Wednesday, September 30, 2009

At least there's one person in NYS with the guts to make tough decisions

Not that he hasn't caused some of his own problems, but I feel a little bad for Gov. Paterson. He was wildly popular back when he was telling people what they wanted to hear. But when he started putting his talk into words, he found out that people are hypocrites. They want politicians to TALK about fiscal restraint but flip out when they actually try to PRACTICE fiscal restraint. A 'vital program' is one that helps you. 'Wasteful spending' is one that helps someone else.

Paterson is trying to address a huge budget deficit with an incompetent and crooked legislature. But all the media chattering class has been able to focus on is presidential body language, cheap shots at the governor's disability, incessant-polls-as-a-substitute-for-news and two stupid little soap operas (one surrounding the petty little melodrama of a Kennedy family member scorned and the other regarding the ambitions of a former Kennedy family member).

New Yorkers are facing skyrocketing property taxes and the media's more interested in diving the meaning of a presidential embrace.

I guess that's the difference between having the responsibility to govern and sitting in the peanut gallery.

Note: WAMC's Capitol Connection has a good half hour interview with the governor.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

120+ massacred as Guinean insecurity forces attack protesters

This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents compelling stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, IsraelStine and the Trumped Up Enemy of the Month. A list of all pieces in this series can be found found here..

(Reprinted with permission from Friends of Guinea blog)

Initial optimism about the new regime [in Guinea] has faded dramatically ever since junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara reneged on a promise to not participate in presidential elections scheduled for January 31.

A new political party, the Rally for the Defense of the Republic, was formed to back the military leader's candidacy. After Dadis, who unilaterally declared himself president following the death of Gen. Lansana Conté, broke his pledge not to run for the chief executive, the African Union imposed sanctions on Guinea.

Anti-Dadis has been rising ever since the coup leader's electoral ambitions became clear. He was met by huge protests when he visited Labé, the country's second largest city. And when the opposition tried to organize a rally against the regime, the junta banned it.

When the demonstration proceeded anyway, the "security" forces fired live ammunition at the crowd, reportedly killing dozens of demonstrators.

"It's butchery! There are dozens of dead," a Conakry doctor told the French news agency AFP.

Some media outlets reporting the death total as high as 87.

Another Conakry doctor told the IRIN news agency that there were 'hundreds' of injuries from bullets and beatings.

The massacre occurred on the 51st anniversary of the referendum in which Guineans voted for independence from France.

Update: Al-Jazeera reports that opposition leader and former prime minister Cellou Dalien Diallo and several other politicians were thrown in jail. A source indicated to me that Diallo was also shot during the protests. New reports suggest the death toll now exceeds 120.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weimar and Quebec

Does anyone know of any good books on either La Révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) in Quebec or on the Weimar Republic? Any on the Quiet Revolution can be either in French or English. I'm looking for something that's about Weimar in its own right and not so much about it being relegated into a subsection about the Nazis' rise to power.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy International Day of Peace

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Socialism" and health insurance

I'm getting increasingly annoyed at hearing people who already receive taxpayer-funded health insurance or care call it "socialism" when it's proposed that everyone else receive the same thing. Basically, they want working Americans to pay, at least in part, for their health care but object to having to reciprocate. I believe something like 70 million Americans receive either Medicare, Medicaid or VA care. If you add that number to everyone who works in the public sector (federal, state and local bureaucrats, prison guards, soldiers, teachers, etc), the number of people who receive taxpayer-funded health insurance or care has to be close to, if not actually, a majority of Americans.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The health care status quo being defended

Insurance costs have increased 131 percent since 1999... That supercharged growth rate far outpaces the 38 percent increase in wages and 28 percent growth of inflation over the same period. -McClatchy Newspapers

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Local Democratic Congressman wants to fine the poor for being poor

One of the blogs at has an entry on local Congressman Scott Murphy's support for mandatory private health insurance. In doing so, the Democrat has managed a way to support just about the only thing that would actually make the present health care system worse.

Mandatory health insurance can work only within the context of Medicare for All (single payer). Anything else essentially punishes the poor and middle class for not being well off.

From what I understand, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the plan Murphy supports would fine people thousands of dollars for the "crime" of not being able to afford health insurance. In other words, you punish those who've hit hard times for the "crime" of... having hit hard times.

