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Archives for August, 2007

August 31, 2007

Let me explain...


...with a concrete example. Here, from Mahir Kaynak in Turkey's Star, is the kind of riveting analysis that compels you to read to the end:

What I will write about next week’s presidential elections might be seen as being in favor of one person and against another. But no matter who’s elected, it doesn’t concern me personally. I don’t have expectations from anybody and any losses I might suffer aren’t important enough to distress me. Giving a sound analysis would provide only a personal satisfaction. Let me explain what I mean through a concrete example.

We can't wait.

August 31, 2007

Those Australians are cheeky

Kevin Shay

Somehow I suspect the double entendre in this headline may have been deliberate.

August 30, 2007

Idaho Voters Now Asking: "Is Larry Craig Gay Enough?"

Kevin Guilfoile


August 30, 2007

If you can't say anything nice...


Gossip is a flesh-eating bacterium, according to our friends in Uganda.

There is a disease in our societies that is spreading like a plague, devastating whoever comes its way, trampling over green and dry regardless of social stature or position. It is a man made disease called gossip! Have you ever wondered where the word gossip comes from? One story is particularly interesting.
"The tale tells how politicians would send assistants to bars to sit and listen to general public conversations. The assistants had instructions to sip a beer and listen to opinions; they responded to the command to "go sip", which allegedly turned into "gossip".

Nafha Maani-Ebrahimi tells us more about how gossip ruined her friend Rose's life in the Kampala Monitor. The reference to necrotizing fasciitis is near the end. Bon appetit.

August 30, 2007

You Can't Pronounce "Mahalo" Without "Hollow"

Kevin Shay

You may have heard about Mahalo, the new and loudly touted "human-powered search engine" being launched by serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis. You can pretty easily find (ahem... on Google) various claims made on Mahalo's behalf, as well as some in-depth criticisms, but there was a tiff at Gnomedex with Dave Winer, some breathlessness from Robert Scoble, and some skepticism in response.

After playing with Mahalo for a while, on the theory that anything Dave Winer hates is worth checking into, I have to side with the skeptics. After the jump, the Top Five most glaring things Mahalo is missing.

Continue reading "You Can't Pronounce "Mahalo" Without "Hollow"" »

August 29, 2007

Before the Larry Craig Scandal They Surely Thought It Was Their Last Chance to Get the Word 'Cornhole' in the Wall Street Journal

Kevin Guilfoile

Not sure what it signifies, but today's story on Beer Pong marked the second WSJ middle column in two months to profile a fledgling cottage industry springing up around a Middle-America drinking game. Two months ago (in the same space, with the same Chicago dateline, but a different byline) the paper ran a very similar story about the Midwestern beer-in-one-hand game called "Bags," but also known as "Cornhole" in some parts.

Even if the article doesn't interest you check out what is surely the most comprehensive and professionally drawn infographic explaining the rules of Beer Pong in existence:


August 29, 2007

Just So You Know, I Really Mean What I'm About To Say

Kevin Guilfoile


I grabbed this headline off Google News yesterday because it's a good illustration of one of my domesticated peeves. This is nothing against Andy Borowitz, whom I like quite a lot, but a story is no longer satirical once it is labeled by its publisher explicitly as satire. Satire should be recognizable as such (by most or at least some people anyway), but it also requires the pretense of being unironic. If Swift had decided to ditch A Modest Proposal and instead titled his essay I'm So Totally Not Serious it would have lost much of its zing.

I realize there are legal reasons why Newsweek or Google or CNN.com (which links to Onion articles) would need to differentiate between the real articles and the fake ones. I'm just saying that if you have to label the fake news as fake to avoid confusion, then maybe you should get out of the self-parody business altogether.

(Before someone points it out, I'm aware that The Morning News, to which I occasionally and proudly contribute, archives many of its humor essays in a section called "Spoofs and Satire". I made my feelings clear to the editors long ago and they don't care what I think. Fortunately for Andy's mortgage payments, Newsweek doesn't care what I think either. Or they would start publishing my letters.)

