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Cavanaugh Chases Down ‘Bug-Chasing’: Valuable little media-research exercise. Me, I miss the days of the dreaded “Ice” epidemic.

01/25/2003 10:54 AM  |  Comment (1)

New National Post Column From Me -- ‘Let Them Eat Bagels!’: It’s a meandering little number that criticizes the New York Times, not for partisanship, but for swallowing up the International Herald Tribune. Somehow this leads into a discussion about McDonald’s, Southern California shopping malls, hyper-capitalism, and the ravenous hunger for all things local. Got it?

01/25/2003 09:51 AM  |  Comment (1)

Dave Barry’s Blog Now Readable: Thanks, for some reason, to Ken Layne.

01/24/2003 08:33 PM  |  Comment (3)

L.A. Times Less Critical of Chomsky Than L.A. Weekly: Here’s Kenneth Turan’s review of the documentary mentioned below. Sample:

Because Chomsky is so lucid and because his point of view is so rarely heard, "Power and Terror" is a stimulating experience as the man lets us know, for instance, that he considers speaking truth to power to be a waste of time because power already knows the truth.

01/24/2003 11:08 AM  |  Comment (5)

Great Nick Denton Column on the Troubles and Hopes of American Media: Of course, it helps that I agree with him.

01/24/2003 11:02 AM  |  Comment (2)

BlogAds Gets Fancier: Go check out Henry Copeland’s improvements, and advertise on your favorite weblogs!

01/23/2003 01:22 PM  | 

A Sympathetic Lefty Fact-Checks Chomsky: Tacked onto the end of a little L.A. Weekly review of some new hagiographic documentary of Noam Chomsky, sympathetic-but-critical L.A. lefty Marc Cooper drops this important little bit of eyewitness fact-checking (italics mine):

In one particularly off-the-wall moment, Chomsky argues that while we mourn the 3,000 who died in the twin towers, we pay no attention to the roughly equivalent number of civilians who perished when — he says — the U.S. bombed the Panamanian neighborhood of Chorillo during the American invasion of 1989. I was in that neighborhood mere days after it was razed, and Chomsky is just plain wrong: It wasn't bombed. It burned down after a firefight between U.S. and Panamanian troops. And as reprehensible as the U.S. invasion was, Panama's own human-rights commission claims that a total of maybe 400 people -- soldiers and civilians — died during the entire conflict.

01/22/2003 07:34 PM  |  Comment (44)

Check out our Fancy Logo!:

01/22/2003 06:10 PM  |  Comment (1)

Correction: Ten months ago, I criticized Ted Rueter for engaging in hyperbole when he wrote about the scourge of “acoustic terrorism.” Today, Rueter e-mails:

don't you think it would be a good idea if you bothered to spell my name correctly?
Indeed I do. The first post had it R-e-u-t-e-r, like the news agency (which would probably prefer “acoustic freedom fighting,” anyway … badda-boom!). Sorry, Ted!

01/22/2003 12:36 PM  |  Comment (1)

L.A. Times, on Riordan’s Los Angeles Examiner: Here’s the Tim Rutten story, here’s the LAX post. Lots of quotes from Layne. My favorite:

We hope to be available in supermarkets I can't afford, like Gelson's.

01/21/2003 08:08 PM  | 

‘It’s Too Bad Matt Welch Has Gone AWOL on us’: The blogger known as Decnavda writes:

The entire pundacracy, including in the blogisphere, is seriously out of touch with mainstream opinion. Every pundit I have read so far is either for an attack on Iraq regardless of the U.N., or against an attack on Iraq, regardless of the U.N. Has any opinion-giver out there come out in favor of an attack only if the U.N. approves? Like, apparently, half the American population?

It's too bad Matt Welch has gone AWOL on us...

He’s an e-mail chum, so I wrote him an intensely muddled response, which he swore I should post here. I’ll do so, against my better judgment, and with the caveat that I refuse to argue with any of you in the comments section about any of this, on account of I'm aware it's incoherent & filled with basic errors of ignorance.
Dear Decnavda,

Where's your blog? I'll post a link immediately!

A short & flippant answer to your question can be found here; mostly, my views on the whole thing are very mixed, so I've found it more useful to probe the issue through journalism, not opinionated hectoring. I'm very glad there are weapons inspectors in Iraq, and I believe they wouldn't be there today if Bush hadn't threatened a unilateral war. I even have pretty strong hope that there won't be a war, and that this is all a very elaborate (and on some counts, effective) bluff. Does that mean Bush should have threatened war? I don't know! Does that mean that the poisonous relationship with Saudi Arabia gets tabled yet again? Looks like it! (See Deals With the Devil.) Does the whole process seem to extend America's power, which is ultimately dangerous no matter how nobly expended (not to say that it's being nobly expended now)? I think so! (See: The U.S. Version of Adult Supervision and Weaning Europeans from America’s Teat.) Is there any chance in hell the U.S. will launch a "unilateral" war? No! (England, for one, will stand shoulder-to-Anglo-Saxon-shoulder).

