Comparing Blogging to Journalism Fairly
Permalink
Jul 30, 2004

Just a quick note; if you want to compare bloggers to journalism fairly, you must measure the best of the bloggers against the best of formal journalism.

Because if you insist on defining blogging as "millions of people doodling in their journals, with rare people who sometimes make an interesting point", then I'm going to define journalism as "hundreds of thousands of parochial local rags designed to get as many local names as possible in print, and the rare international journalist that has something moderately interesting to say".

The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the handful of other Papers of Record are dwarfed by the sheer quantity of verbiage produced daily by village newspaper columnists 'wasting' their journalism degree's Instant PrestigeTM on how that pothole downtown really needs to be fixed, now that Aunt Millie's car was damaged.

Just as journalism has a mechanism for telling who are the best journalists, namely "they have jobs with one of the Big Names", weblogs also have a mechanism, traffic. If you want to compare Pulitzer Prize journalism to some schmoe on LiveJournal, don't bitch when I choose a cliche-ridden sports story as indicative of Jouralism as a whole.

Bad form, I say.


US Congress declares "genocide" in Darfur, Sudan
Permalink
Jul 23, 2004

Hopefully you've heard about the genocide in Darfur by now.

I am considering this a yardstick to measure the sincerity and validity of all of those international organizations so quick to condemn the US and so slow to do, well, anything else.

So to the UN, and everybody else who wants to claim the moral high ground on the international stage, I have something to say, if you'll pardon the language:

Fucking do something, you international putzes.

Or shut the hell up about the US. The US has the audacity to actually enforce UN resolutions and semi-suddenly we're a pariah. While you are congratulating each other on how moral you are, people are dying.

And for how brave you are for standing up to the US (especially those of you under the protection of the First Amendment), people are dying.

While you are patting each other on the back, people are dying.

This is the sort of thing I'm talking about:

the US Congress - in a non-binding vote - called the Darfur crisis a "genocide". The UN and the White House have so far avoided that label, which would entail an international duty to step in.... Amnesty International said crimes against humanity were being committed, but it could not confirm that they complied with the definition of genocide.... A 1948 UN convention says the international community must prevent and punish acts it has declared as genocide. [Ed: This explains the reluctance to call this what it is; then the law says they have to do something above and beyond toungue clucking.]

(Emphasis mine.) Waffle, waffle, waffle. Legalistic wrangling to avoid doing anything. Easier just to bitch at the US, non?

This is, as far as I am concerned, the UN's last chance to justify its existance. If nothing happens, or the US has to take care of it essentially by itself, or if God-forbid the US has to take care of it in defiance of the screechings of the UN, then what fading respect and hope I might have for those instituitions, and those who profess a higher morality than the US, will be gone.

This is your chance. Show us dirty, evil, nasty, rotten, heartless Conservatives that you can take down an evil government too (or at least shelter some people from it; I favor a Darfur secession... 'course, I'm one of those dastardly neo-con types that has higher standards for what constitutes a country than "lines on a map"). Show us how to do it "right". Earn some respect instead of spending it.

(This post is deliberately inflammatory. I really mean the previous paragraph. Show me. And along the way, you might just discover that you can't wave a wand and everything is magically perfect... if you actually do something you might just find out that the complications in Iraq can't be avoided 100%. Perhaps this is why you are scared to do anything, you know you can't meet the unrealistic expectations you've set for Iraq? Maybe you won't even be able to meet the US's performance...? Show me.)


Permalink
Jul 16, 2004

I ought to be working but I have to amplify on Den
Beste's latest on form vs. substance
.

Human memory is notoriously unreliable. Unbelievable memories can
be made up out of whole cloth. (False memory, memory, and repressed memory therapy
from the Skeptic's Dictionary.) It
is also extremely difficult to project a lack of knowledge back
in time, as I discussed in my Learning to
Expect the Unexpected
post.

Read the rest (638 words)


Permalink
Jul 14, 2004

Ever since I first started working with the web in 1996, I have tried
to design an appealing personal site. Though my first web site did end
up landing me a pretty cool job, it was ultimately a failure in the
aesthetic sense.

The design you've seen if you've read my website at jerf.org (as
opposed to solely through RSS) is the third, and while it has been the
most flexible and least garish, it still hasn't been anything to be
proud of.

Nevertheless, I am very stubborn and I remain determined to create
an appealing and functional design. My only rule or complication is
that I refuse to design it around white or black, on the grounds that
I wanted a bit of a challenge. In hindsight, maybe I should have just
given up on that requirement... did I mention I'm stubborn?

This time around I actually tried to use some basic color theory,
but it still isn't the best ever. At least it's an improvement; if I
can just incrementally improve it a few more times I might have a
decent design. Your feedback is welcome.

Moral of the story: Appreciate your graphic designers. It ain't
easy work.

A couple of interesting technical notes: This was done solely with
a switch-out of the CSS file, though it has revealed a bug in the
template I use for the static portions of this site (incorrectly
closed div in the sidebar). Also, I have used Mozilla-specific
extensions to round off the boxy edges; while the design should work
in all modern browsers, I informally consider the Mozilla rendering
official (heh heh). You may want to check it out in Mozilla if you are
interested in web stuff, and see how you do it in the CSS file.

On the "color theory" note, blue + purple aren't contrasting enough
on their own. I've assigned a contrasting yellow to blockquote
elements,

like this
, but I really need to
figure out how to work yellow into the design somewhere. I didn't like
it as the color of the title bars, and with the simplicity of my
design there isn't anywhere else to put it. (Maybe I'll try it on the
logo when I get the urge to play with this stuff again.)


Zany Paraclete explains international terminology
Permalink
Jul 12, 2004

Confused about [uni/bi/multi/][national/lateral/global][ism/ization/]? "Zany Paraclete" sets it all straight in a Slashdot Posting.

International standards are good, of course, provided that they're European, because then they're "multilateral" (which is good, I think, because "multilateral" means "involving any set of one or more nations which includes France"). If standards are not European, they're "unilateral", which is bad. "Unilateral" means "not including France" (or else "not excluding the US"), and it's very, very bad.

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