(These ideas are explicated in this sloppy manifesto)

Saturday, September 18, 2004
Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while...

The Washington Post, in the age of instantaneous communication. Oh, fellows: The signatures don't match, either.

Thursday, September 16, 2004
Desdemona's going to have a sweet year

My wife, Cathy, writing three years ago at Rosh Hashanah:
Because our coon hound, Desdemona, runs away so easily and so tenaciously, we let her stay in the house when we aren't home. This acknowledges that Desdemona has won the war. Well, of course she has... she won every battle. You'll recall, she escapes over our 6' block fence, even after we added an electric wire to the top; even when we strapped her into a full body harness and tethered her; even when we tethered her at both her collar and her harness and attached the two together; even when we put her into a kennel and tethered her at both her harness and collar and ran the two cables out of separate sides of the kennel; even when we drugged her. The only thing she couldn't escape from was a $200 solid plastic shell of a kennel, but after a few times in that box she learned how to splay herself so that anyone who tried to stuff her into the kennel came out of the box bloody and Desi, of course, never came close to going in. So, after spending about $600 on gadgets guaranteed to keep dogs where they're supposed to be, Desdemona won the war and now gets to stay in the house when we're not at home. The spoils of war include more than the simple luxury of staying indoors. They include staying indoors unsupervised! Which means we've had to make changes in how and where we store garbage. And we're sure she terrorizes the cats, and we're sure she bounds from one piece of out-of-bounds furniture to another. Now Desdemona no longer becomes anxious when she sees us prepare to leave. Now, when we put the other three dogs outside and we're wearing clothes that she recognizes as "going out" clothes, she gets into position where she can watch the door, but not close enough to try to run out of it, and smiles. Desdemona never smiled before she won the war. In fact, we didn't believe she could smile. Now, Desdemona is a very happy dog. Yesterday got even better. Yesterday at lunch, Tamra and I went to a Jewish deli and we each bought a honey cake for Rosh Hashanah. We eat honey cakes this season to start our year out right, sweetly. When I brought the wrapped cake home last night I put it away where we always store our bread, which has always been a safe place. Of course, you know how the story ends. When we got home last night, we learned that the safe place is not really all that safe... and Desdemona was smiling.

Happy New Year!

Cathleen Collins
September 20, 2001

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
CBS News President drinks the Kool-Aid, too!

Someone mentioned Thelma and Louise, but I just don't think that has the right degree of masculinity.
Don't Take Me Alive

Agents of the law
Luckless pedestrian
I know you're out there
With rage in your eyes and your megaphones
Saying all is forgiven
Mad Dog surrender
How can I answer
A man of my mind can do anything

I'm a bookkeeper's son
I don't want to shoot no one
Well I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive
Got a case of dynamite
I could hold out here all night
Yes I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive

Can you hear the evil crowd
The lies and the laughter
I hear my inside
The mechanized hum of another world
Where no sun is shining
No red light flashing
Here in this darkness
I know what I've done
I know all at once who I am

I'm a bookkeeper's son
I don't want to shoot no one
Well I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive
Got a case of dynamite
I could hold out here all night
Yes I crossed my old man back in Oregon
Don't take me alive

Resolved: If you know something practical and can write about it, you're a Vast Right Wing Conspirator

From The Observer (of what I can't say):

First (leaving aside how suspiciously well Buckhead puts sentences together for a righty blogger), thereีs the extraordinary, yeah, boggling, knowledge of typewriting arcana.
Clearly there is a matrix for this. If you know nothing and cannot write, you read the Observer. If you know nothing but can write (sort of), you write for the Observer. If you know something useful but cannot write, you're the kind of person Oberver readers and writers love to sneer about (until the car breaks down). But if you know something useful and can also write well--you're Karl Rove. Very simple once you do the math...

The highest level of journalistic integrity...

Fawning email to self-blinded supporters from CBS News, as quoted at The Kerry Spot on National Review Online:
Dear [e-mailer],

Thank you for taking the time to write. Your support is appreciated. As you can imagine, we've been inundated with negative emails. It's refreshing to hear from a viewer such as yourself. We strive for the highest level of journalistic integrity and will continue to do so, no matter what the cost. A free society demands free, unmuzzled media expression.

