Friday, March 31, 2006

Opinion and reporting

Julie Neidlinger has some thoughts on the Molly Ivins column discussed below.
Lyn Nofziger

There have been many warm appreciations written about Lyn Nofziger. But they give short shrift to two essential qualities of the man. He had grit and he was a visionary.

It is easy to forget just how daunting the road was in 1975. The Reaganauts proposed to unseat an incumbent president in the primaries. Nofziger and others really believed that Reagan could take a minority party crippled by Watergate and realign the political balance of power.

Because that realignment happened, we act as though the Reagan Revolution was inevitable. It certainly did not look that way in 1976. The GOP establishment was solidly behind Ford. Reagan stumbled in the early primaries and fell far behind in the delegate count.

All the pragmatic political types wanted Reagan to get out of the race and ride off into the sunset.

Lyn Nofziger did not lose faith. Reagan came back to make a race of it in 1976 and, after Ford's defeat, was the front runner in 1980. The Reagan Revolution was ready for launch.

None of that could have happened if it wasn't for Reaganauts like Nofziger who persevered in the tough times of 1976.

Grit and vision.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Worse than i thought

I had thought that Nancy Grace's treatment of the churches of Christ was a simple matter of personal ignorance and her show's business model.

After reading this post, however, she clearly should have known better. So was she malicious or simply too arrogant to listen to her staff?
Nancy Grace steps in it again

OK, that's like saying the sun came up in the east this morning. Still, these posts do make interesting reading.

Does that stand for the "Cult News Network"?

"Cult News Network," part deux

CNN CULT ALERT
I know CNN loves her ratings, but shouldn't they be just a little embarrassed by her woeful ignorance?

Two related points. The tabloid media (both online and cable) are handling the murder of Matthew Winkler much differently than the murders of Laci Peterson or Rachel Entwistle. When the wife was the victim they said:

"What a sociopathic brute to kill a delicate, innocent flower like Laci."
But now, when the wife is the killer, they keep trying to frame the story as:

"What did that brute do to make that delicate innocent flower kill him?"
TV shrinks assured us that Scott Peterson wore a mask of normality but was evil underneath. Now they are warming up to explain that Mary Winkler was forced to wear a mask of normality and that is why her killing was not evil.

Point 2: On 9/11 Mohamed Atta killed 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam. The MSM worked overtime to remind us that the Islam, properly understood, had nothing to with those murders.

With the Winkler case, in contrast, people like Grace are working diligently to somehow blame the churches of Christ for Mary Winkler's actions.

That disparity might explain why some Christians feel mistreated by the MSM and the entertainment industry in Hollywood and New York.
What the....?

Prosecutor, Agent Indicted in Detroit

Misconduct Is Alleged in Terrorism Case

A former federal prosecutor and a State Department security officer were indicted yesterday on charges that they lied during a bungled terrorism trial in Detroit and then sought to cover up their deceptions once the case began to fall apart
.


No matter which side you believe, this does not build confidence in our anti-terrorism efforts.
interesting

Franklyn Curran Nofziger was born in Bakersfield on June 8, 1924.

and
Soon, Buck turned his back on Nashville, and started making country records his way, using his own road band instead of Nashville players. The result was records that sounded more like a Buck Owens concert, and nothing like the string-laden smooth country-pop hit songs coming out of Nashville … and the Bakersfield sound was born.


If i had more time, i would try to weave this into a grand theory about the Reagan Revolution. But i'm going to pass for now. But just so you know, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Lyn Nofziger are heroes, The Grapes of Wrath plays a role, Ayn Rand makes no appearance, and the neocons appear only as clowns.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The man weighs in

Jack Sparks on Buck Owens

Make no mistake, though. What he did between 1963 and 1967 was pure. The exposed wires from the Buckaroos' amped up guitars were the frayed nerves of hillbilly men and women who worked too hard, drank too much, and desperately clung to the hope that tomorrow might be different. People still bought the sappy treacly shit that came out of Nashville, but Buck drove them bananas, like Hank Williams had done the previous decade. If Buck and Harlan Howard made a song about a guy getting in a bar fight or leaving his wife, it was because they saw it happen the night they wrote the song. If the guitars were wide open and high on treble, it was because that's what the dancers were demanding out on the dance floor.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Farewell to one of the best of the Reaganauts

RIP, Lyn Nofziger
Molly Ivins has a point

I have long argued that no one should be allowed to write opinion without spending years as a reporter -- nothing like interviewing all four eyewitnesses to an automobile accident and then trying to write an accurate account of what happened. Or, as author-journalist Curtis Wilkie puts it, "Unless you can cover a five-car pile-up on Route 128, you shouldn't be allowed to cover a presidential campaign."
Of course, her target is bloggers. I, OTOH, was thinking about college newspapers. They should get rid of their editorial pages.

