I recommend this article by Richard Rubin in the NYT mag on remembering the trial of Emmett Till; for people interested in the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation process, it is something of a must-read.
We tend to think of racism, and racists, the way we think of most things -- in binary terms. Someone is either a racist or he isn't. If he is a racist, he does racist things; if he isn't, he doesn't. But of course it's much more complicated than that, and in the Mississippi of 1955 it was more complicated still. Today, we can look back and say that Howard Armstrong should have voted to convict Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam of murdering Emmett Till; but for him to buck the established order like that would have actually required him to make at least four courageous decisions. First, he would have had to decide that the established order, the system in which he had lived his entire life, was wrong. Second, he would have had to decide that it should change. Third, he would have had to decide that it could change. And finally, he would have had to decide that he himself should do something to change it.
N&R article by Elyse Ashburn on the changing nature of civic and service work in Greensboro, with Ben Hwang as the lede example (complete with a pretty picture). The focus is on Ben's teaching at Weaver, but it could just as easily have mentioned his leadership role on Greensboro's upcoming blog conference...
Conservatives generally regard class as an unacceptable topic when the subject is economics -- trade, deregulation, shifting the tax burden, expressing worshipful awe for the microchip, etc. But define politics as culture, and class instantly becomes for them the very blood and bone of public discourse. Indeed, from George Wallace to George W. Bush, a class-based backlash against the perceived arrogance of liberalism has been one of their most powerful weapons. Workerist in its rhetoric but royalist in its economic effects, this backlash is in no way embarrassed by its contradictions. It understands itself as an uprising of the little people even when its leaders, in control of all three branches of government, cut taxes on stock dividends and turn the screws on the bankrupt. It mobilizes angry voters by the millions, despite the patent unwinnability of many of its crusades. And from the busing riots of the Seventies to the culture wars of our own time, the backlash has been ignored, downplayed, or misunderstood by liberals.
I have crossed the Yadkin River four times today, and thus retrieved our younger offspring from camp. The boy having returned from basketball camp on Thursday, the family is reunited. I am glad to see everyone...but I could have used another week of Grown-up Camp.
A secret proposal by the United States to a United Nations organization would change the way time is measured, reports the Wall Street Journal's Keith Winstein (subs req). "The plan would simplify the world's timekeeping by making each day last exactly 24 hours. Right now, that's not always the case."
"Because the moon's gravity has been slowing down the Earth, it takes slightly longer than 24 hours for the world to rotate completely on its axis. The difference is tiny, but every few years a group that helps regulate global timekeeping, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, tells governments, telecom companies, satellite operators and others to add in an extra second to all clocks to keep them in sync."
The "leap seconds" screw up precisely-calibrated computers, and some big businesses are for the US proposal. Astronomers and English devotees of Greenwich Time strongly oppose it.
...you need a haircut for the Greensboro summer. The folks who gave Luna her summer 'do nipped the end of her tail. It got infected. For a while it looked as if she might lose the tip. She had to wear a bandage and cope with a bad haircut at the same time, for which I am told she was mocked on the air by Jack Murphy, who saw her while dropping a child off at camp. She had to wear a plastic lampshade collar to keep her from chewing on her tail, and thus looked even dorkier, especially when she would bump into the doorframe. She was forlorn, but through it all she stayed the same sweet girl. The vet finally decided against snipping the tip, which has started to grow hair again. Good dog, Luna.
If the potential of a Democratic candidate can be measured as the inverse of enthusiasm for that candidate by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, then VA gov Mark Warner might be one to watch. Yesteday's mugging by WSJ edit board member Stephen Moore starts with the headline ("Virginia Ham") and mucks its way down from there. Southern Governor and moderate challenger to Hillary -- a dangerous combo.
Reading Friedman for Greensboro: Today, the columnist formally located on the N&R op-ed page writes about the changing political landscape across the Middle East. "To put it bluntly, the political parties in the Arab world and Israel that have shaped the politics of this region since 1967 have all either crumbled or been gutted of any of their original meaning. The only major parties with any internal energy and coherence left today are Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, and they are scared out of their minds - scared that if all the secular parties collapse, they may have to rule, and they don't have the answers for jobs, sewers and electricity."
"The big challenge for all these societies is obvious: Can they reconstitute these old parties or build new ones that can make the task and narrative of developing their own countries - making their people competitive in an age when China and India and Ireland are eating their lunch - as emotionally gripping as fighting Israel or the West or settling the West Bank?
"Can there be a Baath Party or a Fatah that has real views on competition, science and the environment? Will Labor and Likud (which, though badly hobbled, are still more like real political parties than those in the Arab world) ever have a defining debate over why nearly one in five Israelis live below the poverty line?"
It was just before midnight on Wednesday when Representative Robin Hayes capitulated.
Mr. Hayes, a Republican whose district in North Carolina has lost thousands of textile jobs in the last four years, had defied President Bush and House Republican leaders by voting against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or Cafta.
