Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday weekend diversion

For something totally silly, especially if you're a fan of sites like Stuff White People Like, here's a new one: Stuff Journalists Like. Like 'Professional Organizations':
Journalists need to connect with others who enjoy long talks about deadlines, copies and incompetent editors. That is why journalists like professional organizations.
Groups like Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors give journalists a sense of community and a place to feel better about the career choices they have made.
(Via Miranda Writes.)


Friday, November 21, 2008

Good stuff

Europeana is a just-released Web site that is a repository for information from archives all over Europe, including "digitised books, films, paintings, newspapers, sounds and archives from Europe’s greatest collections."...
Unfortunately the demand has exceeded server supply and the site is now down and being retooled to re-open in 'mid-December'. A development site is still up, in English only.

Measuring Worth gives you 'six ways to measure the relative value of a U.S. dollar amount, 1774-present.'

Policy Archive, a 'a comprehensive digital library of public policy research containing over 16,000 documents'.

The Bivings Report gives us The Top 10 Best Newspaper Websites. The Washington Post and New York Times, no surprise, but how about two Tennessee newspapers?


40 Years Ago

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

A few days after the election, as the reality of Nixon's election sunk in, Washington Post cartoonist Herb Block ran his 'free shave' cartoon: it depicted his studio, with a barber pole outside a window, and a sign on the wall: "This shop gives to every new president of the United States a free shave. H. Block, proprietor." A shaving mug and brush stood on the desk next to post of pens and bottles of ink. (For those who don't remember, Herblock's depictions of Nixon had long featured a thuggish dark-bearded character. During the campaign, Post editor Russ Wiggins had sent Block a razor with a poem asking 'Give that man a shave'. Block's response: "He's shaved with new Gillettes 'n' Shicks 'n' Still he is the same old Nix'n.")

One happy result of the election: Shirley Chisholm of New York was elected to Congress, the first black woman ever.

1968 had been a bad year for airplane hijackings to Cuba, with almost 1000 people diverted to Havana. In November at least 3 planes were hijacked, including a National Airlines plane from New Orleans, an Eastern Airlines plane from Chicago and a Pan Am plane to San Juan. Things had gotten so bad that in early December Time magazine published a guide to what to do if your plane is hijacked to Cuba:
"DO enjoy your stay. Most layovers last overnight, because Cuban authorities will not permit U.S. jets to take off with passengers from Jose Marti Airport, and it takes time for the airline involved to ferry over a substitute prop plane. Passengers meanwhile are billeted either at Jose Marti Airport or at one of two good hotels...You will probably be treated to a nightclub, complete with daiquiris, a chorus line and an audience of gaping Eastern Europeans. The shopping downtown is better..."

In Miami, Dr. Orlando Bosch was convicted in his September bazooka attack on a Polish freighter. He would serve four years of a ten year sentence and later mastermind an attack on a Cubana airlines plane that would kill 73.

In November, the first Whole Earth Catalog was issued, from Menlo Park, California, with a photo of the earth from space on the cover. The issue is dated 'Fall 1968'. The goal:
"We are as gods and might as well get used to it. So far, remotely done power and glory--as via government, big business, formal education, church--has succeeded to the point where gross obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing--power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG."

It was a month of music: Van Morrison released his Astral Weeks album sometime in November (it had been recorded in two sessions, in September and October). It would become one of the most honored albums of the century.

Also released this month: George Harrison's soundtrack album, Wonderwall Music, some of which he had recorded in India earlier in the year. it would be the first release by the Beatles' new company, Apple Records, and the first solo Beatle recording.

The Who were in London recording their rock opera, Tommy, which would be released in 1969.

The Beatles' animated movie, Yellow Submarine, was finally released in the U.S., November 13.

The Beatles' White Album "The Beatles", their only double album, was released Nov. 22. Some of the recording sessions had been attended by John Lennon's new love, Yoko Ono, who sang some backup. On Nov. 8 John's wife Cynthia's divorce from him was finalized. About this time Yoko suffered a miscarriage.

