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I’m bored out of my mind with the New Conventional Wisdom that persists in opining that the Internets have killed storytelling…..narrative writing….long form journalism…. or what have you, when research and practical observation repeatedly tells us otherwise.

We are a storytelling species.

I bring this up because of a the wonderful tale in the December issue of Wired Magazine that is justifiably getting lots of attention this past weekend. It is a terrific example of immersion journalism that is web-centric, interactive—plus it is engaging storytelling with a well constructed narrative.

It’s called VANISH: Finding Evan Ratliff.
It is about what happened when Wired writer Evan Ratliff tried to disappear without a trace in this brave, new non-private world.

Do read it.

Photo by Joe Pugliese for Wired


The LA Times’ Maura Dolan tells a heart-piercing first person tale
of her teenage son’s two friends, one of whom died at a Memorial day weekend party featuring too much alcohol. The other friend was the one who gave the booze party while his parents were out of town.


As the LA City Council heads toward an actual, no-kidding vote on the issue of regulating marijuana dispensaries, the LA Times’ John Hoeffel asks how many retail pot outlets is too many.


Two things worth reading during the media’s recent sheep-like Sarah Palin news storm.

1. Matt Tabbai’s take on Palin as a WWE Star

Rolling Stone’s Matt Tabbai has become one of the most consistently interesting journalists in America right now. Is he the nicest? Probably not. He seems to have an ego approaching the size of that new floating city thingy, the Oasis of the Seas. And he swears a lot. But he’s also dogged and extremely insightful at noting and characterizing patterns.

Warning to those conservatives who are Palin fans. If you read this, be forewarned that Tabbai obviously doesn’t like Palin. But read it anyway. It’s the analysis that matters, not Tabbai’s personal feelings about Sarah.

2. Carl Hiaasen’s faux fact check of Palin’s book.

It’s old, but it’s still really, really funny.


I am not in the least expert on China but the Atlantic’s Jim Fallows is. And he (and some others whom he quotes) explains the media’s latest vexing example of pack journalism—or horse race journalism as NYU’s Jay Rosen began describing it nearly two years ago in the midst of the presidential primary. This particular instance has to do with Obama’s trip to Asia, and Fallows explains that much of the American reporting on the trip is…well… incorrect. Unfortunately, wrong or not, by next week, the POV Fallow’s describes will likely become the accepted reality of the situation.

Here are a couple of clips from Fallows’ essay:

[Here Fallows quotes Howard French:]

Howard French goes on to say that these assumptions were flat wrong. He offers many explanations, including this: “I find that the Washington reporters tend to be typically the most subject to this instant scorekeeping. This is part of the game of Washington reporting. They’re at the bleeding edge of this phenomenon that I think is distressing in terms of the approach of the press to serious questions. Everything is shot through this prism of short-term political calculation as opposed to thinking seriously about stuff. You can’t be an expert on every question, and so you’re part of the Washington press corps and if you’re really good and really diligent, you’re going to be expert maybe in a few things and one of those things might not be China.”

[Finally, he concludes with this.]

We’re all familiar with one “crisis of the press,” the business collapse. This is a different kind of crisis, though it makes the business crisis worse: the distortion of reality by compressing every complex issue into the narrative of the DC-based “horse race.” As you can tell, this really bothers me.

I traveled with the presidential press corps briefly once during the Carter administration, when I was young and wildly inexperienced. Yet because I was an outsider, I could see what the others seemed not to see: And that was the fact that the reporters who were daily defining the national dialogue talked to no one but themselves and a small cadre of government insiders from both parties. I also noted that they rarely, if ever, questioned an insidious kind of group think that made their reporting fact laden, and seemingly informed and connected, but often weirdly wrong. At the time, I found this vision frightening.

I still do.


Steve Lopez’s Sunday column was about a Santa Monica doctor who got his head slightly banged up playing some weekend soccer in the park, needed a few stitches, went to a local emergency room—-and came away with a bill that flabbergasted him (and remember, the guy himself is a doctor). There was, for example, the $350 tetnus shot that the doc knew for a fact cost $27. It got way worse from there. Read it.


  • “Warning to those conservatives who are Palin fans.”

    I’m trying to figure out how the former governor of the most “socialist” state in the Union, which distributes money from public ownership on a “come-one-come-all” basis to any resident with a pulse – and the most pork-fed by BIg Government and lower-48 taxation despite their public-ownership-of-oil-fields state-levelo bonanza – could possibly have “conservative” fans. (Conservatives like David Frum and David Brooks – and of course, Andrew Sullivan – agree with me on this.)

