Wednesday, February 28, 2007

random invasion generator

And I think I have to tell you, digress a second to say that I don't know a thing about Bush.
S.I. Hersh here and here

Monday, February 26, 2007

Evidence of news

More than sensory information can be visually represented:

More from Reuters on mapping the news. They are also building a crisis map sensitive to issues of hunger, health, war and natural disaster around the world.

Some other maps, modes of visual representation, that could be mashed to offer layered visual representations of news:
More suggestions? This doesn't even scratch the surface.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


I hereby declare this to be the first online use of a phrase which, not appearing via Google until now, is therefore now for a limited time only, a hapax legomenon:

"coincident negation"

(Crowd of Readers) "Super nice!" ... "Dude!" ... "Radiant!"

In relinquishing all rights and royalties that might inure to said utterance, but reserving the privilege of bearing the title of "Progenitor of 'Coincident Negation'" -- having, yea, in fact marked the occasion with a blog that testifies to the inaugural truth of this parturition -- which by its existence, it now occurs to us to admit, uncreates the very hapax legomenal status which was the incipient authorial impetus for bothering to hallow its singular use in this testimonial and toastmasterly vein to begin with -- I cede it hereby, hereafter, hereunto the hereafterworld, with this envoy:

"Go little phrase, make your way in the world - no matter who seeks to lay claim to your lovely form, you shall know that herein lies your instauration (langue), your instantiation in the speech (parole) of living men, unto which thereby will forever hang your justification. ~ Ta!" ~

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Mapped News: Africa by Reuters

Africa by the country. Breaking news by the nation. Ok, "nation." Still, damn fine.

Someday some major USian news organ (or more likely someone else) will do something like this for
  • parts of the city (which could be pared down to city blocks or neighborhoods)
  • parts of the state
  • states of USia
  • segments of the local government, etc.,
Each part of which could be linked to blogs that concern themselves with that particular slice of the world, and, hooha,

each "breaking news" page could sit atop a wiki built by the community that concerns itself with that particular part of the larger whole.
(Wait! - the thought will be uttered in newsrooms across the nation - Wikis aren't news, they're all that contextual stuff readers need to make sense of the news! So they won't sell ads! Fuck that!)
Some day, when news organizations forget that they are real estate and marketing agencies, and stumble into thinking about what might serve the interests of conveying, of all things, interrelated news.

- via David Weinberger, who notes that each country's news page features related blogs via Global Voices.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Notes on "Weimarization"

"Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life. And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone," President Ballsack opined.

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. Robert O. Paxton via #

“ of the important political functions of the radical right is that it enables the slightly more moderate right to appear as a sober force, able to govern.” Hungarian historian Laszlo Karsai.

This book is factually wrong. Example. Dr. Dobson. DOES NOT have a body guard and Jerry Falwell doesn't chop peoples heads off for not believing in God. Amazon Review Commenter.

"Weimar Germany teaches us that the market is not an antidote to fascism, and creation of a free market probably cannot be considered the main goal for democratic transformation."Andrei Melville
"...ush Presidency as a trial balloon of the Insect Lords. Check the winds, fine tune, float another." #

"The average individual does not yet feel under attack. One might feel most profoundly disappointed over this but it is more correct to draw the conclusion that all the things that have been abolished here are no longer of great concern to people." Bob Musil

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Prez addresses supermarket bagger shortage

Every war or major military conflict produces a characteristic injury or wound that eventually becomes that conflict's "signature wound".

According to a report in The Scotsman, the war in Iraq will be no different in producing a "signature wound" only this time the wound is in the brains of those affected.

One Washington medical centre is reporting that a staggering 83% of wounded Marines and sailors were suffering from temporary or permanent brain damage.

The emergence of this latest "signature wound" comes just one month after President Bush announced in his 2006 budget that he would eliminate a $9 million program for the treatment of people with Traumatic Brain Injury.
Brain Injury Resource Foundation.
The above article was published in 2005, but its key information apparently remains to be divulged to the traumatically brain-injured government of the traumatically brain-injured president. Judging, anyway, from the Traumatic Brain Injury Facts on The Dept. of Health and Human Services's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Factsheet on Traumatic Brain Injury.

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Large camel magnet

New York-based jet-interior expert Edése Doret says he is designing the A380 for the customer. . ..Mr. Doret says his plan includes two dining areas, a 600-plus-square-foot master bedroom and a game room. His plans also call for a lounge with giant curtains that will mimic tents of the Arabian desert, and a fiber-optic mosaic that will depict a shifting desert scene.

Mr. Doret says he is including a whirlpool tub, believed to be the first in the air. To comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the tub will have a rapid drainage system that can empty the standing water in seconds to a tank in the cargo hold. The plane is also slated to include a missile-defense system, he says.
From the WSJ - interesting that they're making their "news videos" portable.

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Poverty from Wealth

Michael Parenti: How Wealth Creates Poverty in the World
By displacing local populations from their lands and robbing them of their self-sufficiency, corporations create overcrowded labor markets of desperate people who are forced into shanty towns to toil for poverty wages (when they can get work), often in violation of the countries’ own minimum wage laws.

Friday, February 16, 2007

How the Republic of Sambonia led to Unexampled Riches

There's a doubling, a dedoublement, as certain French persons are wont, of the economics of scarcity within the corporate form. That is to say: wealth creation derives from maximizing the return on the reproduction of a scarce resource, good, service. This involves the first magic trick, making sure that something that is being made less scarce (i.e., propagated) remains sufficiently scarce so as to ensure healthy profit margins. At times this is accomplished through the magic of intellectual property; other times it is through elimination of viable substitutes. If you wish to monopolize gasoline, it is necessary to eliminate alternative fuels by governmental fiat and public lies if nothing else will do.

That's the first violence of artificial scarcity. The second involves labor -- those needed to produce the first -- which attacks the means to live. Carve these means out of the communal frame and privatize them. Privatize insurance, healthcare, internets, information, recreation, gathering places, etc. Privatize commerce, privatize water. Privatize poetry. Privatize knowledge. Privatize knowing. Privatize Beyonce. Privatize that which if shared would diminish scarcity of means. You cannot stand in the park and sell that, you do not have proper authorization. Privatize the body, the law, the airwaves, roads, parking, farmland, all means to subsistence. Instead of agreeing that the Sovereign People are the source of benefits to the people, privatize all means to live so they go away, or become too costly for the individual to bear, if the worker leaves your employ. This is the second violence of scarcity, productive of cheap, abundant labor.

Now give that labor a superabundance of entertainment, amid which you present a superabundance of dysinformed "news." There is no clarity, no memory, no history, only anxiety and the forgetting of how free USians came to be grist, corn meal, to the giants who must fulfill their large functions, whether it be flatware, sambo lawn jockeys, or cottage cheese.
Off most Americans' radar, the West African nation of Guinea is under martial law, with dozens of people killed by rioting and demonstrators' clashes with security forces. But the violence has sent aluminum prices climbing in yet another reminder of how much the global economy relies on resources under the territory of developing countries that often get little attention in the capitals of their industrial counterparts. Wall St. Journal

Thursday, February 15, 2007

IP is the DNA of Corpse USA

He begins by quoting Goethe in the 1830s about his writings as "the work of a collective being that bears the name of Goethe" (quoting Goethe) vs. Emerson in "Self-Reliance" writing, "Insist on yourself; never imitate..." Lewis says our protocols around "intellectual property" side with Emerson. Defending "IP" against being enclosed can be seen, Lewis says, as defending a particular way of being human.
Which could suggest -- though David Weinberger doesn't choose to go there in his interesting post on Lewis Hyde's take on Intellectual Property -- that propounding the enclosure of IP is tantamount to putting forward a way of not being human.

Corporations are not human, and they love closed IP. They love trapped workers too. See, if the worker has nowhere else to go, for employment, for health care coverage, for socializing, then he is truly deprived of essential and basic modes of freedom. He has the appearance of freedom -- he can choose to come in at 8 a.m., or 8:30 a.m., or 9 a.m., or 9:30 a.m., so long as he leaves at the requisite time, 8.5 hours further on into the day. A measure of his life is lost; he gets to "choose" which measure - within "reason".

He, like the rights to "Leader of the Pack," is the property of the corporation, because without it, the structure of his existence would collapse. In the US, the corporate form was allowed to develop freely to the point that it no longer was a creature in a democratic landscape, but instead made the landscape into a service industry dedicated to the rapid and unquestioning support of the corporation.

That is to say, the corporate form requires the absolute Emersonian emphasis upon the singular individual, because by telling You to Be All That You Can Be, it is dissolving the general bonds of human mutuality that gave all of us collective power, common ground, the freedom from fear of penury that binds individuals to corporate death.

The paradox, then, is that the benefits of human community, the interlacing of needs and mutual support, have been vacuumed from the general society; removed from people, they are in the service of corporations, which now have the status of persons. Where once humans were persons, and the social net supported their personhood, now corporations, by subsuming healthcare, retirement budgeting and other basic needs to their own private spheres, are the only persons that matter in the society. Non-human persons, to be sure, but still, persons. The rest of us, isolate singularities of protein, bowl alone and fear evil.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

a question I've been asking for years

A perplexed European asked me a question: Why, she asked, have there been no general strikes in America to end its aggression in the Middle East? Why, she asked, are Americans so unwilling to force their government do what must be done? x via y

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bill Keller offers juicy Bush tale, covers Times' arse

Why did the NY Times sit on the story that Bush was spying on us?
"We have James Risen, Eric Lichtblau, and Bill Keller all talking to us from the New York Times, who talked to us very openly about a meeting that Bill Keller had with the President of the United States, in which the President asked him, along with General Hayden and others, to hold off on publishing that story.
But that wasn't it, because that was right before the Times finally ran the story, after the 2004 election.

Why did the Times sit on the story for a year before that?
Why they held onto the story, no one will actually talk to us frankly about, so we don't really know." Raney Aronson, Frontline producer of News War, interviewed on Democracy Now.

Now this - funny + true.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The commodity will not be bracketed

[And] works of art exist simultaneously in two economies, a market economy and a gift economy.

The cardinal difference between gift and commodity exchange is that a gift establishes a feeling-bond between two people, whereas the sale of a commodity leaves no necessary connection. I go into a hardware store, pay the man for a hacksaw blade, and walk out. I may never see him again. The disconnectedness is, in fact, a virtue of the commodity mode. We don't want to be bothered, and if the clerk always wants to chat about the family, I'll shop elsewhere. I just want a hacksaw blade. But a gift makes a connection. There are many examples, the candy or cigarette offered to a stranger who shares a seat on the plane, the few words that indicate goodwill between passengers on the late-night bus. Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence.

This may help us understand why calling for the commodity-driven markets to have the relationship modalities of gift economies remains a call that goes unanswered.


Saturday, February 10, 2007


Nice to see Ken Tomlinson finally getting some portion of the respect he's due over at


Google is unremitting in its desire for me to "upgrade" to the new blogger. I think this will have an impact on appearances. Just in case.

breaking nooz

Yesterday NPR - all things considered - talked with Jimmy Wales about how Wikipedia handles breaking news. How it contained the fact of the death of Anna Nicole Smith before most major news franchises. The Robert Siegal/Jimmy Wales interview focused on proprieties of editorial protocols. Wales responded soberly, noting that the editors had reported the story after it had been reported on CBS. The wild hare of the play of Wikipedia's speed of gossip, range of reference, network of obsession, lay undisturbed by the interview.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

NPR News, Dave Winer, Elgar, etc.

Dave Winer thinks National Public Radio needs to do more listener-driven programming - his example is "This I believe"-type podcasting.

I thank the stars every time it occurs to me that Winer does not program anything on NPR.

Doc says he's thinking about how NPR can get more funding.

I don't believe Dave's "solutions" go to the heart of the matter. And it's unclear where Doc wants to go with his question. I've been thinking about NPR's trajectory for a while, having listened fairly continuously since the early 70s, when its major news formats began taking form.

Over time, NPR has developed chattery, abrasive noise. This, plus it's fallen victim to the self-enclosed feedback loop of playing to the audience that fills its coffers.

I have asked myself repeatedly, "Why can't I stand to listen to this anymore?" The institutional memory of news quality is still there, but etiolated. There are numerous bright spots -- hosts Steve Inskeep, Renee Montaigne, Melissa Block and a good number of their beat reporters (to wit: Alex Chadwick, Elizabeth Arnold, John Burnett, Ira Flatow, David Folkenflik, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Bob Garfield, David Greene, Richard Harris, Schor, John McChesney, Christopher Joyce, Peter Overby, Sylvia Poggioli, John Ydstie, Daniel Zwerdling and others I'm overlooking) are obviously gifted news people.

What's gone wrong, I feel, lies in two areas:

1. The whole news institution over there seems to have some sort of inferiority complex. It's into nice. Nice was not really a major attribute in Bob Edwards' day. The one guy I will always stop everything to listen to is Dan Schor - and he's not into nice either. I'm talking about that nice white man persona you hear in voices like Neil Conan's (Talk of the Nation), or, with more shtick, in Scott Simon - reducing the world to whatever quirky, daffy, whimsical, or asininely topical round hole the square peg of their MisterRogerserian sensibilities attempts to penetrate.

NPR still does important stories. But as Juan Williams' recent interview with Bush made all too clear, they are cowed by the bad cess in Washington. By the upsuckage that thugs with power require. By the lost funding they have actually experienced, along with having to endure a codpiece like Kenneth Tomlinson, a former creature of the Readers' Digest, a friend of Rove and a lackey to NeoCon interests within the current administration. This sort of looney intimidation could bother anyone who has to function in D.C.

NPR's tiredness, timorousness and decadence manifest through attitude, sensibility, style. Serious reporting of news, with fewer chirpy personae and more substance, would be a nice start.

2. The second problem has less to do with NPR news than with the system of public broadcast stations that carry its news programming. In particular, it's the demented media mindset of the people running those stations.

I've listened in various parts of the country, and some are more flexible than others. I'll stick to the broadcast adminstrators and on-air voices I hear in Florida: These people act as though they invented some nifty cube wallpaper called "Classical Music from Bach to Beethoven with a Spritz of Mussorgsky." It's a kind of ClearChannelized, NPR-in-a-box format: hire dudes who know nearly nothing about classical music, randomly select inoffensive violin-heavy aural cliches that give us the warm fuzzies about how Classically Fine we are -- more Pinot Grigio, dear -- and the money pours in.

A while back I wrote to NPR concerning this very thing. Here's a snip of what was actually rather a long tirade, which brought a sincere reply from Bill Marimow, who was then the ombudsman:
My beef is not with the national news shows. It's with the way in which your local stations -- at least those in the Southwest Florida region -- abdicate any effort to attract younger listeners. Indeed, the quality of the news programming makes this abdication all the more incomprehensible.

Let me offer some context for my observations:

1. Music is the badge of the heart, the lifeblood of the soul. The fact that these Florida stations play little but Elgar, Mozart, Copeland and Beethoven tells younger listeners in the clearest terms: This is not for you.

2. Your demographic will be mostly dead in 20 years. Most of the people who listen to your unoriginal classical and "jazz" programming are over the age of 70.


You're afraid of your listeners. You seem to think we are reactionary types who will countenance a "This I Believe" segment from a 14-year-old so long as it doesn't mention Eminem. You believe you are making more than a token gesture towards youth when one of your music critics reviews some esoteric pop group that no one has ever heard of.

You are losing your hearing -- beginning with your programmers.

Among other good things, Bill Marimow said in his reply: "I've just begun my tenure as NPR's ombudsman, and once I get under way with my column, I plan to address some of the questions you've raised about attracting a younger audience." Alas, he's moved on.

To perorate en bref:

Wall-to-wall classical music sends the most potent signal possible to kids (and to others outside the NPR whitebread demographic). It says: "This is no place to be, no place we want you to be. Come back when your hair is white and you're sporting a cummerbund."

In standing upon formulaic music programming and the sort of audience success that it so far has known, in taking no imaginative risks, public broadcasting is dooming itself to dwindling audience share. By 2027, they'll be fortunate if thirteen non-senile geezers tune in to hear the thirty-five-thousandth rendering of "Pomp and Circumstance." How many times can one stand to hear the Jupiter, anyway? And I love Mozart, so that's not it.

NPR: You've tried to make the honey predictable and to artificially sweeten the truth. That's poison. Don't worry about the format of fundraising. Worry about attracting a greater diversity of listeners with music they can love and news they can trust.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Two kinds of causes that are often confounded. -- This seems to me to be one of my most essential steps and advances: I have learned to distinguish the cause of acting from the cause of acting in a particular way, in a particular direction, with a particular goal. The first kind of cause is a quantum of dammed-up energy that is waiting to be used up somehow, for something, while the second kind is, compared to this energy, something quite insignificant, for the most part a little accident in accordance with which the quantum "discharges" itself in one particular way -- a match versus a ton of powder. Among these little accidents and "matches" I include so-called "purposes" as well as the even much more so-called "vocations"; they are relatively random [beliebig], arbitrary, almost indifferent in relation to the tremendous quantum of energy that presses, as I have said, to be used up somehow. The usual view is different: People are accustomed to consider the goal (purposes, vocations, etc.) as the driving force, in keeping with a very ancient error; but it is merely the directing force -- one has mistaken the helmsman for the steam. And not even always the helmsman, the directing force.

Is the "goal," the "purpose" not often enough a beautifying pretext, a self-deception of vanity after the event that does not want to acknowledge that the ship is following the current into which it has entered accidentally? that it "wills" to go that way because it -- must? that it has a direction, to be sure, but -- no helmsman at all?

