Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A history of lies, and an alternative?

In Mother Jones, a new chronology of the government statements and actions leading up to the invasion of Iraq: Lie by Lie. The timeline goes back to 1990 and a comment by Secy of Defense Dick Cheney, warning that Saddam Hussein could dictate the future of energy policy. There are some fascinating quotes here, over many years. Check out, for example, the Bush campaign debate comment on 10/3/2000: "The Vice President believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders."
Via Washington Monthly's Political Animal, who says:
You can search by date, by keyword, or by topic to create your own personalized timelines. It's fun for the whole family!

Pensito Review has collected some interesting quotes, too, on Iraq as well as on Hurricane Katrina.

Thanks to an annoying recorded telephone message, a link to, which has posted new Democratic proposals to change the nation's direction, as well as a 'Corruption File', links to progressive blogs by state, and other news and comments. Are there some real alternatives here?

Following up: Operation Eden, George Allen, newspapers online

One year after Katrina, it's good to see that Clayton Cubitt has added some updates to his Operation Eden blog. That's the one that followed the story of his mother's devastating loss of her Mississippi coast home in Hurricane Katrina, and stories of survivors and victims there and in their native New Orleans.
I posted links to the blog several times over the months following the storm. His stories and photos were compelling, but he nearly abandoned the blog for a few months, trying to make a living to help his family, he says.
Check out the lovely photo of Clayton's mother sitting on the porch of her unfinished new house. She spent part of the last year in Swansboro, NC, where a family offered her a home. After some months, though, the Gulf Coast, and the people who needed most, called to her. Now, with help, a house is going up:
It's been built by the sweat and love of volunteers from all over the country. From all walks of life they've come into the Gulf to help their brothers and sisters. Normal, average Americans, disgusted by their government's inaction, they've picked up hammers and done it themselves.
One day there's a moldering heap of rubble, the next day hippie volunteers from Burning Man bulldoze it and take it away. One day it's a flat slab of concrete, the next day a pre-fab home kit is delivered by One House At A Time and New Hope Construction. One day there's a jumble of materials, the next day a church group from Oregon shows up and builds the frame and shell. A little later a group from Pennsylvania shows up and paints it my mom's favorite shade of green, and puts a tin roof on so she can hear the rain fall at night. And not to be outdone, a group from Alabama comes over and sheet rocks the interior, then comes back and builds her a deck for good measure.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.

On the Va. Sen. George Allen story, a new report, Beyond Macaca, in The Nation, showing past tendencies:
In 2000, he had hung a noose at his law office. When that fact was reported, he claimed it had "nothing to do with lynching." When it was reported that he also hung large Confederate flags in his house, he explained they were part of his flag collection. Allen had also opposed the 1991 Civil Rights Act and making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a holiday.

On this topic, Jesus' General has a bumper sticker for Allen.

On the subject of newspapers' online product, something mentioned here often, a list from the Bivings Report: 9 Ways for Newspapers to Improve Their Websites (actually, 10 ways). Good, common-sense ideas that all online news sites should be considering, including RSS, tags, linking to local bloggers, and, number 10, doing something like a 'River of News' for cell phone readers.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A year ago today

Here's a look back from a blogger, Brendan Loy, whose Irish Trojan's Blog was one of the voices from New Orleans in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, that attracted the attention of readers all over the world. In this post, he links to other bloggers who were covering the storm then, to his posts from the time, and other thoughts. (Among them, a link to the interesting work on the storm surge on WunderBlog by Margie Kieper, The Invisible Coastline.)
Among them, Loy links to a posting from WizBang Blog, another blog that was covering the arrival of the storm a year ago. This post, The Katrina Video:
Congress confiscated a video of the floodwall collapsing and refused to let the public see it until (a perfectly timed) 10 months after the storm. - Well after the storm passed but a few months before the current 1 year anniversary hype.
You've probably never seen it, but we have video taken by New Orleans firefighters as the 17th street canal floodwall was actually in the process of breaking during Katrina.
..New Orleans was doomed with or without Katrina, we just didn't know it. A good high tide puts more water in the canal than this. As the video shows, the water was barely higher than normal levels. The walls could have failed on a decent high tide.

Here's WizBang's anniversary thoughts.

Journalistic 'told you sos' and cartoons

Now that the John Karr story is old news, a few experts are railing at the news media that insisted it was a big story: here's Jeff Jarvis; Editor & Publisher; Bob Geiger in Eat the Press; Washington Post's Howard Kurtz on 'The JonBenet Fraud'. From Geiger:
And this giant waste of time and resources, occurred at the expense of real news affecting real lives: A major crisis in the Middle East, a civil war in Iraq that's killing an average of 100 Iraqis a day and with our troops stuck smack-dab in the middle of it.

Via the Online Journalism Award nominations, a link to a cartoonist I thought I didn't know, but turns out he's the artist behind 'Zits', one of my favorite comic strips: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Jim Borgman has a blog on the paper's website, with recent drawing projects, cartoons, and scanned pages from his notebooks: BorgBlog. Very nice.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Last word on Knight Ridder, Katrina anniversary links

This may be the final obit on what was once a great newspaper company: in the New York Times, What-Ifs of a Media Eclipse, by Katharine Seelye.
Today, many people in the newspaper industry are still scratching their heads over how and why a company with relatively high profit margins and a trophy case of 85 Pulitzer Prizes allowed itself to be wiped off the media landscape.

And, in Al's Morning Meeting today, a collection of links to Hurricane Katrina anniversary coverage in lots of newspapers.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Online records in the news again

The Miami Herald's Monica Hatcher writes: Public records are easy targets for ID thieves, discussing the availabilty of some Social Security numbers in online records files like mortgages in Florida clerk of court documents.
The Florida Legislature, which mandated that clerks put records online several years ago, now is pushing for them to remove all private identification details from those records. It's a huge task and the legislature has had to move its deadline for clerks to comply.

Much of this is due to the campaign by a Virginia privacy advocate:
'The government down there is spoon-feeding criminals all over this world,'' said Betty Ostergren, a Virginia-based privacy advocate who has brought national attention to the security threat posed by online records. ``What they should have done was make the clerks and recorders close down the websites until they finished redaction.''

Ostergren has been pushing Florida for quite awhile now, emailing me a while back to tell me some details about me that she found online.

I'm more concerned about publicizing this information than the fact it's there, as I told Ostergren at the time. These records are amazingly useful tools for investigators, researchers, and journalists, and for that reason I dread the loss of them. Doing journalistic research in Florida was a dream, once. Not so much any more.

Some days it just seems that the Sunshine is going out.

Weekend update: More research links from the week

Some interesting new things this week that make old resources more easily available, always a welcome trend.

The links:

  • Kentuckiana Digital Library, includes lots of old newspaper pages, maps, texts, oral histories.
  • Patterns of Global Terrorism, the Department of State reports in book format, with large sections downloadable from the publisher, including terrorist group lists and chronologies.

  • U.S. Statistical Abstract, from Census, has moved to a new address and new format. No longer just PDF pages, now has quick data links and category browsing. Now most files are available in Excel spreadsheet format, and there's a link to the free Excel browser for those who don't have the program. For those who still prefer the PDFs, they're available under the Print Version tab. There are also links to previous editions, going back to 1878! as well as the great Historical Statistics of the United States book.