Molly sez that it takes years of reporting experience before your opinion is worth a lick. So those student editorials are just wasted newsprint that teach the wrong lesson to budding journalists.

I wonder if Molly and the Project for Excellence in Journalism agree?
Q: What is the greatest public service news papers perform?

A: They pay people to be bored.

Editors send reporters to planning commission sessions, school board meetings, and subcommittee hearings on the FY2008 budget for the Interior Department.

People will do punditry for free (hence, the ever-increasing size of the blogosphere.) Covering the boring, nitty-gritty stuff requires a pay-check.
Hard numbers on newspapers

James Surowiecki has an interesting column in the New Yorker. A lot of good information about readership, revenue, etc. This point is often overlooked in new media hysteria:

Established media—radio, the movies, television—haven’t vanished when new forms have come along. They’ve adapted by playing to their distinctive strengths.
On Books and libraries

A book is infinitely more comfortable and pleasant and informative than a screen. The very impress of the print on the paper is a valuable part of your experience of the book.

Libraries give us this physical engagement in a way that no Google ever will
.


More at Miriam's ideas

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Greatest Debacle in the History of Organized Work?"

Photon Courier has the details here.

Two related posts are here and here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Figures

I tried to send an email to Fox News about their over-the-top tabloid coverage. (Today's Big Story was odious-- maybe the worse thing i have ever seen on cable news.)

So, of course, the email bounced as undeliverable.

I wonder how Brit Hume and Neil Cavuto keep their self-respect working at such a place.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Bashing Newsprint

Three recent articles offer advice to newspapers and all propose the same bold strategy-get rid of the paper.

Jettisoning Print

Knight Ridder Sale Could be McClatchy's Chance to Ditch the Print, Go All Online All the Time

Newspapers in Trouble?

In the writers's view the paper is the problem. Online is the future-it's cheaper, it's better. Go for it.

While the articles make much of the fact that traditional print is expensive, they do not provide any hard numbers about the actual cost savings for going digital. It is all fuzzy pronouncements like this.

Those massive rolls of newsprint and the whirring machines they feed that print newspapers are exceeded only in personnel costs on the typical newspaper operation, so getting rid of the first two ought to free up tremendous amounts of capital to be invested in new technologies and perhaps even in expanding the editor staff.

Sounds impressive, but how much of that "expense" is really sunk costs? How does the cost of newsprint compare to the cost of reporters?

None of the writers admit that newsprint might have some benefits for the reader. Is it not probable that some current newspaper readers/subscribers like print because it is convenient, portable, accessible or persistent? How many readers will be lost if a local paper goes digital-only and will the revenue loss be smaller than the cost savings?

A digital-only local paper runs smack into a stark consumer prejudice. Most of us expect to pay for paper but want online news to be free.

Why would any business throw away a solid franchise (the current subscriber/paper model) and stake their future on an untested revenue model that prices the product higher than customers perceive as fair?

None of the articles mention advertisers and that is a huge oversight. How much advertising revenue will a digital newspaper lose? Advertisers expect to pay a lower CPM for online ads. So the Daily Planet Online could lose revenue four ways-lower subscriber base, lower subscription price, lower reader base (for advertisers), and lower rate card for advertising.

Are we really confident that getting rid of newsprint will make up for that lower revenue and allow for more editorial staffers? Once again, let's see some numbers please.

