Thursday, June 29, 2006

Date woes?

Joe Adams of I Dig Answers has started a new service, I Dig Answers About my Date. It's a fee service, but once you subscribe it gives you a great guide to public records research, mostly in Florida. For $29.95 for a month access it will show you how to do research in criminal records, driving records, businesses, lawsuits, marriage, and a lot more. If the info isn't available online it will walk you thru getting access by contacting the agency responsible.

Adams is the expert in Florida public records. An editorial writer at the newspaper in Jacksonville, he wrote the book on Florida records and teaches journalists and others how to use them. The free part of his Website links to news about public records and to news stories using them.

On that Murtha story...

Bob Norman wraps up how the Sun-Sentinel's coverage of the Murtha speech the other day led to a huge to-do in the blog world and had to be corrected.

Change in public records access

There's light blogging here this week because I'm away and not able to spend as much time at the computer as normal, but here's something worth posting:, which has been everyone's recommendation for free access to finding public records online via state and county websites (along with some national and international databases too) for a long time now, has become a fee service.

I'd suspected this was coming for a while, but now it's confirmed by an item in the TVC Alert newsletter:
The conversion took place slowly beginning with the introduction of fees in 2004 for faster access. Now, it appears that you cannot obtain any information without registration and payment.

TVC alert recommends some possibilities for replacement directories of public records: BRB's free resource center, Portico at U.Va., and Black Book Online, all of which I've linked to at some point.

I also recently linked to Free Public Records from, which seems to do the same thing that Searchsystems did before it started advertising fees. But I just clicked on it and get a 'problem loading page' message. Ooops. The main page still has a link, though...
(Added later: it is working again on Sunday.....)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Will it be missed?

Fred Tasker has a long history of Knight Ridder focusing on the many years it was headquartered in Miami, in the Miami Herald. Telling quote:
'Tony Ridder never had his heart in Miami,' ex-Mayor Ferré says. 'He didn't fit. He didn't see the future of this community. He's an all-American guy, and this is not an all-American city. This is Tomorrowland.'

More on regional blogs (NC)

I linked to the state list at North State Blogs the other day, but neglected to mention NCBlogs, which seems to have a longer more current list. I added my photo blog to it and probably should add this one too. I like the fact that NCBlogs has a link to regional NC blogs, so you can focus on just western NC or 3 other regions. I plan to look at each of the WNC blogs one of these days....

BlogAsheville has been linking to a new progressive political NC blog, BlueNC, which aggregates postings from several bloggers. BlueNC is now starting up its own NC Blog Index. Not many there yet but it will increase, I'm sure.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Well,the Heat's parade was broadcast on Sun Sports, so I got to see it. Worth the wait, just to see Pat Riley dance. He and I are the same age, and he needs a new hip, but I've got to admit, he's got much better moves....

Miami Herald photo by Al Diaz.

Want to see more? Stuck on the Palmetto links to a video.

Weekend update

This is where I post news research tools, research reports and other interesting links collected during the past week. Most of these come from lists compiled by others, like Gary Price and the Resourceshelf team, journalism sites and newsletters, but some are things found while looking up something else.

The links:

  • Britannica Concise: free short entries.
  •, another site for flower identification.
  • MOMA collection database art works at Museum of Modern Art.
  • Special bibliography: Space from Air University library.
  • Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has studies, papers.
  • NaturServe has great databases of North American (Explorer) and Latin American (InfoNatura) plants, animals, ecosystems.

  • building and Fire Safety Investigations from NIST, has reports on hurricanes Rita/Katrina, The Station fire, World Trade Center.
  • Status of U.S. Marine Fisheries for 2005
  • Baby Boomer Retirement: the Nightmare in our Future.
  • SIPRI Yearbook 2006: armaments, arms control and international security.
  • Fastest growing American cities in 2005, from Census.
  • Top Brands, survey of brand quality and equity from Harris Interactive. #1: Reynolds Wrap.
  • Lots more links to good reports on the new Docuticker.

  • Translations statistics database, from UNESCO.
  • International Energy Outlook, 2006
  • Refinery Capacity Reports, 2006
  • State electric energy profiles, 2004 data.

    Governments, Politics:
  • Treaties and Agreements, texts from Dept of State.
  • Members of Congress under investigation, compiled by Congresspedia/SourceWatch.
  • Dollars not Sense new report from House Government Reform Minority Office, shows huge rise in dollars spent and percentage of government contracts, a 'shadow government' of private companies. Link to 110-page PDF of full report, plus a searchable database of problem contracts.

  • Newspaper Reader Engagement, report from NAA.

  • All U.S. Censuses are now on (press release from My Family). is a subscription service.

  • Corporate Affiliations from, has corporate linkage information and company profiles on over 200,000 public companies, to 7 levels of linkage. Includes corporate officer and contact names and trademarks. Subscribe by month ($300) or by number of records.

  • NY Times story on Free web-based desktop software (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.)

  • Friday, June 23, 2006

    June blues

    It's hot here in the mountains this week. And dry. We need rain. But no matter how hot it gets, I know it feels hotter in Miami, even if the temperature might be a little lower. It rains there in the afternoon. Which makes it more humid, so it feels even hotter.

    So why is the Miami Heat holding a victory parade down Biscayne Boulevard at TWO O'CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON?

    Wouldn't 7 pm work a whole lot better? Or are they afraid the only folks who will show up are those who work downtown?