  • Institute for Rural Journalism at U. of Kentucky. Includes a Rural Blog, with some very interesting news worth covering.

  • BEOnline, internet resources from the Library of Congress' Business Reference Service. Lots of great tools linked here, like the Time Zone Converters list.
  • Bureau van Dijk Free Directory: search for companies by name, Id, or type/location/size; searches the ORBIS database, quick info for free. Full reports for registered users. 18 million companies included worldwide.
  • EDGAR Fulltext search, new from SEC, search for a name or other info within company filings, so far only includes last two years.
  • Understanding Today's Crude Oil and Product Markets, from the Heartland Institute.

  • Dissect Medicine, a new health news source, quick links to latest research and lots of news by categories.
  • Newsdirectory, a simple guide to finding news sources worldwide from newspapers to TV stations. Less cluttered than some of the other similar sites. From Tucows. (I'm sure I've linked this before but worth another look.)

    Public Records:
  • Open Doors, SPJ's guide to finding government records.

    Some interesting stories/blogs:
  • Web Owls: a neat blog for researchers. "How to search, how to research - tips and techniques, tales from the trenches, and wonderful discoveries. Contains 20% whimsy." by several researchers including some who research for Google Answers.
  • Rising Tide New Orleans, site for the upcoming conference.

  • Friday, August 25, 2006

    Friday fun

    Here's somthing that can take hours out of your day, if you get into it:
    It looks like a blank screen, but just move your cursor into the page. Slow makes thicker spots, fast makes thin lines. Click to change colors. I wonder if there's any way to save your creation (it's Flash)?
    (Via FreePint newsletter.)

    Or, how about this? can show you what's playing on a radio station near you; a U.S. map constantly changes as songs change on the stations. Or search for your favorite station, or stations by ZIP code, to see what's playing.

    Iran and the 'river'

    Great story in the Chicago Tribune, by Sam Roe: U.S. Cold War gift: Iran nuclear plant. In another example of our supposed good deeds gone awry, this is a history of how Iraq got the nuke option, thanks to the U.S. government which wanted to help prop up the Shah of Iran. Good discussion, too, of the problems in Iran's nuclear program today.

    Following up on the 'river of news' idea mentioned here and here, Doc Searls addresses the complaints that Dave Winer's concept is nothing new. Says Searls:
    His message with River of News isn't just for geeks like us. It's for the NYTimes and BBCs of the world, as well as for bloggers whose output is frequent and texty and newsy enough to work, as Paul Kedrosky says, like a newswire. But unlike the old newswires that went from AP and UPI to newsrooms at newspapers and broadcasters (or to professionals at workstations at brokerage houses), River of News goes directly from writer to reader. In other words, its a new, phone-friendly approach to publishing.

    (Added later:) Dave Winer answers the naysayers, too. Also, Denise Howell discusses legal issues related to 'rivers' on ZDNet's Lawgarithm blog.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Chavez of Arabia

    Good look on at the popularity of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in the Arab world:
    Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, found himself at the centre of Middle Eastern politics when he announced that he was withdrawing his most senior diplomat from Israel, the Venezuelan charge d'affaires in Tel Aviv. Not for something Israel did to his country, but for what it does to Palestinians and Lebanese thousands of miles away.
    ...Today on many Arabic internet sites one can read comments such as: "I am Palestinian but my president is Chavez, not Abu Mazen." Or: "I don't want to be an Arab. From now on I shall be Venezuelan."
    ...Would there be a "Chavez of Arabia" just like the legendary "Lawrence of Arabia", the Englishman who won the trust and sympathy of Arabs in the desert when they were under English mandate?

    A break for some veterans

    Worth a look, story in Sunday's Tampa Tribune by Karen Branch-Brioso, about property tax exemptions for disabled veterans in Florida.
    That kind of tax break is hard to come by for totally disabled homeowners who are not veterans. Only quadriplegics and other totally disabled people who are legally blind or use a wheelchair qualify. And if their household income is more than $22,872 a year - except for quadriplegics - they're out of luck. No matter the size of their families. No matter the severity of their disabilities.

    Fascinating stuff. She mentions several veterans who pay no property taxes despite living in million-dollar homes, like Bill Seidle, a World War II Navy veteran and multi-store car dealer, who saves $22,000 on his property tax each year but won't say what his disability is.
    On the other hand, the law is a boon to veterans who struggle to keep homes on low incomes.
    Great story, and involved some good CAR work. (Via The Scoop.)

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    A 'River' for Florida blogs

    Note a comment from SpaceCoastWeb informing that they're starting to aggregate Florida blogs. They've got two formats so far: Here's a News river of aggregated Florida politics blogs' RSS feeds; and a straight Florida news and blog aggregator, including some of the state's largest newspapers.
    The project is in 'early development', according to the comment.....

    On the news river topic, a contrary opinion from Rogers Cadenhead, who worked with Winer in the past and thinks this is not a big deal. Lots of comments from readers who say news on their phones or other devices is nothing new.

    One year after

    The Institute for Southern Studies' Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch has released its one-year report on the recovery from Hurricane Katrina: One Year After, in a 100-page PDF. From the Institute's Facing South blog:
    Despite important signs of progress, the study finds that recovery remains stalled on the key issues that will shape the Gulf Coast’s future

    including housing, schools, contracting scandals and the environment.

    From another Facing South post:

    Percent of Louisiana mortgages past due as of July 2006: 20
    Percent of Mississippi mortgages past due: 13
    National average for percent of past-due mortgages: 4
    Average rent for a one-bedroom New Orleans apartment before Katrina: $578
    Average rent for a one-bedroom New Orleans apartment as of July 2006: $803
    Occupancy rate of livable apartments in New Orleans: 99 percent
    Number of mobile homes ordered for the Gulf Coast: 7,737
    Number of smaller travel trailers : 105,927
    Number of storm-affected households holding Federal Emergency Management Agency hotel vouchers: 39
    Number of storm-affected households approved for housing assistance: 946,597
    Minimum percent of New Orleans public housing that is still closed: 80
    Number of homes the Army Corps of Engineers has demolished in Louisiana since Katrina: 1,105
    Minimum number of New Orleans public housing units scheduled for demolition: 5,000
    Months after Katrina that federal money for housing reconstruction was approved: 10
    Total federal funds dispersed so far to rebuild homes: $0

    Docuticker has been posting links to lots more Katrina reporting for the anniversary. including:

    And many more over the last few weeks.

    Hugh on South Beach

    Hugh Macleod gets the Beach. This was on the GapingVoid Widget today but is worth saving a copy of:

    It's ironic, or maybe deliberate, since Hugh Macleod was behind the invite to Miami bloggers to have dinner and a wine tasting on Stormhoek wine, the South African brand that Macloed's been promoting through his blog and blog dinners around the country.

    Miami bloggers took offense, or were at least puzzled. They didn't want to attend a promotion for 'corporate interests' and especially not anywhere on South Beach.

    But some went, and apparently today's business card drawing was launched there.

    River of News

    Lots of excitement about Dave Winer's latest project, which takes news feeds from news sources and blogs and turns it into the simplest possible extraction of the headline and ledes. Winer calls it 'River of News', and it's meant to be read easily on a mobile device like a phone, blackberry, or PDA. There's a New York Times River and a BBC River, and rivers for several tech blogs; by request, there's a new one, too, for Buzz Machine.