You'd think it was devised by Ebenezer Scrooge.

Mandatory insurance scheme does have one great beneficiary: the private insurance lobby.

Some have compared the plan to auto insurance, which is also obligatory. But there are two main differences.

Auto insurance is mandatory not to protect you, but rather to protect someone you might crash in to. The purpose of health insurance is to protect yourself.

Further, auto insurance is not mandatory for everyone. It's only mandatory if you drive. If you can't afford auto insurance, then you can take your car off the road and not drive. Does this mean that if you can't afford mandatory health insurance, you can just stop breathing?

Murphy claims, "The critical thing though is that if you do that you’ve got to have affordable policies out there for people. There’s got to be an option that they can afford that is available to them."

But if you live paycheck to paycheck or are in dire straits, then it's quite possible that no policy, however cheap, will be affordable. Perhaps our multimillionaire venture capitalist Congressman doesn't have a clue what "affordable" means to ordinary, working Americans.

In this sense, mandatory insurance with fines is actually WORSE than the present system because it takes money away from something they might need (food, shelter, electricity) and forces them to put it toward something they may or may not use at some distant point in the future... and that even if they do use, they will have to pay further expenses like co-pays and deductibles.

Medicare for All works because everyone else props up those who have fallen on difficult times. Workers pay taxes which go into a pool that covers everybody.

Yes, it means that you're partly paying for someone else: children, seniors, the less well off. This is how every social program works: the cost of collective programs is spread out collectively. The taxes I indirectly pay via my rent are used to educate kids, even though I have none. They are used to pay firefighters even though I've never had to call them. My income taxes are used to provide Medicare for senior citizens, even though won't be one for decades, and highways even though I don't drive.

I don't wave my hands hysterically and scream "theft" because some day I may have kids, some day I may have a fire in my building and hopefully some day I'll be old.

There are certain things everyone pays for and everyone has access to its benefits.

Libertarians and conservatives like to claim that Medicare for All won't work because the government is evil/incompetent and can't do anything right. Let's extend that logic further. We have universal, taxpayer funded national security. Let's disband the military! We have universal, taxpayer funded public safety. Dismantle all local and state police forces and all sherrif's departments. If people want to be safe, let them pay for their own private security forces or mercenaries! I'm waiting for someone to advocate this.

Fining someone for being poor is about as despicable a thing as I can think of. It's so ludicrous you'd think it was some Swiftian parody of the sort of cruelty liberals like to impute to those heartless conservatives. What can be most heartless than this?

You'd think it was a parody until you realize that it's being pushed the Democratic Party, the organization that has the gall to refer to itself as "the party of the people."

I guess to the Democrats, there are no people other than insurance company shareholders with their corporate "donations"/bribes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Subscribe to blog updates on Twitter

You can get updates to my general blog Musings of a (Fairly) Young Contrarian and my Africa blog Black Star Journal on the microblogging service Twitter.

Just follow the username: mofycbsj

Or go to the link:

Any time I post to either blog, I post a title on Twitter and link to the piece.

One advantage of Twitter is that I can easily repost ("Re-Tweet" or RT) articles and essays from a wide variety of other sources. I do so for pieces that I find interesting but do not necessarily have the time to compose an essay of my own commenting on it; in other cases, they are so well-written or compelling that they speak for themselves.

Some recent RTs I've shared:

"How British invented 'development' during WWII as propaganda to defend colonialism & cover up racism," from Bill Easterly, a professor and development expert with whom I've sparred on the pages of Foreign Policy;

"African famines examined," from Public Radio International's The World;

"Could we improve care by changing the way we pay doctors?" from The Christian Science Monitor online;

"Internet access and telecommuting in the Adirondacks," from North Country Public Radio and featuring an interview with Adirondack Almanack founder and contributor John Warren.

Check it out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not quite getting the concept

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Kanye West, Serena Williams, Congressman Liar, anti-health care reform mobs, screaming replacing intelligent debate... when Marx wrote of a "classless society," I'm pretty sure this isn't what he meant.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

I've really become bored with the tired political theater that passes for debate in this country. Or really disillusioned is a better word.

'Intellectual' has rarely been a word to describe political debate in America, but facts, principles and critical thinking should occasionally make an appearance.