    If I had anything better than dialup, I'd stay home and watch the live Webcast.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Gene Miller

    Forgive me another little burst of nostalgia, but reading back over the Jack Knight entry it suddenly struck me that it was a year ago that Gene Miller died. Maybe the best journalist I ever knew.

    His online guest book is still online. 20 pages of tributes from journalists and friends and just people who read his stories.

    Boy, would I love to hear Gene's take on the end of Knight Ridder and the future of the Miami Herald.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Politics and sex

    Seems it always comes back to this. Some 'interesting' reading on variations on this topic:

    High Infidelity, in Washington Monthly. How certain potential presidential candidates might be judged by their sexual pasts:

    Despite the scandalous details, whether the press will air them is still an open question. When it comes to personal morality, liberal commentators have long argued that the press has one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans (and another one entirely for the Clintons). It's possible that the mainstream media will fail to apply the same scrutiny to the known transgressions of Gingrich, Giuliani and McCain as the Times did to rumors about Hillary Clinton's husband.

    Then there's Digby, on "Frothy Junior", asking why it is so many DC wonks seem smitten with George W. Bush's manhood:
    Bubba was female friendly (if you know what I mean) and was the object of a great deal of derisive coverage for his tomcat vibe by the priggish DC press. What worked in his favor out in the country — his smarts ‘n sexual charisma — made the Washington media squirm like a bunch of little old ladies caught by accident at a Marilyn Manson concert. And then along came the codpiece and they all fell in love. Wassup with that?
    ...It’s the image of Bush as some sort of cowboy hero that kept him propped up for so long (if you’ll excuse the expression) and which the press corps has been dying to get another lingering look at. They love their man when he’s all sweaty and swaggering. Preferably in a tight jumpsuit.

    Bonus link, also from Digby on Hullaballoo, Insurgent Sympathizers, on a "love song", Hadji Girl, popular with U.S. Marines in Iraq:

    I hope the Republicans are prepared to spend as much on VA mental health as they've spent filling their right wing cronies' bank accounts because a lot of these guys are going to need help.

    One word

    OK. So I can't get through a day of blogging today without mentioning this:

    I know what most people think about this team. I've read all the columns and blog comments. People outside of Miami have just never liked the Heat. Pat Riley, Shaq, Zo: they've over the years been the bad guys to many people. The team's not a team, it's a business proposition. They're dirty players, mean and rough. The players bought in this year are just hired finishers.

    But I've watched this team since it started and since I went to my first game in the old Miami Arena, probably the first or second season, '88 or so. Great players like Steve Smith, Glen Rice, Dan Majerle -- Tim Hardaway and Zo -- we wanted them to get a championship so badly. So many heartbreaking losses. I was in the stands for the last game when Charlotte swept Miami. That hurt badly.

    Now: who can not love Dwyane Wade? And, despite having to listen to the commentators' hype over and over during the games, who can't rejoice for damaged warrior Alonzo Mourning, local kid Udonis Haslem, many times All-Star Gary Payton, erratic and disrespected Antoine Walker, who've gone through so much disappointment and still ended up -- finally -- champions. And how could you doubt the love this team feels for each member? I don't think you can hype that.

    (And, if I've been sloppy blogging the last week or so, it's because of the late nights watching these finals games. Up til 1:30 last night and wide awake. Back to normal now.)

    Covering blogging in Jacksonville and elsewhere

    Big to-do over a story in the Florida Times-Union about Jacksonville-area bloggers. As is usual with a story like this, the reporter wrote about the blogs he knew or was told about, and didn't know about a lot of others that have been around a lot longer.

    Rogers Cadenhead, who's been blogging since 1998, lists many others.

    Urban Jacksonville, which featured prominently in the story, is starting a Jacksonville blog list, and has called for a blog meeting.

    It's hard for bloggers to get noticed, and it's hard for those trying to collect them to know which are local and which aren't. Many blogs don't say exactly where they're from. Statewide lists, like those for Rhode Island, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina, leave many out and as blogs come and go they get outdated. (My list of Florida blogs was never complete; probably the best list of Miami-area blogs now is on Stuck on the Palmetto.)

    Geographic coding on blogs is a great idea, and used by many, but some bloggers don't care whether or not they're identified by location.

    In Asheville NC, BlogAsheville is a good example of a local site with a great local blogroll. They had a bloggers' party last weekend. I expect mostly only very local bloggers showed up, but they made a valiant effort to contact all local bloggers in western NC. There was a rumor a blog caravan was coming from the Triangle area of central NC. They gave out blog awards. Way to go.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Accuracy and basketball

    Lots of blog comments about Greg Cote's Miami Herald column that says Mark Cuban screamed at the referees and commissioner David Stern after the end of game 5 the night before last.

    Now Cuban denies it in his blog. Cuban is also still annoyed that a Miami Herald story said he had a boat tied up next to the arena with a 'Go Mavs' sign. The story even gives the name of the yacht. Cuban doesn't own a boat, he says, and is ticked that the Herald hasn't corrected the online story. Says Cuban: My email is everywhere. If you want to know if i have a boat BEFORE you write that I do. Just ask.

    Or, check the Vessel documentations database from the Coast Guard, or the boat registrations databases of the states (available easily in Nexis).

    (Well, hmm. The story was a celebrity sighting story from the features section, and the info supposedly came from an AA Arena official...?)

