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Celebration: My Daughter, the Democratic National Convention Delegate

Fantastic news. At the 11th California Congressional District Caucus on Sunday in Concord, CA, my younger daughter, R, culminated a decade of paid and unpaid political work with her selection as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. this September. I have been to three conventions myself, and know people who have been to more, but this is the first time any relative of mine has been an actual delegate. She received the second-highest vote total (thanks, in part, to her mom, her grandfather, her dad, and my best friend). Did you know (I didn't...) that you have to pay your own room and board and travel to be a convention delegate. As my dad says, "So that's how they keep poor people out of the convention!"

If you have ever been to a convention for either party as a delegate or a volunteer (her sister, M, went to LA as a volunteer in 2008), please feel free to offer advice and tips; I will pass them on. In the meantime: Huzzah!

The death of photojournalism as we have known it

The death of photojournalism as we've known it: The People's Tech Revolution. I asked my only close photojournalist friend, former AP photographer David Tenenbaum, what he thought of this infographic:

It really is the end of photojournalism as we knew it, and I mourn that. The traditional part of me insists that the years of craft honing, and the constant emphasis on maintaining credibility and telling the truth as best as is possible are lost, the modern part of me says having many more witnesses with recording devices to capture wrongdoing is ultimately better in fast moving large events. When I would go to Haiti, or El Salvador, or Nicaragua, or Colombia it was to provide what was missing when my parents and relatives were in the Holocaust: the presence of external witnesses to record the events. I learned that just the presence of journalists can moderate the outcome (once in particular, when tensions were high around Pope John Paul II in Managua), and at the least, show the world what is happening. Now, with almost everyone capable of witnessing or recording, that role is reasonably well filled.

That said, the intense impact of a great picture, composed and shot well with an understanding of lighting and impact, still requires craft, but one most often found in advertising instead of documentary. But in terms of a profession, could I recommend to a young person that they could make a career out of photojournalism now? I am afraid unless they are committed to poverty I could not. Too often now photojournalists are considered a dime a dozen, and dispensable because hopefully some pedestrian with an iPhone will happen to be there. Mistakes will happen, some retouched photos will be widely circulated, some angles will be chosen to misrepresent an event, but heck, that seems to be the world we live in now (I sound like an old grump guy, don’t I?)

By the way, none of this reflects on the shuttle photos shot from an airliner by Stephanie Gordon. An interesting and new viewpoint always has, and always will have interest, and her photos were fun. Would I have loved them more if they were of higher quality: sure, but they still are kind of neat and unique. Thanks to her for sharing them.

To wrap it up, I do think the world will be a bit worse off without professionals generating the visual coverage. I deeply enjoyed my time as a photojournalist, and I like to think I tried to make a difference, and I had the privilege of working alongside some amazing people who I know did make a difference, capturing the pivotal moments of our time in a way that is etched into my generation’s memory: think of Kent State by John Paul Filo, the Vietnamese soldier killing a Viet Cong by Eddie Adams, POWs being greeted arriving home by Sal Veder,  and many others people can recall with clarity even today. In many cases those people put their lives on the line, not because they happened to be there, but because they ran toward the fighting because that was their profession. That profession may be leaving us, but their dedication and skill have to be honored.

Political Briefs

  • Halliburton fracking loophole
  • Undo ALEC's Damage 
  • Clueless Republican
    With the remark that the recent fiasco was "the worst moment in Secret Service history," Rep. Peter King (R. - NY), 68,  joins George H. W. Bush as the only well-known person over the age of 54 who either did not know where he was on Nov. 22, 1963, or did not appreciate, comprehend, or ever learn of the events of that day in Dallas.
  • End Of A Fairy Tale
    "So we’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies — policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless. And it’s anyone’s guess when this reign of error will end." 
  • Contingent Liability  of IMF moves
  • Chaperones For The Secret Service
    This is precisely the wrong move and the wrong message. The people involved are agents of the United States Secret Service. They are charged with protecting personnel and U.S. currency. First, the entire agency should be put back in the Treasury Department as a down payment on eliminating the unnecessary Department of Vaterland Security. Second, this is not high school and these agents (in general) do not need chaperones. The few (if any) who do "need" chaperones should be removed from the agency forthwith. Sending chaperones only increases the cost of a trip and unnecessarily increases bureaucracy and sharply decreases national security while allowing preening egotistical fools to claim they had "done something" or "solved a problem" (which of course is what Sen. Joe Lieberman (Connecticut for Lieberman Party - Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R. - Maine) and various incompetent, uncomprehending, ignorant colleagues may have had in mind in 2002 when they set about creating the Department of Vaterland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence).
  • Krugman Tries To Sweep Away ABC's Deliberate Fog Of Misinformation And Misinformed Opinion, here and here.
  • Another Reason To Remove Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker From Office On June 5 
  • Housing Market Nowhere Near Stabilized; Prices Not At Bottom 
  • Obama’s Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
    Could Imperil Reelection Hopes, Experts Say

The real cost of living, a belated Dalton Earth Day note (also the Future of Journalism), MIT Hacking

EPI is a proprietary index developed by the American Institute for Economic Research which claims to calculate "real" inflation by looking at things people only buy a lot of, and was sent me recently by a friend of mine who suggested it proves the government is lying about inflation. I prefer the Billion Price Index, and not just because it comes from MIT. I might also add that the BPI matches the government's CPI almost exactly. Inflation is in the eye of the beholder. Differing methodology does not amount to "lying."

