Saturday, December 31, 2005
Of course, once they discover, excuse me - once OTHER people discover the quotes the LA Times printed are fabricated and only after they then tell the LA Times that the quotes are fabricated - then sometimes - and only sometimes, the LA Times will admit it is wrong.
And this just happened in two consecutive weeks with fabricated quotes from Rev. Jerry Falwell and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal.
But, at least the Times will never make THAT mistake again soon - writing about what people are doing and saying without actually... asking them.... if they did or said those things things.
Cut to HUGE story on front page of the sports section and how the Times had to today correct it:
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Dodgers and NFL - An article and headline in Friday's Sports section said New York real estate developer Larry Silverstein joined Dodger officials to propose to National Football League officials that an NFL team be put in a new stadium at Chavez Ravine in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
In fact, developer Larry Silverstein, the head of rebuilding at the World Trade Center site, is not involved in the Dodgers' proposals; a Boston lawyer named Larry Silverstein is, and he was at the meetings. Sources who said the New York developer could have built the retail and entertainment component of the Dodgers' broader proposal were unaware of the mistaken identity.
Now an excerpt for that article:
They assigned the code name "Five Ton Gorilla" to a secret proposal to remake the landscape of sports in Los Angeles and the image of owner Frank McCourt, pitching the NFL on ditching the Coliseum for a new stadium in Chavez Ravine, and signing up with one of the nation's top real estate developers to create a retail and entertainment complex in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
In proposing McCourt acquire an NFL team, the Dodgers reportedly suggested the league wanted to move the Houston Texans to Los Angeles.
"That statement has as much credibility as the idea of the Dodgers returning to Brooklyn," league spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday.
Greg Aiello might have also added that the factual accuracy of the LA Times also - alas! - has as much credibility as the idea of the Dodgers returning to Brooklyn. Clearly, the Times never bothered to call Silverstein to confirm that he was part of this project.
My favorite part of the correction, though, is the last line which essentially implies - the people who got the story totally wrong about Silverstein were unaware.... that everything they told us about him was totally wrong but since we are too lazy to actually check these things out ourselves - we just run what other people tell us without bothering to check to see if anything we write about is actually true.
Friday, December 30, 2005
When the unfamiliar voice on my cell phone asked several times - and I mean, repeatedly asked - if it was really me he was talking to, I could not understand the degree of disbelief in the person's voice. Then when he said he was Steve Lopez, it all became clear to me.
The End Times were upon us and I was not going to be one of the ones swept away in glorious rapture.
But getting back to our story, Steve Lopez said he needed help to find Ernest Adams - the homeless man who had been beaten and left for dead some months ago at the end of the Third Street Tunnel. Lopez then added he was so desperate to find him that he had been forced to stoop to calling... me.
Now to update those who are not regular readers, there may have been a time or two in the past when I possibly raised a question or two about Mr. Lopez's credentials as a city columnist for the LA Times. There may have even possibly been, if memory serves me right, a moment when I questioned the continued need for Mr. Lopez's existence on this planet.
But once Steve - which is what I call the 'good Lopez' - began his series about Nathaniel and his struggle with homelessness and mental illness and after Steve started his ground breaking investigative reporting series - which, of course can not be in any way, shape or form confused with his column - on the reality of homelessness on Skid Row - no one became a bigger fan than I of his work (other than certain arithmetic, of course).
For not only had Steve gotten the story right in even the smallest details- but he wrote it better and with more insight that anyone has ever written about this problem before.
Now as a city columnist Lopez still... well - knows a hell of a lot about Philadelphia than I ever will - but as a reporter passionately covering an issue - then there is no one today better anywhere.
So we agreed to meet and I would introduce him to Ernest.
And I can vouch that this piece of investigate reporting - again, under no circumstances to be confused with the Lopez column- is a highly accurate rendering about what Ernest had to say and what his present condition is. And Steve also managed to clearly display his empathy while never loosing his objectivity and professionalism as a reporter - something I can never do in these types of situations.