August 28, 2007

Estimated at 10.2 Cubic Nokia Units

Kevin Shay

It's anyone's guess whether this gargantuan diamond is genuine. What I am pretty sure of, however, is that this is the first time I've ever seen a cell phone used to show scale.

August 28, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, your next Attorney General

Kevin Shay

OK, I'm just gonna go out on a limb and call it right now: Harriet Miers.

I mean, it works on so many levels. A) It passes the SPM test: Can you imagine a Stupider Possible Move? I didn't think so. That's always been a reliable predictor of this administration's actions. B) It's a great way to spit in the face of the hardcore 27% of voters who still inexplicably support you. C) She's owed.

August 27, 2007

Although homoeroticspellingbees.com had more potential...

Kevin Shay

You don't have to be a longtime reader of xkcd to have assumed, when reading this recent comic, that he actually did register WetRiffs.com and is now accepting submissions of all those women-playing-electric-guitar-in-the-shower photos you probably have lying around.

Meanwhile, the available Thomas the Tank Engine slash offerings thus far disappoint me.

August 27, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #112

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"This may explain the enormous, dead hooker we saw yesterday." —Matt

"Yeah yeah, I get it -- the title 'Huge Bore' contains the critique, ha ha. But again it seems I'm the only one who'll come right out and say that Jeff Koons is just jerking off! Like the enormous sabertooth tiger with the big sad eyes and the balloon-twist tail. People still worship that thing. Literally! Remember Tina, my ex? Her cousin Leslie went off with this tribe, the Uggams, who literally worship the enormous Jeff Koons tiger, as their deity. Stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Koons, the early cave etchings had something to say, but this, this is bullshit." —B'nai tha K

"Can we fuck it?" —Harry

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #112" »

August 26, 2007

Maybe Fred Thompson Will Get To Intervene Twice

Kevin Guilfoile

Last October Hans Peterson rented a car and drove to Chicago from his home in New York City. He parked in a garage near the lake, took an elevator to the 12th floor of a Michigan Avenue office building, bound and gagged 64-year-old dermatologist Dr. David Cornbleet, and then stabbed the struggling physician more than twenty times until he was dead. The 28-year-old then got back on the elevator, returned to his car and drove home. Peterson has confessed and as far as I know these facts aren't in dispute.

After the jump, I'll describe how he might get away with it.

Continue reading "Maybe Fred Thompson Will Get To Intervene Twice" »

August 24, 2007

Wake me up when August ends

Daniel Radosh

You know all those trend stories about how Americans feel too guilty to take vacations, and even when they do, they lug their laptops with them? Well it ain't me, babe. I'm off for another week, but am once again leaving you in the hands of some very capable guest bloggers. Returning is novelist and radosh.net webmaster Kevin Shay, joined this time by novelist and crime blogger Kevin Guilfoile. Plus, if we're lucky, special appearances by our alluring and mysterious international affairs correspondent Slutwench.

I'll be checking in now and again to read their posts — and your comments — from a tiny public library somewhere in the Adirondack mountains, so be on your best behavior.

Also, I've posted the results from this week's anti-caption contest early. The new one will be up as scheduled on Monday.

August 22, 2007

All the news that's shit to print

Daniel Radosh

For the second time in a year, the New York Times today prints the word "shit." The word appears in a quote from an anonymous message left on the answering machine of Elliot Spitzer's father: "There is not a goddamn thing your phony, psycho, piece-of-shit son can do about it."

I have been arguing for 15 years — ever since my friend Chip Rowe raised the issue in his zine (remember zines?) — that newspapers that value polite language over reporting facts are committing a journalistic sin. I'm not saying newspaper writers should employ swear words themselves, or go out of their way to find quotes that contain them, but if a subject's words are noteworthy enough to be reported than it is the basic responsibility of the newspaper to report the actual words. Withholding important information to protect the delicate sensibilities of a hypothetical reader is a violation of the basic principles of journalism. Either it's news that Dick Cheney told someone to "fuck off" or it's not.

