"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
- Mark Twain

"Anyone who combines politics and baseball is an idiot, because everyone knows that ping-pong is the greatest sport. Oh, and I'm really a Communist who hates NASCAR and listens to Joan Baez in the dark.
-- Glenn Reynolds

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Andre Vladimir Sebastian is a figment of your imagination. Honestly, you really could have done better than him, now couldn't you? Next time, put a little effort into it.

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Jayson Blair's J-School Daze
American Journalism Review's Jill Rosen has an interesting article on Jayson Blair in which she uncovers some tidbits I've not seen elsewhere. Most importantly: Jayson Blair was a promoted to editor of the University of Maryland's student paper, the Diamondback, over the objections of almost the entire staff and despite his having a high error rate, not having the trust of his editors, and being only a sophomore. Reports Rosen:

However, as impressive as Blair's hustle seemed, his mistakes and sloppy reporting troubled his Diamondback colleagues. Though appreciative of Blair's undeniable gusto for bylines--he'd want to file two, even three stories a day--some in the newsroom worried that he was charging ahead somewhat blindly with stories and taking on too much, in general. "It dawned on us gradually that he was going a little too fast for his own good," Parker says, adding that Blair exceeded the number of corrections Diamondback reporters were allowed. "Apparently, even then, his quality control was not up to the standards we had set.

"There was some hand-wringing going on among myself and the editor in chief about how to handle that," Parker continues. "We didn't want to fire him. Instead we told him it was important to check your work and to slow down if he had to.... It's nice to have all those stories but even more important to have credibility, even at a college paper."

Because Blair had only spent a semester reporting full time for the Diamondback, many at the paper were surprised when he applied to be editor--particularly after he had announced at the end of that semester that he was leaving because "he had learned everything he needed to know" there. Nearly the entire newspaper staff vigorously supported another student for the job, though the outside board, which picked the editor, chose Blair. "A number of editors thought our concerns about Jayson had been ignored," says Jennifer McMenamin, a former Diamondback editor, now a reporter at the Baltimore Sun. "We threatened to go on strike if the [board] didn't talk to us." The board held firm on Blair, who had strong support from the journalism school.

Besides being turned off by Blair's attitude, the Diamondback staff wasn't impressed with Blair's work. "People had gotten the impression that he glossed over things a bit," McMenamin says. "He made bold assertions in his writing that were not necessarily backed up."

Former Diamondback staffers say that after he became editor, Blair's reporting problems increased, as did his unpredictability--he was chronically unreachable, even when he promised to be available, leaving other staffers to cover for him. Sometimes he wouldn't even show up in the office. B.J. Sanford, a former Diamondback editor who just graduated from New York University School of Law, says editors accused Blair of making up quotes and making up facts. "And there was inexplicable lying," Sanford says. "He'd miss deadline and come in with fantastical stories" about where he had been.

One night is legend at the Diamondback. According to one staffer, Blair had a story on the budget but hadn't yet filed it. Though it was getting late, he told his colleagues he had to go home to get the computer disc he had the story on. They waited; he never came back. They called and called, but Blair didn't answer. The next day, no one heard from Blair until late in the afternoon when he walked into the newsroom, saying he had almost died the night before. Somehow, he told them, the gas stove remained on in his kitchen, filling the campus apartment with gas while he slept--had it not been for his roommate waking him, he'd be dead. A ragged rasp in his voice complemented the drama. Already skeptical of Blair, one of the staffers called the campus housing department. They said that there were no gas connections on campus.

Some students, worried about Blair's journalistic integrity, particularly considering his near rock-star status in the journalism school, say they tried to warn faculty and staff about his issues. They say their warnings were written off as campus jealousies. "They seemed to disbelieve us when we reported his shortcomings," Sanford says. "Some of us were very frustrated that people at the journalism school would not listen to us. It seems like they still haven't fully understood the extent to which they were taken in."

Looks to me like the good little liberals on the UM J-School faculty made exactly the same mistake Blair's editors at The New York Times made. In the name of "diversity" they knowingly promoted an inferior reporter.

  posted by AVS @ 14.6.03


Socialism's Enablers
Socialism, the deadliest form of government in human history, could not exist as a viable political movement were it not for financial backing from wealthy capitalists -- the very people it seeks to eradicate from the face of the earth. Marx's Communist Manifesto was financed by textile heir and factory owner Friedrich Engels. The heirs of great American capitalists such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John D. MacArthur, and the Pew family have given away hundreds of millions, probably billions, to left-wing causes the men who created that wealth would have despised. American corporations today still devote almost all of their corporate giving to leftist advocacy groups. And in the latest example of the fruits of capitalism being used to fund the war against capitalism, The Scotsman reports that wealthy manufacturing heir Steven McGrail is using his inherited millions to bankroll the Scottish Socialist Party.

