Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Still no luck finding any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Funny how when I told people this would happen a few months back they looked at me like I had three heads and told me that I must hate America.
Further examination, however, has revealed weapons of propaganda. And when those don't work, there are always weapons of intimidation.
(Another fine Bradley's Almanac swipe.)
Thursday, July 17, 2003
My herb garden has been rather mixed in its results. The coriander died horribly and is now nothing but a few yellow sticks. The mint flourished for a time, but is suddenly turning brown for some mysterious reason. The catnip provided Bernie with endless hours of amusement, but is now flowering, so the leaves are yellowing. The rosemary is flourishing, causing me to realize just how rarely I use rosemary in my cooking...
The basil has grown tall and proud. This afternoon I went to the store to get some romano cheese. When I got home I picked three cups of fresh basil leaves. I tossed them into a blender with some garlic, some pine nuts, some cheese, some salt, and some olive oil, and hit the puree button. I was worried, as I'd heard blenders weren't as good as food processors for this kind of thing... but it turned out beautifully. I have a nice batch of delicious, pretty green pesto awaiting my pleasure.
So I'm off to boil some pasta!
(The pesto recipe I followed was from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," which is basically my bible these days)
As long as I'm belying my earlier post by writing up a storm, I may as well remind you that you should be reading GIRLS ARE PRETTY, especially since it seems Pretty Girl is not archiving her old posts.
In other words, if you haven't been reading you've already missed some real good stuff. Updated daily! That oughta put me to shame... even if I know how to spell "pigeon."
If You Give a Lie a 24-Hour Head Start...
"They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons." --British scientist
"A third of the American public believes U.S. forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. Twenty-two percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons." --Philadelphia Inquirer
"The hour-long special was Stossel's attempt to make the case that, in the words of one of his hand-picked experts, 'greed is good.' To this dubious end, the ABC correspondent mustered faulty logic, one-sided sourcing, twisted history and deceptive statistics." --FAIR Article
I once triumphantly refered to John Stossel as "the media critic's barreled fish." His reporting is so transparently propagandistic, so glaringly shoddy, so sickeningly predatory as to make him justly a laughingstock, a has-been, and a pariah. Anybody viewing his work with an ounce of skepticism and the time to check up on his claims can quickly surmise that everything he has to say is palaver. (Less delicately: horseshit.)
(A sidenote: Some may wonder-- why "horseshit?" After all, there is a perfectly serviceable excretory metaphor in "bullshit." The difference is that somebody talking bullshit is quite apparently full of it, and indeed has little expectation of being taken seriously by any but the terminally credulous. Horseshit is more refined, more neatly packaged... but is of course still shit. The purveyor of horseshit may even, unlike his bullshitting compatriot, believe it-- may in fact believe that stretching or obscuring certain facts is justified by some ultimate, deeper Truth. So remember the term "horseshit" in the weeks and months to come, for you may find yourself with occasion to shout it at your television screen.)
But how many people watch middlebrow network news/entertainment magazines with any skepticism? How many people read FAIR's dissections of Stossel's words as a percentage of the people who see his reports and go about their lives with his distortions festering in the backs of their minds? Most Americans don't give a second thought to the balance or veracity of what they see on the news. No matter how easy it is to savage Stossel's work post facto, it's already done its work. The Myth of the Liberal Media is probably a good deal less destructive to the public's perception of reality than the Myth of the Neutral Media, or the Myth of the Investigative Media.
My friend M. works at the Washington Post as a columnist, freelance writer and part-time copy editor. She got her degree in Agronomy. Once over dinner she explained the problem with journalism today. It's pretty simple. For every working journalist, she said, there are five people employed in Public Relations. At most journalism schools the two professions are taught side-by-side, despite the apparent conflict-- the job of a Journalist is to uncover the truth, while the job of a PR flack is to spin or obscure it.
And yet we still have faith in the ability of newspapers and television stations to suss out the unvarnished truth. Arguments against the very existence of such a thing aside, how can we expect the media to succeed against the array of forces placed in its way, to pick out the right voice in the pandemonium of self-interested shrieking? This is especially problematic when the need to find the truth comes in second place, as it must in (scare-caps!) Capitalist Society, to the imperative of profit. Even supposedly publicly owned sources need to make enough money to stay afloat, which has become increasingly difficult following the cutbacks of the 80s.
(As another side note: for the past two weeks or so whenever I look at a problem in our world today and stop to take a look at its roots, I've been noticing that EVERYTHING is Reagan's fault one way or another... it's downright eerie)
It used to be the case in America that newspapers were openly partisan. There was no false pretense of objectivity. News sources that acknowledge their slant seem at least to my mind more trustworthy than those denying any slant. The more loudly a source insists on its neutrality, the more suspect it seems ("We Report, You Decide"!?).
In fact in England, where the papers for a large part remain up-front about their allegiances, where the goddess Neutrality does not hold such sway, they do a much better job of keeping their public officials honest. Just look at how much Tony Blair has to put up with, then compare it to how the American Press walks on eggshells, going out of its way to avoid criticizing George II. Not having to worry about paying lip service to balance or objectivity, the British Press can go in and get their hands dirty-- a necessary prerequisite for serious muckraking. American Journalists, too worried about maintaining their lily-white neutrality, avoid such muck at all costs.
A few days ago I had some kind of manic episode. I couldn't do anything, because every time I started one thing I'd remember something else I needed to do. I had all these ideas, but no time to set any one of them down at any meaningful length. I couldn't even sleep, my body exhausted from work but my mind racing. I ended up reading various message boards and practicing guitar until dawn, deciding to just stay up, then promptly falling asleep until 4 PM.
The fruits of this madness sit on my Windows desktop-- four or five new .txt files ranging from half-finished to merely a title. And now I'm just too lazy to sit down and finish them. This is why I'll never actually be a writer. Whatever doubts haunt me, deep down I do believe that I have the necessary talent to make some kind of living off my writing... but I completely lack the necessary temperament. The confidence. The work ethic.
I can barely even keep a 'blog updated.
Anybody who has my email address or my AIM name or my phone number needs to start bugging me about getting my posts up, K?
Friday, July 11, 2003
The apocalypse is currently occuring outside of my window. It's God's judgment on the nation's capital for American Hubris. Or possibly just God's judgment on mankind for burning too much fossil fuel:
Global Warming Driving Climate Bugfuck, Says Staid Organization
"The unprecedented warning takes its force and significance from the fact that it is not coming from Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, but from an impeccably respected UN organisation that is not given to hyperbole[...]
"The extreme weather it documents, such as record high and low temperatures, record rainfall and record storms in different parts of the world, is consistent with predictions of global warming. Supercomputer models show that, as the atmosphere warms, the climate not only becomes hotter but much more unstable. 'Recent scientific assessments indicate that, as the global temperatures continue to warm due to climate change, the number and intensity of extreme events might increase,' the WMO said, giving a striking series of examples..."
In any case, the 2 minutes or so I was outside just now (with an umbrella, mind you) to put out the trash and move my car for Friday's Attack of Parking Enforcement were enough to soak me to the skin. I just sprayed another coating of waterproofer on my shoes.
Although no new Viridian Note has arrived yet, Chairman Bruce is already gloating by proxy.