CBS Evening News
CBS News becomes The Nation. All that's missing is request for a donation "to help us continue our good work."

Misrepresenting Miss Rand: Misinformation or disinformation?

Diana Hsieh at NoodleFood points to this abomination in a forthcoming UPI Almanac in the Washington Times:
A thought for the day: Russian-born American novelist and screenwriter Ayn Rand said, "Disunity, that's the trouble. It's my absolute opinion that in our complex industrial society, no business enterprise can succeed without sharing the burden of the problem with other enterprises."
The quotation is taken from the mouth of Orren Boyle, a villain in Atlas Shrugged. Very far from representing Ayn Rand's views, it expresses their polar opposite. Amazingly enough, although you would never guess it from this quote, Ayn Rand was neither a "New Democrat" nor an old Communist.

I am nobody's Randist, but I owe a lot to that woman whom Billy Beck calls That Woman, and this is an insufferable abuse of her good name. In Diana's comments section, I wrote:
This is a worthy occasion to jump and jump hard. This may actually be ignorance, but it's more likely disinformation. Is ARI monitoring the quotation indices like Bartlett's? This is a means by which they can smear Rand under the cover of plausible deniability.
Smear Ayn Rand with their own vile beliefs, I should add, an object lesson in self-loathing. I dug up an email address to complain about this. It probably won't cure anything short term. It certainly will not spike this Almanac entry. But as with Rathergate, it lets them know we're watching.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
"A showroom perfect scale model of Progressive radio for extremely rich middle-aged white people..."

I got XM Satellite Radio in my car yesterday. Cathy got it for me for my birthday, even though my birthday's not for a couple of months. Some things are worth getting older for. Before I say anything, I want to say that I love it. I grew up on the radio, from my earliest memories to my teen years in darkrooms and, later, long nights working alone in newspaper offices and ad agencies and type shops, all the way up to now, working alone from home and spending hours a day in the car. I've always loved the radio, and that's not an easy thing to do, considering that it's mostly pretty detestable.

I could say that it's the music that I love, or wanted desperately to love, but that's only half true. I came of age at a time when radio at its best was an art form, not just music but a careful selection of music, not just interstitial chatter, but a real conversation between the DJ and the audience, a real connection, as intimate as a phone call, as sweet as a stolen kiss.

I missed the music. Commercial radio, in Phoenix at least, is completely playlist-driven, and only the stupidest, most obvious, most banal, most detestable music makes the playlist. We managed to cure that with MP3s culled from our CDs. I made a do-it-yourself radio station we call WHFO (When Hell Freezes Over, after The Eagles) that plays at random in Apple's iTunes software. It can surprise and even delight, but it can't amuse or shock or inspire, because there is no art to it, no selection.

So I miss the DJs of my youth for that reason, but I also miss the personalities of personality radio. Most DJs on the radio now are stone idiots with nothing at all to say. It's painful when they don't speak and excruciating when they do.

XM solves half my problem. The music is spectacular, an amazingly broad spectrum. I'm not sure it's terribly thematic in the way it's knitted together, but it is so refreshing to hear this much variety that I'm willing to live with a more viscous grade of art.

But there is no personality, not that I've heard. The DJs get very few opportunities to talk, and, when they do, they sound entirely too much like public radio--not connected on all circuits to the real world.

But, even so, the music is fantastic. Today for the first time in many years I heard the full medley of "Falling In And Out Of Love/Amie." In digital stereo the harmonies were breathtaking.

I want for there to be personalities behind this music, but before that I want for there to be this music. I've missed it, horribly. Whatever I may have on CD, it can't surprise me or delight me--much less amuse or shock or inspire me--if I'm selecting for myself. The radio at its very best can be a conversation, or even a stolen kiss, where the CD player can never be more than a monologue, me talking to myself.