Here's more on the history of shit in the Times and other media outlets. (Not counting two occasions when the Times inadvertently referred to "t-shits.")

For the record, the word "fuck" has appeared in the Times only once, in part 5 of the complete Starr Report

August 22, 2007

Walter Reed my lips

Daniel Radosh

Is it too early in the presidential campaign for my first "Democrats don't deserve to win" post? Maybe, but it's a little shocking and disappointing that even now, when Republicans are more vulnerable than ever on national defense, Barack Obama can't bring himself to make that obvious point. Instead, at yesterday's VFW convention, Obama encased his critique of Bush's military policy entirely within the GOP-created frame that that Republicans are the party of "strength" and that he will endeavor to be as much like them as possible.

As he spoke critically of the president's war strategy, the room fell silent, but the senator drew applause as he pledged to improve services for veterans. "Whatever disagreements we have on policy, there will be no daylight between us when it comes to honoring the men and women who serve and keeping faith with our veterans," Mr. Obama said."This is not a partisan issue. This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue."

Um, this damn well ought to be a Democratic issue, and a serious presidential candidate would make it one. "There will be no daylight between us"? Does Obama really mean to say that Democrats will be every bit as bad as Republicans on veterans issues? I'd think vets would want a little daylight between future treatment of vets and the current catastrophies of Walter Reed, budget squeezes and re-deployment of injured soldiers.

Whenever a partisan says something isn't a partisan issue, what they mean is that it's the issue of the other party but they're on board with it. Even as he criticizes Bush, Obama can't challenge the utterly wrong conventional wisdom that supporting veterans — and by extension active-duty soldiers and a strong national defense in general — is a Republican position. I expect that kind of cowering, self-defeating mindset from Hillary Clinton, but Obama should know better.

August 21, 2007

Took a woman like you to get through to the man in me

Daniel Radosh

Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes's impressionistic biopic I'm Not There. Even better: David Cross as Allen Ginsburg.

I'd say she captures him pretty well. The just-released official trailer has brief clips of the other five Bobs. Hard to say at this point whether the movie will be brilliant like Velvet Goldmine or just a fascinating mess like Masked and Anonymous (which despite what you may have heard is worth a rental, and not only for the amazing music).

Update: Best YouTube user comment: "what the fuck?... Tell me anyone is gonna be able to whach that without thinkin... 'thats a fuckin chick playin a dude!'. the director or casting person should be shot.... by a chick dressed as a dude"

August 20, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #111

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"Hi. I'm a door-to-door rapist. Ha ha-- just kidding! I'm not going door-to-door. I'm targeting you specifically." —Dan McCoy

"Surpri!...What the...I'm sorry. I seem to have the wrong house. You wouldn't happen to know where there's a children's birthday party around here?" —Owen

"You said you were 14. You don't look 14...And what are these cameras doing here?" —al in la

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #111" »

August 17, 2007

Can't wait till Monday?

Daniel Radosh

For some time now, I've been meaning to mention that frequent anti-caption winner "mypalmike" runs his own daily caption contest, using images he pulls of the Web at (sort of) random.

And now I have mentioned it.

August 17, 2007

Holy wars

Daniel Radosh

Pick your color and cheer on your team!

[Via VSL]

August 17, 2007

Media casualty follow up

Daniel Radosh

When I asked, a week ago, why the media outlets that were attacking The New Republic's Baghdad Diarist made no note of The Nation's similar but more reliable and more frightening feature story, I was told that I'd created a straw man: "Very few of the questions raised about Beauchamp's work came out of nothing more than a disbelief that bad things happen in war. They came out of very specific details in his reporting that don't make sense."

