I heard this feature on a Bush administration proposal for universal health insurance for household pets on Monday’s (hint) All Things Considered and, sputtering and fuming, actually believed it! I tried to figure out why the Administration would be invested in this; would it ingratiate them further to the Right-to-Lifers, for example?? Only the soundbite of angry protest from a representative of an organization called “People Are People Too” nearly, but not quite made me suspicious. This NPR feature, on the other hand, was not an April Fools hoax, believe it or not — a group of activists is trying to get the Pope to declare that sea turtle flesh is meat to prevent large numbers of the creatures from being killed for Lenten food. Neither was this LA Times lament, that it appears to be okay to blow your nose without a tissue these days, in jest. On the other hand, I followed a link to this Times of India April 1 news item reporting that bin Laden had been arrested the night before at the New Delhi rail station, and did recognize it as a joke, especially when the article said that ObL had booked his railway passage under the name of George W. Bush. Clever of me. The Museum of Hoaxes site has a gallery of memorable April Fool’s hoaxes and a link for you to subscribe to a free Museum of Hoaxes newsletter. And finally, this Adequacy for Grownups site opines that it is an irresponsible and unseemly betrayal of the public trust in the media (such as it is…) for journalists to perpetrate April Fool’s hoaxes. However, I can’t figure out if that was an April 1 jest or in earnest… [most of these links courtesy of Spike]


In a review of The Panic Room, the new thriller starring Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker, I was amused that New York Times critic A.O. Scott sees fit to caution us that it “has many scenes of graphic violence, some of it directed at the walls and windows of a beautiful old house.”


Addiction to Addition: Bush’s campaign themes included his disdain for public opinion polls and Clinton’s “govern-by-numbers” approach. Nevertheless, members of Bush’s administration — especially Karl Rove — turn out to be avid consumers of polling data. One critic describes them, in contrast to Clinton’s use of polling “to craft popular policies”, as “using polling to spin unpopular ones”. Perhaps more concerning, “…at least the Clintonites were upfront about their addiction to addition. The Bush method is all denial and secrecy, just like its energy plan. The president’s pollsters, Jan van Lohuizen and Fred Steeper, are kept in a secure location — the very distant background.” Maureen Dowd’s commentary concludes, “Aides to Mr. Bush have spent the seven months since the terrorist attacks telling us about his ‘resolute’ grit as a leader. Now we must wonder, every time they reiterate that the president is ‘focused,’ whether the word was focus-grouped.” NY Times


Emerging Disease News:

Bioterror Agents Join List of `Emerging’ Ills: The New York Times covers an Atlanta conference on emerging infectious disease sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. In addition to anthrax and other potential biological warfare agents, (“We learned we were not adequately prepared”) the conference paid attention to West Nile Fever (“It will continue to spread and will be a major public health problem in the next decade”), the “roaring” dengue fever epidemic in Latin America, and the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections such as fluoroquinolone-resistant pneumococcus, resistant gonorrheal infections, and MRSA (multiply-resistant Staph. aureus). An underlying theme is the ill-prepared nature of our public health infrastructure.


Resistance is Futile:

Borg Journalism – We are the Blogs. Journalism will be Assimilated:

“As a journalist covering the weblog beat, I officially love weblogs. But sometimes that love can be sorely tested. Weblogs scoop you at every turn, breaking “your” stories before you have a chance to rush your article to press. And even if you do manage to break a story, weblogs take it over, dissecting every point you made and pushing your logic to every inevitable conclusion. Forget that follow-up you had planned – ‘blogs have already anticipated and published every point you might have made.

…(I)f you’re a journalist trying to break news, Blogs are the new Borg. Blogs relentlessly track down every scrap of news, assimilating it into the Blog Collective hive-mind with stunning efficiency. It doesn’t stop there: individual blogs each add a small insight to the story, drawing on their personal experience and contributing to the conversation. Then the conversation takes over, exploring every possible implication and insight with a ferocity that astounds…” — John Hiler Microcontent News

This is, in contrast to the Wood column to which I blinked below, a more level-headed appraisal of the dialectic between hive mind and individualism in the blog world, its relationship to journalism, the emergent aspects of the weblogging network, and the balanced strengths and limitations of ‘the Blog Collective’.

This has helped me think further about my distress about the gap between the peacebloggers and the warbloggers in my What Am I Doing Here? post of several weeks ago. Hiler points out that as a journalist he’s had to deal with his consternation over the fact that the weblog world often ‘scoops’ his insights about a story by the time he gets around to writing and publishing it. In this case as well, some of the responses from readers, especially other webloggers, to my angst about ‘preaching to the converted’ presaged what I read in Hiler’s essay.