It happens that I wrote all around this a few years ago. The headline above, a nice rendering of my favorite spots on XM, is taken from a book I started but never finished about a Progressive DJ who had seen the moment of his greatness flicker. A relevant chunk of that book is extracted below. The book is written in the form of transcripts of radio shows, extended rants. It's fiction in the sense that the narrator is a made-up person, but the arguments about media--as up-to-the minute as Rathergate--are based in fact.
From "Talk Show"




Radio exists to sell stuff, but I exist for my own good reasons. I've had a less than stellar career in "the business" because I've never been willing to stuff my own good reasons in my back pocket, to keep my hands free for somebody else's agenda. This actually works out to be a pretty good way to hold an audience, and a pretty bad way to hold a job.

Everyone in "the business" gets fired all the time, and I'm not going to go into the many ways I've found of getting myself fired over the years. They all boil down to the same thing, anyway: I was more interested in saying what I had to say than what the boss was paying me to say. It didn't matter that I got better ratings my way. I'm sure you've discovered this at your job, too--there is a place in every boss's mind where he comes to care more about his power and authority than he does about results. It works out that my special talent in this life is finding that place. [CHUCKLES]

Plus I had the disadvantage of coming into "the business" while there were still a few remnants of Progressive radio around. Radio formats are uniformly named with the most vague possible terms, and "Progressive" has got to be the absolute worst. What Progressive radio was, in the earliest days, was a ghetto of the mind that happened to take over the neighborhood.

It's like this: There were these big powerhouse Rock 'n' Roll AM stations in New York and Chicago and L.A., and they were selling zit cream faster than the teenyboppers could sprout zits. And the FCC opened up this brand new spectrum called FM--[SINGS] "no static at all". And the AM stations wanted to hold a slice of that spectrum, just in case, and they wanted to hold spots for air personalities who maybe liked a drink or two--or a toke or two, or a hit or two--a little more than they should.

And bingo! Out of the trash heap of AM radio, something new was born. Management didn't give a damn what went out over the FM waves. It was still basically experimental in their eyes, and in the eyes of the FCC. They parked truly talented people who may have had a problem, and whom they hoped would get better. They gave them facilities and air time that was, at first at least, largely commercial free, just because the sales department wasn't interested in selling low-rent time. They encumbered them with no supervision, just let 'em run wild.

And they ran wild. The ghettoized air personalities were some of the most talented radio people in the nation, and they played what they wanted to play, and they said what they wanted to say, and a brand new form of radio was born despite the negligence of management. That was Progressive radio, and by now we tend to think of it as slow-talking, stoned-out DJs saying insipid things between Jefferson Airplane records. It wasn't like that at all...

First, Progressive radio is the progenitor of modern talk radio. Lush Rimshot and Heaping Scorn--am I getting those names right?--like to take credit for that. The radio historians want to talk about Joe Pyne and Long John Nebul. None of that is true. It was Progressive radio that first released people who had something to say on a mass audience. Progressive DJs gave us the first real personality radio, a radio where the DJ unleashed his own true, real self--no script, no "costume", no playlist--and just churned. Play the same record fifty times in a row? Done. Churn the audience with a two hour monologue? Done. Nobody cared, not at first, and so Progressive radio gave us new ideas about radio just because there was no idiot boss standing in the way.

Second, Progressive radio gave us the incredible variety we used to hear in Rock 'n' Roll and never hear in any other genre. In 1965 or '66 or '67, a Beatles album was your absolute best entertainment value. The reason was that the Beatles were still locked into the historical idea that a pop album was nothing more than a collection of discrete singles. All of the early Beatles albums consist of nothing but singles, and virtually all of them were hit singles.

The poor Rolling Stones were in a smaller boat, alas. For good or ill, they didn't have songwriters to match John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and they had nothing like the same chart success. In consequence, in order to match the Beatles album for album, the Stones had to release a lot of material on albums that they would never have thought to release as singles. Bluesy romps and country honks and screaming rants and nihilist chants--the Stones did their singles business in the studio, two tunes or three tunes, then cut loose and had fun.

Is any of this sounding familiar?

Enter Progressive radio. The DJs had no desire to play pop hits, and if station management had any instructions for them at all, it was a demand that the FM stations not pirate the teenyboppers from the zit-creamed AM signal. And there were the Stones singing, "Melody. It was her second name."


