Sunday, April 27, 2008

On political coverage: Elizabeth Edwards' view

In a guest column at the New York Times, Elizabeth Edwards rates the campaign so far: Bowling 1, Health Care 0. Why this annoying emphasis on things that don't matter?
...every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.
...I was lucky enough for a time to have a front-row seat in this campaign — to see all this, to get my information firsthand. But most Americans are not so lucky. As we move the contest to my home state, North Carolina, I want my neighbors to know as much as they possibly can about what these men and this woman would do as president.
Is it really too much to ask?


Friday, April 25, 2008

Politics and gate 14

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan -- yes, Peggy Noonan -- had some time on her hands waiting to get through a TSA screening. in The View From Gate 14 she paints a fine portrait of what the current administration has done to America, and what Americans might be thinking about Obama:
...what about Obama and America? Who would have taught him to love it, and what did he learn was loveable, and what does he think about it all?
And this:
The reasons for the quiet break with Mr. Bush: spending, they say first, growth in the power and size of government, Iraq. I imagine some of this: a fine and bitter conservative sense that he has never had to stand in his stockinged feet at the airport holding the bin, being harassed. He has never had to live in the world he helped make, the one where grandma's hip replacement is setting off the beeper here and the child is crying there. And of course as a former president, with the entourage and the private jets, he never will. I bet conservatives don't like it. I'm certain Gate 14 doesn't.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

40 Years Ago

(An occasional reminiscence on the events of 1968)

On April 11 Defense Secretary Clark Clifford announced Gen. Westmoreland's request for 206,000 additional soldiers would not be granted. He set a ceiling of 549,500 troops in Vietnam, and a plan for Vietnamese military to take over responsibility for the war effort.

Also that day, president Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which added fair housing provisions to the previous civil rights legislation of 1964: it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.

In Germany, student leader Rudi Dutschke was shot in an attempted assassination. Riots broke out on the news.

The Prague Spring was under way, since Alexander Dubcek had become first secretary of the Central Committee of Czechoslovakia in January. Novotny resigned as president the end of March and in April, Dubcek's reforms were launched.

On April 20, Pierre Trudeau became prime minister of Canada, replacing Lester Pearson.

On April 23, at Columbia University in New York, students angry over recently revealed university involvement with a weapons-research think tank, and a planned gymnasium in Morningside Park, took over a classroom and administration building. Over the next few days students, led by the SDS's Mark Rudd, occupied other buildings including the university president's office in Low Library. The protest would be broken up by NYC police on April 30.

April 29, Hair opened on Broadway, after a six-month off-Broadway run. The cast album would become one of our favorites of that year.

On the 30th, Nelson Rockefeller defeated Nixon in the Massachusetts primary and announced he would actively seek the Republican nomination. Eugene McCarthy, the only name on the Democratic ballot, got 49 percent of the votes, but Bobby Kennedy write-ins totaled about 25 percent.

Also in April, The Boys in the Band debuted on Broadway, called one of the first 'looks into the closet'. Books of the month: Gypsy Moth Circles the World, Francis Chichester; French Chef Cookbook, Julia Child; The French Lieutenant's Woman. For more on who was important in the book world that year, here's a wonderful gallery of 1968 illustrations from The New York Review of Books, by David Levine.

Simon and Garfinkel released their Bookends album in the beginning of April. They already had two albums in the top ten that month, The Graduate soundtrack, and Sounds of Silence (Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme). Cream's Disraeli Gears was also in the top ten, along with Dylan's John Wesley Harding. The Beatles started their own management firm and record company, Apple Corps. Sly and the Family Stone released Dance to the Music. Another album I was listening to then: Love's Forever Changes, released the previous year.

London Bridge was sold to Robert P. McCulloch, founder of Lake Havasu City, AZ, who submitted the winning bid for $2,460,000; it would be shipped to Arizona at a cost of $7 million.

We were visiting some local galleries like the Corcoran, near the White House. We fell in love with the Washington Color School artists, particularly the work of Gene Davis, whose simple color stripes reminded us of 'Op Art' but had a whole new feel. Back in the apartment, we started making our own color striped paintings.