    Note, however, the story HAS been corrected (scroll to end), despite today's posting from Cuban. And, someone must have heard his comments beside 'a reporter's 'sources', because the NBA has fined Cuban $250,000.

    Torture, hurricanes and Wall Street (and good reporting)

    A few more random links today, on topics covered here before:

    Fly Air Torture, from Amnesty International. "No fares. No paperwork."
    Thanks to the Bush Administration, the "war on terror" has been a big boon to our business. All flights are fully funded by unsuspecting taxpayers in the United States.

    Before and After, a wonderful series from the Sun Herald in Biloxi, now a book. See what happened to dozens of private homes, historical places, and businesses in Mississippi from the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Each photoset also has a bit of history of the place. I love the Waffle House photo, which looks like a classic Edward Hopper painting in the 'before' shot (and like a scene from Dante's Inferno in the 'after').

    On the topic of newspaper history, an interesting insight from Richard Cohen in the Washington Post: A Thirst for Black Ink From Good Papers. He says what media critics have said for years, but with the coming Knight Ridder demise it makes it so much more poignant:
    The phrase "Wall Street thinks" is a tsunamic oxymoron because Wall Street, by and large, does not think. Instead, it is ruthlessly reptilian, instinctively striving only for profits, which means money, which means more money for Wall Street. In the case of the Times -- and also, by implication, the Wall Street Journal and The Post -- Wall Street does not like the way these companies are managed. Although they are publicly traded, they are substantially controlled by individual families. This is undemocratic and inefficient. Pray it stays that way. all should appreciate that there is more than one way to measure value. For you to get richer, we will all have to get poorer.

    In the Miami Herald, from Jack Dolen and Scott Hiaasen: Fire Rescue's Pay Files in a Chaotic Condition. Turns out the Miami Dade fire department charged 172 hours of computing work to come up with 6 records of overpayment. This kind of story -- inefficient government agencies that try to avoid doing work for the public by claiming their systems require expensive programming to compile it -- is a constant topic on the computer-assisted reporting message boards. This story does a great job of explaining to readers what it means. After all this work (and a request for additional funds to release the database to reporters) the department still can't resolve many of the records the Herald found questionable (a lot more than 6).

    Newsroom censorship

    Boing Boing and LA Observed report that the Los Angeles Times is using some sort of blocking software to prevent reporters from reaching certain Websites. According to the memo from anti-blocking Website Peacefire, its site -- and Playboy's -- are among the blocked sites. (In the San Francisco bureau, those are available, but Penthouse is not.)

    Knight and newspaper history

    25 years ago last week, John S. Knight died. The newspaper chain he created after inheriting the Akron paper from his father, Knight Newspapers, had merged with Ridder and gone public about 15 years earlier. It was a week or so later that I went to work for his flagship paper, the one where he kept an office and which housed the KR corporate headquarters, The Miami Herald.

    Now his company, after moving to California, is going away, too, becoming just another blip in journalism history, like Knight himself, and his brother James who ran the business.

    But Knight was a special man with great values and it's worth remembering those. The Akron Beacon-Journal, Knight's hometown paper and the family's first, has a 1978 interview with Knight, in several parts with MP3s available.

    Knight was his own kind of executive:
    I belong to the "Hey, Joe" school. I pick up the first edition of the Beacon Journal in the morning and I see something, I run up in the newsroom and say, "Hey, Joe, for Christ's sake, get that straightened out." See. I like that. I don't want to write somebody a long memorandum. Arrange a conference sometime. Discuss it. I like the direct action. We don't get that anymore. Don't ask me why.

    Also on Knight, Knight Foundation president and former Miami Herald publisher Alberto Ibargüen, Spirit of Independence:
    This is a good time to reflect on his values as we stand, ironically, nine days before the end of Knight Ridder and during the week when the Knight Foundation committed to give away its 1 billionth dollar in charitable contributions.

    The company and its history may go away, but the Foundation is doing some great work in journalism, among other areas. The latest: The Carnegie-Knight Initative on the Future of Journalism Education. The Knight name is all over new media and new journalism.

    In more journalism history, the Knight Foundation is highlighting a dedication to late Oakland Tribune owner Robert Maynard, who, before he went to Oakland, was one of the journalists I admired at the Washington Post so many years ago.

    Speaking of the Post, fascinating history of the Post's Web initiative, started with a memo from Bob Kaiser in 1992.....

    (Via Romenesko.)

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Weekend update: Other things found last week

    There wasn't much new stuff last week, and I'm behind on posting (late night basketball finals games have me running behind on everything). But there were some good things:

  • Preliminary crime statistics for 2005, annual FBI report.
  • Congressional Documents online at Rutgers Law Library. Coverage from the 1970's to 1998.
  • Most Expensive Homes in the U.S., compiled by Forbes, with links to regional lists.
  • The Complete Plays of Shakespeare, from Google Book Search.
  • The Celebrity 100, 2006, most powerful celebrities ranked by Forbes.
  • County Business Patterns, 2004 from Census.
  • Personal Financial Disclosures, members of Congress latest filings, posted by Political Moneyline.
  • In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency: February 2006 report from the International Crisis Group which provides a detailed look at the evolution of the insurgency, and describes its four main groups (from Metafilter).
  • Friday, June 16, 2006

    Another attack on public records

    PI Buzz reports that a California congresswoman wants the Social Security Administration to remove the Social Security Death Index from public access. Apparently a local TV station has also taken up the campaign.