    Even if you don't have a device to read it on, this format seems to be the simplest possible way to get the news fast; nothing on the page but links to stories, as they come in. Doc Searls says
    Big hat tip to Dave Winer making the future happen. Again.

    and has a photo of how it looks on a Treo, and a link to another photo of the 'river' on a Blackberry.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Alternative views

    Here's a heartfelt column from the Sun-Sentinel's Ralph de la Cruz: Voice of Cuban-Americans should speak with humility. Via The Daily Pulp's Bob Norman, who says: "Ralph De La Cruz impressed the hell out of me this weekend. Check out this courageous little column."

    Doc Searls, who takes beautiful photos from airplane windows, hears that at least one airline is now banning the practice. Says Doc,
    It's bad enough that they tell us window-sitters to close our window shades to help less privileged passengers enjoy blurry, sanitized, stale movies on bad monitors with bad sound.

    Hear, hear. The view is the only good thing about flying these days. Doc also links to others with collections of window-seat photos.

    Emdashes: The New Yorker, between the lines; a blog full of fascinating insights into the magazine. Includes a monthly feature: Ask the New Yorker Librarians, full of fun trivia about the magazine and its writers.

    Change in North Carolina newspapers

    One of the results of the McClatchy purchase of Knight Ridder has a significant effect on North Carolina, and I've been wondering how it would play out. Here's the News & Observer's Public Editor, Ted Varden, on how the N&O and the Charlotte Observer, the state's biggest newspapers, are joining forces to share coverage and stories. Interesting to see two former rivals trying to work out a new way of doing things. Also interesting: the tentative reaction from the N&O about getting access to coverage from the former KR Washington Bureau, which has taken a strong look at the Iraq war and foreign policy:
    That kind of coverage will be controversial with some N&O readers, but Drescher says the stories are backed up by the reporting. "I think their reporting really stands the test of time," he said.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Free energy?

    Via Eat the Press, notice that one of the highest ranking searches on Technorati is 'Steorn'. What? Turns out this Irish company claims to have discovered a free source of energy, using magnetic fields (Observer story).
    Their website says the number of scientists applying to test the process has risen to over 1300 in three days.
    We have developed a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy.

    This means never having to recharge your phone, never having to refuel your car. A world with an infinite supply of clean energy for all.

    There's already a Wikipedia entry with links to more news coverage.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    A short list this week, so not separated by categories.

    On a personal note, I mentioned losing the hearing in one ear a couple weeks ago so want to update that: It was three weeks ago I realized my right ear was not working. When cleaning didn't work and the PA at the doctors' office didn't find any physical signs, I went to the local ear, nose, throat surgeon, who determined I'd had an inner ear infection (there was a blister on the eardrum), and the aural nerve was blocked by inflammation. Two weeks of prednisone brought it back, lucky because it doesn't always work, she says. The hearing is again pretty much normal, except for high tone loss in both ears, expected at my age, I guess, at least for anyone exposed to loud noises over a lifetime.
    I blame the Derek and the Dominos concert at DC's Constitution Hall, 1973 or so. I was in the 8th row and only a few yards from Eric Clapton. Unfortunately I was off to the side right in front of a giant speaker. I knew I was hurting my ears that night. Of course, there were also several Who concerts. Cream. Dylan and the Band, Grateful Dead, Stones. And those are just the loudest ones. But I was never as close as that night I heard Clapton sing 'Layla'.
    A lesson for you younger folks: protect your ears. I have constant ringing now, which is a sign of that high hearing loss. I use earplugs when on a motorcyle or exposed to other loud sounds, and even wear them at the computer because the CPU fan bothers me.

  • WebAnatomy: Online Anatomy & Physiology Resources, a directory.
  • Resources for Writers at George Mason University Writing Center.
  • Govmine a new search engine for government resources from Convera. Ranks on relevance.
  • New stats on home sales from Natl Assn of Realtors.
  • Stats on IBM compatible PC sales fro the 25th anniversary, from Computer Industry Almanac.
  • UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database
  • Iraq PipeLine Watch: Attacks on Iraqi pipelines, oil installations, and oil personnel since 2003.
  • New American Community Survey from Census.
  • Coming Soon: a new Chicago Manual of Style online.
  • IT vs. Terror: how data mining might be used, in CIO magazine.
  • DoxPop: Indiana county records online.
  • U.S. Government Manual 2006

  • Friday, August 18, 2006

    Blows against the Empire

    In The Times, from Gerard Baker: It sounded so good to start with. But where did it all go wrong, George? where Baker asks W's rhetorical question: How’m I doin’? And concludes:
    It is hard for me to recall a time when the world was such a scary place. No one should rejoice at America’s weakness. The world is scarier still because of it.

    Kevin Drum: The incredible shrinking bomb plot.

    Digby reminds us, once again, of the cost of all of this. Many more relevant posts on Hullaballoo recently.

    And then there's the Spiegel interview with Jimmy Carter I should have linked to yesterday. After further reading, too good to miss. Or if you don't want to read it, just read the excerpts on Sheila Lennon's blog. Carter also allows for some hope:
    ...historically, our country has had the capability of self-correcting our own mistakes. This applied to slavery in 1865, it applied to legal racial segregation a hundred years later or so. It applied to the Joe McCarthy era when anti-communism was in a fearsome phase in the country like terrorism now. So we have an ability to correct ourselves and I believe that nowadays there is a self-correction taking place. In my opinion the election results in Connecticut... were an indication that Americans realized very clearly that we made a mistake in going into Iraq and staying there too long.

    Lots of bloggers are commenting about the announcement that George W. Bush took Camus' The Stranger along to his ranch for summer reading. In The American Prospect, Julian Sanchez imagine's W's Summer Reading Journal:
    I'm having some second thoughts about switching from "stay the course" to this "adapt and win" talking point. See, I was out clearing brush and got to thinking: The brush -- it's just going to keep on growing back. Can't really win the fight; it's futile. Absurd, you might say. Yet isn't there a kind of nobility in facing up to this and persevering, without illusions or false hope? Now I see Baghdad kind of the same.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Guest blogging from Val

    Miami's Val Prieto (Babalu Blog) is guestblogging on Michelle Malkin's blog today, about freedom of the press for Cuban journalists.

    At last, some common sense thinking

    Good to see the new poll from NARAL that says that Americans Oppose Congressional Attacks on a Woman's Right to Choose. Among the findings:
    Eight out of 10 voters agree that Americans are tired of divisive attacks over the issue of abortion and want their leaders to support real solutions to prevent unintended pregnancies.


    On a similar note, also good to see the People for the American Way has done a report on 'The Patriot Pastors’ Electoral War Against the ‘Hordes of Hell’'. According to the summary, the report shows a new generation of Religious Right leaders is turning conservative churches into political machines for far-right Republican candidates with rhetoric that might make Pat Robertson blush.

    Politics is bad enough without these sorts of scare tactics.

    Looking at terrorism back home

    Interesting article in Alternet today, pointed out by Greenslade: Cuban Exiles Wage War of Terror. It asks some serious questions:
    As a nation, are we truly against terrorism, or is it just a term we use to demonize those whose goals we oppose? Does not the mistreatment of the Five reveal that the underpinnings of the mindset that has brought us to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo runs deeper than the presidency of George Bush?
    And as long as the U.S. government supports the terrorists in Florida, by what moral authority does the United States tell Iran and Syria they have no right to support Hezbollah? If Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorist attack, why doesn't Cuba? Why doesn't the media ever raise these questions?

