January 05, 2007

We've just left Hilo on the Big Island, and it's five days at sea until the Island Princess hits San Pedro. So far, the highlight of the cruise has either been the 17-year old girl on the Aloha deck who was reported missing on the ship at four a.m. Wednesday morning, causing a great consternation among the crew and waking up half the ship (it turns out she was bonking a passenger in another cabin, and her dad overreacted), or the two, count 'em, two, performances by the legendary ventriloquist act, Willie Tyler & Lester," who for some reason was plugging a new CD (how exactly would that work?)

As anyone who has ever been on a long cruise can tell you, the port days are the least interesting part of the voyage, since you're never at any locale for longer than ten hours. Once there, you either have to overspend on a cruise-sponsored tour, make your own arrangements (always an iffy proposition), or hope there's something to do near the port. On this trip, the Island Princess stopped in Kauai for the day, and I managed to spend my visit to one of the world's most breathtaking islands doing nothing more than walking to a nearby mini-mall and buying a newspaper. On the other stops, I was more lucky, visiting the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, with a side trip to the USS Missouri, and today hooking up with a friend of a cousin-in-law to tour the spectacular (and undeveloped) outskirts of Hilo, a town which doesn't appear to have changed much in the last fifty years.

So now the fun part begins, with five days with nothing to do but eat, get smashed and play bingo. I'll have pictures to post next week. Be seeing you.
Two more black eyes for the blogosphere, here and here. For the record, I am not a Media Watchdog; if the most important thing in your life is whether Meet the Press has any left-of-center pundits on its panel, or whether the LA Times is biased against conservatives, you are living a very sad existence indeed. But the right wing obsession with the media isn't simply an embarrasment, it may eventually get someone killed. I know that there hasn't been a lot to cheer about as far as successes for the keepers of the starboard flame (sorry, I've been on a cruise ship for the past week), but some bloggers really have to get over the fact that they busted Dan Rather three years ago. Claims that the media has falsified evidence or invented sources are starting to be reminiscent of Queeg's Strawberries, and it's starting to taint the rest of us everytime they go off the deep end.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald says it better, firing both barrels:
And now the right-wing blogosphere stands revealed as what they are -- a pack of gossip-mongering hysterics who routinely attack any press reports that reflect poorly on their Leader or his policies, with rank innuendo, Internet gossip, base speculation, and wholesale error as their most frequent tools of the trade. They operate in packs, constantly repeating each other's innuendo and expanding on it incrementally, and they then cite to each other endlessly in one self-feeding, self-affirming orgy of links, as though that constitutes proof.

And they are wrong over and over and over -- and not just in error, but embarrassingly so, because so frequently their claims are transparently, laughably absurd, and they spew the most righteous accusations without any sort of evidence at all. The New Republic has its Stephen Glass and The New York Times has its Jayson Blair. But those are one-off incidents. The right-wing blogosphere is driven by Jayson Blairs. They are exposed as frauds and gossip-mongerers on an almost weekly basis. The only thing that can compete with the consistency of their errors is the viciousness of their accusations and their pompous self-regard as "citizen journalists."
The comparison with Glass and Blair may be a tad unfair, since those journalistic malefactors were caught deliberately falsifying stories, while I have no doubt the bloggers involved in this the AP fiasco sincerely believed they were purusuing some sort of Higher Truth. But that makes it even more frightening. As a wise man of the blogosphere once said in a completely different context, "screw 'em."

January 03, 2007

It appears I'm not alone. From Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press:
Since it can safely be assumed that millions are now in possession of copies of "Cars" and "Six Feet Under: The Complete Season," this is the perfect opportunity to trade in or up for other, less obvious DVDs or sets you really want -- or in some cases, need.

My personal want list, fulfilled this year, begins with the best limited TV series ever made, "Brideshead Revisited," adapted from Evelyn Waugh's novel and originally shown here on PBS in 1982.

All 660 minutes of the drama -- about the life-altering friendship of would-be painter Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons) and Oxford classmate Lord Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Edwards), who introduces him to a world he would have never known when he takes Charles home to meet his his family and his upper crust London crowd -- have been remastered for the "25th Anniversary Edition Collector's Edition" (FOUR STARS out of four stars, Acorn Media, $59.99).

The perfect cast includes Sirs Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, and as Sebastian's sisters, Diana Quick and Phoebe Nichols (sic), for whom I developed life-long crushes.
Or maybe I am alone; it would stand to reason that if you truly have a life-long crush on the Phoenician, you'd be able to spell her last name correctly. It's not like the first "l" in her last name is silent.

Long live the splendor and glory of Ms. Nicholls against the depradations of the infidel !!! Kobe Akbar !!!

January 01, 2007

The Poor Are Still With Us: As you enjoy the Rose Bowl at home this New Year's Day, perhaps a thought can be spared for these benighted wretches, our nation's federal judges. According to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts:
In 1969, federal judges earned substantially more than the dean and the senior professors at Harvard Law School, Roberts said. Today, federal judges are paid about half of what the deans and senior law professors at top schools are paid, he said.

During the same period, the average U.S. worker's wage, adjusted for inflation, has risen about 18%. By contrast, the pay for a federal judge has declined about 24% compared with inflation, creating a gap of 42%, he said.

Federal judges, who have lifetime appointments, "do not expect to receive salaries commensurate with what they could easily earn in the private sector," Roberts acknowledged. Indeed, judges in many cities know that lawyers fresh out of law school will earn more than they do, he noted.

But judges should not have to accept salaries that "fall further and further behind the cost of living…. The time is ripe for our nation's judges to receive a substantial salary increase," he said.
--From today's Onion Los Angeles Times. For the record, federal district court judges, who serve lifetime appointments, have had to make do on a meager stipend of $165,000 a year, which is less than four times the average national income. It would be terrible if all the young principled ideologues that have been placed on the courts these last six years would have to leave for the private sector so soon.