    Palin also, incidentally got Fed funds to the tune of $6,500 per resident as a mayor of Wasilla and still managed to put a town of 8,000 people IN DEBT due to her mismanagement. Alaskans are #47 among states as taxpayers, incidentally, so Palin is the Queen of spending Other People’s Money, of pork and of insanely unbalanced local budgets, despite a bizarre level of federal largesse.

    I think we’re talking about Wingnut World, here – which isn’t “conservative”, just running on resentments, essentially hormonal and in search of any cheap “feel-good” affirmations of their infantilism. I guess it’s the old Boy Scout in me, but I’m still waiting for Palin to apologize for posing with the flag in “gym towel” disarray while she leans on it in her sweats.

  • I think it would be hard to feel, as I do, that we elected a president that lacked credentials or the experience needed to hold the highest office in the land and be ok with Palin holding that same office.

    Where I’m not a big supporter of hers, I certainly understand the fascination that many have with her. That Reg can’t put up a simple post without trying to show how he feels so much superior to anyone on the right with his constant demeaning of them is what many like I see when engaged in conversation with the liberal elite.

    There isn’t a politician to be found that doesn’t go after the pork for their constituents, it’s how they stay in office so to go after Palin is simple hate and nothing more. Now with the Obama Government attempting to tell us what we have to buy and throwing us another two trillion in debt, to talk about what state politicians are doing, or have done for their own is so minor an issue it makes sense a hater of the right like Reg would put that out. Reg, our issues and your issues differ in their importance, and you being ok with being taxed, taxed, and taxed some more in our state while lashing out at the state ranking 47th is understandable.

    Maybe I should just switch gears and talk about Oakland being the third most dangerous city in the U.S.A., and explain why using simple demographics to make my point, but I refuse to go there.

  • As for Palin’s photo op, it pales in comparison to the actions and words of those Obama has associated with and whose church he attended faithfully (but never knew what his apstor was actually saying.

    Such nitpicky bs is juvenile.

  • Nothing like dealing with substance. After SureFire posted a link that proved my point with precision in a previous post, I guess he’s sticking with what he knows – his hormones.

  • And as for Palin’s “associations” no Pol has had more bizarre associations – from the crazy Kenyan preacher who basically preached voodoo nonsense and who, if I’m not mistaken, annointed her to the wingnut secessionist party that her husband belonged to and that she addressed, but which of course she lies about.
    The apologia and lack of substance other than hormonal attacks is typical of this blowhard. And I’m not a member of any elite – he is. There’s nothing worse than the public employees who crank out horseshit about “liberals” and live off of our largesse, their “playground” codes that keep guys like the murderer Hasan in their jobs no matter what, and their protection by union bureaucracies. But I’m part of an “elite.” Nothing like getting slammed for living in a dangerous ghetto, not having a college degree and being part of an elite. What a bunch of dishonest deviants, who stick it out here saying anything that makes them feel good, our “conservative” commenters turn out to be. Now I’ve got work to do. Surefire has given it his best shot and, as usual, come up with nothing but the chip on his shoulder and recycled, dishonest cliches.

  • “Repulses independent (liberal) voters on a visceral level”

    What Matt Taibbi is trying to say is that just as evil hates good and darkness hates light, liberals have a visceral dislike of Sarah Palin.

    Liberals are gnawing tongues and gnashing teeth over Sarah Palin, not for her politics, for as Reg pointed out, he thinks she is a socialist, but because of what she represents.

    I say let the liberals debase themselves by calling her schoolyard names:

    “preening paranoiac”, “IQ of a celery stalk”, “Gump-esque”, “brand of insanity”, “drooling yahoo”, “brainless political theater”, “unsustainably divisive”, “semi-coherent mob”

    It shows their panic and lack of a coherent augment.

  • I see the same dynamic from her presence that Obama caused when he was served up on the scene. You either like her or you want to see her smeared. It’s altogether possible that had Sarah Palen had a running mate further removed from the Bush/Cheney debacle she might have had a shot, scary as that is. She aroused strong emotions in the voting bloc, the same way Obama did with his clever campaign, and her favor will probably climb as his declines. I don’t think either one of them are worthy of the attention they get.

