Archive for September, 2005

No, not THAT Mitch

September 30, 2005

Former State Rep. Mitch Harper has started a blog, Indiana Parley, and he’s joined the discussion we’ve been having about who is a "real" journalist.

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Follow the money

September 30, 2005

For all you political geeks who want to start getting ready for next year’s elections, here’s a site to bookmark. It’s opensecrets.org, where you can find out who is donating how much to politicians, political parties and political action committees.

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Endangered species

September 30, 2005

I just got an e-mail alert that the mastodons are leaving downtown, so you’d better seem ’em soon if you haven’t already. But the online auction for those who want to bid on a mastodon is ready and will continue until Oct. 20:

Place your highest, most comfortable bid now. The mastodons are going to be auctioned October 21, 2005, at the Grand Wayne Center. If you are without a ticket, a special web address will be made available for you to bid LIVE while the auction is occurring on 16 mastodons of the heard.

Money raised from the event will fo to the United Way. More information is available here.

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So long, America

September 30, 2005

You know, of course, about the top three major disasters predicted by the federal government — we’ve now had the terrorist attack on New York City and the New Orleans hurricane, so that means only the San Francisco earthquake is left. But what about the 10 most likely disasters now seen in our future?

Pay special attention to No. 5, the Midwest earthquake:

It has been nearly two centuries since a series of three magnitude-8 quakes shook the then-sparsely populated Midwest, centered near New Madrid, Missouri. Another big one is inevitable. Now the region is heavily populated, yet building codes are generally not up to earthquake snuff.

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John Roberts’ America

September 30, 2005

Welcome to the Roberts Court, America. This is, of course, good news for the new chief justice’s Hoosier friends. Not that every Hoosier is his friend. Now we go on to the fight over the next court pick, which we all know won’t be as ferocious as it could be if President Bush heeds the advice of people such as Hillary Clinton who have his best interests at heart. As a middle-class, middle-aged, right-of-center, military-veteran, white male, I naturally hope the president will choose someone who will return blacks to the back of the bus, make women get abortions in back alleys, put senior citizens out into the streets, serve our poorest kids gruel in their crack-infested and crumbling schools, cut down every last tree, help greedy corporations squeeze every last dime from every last welfare cheater and gather up all the kittens that can be found and stuff them into sacks to be thrown into Lake Ponchetrain so they can spill over the dikes and knock off a few more Commie Democrats. But I don’t expect to get everything I want. It’s a cruel world.

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Brave new world

September 30, 2005

A lot of people think the current president’s bioethics council is concerned a little too much about the ethics and not enough about the bio, although the way they usually put it is "religion trumps science" or some such. That’s a fair assessment; I think the administration is less science-friendly than it should be. But some people don’t worry enough about the opposite extreme, our scientific enthusiasms running way ahead of our ethical and moral sensibilities.

This is on my mind because I’m reading "Frankenstein," the Allen County Public Library’s third everybody-read-the-same-book project (after "Farenheit 451" and "The Diary of Anne Frank"). Mary Shelley’s classic is considered by many sf fans (like me) to be the first true science fiction novel in its exploration of technology-vs.-morality issues.

(Highly recommended, by the way, especially if your opinion of the basic story has been informed by the many movie versions, which don’t do it justice.)

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Father Fidel

September 30, 2005

I think this is just so sad. Elian Gonzales, another little Castroite. It’s no surprise at all that the report would be on "60 Minutes." Any bets on how sympathetic the program will be to Elian’s Miami relatives? They’re reactionary conservatives, you know. Just never got Castro’s perfect society.

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The times they are not a changin’

September 29, 2005

I thoroughly enjoyed the two-part Bob Dylan documentary on PBS Monday and Tuesday nights, although it seems odd that all the recent Dylanmania focuses on his first few years when he’s had a career lasting more than 40 years. There’s a reason for such ’60s wallowing, as post-boomer critic David Greenberg points out in a Slate article:

One part of the answer is that Dylan shares a problem with the 1960s as a whole: Scholarship and popular commentary alike are shaped by the baby boomers who lived through the period and have never quite transcended their own youthful enthusiasms.

(Lots of interesting links in the article, too)

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The bean war

September 29, 2005

Let’s keep up the pressure on eminent-domain abuse, from all quarters. And here’s the view from the lowly little bean company itself.

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Turn off that iPod now, please

September 29, 2005

It’s going to keep getting harder to get away from it all when it’s much easier to take it all with us. This study from my alma mater shows that the communications revolution goes even deeper than we’ve realized. It turns out that everybody — not just the young or the technically savvy — multi-tasks. This is creating quite a buzz in the news business, as you might imagine. Here’s the Ball State account.

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And I won’t be decaf

September 29, 2005

Finally, after all these years, a new way to dispose of our earthly remains. I’d request that for myself, but I’d be afraid they’d use me to fertilize some pig farmer’s corn field, and then where might I end up? Maybe I can have myself ground up and mixed with some nice French Roast, passed around to all my friends in one-pound bags. Even though I’d be gone, they could still wake up in the morning and have a steaming cup of Leo.

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Cheering for Evan

September 29, 2005

Dan Carpenter is an Indianapolis Star columnist who might even be too liberal for The Journal Gazette’s editorial page. In this offering, we learn that he will go to the mat for Evan Bayh, doesn’t think much of John Roberts, has no appreciation for the Constitution and has utter contempt for any Hoosier to the right of, well, Dan Carpenter. This probably won’t make him feel better.

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People, get ready

September 29, 2005

With all the reporting related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, you surely know by now that, if a disaster strikes, you should be prepared to be on your own for up to 72 hours. Here’s the kit you should have tp make sure you are.