On November 26 Cream held their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The band, consisting of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, had had a success with the release of their Wheels of Fire album over the summer. By October they had decided to break up and began a 'Farewell Tour' of the U.S. On November 3, they played the Baltimore Civic Center. Several of us rode in someone's van from DC to Baltimore where we got to see the second to last concert given in the U.S. by this astounding superstar band. I remember walking the cold downtown streets and seeing this new city for the first time.

Topping the Billboard charts in mid-November: Number 1, The Beatles' Hey Jude. Also: the Supremes' Love Child, Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin (another Apple release),Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride, White Room by Cream, Abraham, Martin and John, by Dion, and Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman.

For Thanksgiving, I likely flew from Washington to Rochester, to spend the holiday with my family: here in our backyard, my mother is wearing a poncho I knitted, in multicolor stripes that reminded me of a Gene Davis painting. I'm wearing a coat that I think I bought at Casual Corner, near the Post's building. The fourth young man is a German exchange student who lived with my family part of this year. It was probably my first visit home after moving to DC the previous late December or early January.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Life pictures on Google

The announcement yesterday of the availability of the Life Magazine photo archive on Google Image has lots of sites buzzing. (See Sheila Lennon, for example...) Getting access to this treasure trove is nearly unbelievable, and will be invaluable to researchers and historians.

Take one search, for example: searching 'Miami' on the archive finds two great collections, a series of many photos taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in winter 1940, mostly on Miami Beach; and a large number of photos from the 1972 Republican National Convention that nominated Richard Nixon. A small collection of other random photos completes the list, some well-identified like the Eisenstaedt photos and others nearly unidentifiable.

A couple of the 1940 Eisenstaedt photos:
(The second photo is from a cold spell in which temperatures hit 31 degrees for a couple days. There are others, including one of a woman wearing a mink jacket over her bathing suit -- fascinating stuff.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Changes at

At ProPublica, Jennifer LaFleur reports that the Obama agenda pages are back at Some have been rewritten. (See previous reference here.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some good research links

  • Wall Street Journal's Photo Journal large versions of photos in the news, like the Boston Globe's Big Picture.
  • The Plum Book (United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions): 2008 Edition, list of openings in the Federal govt.
  • has opened up a huge archive of United Features comics for free, including 50 years of Peanuts. Also:
  • The British Cartoon Archive.
  • Credit card industry facts, debt statistics 2006-2008
  • Plant Information Online From U. Minn. libraries, "finds sources in 1054 North American nurseries for 107631 plants, find 377083 citations to 140104 plants in science and garden literature, link to selected websites for images and regional information about 12759 plants, and access information on 2448 North American seed and nursery firms. "
  • World Stadiums Database, the "most comprehensive stadium database on the net, which currently contains more than 10 000 stadiums in over 223 countries".

  • Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Concerns for gun owners

    All over the country, gun stores are seeing sales jump in response to Barack Obama's election. Gun enthusiasts...never comfortable with Obama's stated laisse faire policy on guns....are saying 'I told you so' now that the election is over and it's clear that Dems will control both houses of Congress and the presidency. The biggest concern to many: the assault weapons ban put in during the Clinton administration and allowed to expire after G. W. Bush became president.

    So what's the truth about Obama's policy towards gun ownership? published a good rundown during the campaign, citing NRA propaganda that made all sorts of outlandish claims about what could happen to gun laws. Most of the claims are debunked, but the report does link to an early Obama policy agenda sheet on Urban Policy that does promise to make the assault weapon ban permanent, close the 'gun show loophole' and make all weapons childproof.

    This policy sheet has been seized on by anti-gun law activists and linked to from several reports being emailed to gun owners around the country. Some bloggers are concerned that a copy of the Urban Policy report was posted on the site, then removed or "quickly disappeared down the memory hole after staff realized their plans had been revealed just a bit too soon." according to one blogger. Lots of reaction indicates a huge disappointment in Obama's claims during the campaign that he would respect Second Amendment rights.

