Monday, March 07, 2005

Cranks come out at night, the cranks come out . . . well mid-day

Boy did Dominick touch a nerve with some "longtime readers" who have "always been meaning to write" but never got around to it until now. One's such a longtime reader that she's been reading "since at least the spring of 2002."

That should make longterm community members feel bad because she would be our oldest member (or "reader," to use her term).

In fact, she trumps every member.

Including me.

Because she's been reading "since at least the spring of 2002" and I didn't even go to Blogger until November of 2004.

I'm not really quite sure what she was reading. But it wasn't The Common Ills.
But our oldest "reader" and ten other ones pipe up today, out of the blue, never having written before, knowing nothing about this community, let alone the site.
And they're all "shocked" or "appalled" (two were both: "shocked and appalled" -- explore those feelings, kids, go with them!).

That Dominick would "attack," "tear apart," "spit on" . . . (you get the idea) the memory of a dead man has left them "shocked" or "appalled" or "shocked and appalled."
Let's deal with that false charge. Did Dominick attack Robert McCartney? No. He uses term like "murder" to describe what happened to McCartney. He writes of his "violent death."

The Torrid Ten move quickly (all of them give that only one sentence) to their real beef: "The IRA is a terrorist group! How dare you support them! You'll only drive up their membership."

If that's what they're worried about, they missed Dominick's point (one made by reporters and college profs I spoke to when the Times tried what many see as the smear campaign last time):
Outside attacks only increase support for the IRA in Ireland.

Now maybe the Torrid Ten's able to boil it all down (the long history) in a simple manner and reduce the situation to a tiny ball they can then tie a bow around. If so, have at it (elsewhere, please). But Dominick expressed an opinion and he's not the only member who feels that way.

And the Times needs to worry when they leave out details like the fact that the killing of Robert McCartney began with a bar fight. Did it or didn't it? The Times doesn't seem real interested.
They offer a glossy view that's offending a majority of Catholic members (the majority of whom live in this country and not all of whom are Irish Catholic) and pretty much all the members (Catholic or not) who are European.

There's a reason for that. European media didn't just stumble onto this story.

But we don't have to go into 'ancient history.' Let's just look at Reuters yesterday ( Jodie Ginsberg and Paul Hoskins' "Adams says Sinn Fein rejects crime"):

Some of the fiercest criticism has come from one of its traditional Belfast heartlands after the death of 33-year-old forklift truck driver Robert McCartney in a January bar brawl.
. . .
Sinn Fein, which wants to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic, says the allegations are politically motivated and that the governments are concerned about Sinn Fein's popularity. It is the fastest growing political party in the Republic.

Note my emphasis in the first quote. Look at the second quote. Now why in the world would anyone with Sinn Fein worry about outside governments political motivations? I mean, it's not as though they have a history of a struggle with some other country . . . Hey, they do.


Dominick was born there. He moved here as a child. (Dominick gave permission for these details to be noted.) He still has many relatives over there. He's in regular contact with those relatives.

He's got an opinion. He expressed it. And he's not just staring at the Times gathering info from the page. This is an area that he knows about.

Does that mean everyone has to agree with him? No. But not everyone has to agree with me either. I think Dominick's made some strong points. (They're points members Rob, Kara, Gina, Lauren, Cedric and Ellen as well as Ron of Why Are We Back In Iraq, have already heard in private e-mails. Because this issue has been of interest to people. And the points Dominick's making about the situation on the ground in Ireland are points made by the reporters and professors I spoke to before we ever touched on Ireland here.)

The Torrid Ten at least attempted to fashion an e-mail. Much more to the point were the many one line rants by writers with a working usage of curse words that even I stand in "awe" of. (Though I was neither "shocked" nor "appalled.")

Obviously this topic ticks some right wingers off. So we'll continue to address it here. And I thank all these nonmembers because issues can get lost so easily (members, including me, have a ton of things to do and juggle). But you're sweet notes, mean we will return to this subject. That may be the result of a member weighing in (as Dominick did today, and thank you for that Dominick). It may mean that I see something that I feel can carve something out on. But we're not moving away from this topic.

I do mean the thank you to Dominick. First of all, it's an important issue. Second of all, as some of you have sensed and commented on in e-mails, I'm not really in the blog-mood of late. That partly has to do with the increased responsibilities at work (which supposedly returns to normal in a few weeks) and also some news I got in a phone call Thursday night that's left me more than a little depressed.

And to be quite honest, reading the Times this morning did nothing to lift my spirits. I had no interest in it. That's largely because more and more details stream in to the site in private e-mails from people who know about the paper. That's also because friends (including some who've worked for the paper) have begun sharing their horror stories more and more since Bill Keller (executive-editor of the Times, for a new member who wasn't clear who Keller was) gave the interview to The New Yorker.

When I saw Dominick's e-mail this morning, I thought he was raising some strong points and was glad there was something else to put up then my own opinions.

I don't churn it out. If I try, it'll be boring (more boring?) than it already it is. And I have to be able to find a way in for me, something that interests me. If I was just quoting from articles in the paper, we could highlight this or that. But most members wanted less of that and more of opinion. I'm not Cokie Roberts, I don't have an opinion on every subject.

I also don't have something to say on every topic. With Lawrence Summers, I was done (I though) with the first article in the paper that the Times noted. What changed that was people were treating it as though he was speaking at an Amway convention (or a lodge, as Gina noted) when he's addressing an academic conference and knows the topic ahead of time. And he's the president of one of the leading universities.

