Gray Flannel Dwarf


The SI Blogger

I hate to run the risk of sounding particularly redundant, busting the chops of pseudojournalists, but who the heck is this seemingly new columnist for, Josh Elliot?

You may recall Cunningham as the grizzled, heart-o’-gold throwback whose square yellow glasses framed perpetually tear-filled eyes. Cunningham’s tears came furiously on Feb. 8th, ’00, when the Chiefs’ All-Pro sackmaster, Derrick Thomas, was killed following a car accident. Thomas’s death hit Cunningham hard; he told The Blog during the ’00 season he often found himself reflexively looking for Thomas on team planes.

Yes, he seems to affectionately call his column “The Blog”… he uses a variant on the phrase at least three times in this, what appears anyway to be his first column for SI.

I can’t figure out whether the Gen-Xish rambling in here is either really contrived, or the guy actually talks like this. “losing that new-blog smell?“… “prepare yourself for an epic cry-off between Vermeil and Cunningham“… “And now, I beat a hasty retreat to the prison of my own mind. …” Come on now?

Seriously, SI, give me a shot at writing some of these columns!

cswiii @ 6:22 pm


Realistic Dream

Based on the news that is coming out of Iraq today, what I dreamt about last night is all the more interesting. Last night’s dream featured newsflashes across the major networks and the Internet. In the dream, Cal Thomas, who was in Iraq for whatever reason, had been kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents and immediately beheaded. None of this 24 or 72 hour waiting, or anything — it was immediate. had huge, 32 point font headlines about it, and the Chicago Tribune was all over the story as well.

I woke up, convinced this had happened. Strangely enough, though, I can’t say that I can remember ever having read, in full, any Cal Thomas column in my life.

cswiii @ 9:39 am


Balls and Cheney

Washington Post:

Cheney said he “probably” used an obscenity in an argument Tuesday on the Senate floor with Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and added that he had no regrets. “I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it,” Cheney told Neil Cavuto of Fox News. The vice president said those who heard the putdown agreed with him. “I think that a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue.”

Of course he has no regrets. Why should he defend dropping the f-bomb? After all, they’ve already shown to be pretty adept at dropping thousands of other ill-conceived and unnecessary munitions over the past year.

Pompous prick. Personally, I don’t particularly care that he dropped the f-bomb; everyone has moments where their tempers get the best of them. Hell, I even got ejected from a kickball game the other day for needlessly pegging the ball at some guy who decided to intentionally fly through the air at me, kamikaze-style, while running to third base. But you won’t see me claiming my response was either righteous or well-deserved.

It is too bad, however, that this wasn’t publicly aired; I’d loved to have seen the FCC’s reaction to this one.

CNN’s coverage of this story.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 1:57 am


“Fair and Balanced”, indeed.

“The Votemaster”, over at, while analysing state and national polls makes the following observation:

The enormous descrepancy between Fox and the other two really raises some serious issues. A net difference of 16% between Fox and Rasmussen makes one wonder if Fox polls are reliable.

I made the same observation on Slashdot, using statistical analysis put together by the seemingly defunct Radio Free Monkey charts… although the original stats cat, Professor Pollkatz, has a similar chart. In a different poll — disapproval rating, as opposed to voter preference — Fox consistently shows numbers for Bush a good deal more flattering than the rest of the organisations. Pollkatz himself makes this observation in statistical manner that is a bit more quantitiative than my “gut feeling”.

The arguments I tend to hear, when making these observations is, “You don’t know how the polls were conducted”, or “How do you/we know the questions were the same?” Well, let’s consider for a minute then… if Fox’s questions are so different as to skew their results, why are they straying from a methodology that others seem to be following? For the second — without seeing the actual polls, yes, you’re right, I don’t know for sure if the questions were the same. But that leads back to questioning their methodology.

Really, it’s just surprising to me that Fox is being so brazen. It’s easy to call yourself “Fair and Balanced” when there’s little quantitative data that can be used to nail you to a tree. However, to release poll numbers which are so obviously juiced is a little more telling.

cswiii @ 10:05 am


A Texas Shoehorn

This is the most retarded political article I’ve ever read.
It has just enough humour in it for the reader to realise that the author was trying to be funny and yet fails miserably. Furthermore, there is a strange amalgam of stiff, professional and laid back, casual language in it that just makes the pace jerky and unsettling.

