Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Frank in Orlando raises some issues

Frank in Orlando feels that I'm sliding with my posts. He says he can be summarized but doesn't want to be quoted. (Frank in Orlando, if I get something wrong in my summary or leave out a point, please e-mail and let me know.)

1) Frank in Orlando is very bothered by typos.

Shirley has caught typos for some time and e-mailed me to note them. But Shirley has pretty much focused only on when they were confusing. That's my attitude as well. If we get someone's name wrong, absolutely, that will be corrected. But if "the" comes out "hte" I'm not going to go through every post for typos.

If something's not clear, and Shirley usually lets me know on that, I will go back to the post to clarify it. (And that's noted at the bottom of a post that's corrected.)

If I realize a typo right after I hit post, I correct it and then post it again without a note.

The morning post(s) deserve comment because Frank in Orlando especially cites those.

The paper's not delivered at the same time each morning. In the past, I went solely by the printed page. Now days, I may pull up the site and pick off stories to read while I wait.

There's at least one day that I remember referring to a story as being on the front page due to the web site but the paper arrived as I was leaving (and after I'd posted) and it wasn't on my copy of the front page. It may have been on the front page of other editions, I don't know. (It was set off in a block on the front page as being inside the paper.) I do know I considered noting that but didn't because I got caught up in several entries that night and as a result forgot it until days later at which point, I thought, "Screw it, the site listed it as front page."

This morning I missed a story that I'll highlight as soon as this entry is done. Why? My page three in the main section isn't readable. (That's usually in the business section and happened four times last week so I think the Times needs to look more closely at the production quality.)

And since the paper may arrive very late, I'm looking at what I think members are interested in or what I'm interested in. The morning posts are not the end of the story. We don't do "end of story" here.

2) Over four days after the fact, Frank in Orlando wants to bring up a story he feels I should highlight.

It's a daily paper, we're not going back four days. The Times only makes a story free for seven days. Charlie's a member who uses the computer at the library. If I highlight it tonight and he's already left the library and by the time his library is open again the story's no longer available, it's really not fair to him.

In terms of a free article (or one you want to comment on publicly), you can go back as far as you want. But I'm so far behind in everything I need to do on this site and everything I need to do in my life that I honestly do not have time to go back and give a commentary on a daily story that is several days old.

3) Time should be taken to check each entry before posting (for spelling).

Frank in Orlando is under the impression that a dyslexic is going to spot a spelling error. Sorry, Frank, that's not how it works. And each morning this week and last week, I've had to run down the stairs and out the front door because I've pushed it to the point where if I'm not running, I'm late to work. To quote Kat, it is what it is. (Though I too would love it if I never made a mistake in typing.)

4) Since we're allowing members to write entries for Black History Month, Frank in Orlando feels I should be additional posts since I now have additional free time.

If someone's written about their impressions, I'm not fact checking them. But if they're writing about events, I do look it up. I do see if it can be read as they state. (I don't have to agree or disagree. Just can whatever is being cited be read that way.) So there's no free time in that regard.

In addition, if it's an older one (Ossie Davis' death pushed one member back), I'm dealing with a print out so there's no copy and pasting so I've got to type the thing up myself. If I am copying and pasting, I have to go back and go over it slowly because copying and pasting from an e-mail results in this frequently: "results inthis frequently." So I've got to insert spaces.

5) Additional posts?

I'm sure I'm responsible for that. Originally, this was a post twice a day plan. That changed mainly because of the fact that in December some of you e-mailed explaining people were going on vacation. (We've posted one member's comments on that.) I completely understood that someone might be alone for the holidays (I had my share of that during college). So we increased our posts for that reason. That's continued out of habit.

But to be honest with you, last week's project at work (blogged on Friday) is so huge that I'm now getting home later and it will go on until mid-March.

I can tell you right now that the idea of the Indy Review (as we'll now be calling what used to be called the Alternative Weekly Review) going up on Thursday and being as in depth as in the past doesn't seem very likely to me.

6) Frank in Orlando feels that I've never mentioned the social security issue on this page.

Eli brought it up Sunday. We've highlighted Democracy Now! stories on it, New York Times stories on it and we've highlighted Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler and I believe even a Paul Krugman op-ed (and we don't highlight op-eds normally). Somerby and Krugman are the strongest voices I've seen.

I don't know what more you're expecting. Rebecca did a great post on it at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Ron's posted on it at Why Are We Back In Iraq. Interesting Times is addressing it.

Until Eli's e-mail, no one had brought it up. And Eli provided comments on it that could be quoted. If you want us to comment on it, no one's stopping you from writing an entry for the blog. (And besides the resources I named, pretty much everyone with a blog is writing about it.)

The ruling on gay marriages in New York isn't something we blogged on either. (Though Frank in Orlando didn't bring it up.) Had the Times piece on that been excellent or poor, it would have been highlighted. But I haven't read the court's decision and I'll wait to comment until I have or until a piece on it touches me. That doesn't mean any member can't weigh in on the subject.

But I don't think that because I've read one article (or two) on a topic, I'm an expert. I've cited Ellen Goodman before and how she refrains from TV appearences where she's expected to be an insta-expert. I admire her stance and conviction on that.

Too many people talk about too many things that they know too little about. (My opinion.)
And if I don't feel I have at least an average grasp of an issue, I'm not going to address it unless I have an entry point (such as saying, "I didn't know anything about this before I read the story in the Times this morning and after reading that article, I still don't feel I know anything about it").

But if members weigh in, they can be heard.

I was more concerned Sunday with the fact that the Times gave the CIA a heads up and held a story and with the fact that policies we've approved of resulted in two deaths and we're not concerned. (We being the country.)

