Sunday, November 30, 2003

Perhaps if the Bombardier Embrio ever takes off, the Segway will be proved truly visionary.

Saw the excellent movie Shattered Glass today about the rise and fall of journalistic fabulist Stephen Glass, the young writer who fabricated 27 articles while working at the New Republic. One of the best movies I've seen this year and a must-see for media junkies or those interested in journalism at all. Here's the original article on which broke the story. This article also includes a screenshot of the fake site Glass constructed for his fabricated company Junkt Micronics.

Rick McGinnis has indexed Glass's work from various magazines including the New Republic, George, Harpers and Rolling Stone, as well as articles about the Glass fiasco from across the Web.

“If it was sunny outside and Steve and I were both standing outside in the sun and Steve came to me and said, ‘It's a sunny day,’ I would immediately go check with two other people to make sure it was a sunny day.” Charles Lane, the former TNR editor who fired Glass.

Finally, on his homepage this poor bloke pleads "BEFORE YOU ENTER! I AM NOT THE NEW REPUBLIC FABRICATOR! I AM CANADIAN!"

Monday, November 24, 2003

And in other death penalty news: Jurors recommend death for John Allen Muhammad. Really, though, Attorney General John Ashcroft sentenced Muhammad to death months ago when he determined he'd be sent to Virginia for trial, since that state has the death penalty.

At the time Ashcroft said, ""I think it's well-understood on my part that I believe appropriate penalties for the kinds of atrocities that have been committed to include the ultimate sanction of the death penalty."

John Ashcroft: Judge, Jury and Executioner.

Bush pardons Thanksgiving turkey. Dozens of Texas death-row inmates not nearly so lucky.
Bush once notoriously mocked deathrow inamte Karla Faye Tucker's plea for a pardon. "Please,' he whimpered, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

That last quote appears in a very unflattering article on Bush from 1999 on the National Review's web site, as conservative a source as you're likely to find. "Conservative readers," the article continues "may conclude that Bush just doesn't seem presidential-- at least by pre-Clinton standards." So they disparaged Bush at the time while also getting a jab in at Clinton. They're sure singing his praises these days.

Disney Disses Sick Kids

Disney has well and truly lost its soul. The company has yanked its support of the Peter Pan movie, because it didn't want to share profits from merchandise with the British *children’s* hospital, which actually owns the Peter Pan copyright. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, Disney also tried to convince a Scottish retailer to change its name because it included "Peter Pan," but the hospital straightened things out at the time by revealing that it actually owned the copyright and gave the shop permission to continue using the name for ₤500.

Friday, November 21, 2003

In this engaging speech Bill Moyers declares that "Our Democracy Is in Danger of Being Paralyzed." He also rightly points out that it's inappropriate to lump journalism in with the rest of "the media": Jerry Springer, "Temptation Island," and yes, dammit, Matt Drudge. The man isn't a journalist; he's a gossip writer.

This feature by Ted Gup is admittedly a couple of years old. Nonetheless, it does show how out of control the thought police have become in a particular instance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

This startling quiz points out the similarities between the arguments once made against interracial marriage (and stil made in some quarters) and those now being made against gay marriage.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Havel for President

Excellent quote by Vaclav Havel describing all that's wrong with our politicians today:

"Many of the traditional mechanisms of democracy created and developed and conserved in the modern era are so linked to the cult of objectivity and statistical average that they can annul human individuality. We can see this in political language, where cliche often squeezes out a personal tone. And when a personal tone does crop up, it is usually calculated, not an outburst of personal authenticity.

Sooner or later politics will be faced with the task of finding a new, postmodern face. A politician must become a person again, someone who trusts not only a scientific representation and analysis of the world, but also the world itself. He must believe not only in sociological statistics, but also in real people. He must trust not only an objective interpretation of reality, but also his own soul; not only an adopted ideology, but also his own thoughts; not only the summary reports he receives each morning, but also his own feeling."

Found on Press Think, Jay Rosen's blog on the NYU Department of of Journalism and Mass Communication site.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Watch Fox try to twist General Wesley Clark's words to make it seem like he was demeaning American troops. Then watch him rebut them firmly and somewhat furiously--only to see the Fox anchor try to throw it right back at him. Out of context. Again.

(Seen on Talking Points Memo.)

Two Swedes are encouraging citizens of the EU to contribute just a dollar each to to help defeat Bush in next year's election. What an imaginative proposal. They'r enot supporting a particular candidate. Like most Democrats here in the US, I guess they feel like "anyone who can beat Bush" would be fine.