Newspapers are in trouble. But their problems go deeper than the price of newsprint. The digital only option looks like a bold solution, but it is more hype than solid strategy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Highly, highly recommended

Saddam's Delusions: The View from the Inside

by Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray

From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006 (/2006/3.html)

EDITOR'S NOTE: The fall of Baghdad in April 2003 opened one of the most secretive and brutal governments in history to outside scrutiny. For the first time since the end of World War II, American analysts did not have to guess what had happened on the other side of a conflict but could actually read the defeated enemy's documents and interrogate its leading figures. To make the most of this unique opportunity, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) commissioned a comprehensive study of the inner workings and behavior of Saddam Hussein's regime based on previously inaccessible primary sources. Drawing on interviews with dozens of captured senior Iraqi military and political leaders and hundreds of thousands of official Iraqi documents (hundreds of them fully translated), this two-year project has changed our understanding of the war from the ground up. The study was partially declassified in late February; its key findings are presented here
.
Another look at Nancy Grace


Reading Nancy Grace
I think it has the best summary of why these shows and their stories about missing girls dominate cable news:

The beauty part of the missing girls angle is that the story never ends; it's news that stays news ten years later. The girl is always still missing. Once you're missing, you're missing forever -- unless you're found, and that's even better. And if someone does finally get convicted, the story still doesn't have to end, because you can follow them through the trial and imprisonment, checking in at intervals with the victim's parents for doses of reliably gut-wrenching emotion.

Not only does tabloid television get high ratings, it's cheap as hell to produce. Essentially you are taking old archive footage from local stations and splicing in a few routine interviews to make it new. Night after night you promise the latest developments in the case to an audience who have no other way of knowing that there haven't been any developments
.


Shirazi puts Grace into an ideological context, but that part of his argument is unpersuasive.

Nancy Grace is the first sub-ideological demagogue I have encountered. She doesn't shout about terrorists going nuclear in the Middle East or Mexicans pouring over our borders. She keeps things relatable: white girls raped by blacks in the tropics, and wives killed by their no-good husbands.

[snip]

When I was young, sympathy for victims was seen as the congenital weakness of the liberals, who were invariably called bleeding hearts. Today it is the conservatives who worship a cult of martyrdom validated by varying degrees of pain, revelling in stripes you earn by lashing yourself. So these days a TV personality denies being a journalist and dissociates herself from truth-twisting attorneys, and instead derives her authority by painting herself a victim speaking for other victims.

Glorified suffering is the bedrock foundation of popular conservativism. The real objection to the pathos of liberalism is that all external sympathy is misplaced, that any available sympathy should be drawn toward my own collapsed ego just as light is drawn backward into a black hole, that your sympathy and my own self-pity should merge perfectly with no wasted remainder
.


First off, the writer ignores that the fact that the Aruba story has a white villan. Joran van der Sloot, like Scott Peterson, is a real life example of Tom Wolfe's Great White Defendant.

More importantly, conservatives are not the only ones pushing this tough on crime attitude. Clinton, Carville, and Begula used it in 1992 to prove that the Man from Hope was no liberal. A centerpiece of that repositioning was the execution of a brain-damaged man during the campaign in New Hampshire. (See here and here.)

Grace, like Clinton, panders on crime because it seems to be an issue that transcends ideology in a nation that is politically divided. Politicians want votes, anchors want eyeballs. Trivial issues and tabloid stories get each of them what they want.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Blame the victim headlines

The Junk Yard Blog has found another one.

Flipped Morality Tale at the Baltimore Sun


See here for previous example.
Nancy Grace is a caring individual

As an anchor, Ms. Grace is a firebrand, less concerned with legal nuance than with her own feelings about a case. As a boss, according to sources inside and outside her show, she presides over a sometimes-difficult workplace. The program is on its third director in a year, which sources described as a high rate of turnover at any television news program. At least four members of her staff have met with the network’s human-resources department to discuss problems with the management of the program, according to three sources.
From Rebecca Dana in the New York Observer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One of the articles i mentioned before

The vulgarized Winter Games feature pranks and petulance, not grit and beauty.
CNN's disGrace (and your little Fox, too)

A devastating look at CNN's rating star.

From the Daily Howler:

On the other hand, Grace is so repellent a figure that she serves a useful purpose; she helps us see the moral and intellectual corruption spreading through our mainstream "news" culture.
The piece dates from 2003 and subsequent events prove the Howler a prophet.

The one grace note: Grace's performance does helps us see where our corrupted "news" culture is going.
So true. Thanks to her appalling performance as a guest on Larry King Live she was given a show of her own on Headline News.

This point cannot be repeated enough:

During the summer of 2001, bin Laden's gang was preparing its mission. But on King, they had bigger things on their minds; people like Grace (and the late Barbara Olson) were trying to smoke Gary Condit for murder.