    It's an old story to anyone who lived through the 70s or 80s in Miami, particularly. Who can forget Orlando Bosch, or the craven bombing of radio host Emilio Milian? Seems like the Miami Herald building was evacuated at least a couple times a year with bomb threats, too. Check this chronology of Cuban terrorism from Miami New Times.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Shining a light

    The Sunlight Foundation is the new government watchdog on the block. Founded just this year, and already noticed for its Congresspedia, it's released its first investigative project: Exposing Earmarks. Those are the little projects that congress members get inserted into spending bills without debate or vote. They've compiled over 1800 of them in an upcoming labor bill, and are asking for help finding more. There's a spreadsheet available of all of them.
    Among other things on the Sunlight Foundation site, blogs from members, and training in computer assisted investigation.

    Trying to find the humor

    Of all the editorial cartoonists I've loved over the years (and I'm glad that Stuck on the Palmetto often posts cartoons from two of my favorites, Miami Herald's Jim Morin and Palm Beach Post's - formerly Miami News'- Don Wright), one I had missed for many years is Pat Oliphant, who really got it right during the Vietnam/Nixon years. I try to check for new ones frequently since they're now available on Yahoo, but I haven't seen one recently. This one just says it all about our quality of life these days.

    Another list

    The Observer lists 15 Websites that changed the World. Among them, the usual suspects, but it's interesting to see how many are very new sites, like YouTube. Also interesting that Drudge Report is one of them, but it was, after all, one of the first news aggregator sites.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Several things of interest today, including a new Blogger!

    (I'm adding new links at the end of this posting. Scroll down.)

    Well, not quite there yet, but there's news about a new version of Blogger we've all been waiting for. It's in Beta and so far can only be used to create a new blog, but it has all the things I've been waiting for: tags, editing of templates, comment feeds, one sign-up using Google accounts, private blogs, instant publishing, RSS 2.0, more. More from Blogger Buzz. (Oh, and more templates! Good, now maybe I won't look so much like Stuck on the Palmetto.)
    How long before I can convert my blogs? I'm waiting.

    Global Voices has lots of links to news, blogs and comments on the recent photos of Fidel Castro, a huge topic of controversy.

    In Eat the Press, Eric Boehlert, author of Lapdogs, discusses the media success of Little Green Footballs blog's reporting on altered news photos from Lebanon:
    ...for some reason today when media outlets rush to honor LGF for its dogged investigative ways, reporters refuses to highlight some of LGF's previous, less successful jihads against the press.

    I was fascinated by Mike Wallace's 60 Minutes interview with Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now The Guardian reports he has a blog. The blog is in Persian but the Guardian reports English version is available. I didn't wait for the link to load.

    For those who followed the Jill Carroll story, if you haven't seen it yet, her story is now on the Christian Science Monitor website in 11 parts.

    There's a new Seymour Hersh investigation in the New Yorker: Watching Lebanon: Washington’s interests in Israel’s war. Hersh:
    The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks.

    In Oil Safari, the Chicago Tribune followed a gallon of oil from the Middle East to a Chicago filling station. Lots of multimedia, including a ticker of the barrels of oil sold while you're looking at the site. Scary.

    In the New York Review of Books: The Foreign Policy the United States Needs, by Stanley Hoffman.
    These proposals may appear utopian. And yet striving to realize them would make for a safer world; they would not abandon or damage any of America's main interests; they would allow regional disputes to be dealt with primarily by the members of the regions, and with the assistance of international and regional agencies.

    (Added later:) Dave Winer wants to know if we can survive George Bush:
    Everything we do seems predicated on the assumption that we have an infinite amount of money, and that an American (or British or Israeli) life is worth an infinite number of Muslim lives. We don't have an infinite amount of money, and an American life and an Arab life have exactly the same value.

    Kevin Kelly's started a new blog, to go along with his great Cool Tools blog: Street Use. It's about how people come up with new ways to use things. Carrying on the Whole Earth/Coalition Quarterly tradition.

    Lots of reaction to Sen. George Allen's racist-sounding remarks at a recent forum in Virginia: Michael Froomkin, James Wolcott, Joel Achenbach, for example.
    Is this what it comes to? I'm thinking a lot about a small town politician in Tennessee these days: haven't seen her story anywhere else but Chattanooga's WRCB has been covering it: June Griffin, who ran for nomination Congress recently, went into a Mexican tienda and ripped down a Mexican flag. She was charged with harassment, among other charges, but claims it was her right. She told an interviewer: the flag represents occupation, and she wasn't going to stand for it in an area where local boys fought for freedom: 'I remember Davy Crockett....'
    That was in Dayton. Home of the Scopes Trial.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Blogs and journalism

    A couple posts worth linking to on this perpetually interesting topic:

    Mark Cuban responds to the controversy over his Sharesleuth blog project: Responsible Journalism. He asks some good questions:
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. The news, his news has to get paid for somehow , right ? But is he a responsible journalist ? Is he a responsible publisher ? Do we even know ?

    Doesnt the foundation of responsible journalism come from transparency ?

    And in two posts, Doc Searls gets to the meat of the matter on just what kind of journalism blogs can be. He responds to a newspaper column by Dr. Laura Schlesinger about blogs and their newsworthiness:
    First, try to understand what blogs really are. There are over 50 million of them, and many are outstanding publications. Some are by first-rank professional journalists. Some report from war zones. Rather than attack and malign the whole category, look at bloggers as a resource. They can perform a useful and time-honored journalistic role, as stringers. Sources. Feet on the ground in Santa Barbara. A way to tap into the community and get good editorial at the same time. Hey, when citizen journalists are becoming more numerous and helpful every day, why not take advantage of them?

    And he discusses reaction to his posting from Logan Airport the other day when he was one of the first to report on the security changes:
    For what it's worth, I didn't think of myself as a reporter on the scene, even though, in a literal sense, I was. I thought of myself as a traveler blogging about being where news of some sort was going down, maybe. That's not journalism as I've been taught to think about it over the last 40 years I've been doing it. But in a literal sense it was journalism. I was, after all, writing in a journal.
    So I think the real story here is a slo-mo one that will go on for years. It's the story of how journalism became a ordinary practice, rather than an exclusively professional one.

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    The summer has suddenly gotten beautiful here with rain and cool weather to break the heat. Peaches are coming in and I spent much of Saturday making preserves and yesterday spending time on the lake. So the update is late.
    One note from Friday, an email notifying me this blog is mentioned in a book by Aliza Sherman Risdahl, The Everything Blogging Book.

    The links:
  • WorldCat, now available in Beta. This project will catalog all the world's libraries.
  • Wikicars. Very handy for finding quick reference about a model or manufacturer, new car news, lots more.
  • WikiWords: a collaborative project to create a dictionary of all terms in all languages.
  • Gilmer Civil War Maps Collection at UNC, maps from Confederate engineer officer, covering much of the South.

