Tuesday, April 24, 2007

No Showdown At The Festering Swamp

This new blog, set up by some of my commenting pals from the late Cathy Seipp's blog, has become a beast. As in "feed the beast". It demands more time, more words. Must ... be ... fed.

So I have a good excuse for not frequently posting. You'll see more of my stuff festering there than here.

We just had a pretty good discussion earlier today on abortion, the weather and the merits of basil, tomato and goat-cheese pizza.

We're being nice to each other, in part I think because we're still stunned by Cathy's death last month. It wasn't unexpected, as she had battled lung cancer for years. But the awful finality is something you can't really understand until it happens. She lived a good life, short as it was.

Or maybe we're being so darn nice because we're so contrary. I half-expected a flame war to break out on abortion, which I posted on. And I hinted as much.

But just to confound me, everyone was thoughtful. Passionate, direct, but also respectful. The very opposite behavior of what tech publisher Tim O'Reilly fretted about in his ill-fated call for a bloggers' code of conduct.

Where, oh where did I go wrong?


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Cargo Cult Journalism

I've got a new piece up at The Festering Swamp on a highly deceptive Washington Post story about Bush's "sixteen words" on Iraq seeking uranium from Africa. The story used an anecdote about the forged documents about a sale of uranium to discredit the idea that Iraq had ever sought uranium in the first place. The two don't follow, but that's concealed through the reporter's evasive language.

The story, brought to my attention by Patterico, shocked me because it was published in such a reputable newspaper. It has still not been corrected. So much for the Post's respect for factual accuracy.

I think the Iraq war is a bad idea. However, my personal thoughts shouldn't enter into whether a story is factually accurate. Double standards don't fly with me.

I am consciously invoking the spirit of scientific rigor the late Cathy Seipp quoted from Richard Feynman:

And the one feature Feynman noticed is missing from all cargo-cult science is what he calls “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to...a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it.”

Seipp showed that spirit in her own journalism, when she attacked the unethical behavior of Michael Fumento, another conservative reporter.

. . . Fumento says (after suggesting that his nemesis, Business Week's Eamon Javers, has a "grease-lined hat") I should not have cooperated with the NY Times. According to his way of thinking, we on the right are all in this together, and should circle the wagons against any attack. But I have no more sympathy for that argument than I do for the notion that Jews should support Jack Abramoff.

Reporters need that spirit, or we end up with cargo-cult journalism like the Washington Post uranium story.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sunshine on the Seipps

Harvey Seipp and his late daughter Cathy. They are basking in the sun, Canadian-style (face away from the solar disc.) Taken at Cathy's roast-tribute on Sept. 10, 2006. I didn't post this photo because of the glaring sun, but now it looks somehow rather comforting.


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