Saturday, November 14, 2009

Factchecking Sarah Palin

First FOX, now AP. Damned librul media.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fuckupistan Revisited

I know we can count on McClatchy for the best available information. Why? Because it's the only news organization (when it was still Knight Ridder) to not get caught up in the rush to war in Iraq. Don't suppose they'd offer Spencer Ackerman a job, though.
The story linked is not long. It sounds as if the Eikenberry cable made a huge difference. It also makes it clear McCrystal's camp has been leaking all along, and so has the White House.
God, even Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel. Talk about curtains. Talk about Kabuki.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, unemployment, foreclosures and health care reform.
Yesterday, Sy Hersch was on Fresh Air talking about Pakistan's nukes.
Why would anyone want the job of president? I can barely stand to read about it.

UPDATE: I just reread Ackerman's story, and the whole problem has to do with who was at what meeting when. The fundamentals are the same, and the McClatchy story just expands them a bit so that its clear there are many players working, presumably, for the same goal: As good as we can get in Afghanistan.

Fuckupistan Updated

I linked yesterday to Spencer Ackerman's fine story. Turns out it was a mess.
I have to give him this. He takes full responsibility and details the mistakes he made, most notably the passion to run with a hot story, something I understand very well and which is only exacerbated by the 24/7 news climate.
I think it should also be noted that only rarely has any news organization actually owned up completely to its own faults in such detail. The NYT's and Washington Post's apologies to readers for the execrable Iraq War run-up reporting is the only thing that comes to mind, and they did it years later and buried the apologies.
Ackerman is a small fish working for an Internet start-up trying to find its niche. And he did the right thing the very next day.
 My enthusiasm for a hot story outpaced my professional judgment. For that I take full responsibility, retract the story and issue a full apology for its publication.

Do The Right Thing

Are the 9/11 plotters criminals or are they scary, diabolical demons in men's clothing that should stay in Askaban?
Josh Marshall has a point:
There's a widespread belief that many seem to have that calling these people criminals and treating them as such somehow elevates their status and diminishes the fact that al Qaeda has effectively been making war on the United States. I've never understood this mindset. The key point in World War II is that at the end of the war the Allies would not deign to accord the leaders of Germany and Japan the respect accorded to defeated armies. They were tried as criminals. Because that is what they were.

Friviality Friday

Cancer Prevention Drugs

I didn't know there were any, did you?
A lot of Contrariennes are around that magic marker age of 60, when the risk of breast cancer increases. A lot.
Did your doctor ever suggest a prevention drug? No, I thought not.
The men in our lives are past 50, the age when prostate cancer becomes more prevalent. Any prevention drug suggested?
And then there's always the disturbing and prevailing mindset that somehow taking a drug is "bad" for you.
I have a friend who's been living with a swollen face all week due to some allergy, she's not sure what.
We talk a little about my experience with allergies. I'm pretty convinced there's something that could reduce the swelling pretty quickly. But she's not going to see a doctor. She likes to rely on her Chinese herbal expert.
Others, like Cecilia Anderson, who is 57 and lives in Houston, worry about side effects. “I felt like my quality of life was in question,” she said. “I am busy, I am out there. I totally love my life and don’t want it to be compromised.” Her lifetime risk of breast cancer is 20.5 percent, compared with an average risk of 9.8 percent for a woman her age. Ms. Anderson declined the drugs. “I live a different lifestyle,” she said. “I eat organic foods, I exercise. Through all of that comes a spiritual element as well. Mind, body, and spirit are all connected.”
The nut here, according to medical sources queried by Gina Kolata at the NYT, is that drug companies aren't going to see much point in researching cancer prevention drugs. There's no market.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Facebook Gets Man Out of Jail

Where was he? Pretty easy to see, not anywhere near the crime.

h/t Mardie

Meanwhile, Back In Fuckupistan

Kabuki, I tells ya.
How appropriate the day after Veterans Day that former TPM reporter Spencer Ackerman pulls the curtain back a little so we can see that not only is the Army a mess when it comes to providing actual accurate information, but it's at war with itself.
Relationships that none of us need to know until we notice that someone like Ackerman decides we should.
What I like about this short piece is that it gives us a little of the flavor, while most of the MSM seems intent on writing 30 inches of "empty the notebook" explication that only gets to the meat in the tenth paragraph or, worse, does the same old he said/she said on the size of the troop increase and whether or not  some wingnut thinks Obama is "dithering."
I love the Eikenberry leak no matter who pulled it off. Reports are that SecDef Gates is livid. He even said so at a press conference. Don't know if he can actually fire Eikenberry, though.