Dan Kennedy's picks up the same topic today and notes that at least one attack had nothing to do with getting details right, and went beyond "disbelief" to explicitly advocating willful denial. Here's Brent Bozell on Fox News: "This is the kind of stuff the Soviet Union was proud of. You put it out there. Whether it's true or not, it's irrelevant." (Emphasis added)

Even assuming that most people weren't quite so craven in their reasons for ignoring the Nation's report, Kennedy makes an important observation:

The Nation is every bit as far to the left as Brent Bozell and Sean Hannity imagine the New Republic to be, and its circulation - about 180,000 - is approximately triple that of its rival. Yet the Washington-based TNR is part of mainstream political discourse in a way that the editors of The Nation, marooned in New York and isolated by their impolite ideological views, can only imagine.

Wait - "marooned in New York?" This from a guy in Boston?

August 15, 2007

The Bourne Duvet

Daniel Radosh

I'm doing some research for The Week on the National Security Agency and I stumbled across what must be one of the spy agency's darkest secrets.

Buried on the NSA's official web site is a page on a "slave quilt" exhibit at the agency-run National Cryptologic Museum. In the course of acknowledging that there probably never was any such code, the agency lets slip a detail that could be devastating if it falls into the wrong hands. Emphasis added...

There is little or no present day historical evidence to support the theory of the "quilt codes". Most historians consider the stories involving the quilts to be more legend than fact. But there is some corroborating information, largely from oral traditions related by Tobin and Dobard that support the theory. At the time Tobin and Dobard published their book, NSA/CSS had a very active quilting club. Intrigued by the story, the members set about creating a sampler that incorporated the many symbols, and did so using 19th century quilting techniques.

August 15, 2007

Ready for the other Rapture

Daniel Radosh

My recent post last month about videogame criticism turned into a conversation about why so few games rise above mere entertainment, with some particularly harsh words for first person shooters. I've never been a huge FPS fan myself. I'm probably the only 360 owner who isn't chomping at the bit for Halo 3. My favorite for the last generation was probably Half-Life 2, largely because the gunbattles required a certain amount of puzzle solving and tactical thinking. My only problem with it was that the world, while well-designed, was yet another oppressively metallic Orwellian dystopia guarded by armored stormtroopers. It's hard to believe, but games are even more mired in cliché than movies.

That's just one reason I was so taken by the BioShock demo, which I played through last night. Not only does the gameplay promise some Half-Life style finesse, the setting and storyline is something I've never seen before in a game. The game begins — as you can see in the trailer below — when your plane crashes in the Atlantic, conveniently near the long-lost entryway to an underwater art deco city that was built in the mid 50s as some kind of Randian paradise. The city — Rapture — has since been thrown into extremely tormented upheaval by.... something. The idea of being able to explore this world and solve its mysteries — while also electrocuting, frying, whacking and blasting genetically devolved maniacs — is immensely appealing.

This is just about the level of innovation I'm personally looking for. I admit to being curious about truly format-breaking games such as Braid [via], but I'm not exactly dying to actually play it.

Continue reading "Ready for the other Rapture" »

August 14, 2007

There's hope for Clique Girlz yet!

Daniel Radosh

pb2.jpg Remember Prussian Blue, the White Power Pop duo you first read about here and who later went on to become a media, if not musical, phenomenon? Back when, several commenters noted that when they hit their teens, there'd be, in Vance's words, "a teen rebellion phase so intense as to... blast the swastika off the proverbial horse."

Get ready. Jezebel has a clip from a new British documentary in which Lamb and Lynx, now 15, begin distancing themselves from all that racism stuff, to the horror of their shrewish, batshit crazy mom — who at one point calls Lynx a "cunt." Isn't British TV awesome?

The longer excerpts on YouTube temper Jezebel's optimism a bit. From the few minutes I watched, it seems that the girls have some way to go before they can officially be considered redeemed. It's possible mom's vision for the band will ultimately win out. Do the girls even have enough talent to draw an audience not based on ideology? Previously I would have said no way, but more recent recordings suggest that they could cultivate a lo-fi key of Z approach that might draw in the WFMU crowd.

