Friday, October 31, 2008

Can't resist this

Here's a novel take on a political ad. Subtle but effective. It's the 'Wassup' gang from the Budweiser commercials, 8 years later.

This one via KnoxViews.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Political language

A topic that needs more discussion, and here's a great one from Anil Dash on What Sarah Palin is Saying.


Here's your chance....

To carve a pumpkin online. The only one I'll do this year.....

Thanks to Knox Views Ashvegas.

What they think matters

Via Achenblog, a fun graphic from Foreign Policy: If the world could vote...

Heresy to some who think we should ignore what the world thinks of us, but I'm on the side who believes it matters very, very much....


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Posting is slow again as I've been undergoing some medical treatments that slow me down.

But over the last couple days I've succumbed to another social networking tool: after news librarians, and then my college classmates, set up Facebook groups, I decided it was finally time to join up.

I've enjoyed using LinkedIn to keep in touch with work collegues and thought that was all I wanted to participate in, but now I've seen the light and have discovered how much fun it is to be able to converse with friends on Facebook, as well as see their photos, etc.

Not to take it too seriously, but I admit it's amazing how, among school, work, and family contacts your Facebook lists can grow. I've only been on a day and already have a full platter there.

Posting here should resume a more normal schedule in a few days.


Friday, October 17, 2008

40 Years Ago

(An occasional reminiscence on the events of 1968)
(See the posts in chronological order)

On Oct 2, US Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas withdrew his nomination as chief justice; his nomination had been held up for months by a Senate filibuster. (Six months later, he would resign from the court, admitting he'd made a financial deal with the Louis Wolfson Foundation.)

On October 2, the disturbances in Mexico leading up to the Olympics reached a head as a student procession in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, Mexico City, led to a bloodbath.

Supporters claimed soldiers with automatic weapons killed 300 or so students. The government claimed that only 50 students died in the five hours of gunfire. It became known as the Tlatelolco massacre.

Ten days later, the 1968 Summer Olympics opened in Mexico City. The high altitude of the venue caused problems for many athletes, but created opportunities to set records for others. American Bob Beamon jumped nearly 9 meters in the long jump. It was the first Olympics to have doping tests, resulting in expulsion of a Swedish athlete for alcohol use. the closing ceremony was broadcast around the world in color, the first time for the Olympics.

The most controversial event of the Olympics was the stand taken by two of the medalists in the 200-meter dash, Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) as they raised their fists in a 'black power' salute as the national anthems were being played. (The silver medalist, an Australian, wore a human rights badge.)

Other events of October this year: the 10th anniversary of NASA, world premiere of the cult horror movie "Night of the Living Dead".

Top songs that month: "Hey Jude" and "Harper Valley PTA". Barbarella was released. Traffic released their second album, and Led Zeppelin was recording their first. The Lion in Winter came out the end of the month.

The Motion Picture Association of America adopted its film-rating system, created by Jack Valenti.
Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp died on the 2nd.

On the 5th, police attacked demonstrators in Derry, Northern Ireland, marking the beginning of 'the troubles' there.

On the 11th, the first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, was launched, carrying Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham. They would do the first live television broadcast from orbit.

On the 14th, the Defense Department announced it would be sending 24,000 army and marines back to Vietnam on involuntary second tours.

On October 20, JFK widow Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis on Skorpios.

That month, the four American auto manufacturing companies sold 885,358 cars, a huge increase and a new record for any month. Inflation was rising prices on everything.

In the Atlantic Monthly that month: an article entitled The War Against the Young, by Richard Poirier.

Ove the last couple months, I'd gotten friendly with some people I'd been introduced to by a coworker. Mostly from the Princeton, New Jersey area, they had mostly attended, and recently graduated from, George Washington University in DC.

Some of them had an apartment near the GWU campus in Foggy Bottom, around the corner from the DAR's Constitution Hall, where I'd attend some great concerts over the coming years (The Band and Derek and the Dominos most memorable).

The apartment was also across the street from the Selective Service office so there were constant pickets and demonstrations there.

With these new friends, we got to occasionally get a car trip out of the city, towards Virginia's Blue Ridge and Skyline Drive, a welcome break especially as fall arrived.

One Sunday afternoon, probably October 20, I got to take another short road trip with them to Alexandria, Va, where there was a concert being held in the Roller Rink there. I remember that day as the first time I took some drags from a marijuana cigarette, but the concert would have been memorable anyway: the opening act was the Jeff Beck group, with Beck, Ronnie Wood, Nicky Hopkins, and (maybe?) Rod Stewart.

