September 30, 2005

Why I Shut Up About Katrina For At Least A Week

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:08 pm

First reports are always wrong. They are usually believed.

Emotional reports usually have worse information on their face than unemotional reports.

What one person sees in the six feet around him is true to him but can also be wrong overall.

Therefore, on the face of it, the nonstop screaming that was Katrina coverage was guaranteed to be low information content. And, ohbytheway, wrong and influentially wrong.

— — —

Hugh Hewitt on PBS:

But America was riveted by this reporting, wholesale collapse of the media’s own levees they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in this own emotionalism. Exactly what Keith was praising I think led to one of the worst weeks of reporting in the history of American media, and it raises this question: If all of that amount of resources was given over to this story and they got it wrong, how can we trust American media in a place far away like Iraq where they don’t speak the language, where there is an insurgency, and I think the question comes back we really can’t.

JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Hewitt, what about another issue that Mr. Woods raised, that’s the aggressiveness of the reporters, the passion that they brought to the story, do you think that that was useful in pushing officials to respond?

HUGH HEWITT: No. Absolutely not. In fact I think that some of the journalists involved especially anchors became so caught up in their own persona and their own celebrity they missed important and obvious stories.

They failed to report on the basic issues surrounding who deploys the National Guard; they failed to report on why the Salvation Army and the Red Cross were forbidden by state officials to deliver supplies to the Superdome and the convention center. They failed to report what happened to the buses; they failed to establish a chronology — so addicted did they become to the idea that at last, after two years of media collapse – I mean, we go back to Jayson Blair and Rather-gate and Eason Jordan — it’s been terrible two years for the American media.

They finally had something in which they could appear quasi heroic, and they tried very hard to appear quasi heroic, and in so doing they botched the story. And I just have to object to my fellow guest here, it wasn’t that they missed things; there were sins of omission, it’s that they reported panic inducing, fear inducing, hysteria inducing mass sort of casualty events, looting, pillaging, murder sprees, sort of the most squalid journalism you could imagine, and I have to ask them and ask the media generally, don’t we have to go back and find out how to guard against this sort of thing, because we’ve had mass disasters in the past, we’re going to have them in the future — if media becomes addicted it to — they told me it was so I’ll put it out there — that’s terrible for democracy to have a media that is willing to suspend their disbelief and report urban myth.

And I think one other thing, Jeff, people have to ask: Why was the media so eager and willing to circulate these stories? Is it because we were dealing with the urban under class, largely black, and largely a community with which the elite media does not often deal? And as a result they were willing to believe stories about this community that they might not have given any credence to in a different situation.

Media Blog responding to reporter Heath Allen:

It’s the responsibility of the photojournalist to capture that and put it on television because those people at that point needed help no matter what was true, what was false, what was exaggerated.

Now take that last statement apart from the particular circumstances of Hurricane Katrina and the Convention Center. Is it okay for a journalist to report things even if they are false or exaggerated, as long as the reporting helps needy people?

The Junkyard Blog rounding up weak and milquetoast mea culpas from major newspapers:

Case in point: The NY Times finally follows where the LA Times, the Times-Picayune and the AP have led, examining the role of rumor mongering in relief efforts after the levees broke in New Orleans. Here’s the nut sentence:

What became clear is that the rumor of crime, as much as the reality of the public disorder, often played a powerful role in the emergency response.

Ya think so? Is it possible that all the rumors combined with the meltdown at the city level and the incompetence at the state level might have had a thing or two with how the whole situation played out?

Oh The Joy Of Outreach

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:35 am

Says Jennifer Graham in National Review:

As presidential picks go, Karen Hughes is no John Roberts. But really, who would be? There may be, somewhere, an Ivy-League-and-Oxford-educated Muslim woman who can eloquently and believably say “y’all” and “Allah Akbar” in the same sentence, and who raised vast sums of money for Republicans in the last two election cycles, but she has yet to come forward. Maybe she hasn’t gotten permission yet from her male guardian.


September 29, 2005

Oh The Buzz Of Achievement Is Palpable

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:27 am

I made it to Zero Boss level

September 28, 2005

Qutb Bio Translated

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:33 pm

I am…unsettled…by this interview with John Calvert, who has just translated the early autobiography of one of the touchstones for the Islamist worldview. I understand it is important to know one’s enemy; but am not convinced that an effort such as Calvert’s is a worthy thing to sell as a commodity.

These ideas have to be unpropagated, confronted, defeated, rolled back, like the idea of slavery or any number of things we used to think were okay. And this book will be read by young English-speaking baby jihadis who don’t have enough Arabic yet, without any explanation as to why Qutb’s ideas led to evil.

And, unfortunately, it won’t be read by the people who refuse to understand the nature of our enemy.

Fouad Ajami On Iraq

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:09 pm

I know this is all over the blogosphere but I still should link it. It’s really good work from Ajami. The first paragraph alone is conceptually dense and clear in its structure–here are the first four paragraphs:

The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands. Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so much of official Arab life. The extremist is never just a man of the fringe: He always works at the outer edges of mainstream life, playing out the hidden yearnings and defects of the dominant culture. Zarqawi is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world’s sins of omission and commission; in the way he rails against the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal Arab inability to take in “the other.” A terrible condition afflicts the Arabs, and Zarqawi puts it on lethal display: an addiction to failure, and a desire to see this American project in Iraq come to a bloody end.

