V4 (April)

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Steve Bogart

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25 April 2001

He who controls vocabulary controls thought.
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

ABC News does Bush's first 100 days, with some interesting folks:

  • First, Jon Stewart, nailing the problems I have with Bush's pronouncements:
    ...his speech pattern is tremendous -- he's literally the master of the obvious. He just says, we'll say, "How are you going to deal with this China thing?" "We're going to learn the facts. We're going to make good decisions based on the facts about China, and the situation in China. We're going to use the facts about the situation in China and make some good decisions. Helen?"

    What CEO of a company could get away with being that vague? Could you possibly imagine Warren Buffet walking into a stockholders meeting going, "I'm making some decisions about our products, based on sound research."
    "What products would those be?"
    "Fundamentally sound products, products people use, products that help people."
  • Also, David Gergen gives a more policy-oriented critique:
    I've been surprised by the way the White House has approached the education issue, and that is, that it was his highest priority, even higher than taxes, when he came into office. ... he is defining himself much more through his taxes and his budget plan than he is through his education plan.

More gospel Truth from Michael Kinsley:

  • Dead Wrong [Slate]
    ...the press maintains a bizarre double standard about factual assertions by public figures. When the subject is someone's personal life, reporters will go to great lengths to establish that he or she is lying. But on matters of public policy, journalists become radical agnostics who refuse to classify any statement as untrue. ... If some politician declares that two plus two is five, reporters might note that this position is not without controversy.

None of this is surprising, I guess.

  • Serious 'Strategery' [Washington Post]
    Vice President Cheney said last month that "the days of the war room and the permanent campaign are over." Still, White House officials acknowledge that a primary goal of the project is to elect Republicans in 2002 and reelect Bush in 2004. [Cheney's statement is called a 'lie', a term newspaper reporters apparently aren't 'comfortable with']

    Democrats say such strategic goals, combined with the dominance the White House has over Republican Party activities, are the same types of political activities for which Republicans criticized the Clinton White House. "It's pretty hypocritical for them to have whacked us mercilessly in '97 and '98 and in their White House they turn around and do the same thing," said Joe Sandler, the Democratic National Committee's general counsel.

    White House officials respond that strategies good for the [Republican] party are also good for the country. "They're the same thing," Rove said. [???!!?!]

RIAA + DMCA + SDMI vs. smart humans:

  • Fight Rages Over Digital Rights [Wired]
    "I have a problem with [Digital Rights Management] because, as a member of the public, I can manage my rights just fine," [professor Edward] Felten said. "This gives copyright owners the ability to control rights that they don't necessarily have."

A topic I never contemplated, but a reasonable analysis:

  • No Backstreet Girls Allowed - Why aren't there any coed pop groups? We want it that way. [Slate]'s hard to croon convincingly [or whine, or pout] about the pop world's staple subject--teen-age yearning and heartache--if you're harmonizing with the object of your affection. ... If Britney and Justin merely dating is outrageous enough for tabloid pages, would record executives ever be willing to let everybody's favorite Catholic schoolgirl take the stage with her hot honey and beg, "Hit me baby one more time?"

Ordinarily I dismiss most of this guy's "technical" writing as irresponsible, poorly-informed Microsoft sycophancy, but on topics where he has direct personal experience, he can apparently write interestingly and well. Check out this fascinating tale of how New York publishing houses abuse authors.

  • Never again, New York: Authorship for no fun and no profit by Fred Moody [The Seattle Times]
    If payment is due upon acceptance of a portion of a manuscript, they can: a) delay acknowledging receipt of the manuscript; b) delay accepting the manuscript on one pretext or another; c) report that they are "putting payment through," then drop out of sight and sound; d) all of the above. My editors over the years always settled on option d).

    [My brother] Pat, who owned a bookstore at the time, wrote to Random House president Alberto Vitale explaining that he was writing a check to me for the amount he owed Random House because he heard the publisher was having trouble paying me. ... my check from Random House arrived within days, along with a letter from my editor saying that she hoped this "cleared up any misunderstanding" I might be having about her.

Darn right:

  • The British Invasion - The correct way to Americanize a British TV show [Slate]
    This complaint is a classic, but it's still true: American actors and writers seem reluctant to show weakness or ugliness, even though imperfection is often sexy and sometimes funny. ... On American TV shows, every family is prosperous.

    Why does it matter? Because variety, subtlety, and a dash of realism make for good television. Good everything, really.

Hits, misses, etc.:

Can't slip anything by our former governor. [Slate]

When you're going to moralize against someone's behavior, make sure you get your facts straight. [San Diego Union-Tribune, seen on metafilter]

Sloppy reporting, or writing, or both: can anyone give me an example of an "X-rated Hollywood blockbuster"? [Ananova] Isn't that pretty much a contradiction in terms?

An interesting-sounding sequel to Flatland [NY Times]

It's good to have goals. [The Times]

Previous entry: 18 April 2001 Next entry: 26 April 2001

Last modified on 1/25/01; 10:44:43 AM Eastern 
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