Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Screw-Up, Collectivism, Nostalgia, and Gossip

How Murtha f!cked up: Murtha Stumbles on Iraq Funding Curbs;Democrats Were Ill-Prepared for Unplanned Disclosure, Republican Attacks:
The story of Murtha's star-crossed plan illustrates the Democratic Party's deep divisions over the Iraq war and how the new House majority has yet to establish firm control over Congress. From the beginning, Murtha acted on his own to craft a complicated legislative strategy on the war, without consulting fellow Democrats. When he chose to roll out the details on a liberal, antiwar Web site on Feb. 15, he caught even Pelosi by surprise while infuriating Democrats from conservative districts.
Then for an entire week, as members of Congress returned home for a recess, Murtha refused to speak further. Democratic leaders failed to step into the vacuum, and Republicans relentlessly attacked a plan they called a strategy to slowly bleed the war of troops and funds. By the end of the recess, Murtha's once promising strategy was in tatters.
Tom Andrews, a former House member and antiwar activist who helped Murtha with his Internet rollout, fumed: "The issue to me is, what is the state of the backbone of the Democratic Party? How will they respond to this counterattack? Republicans are throwing touchdown passes on this because the Democrats aren't even on the field."
Maybe the reason they’re not on the field is because they can’t find the frickin’ stadium. Or, in other words: when is a mandate not a mandate? I don’t believe the Dems are as united as the fringe-Left assumes. The fact that there are more than a few Blue Dog Democrats who are upset with Murtha is reassuring, to me. And infuriating to the nutroots. Let ‘em fume. A significant backlash to the defeatist “end the war” crowd is developing…just in the nick of time.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t use Wikipedia? Neither do I. It’s amazing to think the world’s most famous wiki (there are many) is but six years old and is eclipsing “standard” encyclopedias, such as Britannica. From an article by Cass Sunstein in yesterday’s WaPo:
In the past year, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that "anyone can edit," has been cited four times as often as the Encyclopedia Britannica in judicial opinions, and the number is rapidly growing. In just two years, YouTube has become a household word and one of the world's most successful Web sites. Such astounding growth and success demonstrate society's unstoppable movement toward shared production of information, as diverse groups of people in multiple fields pool their knowledge and draw from each other's resources.
Professor Sunstein’s article isn’t just about Wikipedia. He also examines and praises “open source” projects (not limited to software development), and his main theme is about the emergence of the collectivization of knowledge. Professor Sunstein obviously thinks this is a good thing, other have their doubts:
A core belief of the wiki world is that whatever problems exist in the wiki will be incrementally corrected as the process unfolds. This is analogous to the claims of Hyper-Libertarians who put infinite faith in a free market, or the Hyper-Lefties who are somehow able to sit through consensus decision-making processes. In all these cases, it seems to me that empirical evidence has yielded mixed results. Sometimes loosely structured collective activities yield continuous improvements and sometimes they don't. Often we don't live long enough to find out. Later in this essay I'll point out what constraints make a collective smart. But first, it's important to not lose sight of values just because the question of whether a collective can be smart is so fascinating. Accuracy in a text is not enough. A desirable text is more than a collection of accurate references. It is also an expression of personality.
For instance, most of the technical or scientific information that is in the Wikipedia was already on the Web before the Wikipedia was started. You could always use Google or other search services to find information about items that are now wikified. In some cases I have noticed specific texts get cloned from original sites at universities or labs onto wiki pages. And when that happens, each text loses part of its value. Since search engines are now more likely to point you to the wikified versions, the Web has lost some of its flavor in casual use.
And that’s just part of the beginning of Jaron Lanier’s Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism, a quite thoughtful and provocative essay. (h/t: lgf)
There are always two sides (at least) to every story. I’m a big fan of Wikipedia, but I also approach its more controversial topics (read that: political) with a sense of skepticism. I don’t take the wiki as “the last word” on these topics, they represent one opinion out of many, and that opinion may or may not be correct. I’ll make any decisions on controversial topics based on what I find at the wiki, along with what I find elsewhere. On the other hand, if I want data about the P-47, including production numbers, where the aircraft was deployed, and technical specifications, I’ll consult the wiki and usually stop there. Occasionally I may follow an external link cited on the wiki page…but that’s more a function of expanding upon the information given by Wikipedia, not skepticism. On the whole, I believe Wikipedia has done more good than harm. And I’d damned sure hate to see it go away.
Laurie e-mails this link which she thought would “… appeal to your (my) sense of appreciation of form and figure.” And she’s right. It does. Dang, but looking at those pics makes me oh-so-nostalgic for Former Happy Days when air travel was glamorous, and something of an occasion. Today it’s just an ever-so-slightly more upscale version of Greyhound. And that is not a compliment. Stewardesses Flight attendants just ain’t the same these days. But neither is the food. Nor are the passengers.
Most, if not all, males in my generation had a common fantasy: a wild tryst with a beautiful stew where you find yourselves thrown together for a brief moment in time…in some equally-glamorous place like Tokyo, Istanbul, or maybe Karachi. I never realized that fantasy, although I came close… close to the point of declining a dinner offer at our destination because I was being met at the airport by My Beloved, The (future, at the time) Second Mrs. Pennington. Given the way things turned out, I might have been better off going to dinner that night.
On second thought, nah. {sigh}
I don’t normally “do” this sort of stuff, but I found this fascinating: Oscar’s Big Production Number: Keeping Ex-Lovers Apart.
HEARTS cease to race. Engagements are broken. Marriages end. And when they do, it is not unusual for otherwise rational adults to behave like jilted teenagers, willing to do whatever it takes — make long detours, flee a club — to avoid running into their object of affection-turned-affliction.
You can bet your Oscar pool, though, that none of the celebrities attending the Academy Awards tonight will be ducking behind a massive gold statue or sprinting down the red carpet to evade a former flame.
Why would they? While the majority of heartbroken Americans must devise their own sophomoric strategies for dodging former sweethearts, celebrities have publicists to deftly manage their Ex Capades.
“Make no mistake about it, these things are very choreographed,” said Ronn Torossian, president and chief executive of 5W Public Relations, whose clients have included Sean Combs, Snoop Dogg and Pamela Anderson.
Wow, am I ever glad I’m not in the movie biz, or in any sort of business where The Second Mrs. Pennington and I might run into each other by accident. My “sophomoric strategy for dodging” TSMP is pretty simple: I stay the Hell out of Colorado.
Today’s Pic: Two friends and I on a daytrip to Matamoros, Mexico from Brownsville, TX. The RV park I stayed in during my Brownsville sojurn had a relationship with a Mexican business English school and encouraged park residents to spend a day with the students. Anywhere from four to six students would take participants from the park around Matamoros, showing us the high spots (and skipping the low), and engage us in conversation. Quite an interesting time. (Me, a Canadian Snowbird friend, and a student. Can’t remember names.)
February, 2000.


