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Friday, March 07, 2003

Ok, I've had it!

Blogger can't decide whether or not it wants to accept changes in my template. I've been trying to dump recent Javascript additions. Sometimes the changes seem to take, but eventually the Javascript starts loading along with my Web page -- even though my new template no longer includes the Javascript. The page also seems to take too long to load compared to other pages on my server.

Any suggestions? Movable Type?

UPDATE: Any readers know how to use the program Blog? How about City Desk?

If so, please e-mail me


Thursday, March 06, 2003

Isn't this an international war crime?

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an effort to blame the United States and United Kingdom for war atrocities, the U.S. Central Command charged Thursday that Iraq will dress members of a paramilitary force in uniforms from the two countries while hurting his own people.

In a written statement, Jim Wilkinson, Central Command's director of strategic communications, said, "Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has ordered the procurement of military uniforms identical down to the last detail to those of the U.S. and U.K. forces."

In every movie I have ever seen about war-time spying, soldiers who wear the enemy's uniforms risk summary execution. Readers who are more familiar with these rules that I, please comment.

Of course, America's detractors will claim this report is misinformation designed to cover up all the atrocities the United States plans to commit once the invasion begins.

No good answer from Alterman's book rep

Several posts ago, I reprinted an e-mail I received from Peter Costanzo of WordTrends, offering me a free copy of Eric Alterman’s book, "What Liberal Media?" All I had to do was consider writing a review. I've already blogged about the ethical problems with such an arrangement. But, I also dashed off a quick reply to Costanzo:

Are you serious?
Do you not consider giving out free books in the hopes of getting a
review -- whether positive or negative -- somewhat suspect ethical

Contanzo replied:

Hi Bill,

Not too sure what you mean - Are you suggesting that we should only send books to people we're certain will write a positive review? We're confident that What Liberal Media? stands on it's on as a fresh take on an assumption about bias in the media and would hope that your review, positive or negative, will at the least be fair.

Are you not interested to take a look?

c/o What Liberal Media?

To which I replied:

Mr. Costanzo:

My point is that a free book is a freebie -- which is verboten. Forbidden.
A no-no. A violation of the ethical rules of most respectable journalists
and newspapers. I sincerely hope I am not the only blogger/occasional
newspaper columnist to refuse your offer.

If a newspaper carries book reviews, the newspaper should buy the books.
Period. It should not carry reviews of books simply because the
publisher/author/author's publicist sends it a free copy. Even if the review
is completely fair -- and says exactly the same thing it would otherwise --
it is not fair to those authors and publishers who do not send free books to

I will not be reviewing this book, simply because I do not typically review
books. I might buy my own copy, even though I have a stack of unread books
next to my bed that it almost as tall as I am.

Believe me, I wish I didn't have this policy --- think of all the neat stuff
I would get in the mail.

Bill Dennis

Quick note: I plan to write a major post on President Bush's 50-minute-long press conference. But this point stuck out. A reporter just asked President Bush whether, while he was alone with his thoughts, if he ever considered that attacking Iraq might lead to greater terror. Bush's reply (and remember, I'm not quoting from a transcript):
"Its hard to envision more terror on America than what happened on Sept. 11, 2001."

Happy Birthday

Laura Prepon Rachel Weisz

The lovely Laura Prepon of ‘That 70’s Show” turns 23 On March 7. The equally lovely Rachel Weisz, star of the two recent “Mummy” movies, turns 32. As always, some less lovely people also had birthdays.

Osama in custody?

It is 4 p.m. here in Peoria, Ill., and President Bush is scheduled to address the nation at 7 p.m. The radio is reporting that the U.S. government knows where Osama is (the general area anyway) and raids are underway. Why in the world would the government release this information before they get him? Is he already in custody and the news is being held back so Bush can make a big announcement?

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Rules are rules

This story comes via Taranto’s Best of the Web:
Kevin Long, a six-year-old first-grader at Ohio’s Struthers Elementary School, has been socked with a 10-day suspension for possession of a weapon: a plastic knife. The Youngstown Vindicator reports that an alert classmate spotted Kevin with the blade, and school officials managed to confiscate it. Apparently no one was injured. Kevin explains that he wanted to take the knife home to show his mother that he had mastered the skill of buttering bread.
It’s another case of zero tolerance in schools.