    And who cares about assault weapons, anyway? Any gun owner who has a semi-automatic weapon, including former military weapons like AKs and ARs, popular with gun collectors and recreational shooters. I can say from experience that this includes lots of normal law-abiding citizens who love their guns and enjoy owning guns that the U.S. military uses, and find lots of enjoyment in them.

    Here's a summary of the ban and list of affected weapons, from the Salt Lake Tribune. A bill to renew of the ban was introduced in Congress this past spring, so it's quite clear a new Congress will probably face a renwal bill in the coming session. Would President Obama sign this legislation? Most likely.....

    PS, I hate guns. But I love some gun owners and feel their concern.

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Eight years

    I started a website with a 'blog' page in early November 2000, which I remember because I missed the Ramble at Fairchild Tropical Garden that weekend, putting it together, and because just about that time we discovered that the results of the presidential election were in doubt -- and would be for several weeks.

    Most of the first postings were about that election and the legal and political wranglings around the Florida results. I also posted a page of links about it, which I still get asked for at times (I have found a copy of that page but haven't posted it since all the links are out of date). The original Web site and 'blog' are gone now, since I changed Web providers last winter. The blog was converted to a Blogspot blog in August 2002.


    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Learning from the campaign

    Good posting from Ken Doctor on his Content Bridges blog: 10 truths the press can learn from the Obama campaign.

    New government Website for Obama

    There's a new website for the president-elect: Lots of information here on the inauguration, the new administration, the agenda (or will be).

    It includes a link to Presidential Transition Resources site, a directory of new position holders as they are named.

    Should be very helpful.

    (Updated:) Also see Sheila Lennon's posting on the new site.

    This is a surprise, I think, considering that in the past I haven't found federal government websites to be particularly current; I must say there has been a big change in the last year or so and new websites have been coming online in response to current issues. (Example: another new site for information on veteran services, Warrior Care.) But: was this created by the Obama team and a totally new product, not a product of the current administration's web team?

    It'll be interesting watching what the Obama administration does with the federal Web. I just hope there aren't lots and lots of URL changes, as happened when the Bush administration took it over. It wreaked havoc with intranet and web directories which all had to be tediously changed.


    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    How it was in DC

    I love Joel Achenbach's blog posting with photos of the spontaneous demonstration that erupted outside the White House Tuesday night: All-Night Party at the White House; as well has his report on the lines for copies of the Washington Post the next day. (And more, on other demonstrations.)

    Washington was always a place where you never knew what was going to happen next, and people came out to express their feelings. I still miss it some days.

    Looking a little deeper

    In The Times Online, an interesting analysis of the state of American politics: It was a great victory - but not for the Left.

    The Guardian has a good three-part Obama biography: The Obama Story. Slide show: Road to the White House.

    Then there's Newsweek's blockbuster, Secrets of the 2008 Campaign.

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    How the Times covers Iraq

    Great story in next month's Vanity Fair about the New York Times bureau in Iraq, the only U.S paper that hasn't cut back it's in-country coverage. The New York Times’s Lonely War.

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    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    40 Years Ago

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

    November 5. The election was upon us, a scary time. The choice, between LBJ's vice president Hubert Humphrey, a likable former mayor, congressman and senator from Minnesota who had for years been a reliable liberal campaigner, and Nixon. In 1948 HHH had been one of the first who stood up to the southern Democrats and demanded a civil rights plank. He introduced the bill that created the Peace Corps. He had tried for the presidential nomination in 1960 and gave up his senate post and majority whip position to become LBJ's VP in '64.
    Despite all his good points, many Democrats and other voters, especially the young, deplored his complete loyalty to LBJ and support of Johnson's war effort and were upset he was the nominee instead of the dead Bobby Kennedy or Eugene McCarthy. A Tom Lehrer song "Whatever Became of Hubert?" went "I wonder how many people here tonight remember Hubert Humphrey. He used to be a senator..."