Theater is an inherent part of politics. So are emotions. A system driven exclusively by facts with no regard to the non-quantifiable gives us things like eugenics and "scientific socialism," where human life is reduced to a series of mathematical calculations. As often happens in the health insurance industry. Even social Darwinism of the type advocated by Ronald Reagan and his followers spat on the idea that humanity should be a factor in public policy decision. "There is no such thing as society," sniffed Reagan's erstwhile ally Mrs. Thatcher.

But these days, the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Theater and unreasoned emotion has come to suffocate politics. No, it's not at all unique in our nation's history. These things tend to ebb and flow. Probably the nastiest election in our nation's history was in 1800, a contest between several of our sainted Founding Fathers. Still, we're at low tide in terms of intelligent national discourse.

People who consider themselves serious tend to take a very self-aggrandizing view of politics. Political junkies stuffily regard themselves as far superior to the ignorant rednecks who like Jerry Springer or the testosterone-driven teenage boys who follow professional wrestling. But is the political mentality really any different than trash TV or the soap opera WWE?

Political "debate" is all about cheap points, about transient "winners" and "losers," rather than affecting people's lives. It's about entertaining rather than enlightening. It's about appealing to their emotions rather than their brains.

The horse race aspect of politics, this little parlor game, has nothing to do with the real lives of real people. Political yap shows, pro wrestling and Jerry Springer really are three different versions of the same thing.

The main difference is that pro wrestling and Jerry Springer have no pretense to a higher sophistication.

Take this week's edition of "Figuring out what molehill can be made into Mount Everest for no other purpose than scoring cheap points in the little parlor game people with comfortable lives and internet/cable access like to engage in."

There are important things the country ought to be obsessing about. The little temper tantrum of some nitwit Congressman from South Carolina is not one of them.

The Congressman apologized for his classless outburst and the president wisely accepted his apology. Yet, defenders of the Congressman and of the president refuse to let this non-issue die.

Hypocrisy abound is why I've tuned out of most political discussion.

If a Democrat had yelled out "You lie" during a Bush address to Congress, the right would've demanded he be sent to Guantanamo for "enhanced interrogation."

By contrast, the Iraqi journalist who called Bush a pig and threw a shoe at him was virtually canonized by the US anti-Bush movement.

The interests of ordinary people seems be absent from political discourse. Even when ordinary people engage in that discourse, they blindly follow the talking points handed down to them by the liberal and conservative establishment, talking points designed solely to distract the masses from what's really important. And it's not just the ignorant and poorly educated folks who allow themselves to be distracted by this nothingness.

"A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." -From Macbeth.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

An informed public requires an informed media (with correction)

A follow up to my earlier essay "They want us to pay for this junk":

In a finger wagging column dated Tuesday, September 08, 2009, the Post-Star's fearless leader Ken Tingley wrote: President Obama will be speaking to the nation tonight at 8 p.m. I like it when presidents address the nation. I think it is important. I think it is our civic duty to sit there and listen. And unfortunately, it is a good bet that more than half of us will be watching something like a Seinfeld re-run. And, yes, there is something wrong with that.

I thought it was the most fundamental duty of journalists to get the facts right.

Pres. Obama may well be one of those watching Seinfeld re-runs tonight Sept. 8, because his address to the nation will be on Sept. 9... tomorrow night.

Correction: I've been informed that this was the result of a technical error. Specifically, that the date stamp reflects when the piece was published to the website, not the date it was published in the newspaper. The phrasing in the piece was presumably written based upon the print publishing date. Hopefully, this is a glitch that the paper's web staff can address. Apologies for the erroneous assumption. Thanks to the source who provided this information.

A dialogue with the irrational

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Irrational, n.: lacking in reason: contrary to or lacking in reason or logic

I happened to on the Facebook polls section answering a few here and there. It never ceases to amaze and scare me how much vitriol is out there, even more so considering how much of it is based on misinformation and a frightening lack of critical thinking. Poll questions like "Do you agree with the president's plan to ban guns?" I couldn't find it, but I'm sure there's one asking, "Do you agree with the president's plan to make school children chop up aborted fetuses and sprinkle them on top of their salad while they chant Satanic and communist slogans?"

