Friday, January 21, 2005

More on Blogging Ethics

Contrary to a lot of bloviating from journalists, I don't think there are any ethics that apply specifically to bloggers. Blogs are like any other product. If you get a rep for selling out, lying, etc. people won't deal with you. Some bloggers get around that by telling their readers what they want to hear, knowing that few if any will check or get suspicious, but who expects them to care about ethics?

This whole topic reminds me of universities holding symposia on blogging, trying to pigeonhole it, pass judgment on it, or somehow make it a subject of academia. There is just something unbloggy about the idea of blogging ethics. You might as well invite local gang leaders to discuss their ethics. Blogging is what it is. Right now it's a laissez faire system. There are no ethics or rules or laws, except maybe libel and slander which haven't really caught up. How do you really slander/libel a blogger, and if you did, how do you calculate damages?

It's also too early to define it or see how it will ultimately fit into our media. I'm sure some bloggers will develop a business model that pays more than begging, but when they do, they're in danger of becoming institutional like CBS. Let's wait and see what develops. I can't imagine that much law will develop until there's real money on the table. When Bloggers have deep pockets, we'll worry about ethics.

Double-plus Ungood

The left has quit using the term "liberal" to describe itself and switch to "progressive." They'd better start looking for a new one, because they're going to need it. The term progressive is a misnomer for a group who opposes the idea that America's policy is "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world." That would be progress, but "progressives" today are more likely to favor withdrawing from the world, turning our backs on oppressed peoples, protectionist tariffs, and disarming our nation. This is not the thinking of intelligent, enlightened people. It is neither realistic or idealistic, unless one considers socialism idealistic, and it demonstrates the real beliefs beneath, to-wit: elitism and a lack of faith in democracy. I'm not sure if the people who protested Bush's inauguration are in touch with reality, or they'd look at their own hate-filled frenzy and realize that it conflicts with all the ideals they espouse. It's the madness of peace marchers who assault police officers and anyone who disagrees with them; the stupidity of volunteering to be human shields to protect the regime of Saddam Hussein; the contradiction of condemning Israel without condemning Palestinian suicide bomb tactics.

I heard one of the demonstrators on Michael Medved's radio program yesterday and was put off by her inability to shut up and listen to comments and questions. All she could do was spew inanities like "Bush Lied" and restating arguments that have been discredited, as if reciting them endlessly would make them true or cogent.

Maybe the correct name for such people is "Oceanians," since they certainly practice the language and philosophy of the workers paradise of Big Brother.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Yuck of the day

From the New York Times: "What really makes Mecca so open is its diversity"

Yep, as long as you're Muslim, Mecca is wide open.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tell it, Brother!

Lance Unlanoff has posted an open letter to Bill Gates with a top-ten list of his biggest frustrations with Windows. They're quite similar to mine.
1) System Resources Are Never Enough

2) Time for More Detailed Explanations

3) Even When You Do Tell Me, You Really Don't

4) The Information You Offer Isn't Always Useful

5) Sometimes, It Eats My Files

6) Word Can Drag Outlook Down

7) Dopey Smart Tags

8) Useless Messages

9) Windows/Word/IE PC Collects Way Too Much Garbage

10) Nothing Is Lean or Smart Enough

I don't use Word or Outlook because of security issues. I barely use IE, but the software industry's focus on bloatware and "cool features" really annoy me as do the useless and cryptic "help" messages. They need to have a team that goes through everything to explain things in ways that non-technical people can understand. Of course, that might hurt their book sales, but there's no reason everything has to make money.

They ought to pay for the privilege of their monopoly by making a better product.

The Boxer Revulsion

Roger L. Simon connects Barbara Boxer of the Senate and Sarah Boxer of the NYTimes: "Neither . . . is capable of processing the world around them."

Barbara, the Punchdrunk Boxer, still thinks the fact that we didn't find WMD stockpiles in Iraq is a strong political argument. I've heard it said that the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic is that the former only builds castles in the air, while the other moves in. Boxer is boxed into her own private reality.

The other Boxer is boxed into hers, as well. It's a world where she knows everything she needs to, even though she doesn't know much about blogs, and where you can accuse people in the Middle East of being CIA agents without endangering their lives.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The wisdom of reporting and not meddling

Bill Safire pooh-poohs the media's crisis mentality over blogs. I don't remember where I read it, probably Instapundit, but it's been noted that the best thing CBS could have done about Rathergate was acknowledge the blunder and thank bloggers for bringing it to their attention. That would be reporting.

But there is a lot of hubris in the media world, which, as we English majors know, is the set up for a tragedic downfall.

Safire's wisdom is to the effect that things will change and we'll all adjust to them. Maybe that's a good test for whether you're overweening: if you're worried that events are slipping out of your control, you're out of touch with reality, since you never had control in the first place.