That was the sound of Progressive radio. What does it mean? Who knows. But, man!, does it groove!

There was all of this stuff--'67, '68, '69--all of these freaky people taking all these weird chances, and no one knew how to tell them to stop. It started out that no one cared. No one at the record company cared what the Stones put on their albums; the singles were all that mattered and the albums were just there to take up shelf space so the Beatles wouldn't get it all. No one cared what the DJs played in the FM ghetto of the mind; the listeners and advertisers were all on AM.

And then, very suddenly, a lot of people did care. Because all of a sudden the money men realized that there was a lot of money being made on what they had thought was marginal product. Album acts like the Doors or the Lovin' Spoonful were scoring AM hits. And the FM share of the audience in every city was growing hugely. Not just a cleaner signal, a cleaner philosophy.

The teenyboppers had outgrown the zit cream and--to be brutally frank--they needed a music to get laid by. Just so there's no misunderstanding, please accept it that the purpose of every form of pop music--except rap--is getting laid. I know that we're supposed to resist that notion, since it encourages the idiot Christians, but it's true nevertheless.

Anyway, the kids had grown up and they grew into this sound that Progressive radio had become and suddenly there a way to sell beer and concert tickets, at least, a way that no other medium could approach.

And meanwhile, over on Tin Pan Alley, all the hack songwriters were scratching their heads. Who is this Joni Mitchell? Who is this Jim Morrison? For god's sake, who the hell is Bob Dylan? These people can't write songs! Not those good old fashioned Tin Pan Alley songs! Hell, they can't even sing!

And all that was true. For the most part, the songwriting of the singer-songwriters was structurally inferior to a professionally-written song. But the one was real and authentic and painfully raw and the other was as polished and as phony as a wedding cake.

In the good old days, the A&R man from the record label was king. He would pick the act, pick the producer, pick the song, pick the packaging and the promo and the personal appearances. Most important, he would set the amount of the bribes to be paid to radio station managers and DJs to get the airplay he needed to hit the sales figures he projected. It was all very predictable, and, while Rock 'n' Roll had been upsetting that predictability at least since Elvis and Buddy Holly, the A&R men had successfully maintained their little fiefdoms.

Until Progressive radio. By giving airplay to the album cuts--and to the backlist of the labels, the acts who had no singles--Progressive radio took away the power of the A&R men. Not to give it to the DJs; Progressive radio was too anarchic for any sort of power base. They gave the power to the listeners, ultimately, fragmenting the listener base in such a way that no central authority could control--or even understand--what was going on.

That was the end of everything, of course. First, when Progressive FM started to make serious money, station management took things firmly in hand and destroyed that beautiful anarchy with the same bland order you find everywhere else on the radio dial. Playlists and logs and canned, syndicated pablum and radio personalities who were remarkably devoid of any sort of personality.

And second, the fragmentation of the listener base caused a fragmentation of formats. Steppenwolf and James Gang and Black Sabbath were playing a hard and heavy kind of Rock when Led Zeppelin ripped off a weird Bob Dylan chord progression and created Heavy Metal. The folkies and flower power types noodled around with a soft whimsical sound perfectly suited to long-haired women and the men who wanted to peel off their jeans. This eventually became Lite Rock, the radio home of Winnie the Pooh. The Stones parodied country and Bob Dylan flirted with country and some city boys in Los Angeles discovered that Merle Haggard knew a little something about Woody Guthrie that Dylan hadn't found, and out of all that plus a wry post-modern cynicism came Country Rock, itself later ripped of entirely to become New Country. Plus all those oldies formats, fifties, sixties, Classic Rock--which means seventies--and now, god help us, regurgitated eighties crap.

Disco was a counter-reaction against the splintering of the mass pop audience. Rap 'n' Soul is an attempt to hold the herd together. New Country is a refuge for Rock fans who can't relate to dance beats and refuse to retreat to oldies. I used to work Triple-A--Adult Album Alternative. Very vague. Adult means no teeny-bopper stuff. Album means no singles. Alternative means no A&R men--just a stinking program director, which is worse. What Triple-A really means is a fairly deep playlist of fairly contemporary music that's not too Lite, not too Folky, not too Heavy, not too Country and black in only the most fetchingly Steppin' Fetchit of ways. In other words, it's a showroom perfect scale model of Progressive radio for extremely rich middle-aged white people.

