Archive for January 2nd, 2005

Careful Where You Point That Thing


Teachers of America, beware! You
may be unwittingly armed with a dangerous terrorist weapon. We have removed
the batteries from our own laser pointer, just in case…

PARSIPPANY — The attorney of a Lake Parsippany resident questioned by
authorities about his suspected use of a laser light said Saturday her
client was in the "wrong place at the wrong time."

David Banach was showing his daughter a common laser pointer that he had purchased
on the Internet, said attorney Gina Mendola Longarzo. Longarzo said she met with
Banach on Saturday.

"At one moment he was in the backyard playing with his daughter," said
Longarzo, "and 10 minutes later 12 police cars descended and he was whisked
away by authorities and interrogated until 4 a.m."

from the Daily Record

Tipping Point Reached – Blogs are Everywhere


In the considered
opinion of the Dowbrigade, we have passed a crucial tipping point in
the development of the Blogosphere in which the sheer
quantity and geographic ubiquity of Blogs virtually insures that
the blogging coverage of any significant event anywhere on the planet
will rival, augment and enrich that of the conventional media.

At this stage of development the blogosphere has a distinct
advantage on stories that develop off the beaten track of mainstream
journalism.  In addition to offering the much ballyhooed personal
and intimate first-person narratives of real people affected by the news
(as opposed to the talking heads pretending to be impartial and above
the story), bloggers are often the first to the scene and have the contacts
and knowledge of the local landscape to get beneath the surface of the
story. The still-evolving Tsunami coverage is an important case in point.

The Los Angeles Times today has a related story on the
blogging community in Iraq, entitled "Time
of Blogs and Bombs
," which
contains some sage commentary from home team favorite Rebecca
as well as one unfortunate error which we can only
attribute to over-editing. First, the lead:

identifies herself as 13-year-old Raghda
Zaid, one of a growing number of Web diarists who are creating Internet
sites to post intimate accounts of life in wartime Iraq. Experts say
these bloggers put a personal voice on the conflict that reaches beyond
newspaper headlines or television footage.

Most of the bloggers use pseudonyms, making skeptics wonder who they
are, what their motives might be, and whether they’re even blogging
from Iraq. But a handful
have emerged publicly, and one – Salam
, the pseudonym of an architect and
translator known as the "Baghdad Blogger"- has become a cult figure.
His blog has been published as a book, "Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary
of an Ordinary Iraqi," and he has a film deal. But he has still not revealed
his identity beyond a small circle of journalists and friends.

Pretty standard Sunday supplement stuff, but it gets
more interesting when Rebecca kicks in:

"I get the sense that one reason the Iraqis blog
is that they don’t feel that their lives and reactions to what is going
on are understood in the outside world," says Rebecca MacKinnon,
a research fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "They
know the world’s listening."

MacKinnon invited two Iraqi bloggers to join other
Web diarists from around the world at a Harvard conference Dec. 11.
The bloggers, Omar Fadhil, 24, and his brother Muhammad, 35, both dentists,
are two of three diarists for "Iraq the Model," which has
won plaudits for covering U.S. policy developments overlooked or misreported
in the U.S. press.

Finally, what we have now confirmed was an editing

The Fadhil brothers say they receive no U.S. government
support. They explain that they were shown how to set up the blog on
a free Internet site,, run by another Baghdad
dentist who is the author of another Web log, "Healing Iraq."

Obviously, is not run by a Baghdad dentist,
unless outsourcing has merged with Iraqi reconstruction.  Our surmise
that an over-zealous copy editor had mis-parsed the sentence and added
the word "run" was confirmed when we went to the electronic edition of
that the
word had been deleted. So the "unedited voice" of the blogosphere looks
pretty good when, as many a reporter will attest, editors can mess up their
prose as easily as polish it

What’s in those Wacky Brownies?


Don’t tell Jeb Banks it’s easy to jump in the Atlantic Ocean in January
just because the sun is out and the thermometer reads 50 degrees. Banks
and other members of the L Street Brownies, who participated in the
group’s 101st consecutive New Year’s dip yesterday, prefer colder days,
when the air temperature matches the nerve-numbing 36-degree water.

"It’s easier when it’s 30 degrees. It’s less of a shock when you hit
the water," explained Banks, who made his sixth New Year’s dip yesterday
in a festive red-white-and-blue felt hat. The balmy weather drew a record
600 registered swimmers and an additional 2,000 spectators who lined the
beach behind L Street Bathhouse in South
Boston for the granddaddy of New Year’s swimming events

from the Boston Globe