It is a time of freedom and fear, of Gaia and of borders, of many paths and the widening of a universal toll road, emptying country and swelling cities, of the public bought into privacy and the privacy of the public sold into invisible data banks and knowing algorithms. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection.
These are the times when maps fade and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread.
Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.
Newfangled RSS Newsfeed Syndication for Irregular Times
Friday, November 28, 2003
Newfangled stuff just keeps popping up all over!
Here at Irregular Times, we're pleased to offer a new feature: RSS Newsfeed Syndication of the long-form articles we write. Click on this image and you'll be presented with a load of xml code that doesn't look like much to write home about. But for users of RSS Newsfeed readers like NewsIsFree, this means that you'll be able to get regularly updated reports on what we've been up to on Irregular Times. If you're a real tech-head, you'll even be able to add headlines with links to Irregular Times content directly into your own website.
We're hoping to add an RSS Newsfeed for the Irregular Blog soon as well. Stay tuned.
New on Irregular Tracking: Blog Saturation
New on Irregular Tracking: Blog Saturation
At Irregular Tracking, we follow the statistics of the 2004 Presidential race that no one else bothers with, keeping an alternative track of the contenders for the White House.
Just now, we've added a new statistic that we're going to follow: Blog Saturation. The blog saturation of a candidate is measured as the percentage of all mentions of Presidential contenders in RSS-Syndicated Weblogs, or "blogs," that refer to any one particular candidate. Data is grabbed from Feedster, the search engine of RSS-syndicated blogs. The underground media known as the "blogosphere" tracks the less formal spread of news and views about a contender from blog to blog, and thereby from heart to heart. To the extent that a candidate saturates the blogs, it may mean they're gaining heat. Conversely, it may be an indication that they're getting a lot of heat.
Here's the stat in graphical form. Interpret it as you will!
Free Press Follies
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
"Free Press" Follies
Remember how in your high school civics class you learned about the wonders of our "free press?" That journalism represented a "fourth estate" that could check the abuses and fallacies of the government?
Well, it's time for the textbooks to be rewritten. Read Jim Spencer, the only member of the media invited to Fort Carson so far who has been willing to spill the beans on Bush's "Ground Rules". Excerpted from his article in the Denver Post:
Ground Rule 9 for the media covering President Bush's presidential visit Monday sounded more like an edict from Beijing or a banana republic.
"Write positive stories about Ft. Carson and the U.S. Army," Ground Rule 9 commanded.
That would have been easier if Ground Rule 3 of the presidential visit had not also forbidden reporters to talk to any soldiers or their families before, during or after the president's appearance.
"Are we authorized to take their papers?" one soldier working with the press corps asked a colleague after catching reporters interviewing folks after the ceremony.
Members of the military who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and on other battlefields in the war on terrorism deserve support. The president was right to come to Colorado to praise them. His handlers were dead wrong to try to keep them from talking.
The Army and the White House collaborated on the gag order, a formal written list of 10 "Ground Rules" passed out to all reporters.
To censor the people called on to make sacrifices is not. They are as disciplined and courageous as the president told them they were in Monday's speech. They are also smart enough to speak for themselves.
Monday's rules of engagement were not the norm at presidential appearances I've attended. When then-President Clinton honored the crew of the USS Cole after it was targeted by a terrorist bombing in Yemen, reporters roamed the crowd getting quotes. When Bush spoke to sailors at the Norfolk Naval Base earlier in his administration, reporters were equally free to seek the thoughts of those who heard him.
Monday's Ground Rule 6 - "no roaming" - amounted to a heavy-handed smack at the First Amendment. But it was an insult to the intelligence of military men and women and their families as much as it was an indictment of the media.
Bush and his lieutenants believe newspapers, television and radio focus on the negative events of Iraq. The president, vice president and the secretary of defense have all accused the media of filtering out good news.
Well, Monday was a chance to get some good press for people who deserve it. Instead, White House and Army officials went to great lengths to make sure it wouldn't happen.
The White House needs to have more faith in the people on whom it depends.
If there are problems with the war in Iraq, they don't come from the folks doing the fighting. Those men and women are doing a heck of a job. If there are problems, they stem from spin doctoring.
We must invade Iraq without U.N. support. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam Hussein was behind the attack on the World Trade Center.
All Iraqis will welcome us as conquering heroes as soon as we depose Hussein.
Iraqi oil will pay to rebuild the country.
Major combat has ended.
The White House sent these messages, not the troops.
Atheist Celebration Week
This word just in from the county of Keck: January 1-7 is being offered up for this year as Atheist Celebration Week, an opportunity for those without theism to reflect on the human and humane bases of their lives.
Pass it on.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
George W. Bush's campaign blog, the one that does not permit comments, reports that "The Seniors Coalition" has endorsed George W. Bush's medicare bill. TSC says it has "Four Million Supporters." Wow, what a movement! That's more than 3% of the U.S. population.
It turns out that "The Seniors Coalition" is not a movement of four million after all -- the AARP found that as of 2001 TSC didn't list any revenue from membership dues on its tax return (Source: AARP Bulletin February 2003). TSC is a lobbying organization whose latest calendar of activities is limited to the Washington, DC area. In the most recent year for which data is available from the Better Business Bureau, 2001, 65% of "The Seniors Coalition" funds are themselves spent on fundraising appeals, and a futher 16% of expenses are incurred in direct lobbying of officials.
TSC, investigated by Congress in 1992 for mail fraud, is funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune November 16, 2003). Indeed, in a campaign contribution made June 12, 2003, Thomas Moore identifies himself as the "Director of Federal Affairs" for PhRMA, but is identified as "Director of Operations" for "The Seniors Coalition" on TSC's website. Moore also attended a press conference of Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum as a representative of PhRMA on January 31, 2002. I'm sure it's all just a coincidence!
If the Bush administration has to rely on "endorsements" from McMovements like "The Seniors Coalition," support from outside the Beltway must be flagging indeed.
Let's Play Find the Black Bush Supporter!
Monday, November 24, 2003
Hey, kids! Let's play a fun new game. It's called "Find the Black Bush Supporter!"
Look really hard now at this picture of a pro-Bush rally at the University of Michigan on Saturday November 22, 2003. Can you find the Black Bush Supporter?
Hey, wait a minute...
Your Contribution at Work
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Q: How is your contribution to your favorite Democratic candidate being spent?
A: The hiring of spies to follow other Democrats around, hoping to record mis-statements and expose them to the world.
Effect: The money you intended to further Democrats' hopes is being used to tarnish the eventual nominee.
Another reason to refrain from sending money to any particular Democratic candidate until a nominee emerges. Let them conduct internecine warfare on their own dime.
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