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Wednesday, 30 June, 2004
No way made for ducklings

I saw this story headline in RSS Deserted Ducklings Caught in Highway Chase, and followed the link just to see them work McCloskey into the story. And they didn't! Probably some German Reuters stringer who never heard of Robert McCloskey., Wikipedia. McCloskey Rules!
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Tuesday, 29 June, 2004
The News thats fit to print

This wasn't the week for decorum in the news, what week is. Decorum doesn't seem to be what people do anymore. Initially my favorite story from this week was the story behind Senate candidate Jack Ryan's dropping out of a senate race he stood a good chance of winning Illinois Republican Decides to Quit Senate Race. Over a old fashioned sex scandal with his wife. You really have to work at things to have a sex scandal in the press involving your own wife. His wife is Jeri Ryan, from the TV show Boston Public and before that one of the Star Trek franchises. Boston Public - was I the only person who watched that show? Even I found it difficult to deal with when they put it on Friday (Friday! a show about a high school). It seemed like a nice celebrity scandal, but after reading the article I found myself thinking that nothing good came out of the Chicago Tribune forcing their sealed divorce papers into the open. There was nothing in this I needed to know. Even with knowing it, I can't tell is this man Jack Ryan is a fool, a reprobate, or someone genuinely involved in some aborted process of self transformation.

Its a good thing that there were other stories in the press that made it worth the time sorting through it all. Such as Vice President Dick Cheney taking time out of his busy schedule to explain the sometimes arcane notion of compassionate conservatism to us all. It was especially instructive for the fact and both the President Yahoo! News - Cheney's Curse 'Not an Issue' With Bush and senate majority leader Frist Yahoo! News - Frist Won't Criticize Cheney for Cursing are comfortably signed on with that rich restored vision of leading all Americans together. Even the Post agreed. As far as I know there is no truth to the stories that Dick Cheney has been spotted on Metro platforms across the city attempting to take his own advice.

The other story that interested me was the third circuit court of appeals rejecting the FCC's Big Business media consolidation scheme. I had a lot of thoughts about this particularly in the wake of watching the press in this country roll over for the Bush White house like a lobotimized dog two years ago. Yet the Times quotes Michael Powell calling the ruling ``deeply troubling'' and would make it harder for the agency to limit greater media consolidation. Court Reverses F.C.C's Media Ownership Rules New York Times. What a weed! Corporate consolidation was what that was all about. and he knows it. That statement is blatant thru-the-looking-glass hypocrisy. Alternet has an article reprinted from Nation on this AlterNet: Big Blow to Big Media representing other possible views. Consider another Alternet post reporting on a study of NPR's interview guest list a very established group not a lot of unheard voices. This is what happens when even independent media starts looking not to sound any stray notes AlterNet: MediaCulture: How Public Is Public Radio?

I don't like to say too much about the FCC, because the issues involved require reading the articles carefully, and because my sister works there (an anti-trust lawyer in their 'Transaction Shop'. This ruling forms the ground rules for how they evaluate the matters presented to them. My simplicity pains her, these are complex issues much of it best left to lawyers, and its hard enough to work around so many simpletons in the first place. Congress was responding to something - the concerns of the people, I suppose - when the antitrust regulations were written into law in the first place. I would remind the commisioners of the FCC, that the people are still concerned.

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Sunday, 27 June, 2004
Bass, Drums

As the week end wraps up, my thoughts shift back to Friday briefly. By the time I come back from lunch on Fridays my mind is sizing up my work aimed at getting it to a break point, where I can come in on monday and not have to recall anything to get started. I only have a brief window of opportunity to accomplish this because I have started a habit of listening to the UMd's Campus radio station WMUC 88.1fm Freeform College Radio through their streaming audio link (see ref. in previous post to malfunctioning iPods. Starting at 3pm two Dj's come on and do 3 hours of Drums and Bass. By the middle of this the work week pretty much ends itself. Prior to my starting to listen to this I don't think I could have told you Drums and Bass was its own musical catagory, I couldn't even have told there was such a thing. There is, and it even has a Wikipedia entry to prove it: Drum and bass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. What does it sound like? Like a psycho sprung diesel metronome on a six pack of redbull wrestling an oceanliner. I have to say it's very arty and serious for a genre that revolves around the studied abuse of programmable drum machines. Lets see people do that live with a real drumkit.
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Saturday, 26 June, 2004
iBook Blues

