Monday, March 14, 2005

2 stories worth reading in NYT this morning (stories by Sarah Kernshaw and Eric Lipton)

Jonathan Cheng's "Ante Up at Dear Old Princeton: Online Poker Is a Campus Draw " (front paged) is surely a ground breaking story that will instill pride in our free press even if I can't force myself to read it out of an aversion to "life-style" pieces passes themselves off as hard journalism.

Sarah Kershaw must have missed the memo that it was casual news/fluff Monday because she actually has a piece of reporting with "Long-Forgotten Reminders of Oregon's Mentally Ill."

From the beginning of the article:

Next to the old mortuary, where the dead were once washed and prepared for burial or cremation, is a locked room without a name.
Inside the room, in a dim and dusty corner of one of many abandoned buildings on the decaying campus of the Oregon State Hospital here, are 3,489 copper urns, the shiny metal dull and smeared with corrosion, the canisters turning green.
The urns hold the ashes of mental patients who died here from the late 1880's to the mid-1970's. The remains were unclaimed by families who had long abandoned their sick relatives, when they were alive and after they were dead.
The urns have engraved serial numbers pressed into the tops of the cans. The lowest number on the urns still stored in the room is 01, the highest 5,118. Over the decades, about 1,600 families have reclaimed urns containing their relatives' ashes, but those left are lined up meticulously on wood shelves. Short strips of masking tape with storage information are affixed to each shelf: "Vault #2, Shelf #36, plus four unmarked urns," one piece of tattered tape says.

Well written and worthy of the paper, I could go on quoting from Kershaw's piece forever were it not for fair use limitations. We'll also note Eric Lipton's "Despite New Efforts Along Arizona Border, 'Serious Problems' Remain:"

The Border Patrol has intensified its enforcement efforts in the last year, starting a campaign called the Arizona Border Control Initiative and making surveillance with a "substantial probability of apprehending terrorists" a top priority.
But Border Patrol agents interviewed in February in the Nogales region said privately that the get-tough policy was an all-but-impossible expansion of a nearly hopeless mission.
"Anyone with any determination can still make it into the United States," said an agent who refused to give his name because he feared being fired. "It is all nonsense, all smoke and mirrors."
No one can reliably estimate how many illegal immigrants cross the 6,000 miles of United States border each year. It is certainly more than a million.
The only objective indicator is the number of arrests, which hit 491,771 in 2004 for just the 261 miles of border that make up the Tucson sector. That is up from 139,473 a decade ago, which explains why Arizona had more border captures in 2004 than California, New Mexico and Texas combined, and why special initiatives have begun here.

Let me also note that we mentioned Orwell Rolls In His Grave in the last post but I forgot to mention it's available at BuzzFlash.