But the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, told him they needed his vote anyway. If he switched from 'nay' to 'aye,' Mr. Hayes recounted, Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing, which has been flooding into the United States in recent months.
As it turned out, the switch by Mr. Hayes was decisive. Within a few minutes, the House approved the trade pact by the paper-thin margin of two votes, 217 to 215...
UPDATE: NC 8th district congressman Robin Hayes calls Charlotte radio host Keith Larson station to explain his CAFTA vote. Hayes says he got concessions on trade with China that will help his district. (via Jim Capo)
Will Charles Taylor's fumble help elect Heath Shuler?
Rep Charles Taylor, a Republican from Brevard, failed to vote on CAFTA. Josh Marshall has been all over the story -- interviewing our own Howard Coble and wondering if one more 'No' vote could have shifted the momentum on the deal (go here and scroll down, he's got several items).
Missing the chance to vote 'No' might hurt Taylor in his district, and a suspicious story about why that happened won't help him. The NC Dems have targeted Taylor, who did not overwhelm his last opponent, and his next opponent has some name recognition: former Tennessee and NFL QB Heath Shuler.
Transcript of Truth & Rec testimony by Elizabeth Wheaton. (Thanks to John Young). A must-read for anyone who wants to write off the process as a one-sided whitewash of the events of 11/3/79.
Wheaton: "My writing on the CWP's strategy and tactics, both leading up to and following Nov. 3rd, has been called 'blaming the victims,' a betrayal of the left, and worse.But it seems to me that we can't do justice to this tragedy if we hold the various players to different standards.We cannot find the whole truth by looking at half truths."
"You also asked about the role of a police informant and a federal undercover agent in this story...While we can question their judgment, their actions and inactions, there was no evidence in either of the federal conspiracy trials that they goaded, incited, or in any way led the Klan and Nazis to do anything they weren't already planning to do.In fact, you need to remember that even the CWP's own civil suit, with three months worth of testimony and evidence alleging a vast conspiracy, a jury that their lawyers helped select found two of the police officers, the police informant, and five of the Klan and Nazi shooters guilty of the wrongful death of one CWP member and assault and battery of two others.No conspiracy.A significant part of the reasoning behind that decision -- indeed, behind both prior acquittals -- was the CWP's own rhetoric."
"The police certainly had knowledge that there was a potential for violence, if not, that the Klan and Nazis were going there intent on fighting."
One of the most important contributions she makes is her research on the role of the CWP in the labor movement. A vital part of the CWP story is that they were so scary that The Man had to take them out. Wheaton calls that very much into question.
Chewie on a possible outcome of the Truth and Reconciliation process: "Greensboro can redouble its claim to being a progressive, innovative City of Peace, where people aren't afraid to confront their differences and work together to understand and resolve them.
Withdrawing troops from Iraq doesn't mean bringing them home, says Glenn Reynolds. "One question is where U.S. troops will go from there: Syria? Iran? Saudi Arabia? Or elsewhere? I suspect we want to keep people guessing about that, too."
Told ya so: "Instead, we may be on to Damascus, or Tehran, or even Riyadh."
Hoggard knew his wife's illness made this the wrong year to run for City Council...but then the roster of candidates changed, and the odds of winning got a lot better, and Jinni was on the mend...but in the end, he is sticking with his decision not to run.
A round-up of coverage of the ACLU's suit against the State of North Carolina to allow the Koran to be used for swearing-in witnesses in the courtroom. N&R splashes it across the front page -- makes sense for a story that started in Greensboro, and has been followed diligently by reporter Eric Collins.
The N&O pays attention, too, putting staff writer Yonat Shimron on the case.
Slate's Andria Lisle rates mosquito repellants, including clothing made with material from Greensboro's own Buzz Off. It's kind of a dumb test, because the testers only wear a Buzz Off hat (not to say they were otherwise unclothed, just that the hat was the only anti-bug tech deployed), and then complain that it doesn't protect the whole body. Duh. If the mosquitos can figure that out, why couldn't the writer?
Two rules I preach whenever I teach writing online: Don't drink and blog, and Remember that Google is Forever. That is to say, be careful what you say, it may be archived somewhere; blog in haste and repent at leisure.
This morning's Wall Street Journal has a front-pager (subs req) on that very topic, headlined "Lawyers' Delight: Old Web Material Doesn't Disappear" (props to the Deadhead editor who stuck in "Not Fade Away" as the subhed).
"The Web, seemingly one of the most ephemeral of media, is instead starting to leave permanent records. Through the Wayback Machine, and similar services offered by companies such as Google Inc., it's now easy to retrieve all kinds of online material, from defunct Web pages to old versions of sites. While these databases have caught on among historians and scholars, they are proving particularly enticing for lawyers."
Today, a forced lede concerning Lance Armstrong's strategic thinking in the Tour de France sets up a mixed bag of observations on the US tendency to play defense and not move aggressively to confront serious problems.