The Man We Elected President

He didn't introduce himself. He didn't have to.

Black Lab Story O' Teh Day

Drudge is good for about one good link a week.
This one is about an Australian/Afghan sniffer dog missing for months and returned. Named Sabi (always get the name of the dog. Check. If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Check. Whatever the U.S. military says, don't check. Check.)

Fell For It

Loved the Sgt. Munley story, as the military knew we would. Hasan was dead, shot by a female cop wounded in the Ft. Hood massacre.
Apparently not. Not at all. Not ever.
What I don't get is why they think they can get away with this stuff, Pat Tillman and all. Oh, wait. Because they can.

To their credit, the NYT got it as close to right today as they could a week later, given that everyone has clammed up.
The confusion over what happened and the quickness of the military to label someone a hero seemed reminiscent of the case of Pfc. Jessica Lynch in 2003, when the Army initially reported that Private Lynch had been captured in Iraq after a Rambo-like performance in which she emptied her weapon and was wounded in battle. It was later learned she had been badly hurt in a vehicle accident during an ambush and was being well cared for by the Iraqis.

Best Fun Web Sites

Some a little inside baseball unless you're British, but thanks, Mardie.

Gladwell, Superfreaks Debunked: Or Is It Just Jealousy?

Andrew Sullivan is on a plane to Waco, TX to learn more about obscure conservative thinkers and wrestle with his weakening Catholicism. Meanwhile, his STAFF (as in, he's got and I don't) finds a nicely humorous take on Malcolm Gladwell to more than match in tone Elizabeth Kolbert's
take down of the SF's.

there is a part of everyone’s brain that is tremendously adept at dealing with what those of us in my field call the cauo, or, in layman’s terms, the ‘completely and utterly obvious.’ ”
An early Merry Christmas to you.

Bread, Circuses and Birthers, Cont'd

There's this Russian-born raccoon woman, see, and she's a lawyer and a dentist and a Realtor and she's leading the fight to prove that Barack Obama was illegitimately elected because he was actually born in Kenya in 1964 or 1961, I forget which and then she's got all this stuff surrounding her alleged as well as real practices and her lawsuit against Obama has been kicked out of court a couple times and she called the judge a traitor or something...well, you get the idea, the same old wingnut circus stuff.
And now somebody is suing her. Of course he's crazy. They're all crazy.

Orly Taitz, is her name. I forgot to tell you that.

"I think in the new century we will all be insane." Angels In America

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Running, Jumping And Falling Down Regimen

Okay, all contrariennes worry about bone loss. We take calcium. We walk. We worry some more.
But really, all we really need to do is jump. Who knew?
In the meantime, the current state-of-the-science message about exercise and bone building may be that, silly as it sounds, the best exercise is to simply jump up and down, for as long as the downstairs neighbor will tolerate. “Jumping is great, if your bones are strong enough to begin with,” Dr. Barry says. “You probably don’t need to do a lot either.” (If you have any history of fractures or a family history of osteoporosis, check with a physician before jumping.) In studies in Japan, having mice jump up and land 40 times during a week increased their bone density significantly after 24 weeks, a gain they maintained by hopping up and down only about 20 or 30 times each week after that.

Climate Change Solution: Science Fiction

I wasn't going to write about the superfreaks anymore, but Krugman inspired me.
Conclusion from Elizabeth Kolbert's review:
To be skeptical of climate models and credulous about things like carbon-eating trees and cloudmaking machinery and hoses that shoot sulfur into the sky is to replace a faith in science with a belief in science fiction. This is the turn that “SuperFreakonomics” takes, even as its authors repeatedly extoll their hard-headedness. All of which goes to show that, while some forms of horseshit are no longer a problem, others will always be with us. 

The Way The News Game Works These Days

Drudge picks it up, Politico picks it up, Huffpo picks it up.
Other side denies. Politico updates. Drudge apparently doesn't make phone calls, only takes them. TPM picks the Politicao update. Huffpo, not so much. No phone either, presumably.
So will Obama grant an interview with FOX News while in China next week?
I'm breathless already. News at 11.
Remember, only a small number of people actually care and you're not one of them.
I read it so you don't have to.

What Would Happen If

... a few female members of the House put in (or merely proposed) an amendment to the health care bill which stated that men would be barred BY LAW from purchasing health insurance which covered Viagra, all hair-growth medications or procedures or transplants, etc., a TPM reader wonders.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Am Officially Twittered

which means every post is automatically tweeted. OMFG, I think I did it.
If you belong to Twitter, look for julimac or Contrarienne.
We were on Facebook at one time but I took it off because I only wanted it to post on my wall, not intrude on my friends' home pages every time. Maybe that's being too humble or something, but I've quit being friends to sites that send me stuff multiple times a day, it's just annoying.
Twitter, on the other hand, is like that. It's expected. Right?
Feedback anybody?

