Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The birth of bloggers

Via Intapundit, a nice lengthy analysis on the evolution of the mainstream media and its relationship with the blogosphere. A few excerpts:
Up until the Reagan years, Love says, “definitely fewer than one hundred people, and maybe as few as twenty people, actually decided what constituted national news in the United States.”
I tried to make this point a few years back, before I transferred to Blogger, by noting how many people are on editorial staff at WaPo, the NYT's, AP and Reuters. It's a small amount relative to the influence.
Journalism by consensus remained essentially unchallenged until President Ronald Reagan—arguably the most media-savvy president in American history— repealed the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine in 1987. That opened the door for “talk radio.”
And entered Rush Limbaugh, the only conservative in broadcast, albeit AM radio.
But talk radio was not the only challenger to the entrenched MSM. Also in 1994, a program called Mosaic Netscape 0.9 was released. This allowed personal computer owners to access the then-nascent World Wide Web
Was it only in 1994? So much has changed since then.
Around that time, a few journalists of varying ideologies—including Virginia Postrel, then editor of the libertarian Reason magazine; “New Democrat” Mickey Kaus; former liberal New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan; and center-right James Lileks of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune—began building on Matt Drudge’s example and launched their own self-published “e-zines”.
And then of course, Sept. 11. Just like me, millions of other Americans couldn't access MSM outlets and found Instapundit among other bloggers.
As a result, says James Lileks, “we don’t have an overculture anymore.” He adds that “people are no longer having to stifle their own interests in order to absorb mass culture. In the old days, they used to create their own communities by very low-tech means: fanzines, Star Trek convention clubs, things like that. But now, you can find like-minded individuals all over the place, and half of them seem to be creating content in the exact genre that you like.”
That's an interesting observation, particularly in a world that is increasingly generic due to the proliferation of mass corporate success. The rest of this article remains interesting and brings up Rathergate (it's always brought up) as evidence of the power of the blogosphere. I agree with Glenn Reynolds's comments that the MSM should do what it does best, which is gather information. A blogger in Flower Mound can't very well tell you about a fire in New York. On the other hand, a reporter in New York (or in a hotel in the Green Zone) can't very well tell you about a fire in Fallujah , and I wish they'd stop trying.

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Watching paint dry

Actually, waiting for frozen paint brushes to melt. That was a great tip I got from the Fab 5--wrapping paint brushes in plastic rap and putting them in the freezer to finish painting later. Problem is I always forget to defrost them, so they're currently in the oven on 150.

I do have a fire extinguisher ready if this is a grave mistake.


Wall of separation

There's a traditional wall of separation between news and advertising:
The [NYT's] ombudsman reported over the weekend that the Times had in fact given MoveOn a break in the price of the ad. But when a Times reporter tried to find out how that happened, the Times clammed up:
It just happens to fall down every once in a while. But it's firmly back in place now.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Another paranoid!

Via Instapundit. Roger L. Simon is batting for my team. And in an update points us to this statement from Moveon's Eli Paiser:

According to the Public Editor, "the group should have paid $142,083."
Now that the Times has revealed this mistake for the first time, and
while we believe that the $142,083 figure is above the market rate paid by
most organizations, out of an abundance of caution [Good to know they are a cautious group!] we have decided to pay
that rate for this ad. We will therefore wire the $77,083 difference to the
Times tomorrow (Monday, September 24, 2007).
And here's the public editor: paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby
rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies.
The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a
week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman
told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales
representative made a mistake.The answer to the second question
is that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising
acceptability manual that says, “We do not accept opinion
advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.” Steph Jespersen,
the executive who approved the ad, said that, while it was “rough,” he
regarded it as a comment on a public official’s management of his
office and therefore acceptable speech for The Times to print.
Hmmm...that's some low level of acceptable speech. I wonder if this would be publishable at the Times: Senator Clinton or Senator Bit Him; President Obama or President Osama? Not really on point of anything, but a creative type could make an argument.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

U.S. Air Force nearly nukes U.S.