More on this later as the story develops, but first here are some excerpts from the article:
Beaten -- but Back at His Spot Steve Lopez December 30, 2005
Ernest Adams, beaten to within an inch of his life in August, was showing off the dents in his head the other day in downtown Los Angeles. "You feel that?" he asked, directing a visitor's index finger through the peaks and valleys on his skull. Adams, 56, was allegedly clubbed by two 19-year-old punks who saw a bum-bashing video, grabbed a couple of aluminum baseball bats and went looking for some homeless people to pulverize.
Another victim got off with minor injuries, but Adams' skull was so badly crushed, fragments of bone were embedded in his brain, according to the district attorney's office. "He was on life support," his mother, Nannette Adams, told me from her home in Newark, N.J. A few weeks ago, I got the news that Adams was up and about after a stint at County-USC Medical Center followed by rehab at Rancho Los Amigos in Downey.
I checked with Brady Westwater, a downtown activist, who said he'd seen Adams in his old haunts around Grand Central Market and thereabouts.
But the Adams case seems like yet another example of the lack of coordination between agencies serving the poor, homeless and mentally ill. The cracks are too wide and deep, and the political will for reform is too weak, if a man who suffered a life-threatening head injury less than five months ago can be left to the streets again.
Adams' many acquaintances were happy to see him alive and relieved to discover that his gentle soul had remained intact. But those friends were also disappointed that he was back in the same predicament, with no apparent medical appointments to keep other than one with an eye doctor, and no place to live.
"If I come back here tomorrow to take you somewhere, will you go with me?" Westwater asked Adams."Yes I will," said Adams, who said he'd consider a place downtown, but not on skid row.
He's said the same thing before, though, and backed out. More than once.
"I was kind of hoping this would be the impetus to get him to make a change and get off the streets," said James Velarde, a downtown resident who comforted Adams through his hospital recovery, kept his mother posted and tried to get Adams into a former motel just west of downtown.
Velarde said he had asked Rancho officials to make him part of a recovery plan for Adams after his release, but he didn't even know Adams was out until he saw him on the street.
Adams told me he prefers to be outside. This is home, he said: 3rd and Flower, where he lives in the garden in good weather, slips into the tunnel when it rains, and everybody knows him.Their offers of food and money, as well as access to office bathrooms, are laudable acts of kindness.
But they have the unfortunate impact of enabling Adams' irrational desire to stay put. It may be time, said Velarde, to organize Adams' friends and steer him off the streets with a tough-love intervention.
"I wanna be out here," Adams insisted as cars and trucks zoomed through the tunnel, stirring up a deafening racket. "I want to be my own man, to be under nobody's care. I don't drink, I don't do drugs. I read the Bible, and I want to get the good life the right way."Yeah, I told him, but it's not safe on the streets, as he should know better than anyone.
He admitted that he's not quite right physically."Two guys threatened me the other night," Adams said, "and when I went to stand up, my equilibrium was challenged."What in the world is he doing out here, I asked, in the very place where he was pummeled?God has his back, said Adams, who believes prayer saved his life. So despite some occasional nervousness, he has no fear and intends to stay in his current digs at least three weeks longer on a mission to prove his faith.
Not that he doesn't appreciate offers of help from Westwater and others. In between reading Bible passages and a Suze Orman book on investment planning, Adams was writing dozens of identical letters to the IRS on behalf of those who toss him a buck now and then, so they could take a tax deduction for their donations."Princes walk upon the face of the Earth and hold the reins, while peasants ride on horses," Adams said in tribute to his benefactors.
He was somewhat less charitable, understandably, toward his cowardly attackers. "I don't like them," Adams said, adding that they must have been on drugs to be capable of such inhuman deeds. He suggested they be given five or 10 years of prison time for nearly killing him, followed by 25 years of psychiatric counseling. (His accused assailants, William Orantes and Justin Brumfield, are still locked up awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.)
While Adams was talking to Westwater and me, a man of the streets approached, wondering if one of us could help him out with a buck. Adams was the first to reach into his pocket.Cars whizzed by, towers pierced the clouds and another year slipped into the books with Ernie Mike Adams still alive on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, if only by the skin of his teeth.
Retiring Times film reviewer Kevin Thomas (feeling better, thank you) finally got his send-off gathering yesterday. Someone dug out the Nov. 19, 1965 LAT story about Thomas, then 29, being slugged several times by actor Tommy Sands in the Times building—nine months after a panning review. Alas, I'm told the cake inscription that was supposed to read "Tour de Force" came out "Tour de France."
