Paging through a few themes in the newly-online Life photo archives this morning, I came across what has to be one of my favorite parenting photos ever

I could not agree with Andrew Sullivan any more — it’s unfathomable to me why the press continues to cover Sarah Palin’s stump speeches when she won’t grant a single press conference to take their questions. It’s time for the media to grow a spine and stop giving her any exposure at all until she starts acting like a real candidate and allows the public to question her.

Today’s Washington Post brought us an article saying that Sarah Palin’s confusion about the Bush Doctrine was “understandable” because there are many different versions of the Bush Doctrine. To anyone who’s seen the video clip, this is one of the most hysterical contentions ever; it’s akin to saying that it’s understandable that a preschooler is confused about the right choice of investments for retirement because the issue is so complex. Sure, learned scholars might have contentious arguments about the various definitions of “the Bush Doctrine”, but Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson revealed that she’s not even in the same state as those learned scholars — in order to be able to have a discussion about the many definitions of the Bush Doctrine, Palin would have had to have even a glancing understanding that there is a Bush Doctrine, rather than some “worldview” to which Gibson might be alluding with a fancy schmancy term. Seriously, she’s operating at the level of a preschooler on this issue; you only need to see the first ten seconds of the clip to see her struggle and delay, hoping that Gibson would give her an easy out.

And for the record, I should point out that not understanding the Bush Doctrine isn’t an insult of Palin per se — she’s a governor of less than two-thirds of a million people, has literally never been a part of national or international politics, and is probably joined by at least a handful of other governors who couldn’t have an informed discussion about the Bush Doctrine. The issue here is that Palin was chosen as the GOP candidate for Vice President of the United States, and I don’t think it’s overarching to expect the folks we aim to elevate to that position to have even the slightest clue about international strategy, not to mention the stark change in our willingness to use aggression that will form the backdrop for whatever changes the next Administration makes.

I promise I didn’t intend for things here to become all-election-the-time; between work ramping up and having the World’s Most Awesome Five-Month-Old at home, it seems that all my other free time over the past week and a half has been spent watching the DNC and reading news coverage about the election. Alas, this will all be over soon.

For a bit of only-partially-election-related linkage, though, you have to read this week’s New Republic Q&A with Charles Barkley. It’s entertaining as hell, much like Sir Charles.

Last night, in the face of trying to be spun by McCain campaign spokesperson Tucker Bounds, CNN’s Campbell Brown did something incredibly out-of-the-ordinary for today’s journalists: she called him on his rank bullshit. (This clip is really worth seeing.)

After that, in what shouldn’t be as shocking to me as it is, McCain decided that this was punishment-worthy behavior and backed out of an interview on Larry King Live tonight. The campaign’s official statement was:

After a relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president, we decided John McCain’s time would be better served elsewhere.


This might be the least news-containing news story on the web today. I’m shocked that this story got filed, much less then made its way onto

Yesterday’s Times Freakonomics column was a great one. A Missouri engineer and his daughter did a seven-month study collecting the weather forecasts of their local television stations (and NOAA) and compared them to the actual weather — and as experience might have helped you guess, found that you can pretty much only rely on the next-day forecast, with everything else more or less being a random guess. (Of note, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time; I’m glad that someone finally did it!) The column is a long-ish read, but well worth it if you’ve ever even given a moment’s thought to looking at the weekend forecast mid-week…

Anytime an article contains the phrase “These are sweeping generalizations that are intended to provoke a heated debate, so try not to get too offended”, you can be sure that it’s a total piece of crap penned by an intellectually-dishonest author who’s too lazy to put a sufficient amount of coherent thought or reason into his article. Given that truism, Aaron Rowe’s “Top 5 Reasons to Dislike Pre-Med Students” doesn’t disappoint, and in fact, might delight those who discover that it’s an even more steaming pile of crap than you’d have guessed from its title!

This might be my favorite news article correction ever, from my old school paper, the Columbia Spectator:

CORRECTION: This submission misstates that one Dalai Lama admitted to having sex with hundreds of men and women while knowing that he had AIDS. Additionally, the submission misstates that many monks participated in the dismemberment of female bodies. In fact, there is no factual evidence to substantiate either of these claims. Spectator regrets the error.