Zarqawi’s war, it has to be conceded, is not his alone; he kills and maims, he labels the Shiites rafida (rejecters of Islam), he charges them with treason as “collaborators of the occupiers and the crusaders,” but he can be forgiven the sense that he is a holy warrior on behalf of a wider Arab world that has averted its gaze from his crimes, that has given him its silent approval. He and the band of killers arrayed around him must know the meaning of this great Arab silence.

There is a cliché that distinguishes between cultures of shame and cultures of guilt, and by that crude distinction, it has always been said that the Arab world is a “shame culture.” But in truth there is precious little shame in Arab life about the role of the Arabs in the great struggle for and within Iraq. What is one to make of the Damascus-based Union of Arab Writers that has refused to grant membership in its ranks to Iraqi authors? The pretext that Iraqi writers can’t be “accredited” because their country is under American occupation is as good an illustration as it gets of the sordid condition of Arab culture. For more than three decades, Iraq’s life was sheer and limitless terror, and the Union of Arab Writers never uttered a word. Through these terrible decades, Iraqis suffered alone, and still their poetry and literature adorn Arabic letters. They need no acknowledgment of their pain, or of their genius, from a literary union based in a city in the grip of a deadening autocracy.

A culture of shame would surely see into the shame of an Arab official class with no tradition of accountability granting itself the right to hack away at Iraq’s constitution, dismissing it as the handiwork of the American regency. Unreason, an indifference to the most basic of facts, and a spirit of belligerence have settled upon the Arab world. Those who, in Arab lands beyond Iraq, have taken to describing the Iraqi constitution as an “American-Iranian constitution,” give voice to a debilitating incoherence. At the heart of this incoherence lies an adamant determination to deny the Shiites of Iraq a claim to their rightful place in their country’s political order.

It’s well worth a read–it gets better from there.

Well Yeah I’m Angry

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:06 pm

I want to know why this webcast by Al-Qaeda has not been taken down–using high explosives, financial freezes and jail time freely and liberally.

It’s an information war! This is enemy information, formatted for the enemy!

September 27, 2005

VDH on Academe and Diversity

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:41 pm

An earlier post mentioned diversity, and this is an interesting followup.

Victor Hanson in Opinion Journal talks about “diversity uber alles” from a different direction, and man can Hanson tell a story (whether you agree or not, he sure can write):

Mr. Birgeneau urges “equity” and “access,” but does not apply those inflexible, numbers-based egalitarian strictures to himself. Chancellor Denton, even worse, adopted the very kind of discriminatory insider-dealing policies she denounced in her praise of diversity and its handmaiden, affirmative-action hiring. Prof. Churchill wishes to revolt against our capitalist system but does not reject its furnishing of his ample salary; his deer-in-the-headlights president doesn’t know what to do except retreat to the easy slurs of “McCarthyism.” And Harvard’s President Summers learned the hard way that today’s campus gender autocrats will aggressively put down any attempts to question the unfortunate status quo.

No wonder that Mr. Summers’s brand of candid common sense–Are race policies what we want? What does account for student success? Do public administrators have any responsibility toward the taxpayers who fund them?–is in short supply, even with Mr. Summers himself. Administrative failure or success is not measured by keeping tuition increases within moderate limits or turning out better-educated graduates, but by conspicuous concern for racial and sexual agendas. Those who pay them lip service, such as Denice Denton, have plenty of leeway in other areas. Those who don’t, like poor Larry Summers, do not.

In the end, why should we care about a few high-flying administrators who feel that diversity is the engine that runs the university? Because the U.S. is struggling in an increasingly competitive world in which Europe, China, Japan and India vie for global talent and national advantage through merit-based higher education. They don’t care about the racial make-up of the teams that create breakthrough gene therapies or software programs, but only whether such innovations are valuable and superior to the competition.

As our own industrial, agricultural and manufacturing sectors decline, and as we suffer from increasing national debt, trade deficits, energy dilemmas and weak currency, Americans have maintained relative parity largely through information-based technology and superior research–all predicated on a superb system of higher education. At some point, Mr. Summers, Ms. Denton, Ms. Hoffman and Mr. Birgeneau might have wondered what precisely was the system that produced their lavish salaries and great campuses–and what protocols of merit, transparency, intellectual honesty and scholarly rigor were necessary to maintain them.

More importantly, we have lost sight of what university presidents are supposed to be. Their first allegiance ought to be to honesty and truth, not campus orthodoxy masquerading as intellectual bravery amid a supposedly reactionary society.

It Is Not The Critic Who Counts

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:35 pm

…and Chaotic knows it.

On 9/9/05, I pondered the rising angst with “RED TAPE” in the context of not enough relief efforts for Katrina working well. That horrible stuff that binds us in inaction, particularly when we need any level of governmental office to do what we want right this very instant.

