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Wednesday, June 16

World

Truth Is More Ironic Than Satire

There's a reason that this blog is called Ambient Irony. Take a look at this*
Reporters at three news organizations are resisting subpoenas issued in the trial of a lawyer charged with conspiring to support terrorists.

Prosecutors issued subpoenas to four reporters at Reuters, The New York Times and Newsday, saying they want the reporters to testify that lawyer Lynne Stewart said what they quoted her as saying in their articles.

So the question is, are the quotes accurate, or did the reporters edit them to suit?
Lawyers for the reporters have argued that making the reporters testify would compromise their neutrality by forcing them to side with prosecutors.
So, that means you made the quotes up? Or is it just that being legally required to tell the truth compromises your principles?
In a motion filed Monday, a lawyer for Newsday argued that its subpoenaed reporter, Patricia Hurtado, might have to stop covering the trial if she is required to testify.
Well, yes, I think that would follow.

My suggestion: Look for the little ... markers. They're a dead giveaway.**

* Of course, since it's linked from Instapundit, you probably already have.
** I wouldn't be at all surprised if the quotes were edited. A while back my brother was interviewed by The Australian (Australia's Least Worst Newspaper&tradewink for an article on PocketPCs. They had him speaking in marketese ("maximise the product synergies" sort of thing), and I asked him if he really said that. He replied "Well... Not exactly." And they didn't even use the ... markers!

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World

Pixy Misa's Guide To Detecting Journalistic Bias

Step 1. Pick up a newspaper.
Note: This may not work with The Wall Street Journal or similar papers. It's not that they're not biased; it's just that their bias boils down to Money good. More money better. Unless you live in Berkeley, California, you are unlikely to score any points by protesting this.
Step 2. Pick any article from the first four pages.
Anything after page four is what is known in the business as "filler": material that is there just so there aren't embarassing blank areas between the ads.

Also, picking on the OpEd pages is a task reserved for our grade school classes. (Well, and Tim Blair. But that's only because we can't get him to stop.)

Step 3. Pick a paragraph at random.
Check to see if it is an unedited quote with attribution; this sometimes happens. (Look for the little ... markers; these indicate that the quote has been changed so as to reverse its original meaning. Sometimes these markers are left out, this is covered in our Advanced Course.) If so, pick the following paragraph instead.

Under no circumstances follow the story beyond the "jump" - the point where it says, Continued on page Q-37. Paragraphs after the jump are often written by underpaid assistants or "stringers" and rarely exhibit the quality and quantity of bias we are seeking.

Step 4. Publish the paragraph on your blog as an example of the treachery of the MSM (mainstream media).
You may want to disable comments at this point too.

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World

Ah! My Brain!

[A] movie promo for "The Stepford Wives" ... depicted Condoleezza Rice as a topless hottie and Hillary Clinton as a bosomy housewife holding a baking sheet.

"Henry Kissinger was national security adviser 30 years ago, and if he had been used in this way at the time, I don't think it would have been tolerated."

I don't think it would have been tolerated either.

(Words of wisdom from the Washington Post)

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Geek

Down But Not Out In The Empire Of Rust

Okay, now that I have that off my chest...

I was reading the latest catalogue from Software Warehouse on the way home tonight, and I noticed that they are selling some new tape drives, including the Sony SAIT. Now, I'd never heard of SAIT before, so I thought I'd do a quick Google to find some details, only I ended up at Google News instead and it took me half an hour to finally stop cursing and pry myself loose.

Anyway, one downside of the 12-month doubling period for hard disk densities I mentioned in the previous episode was that the capacity of backup tapes wasn't growing nearly as fast, so instead of (as it was in the old days) one tape backing up multiple disks, it took multiple tapes to back up one disk. Which was rather less convenient than the other way round.

Sony have come up with an interesting solution to the problem with SAIT: They cheated.*

Check out the physical specifications of the drive:

5.25" Full Height Extended (5.8"W x 3.3" H x 12" D)
I haven't seen a full height 5¼-inch drive for years, and 12 inches deep?! Okay, so it can store 500GB compared to AIT-4's 200GB, but AIT-4 would actually fit inside a normal computer! AIT drives are usually half-height 3½-inch devices, about 4" by 6" by 1.6"... So about one sixth the size of the SAIT.

