Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, April 10, 2015 8:54 pm

Odds and ends for April 10

Vox.com has created an interactive map showing at least some information on each of more than 5,600 officer-involved homicides dating to 2000. The data are badly incomplete, and Steve Buttry and others have noted that it would be nice if the data were searchable in some ways that they currently are not. But what’s there is scary, and depressing, enough.

Looks like overzealous New York cops may have finally messed with someone with the resources to mess back.

It isn’t Facebook whose mantra is “Don’t be evil,” and here’s one reason why.

Some liberal sites like Newscorpse are arguing that this Roger Ailes statement means he’s admitting Fox News isn’t news but entertainment. That’s true, but I don’t think Ailes is admitting it. Rather, I think he’s talking about competing with TNT, USA, and ESPN merely in terms of audience ratings and share, not content, and that the other interpretation is an unsupported reach.

I admire Simon Schräder’s initiative and creativity even as I hope and expect that his freedom-of-information request will be unsuccessful.

So with its very viability under attack by the N.C. General Assembly, the UNC system decides that its biggest problem is … raising salaries for chancellors? Way to paint a bulls-eye on yourselves, guys.

Its leaders keep saying the legislature’s top priority is jobs, but as the man said in “48HRS,” we all know the truth’s a little different. My friend Susan Ladd continues to call out the legislature for its efforts to shrink state government until it fits inside your uterus.

Duke Energy got off with a $25 million slap on the wrist for contaminating groundwater in New Hanover County. Naturally, it is whining about that.

Two magistrates who left their jobs rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as now required in N.C. by court order are — duh — suing, claiming that their religious rights were violated. Here’s hoping a court swiftly and violently upsides them with the clue stick because I have had it with religious wingnuts and their oh-so-tender fee-fees. If y’all want to know what violation of religious liberty really looks like, Kenya can show you.

The News & Record’s Joe Killian eviscerates the Rhino Times’s fake poll on SB 36, Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill to create a GOP-controlled City Council in a city that’s two-thirds Democratic because they can’t seem to win at the polls.

My friend Linda Hoopes, a psychology Ph.D. with a special interest in resilience — how people respond to and recover from adversity — now has a weekly radio show and podcast, Resilience Radio. It airs live at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Mondays.

Damn. CLT Blog, one of the most innovative and journalistically successful citizen-journalism efforts around, has given up the ghost after 6-plus years. (h/t: @underoak)

Study: People who curse a lot are f—–g awesome.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013 6:32 pm

Why do I oppose a surveillance state? Must be the money.

Because arguing constitutional principles, righteous as they are, is getting us nowhere, we’ll have to argue financial principles. But maybe this argument will succeed where others have failed. James Fallows, prompted by an essay by John Naughton in the Guardian, explains:

In short: because of what the U.S. government assumed it could do with information it had the technological ability to intercept, American companies and American interests are sure to suffer in their efforts to shape and benefit from the Internet’s continued growth.

  • American companies, because no foreigners will believe these firms can guarantee security from U.S. government surveillance;
  • American interests, because the United States has gravely compromised its plausibility as world-wide administrator of the Internet’s standards and advocate for its open, above-politics goals.

Why were U.S. authorities in a position to get at so much of the world’s digital data in the first place? Because so many of the world’s customers have trusted* U.S.-based firms like Google, Yahoo, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc with their data; and because so many of the world’s nations have tolerated an info-infrastructure in which an outsized share of data flows at some point through U.S. systems. Those are the conditions of trust and toleration that likely will change.

The problem for the companies, it’s worth emphasizing, is not that they were so unduly eager to cooperate with U.S. government surveillance. Many seem to have done what they could to resist. The problem is what the U.S. government — first under Bush and Cheney, now under Obama and Biden — asked them to do. As long as they operate in U.S. territory and under U.S. laws, companies like Google or Facebook had no choice but to comply. But people around the world who have a choice about where to store their data, may understandably choose to avoid leaving it with companies subject to the way America now defines its security interests.

