The Sound Reinforcement Handbook is the single best reference for audio engineers anywhere. Read this book and you'll know more than 80% of the guys calling themselves "sound engineers" out there. If you can do math, 90%.
Blues Guitar Inside And Out: I gave this to my brother when he started playing blues guitar, and now he's a great blues guitarist. The book obviously gets the credit. Plus, I managed to cite it in a constitutional law article once.
VIRGINIA POSTREL posts a picture of a recovering Sally Satel and remarks on their successful kidney transplant: "The secret to our tissue compatibility is that our real blood type is Diet Coke."
posted at 09:15 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SO I WAS LISTENING TO THE BBC earlier today, and they were reporting on the people (Russians and Serbs, mostly) who were unhappy that Slobodan Milosevic died. Major John Tammes, who has bad memories of service in the Balkans, is not among their number.
I expect there will be dark rumors, as the BBC story suggested -- Slobo murdered by the UN, Slobo murdered by Western nations (France? Russia?) who didn't want him revealing the extent of their support, etc. But the Milosevic trial was yet another argument that the qualms about the Nuremberg approach to deposed dictators (qualms that many participants in the Nuremberg trials felt quite strongly) may have considerable force. Saddam's trial is less of a circus than Milosevic's, but that's about all you can say.
So should we just hang 'em? Perhaps. These trials are pretty much a foregone conclusion, and their character is more political than judicial anyway. When critics call them "show trials" they have a point. Do they do more good than harm? That's not at all clear. I'm not sure what I think, but it certainly seems that trials that last until the defendant dies of old age aren't the solution. Nuremberg didn't take as long as the Milosevic trial.
I see tremendous economic growth from startups from 10 years ago. Entrepreneurs will go from the 1,000 startup ventures funded in the last 10 to 20 years to ideas coming from people working together in network-based environments, using computers to dream up innovations in a way they never did before. It could be people in developing countries with low-cost computers.
You talk about education and the bottom-up effect that millions more people will play in societal advances. How do you see this unfolding?
We will undergo another revolution when we give 100 million kids a smart cell phone or a low-cost laptop, and bootstrap the way they learn outside of school. We think of games as a way to kill time, but in the future I think it will be a major vehicle for learning.
Creative expression (is another area). No longer will just a few write or create music. We will see 100 million people creating the content and art shared among them. Easy-to-use programs allow kids to compose everything form ringtones to full-fledged operas. It will change the meaning of creative art in our society.
We are already seeing early signs of it in blogs. The source of creative content is coming from the world. That revolution will go well outside of the written word to all forms of visual and performing arts.
Read the whole thing. Naturally, I agree with the notion of widespread bottom-up efforts bringing about substantial change. And I've got a whole chapter on games and learning in An Army of Davids. People keep asking about my "next book," and I'm beginning to think that the social impact of gaming -- games are the "dark matter" of contemporary culture, getting far less attention than they deserve in terms of their impact -- may be the way to go.
It is not an impact on the epic scale of an asteroid smashing into the Earth and killing off the dinosaurs, but the collision of technology and media is having profound effects on a more modern ecosystem.
Media are becoming democratised, and a global conversation is emerging.
The tools of production - used to create digital content such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, discussions, multiplayer games, mashups (I'll describe each of those in more detail below) - are increasingly powerful and easy to use, yet decreasingly expensive.
Distribution is also becoming less expensive and easily arranged. . . . The democratisation of media is also, fundamentally, about the people we once called mere consumers. Their role is evolving from a passive one to something much more interactive, but they are blessed (or cursed, depending on one's viewpoint) with an unprecedented variety of voices and services.
Hey, somebody should write a book on this stuff!
And illustrating this phenomenon is some rather cool niche-market videoblogging at Geek Entertainment TV. I found it pretty entertaining, but, well, you'd expect that, wouldn't you . . . .
posted at 02:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
LA SHAWN BARBER: "I’m looking for quotes from 'ordinary people' using their blogs or other online resources to make a difference."
Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.
Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.
In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.
She said the world's Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.
Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.
In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private.
Of course, that they're afraid to say it proves her point about barbarism. Bless her for realizing -- as so many of our leaders do not -- that appeasing the barbarians is a mistake.
And there's irony, if not novelty, in the headline: "For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats."
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, on a two-year mission to study the Martian atmosphere and surface, and search for water, pulled off a dangerous and tricky maneuver known as "orbit insertion" and began circling the red planet Friday.
I've just been reading Boundary, a Mars-exploration novel by Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor. (Not bad, not up to Flint's usual standards though). Any Mars news is good for someone with a Mars novel, I suppose, but I wonder if the new discoveries will undercut their story. I'm pretty sure that more stories about Mars have been rendered scientifically obsolete than just about any other variety of science fiction.
posted at 09:08 AM by Glenn Reynolds
SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC IS DEAD, and Austin Bay has thoughts.
ZARQAWI WAS HERE: Michael Totten reports from Iraq. "The PUK’s Minister of the Interior ordered 20 heavily armed Peshmerga soldiers to go with me to the borderland mountain village of Biara. For years the village was occupied by Ansar Al Islam, the Kurdish-Arab-Persian branch of Al Qaeda in Northern Iraq. Biara wasn’t the only village seized by the Taliban of Mesopotamia, but it was perhaps the most important. It is there that the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had his last stand in Iraqi Kurdistan before the 2003 US-led invasion forced him out."
And don't miss the postscript.
posted at 07:47 PM by Glenn Reynolds
EUGENE VOLOKH: " One shocking thing about the Mohammed cartoon controversy is how tame many of the cartoons are -- and therefore just how much the cartoons' critics are demanding by arguing that the cartoons ought not be published, or even ought to be outlawed."