I mean, that’s just awesome. Nice work there, editors…

For everyone who seems confused about what I used to do for Sports Illustrated, Microsoft put together a series of two great articles (first, second) that show exactly what I did every time I went on the road with the magazine. (Well, I worked there before the photo world went entirely digital, so imagine a bunch of film processors, slide mounters, light tables, and high-resolution film scanners added to the mix, along with the ever-present smell of the chemicals used to develop the film!) Our road setup was amazing for the time — we travelled with around 150 custom-built padded cases, one- or two-dozen computers and 17-inch monitors, huge (and incredibly delicate) flatbed scanners, a truckload of networking equipment, and countless cases full of cables, power adapters, keyboards, mice, printers, slide carriers, and other assorted loose equipment. It took nearly a day just to unload the equipment, much less set it up — and another day to break it all down and pack it up for shipment back home. We always brought special connectivity lines into the event venues, and spent days and days trying to convince telcos that adhering to their normal troubleshooting procedures would mean that they’d show up to fix some problem long after an event ended and we’d returned home. The most amazing part of it was how magical it felt to most of the editing staff when the images appeared on their desktops back in NYC within an hour or two of them being shot in some arena on the other side of the country… this was way back before everyone took the internet for granted. In any event, I’m super-impressed with the detail that MS put into these two articles. (Thanks go out to Sam for the pointer.)

Am I the only person who didn’t know that the Addams Family started out as a series of cartoons in The New Yorker? In 1938?!? That’s pretty damn cool.

One symbol of how amazing the internet has become is that you can saunter on over to the Internet Archive and download the original, very first recording of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. (That’s part one, and part two is here.) It’s a digital conversion of the original 1924 acoustic recording — as in, a recording made by the pressure of the audio waves causing an engraving onto wax — and it’s simply awesome. For those who don’t speak the cryptic language of computer audio formats, the download you want is the “VBR ZIP”, which is a variable bit rate MP3 file that provides the best quality of all the files available from the Archive.

(And while the point of this post isn’t to lambaste the state of copyright in the US, it does serve to point out that we wouldn’t be able to listen to this amazing recording if the Congress of the mid-twentieth century treated copyright like our current one does. Since 1960, Congress has extended the length an artistic work remains under copyright eleven times, all at the behest of media and entertainment companies. Without some sort of change, it’s doubtful that our grandkids will be able to download recordings of the Gershwins of today without violating someone’s copyright, and that’s a true shame.)

Out of the great Pacific Northwest last week came the story of Jim Zumbo, a well-renown outdoorsman, wildlife biologist, and hunting evangelist, whose career has essentially come to an abrupt halt as a result of him daring to speak his mind and disapprove of the trend towards using military-style assault rifles in hunting. In a nutshell, Zumbo — who wrote his first article for Outdoor Life in 1962, has published over 1,500 articles in outdoor magazines, has authored over 20 books, and has served on a half-dozen forestry and animal society boards over his career — wrote an entry on the Outdoor Life weblog questioning the use of assault rifles in hunting and referring to the class of weapons as “‘terrorist’ rifles.” The backlash was instant and unrelenting; before the weblog post was pulled by the folks at OL, it had apparently garnered 4,000+ comments (most of which called for Zumbo’s firing, and a not-unsubstantial number of which called for much worse for him), and hundreds and hundreds of posts all over the web indicting the man’s opinions. Within a few days, Outdoor Life had fired Zumbo, his show on the Outdoor Channel had been cancelled, most of his corporate associations (like with Remington Arms) had been terminated, the NRA suspended all ties to him, and he’s more or less had to go into hiding. We’re talking about a man who has stumped for the NRA and its causes nearly a hundred times over the course of his career, and a single word in a single opinion piece has led to a hysteria that, in the gun world, appears tantamount to Watergate or Mark Foley’s diddling of Congressional pages.

This is one of the more insane reactions I think I’ve ever seen. It seems odd to me that a publication like Outdoor Life — owned by Time, Inc., one of the more staunch defenders and beneficiaries of First Amendment rights in this country — would suddenly end the career of a storied and prolific writer because he took advantage of the benefits the First Amendment grant him and uttered an opinion that riles people’s notions of what they feel their own Second Amendment protections are. There’s a valid argument to be made that, in writing his opinion on the OL-sponsored weblog, Zumbo bore some increased responsibility to OL for tailoring his opinions appropriate to their restrictions — but within a day of his posting, the magazine added a standard disclaimer to the weblog entry appropriating the views to him and him alone, and yet they still canned him a few days later.

All that being said, I doubt that this has all played out yet, and likewise, I doubt that we’ve seen the final tone this debate will take. I’d hazard a guess that there are a crapload of hunters out there who feel similarly to Zumbo, and by alienating him, organizations like the NRA are increasing the likelihood that when he gets his voice back, he’s not going to be all that friendly to them anymore. Incidents like this tend to expose the true fault lines that run through issues like gun ownership (a quick perusal of some of the more fanatical gun ownership forums even this morning demonstrates how true that is), and as this brouhaha dies down, those fault lines don’t close up.

It’s amazing to me that when a (pretty inflammatory) article in The New York Times turns out to have been based on exaggerations and outright falsehoods, the Times doesn’t amend the electronic version of the article with any kind of note to that effect. (You know, something like: “The article you’re about to read might make your blood boil, but before you let it get to that point, you should know that it’s all a bunch of made-up horseshit.”) How hard can this be?

