19 December 2007

Subprime Mortgage History

Janet at Xark! links to a BBC Q&A on the mortgage "crisis."

What we're seeing in the mortgage market is just a piece of the larger credit "crisis" resulting from bad decisions by private lenders and borrowers after deregulation.

The evolution of the subprime mortgage market (pdf, 2006)

Many factors have contributed to the growth of subprime lending. Most fundamentally, it became legal. The ability to charge high rates and fees to borrowers was not possible until the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) was adopted in 1980. It preempted state interest rate caps. The Alternative Mortgage Transaction Parity Act (AMTPA) in 1982 permitted the use of variable interest rates and balloon payments.

These laws opened the door for the development of a subprime market, but subprime lending would not become a viable large-scale lending alternative until the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA). The TRA increased the demand for mortgage debt because it prohibited the deduction of interest on consumer loans, yet allowed interest deductions on mortgages for a primary residence as well as one additional home....

Although the subprime mortgage market emerged in the early 1980s with the adoption of DIDMCA, AMTPA, and TRA, subprime lending rapidly grew only after 1995, when MBS with subprime-loan collateral become more attractive to investors....

During the 1990s, average credit scores tended to decline each year, particularly for ARM borrowers; but since 2000, credit scores have tended to improve each year. Hence, it appears that subprime lenders expanded during the 1990s by extending credit to less-credit-worthy borrowers. Subsequently, the lower credit quality unexpectedly instigated higher delinquency and default rates (see also Temkin, Johnson, and Levy, 2002).
When lower-income families went looking for home equity debt in the past, many may not have been able to find it due to their limited or poor credit history. With the rise of the subprime lending market, however, it has become relatively easier for these borrowers to access credit. As the Treasury-HUD report noted, the volume of subprime mortgage originations has increased nearly five times over in the last five years. As a means for expanding the availability of credit, the development of this market has represented a signal achievement for our economy.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This American Life, The Giant Pool of Money

04 December 2007

An Anthology of Journalism's Decline

Hutchins' Report: A Free And Responsible Press (1947)

Today our society needs, first, a truthful, comprehensive, and intelligent account of the day's events in a context which gives them meaning; second, a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism; third, a means of projecting the opinions and attitudes of the groups in the society to one another; fourth, a method of presenting and clarifying the goals and values of the society; and, fifth, a way of reaching every member of the society by the currents of information, thought, and feeling which the press supplies.
Objectivity as Strategic Ritual: An Examination of Newsmen's Notions of Objectivity (1972)
To journalists, like social scientists,2 the term "objectivity" stands as a bulwark between themselves and critics. Attacked for a controversial presentation of "facts," newspapermen invoke their objectivity almost the way a Mediterranean peasant might wear a clove of garlic around his neck to ward off evil spirits.
Untended Gates: The Mismanaged Press (1986)
The unprofessional gatekeeper system clearly has to be judged as being one of the root causes of the steady slide of public confidence in journalism.
Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution (1998)
Instead, the news media share more with two other political institutions: the political parties, and the interest group system.
Uncertain Guardians: The News Media as a Political Institution (1999)
In this book I build on the work of Cater and his successors, Leon Sigal and Herbert Cans in particular, to explain why the news media effectively constitute a political institution and why this fact matters to students of American politics.
Snob Journalism: Elitism Versus Ethics for a Profession in Crisis (2003)
Most journalists don't know the history of their profession, have not read great works of their predecessors and have not read even the small number of major philosophical works produced by journalists.

When psychologist Bill Damon and his colleagues were researching their book "Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet," they found they had never studied a profession that did as poor a job as journalism of handing down the collected wisdom of one generation to another.
The State of the News Media: Public Attitudes (2007)
All that comes, of course, against a background of more than 20 years of growing skepticism about journalists, their companies and the news media as an institution. As we have noted in other reports,since the early 1980s, the public has come to view the news media as less professional, less accurate, less caring, less moral and more inclined to cover up rather than correct mistakes.

UPDATE: The above are, of course, supplements to Andy's required reading for journalists (pro-am and networked).

Gallup: Media Use and Evaluation

Lippman-Dewey Blogosphere
Culture War: Institutions vs. Media

03 November 2007

A Vision of Students Today

Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

UPDATE: Archive for the 'Vision of Students' Category @ Kansas State University Digital Ethnography Blog!

To give a little bit more context to the piece, it might be useful to point out that it was originally created as Part 2 of a 3 part series on Higher Ed. Part 1 has been published as Information R/evolution. That piece tracks the way information creation, critique, and distribution has changed, ending with the question “Are we ready?” and the answer: “R U Feeling Lucky?” (altering Google’s I’m feeling lucky button). Placed back to back, this would then lead directly to the door opening to the empty classroom.

Part 3 is planned to be an exploration of different teaching technologies and the ways in which they shape the learning environment for better and for worse. It will begin where this video left off, with a chalkboard (which IS a teaching *technology*, though we often overlook it as such), progressing through PowerPoint, onto the web, SecondLife, etc.

01 November 2007

Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?

Right Brain v Left Brain

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Which Way Is the Dancer Spinning? Some say both ways.

So far, she only spins clockwise for me.

My better half said clockwise at first, but then she focused on a different spot and the dancer changed direction. My oldest sees her change direction with no control over it. My youngest sees her spin clockwise, only.

Not sure if this is related, but I always have trouble seeing the hidden picture in Magic Eye's autostereograms but my wife has no trouble seeing them.

UPDATE: I got her to switch directions! I scrolled the picture down so I could only see the top of her head. When it switched directions, I scrolled the picture up and she was spinning counter-clockwise! It lasted for maybe 20 seconds and then she switched back to spinning clockwise. I was able to repeat the procedure. Weird, huh?

UPDATE: Okay, I can get her to switch directions now while viewing the whole image.

UPDATE: The Spinning Dancer and the Brain

When presented with stimuli that have two valid, mutually contradictory interpretations, your brain just picks one. Then, sometimes, it picks the other. We still don’t understand why this happens, or what role conscious efforts might play in this shift in perception. Many people are able to make the dancer shift directions at will, but the strategies I’ve seen almost always invoke a change of focus - I shift my attention to her feet, or scroll up and down, others look at her hands or to her side. (I’ve also seen lots of people talk about staring at her nipples, but none who report that it helps them see her change directions.)

22 October 2007

Stop Complaining ... Support Michael Yon!

Clearly, a majority of Americans believe the current set of outdated fallacies passed around mainstream media like watered down drinks at happy hour. Why wouldn’t they?
It’s easy to complain about the state of mainstream media coverage of the War in Iraq. Now, it’s also easy to do something concrete to improve it.
To continue reading, click here.

It's a Musical Thing ....

via Xark!

UPDATE: Alan Watts Theater

21 October 2007

Movement Marxism Masquerading as Liberalism

NYT on Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal: "It’s a story that is as factually shaky as it is narratively simplified."