The Howler includes links to a bunch of Condit-Levy posts. They deserve a careful reading. They demonstrate just how useful lies and rumors are to a tabloid frenzy and how little effort cable news makes to screen out such chaff.

While cable chased Condit, Atta and KSM plotted. I hope our Aruba madness is not the prologue to another 9/11-type shock.

Fox News has plenty of shows as bad as Nancy Grace which makes them worse than CNN. For some reason, FNC has escaped criticism from the press-bashing right blogosphere. If the New York Times or PBS ignores important stories from the War on Terror, that is really no surprise. But FNC's obsession with tabloid crime feels more like a betrayal.

Fox was supposed to be different. After 9/11 it wrapped itself in the flag and donned olive drab. Then it lost interest. It decided to chase stories about missing white girls. The MSM might be giving us an incomplete picture, but FNC is not trying very hard to correct it.

OK. Back to Grace. The Howler has a soundbite from 2001 which has new resonance:

GRACE: You know, the fact that [Condit] would lie about the simplest things, his relationship, a sex relationship-how are we supposed to believe what he says about more important things, such as the last time he saw her? Did they argue? Was she pregnant? Was there a five-year plan? I can't believe anything the man says.

Now that we know about Nancy Grace's own problem with the truth, that is a funny quote in a painful sort of way.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The American Conservative Surprises

The latest issue has a dead-on article about the Olympics by Diana Moon and a nice appreciation of Christopher Lasch by Jeremy Beer. (Neither on-line yet.)

TAC is a maddening magazine. It is hard, most of the time, to tell what their conservatism represents (other than antipathy to the neocons). I keep resubscribing, though, because each issue usually has one or two articles that get it right-- articles that could never appear in National Review or The Weekly Standard.
An international Enron

Read David Warsh's latest reporting on the Harvard/Russia/Summers scandal: Gangsta-nomics. In many ways this was a more serious scandal than Enron. The culprits were more tightly connected to the executive branch and the shady dealings have poisoned Russian/American relations.

The only problem is that this is a purely Clintonian scandal and the bad guys are professors at Harvard, not Texans.

Steve Sailer has more here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

This could be the basis for a very useful book

It appears there's a fine line between an Army of Davids and a Mob of Clowns, both of which are empowered by the new communications technologies.


From the Coyote at the Dog Show

Saturday, March 18, 2006

They really make it hard to like them

T.O. joins the Cowboys

The reviled receiver joined the Cowboys on Saturday, signing a three-year, $25 million contract to play for Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells in what promises to be an interesting combination of strong personalities. The deal includes a $5 million signing bonus, with salaries of $5 million this year, $8 million in 2007 and $7 million in 2008.
Balkan echoes

Dimitri K. Simes, "Jihad, Uninteded," The National Interest, Winter 2005/2006

One would have thought that the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the simultaneous attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the strike on the USS Cole in 2000, among other incidents, would have alerted policymakers that a new major challenge to American interests and American lives was in the making. However, instead of combating this threat, the United States focused on "wars of choice" and haphazard attempts to "nation-build" in the Balkans.

The architects of this tragic diversion are unrepentant and even proud of what they have done. As Richard Holbrooke, the person largely responsible for shaping a flawed U.S. policy in the Balkans, wrote in the Washington Post in July 2005, "Was Bosnia worth it? As we approach the 10th anniversary of Dayton, there should no longer be any debate."

Holbrooke's claim that there should be no debate about Bosnia demonstrates his chutzpah, but it does not pass even minimal analytic scrutiny. If the United States had wanted to stop the war, it could have supported the Vance-Owen plan-rejected by the Clinton Administration at the time as allegedly too favorable to the Serbs. And given the administration's inaction on genocide in Rwanda, it is not surprising that major powers like China and Russia found it difficult to accept that humanitarian considerations alone motivated the United States to act, first in Bosnia, then in Kosovo, especially when American protŽgŽs engaged in ethnic cleansing operations of
their own.

The "unintended consequences" of the Kosovo war in 1999 were to poison U.S. relations with Russia and China alike, leading eventually to the Clinton Administration's contemptuous rejection of Russian proposals for joint action against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda-proposals that resurfaced after 9/11 and eventually contributed to removing the Taliban from power.