Last week I was up at the new Apple Store at...Montgomery Mall. I was hoping to look at what Apple was flogging in the way of compatible home laserjets, my inkjet has died and I'm in an anti inkjet mood at the moment. It just seems that I'm buying cartridges for every 30 or 40 usable pages I print. They didn't have any there, just a long row of inkjet SUV's. I came home with the little pamphlet on the new line of iBook G4's all coming with yards of ram. Something I could conceivably run OSX.iii on and Safari and well, whatever else it does. They did look sweet. Latter as I was browsing about on my current iBook G3 running OSX.i.v I came across Mir's post on her bad customer service adventures in Appleland, which concluded with her avowal that her next notebook will not be an iBook. I felt bad because I like my ibook and under the principle of philosphical egoism I believe everybody should. Now I use a Dell running NT 2000 at work (I think everybody does) nice thing full size set up with a flat screen (the library loves us) and a USB 2.0 port right in the front of the CPU. In just the years since I've been with the library I've had every thing from a 286 running Dos 5.0 thru this on my desk. There were a few sketchy years in the windows 95 and 98 days before we were networked. I dutifully learned the microsoft way [ctrl alt del] and pressed on. When It came to spending my own money though I always bought Mac's I've had three so far. One has died of old age - the Mac plus- CRT, but I've been happy. Of course I never had byzantine phone-foosball customer service jack me for for a warranty on product I didn't have. I didn't extend the warranty on this thing last summer when it hit the one year mark. It had never showed any signs of misbehaving so I didn't bother. On the other hand I'm a man with a dead printer sans warranty, so what do I know? Then there's the iPod - the one with the bad hard drive that eats the song library from the inside, but I haven't achieved the emotional distance to talk about that yet.
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Wednesday, 23 June, 2004

The other event of last week was my Niece's graduation from sixth grade. I thought this was a strange concept at first. I went through twelve years of education without any ceremony at all, though there was some circumstance. Of course my home town was on a 4-4-4 elementary middle high school system, where her school district is on a six year elementary, two (three?) year junior high, high school system. Her school offered pre 'K', and kindergarten as well. She and 16 others had been there together for eight years by the end. Leaving the [Ben W.] Murch Elementary School is a significant event for these kids. All the more for the great dispersal which happens next. My town had several elementary schools but just one middle and high school when we left one, we would just arrive en masse at the next in September. Half these kids leave public school for private schools, others disperse in other ways.

A picture named Nicole_Lanya.jpg Regardless the bureaucracy won't let it be called a graduation; it's officially a promotion, though it came with speeches, diploma's, processions and a yearbook. This is a picture of her and one of her best friends during the out procession at the end. Hey! who says childhood is just a blur? Must have been another bad photographer. Another picture of Nicole with Lanya a little while latter. They are going on to the same junior high. A couple of months ago I noted this junior high was next to the high school where Henry Rollins went to school. She replies back to that with a Rollins' quote (and yet she doesn't seem to know who Black Flag were) you could have knocked me over with a feather. A picture named Nicole_Lanya2.jpg Her other best friend Sara's family are moving a couple of blocks north into Maryland and another school. This last is just before the end: each student got their diploma and a yellow rose, A picture named Nicole_rose.jpg which they were supposed to dart back and give to their fathers.

I glanced at a picture of my middle school briefly while writing this. I remember six grade as the year that my town took two middle schools a quarter mile apart and by pouring a gym, cafeteria, library, courtyard, and administrative office suite's worth of concrete turned them into one school. For some reason I had trouble coming to grip with the notion that there were still people in those halls growing up, being kids, being teachers (that school is where my mother a teacher worked teaching english). Apparently there are though.

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Tuesday, 22 June, 2004

My mother was in town last week, she lives in Phoenix. The rest of us, my three sisters and I, my Father, live in and around the DC area. So I took most of last week off. She was in town to go with my sister Ann to their Bates College Reunions.

Breaking my solemn web logging vow to be deadly, even painfully, serious at all times. To regard my little patch of stacked electrons as a tool - as Woody Gutherie regarded his guitar which was was enscribed with the words "this machine kills facists." A picture named machine.jpg To attend the struggle only. But I have only events from the week I experienced to write about. So.

