Thursday, June 01, 2006

New species!

Unknown Creatures Found in Cave

The cave was uncovered during drilling at a quarry close to Tel Aviv.

Scientists say it is a unique ecosystem that has been sealed off from the world for five million years and could contain other ancient lifeforms.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Misattributions of the Highest Magnitude

This nation was founded by a bunch of hippie-freak-equivalents of the 18th century, who knew how easy it was for an unchecked sovereign to be a tyrant, who knew that questions of religion were between a man and his God, and that salvation couldn't be imposed by a state, it could only be sought out by a person.

No appropriate [Founding Father] quote? Just make one up!

Want a Founding Father quote? How about some real ones?

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue and corruption. Federalist Paper #68, Alexander Hamilton.

The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office....In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the President...would stand upon no better ground than a governor... Federalist Paper #69, Alexander Hamilton.

[In discussing the term of office of the Executive:] It was much agitated whether a long term, seven years for example, with a subsequent and perpetual ineligibility, or a short term, with a capacity to be re-elected, should be fixed. In favor of the first opinion were urged the danger of a gradual degeneracy of re-elections from time to time, into first a life and then hereditary tenure, and the favorable effect of an incapacity to be reappointed on the independent exercise of the Executive authority. On the other side it was contended that the prospect of necessary degradation would discourage the most dignified characters from aspiring to the office; would take away the principal motive to the faithful discharge of its duties--the hope of being rewarded with a reappointment; would stimulate ambition to violent efforts for holding over the Constitutional term; and instead of producing an independent administration and a firmer defense of the constitutional rights of the department, would render the officer more indifferent to the importance of a place which he would soon be obliged to quit forever, and more ready to yield to the encroachments of the Legislature, of which he might again be a member. James Madison, Excerpted from letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787.

We know, however, that no society ever did, or can, consist of so homogeneous a mass of Citizens [so as that the interest of the minority and the majority are the same]. James Madison, Excerpted from letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787.

The inefficacy of [religion as a] restraint on individuals is well known. The conduct of every popular assembly, acting on oath, the strongest of religious ties, shews that individuals join without remorse in acts against which their consciences would revolt, if proposed to them, separately, in their closets. When, indeed, Religion is kindled into enthusiasm, its force, like that of other passions, is increased by the sympathy of a multitude. But enthusiasm is only a temporary state of Religion, and whilst it lasts will hardly be seen with pleasure at the helm. Even in its coolest state, it has been much oftener a motive to oppression that a restraint from it. James Madison, Excerpted from letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787.

For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution. Federalist Paper #1, Alexander Hamilton.

Lying to the Public

Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'

FCC investigates video releases

FCC Investigates TV Stations for Airing Fake News

Whether a conspiracy or 'mere' sloppiness, the result is the same: journalists not doing their job. There are so many sides to this problem I don't know where to start.

First: presenting something other than a news segment as if it were a news segment, even if a specific segment is quite innocuous, makes it easier for the next faux-news segment, that *is* biased, to make it on the air.

Second: presenting something other than a news segment as if it were a news segment, puts journalists and their producers in a position of reliance on the outside source providing that VNR. No longer gathering and reporting the news, but simply passing along material without thinking about it. This eviscerates the entire profession of *gathering* and *reporting* *news*, making a hollow mockery of what should be a proud calling.

Third: such evisceration diminishes the profession's power to stand up to those who would manipulate the media, and by extension, the public. Taking the easy road by using VNRs? Why not take the easy road and censor when the White House asks you to? I'm not saying it's the next step directly, just a slippery slope. Anything that abdicates journalistic power is a step down that slope.

Fourth: misleading the public. Faked news is lying to the public. This is the exact opposite of what journalists are supposed to do. Journalists are witnesses to events most of us cannot attend. What we need is not "balanced" reporting, or VNRs, but accurate reporting: who, what, when, where, how, and why.