We still need a critique of "purpose."
(360) Said Local 6's Friedrich Neegee, auteur of Gay Science.
We still

NASA Astronaut Faces Attempted First-Degree Murder Charge

Police: Woman Drove 900 Miles In Diaper To Avoid Stopping

Police said Nowak was carrying a steel mallet, BB gun, a new folding knife, some rubber tubing and some large plastic bags.

Authorities believe Nowak drove 900 miles in a diaper to avoid stopping during the trip.

"Police found a bag of diapers in the suspect's car that the suspect admits to using so she didn't have to stop and take any bathroom breaks on the trip," Local 6's Jessica D'Onorio said.


And some of them are true

Already, the city [Beijing] has replaced 6,300 road signs that carried bewildering admonitions such as: "To take notice of safe: The slippery are very crafty." (Translation: Be careful, slippery.) Replacing signs will cost the city a substantial amount of money, although it isn't clear how much. Some of the faulty ones, Prof. Chen notes, are decades old and are carved in marble. Wall St. Journal

Monday, February 05, 2007

No invasion without representation

blood, treasure, and Mr. Bremer:
When Bremer left Iraq in June 2004, he bequeathed the Bush economic agenda to two men, Ayad Allawi and Adel Abdul Mahdi, who Bremer appointed interim Prime Minister and Finance Minister, respectively. Two months later, Allawi (a former CIA asset) submitted guidelines for a new petroleum law to Iraq’s Supreme Council for Oil Policy. The guidelines declared “an end to the centrally planned and state dominated Iraqi economy” and advised the “Iraqi government to disengage from running the oil sector, including management of the planned Iraq National Oil Company (INOC), and that the INOC be partly privatized in the future.”

Allawi’s guidelines also turned all undeveloped oil and gas fields over to private international oil companies. Because only 17 of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields have been developed, Allawi’s proposal would put 64 percent of Iraq’s oil into the hands of foreign firms. However, if a further 100 billion barrels are discovered, as is widely predicted, foreign companies could control 81 percent of Iraq’s oil—or 87 percent if, as the Oil Ministry predicts, 200 billion barrels are found.
Spoils of War, Antonia Juhasz

Saturday, February 03, 2007

the viscosity of running glass citizens

Once you’re a registered user, your goal will be to make friends. Get out there and make as many as you can. Of course, this may sound a bit weird as they’re not really friends but remember this is only business! $

...a growing pool of legally held data by banks, inland revenue, credit card company, health services, etc. There are secret data collections held by police, intelligence services, customs; there are the images recorded by CCTV systems which are linked to face recognition systems; to a growing degree surveillance is becoming automatized, that means not carried out by people but by automated information systems. %

a twenty-five foot long deep fat fryer vat aparantly spontaneously ignited at around 8:30 AM.[3] A state of the art automatic carbon dioxide fire extinguisher designed to cope with such fires had been installed after a non-fatal fire in 1983 at the fire department's request; investigators are unsure whether it was activated or not.[1][6] There were ninety employees in the facility at the time. There were no sprinklers in the building,[2] so the fire spread rapidly, causing trauma-related injuries to some of the survivors as they rushed to escape.[3] Large quantities of thick, acrid smoke were produced by a combination of burning soybean oil and chicken, and melting roof insul # via &

Thursday, February 01, 2007

USian models of news meet Mr. Full of Shit

Every day a USian news anchor or reporter says, "We are following this story...," or "There have been developments in the story of..." or some such. And the underlying story model involves a sort of baggy cluster of empirical data, maybe some recorded speech or video, rumor and early reaction. Over the course of "reporting," the story, conceived of as a moving object, is wrestled to the ground. Facts are added, rumors deflated, more reliable or firsthand sources are interviewed. The unruly protean composite of fiction and fact is pinned, straightened, detailed, purged, packaged and served.

I specify "USian" because this is the primary model of news stories here -- they are rude stones that need to be chipped away until the factual core stands, like Mike's David, confident, unveiled, ready for all comers. It's a model I'd suggest is largely essentialistic -- it involves a paring process that gets down to the facts, the real thing, which journalists still jonesing on Objectivity Juice will tend to call "fair and balanced news."

