Mountebank Blog

"There is nothing so impossible in nature, but mountebanks will undertake; nothing so incredible, but they will affirm."

Newspapers Will Fold?

Time Magazine lists 10 Newspapers that will either Fold or Go Under Next.

1. The Philadelphia Daily News
2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune
3. The Miami Herald
4. The Detroit News
5. The Boston Globe.
6. The San Francisco Chronicle.
7. The Chicago Sun Times
8. NY Daily News
9. The Fort Worth Star Telegram
10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer

They give their reasoning for each one in the linked article above. It could be they’re right, even about all of them.

But here’s something I notice…I read this list because of a link from one of my twitter community–somebody I don’t know in “real life” at all. He linked to this Time Magazine story. On Yahoo News (where that link above is going to). And Time is actually just taking it from 24/

So if I’m counting right, this story reached me only after being re-purposed 4 times from its original source. And now it’s reaching anyone reading this after a 5th.

Content “producers” become content aggregators–and content “consumers” become content disseminators in the new media economy. And then those disseminators comment on the content, and re-purpose it, and make their own points. Like I’m doing here. So everybody’s role gets reshaped. Who’s the “real” producer?

Interesting times, that’s who.

(And by the way, I can’t think of a time in the past 10 years or more when I’ve actually bought a paper copy of Time Magazine–or even touched one except when stranded in a doctor’s office with nothing else available.)

Upcoming Invasion List

Sometimes Wonkette is not too funny…but sometimes she really cracks me up!

With Colin Powell gone, the White House looks forward to a slightly less stringent approach to invasion rationale. And, according to this list we found floating around, they’re taking advantage of that:

Country — Reason to Invade

Iran — Part of the Axis of Evil.
Syria — Harbors terrorists.
Kyrgyzstan — Too much like Kazakhstan.
North Korea — Not allowed when on Atkins diet.
Egypt — The pyramid is speaking to me.
Canada — Mmmm….bacon….
Ukraine — Started that whole cellophane wrapping of CDs and we hate that.
Thailand — Well, now that Ashcroft’s stopped spending the weekends there…
The Fauklands — Dirty-sounding name.
Lichtenstein — President does not believe this country exists.
National Geographic Society — On every map, no apparent sovereign.
California — Why not?
Poland — Don’t forget Poland.

Princess Leia’s words to Bush

Leia While I’m on a Star Wars theme, I had to include this perfect entry into the “shoe fits” and cosmic synchronicity files. If only the Bush administration had Leia Organa in the cabinet!

This is Princess Leia talking to Han Solo in Star Wars III: A New Hope, but it might as well be Princess Leia talking to George W. Bush in Iraq II: No Hope Whatsoever :

This is some rescue! When you came in here, did you have a plan for getting out?

Abu Ghraib and National Dishonor

I’ve been reading some pretty stunning claims on some of the discussion boards. People want to say that the outrage over Abu Ghraib is politically motivated, or that it’s an unfair attempt to “slam” Bush or Rumsfeld or the Republicans or the military.

Others, in an even more heinous attempt at denial, want to quote Rush Limbaugh in calling this a “fraternity prank” or “just humiliation.”

I even saw one post that tried to somehow blame “liberal academia” for the abuse–in an unprecedented display of bending-over-backward. Too ridiculous to repeat here.

I find all these maneuvers sickening, and I’m honestly surprised that anyone would stoop so low–although I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised by now.

My feelings about this are much closer to those expressed (quite eloquently–he seemed honestly, emotionally, shaken) by Mark Shields on The News Hour Thursday night (May 6).

I’ve been to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, I’ve been to Bethesda Naval Hospital in suburban Maryland and spent time in the company of the 340 Americans who had been severely wounded since the president declared mission accomplished. They’ve lost arms, they’ve lost legs. They’ve lost their sight. Not one of them I ever talked to — men and women – ever lost any belief in the mission, in the unit they served in and the tasks that they have been assigned. They have been dishonored. They have been sullied. Their service and their sacrifice has been stained. That’s how profound this is. This isn’t going to go away.

This is not political, it really isn’t — back and forth on that. It is not three points for John Kerry, five points for George Bush. This is national. It’s not going to change, you know, if George Bush loses and Don Rumsfeld leaves or whatever. It is not going to change. This is a permanently upon Americans.

I was also reminded of a small piece of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. When the narrator is in basic training, just finishing up, a deserter from his regiment who has murdered a young girl is captured, tried, convicted and brought back to the regiment to be hanged.

He belonged to us, he was still on our rolls. Even though we didn’t want him, even though we should never have had him, even though we would have been happy to disclaim him, he was a member of our regiment. We couldn’t brush him off and let a sheriff a thousand miles away handle it. If it has to be done, a man — a real man — shoots his own dog himself; he doesn’t hire a proxy who may bungle it. The regimental records said that Dillinger was ours, so taking care of him was our duty.

that night we started thirty days of mourning for Barbara and of disgrace for us, with our colors draped in black, no music at parade, no singing on route march. Only once did I hear anybody complain and another boot promptly asked him how he would like a full set of lumps? Certainly, it hadn’t been our fault — but our business was to guard little girls, not kill them. Our regiment had been dishonored; we had to clean it. We were disgraced and we felt disgraced.

We are all disgraced, it’s our mess, it’s our responsibility, and we need to be very open and clear about the dishonor which these soldiers and their commanders have brought upon all of us. Sure, they’re exceptions, sure, they don’t represent the military as a whole, or Americans as a whole–but if that’s true at all, then we have to own them and every bit of their dishonor as well.

Shipping out

Last week in one of my classes we read Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.” (Highly recommended, if you haven’t read it). One of my best students had nothing to say. About halfway through the class I noticed her downcast eyes, and tightly gripped pen…but an empty page of no notes.

So I called on her. “Did you not like this story?”

She told me she hated it. It was too true. She is in the army, and will be heading for Iraq. She doesn’t know when, but it will be soon, and she has a young child, and she’ll be staying (at least) a year.

She really didn’t have much to say in the rest of the discussion, but she opened up a bit. She talked about how it is to be a soldier in the field, the unpredictability of combat. She also talked about her disgust for the purposelessness of this war (“for oil,” she said).

But she’ll be going, and I hope she’ll be coming back. She’s a smart, funny, tough, perceptive woman. It’s been bothering me ever since that day to think of her going, and maybe (G-d forbid) not coming back, into that mess…for no good reason.

We need her here. Her son needs her, her family needs her, and this country needs her.

When I saw her again in class today, I told her I had been feeling bad about having asked her to read that story, and I hoped she wasn’t upset. “It was bad,” she said. “But it was good.”