You can donate here.

"It makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden." Al Gore

Truer than Ever

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
- Samuel Johnson

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Received this response from Merriam-Webster:

Dear Mr. Stribley:

We certainly do appreciate the support, and we thank you for taking the trouble to write us with your comments. Although the press has widely misquoted our definition (the actual wording that appears in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition is "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement"), we're always heartened to know that our unbiased language reporting is appreciated by our faithful readers.

Few people realize that our entry for McJob is simply an accurate reflection of the way this particular word is used and understood by speakers and writers of English. As you may know, a word must meet three criteria: widespread usage in well-read publications, established usage over a period of years, and a discernible definition. In this case, McJob has been in use for more than 17 years (our first citation dates from 1986), and it has a specific meaning that can be discerned from the surrounding context. As such, it is eligible for entry into the Collegiate Dictionary.

In editing the Collegiate Dictionary, we follow the guidance offered by Noah Webster that "the business of the lexicographer is to collect, arrange, and define, as far as possible, all the words that belong to a language, and leave the author to select from them at his pleasure and according to his judgment." The English language is constantly changing and evolving, and it is our duty as dictionary editors to reflect these changes. That's what we're attempting to do in our treatment of the word McJob, as in all the other entries in the dictionary.

Once again, thanks for writing.


Karen Wilkinson, Associate Editor
Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Good on them for not caving to McDonald's.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

This amazing dynamic map shows where money is being contributed to which candidates. All the way down to the three-digit zip level. Compare Republican versus Democrat or view the map candidate by candidate.

This guy's gonna turn into a major martyr figure for the far right. He'll be making money hand over fist on the speaking circuit before you know it, crying about fictitious losses of religious liberty. No one said he couldn't worship God, just that he couldn't park a 5000 pound religious sculpture on public property. How can a *judge* be guilty of such miserable logic?

Eradicating McJobs

My email to Merriam-Webster ecouraging them not to pull "McJob" from the new edition:

Please don't bow to corporate interests and pull "McJob" from the dictionary. McDonald's has no right to control the evolution of the English (or any other) language. If "McJob" has the negative connotation McDonald's fears it does, then perhaps they should take a good look at the reputation they've built over the past few decades and make an internal change before trying to manipulate the larger culture. (Though God knows they're good at that.) I'm guessing you had no plans to excise the new addition, but I'm sure you also appreciate the support.

You can email them, too.

Here, Jim Cantalupo, McDonald's Chairman and CEO submits a rather lengthy explanation of why he thinks the word should be pulled.

Mr. Cantalupo, no amount of explanation on your part should alter the reality that our society has latched onto the word, negative connotation and all, due to whatever influencing factors--valid or not (quite arguably valid)--and it'd be intellectually dishonest for Merriam-Webster to retract a new word they've identified. Dictionaries are supposed to reflect the reality of our spoken language, not ignore or alter it. That's why there are many words which may prove far more offensive to a far greater number of people included in any decent dictionary. They're reflective, not prescriptive.

Anti-War Veterans Shunned

Even veterans of past wars are being prevented from speaking out against the war in Iraq. These poor guys who actually served their country were yanked from a Veteran's Day parade in Tallahassee while high school marching bands and Hooters' girls were allowed to continue on. They were handing out leaflets and carried a banner which read ""Honor the Warrior, Not the War."

I thought Veteran's Day was about the men who served not the war being fought?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Starting out as a fairly amusing satire of the Matrix, The Meatrix quickly evolves into a fairly effective animated indictment of corporate farming.

Great satirical collection of modern propaganda posters. Simultaneously funny and frightening.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
— Voltaire

Monday, November 10, 2003

Congrats to a College Buddy

Very talented guy I went to school with Matt Diffee is featured in a New Yorker interview along with slides of his work. Congratulations, Matt.

Good Point

Since Jessica Lynch has alerted us to the fact that the TV movie about her is inaccurate, when are FOX News and RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie going to demand that it be yanked?

Must've taken some guts for that young lady to stand up in in the middle of all this and cry foul. Woulda been real easy for her to just let it all wash over her. And who coulda blamed her?

She oughta run for President. More integrity in her lil' pinky than in the entire Bush cabinet.

No More Questions, Thanks!