Now seriously, I can’t think what would possibly motivate the New York Times to digitally alter this photo (archived here by the good folks at Boing Boing in case the Times takes it down). What’s gained by removing the rest of the microphone cable? Is it some top-secret composite cable that gives our American strippers a strategic advantage? (And possibly of more importance: can’t the Times hire people that know how to use Photoshop better than your average five year-old? That’s the worst pixel pushing I’ve seen in a very long time.)

Update: enough people have pointed me to this now that I’m willing to concede that this might not be a Photoshop job… but it’s still odd to me. Having worked as a photo editor (both the analog and digital variety), I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an artifact of slow shutter speed that has borders quite that sharp, but who knows. In any event, did Wilson really not have any images from the cheesecake event that didn’t require explanation?

I’m usually not one to get all wrapped up in the bashing of someone who’s more of an insufferable character actor than he is a wise political pundit, but when a man douchebag like Bill O’Reilly gets taken apart as effectively as was done by Keith Olbermann today, it’s worth mentioning. At issue was O’Reilly’s segment with Wesley Clark yesterday, in which the two “discussed” the information that’s coming to light about the tragedy of Haditha, Iraq. At one point, O’Reilly cut Clark off and tried to demonstrate that terrible things have happened in other wars, too, and the following statement came out of the jackhole’s mouth:

In Malmédy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air and were unarmed and they shot them dead, you know that. That’s on the record. And documented.

Anyone who knows their World War II history is probably cringing right now — because O’Reilly got that one totally backwards, it was the German troops of the 1st SS Panzer Division that massacred 84 unarmed U.S. soldiers who had just surrendered.

See the bit from “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” yourselves; it’s worth the seven minutes of your time. (For those who don’t have Quicktime installed, I’ve mirrored a Flash video version of the segment.) Pay attention to the part where Olbermann shows how Fox News has already scrubbed the typed transcript of the show, replacing the word “Malmédy” with the word “Normandy”; I wonder if they’ll do a voice-dub over the video transcript as well.

david blaine's hairless parts

I wasn’t aware that CNN was now also trying to cater to the porn fetishists out there…

stephen is squinting at YOU!

Since a year or so ago, when Shannon pointed out my insane number of questionably old T-shirts, I’ve been on a pretty strict dire-need-only T-shirt diet. With that said, this is a shirt I’d happily add to my collection. (If you’ve been in a cave and don’t know what the shirt’s referring to, you can read the transcript of Stephen Colbert’s speech in front of the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and even watch the whole thing. It’s way worth it.)

Congrats to Catarina and Stewart for being named to Time’s 100 People Who Shape Our World list — they share company with the likes of Stephen Colbert, Nancy Cox, the Pope, Angela Merkel, Elie Wiesel, and Al Gore. (Since the list is technically made up of 100 entries rather than 100 people, I guess both Catarina and Stewart have been reduced to half-people — but then again, so have our 41st and 42nd Presidents, and Bill Gates too!)

If you have five minutes and 48 seconds to spare, it’s worth watching the clip of CBS News reporter Lara Logan’s interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources late last week. Journalists have been getting a lot of crap from the Bush Administration about being singlemindedly focused on the negative in Iraq; Logan does an amazing job of ruthlessly smacking down those claims, and doing so in a way that really highlights how everything truly is about the awful state of security in the country right now.

Today, has an awesome conversation between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell that’s well worth a read. Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, is (in my estimation) the best and funniest sports writer alive today — reading him during a Red Sox pennant run or just after a fantasy football team draft is something that has the potential to make a person laugh hard enough to asphyxiate. And Malcolm Gladwell is the very well-known author of Blink and The Tipping Point, a staff writer for New Yorker, a nascent weblogger, and an incredible sports fan. Happily, ESPN promises us part two of the conversation tomorrow!

(I actually recalled that Gladwell had contributed to Page 2 before; turns out that he was interviewed back in 2000, but the article is locked up in’s pay archive.)

Being a complete news whore, I read about Lindsey Jacobellis’s last-minute loss of the snowboardcross gold medal hours before I actually saw NBC’s coverage of it. Watching the event, though, I’m not entirely convinced that she was outright showboating — but I am entirely convinced that it couldn’t matter any less. She’s a 20-year-old young woman who went to Torino to compete in an individual event, was having fun, got caught up in it, and (whether showboating or not) made a mistake that cost her first place. Critical in that, though, is that she was having fun, which seems to me to be what the Olympics should be about. The athletes are supposed to enjoy what they’re doing, but watching the broadcasts of most of the other events, I’m unconvinced that anyone but the snowboarders are actually having fun. (Seriously, am I the only one who thinks that the figure skaters and ice dancers look like they’re about to commit ritual suicide every time the camera catches them without a plastered-on television smile?) The New York Times actually devoted an editorial to this today, ending with the line: “What did she think these were — Games?” It’s the perfect sentiment, and in listening to Jacobellis’s statements in all her post-event interviews, it’s one that she appears to understand well.

whittington apologizes to cheney

Ummm…. am I the only one who finds the irony in the headline of’s current top story?