A prominent news media group is reporting that about 18 percent of the federal criminal docket in the District of Columbia is shielded from the public through a dual or "secret" docketing system.
The 11th and 2nd U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have ruled that secret docketing is unconstitutional. But the system has remained unchallenged in the nation’s capital.
In a study released this week, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says that, over a five-year period, D.C. defendants in more than 450 out of 2,600 criminal cases were indicted, tried, prosecuted and sentenced to jail in complete secrecy.
"I’m just flabbergasted with the numbers," says Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the reporters committee, which is based in Arlington, Va.
On the civil side, only 65 cases out of around 12,700 were found to have been removed from the docket. Many of those cases are presumed to be citizen whistle-blower suits, which are filed under seal for 60 days while the government investigates whether it should intervene as a plaintiff. Such filings are kept secret to make sure the defendant company is not alerted.
Dalglish and others suspect the undocketed criminal cases mainly involve drugs and gangs, with the government seeking to protect cooperating witnesses and negotiate plea deals.
Demonstrating once again that the War on Terror is less of a threat to civil liberties and justice than the War on Drugs. Or at least, if Bush were doing the same thing in the War on Terror, it would be a huge national scandal, while it gets very little attention since it's just part of the Drug War.
I don't think the show glamorizes or even sanitizes polygamy, except that of course actual polygamists never look as fit and attractive as the Big Love family. When you see the real-life versions on talk shows, they all seem dumpy, pasty-faced and on the dole.
BILL FRIST: "Yesterday, I filed the Online Freedom of Speech Act as an amendment to the lobbying reform bill."
From the earliest days of our republic, freedom of speech and freedom of the press – be they anonymous pamphlets, celebrated essays, or local newspapers – were understood to be fundamental to the practice and defense of liberty.
Without the ability to convey ideas, debate, dispute, and persuade, we may never have fought for and achieved our independence.
Ordinary citizens – farmers, ministers, local shop owners – published and circulated their views, often anonymously, to challenge the conventional order, and call their fellow citizens to action.
Indeed, as Boston University journalism professor Chris Daly points out, “What we think of as reporting – the pursuit, on a full time basis of verifiable facts and verbatim quotations – was not a significant part of journalism in the time of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine… In historical terms, today’s bloggers are much closer in spirit to the Revolutionary-era pamphleteers.”
And, today, it’s bloggers whom we now have to protect.
There are some who, out of fear or shortsightedness, wish to restrict the ability of our modern day-Thomas Paines to express political views on the World Wide Web.
They seek to monitor and regulate political speech under the guise of “campaign finance reform.” They argue that unfettered political expression on the Internet is dangerous, especially during the highly charged, election season.
Needless to say, I stand firmly against these efforts to hamstring the Internet and squarely with the champions of free speech – whether that expression takes place in the actual, or virtual, town square.
Free speech is the core of our First Amendment. And the Internet represents the most participatory form of mass speech in human history.
Read the whole thing. I'm gratified to see such support for free speech.
posted at 01:11 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MORE BAD PRESS FOR C.A.I.R., which gets better press than it deserves usually. This, for example, is kind of embarrassing: "Perhaps the most obvious problem with CAIR is the fact that at least five of its employees and board members have been arrested, convicted, deported, or otherwise linked to terrorism-related charges and activities."
A right-wing group similarly linked to, say, white-supremacist criminals, would never hear the end of it. And it would never, ever, be mentioned in the media without that fact being brought up.
Since the disease is so common, many fail to bring it up with their partners. Those who refrain from intercourse can still get HPV from other sexual activities. And even those who remain fully abstinent until marriage could contract it from their spouses. In short, HPV is a significant public health threat. It therefore isn't enough to back the vaccine's "availability"; one has to support the strongest possible steps to inoculate the entire population.
Ramesh Ponnuru says he "makes a strong case." I agree. It's appalling that some people would oppose this simply because they're afraid that it might encourage people to have more sex.
The U.S. Army has discovered a remote control gun turret that works, and cannot get enough of them. The army wants over 9,000 CROWS (common remotely operated weapon stations), but is only getting 15 a month. There should be about a thousand CROWS in service by the end of the year. . . .
But there's another reason, not often talked about, for the success of CROWS. The guys operating these systems grew up playing video games. They developed skills in operating systems (video games) very similar to the CROWS controls. This was important, because viewing the world around the vehicle via a vidcam is not as enlightening (although a lot safer) than having your head and chest exposed to the elements, and any firepower the enemy sends your way. But experienced video gamers are skilled at whipping that screen view around, and picking up any signs of danger.
XENI JARDIN has more on U.S. firms' complicity in Internet censorship. "One of our most laudable national goals is the export of free speech and free information, yet American companies are selling censorship."
posted at 08:56 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ACCORDING TO A NEW HARRIS POLL, the military is the most trusted institution in American life, followed up by small business. Bringing up the rear:
law firms at 10 percent, Congress at 10 percent, organized labor at 12 percent, major companies at 13 percent and the press at 14 percent.
Anchoring the middle was organized religion at 30 percent, the White House at 25 percent, public schools at 22, the courts and justice system at 21, and television news at 19.
Make of it what you will.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails that the poll question actually asks how much "confidence" people have in the institutions, and suggests that's not quite the same as trust. In context, I think it is pretty much the same, but Tom's quibbles are always worth noting.
How quickly America is, apparently, going to hell. Not more than a month or so ago we were a “plantation.” Now, it seems, we’re on the verge of becoming a “police state.”
I could use this bandwidth now to muse over the Dubai Doo Doo. Or over the prolongation of the Patriot Act. Or a million other worthy subjects. But, instead, I want to focus –yes—on Hillary.
After what she said the other day – that some GOP immigration proposals would create a “police state” – I simply have no choice. Too outrageous. Can’t let it pass. Someone, somewhere has to take five minutes to underscore the gross and rather macabre hypocrisy that’s involved here.
