Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain Says Obama's Number One

I've heard some goofy campaign ideas - but for the John McCain presidential campaign to promote this idea that his opponent is the "biggest celebrity in the world" puts McCain is on the sidelines, watching his opponent carry the day.

Claiming that none but Obama has the title of champ for worldwide celebrity fame is, given the nature of fame, more than just waving a flag of surrender. McCain's folks were darned near congratulating Obama for hitting the top of the charts. What's McCain's next plan: croon the tune "You're The Tops" to him via a video valentine??

Yeesh. Is Bill Hobbs working for McCain or something? What? He is? Oh well then ...

Just read what was written in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Campaign manager Rick Davis said the Spears and Hilton photos were included to "demonstrate that the focus of the Obama campaign has been as much to create that celebrity status of his as it is to discuss the hard issues that the American people are forced to debate during the course of this campaign."

(Ouch. So Obama is focused on both discussing hard issues and still becoming wildly popular, eh? Yeah that's just awful ....)

"What we decided to do is find the top three international celebrities in the world," Davis added.
"And I would say from our estimations, Britney and Paris came in second and third."

McCain adviser Steve Schmidt also chided Obama as "the biggest celebrity in the world."

(Yee-ouch!! That had to sting!! In the world, you say, not just in the US of A? Yes, how ... terrible??)

"It's backed up by the reality of his tour around the world. He has many fans," Schmidt said. "The question that we are posing to the American people is this: Is he ready to lead yet? And the answer to the question that we will offer to the American people is no, that he is not."

Someone is paying for McCain's crew to talk like that about his opponent?

It reads like "Of course he's a success, the press loves his style, he's photogenic and comes across great on TV and magazine interviews and he's capturing the imaginations of people around the world, he is on top of his game -- but ... uh .... John McCain is ... nothing ... like ... that. .... Hmmm. Let me rephrase that ..."

Just sad, really, really sad.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Info on Info

I marvel at the discussions about reading, writing and every other thing on the Internet which aim to study just what good it does us, or if it does us ill.

As some have noted - concerns about Information are as old as .. well, as Information:
"The continuity I have in mind has to do with the nature of information itself or, to put it differently, the inherent instability of texts. In place of the long-term view of technological transformations, which underlies the common notion that we have just entered a new era, the information age, I want to argue that every age was an age of information, each in its own way, and that information has always been unstable.
The writer of the essay, Robert Darnton has other ideas to consider, too:
"Other stories about blogging point to the same conclusion: blogs create news, and news can take the form of a textual reality that trumps the reality under our noses. Today many reporters spend more time tracking blogs than they do checking out traditional sources such as the spokespersons of public authorities. News in the information age has broken loose from its conventional moorings, creating possibilities of misinformation on a global scale. We live in a time of unprecedented accessibility to information that is increasingly unreliable. Or do we?

I would argue that news has always been an artifact and that it never corresponded exactly to what actually happened. We take today's front page as a mirror of yesterday's events, but it was made up yesterday evening—literally, by "make-up" editors, who designed page one according to arbitrary conventions: lead story on the far right column, off-lead on the left, soft news inside or below the fold, features set off by special kinds of headlines. Typographical design orients the reader and shapes the meaning of the news. News itself takes the form of narratives composed by professionals according to conventions that they picked up in the course of their training—the "inverted pyramid" mode of exposition, the "color" lead, the code for "high" and "the highest" sources, and so on. News is not what happened but a story about what happened."

He is writing mostly to shore up support for the institution of The Library, an actual building and location with real books and papers you can hold in your hand. And yes, studying the creation of those books and documents also indicate vast amounts of information had been shuffled to fit the needs or concerns of it's creators.

A recent report in the NY Times takes a look at reading and the Internet, called "Online, R U Really Reading?":

"On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends.

Young people “aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line,” said Rand J. Spiro, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University who is studying reading practices on the Internet. “That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.”

Just recall that no one really taught classes in how to use text messaging, and yet somehow, Tennessee ranked last month as the "Textiest State in the Southeast". (And is "textiest" even a real word??)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Condolences for Shooting Victims in Knoxville Church

UPDATE: Potent video from the aftermath of the shooting at the Knoxville church via Knox News Sentinel reporter Frank Munger.
UPDATE 2: Early investigations indicate the accused killer targeted the church for what he perceived to be the political beliefs of members - being "liberal", being "Democrat", and supporting the gay and lesbian community.

-- More here in discussion of these topics: "
Well, this is what happens when you foment hatred in order to win elections."

- A pastor speaks out.

- Framing this event as a politically motivated hate-crime appears to be unavoidable, something sure to set off an internet firestorm in this area of typically Conservative East Tennessee, and it is a key aspect of FBI involvement, especially given the incendiary statements from the accused killer, Jim Adkisson.


I'm wondering today how a shooting spree and some recent events might be linked. Others are too.

Yesterday morning I was reading at a few regular local web sites when at KnoxBlab the news came across about a shooting spree at the Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. The postings were within minutes of the event, and it was at least a few hours before the local traditional media outlets had the reports. Today the story is being well-tracked online and in reports and posts at No Silence Here, and at many other sites too.

I had just been reading one writer yesterday morning at the Blab who had an electrical problem at their house and had asked for some assistance. They community responded quickly, with much help, and it wasn't long before a fellow poster had arrived at the home to effect repairs. As wacky as some might see community boards, I had always noticed a strong sense of emphasis on the word "community." People seek aid on many things, from recipes to electrical problems, and yes, even to just sharing news on a terrible tragedy like a stranger walking into a church service and opening up with a shotgun on the crowd.

I visited some friends an hour or so later, and we talked about the shooting and theorized that the church had recently hosted a Planned Parenthood seminar, that some in the area had voiced opposition to the event. I've received many emails from the church myself over the last few years, via other friends, who see much worthwhile the church's stance on so many issues - a stance of tolerance and building acceptance, building community. And no, that is not the case in every church you might attend, only some.

And by this morning, it was apparent the shooter, tackled by church members and quickly taken into custody by law enforcement, was telling officials about his hatred for "liberal" groups, about how the event had been planned, a 4-page letter left by the killer in his car. I hated to realize our theory of yesterday seems to have been based in fact.

I have also noticed in the last few weeks - at numerous blogs in middle and east Tennessee - a spike in online comments raging with racism and hatred toward anything deemed "liberal" or "non-white". I am not linking to any of them, no. I read them, perhaps you did too. Some were nasty and vicious and all were deeply disturbed and wrong, wrong, wrong. But it helped formulate my theory as I had noticed such a sudden spike in taking these views public - as if they were really wanting more than just to "sound off', a sense they wanted to do something.

Someone did.

The inevitable debate about owning and carrying a gun wherever you go arrives fast on the heels of the story. The use of a gun to kill will sadly occur if someone wants to use the gun for that purpose no matter what the law might be. From reports so far, there were many in the church who sacrificed their safety to end the threat. And anyone can and has used any political belief or religious view to rage and kill against other people. They can also use beliefs to effect change in far more positive ways.

An aberrant event does not equate as "proof" of something, other than the reality that people can do bad things to other people for any manner of reasons or delusions or both.

So while the internet hums with talk of the event and what it means on so many levels of experiences, I can best offer only my deepest sympathies and condolences to all involved in this tragedy. I hope you take a moment to send them your best thoughts as well.