The biggest problem I have with Princeton Professor Paul Krugman is the intellectual dishonesty of his journalistic persona.

15 October 2007

Mike Reed's Flame Warriors

This is great! Are you an Eagle Scout? Kung-Fu Master? God?

Or better yet, how many netizen personalities do you have?

(Thanks, Anna!)

Bloggers vs. Journalists vs. Media

Brain drain

"I don't understand or like the media," said the online newspaper editor who's planning his exit. "Blogging has shown me that I don't really need the guys that own the presses anymore. I'll probably stay in journalism, but I can't wait to get out of the media."
'Forbes' Puts Journalists on Endangered Species List

UPDATE & Related: NYT for sale?

14 October 2007

Howard Kurtz interviews himself

Jeez, what a gimmick to push a book. Good luck, Howie!

Medal of Honor: Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy

Blackfive has the best history/roundup (of course).

UNFIT TO PRINT? "By now, most folks know exactly how much The New York Times despises the U.S. military."

NYT: L.I. Navy Seal, Missing Since Attack in Afghanistan, Is Dead (July 7, 2005)
NYT: Navy Mission of Officer Was Secret to Parents (July 8, 2005)

UPDATE: President Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, U.S. Navy (w/ pics)

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

13 October 2007

Interagency Unity of Effort: Goldwater-Nichols II

LTG (Ret.) Sanchez's keynote speech at the 6th annual Military Reporters & Editors (MRE) conference has been badly reported in the news. I've read the MRE transcript and watched the C-SPAN video. The transcript is pretty good, but the video is much, much better. The MRE transcript misses some of Sanchez's speech and has none of the Q&A. The C-SPAN video is an hour long, but you don't need to watch the first 8 1/2 minutes or the last four minutes.

I recommend the video, it is worth at least 48 minutes of your time. I also recommend you start the download, hit pause on the Real player (the video continues to download) and come back when it's all downloaded. Forward the scroll bar to about the 08:30 mark and watch when you can get 48 minutes of (mostly) uninterrupted time.

The first 10 minutes of Sanchez's speech is spent criticizing the media. The rest of his speech (12 minutes) is spent criticizing (primarily) the political leadership. The Q&A lasts 26 minutes.

I do want to pull out one part of Sanchez's speech criticizing America's "interagency" leadership (about 27:40 into the video):

Achieving unity of effort in Iraq has been elusive to date primarily because there is no entity that has the authority to direct the actions of our interagency. As I stated before, our National Security Council has been a failure. Furthermore, America's ability to hold the interagency accountable for their failures in this war is non-existent. This must change. We probably need to implement a Goldwaters-like Nichols act for the interagency. As a nation we must recognize that the enemy we face is committed to destroying our way of life. This enemy is arguably more dangerous than any threat we faced in the twentieth century. Our political leaders must place national security objectives above partisan politics, demand intergency unity of effort, and never again commit America to war without a grand strategy that embraces the basic tenets of the Powell doctrine. [emphasis added]
I've written previously about this in The Surge as Foreign Internal Defense. Specifically, from Joint Publication 3-07.1, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Foreign Internal Defense (FID) (1.6MB pdf):
Ensure Unity of Effort. As a tool of US foreign policy, FID is a national-level program effort that involves numerous USG [US Government] agencies that may play a dominant role in providing the content of FID plans. Planning must coordinate an integrated theater effort that is joint, interagency, and multinational in order to reduce inefficiencies and enhance strategy in support of FID programs. An interagency political-military plan that provides a means for achieving unity of effort among USG agencies is described in Appendix D, Illustrative Interagency Political-Military Plan for Foreign Internal Defense.
How long, how many more times, will we kick the "new Goldwaters-Nichols Act" for "interagency jointness" down the road?

Let's review, shall we?

From a military perspective, Joint Pub 3-08 Vols I & II (pdf), Interagency Coordination During Joint Operations, describe what agencies are involved and what they do. The National Defense University has an html excerpt online from the 1996 editions of JP 3-08 listing the agencies. Both pubs were updated and republished in March 2006.

In May 1997, President Clinton promulgated Presidential Decision Directive 56: Managing Complex Contingency Operations. Read it. It further defined interagency planning and coordination for "complex contingency operations."

In 1998, Mark Walsh and Micheal J. Harwood published a good article in Parameters titled Complex Emergencies: Under New Management, which further describes interagency coordination during "complex emergencies," "complex contingency operations" and Clinton's PDD-56.

In December 1999, Rowan Scarborough reported for the Washington Times:
"NSC not stepping forward in leadership role," states the study conducted by A.B. Technologies in Alexandria for the Joint Chiefs of Staff....

The documents, dated November, say none of the heads of the military's postgraduate schools, such as the National Defense University, is "directly engaged in the training effort."

What's more, most agencies told the consultants they have no role in carrying out PDD 56, when in fact they do.

"There are no agency accountability checks to see what has been done, who has done it," the report says.

The report presents the ironic situation of the NSC, which had the lead in carrying out PDD 56, not following a directive sent out by the president it advises.

Moreover, PDD 56 was largely ignored by an administration that has sent American troops on a record number of so-called "contingencies" on foreign soil. The missions have included peacekeeping in Somalia, Haiti, East Timor and Bosnia, as well as air strikes on targets in Iraq, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Serbia.
On February 13, 2001, the Bush administration promulgated National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 1, Organization of the National Security Council System. During Bush's first term, the two names most responsible for interagency coordination concerning Iraq were Condoleezza Rice as the National Security Advisor and Elliot Abrams as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the NSC Policy Coordination Committee for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations and later as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the NSC Policy Coordination Committee for Near East and North African Affairs.

The U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century began a comprehensive review of America's national security in July 1998 and has published 3 volumes. The third volume, Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change (pdf), was published February 15, 2001. This is a 156-page report, but I highly recommend at least reading the 10-page Executive Summary. You might also be interested in reviewing the 50 recommendations in Appendix 1:
This appendix lists all of the Phase III Report’s major recommendations in order of
their presentation. The recommendations are numbered sequentially and grouped by Section. The page on which the recommendation appears in the report is noted in the box. Those recommendations in red type indicate recommendations on which Congressional action is required for implementation. Those in blue type can be implemented by Executive Order. Those in green type can be implemented by the head of an Executive Branch department or agency, or by the Congressional leadership, as appropriate.
Also in 2001, the National Defense University was funded "to develop and conduct an interagency training program." This became the Interagency Transformation, Education, and After-Action Review (ITEA) Program. I recommend visiting their website. There is a lot of good information there, and the foundation for developing training for a "National Security Service Corps." There is also a good set of high-level briefing slides (ppt) on NSPD-1 there.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies has also published two volumes under its
Beyond Goldwater-Nichols effort:
Beyond Goldwater-Nichols (BG-N) is a three-phased effort to explore the next era of defense reform. Its primary goal is to develop an integrated set of practical and actionable recommended reforms for organizing both the U.S. military and national security apparatus to meet 21st century challenges. As part of its outreach to build the case for necessary reforms, the BG-N study team serves as an honest broker among the various stakeholders, including between and among the Defense Department (DoD), the State Department, the White House, and the Congress, as well as among the various parties in DoD....