We must have seen 2001: Space Odyssey that month, too. It had premiered in DC just before the riots. The Uptown Theater was up Connecticut Avenue so would have been fairly easy to get to from our place. I re-read the book this month and was blown away by parts of it: it's been a long time since I've seen the movie. But I was particularly struck by the section about how the two astronauts got their news: On a paper-thin flat computer screen called a 'Newspad'. It was nearly (but not quite) hypertext, nearly 25 years before the World Wide Web:

...he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.
...One by one he would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad.
...Each (headline) had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the postage-stamp-sized rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort.

More on 1968: From BBC Radio; and Project 1968, "blog docu-novel about the lives of two young women on their way to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago."

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Survey for Elderbloggers. Or older bloggers.

Over at Time Goes By, Ronni Bennett has set up a survey to find out more about bloggers over 50. Says Ronni:
The goal is to find out what elderbloggers are like, how we may be similar and how we are different, how we relate to technology, how we came to be bloggers or blog readers, how we feel about it and what our demographics are.
This is for bloggers and blog readers, so if you're in the age group and have any interest in blogs -- and you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't -- help out by taking this brief survey. It says it takes 20 minutes but I think I did it in 5.

(I'd have posted the graphic link to the survey but Blogger isn't letting me upload images right now.)

(Added later:) I love this, in an earlier post on Ronni's blog, in her 'Crabby Old Lady' guise:
One of the pleasures of writing primarily for elders is they understand historical references or know how to look them up. A young reader emailed about yesterday’s post asking who Joe McCarthy is and why Crabby hadn’t explained.
The key phrase: 'How to look them up'. Who's reading blogs who doesn't know how to google or wiki?


Earth Day

Can't do much better than Google....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Research links of the week

Well, not much more new this week, but here are some good ones. For more on what I've been doing, some photos from a weekend art/music festival in Dahlonega GA (Bear on the Square) on my other blog.

  • The Mike Wallace Interview, great collection of late '50s personalities interviewed by Wallace on his show, collected at U.Texas.
  • Truemors, fun news site.
  • Statistical Yearbook of Latin America and the Caribbean, 2007 edition from ECLAC.
  • Daily Source: news aggregator with human editors.
  • Live Search News from Microsoft, similar to Google News but with local news in a sidebar.
  • Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Really tired of it all

    Mary Mapes says what a lot of us feel about this presidential campaign about now, in Okay, Now I'm Bitter:
    I want my life back.
    This political junkie has just about had her fill of political junk food. I'll come back when there is something more substantial on the table. Until then, I guess I'll just cling to my guns, my religion and my long-ignored need to improve my bowling scores.
    Because this whole presidential campaign thing has gone into the gutter.
    Or, as this Onion news report says, all the media care about is bullshit.


    Guide to free case law search

    Are you confused about all the new sources appearing that say you can search case law online, for free? Does it really work? Is it complete?

    Now at Virtual Chase, a copy of an article by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch, Editors of Internet Fact Finding For Lawyers, Free Case Law Databases.

    The authors review several online case law sources, The Public Library of Law, the law portal at Justia, and Justia's online databases of Federal District Court Opinions and Orders, Supreme Court decisisions, Court of Appeals decisions, U.S. District Court's civil case filings and dockets, and Federal Regulations . They also discuss the service that is putting lots of case law online for downloading (but not searching), from Public.Resource.Org and Creative Commons.



    Newspaper writing: Hemingway style

    So how did Ernest Hemingway develop that unique writing style? A lot of it came from his newspaper writing experience, at the Kansas City Star. The Star has put a stylesheet from around 1915 online, and they say
    Hemingway later remarked to a reporter that the admonitions in this style sheet were 'the best rules I ever learned in the business of writing'.
    Wonderful stuff. Much outdated, but could be adapted to current style thought:
    Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be postitive, not negative.
    ...Never use old slang. Such words as stunt, cut out, got his goat, come across, sit up and take notice, put one over, have no place after their use becomes common. Slang to be enjoyable must be fresh.
    ...Say luncheon, not lunch.
    There's a surprising amount of information on reporting drug use:
    The Star does not use 'dope' or 'dope fiend'. Use habit forming drugs or narcotics or addicts.
    It's too bad the PDF of this old document has some unreadable words, but the cover sheet says you can order a plain text copy from the paper. There's also a whole feature section on Hemingway at the Star, at

    (Thanks to Dr. Web.)