So let me start with the lede: While our current immigration mess has bi-partisan roots, it was precisely the Clinton administration that is most responsible for our contemporary border nightmares.
The surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus is composed mostly of water ice and there may be a cold ocean beneath that holds some form of life, according to studies of images taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft last year.
``Any life that existed could not be luxuriant and would have to deal with low temperatures, feeble metabolic energy and perhaps a severe chemical environment,'' said Jeffrey Kargel of the hydrology and water resources department at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "Nevertheless we cannot discount the possibility that Enceladus might be life's distant outpost."
Images show a plume of gases and water spouting from the moon's southern pole, similar to the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park in the western U.S., said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team and an atmospheric scientist at the California Institute of Technology. . . .
Other moons, such as Jupiter's Europa, have oceans covered by ice more than a kilometer thick. On Enceladus, pockets of liquid water may be as close as 10 meters below the surface, Ingersoll said.
The underground reservoirs may hold some extreme form of life, Kargel said.
posted at 10:33 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE ONLINE FREEDOM ACT, H.R. 1606, WAS PASSED OUT of the House Administration Committee today and is headed to the House floor. That's a good thing. Free speech is for all of us.
posted at 09:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
IN WHICH I DEFEND THE NEW YORK TIMES AND OTHER MEDIA: Quite a few commentators (e.g., Michelle Malkin and Mark Steyn) are criticizing the New York Times and other media outlets for playing down the Islamic angle to the U.N.C. terrorist attack of Mohammed Taheri-azar.
There's no question that this angle is being downplayed. But it's arguable that the papers are doing this to reduce the likelihood of copycats. This doesn't appear to have been any sort of organized attack, just a lone-wolf effort by a guy who's not too sharp. It's still terrorism, of course, of a sort -- after all, Eric Rudolph was a lone-wolf guy who wasn't too sharp, though he seems to have been considerably sharper than Taheri-azar -- but in some ways it's more like the school shootings of the 1990s than real Al Qaeda type terrorism. Hyping those shootings led to copycats, and made the killers look like martyrs to disturbed potential imitators. There's a pretty good argument that the same applies here, and that it's more responsible to address this in fairly muted tones.
posted at 08:49 PM by Glenn Reynolds
GREGORY SCOBLETE: "To be honest, I'd trust Dubai with my ports before I trust Congress with my wallet."
posted at 08:47 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MARK STEYN WAS ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW (guest-hosted by Jed Babbin) and talked about the Dubai ports deal, the Tarheel Terrorism issue, and more. Transcript and audio are here.
As always, it's a must-read (or must-listen), especially if you work at the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department.
I'M HOME AND PRETTY TIRED, but just got an email from CNN saying that the Dubai Ports deal is off. Here's an excerpt from the transcript they included:
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: ... that what I had to say might bear on your remarks. Mr. President, I have had the opportunity to work very closely with the White House and the administration, with our distinguished leader, Bill Frist, and others in the Senate, several of the senators, on this question. And I've had the opportunity to meet and work with representatives of the DP World company, who came to the United States for the purposes of really acknowledging to the world the importance of this contract and their perspective.
I shall not recount the events that have occurred here in the last few days, but i've just been contacted by Edward Bilkey, chief operating officer of DP World, and in an effort to get this message to all interested parties as quickly as possible, I indicated a willingness to read a press release that is now being issued by DP World and Edward Bilkey.
It reads as follows, "Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, and to preserve that relationship, DP World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity. This decision is based on an understanding that DP World will have time to effect the transfer in an orderly fashion, and that DP World will not suffer economic loss. We look forward to working with the Department of Treasury to implement this decision." End statement.
His highness Shaikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, prime minister of UAE, has advised the company that in the interest of the UAE, the nation, and the United States, that this action is the appropriate course to take in the future.
Stay tuned. If Halliburton gets the deal, will people think the whole thing was a sucker-punch?
posted at 03:06 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A JOINT LETTER FROM KOS AND KREMPASKY in support of online freedom of speech. More on this later, but I'm about to board a plane.
I'll be giving a speech at the National Press Club tomorrow (Thursday) about the ad series and make the following predictions:
A. We will be generally ignored
B. Some member of the Legacy Media will say, "JD Johannes is a partisan by doing ads for Bush."
C. They will fail to realize that in the ads I appear in, there is no partisan angle. I either say unflattering things about the media or just talk about what I saw in Iraq. Part of the deal was I would do the ads, but would not do a partisan ad.
D. The legacy media is so screwed up they equate an attack on them with an attack on the Democrats/liberals.
E. At some point they will try to discredit me, Rich Gibson, Lawrence Indyk, and the few people behind Americas Majority. We all know how unreliable bloggers are....
At any rate, it should be kinda fun.
Let's see if these predictions pan out. Perhaps J.D. will be pleasantly surprised.
DAVE KOPEL: "If I were in Congress, I would have voted against the Patriot Act and its re-authorization. Although the Act does provide important anti-terrorist tools, I believe it is extremely overbroad, in part because so many of the special anti-terrorism powers are not limited anti-terrorism, but can be used to enforce any federal law." I agree with that. As I predicted way back when, it's more about bureaucratic wishlists than antiterrorism.
posted at 09:07 PM by Glenn Reynolds
REVIEWS OF REVIEWS OF REVIEWS? Michael Malone emails:
I'm enjoying the hell out of watching you cover the reviews of your own book (including mine). I'm curious: is this a first? Has any author ever before reviewed his reviewers in real time? Care to share with us your feelings about this as you go along? As the author or co-author of a dozen books (and 60K words into my new one) I've experienced every possible human emotion reading reviews of my books - from sheer shouting elation to hiding under a blanket with a bottle. How do [you] stay so restrained?