    Protecting the identity of the dead. Doesn't seem like a problem to me. Part of the value of the Death Index is that all the public records aggregators use it to flag records of the deceased.
    Without it, wouldn't there be more chance of misuse?

    Another ship gone

    Some great photos of the sinking of the aircraft carrier Oriskany to create a diving attraction off of Pensacola last month. Link to more photos on Pensacola Beach blog.

    Time to change the team?

    I've been seeing several blog postings over the last week by writers who say they didn't have a favorite NBA team, but have chosen the Mavericks to root for.

    I think that decision is worth rethinking.

    After all, if you're looking for a team to support, how could you NOT choose the one with Dwyane Wade on it?

    Speaking of blogging, Mark Cuban doesn't have much to say now. For reaction from one new Mavs fan, see Rex Hammock, here and here....

    New bloggers to love...or not

    Blogger is highlighting a blog that I find entrancing: Farm Girl Fare, by a former Californian who moved to the Midwest (Missouri) and is doing some serious farming, as well as cooking (she had a bakery in CA). There's a Daily Farm Photo, news about haying right now, animal photos, and food.

    Besides the farm blog, check out her other blog, In My Kitchen Garden. Great recipes here: I copied the emergency chocolate cake and the raspberry tartlets....I figure I'll find lots more. I'm jealous of the wild raspberries (we had them everywhere on our old farm in upstate NY, but there are none here) and gooseberries (can't plant them, or currants, in NC).

    In other blog news, here's something you don't often see, a blog from a soldier in Afghanistan, via Guardian NewsBlog: Afghanidan. Great photos, too. It starts out:

    Welcome to Bagram, the big ol' base that brings Hotel California to life: you can check out anytime you like, but it sometimes feels like you'll never leave.
    And, also from Guardian Newsblog, check out this story, broken by The Independent, about a very expensive blog. Turns out that the blog by the UK's first ministerial blogger, David Miliband, takes up 40 percent of the working day for two -- that's right, two -- highly paid civil servants! Hmm. Could I get them to design and write my blog? (Or not?)

    Added later: Newsblog also links to another blog from Afghanistan: Once Upon a Place, from Kabul, by a woman who's gone there to teach at the American University of Afghanistan

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Help for researchers

    I love this posting from the SLA convention, reported by InfoToday's Don Hawkins, on the presentation by Mary Ellen Bates: Becoming A Value-Added Information Professional. Great tips about how to organize the information you gather to make it more accessible, including using tools like Furl or Copernic to organize as you research, and using things like spreadsheets, cover summaries, and PDFs to make the reports more professional.

    Good stuff, and a posting I'll read over again.

    The next bad guy

    Just to show that the posts I linked to a couple days back weren't so far off:

    U.S. Identifies al-Zarqawi's Successor (AP, in Washington Post); U.S. reveals face of alleged new terror chief (CNN).

    More on Zarqawi:

    Huffington Post's Michael Shaw on his elevation to mastermind status. (Note, here, also, a link to Bag News Notes, a site that analyzes the effect of news images on the public consciousness. There's a fascinating comment discussion on Ann Coulter here, too.)

    Thomas Joscelyn in The Weekly Standard on the connection between al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein.

    Journalist and president

    Daily Pulp's Bob Norman comments on the story of LA Times (and former Miami Herald) reporter Peter Wallsten's encounter with president Bush. More in the SF Chronicle, Wonkette.
    Links include video of the segment of an outdoor press conference in which Bush joked about Wallsten's 'shades'. Wallsten, who has a vision problem, needs them.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006


    Oh how sad. The SS France, once also known as the Norway, is on its way to India to be broken up for scrap.

    As the Norway, she was the queen of Miami's harbor for many years. It was a thrill to pass by her in a small boat. Compared to the ugly modern floating skyscrapers there now, she was a sleek blue beauty, even after they added huge upper decks to make her more 'modern'. A 1993 boiler explosion that killed and injured several crew members sealed her fate. (BBC News, via Metafilter.) More from the Miami Herald.

    Au Revoir. It was only 1962 that she entered service. Life is short for a super ship.

    But this page, about classic liners, says there is one still sailing cruises that's 92 years old. Also on this page: information about another ship I have a fond memory of: SS Rotterdam. We found one of her life rings washed up on a Bahamas island -- South Bimini, I think -- about 20 years ago. Still have it, by the pool, although it's fading...

    Another Watergate myth dispelled

    Somehow I missed seeing any reference to the death of 'legendary Miami investigator' Martin Dardis last month. Joan Fleishman's column in the Miami Herald today gives notice of a memorial service, and Amy Driscoll's obituary ran May 18.

    Dardis' life story is full of great stories, of course the most well-known is his identification of the Watergate burglars' connection to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (Nixon). Dardis complained in later years that his portrayal in All the President's Men was unfair:
    Dardis, an ex-cop, despised his portrayal in the Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward book and movie, All the President's Men. He told The Miami Herald last year that his historical role had been unfairly diminished and that the movie made him seem like a shabbily dressed "buffoon." He said he had shown Bernstein exactly where the money had come from -- a Miami bank -- thereby filling in a key blank in the probe.
    ...When The Washington Post's Bernstein showed up at the state attorney's office in downtown Miami, Dardis showed him the critical link. In 1997, Woodward called the Dahlberg check the "connective tissue" that linked the burglars to Nixon's campaign.