This is just wrong

Of course, I am assuming that what these protestors say is true and that a guy was arrested after he refused to leave a mall because he wore a T-shirt with an anti-war messages. The mall may have the legal right to deny entry to anyone it wants, but that does not make it morally right.

Bob Greene speaks

The Chicago Tribune columnist goaded into resigning because he had consensual sex with a 17-year-old many years ago, speaks out in his own defense in an upcoming issue of “Esquire,” USA Today reports. The author of the piece says:
Greene is now a '“lost voice. I had never heard a man broken before -- up close and personal,” [Bill] Zehme said Tuesday, marveling at “the glee with which we pounce on people and leave them for dead. They’re still people.”
Are your ears burning, Neil Steinberg? Neil is the guy who wrote an anonymous column criticizing Greene’s toupee, writing style and his insufficiently hip and ironic crusade against child abuse. Steinberg wrote this column while working for the competing Chicago Sun-Times, thereby demonstrating his own shoddy ethical code. After Greene was fired, Neil wrote about his glee at the event and accused Green of figuratively cruising “trailer parks” for child abuse stories.

Greene says:

“Let them kick,'” Greene says of his critics. '“It’s like I’m a body in the street and they keep coming by and kicking . . . but the body is already dead.”

When Zehme asks why he didn’t fight for his job, Greene quotes former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes, who said when he was sacked: '“Why don’t we just say I got what was coming to me and leave it at that?'”

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Now this is disturbing news

I am going to need a calculator for this one.

Is this ethical?

I think not. I received this e-mail just moments ago and I thought I should share it with my readers:

Hello Mr. Dennis,

My name is Peter Costanzo and I'm contacting you on behalf of an objective and revealing new book called What Liberal Media?: The Truth About BIAS and the News by Eric Alterman (Basic Books, ISBN: 0-645-00176-9).

The media has become so pervasive in our lives that regardless of exactly where on the ideological fence you sit, the question of media bias has become all but unavoidable.

In What Liberal Media?, journalist and historian Eric Alterman confronts the question of liberal bias and, in so doing, provides a sharp and utterly convincing assessment of the realities of political bias in the news. He finds the media to be, on the whole, far more conservative than liberal, though it is possible to find evidence for both views.

After reading What Liberal Media? you will discover the real news story of recent years is not whether this newspaper, or that news anchor, is biased but rather to what extent the entire news industry is organized to communicate conservative views or to push our politics to the right - regardless of how "liberal" any given reporter may be.

The author currently writes the "Stop the Presses" media column for The Nation and the "Altercation" web log for MSNBC.com.

I would like to send you a complimentary copy of this new book to consider a review or recommendation on your website.

For more information, please visit: http://www.whatliberalmedia.com.

Please let me know if you are interested.

Thank you,
Peter Costanzo
c/o What Liberal Media?

Contrary to what the general public thinks, reporters do not collect freebies, whether thay are free meals, free tickets or free books. Well, they shouldn't, although I know some newspapers where this is not such a big concern. The books read by reviewers should be purchased by the newspaper or the reviewer. The same goes with movies, plays, concerts and meals at restaurants.

A guy who likes to lecture the media about its biases should ask himself about the biases brought into the equation when offering free books to journalists.

Happy Birthday, Jolene

Jolene Blalock headshotJolene Blalock, who steams up the screen on "Enterprise," turned 28 on March 5. See Page 3 for more details.

Separate actors’ views from their work

Everyone has the right to their stupid opinion. When I hire a plumber, I don't ask for which baseball team he supports. Likewise, I don’t pick which movies and television shows I like because of their politics. I found Rosie O'Donnel funny despite her idiotiarian views on gun control. I do, however, support her stance in favor of allowing gay people adopt children rather than let them languish in foster care. John Wayne was a popular actor even among liberals. The only celebrity whose works I refuse to patronize is Woody Allen.

Martin Sheen“West Wing” actor Martin Sheen is apparently worried about a backlash in the United States and that NBC officials have “let it be known they’re very uncomfortable” with his strong anti-war stance.

In an apparent response to Sheen”s concerns, the Screen Actors Guild has spoken out against those who would blacklist celebrities who oppose war against Iraq. I agree, although I seriously doubt there is any serious consideration of any such list, informal or otherwise. The creation of movies and television shows is a commercial endeavor and the only valid reason to hire or not hire someone is that person’s ability to draw in viewers (actual talent is a secondary concern. Producers do not care one whit whether an actor/actress is on a blacklist. If they put asses in seats, then they get hired.

