


Real-time collaboration

Jeff Raikes has a column on Microsoft Office Online about The increasing need for real-time collaboration, but his column does not use the latest Real-time collaboration tool: it does NOT have an RSS feed.

David Berlind on ZDNet's Between the Lines blogged Microsoft’s Information Worker Business group vice president Jeff Raikes had a golden opportunity to prove that he and Microsoft "get it" by joining the ranks of tech executives who blog. Instead, he chose the more anitquated (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Web publishing paradigm to distribute his story about how Microsoft eats its own dog food, and saves a ton of money in the process.

I was stunned to receive the notification from a Microsoft spokesperson regarding "a new Office Online column from Jeff Raikes on real-time collaboration," only to learn that there was no way for me to subscribe to Raikes’ musings via RSS. Instead, I guess I’ll have to remember to check Microsoft’s site on a regular basis for anything new, or wait for the next e-mail. How inefficient! blogged Jeff Raikes, where's your RSS feed?

Stowe Boyd blogged Jeff Raikes Fumbles: No RSS For "Column" - A number of people, including Scoble and David Berlind, wag their finger at Microsoft's Jeff Raikes for launching an antique-style web column instead of a blog: and no RSS? Scoble says people like this should be fired.

I agree with them. If anyone is going to write a regular column, it should have an RSS feed, so that people can quickly check to see what they have written about, and make the decision whether they want to read it or not. Particularly since this column is about "Real-time collaboration", but it omits the strongest tool for real-time collaboration.

bmw posted a very useful reply on ZDNet: I know this isn't the point (:-), but you can use the Wotzwot HTML-to-RSS scraper service to create your own feed in cases like these. I have create two such "scrape-feeds" for myself and they work perfectly


Ten Laws Of The Modern World

Forbes described Ten Laws Of The Modern World

  • Moore's Law
    In 1965 Moore (he co-founded Intel three years later) noted that components on silicon chips were doubling every year. In 1975 he amended that to every two years. Today Moore's Law has transcended silicon chips. It has become a way of saying that all digital stuff, from PCs to cell phones to music players, get twice as good every 18 to 24 months--at the same price point.
    It was said recently that Moore's law may finally come to an end, but people said that about it for the past 40 years, and it still seems to be going strong
  • The Back Side of Moore's Law
    Digital stuff gets 30% to 40% cheaper every year--at the same performance point. It's why hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians now own their personal portals to the global economy.
    And it is why there is not a big market for used computer equipment (you can buy more powerful new stuff for less than most people are willing to sell their old stuff for, which creates a major opening for refurbishers like HelpingTulsa
  • Andy and Bill's Law
    "What Andy giveth, Bill taketh away." Every time Andy Grove--then chief executive of Intel--brought a new chip to market, Bill Gates--then CEO of Microsoft--would upgrade his software and soak up the new chip's power. But beyond the laugh, there's deep truth. Moore's Law constantly enables new software.
    And as a computer programmer I can tell you that the newer software is often much more sloppyly written, and hence more bug ridden, than the old stuff.
  • Metcalfe's Law
    Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of the computer networking protocol Ethernet, said the usefulness of a network improves by the square of the number of nodes on the network. Translation: The Internet, like telephones, grows more valuable as more join in.
    This is certainly true. As more people begin searching the web, the more websites will be created for them to visit, and hence the more people will join them searching the web
  • Gilder's Law: Winner's Waste
    George Gilder wrote the best business models waste the era's cheapest resources in order to conserve the era's most expensive resources. Today the cheapest resources are computer power and bandwidth. Google is a successful business because it wastes computer power--it has some 120,000 servers powering its search engine--while it conserves its dearest resource, people. Google has fewer than 3,500 employees, yet it generates $5 billion in sales.
    I never thought about it, but that is true too. Although there are some that think that Yahoo's model which uses a lot of computers like Google News does, but which also includes human editors, may make for a better solution.
  • Ricardo's Law
    The more transparent an economy becomes, the more David Ricardo's 19th-century law of comparative advantage rules the day. Then came the commercial Internet, the greatest window into comparative advantage ever invented. Which means if your firm's price-value proposition is lousy, too bad. The world knows.
    I never thought of it, but that is true too.
  • Wriston's Law
    Walter Wriston predicted the rise of electronic networks and their chief effect. He said capital (meaning both money and ideas), when freed to travel at the speed of light, "will go where it is wanted, stay where it is well-treated...."
    Interesting idea
  • The Laffer Curve
    Cut taxes at the margin, on income and capital, and you'll get more tax revenue, not less. Laffer reasoned that lower taxes would beckon risk capital out of hiding. Businesses and people would become more productive. The pie would grow. Application of the Laffer Curve is why the United States boomed in the 1980s and 1990s, why India is rocking now and why eastern Europe will outperform western Europe.
    As long as the Republicans stay in control, the USA can still become even more productive, but Heaven help us if the Dems with their Raise Taxes mentality ever get in control
  • Drucker's Law
    You will achieve the greatest results in business and career if you drop the word "achievement" from your vocabulary. Replace it with "contribution," says the great management guru Peter Drucker. Contribution puts the focus where it should be--on your customers, employees and shareholders.
    Interesting perspective
  • Ogilvy's Law
    David Ogilvy wrote that whenever someone was appointed to head an office of O&M, he would give the manager a Russian nesting doll. These dolls open in the middle to reveal a smaller doll, which opens in the middle to reveal a yet smaller doll...and so on. Inside the smallest doll would be a note from Ogilvy. It read: "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants."