Monday, February 28, 2005

Jonah Goldberg at Northwestern

Here's the final anouncement for the talk given tonight by National Review writer and NRO Editor Jonah Goldberg. The topics are blogging, webjournalism, and how it relates to politics. Simpsons and Star Trek references may abound.

Harris Hall, Room 107, 7:30pm. Harris Hall is close to where Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road merge, in case you're unsure of Northwestern University's lovely interactive map. (It's Building 119.)

(Tractor Pull Announcer Voice)BE THERE!!!

Friday, February 25, 2005

ALA Boss-to-be Dislikes Blogosphere

Librarians vs. Bloggers. Someone has decided to start slinging mud between the traditional gatekeepers of information with the modern users of information. This won't end well.

Michael Gorman has a point about Google not being the be-all-end-all research tool that some people might surmise it to be. It will not replace hunting through the stacks at a library, nor will it have the same familiarity as holding a book or other source in your grubby little mitts as you churn out yet another academic monograph. It certainly won't replace a non-literary primary source like those found in the sciences of history, archaeology and anthropology. Web-based research is useful for general searches, and may give some good ideas for where to look when trying to find a specific source. Even the Turabian guide to research papers, dissertations and theses has information on how to properly cite web-based sources. Google has merit as a research tool, but it is not the one true way. On this, Mr. Gorman and I agree.

However, the ALA President-elect has chosen to defend himself with a series of ad hominem arguments when he faces his critics, my fellow bloggers. Let's look at how Mr. Gorman defines a blog:
A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web. (Though it sounds like something you would find stuck in a drain, the ugly neologism blog is a contraction of "web log.")
Well, Mr. Gorman is certainly attacking the intellect of bloggers here. This quote also reveals his contempt for anyone who does not publish their work through a small, academic peer-reviewed publication or other professional writer's organization. This may come as a surprise to Mr. Gorman, but blogs have the ability to be reviewed instantly by anyone. It's quite an egalitarian process, actually. In fact, new information previously unknown by the writer can be delivered quickly and efficiently, with the effect of having a writer revise his statements if he is so convinced by the information. Blogs have the ability to be reviewed by everyone, and if you base the internet on the premise of "All men are created equal" then you will have the largest set of peers available for review, won't you, Mr. Gorman?

But wait, Mr. Gorman doesn't share such egalitarian views about bloggers when they disagree with him:
It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.
Mr. Gorman, what people think about what one writes is a reaction to his ability to clearly communicate his point of view. In this case, Mr. Gorman could believe that those without his credentials are not allowed to criticize his statements. Or, he could also have miscommunicated his ideas on the subject of web-based research.

Let me be clear: I agree with him on the idea that Google should not be someone's sole tool for research. Always have corroborating sources and alternative research methods available when doing academic research, or even journalistic research. Check facts by as many methods as possible. He is, however, being an uncharitable fellow in his opinion of those of us who enjoy writing via the internet. So, I shall address Mr. Gorman in the way I believe he was addressing those of us who blog: Is Mr. Gorman incapable of clarifying or defending his position, or is he being an elitist snob?

I leave it to my fellow bloggers to decide.

(Article found via Instapundit.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

National Review's Jonah Goldberg to Speak at Northwestern

7:30pm, Harris Hall, Room 107.

The topics? The usual stuff, journalism, conservatism, and the internet. Plus, Jonah's a heck of a writer. They say it's open to "the community" so let's all head over to represent the community.

If anything, it'll give us suburban bloggers something to write about besides our usual cruft.

It'll be a perfectly cromulent night!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

If you can't say anything nice...

Sometimes you still have to say it.

So, I am going to comment on the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson. I read his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972 in college, after having seen Johnny Depp portray him in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I wanted to see if Hunter S. Thompson was really as much of a jackass Mr. Depp made him out to be. I wanted to see if he matched Garry Trudeau's version of Thompson, a goofy libertine by the name of Duke.

If anything, both fictional versions of Duke are slightly more sympathetic than Hunter S. Thompson himself. Hunter S. Thompson was indeed a jackass. I remember hearing the college chumps at Southern Illinois in the English and Journalism departments who wanted to be the next Hunter S. Thompson. I couldn't have found a more idiotic herd of fools. Apparently, they figured that drinking heavily and even heavier drug use would turn them into some kind of one-man journalistic apocalypse.

And everyone wonders why Southern Illinois University has so many people who leave school without graduating. We've got a bunch of kids who think that dropping tab after tab of acid, smoking any weed they can find, and drinking everything stronger than beer is a path to graduating and getting a good job. I was at SIU from 1998 to 2000, and yet it seemed like everyone who wasn't in the science, economics, business and engineering departments tried to pretend like it was 1969 and 1970. Even my history department was filled with at least five or six of these hemp-wearing, "mind-expanding," gonzo-journalist wannabes. (The fact that they were a bunch of vegtetarians who tried to be a meat-eating acid monkey is still pretty funny, though.) I wasn't even born then, and neither were most of these pathetic little twerps trying to be the next Thompson. Yet there they were, trying to be the same counterculture that attempted to hijack American society.