The BG-N study team released the Phase 1 Final Report in March 2004, in which a number of areas were addressed, including: reassessing the civilian, joint, and service balance; building a strategy-driven, more efficient resource allocation process; strengthening the cadre of national security and defense civilians; improving DoD's and the U.S. government’s ability to conduct interagency and combined operations; and more. Phase 2 of the BG-N study was released in July 2005. With seven working groups this phase tackles a slate of issues, including: capabilities for 21st century missions; the regional and functional command structures; the U.S. government’s design in light of 21st century challenges; the defense acquisition process; the commercial-like defense agencies; joint officer management and professional military education; and new domains of warfare.
"On August 5, 2004, Secretary Powell announced the creation of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) to enhance our nation's institutional capacity to respond to crises involving failing, failed, and post-conflict states and complex emergencies [link added]." Under the S/CRS is the S/CRS Inter-Agency Team.

On December 7, 2005, the Bush administration promulgated NSPD-44, Mananagement of Interagency Efforts Concerning Reconstruction and Stabilization. This makes the State Department the "focal point":
(i) to coordinate and strengthen efforts of the United States Government to prepare, plan for, and conduct reconstruction and stabilization assistance and related activities in a range of situations that require the response capabilities of multiple United States Government entities and (ii) to harmonize such efforts with U.S. military plans and operations.
and so on ...

The "interagency process" needs to be legislated and funded, for the same reasons that the "joint process" in the military needed the Goldwater-Nichols Act. There's been a significant amount of research and effort in this area over the last decade. The Department of Homeland Security has statutory interagency responsibility (and accountability) for domestic operations.

What department or equivalent "unified commander" in the field is accountable for "interagency jointness" for all the other operations?

Other References:
National Defense University bibliography on Interagency Coordination
U.S. Military Operations in Iraq: Planning, Combat and Occupation (April 26, 2006)
OIF Phase IV: A Planner's Reply to Brigadier Aylwin-Foster (March-April 2006)
Phase IV Operations: Where Wars are Really Won (May - June 2005)
Transforming for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations (November 12, 2003)

The Surge as Stabilty and Support
The Surge as Foreign Internal Defense
Would Sun Tzu Surge?
Si vis pacem, para bellum
Iraq v2.0

10 October 2007

Mayhem on Mufsidoon ...

Blogs target jihadis online

Mr. Weisburd said in a recent report to U.S. intelligence agencies and private companies that the August surge "severely degraded" a stable network of nearly two dozen Web sites and that jihadi efforts to rebuild have had only limited success.

Adding to the complaints bringing down the Web sites, one jihadi Webmaster was arrested and another killed while fighting alongside Islamists in northern Lebanon.

Previous: Worldwide Web War on Mufsidoon

13 September 2007

NYT Contributes to MoveOn?

This looks bad: About that NYT MoveOn discount.

Do you think the NYT is calling MoveOn right now to explain their "billing error?"

Nah, me neither.

UPDATE: Angered by an Antiwar Ad, Giuliani Seeks Equal Space

[Catherine J. Mathis, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Company,] said the department charges advocacy groups $64,575 for full-page, black-and-white advertisements that run on a “standby” basis, meaning an advertiser can request a specific day and placement but is not guaranteed them.
Betraying Its Own Best Interests
Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for The Times, said, "We made a mistake."
No moving on from 'General Betray Us' story; NYT admits mistake, MoveOn issues new challenge
MoveOn issued a statement this afternoon saying that it will send the Times a check for $77,083 to cover the difference between what it was charged and the higher rate that it should have paid.

02 September 2007

Harmonica + Beatbox: Final Cut

Previous: Greg Pattillo (Beatboxing Flutist) and check out the other music posts.

Free Hugs

See if you can watch this without smiling ....

31 August 2007

Before Karl Rove, There Was Bill Moyers

Hoover's Institution

Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files.

When the press reported this, I received a call in my office from Mr. Moyers. Several of my assistants were with me. He was outraged; he claimed that this was another example of the Bureau salting its files with phony CIA memos. I was taken aback. I offered to conduct an investigation, which if his contention was correct, would lead me to publicly exonerate him. There was a pause on the line and then he said, "I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?" And then he rang off. I thought to myself that a number of the Watergate figures, some of whom the department was prosecuting, were very young, too.
-- President Johnson asked the FBI to conduct "name checks" of his critics and of members of the staff of his 1964 opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater.54 He also requested purely political intelligence on his critics in the Senate, and received extensive intelligence reports on political activity at the 1964 Democratic Convention from FBI electronic surveillance.55

Endnote 54: Memorandum from [J]. Edgar Hoover to Bill Moyers, 10/27/64.

This particular ad was designed to run only one time. We have a few more Goldwater ads, none as hard-hitting as that one was, and then we go to the pro-Johnson, pro-Peace, Prosperity, Preparedness spots.

Bill Moyers
UPDATE: Jack Shafer digs further into Moyers' background and credibility.
The Intolerable Smugness of Bill Moyers
Moyers Responds to Slate
More on Moyers
Bill Moyers' Memory

26 August 2007

HuffPo's Lows: Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis penned a post for HuffPo imploring GEN Pace to court-martial President Bush.

His case seems to be based on the idea that the President is a person subject to Chapter 47 of the US Code. He's not: Section 802. Art. 2. Persons subject to this chapter.

It seems odd that Lewis would go to the trouble of linking to punitive articles in the same chapter, but not bother to check, or link to, the section of the UCMJ that actually states who is subject to the UCMJ. OK, not so odd given the author and the publisher.

Besides being factually ignorant, it's a terrible opinion (as in stupid) to promote the idea that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can or should court-martial a President. It demonstrates an absolute lack of civic understanding about our government, our military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, etc., ....

Oh well, "There's always tomorrow..."

21 August 2007

How Low Can You Go?


A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.

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Previous: It's Practically Bipartisan Solidarity!!!

19 August 2007

Sensationalizing Suicide

Suicide's back in the news. Do you think Greg Mitchell has ever read anything from the Dart Center or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention about covering suicide? Either he hasn't and ignorantly writes about suicide, or he has and callously writes about suicide.

Armed Liberal crunches the numbers and finds ... surprise!! ... military suicides are below the civilian population rates.

Over at Target Rich Environment ... "the civilian suicide rate likely exceeds the 2006 US Army suicide rate (adjusted for demographics)."

I can't remember ever reading a news report on military suicides worth the time spent.