  • Driving Up the Heat: SUVs and Global Warming
    Source: Sierra Club
    “In contrast to Detroit’s carefully crafted image, SUVs have a dark side. They spew out 43 percent more global-warming pollution and 47 percent more air pollution than an average car. SUVs are four times more likely than cars to roll over in an accident and three times more likely to kill the occupants in a rollover. They also cost the owner thousands more on gasoline.”
  • Trends in Terrorism 2006, from Congressional Research Service.
  • The Middle East Crisis: Six long wars and counting, Center for Strategic & International Studies.

  • Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 from Dept. of Ed.
  • UN World Drug Report, 2006

    Governments, Politics:
  • GPO Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects searchable, browseable. Not a lot there yet but is the place where all govt agencies can register their projects.
  • CongressLink, from Dirksen Congressional Center, a whole new design and guide to congress.
  • Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Terror from Lebanon factsheets and background materials.
  • RADIUS: Rand Corp's database of of information on federally-funded research and development (R&D).

  • Handbook of Independent Journalism, U.S. Department of State. Written by Deborah Potter, executive director of NewsLab.
  • Five Steps to Multimedia Journalism, from UC Berkeley j-school.
  • 25 Numbers Journalists Should Know, collected by Analytic Journalism blog.

  • The Value of Medicines, 2006 (PDF) from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

    Public Records:
  • Court Case Docket Research: Portal or Database? Good article on Virtual Chase on how to plan court research.
  • Exhibit of supporting documents in the case against Zacharias Moussawi. Wow. Over 1200 files from Federal Court in Virginia Eastern District.

  • Friday, August 11, 2006

    On the other hand....

    Some things not related to terrorists, planes or bombs:

    Jeff Jarvis comments on the decision to take money away from the Columbia Journalism Review online to promote the print product:
    I’d have killed the magazine; converted to online with no cost for printing, distribution, and subscription sales; taken advertising online; invited free content from the public; invited contributions; and rolled the dice on the future, not the past.

    Barbara Ehrenreich: A class analysis of Miami Vice:
    But the real darkness of the movie has gone unnoted by the critics: In his latest “Vice,” Michael Mann offers up an economically globalized world populated only by the grimly poor and the breathtakingly ultra-rich, all of whom are big-time felons.

    Nice little story today by the Miami Herald's Georgia Tasker, about severely disabled sailor Kerry Gruson, who competed in the regatta at Cowes this week. (Tasker did an earlier, longer story a couple of weeks ago, with photo online.) I met Gruson, daughter of New York Times star reporters Sidney Gruson and Flora Lewis, once where she worked at the Miami bureau of the Times. Her story is compelling. It gets better as it goes on.
    Gruson wrote the story about her injury for the Times in 1985. It's available online.

    The plot thickens

    Reaction to the terrorist plot revelations is starting to get interesting, as all good stories become as they get amplified around the Web. Some things of interest (I'll be adding to this as day goes on):

    The Globe and Mail has lots of links to social media around the plot story. Links to Flickr photo sets, comment boards on news sites like the BBC and many others, and relevant Technorati links.

    Already posted on Boing Boing: Liquids on a Plane, a new poster.

    Links via Cursor, which also has this:
    "Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq," Bush and his aides are reported to be seeking 'political gains from the foiled plot,' as the Wall Street Journal reports that it 'puts terrorism back in U.S. political campaigns,' just in time for the Fall elections.

    Timing, I guess, is everything.

    On a lighter note, Joel Achenbach suggests the fetal position. Me, I'm just enjoying the rain. And eating peaches.

    Background on explosives, airports

    For help for people trying to understand the latest terrorism threat, Al Tompkins rounds up a lot of links on liquid explosives today. Included, a link to a good guide from, one of those sites that's essential for understanding what's going on in the world today from a military, terrorism and security viewpoint.

    And for airport directories and real-time information, Gary Price suggests and (link to Gary's previous posting on Resourceshelf). Links Gary recommends today: FlightStat's airport directory, as well as Landings' airport directory.

    For the latest news on this story, you know where to go. But here are a couple things worth mentioning: Gary suggests NewsNow's news ticker on the terrorist threat. NewsNow compiles news headlines from around the world as they come in and you can set up your own feeds.

    Of course, another great current news source is Topix. net, where they bring you searchable (topic or location) latest news from news sources and blogs, and you can also set up feeds: here's a search on Terrorism.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Fifteen years of the Web, and other things

    It's hard to believe the World Wide Web has been around fifteen years already. On the other hand, how can we imagine what life was like without it?

    Some background: From the BBC, How the Web Went World Wide with interview with Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and a timeline of the Internet, among other things.

    Ars Technica did a look back last year.

    History of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).

    And, would you like to know what the first Web site in the U.S. was? Here it is, with images of the first pages.

    More things you can do with the World Wide Web today:

    Find recipes: AllRecipes Search: put in ingredients you have (or don't have) and get recipes. Of course you can do this thru Google, too.

    Read gossip: The Mail on McCartney/Mills divorce. Lots more details on how nasty it's getting than you want to know. (via RobotWisdom.)

    Move: Forbes' Best Cities for Singles, 2006: Denver wins this year. Lowest ranked: Greensboro NC.

    Get active: From Camp Casey: Crawford Peace House; and some very nice bumper stickers available to support it.

    An Inconvenient Truth: Take Action, site has guideline for helping raise awareness of global warming.

    Look at pictures: The Legacy of Korda's Portrait of Che Guevara, museum exhibit at University of California, Riverside's California Museum of Photography.

    Video! Tubetopper, another fun tool from Miami Beach's Marc Fest: it emails you the most popular video on You Tube each day.

    Sir Tim probably had no idea the multitude of things people would do with the Web.

    In the news today

    Doc Searls was flying out of Logan Airport this morning and blogged the security alert as it happened. At this point he didn't know why the alert had changed....

    Several other things of interest, some via Guardian News Blog:

    The Hive, long takeout in September's The Atlantic on the history of Wikipedia. Full of links, just like the Wiki....

    Civilian Killings Went Unpunished: The Los Angeles Times goes through Vietnam-era records in the National Archives and finds U.S. atrocities went far beyond My Lai: The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators — not including the most notorious U.S. atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre.
    Though not a complete accounting of Vietnam war crimes, the archive is the largest such collection to surface to date. About 9,000 pages, it includes investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military brass.
    The Times has posted supporting documents online, too.

    Raw Story: Before Iraq invasion, Bush didn't know there were Sunnis and Shiia in Iraq.
    Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

    NOAA: August 2006 Update to Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook: calls for a seasonal total of 12-15 named storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-4 becoming major hurricanes.

    Cuban journalists: not doing so well

    Reporters Without Borders issued a new report on the state of journalists imprisoned in Cuba.
    We are waiting for a gesture of clemency towards the 23 journalists who have been in jail since the crackdown in 2003,” it said. “They are living in dirty cells with contaminated water, are ill-treated and visits to them are restricted. They are not getting proper medical care and the health of most of them is deteriorating each day.

    Along with the release, links to other journalism news from Cuba, and the 2006 Annual Report.

    Also on Cuba, from Christopher Hitchens: The Eighteenth Brumaire of the Castro Dynasty, in Slate. Says Hitchens:
    If there had been a military coup in any other Latin American or Caribbean country, even a fairly small or obscure one, I think it safe to say that it would have made the front page of the newspapers. But the military coup in Cuba—a nation linked to ours in many vital and historic ways—has not been reported at all.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Neighborhood tours and farming in Cuba

    I don't often link to video sites, since I can't use them myself (DSL is still miles away from my rural neighborhood), but this one is too much fun to miss: Turn Here is a place where people can post videos of their neighborhoods. Much of the country is represented here, especially cities (although there are a few small towns listed, like Yankeetown, FL, and several international locations. Among them, a few from Miami.
    Featured on the Miami page today, a tour of one of my old neighborhoods, Coconut Grove, in a really nice video by filmmaker Robert Lyon. (my photo, Peacock Park in the Grove, May 2003.)