I mean extremely rich. The Triple-A demographic is a median household income of seventy thousand dollars a year. Median--half below, half above. Any other radio format would sell an audience like that financial instruments and vanity cars. But the Triple-A listener doesn't want to be reminded that he's rich. He'll put his money in an ethical mutual fund and drive a huge Swedish luxury car. But at least once a day his favorite radio station is going to play Don Henley singing, "Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac," and he does not want to be reminded that it is he who betrayed the sixties, man.

So, ironically, Triple-A is the ritziest format on the radio, ritzier even--and much bigger--than Classical, but it can't make money.

And all of these splinter formats are tacit admissions that Rock 'n' Roll is dead. Progressive radio didn't kill Rock; it was just the impetus. FM killed Rock, the explosion of useful bandwidth. AM is a piss-poor signal. Crackly, staticky, and it can't punch through anything or penetrate very far. All of the Rock powerhouse stations were clear stations, super-high-power stations in big cities broadcasting on frequencies that were cleared of near neighbors by the Feds. A clear station could be heard for hundreds of miles, and that was the point.

Clear stations are the radio analog to TV networks or big-city newspapers or the picture magazines like "Life" and "Look"--low-tech answers to the problem of advertising. But advertisers want to spend the smallest dollar for the biggest return, and technologists want to do what people are willing to pay to have done. Advertisers were willing to pay for a higher-fidelity radio signal that delivered a more tightly-focused audience--and we got FM. Advertisers were willing to pay for television technology that delivered a highly-motivated, monied prospect--and we got cable TV. Advertisers were willing to pay for new printing and distribution systems and we got suburban daily newspapers and extremely narrow-interest magazines.

This has been going on for a long time. The old style of variety TV show was a perfect expression of the old way of doing things. It was a modernized replica of a Vaudeville show, itself an answer to the problem posed by groups of entertainment seekers. How do we entertain mom and dad and the whole brood of kiddies, all in one show? Something for everyone, one size fits all.

That makes sense if you have only one theater or only one TV, or if the technology base of the broadcaster is such that bandwidth is at a premium. But where bandwidth is essentially unlimited, there is no limit on what can be produced, and there is no reason for the consumer--the listener, the viewer, the reader--to permit producers to limit choices. Advertisers want carefully sliced, highly-motivated buyers. Consumers want carefully sliced, tightly-focused product. And the damned Vaudevillians still don't understand why their theaters are empty.

Clear stations and TV networks and major magazines and the big Hollywood movies studios all gave America a common context, and the name of that context was "pop". Pop is what's popular, and what's popular is what makes the cash registers ring for advertisers in major media. Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller found a way to make a syncopated slave's music pop. Maybelle Carter took the music of the hills of Virginia and Kentucky and made it pop. A chubby truck driver named Elvis Presley upped the tempo and the volume on a parody of minstrel music and made it pop. A scrawny jewboy named Bob Dylan took Presley's implicit post-modernism, made it explicit, and by himself created Rock.

This is important. Those who don't completely damn Dylan insist that his importance ended when he stopped playing acoustic folk ballads. This is untrue. His importance to Rock began when he bounced onto the stage at the Newport Fold Festival with a Stratocaster around his neck. The music he made in 1965 and 1966, much of it with The Band, is the genesis of Rock. Not Rockabilly. Not Surfer Music. Not British Blues from the Stones and the Animals or Electric Skiffle from the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five. The immense blast of sound he delivered with The Band in 1966 is the birthing agony of Rock as a brand new genre of music.

Anyway, pop is a consequence of mass media, of broadcast media. With the explosion of bandwidth that's been going on since the sixties, we've seen the birth of narrowcasting, the production of information and entertainment for very narrow audiences. Obviously, this has destroyed pop. There are those who lament it, the loss of the shared experience that was so common three decades ago. Of course, if we know of those doing the lamenting, it's because we're catching their acts on narrowcasting outlets--talk radio, public affairs TV, opinion magazines.