Now I'm sure there's a great pun lurking around here somewhere such as... Having One's Errors And Eating Them Too or Let The France Be With You or Let Them Eat Typos... or - whatever.
But it's late and I'm tired.... and I'm going to bed.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Now I usually check the LA Times Corrections page multiple times a day - even though - usually - corrections are only put up once a day - because one never knows when a correction will be posted - and then very quickly disappear. Luckily, Steve Bartin over at NEWS ALERT spoted this one and Mickey Kaus then linked to it.
And - apparently, but I can not completely confirm as it was never up at any time I looked on that page - this past Christmas morning, the following correction very briefly appeared:
For the record
December 25, 2005 Religion and government:
A Dec. 18 article defending the separation of church and state stated that the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed that Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards before both events. He made no such claim.
The question now, of course is - exactly where did they get this false quote from? Was it from another April Fool's press release - or.....? The Times needs to explain to its readers exactly why and how so many fabricated quotes keep ending up in the the paper.
And I am still waiting for the Times to correct the fabricated quotes in its recent Wyatt Earp story since even the writer has openly admitted he fabricated those quotes.
But, evidently - that still does not meet the Times' standards of printing a correction.
Lastly - when it comes to a nut case like Falwell - why would anyone feel the need to fabricate quotes to make him look like a nut case? The man is perfectly capable of doing it himself without anyone else's help.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Boy, does this correction have four legs... so to speak. The Federal Dog/Wild Wolf correction no one was interested this morning is now making national news, the AP wire, Matt Drudge - and even is on... the local TV news tonight!
And I was probably the only person in LA who recognized it as the hoax it was when I read it Tuesday...
.... as I both follow the wolf people - wolf having even been a nickname of mine at one time due to my wild ways (well - maybe she was referring to my body hair), and my also having empathy for the stockmen who are already struggling even without the depredations of the wolves.
So I regularly read both side of this issue and recall reading about the hoax back on April Fool's Day:
And my earlier suspicion was correct - this quote was just picked up off the internet without anyone at the Times even bothering to check to see of the Governor ever said it!
And if you can look at the above 'press release' and can not tell it's a joke - well... the LA Times is hiring!
December 29, 2005
Twenty Years Later, Buying a House Is Less of a Bite
By DAVID LEONHARDT and MOTOKO RICH
PORTLAND, Me. - Despite a widespread sense that real estate has never been more expensive, families in the vast majority of the country can still buy a house for a smaller share of their income than they could have a generation ago.
A sharp fall in mortgage rates since the early 1980's, a decline in mortgage fees and a rise in incomes have more than made up for rising house prices in almost every place outside of New York, Washington, Miami and along the coast in California. These often-overlooked changes are a major reason that most economists do not expect a broad drop in prices in 2006, even though many once-booming markets on the coasts have started weakening.
The long-term decline in housing costs also helps explain why the homeownership rate remains near a record of almost 69 percent, up from 65 percent a decade ago.
Nationwide, a family earning the median income - the exact middle of all incomes - would have to spend 22 percent of its pretax pay this year on mortgage payments to buy the median-priced house, according to an analysis by Moody's Economy.com, a research company.
The share has increased since 1998, when it hit a low of 17 percent before house prices began rising sharply in many places. Although the overall level has reached its highest point since 1989, it remains well below the levels of the early 1980's, when it topped 30 percent.
"This is a good deal - a good, fair price," Dale Ruttenberg, a 53-year-old bar manager said of a tan one-bedroom bungalow, with a remodeled kitchen and finished hardwood floors, that he is buying for $211,000 after having rented in Portland for most of the last decade. "Within a couple hours of being here, it was like, 'I'm home.' "
In high-profile places like New York and Los Angeles, home to many of the people who study and write about real estate, families buying their first home often must spend more than half of their income on mortgage payments, far more than they once did. But the places that have become less affordable over the last generation account for only a quarter of the country's population.