Okay, Let's All Calm Down. Way Down. Way, Way, Way Down.

 St. Peterburg Times

A Marine reservist armed with a tire iron beat and chased a man he thought was an Arab terrorist and even called 911 to say he was detaining the man, police said.
But the man he assaulted was actually a Greek Orthodox priest visiting from overseas who spoke limited English, police said.
Instead of offering help, Bruce struck the priest on the head with a tire iron, police said.

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street

They're 40. Shorty celebrates her first b.d. today.

Okay, so that was pretty boring. So, here's a favorite of mine:

Erm, About That 2012 Thingie

Say your goodbyes now.
No, just kidding.
Since the movie opens this Friday, NASA felt compelled to offer a little factual context for those inclined toward suicide.
Wiki's got a bunch of links if you want to go that far.
Of course, everyone knows NASA itself is a government program and how's that postal service thing working for ya, hmmm? Oh, fine. Well, how about that Army thing, then, Ft. Hood and all. And...and...and...

B-b-but, The Democrats Do It, Too

 and other ways the Republicans are blowing it.

I just think this is hilarious:
Conservatives delighted in the ideological exuberance of Howard Dean's progressive youth, and they were unprepared for Barack Obama's slickly post-ideological campaign that drew on the left's energy while running a disciplined centrist campaign. We'll see if history repeats itself. Like a lot of people, my gut tells me that Sarah Palin or perhaps Mike Huckabee will be the Howard Dean of 2012. Of course, that would suggest that the Republican nominee in 2012 will be the right's answer to John Kerry, which is a prospect too disturbing to contemplate for very long.

Thanks for the link, Andrew Sullivan.

Like the Wingnut King Lear

is Comment O' Teh Day hands down on the story over internal Moonie turmoil over control of the "church" and its newspaper, The Washington Times,

Has Social Media Broken The News Model?

Depends on who you listen to.
This guy thinks it's a deeply flawed concept, and in the Ft. Hood massacre case he cites as proof, he's clearly right. (As further proof, I could point to Mayhill Fowler's wretched coverage of the presidential campaign during Huffpo's little Off The Bus experiment — Jay Rosen, I'm looking at you — but I won't, heh).
But he goes on to argue that the Tweeting out of Iran clearly made no difference since the same hierarchy is still in power, an argument that just shows to go ya that any good idea taken to its logical conclusion is just bullshit. Not to mention that even a good social critic can fall prey to the current fast-food concept of history.
Nothing is proven about Iran yet, including the influence of social media reporting. And it's my guess that scholars will still be debating it 50 years from now, if we last that long.
By that I mean, if we last past 2012.

ADDENDUM: Here's a little insider recap of the Fowler reference above. It should be noted that the writer did not mention that Fowler was at the aforesaid fundraiser because she was given a ticket as a private citizen and she used her camera phone to record Obama in violation of the rules for attendees. It's called ambush journalism OR sneak journalism where I come from and it's patently unfair. Should we be secretly recording candidates in the bathroom? At their parents' anniversary parties? They were private remarks at a private function and Fowler violated the rules to get what soon became the "Bittergate" story. Certainly not the first reporter to ever do so.

And Fowler broke a "big" story, Obama saying that Pennsylvania voters might be bitter and cling to God and guns as recourse. The context was entirely misused by the Republicans and the  media and still pops up occasionally, while Huffpo pats itself on the back for a job well done. Sigh.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Web Site O' Teh Day

I've always wanted to learn more — read anything — about random variables. And now I can. From the comfort of my home work station.
Cosmo Learning is, uh, okay, I'll say it. Awesome. On second thought, no I won't.
Thank you, MetaFilter community.
No, I don't care about random variables (although I might if I knew what they were), but the Yale class on the philosophy of death sounds cool. How about comparative religion? Do they teach string theory for dummies? Probably.

UPDATE: I'm torn between learning to spay a cat and how to speak with a British accent.

Remembrance Of Things Past

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in February on a stimulus bill item:
"Everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu, but does it belong in this bill? Should we have 870 million dollars in this bill? No, we should not."
OBTW, the House passed a health care reform bill yesterday, in case you rely on me for news.
If you do, don't.  There are some things  I don't touch because they're just all over already.