Friday, February 25, 2005

ALA President goes after blogging

Michael Gorman goes after blogs in this post to LibraryJournal. I think he is right in many ways especially with the google-cut-and-paste-a-link crowd who consider this to be "research."

Quote: "It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable."

I am a graduate student and I blog. OK. This is the refutation of his premise. I have to do enormous amounts of sustained complex reading. I treat my blog as a way to blow off steam or post a funny thing or to air out a thought. It is not authoritative in any way. But, there are many, many people who consider what is posted to a blog to be the God's Honest Truth(tm). It isn't. I know through a friend who works a Google that Google has really had to deal with bloggers and cross-linking because it seems to give authority by placing posts, which may be some wacko spewing vitriol, higher than more relevant status. This has devalued Google to some degree. This has been addressed, I think, by Google Scholar.

Still, there is no subsitute for going to the library and really digging in resources that will never be on the internet because the costs are so high to digitize and store it. Ask any librarian if they would like to digitize and make everything available to everybody and the answer would be "Yes!" The reality is much different.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Nashua Advocate: CBS Speculates That Karl Rove Was Jeff Gannon's Contact Inside the White House; Retitles Article to Highlight Gannongate Element

So CBS (insert inane wingnut muttering) is going to pick up the mantle of JimJeff and ride with it to the Promised Land. I think this thing is picking up steam. Supposedly, JimJeff, after saying that he would never talk to the media again, is now going on CNN. Clearing the name? He better be careful that he says nothing outside the limited protection a "journalist" gets. Will he be with Larry King? Softballs are all that old man is about so they should get along swimmingly and, who knows?, if King has a couple of extra C-notes around he could get an hour's worth of those "8 inches, cut." Just think of it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Alan Keyes Abandons His Child. Child Thrives.

Especially, if she is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. Good for her. No need to just be a social worker or a gym teacher! Best to get out there and let your hatefilled father and his ChristoFascist buddies know that you are going to be a pain-in-the-ass for them for a very long time. You go girl.

McLibel or the How Corporations are Individuals

Nearly twenty years ago, a couple of anti-fast food activists started telling the truth about McDonald's. This was long before "Super Size Me" and "Fast Food Nation" (sidenote: I highly recommend the followup to "FFN": "Reefer Madness"). Well, MickeyDs got really pissed, because, as we rapidly are finding out in the Bush Ownership/Freedom/Personal Responsibility Society, it hurts when people say mean things about you, no matter how true. But what was most interesting about this whole debacle was that McDonald's sued the folks who said that "McDonald's contrbutes to litter" and "McDonald's is bad for the environment. In Britain, one can sue another for libel in even the most silly of cases and the libeler must provide defense against the accusation that libel occured (that's right the burden of proof is on the person accused, as it usually is in civil cases).

The case went to court in 1990. After 7 years of being bankrupted by one of the world's largest corporations, the activists were found guilty and fined 40000GBP. They vowed to never pay a penny. During the court case, they represented themselves against all of McD's high powered legal team McDonald's spent nearly 10M GBP to go after a couple of folks who were 1. Telling the Truth and 2. Exercising a Human Right: Freedom of Expression.

Guess what? An European court has overturned the whole stinking case against them. This was important. Why? Bloggers around the world should be watching this as Britain is a famous place to air a libel case against someone and it appears that this playing field is now closed. British law is based almost wholly on Common Law or, more simply, precedent. Since it had been done before, therefore it can be done now. Before the supranational (and by treaty, binding) court's ruling, any person whom a blogger commented about (Like Jeff Gannon/Guckert/Boy Toy) could, if they had the means, drag you before a British court and make you pay. This is a typical tactic for celebrities who get maligned by paparazzi or tabloids. I think you could see the chance for abuse. In the US, libel and slander are very, very difficult to prove, libel even more so than slander.

I think the import to bloggers in obvious and we should commend people who are willing to go through such a process to just prove a point that "I have a right to say this against what I see as wrong." Most importantly, though, this whole case belies the sense and, especially in the US, that corporations are individuals with feelings, emotions, etc. Interestingly, corporations spend billions to show that they are not responsible for all kinds of wrongs Bhopal for example) that, if perpetrated by a single person (Saddam Hussein and gassing his own people) would get a nation invaded (admittedly as part of a package of other lies -- WMDs!). Corporations are not our friends. They do not identify with us as individuals. I think that a definition of an individual should probably begin with "Has identified others as individuals." They do not care when they do wrong, and almost never correct a wrong until someone takes them to task. As a moral person, I have corrected my own wrongs several times before they were either known or to minimize the effect of those wrongs. McDonald's it seems would rather spend millions to say that "We were wronged, not the wrongdoers." Phhbbbt. Be glad you have a friend in the White House who sees how much of an individual deserving of rights accorded to indivicuals, McDs. Be Glad.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Wax On. Wax Off.

I hated "The Karate Kid" when I was in High School. I wanted to punch Ralph Macchio in the junk so bad I could taste it. Now, looking back at it, it was probably the first movie that I ever heard religiously quoted by everyone (not just the movie geeks like me). The first one I ever regular quoted was "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." People on Quaaludes should not drive. People are now nostalgic about KK. Not me. But it makes me remember all of those times I would toss out a line from some stoner flick and no one would know where it came from, but it soon became part of the rural Vehjenya zeitgest.

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