Elsewhere, families tend to spend far less on housing. In Dallas, the share of income needed to buy a typical house has fallen to 13 percent this year, from 14 percent in 1995 and 31 percent in 1980. In Tampa, it has dropped to 21 percent, from 26 percent in 1980. Even in New England, where the soaring prices of the last decades have frustrated many young families, house values have still not reached the heights of the early 1980's, when calculated as a share of income.
"Over 20 years, affordability has definitely improved because interest rates are much lower," said Kenneth T. Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Research at the University of California, Berkeley. Houses have also grown bigger during that time, he said, so people are getting more for their money.
The market has also slowed in California and most other places where housing costs have risen far more rapidly than in Maine. In New York, the median-earning family would have to spend about half its income on the mortgage payments for a median-priced house, up from a third of its income in 1985. That will act as a drag on house prices in coming years, many economists say.
"When you get affordability stretched so much, all the creative financing in the world can't stop some correction of house prices," Mr. Rosen, the University of California economist, said. "It happened in Hong Kong, Japan and England."
It looks as if it may not happen, though, in most of the United States.
David Leonhardt reportedfrom Portland, Me., for this article and Motoko Rich from New York.
Amazing what you find when you venture West of the Hudson or East of La Cienega!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Gray wolves - An article in Tuesday's Section A about tensions over the federal effort to reintroduce wolves into parts of the West wrongly attributed to Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal a statement that Wyoming considered the Endangered Species Act no longer in force and "now considers the wolf as a federal dog." The statement, which was circulated on the Internet, was purportedly from Freudenthal but was in fact a hoax.
The first question is - how can the Times quote a Governor without checking to see if he actually said what they quoted him as saying? The second question is - since the fabricated quote is is so well known in the wolf and Western worlds - how could the Times NOT know have known about it being a hoax?
I mean - who are they using for fact checking these days - Mike Davis?
Saturday, December 24, 2005
It' s all due to a typo in a 1956 Sears newspaper ad!
From the Los Angeles Times
NORAD Tracking Santa Claus' Progress
From Associated Press 9:07 AM PST, December 24, 2005COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. —
Radars, satellites, cameras and jet fighters that are normally dedicated to detecting any threats against the United States and Canada instead are tracking the Christmas Eve travels of Santa Claus.
In the 50th anniversary of the tradition, soldiers at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said by about 7 a.m. PST, Santa had been spotted near Fiji, Japan, traveling about 100 times faster than the 185-mph Bullet Train.By 8 a.m., NORAD said Santa was in the Himalayas.
Last year, the tracking website at www.noradsanta.org received 912 million hits from 181 countries, and the Santa Tracking Operations Center answered nearly 55,000 phone calls on Christmas Eve.
According to NORAD lore, the tradition began in 1955 when Sears-Roebuck placed an ad in The Gazette in Colorado Springs telling kids to dial a number if they wanted to talk to Santa.
But the number was one digit off. When the first call came to NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command, Col. Harry Shoup told an eager child he would check the radars for Santa.
A fifty year uncorrected typo! Not even the LA Times can boast that. Congratuations Colorado Springs Gazette.
Friday, December 23, 2005
And you can see their work at:
'Elephants Can Paint Too!,' by Katya Arnold
By TEMPLE GRANDIN
This is a wonderful book for parents to read to young children. It tells the true story of elephants trained to make paintings. "I teach in two schools," Katya Arnold writes. "One is in the city. The other is in the jungle. Some of my students have hands. Others have trunks."
Arnold is an artist and a teacher at St. Ann's School in Brooklyn, and "Elephants Can Paint Too!" features photographs of both children and elephants painting. (Young readers will be fascinated by how an elephant holds the paintbrush - with a crossbar added to the handle, the animal can hold it in its trunk.)
With her husband, the artist Alex Melamid, Arnold became interested in the plight of elephants in Asia that had lost the traditional jobs they once performed. When Thailand cut back on logging, for example, at least 3,000 domesticated elephants were no longer needed for hauling felled trees.
What to do with all those elephants no longer earning their keep? Arnold and Melamid got the idea to establish schools to teach elephants to paint, and their foundation sells the pictures on its Web site.