Here's my promise, girls: repent publicly, dig up something to send mommy to prison (fake it if you must), and I'll be the first in line to download a pirated copy of your next CD.

[Hat tip: Abby]

August 13, 2007

He's no Prince Matchabelli either

Daniel Radosh

timerove_small.jpgI'll leave the debate over Karl Rove's legacy to others, but since you're bound to be hearing the name Machiavelli a lot for the next few days, I think an axiom Andrew Sullivan posited a few months ago is worth recalling: If you have a reputation for being a Machiavellian, you aren’t one.

"That was Machiavelli’s view, at least. The key to all successful power-mongers, he argued, is the appearance of innocence, and a reputation for honesty and benevolence. Underneath, of course, you’re stitching the system up. So it doesn’t take a genius to realise that if Niccolo were around today he would laugh heartily at the idea that Karl Rove is a master of the art of ruthless politics."

Update: In the new Atlantic Monthly, Josh Green has the definitive demolition of Rove's reputation as a master manipulator. Online for subscribers only, but worth picking up at the newsstand. Green compares Rove's approach on domestic policy and election strategy to Dick Cheney's on remaking the Middle East: "Both men came in believing they had superior insights into history and theoretical underpinnings so strong that their ideas would prevail. But neither man understood how to see them through, and so both failed."

August 13, 2007

Rudy who?

Daniel Radosh

Did I miss a Gallup poll this weekend? There's major campaign news in this gossip item (emphasis added).

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has decided not to campaign for any of the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates, because none of the politicians in the running "inspire" him... DiCaprio admits the frontrunners for 2008's election -- Democratic candidates senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican Ron Paul -- have yet to catch his attention with their environmental policies.

August 13, 2007

The Bourne anachronism

Daniel Radosh

bourneultimatum4.jpg The Bourne Ultimatum solidifies these movies as the most consistently great action series ever made. Anyone want to argue? One could say that the first Die Hard and Indiana Jones movies — and maybe the first and second Aliens — were better than any of the Bournes, but those franchises suffered steep drop-offs on their later outings. The second and third Bourne movies may lack the existential punch of the first, but they are immensely entertaining, exciting and thought-provoking. Taking the average of the entire series, its hard to think of any that match it.

Yet I couldn't help feeling deflated by what was intended as the upbeat ending to the Bourne Ultimatum, an ending that belongs to a now long-gone era in American political life.


Continue reading "The Bourne anachronism" »

August 13, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #110

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"It seems incredibly unfair to me that a lifeless dummy gets to ride in a wheelchair while we humans are forced to walk." —Meatbomb

"Who's going to pay for my brick wall, asshole? " —Charles

"I hear the nurse screws him all night long." —David F

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #110" »

August 11, 2007

I don't know if I'm excited or depressed

Daniel Radosh

cliqueretro.jpg Remember Clique, the girl band that I promised was going to be the next big thing and that several of you pleaded with me to stop blogging about because it was creeping you out? Well they're now called Clique Girlz, they've been signed to Interscope and they have a track on the Bratz soundtrack.

I give them a year till rehab.

August 9, 2007

Father of lies

Daniel Radosh

David Shenk sent this astute e-mail regarding today's front page New York Times story on the relationship between President Bush and his father.

This is the Times at its worst, unwittingly doing p.r. for the White House. Seven years ago the White House used the media to put out the message that 41 didn't have much influence on his new president son. Now that 43 is seen as a disaster, and they want to borrow some of 41's statesman sheen, they trot out insiders to reveal that father and son are much closer than everyone thinks -- that the president talks every morning to his dad and this frequently includes real policy advice. The Times laps it up. It links 41 to Rove, allows friends of 41 to say that the father blames aides and not his son for bad decisions, and more or less dismisses the father-son psychological angle even though it is now patently obvious that 43's Iraq move and other early decisions were some sort of desperate need to distance himself from his father, and to prove he was tougher.