I don't know. I don't think I've really been reviewing the reviewers -- my response to Malone's review was more a self-criticism -- but that's interesting. I rather doubt that anyone wants to hear the whole experience in first-person anyway. Now I'm not terribly happy with the trolls posting Amazon reviews that call the book "right wing trash" and the like, as they've pretty clearly not read the book -- or even the positive blurbs from those notorious righties Joe Trippi and Arianna Huffington -- but that sort of thing is par for the course nowadays, alas.
UPDATE: Hey, there's more from Arianna here ("You know Reynolds has hit on something when John Podhoretz and I agree that 'Army of Davids' is a must-read.") though the commenter on her blog who thinks I have aspirations to be a political candidate is sadly misinformed. That's kind of like the occasional emailers I get who think I'm angling for a federal judgeship. Anyone who reads InstaPundit regularly should know that I'm neither interested in -- nor in the slightest degree viable as -- either one. Which is just as well for me, and, no doubt, for the country. And I'd probably have to give up the blog, which makes it a nonstarter anyway.
Now there's a slogan: "Keep Glenn blogging. Right for Glenn -- Right for America!"
I’m glad I didn’t skip the parts about blogging and citizen media, though, in large part because Reynolds discusses a lot of blogs in the political sphere that I just don’t have much familiarity with. And as much as we tech bloggers like to toot our horns about breaking hot gadget news, there’s no question that the work of people like J.D. Johannes—who is telling the story of a single platoon of Marines on a shoestring budget using cheap, modern tech—is immeasurably more important than any given iPod rumor. . . .
Anyway, this is a weak endorsement—I haven’t even finished the damn thing—but as someone who makes his living operating blogs that sit literally on the intersection of corporate and citizens’ media, An Army of Davids has already given me a lot to think about.
If I can tell Joel Johnson anything new, I'm pretty happy.
HARRY SHEARER: "The Democrats borrowed their new slogan from John Kerry, and they're spending the early part of this election year arguing about its syntax. Case closed."
Not that the Republians are doing very well, either. Ana Marie Cox said that Washington is like the Special Olympics of sex. It's starting to look like the Special Olympics of politics, too.
posted at 06:17 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BAD MOVE: The House Appropriations Committee just voted to block the Dubai ports deal by a whopping 62-2 margin. I've come to believe that the deal isn't a threat, though I grant that reasonable people disagree with me. But I can't help but think that this vote isn't driven by reasonable concerns as much as political panic.
That also makes me wonder -- as discussed in this podcast interview with Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker -- whether (1) This isn't really backlash stemming from the Cartoon Wars "tipping point" effect; and (2) Whether that wasn't the intent all along, to divide us from Arab/Muslim allies.
Perhaps it won't matter, and the UAE will just suck it up, attribute it to politics, and move on. Perhaps they'll still cut a reasonable deal. But just possibly, we're being had. The White House, whose handling of this whole matter has been deeply bumbling and inept, deserves its (sizable) share of the blame, but I wish that everyone else would take a deep breath and think harder. At least, if it's really port security they're worried about, there's a lot more reason for concern than the Dubai deal.
I don't know, but I'm very unhappy with how this is going, and this lopsided vote has made me unhappier.
posted at 05:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds
REVIEWS OF CRASHING THE GATE by Kos and Jerome Armstrong: Josh Trevino didn't like it that much ("But there's one thing they cannot take pride in: a single electoral victory. Crashing the Gate is exculpatory as much as prescriptive."), but it gets a positive review at Slashdot. ("For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised.")
According to a new report (PDF) by the [Congressional Research Service], 95% of all pork projects are not legally binding. The report concluded that only 543 out of 12,852 earmarks were actually written into the text of the last year’s appropriations bills. As for the remainder, the report states, "Earmarks that appear in committee reports and the statements of managers do not legally bind agencies…"
This means that if Bush is serious about cutting pork, he doesn't have to wait for a line-item veto.
UPDATE: Duane Oyen emails:
Back when I was a lowly contracts guy for DoD, the only thing that got more attention than "the General is on the floor!" was "I'm responding to a Congressional Inquiry!" The lowliest Constituent Service clerk in a congressional office only needed to send a note over to any agency and (s)he was Queen/King for A Day. It was like "The Jet Song" from West Side Story- "When you're a staffer, you're the swingingest thing, little boy, you're a man, little man, you're a KING!" Any reference in any comnmittee, conference, or floor report was treated as gospel law, unless a top agency exec was following the issue and decided that the battle was worth fighting.
This almost never happened- why? Because what goes around...... and there was/is always a way to nail someone next time if your pet language was ignored. So, compulsory or not, if there was language there advising a directed grant/procurement, you needed to write a non-compete determination & findings (D&F) to justify the exception to competition open competition, and you attached a copy of the language to the D&F when you sent it up to the Head of Contracting Activity for signature.
Never ever got questioned on one of those. The entire GC/JAG was there helping write the sole source justification.
So, the real answer still is enhanced recission authority, kill the original impoundment act, get rid of current services baseline, and so on. In fact, it is hard to imagine any reform that would be more
important than dumping the CSB.
I agree that agencies will almost never ignore those directions on their own initiative. But if the President pushes it, as part of an announced anti-Pork program, then I think things are different. Plus, even the threat of that sort of thing would likely encourage Congressional action.
posted at 03:28 PM by Glenn Reynolds
NEW JERSEY'S DUMB INTERNET ANTI-ANONYMITY BILL will reportedly be withdrawn. Credit is given to "a Reynoldsian Army of Davids." Since it's book launch week, I'm happy to see people using the phrase, but I think it has more to do with this threat: "Assemblyman Biondi: My name is Jeff Jarvis. I live in your state. In fact, I live in your own district. What a coincidence, eh?"