*********

Mr. Holbrooke wants the United States to support independence for Kosovo, whether the democratic Serbian government accepts it or not. But what if ignoring Serbian objections discredits the moderate and pro-Western politicians now leading the country and results in a rabidly nationalist government there, reopening the Balkan can of worms? What if Russia takes the predictable position that what is good for Kosovo should be good for other unrecognized but de facto independent states such as Nagorno-Karabakh or the transdniester Republic? What of separatist regions like South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which share borders with Russia and where local populations overwhelmingly do not want to be a part of Georgia? In the latter case, the United States would face a series of unpleasant choices. Would the United States, in the name of principle, compel a pro-American Georgian regime to abandon its desire to restore the country's
territorial integrity? Or would Washington side with Tbilisi, especially if it decides to use force to recapture these regions? If the latter, the United States could find itself embroiled in a major dispute with Russia that could effectively end cooperation on other matters of vital importance to the United States. And how would the United States force a resolution granting independence to Kosovo through the UN Security Council over probable Chinese objections, without offering guarantees that Taiwan will never become a separate, independent state? Or argue that Kosovo deserves full independence without setting a dangerous precedent that the Kurds of Iraq and Turkey may seek to emulate? The potential for trouble seems serious and real
.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More on the Balkans


Croatian President Franjo Tudjman
The Balkans' (not much) lesser evil

In 1995, Tudjman again showed his talent for limiting his brutality just enough to get away with it. That summer, he invaded the Krajina, the Serb area captured by Milosevic in 1991. The 200,000 Serb residents fled to Serbia rather than fight. Tudjman punctuated the arguably justified invasion with a vicious exclamation point. He had his troops burn down 70 percent of Serbian houses, passed laws to confiscate Serb property, and allowed gangs of Croat thugs to murder the few elderly Serbs who remained. "What he did after the invasion was inexcusable," says Peter Galbraith, then U.S. ambassador to Croatia.

Even so, Tudjman again restored himself to the West's (semi-) good graces by signing the Dayton Peace Accords and agreeing to let Serbs return to their burned homes. But he has not allowed them to return in fact. Only a handful of the 200,000 Serbs have come back to the Krajina. (He has also refused to extradite the Croats indicted for war crimes to the Hague, perhaps fearing they would implicate him.)

The War against Serbia: Illusion Versus Reality

In the Krajina region of Croatia, the United States tacitly accepted Croatia's ethnic cleansing of 300,000 Serbs because the killing weakened the Serb position in that country and in neighboring Bosnia. Because Turkey is a U.S. ally, the United States not only accepted the Turkish regime's brutal repression of the Kurdish minority (another conflict in which casualties have been much greater than those in Kosovo) but actively aided Ankara by helping apprehend the Kurdish leader Mohamad Ocalan.

Michael Kelly: A Perfectly Clintonian Doctrine

Finally, (4), it is at bottom a fraud. Note the use of the term "world community." There is no world community. The war against the Serbs in Kosovo was an exercise not of any global village but of the great powers, and the great powers pick and choose their moral causes. The great powers stood complacently by in the summer of 1995, when the Croats ethnically cleansed their turf in Bosnia of 300,000 Serbs, and they are standing by now, as the Kosovo Liberation Army and returning Albanian refugees rapidly cleanse Kosovo of 200,000 Serbs.

The emerging all-Albanian reality of Kosovo underscores the underlying fraud of the Clinton Doctrine, which is the idea that what the West is forging in the Balkans is a triumph for pluralism and democracy. It was a very good thing that the United States finally acted to stop the Serbs' slaughter in Kosovo, as it was a very good thing when it finally acted to stop the Serbs' slaughter in Bosnia. But it is nonsense to pretend that these accomplishments gave rise to a reversal of ethnic cleansing or anything like a pluralistic democracy.

Consider the reality of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as detailed in a searching article by Gordon N. Bardos in the April issue of the Harriman Review. As Bardos reports, four years and two missed deadlines for troop withdrawal after the Dayton Peace Accords, Bosnia is a protectorate of NATO divided into what Bardos calls three "ethnities" -- the Serbian entity of Republika Srpska, and a Croatian territory and a Bosnian territory that are uneasily federated under Dayton. Each is run by nationalist hard-liners backed up by ethnically pure military forces
.

U.S. gave green light to terrorists in Bosnia

Yugoslavia policy helped build base in Europe for Hezbollah, others

The Dutch government has released a report that details the alliance between the United States and the Islamic effort to help Bosnian Muslims. The report determined that the United States provided a green light to groups on the State Department list of terrorist organizations to operate in Bosnia. This included the Lebanese-based Hezbollah. For the European Union, the U.S. effort marks a stain that calls into question Washington's war on terrorism.