After Desert Storm, 15 years ago, it was studied:

By the close of FY 1992, sixty-four active duty soldiers had committed suicide, a reduction of twelve from FY 1991. Even allowing for later adjustments due to changes in the originally reported cause of death, the number of active duty suicides in the 1992 calendar year was 87, compared to 102 for 1991. The ratio of suicides per 100,000 soldiers was 14.5 for 1992, a slight decrease from the 14.6 rate in 1991. By way of comparison, the civilian suicide rate for roughly the same age group (20-34) was 22-25/100,000. Psychological autopsies of soldier suicides did not indicate that downsizing or changes in policy played any role in their motivations. Psychologists still attributed suicides, in large part, to failures in personal relationships, alcohol abuse, and financial difficulties.
In Haiti, more than 10 years ago, the media made suicide a big issue. It wasn't.

It was raised as an issue again during the 90s "peace operations".

It's been raised frequently now during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Ever wonder why you don't read frequent stories in the news about suicide among the "creative people":
  • The Literary Arts
    Recent studies have shown that poets and writers are four times more likely than others to suffer from affective disorders, particularly manic depression. Dickinson, Eliot, and Poe are among the many poets who suffered from an affective illness. Writers such as Balzac, Conrad, Dickens, Emerson, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Ibsen, Melville, and Tolstoy also suffered from the illness. In many cases, the writer's depression led to suicide: John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf.

  • The Visual Arts
    Painters, sculptors, and other visual artists have also been afflicted by depressive disorders. Gaugin, Jackson Pollock, Michelangelo, and Georgia O'Keeffe suffered from depression. Van Gogh, Arshile Gorky and Mark Rothko died by suicide. Contemporary designers are plagued by alcohol and drug abuse, which are associated with depression.

  • The Musical Arts
    The death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain brought the issue of suicide into the spotlight. But the problem was not new to the music world. Classical composers such as Rachmaninoff, Schumann and Tchaikovsky suffered from affective disorders. Irving Berlin, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker and Cole Porter also suffered from depressive illnesses.

  • The Theatrical Arts
    For many performing artists, the link between depression and suicide has been complicated by the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. For actresses like Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, it remains unclear whether the cause of death was accidental overdose or suicide. Also, the tendency toward depression and suicide often shows up in the children of these performers, suggesting a familial link.
I guess it's because Greg Mitchell doesn't find their suicides "especially tragic" or maybe it's because "the press doesn't know what to do about them."

UPDATE (via Insty): More at OTB and View from the Porch.

UPDATE: kf asks, "Who Has to Try to Kill Themselves in this Town to Make the Front Page?"

UPDATE: Sensationalizing Suicide II

Related: Two Suicides, Two Newsrooms, Two Decisions

16 August 2007

Why Newspapers Aren't Worth Buying

Reign of Error

Maier, an associate professor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication, describes in a forthcoming research paper his findings that fewer than 2 percent of factually flawed articles are corrected at dailies. [my emphasis]
The results might shock even the most jaded of newspaper readers. About 69 percent of the 3,600 news sources completed the survey, and they spotted 2,615 factual errors in 1,220 stories. That means that about half of the stories for which a survey was completed contained one or more errors. Just 23 of the flawed stories—less than 2 percent—generated newspaper corrections. No paper corrected more than 4.2 percent of its flawed articles.
Obviously, a newspaper can't publish a correction until it learns of its error. But the studied dailies performed poorly when informed of their goofs. Maier found that 130 of the news sources reported having asked for corrections, but their complaints elicited only four corrections.
UPDATE: Confessing Errors in a Digital Age
It’s important to understand why newspapers have tended to fall short on their perceived commitment to correct what they got wrong the first time around. And in a time when anybody can easily post—and pass along—news and information online (usually without an editor’s scrutiny), the need is greater than ever to set in place a coherent system of correcting errors—despite the digital practitioners’ assurances about the Web’s inherent self-correcting nature.
Also see the figure at the bottom of page 7 of the Mongerson report (pdf).
2006 Medill Mongerson ReportOur motivation for asking these questions came from a desire to learn how many journalists regularly report on errors and fabrications in the news (the central theme of the Mongerson Prize) and to put the extent of such reporting in context with other coverage. But as the chart on the right shows, very few respondents say they have experience investigating and reporting either of those issues.

The Mongerson Prize for Investigative Reporting on the News was discontinued in 2006.
An Anthology of Journalism's Decline

12 August 2007

War Stories: Carter and Beauchamp

Phil Carter wrote about Beauchamp on Slate, his blog and spoke to NPR.

If I understand his point, even if Beauchamp's story is exaggerated and/or fabricated and the New Republic failed its editorial responsibility, he is concerned that true stories about the (uncomfortable/awful) realities of war are not (will not be) heard by the public.

What I found most interesting was Carter's seeming contradiction in his own assessment of the veracity of Beauchamp's anecdotes:

I am deeply skeptical about the veracity of Beauchamp's dispatches, particularly the last one, but disinclined to offer definitive pronouncements at this time....

Among military circles, the reaction to Beauchamp's stories has been mixed. A number of my friends were disturbed by the article, especially what it implied about his unit and its leadership, but very few questioned its basic truth.... Beauchamp's tale was neither believable nor patently untrue on its face.
There were many technical and organizational reasons to be skeptical of Beauchamp's tales. I find it difficult to believe that Carter's military friends were not as skeptical as he was. I'm also surprised that Carter doesn't express support for publicly questioning Beauchamp's tales given his own skepticism.

I was disturbed by Beauchamp's article because of my own deep skepticism that it was true. I would have been more disturbed by the article, and what it implied about Beauchamp's unit and leadership, if it was true.

Beauchamp disturbs me either way. Either his tales about his own disturbing behavior are true or he exaggerated/fabricated them.

It's also one thing to tell exaggerated or fabricated personal and secondhand "war stories" at "unit reunions and American Legion halls" and quite another to publish them publicly as nonfiction to further your personal ambition as an "author."

At the end of his Slate piece, Carter offers advice for journalists attempting to tell the story of what happens in wartime:
... The New Republic erred in granting Beauchamp a pseudonym. In this instance, Beauchamp's personal credibility as a combat infantryman would have bolstered his reports immeasurably.... The lesson here is that in war reporting, as with all reporting, you can certainly use anonymous sources, but only with the proper due diligence.
Granting Beauchamp a pseudonym was not the error. Identifying Beauchamp as a combat infantryman rather than as a soldier would not have "bolstered his reports immeasurably." There is no first and second lesson, as Carter suggests, but just the one: "The lesson here is that in war reporting, as with all reporting, you can certainly use anonymous sources, but only with the proper due diligence."

The error was granting Beauchamp a pseudonym without investing the editorial oversight required of a publication doing so ("proper due diligence"). That's the difference between being an Internet Service Provider for a self-publishing anonymous military blogger in Baghdad, and being the New Republic publishing articles by a pseudonymous "freelance writer and soldier currently serving in Baghdad."