One of the poll questions I responded to asked if you agreed with the decision to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from "government schools." I made the mistake of responding in the forum that this was a bogus question because it hasn't been banned. Some random guy sent me a private response. The result was honestly the most mind-numbing exchange I've ever been a part of.

I've come to believe that the important thing is not what you think but how you think. It's not about your ideology. What's killing this country is the complete deterioration of critical thinking skills, a deterioration aggravated by the fact that there's now an increasing contempt for such skills. "Debate" is no longer about facts or even a logical argument. It's about snark. It's about scoring points on trivialities.

There's all this happy talk about finding common ground and transcending partisanship. But when you can't even agree that facts matter, then how can you ever hope to reconcile differing interpretations of and values applied to those facts?

It's not this guy's ideology or hyper-religiosity that bothers me. What bothers me is his complete rejection of the idea that facts matter, his complete refusal to provide the tiniest scintilla of evidence (even from the media outlet of his choice) to back up his hysterical and dubious allegation, despite his insinuation that this was common knowledge.

I tried to be gentle at first, giving him the benefit of the doubt. But it become clear that he was clinging on to his willful ignorance, which I feel is one of the worst sins.

Here's the mind-numbing exchange, verbatim...

T: The Pledge of Allegiance was removed from the government ran school system because it "offended" too many other religions! Well guess what, to stinkin bad if your offended! This country has been blessed from God for so many years because of how we have supported israel. (Genesis 12:3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Me: I have not heard this. Do you have a link to a news organization for this "story"?

T: i have an even easier way for you to find out. how bout you look for yourself. call up a local elementary school in your district and simply ask them? they dont allow it anymore because of an african-american lady that complained about it! im sorry, i dont have a name to who this lady was, but they (the government) allowed the school system to take out the Pledge of Allegiance out of public and i believe even private schools. check it out man, im a christian conservative and i wont lie about something like this.

Me: In other words you can't provide evidence because it's not true. As I figured.

T: well man believe what you want. if you choose to be blind to the truth then thats your choice. you should at least look into it if you want to prove me wrong, but thats your choice. The return of Christ is very, very near friend. if your into the bible and Gods word at all, or have an open-mind to it, read the bible. the bible talks about the ending times and what will happen during this time period. we are living in the moment of what the bible talks about! but, dont take my word for it, check it out yourself! i recommend the King James Version (KJV). take care and God bless!

Me: If this had any relationship to reality, this would've created a HUGE firestorm of media publicity. I live in a very conservative area where every far right molehill is made into Mount Everest. Nothing has been said about it here. To say nothing of the fact that the government can't dictate these things to private schools, which is why religious schools exist in the first place. It's possible it may have happened at one individual school but it's NOT nationwide. I don't expect you're lying. I do expect you're badly misinformed by some hysterical rumor someone else started to get people riled up about nothing. YOU check it out. You're the one making the wild allegation you can't back up. You're the one who will believe something without a single shred of evidence and calls other people "blind to the truth" because they don't believe every wild rumor they hear. Like I said, just because some random person on the Internet that I've never met says something doesn't mean I'm going to automatically believe it's true or that he's fully informed. If you try to back it up, then I'd consider it. I have plenty of reason to believe you're misinformed, but you haven't given me a single reason to believe you might be right. It's that simple.

T: you can believe anything you want. if you live in a conservative area, then your very lucky! i unfortunately dont. the state i live is very liberal and communist! i dont like it at all, but the whole country is socialist now because of the president and his administration. if your younger brother still says the Pledge of Allegiance, quite honestly im surprised! government run schools, or "public schools" teach bs info about global warming, evolution and the big bang theory! they brainwash the youth because there easy to brainwash and the parents dont always know what is being taught! The Pledge of Allegiance HAS been taken out of the majority of public school systems across america! to say that every school has across america, well that i dont know! i dont believe i said that in the first place, but IF i did, i miscommunicated that info! to sit and argue with you all day is a waste of my time and im sure your time. debating i dont mind doing, especially with liberal commies! im glad to hear that where you live they haven't taken the Pledge of Allegiance out yet. however, i warn you about this, they way the government is on this massive power overhaul now, i wouldn't be surprised if they pushed for that in your area in the near future! i hate saying that, but it would not surprise me! one other thing quickly, i dont mind being PROVEN wrong if they fact are there and i do enjoy debating. i also support God and His word and believe in the freedoms in which our founding fathers fought and died for. for all that and MY opinion, i am very well hated because of my right-wing terroristic views of the country i love! take care once again, and my God be with you and yours!