    In the Independent (UK) yesterday, a fascinating report on the success of organic farms in -- Cuba! The good life in Havana: Cuba's green revolution:
    Cuba is filled with more than 7,000 urban allotments or "organoponicos", which fill perhaps as many as 81,000 acres. They have been established on tiny plots of land in the centre of tower-block estates or between the crumbling colonial homes that fill Havana.

    That's the kind of news I like to hear.

    Wayward animals redux

    It's not just gators any more. Huge manatee spotted in the Hudson River (New York Times).

    Web, blogs, politics

    Light postings due to work and other chores, but here are a couple of notable things from the last day or so:

    On the Joe Lieberman story, Sheila Lennon has a good roundup on what happened to the Lieberman campaign site: Lieberman claimed it was 'hacked'. Turns out it was just a lack of planning for heavy interest during election night. Lennon says:
    This was obviously not a campaign for the 21st century. A Senator who'd keep his site down and blame the outage on his opponent rather than find someone technically competent enough to bring the site back up probably shouldn't be making Internet policy anyway.

    Mark Cuban's Sharesleuth blog, with investigative news articles by writer/editor Chris Carey, posted the first story, on Xethanol Corp, a company trying to profit off the ethanol bandwagon but which has run into trouble. Interesting thing about this: one blogger, Gary Weiss, who publishes a blog about Wall Street, says Mark Cuban profited off the story by selling Xethanol stock short a few weeks back. Not news, since Cuban said in advance he would use information from the investigations, but an odd twist to investigative reporting, for sure.

    Guardian News Blog rounds up the Castro death rumors story and quotes heavily from Babalu, among others.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Laughing while crying

    Hard to laugh at any of this, but here are a couple attempts:

    The Bush Backrub Game (via Sivacracy).

    And The Bush Quiz: the twentieth hundred days, from the New Yorker (via J-Walk).

    More gators

    OK, after posting about the 'gator found swimming in the French Broad River near Brevard (Asheville NC area), I just have to link to this: Gator found near Kalispell, Montana. (via J-Walk.) This is getting out of hand.

    (On that NC mountain 'gator: he was captured and discovered to be a true American Alligator, not a caiman as many had claimed. He's been removed to the NC coast.)

    For the full report

    All those news reports you've seen today on the morning news, and some you haven't: are linked on Docuticker today. Shopping cart and escalator accidents, watching violent wrestling's connection to date fighting, degrading sexual lyrics and sexual behavior, lawnmower injuries to children. What a great place to keep up with the latest studies. I often compile these into the weekly research update, but why bother, when Shirl, Gary, and the team are worth a first look?


    If you've linked to pages on my website in the past, note there are a couple changes. The home page which was a placeholder for links (I once used it to post photos once a week/month or so, before the photo blog and will be trying Picasa Web Albums) now has the blogroll on it. The old blogroll/links page will go away. The 'About' page has also been updated, incorporating personal/professional information that was formerly on a personal links page. I'm not sure I will bring that one back in any form yet.

    Blogs and wine

    A great combination, and a sign Miami has finally become a blogging city, too:
    Hugh Macleod's Stormhoek wine tour is coming to Miami:
    the cool cats at Stormhoek, South Africa's coolest and most blog-savvy wine, are now launching in the US. As part of their "100 Dinners in 100 Nights" meme, they have offered to sponsor our bloggers' dinner! All they ask is that you bring your cameras, drink fabulous wine, talk about how blogging is changing the cultural landscape as we know it and post any photos you may have taken on to the wiki after the event.

    The E-vite came out to Miami bloggers over the weekend. I'm sorry to say I won't be able to make it; sure would like to meet the bloggers I've been conversing with over the last couple years.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    You'd think there'd not be a whole lot to add this week; I had a lot of free time (between doctor visits) so have been doing more postings than usual. Still, some interesting things to look at in addition.
    (And, not a bad view to have from a doctor's office:)

    The links:

  • Radio Locator, around for a long time, still the best place to locate a radio station by place, format, etc.
  • Firsts in America. from Infoplease. Not comprehensive like the 'Famous Firsts' book, but good useful reference info. See additional list links at bottom.
  • Atlas of Global Inequality from UC.
  • Lebanese Global Information Center, based in Tampa, has a lot of basic information on the country and how to help, as well as a large directory of Lebanon links.
  • Encyclopedia of Knives

  • Report on Nixon's nuclear option from National Security Archive.
  • Investigation of the My Lai incident, original documents online at Library of Congress.
  • Dirty Kilowatts from Environmental Integrity Project, has issued a report, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants (PDF). There's also a related searchable database on the website.
  • Solar ultraviolet radiation: Global burden of disease from solar ultraviolet radiation, report from World Health Organization. This is an interesting twist: "UV prevention focuses on protecting the skin and other organs from UV radiation. On the other hand, a moderate degree of UV exposure is necessary for the production of Vitamin D which is essential for bone health. Additionally, evidence emerges that low Vitamin D levels are likely to be associated with other chronic diseases. Thus, public health policy on ultraviolet radiation needs to aim at preventing the disease burden associated both with excessive and with insufficient UV exposure.”"
  • The Baghdad Problem PDF from Center for Strategic & International Studies.
  • Despite Last Year’s Devastating Hurricane Season, One-Third In High-Risk Areas Say They May Ignore Evacuation Order, survey by Harvard School of Public Health.

  • Latest population estimates on race, Hispanic origin from Census. Press release and links to Excel files.
  • American Public Transportation Association Ridership Report: First Quarter 2006, from American Public Transit Association (APTA). Includes Canadian data.
  • Air Travel Price Index from BTS. Historical to 1st quarter 2006.

    Governments, Politics:
  • UK Intelligence Community Online: information about the services and official documents.

  • Consumer News Connection: daily links to news reports from papers, TV and consumer alerts.

    Public Records:
  • Colorado Inmate Locator System
  • Arizona Theft Database public access database on stolen vehicle information. Searchby license plate number or VIN.

  • Games for the Brain. I've posted this before but it's always worth a look.

  • Friday, August 04, 2006


    The annual conference has started, in Boston, and all the big wheels of the blogosphere are there. Dave Winer lists the ones in the room with him, and among them, the News Division's Gary Prince and Jessica Baumgart, talking about research on the Web. Cool.
    There's a blog on the Wiki. Rex Hammock is on the way. Doc Searls links to others blogging the conference.

    Speaking of Rex Hammock, he has an interesting post on a topic I've discussed here often: the importance of links on blogs. Apparently there is a lot of varying opinion about this.
    Not from Technorati's Dave Sifry, who says in a Wired article about How to Make Your Blog Popular:
    Link, link, link!