But this is only one kind of story. In other places (perhaps someone, somewhere, teaches something that could be called "Comparative Journalism," modeled on Comparative Literature? (If so, I'd be interested in hearing about it)) other models are more common. One such, more common in England and much of Europe, is a different kind of development from the fact-adding, rumor-paring mode of the US: It's more a movement from one moment in a dialectic to another, which doesn't actually add something to the first, but in certain comprehensive ways negates parts or all of it, leading to a transformation into what to USians would appear to be a different story, but to dialectical journalists is very much the "same thing," where thing is not the superficial set of facts and faces, but the underlying social, economic, political and aesthetic forces that often can only be pointed to via surface events, because they are forces, powerful but invisible, not sound bites, talking heads, or quanta.

Bear with the perversity of citing Mr. Dialectic here -- not for definition but more as allegory of the sort of example of non-USian cogitation that goes into dialectical thinking, whether in philosophy, or theory, or journalism:
The lord relates himself mediately to the thing through the bondsman; the bondsman, qua self-consciousness in general, also relates himself negatively to the thing, and takes away its independence; but at the same time the thing is independent vis-a-vis the bondsman, whose negating of it, therefore, cannot go the length of being altogether done with it to the point of annihilation; in other words, he only works on it. For the lord, on the other hand, the immediate relation becomes through this mediation the sheer negation of the thing, or the enjoyment of it. Desire fails to do this because of the thing's independence: but the lord, who has interposed the bondsman between it and himself, takes to himself only the dependent aspect of the thing and has the pure enjoyment of it. The aspect of its independence he leaves to the bondsman, who works on it.
Don't ask - it's Hegel. He'd be thrown out of any USian bar without anyone batting an eye, because he sounds like he's full of shit.

I'm not about to dispute that. All I'm saying is, here's an example of storytelling that's distinct enough from the fact-based proper-name-centered stuff of US non-fiction as to support my point: that US journalism might think that its modes of representation meet some "objective" standard of what's fair and balanced, but that judgment itself occurs inside its peculiar idiom, which, when set within the context of other and diverse idioms, is hardly grounds for universal commonsensible assent.

What might be some of the consequences of expanding our range of story models in USisn Journalism? Here's one example: A couple of evenings ago, Juan Williams, a usually rigorous senior NPR reporter, interviewed the President. (Audio; transcript).

Tonight on All Things Considered, the reactions of listeners made it clear that most felt Williams was too soft. It wasn't just that Bush had just made two national addresses in as many weeks which sort of required that he now respond to someone trying to make sense of his words; it wasn't just that Williams was somewhat gushy:
You know, people are praying for you; people – the American people want to be with you, Mr. President, but...
Some of the reax went so far as to say Williams had failed to do journalism -- dispensing with basic, tried-and-true forms of challenge and follow-up that could have offered Bush the unprecedented experience of dealing with an actual analytical human being, rather than with mechanical recording apparatus.

NPR probably feels it has done justice to its listeners, by representing their opinions. In some dumbocracy way, it has -- some of us had our say. But isn't there more to this story? Hasn't the original story - by a kind of fateful necessity - now become the story?

I for one would like to know why Williams opted for the cotton-candy approach. Who or what got to him? Did his editors advise him to take this tack? Did the condescension of the Presidential office in granting this exclusive "access" bowl Williams and his bosses over? What conversations occurred between the White House and NPR prior to the interview? What conversations went on inside Williams himself as he prepared for it? Were there any ground rules imposed by the White House that shaped what we hear, but which were not reported? Why does NPR have a preponderance of nice guy personae, reserving attack dog roles for quirky sports commentators and such?

What's called for is another story -- about why the first story failed. In some ways, it would be like our first model - more facts than we now have about something we don't understand. But in some ways, it's more like our second model -- because it would turn NPR's news sense in upon itself, and, if successful, offer insight into not just what went wrong in the production of this interview, but also into the history of the relation of this president to USian journalism, and how that history is still shaping mainstream perceptions of Bush, of the world he impacts, and of mainstream media's own bias in producing what it likes to believe is a "fair and balanced news product."

The story about the Williams interview would not be a new story, but it would be a news story -- a negation and transformation of the original story driven by forces proper to and internal to the event. USian news doesn't go there, in part because it doesn't see this as news. It doesn't see how large a part of "news" is played by the subjectivity it mistakes, by professional convention, for objectivity. In following the facts (as its 19th century positivist Corrections policies make clear), it abandons its responsibility to think. Or perhaps that's what USian media is designed to do: not think. In which case, there is always a necessary next story - the one that would undo the fabulous knot of every other story - the Cassandra story that never gets produced because it's fated never to be believed.

plague the seatwarmers for molly