Richard Dalton passed along this Earth Day note in time, but I am not printing it on time; still it is worth noting: "This article from Smithsonian cites mostly negative impacts on the planet since the last Earth Day <sigh>." Also from Richard: Robert Murdoch, everybody's favorite news executive, stuck his head above the swirling hacking rumors and accusations surrounding his British properties long enough to claim that he is taking all his print publications (including the WSJ) to Web-only soon.  This article (and the conference it touts (PaidContent 2012, May 23 in NYC) addresses some key issues beyond loading text on to servers--like the form, content and context of Web publishing.  Oh... and how you make as much money on the Web as you did in print.

MIT's fine tradition of hacking continues with the Green Building Tetris Hack.


The California Democratic Party will be selecting delegates for the Democratic National Convention at a caucus in Concord, CA on Sunday, April 29 at 2pm. My younger daughter is running for one of four women's posts. If you are a registered Democrat in the NEW 11th congressional district (roughly Contra Costa County, but check out your district here. If you are in the same district as Orinda and Walnut Creek, that is the 11th), please contact me for exact details. She needs your vote!

Intellectual Sloth, FBI Murders Criminal Through Inaction, GW Bush's Military Service: The True Story, at last, too late

Intellectual Sloth
A friend sent me this from the Wall Street Journal:

The Inequality Obsession
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. WSJ April 17, 2012
 Income inequality is a strange obsession. It tries to “adjust” the condition of the top 1% rather than improving the opportunities of everyone else. Example: If the car driven by the average American is 10 times more likely to burst into flames than the car driven by the richest 1%, we would mandate that cars driven by the rich burst into flames more often!

Of course, that is one conclusion you could draw (implying, of course, that Obama is, therefor, a socialist). However, another, equally valid (in my opinion, more valid ) conclusion you could draw is that the 1% have rigged the system (perhaps using the mechanism of price) so that their cars are 10 times safer. So, instead of just making rich people's cars safer,  maybe a just society would make poor people's cars safer. I'm just saying.

GW Bush's Military Service: The True Story, at last, too late
Did Lt. George W. Bush Violate A Direct Order From A Superior Officer? Was Dan Rather Railroaded? As Dan Would Ask: Does The Sun Rise In The East Over The Texas Panhandle? Of course the death of print will eventually kill the Texas Monthly in a few years, so people like GW won't have to worry about stories like this in the future.

FBI Murders Criminal Through Inaction
The Department Of Murderous Injustice And, Giving The FBI The Benefit Of Every Doubt, The Federal Bureau Of First Degree Killing Incompetence
Part 1
Part 2
The Lack Of Reliability Of Forensic "Evidence"

The pin-striped legal beagle egghead types can attempt to determine whether what happened to Herbert Boyle was the result of the Department of Justice exhibiting depraved indifference to human life or wanton and reckless disregard for human life. As far as Herbert Boyle is concerned, the result is precisely the same as if the Department of Justice of the United States of America solicited and orchestrated his premeditated murder (i.e., murder in the first degree), by allowing his execution on the basis of  evidence it knew to be false.

As a courtesy and in a spirit of cooperation, should reservations be sought for ex Attorney General Janet Reno (who made her bones at Waco), ex FBI Director Louis Freeh (now exercising his not inconsiderable "talents" to deny justice or funds to victims of the MF Global fraud), and ex DOJ Criminal Division head, ex Secretary Of Homeland Security, and PATRIOT Act co-author Michael Chertoff at the Hottest Place In Hell Hotel?

Aren't the prosecutors notified by the FBI the ones who violated the law? Does the FBI have a positive obligation to notify the defense? Regardless, surely the prosecutors do. Is there any conceivable way this investigation could be considered non-material in these cases? (no)

The testifying FBI agents, at a minimum, committed perjury when they testified (in particular when they gave false testimony about the accuracy of the results, their methods, and the testifying agent's alleged "accuracy" over time).
The FBI has a positive obligation not to lie under oath. The supervisors (up to the FBI director) have a positive obligation to exercise every effort to make certain those under them (using bureau resources) are not lying under oath.
The notification arguably should have come from the prosecutors. There was nothing to stop the FBI from advising defense counsel that one or more of their agents committed perjury.

Finally, and sadly, it is a shame that, in a few years, there will be no Washington Post to do stories like this, as print newspapers will have disappeared, to be replaced by... nothing like an equivalent amount of expertise and resources. But surely that will be OK. Surely Internet journalists, working out of their dens on a volunteer basis, will be able to provide coverage like this, right? That's what all the people on "the death of the newspaper" panels are saying. It's just evolution. Looks like devolution to me.

Weird Al Interview, Gold Medal Tax Avoiders, Test if Observation Skills, Dan Grobstein File

If you, like me, are a huge Weird Al fan (I have loved his work since day one and play it constantly in the car; just ask my daughters), you will want to listen to the WTF Podcast:

Episode 257 - “Weird Al” Yankovic
Mon, February 27, 2012--This is no parody, this is the real deal. “Weird Al” Yankovic graces the garage at The Cat Ranch for a conversation with Marc about his three decades in entertainment and the unique connection he has with audiences, including their ability to lift him up during the most difficult time in his life.

Richard Dalton asks: "How's this for a stomach turner?  I wonder if anyone has correlated this tax non-payers list with major PAC donations?

Kent Peterman forwards  this challenging test of things you see every day.

Dan Grobstein File