Bring back 9-track tapes, I say. At least you could watch them spin while the blinkenlights blinked...

* By the way, Sony guys and girls, your website lists "Desktops Computers" as a destination in the menu. Either they're awfully big or you've got a typo.

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Rant

Just On The Other Side

From The Globe and Mail:
Iraqis dance around victim's body
'Down with USA' Baghdad bomb another blow to reconstruction

By ORLY HALPERN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - Page A1

BAGHDAD -- Baghdad's second major car bombing in 24 hours killed at least 13 people yesterday, including five foreigners working to rebuild critical power plants -- the latest blow to U.S. reconstruction efforts just two weeks before sovereignty is handed back to Iraqis.

Of course, having Arabs dancing around the bodies of their victims is nothing new, but it never seems to get reported unless it can somehow be spun into a broader defeat for America and her allies.

Think I'm reading too much into it? Read a little further:

While the insurgent attacks set back reconstruction efforts, Iraqis hold the Americans responsible for the lack of improvement.
Not "some Iraqis". Not even "many Iraqis". All twenty-some million of them, one assumes.

And here's the Arizona Republic:

Arizona Republic - 10 minutes ago
BAGHDAD - Iraqi insurgents struck at the heart of downtown Baghdad on Monday, setting off a huge bomb as a Western convoy passed, an attack that killed at least 13 people, wounded dozens and triggered a firestorm of rage against America's presence.
Ah, the good old firestorm of rage! Nothing quite like it for cleaning up after the party.

Google News is a wonderful tool for finding examples of outrageous bias in the media. Of course, all it's doing is throwing up articles at random from a broad spectrum of the media - but that's all it takes.

For example:

President Mohammad Khatami has warned Europe's three big powers [Three big powers? That would be, uh, Britain, okay, I guess they can be counted as part of Europe, and then there's... Um....] that Iran's future cooperation with UN nuclear inspectors may be at risk if criticism of Tehran's nuclear program persists, newspapers said on Tuesday.
You can tell it's Reuters, because they said that with a straight face.
Iran: If you don't stop criticising us, we'll stop co-operating!
World: But you aren't co-operating now.
Iran: Right, that's it! Down tools! Everybody out!!
Reuters, Tuesday: Terrorists around the world walked off the job today in a protest against unfair treatment, demanding better working conditions and free dental care.

(Though there remains the question of why Reuters is reporting what the newspapers reported. Slow day down the salt mines?)

Heck, even Xinhua is less biased, and they're a mouthpiece of the Evil Chicoms™:

Car bomb explodes near Jewish settlement in Gaza

GAZA, June 15 (Xinhuanet) -- A car bomb exploded on Tuesday near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip as a Palestinian militant drove his explosive-laden car and tried to approach one of the lookout posts, Palestinian witnesses and sources said.

The militant, whose identity was not known, was killed after his car was showered by the gunfire of the Israeli troops stationed on the outskirts of the settlement, Palestinian security sources said.

Palestinian witnesses said that as soon as the car approached the post, soldiers rained the explosive-laden car with gunshots until it blew up. The militant in the car was killed as flames and black smoke were seen coming out from the vehicle, they said.

Well, apart from the near-universal use of the euphemism "militant" and the "showers" and "rain" of gunfire from the Israelis, it's pretty straightforward: Terrorist tries to blow up checkpoint; IDF, not being stupid, fire on car; bomb blows up killing zero infidels, no virgins for you.

Mind you, The Australian - possibly Australia's least worst paper - actually manages to report the news on the same incident:

Car explodes near Israeli troops
From correspondents in Gaza
June 15, 2004

A VEHICLE blew up near Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip today after soldiers fired on it, the army said.

There were no reports of Israeli or Palestinian casualties.

The vehicle apparently was rigged with explosives, the army said. Palestinian witnesses said no one was inside when it blew up.

The blast went off on a road closed to Palestinian traffic. Black smoke was seen in the area, and Palestinian witnesses said they heard gunfire.

Light on detail, perhaps, but pretty light on the bias too.