Other countries will refuse to do business with U.S. tech firms for the same reason they would if the U.S. were mixing corrosive chemicals in with its exported petroleum products: The product is tainted and will damage whoever/whatever uses it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:41 am

Top 10 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

Filed under: Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 12:41 am
Tags: ,

Dan Yoder lists his. When he posted his list on Facebook, Facebook deleted it without notice or warning. Ed has reposted to see what will happen. Posts to this blog show up on my Facebook “Notes” page (albeit sometimes not until 18 hours or so have passed since they appeared on the blog), so I’m essentially conducting the same experiment Ed is. I’ll let you know what happens.

I’m still thinking about ditching FB, at least for personal use. (I would need to continue using it for work-related reasons.) I would hate to have to, but as I said earlier, their behavior around privacy issues is bordering on egregious. I’m willing to tolerate certain honest mistakes in the name of research and learning, but it is growing increasingly difficult to think that Facebook is about anything beyond pirating marketable data without compensating the owners. There’s a word for that, and although it dates to Exodus, it applies today — on a number of levels and in a variety of contexts.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Monday, May 3, 2010 9:47 pm

Why I’m thinking hard about ditching Facebook

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 9:47 pm
Tags: ,

This Electronic Frontier Foundation timeline tells the tale.

If FB had been absolutely transparent and all opt-in, all the time, that would be one thing. But they haven’t. And I’m not wild about rewarding that kind of behavior.

And then there’s Farmville. Also.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 6:23 am

Yass we can

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:23 am
Tags: ,

The Facebook page “Can  This Horse’s Ass Get More Fans Than Sen. Mitch McConnell?” had accumulated 8,188 fans this morning, more than twice as many as Sen. Mitch McConnell’s 3,202 fans. My inner 12-year-old thinks this is hilarious.

(In other McConnell-related Facebook news, “Impeach Mitch McConnell” has 345 members to “Thank you Mitch McConnell”‘s 125.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:14 pm

Odds and ends for 1/28

The ultimate Miller Time: Earlier this month, Harriet Ames turned 100 and then scratched the last item, getting her college diploma, off her bucket list. The next day, that sheepskin in her hand, she died.

To the best of my ability, I will never again say a bad word about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Conflict of interest?: The New York Times isn’t commenting on a report that the son of its Jerusalem bureau chief is serving in the Israeli military. I understand the problems that publication of this fact, if fact it be, is likely to create for the editor and the paper, as well as the possible security threat for the son and his unit if in fact this is the case. But this isn’t something the Times can ignore or stonewall.

Sen. Judd Gregg: PWNED!!111!!: Gregg, who has been pimping this idea of a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission to shield Congress from the political liability of making tough decisions, shows why he needs the shield when MSNBC’s Melissa Francis, whose work will never keep the Peabody Award people up nights, asks him to name something he’d cut from the budget and he refuses to answer. (To say nothing of the fact that he hems and haws around the question of cutting education spending when that has practically been Job 1 for the GOP since Reagan. Brother, please.)

But you don’t want to reward them, either: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz says we not only need a lot more stimulus spending, we need it targeted where it will provide a decent rate of return if we’re going to be able to reduce our debt long-term. And where would that be? Technology, infrastructure, education — all the things the Republicans have been trying, by and large, not to fund. Even a ROI of 6% will help pay off long-term debt. But the ROI on spending on banks is 0%. You listening, Mr. President?

Conservative victimization: Obama calls out the Supreme Court for its wrongheaded, wrongly reached ruling in a wrongly accepted case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the wingnuts accuse the president of trying to “intimidate” the conservative activist wing of the Court. Questions, for the wingnuts (which is most of ’em) who spent eighth-grade civics out back smoking dope: How, exactly, do you go about intimidating someone who already has been confirmed to a lifetime appointment? And how easily intimidated do you have to be to hold such a job and still be intimidated by … well, pretty much anything?

The cops lied, and fortunately, 12 of 14 jurors were willing to do something about it. I’ll say it again: I have too much respect for good cops to have any tolerance for bad ones.

