February 28, 2005

There's Only One Thing to Say About This...

Do Not Mess With Little Old Ladies!

Turn up the sound... and yes it's work safe.

UPDATE: Wow! An IMAO-lanch.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 07:10 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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Credibility

Last night as I was reading over at Volokh Conspiracy, I came across a post by David Kopel talking about a hoax news story. The story is out of Sri Lanka about a baby, found after the tsunami, being claimed by 9 families. In his column for the Rocky Mountain News, David explains how the hoax was perpetrated and swallowed whole by two major Colorado papers (and likely by news services around the world).

Lanka Business Online explains that the world media appears, in part, to have been misled by the head of Sri Lanka's National Child Protection Authority, who was responsible for disseminating much of the false information.

It is understandable that reporters might not have applied their normal standards of skepticism to claims from the Sri Lankan official. But it's also clear that Associated Press reporters wrote into their stories "facts" which were not true, and which were attributed to no source. For example, Dilip Ganguly's AP article in the Jan. 15 News began: "The infant dubbed 'Baby 81' nurses from a bottle of milk and kicks playfully at a pink blanket as nine desperate, heartbroken women quarrel over him - all claiming he was torn from them by the tsunami."

So, the reporters get information from an official, and without further verification, proceed to write the story. And because it is then released by the AP wire services, news rooms around the world pick up the story without a second thought and proceed to broadcast... a nearly complete set of lies. (I wonder if attaching the last name of "Bush" to every official around the world would goad the reporters into putting forth some effort in their work?)

This leads me to today as I was perusing Instapundit. I ran across an interesting post about the terrorism/welfare connection in Europe. One of the links is to a really great article by Brian Moynahan at the Times Online. It's pretty long, but very well written and it appears to be well researched. Here is a small excerpt from near the beginning...

Some immigrants came from former Dutch colonies. The two largest groups, however, Turkish and Moroccan, had no historic links with the Netherlands. The Dutch nonetheless accepted the reunification of families, and the practice of marrying partners from the country of origin, even though these can have an eight- or tenfold multiplier effect on overall numbers. Asylum seekers then arrived, in numbers that escalated from 3,500 in 1985 to over 43,000 in 2000.

The figures were pro rata among the highest in the EU. Illegals came, too, mainly after 1990, with estimates running from 100,000 to 200,000. The Dutch supplied funding for mosques, religious schools, language courses and housing. They passed special legislation so Moroccans could have dual nationality, as Moroccan nationality is inalienable under Moroccan law. Political correctness, of the sort that produced Harry Enfield's famously relaxed Amsterdam policemen, reigned. Issues felt at street level — immigration, crime, culture, national identity — were seldom discussed by the political elite.

Now for the dilemma. Even though the article strikes a chord with me and I feel it is well researched, HOW DO I KNOW IT'S ACCURATE? Not to disparage Mr. Moynahan, or to pick on him in particular. I chose this article because it is one that I liked, one which had logic that appealed to me, one that I feel I can rely on the facts as they are being presented, and I find myself wondering... Should I question the article? How would I go about checking up on the facts as presented? Was there sufficient work put into researching the article or were convenient snippets of information picked up and put together in a pretty picture?

This is the problem that good journalists (and yes I believe there are good journalists out there) are going to come up against from now forward. The public has been force fed so many fabricated stories from the star reporter to the wire service writer, it's only prudent to start questioning everything. Then the problem becomes, at what point do you believe the information being presented? How much do you dig to find out if it's true? Does anyone care? And what kind of damage does this lack of trust inflict on society?

In order to make good steady judgments about what is the right or wrong way to proceed at home and abroad, we need good accurate news sources. If we are unable to get accurate news, if the reporters are too lazy or too stupid to do the jobs they are being paid to do, we can and will end up making huge mistakes. This is why I cringe when I hear ads for either newspapers or television news, with reporters stating their wish to make a difference to influence people. I don't want to be influenced! I want the facts and I want to make up my own mind, not have it made up for me by a reporter, especially if that reporter can't bestir himself to find out if he has a real story or not.

Posted by: Teresa in Current Affairs at 06:26 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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February 27, 2005

Bah!