    Another conspiracy theory

    Seems there's a new meme around the Qana bombing story from Lebanon. After all the flurry of reaction by people shocked at the loss of civilian life, apparently bloggers and other commentators are now claiming the whole thing was staged. Here's The Washington Post's World Opinion Roundup on the topic, and Digby, wrapping up some of the opinions, from people like Rush Limbaugh, who says:
    " know who really killed those people are the Hezbos. Hezbollah killed those people. Hezbollah put those people in that building and brought the rocket launchers in close by, knowing full well that the launcher would be targeted."

    CJR covers the question of whether the photographs were posed, in a report on 'the phony conspiracy', and says this war is changing the rules:
    what has changed is the number of competing and clashing voices from a variety of fronts, all trying to spin the quite unspinnable -- the reality of death and destruction that war in every era brings.

    From England

    ...two things that make me smile. First, that the National Archives has put the Domesday Book online. You can search for a town or village, or download actual page images (small fee). A long way from the days when I saw it, locked in a viewing box.... via Guardian News Blog.

    Also from the Guardian, news that supermarket giant Tesco is offering rebate points to any shoppers who don't use plastic shopping bags. Bring your own and earn. Some stores, mostly natural markets, of course, do that here, but so far I've only seen it at Wild Oats (where you get an instant 5c discount for using your own bag), and maybe one or two others. Fun tidbit from this story: in Ireland fluttering plastic bags hanging in trees are called 'witches' knickers'. Plenty of those around here.....
    Do the French have an even better idea?

    A new news research tool

    Researchers at UC Irvine have developed a way to use text mining - or a version called 'topic modeling' - to derive relevant information from the archives of articles in the New York Times.

    As news archives have matured since their beginnings in the 70s and 80s, they've become huge databases. The Times may be the biggest, having been online since 1980, rivalled by the Washington Post, online in full text since 1977. (or even some of the former Knight Ridder newspapers, Philadelphia (1979), Detroit (1980) and the Miami Herald (1982). (I may be a year off with a couple of these but you get the drift.) If you really need to compile years worth of incidents from these databases, in Nexis or other service, it can take hours of frustrating work, weeding out the story hits that aren't relevant.

    This study used only two years of the Times' database, but analyzed 330,000 stories in 'just a few hours'. Hmm, is that fast enough?

    The Resourceshelf posting I found this at has links to the study and the researchers. Here's the nut graf, from the press release, for news researchers:
    Performing what a team of dedicated and bleary-eyed newspaper librarians would need months to do, scientists at UC Irvine have used an up-and-coming technology to complete in hours a complex topic analysis of 330,000 stories published primarily by The New York Times.

    (Added later:) More on data mining, from Depth Reporting: Ars Technica reports on a project to mine the entire Congressional Record archive. And Google is releasing a database of a trillion words used on Websites, for researchers to use. It'll fill 6 DVDs. Wow.

    W, Cuba and the press

    A couple interesting notes about the current administration and how it treats the press:

    Dan Froomkin, in his Washington Post White House Briefing yesterday, addresses the president's comments to the press at the ceremony announcing the closing of the White House Briefing Room for renovations. A close read of the transcript shows the president making jokes that were not very well received and show how he thinks of journalists. Transcript and video available here too. Example:
    when former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, famous for shouting out important questions to Ronald Reagan, asked Bush an idiotic one -- "Mr. President, should Mel Gibson be forgiven?" -- Bush responded: "Is that Sam Donaldson? Forget it. You're a has-been. We don't have to answer has-been's questions."

    John Ettore, whose blog I linked yesterday, notes how two-faced the White House can be, as they bring out the Cuban-American Secretary of Commerce to claim their support of a free press in Cuba. Ettore:
    You would think this fellow worked for a media-friendly organization, not a presidency that has tried just about everything to undermine serious media.

    Speaking of the press and Cuba, Greenslade has a reaction to the current story about foreign journalists not being allowed in Cuba: so what? It happens all the time, everywhere:
    Try and get into the United States as a working journalist on a tourist visa. It's impossible. You probably wouldn't even get on to the US-bound plane in such circumstances.

    (Added later:) More from Editor & Publisher magazine; and a Toronto Star reporter reports on his bad experience in Havana. Then there's Babalu's take....

    Pause for factchecking

    It's hard in a fast-paced, post-as-much-as-you-can blogworld to stop to take the time to make sure the facts are all there. I sometimes find, reading what I've posted, that I've misspelled or mis-stated something and fix it immediately. But the mistake has already gone out. (Not to mention the typos.)
    I also admire bloggers who do take the time to pursue good background information on many of their postings. It adds a lot. I'll keep coming back to those bloggers.

    So it's very encouraging to see that Chris Carey, who writes and edits the new investigative blog sponsored by Mark Cuban, Sharesleuth, has delayed publishing his first investigative project because he and Cuban want to be absolutely, clearly sure that the facts are right:
    Over the weekend, my partner Mark Cuban and I settled on a plan that addresses both of those issues. We're going to pay an independent fact checker to review our stories and ensure that the details are correct and the conclusions are neither false nor misleading.

    A new market for factcheckers? Can we set up a network of factcheckers for bloggers? I'd get in on that....
    (Added later:) of course, on the other hand, doesn't this sound a lot like.....newspaper editors?

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Wikipedia again, and other things of interest

    Via TVCAlert, the Wikipedia accuracy question meets pop culture: Stephen Colbert encouraged viewers to go to Wikipedia and edit every entry that mentions 'elephants' to say the population is booming.
    Of course, Wikipedia caught it after people started editing over 20 entries mentioning elephants, Tawker blog tells how he blocked Stephen Colbert.

    It's a long time since I've seen anything by the excellent Liz Balmaseda, who won a Pulitzer for her commentary at the Miami Herald, but sort of disappeared after taking a leave. Now she's at the Palm Beach Post, and has an excellent column on Babalu Blog's Val Prieto.

    Speaking of newspaper gossip, interesting column in the Cleveland Free Times about changes and layoffs at the Plain Dealer, which claims (former Miami Herald editor) executive editor Doug Clifton is staying away from the newsroom a lot to do more woodworking. Hmm.
    The column is by John Ettore, who has an excellent blog, Working with Words. In his post about the column he says Clifton objects, of course. More to come. Anyway, it looks like a good blog to add to the long blogroll.

    And, here's another new Miami blog that looks like it's going to be interesting: MiamiVision, 'the Rodney Dangerfield of blogs'. (Via Critical Miami).

    Catalog those books!

    I blogged about LibraryThing last year, and occasionally see references to it and think about signing up. Haven't done it yet, though....afraid it's another project that will suck me in and take up too much time. I do have a lot of books to catalog, though.

    Meanwhile, LibraryThing is getting a lot of buzz. It was in Paula Hane's latest column in Information Today's Newsbreaks newsletter (August issue, not yet online), and she gives it rave reviews...although is also hesitant to actually start using it. It's in a section on other Cool Links for Book Lovers.

    Library Thing collects the buzz here. (One blogger noted here is Gael at Pop Culture Junk Mail, who says she's hooked after recently signing up. Note her cool LibraryThing widget-thingy that displays random books from her collection.)

    Also, Hane notes they've just added a Groups section, where the 'Librarians who LibraryThing' is the biggest group so far. They've added about 100 new members since Hane checked the count, so librarians must be signing up in droves.

    There are a mindboggling number of groups already, everything from South American Fiction-Argentine Writers to Chocolate to Egyptian Fiction to Yard Sales.

