Monday, December 27, 2004

Late entry (sorry) [Democracy Now! links are provided]

I thank Alec and Shirley for pointing out corrections in the Okrent posts from Sunday.
With future corrections on those posts, I'm not going to be able to go back and fix those and still blog. If there's something that is wrong factually or if there's something that is unclear, let me know. But just as I finished Alec's corrections, two more e-mails arrived with more corrections.
"You used 'to' when you should have used 'too' on Okrent." I don't know which one we're talking about, which post, or which "to" in a post.

I appreciate that someone tried to catch my mistakes (which are numerous with every post) and I appreciated the second person's e-mail that had just arrived was an attempt to provide an outline that I should use to rewrite the post. I know you both took time and I do appreciate that. I'm glad that you like the site. (The Year in Review post has gotten us several new readers.)

But I'm not going to rewrite a post. I don't have the time and, as a friend is fond of saying in place of "water under the bridge," "that's already yesterday."

I appreciate that you want each post to be the best that they could be. I want that too. But time constraints don't permit that.

"It's never going to be perfect so it will have to do," is often the motto here.

Awhile back, I'd quoted a Goldie Hawn story that summed up my attitude to writing on this blog. Jobi had written in asking if I could steer him towards that Newsweek story. I've got it in front of me now. Jobi's it's from the January 12, 1981 Newsweek (a cover story on Goldie Hawn) and the tale is told at the start of the article (p. 53):

Goldie Hawn, the actress is shooting Neil Simon's "Seems Like Old Times," while Goldie Hawn, the producer, is still supervising post-production work on "Private Benjamin." Goldie Hawn, the woman, is in the process of getting a divorce from her second husband, Bill Hudson. The maid has just quit, and Goldie Hawn, the mother, wants to get home in time to fix dinner for her two children. The crew is setting up the lights for the dinner-party scene at the end of "Old Times."
Goldie has twenty minutes to take a meeting with the director of "Benjamin" and a studio executive. Time runs out -- she dashes back to the set and takes her place at the head of the table. Lights. Camera. Action. Oh, God! Goldie remembers an important point she forgot to mention in the meeting. The director stops the action while Goldie dictates a memo to her secretary, who types it up on the spot and brings it over for her signature. She puts it on a plate to sign and the crew cracks up. "What's wrong?" Goldie asks, and then realizes that the back of the letter is covered with chicken-pepperoni sauce. She shrieks, says to hell with it, wiipes off the memo and sends it on to the Warner Bros. executive, brightly adorned with tomato paste.
(From "The Great Goldie Rush" by David Ansen with Janet Huck.)

That's my attitude to the blog. It will never be all that I want to be. I will continue to make typos. (There is a spell check with this program but it usually fails half-way in and sometimes freezes which means losing an entire entry.) I will continue to get names wrong. (In the "Daniel Okrent, Step Down," I'd just posted corrections pointed out by Shirley when it hit me that "Deidra Barr"'s name was, in fact, Deirdre Bair. Back on to correct that.) When I get a name wrong, I will correct it. If you point it out a week from now, I'll go back and correct it.

But there is not enough time in the day for this blog to be everything I'd like it to be in terms of my writing, grammer or spelling. I'm looking at a tiny little box (or tiny to my eyes, a little less than the size of an envelope) and I get really tired of looking at it after a few hours. I do always try to read what I consider the "draft" (the first time a thing is posted) and I do try to grab any corrections I can find then. I also depend on poor Shirley who will go through and find a mistake that is serious because it is a name or the word itself is wrong or it confuses the post as spelled. (Or a typing stammer that shows up when I'm espeically upset about something.) (Which means I might type: "Which means means that when I'm upset . . .")

But the idea of using an outline to rewrite an already posted version of a post is just beyond the time I have available. I know someone worked very hard on that outline and I do appreciate it.
I know the blog is not perfect. Last night I was ragging on it with regard to my mistakes and my writing. I said (and this is true) that the only thing that makes it worthwhile are the e-mails that come in and that the best posts are the ones where I get to build around those e-mails so that you are talking and it's not me droning on forever.

I'd hoped to do one of those posts tonight. But Alec caught some typos that needed to be corrected. And someone who doesn't want to be named wrote in stating, "Yes, Michael Jackson does sing, 'I'm not like other guys.'" (In the song "Thriller.") He may sing it. I ended up borrowing the Thriller album from a friend (again) and listening to the title song three times while holding the lyric sheet. I can't find the line in the song (sung or spoken by Jackson). It is in the video. He says it during a non-musical part of the song.

So that's put me way behind in tonight's postings.

I do appreciate that ___ let me know that he believed it was in the song. If I was wrong, I would need to correct it. I have no problem with that. And I'll take whatever time is needed to do a correction. The fact that in reviewing the song, I didn't find an error doesn't mean I don't appreciate that someone cared enough to e-mail the site when they thought it was said in the song. (Or that I'm right. I'm exhausted and will listen to it again tomorrow.)

I appreciate that people care enough to catch mistakes.