Nice little political career you've got there, Assemblyman. Shame if anything were to happen to it . . . .
A smarter legislator would have noticed the sling-wielders close to home sooner, anyway. Especially the ones with hot tempers and big stones!
SINCE BIG MEDIA FOLKS have been writing about the responsibilities of bloggers lately, here are some thoughts on the responsibilities of mass media. " I really don't want to allocate blame, I want the media to change their actions."
Last month, as I averaged the second-quarter grades for my senior English classes at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., the same familiar pattern leapt out at me.
Kids who had emigrated from foreign countries — such as Shewit Giovanni from Ethiopia, Farah Ali from Guyana and Edgar Awumey from Ghana — often aced every test, while many of their U.S.-born classmates from upper-class homes with highly educated parents had a string of C's and D's.
As one would expect, the middle-class American kids usually had higher SAT verbal scores than did their immigrant classmates, many of whom had only been speaking English for a few years.
What many of the American kids I taught did not have was the motivation, self-discipline or work ethic of the foreign-born kids.
Politicians and education bureaucrats can talk all they want about reform, but until the work ethic of U.S. students changes, until they are willing to put in the time and effort to master their subjects, little will change.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: A reader of Indian parentage emails:
Your post about student work ethics reminded me of the following incident. As a kid in gradeschool (in the 70s), I was given a test to determine my 'natural' math abilities, and based on this test, placed in the 'C' group. There was an 'A', 'B' and 'C' group, as I recall, and the idea was to give you work according to your ability. My father, a math professor who raised and educated in India, didn't care for this. So, he went and spoke with the teacher, then sat with me and tutored me, and had me retake the test. I got into the 'A' group. What I remember most about this experience was that it gave me confidence in myself: not that I expected to get an A all the time, but that I had to work, work, work if I wanted something. It also taught me that I was really lucky to have a father like mine :). I know I have just re-enforced every stereotype about the overanxious Asian parent, but wait! My parents cared that I was having fun, too, and I did have fun growing up in that little Iowa town. Sounds pollyannish, but I did, I had a ball. It's just that in addition to fun, they wanted me to put real effort into a task. They thought there was value in struggle. Oh, I also learned that girls can do math, because my Indian father never got the whole memo about girls not being able to doing math. Did. Not. Compute.
(Okay, maybe I wasn't so positive as a kid about the whole studying instead of playing for an extra hour a day, but it did stay with me. The idea that without real effort, any natural ability I may have toward a subject didn't mean much. I have had varying successes in life, good grades and bad and an academic record with rough spots. Some people from my past might be surprised at what I am today, but hey, it's a marathon, not a sprint!)
Americans tend to make a cult of brilliance. That's nice, but you still have to work.
posted at 09:22 AM by Glenn Reynolds
BOOK-AUTOGRAPHING: Reader Barbara Merges writes:
Glenn, your new book just arrived from Amazon and I remember having read on your blog that you would autograph it. What do I have to do? BTW, delighted with your mention of Rob Merges since I'm his mom.
Everybody's mom is getting into this book stuff . . .
If you'd like an autograph, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to me at:
8905 Kingston Pike Suite 12-230
Knoxville, TN 37923
I'll return an autographed bookplate. If you'd like it inscribed a particular way, enclose a note and I'll aim to accommodate you.
If, as some readers have emailed, you really want me to autograph the book itself, send it with a stamped self-addressed envelope -- be sure to put on sufficient postage -- and I'll do that, too.
Thanks! I'm really grateful for all the support people have offered for the book, and I hope everyone likes it. And for those of you (er, and me) who are tired of the Insta-book-a-thon, the good news is that it'll be over soon.
UPDATE: Trudy Schuett says I should keep pimping. It's for the children, or something. She sounds like my publishers . . . .
posted at 09:05 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN BANGLADESH, 2,000 Muslim men protest against acid attacks on women. Sad that that's news, but nice that it's happening.
As Detroit's automakers struggle to keep market share and make money, a new breed of watchdogs is emerging on the Internet. They post regular columns on Web sites and send out e-mail newsletters providing blunt, and often colorful, analysis of the auto industry. . . . Whether the companies like them or not, the Internet sites are increasingly pushing information to the public, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. They quickly circulate news and ideas about the auto companies.
This is happening pretty much everywhere.
posted at 08:52 AM by Glenn Reynolds
A "LONGEVITY DIVIDEND?" There's an interesting article in The Scientist about how treating the causes of aging rather than the symptoms could save a lot of money:
The experience of aging is about to change. Humans are approaching old age in unprecedented numbers, and this generation and all that follow have the potential to live longer, healthier lives than any in history. These changing demographics also carry the prospect of overwhelming increases in age-related disease, frailty, disability, and all the associated costs and social burdens. The choices we make now will have a profound influence on the health and the wealth of current and future generations. . . .
In addition to the obvious health benefits, enormous economic benefits would accrue from the extension of healthy life. By extending the time in the lifespan when higher levels of physical and mental capacity are expressed, people would remain in the labor force longer, personal income and savings would increase, age-entitlement programs would face less pressure from shifting demographics, and there is reason to believe that national economies would flourish. The science of aging has the potential to produce what we refer to as a "Longevity Dividend" in the form of social, economic, and health bonuses both for individuals and entire populations-a dividend that would begin with generations currently alive and continue for all that follow.
Given the current state of the art, they think that accelerating research now could pay off dramatically in the future. (Via Reason, who observes a shift in the debate with this piece: "This is not support for the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence or similar full-on engineering, damage-control approaches, but it is a large departure from the position of public silence on healthy life extension. The sea change in public opinion and awareness brought on by advocacy is creeping up on us, and factions within the scientific community are adjusting the cut of their sails in expectation of funding.")