I saw a new book one of the days I worked called No Greater Glory: The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War II. I knew vaguely that my grandfather, John Shaw, would refer to this sometimes, that he knew one of these men. Since my mother was around I asked her that night at dinner. It turns out that her family knew three out of the four preachers, and my grandfather knew one of them, Rev. George Fox, quite well - both being Methodist ministers from Vermont. The embarkation point was Taunton Massachusetts, which is where my mother lived at that time. The story my grandfather has is that when they got on the ship and were told they were going into the North Atlantic, Rev. Fox, who apparently thought they might be heading someplace warmer suddenly regretted leaving his winter coat back at the camp. So he arranged to call my grandfather have him pick it up and brought round to the ship right before they sailed. My grandfather was one of the last people not on the SS Dorchester to see Rev. Fox alive. I think my grandfather had been tempted to sign up as a chaplain until this incident, as he was tempted to sign on as a methodist missionary to the Philippines after the war, but my grandmother's temptations did not involve ever leaving New England.

My mother added that Taunton was a debarkation point as well for the British air force during the war. They would come through on their way to Canada all through the war for flight training. I remember seeing pictures of my mother and friends posing with Australian and Scottish soldiers on their front steps. There were letters from one of these boys mothers together with these. I never knew exactly how that had come about before. The camp where they stayed was in or near Taunton and they would come to my grandfathers church then if they had the rest of the morning free would come back to the neighborhood afterwards. My mother does not know where these pictures are know. They used to be in a victorian sewing stand that was in my sisters room, but that was twenty years ago.

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Friday, 18 June, 2004
Seneca Falls

The first headline I can remember reading - it was in the Boston Globe - was Johnson Orders Bombing Halt. I had only learned to read a few years earlier, while I competed with intensity with my sister for retrieving the paper from the driveway It never occurred to me to read it. The tiny size of the print was a code that it belonged to the world of adults, the sentences small beaded chains of the familar linked to the incomprehensible.

This headline, because it was in such large type - inches high - I read. The words in their black solidity on the page tumbled questions to their base. We've been bombing someone? The Vietnamese? This is what it is that presidents do then (I'd had heard of the President, knew his name, and his face): they bomb and not bomb. This is what newspapers do, they tell us of these things. Beyond that one page of comics in the back and the occasional picture of Carl Yaztremski toward the back, I never understood why newspapers had so many pages. Now it began to settle on me that adults had things to think about.

I was thinking about that Friday while I was watching the funeral proceeding for President Reagan, unfolding in real time in front of me. I had started the week by watching a PBS documentary on the life of Ronald Reagan, from the American Experience Series. Along about the third hour of that it also seemed to be unfolding in real time, but I watched it. And I noted all the testimonials, specials, special sections in the print media, the solemn pronouncements on our national need to mourn. Against this thickening of the bramble patch growing around the man through which one would have to pass to see the truly praiseworthy and blameworthy about the man. against this I listen to his children speak about him, those for whom he was the greatest American Ron Jr., particularly cautioning against those who wear their faiths more than their hearts on their sleeves.

I didn't vote for him, either time I had the chance, it was during his presidency that I came to understand that I was a democrat. I remember those days, I don't need Tom DeLay or Dick Cheney to get up and tell me all about it. This aspect of the week long deification of Ronald Reagan was the hardest part to put up with. The wide and sweeping claims made in his name. On Monday the camera eye fell on a man who told it that he was in the military when Reagan came into office - and his pay doubled! So was I, and it didn't. That was just the start the claims. He won the cold war, single-handledly, crushing the (evil) Soviet empire. He restored our lost national confidence, ending our 'malaise', Which we knew about because President Carter explained it to us on TV. (I didn't need tv back then, I had T Rex). He also restored the American economy to its capitalist (free market) origins, ending socalist regulation of business. Brought businesses out from under the tyranny of unions. Ended inflation, cut taxes, would have balanced the budget too - if it weren't for all those "welfare queens and their cadillacs. In the middle of all this carefully planned Ceremony it struck me that someone was deliberately working to lock in the myth of Ronnie as the greatest American, confronting the greatest evil. I grew up in a time that took as a given that Facism and the Nazi's marked the apogee of mass culture industrial despostism, that desert flower of the modernism.