But the main event was the one and only Janis Joplin, with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Wow. I remember sitting on the floor to the right and very close to the acts. It was a great day.

On October 27, 50,000 people joined an anti-Vietnam war protest in London.

On October 31, President Lyndon Johnson announced his 'October surprise', designed to aid the election of his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, as president: he would end the Vietnam operation called "Rolling Thunder", basically ceasing "all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam". During this three year bombing campaign the U.S. had dropped the equivalent of 800 tons of bombs a day on North Vietnam. Johnson said progress in the Paris peace talks made the cease fire possible.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Help for researchers

I hadn't heard of Google's 'In Quotes' until I saw it mentioned in the AskSam newsletter. What an intriguing idea, and hopefully useful. It's just quotes from John McCain and Barack Obama, but searchable or browsable by category. Some Biden and Palin quotes, too, I tried 'hockey mom' and and got it.

Also from Ask Sam: a searchable version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008; the Presidential Debates transcripts; and the Vice Presidential Debates transcripts. These available to search online, as usual, or download to use with the free AskSam reader.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has lots of history, transcripts, quotes, etc. online, too.

Good stuff for these final campaign days.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Newspaper by hand

Roy Greenslade points us to a new newspaper being published in London, on a very tiny basis:
The Manual is an actual hand drawn, hand lettered newspaper, 150 copies distributed to commuters at London stations this morning. How it was published...



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Politics today

Interesting stuff (updated, see last entries):

From Christopher Buckley (son of William F.) in The Beast: Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama

This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
...having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves.

Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best.

Harold Ford, Jr: Will McCain Do Anything to Win?
When I ran for the Senate in 2006, my opponent, Bob Corker, also found himself trailing in the October polls. His campaign and the Republican National Committee launched a series of false and vicious character attack ads, including the infamous "call me" ad, in which a scantily clad white woman looked at the camera and said, "Harold, call me."

Every major news organization and independent ad-checking group ruled the ad a smear and deemed it way over the line. But that didn't stop John McCain from coming to Tennessee and campaigning for my opponent while the "call me" ad and other smears were broadcast across the state. Not once did McCain speak out against that ad as he did about the smear against John Kerry. In fact, the first manager he hired for his 2008 presidential campaign was Terry Nelson, the person who produced the "call me" ad.

From Frank Rich, in today's New York Times: The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama. (How many people will read that without looking at the column, and say 'See? Even the New York Times knows.)

(Updated:) In the Times, again, The Man Behind the Whispers About Obama .

Seems the best thing a news researcher can be doing these days is looking into all the rumors and trying to show where they come from. Note researcher Kitty Bennett's contribution to the latter story, by Jim Rutenberg.

(Speaking of misinformation...or just weird thinking, here's from a letter to the editor in Saturday's Asheville Citizen Times that will shock you -- or not:)

Obama...and Biden...are pro-abortion.
A child has just as much right to live as they do. If they win, however, those who voted them in can call them 'president' and 'vice president'. I will not.
Biden lied when he said he would not be vice president. I don't think the KKK will like it very much if Obama gets elected.
I used to be a Democrat but I have switched. Give me John McCain
any time.
(um...isn't he pro-choice?)
...Vote the Bible.


Friday, October 10, 2008

For those who care....

...about politics, anyway, an amazing effort by the staff of Esquire to put together a database of endorsements of every Congressional-and-up candidate in the country.


This includes their endorsement of Barack Obama,
Esquire Endorses Barack Obama for President
We thought this election would be a serious fight over the future of this country, but only one candidate showed up.

This is a thoughtful and very thought-provoking argument, particularly on the links between -- and political effect of -- Justice John Paul Stevens and Obama.

Far as I can tell, the rest of the endorsements are not online. Worth buying a copy, I'd say. Among the lists, the 10 best -- and 10 worst -- politicians in the country.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cheap shots, or real facts?

Here's a well- researched compilation at Random Pixels of various published reports on the details of John McCain's service record. This is interesting. John McCain's service to his country...the stuff he doesn't talk about.

Ar all the questions about who did or said what, or what we know about Obama/McCain tax plans, driving you crazy?

Don't forget to see what other factcheckers have discovered is true or false, at Politfact (with it's Truth-o- meter), or Factcheck, or Fact-Checker.

And don't forget good old Snopes.