    And, another story I hadn't heard: about his rescue of an American airman during the Battle of the Bulge: the airman turned out to be Kenneth Dahlberg, whose check for $25,000, given to the CREEP, was found in Bernard Barker's bank account nearly 30 years later!

    Lots of memories in the obit, from writers like Carl Hiaasen, former prosecutors, and Warren Holmes, the lie-detector expert who was involved in so many big Miami stories.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    On a roll

    Tim Porter's First Draft blog, which was in a slump for awhile as Porter worked on other projects, is full of great postings Porter's added over the last couple weeks.

    Worth checking out if you haven't visited it lately. Notable:

    -- The gas is half full -- or half empty, on formulaic speculative holiday gas price stories.

    -- On Dean Singleton.

    -- Hiring for Innovation, on Adrian Holovaty's interview with Robert Niles (linked on many j-blogs):
    What Holovaty said is so important it bears repetition: "If you want innovation, hire people who are capable of it. Hire people who know what's possible." Holovaty is talking about programmers, but you can substitute the words editors, reporters or photographers and apply the same idea. Hire for possibility, hire for innovation, hire for the future.

    ...and lots more good stuff.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Weekend update: Other things found last week

    More hurricane background:
  • A Failure to Communicate: Politics, Scams, and Information Flow During Hurricane Katrina in Searcher. Discussion of Websites, blogs and coverage from two library professionals at Western Washington U.
  • IbisEYE, hurricane forecasting tool (using Google Maps) from Sarasota Herald Tribune. Also has tracks of all Florida-landing storms since 1851.

    The other links:

  • Dictionary of Victorian London

  • Congressional Budget Office report on immigration projections
  • Trafficing in Persons report, 2006 from State Dept.
  • A New Retirement Risk Index from Boston College.

  • IPUMS International, from Minnesota Population Center, is compiling IPUMS individual-level census data from several countries.Just added: Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, South Africa, and Venezuela. Data is from censuses around the world since 1960.

    Governments, Politics:
  • 2004 Presidential Term Web Harvest from National Archives and Internet Archive, collecting and preserving Federal websites as they existed at end of term.

  • Coalition of Journalists for Open Government with great links page.
  • Nieman Narratives collects great narrative writings, with a searchable database.

  • Create a Graph from Dept. of Education, provides a template with design features to create several types of graphs using your own data.

  • Reuters Labs includes services like Newsbeats (news with music), a dashboard, audio and podcasts, a financial glossary.
  • Terrorism plot indictment from Canada, via Findlaw.
  • Eat the Press: Huffington Post's compilation of media news.

  • Miami-Manhattan mashup, in which Miami Beach is replaced by that other island. Amazingly, it fits perfectly! Was it shrunk? Or does Miami Beach just SEEM smaller?

  • Friday, June 09, 2006

    Notable readings on al-Zarqawi and the war

    Vanity Fair's Rountable Report by Craig Unger: The War they Wanted, the Lies they Needed, on the Niger yellowcake story. From the story:
    For more than two years it has been widely reported that the U.S. invaded Iraq because of intelligence failures. But in fact it is far more likely that the Iraq war started because of an extraordinary intelligence success—specifically, an astoundingly effective campaign of disinformation, or black propaganda, which led the White House, the Pentagon, Britain's M.I.6 intelligence service, and thousands of outlets in the American media to promote the falsehood that Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program posed a grave risk to the United States.

    ..But the most important consequence of the Iraq war is its destabilization of the Middle East. If neoconservatives such as Ledeen and their critics agree on anything, it is that so far there has been only one real winner in the Iraq conflict: the fundamentalist mullahs in Iran.
    Links here to more of VF's Plamegate coverage.

    From The Atlantic: The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, or, How a video-store clerk and small-time crook reinvented himself as America’s nemesis in Iraq.

    On al-Zarqawi, comments from Juan Cole:
    There is no evidence of operational links between his Salafi Jihadis in Iraq and the real al-Qaeda; it was just a sort of branding that suited everyone, including the US.

    And, from the Gadflyer:
    What will we do without Zarqawi? We can't fight a country, or a group or even an ideology -- we need a bad guy.
    My prediction: some new thug will be elevated to brilliant and devious terrorist mastermind in the next month or two.

    Included in this Gadflyer posting: quotes from the Bush administration about 'turning points'.

    A similar comment from Digby:
    You don't have to be a military expert to know that even if Zarqawi were the mastermind the administration portrayed him as, the war is a lot more complicated than the cheap Chuck Norris movie the Bushies have tried to market to the masses. (Think "Syriana.").
    More on Zarqawi, from Robert Fisk and Loretta Napoleoni, interviewed by Democracy Now. Fisk:
    You see, one of the big problems here is that we keep personalizing in this—there’s a French phrase: infantilisme, which means babyishness—in this babyish way.
    You know, our horror of the week, the man we hate, is, you know, Gamal Abdul Nasser, or Ayatollah Khomeini, or Osama Bin Laden, or whoever it may be. The fact of the matter is that I don't think the personalities, per se, actually make a lot of difference anymore.

    This ties in nicely with a comment on another blog, can't remember which one, now, which said the whole Iraq war seemed to be becoming a deadly version of 7th grade.