Yes, celebrities have the right to their opinion and the right to express them. In fact, there are tens of thousands of men and women putting their asses on the line to defend that right at this very moment.

But, consumers have the right to pick and choose which movies they attend and which television shows they watch. And they have the right to determine the criteria through which they make these decisions. The politics of the actors who create these movies and television shows is as valid a criterion as any.

Producers won”t hire actors who turn off customers. That’s not a boycott or a blacklist; It’s just people making choices with their dollars.

Sheen is millionaire actor who stridently opposes government policy to the point where he routinely violates the law to make his point (he often gets arrested committing acts of civil disobedience). In most other nations on Earth, he would be in jail. Yet, he seeks to establish victimhood status by saying the people who hired him sometimes roll their eyes at his behavior. We all should be victims.

I enjoy “The West Wing” despite Sheen’s views. I’ll watch it, so will millions of other people who separate performance from politics. Sheen has nothing to worry about.

A list of who is naughty or nice

Thanks to Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler for pointing me to Celiberals. Check out the list of non-liberal celebrities. There are more than you think.

Thank you Miss Ross

My hits are picking up, I used to get between 40-50 hits a day (and less on weekends). But since I posted those pics of NYPD Blue actress Charlotte Ross, that number has jumped to more than 100, mostly due to Google and Yahoo searches. I guess Page 3 has had the desired effect.

Drew Barrymore update

According to a gossip item in New York Magazine, Drew copped a feel from a buxom party-mate. I would have paid cash money to see that.

Not much to update on murdered Iraqi general story

Another Google News search this morning found no hits on the name Muhammad Sa’id al-Darraj, the general in charge of Iraq’s Scud middle program. The British Daily Telegraph carried an London-based Arab newspaper report that Saddam murdered the general because inspectors wished to speak to him. Apparently, Rush Limbaugh is the only United States medium to pick up this report, three full days after it was originally printed.

Thanks to Armchair Analyst and Cut on the Bias for the permalinks.

Monday, March 03, 2003

The joys of universal health care

In her Daily Telegraph (London) column of Jan. 16, Medical Editor Celia Hall reported that a family doctor in western England has been summoned to a formal hearing before his local primary-care trust because he refused to certify a male patient for a Pap smear to screen him for cervical cancer. The man sincerely believes he is a hermaphrodite, but his doctor said he can find no evidence of that (and in fact, the man once fathered a child). At least one colleague suggested appeasing the patient, which the doctor said he might do if someone would teach him the procedure for performing a cervical smear on a 34-year-old male.

Link courtesy of News of the Weird.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys, cont.

From today’s Non Sequitur:

Why is this on Rush’s show and nowhere else?

I am not a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh (too much of a blowhard for my tastes), but sometimes he gets to the point better than the mainstream media. Case in point: A British newspaper is reporting that the Iraqi general who was head of their Scud missile program was murdered by Saddam Hussein. According to an article in the Telegraph headlined Saddam ‘killed missile chief’ to thwart UN team:
Western intelligence agencies are investigating claims that Saddam Hussein ordered the murder of a senior Iraqi missile engineer to prevent him passing vital information to United Nations weapons inspectors.

Gen. Muhammad Sa’id al-Darraj, who was in charge of Iraq’s mobile Scud missiles until three months ago, died 24 hours after talks with Saddam’s officials, according to Arab newspaper reports. The officials wanted to discuss how the general would conceal his knowledge if he were called for interview by the UN.

The London-based Al-Zaman newspaper said that Gen al-Darraj told “indignant” relatives shortly before he died that he had been slipped a poisoned drink during the meeting at one of Saddam’s presidential palaces.

I did a Google News search for the name “Gen Muhammad Sa'id al-Darraj” and found exactly one hit: The Saturday, March 1, story in the Telegraph that Limbaugh cited. While the United States media is full of reports of celebrities and others claiming that President Bush has failed to make his case that Hussein isn’t cooperating. I have not seem any Blogs reporting on this issue either.