Oh, no, wait. On page four of this Washington Post story about how the Air Force accidentally flew six nuclear warheads from North Dakota to Louisiana, we find out ON PAGE 4 that the U.S. was never in that much danger:
Even if the bomber had crashed, or if someone had stolen the warheads, fail-safe devices would have prevented a nuclear detonation.
LOL. I was about ready to put my End-of-the-World sandwich board on and start roaming the streets of Flow Mo, warning Sunday morning churchgoers. I don't want to belittle the mistakes of the Air Force here--it's a scary enough story, but for people who have little knowledge of military procedures involving nuclear warheads (and who live in between North Dakota and Louisiana), you'd think they'd bump that little piece of information at least to page two.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007


Let's just say, see you later instead.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

Oh, I am so the boss of you! My older brother has been sending erstwhile Houstonians detailed analyses of their professional football and (sometimes) basketball teams since email was invented. Or thereabouts. Since blogs were invented, I've been telling him to blog it and he's been telling me to hush up about it. (We're not allowed to say shut up.) He's got a lively, punchy writing style that makes even philistines like me interested. (I gave up on pro football when the Oilers gave up to the Buffalo Bills in a playoff game waaaaay back in the day. They were leading the Bills something like 35 to 0 at the half and STILL LOST THE GAME! My heart was so broken, I walked away and never looked back.)

But looky here! The Bull Sheet, accessible from his page here. It's funny that his first post (scroll down) begins [ah! cutting and pasting from his blog doesn't work! I'll paraphrase.] by alerting the world to my lack of managerial status in our relationship. In other words, I'm not the boss of him.

I bristle when people tell me, "you should ...." because Kenny and I had a childhood phase where most of what he said to me began with those two words. It drove me crazy, as it would any other 10-year-old big-ear, freckle face. So, whether it's "you should be proud of yourself," or "you should put your money in bonds," or "you should really edit your work better," I still bristle, no matter who's saying it.

So, I told him he should blog--and he is!
I recently provided my annual "State of the Texans" report for my Californiafied brother, projected a 10-6 record and talked a little smack about Vince Young and the Titans. Historically speaking, there is ample evidence to suggest that all of this will come back to bite me in the butt. I'm not worried. The beginning of football season is made for optimists. Anything is possible, everyone is healthy, and all dreams are still in tact.

Welcome to my world.
The above is transcribed because, freakishly enough, I can't copy and paste. What I paste comes over as an invisible box. If I highlight the box, I can see the words, but they still won't be visible after I click post. I'm not complaining, Kenny, I'm just saying you really should do something about that.

I know, I know: hush up!

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nothing to do because we like it that way!

I really should rename this blog Back Burner because I tend to let information simmer before blurting out an opinion. Not always, but often enough.

D Magazine recently ruffled feathers with a cover that read: "Why You Should Hate Southlake" and a subhead that read: "Because the kids are smarter, stronger, and better-looking than yours. And they prove it every Friday night." Southlake is a town nearby to Flower Mound here in the DFW Metroplex.

Oh no they di-in't! Apparently some Flower Mounders took offense and Sprouts, a kind of Central Market junior, removed the offending magazine from the racks. I haven't read the article. I couldn't find it online, though it must be there amid all the best things to do in Dallas. As I write this post, D Magazine is not loading so I can't even search for the link now. The story supposedly says nice things about Southlakers--I think the high school football team in particular. Here's a blog post that links to the actual article.

So, Pegasus (which used to be financially connected with D) and Front Burner, which is D's blog, jumped on the story like crickets to the Mound and I've had chirping in my head ever since. Why is the cover so offensive to people? I've written before that when you move to Flower Mound you are issued two children at the border. That's not far from the truth. Flower Mound, and I expect Southlake, is an incubation center for the long, long, loooong maturation of human young. People here want their children to have nothing to do outside of sports, art, studies and church. By the time the kids go crazy from the lack of other types of stimulation, they're old enough to leave the nest, launched from atop the Mound.

So, publishing a seemingly hostile cover even though it was a joke (again, I wish I knew but D won't load) is not very nice to the kids and that makes mom mad. She didn't drop two-inch heels, dining out and a path to the boardroom only to let her children be subject to unkind comparisons. Protect, protect, protect.