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate winter? I loathe February (as my friend Marie says - the 4 months between January and March) it's gray, overcast, dreary, cold, wet, yucky... March is not a huge improvement either. It's not until you get to May that there is any sort of significant upturn in the weather here. It wouldn't be so bad if the Chicago area itself wasn't so flat and dull. And therein lies the problem - it will be weeks and weeks before anything improves.

Yeah, just one of those days. February just sucks.

Posted by: Teresa in Ho-Hum at 01:49 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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February 26, 2005

My Computer Angel

Yesterday Sissy was photoblogging her pretty kitty Tiny and SpongeBob watching over her computer. When I noted that I have a Computer Angel to watch over mine... she asked for a picture.

I'm putting it in the extended section for those who might be stuck on a slower connection. I will warn you... it's not a great picture. It's actually the first one I've taken with my camera phone (yeah bad camera to begin with... but I forgot to charge the batteries for the real digital camera - oops no batteries, no pictures ) You may just about be able to make out that I was over at Sissy's page when I took the picture. And yes, my monitor gets a boost from a very old Black Box catalog.

The angel? Well, there she stands on the right side under the monitor right on the Black Box book. Her wings flap when you wind her up and she's supposed to glow in the dark (although I've never seen this myself). And so far, she's kept all the computer nasties at bay. What more could I ask for. *grin* more...

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 01:21 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Armor Up

Blackfive is requesting donations for the Soldier's Angels Armor Up program.

Soldiers' Angel Robin - who leads the Armor Up program for Soldiers' Angels, needs four more kevlar blankets to give to a unit making it's second tour in Iraq. Each blanket costs $925 and meets DOD specs.

Yes, I've sent along a donation, if you have a little extra maybe you could help out too. Or pass along the link on your site or through email. If everyone gives a little, they can get a lot.

Posted by: Teresa in Military at 07:53 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 25, 2005

It's Blog Noir - Chapter 4

Yes, if you haven't seen it yet, this week's Chapter is ready for reading. Brought to you by Christina of Feisty Repartee. She stepped up to the plate and hit a home run!!! It's just excellent.

Now if you missed them the first three chapters are as follows:

Chapter 1 - by Jim of Parkway Rest Stop

Chapter 2 - by Key of Key Issues

Chapter 3 - by TJ of Twisty

Everyone has done an outstanding job. And after every chapter I'm saying... it can't be over yet!!! C'mon finish it up! I wanna know how it ends! The hallmark of excellent story telling. Way to go bloggers!

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 03:06 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Me Blog People!

Via Instapundit comes a link to a screed about bloggers by Michael Gorman - president-elect of the American Library Association. Since Mr. Gorman fully expects a backlash, I would certainly hate to disappoint him! Therefore, even though I am not a librarian, nor am I one of the elite writers with a paying job in the writing field, I have the temerity to think that my view is worth presenting (how very crass of me).

A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web. (Though it sounds like something you would find stuck in a drain, the ugly neologism blog is a contraction of "web log.") Until recently, I had not spent much time thinking about blogs or Blog People.

When in doubt, go on the attack. Apparently the only writing worth anyone's time or attention is that which is carefully vetted by publishers and editors. (and here I had thought that the ALA valued free speech, obviously I was mistaken, they only value free speech that has been approved)

I will fully admit to many grammatical errors and even more punctuation errors in my writing. However, I had no idea that one had to write as if one was turning in an essay in English class in order for one's opinion to be valid. I shall take this under consideration, but even with Strunk and White, I'm afraid that my writing won't pass Mr. Gorman's test. Which completely invalidates this entire post.

I do, however, have a suggestion for Mr. Gorman. Calling people names, especially in the opening paragraph of your (screed?, diatribe?, whine?) will not win friends and influence people. If you can't base your arguments on valid logic, without name calling, then there is a problem with your argument and you need to rethink what you have to say. (you may notice I have gotten several paragraphs into my rebuttal and I have resisted the urge to call Mr. Gorman ugly names - along with classifying the ALA as a lower life form)

It seems that Mr. Gorman's problem came about when he published a piece that criticized Google as a useful search tool.

My piece had the temerity to question the usefulness of Google digitizing millions of books and making bits of them available via its notoriously inefficient search engine. The Google phenomenon is a wonderfully modern manifestation of the triumph of hope and boosterism over reality. Hailed as the ultimate example of information retrieval, Google is, in fact, the device that gives you thousands of "hits" (which may or may not be relevant) in no very useful order.

