Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Speaking Truth to Power ... on Fitzmas Day

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, from today's summation in the Libby perjury trial

He stole the truth of the judicial system.

You return guilty, you give truth back.

Monday, February 12, 2007

If I Wanted to Read, I'd Go to School ...

Back in the day, when MTV still showed music videos, Beavis and Butt-head had a binary comments system, things either sucked or they were cool.

If a video had text elements, Butt-head had one additional comment: "If I wanted to read, I'd go to school."

Well, that was then, and this is now.

A professor in Kansas has put together a strangely moving text video, of how we got to where we are. I've seen it more than a few times now: The Machine is Us/ing Us

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Make Them Stop Saying I'm Not Cool

Poor, unhappy Bill Gates. All those billions, but the fact that Apple is cool and he isn't ... well ... it's just bugging the living crap out of him. This interview in Newsweek lays it out, proving that even for billionaires, there's no escaping high school.

Q. Are you bugged by the Apple commercial where John Hodgman is the PC, and he has to undergo surgery to get Vista?

A. I've never seen it. I don't think the over 90 percent of the [population] who use Windows PCs think of themselves as dullards, or the kind of klutzes that somebody is trying to say they are.

Q. How about the implication that you need surgery to upgrade?

A. Well, certainly we've done a better job letting you upgrade on the hardware than our competitors have done. You can choose to buy a new machine, or you can choose to do an upgrade. And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you're really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There's not even the slightest shred of truth to it.

Full story here.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Trial Lawyers: Who They Hurt, Who They Help

I heard someone say the other day that John Edwards is a trial lawyer, as if the words were synonymous with thief or murderer.

I know where it came from: the right wing noise machine.

But I didn't know why.

Then I figured it out: it's another example of the right wing's ability to convince ordinary people to identify with the rich and the powerful, instead of with their own interests.

Hearing the epithet trial lawyer hurled at John Edwards, like that made him a bad person, reminded me of one of his most celebrated cases: A little girl who was disemboweled by the filter system on a pool -- and lived.

It was not just a horrible accident.

It was one of many similar horrible accidents.

The company that made the filters knew about the problem, and did not issue an instant warning and recall to anyone who ever bought the product.

At the time the girl Edwards represented was so grievously hurt, there were already 12 other cases pending.

You can read about it yourself here.

This is the citation: Lakey v. Sta-Rite Industries(Wake Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1996)

This is the summary: A 5-year-old girl was disemboweled, but survived, after being caught and suctioned by a wading pool's defective drain. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, the manufacturer continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings.

This was the outcome: A $25 million settlement.

Are settlements like that too high? I think they are too low. The people that let a child get hurt like this long after the danger is apparent should live in fear of losing everything.

If it was my kid, I'd want the money for the round-the-clock care she would need for the rest of her life, and I'd also want something more: for the people who knowingly let this happen to go to jail forever and ever and ever.

So, the next time I hear someone say trial lawyer like it's a bad thing, I'll be ready to say what's on my mind.

It's simple, really.

You can be on the side that helps people who are injured, or you can be on the side of people who intentionally let children be disemboweled in pools.

I know which side I'm on.

And, for the record, my father was a trial lawyer -- on the plaintiff's side.

The Way Forward -- for Media

I would like to see newspapers expand instead of contracting, but I don't think it's going to happen ... their survival strategies seem to be a race to the bottom, and people will always be able to see more embarrassing pix of celebrities online for free than a paper is going to publish, even in its digital editions, so that game is lost before it starts.

Back when this country was founded, newspapers were wildly opinionated party organs, written for very targeted audiences, and they spoke from a clear agenda.

You were free to agree or disagree, but it was absolutely clear where they were coming from: my party good, your party bad.

With the advent of technology -- that would have been the telegraph -- media became mass and went "objective" to widen their advertiser appeal and audience, and attempted to capture larger markets, both geographically and politically.

It worked for a while, until it didn't anymore.

I've believed for a long time that the way for print media -- online or digital -- to be successful again is to be clearly and strongly partisan, whichever direction the agenda is coming from, to effectively compete for and win people's passions and loyalties.

Objectivity worked for a while, as mass media worked for a while, but passion is already overtaking it, whichever side people are on.

And Web 4.0 hooks it all up together -- restaurant reviews, concerts, dinner dates, movies, invites and your calendar