Rush also discussed a report in the Telegraph that Hussein has threatened to use poison gas against the Kurds the moment the first bombs fall. This is the poison gas that Hussein says he does not have and that “peace” activists say has not been proven to be in Iraq’s possession.

UPDATE: Rush was wrong. There is a newspaper that picked up the telegraph story: The Age in Australia.

Not safe for work?

For all the worrying OmbudsGod does over my pics, he sure does link to me an awful lot. Not that I am complaining.

Heinlein in sci-fi’s Top Ten

The editors of the Science Fiction Book Club has included Robert A. Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” to its list of the top 50 most important science fiction/fantasy works of all time. It was fourth on the list, behind (1.) J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” (2.) Isaac Asimov”s "Foundation Trilogy,” and (3.) Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”
According to a press release:
Ellen Asher, Science Fiction Book Club Senior Editor, described Heinlein, author of “Stranger in a Strange Land,” as “the single most popular and widest-read science fiction writer of all time. ‘Stranger’ was not only a phenomenon for science fiction readers. It jumped the borders into the wider culture, giving a new lexicon to the late ’60s and a new way of looking at the world.”

USA Today reporter Bob Minzesheimer chose a more sarcastic description:
Robert A. Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961) features a child from Mars who adapts to life on Earth and founds his own church, which resembles a swinger”s club.

Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” was listed as 46th on the full list, while Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War,” sort of a liberal’s version of “SST,” was 24th on the list while Heinlein”s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” didn’t make the list at all.

Did Heinlein get the respect he was due in this list? Well, you can’t really complain about finishing fourth. And as much as I love and respect Heinlein’s work, Tolkein's masterpiece is much more influential. I like Asimov‘s work, too. I think his Robot novels were more influential than the Foundation novels (although he later merged them into the same universe). I could never get past the first few pages of “Dune.”

I also would have included L. Neil Smith’s “The Probability Broach” and Spider Robinson’s “Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon.”

Unclear on the concept

From the Washington Post
London (AP) -- A dozen peace activists who went to Iraq to serve as “human shields” in the event of war returned home, fearing for their safety, a spokesman said.

Link found on alt.fan.heinlein.

O’Reilly taking heat, drapes himself in flag

FOXNews’ Bill O’Reilly has written a piece in the New York Daily News defending himself against racism charges stemming from his frequent attacks on obscene rap lyrics. I found the following paragraph illuminating:
In this time of terror, Americans must come together and face the cold, hard truth about the world. Using the race card to frighten the press hurts us all.
Taken seperately, I completely agree with each of the two sentences in this paragraph. Americans should confront the cold hard truths about the world. We also should be wary of playing the race card.

But we also should be wary of blowhard commentators who try to distract legitimate criticism of themselves by wrapping themselves in the flag by bringing the events of Sept. 11 into an argument about the relative merits of rap music.

O’Reilly has an exaggerated opinion of himself. He considers any attack on his opinion as an attack on his right to have an opinion, and therefore an attack on the 1st Amendment itself. It's the same ploy celebrities use when they take heat for their stupid, knee-jerk liberal opinions.

God, what a blowhard this guy is. He makes Rush Limbaugh look like a member of the Harvard Debating Society.

Please, Mr. O’Reilly, the fight against political correctness in newspapers and television needs a far more credible defender than you.

Original link courtesy of Romensko.

Here we go again

Another campus newspaper is being silenced by theft.The people who stole approximately 890 copies of the University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus may have been upset over an opinion piece critical of school policy.
Staff member Josh Levinson wrote about what he called the school’s policy of “propagating ... racism.” In his column, which ran with the headline: “Cultural centers propagating, not ending racism,” Levinson argued that by promoting separate clubs and activities for various ethnic groups, the school was promoting segregation.
This would not be the first time the Daily Campus has raised the ire of people because of racial issues. Two years ago, the paper printed an advertisement from conservative commentator David Horowitz that claimed that paying black people reparations for slavery would be racist. Copies of the newspaper disappeared then, too.
What is it about the environment at our nation’s colleges and universities that leads some people to think that stealing newspapers and otherwise silencing opposing viewpoints by force (and that is exactly what this is) is acceptable behavior?

Original link courtesy of Romenesko

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Heinlein's 100th birthday approaches

The Heinlein Society plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein's birth with a variety of events, products, and programs. A special Web page has been set up to detail these events as they unfold.