  • Pokey – I don’t think Palin is a socialist. I think she’s a narcissist and a flaming hypocrite. But bring her on. I’d like to see Palin-Dobbs ’12 for the GOP. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Probably some lesser phony like Romney or Pawlenty, which isn’t much fun. Meanwhile, GOPers with IQs above room temperature are, in fact, panicked by Palin. See David Frum and David Brooks. If you don’t consider them true conservatives, that’s…uh…what I might expect from some of our commenters here. I’m also loving that little food fight between the insane and the merely weird.

  • “what she represents”

    This is the masturbatory aspect of wingnut politics. Palin is their “values” pin-up. What a joke. But let’s keep the games going. More defense of Palin please.

  • CELESTE ALERT..PLEASE POST. Beck’s promotions and demotions have community members really angry. He demoted a popular Assistant Chief Mcdonnell who was the expert on community policing especially in the minority communities and now not one command staffer he’s promoted does any community members know. He’s taken LAPD downward spiral with promoting all his friends. Jacobs was responsible I’m told for May 1st but gets promoted. His other friends are getting promoted as well without the experience they need. He’s taken apart Bratton’s team which is the dumbest thing he could have done. Rank and file are livid and not happy at all.

  • Janet,

    Thanks for the note. As you can see, Kevin Roderick has the memo up. I’ll put it up a little later.

    I’m madly correcting student papers, but am, at the same time, fielding calls and emails about the new list. (And it ain’t over yet.)

    Actually, I heard that Jim wanted a command over troops, which meant either one of the Bureau Dep Chief positions or Detectives, so I don’t think this is the Dis that it seems. There was no way Beck was going to move Jim back into the Assist. Chief/Operations—for a zillion reasons. For one thing, it’d be madness to move Paysinger.

    The one hole in McDonnell’s resume is his lack of command experience—comparatively. And he’s very aware of that. So….

    Anyway, thanks for the input. I’ll post in a while. And please keep it coming.

  • That story about Ratliff was amazing! Of course, he had a whole army of computer experts on the hunt for him. I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to skip out on your life, don’t use the internet.

  • Oh, I see, Janet, it’s ok for you to complain about the police? A few days ago you’re accusing others who complain about the police of being bias and having an agenda. So then, according to that standard..What’s Janet’s stake in who or who not Beck promotes?

    I kid, Janet. I actually agree with you. Which brings me to my next point… I pretty much told you guys so about Beck, didn’t I? Just thought he looked like a dick.

  • Pokey: “just as darkness hates light”

    David Frum: (In CNN Poll) While 33% of men deem Palin qualified, only 24% of women do. 66% of men deem her unqualified – and 74% of women.
    Now look just at Republicans: Republican men deem Palin “qualified” by a margin of 60-38. But Republican women? Not even half think she is qualified: only 49%. 50% of Republican women say Palin is unqualified for the job.
    If you like Palin – well go ahead. It’s a free country. But quit saying that “the people” love Sarah Palin.
    They don’t. Actually, they quite dislike her. The longer they know her, the more they dislike her. And even more than they dislike her, they do not respect her. That reaction of dislike and disrespect is most concentrated among American women.

  • Pokey, I hate Sarah Palin for what she represents. Taking pride in stupidity, and rural white racists who believe the country belongs to them and that everyone other than them are second class citizens. I’ll proudly say I hate her for what she represents. The true irony of this dumb woman’s life is that the county where she gave a speech and referred to her audience as “real Americans” voted for Obama!

    She belongs to a political party which preaches moral values, while her own family is a mobile Jerry Springer episode. Hand it to McCain…chooses a veep with a knocked up daughter. What color is the sky in that man’s world?

    People who attended her rallies yelled “kill him” (referring to Obama), as she did nothing to denounce their hatred, and only continued to encourage them. At least McCain told one of those nut jobs, “No, he’s not an Arab”. (LOL…as if being Arab is a crime!)

    Palin criticized Obama’s lack of national security experience in an interview with Kate Couric. When Couric asked Palin what her national security experience was, she said that she could see Russia from her house in Alaska. When Couric asked her which newspapers she reads, perfectly fair game for an interview with a vp candidate, she couldn’t name one. She couldn’t even make one up, like Bush does. Palin and her supporters then accused Couric of ambushing her.

    Yes, Pokey, I, and MOST Americans, as Reg pointed out, do hate Palin for what she represents. Stupidity and racism. Two things worthy of hate.

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