Poynter Online noted yesterday that (the companion website to the Boston Globe) has hit the milestone of one million registered users. The blurb also provided a few demographic breakdowns, such as the fact that 67% of registered users live in New England, but it disappoints me that they didn’t provide what I think is the most important demographic — that somewhere around 3.4% of the registered user accounts are me. (Seriously: how many people actually register on news websites as themselves? How about when the registration process requires a gender, a home zip code, a household income, and employment information? I’d be willing to bet that variously knows me as an impoverished septugenarian student, a wealthy pre-teen lawyer, and a middle-aged, middle-class architect…)

I wish that whenever I cancelled a subscription to something on moral or ideological grounds, the move generated an Associate Press wire news article

If you’re like me, and cringe every time you notice a mainstream news article turn a meaningless observation into a scientific fact or elevate a hypothesis into a research finding (“red wine prevents cancer!”), then you’ll probably enjoy reading Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” column over at The Guardian. I only discovered it a few weeks ago, when his column “Don’t dumb me down” got a little bit of linky love across the world of weblogs; the piece did a good job of fleshing out how hard science gets edited out of most mainstream press articles, leaving unsupported claims and overstated “truths” in its place. And happily, all of Goldacre’s past columns (since 2003) are archived on his website, as well!

anderson cooper and mark landrieu

Today’s addition to my torrent server is the CNN video from yesterday’s conversation between Anderson Cooper and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. (Thanks to the people at Crooks and Liars for capturing the video.) If you haven’t heard anything about the interchange, it’s worth reading the transcript (it starts about a third of the way into the show) — he essentially interrupts a bit of Congressional backpatting to explain what conditions in New Orleans are actually like, and calls her on the apparent lack of a more robust and forceful response by the national government. The gem of the exchange:

COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, I’m sorry for interrupting. I haven’t heard that, because, for the last four days, I’ve been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

Of course, the transcript doesn’t do nearly enough justice to the video.

Congrats go out to Matt Haughey on the occasion of his breakout as an author of a New York Times piece! (It’s a short little review of a special chair for stargazing.)

Since I’ve been gone for so long (almost a week!), a few quickies to get ‘em out of the ever-accumulating to-do bookmark list:

  • My parents gave Shannon and me our wedding present early — a Canon EOS 350D (also known as the Digital Rebel XT, reviewed here at Rob Galbraith’s awesome Digital Photography Review) — and this thing is just amazing. I’ve played quite a bit with digital SLRs, and this is the best of the prosumer ones I’ve used; the images (even the compressed JPEGs) are bright and crisp, it autofocuses fast even in low light, the shooting modes run the gamut from letting the camera handle everything to manually controlling every last detail, and between the in-camera memory buffer and the CompactFlash write speed, I haven’t yet found myself in a position where the camera prevents me from shooting in order to catch up. Shannon and I had a blast with it during the Fourth of July weekend, and I’ve started tagging all the Flickr photos I’ve shot using the new toy. Fun fun!
  • I’m with Jason Kottke on this one — Microsoft’s page explaining leetspeak to parents has to be a joke, or at least the result of a bet made by some Microsoft employee about whether or not he could get the article online without anyone noticing.
  • I totally dig these “Charles Darwin has a posse” stickers — they’re cool as hell, and come in a handy PDF version as well!
  • After more than a month of inundation with news about another missing American white girl, I’m pretty much on board with the sentiment behind this op-ed over at Kuro5hin. Arianna Huffington also puts it pretty well, and provides some pretty depressing observations on the media coverage of the Aruban Abomination.

I couldn’t be more proud of Anil for managing to get a goatse T-shirt into the pages of the New York Times (article, including picture, also here).

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then consider yourself one of the few blessed people who still inhabit the internets. If you really want to know what I’m talking about, the Wikipedia has a safe-for-work explanation, with links to the not-safe-for-work versions if you really, really want to sear your retinas for all eternity. Once you’ve read the Wikipedia article, though, you should revisit the T-shirt page and see if it makes a little more sense….

Tsunamis shatter celebrity holidays?!? Over 60,000 80,000 116,000 people are dead, and someone is writing an article about a supermodel, a retired politician, and a professional skiier? You have to be fucking kidding me. I’m not sure which it is — that our press doesn’t think we care about events outside our borders or that we truly don’t care about them — but either make me very sad.

Wow — I wonder what could possibly have happened that was able to drive Vanilla Ice up into the Yahoo! Most Viewed Photos list.