    Oh, yes, and then, of course, there's On Simple Human Decency, in Harpers, by Ben Metcalf, who really, really, doesn't like the president:
    (I) am a peaceful man, with no actual wish to exact payment for anyone's continued debasement of humanity by feeling the life drain out of him, slowly, through the inordinately sensitive nerves in my fingers and palms.
    ...I would hope him untroubled even by guilt, as might haunt any normal human being who had caused the deaths of more than 30,000 Iraqi civilians in order, it would seem, to invite the wrath of the world's people down upon the heads of his own, so deeply does my kindness extend.

    Slow posting

    Unfortunately Blogger's problems are continuing. Seems OK this morning so far, but I caught a couple grammatical glitches in Wednesday's posting I wanted to fix, and had some things to post yesterday, but couldn't get back in at all after -- finally -- managing to post the two items Wed.

    I'll try to catch up today, but am not confident it's fixed yet. Blogger Status, which always seems to be at least a day behind, says they were working on serious problems yesterday...

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Newsroom legacy info, researchers, Pulitzers and social network analysis

    Quite a conglomeration of subjects. But, patience, there's method in my madness and a definite connection.

    Derek Willis posts another of his brilliant essays on why newsrooms need to manage information better. In this one, Journalism Lost -- and Found, he deplores the tendency of newsrooms to discard information outside of the standard clip and photo archives. Oh, was this a bugbear of mine. Where was the company archive? The personnel archive? The collection of books and pamphlets written by staff? Project files from great projects, especially the prize-winning ones, discarded after their creators left? Oh, yes, some of that made its way into the filing cabinets, if it didn't take up too much room. But it was random at best.

    The collective memory and intelligence of a newsroom staff is priceless and too much of it leaves when the individuals leave. Says Derek:
    ...we are losing something when people with decades of experience and knowledge head towards retirement or another job.

    The worst part? We’re losing much more than we have to lose, if only newspapers acted upon the principal that its information is as valuable as its people. Oral history programs are good and necessary, but they serve few current journalistic purposes. What newspapers need, not just at buyout time but all the time, is a plan to capture as much information and expertise as they can during the tenure of its employees.
    Along the way, Derek points to the Post newsroom Wikis mentioned in the Poynter article that came out a couple weeks ago, Lessons learned from the Pulitzers. In this article (and I can't believe I didn't read all the way down then), mention of the value of Post researchers, from James Grimaldi:
    We have a crack research team and our work was bolstered in particular by the work of some of the best researchers at any newspaper in America -- Alice Crites, Lucy Shackelford, Derek Willis and Madonna Liebling.
    (Does it seem to you that news researchers are finally -- finally -- getting the credit they deserve?)

    Grimaldi also discusses how the Post uses social network analysis, an amazing journalism tool not commonly used yet. Grimaldi learned about it from IRE/NICAR's Brant Houston, just a couple years back. On this topic, Blogger is highlighting a blog called Connectedness, with a post commenting on some of Grimaldi's work, including screenshots. Worth checking out.

    Where you can live

    Al's Morning Meeting had some links today on the housing bubble and predictions it's ending. Among them, the National Assn of Realtors article, and lists of city home values from MSN Money(House price appreciation by Metro area) and MSNBC (Hot housing markets).
    Hottest of the hot markets? St. George, UT, and Naples, FL.

    Coincidentally (or not), the Naples Daily News is doing a special report on affordable housing in the Naples area, Paradise: at what cost?. Is there such a thing? I recently read a local story about a company that had a call center in Naples and had to move it to Cleveland, TN, where their employees could actually afford to live.

    The Daily News series includes readers' stories, chats, videos, and podcasts, and a searchable database. Some other Florida papers have been noted for similar projects recently (here , here) and more....

    And, some other ways to help decide where you might want to live:
  • Pain at the Pump: Which Cities Hurt the Most, from Considers cost of fuel plus commute distances and traffic congestion. Sprawl cities like Atlanta come out worst.
  • 50 Smart Places to Live from Kiplinger. Best city: Nashville. Also: Ithaca, NY, despite being in 'the Finger Lakes boonies', and Asheville ('franchise-free downtown').

  • Blogger is having problems again today so I may not get these posts in for some time. Sometimes I miss having TypePad to post with (on my Herald blog), but then I remember how long it took Typepad to load and sometimes to post, and several outages there too....Blogger has not been much of a problem at all over the last couple years. But right now...aughhh!

    Master of Disaster?

    Slate discusses disaster coverage, and Joel Achenbach says the greatest disaster article ever written was Dave Von Drehle's story on Hurricane Hugo in 1989, for the Miami Herald. Slate -- not knowing, I guess, that they could have gotten the full article, not just the summary in Nexis, from or, gets a copy from Von Drehle, and permission to reprint it from The Herald: The Master of Disaster: David Von Drehle vs. the catastrophe clichés.

    Von Drehle navigates around clichés as swiftly as a slalom skier. His hurricane doesn't batter the coast or flatten buildings. Stop signs don't shimmy in the wind as if possessed by the devil. No homeowner or businessman nails glass-saving plywood to the front of his building. When the time comes for the obligatory "the hurricane sounds like a passing train" reference, Von Drehle shakes his head uh-uh and writes:

    It sounds like the harsh intake of a dentist's suction tube, greatly amplified and always increasing. Or the roar of a seashell a billion times over. Or Niagara, if only Niagara cranked up its volume each time your ears got adjusted to it.

    The headline on Dave's story: Shaken Survivors Witness Pure Fury.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Who influences them?

    Power Trips is a new analysis of privately funded Congressional travel from the Center for Public Integrity, along with Medill News Service and American Public Media.