George Stephanopoulos asks a good question. NewsBusters has a hissy fit, spouts objectively false claims. (“Liberal media” = “They won’t tell the lies we WANT them to tell.”)

In many important ways, the United States sucks compared to other countries, and it is important to remind ourselves of that. On the other hand, we — alone, I believe, among industrialized countries, and I’d be sad to be wrong about that but not for the reason you probably think — have given corporations more rights and fewer freedoms than people, so we’ve got that going for us.

Bigotry in Malawi: A gay couple in that country are being held “for their own safety” in jail. Where they’re being beaten up.

“I’ve never actually played FarmVille, but any game worth playing has to have Pork Knights”: How to Suck at Facebook.

The Great American Interrogation Disaster, from the man who may know more about interrogation than anyone else alive.

Memo to Andrew Breitbart from the Universe: Payback’s a bitch.

You may be a mansplainer if …: Consider me warned.

Freeloaders: In Moscow, stray dogs use the subway. For free. For real.

Britain’s libel laws are much stricter than America’s. There’s just one problem.

America loves Brett Favre: How much? More than anything that wasn’t a Super Bowl since the “Seinfeld” finale in May 1998.

Huge loss: Journalist Joe Galloway is hanging up his notepad. In recent years, Americans who have worn the uniform and those who wear it still have had no better friend.

Huger loss: J.D. Salinger, RIP.

I have just found the one college course even cooler than my employer’s “Ten Greatest Pop Songs of the Past 50 Years”: ZDI.001: Introduction to Zombie Defense. I forwarded this to several friends, one of whom said she also would post it and added, “I’m also going to read closely for practical purposes.”

And in that vein, I love people who think like this: Seated with Michelle Obama during the State of the Union was 18-year-old high-school senior Li Boynton, who’s researching ways to test water for purity. After reading Life of Pi, a novel about a guy stranded in the middle of the ocean, Boynton designed a solar-distillation device in case the same thing ever happened to her. She was in fifth grade.

And, finally, this is genius: Dante’s Internet:

Monday, January 11, 2010 10:55 pm

Odds and ends for 1/11

U.S. v. terror: Conviction rate in civilian courts? 88%. Conviction rate in military tribunals? 15%. So someone explain to me again why Dick and Liz Cheney are still getting airtime?

Harry Reid v. Trent Lott: To elaborate a bit on a comment discussion Fred and I had in a previous thread: What Harry Reid said about Obama was grossly awkward and inept, but he said it in a context of praising Obama. What Lott said, on the other hand, was praising a segregationist. These two things are not logically, linguistically or morally equivalent.

Guantanamo v. the Constitution: Those party animals at McClatchy News Service have served up a pyrotechnic package of print (with a whole bunch o’ Web stuff, too, including source documents) in observance of the eighth anniversary of the incarceration of the first terrorism suspects at Gitmo. The series touches on subjects ranging from holding, and torturing, innocent people to the Taliban’s influence within the prison (yeah, you read that right).

Generation R(ecession) v. the economy: Newsweek’s Rana Foroohar notes some interesting characteristics of people who come of age in bad economic times. Unfortunately, notes Chris Lehmann at The Awl, she draws some of the wrong conclusions.

Afghans v. everybody else: Incredibly mixed findings in this ABC News poll from Afghanistan. They hate both us and the Taliban. They almost unanimously think their government is corrupt, but they actually support President Hamid Karzai more than they used to. And they’re about evenly divided over whether civilian deaths are more NATO’s fault or more the insurgents’ fault for mingling with civilians.

Matt Labash v. perspective women: In his feature “Ask Matt Labash” on Tucker Carlson’s new anti-Huffington Post, the Daily Caller, Matt Labash calls red-light cameras “legalized rape” and calls Rachel Maddow “the sexiest man alive.” Way to court those swing voters, guys.