At least there is some hope in knowing that the author is a college senior, and not a handsomely paid syndicated columnist. No offence intended, Mr. Hardigree, I just think you’d be better off following the Big 12 than the November elections.

cswiii @ 6:56 am


Getting Mother’s Body: Review

Getting Mother’s Body (pub. May, 2003; ISBN 1400060222) is the title of a novel by 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning author Suzan-Lori Parks, a terrific piece of literature in which Parks weaves one family’s greed, desparation and general distrust into a vivid patchwork quilt of fiction.
The story finds its setting in Ector County, Texas, during middle twentieth century America. Enter Billy Beede knocked-up and unmarried, she’s just one facet of a down-on-its-luck, cynical, and perhaps downright dysfunctional “negro” family, which includes, amongst a cast of others, Billy’s one-legged Aunt June, disillusioned minister Uncle Teddy, and Dill, the apparent “bulldagger, dyke, lezzy, what-have-you” one-time lover of her momma Willa Mae, a former blues and lounge singer.

With little time and money to her name, Billy attempts to save up money to get an abortion. Try as she might, however, the time begins to disappear far quicker than the money appears. Everything changes, though, when a letter arrives from a distant relative in La Junta, Arizona, announcing that the plot of land where Willa Mae, is buried is about to be plowed over to build a shopping center. If she isn’t retrieved, she’ll simply be paved over.

Meanwhile, in the years following Willa Mae’s death, unsubstantiated rumours that she was buried with a veritable collection of jewels had been fairly well-known but rarely discussed. It isn’t long before the wheels start to turn in Billy’s head, however, and soon thereafter, unspoken deeds from the past and an all-around malaise of rapaciousness set in, resulting in a “winner-take-all” rally across the wastelands of the midwest to claim the bounty.

Getting Mother’s Body is a fantastically written book full of dry, quirky humour and sardonic wit amidst the vague canvases of racist west Texas. Each chapter is titled after a specific character from the book, whereupon the reader sees the adventure through said character’s perspective in a way that is not choppy, and does not detract from the storyline. Willa Mae herself has chapters from beyond the grave which consist of haunting, soulful lyrics.

In the end, Ms. Parks’ Getting Mother’s Body is a highly-recommended change of pace for any reader, regardless of race or persuasion. If this, her first novel, is any indication, however, it won’t be the last time we are treated to such an adventure.

cswiii @ 8:09 am



Good Luck, Independence Air… glad to see everything seemed to go without a hitch today! You’re gonna face a lot of challenges in coming months — mostly from large, troubled airlines who would rather squeeze you out of business than change their business model from an age-old, consistently failing, government bailout model. Regardless, I’ve got high hopes, and wish you the best.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 8:43 pm

Now, I guess the headline of this article is slightly amusing on its own, but it was even funnier, in my mind, as I misread it to say “Omish” (Amish).

cswiii @ 1:54 pm

Pop Quiz: Name that quote!

From whence did the following statement come:

“Journalists don’t give opinions. We report the news and we describe the event. If a Palestinian guy blows up in a car, I will say it exactly the way I’m saying it right now: I will say a Palestinian guy blew himself up.”

A. European correspondent from a major cable news network, explaining how one avoids causing controversy while reporting from Israel.
B. Reporter and apologist from a prominent Qatari broadcaster, denying accusations of broadcaster bias.
C. Director of a nationally-funded Arabic broadcasting station, on maintaining journalistic objectivity.
D. A late night talk show host, lampooning talking heads on the struggling Democratic radio foothold, “Air America”.

Did you make your selection? If you guessed “C.”, you’re right! Ok, so I was tricky. I didn’t say which nation funded it, but that would’ve probably given it away.

The quote comes from an interview in Foreign Policy magazine with Mouafac Harb, Director of News at Alhurra (“Freedom”), a Congressionally-backed station which broadcasts local news, regional news and current events across the Middle East.

Kind of puts things, at least a little bit, in perspective, I think. “Homicide Bombers” indeed, Fox News.

cswiii @ 12:58 pm


Review: Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass is the title of the 2003 film written by Billy Ray and based upon a Vanity Fair article by Buzz Bissinger, concerning the rise and fall of disgraced journalist and former associate editor of The New Republic, Stephen Glass.

Shattered Glass is an all-encompassing account of how, over a three-year period, Glass (played by Hayden Christensen), under two different editors — the late Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) and Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) — managed to partially or completely falsify twenty-seven of forty-one articles written for The New Republic, often referred to in the movie as “The in-flight reading material for Air Force One”. The Republic was not the only publication fooled by Glass, however, as a variety of other magazines, including Rolling Stone, George and Policy Review all published Glass’ fabricated bits.