It is also the comparison between "Jeff Gannon" and "Scott Thomas" that the New Republic should want to avoid. "Jeff Gannon" was a pseudonym for a partisan hack getting White House day passes writing for an obscure partisan website. "Scott Thomas" was a pseudonym for a "freelance writer and soldier currently serving in Baghdad" writing a diary for the magazine's print edition and website. If the comparison becomes a distinction without a difference for the American public, the credibility of the New Republic is in real trouble.

The Army Responds
Why I Serve: An affluent big-city lawyer explains why he did

Not Blogging About Beauchamp

11 August 2007

Worldwide Web War on Mufsidoon

via SWJ

While we have a few Americans who take similar action against mufsidoon (evildoers) web sites, why don’t we encourage Americans/western “geeks” to go after these websites? Exploit them, disrupt them, shut them down, post false information, and create distrust. This will not be a government controlled or directed effort. Essentially, I am suggesting a leaderless effort that allows Americans to use their creativity, technological skills, and the rabid dedication some people will apply to such a project. The mufsidoon are coming after all American citizens; this is a way some Americans can fight back.

10 August 2007

Stone and Sharratt Cleared in Haditha Case

All charges dropped against 2 Marines in Haditha killings

All charges were dropped against a captain accused of failing to investigate the deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha, the Marine Corps announced Thursday. Also, all charges were dropped against Marine Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, who had been accused of killing three Iraqi brothers in response to a roadside bomb attack in Haditha in 2005.
Statements from Gen. Mattis on the Capt. Stone and LCpl. Sharratt decisions

Murtha: Mum's the word.

Pundit Review:
Making this nightmare even worse, Murtha is the Sharratt’s congressmen. It took Darryl Sharratt 53 phone calls over 18 months to get Murtha on the line.
More at Gateway Pundit and memeorandum.

Previous: Haditha Roundup

07 August 2007

Not Blogging About Beauchamp

Initially, I had zero motivation to blog about Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

As the story developed, I started having negative motivation to write about him. Not a motivation to write negative things about him, mind you, but an increasing determination not to write about it at all.

I did follow the story for two reasons: the military component and the blog/journalism component.

I still don't feel motivated to write about the military component of this story.

I do want to say a few things at this point about the blog/journalism component.

  1. I thought Michael Goldfarb's Fact or Fiction? post was good blogging.
    But we believe that the best chance for getting at the truth is likely to come from the combined efforts of the blogosphere, which has, in the past, proven adept at determining the reliability of such claims. To that end we'd encourage the milblogging community to do some digging of their own, and individual soldiers and veterans to come forward with relevant information--either about the specific events or their plausibility in general.

    Does anyone who has served at FOB Falcon remember hearing about or seeing the humiliation of this woman? Do they know her name and how we might get in contact with her to confirm the author's account of the events that day?

    Is anyone familiar with a combat outpost a few miles south of the Baghdad airport where a mass grave of Iraqi children was discovered? What about the other parts of the story? And does anyone else know of Bradleys careening wildly through the streets of Baghdad?
  2. I think early on, many milbloggers did a good job of trying to answer those questions and the story pretty much peaked (for me, anyway) around July 21, three days after Goldfarb's initial post, when Major Kirk Luedeke, PAO for FOB Falcon, responded to the story. Determining the identity of "Scott Thomas," and the veracity of his claims, was just a matter of time from that point on. I certainly thought the military chain of command at FOB Falcon was then in a better position than anyone else (including TNR and WWS) to report back what they found.

  3. My "negative motivation" was a reaction to much of what I read about the story from July 21 until now.

  4. Today I read BLOGS MISSING THE REAL STORY AS USUAL by Rick Moran:
    I only know a growing sense of unease elicited by the notion that by overhyping stories like the Beauchamp caper, the credibility of the medium suffers. For that reason alone, it may be time to put down the blood stained hatchets and begin to seriously examine just what we should be doing that will increase our influence rather than make us look like a bunch of one dimensional attack dogs.
Bingo! The Lippman-Dewey Blogosphere.

UPDATE: For those that consider Beauchamp a "victory" for the blogosphere. I'd rank it right up there with James Dale "Jeff Gannon" Guckert.

There's always tomorrow...

James Fallows

The problems with the media are the same as I tried to describe 11 years ago -- just worse, and with new technology. But there's always tomorrow...

06 August 2007

Kickin' Back Guitar

CANdyRAT records has a YouTube channel that is a "must see" if you enjoy great acoustic guitar.

05 August 2007

NBC Dateline Reporter flees Defcon 15

Bloggers' Roundtable: PRTs in Iraq

Small Wars Journal
wretchard at Belmont Club

Transcript is at FNS but not yet at DoD's Bloggers' Roundtable archive.


Iraq Briefing August 1
Brinkley, Reeker, Bergner Brief Media
Paul Brinkley, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Philip Reeker, US Embassy, Baghdad, and BG Kevin Bergner, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman, speak with reporters in Iraq, August 1, 2007

Why Jon Soltz Blew It

Jon Soltz led a panel session at YearlyKos called, "The Military and Progressives: Are They Really That Different?" (reg. req.)

At the end of the session, during the Q&A, a Sergeant [David D. Aguina] in his "Class A" service uniform stood at the floor microphone to ask a question and Soltz immediately attacked him for being in uniform and warned him not to make a political point (watch video).

I also question the propriety of wearing the uniform to YearlyKos. I seriously doubt the Sergeant [Aguina] was there on official business. If he was, then he was in the right uniform. If he wasn't, he should have worn civilian clothes.

It would have been appropriate for Jon Soltz to wait until after the session to inform the Sergeant [Aguina] of the uniform policy and regulation. It would also have been appropriate to ask the Sergeant [Aguina] his name and unit when he approached the microphone or after the session if Soltz intended to report a possible violation to the Sergeant [Aguina]'s chain of command.

What was not appropriate was to "pull rank" while a YearlyKos moderator from the session's stage. The moment Mr. Jon Soltz announced himself as Captain Jon Soltz and threatened the Sergeant [Aguina] from a position of military authority - by virtue of his rank - from the stage of the YearlyKos session, he may have put himself in a deeper predicament than the Sergeant [Aguina] faced (see 5 C.F.R. 2635.807(b) Reference to official position.).

I also find it incredibly hypocritical that Soltz uses a picture of himself in uniform on his YearlyKos webpage (with his Captain's rank clearly visible) and his VoteVets bio webpage, and yet is quick to admonish - as "Captain Soltz" and YearlyKos panelist and moderator - a Sergeant for being in uniform as an attendee of YearlyKos.

UPDATE: I'm heartened to read this from Brandon Friedman (aka The Angry Rakkasan):

I've talked to Jon several times since Friday morning, and if he had it to do over again, he would have handled it a little differently.