Is elephant art real art? This book includes only about a half-dozen examples of elephant paintings, so I went to the Web site, www.elephantart.com, where the work of about 21 elephants is posted, to look at more. Since the latest research shows that many vegetarian mammals are partially colorblind, I printed out the pictures in black and white; I was interested in looking for patterns because I did not want to be distracted by colors that elephants may see differently from us. (Also, the book doesn't make clear whether the trainers choose the colors or whether the elephants do.)
Many of the elephants make aimless drawings, but it seemed to me that a few are creating real patterns. Not only that - an elephant named Gongkam had painted highly realistic pictures of various flowers; one bunch with long stems looked like irises.
Another elephant, Larnkam, had made both flowers and swirling abstract designs; several looked a bit like intertwined double helixes. These were in contrast to the art I saw on a couple of other Web sites, done by elephants in zoos, where almost all the work looked like scribbling. It is interesting that the best elephant artists seem to be young, only 4 or 5 years old; it's likely that many zoo animals are much older and it may be more difficult for them to learn.
Judging by the work in "Elephants Can Paint Too!," each elephant has a definite painting style. Some use long strokes and others dab the paint on in spots. Many are hesitant at first, but they gradually develop a technique. (Of course, a few elephants are not interested in painting at all and may eat the brush.)
Once again, above is Steve Hymon's great new column that dares to tell the readers of the Times what is really going on in our city government. Equally importantly, it also tell us what is not going on - and the why and how of all of the entire process. It also makes readers want to know more about how government in this city - and it is wonderfully written and very funny.
So what more could this cowboy possibly ask for?
To begin with, most people in LA barely know who their own councilperson is, much less know who else is on the rest of the council. Ergo, Steve Hymon needs to do do a series of sketches on each member of the council and each major player at Citynow Hall and then also handicap them.
That should all then be put on a Steve Hymon page on the website where they can all be easily accessible.
Then the column needs to run at least - at the very minimum - three times a week since as any red blooded newspaper used to know - City Hall is a soap opera!
I mean - who needs telenovas when we have City Hall! But the only way we can all follow the storylines and the characters is to have the story updated at least three times a week, if not even more often.
Plus there is a side benefit to all of this. When certain activities of shall we say... questionable... ethics happen - it will be a lot harder for the powers that be to hide these things if they are being reported on in an almost daily basis. The procedural gimmicks that too often hide and confuse what is really going on - will suddenly become exposed to the glare of public scrutiny.
And, best of all - since this is clearly identified as being an opinion piece - Hymon can whack away with impunity at the malefactors.
But - and here is the critical part - this column needs to run often enough to allow the readers of the Times to get to know who the players are and to understand the primary and the secondary storylines.
After all, not even MGM at its peak boasted such a cast of such... characters. I mean - who needs telenovas with a city council as wonderfully cast as our is? And I mean this in a good way. Member by member, this is the smartest, best city council I have seen in my lifetime. And the fact that half of them are also... in their own unique ways, totally crackers... is just a wonderful side benefit.
But the seriously good news is that LA - finally, at last - has a true city columnist.
We now have our Herb Caen, our Mike Rokyo, our Dennis Hamil, our Balzac, our Pepys!
The only bad news - there ain't yet near enough yet.
So there needs to be more... more... more!
And if a relative newcomer like Steve can dig up all this stuff - just imagine what Patrick McGreevy would have to say about the Mayor's office or the County Supervisors or the various city departments in a column like this. Not only does he know where all the bodies are buried - he's even put a lot of them there himself!
And these columns should not be in the spot of death on the second page, but right on the front page of the Metro Section!
Oops. Excuse me.
I keep forgetting.
The LA Times has no Metro section.
That is because the Times is no longer a Los Angeles paper - but a regional paper. Just like the San Francisco Chronicle is no longer a San Francisco newspaper - but a regional newspaper. And totally coincidentally - of course - the Chronicle is the only major newspaper in the country losing readers faster the the LA Times.
Hey - what can I say - great minds think alike!
So instead of a Metro section - the LAT has a California section that on occasion sneaks in a little news about Los Angeles. But that can be the next step.
Make the California section a true Metro section - with a California section appended to the back part of the section. And if the state news is more important - put it in the 'A' section. This will allow Steve Hymon and the other new columnists to connect with the people of LA and allow people of Los Angeles to connect with - the city of Los Angeles.
