Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top level URL secured for another year and an interesting look at 1950s nostalgia

Anyway...  On the first point, the headline says it all.  As for the second, it is interesting.  Not sure how it is secured on Facebook, though, so I am not sure if everyone can read it...

The Good Ol' USA -- by T.J. Madden

This is pretty cool...

Recycling a bottle, flashmob style!

Admittedly, I'd probably be one of the ones wandering past it, but I'd feel bad about it later. I promise I would.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A high moment for Fox Newz...

I hesitate to spell the name right because that would be giving them some legitimacy.  I can see them sitting around after this whole deal saying to themselves, "well, it was worth a shot."  Or are they really just that freakin' incompetent?

CNN Correspondent Goes Ballistic Over Fox News Libya/Human Shield Report (VIDEO) Brian Beutler | March 21, 2011, 7:00PM

The fact that Fox did send someone makes this feel like it was an intentionally manufactured attempt to count coup on the other news organizations.  I am not saying that CNN or the others do not have their flaws, but at least they aren't pulling crap like this.  Hell, beating on CNN anchors is a veritable hobby of mine on Facebook, especially the dopey daytime ones.  But I think that they do have a real reason to be calling foul on this one.

From the article:
CNN correspondent Nic Robertson has a bone or two to pick with Fox News, which reported today that he and other journalists were used by the Libyan Ministry of Information as human shields, in a successful bid to block a coming, second attack on a compound in Tripoli, supposedly controlled by Qaddafi.

"[T]his allegation is outrageous and it's absolutely hypocritical. When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here," Robertson told Wolf Blitzer. "You don't expect it from the other journalists."

Fox claims their own correspondent, Steve Harrigan, declined to accept the invitation from the Libyans for fear of being used as a propaganda tool, and perhaps a human shield. But Robertson claims Fox did indeed send an employee on the trip -- not a regular news guy -- and that Harrigan has been asleep on the job since hostilities began.

"I see him more times at breakfast than out on trips with government officials here," Robertson said. "So for them to say and call this -- to say they didn't go and for them to call this and say this was government propaganda to hold us there as human shields when they didn't even leave the hotel ... is ridiculous."

Fox is staking out high-ground here, claiming they were above being used by the government. Nonsense, says Robertson. "They sent a member of their team. He was not editorial. He was nontechnical, not normally a cameraman."
Fox Newz has retracted their statement that they did not participate in this media event.

Fox Reporter Retracts Claim That Fox Did Not Participate In Reported Libya/Human Shield Excursion (VIDEO) Brian Beutler | March 22, 2011, 10:59AM

So Fox is essentially saying, my words, mind you, that their guys were too scared, ur, busy, to go, so they sent a non-journalist security guy in their place, with a camera, to do their job for them.  All right.  Go, Fox!  The scales are tipping towards incompetence.

Essentially, in her retraction, Griffin's excuse is that she was ignorant of the facts, and using her ignorance to take swipes at her colleagues, those, my words, mean journalists who think they're, like, all so professional, and keep picking on us.  Yep, incompetence is definitely ahead on this one by several lengths.

It has always been my impression that professional journalists, either while on camera or in print, probably shouldn't be presenting their assumptions as facts.  Of course, I am doing some of this right now, but I am just a lowly blogger writing an editorial piece.  I am not a professional journalist on a national broadcast.

From the article:
On Monday, seasoned Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that the Libyan government was using journalists from competitor organizations as human shields, while Fox declined to participate in a propaganda mission.

Now, "seasoned" correspondent Griffin is still clinging to the idea that the main point of her comments was that Qaddafi's people are using journalists as human shields and that the British had to wave off an airstrike because of these trips.  That may be true, maybe it is not.  After this stunt, I cannot take her words seriously, she has blown her credibility with me.  If she does not know what is going on with her co-workers, how the hell am I supposed to believe that she knows what is going on with the RAF?

 Strange Perk Of The Job Brian Beutler | March 21, 2011, 8:14PM

 Still, I also have to wonder about the wisdom of Robertson going off on air like this.  Sure, call Fox on it, but maybe it would also be a bit more profession to leave the name calling, red meat baiting to people like John Stewart.  Don't worry, Nic, I have faith that The Daily Show will defend your honor, they live for these moments.  We can all see from the way this went down that the Fox Newz staff probably is a bunch of "lazy liar[s] who never [do] any reporting," but you probably shouldn't say it on air. Now you've fed red meat to their team.  If I am not going to cut them any slack for their unprofessional comments, I can't really cut you any either, Nic.

Beutler makes some solid points in the editorial linked to above.  Mind you, this was published before the retraction:
I'm not in a position to evaluate all of this on the merits just yet, but here's the thing: Fox's guy in Libya didn't break the story about the scuttled missile attack -- their long-time national security reporter, Jennifer Griffin, did. So this isn't on its face a CYA situation. And structurally, an outlet like Fox that's been, I think it's fair to say, sympathetic to recent war efforts, is just bound to have very good military sources in both the U.S. and allied countries. Like the U.K. Not saying it's good -- just saying that's how it is.
This still raises plenty of questions: Is CNN's criticism of Fox's reporting from Libya legit? Why didn't Fox disclose in their story that, as CNN's Nic Robertson claims, Fox did send an employee on the excursion? Have they verified Libya's intent here? Or is the term "human shield" a loaded one they're borrowing from military sources?
While we do know more about what happened with the Fox "journalists," the other questions above are still valid and should be answered by people we can trust.  Unfortunately, Fox has lost their credibility on this story.