03 August 2007

Greg Pattillo

Because just playing the flute isn't hard enough ... Patillostyle on MySpace.

Evolution of Dance

Too Funny!!

Medieval Helpdesk: Introducing the Book

From NRK on YouTube.

28 July 2007

Securing Iraq: A Pivotal Moment in Time

via SWJ

Plans for Christmas 2008?

Star Trek XI Movie IconStar Trek XI

J.J. Abrams and his creative team for the new Star Trek movie wowed the audience at Comic-Con in San Diego this afternoon as they revealed a casting coup: Heroes star Zachary Quinto will be playing Spock! And, to the delight of all 6,500 in the capacity crowd, Leonard Nimoy joined Quinto on stage as Abrams confirmed the elder Spock's involvement in the new film.
Transcript and Video
J.J. Abrams reveals the movie's first two stars, Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy, to a very appreciative capacity crowd.
IGN interview with Matt Damon:

Emmy Nominated: When Parents Are Deployed

'Sesame Street' Deployment Show Nominated for Emmy

A television special that looks closely at challenges military Families face when a parent is deployed has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.
Outstanding Children's Program
  • Hannah Montana • Disney Channel
  • Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: Private Worlds: Kids And Autism • Nickelodeon
  • That's So Raven • Disney Channel
  • The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody • Disney Channel
  • When Parents Are Deployed • PBS • Sesame Workshop
Should be a "no-brainer," When Parents Are Deployed wins!

Related: Giving Our Troops a Break
Giving military members a break from their dangerous daily routines—Borgwardt’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit diffuses and disposes of improvised explosive devices, booby traps and munitions—is just what Tom Fick had in mind when he created Project Hollywood Cares.
Previous: Elmo Helps Military Kids Through Deployments

Another Tricare Data Compromise?

There's really no excuse for this.

Some TRICARE Beneficiary Data Put At Risk

Data for nearly 600,000 households enrolled in TRICARE stored on a government-contractor's unprotected computer server could have been exposed to hackers, defense officials announced Friday.
What can I do to protect myself against identity theft?

There is a wealth of information available about identity theft for you and your household members at the consumer protection web sites of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Defense (DOD), and TRICARE:

These sites provide valuable information regarding identity theft prevention and steps that individuals can take should problems develop.

Monitor your credit
Common advice includes routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements for suspicious activity. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and how you pay your bills. The law requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting agencies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Best practice recommends requesting a credit report every four months, rotating through the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies with each request.

To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies:


Pentagon Hacker Compromises Personal Data (April 29, 2006)
An intruder gained access to a Defense Department computer server and compromised confidential health care insurance information for more than 14,000 people, the department said Friday.
Reward offered in theft of medical records (January 2, 2003)
Computer hard drives containing the medical records of more than 500,000 military members were stolen last month from TriWest Health Care Alliance Corp., which administers the military's Tricare health plan in 16 midwestern and western states. The files, which contain sensitive information including patients' claims histories and Social Security numbers, disappeared from the Tricare Central Region health contractor's Phoenix offices on Dec. 14.

More Bloggers' Roundtables


Perhaps over generalized, but tell me how many of the "Left" actually care to listen to DOD information? How many of the "Right" actually hear the concerns of the Left?
UPDATE: Ken Silverstein, "In focusing on the blogger calls I’ve unintentionally ..."
Unintentionally? Bull.

Again, Silverstein has issues with the Blogger Roundtable
More attacks on DoD blogger outreach
Give OSD's PAO A Break
And this is classic:

Pentagon Holds ‘Bloggers Roundtables’ To Cater To Right-Wing Noise Machine

UPDATE: Since publishing this post, ThinkProgress has been in contact with the Pentagon, and they have agreed to allow us to participate in the bloggers roundtables.

Previous: Blackfive Schools Harpers on Blogging

President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors

Message from the Co-Chairs

Next month, this Commission will convene to publicly discuss our recommendations. In doing so, we must fulfill the following objectives of our charter:
  • Evaluate and recommend improvments, where needed, to the transition from wounded warrior status back to military service or civilian life
  • Evaluate and recommend ways to ensure access to the highest-quality service for returning wounded warriors
  • Analyze the effectiveness of the process through which health care services and benefits are delivered.”
Commission Urges Improvements to Servicemembers' Care
Today, the nine-member panel outlined six recommendations:

• Create comprehensive health recovery plans and develop a corps of highly trained coordinators to help servicemembers transition back to military duty or civilian life every step of the way.

• Simplify the way disabilities are determined and make the compensation system less confusing.

• Improve the system for diagnosing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, and work to make servicemembers less vulnerable to these two signature ailments of the war on terror.

• Significantly strengthen support for Families.

• Develop "My eBenefits," a one-stop Web site and information source for servicemembers that combines Defense Department and Veterans Affairs databases.

• Keep Walter Reed staffed with first-rate professionals until it closes in 2011.

Movie: No End in Sight

MountainRunner Movie Review: No End in Sight

This is a must see movie even if you have been paying attention. This is not Michael Moore emotional hyperbole but a factual account of failed leadership. If you haven't been paying attention, which is probably not many readers of this blog, Ferguson creates an easily digested synopsis of how America managed to create an insurgency in Iraq.
Intel Dump's Phil Carter Movie Review: "No End in Sight"
Bottom line up front: go see this movie.
James Fallows: 'No End in Sight': Definitely, see this movie
It covers almost exactly the same terrain, including many of the same sources and anecdotes, as did my book Blind Into Baghdad. But rarely have I seen a clearer demonstration of how much more powerful the combination of pictures, sound, music, real-people-talking, etc can be than words on a page.

23 July 2007

Morally Retarded

What should we say to our soldiers in Iraq?
Arguing About War
Just And Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations

Previous: Bookends

On Civility

"With us or against us":

This points to a serious breakdown not just on civility, but in the ability of people to properly debate various issues.
Heh: "black helicopter" crowd.

Lippman-Dewey Blogosphere
Thoughtful words ...

More Web Ethics and Deletions ...

Author discusses blog posting that links military service, serial killers

The blogosphere is going crazy today over a posting at the liberal Daily Kos entitled: "Killitary: How America's Armed Forces Create Serial Killers and Mass Murderers."

The posting was removed from the blog at some point after it was published Thursday night. (It also appears to have been removed from the author's personal blog. Here's the cached version.)

A cached version of the Daily Kos posting is available through Google....

Update at 1:40 p.m. ET: The posting is back on the In Cold Blog.
Well, not exactly. The current post has been changed compared to the deleted post. For example, here's what the first few paragraphs might look like if the original post was modified using Rebecca Blood's guidelines:

Friday, July 20, 2007

KILLITARY: How America's Armed Forces Create Serial Killers and Mass Murderers Are America's Armed Forces Creating Serial Killers and Mass Murderers?