That's my take, anyway. Again, I haven't read the actual article. I have an acquaintance at D, and I'm seeing her this Sunday. So maybe I'll have an update after I get her take.

More importantly than any of the above, I made a delicious pot roast today with garlic, fresh oregano, onion and thyme, potatoes and carrots.

Salad on the side. Yum.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The paranoid within

The paranoid in me wonders if Giuliani's NYT's advertisement wasn't a welcome relief to the NYT's so that they could provide the same deep discount they gave to a person with an opposing viewpoint thereby dodging FEC bullets.

The paranoid within the paranoid within me wonders if Giuliani bought the ad to take the heat off of the NYT's. But why?

Also, the NYT's says it was not a discounted rate, but it was a standby rate. Hmmm...the paranoid within the paranoid within the paranoid is reflecting on that. (Actually, I'm watching a Futurama rerun!-PWTPWTP.)

Update: I may be not the only paranoid! (Scroll a bit.)
It would be a lovely irony if it turns out that the campaign finance restrictions the Times has championed are unenforceable in the Times's own business.
Tru dat. No, it would be freaking hilarious!

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Long, hot day in Iraq

Here's a caption from Michael Yon's recent dispatch:
The house was abandoned. American Soldiers cleared it. (Four soldiers from the Brigade were killed in August when a building exploded.) This yard is maintained, but where are the people? We were probably going to get attacked.
After a firefight, three soldiers' veins collapsed from the heat. Before the fight, one American soldier shot into an area where other American soldiers were known to be. By the end of the mission, which was to hunt al Qaeda in an urban setting, Yon was exhausted:
...after two days and two missions where mistakes were made, where some men died and others dropped from a heat so intense that it wavered and blurred the already fine line between friends and enemies, where new alliances between soldiers and former enemies were tested under the fire of combat, these soldiers were not so tired or so worn from the heat to let their standards flag: they were all over that Soldier who did.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weddings as political theater

"We welcome your company if and only if you can walk there too." Well, why not? Most of them are religious theater.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

"Tax cuts should be for people who work, not people who work out. "

I don't know. Would the carrot of a big, fat refund check give me any more incentive to go to the gym?
All the worst elements of the American hyper-culture are here: narcissistic self- affirmation, dependency on the nanny state, and unreasonable claims for the virtue of obesity. On one side, the Health Gestapo wants to ban fast food ads, tax junkfood, and turn Big Brother into our personal trainers. On the other, fat-is-good advocates push for special government assistance, under the questionable guise of furthering equality and ending discrimination.
It's like you can apply the Tom Wolfe template to everything.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sister Souljah moment

Any Democrat, particularly one running for president, should not pass up this opportunity to denounce what Mike LaRoche calls "criminalizing political disagreement" that in their full-page NYT's ad yesterday directed at General Petraeus. Bob Krumm is calling it Moveon's McCarthyism moment. (Hat tip: Mike K.) I'd thought of that too, but what will make it a McCarthyism moment or not is how the public responds. If it's with outrage, then maybe; if it's with a jaded shrug, then not so much.

Update: On the other hand, Moveon has lots of money; Sister Souljah not so much.

Update II: I'm very testy about this. Via Instapundit here's a list of congress members who've gotten donations from MoveOn. You know how people criticize Republicans for not reaching out enough to Black and Hispanic voters? When Democrats and their operatives stop treating the military like a political arm of the Republican party, they'll earn their respect and probably some more votes.

Not that they need the votes lately. They are after all the majority party.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Me day

My me day (where my three-year-old stays until 2 at pre-school) is under water and lit with a gray light. It's the kind of day where one asks herself the question--how badly do I want to shop at the mall? Badly enough to drive in that?

So, I've done the breakfast dishes earlier than usual, made the bed and am looking for a good read. I found a new e-zine called Brainswash supposedly for libertarianish conservatives and tried to read this article on how politics is broken, but the sports metaphor got so long, I gave up.