    The report, and news stories on it, is already resonating on Memeorandum, where it's the top story with several blog links. Lots of juicy details in these lists of most trips, most travel accepted, and most expensive trips. Hard to figure out why a Tom Bliley trip to London cost over $30,000 (and why Brown and Williamson paid it), or why Ileana Ros Lehtinen went to Israel and Korea, and Tom Delay just to Korea, financed by the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council (about $28,000 each). And Bob Wexler had to go to Kazakhstan?

    Greenslade, and copy editors blogging

    There's a new Romenesko in town, and he's called Greenslade. Roy Greenslade is a former newspaper editor and a Guardian commentator. His site is a new 'media gossip' site for the UK, but his postings cover much more than that, along with much from the U.S. According to Jeff Jarvis:

    Greenslade is more selective. He’s not trying to cover every move by news businesses. He’s trying to find stories that matter to media and not just in the UK.
    ...I already find it every bit as useful and in many ways more compelling than the required reading in American media, Romenekso.

    Linked on Greenslade, and several other journalism blogs: Style Wars in Cyberspace, American Journalism Review article on copy editors who blog.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Slow blogging today, and photography

    Problems at Blogger kept me unable to sign on to post anything most of the day.

    Note, though, I did manage to post some links on my photo blog about Hugh Morton, who died the other day. Most people outside of North Carolina may not know the name, but as the owner of one of Western NC's biggest tourist attractions, Grandfather Mountain, his name is everywhere.

    But where he excelled was as a photographer; I've seen books of his photos for years, and seen his photos in brochures and magazines. But I didn't know he did news photography too. See the other posting for links to some reporters' and photographers' reminiscences...

    Speaking of great photographs, check out this photo of a starry night over Yosemite, pointed out by Jorn Barger at Robot Wisdom....

    Hiaasen's Florida

    Just caught the rerun of Steve Kroft's 60 Minutes interview with Carl Hiaasen last evening. It's interesting that links to the transcript are turning up on several blogs today, as if it had been on for the first time. The interview was actually broadcast last year, a few months after the publication of Hiaasen's last novel, Skinny Dip. He's written a new one which will be out in the fall.

    Transcript: Florida: A Paradise of Scandals.

    Some reactions: Crooks and Liars (with lots in the comments); Political Animal (lots of comments here too.) More on Memeorandum.

    From Political Animal:
    I have this theory that almost all the bad things that happen in this country have an almost direct connection to Florida. The Elian Gonzalez controversy, the 2000 election debacle, the original anthrax letters, the flying lessons for the 9/11 terrorists, the Terri Schiavo matter, the Abramoff deals, the worst drivers in the country ... what else am I supposed to think?

    Um...I think everyone in Florida has that theory (see comments, e.g.).

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    We can breathe again

    Heat fans are happy today.

    Weekend update

    Other things found last week:

    Several reports out this week, just in time for hurricane season:

    The other links:

  • National Security Archive: Kissinger papers, Transcripts of Henry Kissinger's Meetings with World Leaders.
  • Performing Arts Encyclopedia, from Library of Congress.
  • Directory of Published Proceedings, searchable database of conference proceedings in science, technology, social sciences, medicine.
  • Special Operations: research bibliography from Air University library.
  • National credit score index from Experian.
  • Sheet Music Consortium has images of old sheet music.

  • Timeline of Iraq Reconstruction, from Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
  • Who Makes What from, report on wireless infrastructure.
  • UNAIDS report, summary PDF; Fulltext.
  • Report to Congress: Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq from Defense Dept.
  • OPEC and the high price of oil (fulltext PDF); press release. From FTC and Joint Economic Committee.
  • The Condition of Education 2006
  • Homeland Security grant allocations (PDF) lists grants to local governments.
  • Addicted to Oil: Implications of U.S. Oil Policy, from Strategic Studies Institute.

  • Energy: Useful facts and numbers (CRS report).
  • Federal, State and Local Government Finances, new data from Census.
  •, from George Mason U, has useful analyses of stats in news stories and links to background data, blogs and more.

    Governments, Politics:
  • Salaries of Members of Congress: A List of Payable Rates and Effective Dates, 1789-2006, from Congressional Research Service.
  • Master Government List of Federally Funded R&D Centers.

  • Eventful: another database of upcoming events by location. The default city is Atlanta, and it shows things like Braves games and concerts (Jimmy Buffett coming up). Going to other cites finds booksignings and a circus.
  • Private Investigator Wiki: 60 essential sites from Tamara Thompson, who also has 10 must have sites. (note some of the Wiki links don't work because the URLs include the ending parenthesis. Take that off if you get a 404.)
  • DK Clip Art, nice art from graphics book publisher Dorling Kindersley.

  • News Search portal, one of the 60 sites, links to every possible news search site.
  • Space Program Archive from Newspaper Archive.

    Public Records:
  • Internet Access to Court Records - Balancing Public Access and Privacy paper from NYU School of Law, download available.

    Some interesting stories/blogs:
  • Blogs with a Face: this doesn't work well with my slow connection, but a fun idea: a collage of faces taken from blog pages, with links to the blogs.
  • Fight to Survive, blog from soldiers who've returned from Iraq and are posting their journal entries, thoughts, photos and opinions of the war: "My support for the war I fought has dissolved, but I can not speak for all veterans, nor can Rep. John Murtha, and nor can Wade Zirkle. An individual can only represent their own views honestly. I encourage our citizens to seek the views of veterans from every rank, branch and current organization for a true assessment of their experience and beliefs.". via Newsblog.