[Update: I decided to repost this after being excoriated by both left- and right-wing blogs. After speaking with various military personnel who read this post they assured me that it is very obvious and clear what I was getting at. The military trains people to kill and some of our men and women return home and don't receive the proper care to deal with the horrors of war or even the intensity of training. Not a single one of them thought I was trying to smear the soldiers or call them serial killers. They thanked me for pointing out a serious problem that gets overlooked by the military and needs to be dealt with.]

[Update: This article in no way is meant to suggest that all mil[i]tary members will become serial killers or mass murderers. It does point out a serious problem with what is happening in our armed forces and seeks a solution to help the brave men and women on their return back home.]

According to the July 30, 2007 issue of The Nation magazine, damning photos of a U.S. Soldier using a spoon to literally scoop out the brains of a dead Iraqi and pretending to eat the gray matter were recently acquired.

Of course, everyone is appropriately appalled and make all claims of disgust and finger-wagging. Research shows, however, that such unacceptable behavior happens more often than the United States military wants you to know.

When it comes to training killing machines, the military really does create "an Army of one."

The list of serial killers and mass murderers borne from who have spent time in the military is astounding....

The rest of the post is similar to the deleted one until the conclusion, where a sentence and two paragraphs have also been added:
Here Are a Few More Not So Good Men:

All served in the military. All went on to become serial killers, mass murderers, or assassins. [Update: Others were already killers who became even worse after their time in the service.

Of course, the number who become serial killers or mass murderers compared to the rest of the hundreds of thousands of troops who do not is minimal. But isn't one serial killer one too many?]

John Allen Muhammad ("The Beltway Sniper"), Arthur Shawcross, Lee Harvey Oswald, Randy Kraft, Dennis Rader ("BTK"), Howard Unruh, Robert Lee Yates, Gary Heidnik, Charles Cullen, Charles Ng, Henry Louis Wallace, Julian Knight, Courtney Mathews & David Housler, Daryl Keith Holton, Wayne Adam Ford, Richard Marc Evonitz, etc.

This list is by no means comprehensive and does not include military personnel who murdered their families, loved ones, or friends upon their return from training to kill or war.

[Update: This article in no way is meant to suggest that all mil[i]tary members will become serial killers or mass murderers. It does point out a serious problem with what is happening in our armed forces and seeks a solution to help the brave men and women on their return back home.]
The author, Corey Mitchell, also told USA Today's On Deadline blog:
Mitchell says he may decide to republish the piece on his blog, but is weighing the effect of all the negative attention on his wife, who works on a military base, and their young daughter. "I have to weigh my family's stress level versus how necessary is it to have that piece up," he writes in a follow-up e-mail.
Apparently, Mitchell decided it was necessary ... with some modifications. The modifications came from being "excoriated by both left- and right-wing blogs."

Was deleting the original post and then reposting a modified version the best recourse? I think not.

Previous: Web Ethics and Deletions ...

Related: Correlating serial killers to a profession ... adding perspective.
Serial homicide by doctors: Shipman in perspective
Hospital serial killers are big threat, study says

22 July 2007

Blackfive Schools Harpers on Blogging

Blackfive starts with Ken Silverstein's conclusion:

Before these bloggers start to complain that they’ve done nothing wrong, I’d like to ask how they would feel if a group of handpicked, administration-friendly liberal bloggers had done the same thing during the Clinton years. I believe they would have objected vociferously–and I would have agreed with them. No one, on any side, should let themselves be used to spread the administration’s gospel. At least not anyone who can pretend to journalistic standards.
Journalistic standards?

Does Silverstein remember Lanny Davis' "deep-background private placement"? Or the sit down Kerry had for two hours in Al Franken’s living room (see here and here)? I must have missed Harpers' objections on those.

Then there's the secretive Townhouse listserv (nothing at Harpers) and blogger conference calls with Democrats (here, here and here).

[UPDATE: Should we even mention the Journalists who wrote political checks?]

Silverstein's concern for journalistic standards seems thin and self-serving when it comes to bloggers.

I like the DoD bloggers' roundtables with transcripts and videos published online. I like the interaction and certainly feel there's more transparency about who's asking the questions and answering than the anonymous sources that feed "professional" journalists. I certainly like them more, and find them more informative, than the often inane White House press conferences and press briefings.

Full disclosure: I've never participated in a DoD bloggers' roundtable.

I suppose I could, just never asked. The contact information provided on the transcripts would be a good place to start if you're interested in participating in a blogger roundtable:
Department of Defense New Media Team
Phone: 703-325-0103
Email: bloggeroutreach-at-hq.afis.osd.mil
I don't see the conspiracy Silverstein sees, but then I wasn't impressed by the hype-debunking in MoJo's Politics 2.0, either.

Must just be me.

UPDATE: Harpers digs deeper ... the hole, that is, that Ken Silverstein put himself in and gets another response from Grim at Blackfive. This is good:
Danger Room notes that OSD approved their request to add two progressive milbloggers to the roundtables in under half an hour.
See, Ken? How hard was that?
But how hard is it, really, to get other critical voices added to the conference call list?

Well, it took exactly 23 minutes to get Jason "Armchair Generalist" Sigger and Matt "Mountain Runner" Armstrong signed up. And neither is what you would call a fan of this administration.

I am a fan of both Jason Sigger and Matt Armstrong and have linked to them in the past. They will make great additions to the bloggers' roundtables and Ken looks even more foolish than he first did.

UPDATE: More Bloggers' Roundtables

Previous: "New Media" Thoughts

21 July 2007

Steve Bailey's Straw Man Purchase and Column

Did the Boston Globe buy Walter Belair a handgun, or did Walter Belair buy a handgun for Steve Bailey with the Boston Globe's money ... and then Bailey gifted the handgun to Belair?

Bailey first tried to buy the handgun using John Rosenthal, a Massachusetts resident, at a New Hampshire gun show with the Boston Globe's money and was denied because Rosenthal was an out-of-state purchaser. So Bailey gave $240 of the Globe's money to Belair (a New Hampshire resident) to buy the handgun. Belair filled out the ATF form, passed the NICS background check, bought the handgun with Bailey's money and kept the handgun.

Listen to the show below starting at the 11 minute point, Rosenthal:

... I was the one talking to the dealer, I said, "I would like to buy this particular handgun, can I?"

He said, "Yeah sure, no problem." He said, "I need to see, uh, where are you from?"

I said, "Massachusetts."

He said, "No, no, no, you can't buy that handgun 'cause you're from Massachusetts but you can buy that long gun or military style assault weapon, no problem."

And I said, "Well, how 'bout if my buddy here who's a New Hampshire resident buys the gun?" And he said, "Oh, no problem." knowing full well it was a straw purchase.

Now listen to Steve Bailey defend his involvement in the admitted straw man purchase.