Hunter S. Thompson wasn't a brilliant journalist. He was a drug-abusing hack with a political axe to grind, wrapped up in a package that was meant to shock and alarm. Shocking? Not anymore, thanks to the glut of imitators. Alarming? No, just disappointing, again thanks to a glut of imitators. He's ruined a journalistic tradition because of the overexposure of his style by a bunch of hacks. I'm quite glad he's dead. Perhaps his style will die with him now that these writers will have to find someone else who's living to fawn over and worship.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

$1.2 TRILLION FOR MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION COSTS?

No, no, a thousand times no.

When the budget was released, of course the Dems were going to jump all over this once it was discovered. Why? Costs weren't being properly controlled. President Bush must remember that the Republicans are the cost-cutting party when it comes to domestic policy. It might feel right to offer prescription benefits for Medicare recipients, but in this case the costs are far too high.

I would suggest looking at a much smaller outlay for prescription drugs... say, zero dollars. Congressional Republicans must stand firm to cut costs. Send this budget back to the President with "Revise Immediately" stamped all over it in bright red letters. Attention Class of 1994: you came to Congress touting fiscal responsibility. I suggest you practice what you've preached.

To President Bush: I voted you into office based on lowering taxes and restructuring the government to reduce social services. I voted with the knowledge that lowered taxes would require reduced social services in order to keep a balanced budget. Lowering my income taxes while expanding government social services isn't that great of an idea. Drop the prescription benefits for Medicare, get back onto the Social Security privatization, and continue to reduce social benefits. It was a great idea in theory, but putting it into practice will be more than I or many other Republicans are willing to pay.

Monday, February 07, 2005

$2.57 trillion budget makes steep cuts

The budget is still too big. The deficit is still too much. I think there are enough budgets and enough programs where the President and Congress could cut a billion here and a billion there, and prevent the deficits from being anything other than war-related. Where can we start? We may have to cut the things we want in Illinois: highway money and farm subsidies. There's a lot of social services than can be cut or better enforced to get rid of bureacrtic waste and corruption.

What President Bush and Speaker Hastert need to do is go back and cut further monies. Find all the non-productive programs, and cut them completely or limit the programms to current or reduced budgets until progress occurs. Necessity is the mother of invention, and lack of unlimited funds makes for a wonderful substitute for necessity. I'd rather they not cut veterans' benefits, but if necessary, cut back there as well as the Humanities and Arts endowments. Direct education funding to teacher hiring, earmarking it for non-administrative outlays. If you want more teachers, put specific restricitions on where the money goes.

I understand President Bush has to make compromises, but he can do well to aggressively cut funding back to survivable levels. I hope that the Illinois delegation to the House will ask the President to refine and resubmit his budget, with massive cuts.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

SJ-R.COM - Hynes: 'Governing is not his strong suit'

Ouch. Well, Bernard Schoenburg has done it again, putting together a great column about the goings-on in the Statehouse.

Dan Hynes has brought up the 10,000 late contracts thing again. This time he's added more fuel to the fire by saying that Ol' Blaggie doesn't govern very well. On top of it all, he's still refusing to pay for the flu vaccines we didn't use. He's doing it to save us some money and show some fiscal responsbility.

So, this is what it's like to be in agreement with an Illinois Democrat. Wow.

If Governor Blagojevich is running the state as going from one crisis to another, money be damned, then we really need to rethink who we're going to put in the Executive Mansion in 2006.

Oh, that's right, Ol' Blaggie doesn't want to live in our little state capital. He doesn't want to live in the house provided for him so he can get to his office as quickly as possible. He'd rather spend precious state money flying to work.

If we're going to rethink who we want in the Governor's Mansion, let's think Ray LaHood.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hynes refuses to pay for vaccine

Never let it be said I'll tell a state official to spend more on my behalf when it comes to medical services. Dan Hynes is doing the right thing. I was listening to him on WLS Tuesday morning as he talked to Don Wade & Roma about why he was not paying off the British drug firm that produced the extra flu vaccine. I understand that Ecosse Hospital Products of the UK was doing business and trying to make some money, but according to Mr. Hynes, the contract didn't reach his desk until well after the governor made the deal. Now Ol' Blaggie is trying to get the Comptroller to pay for vaccine that we don't even have. According to Comptroller Hynes, there have been 10,000 late contracts like this in the past two years. 10,000 contracts after the work has been done. How are we sure that the right work got done? How are we sure that the contractors weren't padding their time? All of these contracts have come from services relating to the Governor's office and its attendant bureaus, according to Comptroller Hynes.

Free advice to Ray LaHood if he's still considering the run for governor in 2006: This is a great point to use about Rod Blagojevich. He's making deals and we aren't sure if we're paying out the right amount of money. We could be paying too much, and are we willing to keep overpaying with all these budget deficits that have shown up?

And to anyone affected by this deal in the UK: I apologize for my Governor's rash behavior in the contracting and decision-making process behind his attempt at circumventing US law to buy your vaccine. The rest of us in this state were hoping for a more mature officeholder since the previous one was such a crook. We'll try to rein him in so you don't get your hopes dashed again.
MSNBC - Full text of 2005 State of the Union speech

Beautiful, simply beautiful.

I still don't like the idea of a Federal Marriage Amendment. That takes away too much control of our private lives and gives it to the federal government. However, in reading the speech, I noticed how little time he spent on the subject. Perhaps it was only a token gesture to those who oppose same-sex marriages?

Dubya knocked it out of the park, though. This is a great speech.