    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    One researcher: 4 or 5 Pulitzers

    Following up on yesterday's post on Washington Post researcher Julie Tate, there's a profile of her in City Paper: The Unsung Hero of the Washington Post. Nice takeout on what a great researcher provides to investigative stories. Note the story says she was involved in 4 of the 6 Post Pulitizer-winning stories, and has contributed to at least one previous Pulitzer winner.
    Is the Post's research staff going to take hits from the latest buyout plan?
    Downie says the unit is critical to the paper’s investigative work and is keeping a close eye on how it fares in the buyout. “The research staff is one that we wouldn’t want to short on resources,” says Downie. “What exact number that means, I don’t know. We wouldn’t allow it to be imperiled.”

    (Thanks to contributors to the NewsLib listserv.)

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    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Iraq: Bay of Pigs?

    In the Miami Herald, a collaboration between long-time Herald Caribbean correspondent Don Bohning (author of The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba 1959-1965) and Jack Hawkins, paramilitary chief of the Bay of Pigs operation: Kennedy, Bush made similar mistakes in Cuba, Iraq. From Hawkins:
    Key high-level civilian officials of both the Kennedy and Bush administrations had similar characteristics which caused them to make serious mistakes in the management of the Cuba operation in 1961 and the ongoing Iraq War: They had little or no military experience but were inclined to make important decisions about military operational matters against the advice of experienced military officers. In both administrations, the Secretary of Defense tended to suppress the free expression of opinions by members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to isolate them from the President, who needed to know their opinions first-hand and unfiltered.

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    One researcher. Three Pulitzers

    Buried in the column by the Washington Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell, praising the contributions of editors and other staff to some of the Post's six Pulitzers this year, is this:
    And one researcher, Julie Tate, was credited for important contributions to three Pulitzer-winning entries.
    This means researchers have been cited in at least a dozen, maybe two, Pulitzer awards in the last few years. Congratulations.

    Oh, and then there's this:
    Twenty-five Pulitzers have been awarded since Len Downie became executive editor in 1991, the most for any editor in history.

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    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Who's elite?

    When I logged on to Memeorandum a couple days ago, the lead headline (from Powerline or Little Green Footballs or some other big deal conservative blog) was something like 'Is this the end of the Obama candidacy?'

    As if that one statement about small town voters was that important. It is too bad he limited it to small towns. Downtrodden urban residents have every reason to be bitter, too. Of course, it's not the choice of the word so much as equating religion with guns and anti-immigrant sentiment; but his later explanations certainly clarified that he meant that they vote on those issues rather than the important economic ones. With help from the constant feeding of those issues from the pundit/blogocracy.

    Some useful commentaries about this use of the 'elite' charge being thrown around: Robert Reich:
    Bitter? You ain’t seen nothing yet. And as much as people like Russert, Carville, Matalin, Schrum, and Murphy want to divert our attention from what’s really happening; as much as HRC and McCain seek to make political hay out of choices of words that can be spun cynically by the mindless spinners of the old politics; as much as demagogues on the right and left continue to try to channel the cumulative frustrations of Americans into a politics of resentment – all these attempts will, I hope, prove futile.

    Joel Achenbach: Who's the Elitist?
    Becoming an elitist is not something I worry about. It's more like my life's ambition.
    ...What's interesting about this is that Obama, in his stump speeches, sometimes talks about how his wife urged him to run for the presidency while they were still almost normal -- that is, while they still knew what it was like to have to deal with plumbing problems at home, and pay off student loans, and all the other ordinary stuff that doesn't happen when you live in a politician's bubble.

    Siva Vaidhyanathan: Why Hillary Should Quit:
    Now, my anger over radio ads had just about abated when Clinton launched her shameful attack on Obama's supposed "elitism" and distance from the the concerns of blue-collar (what American media figures say when they can't get themselves to say "white") voters. That was the last straw for me.

    Dave Winer:
    I doubt if much good can come from it, and because my guy, Obama, was, imho, wrong. By his own standards, the comment was wrong, and I hope he gets why.
    To equate geography with intellect is as wrong as to equate it with race, ethnicity, gender or age.

    And then there's Bill Kristol's column equating Obama's statement with Marx's 'opium of the people'...Andrew Sullivan on that...
    ...economic distress does often in human history express itself in more rigid forms of religion, more reactionary cultural identification, less tolerance of "the other."...large swathes of human history have shown this to be true - and perfectly arguable without any materialist understanding of religion...

    Let's hope that some of Obama's other speeches get read or listened to. Like the one he gave today to the Alliance of American Manufacturers.

    (Updated:) Oh, yes, and one more, from a small-town newspaper editor in Tennessee (Newscoma) on The Disenfranchised Voter:
    I didn’t see anything wrong with him talking about bitter, disenfranchised voters in Pennsylvania. His comments, although not the most well-thought out when spoken, does hit on a very crucial element about people are hanging on to the familiar because they are tired of struggling. Regardless of what one might thing, we live in hard times. Hell, Bill Clinton did a version of it himself back in 1992 and you didn’t see people going ape-poo.


    Tellico Dam

    Knoxville News Sentinel had a feature story this weekend on Tellico Dam, since the anniversary of that controversial dam is coming soon. Interesting insight into the history of the 'snail darter' case and the economic effect the dam has had (including the Christensen Shipyards plant under construction near Greenback, where 220-ft yachts will be built).

    I was working in Washington at the time and the Tellico dam story was a big deal. Now living nearby, finally seeing the lake, 30 years later, and the big housing developments being built where there were once small farms, important Cherokee settlements, and the trout fishing on the beautiful Little Tennessee River, I think the opponents knew exactly what it would lead to.

    On Bob Greene

    I almost wrote a posting about the death of Newsweek investigative journalist Bob Greene the other day. When I read he'd died I remembered his speaking at the first IRE conference I went to and how impressed I was with it. In particular, I was struck at his description of an online repository of reporters' notes his investigative team maintained. Why wasn't everyone doing that?

    Today I'm just posting a link to Mark Schaver's post on Greene, Investigative reporting enters the era of chopped meat. Pretty much says it all, I'd say....

    Newspapers need databases: even in sports

    Derek Willis looked at the South Florida coverage of the Miami Dolphins draft, and discovered databases on the Sun Sentinel's and Palm Beach Post's websites (and the S-S's sister paper, the Orlando Sentinel).

    None at the Miami Herald. So, being a data junky, Derek made his own: Miami Dolphins Draft Database. What a wonderful exercise to show how easy it can be. Why isn't every newspaper doing things like this? (Because most papers don't have anyone on staff that knows databases like Derek.)

    It took Derek a little over an hour and a half to do this. Took me about 2 seconds to find a list of all Dolphins draft picks from Wisconsin.

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    Friday, April 11, 2008

    U.S. Congress Twitters

    Here's Twitter from the Senate Floor; Twitter from the House Floor.

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    I'm tired of it, too

    Erica Jong, in Huffington Post, on the snide remarks some members of the media make about Sen. Clinton: Misogyny, Momism and Militarism.
    Physical mockery ended in seventh grade, I thought -- but apparently not where women pols are concerned.
    ...We get mediocre male politicians with comb-overs and drinking problems rather than acknowledging that women have brains that might be put to use to save us. Goddess help the U S of A.

    (originally posted by mistake on HighlandsCam last night.)

    Every evening...

    (originally posted to the HighlandsCam blog at 7:10 last evening)
    ..this week at about this time, two C-130s fly over this tip of western NC in a South-North direction. Carrying troops? We've also seen flights of two in same direction earlier in the day a couple days this week, too. Is something going on?
    Last fall, we saw Ospreys flying around the mountains for a week or two, an unusual sight, but discovered a Marine Osprey operation from eastern NC was being deployed to Iraq for the first time for this aircraft, so it must have been flight practice in rough terrain.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    Pulitzer news, a couple days late

    Nice to see that the Miami Herald's editor Anders Gyllenhaal had a hand in the awarding of a special Pulitzer Prize to Bob Dylan, as a former Minnesota editor.....

    And, of course, great huge congratulations to the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten, who once was the editor of the Herald's long-gone Tropic magazine....although I never read the story that won the Pulitzer because the concept bothered me a bit.....but I had a dream about Gene last night: I called him 'Uncle Gene' and congratulated him. Hmm.

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    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    American tribes, another election story (myth?) great books, and Gmail tips

    Lots of interesting postings on Hullaballoo recently, including this one on how John McCain's 'Biography' tour seems to be an appeal to show he's a descendant of America's Cavalier tribe: Courting the Cavaliers. Digby cites Ed Kilgore, but finds a further explanation in a 2001 essay by Michael Lind, America's Tribes.
    Interesting thoughts. Several years ago I read a book on this topic, too, probably Kevin Phillips' The Cousins' Wars: The story being that the old wars between the Puritans and Cavaliers in England led to the divisions in American society, the Revolution and Civil War. Lind calls them the Cavaliers and the Yankees. Seems calling the Yankees 'Puritans' makes more sense. At any rate, Republicans are now the Cavaliers (or the South) and Democrats are now the Yankees (North, of course), the reverse of the party lineup as it was just a couple generations ago. It's a stretch but it seems it may help us to understand each other. How do Jim Webb's Scotch-Irish (Born Fighting) fit in? Do they side with the Irish, who aligned with the Cavaliers? Or are they a Puritan influence in the South? Who are the Californians? Originally Cavaliers with lots of Puritan mixed in?
    This theme was prominent in this week's episode of HBO's John Adams, with the fighting between Jefferson and Hamilton. Thank goodness for television and movies, which may be the only way young Americans are learning history these days. So important.

    Wow, another to-do about a Hillary Clinton story. This one is worth looking closer at before making a judgment on her statements. You know the one, about the woman in difficult labor who was turned down by the Ohio hospital because she didn't have a $100 deposit and later died after a stillbirth. The New York Times reported a hospital that treated her denies the story and wants Clinton to stop telling it. But is that the whole story? The AP says Part Truth, Part Errors. But the Post's The Trail blog says the woman's relatives say it's true: it was another hospital that had demanded prepayment, so she didn't go there. The Daily Howler says everyone involved needed to check the facts.
    Clinton was told the story by a sheriff's deputy who heard it from the relatives. Does anyone factcheck Bush's statements, let alone McCain's, so closely?

    The Telegraph published a list of The 110 best books: the perfect library. Great list, and brought up some books that I haven't thought of in a long time. When I was a kid, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca was an important book to read. But I haven't seen it mentioned in years.
    Muriel Spark is on the list, too, with The Ballad of Peckham Rye. I have a stack of Spark books I've collected but don't think I've read yet. Think I'll put them on the reading list. Under Science Fiction, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 Space Odyssey comes in. I just reread it, finished last night. What a book.

    Really my only peeve about Gmail is that sometimes trying to find a set of emails by searching doesn't work as well as I'd like. But that's something I could do better, according to this Dennis O'Reilly column in CNet: Put a finer point on your Gmail searches. Need to find a message from Ellen with a Word attachment? Type from:ellen filename:doc. And lots more tips.

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    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Research links of the week

    Sometimes a random link stirs up an interesting memory and connections, like this one found on Resourceshelf: Terremark to host Library of Congress Web site.

    Manny Medina's Terremark company started out in Miami, in the building across Bayshore Boulevard from Monty Trainer's restaurant. In the late '80s there was a lot of interest when he bought Monty's. It was about the time the old Merrill Stevens boatyard was up for grabs to be developed into a boating/shopping destination, fears that Terremark would be involved ended up sinking one company's bid. (Via Google Earth, I see the old boatyard shop building is now a Fresh Market. Big change from when it was full of pigeons, cats, carpenters and mechanics....our 19-yr-old cat was rescued from there.)

    Terremark went on to build the NAP of the Americas, an internet backbone access point in downtown Miami, then moved on to Culpeper, Virginia. Now they're going to house the Library of Congress' web site. How things change.

    Last week's research links:

  • Bibliography: Private Military Companies compiled by Air University Library. Includes Web sites.
  • Greenfile: free search from EBSCOHost of environmental articles. Citations only to most articles but some fulltext available.

  • Statistics -- Age and Aging Great compilation by Resourceshelf's Shirl Kennedy.
  • U.S. Counties: data files for download from Census.

  • New sources for company information, by Paula Hane at ITI Newslink. How to use LinkedIn and other resources for company info and links to some new databases I hadn't heard of, like Business Week's Company Insight (search in right hand column).
  • EMMA: Electronic Municipal Market Access get official statement and trade prices for bonds, notes or other municipal securities.
  • Northern Light Business Search in Beta.

    Public Records:
  • Public Notice Ads: a new service is making these legal notice newspaper ads not usually archived on papers' websites, available online. Several states now available.

  • The Interactive Vietnam Wall from Footnote. Search an image of the entire Wall.
  • Whos Who Gallery from Marquis, features art from artists listed in Who's Who in American Art.

  • Saturday, April 05, 2008

    40 Years Ago

    (An occasional reminiscence on the events of 1968)

    Saturday was supposed to be the big day of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, but that had been canceled by now. Tourists were getting a peek at the riot areas, which were cordoned off by troops and police but could be seen on side streets in places. The worst parts, which we saw on TV and in the papers, looked like a scene from WWII, burned buildings everywhere.

    And fires were still breaking out, there was still sporadic looting, and some sniper incidents. The curfew started at 4 p.m. that day so downtown Washington was deserted by early evening. That night police arrested 600 for curfew violations, all over the city.

    There were 13,600 troops by Sunday -- Palm Sunday.

    Either Saturday or Sunday, we went out to see what was happening. We may have gone to the Tidal Basin to see the blossoms. But I took some pictures in the areas on the edges of the riot zone, probably mostly near our Mount Pleasant neighborhood but also in Meridian Hill Park. I don't recognize much in these photos now.

    Military occupation of our nation's capital -- not the only time I would see it.

    This is probably upper 14th St. or the Mt. Pleasant business area.

    Appears to be further downtown, maybe Dupont Circle area?

    Kids climb James Buchanan memorial at Meridian Hill Park.

    Lots of smoke, still.
    Emergency Center. below, a looted shop.

    My roomate/cousin George, Meridian Hill.

    By the time the weekend was over, 12 people were dead and over 1100 injured. 7,600 people had been arrested. Later, the Post would estimate 20,000 people participated in the riots. 900 businesses were damaged, and many business owners would never return. But we would see those 'soul brother' signs for months.

    On Saturday, in Oakland, a shootout between police and Black Panthers resulted in the death of young Panther treasurer Bobby Hutton, who had recently joined the organization at 16.

    There were riots in about 100 other cities that week, including Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City; nearly 50 died. In Boston, a scheduled James Brown concert was held as a tribute and rioting was minimal. In New York, Janis Joplin and Big Brother with Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop held an impromptu 'Wake for Martin Luther King, Jr.'

    This week was my introduction to journalism. Although I was a news junky I had never thought of journalism as a career. But as I read the details of the riots and how Post reporters and photographers covered them, and as I heard the stories when I went back to work, hearing how these men (and a few women) who I would soon get to know and work with had faced rioters, angry police, snipers, fires, tear gas and still gotten amazing stories about how people's lives were affected by that awful week, gave me an appreciation of the work journalists do.

    I would never forget.

    On Monday April 8, the siege of Khe Sanh ended. Over the 78 days of the siege, 199 Marines were killed and 830 wounded. The weeklong battle to reopen the road to Khe Sahn by the 1st Cav had resulted in 92 killed and 629 wounded. The base at Khe Sahn, after all the cost of keeping it going, would be shut down after Westmoreland was replaced in June.

    On Tuesday, Martin Luther King Jr. was buried in Atlanta, his body flown from Memphis in a plane chartered by Robert F. Kennedy's campaign. Baseball's opening day was moved to the next day, when Vice President Hubert Humphrey would throw out the first ball at the Senators/Twins game on opening day, Wednesday, with soldiers patrolling the streets outside DC Stadium.

    The curfew on DC lasted until Friday that week, with later and later starting times.
    Troops would leave the city by Easter Sunday, and the state of emergency dropped on the 15th.

    (Postscript: Washington Post photographer Matt Lewis took many of the pictures of the riots, and also photographed the 1963 March and other protests in DC in those years. The Post has a video of his photos and memories online.)

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    Friday, April 04, 2008

    Newspapers and links

    On a topic I've posted about for years, great article in Slate by Jack Shafer, Links that Stink. According to Shafer, many newspapers and other sites' links lead to irrelevant pages, popup ads, or don't link at all:
    The extraneous links etched into most stories, for example, make it look as though an insect rode a unicycle dipped in blue ink through the copy before you got there.
    There's no point in having links unless they point to something that's relevant. Which leads to another point:
    Why doesn't every newspaper Web site routinely link directly to the competition's work? If a competitor's story is good enough to cite in the copy, it's good enough to link to.
    Of course, for years I cringed when a great story in a competing paper was never even mentioned in the paper I read. Thank goodness they at least get mentioned, but, really, the link is important.

    Once again: Links make you relevant. Links are the currency of the Web. If people know your links help them find information they need, they will keep coming back to you.

    (Added later:) On a related note, Joel Achenbach attacks the Alterman New Yorker piece. The Next Big Career Move [Updated] [Again!] Wonderful:
    ...let's talk about the general plight of all those middle-aged newspaper reporters out there who, at the age of 47, are just barely too young to get the buyout offer...Here's my secret road map for the newspaper profession: Do great journalism....HuffPo has been a huge success (and you know I'm in awe of Arianna), but seems to me it was hardly the first group blog...

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    40 Years Ago

    (An occasional reminiscence on the events of 1968)

    Monday, April 1, started out as a normal work week. It may have been my first day in the Washington Post's library, although I might have started the week before. Whichever, I was in a strange new job working with people I was just getting to know, in a city I didn't yet know well. This week would be a defining time.

    In Vietnam, troops in Operation Pegasus began the fight to open the road to Khe Sanh.

    On Tuesday, April 2, the film 2001 Space Odyssey, based on writings by Arthur C. Clark (who died last week) had its world premiere at the Uptown Theater in Washington. General release --with 19 minutes deleted -- would be April 6.

    That day, Sen. McCarthy got 56 percent of the vote in the Wisconsin primary.

    On Wednesday, Martin Luther King returned to Memphis and that evening gave his 'I have been to the mountaintop' speech.
    Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world....the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. ...But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.

    North Vietnam agreed to meet with U.S. representatives to discuss peace talks.

    April 4 was the one year anniversary of Dr. King's speech at NY's Riverside Church, Beyond Vietnam-- A Time to Break the Silence, which had defined political thought of the last year:
    A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. ... Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war....If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

    That evening, as King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel (now the National Civil Rights Museum) in Memphis, preparing to go to dinner with a few close associates, he was shot by a sniper. News of the shooting came over the wires shortly after 7; the announcement of King’s death around 8:30.

    Washington Post reporter Hollie West arrived soon after at 14th and U Streets, where Dr. King's SCLC had its DC headquarters. Nearby was the office of the more radical SNCC, once led by Stokely Carmichael, who was now back in Washington heading a local 'Black United Front'. Inside the People's Drug Store, solemn shoppers were listening to President Johnson's announcement of King's death and request for non-violence.

    As West watched, Stokely Carmichael and some of his followers began going into shops along the streets and asking proprietors to close in honor of Dr. King. All remained peaceful for awhile, as store owners agreed and closed their doors. But about 9:30 a window at People's Drug broke; it was the beginning. Soon teenagers were marching up the street, shouting 'black power'. Carmichael, and chairman of the DC city council, Rev. Walter Fauntroy, tried to calm the crowd down. But eventually the crowd got out of control. Police, who were staying away to avoid clashes, had to move in. The formed a wedge and moved up 14th St., forcing people to the side. That night many of the 300 shops in the 20-block strip of 14th St and adjacent streets, had windows broken and goods looted. In the early morning hours, the first fires were set, in two food markets near 14th and Fairmont. Some stores in downtown Washington had windows broken too. By about 3 a.m., though, police had broken up most of the rioting.

    The next morning, things were calm and city officials hoped the violence was over. Schools opened as usual. We went to work. But kids began walking out of schools and roaming the streets, and at Howard University, Carmichael told a rally crowd that more violence was coming. By noon, the 14th St. corridor was jammed with people, and the Safeway market went up in smoke. As the day went on new breaking, looting, and arson cases spread, further up the 14th St. hill, along 7th St. closer to downtown, and on the H street corridor near the Capitol. By afternoon there was smoke everywhere from fires.

    Stores owned by blacks had 'Soul Brother' signs in the windows (whatever happened to that phrase?), but it didn't always help. Post reporters and photographers, many of them black, were covering the streets. One man stopped columnist Bill Raspberry, pleading 'Soul brother, get them to stop'.

    I didn't know much about what was going on except for reports we were getting through the newsroom talk from reporters coming back from the riot zones. At some point in the afternoon, some of us were sent home. The city was a giant traffic jam as office workers fled downtown and city buses may not have been running.