Republican solution to dissent from the opposition? No more questions from Democrats. For real. Apparently, this is unprecedented. I should hope so. Questions for the White House will have to be funneled through GOP committee chairmen. So if they don't like a question, the White House never has to be bothered with it.

What a model of efficiency! And how convenient, too.

White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee did say, "It was not the intent to suggest minority members should not ask questions without the consent of the majority." (WP)

Friday, November 07, 2003

Coutler Clashes with Reality

More proof that Anne Coulter is certifiably insane. Or just profoundly intellectually dishonest.

In response to complaints about CBS yanking the Reagans miniseries, she retorted on MSNBC's Hardball that George C. Scott turned down his Oscar for Patton because Scott was a commie who didn't like that fact that Patton came out looking like a hero. She claimed the industry liberals intended for the film to undermine Patton's image but the flick backfired.

A simple search for "George C. Scott" and Oscar reveals the truth. (The first Google result I clicked on, in fact.) Scott simply thought the Oscars were "demeaning" and "a two-hour meat parade."

Thankfully, Chris Matthews called Coulter on this bold-faced fabrication.

"You are dead wrong," he said. He also had a good enough memory to refer to the "meat parade" quote above.

"Facts mean nothing to you, Ann," he continued.

Glad someone's calling Coulter on her constant stream of BS.

The Matrix & Messianic Madness

Bizarre. A whole sermon built around the concept of The Matrix. Kinda meanders. "Preached by Pastor Yingling at First Church of the Brethren."

But here's the most unusual thing: I then found practically the same sermon here. Henry G. Brinton delivered it at the Fairfax Presbyterian Church Sermon on May 18 of this year.

So who's plagiarizing who?

Looks like Yingling is ripping off Brinton, since he spoke on July 20, 2003 a full two months after Brinton delivered his message.

Naughty, naughty!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

The following is excerpted from a speech by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski at the recent "New American Strategies for Security and Peace" conference in Washington, DC:

"Since the tragedy of 9-11 which understandably shook and outraged everyone in this country, we have increasingly embraced at the highest official level what I think fairly can be called a paranoiac view of the world. Summarized in a phrase repeatedly used at the highest level, 'he who is not with us is against us.' I say repeatedly because actually some months ago I did a computer check to see how often it's been used at the very highest level in public statements.

The count then quite literally was ninety-nine. So it's a phrase which obviously reflects a deeply felt perception. I strongly suspect the person who uses that phrase doesn't know its historical or intellectual origins. It is a phrase popularized by Lenin when he attacked the social democrats on the grounds that they were anti-Bolshevik and therefore he who is not with us is against us and can be handled accordingly."

The full speech can be found on the Prospect's web site. (Found via Bartcop.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

"My philosophy is the United States should cooperate with others whenever we can … and act alone only if we have to. In the current government, the conservatives, at least, believe that we should act alone whenever we can and cooperate when we have to." - President Clinton quoted in the New Haven Register. Pity a third term wasn't a possibility, isn't it?

CBS Sinks Series

So now in America, the chairman of the RNC has sway over network TV programming - programming that's commercially, not federally funded. Yes, the Reagan miniseries got yanked--or, at least, it's getting shuttled over Showtime, so folks will hafta pay to see it.

In a prepared statement on, the network said, “This decision is based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script.” Rubbish. In order for that to be true, you’d have to believe the show would’ve been yanked after they reviewed it internally if the conservative outcry had never occurred. Anybody buy that?

Reagan's like some sort of god to these people! These are the same people who applauded a cheesy miniseries about Bush's fictitious heroics a few weeks ago - while the man's still President, setting a nice precedent for propaganda in this country. I could understand the argument that it's not gracious to Reagan in his current state, but that's not what's got most of the critics in a huff - it's just it portrays their idol with a few cracks in it.

Can you imagine a network ever canceling a miniseries that depicted a Democrat less than favorably? Thought not.

A story detailing the debacle on the CBS news site goes on to say that "Criticism of CBS took on an official tone last week, with a letter of complaint from Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie to CBS President Les Moonves." Official tone? So what! When the government *officially* tells the media not present something, don't we have a word for that? CENSORSHIP!

Apparently, CBS doesn't mind being censored.

Yes, they censor cussin', sex and violence (not much) all the time - and I'm not aware of all the details of how that works. But this wasn't the FCC pressuring CBS to censor a cuss word. It was the Chairman of the RNC pressuring them to scrap the whole thing because he wasn't satisfied with its political content. Has to be GOP-sanctioned propaganda we watch apparently.