Every since Reagan took office I have been treated to the steady revising of the data. A slow equivilizing - even surpassing of facism by Stalinism as the first enemy of freedom. The one road to serfdom. the evil empire. The only true totalitatarianism, as opposed to occaisionally necessary authoritarianism. That the Thousand year Reich collapsed in the pit of its own ashes in only twelve years after setting half the world on fire escapes this crowd. Maybe if Stalin had been defeated and all of eastern europe and central asia had spent the last half century under good Ayran management. But it could never have. It is an important point that Nazism had far more twisted pathelogic energy than could every have allowed it to become the sad oppressive dysfunctional distopia that the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe became. Facism was and will ever remain the more purely and destructively evil.

The realities, such that I remember, were that Ronald Reagan was fundamentally decent honest man, Sometimes narrow minded, cursery, and inflexible. And lucky! Luckier than his tractors, and detractors seem willing to admit. Many of his iniatives could have played out very differently with very different results with no disturbance to the universe's sense of inevitability. Mikhail Gorbachov had at least a good of sense of the possibilities of the times as Reagan. More to gain for his own people, but also more lose for having that sense. Throughout this time, given the information flowing about through glasnost and peristroika initiatives I've always felt the Eastern nascent european green movements had a lot to do with break up of the Soviet systems of governance. I think the pollution problems and lack of any local input into industrial decision processes were the most real and concrete facts to the populations of Eastern Europe. Even more than the lack of endless consumer paradise, this is what told them their system was hollow and unresponsive. These things are what made democracy seem necessary and desirable.

Whether one believes in detante or star war missile shields. Co-operation or confrontation with the Soviet . There was always something about Reagan's foreign policy which seemed to seize on a problem perhaps already on the way to solving itself. Declaring an over arching centrality to it, against even to the exclusion of all other elements aspects, and particulars of the human condition as the one named situation mutates into something else, applaud victory and move on.

Today Reagan's succesors and chorus still congratulate themselves on the epoch ending fall of Berlin wall, Churchill's Iron Curtain, the United Soviet Socialist Republic. They jealously and churlishly guard the warm glow of their own adulation: Reagan Revisionism (Post, June 11, 2004) Charles Krauthammer Even as they seem blind to Russias current slow restoration to a police state. Or is it that it's plays at religious freedom, and market economies make it integrating and good enough. One of us! Perhaps, if we could only be more like them.

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Sunday, 13 June, 2004
the offsprings of war

Risking engagement in an unnecessary round of mule skinning here, but desiring to have the subject of the previous post fully outlined. I want to add a few more comments. It is not only that "advanced interegation techniques" against purported enemy combatants seeks justification through reference to a mass terrorism of Al Qaeda. It is notable that in the case of the detainee's at Abu Ghraib, this is almost certainly not the case. The men are - to the extent they are captured combatants and not just men swept up off the streets - a brutalist ex governing class brutally staking out its position in the New Iraq, or they are a brutalized underclass brutally staking positions in the New Iraq. They fight by a mutual strategy of murder, intimidation, and gorilla combat. And in their view they fight an occupying army that stood much ceremony on its easy victory.

This insurgency that seemed to take the administration almost entirely by surprise was at once damaging to, and caused by administrations war plan that: used a debatable doctrine of high-tech air-power intensive warfare, disparaging sizable commitments of ground troops or post-war planning. A doctrine that has a long and always debatable history. Since the time of Giulio Douhet, at least, air power proponants have claimed that the path to victory lay entirely in the air and was at hand - perhaps a budget cycle or so in the future. I can recall reading in technical journal (in my first incarnation as a clerk in a university library when I photocopied articles for inter-library loan) the asertion that the lesson of the first gulf war was that ground troops are unnecessary to winning wars and armies as we know them can and will pass away. I also remember reading, and within the past few weeks a quote in a new book on the history of American Air Power: LBJ to his Vietnam war strategists- "bomb bomb bomb, don't you guys know how to say anything else." This was a doctrine that promised easy almost effortless regime change, with disruptions only to contained installations and institutions. It made war an instrument in a foreign policy toolkit. It made the nations foreign policy, a tool of war.