    So I walked home, up 16th Street, passing within two blocks of the main riot corridor. I could see and smell smoke coming from 14th St and some of the nearby streets. About halfway between the Post and our apartment in Mt. Pleasant, a couple of blocks north of U St., is the beautiful Meridian Hill Park, with terraces, fountains and statues. From the overlook here is a good view over the city, so naturally I wandered through the park and watched for awhile before going up the hill.

    As I stood watching, people were passing by, carrying things that had obviously been looted from stores. Some were struggling with TVs and other large items. One young man came right by me with his loot, and when I looked at him, he stopped and talked to me: "It's not against you. I'm just getting what the system owes me". Everyone was friendly; some seemed slightly embarrassed. There was some disorder in the small business section near our neighborhood further north, too, still only 3-4 blocks from the upper section of the 14th St. where more stores were looted and burned. Tear gas had been set off by police so I had my first whiff of what would become a familiar smell over the next few years.

    That afternoon several expensive stores in the downtown area, just 10 blocks from the White House, were looted and burned too. Large areas of the city were aflame. Looting and fires also occured in the Anacostia section of DC, and spread into other neighborhoods. Around 4 o'clock, the first Army troops, from the 3d Infantry at Fort Myer, crossed the bridge into the District. Several more troops and National Guard units, from as far away as Fort Bragg, were on the way. About that time Mayor Walter Washington ordered a curfew to start at 5:30 p.m. and lasting until 6:30 a.m.

    Once we got home that afternoon, we would have to stay there. But by nighttime nearly 6000 troops had turned the city streets into a ghost town. More were coming.

    (More on King's death: In the Atlanta Journal Constitution: Martin Luther King Jr. In the Memphis Commercial-Appeal: King photo from this site. Leonard Pitts: When MLK died, one man reached across the divide. The Root.)

    (Riot references: 10 Blocks from the White House, the Post's recap of the riot published later that year, by Ben Gilbert and staff.)

    I'll post more on this and some of my photos this weekend.

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    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Our primary is important after all, and local developments

    A couple of months ago it was looking like there wouldn't be any point of voting in the North Carolina primary this year, since by voting day, May 6, the campaigning would have been wrapped up.

    But, not this year. Now it seems North Carolina's Democratic primary might decide the race. so I will have to think hard about who to vote for now.

    There's lots of interest, from this posting with links at the Rural Blog, about how the area's congressman, Heath Shuler, a former Edwards supporter who hasn't decided between the two remaining candidates, will have a big effect on the results with his superdelegate vote, to coverage by our local weekly paper of Bill Clinton's speech in Asheville this week. A reporter and photographer drove the 110 miles or so to Asheville to cover this first visit by a candidate or former president to Western NC in years.

    There's lots more interesting coverage on the Rural Blog, from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, including a discussion of "the Hillbilly Firewall" effect on the Clinton campaign.

    More on the NC primary from Facing South blog of the Institute for Southern Studies.

    Speaking locally a bit more, a columnist for the local paper, a retired journalist, did what I hoped someone at the paper would do and did some investigating into a Miami developer who bought a hillside, advertised a huge townhome development with amenities for retirees, then bailed out of the project not long after finally bulldozing 'roads', cutting trees, and leaving an ugly scar that can be seen for miles. I had already looked up the developer's public record in Florida and found little background and no media coverage, aside from business filings and unrelated court documents. It's frustrating, especially when the community seems to have no recourse to restore the ruined land. Tom Bennett's Far Blue Mountains column: Murphy’s fried mountain erodes, only emergency will spur action.

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    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    White people

    I looked at this blog recently and thought it was pretty clever. Now it turns out there will be a book, too: Stuff White People Like.

    I really wouldn't be very surprised if they had really been bought by Target, but that was posted on April Fools.....

    Blogging Lords, Downing St. on Twitter

    Here's one I just can't pass by mentioning, swiped from a posting by Sheila Lennon: The House of Lords is blogging, and posts are being collected at Lords of the Blog.

    There's a blogroll of blogging Lords and MPs and other political bloggers, a tag cloud and RSS feed.

    One posting asking how Lords can make their work more accesible to the British public mentions the Hansard web site, They Work For You, which spotlights individual parliamentarians and their work.

    Not to be outdone, Downing Street has its own Twitter channel (via E-Media Tidbits).