For nearly a decade, the Clinton administration helped Islamic insurgents aligned with Chechnya, Iran and Saudi Arabia destabilize the former Yugoslavia. The insurgents were allowed to bring weapons and explosives to Bosnia-Herzegovina and fight Serbs and their allies. The insurgents also were allowed to move further east to Kosovo.

The United States was helped by a range of Muslim countries – from Iran and Saudi Arabia to Turkey. In short, the Clinton administration thought that the stronger the Muslims in Bosnia, the weaker the Serbian hold over Yugoslavia.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Islamic insurgents throughout such countries as Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, and many of them are moving west to Austria, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland
.


A Massacre in Kosovo

A member of the United Nations police force murders his American colleagues.

ON APRIL 17, as reported in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, two American women and an American man were slain in Kosovo, and eleven people were injured when they came under armed attack by a Palestinian from Jordan. The killer was a member of the same body in which they served: the United Nations police force in the territory.

The male American, who died of his wounds, was Gary Weston, of Vienna, Illinois. The Palestinian, Sergeant Major Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim Ali, was killed when members of the contingent in which the Americans were traveling returned fire.

In the days since the first reports of the crime were received, more details have emerged, which make what was already a scandal for the United Nations in Kosovo even more alarming. First and most disturbing is that the dead assailant, Ali, is being investigated for connections with Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization. Second is that the same Ali had visited the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabi Islamic sect that produced al Qaeda, only a month before he was sent to Kosovo in March
.

[snip]

Because Kosovo media operates under heavy U.N. censorship, the whole truth about this atrocity may not be known for some time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another reason why Steve Sailer may be the bravest man in the blogosphere
In a nutshell

Powerline gets to the heart of the matter:

The real issue here is: what is the Constitution? Justice Scalia has famously noted that the Constitution is a legal document which, like all legal documents, says some things and does not say others. In Justice Ginsburg's view the Constitution is, on the contrary, a roving charter for nine individuals to decide what "basic fairness" requires. It should hardly be necessary to point out that the former understanding, which was universal until quite recently, is a charter of freedom, inasmuch as the people's representatives can vote on amendments. Conversely, the "basic fairness" approach is a form of tyranny in which a small elite can impose its policy preferences on the rest of us.

It is also utterly unworkable. There is a reason why people reduce legal documents to writing: it's the only way to know what the deal is. Under Justice Ginsburg's approach, the "law" is ineffable. There is no way to know from one day to the next what it might be
.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A point worth pondering



Regardless of whether culture change is or is not a part of the strategy, companies have to recognize that the very introduction of strategic management into a company requires a change in that organizations culture.

Ian Wilson, The Subtle Art if Strategy



All too often, the formal "culture change" initiatives end up fighting the strategic initiatives. I have blogged my thoughts on some aspects of this problem here:

Two ways to plan

Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable

Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable (II)

Why corporate change is hard and failure almost inevitable (III)




Friday, March 10, 2006

This must mean something

Looking at my traffic stats, I found something interesting. On Wednesday Ace linked to my post about prison movies. On Thursday, the Junk Yard Blog linked to my post on the Church arsons. Later in the day, Slate linked to that same post.

Both Ace and JYB sent over 200 readers this way. The Slate link brought less than 10 readers here.

If I worked for Gartner or Forrester, I would be tempted to spin this into a Grand Theory. Of course, the nature of the theory would depend on who was writing the check. I could say that this traffic differential shows that the typical blog reader is a restless, open-minded hunter of new information with an innate desire to verify and evaluate sources. In contrast, the readership of the MSM is unengaged, credulous, and happy to absorb the predigested content set in front of them. OTOH, I could say that this proves that most of the readers of the MSM see no value in blogs which means that the Army of Davids is no threat to the MSM hegemony in information space.

Like I said, it all depends on who signs the check.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The obstinate persistence of myth

From the New York Times:
From the beginning, investigators had theorized that the fires had no racial motive, as there had been for many church fires throughout the Southeast in the mid-90's. And that, they said, was borne out.

There was no racial motive this time. But then, the mid-90's "racial hate-crime arsons" were mostly hype and hoax. See Michael Fumento for more.

Nothing to see here, just move along.