And - how knows - this might even make the LA Times once once again vital reading for anyone who cares about this city.
And then - the final move - put Hymon's name and his face on very bus in this city!
Well - OK - maybe we better stick with just his name for now.
But once he loses a few pounds, gets a better tailor, borrows Jerry Sullivan's hat and gets a cooler pair of glasses - he'll be ready for his close-up!.
After all this is LA - and not... Kansas, I mean, Ohio.
And - to close - this all merely reinforces what Mickey Kaus said a long time ago about the LA Times - it needs gossip! - and it needs this kind lively of writing to deal with - and personalize - every major part of the paper.
One of the many Hollywood deadbeats who patronizes Skid Row drug dealers, Brad Renfro, was arrested today for suspicion of buying heroin near 5th and Main - in an alley just off 6th and Spring.
Unfortunately, the star of a major reality show whose limo makes regular stops at 5th and Main was not one of those arrested today nor were two Hollywood types each of whom were recently photographed with Arianna Huffington at her house during the Gawker party nabbed during either of their night time heroin runs.
Also missed was a music star who appeared a recent political fund raiser that had scheduling problems and a major Hollywood type player known for work on children's issues who also has the habit. But the good news is that the new cameras have been taping 24 hours a day for some time now - so soon they will all be joining Renfro in the joint!
Drug Busts on Skid Row Net 13 Arrests, Plus a Hollywood Actor
Richard WintonTimes Staff Writer 8:16 PM PAST, December 22, 2005
Undercover detectives posing as drug dealers launched the first phase of a new Los Angeles Police Department cricketing on Skid rows massive drug marketplace Thursday by arresting 14 buyers including a Hollywood actor undercover cops masqueraded as street dealers in scruffy clothing as they lured unsuspecting buyers to purchase fake heroin balloons along Spring and 6th streets.
About every five to 10 minutes, the officers made another arrest, yelling the words "Cancel Christmas" as a signal to uniformed officers to move in and make the arrest.
Among those arrested on suspicion of felony attempted possession was actor Brad Renfro, the star of such films as "The Client" with Susan Sarandon, "Apt Pupil" and co-star of "Ghost World."
The Los Angeles Police Department invited several reporters along on the operation with hopes that the publicity would make buyers from other parts of the city think twice before coming downtown to purchase drugs." The message we want to send is: You don't come buy your drugs downtown unless you want to end up in jail," said LAPD Capt. Andy Smith, who ran the operation.
The arrests pushed total drug bookings in and around Skid Row above the 6,000 mark. The area makes up 20 percent of all drug crimes in the city. Police Chief William J. Bratton and other city leaders have said a huge challenge in cleaning up Skid Row is removing the drug dealing that occurs just steps away from drug treatment centers where homeless people attempt to get clean.
And the first step in fixing the problem, the chief said, is making Skid Row less attractive to outsiders with money to come in and get their supply. On Monday, three people -- including a 75-year-old woman -- died of apparent drug overdoses on Skid Row, one right next to where the LAPD sting took place.
The deaths, Smith said, underscored the need to remove available drugs from the area cricketing is part of a new campaign by city and state leaders that also includes stiffening penalties for drug sales within Skid Row and establishing a community court that can quickly adjudicate criminal cases there now, Smith said, officers see the same buyers come back over and over again even after they are arrested.
"We can see someone seven times before they are sent to state prison," he said. "If they get sent to county jail, the usually only spend a few days there, and then they are back on the street."The busts on Thursday occurred in an area known as "heroin alley."
It's on the southern edge of Skid Row just blocks from high-rise office towers, the Biltmore Hotel and the city's winter ice-skating rink. Renfro, 23, was dressed in cargo pants and what appeared to be a military uniform when he emerged onto Spring Street.