Me: Until you back up your wild claims with actual evidence, further discussion is pointless since you don't seem to believe in the importance of actual facts. If there really is a god, I hope he blesses you with a little wisdom.

T: well maybe if you took an extra approach to prove me wrong and see what im talking about by researching or looking information up on the internet, you would have an idea of what im talking about. and there is a God! and wisdom he teaches comes from the bible! if you choose to deny Christ, then thats your choice! but, if you do not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your saviour, you wont spend eternal life in heaven! you can knock me down all you want, i honestly dont care what you think about me. but the facts are there and speak for themselves! i gave my life to the Lord some time ago. if you want to learn Gods word, or open yourself to Gods word, then open the kings james bible and read! the facts are there my friend, but you must open yourself to his word. you want facts, then read this (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoseoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Me: Basically you know you're wrong and cant prove it because its not true but are afraid to admit it. It's pride. But you should try to overcome this sin.

Me: Actually I'm curious... I heard on the Internet that Christian extremists are killing gays, chopping them up and eating the pieces. Can you disprove this?

Note: This was tongue-in-cheek to make a point. This hyperbole, you'll see, obviously eluded him... thus further illustrating my point about his unquestioning nature.

Me: Oh and it must eat at you that the guy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance didn't include the word God in it (despite being a Baptist minister) AND was an avowed socialist. And unlike you, I can actually offer some evidence. From the right wing website Lou (The Pledge's author) "Francis Bellamy said that one purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance was to help accomplish his lifelong goal of making his cousin’s socialist fantasy a reality in America." Bellamy "understood perfectly well that the first step along the way to his socialist utopia was a consolidated or unitary state, just like the one Bismarck had created in Germany through "blood and iron," and the one Abraham Lincoln championed in the U.S. Monopoly government, in other words, was a necessary first step on the road to socialism." You're defending socialism. Who knew?!

T: well obviously your trying to make a mockery of me and thats fine. i could honestly careless what you think of me or ANY bible believing and/or God fearing christians out there! if you choose to listen to the liberal medias version of "facts", thats your choice! i however choose the truth! and the truth comes from the word of God! i do not support socialism in this great country, but we are now, with this new government. i dont mind debating issues with people, i really dont. and yes your right, facts should be supported to back up what a person is talking about. and i try to get facts to support what i say, when i say there facts. but, it dont sound to me at all that you have many facts yourself! am i trying to make a fellow american upset? no actually im not! and the Pledge of Allegiance does have the word God in it. "One nation under God", does that ring a bell? Check it out for yourself. Apparently you've never said it before yourself? and about the apparent christian extremists eating and chopping up gays? ive never, ever heard that before. am i saying i dont believe it? not necessarily, but i listen to christian conservative radio everyday, and conservative radio, and i have never heard anything about that. thats horrible if thats taking place. but i will say this to you, ALL sins must be repented and confessed to the Lord Jesus Christ! no sin is greater than another! want facts? open the king james bible and start reading friend! id recommend you start reading in the book of John. if you choose to not believe what the word of God says, you must take that to God! take care and may God be with you!

Me: First, the Pledge as it was originally written in the late 1800s did not contain the word God. It was added by politicians in the 1950s. That's a fact you can look up (though I'll be happy to provide a link). You say that the "fact" about the Pledge being banned is all over the Internet yet you can't provide a source, mainstream or conservative. Frankly, I feel sorry for you. You believe whatever you hear without question, without investigating. That's what makes people, liberal conservative or whatever, to be brainwashed. It's not what you think, it's how you think. And it's obviously that critical thinking is something you oppose.

T: you can say whatever you want about me. put me down every way you want, i dont really care! i stay tuned into politics because I LOVE MY FREEDOMS, and i will NOT go down without a fight! you choose to listen to what you want, and i will choose the facts! i hate putting it that way, but so be it! put me and my views down all you want. im plenty used to that from the lefty communist side of this country! its unfortunate, but true! take care fellow american, and again... may God be with you and yours! i continue to pray for those that are lost, and you may be one of those i pray for! the return of Christ is very, very near! do you know Christ as your saviour? you keep ignoring this subject about God. the return of Christ is very near... do you know Him as your Lord and saviour? take care and God bless!!