But Lloyd e-mailed in (and gave permission for this to be addressed here) that he felt the entry on the paper yesterday (their attempt to carve out a niche in Hollywood) was "a waste of time with so many other topics to write about." Lloyd went on with a long list. Many of the topics didn't excite me at all. (And I e-mailed Lloyd that.) So if he wants them addressed, all he has to do is write something about one of them, two of them . . . all of them. Not a private e-mail, but something to share with the community.

I'm happy to hand over the keyboard to anyone who has something to say.

As for that entry. I disagree strongly with Lloyd. This isn't the Paris branch (a miserable failure for the Times from a business perspective), this is "Hollywood." And people are expecting huge concessions for access. That goes to the health of the paper. Will they stand up to those demands? If they do, they have no access. Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

[By the way, Lloyd's not being called a "crank." That heading refers to the Torrid Ten and the others who composed their single sentence e-mails.]

I found it interesting for that reason. I also found it interesting for some of the information it contained. (Two stories in this morning's paper danced around something you were clued in on yesterday if you read the post when it went up.)

Thirty e-mails focused on the potential ill effects this could have for the paper. So thirty people were able to gather that point. Lloyd wasn't (or didn't care for it) which I'm sure is my failure.
But you're getting what you're getting. (Or, as Kat says, "It is what it is.")

I'm sure if Lloyd's weighing in on this, some other members felt the same way. If an entry doesn't speak to you and you feel it's a waste of time, you can do two things: one, stop reading and find something else (we do have a lot of links on the left side) or two, write a response to share with the community. Or better yet, if you think the entry is something "frivilous" when so much is going on, write about something that's going on that you think needs more attention (write for it to be shared with the community).

Lloyd's got a lot of worthy things he's concerned with. If I don't have something to add to a topic I am interested in, or if it's a topic I'm not interested in, I'm not going to fake it. I haven't thus far when I was in a better mood and had more time, and I won't do it now.

The e-mail address is and you can send anything there.

I'm not offended by Lloyd's comments and glad he shared his opinions. (Though I do not want to be told what to write about by anyone. And I certainly wouldn't take Lloyd's list of issues and say, "Oh those aren't worthy of attention!")

But back when I had a little more time, I knew I wasn't going to be able to cover everything. I know I'm missing things now. (Thanks to Billie for The Daily Howler e-mail. I haven't had time to read Friday's yet. Point, if I don't have time for The Daily Howler, something I haven't missed in years, I don't have a great deal of time.)

If you think something's being missed and want an article highlighted (or an upcoming appearence), e-mail in. But if you have strong feelings about something (discussed or not), you're welcome to write something to share with the community.

And I want to comment on Thomas' entry last night on Margie Burns. I like Margie Burns. Thomas quoted from her latest. I couldn't find it anywhere but at her blog (which I didn't even know existed until I was searching). If anyone knows the site that carries her columns, please e-mail so we can note that as well.

Most importantly, Women's History Month, to me anyway, is about recognizing accomplishments. (Individual or group.) And I really enjoyed Thomas' entry. No one has to give a history lesson. If there's someone you want highlighted, your entry is what you make it.
I do check for factual. Not for opinions. If something wasn't factual, it wouldn't go up. (Luckily, we haven't had that problem so far this month or last month.) I'd note a problem with it and ask the person to correct that. If they did, it would be posted.

But that space is whatever you make it. If that's a history lesson, if that's how you would go, then do so. But if that's not what you would normally do, don't try to force it.

Yes, Margie Burns speaks to Thomas. But I'm guessing everyone got the point that he was speaking "historically" when he was explaining why he wanted to highlight her.

I'm thinking that the term "highlight" might be a problem. So start tonight we'll try "___ notes ___ for Women's History Month." "Notes" instead of "highlights."

What's the point of Women's History Month? To me, it's to recognize events, people, etc. that wouldn't normally be recognized. Obviously, it has to a female at the core. But the reason it's needed is because so many times women have been erased or underwritten in the official history. So if you're highlighting Margie Burns (who for all I know may have a long historical record) and aren't sure it qualifies as "history," it does. Women columnists writing today largely consists of noting Ellen Goodman or Margie Burns or Molly Ivins. (That's not a slap at any of those women.) There are other female columnists. So I'd argue that if that's what you want to write about, then you should because obviously Margie Burns is a strong writer and obviously she doesn't get the attention that other female columnists do (or any male columnists -- tick those off and you'll end up with thirty "big" names right away).

But note (note "note") what speaks to you. We've gotten three e-mails (Marcia, Ben and Krista) from people on Thomas' entry. They liked it, I liked it. (No one wrote in to say they didn't enjoy it.) (And when something's not enjoyed, e-mails do come in.) A history lesson is fine, if that's the way you write. But if it's not, write it in your voice. If you try to fake it, no one's going to care about it. (My opinion.)

[Also note, I have a work event this evening so I'll be posting again, but it will be much later.]

I really need to be getting ready. But I just realized (I'm tired) I didn't finish up re: the Times.
There is a perception, right or wrong, that the Times is waging a war against Catholics. Call it a delayed effect (The Boston Globe, a few years back, had some readers with a similar perception). I can see it in the e-mails to this site (the perception) and I'm finding it hard to believe the Times is unaware of it. Point, they elected to write on this topic this morning. They should have decided to make sure their facts were firm. When things reported elsewhere don't make it into the Times' article (and when the article starts with a paragraph that 17 members e-mailed their offense about before any entry went up this morning), that only allows the perception to strengthen. If there's no underlying motive in the Times reporting, if it's just resulting from carelessness. They'd do well to tighten up on their reporting so that there facts either match the public record or explain why their facts don't match. At a time when so many are feelings that there is a problem, you don't allow something breezy in tone and short on facts to run. (Certainly not on the front page.) (My opinion.)