Etc. Whatever happens, I have the distinct feeling that the U.N. will approve of it. I think it's eminently possible that Saddam will be spirited away to some dreadful country. I'd love to see him go, and I'm worried about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive Regime Change.

I breathe easier knowing that there are inspectors in Iraq. It gets more labored when thinking about Bush's secrecy, his Administration's Saudi dealings, and the scatter-brained policy toward North Korea. What I'm trying to say here Decnavda is that I'M PRETTY CONFLICTED ABOUT IT ALL. I hope there's no war, I hope Saddam is removed, I even kinda hope the Kurds get their own country, though my ignorance on that count is stunning. I hope France stays obstructionist, and that Blair's lip remains stiff. I hope that we drastically cut back and/or eliminate the sale and donation of weapons to repressive regimes, and I include Turkey and Israel on that list. I hope Sharon loses big, that the settlements are pulled back, and that Arafat crawls off to Mordor. I hope the Democrats run against Dubya's Saudi chumminess, his tightening of civil liberties (especially the right of the accused to have legal counsel, and their whereabouts known), and his incoherent Homeland Security program. I think the Dept. of Homeland Security is a terrible idea, and that anyone named "Poindexter," "Abrams," "Negroponte" and "Reich" should be sent on the slow boat to Mauritius.

Finally, I have been A) in Europe for a month, B) busy with putting together a newspaper. I feel that my use is best served exploring my conflicted feelings by asking questions. Three questions I'll be asking in upcoming columns: Is Bush Bluffing? Should the U.S. Uphold Random Borders Containing Multiple Competing Ethnicities? And, How Have Immigration Politics and Policy Changed, Concretely, Since Sept. 11?

Now I have to get back to work. I grow weary of reading yet another schmuck's opinion about the War, pro or con, and see no great reason in arguing my bizarre position. As usual, people seem to have drifted into enemy camps, and wandering into their polemics is as pleasant as plucking my own nosehair. At some point I'll address that mutual intolerance & incoherence, because it's interesting, but for now I'm more interested in meeting the trillion deadlines that are competing on my desk.

Best,
Matt

01/21/2003 08:02 PM  |  Comment (26)

Stick to Politics, Steve-O: Steve Forbes, in a three-dot column, describes Sandy Koufax as “arguably the finest pitcher ever,” and then gets to the real hyperbole:

He had an almost Lincolnesque combination of intense ambition, genuine humility and principle (he refused to pitch the first game in the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur). He came up with pioneering insights into the art and physics of pitching, and he was amazingly stoic when he was in intense pain during a game.

The Dodgers offense in Koufax's peak years was awful. His incredible win-loss record -- 129-47 in that period -- would have been even better had he been with a team that could score more than one or two runs per game.

I’m too busy with matters of non-trivial importance to refute this at length, but as people who actually pay attention to baseball have pointed out before, A) Sandy Koufax pitched extraordinarily for five seasons; the Hall of Fame is filled with pitchers who were excellent for more than 10. He was “arguably” among the finest pitchers ever at his peak, but had 20 fewer victories in his career than David Wells. B) His five peak years coincided with five of the most pitcher-friendly years in the history of baseball, during which he pitched in the most difficult stadium in the league to hit. His home E.R.A. from 1962-66 was 1.37, while on the road it was a more human 2.57. That’s some home-field advantage. C) That stoicism in the face of pain and misuse cut short his career. D) The Dodgers offense in that period was good, not “awful.” According to Bill James’ “The Politics of Glory,” L.A. ranked second in a 10-team league in runs scored on the road in both 1963 and ’64. In ’63, that meant 344 runs in 81 road games. That’s four-plus runs a game, not “one or two.”

Why the hell am I writing about this? Blowing off steam for a half-second. Also, Koufax has been surrounded with just an ungodly amount of hyperbole in the last year or two. I once did research for a nice long debunking of the the most common Koufax myths, then I remembered that I rarely write about sports for money, so I got back to the War or whatever. Sandy was marvelous enough without the comparisons to Abraham Lincoln.

01/21/2003 07:38 PM  |  Comment (12)

Joke of the Day: Care of the Los Angeles Times.

Salon is perhaps the last great independent experiment in online journalism.
Someone with a Lexis password should count the number of 1,000-word-plus features the L.A. Times has published about Salon over the past seven years. I would wager that it’s higher than the number of stories on all the other news/opinion websites combined. UPDATE: Colby Cosh, as usual, is funnier.

01/21/2003 06:21 PM  | 

A Nice Wet Kiss for Cavanaugh: Village Voice media writer Cynthia Cotts details the Suckification of Reason, and heaps credit on Our Tim while getting in a few mild digs at Nick Gillespie’s vocabulary. Nice one, boys! I applied a sloppy one of my own on the Cavanaugh-era Suck just after it died. Seems like about 12 lives ago …

01/21/2003 11:02 AM  | 

Hi! What are you doing down here?

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