He allegedly purchased the fake heroin balloons from the officers and was taken into custody. Renfro is a one-time child star who rose to notice as a star of the "The Client," the 1994 movie version of the John Grisham novel. He went on to star in independent movies "Telling Lies in America" and "Bully" and co-starred in "Sleepers" and "Tom and Huck" (he played Huck Finn). He was booked into the LAPD jail division Thursday evening.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
The most interesting point this article raises is that while the internet is often blamed for allowing misinformation to freely flow - it also has a strong self-correcting mechanism:
Internet Killed the Alien Star
By Douglas Kern
... The modern UFO era began with Kenneth Arnold's 1947 UFO sighting near Mount Rainier, Washington. National interest in the subject waxed and waned in the following years -- sometimes spiking dramatically, as during the Washington, D.C. "flap" of 1952 or the Michigan sightings in 1966 (which captured the attention of Gerald Ford). Steven Spielberg popularized the modern mythology of UFOs in 1977's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." And with the publication of Whitley Strieber's "Communion" in 1987, alien abduction moved from a freakish, nutty concern to a mainstream phenomenon. Eccentrics had claimed to be in mental contact with aliens since the fifties, and alien abductions had been a part of the American UFO scene since the Betty and Barney Hill case of 1961, but Strieber's runaway bestseller fused the traditional alien abduction tale to a chilling narrative and a modern spiritual sensibility -- thus achieving huge credibility for our friends with the wraparound peepers.
Yet in recent years, interest in the UFO phenomenon has withered. Oh, the websites are still up, the odd UFO picture is still taken, and the usual hardcore UFO advocates make the same tired arguments about the same tired cases, but the thrill is gone. What happened? Why did the saucers crash?
The Internet showed this particular emperor to be lacking in clothes. If UFOs and alien visitations were genuine, tangible, objective realities, the Internet would be an unstoppable force for detecting them. How long could the vast government conspiracy last, when intrepid UFO investigators could post their prized pictures on the Internet seconds after taking them? How could the Men in Black shut down every website devoted to scans of secret government UFO documents? How could marauding alien kidnappers remain hidden in a nation with millions of webcams?
Just as our technology for finding and understanding UFOs improved dramatically, the manifestations of UFOs dwindled away. Despite forty-plus years of alleged alien abductions, not one scrap of physical evidence supports the claim that mysterious visitors are conducting unholy experiments on hapless victims. The technology for sophisticated photograph analysis can be found in every PC in America, and yet, oddly, recent UFO pictures are rare. Cell phones and instant messaging could summon throngs of people to witness a paranormal event, and yet such paranormal events don't seem to happen very often these days. For an allegedly real phenomenon, UFOs sure do a good job of acting like the imaginary friend of the true believers. How strange, that they should disappear just as we develop the ability to see them clearly. Or perhaps it isn't so strange.
The Internet taught the public many tricks of the UFO trade. For years, hucksters and mental cases played upon the credulity of UFO investigators. Bad science, shabby investigation, and dubious tales from unlikely witnesses characterized far too many UFO cases. But the rise of the Internet taught the world to be more skeptical of unverified information -- and careful skepticism is the bane of the UFO phenomenon. It took UFO experts over a decade to determine that the "Majestic-12" documents of the eighties were a hoax, rather than actual government documents proving the reality of UFOs. Contrast that decade to the mere days in which the blogosphere disproved the Mary Mapes Memogate documents. Similarly, in the nineties, UFO enthusiasts were stunned when they learned that a leading investigator of the Roswell incident had fabricated much of his research, as well as his credentials. Today, a Google search and a few e-mails would expose such shenanigans in minutes.
Thus, the rise of the Internet in the late nineties corresponded with the fall of many famous UFO cases. Roswell? A crashed, top-secret weather balloon, misrepresented by dreamers and con men. The Mantell Incident? A pilot misidentified a balloon, with tragic consequences. Majestic-12? Phony documents with a demonstrably false signature. The Alien Autopsy movie? Please. As access to critical evidence and verifiable facts increased, the validity of prominent UFO cases melted away. Far-fetched theories and faulty evidence collapsed under the weight of their provable absurdity. What the Internet gave, the Internet took away.
The Internet processes all truth and falsehood in just this fashion. Wild rumors and dubious pieces of evidence are quick to circulate, but quickly debunked. The Internet gives liars and rumor mongers a colossal space in which to bamboozle dolts of every stripe -- but it also provides a forum for wise men from all across the world to speak the truth. Over the long run, the truth tends to win. This fact is lost on critics of the blogosphere, who can only see the exaggerated claims and gossip. These critics often fail to notice that, on the 'net, the truth follows closely behind the lies. A great many of us accept Internet rumors and hoaxes in exchange for fast access to the truth.