Reports The Scotsman:

The Scottish Socialist Party’s leading benefactor is the son of a wealthy industrialist who has used a family legacy to further Tommy Sheridan’s political cause, The Scotsman has learned. (Sheridan is the leader of the Scotish Socialists.)

Steven McGrail, 46, who lives in a £250,000 home in Dunblane, is the only significant donor to the SSP other than Mr Sheridan himself.

Over the past 12 months, Mr McGrail, who describes himself as a freelance writer and folk musician, has donated at least £30,000 to the socialists, who have had financial difficulties.

He said he would continue to donate to the party after inheriting money from an aunt.

  posted by AVS @ 12.6.03


Who is Abdel Aziz Rantisi?
He's the Hamas leader that Israel tried to take out yesterday. Here's a little background on him:

From Time magazine: A medical doctor who lives in Gaza's Sheik Radwan neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold, Rantisi spent time in Israeli and Palestinian prisons over the years because of his uncompromising opposition to the peace process and his contention that no Muslim can ever agree to a treaty that signs away control of land once ruled by Islam. That reputation for defiance has boosted his popularity during the intifadeh, when most Palestinians have turned against the agreements with Israel signed by Arafat.

Within Hamas, Rantisi has gained sway as rival voices in the movement have been arrested or slain.

Rantisi Quotes:

From The Washington Institute: Hamas will remain a thorn in America's throat and will continue its jihad process until the total liberation of Palestine's soil, from the sea to the river. . . . What the American wickedness spelled out, that Hamas is a terrorist organization, I'd like to affirm that Hamas will terrorize the enemies of God and will keep its vow to resist.

From The AP: We call on the Arabs and Muslims to burn the land under the feet of the American invaders ... because this war is not against Iraq, it's against the Islamic nation.

From the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre: No settlement, no peace and no halt of Jihad as long as there is occupation. But we have announced our readiness for a truce in which there would be a withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza in return for a ceasefire.

No recognition of the Zionist entity. For if I cannot liberate [Palestine] then future generations will inevitably do so.

(More to come later.)

  posted by AVS @ 11.6.03


Speared By A Viking
From Geitner Simmons' blog, Regions of Mind:

A boar spear could be quite an effective combat tool when wielded by a Viking who understood its qualities.

Not far from the spear’s tip was a short metal bar secured at a perpendicular angle to the spear’s shaft. A Viking fighter could remain at a safe distance, use the metal bar to hook an opponent’s shoulder and rip into it. Or, if the opponent was using a shield, the Viking could use the metal bar to grab the shield’s edge and force the shield aside; with his opponent thus exposed, the Viking could make a quick lunge and skewer him.

That's why I enjoy Geitner's blog so much. Politics, culture, Viking combat techniques. He can discuss each with equal authority.

  posted by AVS @ 11.6.03

Rachel Corrie's Guide To The Galaxy
A friend reminded me that Rachel Corrie's death was reminiscent of a scene in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

Mr. Prosser (head of crew trying to bulldoze Arthur Dent's house): Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just
let it roll straight over you?"

Arthur Dent: "How much?"

Mr. Prosser: "None at all."

  posted by AVS @ 11.6.03

How Can This Mistake Possibly Be Made?
Elmer Fudd was mistakenly identified as Porky Pig in a photo caption on Page E6 Thursday. That's a correction from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Sorry, don't have a link, the correction was reprinted in American Journalism Review's online edition.

  posted by AVS @ 10.6.03


Is Saddam Contracting Hits On U.S. Personnel?
The Associated Press reports that Iraqis say they've seen Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and that he has put bounties on the heads of American troops. Sounds like another unsubstantiated rumor to me. If Hussein were in Baghdad, I doubt he would risk getting his head shot off by poking it out of his lair. He's got more enemies than Michael Corleone.

  posted by AVS @ 10.6.03

A Maine Pain
Wherever you go for vacation this summer, don't go to Camden, Maine.

  posted by AVS @ 10.6.03

7,000 Naked Idiots
Why does the fruity left have such a penchant for combining nudity and politics? They must still think they're shocking the poor, repressed bourgeoise. Today yet another "artist" has convinced a bunch of gullible human sheep to disrobe, and proclaimed it art. Spencer Tunick's so-called exhibit consists of 7,000 people taking their clothes off and getting in a face-down fetal position in a pubilc street in Barcelona. He lined them up face to butt, which must've been a bit unpleasant for all save those fortunate enough to be on the far end. Explaining his masterpiece, Tunick, who ironically has gained notoriety for getting people to remove their tunics, said:

I want people to feel uncomfortable that they've demonized the body. I want them to feel uncomfortable at first and then realize it's just skin. Yes, the body can be a shape.

I'm glad we have artists like Spencer Tunick around to teach the rest of us that the body is covered in skin and can be a shape.

  posted by AVS @ 8.6.03

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