Is it so hard? Really, is it so hard? You report the facts. If all you have is statements from opposing parties, you report the statements with attribution. He said. She said. This is third-grade composition class stuff; surely at least some journalism graduates know how to do this.

Or maybe their writing skills were all consumed by the firestorm of rage.

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Tuesday, June 15

Anime

Aishiteruze Baby

I barely made it through the opening them (one of those incredibly dreary Suzanne Vega type things, only in Japanese) but it's worth it for the sandpit politics and the moment when five-year-old Marika turns to her mother and demands that she produce an older brother for her.

And the observation of the five-year-old's mind - the logic of why, if Yuzuyu loses her crayons or has to change her school uniform, her world comes apart - is spot on. (Though if you're hiring a voice actress to play a little girl, you should make sure she can cry properly. Otherwise you get the tired-and-upset whine when you should be getting the heart-broken choked sobs.)

(More information here)

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Geek

Meanwhile, In The Empire Of Rust

Things aren't looking that great either. From the invention of the hard disk, up until about 1998, storage densities had been doubling roughly every 18 months. Then for a little while things kicked into high gear, with densities doubling every year.

However, since the introduction of the 80GB 3½-inch platter late in 2002, things haven't moved at all. We're now not just behind the fast 12-month curve, but behind the older 18-month curve as well.

Seagate have just announced a new range of drives, including one with a capacity of 400GB across 3 platters. However, it's taken 18 months to bring about an increase of just 66%, which makes the doubling time more than two years.

(Hitachi already has a 400GB drive available, but it uses 5 80GB platters, so it doesn't represent any new technology. Also, the last desktop drive to use 5 platters was IBM's ill-fated GXP75, which was so unreliable that it landed IBM with a class-action suit, leading the company to sell off its disk-drive division... To Hitachi.)

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Monday, June 14

World

Methinks They Doth Protest Too Much

Ice cream vendors had hoped to cash in selling cool scoops to hot demonstrators, but estimates are that only 50 of the 5,000 expected protesters materialized.
(FOXNews)

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Sunday, June 13

Rant

And The Little Dog You Rode In On

There's a protest being held here in Sydney on the 30th of June calling for an end to the War and for our soldiers to be brought home.

I have a few difficulties with this.

First, the 30th of June is a Wednesday. You know, in the middle of the week? When people who have actual jobs have to work?

Second, the war is already over. If you have been following the news on TV or in the papers, you may have missed this, but we won.

Third, the 30th of June is the day that Iraqi sovereignty is to be officially handed back to the Iraqis. Of course, this has already happened, but we'll let that slide for now. So I assume the date was chosen to make some sort of point, but I can't work out quite what.

Fourth, the Australian troops in Iraq are involved in the training of the new Iraqi Army and Police Force. You know, so Iraq will actually have an Army and a Police Force (as opposed to undifferentiated uniformed thugs) and won't, you know, need foreign soldiers to protect Iraqi citizens from attack.

So you want them brought back... Why, exactly?

Go on, tell me it's all about the oil. For old times' sake.

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Anime

Ecchi is as Ecchi Does

As a change of pace from all the cerebration, here's a little video I found. It's called Ecchi* Boys of Anime and it's by Maria of Choco Fansubs**.

The music, by the way, the Don't touch Junky Boy song, is the closing theme from Maze***. I always liked it, and I'm glad to see it being put to such good use.

* The term ecchi comes from the Japanese pronounciation of the first letter of the romanisation of the Japanese word hentai, which means pervert or perverted. Clear? Anyway, ecchi is a softer term, and its meaning is closer to, say, naughty - though the context is still sexual. The video clip is work-safe, anyway.

** If you like this one, follow the link and you can download a file containing this and another 31 other clips by the same group. They're called Anime Music Videos, or AMVs, and they consist of, well, anime videos set to music.

*** Maze himherself appears in the clip a couple of times too. He's**** the guy who doesn't get clobbered by the girl he tries to kiss. The first time, anyway.

**** Technically speaking, the previous footnote should have read as follows:

Maze herhimself appears in the clip a couple of times too. Shehe's the girlguy who...
However, referring to big sisterbrother that way rapidly becomes tiring.

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