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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

U.S. pays for positive coverage in Iraqi media

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 9:32 AM

This just depresses the hell out of me. The L.A. Times has this story today about how the U.S. goverment is covertly funding efforts to place pro-U.S. stories, written by U.S. troops, in Iraqi newspapers. Um, if you can't convince reporters to write positive stories about the war, maybe that's because the stories aren't actually all that positive.

Money quote:

"Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq.Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we'rebreaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it,"said a senior Pentagon official who opposes the practice of plantingstories in the Iraqi media."

I know people have this common complaint about the media, that reporters have an agenda, that they only focus on the negative, that they're biased toward one point of view. While I won't try to argue that reporters are all unbiased, I will argue that my job, as a reporter, is to report the truth as I see it. My loyalty is not to the government, or any insitution, but to the truth of a situation. And often that truth is at odds with the way the official spokespeople want to spin it.

It should be disturbing to any citizen to find out that a government, or a corporation, or a special interest has hijacked the media. I mean, it's one thing if the media outlet in question wears that bias on their sleeves. If these papers ran stories from American soldiers and properly identified them as such, that would be different. But that's not what's happening. The government is disguising stories as independent journalism. That's just wrong.

Of course, it's not much different from what the government has been doing right here at home. Ugh. No wonder trust in the media is so low.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Orleans will have free muni wi-fi

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2005 at 2:39 PM

This is interesting. The city of New Orleans, in an attempt to lure people back after Hurricane Katrina, is offering free municipally owned wi-fi that will cover the whole city. They'll be the first major metropolis to run a muni wi-fi network.

Check out the last two sentences of this short AP item:

The system will operate at 512 kilobytes per second as long as the city remains under a state of emergency.
That will be slowed once the state of emergency is over — that date hasnot been determined — to 128 kps in accordance with state law, whichrestricts government-owned Internet service.

That put me in mind of this essay by Doc Searls that Bill Simmon forwarded me yesterday. Haven't had a chance to read through the whole thing yet, but it makes me want to write more about Burlington Telecom, that's for sure.

The other famous Resmers

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2005 at 2:28 PM

And now for something completely off topic... This past summer, I went to California for a friend's wedding, and got a chance to visit my younger cousins, Jason and Jeremy, who are living in L.A. They share a little studio apartment a block from Grauman's Chinese Theater. The neighborhood's not bad, though one of the other tenants in their building has some kind of bird that does a dead-on imitation of a car alarm.

Jason works in "the industry," as they call it; he's a camera guy, and does editing and production work. Occasionally my parents tell me they've seen him as an extra on some TV show. While I was visiting, he got a gig filming for a reality TV fishing show.

But before that, he somehow wormed his way into Snoop Dogg's entourage, and did production work on some of his videos. Well now he's listed as the editor on Snoop's new DVD, "Boss'n Up," sure to be a classic. It'll be released Dec. 6. I wonder if he plans to send in an announcement to his Catholic high school's alumni newsletter?

This is a picture of Jeremy (left) and Jason (right). Jeremy played varsity basketball for Michigan Tech University, and recently returned from Kenya, where he spent six months working as a Christian missionary. These two are a funny pair. I miss 'em.

County Courier editor chronicles his quest to quit smoking

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2005 at 12:33 PM

County Courier editor Ethan Dezotelle is trying to quit smoking, and he's posting frequent updates about that process on the County Courier's website. If you go to the main page, and click on the "Kickin' Butts" item in the menu, you'll see his online journal. It's not exactly a blog, but it's as close as the County Courier has come yet.

I met Ethan last year at a Johnson State College panel, and wish him the best of luck. I quit smoking years ago, too, because I started dating a very wise woman who said she wouldn't go out with me if I smoked. Reader, I married her.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Real VT: My night with Mary Kay, the healer

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2005 at 5:43 PM

New York Ex recounts a recent encounter with a group of healers. Honestly, I would stick this in the paper if I could. It's a nice little snapshot of what really goes on in those meetings you read about on flyers at the co-op.

Here's an excerpt:

...Finally, the Leader and her entourage arrived, including tworambuncious dogs. I was happy to see the dogs; they always bring acomfortable level of realness. The Leader, on the other hand, lookedliked a crisper version of Mary Kay. As I bent down and asked to petthem, the Leader said in an English accent that could cut glass,

"You CAHN'T pet them."
"Oh. Really."
"No, I'm serious. You CAHN'T pet them until I get them under control."

She yanked their leashes and dragged them over to a corner, her enormous diamond glittering with the effort.

Iwon't say that I slunk back to my chair but I was certainly taken abackand immediately thought of Pisces, who yelled at her dog during ourfirst phone conversation. A HUGE red flag.