Me: You have offered no facts. You've refused to provide facts every single time I ask.

T: yeah ok! once again, may God be with you and yours!

Me: It's weird how you're defending a Pledge that talks about unity ("one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for ALL") while yelling so mch about how much you hate so many Americans.

T: ok, now you are really trying to get under my skin! when did i ever say that i hated americans? illegal people in this country i dont like because the liberal government is allowing them to take away hard-earned tax dollars from AMERICANS, and waste away when they dont even pay taxes! AND AGAIN, you change the subject! you seem to really enjoy arguing... whatever lol. if you want to ignore the TRUTH about Jesus Christ and his return, thats your choice. ill pray for you. God bless!

Me: Every meesage you sent me has been a rant about how you hate Americans who are communists, Americans who are socialists, Americans who are liberals, Americans who aren't Christian, blah blah blah. You basically seem to hate every kind of American who isn't exactly like you. You're a hateful person and I want nothing more to do with you. Good bye.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Reminder on commenting policy

Just a reminder that while pseudonyms or nicknames are allowed, completely unsigned comments will not be published. Read here for more details.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Horse manure

Speaking of the collapse of journalistic standards, it's a remarkable indictment of the local daily that this was the top story on the front page of the print edition, a choice defended by Post-Star supremo Ken Tingley.

Call me old-fashioned, me being only a fairly young contrarian, but I think sports should very rarely be on the front page of a serious newspaper. And I'm an unabashed sports' fan.

The front page of the paper should only include sports' stories when it's something that truly envelops the community, such as the basketball state tournament in Glens Falls. Ordinary sports stories, including this horse tale, never belong.

Then again, I guess that's what you get when you put a former sports' editor in charge of the news' department.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

They want us to pay for this junk?!

There's been quite a discussion in media circles about whether online newspapers should charge the end user for content, in contrast to nearly every other segment of the news media. But are savvy consumers really going to pay for some content that they can get for free in a million different other places or the unique content that's guided by collapsing standards and vanishing quality?

Yet another example: a few weeks ago, The Post-Star published a letter to the editor by a self-proclaimed leader of the local Tea Baggers. He bragged that he was "very knowledgeable of the political process" and that he "had the pleasure of teaching it at the NCO Leadership Academy, Barksdale Air Force Base, La."

This American history expert went on to declare: "The government, as set forth in the U.S. Constitution, is a 'government of the people, by the people and for the people.'"

Apparently no one at the daily was educated (or observant) enough to notice that the phrase 'government of the people, by the people and for the people' comes not from the Constitution but from the Gettysburg Address. An editor's note was clearly warranted to correct this mis-implication.

Such carelessness has become par for the course for The Post-Star, which is now rife with common spelling errors. Bear in mind, I don't go scouring the paper for these mistakes. They just jump out at me. And I don't even read anywhere close to every article.

Why it matters is very simple.

If the paper shows that degree of carelessness with the easy things, one wonders how rigorous it's being with the hard, important things. If they screw up the stuff we know, how can we trust them to tell us the stuff we don't know?

Early this year, the paper published the engagement announcement of my sister. Despite being correct as submitted (my mom is an English teacher and a stickler for proper grammar, spelling and punctuation), the paper managed to misspell the word 'art' as 'are' in the paid announcement.

My mom was annoyed by this since she'd paid good money for it. She went into the paper's office and insisted they reprint it correctly. The employee made the correction in the computer and showed the version to my mom, which she okayed. Somehow, they managed to bungle the reprint, making the exact same mistake.

She went back to the paper's office, even more annoyed at the amateurishness, and made them retype the announcement from scratch. They finally got it right, requiring three attempts to properly spell the word 'art.'

So newspapers are betting their future that people will want to spend more money on this sort of incompetence??

Of course, the local weekly Chronicle is far from perfect itself. It ran the engagement announcement a month AFTER the wedding occurred which doesn't seem like good form. But at least the Chronicle doesn't expect to pay for their mistakes. And lame headlines aside, the weekly manages to be a little better written despite being free.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Temporary slowdown

Due to a very busy fall schedule, I will be posting here less frequently than usual in September and October.