Patterico's Pontifications

5/23/2004

Whew!

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 2:02 pm

Individual entries died for a while there. Thankfully, all is well, thanks to Xrlq.

A Lesson on the Credibility of the Palestinian Authority

Filed under: Current Events — Patterico @ 10:10 am

Backspin has a very important post titled PA vs. James Bennet. You should go read the whole thing. The bottom line is this: Palestinians recently attempted to kidnap a New York Times reporter named James Bennet. Bennet regularly reports on Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, and frequently is called upon to present conflicting accounts from the two sides.

Now it appears that there is a new conflicting account: the Palestinians are denying that they tried to kidnap him.

As Backspin says:

This episode should serve as an object lesson to foreign correspondents, who routinely quote dubious Palestinian sources to “balance out” their reports. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Bennet, in future stories, grants legitimacy to the very PA figures who are now telling him his own harrowing ordeal was “baseless.”

What I find even more interesting is that, according to the story linked above, Palestinian Authority officials spoke with Mr. Bennet before he wrote his story and tried to convince him that there had been no kidnapping attempt. Yet when Mr. Bennet wrote the story, he failed to include their denials. This upset the P.A. officials because their point of view wasn’t provided. It upsets me because Mr. Bennet hid from his readers the fact that P.A. officials had lied to him about the circumstances of the alleged kidnapping — something that I believe Mr. Bennet’s readers have a right to know.

New York Times Editor on the Ethics of Printing Letters With Provably False Assertions

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 10:07 am

The letters editor of the New York Times today presents a discussed this issue before, as it relates to the Los Angeles Dog Trainer, which has on several occasions printed letters containing facts that the editors knew (or should have known) were false. (Examples here and here.) I have advocated the very principle that the New York Times editor states above: that a newspaper’s editors should not print anything containing an assertion of fact that the editors know not to be true — even in the guise of providing a forum for their readers’ opinions.

Interestingly, the editor also says that the letters page tries to “present a fair sampling of reader opinion,” but receives far more letters from liberals than conservatives:

Among our letter writers, critics of the Bush administration, especially over the war in Iraq, outnumber its defenders by a substantial margin.

Perhaps this helps explain why, on one recent weekend, the L.A. Times printed thirty letters regarding President Bush and the war, of which only one explicitly supported Bush and/or the war. I am skeptical that the numbers are truly that skewed, but one never knows. In light of Kevin Roderick’s observation that a paper in Wisconsin actually had to beg for pro-Bush letters, perhaps the letters really are running 29-to-1 against Bush.

Dog Trainer readers would have a better handle on this if the letters editor of the Dog Trainer would come out with a piece similar to that published by the New York Times today. What do you say, Michael Kinsley? Can we look forward to such a piece?

(Link to Times piece via the Rantingprof.)

Jerks Issue Vague Threats to Blogger

Filed under: Scum — Patterico @ 9:07 am

Many people whose computers have been stricken with spyware have found valuable help from Suzi the Spyware Warrior. She was at the forefront of the battle against the scumsuckers who produce Spy Wiper. Now she is receiving vague threats from a company that appears to have engaged in some questionable practices: EnigmaSoftwareGroup.

Why do I say that this company has engaged in questionable practices? Check out this Philadelphia Enquirer article (h/t to SoCalLawBlog). According to the article, Enigma registers websites with addresses that are similar to those held by reputable software companies, thus fooling people who think that they are buying from the other, reputable company:

One freeware program I recommended was Spybot Search & Destroy. You can download it from www.safer-networking.org – with a hyphen, an essential part of the address between safer and networking. (Be persistent; the site is sometimes overloaded.)

If you go to a Web address by typing all the same letters but not the hyphen, you’ll wind up on a site operated by Enigma Software Group of New York, which sells an anti-spyware program that I can’t vouch for.

You’ll face a similar risk in locating the other free program I recommended: Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware. The correct address is www.lavasoftusa.com – without a hyphen.

In Wednesday’s paper, a hyphen was automatically inserted, at the end of a line, between soft and usa. And, sure enough, there’s an almost identically addressed Web site, but with a hyphen at that very place.

Go there, and you’ll see a changing list of links to “the top sites related to Spyware!!”

Consistently at or near the top: Enigma Software.

Preying on computer users’ inexactitude has a long and dishonorable tradition. The classic case is the X-rated site, still up and running, registered as www.whitehouse.com. One notorious Internet outlaw registered nearly 9,000 Web addresses based on slight misspellings, and went to prison for using some of them to lure minors to pornographic sites.

Selling an anti-spyware program to people who went astray looking for freeware isn’t on a par with such criminal acts.

But the same sort of trickery is involved. It’s akin to the behavior of the Indiana phone company that charges more than $50 apiece for 10-minute collect calls to people who inadvertently press a third “L” when they try to dial 1-800-COLLECT.

In my constitutionally protected opinion — and that of the author of the article — this is a sharp practice designed to mislead. It should be illegal. And a company that engages in practices like this has no business issuing threats to someone like Suzi, who is only trying to help people.

Shame on Enigma. Not that they likely feel shame.

P.S. For more, check out:

Also, I have added Spyware Warrior to the blogroll.

The Clam Is Back!!!! (Sort Of)

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 7:47 am

I was thrilled to see a post by The Angry Clam this morning on Calblog.

You know you can’t stay away, Clam.

Randi Rhodes

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 7:43 am

Instapundit says that Randi Rhodes’s radio show is not very good. Apparently she is making several claims that don’t really square with the facts.

It’s a real shame, ’cause she was so awesome with Ozzy.

Jacaranda Song

Filed under: Humor — Patterico @ 7:15 am

The BoiFromTroy was complaining recently about jacarandas, the beautiful purple trees found all over Los Angeles. BFT’s complaint: they drop sap-filled leaves on your car — leaves which never, ever come off.

I’ve heard this complaint before from many people in Los Angeles. It occurred to me that jacarandas are as “Southern California” as surfing, bikini babes, and surfing. So I called up my friend Brian Wilson and asked him if he’d ever written a song about the jacaranda.

It turns out that he had!
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