    Some possible Humphrey voters were also voting for the third-party candidate George Wallace, the former Alabama governor who had attracted blue-collar voters to his campaign of racism and disgust with anti-war protests.

    Nixon, on the other hand, was a polarizing candidate: you either loved him or hated him. Many voters had never forgiven him for his 'red-baiting' campaigns of the 1940s and 1950s, the Alger Hiss case, his win over Helen Gahagen Douglas for the Senate in which he accused her of being 'pink' (It was Douglas who dubbed him 'Tricky Dick', according to Wikipedia); his 'Checkers' speech.

    As Eisenhower's two-time VP he was always expected to have a chance at the presidency but his close loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and his 1962 loss at the California gubernatorial race, in which he claimed he held his last press conference ( 'you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore') seemed to have ended his career.

    His return -- and nomination -- in 1968 was a surprise to many, and disgusted many young voters in particular. He was old politics, and we didn't like his appeal to the so-called 'silent majority' and the outrageous campaign statements and attacks on anti-war protesters of his VP candidate, Spiro Agnew. Spiro Agnew watches were a popular fashion statement, by supporters but also by those who thought he was a joke (one campaign ad: "President Spiro Agnew? (laughter)).

    So November 5th was an uneasy day. For my first election night in a newsroom, I discovered the library's job was to set up as an information center for Post readers. We were expected to come in a bit later that day, and work as far into the night as necessary.

    We would get copies of wire reports on the returns as they came in; the copy staff had to make extra copies and drop them on our desks as quickly as they got other copies to the reporters and editors working on the night's stories. Readers had been told to call the library's number, and when a reader wanted results in Iowa, for example, we had to find whatever numbers we had amongst the piles of torn-off wire printouts. It could get frustrating, especially when callers couldn't understand why we didn't have the latest news. Even the TV in the corner with the network news coverage didn't always help.

    I don't remember how late I had to work that night, or how soon we knew the results, but it was demoralizing. Nixon won with 43.4% of the vote to Humphrey's 42.6%. Wallace had taken 13.5% so may have made the difference. Worse, though, Humphrey took only 191 electoral votes from 13 states, whereas Nixon took 32 states and Wallace 5.

    Headline in the New York Times the next day:
    Allied Diplomats Suggest All Sides May Adopt a Wait-and-See Stance

    Many of my friends talked of moving to Canada, Paris, or somewhere else. A year later I'd leave for London (but stay only a few months). 1969 would be a sad year.

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    What could you buy with it?

    Dress Like Palin. What you could do with Sarah's spending money.

    I voted

    Right here. No lines. (Although one began to accumulate as we were leaving.)

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Another good news research story

    How The Times followed a trail to find Barack Obama’s aunt.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    Useful and different elections info sources

  • Our Vote Live tracks election problems during election day.

  • Google Elections Gallery will show real-time elections results on maps.

  • on electoral projections.

  • Early Voting Database, 2008.

  • 2008 Electopedia from New York magazine.

  • Ballot Measures Database from Natl Conference of State Legislatures.

  • Ballotopedia.

  • The International IDEA Voter Turnout Website.

    And something else in the news:

  • Failed Bank List
    from the FDIC.
  • Labels:

    Thoughts from the mountains on this election

    Up the mountain road near us on the way to Hiwassee Dam, a sign at a small country church, saying something like this:
    'Never fear change. Think how glorious fall is'.

    Yet, in front of many of the houses nearby, little shacks with junk and dead cars in the yard and little insulation or even siding, lots and lots of McCain/Palin signs.


    Then again, in the Asheville Citizen Times, a 103 year old woman voted for the first time in her life. She and her husband raised their children in a log cabin and she says she never voted because 'he took care of all that'.

    Urged by a granddaughter, she got in an absentee ballot -- for McCain. 103-year-old woman becomes first time voter.

    Speaking of those fall colors: Photos at Southern Highlands Cam.

    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.