The piece they could have done -- that the Washington Post would have done? -- would have played it straight out: What's it like to have a president son who made it a policy of rebuking his father's policies and who has failed miserably?

I'm sure the Times would have included that if they still had the extra inch and a half of space.

August 9, 2007

Fools of conspiracy

Daniel Radosh

A week ago I wrote that Debbie Nathan had "destroyed what was left of Kurt Eichenwald's career" by revealing that the Times reporter had made additional payments to Justin Berry, the protagonist and chief source for his high-profile 2005 story on child pornography.

It took until yesterday for the Times to report its own version of the story, adding that the newly disclosed payments amounted to "at least $1,100." This article triggered the pile-on that logically should have come a week earlier.

During that silent stretch, I wondered why no one was writing about what seemed like a pretty juicy bit of media gossip — especially since Eichenwald's practices were reported to be a factor in the recent shake up at Portfolio. [Update: Eichenwald out at Portfolio.] Choire at Gawker was apparently wondering the same thing — although his site was one of the mysteriously silent ones — and weighed in yesterday with a post titled Why no one wants to write about Kurt Eichenwald.

Choire scratches the surface of this question when he says that he hates writing about the case because it invariably triggers a cascade of e-mails, links and comments from creepy pedophiles and their enablers. I got my share of them, and no doubt will again. And Choire's right that reading anything from these smug perverts, who don't understand that their idiot rationalizations and manipulative psychologizing don't work on people older than 14, is enough to drive anyone to a hot shower.

But this "disgusting hassle" is only suggestive of the real reason that people aren't writing more about this story. The problem, I think, is that people, writers especially, can't help thinking in terms of narrative. And that in this narrative, making Eichenwald the Bad Guy seems to require (psychologically) making his antagonists the Good Guys. This is more subtle than saying journalists and bloggers avoid the story out of "fear they may be labeled pedophile sympathizers and or advocates for child porn," as one Gawker commenter says. I don't think it's that conscious a process. Rather our internal wiring tells us that we're turning the creeps into Good Guys, our reasoning tells us that can't be correct, and this causes us to blow a fuse and decide that the story is too messy to say anything about.

Eichenwald attempts to tap into that conflict in his response to the latest revelations: "I have no independent memory of any payments I am alleged to have made in June 2005 through PayPal. If these PayPal payments did occur in June 2005, I am deeply sorry that my inability to remember them has resulted in permitting a series of convicted felons to cast doubt on the nature of my wife’s and my efforts to save a young man who was caught in the grip of a cycle of drugs and abuse.”

Unfortunately, while Eichenwald may think he's shrewd to frame this as the word of convicted felons against that of a paragon of charitable virtue, the statement instead comes off slightly desperate. Hell, it's almost Landesman-esque! When asaked point blank by his editors if there was any other money he forgot about in addition to the $2000, Eichenwald forgets $1,100 made the same month, some under a false name? If he really wants us to buy that he should say it straightforwardly, rather than trying to deflect attention onto the crimes of his accusers and his own noble intentions.

Meanwhile, CrimeBlog turns up the most fun aspect of this scandal yet.

Continue reading "Fools of conspiracy" »

August 8, 2007

Casualty of the media war

Daniel Radosh

The great shame of the Scott Beauchamp "Baghdad Diarist" dustup is not that The New Republic may have run a few false stories — that would be plenty bad, of course, though the jury is still out — it's that the media scandal has obscured a much more thorough, more credible and more damning article on the same themes that happened to come out at the same time as Beauchamp's final essay.

Consider. The New York Observer calls Beauchamp's stories "too bad to be true." And Slate says the lesson is that "when journalists do use anonymous sources to report critically about the military, they must do so with the greatest care." The right-wing blogosphere, naturally, is jumping with glee at having disproved the crazy notion that bad things happen in war.