But at some point, the post has to be what it is. And if it's based on my writing, it's never going to be perfect.

If that sounds like an Oprah moment to Gina (she noted four Oprah moments in yesterday's two Okrent postings), it's because it's either accept that or work myself into a fit over something that I'm not going to be able to fix.

That doesn't mean you can't point out mistakes in grammer or spelling. (Or that you have to be nice about it.) It just means, that if it's been corrected and corrected already and there are still typos on a Sunday entry and it's now Monday, I have to be willing to let it go and say, "It is what it is."

I would like it to be better (not just the best, I'd settle for better) and write something worthy of everyone who reads it. But there's a practical limitation and that is time.

Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time
-- "Changes" by David Bowie
("Changes" can be found on numerous albums. I recommend Bowie's collection entitled Changesbowie.)

Ben wrote an e-mail that he said we could quote: "I know you're going to think I've gone insane but I'm checking my e-mail account and I have an e-mail from the Kerry campaign that was mailed on 12-27-04. It's called 'Kerry Volunteer Center.' Do you know anything about this?"

I went to the account I used when donating to the campaign and I'm finding the same e-mail. I have no idea if it's a glitch or meant to alert you that something is forthcoming from the campaign. (Don't get your hopes up on the latter, I'm inclined to believe it's a glitch.)

If anyone out there can shed light on the e-mail (or if you got it too and want to note that) please e-mail the site (

Here's how it appears in my box:

Kerry Volunteer Center
Kerry Volunteer Center Membership Information
Mon 12/27

Jim wants us to know about an experience he had on Christmas day in a chat room. Jim's a journalism student and, over the break, a teacher had requested he speak to people about the election or politics to find out their views and see if anything wasn't reported.

So he went online to a chat site focused on politics. What he found was people screaming that Howard Dean would be the death of the Democratic Party. Who was screaming that? Republicans. Jim asked them their party affiliation and they provided it.

One poster kept posting sexual comments/rumors and drug comments/rumors about every Democratic president in the 20th century. Jim wasn't supposed to argue, just to listen and ask questions. So he did that. He pointed out that this poster was sometimes focused on, "I object to Harry Truman's decision to . . ." and then at other times he'd be saying something about Truman's sex life. "So," Jim typed, "is it their sex lives or their policies that concern you the most, or is it a combination?"

He'd identified himself as a journalism student there to find out what was on people's minds regarding politics and/or the election. His thanks for the question was to immediately have someone spam him and e-mail a virus.

Christmas day. Wow. Sweetness runneth over from that party, no? One would hate to think what they'd do if it appeared their chosen one wasn't about to get four more years.

Krista reports that her holiday with her family was "hideous." She doesn't know which was worse -- "the gloating Bush supporters or the ones who were suddenly able to offer every media myth of why John Kerry didn't win more votes. My aunt actually said, 'It was because he kept saying that Michael Moore was his best friend and hero.' She said she heard it on the local radio station. And that Kerry went hunting with Moore during the campaign and windsurfing as well."

You expect people to spin (I'm speaking of the media, not of Krista's aunt who has a right to expect that what is presented as "fact" on the radio is true) but who knew they'd lie so big?

Let's go the Democracy Now! quickly.

Headlines for December 27, 2004
- Indian Ocean Earthquake Kills 23,000
- Car Bombing Kills 13 Outside Shiite Political Office
- Fallujah Residents Return To Destroyed City
- Report: U.S. Considering Sending Troops Into Syria
- From Jail, Martha Stewart Backs Prison Reform
- Bush To Re-nominate Rejected Federal Judges
- California School Kicks Taco Bell Off Campus

Massive Earthquake Kills Over 23,000 Across Indian Ocean Region
We go to Sri Lanka and Thailand for on-the-ground reports from nations devastated by massive tsunamis caused by the world's largest earthquake in 40 years.

Ukraine Opposition Leader Claims Victory in Election Rerun
Christian Science Monitor reporter Fred Weir reports from Kiev on the rerun election that pitted the pro-Kremlin Viktor Yanukovych against pro-western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Invisible Soldiers: Iraq War Veterans Go Homeless Months After Returning From War
Democracy Now! continues its discussion with Iraq war veterans Herold Noel and Nicole Goodwin who faced an unexpected battle when they returned from Iraq - finding a place to live.

I feel really bad that the above isn't already up because I can't remember if today is one of the days that Charlie's local library is open. All segments are LWR (listen, watch or read). Charlie, I'm sorry if tonight was one of your library nights and you've missed out on the above.

I'm going to highlight a really bad post (in my opinion anyway). "Mama was a Heavyweight."
I was really tired when I wrote that. And in the notes at the bottom, I keep repeating and repeating. All I needed to say was, "I didn't enjoy Papa John, so read it at your own risk."

