Posts from March 21, 2005

More Schiavo

More Schiavo

: See Mark Kleiman on the irony of other cases involving the Texas Futile Care Law signed by Gov. George W. Bush himself.

: Matthew Yglesias sends us to a good post by Rivka on the medical claims in the case; see another on the ethical issues. And Rivka recommends a post by Hilzoy, which includes a picture of a scan of Terri Schiavo’s brain.

: Barbara O’Brien says (relevant to the economic points I made below):

We need a list of politicians and commentators, including bloggers, who have been calling for cuts in Medicaid but who now have joined in the “save Terri Schiavo” cult. These people need to be challenged to take her off Medicaid and pay for her maintenance themselves.

[via Kevin Drum]

: My views today here.

: Below, I said that the connection would not be made between this case and the death penalty. But right now on MSNBC’s Connected, Sister Helen Prejean talks about the Catholic church coming out strongly against the death penalty.



: Joe Territo makes a very good suggestion: podcasts of congressional debate.

A soldier’s tales

A soldier’s tales

: Just got email sending me to a pretty amazing blog by a soldier in Baghdad. I now see that the email came from that soldier. Glad he sent it. Just to take one post as an example, the bloggers writes about helping a soldier under his command with an SAT question and the soldier comes back in later to ask an uncomfortable question:

What SPC Frances said as he sheepishly stood before my desk staring at the floor was ìSir, youíre like, ummmm, you know, really smart. And youíre doing this when you could ummmm, you know, so many other things. Donít you wish you were, ummm doing something better?î.

The question is one Iíve heard from several well meaning individuals, but never, ever from a soldier…. The first deadly lie is that soldiers are stupid. The second is that the Army is a dumping ground for people with no other options….

…I told him about how part of my heart chipped off when I looked into a mass grave in Bosnia. How for days after my dreams were clouded with an image of the very earth opening a yawning pit to engulf the dead, only to choke on their numbers and leave them on the surface half swallowed…. And the story that did not need telling, the story of our ongoing struggle with insurgents who revel in the misery and deaths they cause our forces and the Iraqis.

…I told SPC Frances to close his eyes and I would tell him why. As he closed his eyes I told him to imagine his young wife, his beautiful infant daughter and the future he wanted for them. He paused a moment and a smile slowly creased his face. As he looked up I caught his eyes and told him a simple truth. I told him that the thin line that separates the two realities isnít a line on a map or the signature block on a document filled with hollow proclamations. The dividing line between the two kingdoms is a long line of soldiers. And that is why Iím proud to call myself a soldier. Its not about a lack of options, or the size of my paycheck. Its about what kind of world I want to leave for my children if I am lucky enough to be a father.

Going tab

Going tab

: The New York Times reports today on the switch to tabloid just announced for The Jersey Journal, the paper published out of the building where I work most days.

Apart from sometimes bragging about some bloggy things happening at my day job or asking questions of you all for a project, I try to make a point of not getting into discussions of company policy on this blog because it’s a clear conflict; apart from the sport of watching me tie my tongue in knots, it wouldn’t be of much value. That, by the way, is why I disagree with Debbie Weil and Rick Bruner when they ding Boeing and GM executive bloggers for not immediately gabbing about public controversies in their companies. Especially in public companies where their words could have an impact on stock prices, there is only so much they are allowed to say and they should not try to use their individual platforms to set company policy.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. Neither is the tabbing of the Jersey Journal, which I’m delighted to see happen (the prototype is great and the format is perfect for that paper).

Now, at last, I’ll start getting to the point: The Times story is written by Kit Seelye, a good reporter on the media beat whom I read all the time, and when she called there was a moment’s awkwardness, for it was a story cowritten by her that set me off in my, shall we say, theatrical complaint about some Times’ coverage of bloggers, which led to the email exchange with Times Executive Editor Bill Keller. So now she was calling on a story regarding my day job, which presented an interesting new conflict in the double life of MediaMan and BlogBoy.

She was extremely nice, saying that they tried to get the essence of my quote. I rather fell over myself to be cordial back just to get quickly past that awkwardness. (And, no being nice wasn’t going to get me treated better in the story; that is the advantage of dealing with professional, dispassionate reporters; they will most likely fall over themselves to be fair in such circumstances.) And the truth is that I have no problem with the reporters who wrote that story and I frequently link to and quote their work; I did have a problem with that story and, Lord knows, I had my say.

It occurred to me that this is like being a critic: I absolutely love some shows by David Kelly and I don’t like others and neither judgment has anything to do with Kelly himself but only with his work and my individual view of it. It’s not personal. As a critic though, I never met Kelly and for all these reasons didn’t want to; I wanted to maintain some separation and remain just a member of the audience, not a would be friend. But in this small world, we bloggers could very well run into folks we write or snark about (at one conference or another) and though that can cause a moment’s awkwardness, we still should say what we think. Should I say it less theatrically sometimes? Sometimes, yes.

But that’s still not the point. Here, at long, long last is the point: Blogging is also not like being a critic because most of our criticism tends to be negative, at least when it comes to the press. When I was a TV critic, I wrote about shows I liked and shows I didn’t and I argued that the more valuable reviews for my readers were the positive ones (who wants to waste time on a piece of junk?). That’s why I instituted the grades that became Entertainment Weekly’s critical conceit, so readers woudn’t have to waste their time figuring out what we thought of a “D” show.

In this new intersection of citizens’ and professional media, I think it would be valuable to give positive reviews, too. Of course, we often do that simply by linking to a good story. But when we write about the press and how the job of the press is done, it’s usually to find fault. That is valuable, I believe, and it should continue to give ballast to the hot-air balloon that the press has become. But it’s also important to value good reporting, or many fear we’ll start to lose it.

Will I do that? I have no idea. I’m not taking a pledge for I’ll probably fall down on it. But as I thought about this analogy of blogger to critic, it made me think that it’s also important to recognize good work and to say it more often.

There: That was my point. And I did a damned bad job of getting to it. I give myself a D. I’m going to go to a mirror and rant at me now.

: Oh, and by the way, I think I should be very proud to have gotten the word “cooties” into the New York Times.

How news spreads… now

How news spreads… now

: Doc has neat stats on how the news of Yahoo’s purchase of Flickr spread on the internet vs. MSM:

Technorati finds 1853 yahoo flickr results, mostly about Yahoo buying Flickr. Google Web finds 350,000 results, starting with old reports, mostly on blogs, of rumors that Yahoo might buy Flickr. Google News finds 22 results, of which only this blogcritics item has current news on the matter. That’s at 5pm, Mountain time, today. [Sunday]