It was to protect this policy this situation -into which American lives, civilian, reservist and regular military have been placed at mortal danger. As well as American prestige and moral authority. This situation arguably the pet project of one faction. It has led some people swiftly out of the land of civilization, with the quiet nodded assent of many, and pursued by fear into the vast unmapped frontier of reciprocal atrocity, lawlessness and torture.
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Friday, 11 June, 2004
Seneca Tips

There was a letter to an editor in Friday's Washington Post the subject was Mr. Ashcroft and the Memos on Torture. That was how the Post headlined a group of letters. implicated was their own comments on the subject Legalizing Torture ( on Wednesday. All this stemming from Att. General Ashcroft's testimony this week and his refusal to release memo's written by White House lawyers Bush Didn't Order Any Breach of Torture Laws, Ashcroft Says | New York Times.

The Abu Ghraib prison scandal has been leading towards a fairly obvious conclusion since Sy Hershs' second article if not the first and since Major General Antonio Taguba was escorted and guarded through his testimony before congress by Stephen Cambone Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. That the administration was going to manage this by stonewalling, and that essentially this was deliberate policy cascading top down from the very highest level. Perhaps suffering from slight mismanagement, along the way.

The letter writer makes following hypothetical statements :

What if - by using torture against an al qaeda operative U S forces might be able to save one American life, should torture be authorized? What if - by using torture against an al qaeda operative U S forces were able to prevent a significant terrorist attack saving hundreds or thousands of American lives, should torture be authorized? What if - by using torture against an al qaeda operative U S forces were able to prevent a terrorist attack against Britain, should torture be authorized?
I'm not certain of the logical difference between the second and third statement except to underscore the writer's essential tribalism. The letter writer makes all these assertions using a number of repetitive almost formulistic phrases. Significantly naming torture not interrogation as the object of analysis in the formula's coda. The writer feels that these editorials - he names them in plural, the one from the NYT may have been on his mind as well - are [the events] viewed in an intellectual vacuum. When viewed against the realities against of a war against terror taking a stand against torture - the deliberate installment of pain and fear to gain information would appear foolish Tortured on what evidence? One of his other formulas in his hypothetical is the a priori assertion that he knows these are Al Qaeda operatives, whose guilt is obvious, coexistent and punishment justly concurrent. Guilt only supposed by any man until you pull it, along with their fingernails, out of them. Confession obtained under duress is not used in our judicial system because it is understood to mean nothing. It is important to understand that this guilt, this status cannot be assumed nor can we grant it, even for the sake of an hypothetical.

The writer's steadfast blinkered simplification of this issue leads me to wonder whether his warning against intellectual vacuum is really against what he may perceive as (the) vacuum of intellect. What is being supplied in this letter is little but situational, or as writer perfers "positional", ethics. A very low road.
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Wednesday, 9 June, 2004
tommy gun

Perfect fodder for a post : funny yet indicative of the times all at once. Somewhere in Britain, Bristol according to the article, the Bass player in a Clash cover band text messages the lyrics to version of "Tommy Gun" to his singer. Except that he sends it off to the wrong number Guardian | 'Terror' text contained punk lyrics BBC had this too. This resulted in a visit from the police special branch who may not be Clash enthusiasts.
tommy gun
you can be a hero in an age of none
tommy gun
i'm cutting out your picture from page one
i'm gonna get a jacket just like yours
an' give my false support to your cause
whatever you want, you're gonna get it!
boats an' tanks and planes, it's your game
kings an' queens an' generals learn your name
i see all the innocents, the human sacrifice
and if death comes so cheap
then the same goes for life!

Well I supposed it could have "Guns on the Roof" The poor guy would be in gitmo by now. At least this required the wrong number addressee going to the Police and not having been Carnivored out of thin air Having though once seen Terrance Simion and the Mallet Playboys at the 8x10 I'd like to suggest this set of Clash lyrics for Mr. Devine from "Last Gang in Town"

Down from the edge of London
The rockabily rebels came
From another edge of London
Skinhead gangs call out their name
But not the Zydeco kids
From the high rise
Though they can't be recognized
When you hear a cajun fiddle
Then you're nearly in the middle
Of the last gang in town