Interestingly, I was reading Arnold Kling's forthcoming book on health care policy which Brink Lindsey gave me, and I noticed that he offers some support for this kind of approach, too. The disease-by-disease approach, as Arnold notes, costs a lot of money to treat frailer and frailer people with poor quality of life, as you fix the things that might kill them only to leave them feeble and vulnerable to the next thing that needs to be fixed. Better to approach root causes. I think that's right.
I'LL BE ON ALAN COLMES' RADIO SHOW in a few minutes. Follow the link to listen live if you're interested, though it's only fair to warn you that it'll be more talk about, yes, the book. At this point, InstaPundit readers aren't really the audience for this stuff any more. Even Lou Minatti has gotten the picture. And I do mean the picture. . . .
Simultaneous bombs exploded in a crowded temple in one of the country’s holiest cities. One of the entire religion’s holiest cities, no less. In a country where rival ethnic and religious groups have frequently clashed for years, the bombing raises the prospect of reprisal sectarian violence. It is holding together for the most part, but nobody knows what could happen next.
Hey, wait a second, this isn’t Iraq? And it isn’t the al-Askariya shrine in Samarra? I’ll give you one guess, but only if you don’t look at the post’s category tags. That’s right. India.
He makes a good point. Me, I question the Islamists' strategy of making everybody else in the world hate them simultaneously, especially when they don't have much power beyond what they're already exercising.
posted at 06:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HEY, MAYBE THE DUBAI PEOPLE WOULD DO BETTER -- it's looking as if it would be hard to be worse:
House Republicans vowed to defy President Bush's effort to have a Dubai company take over six major U.S. ports. But ABC News has learned about a port threat from within — a major security breach at the ports of New York and New Jersey.
The two ports handle millions of tons of cargo a year, with scores of cruise ships passing through annually. Truckers who transport much of the cargo are issued ID cards, which give them access to the ports' most sensitive areas.
ABC News has learned that the cards, given to thousands of truckers by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were issued with virtually no background checks. The Department of Homeland Security recently investigated the New York and New Jersey ports, and found stunning gaps in security.
The new DHS report, obtained by ABC News, shows that of the 9,000 truckers checked, nearly half had evidence of criminal records. More than 500 held bogus driver's licenses, leaving officials unsure of their real identities.
You know, I've become convinced that the Dubai ports deal isn't a bad thing, but I absolutely can't defend the Administration on this, assuming these reports are true. And sadly, they're not at all unbelievable. I've been noting for years that homeland security is a bureaucratic nightmare, and, well, it is.
UPDATE: Reader Eric Hall notes that the underlying problem is with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is not a federal agency, and that the federal DHS found the problem. That's a fair point, but it's also true that the federal Homeland Security apparatus was sold as an answer to stuff like this. It's nice that they've found the problem, but it's been nearly four years since the DHS was created, and this sort of thing doesn't seem to be any more secure. Check out this Wall Street Journal story (free link) for more on port security problems in general.
Vatican Radio employees gave Pope Benedict XVI a new iPod nano loaded with special Vatican Radio programming and classical music to honor his first visit to broadcasting headquarters.
Vatican Radio offers podcasts in eight languages, so the pope can now plug in and import the broadcasting service’s audio files.
I presume he got the white model.
posted at 06:30 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BY NOW, ONLY MY MOM is interested in this stuff, but what the hell. And yes, Trippi and I were on the same page throughout.
posted at 06:18 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE CRAPPIEST INVENTION EVER: A bad review for auto-flush toilets. "The auto-flush toilet violates two basic rules of technology adoption: Never replace a technology with an inferior technology; and never confiscate power from your users."
UPDATE: Reader Cathy McCaughan emails: "The reviewer fails to note that parents of preschoolers everywhere loathe auto flush toilets because children find them frightening."
So in addition to their other faults, they're scaring our children!
Duncan Black weighs in: "Unless I'm missing something this New York Times article is just another stab at holding bloggers to ethical standards and practices which don't apply anywhere else in the universe."
Remember that reporters do not tell you every story idea that came from a flack — and so stories do start with PR pitches that I’ve often said if I ran a paper, I’d have flack-free days: Every story in today’s paper came from actual reporting! (It’d probably be a thin Saturday.)
Reporters may be smart enough to rewrite the verbiage in press releases (unlike the hapless blogger in the Times story caught quoting Walmart’s flackery without attribution — a practice Edelman, smartly, warned them against). But they don’t tell you all the and facts and viewpoints they use from flacks.
Reporters do not tell you about the meetings, lunches, drinks, and help given them by flacks.
There is no scandal in the Times story. And in fairness, the Times doesn’t directly present it as a scandal. It points out how Edelman is transparent about its activities and even advises bloggers to be open. No, The Times is merely reporting how PR works. Only the object of this PR is the public, not the press. And some of these people, these bloggers, aren’t as slick as reporters in knowing how to deal with this.
So my first reponse is to help bloggers with advice.
If you write a post inspired by what you get from a company or its PR agent, say so. If you use facts or quotes from a company, politician, PR agent, or press release, say so (better yet, link to it). If you get anything from a PR agent — things, business meetings, social events — say so. Your public has a right to know where your information comes from so they can judge it accordingly.
And then you know what? You will be way ahead of the press.
It's good advice. Read the whole thing. And here are more thoughts worth reading:
This is by the way an important milestone for the blogosphere as it begins to take over the role of the MSM in informing people. We bloggers usually meet a higher standard of journalistic ethics than the MSM becuase we do, as a general rule, provide the links to the source material. This is our comeptitive advantage and combined with the fact that we tend to make no attempt to be impartial is a huge strength. Any reader should be able see what our sources and our biases are and if we are to be credible sources of news and informed comment we have to continue with that level of disclosure. However, having said that, this NY Times piece is in many ways another classic attempt at spreading FUD about the blogosphere. The intent is surely to tar all bloggers with the same brush, something that simply doesn't work and something that would be like bloggers tarring all MSM outlets as equally incompetent. The fact is that just as bloggers who make the latter smear find it tough to prove so the reverse MSM smear of the blogosphere is equally poor.