An academic standout, his true love was deer hunting. But hunting was intertwined with booze, and a rebellious anger crept into Cloyd's personality.

After he got a speeding ticket - 85 mph in a 70 zone - his Web site musings grew cryptically violent. In a posting to Moseley last summer as the two planned a road trip, he wrote, "Let us defy the very morals of society instilled upon us by our parents, our relatives and of course Jesus
."
or how 'bout this?
Said he was Satanist:

DeBusk, whose home address was listed as the Russet Woods subdivision in Hoover, had other interests as well. Friends said he and Ben Moseley were Satanists, which DeBusk told friends was "not about worshipping the devil, but about the pursuit of knowledge," according to Burgess.

DeBusk invited Burgess and others to go demon hunting last summer. Burgess said it didn't amount to much.

"All it ended up being was us playing guitar in the woods while a few of them got drunk," Burgess said. "I didn't think anything of it."

Burgess said he and DeBusk discussed religion loosely, debating whether pets go to heaven and what heaven looks like. "He told me I was one of the more intelligent Christians he's talked to," Burgess said. "Coming from a Satanist, I didn't know quite how to interpret that."

Ian Cunningham, a sophomore who lived in the same dorm as DeBusk, recalled returning from the campus chapel recently to snide remarks about being saved from DeBusk and Moseley. "He would constantly mock me," Cunningham said of DeBusk
.
I'm still trying to figure out how arson and cruelty to animals can be written off as youthful pranks. Usually they are referred to as indications of a budding sociopath.
A little shot of Chesterton


I came back to the same conclusion: the sceptic was quite right to go by the facts, only he had not looked at the facts. The sceptic is too credulous; he believes in newspapers or even in encyclopedias.
Orthodoxy, Ch. 9.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What would we do without academics?

Here I thought that "Angels in Chains", "Chained Heat", "Red Heat", and "Fugitive Rage", were hyper-realistic portrayals of life inside women's prisons. Luckily, a professor did the hard work to discover the truth and set me straight.
But if you watch these films, you won’t know anything about the inside. From depictions of the inmates and their behavior, to the lack of security and impossible happenings of the celluloid facilities, the content of the four films viewed for this project can at best be described as misleading, and at worst, as damaging.
You, too, can be enlightened by reading DYKES, GANGS, AND DANGER: DEBUNKING POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT MAXIMUM-SECURITY LIFE in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture.
--------------------
Thanks Ace.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Three stories

Three 6 Mafia: Oscar Winners

The whole process leading up to the Three 6 guys getting the award is just dumbfoundingly unlikely: young white director decides to make a movie about a pimp who wants to make crunk music, films it in Memphis instead of Atlanta or Miami or Houston, recruits legends from the local underground to write songs for the movie instead of out-of-town ringers. Said movie does well at Sundance, becomes surprise hit, quietly becomes one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year despite not really being all that great.

Oscar Winner Hits Angry Chord

Several people interviewed said they found it ironic that the academy -- praised earlier in the evening by actor George Clooney for breaking down barriers for African Americans with an Oscar to Hattie McDaniel in 1939 for her role in "Gone With the Wind" -- would glorify the travails of a man who earns his living exploiting women.

Erika Scott, 17, a Largo High School eleventh-grader, said she was a little shocked. "Growing up where I live, you see, all the time, people who are wanna-be pimps and aspire to be pimps," she said. "Knowing that there is a song that tells the world about what goes on with people like that was surprising, and I was surprised that it won. It made me wonder what the world has come to."


Area Juvenile Sex Rings Targeted Using Anti-Trafficking Laws

The teenagers testified for hour after agonizing hour about their months of prostitution, quietly describing the tricks they turned on some of the District's and Maryland's seediest strips.

They performed sex acts with men in cheap motel rooms, alleys and the back seats of cars, they said. Clients had 10 minutes or it cost extra. One girl, 14 when she was recruited, said her quota was $500 a night, with various sex acts ranging in price from $50 to $150. Every dollar she and her "

That man, Jaron R. Brice, 27, of Northeast Washington, was convicted last week of sex trafficking of a minor, transporting prostitutes across state lines, pandering and child sexual abuse -- a litany of federal charges that probably will land him in prison for decades
.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The paradox of elite tastes