The AFI is showing Let's Rock Again a documentay about Joe Strummer's last band, the Mescaleros for the SilverDocs festival next week. My Friend Robert (Bratton) has the Mescaleros CD which he had lent to me at one point and then, if you can believe it, asked for it back.
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Monday, 7 June, 2004

I got an email yesterday from my weblog interface - only the second one (the other was from Charlie Pickett, eg Charlie Pickett and the Eggs cowboy junkie a go go... and later the Route 33 lp ) This one was from somebody informing me that I was a googlewhack. Having no idea what that was and only a vague idea what it might be I googled it. It turns out to be some perverse search engine game. I have the only page on the world wide web that responds to the search Orwellian, Costermonger. They weren't even in the same post, so I don't really get this game. But I'm deeply proud anyway. If its nonsequatoral modifying phrases you want I'm sure I write them all the time. Order is not my catagorical imperative.
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Saturday, 5 June, 2004
Americana J. Rev.

[this post completed on tape delay. Helpful note to others when you have a tooth with a deep cavity but which still has a live nerve inside - do not jam a toothpick into the tooth, better yet do not do this a second time a few days later]

I was looking through the latest issues of the American Journalism Review last week. This is edited out of the Journalism school here at Maryland. So they leave free copies in the foyer. That's free - like in beer not just open source. But then it's not beer, its a magazine by journalists about journalism. I suppose if it were a beer, which its not, it would be a Sam Adams.

It had a large article on blogging in it The Expanding Blogosphere By Rachel Smolkin. Professional journalists love to point out how how bloggers hate Journalists and believe bloggers live to point out pro-jo's (as I'll call them) failings. Less often do they own up to the collorary that web logs make professional journalists antsy and defensive, and that generally they would rather give up an internal organ than say something nice or objective. Given that that is archtype of any such articles, you have to focus on the local variations. I was disappointed that she focuses exclusively on a handful of A list web logs, a reinforcement of the 80-20 power law, but even there she writes about people who are and were professional journalists to begin with: Glenn Reynolds, Mickey Kaus, and Josh Marshall. To the unnamed rest she attributes the highly opinionated, highly variable, and rapid fire over-brimming writing that everyone knows web logs consist of. All things I couldn't do if I tried.

I think I wanted to be a journalist once. I thought my college studies were leading towards this. I don't remember entirely, I've suppressed my college years. I recall once sitting in Ledo's pizza, the original one on New Hampshire ave University Boulevard. with my friend Nancy; this is back when she was still Nancy and hadn't become Micaela yet, so this must have been a long time ago. She was asking me what I wanted to do with my life. At that time I wanted to get a degree in Government and Politics with a minor in Economics and some journalism courses perhaps even a double major. I never accomplished these things, but afterwards she entered the Journalism post grad program and eventually obtained a masters with the thesis Sugar and Spice and the Persian Gulf War : Discourse and Ideology in Teen Fashion Magazines.

They also have an article on NPR and its post Bob Edwards ambitions. Quicker and Deeper? . Even though it was always brought up to deny, I notice the phrase the CNN of radio kept turning up in that article. I read that the same day that I read this piece from Alternet AlterNet: Public Broadcasting Veers to the Right. The combination left me with a certain number of questions. A year or two ago, I remember a web discussion - probably Metafilter , maybe K5 - on PBS tightening up the rules to its Red Book. This is the document that governs the professional and technical standards that a documentary piece has to have to be considered for one of PBS's distribution vehicles. At the time it was felt this move was an attempt to freeze independents out and kept public television safe for corporate sponsored broadcasts. I would keep writing about this, but I think there is an episode of NOVA coming on concerning how our high tech weapons are winning us our global wars.
I apologize for that brief interlude of sarcasm.

The back page op-ed of the AJR Scalia and His Speeches is about that strange incident a couple of months ago when a deputy U S Marshall went over and yanked a cassette tape out of a reporters recorder. Hard to say which is more eregious: a Federal marshall with no understanding of the law and with a desire to act like a private security goon. Or a Justice who will lecture on laws that he personalizes for himself. Justice Scalia's behavior has seemed curious for some time now and not just perennial malcontents like myself that think so, but his fellow Justices (old article alert) Yahoo! News - Rehnquist Orders Study After Scalia Flap. I tend to believe that he's just acting out because he's realized even George Bush is unlikely to try to name him Chief Justice.
11:33:53 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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