Dylan Ratigan v. Geithner: The MSNBC reporter/anchor is starting to carve pieces out of SecTreas Tim Geithner’s hide, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy not named Bush, Cheney or Rove.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Gay marriage on trial — literally: The lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger went to trial today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. At issue is the constitutionality of Proposition 8, enacted last year by referendum to deny the right of marriage to couples of the same sex in Cali. Expected to last about 3 weeks — with the case likely to end up before the Supreme Court no matter who wins. Your all-purpose source for trial info is here, and if the opening arguments are any indication — which they may or may not be — gay-marriage proponents are headed for a big win.

The perfect v. the very good: Actually, the U.S. health-care debate is now more like the acceptable (if you drop the Stupak amendment) v. the bad, and the bad is winning.

Law enforcement v. the drug war: A lot of former cops, judges and prosecutors have endorsed legalizing marijuana in California, where a legislative committee is scheduled to vote on just that next week. Whether the full legislature passes the bill may be immaterial, though; an initiative to regulate and tax pot is on the November ballot and expected to pass.

Congresscritters v. reality: About six in 10 Americans say terrorists probably will find some way to strike us again. Unfortunately, that’s probably correct, but you wouldn’t know it to listen to some of the Congressional Republicans who are suggesting that 1) we should all be peeing in our pants over the guy who nearly set his crotch on fire and 2) that if you torture enough people and bomb enough civilians, all terror can be prevented.

Time v. knowledge: I am shocked, shocked to learn just how many Balloon Juice commenters did not know that the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

It’s like Vegas: What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook. Forever.

There an app for your cheapo phone if you’re a student at UNC-Wilmington, where a couple of people set out to create useful apps for the 88% of us who can’t afford smartphones.

Shorter Jonathan Alter: Clap louder and the Democrats will be fine in 2010.

Best SEC comment letter EVER: (h/t Zero Hedge)

Thursday, January 7, 2010 9:31 pm

Facebook now officially worth it

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:31 pm
Tags:

At this moment I’m in a three-way chat with a woman I know here in town and a fraternity brother of mine now out on the other coast, and she just said the following: “OMG you were the Sig Ep chaplain? That’s like being the Pope of the Chicken Ranch.”

She wins the Internet.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:39 pm

AP reporter busted for saying on Facebook that sun rises in East

Pretty much, anyway:

An Associated Press reporter’s official reprimand over an innocuous comment on his Facebook page has sparked the ire of union officials. They are now demanding that AP clarify its ethics guidelines and are also urging reporters to watch who they add to their friends lists.

“We have seen about six Facebook problems over the last two months, with employees — maybe managers you have as friends — reporting potential issues to management,” union guild chief Kevin Keane wrote in a memo to union members last week. “You must be careful who you allow on as friends.”

Richard Richtmyer, a Philadelphia-based newsman, set off Tuesday’s tempest with a seemingly harmless comment posted to his Facebook profile late last month criticizing the executive management of newspaper publisher McClatchy, whose stock plummeted following a 2006 acquisition of San Jose-based Knight Ridder.

“It seems like the ones who orchestrated the whole mess should be losing their jobs or getting pushed into smaller quarters,” Richtmyer wrote on May 28. “But they aren’t.”

McClatchy, like countless other newspaper publishers, happens to be a member of the AP’s newsgathering cooperative. Had the comment been uttered in real life, it likely would have dissipated into the rank air of a Philly journo bar. But Richtmyer had some 51 AP colleagues as Facebook friends, some of them higher up in the AP food chain. One turned out to be a “mole” — Richtmyer’s description — and the reporter was given a firm talking-to by AP management, who put a reprimand letter in his employment file.

Paul Colford, a spokesman for New York-based AP, declined in an e-mail to address Richtmyer’s case. But he said that “guidance offered to AP staff is that participation on Twitter and Facebook must conform with AP’s News Values and Principles.” That ethics policy says writers “must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum.”

Obviously, I need to get some disclaimers out of the way first.