In many ways the narrowcasters still don't get it, and they still think they have to provide a Vaudevillian's variety to hold an audience. Just the opposite is true, of course. I don't want a stereo review in my bicycling magazine, and I surely don't want a news or sports program on my entertainment TV channel. Progressive radio finally gave the listener at least one choice besides zit cream for hyper-pituitary teens. Narrowcasting gives the consumer ultimate choice over everything. Station management, you will do as we tell you. A&R man, you will do as we tell you. Advertiser, you will do as we tell you. The power of the broadcasters, the power of the Sixth Avenue corporate suite, the power of the men in gray flannel suits--that power ended with the invention of the universal remote control.

Isn't this cool? And the Internet will ultimately give each and every one of us infinite bandwidth. Somewhere Back East, a fat, bald-headed man just wet the bed... [LAUGHS]



Could someone buy Sophocles a copy of MS-Word?

Goldberg called it ironic that Dan Rather - a journalist who helped bring President Richard Nixon down - is now behaving like President Nixon did during Watergate.

Say what?

A transcript of last night's CBS News as replayed on The Kerry Spot on National Review Online:
RATHER: Richard Katz, a software designer, found other indications in the documents. He noticed the lower case 'l' is used in documents instead of the actual numeral one. That would be difficult to reproduce on the computer today.

KATZ: If you were doing this a week ago or a month ago on a normal laser-jet printer, it wouldn't work. The font wouldn't be available to you.
This is the stupidest argument so far. One of the banes of data conversion is overcoming the bad habits of people who took typing classes in the days before word processing. In the bad old days, I wrote software to fix numeric strings where the antique typist had used a lower-case letter-L instead of the numeral one. There is nothing on my keyboard or in my printers that prevents me from saying that I was born in l959. It looks dumb, less so in serif fonts, but nothing prevents it. What a bunch of morons!

Mail call for Mr. Sample!

My friend Richard Riccelli, who was also my client for many years and who knows more about the art of typography than anyone I ever met, shares his experience.

Quoting me:
I know of my own certain knowledge that the Killian memos are forgeries.
Richard replies:
I felt the same way from go. I used to wrestle with an IBM mag card machine back in the day. Hell just centering a line was a try-five-times ordeal. If those docs are authentic I would posthumously make Lt. Col. Killian a General.

But screw the technical argument, what sealed it for me (--author of countless junk mail letters--) was that P.O. Box ... 34567? Why not just address it to Mr. Sample in Anytown, America and sign it John Doe?!

Monday, September 13, 2004
Laying the groundwork for the next set of lies

From The Prowler at The American Spectator:
'There are rumors here that if there are any real documents, they are hand-written notes from Killian that someone like Burkett was holding, and that instead of using the hand-written notes, someone typed them up to look more official,' says the CBS News producer.

The Cluetrain doesn't run on Sixth Avenue

I know of my own certain knowledge that the Killian memos are forgeries. I did work on the IBM Selectric Composer in the 70s, both the stand-alone model and the magnetic tape version (a Turing machine that set type--badly). I know from my own bleary-eyed effort how much time it would take to manually produce even one MS-Word style superscript. In fact, no one would have used the Selectric Composer as an office typewriter, and, even if Lt. Col. Killian had done such an insane thing, he never would have wasted the time necessary to manually produce superscripts. All of this ignores the issues of centering, kerning, etc., all of which were difficult to achieve, and required painstaking and hugely error-prone manual effort. CBS expects us to believe that Killian produced a memo 'for the file' that would have taken an hour, at least, to bat out on the Selectric Composer--and which he would have had to start over from scratch at the first typo.

In fact, I pulled some amazing typographic stunts out of that machine. (For example, typing a line in Univers Bold, then cranking the lead by one point (1/72nd inch) and the escapement by one-half point (1/144th inch), then retyping the same line to create a faux Kabel Black look.) Cheap art done with panache. But not quickly, and not on a whim. Like everyone else in the 70s, I wrote copy on a plain vanilla IBM Selectric Typewriter. Rock solid, mono-spaced, six lines to the vertical inch--nothing like the Killian memos released by CBS.