And no one is talking about The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, an article in The Nation by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian in which 50 veterans speak on the record about atrocities that are far worse than anything Beauchamp saw (or dreamed up).

Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.

The unimpeachable article makes for disturbing reading. All those people who said Beauchamp must be a liar because there's no way American troops would desecrate corpses, as he described, should ask Hedges and Al-Arian to show them the photograph — yes, they have a photograph — of "an American soldier acting as if he is about to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi man with his brown plastic Army-issue spoon."

The Other War is not an attack on soldiers — how could it be, as it's based on soldiers's own words? — but an assessment of the dehumanizing power of war and the inevitable disaster of occupation. It is the accounts in this article that the media and the blogosphere should really be grappling with, arguing over and taking seriously. Obviously magazines can't print false or exaggerated stories. But that's trivial compared to wartime brutality. Willfully ignoring genuine stories is a journalistic sin as well.

Update: Several of the troops quoted write letters condemning or applauding the article.

August 7, 2007

Multicultural pileup

Daniel Radosh

Mexican journalist plagiarizes Finnish essay about British soundtrack to American film by Italian director.

Internet smartass nails him.

August 6, 2007

Also, her room is a mess

Daniel Radosh


This is why people hate Harvard students. Some ambitious Crimson columnist hears that Rudy Giuliani's daughter will be attending the school next fall, susses out the fake name she uses on Facebook, and gets the scoop that young Caroline is supporting Barack Obama for president. Good show, Lucy Morrow Caldwell. It's never too soon to start hazing the freshmen.

Normally I'm all for anything that makes Rudy look like an ass, but c'mon, can't we let the candidates' minor children lead their own lives? The fact that she tried to disguise her identity and limit contacts, however lightly and tentatively, should be a clue that she's not fair game.

Besides, clearly the important issue here is not that Caroline Giuliani is supporting Obama, it's that she's looking for random play.

[Previously: "As I understand it, the kids today treat virtual hangouts much the way they treat all-campus parties. Yes, they are public venues, but they are supposed to be open to only a limited segment of the public, and, more importantly, everyone who shows up really ought to know that one's behavior in such venues can deviate from one's behavior in daily life and should not be held against one forever and ever."]

August 6, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #109

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"I don't trust that Arab guy sitting back there." —Harry

"Too bad that little bottle of antibacterial lotion you had was over 3 ounces, or we'd have us an extra seat right now." —Ed C

"He's the disease, and I'm The Cure — well, one of their former bass players, anyway. We travel together, just so I can say that to people." —Walt

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #109" »

August 2, 2007

But only if Bourne is sold out, I mean

Daniel Radosh

Back in January, I promised you that The Ten would be the funniest movie you'll see this year. Tomorrow, you'll have the chance to find out why.

Here's a message from my friend Eric, who worked on the film.

Variety calls it "Uneven but often hilarious." Film Threat says, "It's no comedic home run. It's a single with potential for a double, if you're willing to make an error in the outfield." And the Village Voice wrote: "Nothing gets in the way of a good prison-rape joke like romantic comedy." Ok, i'm not quite sure what that last one means. But the point is that if you read enough reviews of The Ten, your expectations will be suitably low enough that you'll thoroughly enjoy it. So please consider seeing my big screen film editing debut, opening at a theater near you tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it.


August 1, 2007

Expecto Parentis

Daniel Radosh


After all that pre-publication Potter punditry a number of people (one is a number, right?) wanted to know what I actually thought of Deathly Hallows now that I've read it.

First, without giving anything away for those who haven't finished it yet (which is more than J.K. Rowling would do for you — oh, why does she hate Magic?), I happily admit that I found it entertaining throughout, exciting in parts, and basically a satisfying conclusion to the series.

But I have to say there was something deeply odd about that last chapter...


Continue reading "Expecto Parentis" »

August 1, 2007

Cam whorecrux

Daniel Radosh

Speaking of Debbie Nathan, she just destroyed what was left of Kurt Eichenwald's career.