Steve Sailer has this beauty from Steven Pinker:
People are surely better off with the truth. Oddly enough, everyone agrees with this when it comes to the arts. Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and saccharine romances in which everyone lives happily ever after. But when it comes to science, these same people say, "Give us schmaltz!" They expect the science of human beings to be a source of emotional uplift and inspirational sermonizing."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The decadence of cable news

Tim Rutten unleashes a broadside against Nancy Grace in the L.A. Times:


Grace, on the other hand, has no journalistic background whatsoever. Even her employers at the once reliable and now lamentable CNN Headline News are careful to call her simply the "host" of the rhetorical free-fire zone they have created for her. (It's the kind of programming decision that probably would have been forestalled by a slightly more expansive reading of the pandering statutes.) Grace's standing to badger, fawn, scold and grimace her way through 60 minutes of Time Warner's airtime every weeknight rests on just two credentials, which she endlessly repeats: She once worked as a prosecutor in Atlanta and she is a "crime victim" whose fiancé was murdered 27 years ago.

As it turns out, both credentials are a little crumbly around the edges.


He also has a theory about cable's slide into decadence:

Turner has a loose lip and an unsteady personality, but he never wavered in his belief that serious news has a place on television. The same cannot be said of the corporate apparatchiks now running CNN and CNN Headline and cringing before Fox News' success. They're the ones who have unleashed Grace on their Headline network and defaced CNN's regular report with things like Jack Cafferty's bizarre and incoherently histrionic intrusions into the afternoon news and the increasingly demagogic Lou Dobbs' second rate imitations of a Howard Beale rant.

These desperate acts have been triggered by CNN's inability to come even close to matching Fox in the ratings. The commercial genius of Rupert Murdoch's network, of course, resides in Roger Ailes' intuition that the talk radio model could be transferred to television, thereby avoiding the expense of real reporting while cultivating viewers with a taste for conservative partisanship and, more important, entertainment


As with most nostalgic myths, this one glosses over the less edifying bits of history. It is true that Murdoch and Ailes built Fox prime time around a talk radio and tabloid model. But the serpent was in the garden long before Roger met Rupert. Turner gave us Crossfire and Larry King. Greta got her first show on CNN. CNBC wallowed in the OJ trial and the Jon Benet Ramsey case in a way that Rush Limbaugh never did.

What remains striking is the evident lack of courage and imagination at MSNBC and CNN. Instead of trying to find a viable model for serious news, they meekly imitate the Fix recipe.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Nancy Grace

Her story of victimhood is central to her TV appeal and her on-air style. This New York Observer article suggests that she has twisted and exagerated parts of that story to make it more dramatic and compelling. In the process, she lied about the legal system she represents.

Because of what happened in Georgia, Ms. Grace has said over and over, she knows firsthand how the system favors hardened criminals over victims. It is the foundation of her judicial philosophy, her motivation in life, her casus belli.

And much of it isn’t true
.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

OU bomber: questions and dots

Mark Tapscott and Flopping Aces still have a lot of good questions about Joel Hinrichs and his suicide by bomb.
An odd way to put it

Wanted Man Gunned Down By U.S. Marshals

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) -- The man being sought for the shooting death of a central New York police officer was gunned down by U.S. Marshals last night outside Philadelphia.

"Gunned down" implies that Walter Richardson was shot in an ambush with no opportunity to surrender.

The reality is that he was a murder suspect who refused to give himself up and tried to shoot it out with police.

A man police believe was a cop-killer barricaded himself inside a Chester rowhouse last night, shooting at officers who had surrounded the home before being killed.

Few details were immediately available, but it was clear that about 10:30 p.m. an exchange of gunfire took place between a man holed up at 818 McDonald St. and officers from the U.S. Marshals Office, State Police, Chester Police and Delaware County detectives
.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

James Webb

Hugh Hewitt writes about the Virginia Senate race. He wants to make it a straight-up referendum on the Iraq war. But I think that will be only part of the story. Webb may also wage the campaign on the broader issue of the Bush administration's handling of our armed forces.

HH calls for modern Lincoln-Douglas debates in the campaign. I hope he gets them. But for that to happen Webb will have to avoid capture by the Sheehan left and not repeat the mistakes McCain made in 2000. At the same time, warbloggers and Fox News will have to give Webb an honest hearing instead of the Murtha treatment.

See also:

The Wall and Fran Townsend

ABLE DANGER: Filling in the blank spaces

ABLE DANGER: Is it fair to bring up Tailhook?