This reminded me of the Campbell sisters, and their story about the spiritual teacher who lured them to Vermont. Yep, them Green Mountains are full of charlatans!

PS - I probably should have posted over the weekend, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay attention to work. I was actually going to put something up on Friday, from Friday Coffeeblogging, but Bill didn't bring his recording gizmo, so I bagged my blog post.

Happy belated Thanksgiving y'all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Weekly Post: from Abada Abada

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2005 at 9:58 AM

This week's entry comes from Jessamyn West's journal, Abada Abada. I liked her descriptions of the students in her technology class, particularly the line about "skunk essence."

I like to include stories of people learning to use technology in the newspaper — it seems like most technology reporting focuses either on a new product or service, or on how some people are just totally clueless when it comes to computers. I like to promote stories about people getting it, or trying to, anyway. I like to note those moments when the rubber hits the road, so to speak. I want to provide some kind of snapshot of this moment in our cultural evolution. Before long, everyone will know how to use a computer, the same way that everyone knows how to use a telephone. I think it's helpful to reflect on that learning process while we're in it.

Plus, skunk essence is kinda funny.

Burlington School Board online forum

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2005 at 9:49 AM

Got an email just now alerting me to this online forum, run by the Burlington School Board. If you have comments about the closure of Barnes School, add them here. The Burlington Free Press was asking for reader comments online, and said in the paper today that you could find them there, but I can't find 'em. If you see what I'm missing, lemme know.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

BARFing for credit

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2005 at 9:47 AM

I wrote a short news story on the UVM BARFers for this week's paper, and in the course of my research, discovered that these clowns are actually GETTING CREDIT for blogging about how much they hate the university's food. How, pray tell, are they doing this, you ask? Turns out the blog is part of their final project for a class called POLS 195, Politics & the Internet. Guess who's teaching it — none other than Zephyr Teachout.

I don't know why this surprised me. Zephyr told me she was teaching a class at UVM, and I think Zephyr was the one who sent me the link to the UVM BARF blog. I guess I just didn't connect the dots. It doesn't say that the blog is for a class anywhere.

Zephyr tells me that she pretty much let her students tackle the issue of their choice. The three groups that chose to do projects have generated UVM BARF, and, not surprisingly, the Burlington Noise blog.  A third group of students has chosen to go the altruistic route with their class project — they've started KeepVermontersWarm.com, which is dedicated to helping low income Vermonters heat their homes for the winter. Kinda makes the rest of those kids look a wee bit selfish, don't it?

The story will have a few more details, and will be out in tomorrow's paper, and, of course, available online at the Seven Days website.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Miscellany

Posted By on Mon, Nov 21, 2005 at 9:22 AM

Monday morning, posting via SpeederWiFi at Speeder & Earl's on Pine Street in Burlington. I'm one of four laptop users here this morning. It's not the coziest cafe, but it's probably my local fave. The coffee's pretty good, there's plenty of space, free wifi, friendly baristas, and free, accessible parking. Am I turning into a  yuppie, or what?

Didn't post this weekend because I've been sick, and our furnace pooped out on us Saturday night--yep, we need a new one! Hopefully we'll get it by Christmas. Certainly not in time for Thanksgiving. We can't even get an estimate until December 2. That's what you get for buying a crumbling 130+ year old house because you can't afford anything better in this crazy real estate market. But I digress.

On Friday, I went to the opening of the Winooski downtown, which was really fun. I wanted to link to someone's account of it, but I couldn't find anything on it anywhere, which is too bad. I saw a bunch of my neighbors there, and ate some yummy food, and got to walk around in the center of the roundabout. Good times, good times. I would post pictures, but I haven't downloaded them yet.

Then, on Saturday, Ann-Elise and I and two of our best friends went to Ikea in Montreal for the day (pre-furnace poop-out). We smushed into our friend's Jaime's pickup; MaryAlice and I sat on the jump seats in back. A-E and I bought our first set of matching furniture, a chair and a sofa, and had swedish meatballs in the cafe. We actually spent all day there. It was an intense experience, especially since I was feverish and fuzzy-headed. It was like going to an amusement park. It was actually a lot like Wal-Mart, except the stuff was higher-quality. Ikea's pretty cheap, though, since you have to assemble all the furniture yourself. And we went on the last day of a big sale, and got a great deal.

I plan to go back. Er, after we pay off our furnace in 2008.

Friday, November 18, 2005

VT Blogs: Dem guv candidate blogging

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2005 at 10:52 AM

Scudder Parker's got a blog. There's only one post so far. Be interesting to see how he uses it. Thanks, everybody who sent me links to it.

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