Meanwhile, I wish Missoulapolis would move to Flower Mound to follow the politics here--it would definitely make me take better notice of the goings on around me. Her comments on NCLB got me thinking about accountability in Texas schools. Schools are rated on how many kids pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, but not just how many kids pass overall. It's that plus how many kids pass in various subgroups. As far as I can tell, those subgroups include Caucasion, Black, Hispanic and Economically Disadvantaged. It takes at least 30 members of a race to make up a subgroup.

A school I recently reported on had an over 90% passage rate of TAKS overall; they didn't have enough Black kids to rate as a sub-group; the Hispanic subgroup had a passage rate of around 84%, and the economically disadvantaged was around 66%. The principal wants to get each subgroup up to the 90% rate. So, what are you going to do? I asked her. Can you single out kids in the subgroup? My recollection is she said no, but they were going to work in a general way to get everybody up to speed.

I also asked her what the big deal was at getting 90% passage rate overall and in the subgroups, other than the school gets an "exemplary" rating from the state. But then what? More federal dollars? State dollars? The elementary school my daughter goes to got an exemplary rating and then we got a letter from the Denton County Appraisal District that our property values are higher, and now so are our taxes. No, no extra money, she said.

Just the satisfaction of a job well done, I guess.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Unfinished work

Dana keeps a photo blog, but sometimes it's her captions that capture me. Here she wrote, "A fold of five we were and no one else on this earth mattered."

People want to know how to keep the passion in their marriage after that falling-in-love feeling fades away. For me, that passion is simply re-directed to the children. It really is a type of love affair with highs and lows and always, always energy. My daughter left for her first day of school with a smile on her face and returned with an even bigger one. And since then she's been bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. I know the newness will wear off, as it always does, but it will be replaced by the newness of another adventure--soccer, gymnastics, a new friend? Who knows.

For Brendan, Dana's post got me thinking about something I'd written to commemorate his first birthday, in my pre-Blogger days. I think I pulled it over to my archives though. Ah, yes, here it is. Shoot. Can't find it. Here's a picture from his birthday, when I was marveling at how much can change in one year:


Test post

Blogger is judging my last post (a fairly innocuous one about family life) and refusing to publish. So, here is a test post to see if this one is also refused.

Update: Hmmm...why is the other post being denied?

Update II: Hey! It did post. I'd started it days ago and didn't change the time stamp, so it's further down the page.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Back in Iraq

Bill Ardolino is back in Iraq:

And getting assigned to bake in a tent with broken air-conditioning when you haven't slept in 24 hours is unwelcome news, but it pales in comparison to facing regular summer black-outs as an Iraqi living in Baghdad.

But the embed travel process had its inevitable highlight in the short Blackhawk ride from Baghdad International Airport to the Green Zone. This time, it was at night. A slight change in the engine's whine and your stomach's protest are the only warnings as the keyed up aircraft floats effortlessly into the air. Hot summer air buffets your face from the open window. The helicopter hugs the ground, skimming a couple hundred feet above neatly aligned palm groves with sharp fronds and an industrial sector of the city, until the pilot ups speed and altitude as part of the anti-pattern pattern designed to discourage ground fire. A twin aircraft takes position 45 degrees to the left-rear, a moving blankness in the inky blue, half-moon-lit night. A mini black-out rolls over a few city blocks below, the lights snapping out and flickering back to life a few seconds later. Sharp banks alternate views of ground and sky, until the ride ends with the Blackhawk touching down like an insect on a leaf. God, I love that part.

And like before, his lively writing makes Iraq more of a three-dimensional experience for us back home.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Ready for take off

She was very proud of that helmet, which she inherited from a neighbor two years her senior. We didn't really use it much as a safety device, as she has not been much into triking or biking during her young life...until today when she asked about riding her bike to the park. As her three-year-old brother would be in no condition for that walk, I nixed it but brought the bike with us in case she wanted to ride at the park.

Upon departing, she asked if she could ride it home. (Blank stare from mom.) Sure, I said. Make sure to stay on the sidewalks and walk when crossing streets.

You mean I have to ride by myself? she asked. Yep.

I waited for her at corners, watched her in the rear view. She's too big for her bike and it still has training wheels, but she made it home, just like she did earlier this week on her first day of first grade--all smiles.

It looks like Santa is going to have to bring some bikes home for us this Christmas.

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