Poland WRKO - Tom Finneran - Steve Bailey Guns, and Kids

Bailey’s Straw Purchase: It’s not about bullying, It’s about breaking the law
18 USC § 922(a)(6). Unlawful acts
It shall be unlawful for any person in connection with the acquisition or attempted acquisition of any firearm or ammunition from a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector, knowingly to make any false or fictitious oral or written statement or to furnish or exhibit any false, fictitious, or misrepresented identification, intended or likely to deceive such importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of such firearm or ammunition under the provisions of this chapter;
ATF F 4473 (5300.9)
ATF's Learning Theater

"Get it?"

It's not the blogs I hate, it's their fans

Say "blog" in casual conversation, and it still evokes the spectre of shreiky, pompous demagogues and self-absorbed pedants.

It's a misleading image, but to be sure, the demagogues and pedants are still out there, fouling up the place. You might be one of them. Here's a simple quiz: Do you only blog about other bloggers? Do you engage in public blog-fights with other bloggers, leaving stinging retorts on each other's pages? Have you ever complained that people who don't agree with you "just don't get it?"

Have you ever proved your point by arguing that people with differing views - the non-it-getters - suffer from mental illness? Is every post you write followed by dozens or hundreds of comments from fellow it-getters wishing to burnish their credentials?

Put it like this: If a reasonable third party were to read your blog, would they come away feeling better about being human, or worse? You might disagree with me here, but as a rule of thumb, blogs that make me despair for the species are not good blogs.

UPDATE: Jay Rosen comments, "Who are they, these enthusiasts who claim that blogs will replace old media?" and Ivor responds.

John Burns on Iraq

Charlie Rose: A conversation about Iraq with John Burns of The New York Times (07/17/2007)

20 July 2007

Hero: Jack Farley

Peer Amputee Volunteer Puts Experience, Compassion Into Recovery:

Mr. Farley is a peer amputee visitor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. A retired federal judge, Mr. Farley is quick with a joke and a smile. He knows nearly everybody at the center it seems and knows nearly everything there is to know about prosthetics.

His right leg was claimed by a mortar in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago....

18 July 2007

It's Practically Bipartisan Solidarity!!!

Voters unhappy with Bush; Congress: Reuters poll

An even bigger majority, 83 percent, say the Democratic-controlled Congress is doing only a fair or poor job -- the worst mark for Congress in a Zogby poll....

While 83 percent said Congress was doing a fair or poor job, just 14 percent rated it excellent or good. Last October, in its final days, the Republican-led Congress earned ratings of excellent or good from 23 percent of voters. [my emphasis]
More Bipartisan Agreement!!
The 24 percent approval rating for Congress matched its previous low, which came in June 2006, five months before Democrats won control of the House and Senate due to public discontent with the job Republicans were doing.
Finally, Bipartisan Agreement on Something!
The percentage of Americans with a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress is at 14%, the lowest in Gallup's history of this measure -- and the lowest of any of the 16 institutions tested in this year's Confidence in Institutions survey. It is also one of the lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested over the last three decades. [my emphasis]
Related: This Isn't What I Voted For

Web Ethics and Deletions ...

Yesterday, Armando Llorens at TalkLeft posted an embarrassing (for him) list of CPAC sponsors to counter Dean Barnett and the JetBlue/YearlyKos sponsorship controversy.

The post was also duplicated elsewhere (i.e. LeftWord).

Unfortunately, the CPAC he quoted from, and linked to, wasn't the intended Conservative Political Action Conference but instead the Center for Process Analytical Chemistry.

The entire post was subsequently deleted. I don't know how long the post was up at TalkLeft. The time stamp on the post was Tue Jul 17, 2007 at 11:38:57 AM EST. It seems Google cached it within 20 minutes of posting: retrieved on 17 Jul 2007 16:51:56 GMT.

I certainly understand why Armando would want to delete the post and - depending how long it had been up - why he thought he could (without anyone noticing?). This is NOT about embarrassing Armando.

It is a blogging ethics question. Links rot. Posts are deleted. Entire blogs disappear (I deleted my previous blog, took a year off and started over). So what? Quoted passages or entire posts of now nonexistent blog posts or entire blogs may continue to exist elsewhere on the 'net with the corresponding reference link broken. Again, so what?

What really was lost when Armando deleted that post besides his own potential embarrassment and misleading his readers? Should he have put an update on the post with a retraction instead? Would you? Why?

What do you think about bloggers deleting posts? What would you think if it was a news organization or another publication that deleted an online story without notice or explanation?

As a discussion starting point, Rebecca Blood wrote in 2002:

4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.

Post deliberately. If you invest each entry with intent, you will ensure your personal and professional integrity.

Changing or deleting entries destroys the integrity of the network. The Web is designed to be connected; indeed, the weblog permalink is an invitation for others to link. Anyone who comments on or cites a document on the Web relies on that document (or entry) to remain unchanged. A prominent addendum is the preferred way to correct any information anywhere on the Web. If an addendum is impractical, as in the case of an essay that contains numerous inaccuracies, changes must be noted with the date and a brief description of the nature of the change.

If you think this is overly scrupulous, consider the case of the writer who points to an online document in support of an assertion. If this document changes or disappears — and especially if the change is not noted — her argument may be rendered nonsensical. Books do not change; journals are static. On paper, new versions are always denoted as such.

The network of shared knowledge we are building will never be more than a novelty unless we protect its integrity by creating permanent records of our publications. The network benefits when even entries that are rendered irrelevant by changing circumstance are left as a historical record. As an example: A weblogger complains about inaccuracies in an online article; the writer corrects those inaccuracies (and notes them!); the weblogger's entry is therefore meaningless — or is it? Deleting the entry somehow asserts that the whole incident simply didn't happen — but it did. The record is more accurate and history is better served if the weblogger notes beneath the original entry that the writer has made the corrections and the article is now, to the weblogger's knowledge, accurate.

History can be rewritten, but it cannot be undone. Changing or deleting words is possible on the Web, but possibility does not always make good policy. Think before you publish and stand behind what you write. If you later decide you were wrong about something, make a note of it and move on.

I make a point never to post anything I am not willing to stand behind even if I later disagree. I work to be thoughtful and accurate, no matter how angry or excited I am about a particular topic. If I change my opinion in a day or two, I just note the change. If I need to apologize for something I've said, I do so.

If you discover that you have posted erroneous information, you must note this publicly on your weblog. Deleting the offending entry will do nothing to correct the misinformation your readers have already absorbed. Taking the additional step of adding a correction to the original entry will ensure that Google broadcasts accurate information into the future.

The only exception to this rule is when you inadvertently reveal personal information about someone else. If you discover that you have violated a confidence or made an acquaintance uncomfortable by mentioning him, it is only fair to remove the offending entry altogether, but note that you have done so.

Your thoughts?

Previous: Wierd Web Workings at CNN