For poli sci, I focused on international relations and campaign politics primarily. Those are areas I will be more comfortable addressing. And I'm fine with going sociological on any topic. Or we can do philosophy (though I think many would be bored -- including me).

But I'm not going to play insta-expert. And my voice shouldn't be the only one heard.

7) Frank in Orlando feels that members aren't being highlighted.

They are. I'm reading the e-mails, each and everyone. The difference is I don't have the time now to write back and say, "Do you want to be quoted." So if the person doesn't note that this is to be quoted, it's not going to be.

8) Frank in Orlando wants a post from members weighing in on the Iraq elections.

I can ask for people to weigh in (please weigh in at common_ills@yahoo.com) and if they do weigh in to be quoted, we'll have a post up shortly. (Shortly probably means this weekend. I'd like to give at least two days for people to weigh in.) But whether or not we have a post depends on whether or not people are weighing in for public consumption.

9) Frank in Orlando doesn't want a daily women's history entry next month.

Frankly Frank, I don't either -- because it takes a great deal of time even if I'm only fact checking someone's comments. So for that reason, I don't want it either. But I do believe in Women's History Month and we're going to do it. It's important and it's happening. And if you don't want to read it for whatever reason, skip it. But we're doing it.

10) Frank in Orlando feels that too much time this weekend was taken up with my personal life, helping Rebecca with hyperlinks (that was Sunday only and it was only two e-mails) and reading over drafts for The Third Estate Sunday Review.

I'll help any member that starts a blog in any way I can. And I don't believe I ever typed up, "My personal life is on hold now that The Common Ills is up." If I did make such a remark, I was mistaken, wrong or flat-out lied.

I haven't had dinner tonight and I didn't have time for lunch due to work being crazy, so I'm really not feeling a great deal of sympathy over the suggestion that I'm spending all this time on my personal life.

11) Frank in Orlando is bothered by the fact that the magazine report went up yesterday.

Ossie Davis died on Friday. That obviously needed an entry. For every quote included in that "snapshot" on Friday, there are a multitude that weren't. For every source quoted from, there were probably three that didn't get quoted. Between the post on Danny Schechter & WMD (and the Times' attack on WMD & Schechter) and the Ossie Davis post, I probably spent seven hours.
That was after a full day's work and while feeling sick to my stomach. I had no intention of staying up until the Times arrived to do a magazine report. I'm sorry that it wasn't done on Friday as was the plan but things do come up and that's life. There was no way it was happening on Saturday since I had people over for dinner and there was no way it was happening on Sunday since I already knew that a great deal of time would be taken up compiling members' favorite songs.

12) Frank in Orlando is bothered that when he checks mid-day his time there's not another post up.

If I do a mid-day post, it is via e-mail and I have no control over when that hits the blog (or if it does -- today it didn't). I'll also add that they will be highly unlikely while I'm working on the current project because I will be all over the place during the day for the next few weeks.

13) Frank in Orlando feels I was very rude about Stephanie Miller's show.

If I came off rude about her show, I apologize. I stressed that she had a great style and voice.
(I hope I stressed that -- I don't have time to check, it was a Friday entry, I believe.) I noted that I wasn't a fan of the call in format. (And I'm not. When they do it on The Majority Report, I usually turn down the sound.) I also noted that unlike with many call ins, Miller did her calls in a timely manner and you weren't wishing that the calls had ended thirty seconds prior.

If I was rude about Miller's show or to Miller, I apologize. I wasn't intending to be rude.

I'm unable to make up for that, as Frank in Orlando feels I should today, by blogging on her show because I didn't hear it. I wasn't around a radio or a computer for most of the day. I was in one meeting after another. My plan had been to listen to her show this morning. I wasn't able to. Not, because as Frank in Orlando feels, I was listening to Unfiltered. I didn't hear Unfiltered either. The only thing I caught today was Morning Edition on NPR (while I was doing the first entry of the day, before leaving for work), Democracy Now! and then Terry Gross's show when I was blogging earlier. (The Majority Report was a repeat so I listened to Gross online.) Frank in Orlando really enjoys listening to Stephanie Miller. I would guess a lot of you would so I'd suggest everyone sample the show as I suggest with any voice you're unfamiliar with. If it speaks to you, great. If it doesn't, you know it's out there.

Here's the link for Democracy Radio where you can access Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz's show.

I will also note that several hours each day are spent in reading the e-mails.

14) Frank in Orlando wants a "straight entry" without jabs or ridicule.

Gina: As long as Elisabeth Bumiller churns out fluff she needs to be held accountable for it. Elite Fluff Patrol should be used each and every time it applies. I'm not groaning at the constant Oprah moments now but I think you need to weigh in a little more than you're doing.

That's Gina from this morning. And to be honest, when I'm frustrated by the fluff, I can gripe and gripe or I can ridicule. If you're just wanting a listing of what's in the New York Times that morning with no comments, the Times has a web site you can go to. (You can go to for now, remember it's very likely that they will begin charging for web access.)

15) The only entry Frank in Orlando feels was up to the usual mark this week was the one on Cokie Roberts which he enjoyed.

Frank, that wasn't a "straight" entry. That wasn't, "Cokie said." That was ridicule. I know, and most members do as well, your feelings regarding Bumiller. If you want to do a rebuttal every time I've ridiculed her or someone else, do so and we'll post it. But it seems inconsistent (to me) to be thrilled that Cokie Roberts gets ridiculed for her fluff but that Bumiller shouldn't be for her own fluff.

Frank in Orlando's weighed in and others can as well.