In this film, much (due) credit is given to Forbes writer Adam Penenberg (Steve Zahn) in discovering this perpetrated fraud, when asked by his editor, “Why didn’t we get this story?”, with regards to a Glass piece entitled “Hack Heaven”. In researching Glass’ names, places and accounts, Penenberg is able to discover nary a shred of evidence, which leads to a seemingly implausible trail of deceit constructed by Glass, in a desparate attempt to cover his tracks.

The film itself does a fairly good job of illustrating the manipulative nature of Glass, who managed to turn much of the Republic‘s staff against its new editor, Lane. Actress Chloë Sevigny convincingly plays the role of “Caitlin Avey” (based upon real-life staffer Hanna Rosin), perhaps the most loyal and misled of any staffer in the film.

In this day and age, while watching this film, it is somewhat hard to suspend disbelief that Glass was able to “override” the fact checking system the way he did — searching the Internet, as Penenberg did, no longer seems to be as “novel” an approach now, as might might have been in 1998. Furthermore, from the beginning, the film’s rendition of Glass’ enthusiastic (and faked) account of his “hacker story” prior to publication will most likely be viewed with cynicism in the eyes of just about any technologically-oriented person. However, it must be realised that this is a true case of hindsight being 20/20, and that nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of journalists and readers were fooled time and time again by Glass’ actions.

The film does seem to drag on a bit near the end and Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of an ever-increasingly desparate Glass does seem a bit contrived. Furthermore the repetitive nature of some of Glass’ statements throughout the film — not to mention staffer reactions — sometimes get tiresome, but overall, this film is is pretty fascinating in exposing how one writer managed to fool well-read and well-trained readers, over and over again.

The DVD version of this film includes a 60 Minutes interview with Glass, concerning the events that unfolded. It should be noted, however, that Glass did not contribute to, nor have any comment, on the film itself.

Below are some articles of interest concerning the story of Stephen Glass:

  • Penenberg’s exposé of Glass’ deception, entitled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Fiction”:
  • A screenshot of the faked “corporate website” that Glass created as an attempt to cover his tracks:
  • A website illustrating the articles falsified by Stephen Glass:

cswiii @ 10:10 am


More WH Criticism

In other, more down-to-earth news, quite a number of former high-ranking officials are signing a statement condemning George W. Bush with regards to foreign policy decisions.

In all honesty, I simply can’t understand why anyone would want to re-elect this guy, other than staunch partisan sheep. Honestly. Re-elect a president who has sent our the deficit skyrocketing, trashed our image in the eyes of every other country in the world, gotten us involved in a middle east hornets nest, and had the audacity to sign into law the Patriot Act?

Geez, I know I sound like a broken record, but come on now! Hell, even four years of Kerry gridlock with a Republican legislature would be better than where we’re gonna be if Bush gets a second mandate.

cswiii @ 4:14 pm

Utterly Bizzarre

That’s about all I can say, concerning this article concerning some strange coronation ceremony for none other than the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in… the Dirksen Senate Office Building?!

It gets stranger

…and even stranger…!

Now, I am taking this with a grain of salt for now, and I’m not throwing down any sort of partisan gauntlet — there were, after all, both Republicans and Democrats at this strange event. I wish I could find out more about it, though — it’s perhaps the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!

cswiii @ 3:34 pm


Installing Democracy

Jess, a.k.a. “Mr. Political Science”, would you be able to shed any light on this article? Specifically, the following quote:

We should remember that since World War II, in 35 U.S. attempts to promote democracy around the world none have succeeded.

I am trying to do a quantitative and qualitative analysis of this statement. As it stands, I know I can’t name thirty-five US interventions, mostly because I don’t remember enough history concerning American foreign policy; I’d like to know what criteria Rep. Paul used to come to this conclusion.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 4:49 pm


Thin Man Platter

Now, I guess maybe I am a bit biased, because I think the Atkins diet is a farce — it’s for people with no willpower, who can’t discipline themselves for other diets, and because of that, these people think the Atkins diet is the answer to all their problems, and that it can be healthy and maintained indefinitely. Honestly, though any voluntary diet that requires you to take nutritional supplements is not healthy!

A lot of the same Atkinkopfs think that avoiding carbs means you can eat as much as you want, and this is the most proposterous thing I’ve ever heard. Calories = Calories, mmkay?