  1. My father was a lead mechanic for Delta after he got back from Vietnam and out of the Marine Corps. He met and married my mother (who was a flight attendant), a fact that he can't believe he did. Then he met and married my stepmother (also a flight attendant), which I can't believe he did. And in between the two, I remember many girlfriends. And each one of them were flight attendants as well. Guess he knew what he liked. LOL!

    I have pictures of my mother in a uniform not too different from those girls in the link. LOL! It kills me everytime I look at it, they were so SHORT!

  2. I found that link at James Hudnall's blog, which is on my blogroll. What struck me was the colors, all that yellow and orange... yuck, definitely not my colors.

  3. Laurie sez: What struck me was the colors, all that yellow and orange... yuck, definitely not my colors.

    Hey! It was "the dawning of the Age of Aquarius" and we were all just trying to Let The Sunshine In. Further down that same path....damn, but I look STUPID in pics from that day.

    Jenny sez: My father was a lead mechanic for Delta after he got back from Vietnam and out of the Marine Corps. He met and married my mother (who was a flight attendant)...

    Wow! Lots of thoughts popped into my head when I read this!! (1) Your Dad and I must be about the same age. (2) He lived the fantasy I was speaking of, and (3) You could easily think I was fantasizing about your Mom!

    Numbers One and Two are positive sorts of things, but Number Three? Not so much! :-)

    As for short skirts: Yes! They come around again every so often, and I'm always SO pleased when they do...

  4. And so started the major spread of STDs or was than when they allowed men to be stewards? Great pics - I love those colors. They remind me of my room when I was in high school:)

  5. Did you ever eat at Garcia's in Matamoros?

  6. My father is 62 and looks just like Harrison Ford. LOL! And hey, my mom wasn't so bad looking, if you can get past those horrible late 60's hairdo's and the lime green/torquise uniforms (guess Delta didn't do the orange thing). She still isn't bad looking, still thin. But thankfully different hairdo. As long as your fantasy was her THEN and not NOW, nothing wrong with that! LOL!

  7. Lou asks: Did you ever eat at Garcia's in Matamoros?

    Dunno, Lou...or at least I don't remember. I ate over in Matamoros at least once a week for about six weeks, so the possibility exists!

    Jenny says: As long as your fantasy was her THEN and not NOW, nothing wrong with that! LOL! fantasies have changed quite a bit over the years, and are much more about women in my generational cohort these days. "Sweet young thangs" just don't do it for me any longer.

    Your Dad and I are of the same generation, and we're almost exactly the same age. I turn 62 next month. Which reminds me: I simply MUST quit procrastinating and start getting all my documentation together so I can apply for Social Security.

    YIKES!!! :-)


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