  • Friday, June 02, 2006

    Don't worry, Heat fans

    Big game tonight. Wade missed practice.
    Don Wade says it's gonna be all right (It's all in the name).

    25 years of AIDS

    For this grim anniversary, two great resources for more information:

    AIDS at 25 from Kaiser Family Foundation, includes reports, webcast, factsheet, timeline, and links to more information sources.

    The Age of AIDS from PBS' Frontline. Includes timeline, interviews, maps.

    Notable today

    Among the random things I noticed today, these:

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr's long article in Rolling Stone, Was the 2004 Election Stolen? is attracting lots of attention, lots of it skeptical (of course). The report comes with documentation to support his contention that hundreds of thousands of votes in Ohio were not counted.

    The New York Times reports Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss. It is illustrated with a graphic showing photos and information Kerry and his staff have managed to find, years later, to rebut the 'Swift Boat' attackers. Kerry apologizes to his supporters for not doing this during the campaign:
    "We should have put more money behind it," Mr. Kerry says now. "I take responsibility for it; it was my mistake. They spent something like $30 million, and we didn't. That's just a terrible imbalance when somebody's lying about you."

    From New Scientist Tech, British scientists have figured out a way to generate energy from chocolate:
    The team fed Escherichia coli bacteria diluted caramel and nougat waste. The bacteria consumed the sugar and produced hydrogen, which they make with the enzyme hydrogenase, and organic acids. The researchers then used this hydrogen to power a fuel cell, which generated enough electricity to drive a small fan...

    I didn't know that new media guru Joi Ito was a protege of Timothy Leary: Ito writes about the relationship 10 years after Leary's death, and includes a letter from Leary's son about the last day:
    There were not many words left – his fantastic world class verbosity was no longer. His tall proud gorgeous physique was long gone. His mental dance and history lesson of teaching us how to die was complete – it was time to cash in his few remaining chips.

    Here's the ultimate wish list: Castles and chateaux for sale.

    Among the details in 'Blog Maverick' Mark Cuban's posting Why Journalism Matters (linked on lots of journalism blogs), this tidbit:
    I just hired a young, award winning journalist to partner with me on a blog that will do nothing but try to uncover corporate fraud. Young, energetic, fired up and damn the stuff i have seen so far is good. Will the payoff be about accounting gone bad ? Will it be a Skilling and Lay standing in front of the mike picture with accompanying text ? No chance.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    A new outlook on outsourcing

    This may be a bit off topic, but is a fascinating use of a blog to highlight a new perspective while the writer takes a break: Rogers Cadenhead has handed over his Workbench blog to a New Delhi business reporter who commented on his blog earlier.
    Vivek Seal, 23, is blogging on outsourcing from an Indian perspective. Example:
    ... I must tell you guys that the average education level for a call center job in India is at least a graduate degree (bachelors in commerce, economics, arts, etc.) as compared to school-level education there. For all you people who are not happy with an accent, just imagine the time you called up someone in your country and try to compare it without having this inherent hate for outsourcing. You may very well realize that it is not all that bad -- I mean the accent...

    Hurricane alert

    On the first day of the hurricane season of 2006, this is probably a good time to remind you that the National Hurricane Center has a Webfeed.
    Put the RSS URL in your newsreader/feedreader and get the storm announcements as they are published. Instructions and links to feeds and feed readers.
    There are feeds for Atlantic (English), Atlantic (Spanish) and Pacific, as well as feeds set up for individual storms.

    Lost journalism

    Daily Pulp's Bob Norman writes about the end of American Lawyer Media's contract with LexisNexis, and the loss it will be to South Florida journalism:

    For all practical purposes, the excellent journalism done by the American Lawyer Media’s 39 publications — including the newsbreaking Daily Business Review in South Florida — is gone.

    Kaput. Swallowed. Absent. The opposite of “there.”

    However you want to put it, the vast majority of journalists around the country won’t have access to ALM’s stories...

    Some publishers just still don't get it.

    Why you need a library card

    (Added later:) On a lark, I decided to see if the Miami-Dade Public Library's online databases included the Daily Business Revew. It does! You can find them, going back to 2000 for the Miami edition, later for the others, in the Infotrac databases (listed as General Business File ASAP in the database list under Business). You need to have a Miami-Dade library card and enter the number on the Online Databases page. Other library systems have similar databases available so you might be able to find them where you are too.

    Just another excellent reason to have a library card.

    (and, added much later:) Note in the comments to Norman's posting that one former DBR employee suggests registering at to read the archives of all the American Lawyer Publications' papers. I have found articles here, too, a very useful service to have.

    As far as the library databases: the files there may not include every article, as the ASAP databases used to be just 'major stories'. Not sure if that has changed. And, of course, whether the new contracts will affect the future updating of DBR stories there.

    Miami's gossips

    Fun story in Ocean Drive magazine about the folks who drive the gossip industry in Miami, by Brett Sokol: Inside Miami's Gossip Industry. Mentioned: Miami Herald's Lesley Abravanel, People mag's Mindy Marques (a former Herald editor). (Via Romenesko.) Says Abravanel, about what she can cover in her Herald columns:
    “Thank God for the blog,” Abravanel sighs, referring to “Scene in the Tropics”—her Herald column’s on-line extension. “I can get a little dirtier there.”