In the ad above, you’ll see an image from a local restaurant chain, Red Hot and Blue. I have been hearing their faux-Russian dude ad on the radio now for a few weeks. Now, I like RH&B — their BBQ is pretty good. I just can’t believe they have the audacity to market the middle dish listed on that graphic, though, as “The Thin Man Platter”

Thin Man Platter?? Come on now, pictured on that plate is is sausage, roast beef, pork ribs, turkey, and pulled pork BBQ. Thin Man?? I’m telling you, you could eat that straight from the source, without a grain of sugar on it, and you’d still pack on the pounds, no doubt. That much meat?


cswiii @ 11:23 am


The Balkanisation of Online Media

a.k.a. “The Balkanization of Online Media” as an alternate spelling

Just a few, quick unsorted thoughts regarding some observations I’ve made lately.

Ever since the dot-com boom began its precipitous ascent, one thing that was always on the minds of the pundits was that Big Media was having, and would continue to have, Big Trouble trying to compete on the internet. The argument went that traditional media model revolved around “paid media”, tangible or semi-tangible, whereas the internet model revolved around “free”. “How can anyone compete with free?” was the question always asked.

Eventually, the media outlets began using online ads to try and absorb some of these costs, and some have had varying success. The fact that online advertising has skyrocketed after post-boom slumps only seems to support this.

So why, then, have media companies started retreating back into something of a closed-access model?

Yeah, the New York Times has been doing it for years, requiring readers to register, in order to view the articles. Recently, the Washington Post began doing the same thing, as have any number of other publications. A simple search for any particular story of interest via Google News will return many results, whereupon generally about 1/3 of the results are “subscription-only”.

This is what I mean by the “Balkanisation” of online media. If media companies feel I — or anyone else for that matter — am going to register individually to read 150 different news sources, they’ve gone mad, especially considering that probably 75-90% of what you see in the papers is AP/UPI content — or at least heavily reliant thereon. The Balkanisation was pretty much aided by geography early on, but we’re in a global economy now. Are they trying to revert back to those days?

Now, perhaps that is the point — any one of these newspapers is vying for readers’ loyalty. But doesn’t this seem backwards? Vying for loyalty by forcing people to register in order to read the content? I dunno, that just doesn’t seem to jive.

However, if I find a story, perhaps via Google News or via other methods, and I am continually being required to register…
1) I probably won’t read the article at that site and/or I will find another place to read it,
2) I will begin reading my news from alternate sources on a more permanent basis, or
3) I will just find something else that catches my interest.

Really, it wouldn’t surprise me if, in the next 6-18 months, we start to see a lot of these media companies use a shared login/registration mechanism; it seems to me to be the only way they can at least try to both obtain their metrics and maintain/augment their readership. Even this, though, I feel would be a stumbling block for the media.

In the end, I am just somewhat surprised to see newspapers and the like reverting back to this sort of walled-off revenue model, especially when the ad market is obviously picking back up… and while I can almost understand paying for a “premium” service which might aggregate news sources to your liking, or might provide richer content, I don’t see how paying — even in mere terms of one’s own personal information — for flat, mostly-syndicated content is going to work.

Update: Referenced in Penenberg’s article.

cswiii @ 10:33 am


Drinking and Riding

* Rode the bike into work today; riding back home in a bit.
* It’s 85 degrees out there right now.
* Seriously wishing there was a bar between work and home at which I could stop and toss back a cold one.

cswiii @ 3:14 pm


Who’s Maurice?

I recently read an SI article (google cache) which likened the Old-but-New Redskins coaching staff to “Space Cowboys”, insofar as they might resemble the geriatric astronauts in the movie of the same name.

Well – if the Redskins’ staff is to be dubbed the “Space Cowboys”, I guess it’d only appropriate, all things considered, that the staff of the Philadelphia Eagles be called “The Gangsters of Love”.

…then again, perhaps it’s a better name for their rabidly primitive fans.

cswiii @ 12:28 pm


Orifice Space

To preface:
Should you not know about them, I’ll let you all in on the big secret: Target has some of the best potato chips out there. Thick, crunchy, and in a variety of great flavours (Thai, Tomato Basil, and apparently Buffalo Wing, to name a few), they are some of my new faves.

So, as I see these new flavours come out, I will, on occasion, pick up a bag or two, as it seems my office group has turned into something resembling “potato chip connoisseurs”. Usually they sit on my coworker’s desk.

A bit ago, we, tore into the Tomato Basil bag; a few minutes ago he came over to my desk. I’d left the receipt in the Target bag. At that point, the following exchange occurred.

“You left your receipt in the bag.”
“Oh, ok, thanks.”
(he walks off) “Boxer shorts, eh?”
“Hah, yeah… you don’t even want to know what the tension rod and plastic tape were for.”

cswiii @ 11:11 am