Finally, I cannot agree more with his closing sentence:
In the meantime it'd be easy to let existing biases (about Fox or CNN) guide people to hasty conclusions, and that would be unwise.
Those biases, those divisions that keep the right and the left from seeing eye to eye are one of the biggest threats out there to our democracy today.  It lets news agencies get away with shoddy journalism which then prevents the people from making informed decisions about their candidates and the issues effecting their lives.  It also prevents many people from developing a true understanding of how the American political system operates in the first place.  At worst, it even is perverting the American political system into something that resembles the cartoonish caricatures that the worst on each side uses to portray the other side.

And, to me, the most disturbing part of all of this?  If the journalists are really becoming this incompetent, than who is keeping an eye on things around here anyway?  Who is keeping those in power honest?

This almost makes me feel bad about calling Fox "Newz" instead of "News."  Almost.  They aren't the only ones to blame, but they seem to be the ones deserving blame the most often.

The Arab Awakening: Syria and the problem with new democracies

The Economist: The Arab awakening reaches Syria

The Arab Awakening.  I don't know...  Somehow I think W. will try to take credit.  While it is not a coincidence that all of this is happening at the same time, I do think that each country is unique enough that, when looking at causes and origins of this unrest, it may be problematic to lump all the uprisings together.

Also, while this may be a move towards democracy in the Arab world, we may very likely find that we do not necessarily like what democracy looks like over there.  We haven't been completely thrilled to date with the way people have voted in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no reason to believe that we'll like it better in Egypt, Tunisia, and wherever else the people succeed in toppling their regimes.

This also reminds me, in some ways, of the flood of new democracies in the early twentieth century that eventually fell to fascist and communist dictatorships.  New democracies are fragile and easily corrupted.

Still, it is interesting to watch.

It's after midnight, so back to war and disaster and stuff...

The B-2 Stealth Bomber: How the US military will break Gaddafi's spirit

Well, I doubt it, but who knows...  Shock and awe seems more successful in getting the western media excited than changing the course of the conflict.

I don't think Qaddafi is going anywhere on his own, mentally he is just too far gone...  He'll ride this thing out to the end.  Just my guess.  The rebels will dig him out of a spider hole a la Saddam.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just so the Persians don't feel left out... Iranian Metal band "Aliaj"

Music night on DinD continues... A collection of Iranian metal band Aliaj videos...

Music Night on DinD: Acrassicauda - Heavy Metal from Baghdad...

Acrassicauda on MySpace

This is the movie about them. It is really good.

Music night on DinD! Why? Because I can.


Oops... Whomever made the video appears to have messed up, this is probably Electric Hellfire Club, not MDFMK. Explains why I haven't heard this before. EHC... Used to have an album of their's many years ago, it was so so. I think I saw them live back in the day as well. Who knows? It was the 1990s and things were damn fuzzy back then.

I still like this song and video, though.

Radiation fears in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis...

In other words, there is little to worry about, so far...

Congress: A bunch of screaming children on a bus...

Amusing, but I think they did get it a bit right in comparing Congress, especially the House, to a bunch of screaming children on the bus while the President is the driver trying not to crash the whole thing... Doesn't matter which party is in charge where, it's still about the same, even when one party holds both the the House and Senate and the Presidency, as we've seen recently.

Unfortunately, throw the federal bureaucracy into the mix, and things really get bogged down.  As I wrote in a comment on FB recently in response to a post worried that we voted for a presidential canidate of "change" and ended up with what some people, people  a little bit further on the left for my comfort, feels is turning into Bush III:

One of the problems with government is that it is designed to move very slowly. Anyone coming in and promising immediate and significant change is setting themselves up for trouble. Clinton went through the same deal his first two years in office, and he promised a lot less change than Obama, however, he also made some bigger mistakes during his first two years in office than Obama has.

This slow movement is actually a good thing. It keeps any one administration or congress from wrecking everything.

However, sometimes with the bureaucracy, which changes at a glacial pace, change becomes almost impossible. At that point, I see it going down almost exactly like Nathan describes. It is not that Obama is Bush 3, but that all of these presidents are working with the same bureaucrats within the government.

Now, add to this a busload of screaming children in the back, and things really come to a screaming halt, really fast...

JFK: Nuclear Weapons Must Be Abolished

JFK: Nuclear Weapons Must Be Abolished

Mostly just trying out the posting tool on this one. It's funny, though, I am not hearing much about getting rid of nuclear weapons these days, but a lot about getting rid of nuclear power plants. Trust me, an ICBM in your neighborhood will ruin your day a lot quicker than a nuclear power plant.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya: Another Iraq or another Kuwait?

Why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003 By Peter Bergen, CNN

A good article talking about the fear of the U.S. military's involvment in a third Arab nation.  His determination is that this is probably more like Iraq 1991, not 2003.

What's up with the .com?

Well, here is the plan... The .com is still available and I don't want to lose it, so I will make this the new primary website. Should work better that way. I will need to wait until next week to make it official, but this is way cheaper than my old hosting solution… (Rhymes with Ah, You).

I think I still own the domain name, or my ownership of it has just expired.  If the latter, time could be of the essence.  Some one parked on another old domain name of mine pretty quickly a couple years ago.  Evil.  (Then again, if I do snag this domain and you are some right wing wacko who wants to pay top dollar for an Anti-Obama website, let's talk!)