Saturday, January 31, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Is there any hope for the academy?

Some days i doubt it. This is one of those days. I just finished KC Johnson's review of the latest Duke lacrosse book. His incisive analysis shows once again that too many modern academics spend most of their brainpower avoiding inconvenient facts that are right in front of their eyes.

Review: Race to Injustice

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Having fun with a serious subject

R.S. McCain has a little sport with the latest sex "research".

Sex and science
Unfortunately, this kind of bad research can have terrible consequences when it gets into the hands of educators.

Give us science, but not too much

"What Lies Beneath the Titillation"
The future of newsweeklies

Howard Kurtz looks at Time and Newsweek as they struggle to adapt to a changed media marketplace.

Do Newsmags Still Matter?

Two elements of their strategy seem problematic.

First, both magazines have reconciled themselves to shrinking readership. Each of them are moving away from a mass audience model and are concentrating on a niche marketing approach.

The rival editors are turning out weeklies that are smaller, more serious, more opinionated and, though they are loath to admit it, more liberal.

It is striking that both editors are fighting for the same liberal readers as an answer to a shrinking market. Both magazines would rather compete for the same readership instead of repositioning to appeal the under-served center-right readership.

Selling opinion does have one advantage-- it is cheaper than reporting.

The shift toward analysis carries an ancillary benefit: It is cheaper than shoe-leather reporting. Each magazine's editorial staff -- 215 for Time, fewer than 200 for Newsweek -- is about half the size it was a decade or so ago.

The short-term cost savings may be an illusion. Opinion is free and plentiful on the web. As Time and Newsweek become less news-based, they end up competing with all that internet punditry.

Lower costs are only part of a solution for any struggling company. They also need to put out a product that people will pay for. I think it is debatable that the week-old commentary of Jonathan Alter or Joe Klein constitute a compelling proposition to potential subscribers.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This has long been one of my favorite quotes

Eric Hoffer
Nice write-up about one of my favorite Steelers

James Farrior: The Quiet Riot

Steelers linebacker James Farrior doesn't have Baltimore star Ray Lewis' flamboyance, but he's every bit the competitor

He has topped the acclaimed [Ray] Lewis three of the past four years in tackles and sacks and surpassed him three of the past five years in forced fumbles and fumbles recovered. But Farrior's number of Pro Bowls? Counting this year's, two, compared to Lewis' 10 in 13 seasons. Farrior's number of Defensive Player of the Year Awards? He finished No. 2 to Lewis' Ravens teammate Ed Reed in 2004, compared to Lewis' two first places

See more here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How the game is played in Washington

Peter Pettigrew Politics From the Land of Powell

Wilkerson seems oblivious to the idea that his comments paint not only himself but Secretary Powell into a newer version of what was said of Richard Nixon during Watergate. Either, said the liberals (and others), Nixon was corrupt (if he knew about Watergate and was a participant of some sort) or he was utterly stupid (if he had no idea what was going on around him in his name). It was a lose-lose proposition that meant Nixon had to go. In the Wilkerson version, either he and his boss Powell knew all about these high crimes being committed by Bush, Cheney and company (in which case they should have done something about it post haste) -- or in not knowing what was going on around them every day proved Powell and company as little short of spectacularly incompetent in their respective posts at the State Department.

Yet Powell himself received a great deal of favorable press during his tenure. And still does, as the mainstream media lapped up his endorsement of Obama. How can this be if Powell and his staff did such a lousy job? It is one of the hardiest if hoary rules of thumb in Washington that there is a direct relationship between positive press clips and leaks. The revelation that Powell Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was in fact the leaker of Valerie Plame's CIA identity to columnist Robert Novak provided a quite accidental look-see for Washington outsiders into how the Powell people played the game, even if Novak wasn't into the burnish-the-Powell-portrait game. It was decidedly not an accident -- nor the action of a "dumb strongman" -- that Bush refused to give the Powell-Wilkerson clique a second tour of duty at State. The President had to suspect or know outright what the game was. That whatever the real object with Powell and his entourage, to give this clique another four years in which they could quietly, on a not-for-attribution basis, continue to trash their own president in precisely the kind of terms Wilkerson suddenly began spouting in public after his and Powell's departure from Foggy Bottom would be a big mistake

Friday, January 02, 2009

An extraordinary memoir

One of my Christmas presents was Robert Novak's The Prince of Darkness. It is an amazing memoir-- honest, opinionated, and unflinching. Novak shows us the inside of Washington journalism and how it changed over the past half-century.

The book is worth reading simply for the inside story of the Plame/Wilson "leak" and the phony scandal it produced.

Sympathy for the devil

The New York Times has an interesting obituary for CIA traitor Philip Agee. Of course, since it is the New York Times, they manage to 1) minimize the harm he did, 2) overlook the KGB's role in his activities, 3) blame the CIA for "exploiting" Agee's public treachery.

The New Criterion offers a necessary corrective here.