Patterico's Pontifications

12/3/2006

N.Y. Times Smugly Analyzes the Jamil Hussein Controversy

Filed under: General,Media Bias,War — Patterico @ 10:13 pm

The Jamil Hussein saga has finally hit the pages of the New York Times. And what a smug, circle-the-wagons piece it is, too.

Read it all to get the full flavor, but for now, this morsel of Big Media arrogance accurately captures the attitude:

It is also true that the institution conducting America’s multibillion gamble in Iraq — the military — says that this standout of atrocities never happened, while a venerable, trusted news agency has twice interviewed witnesses who said, in extensive, vivid detail, that it did.

Note the differing descriptions of the two sides. Is there any doubt in your mind where the author of the piece comes down?

Of course, the witnesses are unnamed. But there is a “venerable, trusted news agency” behind their anonymous assertions, so rest easy. Anonymous sources have never been wrong before! And anyway, they couldn’t come up with “extensive, vivid detail” unless it were true.

The piece also says that, according to the AP‘s executive editor, “the agency had already done all it could to respond to the uncertainties by vigorously re-reporting the article . . . .” The author of the New York Times piece seems to agree. Apparently it never occurred to either of these stellar journalists that there is, in fact, one thing the AP could do — but, notably, hasn’t. And that is to produce Jamil Hussein.

Curt from Flopping Aces responds here. A good portion of the rest of the blogosphere is about to follow right behind him.

UPDATE: I recommend posts by Allah and Tom Blumer, both of whom employ wagon-circling terminology to describe the N.Y. Times piece.

L.A. Times Tells Part of the Truth on Tennie Pierce

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Race — Patterico @ 9:37 pm

An L.A. Times story published today on the Tennie Pierce lawsuit says:

Whites often noted that Pierce had used the nickname “Big Dog” around the station house and in a volleyball game before the incident. Feeding the “Big Dog” dog food thus seemed to them dumb but not racial. They also noted that Pierce has admitted to hazing other firefighters. How, many wondered, could he play gags on colleagues, and then collect so much money when one was played on him?

And a Steve Lopez column from today says:

There also was the matter of Pierce’s nickname. He went by the handle “Big Dog,” which might serve as an explanation — other than racism — as to why three white ignoramuses, including two captains, conspired to slip dog food into Pierce’s spaghetti two years ago.

This is a rather stark change from weeks of virtually hiding these facts from readers.

The paper still can’t bring itself to report the allegation that really explains the prank: that Pierce arguably invited the prank by yelling that other volleyball players “gotta feed the Big Dog!” — an allegation that is apparently corroborated by an internal Fire Department investigation.

But they’re getting closer. Maybe, one time before we actually see this lawsuit tried, the paper will finally give readers the full picture.

Putting Things in Perspective

Filed under: General,Real Life — Patterico @ 10:08 am

I’ve discovered a way to bring a new perspective to your life.

To explain it, I have to tell a little story.

Driving home Friday night, I was remembering a time years ago, when my daughter Lauren (now six years old) was in her first year. An old friend of mine was coming to town, and we went with my wife to see a Glen Phillips solo acoustic concert down near San Diego.

We were very excited to see the show. But for some reason, we couldn’t get a babysitter. So we decided to take Lauren. Since it was just an acoustic show, we hoped that she’d sleep peacefully on my lap. If, during the show, she got upset, I would take her out to the car. Thereafter, my wife and I would take turns watching her in the car.

Lauren was asleep when the concert began — but she awoke, crying, five seconds into the first song. It was louder than we had thought it would be. I hurriedly took her to the car, which was parked on the street about half a block away.

Once I had her out there, I never brought her back inside the club. Although part of me wanted to be back inside watching the concert, I was also having fun being with my daughter — at times talking to her when she was awake, and at times watching her sleep. Plus, I wanted to let my wife see the whole concert. I figured there was no reason to interrupt her enjoyment if I was having a perfectly good time.

It wasn’t so much that I preferred to be with my daughter than to watch a concert. I just didn’t mind staying out with her in the car.

Thinking about this the other night, I asked myself: Patrick, if you could go back to that night, right now, and either stay out in the car with Lauren, or be inside and watch the concert — which would you do?

And of course the answer was obvious.

The night it happened, I didn’t mind being in the car with my daughter. But if I could go back now, there’s no question that I would want to be there.

Not only would I stay in the car with her — I would make the most of the experience, realizing that I had a precious chance to see her at that age again. I would try to commit every moment to memory.

And then I realized: some day, years in the future, I might be asking the same question about my life today — this very minute. If you could have this moment back to live over again, what would you do?

The rest of that evening, I pictured myself as having been sent into my body from the future, to relive the moments I was experiencing. And I saw everything differently. I sat on the couch and watched television with my arm around my wife — all the while imagining myself as an old man, transported back in time to relive that moment. And all of a sudden, what otherwise might have seemed like a mundane moment seemed like a privilege. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, just sitting there with my wife.

I’ve tried the trick all weekend, and it really changes your outlook. Just sitting around with a sleepy child in your arms is great any way you look at it. But if you picture yourself as someone whose child has grown up — if you imagine yourself as an older man, who would give the world to be back in that chair with that child in his arms — it makes you realize how important the moment is. And you appreciate it more.

Like any epiphany, I know that this will pass, to be remembered only from time to time. I hope I remember it often, when routine is wearing on me.

But there are times I actively need to forget it, because this outlook promotes a sort of hedonism. For example, right now, I need to clean the house — but that’s not really what I would choose to do if I were sent here from the future.

Oh, well. I’m going to clean up anyway. I think the guy from the future would understand — sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. I can hear my future self in my head right now. He says to make a nice cup of coffee and put on some music while I do it, and take some breaks to play with the kids. Enjoy the chores as well as the easy and fun moments, I hear him saying. Some day, you’ll miss even the chores. Some day, you’ll miss almost everything about your life the way it is right now.


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