    The LibraryThing Zeitgeist is pretty fascinating, too, with things like biggest library (over 9,000 books) and most reviewed book (Da Vinci Code, duh!)

    When I noted LibraryThing the first time I sugggested it'd be a great tool for small news libraries. But if you'd like to meet people through your taste in books, LibraryThing is a MySpace for readers. Better than hanging out at the local bookstore or library? Well, I don't know, but at least you don't have to keep quiet....

    (Added later:) One more thing. Look how much information you get if you want to find out more about a book. I'm staying awake nights reading Love and Shadows. There are links to search, buy, read reviews, and find readers who own the book (97 of them).
    Can't believe I've put off reading Isabel Allende so long. This nearly 20 year old book lets us know what we could be in for with a government that thinks keeping out and rounding up terrorists is its most important goal. We aren't this far - here, anyway - yet, but....much food for thought here. What a great book. Luckily, I have House of Spirits on the shelf too.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    That Castro story

    High hopes and tense excitement in Miami, where hundreds of thousands -- maybe millions -- are hoping that this is The End for Castro.

    For discussion/background, lots of places to go, most in South Florida: The Miami Herald, of course, with lots of stories and blogs.
    Babalu Blog for the most consistant anti-Castro Cuban-American opinions, lots of links and reaction. Val at Babalu takes a lot of heat for his conservative statements, but he's been doing this -- with some additional contributors -- for a lot of years and has gotten a lot of respect for it. The sheer number of postings over the last few days is incredible. Good blogroll of other Cuban-American blogs, too.
    Critical Miami, where Alesh has been posting lots of links and seems to be updating constantly too , with a good post today on What Happens Now?.
    Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto has posted lightly on Cuba, but notes today that the story is great for his page reads, and for Val's too.
    Daily Pulp is keeping track of South Florida media coverage.
    Via Babalu, note The National Review has several stories listed under a Castro Death Watch section.

    I have lots of Cuba links, including links to Cuban media and government sites, on my website. Haven't updated in awhile (originally posted in 2000 but I'm sure I've updated several times since although didn't note the dates), so I guess it's time, especially to add blogs......I posted a link to blogs from Cuba a few months back, some of these may be interesting. (As of noon today, have added several things and updated links to a couple critical files. Sorry for any links that don't work any more, but I'll try to go thru them all and fix later.)

    World Trade

    Just in time for the movie, a story in Vanity Fair about how NORAD handled the hijackings: 9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes, by Michael Bronner. Read how NORAD officers and ops crews and traffic controllers handled the reports, starting with reaction to first call about a hijacking out of Boston: "Is this real-world or exercise?"
    Scary stuff to be responsible for trying to prevent such a horrific outcome. The tape transcripts are here along with links to the audio, with mind-boggling quotes like this:
    "We're just gonna do—we're gonna try to find this guy. They can't find him. There's supposedly been threats to the cockpit. So we're just doing the thing … [off-mic conversation] True. And probably right now with what's going on in the cockpit it's probably really crazy. So, it probably needs to—that will simmer down and we'll probably get some better information."

    American 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center four seconds into this transmission.

    More heat

    There are some great resources for covering the hot weather story, from shelters to air conditioner efficiency, in Al's Morning Meeting today.
    Also, the IRE/NICAR resource center has Extreme Heat links, including databases, stories, and tipsheets.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Immigration judges' asylum rulings

    TRAC, the research center at Syracuse University that studies performance of courts and federal agencies, has released a new report on Immigration Judges. They studied the rulings of judges on asylum cases, and among the results found that although rulings are supposed to be 'uniform', judges seem to make very different decisions. So different, in fact, that:
    at one end of the scale was a Miami judge who turned down 96.7% of the asylum requests. At the other end was a New York judge who rejected only 9.8%.

    Critical Miami wondered today where this study came from; I commented and remembered I'd meant to post on this earlier.

    On another note, don't miss Critical Miami's links and coverage of the Castro story. Alesh seems to have been constantly updating.

    This'll cheer up a hot day

    Wow! Three, no four! new Hugh Macleod cartoons on the Gaping Void widget today!


    Well, nothing better to illustrate how it feels these days than this, one of Joel Achenbach's great early columns columns for the Washington Post, repeated on Achenblog today: Dawg Days. Starts out:
    Congress is in recess. The economy is in recess. Life is pointless. Work is stupid. Air is hot.

    Must have struck a chord, because there're 210 comments.....

    (Added later:) Not so hot in South Florida, though, see the Miami Herald's Jim Morin's cartoon, posted on Stuck on the Palmetto....


    Everybody's got them everywhere these days. Stores are full of them. Just as a reminder that everything comes with a price, here's a report from the U.S. Fire Administration: Findings on Candle Fires in Structural Residences. 23,000 fires and 165 deaths each year.

    Looking at this, can't help thinking of the the song by Ibrahim Ferrer that always repeats and repeats in my head after listening to the Buena Vista Social Club album:

    Oye, Faustino Orama' y sus compañeros,
    necesito que me apaguen el fuego.
    Margarita llama pronto a los bomberos para
    que vengan a apagar el fuego.
    Ay candela, candela, candela, me quemo aé,
    mama ¡Aaaay!

    -- Candela, via Study link via Docuticker.

    (Added later:) Oh, well, thought the lyrics didn't seem to be what I thought they were but after checking the original CD notes, this is correct. Somehow I always thought they were saying 'she forgot to put out the candle (la vela), rather than 'come to put out the fire (el fuego). 'Candela' can mean candle but is translated as fire in the notes. Another case of misheard lyrics. But a good excuse to remember Ibrahim Ferrer.

    Snakes...and Wikis?

    The buzz around this movie over the last few months has been really enjoyable, but there's a lot more to it, as discussed in this Esquire article by Chuck Klosterman: The "Snakes on a Plane" Problem (The tragedy of the best titled movie in the history of film).
    Snakes on a Plane is like the Wikipedia version of a movie.
    ...if Snakes on a Plane is a commercial success (which seems wholly plausible), this brand of participatory, choose-your-own-adventure filmmaking is going to become a model. And that model will be terrible...
    ...I worked in newspapers for eight years, right when that industry was starting to disintegrate. As such, we spent a lot of time talking with focus groups, forever trying to figure out what readers wanted. And here is what they wanted: everything.
    ...When it comes to mass media, it's useless to ask people what they want; nobody knows what they want until they have it.

    Older bloggers

    Doc Searls and Sheila Lennon, two of my favorite bloggers, are celebrating birthdays -- Doc's this week, Sheila's a couple weeks ago. They're 59.
    I've got two years and a month or so on them, which is probably why I'm about to lose a couple teeth and suddenly can't hear out of one ear (I share tinnitis with Doc, who has wondered how much computer fans contribute to it. I'm pretty sure my noisy computer doesn't help.)
    But my favorite 'older blogger' who blogs on aging (and other topics), is Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By, a few years older than me. I've been trying to get to her blog more lately, as I'm enjoying her discovery of her new home in Portland, Maine, especially the photos.
    She has links to lots of other older bloggers and is definitly a must visit for those wondering what the next years will bring.

    Oh, and, speaking of another blog demographic I fit into, lots of bloggers have been posting about the BlogHer conference this weekend. Among the best places to get opinions, presentations, background, is the BlogHer Wiki set up by Amy Gahran. The main BlogHer site also has lots of good stuff and followups.