Read the whole thing here, too. And here's a different sort of "reprinting."
ON THE ACELA to NYC, and for the moment at least the wireless is working. I'm pretty sure that the economics don't work, but you can't fault Amtrak on the service. As I've noticed before, the folks who work on these trains take pride in what they do, and they do a good job. The Acela comparison makes flying seem even more like taking the bus than it already does. Plus there's the absence of the intrusive yet ineffective airport security experience.
It's only March, but I can guarantee you there won't be a more exciting or inspiring book published this year than "An Army of Davids." . . .
Reynolds embraces the brave new world, and why shouldn't he? As an early user of high tech, he has seen how it has benefited mankind - and how its implementation has helped end "the era of Big Entities. From the Napoleonic Wars to the Soviet Gulags, the empowerment of huge organizations and bureaucracies wasn't exactly a blessing to the human spirit."
"An Army of Davids" is infectiously optimistic. There are reasons to argue with its optimism, to mistrust Reynolds' always-look-on-the-bright-side-of life tone. But it's amazingly pleasant to read a provocative and thought-provoking book that doesn't say the present stinks and the future will be worse.
I'm not sure I'm quite that optimistic, but to the extent that I am, let's just hope I turn out to be right. . . .
Some related stuff here. Does this mean my mass is approaching infinity?
posted at 05:38 AM by Glenn Reynolds
March 06, 2006
GIZMODO: "So of course the US wants it, China wants it and so does Japan. If and when it does become reality, the country that gets a Space Elevator first will likely have a stranglehold on space commerce for a long time."
SUPREME COURT UNANIMOUSLY UPHOLDS the Solomon Amendment: "A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that universities that get federal funds must allow military recruiters on campus, even if their law schools oppose the Pentagon's policy prohibiting openly gays and lesbians from serving."
HERE AT THE KNOXVILLE AIRPORT, the Comfy Chair Revolution is well underway.
posted at 07:25 AM by Glenn Reynolds
OFF TO D.C. to do some book-related events. [You've got a book coming out? Who knew? -- Ed. I've played it close to the vest.] Blogging will be light. If you've been away this weekend, be sure to check out our podcast, in which we actually managed to get a senior Homeland Security official to comment on Frank J.'s port-security proposals. And if you're interested in the book [What's it about? -- Ed. Listen to this interview.] check out this review and this one.
SHANNON LOVE stirs the pot: "Childless adults are rapidly becoming economic free riders on the backs of parents. . . . Like all free-rider situations, this one will eventually cause a collapse that hurts everyone."
THINKING ABOUT IRAN: I wish we didn't have to. I suspect the Iranians will, too, before it's over.
posted at 10:44 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ABORTION BILLS ARE BUSTING OUT ALL OVER: With legislation in South Dakota, and, according to this report, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina and Kentucky, the issue is heating up. I can't decide if that's good or bad.
Bad: I'm against these bills. I don't think abortion ought to be illegal. I think that outlawing abortion (not "late term" or "partial-birth" abortion, which is a relatively minor issue except for its symbolism, and which could be regulated under Roe anyway, but abortion in general) is a bad idea. While it's possible that such laws would reduce the number of abortions, I suspect that there would be substantial black markets, noncompliance, civil disobedience, and other side effects -- something not as far-reaching, perhaps, but in many ways like the destructive consequences of banning guns. One advantage -- you can go to another state to have an abortion, but you can't legally go to another state to buy a gun. That may cut down on the black-market angle, unless a lot of states enact bans, which I doubt. As the South Dakota story above notes, that's nearly the situation in some states already, on a de facto basis.
Good: On the other hand, I think the abortion issue is "stuck," and would probably have reached a better, or at least less painful, resolution via legislative processes if Roe v. Wade hadn't shunted the issue aside. That resolution would probably look more like what we see in Europe -- abortion available, but less freely than in the U.S. -- and the political pathology associated with abortion polarization would have been avoided. I also suspect that the absolutist slogans on both sides today come from the "stuckness" created by Roe. That sort of thing is easy when the sloganeers know there's no real chance of their slogans being enacted into law in a fashion that would require them to take responsibility. The democratic process might well discharge the tensions built up over the past three-plus decades.
Horserace point: I'm pretty sure that this development will actually be bad for the Republicans. When the topic is defense, the Democrats lose. When it's sex, the Republicans lose. And the abortion debate will, I think, turn into a sex debate before it's over. (I suspect that Missouri Governor Matt Blunt agrees -- but pro-choicers may not benefit from a major public debate either).
Advice for the GOP: Try to convince the media that you want to see American abortion law look "more European."
Advice for the Democrats: Don't act like you're ashamed of abortion. Don't talk about a "woman's right to choose" without saying what she's choosing. You can't win on a policy you're ashamed of.
Of course, maybe I'm just "pro-death" like Scott Adams, which would probably make taking my advice a terrible mistake. I mean, more than usual. . . .
UPDATE: Stephen Waters writes: "The real issue isn't abortion, but how do you take care of unwanted children." This is actually one place where I'll give the pro-lifers credit. Back when I did pro-choice stuff in college, I challenged them to support, rather than condemn, unwed mothers, and I think they're actually much better about that. Indeed, I know of several teen moms (one who used to live right across the street from me) who were treated quite supportively by very conservative religious folks who saw that as part of their pro-life duty.
Of course, one reason they honor the choice to have a child rather than an abortion may be because it is a choice.
