Children of Dune:

Children of Dune:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A common trick of the politician aspiring or veteran, is to find a parade and get in front of it.  This is harmless enough.  It shows an interest in being a public servant when otherwise well aspected.

The Tea party movement is diffuse. It has no "leader."  It has no "leaders." Any journalist willing to talk to tea party members would come this conclusion with only a minimum amount of prodding.  One can hardly avoid concluding that our media has no interest in information about the tea party.... or perhaps a fear of this information.  Yet I see a great deal of confusion in the media.

The Tea Party is easy to find.  We are easy to talk to.  Cookies are often served at our local Ithaca New York group.  Investigate for your self.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thomas Frank, who has had an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal for the last two years, has thrown in the towel.

He had several misunderstandings. Enlightenment did not come over these two years. Although the errors were quite varied by topic and exposition, most of the columns shared the following errors of thought:
  1. Any conversation has as its basis a shared understanding or common ground. Folks who don't share these common notions end up talking past each other. Mr. Frank never seemed to realize that he was writing for readers of the Wall Street Journal.
  2. He seemed to think that the field of economics consists of matters of taste, when there are large areas of settled agreement. It is, after all, a study with a large mathematical component.
  3. He does not understand that corruption in Washington D.C., and especially on K Street flows from the discretion involved in legislation and regulation.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We subscribe to two newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, and our local newspaper called The Ithaca Journal.

The national paper because, famously, one gets to learn who won, who lost, and how much. It is the national paper of record now.

The local paper we read for local news. The paper has a high turnover of staff, but they do an earnest job. The Ithaca journal has a little web site, but it is not doing well. They first were unable to continue printing the comics in color. And became smaller. And started selling the national/international section from USA Today.

The time came when they published an opinion piece with an error, it was by Amy Goodman but could have been by anyone. I was led to wonder who was responsible for errors in opinion pieces, and sent them the following sort of thing. I decided to stop typing when a fluffy cat decided to sleep on the keyboard. The Ithaca Journal never did respond. Perhaps they are busy.

New York had a famous congressman once named Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a famed Irish wit, brilliant and avuncular. He liked to remark "You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts."

This is a complaint about factual errors in the opinion section, errors which I have noticed from time to time over the years.
This latest example was from Amy Goodman's recent column:

Amy Goodman wrote:
"More than 10,000 citizens, activists and organizers have come from around the world for four days of workshops, meetings and marches to strengthen social movements and advance a progressive agenda."

And then goes on to write:
"Far larger than any tea party convention, it has gotten very little mainstream-media coverage."

Sorry to hear that Amy's event didn't get the media attention she felt that it deserved. These actions cost effort, time and money, and I would have liked to hear what they had to say, even though my idea of a healthy social movement is different from hers, and I consider the progressive movement to be the rot of the last fifty or so years. And it is not true that her action was far larger than any tea party convention.

If we accept Amy's number of "More than ten thousand citizens as reasonably close to ten thousand, then she is contradicted by believable accounts. At the Washington DC Tea Party convention on 9/12, the crowd was larger. As Josh Marshall reported at TalkingPointsMemo, the fire department estimated the crowd at 60,000 to 70,000 people...

I don't know how facts are checked in the opinion section, but in this day of tweets and blogger comments, "facts" shift as though in a game of telephone tag. I sympathize, but these numbers are wrong anyway. Do you fact check opinion and letters to the editor? Should your readers be doing the fact checking?

I am interested in your response,


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Remarks onThe Shock Doctrine: Part 3

The events of which Naomi writes are well researched and she takes the position of an advocate, not of a journalist. I kept getting the impression of a work by a committee. True, she tends to take peoples writings and the events themselves out of context, but one might argue that since any written work or indeed any event is a whole any elision places the remainder out of context. I can't recommend that argument, but one must admit that it has some plausibility.

Our Naomi Klein tries to show in a variety of ways that a variety of military, economic and other programs were inspired by experiments in shock therapy done in Canada. She does this by a variety of conclusory statements.

Or perhaps that is not fair. We can argue in her defense that although a horrible occurrence does not imply some cause, neither does the lack of that cause.

Her training as a "journalist" plays her quite false in her set task. The six serving men which serve so well for events in the small would drown us in a mountain of text which no one would read. She should employ them anyway.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Remarks onThe Shock Doctrine: Part 2

The book has been out for a while. It is no longer news.

My first impression of The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein was a lack of common ground. She faces the past when she writes, and so forensic methods are quite valid. It has always seemed that when Lawyers advocate, they stipulate the areas of agreement. And there was a lack of this common ground on reading. She assumes this common ground and so never establishes it.

People raised in New Orleans know that the Big Easy is below sea level for the most part, and the city is dangerous when the water rises. There are old folk songs and old stories about old people and relatives. I now have a mental image; an internal tableau. There was a city. There was a catastrophe. A Shock. There were people whose lives had been disrupted, hungry and feeling abandoned and disrespected. There was a woman from Canada who had gone to New Orleans to get the point of view of these people. There were "grinning" Scientologists feeding the hungry people. The book doesn't say, but it sounds like they had made their way to Baton Rouge, the capitol of Louisiana.

Many people made their way to New Orleans as they escaped. The US Navy went to to supply food and emergency services, People went down to help as church or other groups, or as individuals.
Laborers, many of them Latino, headed straight for New Orleans looking for construction work. Entire companies went. Some wanted to help, and some went because they knew that heavy dirty work pays well. They didn't get interviewed.

I begin to have a sense the problem: My heart was with the "grinning Scientologists", and the reason for that is that Naomi and I lack some important common ground.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Remarks onThe Shock Doctrine: Part 1

One can trip over Natalie Klein while using Google to find Milton Friedman engaged in debate, which viewing is a personal favorite pastime. The video title was misleading because there was only Natalie; no Milton Friedman. I watched for a while. Perhaps she is having a bad day was my thought at the time.

The video crossed my mind later, perhaps while staring at my toes in a dentists office. Perhaps the thing had been miss-cut...

My interest was renewed on seeing a young man who was studying karate with my son was seen with a copy of the The Shock Doctrine. The pages had the silky look of a book which has been read slowly. A book dealer might refer to the condition of the volume as well read and in good condition. It was a paperback, and the cover showed the curliness of wear. He saw me looking at the book.
"This is a great book" he said, if I remember correctly.
"I saw her on Utube, she struck me as a twitchy lefty" He jerked visibly. "Perhaps she was having a bad day, I'll read the book" So I did.

I was bothered by the first paragraph. Disturbed by the tone. "Dinner was being doled out by grinning young Scientologists"... That could be written in a number of ways. At a minimum, this exposition is unfair to young people who are giving their time and effort to feed the hungry while she is busily collecting material for a piece of muckraking which will give her a payday that by far the best part of the hungry people in the line will never see.