I haven't even bothered to speak up on this aspect of this obvious fraud. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has proved beyond all doubt that the Killian memos are forged. Stupid stunts like the one pulled over the weekend by Edward Mendelson at PC Magazine prove nothing. In fact, not even an experienced Selectric Composer operator could have produced those memos, nor a Linotype compositor, nor any other typographer using 70s-epoch equipment. 'Set to match' is one of the hardest jobs in fine-art typography, and there was no equipment available then that could do what Charles Johnson has done effortlessly and repeatedly with MS-Word straight out of the box.

This is not subject to debate by rational men. The Killian memos are forgeries.

But invited readers to make reports to the Consumer Alert mailbot at CBS News. This is futile, of course. The Cluetrain doesn't run on Sixth Avenue--that's the essence of the underlying malignancy. But it's fun, so I sent this mail to CBS, pilfering some text I wrote last week:
Subject: I know the Killian memos are forged

60 Minutes and Dan Rather are either the victims of or the perpetrators of a hoax. I worked in high-end typography all through the 70s and 80s. There is no way the Killian memos were produced on equipment that could have been found or would have been used in an ordinary office environment. Beyond all doubt the documents are forgeries.

Here is how CBS News can save itself:

1. Fire all the big salaries. 2. Fire Dan Rather twice. 3. Put all the little salaries on probation. 4. Pay Roger Ailes whatever he asks to jump ship from Fox News and take over the CBS News division with a completely free hand.

In 70 hours you managed to flush 70 years of hard-won credibility. Only the most extreme effort will save this sinking ship.

Greg Swann
If you promise to hold your breath, I promise to tell you what reply I receive.

UPDATE: Linked from Little Green Foootballs.

'Their authority is burning down every time somebody logs on'

Billy Beck points to Ernest Brown at Saturn In Retrograde pointing back to Billy nine years ago, writing about the shift form a vertical to a horizonatal information model caused by the advent of widespread internet use:
They operate from a presumption of 'representation' which is rapidly becoming flatly absurd. They stand up in front of the old-time scribblers and talking heads, and tell us all about what 'the people' want. Who needs that?

Any random sterno-bum can now find out what real people, with individual ethical systems, 'want'....think...reason...argue...and become outraged at. Thoreau's 'quiet desperation' is well on its way into the dim past. Shalala can never speak down to me again, like I'm a child with no recourse but silent submission to her remote authority of proclamation, batch-processed in a one-way channel.

I can now match the authority of my mind against hers. I get to tell her to go fuck herself, and why.

The coming challenge to civilization is implicit in the fact that the authority she poses is trained to respond to reason with force.

It will be very interesting.
I had thought, when the weblog wave hit, that, although HTML is prettier, the web is not nearly as convenient or efficient as Usenet, where Billy, Ernest and I, and many other webloggers, cut our teeth. But by being prettier and much more user-friendly, the weblogs have brought people into the game in vast abundance. Even if they serve only as audience, the Usenet effects--broadcasting, vetting, reputation-based hierarchies-of-expertise, rapid error correction, etc.--have been massively amplified. Dan Rather is a dinosaur, surely. But what's worse is that he does not even know it.

Here's something we do as a matter of course that Dan Rather cannot and will not do: See the original here.

Sunday, September 12, 2004
Suicide Bombers and CBS News
Very few Americans are news junkies. Most people will probably never know about the CBS scandal, or will never have enough information to form a judgment about it. For that matter, most don't care. But within the news business, and inside the relatively small slice of the American population where sophisticated consumers of the news dwell, everyone knows, already, that Dan Rather and CBS News tried to influence the November election by telling lies and publishing forged documents. CBS has been disgraced among its peers.

The fact that CBS was willing to barter away what remained of its reputation in exchange for an opportunity to help the John Kerry campaign requires us to re-examine our assumptions about the mainstream media, just as the emergence of the suicide bomber required us to re-examine certain assumptions about security. We never thought that a vast, powerful broadcast network would destroy its own reputation for political gain. Now we know that it can happen.