Today, I smirk with the about week long struggle in the papers and radio and TV media with the fervent calls for “accountability” and “oversight” and the need to “make sure the relief money is spent the right way!” when the issue of billions of dollars flowing to the Gulf Coast comes up.

Even Little Kids Are Pastafarians

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:26 pm

Evidence of the Power Of The Appendage here.

The Current Crop

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:04 pm


Here for a Pallywood-style explanation of a crop gone bad.

Here for something you’ve seen before. Back in Clinton time it was for Socks. A few months ago it was for fake crying.

Greg Gutfeld Earns His Studded Leather Socks

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:30 pm

He discovers the terrible secret of the horrible red binder Huffington Post…

I now realize that Huffpo is like a bug zapper. It attracts all the pests in your big backyard to one little blog where they can be safely ignored while they die their little bug deaths. It’s what I call the Huffpo Attractive Nuisance Strategy.

HANS is a lot like the Flypaper strategy, except it makes more noise. “HANS is a startling discovery that we’re only now understanding the implications of,” says Greg Gutfeld, speaking on the condition that he wear a gardening hat.

Heard At Work

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:24 pm

“My mother once had a bizarre golf cart accident…”


Filed under: — Chap @ 12:17 pm

I see much media criticism in the blogosphere, but I don’t see as much engagement with the people who make that media.

It would be a useful exercise, for instance, to interview Michael Janofsky, who wrote a news article about the weekend’s rallies, about the criticism that his article has engendered.

Mr. Janofsky seems to care about us trusting what he writes, and says he’d like his readers to be better critical thinkers. Perhaps the criticism from his readers might prove constructive.

But then again I was always an optimist.

Did They Find Ulysses?

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:04 pm

Via Transterrestrial Musings, a possible discovery of Odysseus’ tomb, with Ithaca in a different spot, and some local politics to make the story more interesting…

September 26, 2005

Let’s See Who Spins Up On This One

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:31 pm

Via Insta: a New York Times article about Raleigh, NC improvements in reading scores in one ethnic group.

The article is linked in a post that shows how the article is completely misleading…

U.S. Department Of Everything

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:40 pm

The Armchair Generalist on post-Katrina federal reorganization:

What did surprise me was when GEN (ret) Barry McCaffrey, speaking on NBC News last night, agreed that the military should be the lead agency. He should know better. The military may be good at executing orders and making things happen, but they’re kinda busy right now and undermanned to conduct overseas military operations, homeland defense, and lead civil support. The quality of our military forces and focus on mission accomplishment should not be an excuse to overlook DHS’s failure to work efficiently.

What bothers me about making the military the lead for everything isn’t just posse comitatus, or resource allocation. It’s that every organization sucks at one point, and the military will too at the wrong time. Plus that “absolute power corrupts” concept. That’s why separation of powers is a good thing.

Boy I hope the political pendulum swings in time for this initiative to be ignored…

While Waiting For The Enrevanche Cat Circus Review….

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:31 pm

perhaps some high concept theater would be nice.

(h/t Ace, who probably never heard of the sailor’s term “patrol sock” but would totally get the humor involved)

I Give Up

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:28 pm

Why would considering yourself “in the same intellectual league” as a disingenuous, genocide-supporting, consistently wrong, anti-logical shriek of a man be good?

Is it because of his money?

Sure, if someone asked, I’d do my best to review a Chomsky book as honestly as I can. But it would not be enjoyable, not by a long shot.

Azzam Versus Kerblam?

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:33 pm

Fox via LGF:

FOX News has confirmed that Abu Azzam, who was believed to have been in charge of the financing of terrorist cells in the war-torn country, was killed during a raid in Baghdad early Monday morning Iraq time. Azzam is thought to be the top deputy to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted terrorist.

Azzam is the latest in a series of top Zarqawi deputies that have been killed or captured by coalition forces in recent months. Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq group has taken responsibility for some of the country’s most horrific acts of terror including car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings of Iraqi civilians and westerners.

CBS/AP via Rantburg:

As the aide to Zarqawi, Azzam was reportedly in control of financing foreign fighters coming into Iraq, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.


Arrrrggghhh. Good Allah, I really need a good long vacation.

Listen man, I seriously gotta book. Achmed says Team Satan is headed this way, and I’m still walking funny from their last laser-guided high colonic.

We really need to fix that “walking” problem of his.

Universities And Diversity

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:32 pm

In the Weekly Standard, James Piereson dissects the American university, outlining the history of the university and how it’s changed over the centuries. He does this with an eye to reestablishing intellectual diversity in the academy, and it’s well worth a look.

Intellectual pluralism, the search for truth, and respect for the heritage of free institutions are neither conservative nor left-liberal ideals. Jefferson, indeed, understood these ideals to be at the heart of the university, and central to his vision of a “republic of letters”; Humboldt, too, saw his liberal university as the means of carrying forward the principles of liberty, free inquiry, and the unimpeded search for truth. The effort to restore these ideals on campus is thus something that both conservatives and liberals should applaud.

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