BAD PRESS FOR RALPH REED: "Ralph Reed has said he didn't know it until last year, but emails suggest he was informed that eLot — a firm then in the online lottery business — was behind his effort to fend off a ban against internet gambling in 2000. . . . Reed, a lifelong opponent of gambling, said last year that he did not know in 2000 he was actually working on behalf of eLottery."
This time we interview cardiologist Dr. Wes Fisher, and Laurie Anderson of WebMD, about heart attacks, heart attack prevention, and the latest information on cardiac health. Also, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker talks about the Dubai Ports deal, and comments on some port security suggestions from Frank J.
The heart stuff is near and dear to our, er, hearts, since Helen had a heart attack six years ago and now sports an implantable pacemaker/defibrillator. We learn how men and women differ in this area, what the latest research suggests about diet, exercise, and supplements like CoEnzyme Q10, Folic Acid, etc. Our guests also answer some questions from Helen's blog readers about heart health and coping with the aftermath of heart attacks. It turns out that women as young as 18 years old can be at risk for heart attacks, and that traditional medical tests often miss those. (Dr. Fisher also sells medical t-shirts, like the one worn by Helen in the picture at right, at Medtees.com).
Stewart Baker is the Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. He talks about the Dubai Ports deal, and the security issues involved. He also responds to some comments from Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay on previous podcasts, and comments on blogger Frank J. Fleming's suggestions on ways to improve port security. Hey, if you want to think outside the box, there's no better place to start than Frank J. -- he lives outside the box.
In a recent press briefing General George Casey (the commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq) countered virtually every inflated claim made by the media regarding Iraq's recent "civil war" in the wake of the Shrine bombing in Samarra. But there are significant disconnects between what Gen Casey said and how his words are reported. . . .
The media is free to dispute the General's claims - that's expected of them. But in this case they aren't, they are simply using his words selectively in a manner that supports their own previously published fictions. There's no law that says U.S. media outlets are required to report accurately or completely on comments made by military or government officials. Likewise there are no requirements for media outlets to acknowledge that they are printing unverified claims made by "other parties" in the war as confirmed "news" - as was the case in the aftermath of the Shrine bombing (See here and here). But consumers of those reports should be aware of their flaws.
The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don't, a lot of people will blame the media.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lest we recapitulate a discussion that's happened already, read this post, in which I expanded on the above at considerably more length. Also this post,this post, and this rather disturbing post.
MORE STILL: Don Surber (an actual member of the press!) writes:
Anyone remember the white phosphorus equals chemical warfare crap? How about Giuliana Sgrena's claim that the U.S. deliberately opened fire on her after she was released by her "kidnappers"? Time after time, the press has gone ahead with major reports that have not been properly vetted. The latest is this complete withdrawal in 2007 story. Reuters didn't even bother asking anyone at teh Pentagon or MOD about it.
That is not journalism. That is propaganda. That is deliberately misinforming people. Two sides to the story, people, two sides. Pentagon came out later and said it is untrue. As usual. Just like the pullout by June 2004 (for the U.S. election) story.
Yes, I've gotten some email of the "you only want happy news" variety, which proves that those people didn't read the posts I indicated above. I just want the press to avoid false information that damages the war effort. Is that asking too much?
Apparently. Others write that if we lose the war it won't be the press's fault, but the fault of Chimpy McHitlerburton. Well, maybe. But even so, that won't change the fact that a press that looks in many ways as if it's rooting for defeat won't make an appealing scapegoat for a lot of people. Given the press's concern for how it's perceived in various communities, you'd think it would care enough to avoid being perceived as unpatriotic by the patriotic-American community. Yet the exquisite sensitivity that we see in other settings is not so apparent here.
posted at 11:59 AM by Glenn Reynolds
VIRGINIA POSTREL is donating a kidney, but notes that -- unless people like Leon Kass get their way -- this will be an obsolete procedure in the not too distant future.
UPDATE: Various readers email about embryonic stem cells vs. adult stem cells, etc. Kass, however, seems negative on the notion of extending life in general, as noted here.
I'M NOT SURPRISED AT THIS DEVELOPMENT: "The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources."
Members of the press are, for the most part, appalled. But having made a big deal of leaks and their alleged harm to National Security in the Plame case, they're in a poor position to complain. Bill Keller's outrage is particularly out of place, and his suggestion that the Bush Administration is "declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad" is just a political sound-bite, and not a particularly good one. There's not even a right of journalists to protect leakers under the U.S. Constitution, despite journalists' representations, and doing so has hardly been a slogan on the war on terror. The tendency of the press to conflate its own desire for guild-like special privileges with the protections of the First Amendment is one of the reasons for its decline in trust and popularity.
Reynolds' highly informative book - a must-read if you want to have some idea of the direction things are taking - is about a lot more than the effect of blogging on Big Media. Its theme is "the triumph of personal technology over mass technology," which is a trend Reynolds believes is only "going to strengthen over the coming decades.". . .
Reynolds covers a lot of territory in this little book, from being able to have a state-of-the-art recording studio in your home for about $1,000 to "electronic privateering" in the war on terror, to video games' potential as teaching devices (likely to discombobulate teachers the way blogs have journalists). Reynolds knows how to pack a lot of information into a relatively small space and provides clear and concise explanations of such things as "horizontal knowledge" - "communication among individuals who may not know each other, but who are loosely coordinated by their involvement in something, or someone, of mutual interest."
As a professed "transhumanist," Reynolds waxes enthusiastic on nanotechnology, planetary colonization, and "Scientifically Engineered Negligible Senescence." But, like Ray Kurzweil - author of The Singularity Is Near, last year's big futurist book - Reynolds is well aware of the dangers that technological change can pose and favors taking reasonable steps to prevent such things as a terrorist-generated plague from happening.