Instead, I started obsessing over, "What if someone wants to know more about the Mamas & the Papas and they order a used copy? What if they read it and feel the way I do after having spent their own money to read the book?" So that led me to point out flaws (due to the fear that someone would waste their money on a book). Having done that, I then lapsed into the "fairness" Yazz finds irritating by trying to point out that, for instance, if you were a fan of Mick Jagger or Keith Richards they do appear in the book.

I think that section (which is at least in the "notes" section and not technically part of the official text of the post) is embarrassing. I woke up the next morning regretting not just saying, "I didn't enjoy Papa John" and leaving it at that.

I could have gone back and changed it. But what is the point? To prove that I'm a good writer? I'm not one. The blog will highlight my many writing flaws. And having been posted, it's out there and it would be dishonest (in my mind) to attempt to alter it. Better to let everyone know how truly awful it can get when it comes to my writing. (That thing went around and around in circles, the comments on the book Papa John.) They are what they are. In this case, they're embarrassing.

But between listening again to "Thriller" (three times) and catching Alec's corrections, I'm three hours behind where I hoped to be. And as a result, Charlie may have logged on at his local library, seen no mention of Democracy Now! and assumed that either it didn't air or maybe there were no rush transcripts.

I feel really bad about that. I know Charlie's online time is severly limited. (Charlie, I'm sorry if you got online at your library Monday and had nothing about Democracy Now!)

That's why the posts have to be what they are. Mistakes and all. I'll correct a name. I'm happy to correct typos while the posts are still relatively new. But the writing on Sunday of those two posts took around eleven hours (I did take a lengthy break to go for a walk for a half hour because it was just getting to be too much). My feelings are that as lousy as the two are, they are what they are.

I'd hoped to do a post on your comments and reactions to the Year in Review post tonight. I'd been highlighting various sections of your printed e-mails. But getting stuck on those posts again tonight have left me with no time for that tonight.

So if someone feels that the need to correct all typos is not taken seriously, those are my reasons for having the attitude that it is what it is. And that's not intended as a slam to anyone who points out typos. Your pointing it out shows that you care about what this site could be (as opposed to the messy reality that it is). I understand and applaud your aspirations but there's not enough time for me to, for instance, utilize an outline and go back and rework one of Sunday's posts from that. You spent a great deal of time and effort on that outline and I appreciate that and the caring that it demonstrates. But there just isn't enough time on this end for that to occur and I'm sorry about that.

On the notes I scribbled for today, is Matthew Rothschild's latest "This Just In." I'll note that if you've read Judith N. Shklar's The Faces of Injustice (a great book), you'll quickly realize what Rothschild is addressing. (The difference between misfortune and injustice.) If you have time, please check out his column:

The monster earthquake and giant tsunamis in Southern and Southeast Asia have taken an incredible toll: at least 23,000 people have perished so far, according to CNN, and thousands more may eventually be added to that ghoulish tally.
This was a sadistic act of mother nature, and it slayed rich and poor alike.
But it was not quite an equal opportunity killer.
It’s likely that the vast majority of the dead were poor people, those who make their subsistence living as small fishermen, those who live in ramshackle huts on or near the beaches, those who service the tourist industry for a paltry wage.

From Shklar's introduction to The Faces of Injustice:

When is a disaster a misfortune and when is it an injustice? . . . If the dreadful event is caused by the external forces of nature, it's a misfortune and we must resign ourselves to our suffering. Should, however, some ill-intentioned agent, human or supernatural, have brought it about, then it is an injustice and we may express indignation and outrage.

Rothschild is addressing the misfortune of the earthquake and the injustice that resulted in some lives being more "saveable" (my term, not his) than others do to human actions.

Rob (I hope it was Rob) noted last week that there is so much to be outraged about and that somethings that seem lesser to him are being promoted as outrages which leads to everything being an outrage and reducing the outrage factor for any issue or concern.

I understand what he's saying and I think Shklar (and Rothschild) address that issue in a way that he might find illuminating.

I'm interested in your reactions to the above (as well as any other topic or item you'd like to share) so if you have the time, please e-mail the site. Tomorrow evening we will be doing an entire post from your replies to the "Year in Review." I'm also hoping for time to post your comments and feelings regarding the Okrent posts from yesterday.

I want to note that Rob has waited patiently and offered gentle reminders about that long promised post on Okrent. That post was originally intended to have been written much sooner.

Trevor: "I'm getting the impression that if George sued, he could win."

I don't know that. I cited some legal issues and noted I wasn't a lawyer. (I also hope I noted the current climate which is one of hostility to the press. We've also had Bully Boy and his father slam the New York Times specifically back in August and early September.) (The Bully Boy also got off a slam at the press during at least one of the debates.) I'm not a lawyer. From my lay reading of the law, these are issues that should have been discussed by the paper's attornies. They may have discussed them and decided they were on firm ground and had no reason to worry. If so, they're lawyers and one would assume they know the law. My point in bringing the issues up was to say that, to me, they present concerns that the paper should have had.

There are many other comments you had and I'll save those for tomorrow but in case anyone else read the post as "Okrent's going to court and he's going to lose!" I want to be clear right now that I'm not a lawyer.