One, posting online about your day job is really not a good idea. You just never know what kind of innocuous remark is going to set someone off. (Posting online about my day job was actually part of my day job for a while, and that was some of the most fun I had in a 30-year media career. But, kids, that kind of gig — although growing more common, as it should — remains almost lottery-type rare.)

Second, journalists, for better or worse (and I know people all along the political spectrum who think it’s for the worse), can’t really post online about issues they cover in any way that could be construed as taking a position on the merits of someone’s argument. (That doesn’t mean they can’t take issue with factual assertions that are objectively disprovable, even if a lot of the DC media appear to think that it does.) That’s not a great construct, and I’m pretty sure it won’t always be the one most journalism operates under, but it’s kind of the industry standard for now.

But in this case? We have a reporter saying that management that ran a company into the ground ought to have suffered some consequences for that. He’s saying management must be accountable for a corporation’s performance. And AP believes that this is a “contentious public issue”? I’d thought it had been one of the underlying principles of corporate governance since we’d had corporations.

And call me crazy, but I want my business journalists to understand that idea and be familiar and comfortable with its logical implications. Wait, “want”? I demand it. Anyone who invests in a corporation in any way, shape or form ought to feel the same way.

Reprimand Richard Richtmyer? Screw that. AP needs to not only un-reprimand the guy but also put him in charge of business-news coverage.

One other thing, AP: From a PR standpoint, you really should have just let this go.

An Associated Press reporter’s official reprimand over an innocuous comment on his Facebook page has sparked the ire of union officials. They are now demanding that AP clarify its ethics guidelines and are also urging reporters to watch who they add to their friends lists.

“We have seen about six Facebook problems over the last two months, with employees — maybe managers you have as friends — reporting potential issues to management,” union guild chief Kevin Keane wrote in a memo to union members last week. “You must be careful who you allow on as friends.”

The New York headquarters of the Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)

The New York headquarters of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)

Richard Richtmyer, a Philadelphia-based newsman, set off Tuesday’s tempest with a seemingly harmless comment posted to his Facebook profile late last month criticizing the executive management of newspaper publisher McClatchy, whose stock plummeted following a 2006 acquisition of San Jose-based Knight Ridder.

“It seems like the ones who orchestrated the whole mess should be losing their jobs or getting pushed into smaller quarters,” Richtmyer wrote on May 28. “But they aren’t.”

McClatchy, like countless other newspaper publishers, happens to be a member of the AP’s newsgathering cooperative. Had the comment been uttered in real life, it likely would have dissipated into the rank air of a Philly journo bar. But Richtmyer had some 51 AP colleagues as Facebook friends, some of them higher up in the AP food chain. One turned out to be a “mole” — Richtmyer’s description — and the reporter was given a firm talking-to by AP management, who put a reprimand letter in his employment file.

Paul Colford, a spokesman for New York-based AP, declined in an e-mail to address Richtmyer’s case. But he said that “guidance offered to AP staff is that participation on Twitter and Facebook must conform with AP’s News Values and Principles.” That ethics policy says writers “must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:12 pm

What happens when literary characters get on Facebook, redux

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:12 pm
Tags: , ,

In the tradition of this, here’s “Pride and Prejudice” via Facebook newsfeed.

Lex is once again reinstalling the gut he just busted.

Friday, November 7, 2008 9:54 am

I feel like this sometimes

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 9:54 am
Tags: , , , , ,

“What the world needs is ‘antisocial media,’ sites where people who aren’t comfortable with others can get together and ignore each other.”

— Kevin Horrigan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Twittering.

I Twitter, although almost exclusively for work and not as often as I should. I update my Facebook status more often, but not necessarily every day. I’m on LinkedIn, again for work, and I’m on MySpace, although I haven’t logged in in weeks. (I’m not a big fan of MySpace — the search function is atrocious. Also, there’s another Lex Alexander there — a Christian rapper, apparently.)

I understand the importance of social media, but — and I know this is both heresy and completely uncharacteristic of how I’ve lived the last 14 years of my life — I’m not looking for more reasons/ways to spend time online. You may now commence hurling pixelated tomatoes.

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