Nut graf: "Talk to U.S. business executives and they'll often comment on how many of China's leaders are engineers, people who can talk to you about numbers, long-term problem-solving and the national interest - not a bunch of lawyers looking for a sound bite to get through the evening news. America's most serious deficit today is a deficit of such leaders in politics and business."
He says the new energy bill fails to address oil consumption, which is a national secuirty issue, "because no one wants to demand that Detroit build cars that get much better mileage. We are just feeding Detroit the rope to hang itself. It's assisted suicide."
On Iraq, he wants Bush to ask the generals what we need to win, "Because it is clear we are not winning, and we are not winning because we have never made Iraq a secure place where normal politics could emerge."
A strong kicker: "Oh, well, maybe we have the leaders we deserve. Maybe we just want to admire Lance Armstrong, but not be Lance Armstrong. Too much work. Maybe that's the wristband we should be wearing: Live wrong. Party on. Pay later."
Don't tell Card, but this town is on the way to making some magazine or another's list of cool places to live.
Update: Ben Hwang says, "While we dropped from 37 to the 40th spot (dead last) in Forbes' major metropolitan areas for singles, I suppose that it's at least nice to know that we're in a metropolitan area."
At the Truth and Reconciliation blog, a post from Commissioner Muktha Jost.
Hearing from the panel members is a great idea. Ongoing confusion between the Commission and a support group with a far-too-similar name is a huge problem for the Commission and its professional staff as it tries to show that it is an independent organization, not the tool of one particular faction.
I'm not sure everyone who criticizes the Commission wants to understand the difference between the groups, because the ongoing confusion allows them to disparage the panel and its work.
The N&R is a finalist for the 2005 Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, which recognize "setting new standards for interactive journalism, advancing creativity in digital storytelling and recalibrating the role that news organizations play in their communities." Congrats to the folks on E Market St.
Art Buchwald pegs his column to the News & Record's community journalism project...and then phones in pretty much the same material he's been writing for the last few decades. (Thanks for the tip, Karen.)
Lisa and I are at Grown-up Camp. More an experience than a particular place, Grown-up Camp starts when the kids leave for sleep-away camps and the parents get to pretend they have lives of their own.
Last week, Lisa went to New York and I stayed home alone with the dog; it was the most relaxing four days of my summer, even with a crushing deadline upon me. This is activities week. On Sunday we went to Saffron for rogan josh and large Kingfishers. Last night was Movie Night; Lisa, who generally prefers foreign films in which people smoke cigarettes and ride mopeds and hold long subtitled discussions of their ennui, laughed all the way through Wedding Crashers.
Lenslinger was on the County Commissioner beat, wondering why so many seemingly-normal people lose their minds when elected to office: "Something about achieving a local constituency makes eight out of ten well-meaning civic geeks go absolutely bat-shit."
I'd love to see an N&R blog that linked to stories like this one. It makes sense for the paper to focus on local news, that's its big value-add and its most defensible turf, but the web makes it easy to digest large quantities of info that falls between the cracks of AP headlines and regional reporting. As shown by the reader feedback on dropping Friedman's column, a lot of people still look to the local paper as a portal to the larger world. A news editor's blog might fill a really useful niche for N&R readers -- just a sentence and a link on several stories a day, and maybe a digest page with links in the next print edition.
A comment at the Truth and Reconciliation blog: "yall need to realize that this town is ripe for violent actions. Maybe you should just cut your ties now and end this communist agenda before somebody gets hurt. The time is getting near. We will not allow terrorists to continue to brain wash people. End the commission."
Serious? A prank? What would you do if you got that message?
Dave Winer recommends JR's blog guidelines, but objects to "the bit about representing the newspaper. I think it should be the other way around, the newspaper represents them. A blog is the unedited voice of an individual. Robinson seems to agree with that, so how can a blogger represent an organization? What does that mean? What's the practical side of that?"
As a practical matter, this one seems easy to me: the blog you write as a newspaper reporter is your personal voice -- but the person you are is not You Out With Friends, it's You At Work.
Honest and personal, yes. Unfiltered, no -- and the filters we use at work are specific, different from the filters we use in social or other situations. You get to use the platform of the company, you have to respect certain rules set by the company.
As a philosophical matter, the question becomes, is it then still a blog? Is a "blog" anything created with blogging software? Are we talking about a generic publishing medium that is not defined by content, just as a pad and pen remain a pad and pen whether used to compose a sonnet or a grocery list? I think so. A blog used by ten people within a company to manage a project is still a blog to me. That's part of the power of the tool.
A blogger get-together tonight at The CoffeeXchange in Asheboro, for all interested Randolph County bloggers. (Am I anal for not calling it a "Meetup" just because it's organized with Google Groups instead of Meetup? Are there reasons that one service is better than the other for this kind of thing?)
People love to hate Jim Melvin. He's a powerful guy with a long track record in public life, and his style can be bulldozerish. Me, I hate the game not the playa, but I have to admit that this is one of the most ill-conceived marketing ideas ever, um, conceived.