We learned in court today that it was not just a matter of one $2,000 payment (which Eichenwald says was repaid by Berry's grandmother). Eichenwald used a fake name and address to give Berry even more cash before he started working on the story. It seems these covert payments also slipped Eichenwald's mind, even when jolted by the sight of his $2,000 check to Berry which surfaced in evidentiary proceedings in a Michigan courtroom earlier this year.

Could this be why Eichenwald wanted so badly to scare people off this story? Threatening to sue other journalists is frowned on in journalism circles under any circumstances. Doing so because you have something to hide would be unforgivable. As, of course, would paying for a story and then lying to your editor about it (and let's not even get into the kiddie porn conspiracy theories bubbling under the surface here).

I have no personal feelings toward Eichenwald one way or the other. I haven't been gleefully awaiting his downfall or anything. Indeed, I always thought he was pretty sharp and did good work. If there's one reason I've continued to post on this topic, it's that I feel a little betrayed. The first time I posted about KE it was to praise his commitment to transparency.

August 1, 2007

To conjure a predator

Daniel Radosh

facebook.gifHere's an unintentionally hilarious story on "Facebook Predators" from the New York Times.

After "three or more" of the roughly 30 million people who use Facebook were found to be convicted sex offenders (whatever that means) the Times flooded the zone, which in this case means letting an anonymous reader do their reporting for them (I wondered what Judy Miller had gotten up to).

But in some cases, Facebook’s younger users are vulnerable to sexual solicitations from older users, as was demonstrated last week to The New York Times by an anonymous person who described himself or herself in an e-mail message as “a concerned parent.” The evidence of this person’s activities on Facebook may give state investigators further cause for concern.

And what exactly was "demonstrated"?

In early July, this person opened a fake account on the site, posing as a 15-year-old girl named Jerri Gelson from North Carolina. The photograph on the fake profile page is of an under-age girl whose hair conceals her face. On the profile page, Ms. Gelson — whom the “concerned parent” said was not a real person — is described as looking for “random play” and “whatever I can get.”

This person then signed up for three dozen sexually themed groups — forums of users organized around a particular topic. In the directory of groups on Facebook, under the “sexuality” category, there are now dozens of groups with sexually explicit topics, even though Facebook prohibits “obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit” material in its Content Code of Conduct policy.

The groups that were signed up for include “addicted to masturbation ... and you know if you are!”, “Facebook Swingers” and “I’m Curious About Incest.”

When the Jerri Gelson profile was linked to these groups, her name and profile photo became visible to the group’s other users, and adult men began sexually propositioning her with e-mail messages over Facebook. “I saw your profile pic and thought I should get in touch with this hot girl!” wrote one bald, goateed man from Toronto. “Like what u see?” wrote another man from Mississippi, whose profile picture featured him sitting naked on his couch.

Several other men and women who sent e-mail messages to the Jerri Gelson account also had nude pictures of themselves on their profiles.

What?! Adults posing as teenagers looking for "random play" and joining 36 sex groups get propositioned? The system is totally broken!

This is familiar territory, of course. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a report that "online sex crimes rarely involve offenders lying about their ages or sexual motives." Now Debbie Nathan (of course!) has more.

As Nathan writes, the study was only one element of a panel discussion on Internet safety by people who actually do research, rather than just make stuff up. Here's how one panelist summed things up.

Our research, actually looking at what puts kids at risk for receiving the most serious kinds of sexual solicitation online, suggests that it’s not giving out personal information that puts kids at risk. It’s not having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there, kind of behaving in what we call like an internet daredevil.

We think that in order to address these crimes and prevent them, we’re gonna have to take on a lot more awkward and complicated topics that start with an acceptance of the fact that some teens are curious about sex and are looking for romance and adventure and take risks when they do that. We have to talk to them about their decision making if they are doing things like that.

Talk to kids? Acknowledge their right to make decisions?! Can't we just ban something.

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