You see he has a problem using this tool. In other words he can not make it work for him in the manner he thinks is appropriate. Therefore, the entire tool is useless, not only to himself, but everyone else in the world. The technophiles only like it because we are too boorishly attached to technical marvels to understand how bad it really is...

No where in his short essay, does he mention asking anyone for help in using the tool. Perhaps he did, but for brevity's sake, did not add this minor detail to his denunciation. The problem is, Google happens to be a very useful tool for finding information, if you know how to use it. Rather like the Dewey decimal system that librarians are so very fond of, you have to learn how it works in order for it to be of any help. If you don't want to bother learning the system, then you lose credibility when trying to denounce it.

After he gets done telling us that Google is useless and will never advance the world's knowledge, he goes back to denouncing bloggers.

It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.

I see that on the basis of his perusing a few blogs, he is now ready to lump everyone into the same category. Are there blogs with poor writing? Absolutely. Are there blogs with poor idea expression? Positively. Does this cover all blogs available? Absolutely, Positively NOT! Mr. Gorman, in a rather more erudite manner, using complete sentences and good grammar, has produced a column that is just as bad in it's own way, as the blogs he is so ready to dismiss. Calling names, calling into question the intelligence level, these are the tools of a person with no real ammunition against something they dislike. The thought being maybe if he says it often enough and loud enough people will start believing that it's true. This is the same mindset used by the MSM to push their own unique view of the world. So far it's not working.

And how does he conclude?

... For the record, though I may have associated with Antidigitalists, I am not and have never been a member of the Antidigitalist party and would be willing to testify to that under oath. I doubt even that would save me from being burned at the virtual stake, or, at best, being placed in a virtual pillory to be pelted with blogs. Ugh!

So according to his own words, he is not against computers and digitizing. I'm assuming he says this because people will naturally think that, if he dislikes Google, he must dislike computerization. I don't make that mistake, although I can see where others might jump to that conclusion. But, Mr. Gorman, just because you think computers are okay, and you don't mind them being used, why shouldn't you be "placed in a virtual pillory"? After all, your bit of malign wit broadcast on the web, casts the first stone with no reasonable logical arguments. It's like a four year old running up to a group on the playground and yelling "Na Na, you're all poopy pants!" and then crying when the group retaliates. What did you think was going to happen?

As for the ALA itself, electing a person like Mr. Gorman as president, it causes me grave concern. He seems to be in complete favor of all information being strained through a subset of people (editors and publishers). Unfortunately, as we have learned and many of us have known, the straining of information through any group will certainly slant that information in the direction of those with the decision power. Mr. Gorman himself has shown his propensity to strain out the technical pieces HE doesn't find worthy of using. Remember this the next time you head to your local library. The information you can find there is not only strained through editors and publishers, but also through the librarians. These are the bits of information they consider worthwhile presenting for your attention. You may want to look around elsewhere.

Now if you'll excuse me... it's time for me to grunt. UGH!

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 09:22 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Carnival of the Recipes

It's that time of the week again. Time to plan out your yummy menu for the weekend. This week's food fair is hosted by Rocket Jones, who quite naturally has done a fabulous job! So head on over and check out all the great edibles.

Posted by: Teresa in Food and Drink at 04:16 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 24, 2005

How to Make Your Head Explode

I am reading a bunch of technical stuff. I'm doing a recertification and I'm brushing up on things. Mind you, this is all pretty elementary (but knowing me, I'd tend to blow the stupid questions and have to retake the test - which they naturally charge money for...), so I'm scanning through pdf files... I really hate that.

I've been too lazy so far to go get them printed. I think I'll do some of the chapters this weekend. Blog reading is one thing, reading chapters and chapters of material, no matter how big the lettering or sparsely printed the pages are - makes me want to crawl up the nearest wall. If this was in book form, I would have no problem at all... how weird is that!

Oh well, back to my reading...

Posted by: Teresa in Ho-Hum at 04:23 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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February 23, 2005

What Kind of Dog Are You?

Well, according to the quiz via Blackfive... I'm

A Welsh Springer Spaniel

Personality: A loyal hardworking gun dog that is excellent at swimming and sniffing. Generally a jock of a dog, preferring the company of men with guns, but under certain circumstances will make a perfectly contented domestic animal.

Go here click on Game. Enjoy...

**** Men with guns *** Heh.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 04:22 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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