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News is what we say it is

September 28, 2005

We have an interesting conversation going on in the Fort Wayne blogosphere about what news is and who "real" journalists are. It started when Nathan Gotsch wrote on his Fort Wayne Observed blog about a swinger’s club in Fort Wayne. I did a post remarking that this was evidence of the evolution of blogs, from mostly expressing opinions and engaging in media criticism, to doing more original reporting. Things took off from there. (Wrapup here.)

That led Nathan to ask his readers if he should be considered a journalist, and people are offering opinions on that idea.

There’s a truism in the newspaper business that "news is whatever an editor says it is." That’s not as arrogant as it sounds. There are millions and millions of pieces of information out there, and none of it becomes news until it goes through some gatekeeper’s filter. There are millions of people doing their own filtering now, deciding what is "news" for them and publishing it on their blogs. We have a world now in which those who still want to can rely on a handful of gatekeepers. But those who choose to can be their own gatekeepers. It’s all part of the same communications revolution that is both exciting and terrifying, as most revolutions are.

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The 100-year plan

September 28, 2005

You probably think you only have to put up with President Bush for three more years, then live with the effects of his Supreme Court appointments for a generation or so. But here’s what a famous journalist thinks:

Woodward said he thought of Bush’s plan as a 100-year agenda.

Woodward spoke at Indiana State Unviersity, apparently the only Hoosier institution of higher learning that has snagged him; students from other universities made a trek to hear him speak. Lots of journalists talk about what a wonderful contribution Woodward and Bernstein made to the profession. One bad effect they had was the encouragement of a lot of people coming into the business who didn’t belong here. They thought it was all going to glamorous investigative reporting and Page 1 stories. A lot of them got bored when they had to wade into the boring nuts-and-bolts of phone calls and fact-checking and went into advertising or PR.

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Faith and science

September 28, 2005

"Creation science" is an oxymoron, and "intelligent design" is just a different way to try to get religion into science classsrooms. That’s not to say that religion shouldn’t be explored in schools, but mixing faith and science will benefit neither. It would be nice if we could follow this debate from afar, but that’s not to be. Indiana legislators are being asked to require creation science in our classrooms.

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Would you believe?

September 28, 2005

More about the death of Don Adams.

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Just wipe off that water

September 28, 2005

Thank God someone is paying attention to the towels.

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Worth dying for

September 28, 2005

I don’t care how dangerous it is. There’s nothing else in the world quite like it, and anybody willing to give it up deserves whatever happens.

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Bring on a wacko

September 28, 2005

No, Mr. President, "diversity" has not been one of this country’s strengths. How we’ve handled diversity has been. But too many people, including, unfortunately, you, seem intent on turning the great American melting pot into a salad bowl. I don’t care, by the way, whether the next justice is man, woman, white, black, whatever, as long as it’s a rightwing wacko conservative who will drive the "Constitution is a living document" wacko liberals right around the bend.

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Any way the wind blows

September 28, 2005

Thank God for weathermen and Louis Farrakhan. Without them, we’d never even get close to the truth. Personally, I like the theory that George Bush directed Rita toward Texas to get the evacuated survivors of Katrina that he missed the first time around.

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You read it here first, or not

September 27, 2005

Fort Wayne has a swinger’s club. It has its own Web site, which includes rules for swingers and photos of the inside of the place.

You may like that or be disgusted by it or feel indifferent. But it’s news. It was reported not in one of the newspapers or by a TV or radio news team, but on the Fort Wayne Observed blog of Nathan Gotsch. He saw a wire story about a swinger’s club in another city, and somewhere in the story it mentioned there were a few other swinger’s clubs in the state, including one in Fort Wayne. So Nathan did some Internet searching, and even talked to a county health official who hadn’t heard about the club.

I’ve written before (and I think I mentioned it on Nathan’s podcast interview with me) that things will really change in the Web world (and, consequently, in the mainstream-media world) when blogs stop being mostly for opinion and media criticism and begin doing more original reporting. We’re starting to see the leading edge of that revolution even here in Fort Wayne. My fellow News-Sentinel colleague Jon Swerens has a blog and is using it to report from Mississippi, where he is helping out at the Katrina-ravaged Biloxi newspaper. Local blogger Robert Rouse used his Left of Centrist blog to post about his trip to the Washington peace march. These both involve accounts related to news events, with first-hand reporting, not available anywhere else.

Just imagine all those millions of blogs out there. Many of the people who write them (at no cost or a small cost, depending on which blog service they use) have inexpensive digital cameras and recorders (even cell-phone cameras are adequate). They’re not just "bloggers." They are also publishers, without the need to invest millions of dollars in print or broadcast equipment.

Talk about "back to the future" — the days of the penny press are here again, only more so. Whole new world, folks.

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Primarily a political move

September 27, 2005

Don’t want to say I told you so, but . . . I told you so. The Star editorial is undoubtedly right that this move was probably designed to help get Bayh through the early appease-the-liberal-base primaries. But it will make it harder for him to rush back to the center, where he needs to be, if he does get through those.

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Cut spending? That’s a good one

September 27, 2005

And if you STILL believe the GOP is the fiscally conservative party, just consider the treatment Indiana Rep. Mike Pence got from Tom DeLay and other congressional Republican heavyweights for having the audacity to cut spending elsewhere to pay for hurricane relief.

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To the woodshed, Tom

September 27, 2005

Is Tom Delay completely brain dead?

We need to drag this woodpile of wasteful spending that is buried in the federal budget out into the light and throw it onto the scrap heap.

And which party has control of the federal budget, hmmm?

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