Forward to the Past

CBS is considering replacing Dan Rather on the evening news with "a multi-anchor, perhaps multi-city format that changes the "antiquated" way of reporting the day's top stories, CBS chief Leslie Moonves said Tuesday."

Do the names Huntley, Brinkley, McNeil and Lehrer ring any bells?

Moonves goes on:
Those days are over when you have that guy sitting behind the desk who everyone believes to the `nth' degree. It's sort of an antiquated way of news telling and maybe there's a new way of doing it.

So he's conceding that there are no reporters he can point to who have any credibility. I would dispute that. I'd point to a number from Fox News (NOT O'Reilly!), who report without fear of having their careers dead-ended for being politically incorrect. Brit Hume is the prime example.

Asked twice, Moonves wouldn't rule out a role on the evening news for Comedy Central's Jon Stewart

That seems to be an admission that CBS News has become a joke. Maybe they could get David Letterman to read the news once a week.

Update: Hugh Hewitt nominates Jon Lovitz.

Oh, reason not the mandate!

The WaPo: "President Bush will begin his second term in office without a clear mandate to lead the nation,"

What does that say about Bill Clinton's mandate?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Next Environmental Scare

It's called "Global Dimming" and predictably, the BBC has it, a report that the amount of sunlight reaching the earth in Israel has declined 22% over the past 50 years. Of course, it is said to mean that Global Warming is "a far greater threat" than we thought.

All this stuff may be true, but I'm not sure that we understand the worlds' climatee well enough to really know what it means. Nor am I confidant that anything we do about it would make any difference. The free world is not likely to willingly cripple its economy on the basis of a computer model, and the unfree world is unlikely to cease its drive to industrialize.

If it's the end of the the world as we know it, I see no alternative but to move north and avoid the coasts.

And of course, what this will do to the Social Security System is not mentioned, but Democrats don't seem to think that shiftin weight of the cost onto two workers for every retired person is anything to worry about.


There's a conference next week on Blogging, Journalism & Credibility. Jay Rosen declares that "Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over."

I'm not so sure that "Journalists vs. Bloggers" is, though. There's bound to be a lot of snideness for some time, as journalists struggle to figure out that bloggers aren't trying to replace them. Bloggers are not a monolith, after all. The blogosphere does not have an opinion; it has millions of them. It is more like what the press would like us to see in it, a marketplace of ideas and opinions, a free-for-all. If the MSM were more like that, maybe they wouldn't feel so threatened.

How NOT to restore CBS' credibility

Hire Katie Couric to replace Dan Rather. If they'd asked me, I'd have told them to get Jim Angle, but get him a better hairpiece. He's not hip and perky, but he's got a lot more credibility as a purveyor of news than Couric ever will. I remember her for her interview of Hillary! about her book with a leering remark about Bill Clinton's long fingers making her think of another appendage.

Maybe they could rename the program "Hollywood Tonight."

Are you surprised? Did you need to know this?

By "this" I mean the report that the U.S. has been conducting spying in Iran. I would have bet we were before this report, and I'd have been pretty upset if we hadn't. Why is it such a big deal? Does Reuters really think that this is a shocking irregularity? Or does it just think it will embarrass the Bush administration, who will have no comment to affirm or deny it?

Not that I'll ever have a chance to prove it

The idea of taking money to flack for some candidate or government program seems strange to me. If it was for something I already approve of as with Armstrong Williams or posibly with Kos, it seem like getting paid to tell the truth. It would make me intensely uncomfortable and guilt-ridden. If it was for something I didn't approve of, I don't think I could do it. Ads on a website are one thing, but what you portray as your opinion should be only that. A lot of celebrities endorse products for money, but that's why I give their endorsements so little weight. It's so much easier to be sincere when there's a packet of cash in it for you.

That's one reason why I read Kos one time and concluded that his blog was a waste of time. He's a political consultant for Democrats. Why should I read his opinion any more than I'd read a blog by James Carville? That would be like recording political ads and watching them for the news.

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history

Apparently, I'm not the only one who noticed the eerie echoes of Watergate in the Rathergate affair.

Incidentally, the Republican Party acquitted itself far better than the Democrats during the Clinton impeachment or CBS in this scandal. They let Nixon know that he could not count on their support during an impeachment trial, forcing his resignation. Is obstruction of justice so much different from perjury?

Well, if the U.N. says it's so . . .

We'd all better stay off the subway. Of course, this will make them all too expensive to build in the future. Cities are now going gaga over mass transit that runs at a loss after tearing down perfectly good one 50 or 60 years ago, so it makes sense that the experts would be telling us to abandon subways.

I really liked this quote: "Human security can be defined better as 'knowing risks' rather than 'eliminating risks'" - Hans van Ginkel, United Nations University.

Hey, I've got a brilliant idea. I call it "insurance."

Papal Bull

Howell Raines on Rathergate. Sort of.