Is this really David Chappelle spoofing David Chappelle spoofing a spoof?
If you do not have time to read this entire - very, very outrageous - piece - just go to the last page of the 'theory - then hit next and see the credits on the doc - and then read the disclaimer on the front page of the site.
And to think all this started with one e-mail from Captain Andrew Smith...
L.A. Targets Patient Dumping
The city alerts hospitals of possible legal action if they leave people on skid row against their will.
Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton Times Staff Writers December 22, 2005
The Los Angeles city attorney's office is warning hospitals across Los Angeles today they are potential targets of an investigation into alleged dumping of patients on skid row.
City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said Wednesday that the probe could result in criminal charges or lawsuits if hospitals dumped patients against their will. Police and community activists have charged for years that hospitals and law enforcement agencies were dumping homeless people in the downtown area.
But Delgadillo's investigation marks the first time officials have attempted to crack down on the practice.
But it also took Cara Mia Dimasa of the Times along with many other LAT reporters, including Richard Winton who worked on many of them, to bring this to the attention of the public and to keep the attention focused there.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
In addition to his newly hired chief of staff, Eric Garcetti says he will appoint Councilwoman Jan Perry to be Assistant President Pro Tempore.
More in Eric's blog on the December 19th post:
.... Jan Perry will join me as Assistant President Pro Tempore. This position, appointed by the Council President, means that Jan will join Wendy Greuel and me as the leadership team of the City Council. (Wendy is the President Pro Tempore, a position that is elected by a vote of all the councilmembers) Technically, this means that Jan, like Wendy, will chair council meetings when I am either absent or participating in the discussion of a given item. More broadly, it means the three of us will be working together to help the rest of our colleagues achieve their visions for progress and improvement in Los Angeles.
First, thanks to the poster on my previous post who alerted me to Tyler Green's coverage of the latest events at the Getty and thanks to Tyler for bringing to everyone's attention that the Getty has been put on official probation by the Council of Foundations.
Then comes today's story by Tyler - and the story in the LA Times.
The Getty's reply is inadvertently comic: So many people are investigating us we can't keep up. Recap: Here's who is investigating the Getty in various ways:
The Los Angeles Times;
The California Attorney General;
The Council on Foundations;
Italy. The country.
Greece. Also a country.
The Getty's own board -- which must be wishing they'd been a little more observant all along because this is beyond embarrassing at this point -- with an assist from 'outside' attorney Ronald L. Olson;
and The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Los Angeles lodge. (OK, I made that one up. Probably.)
About the only body with jurisdiction that isn't already investigating the Getty is... the Senate Finance Committee. If COF further disciplines the Getty, the door for a Senate investigation opens wide.
MAN prediction: Sometime in the next 10 days the LA Times editorial board will call for Munitz' ouster. Will that be all or will they call for board chair John Biggs' removal too?
Pet peeve: Will the LA Times please stop calling the Getty "the world's richest art institution?"
The phrase is perfectly correct. But the Getty is more than that: It's the third-largest foundation in America, an industry titan. The mess at the Getty is of interest to me personally because it's an arts organization, but L'Affaire Getty an important national story because it's behind only the Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation in assets.
Then the LAT:
Nonprofits Panel Puts Getty on Probation
The 60-day penalty is for failure to turn over all data sought in a probe of the trust's finances.
Robin FieldsTimes Staff Writer December 21, 2005
The Council on Foundations, the main industry group for the nation's nonprofits, said Tuesday that it has placed the J. Paul Getty Trust on probation for 60 days after the trust failed to turn over all the information requested for an investigation into its financial practices.
But the really good news here is that Tyler has predicted the LA Time's editorial board will grow some balls and call for the ouster of Munitz - and hopefully, Biggs - in the next ten days. (The problem then, though, is that this would still leave a board of Munitz followers with close to zero expertise in pre-20th Century art.. )
Question - is this predicted LA Times editorial inside information - or wishful thinking. My bet in on the... latter, alas.
But we can hope!
Within 1/2 block of 5th and Main - which is 1/2 block from my own office, three bodies were found yesterday, surrounded by heroin injecting equipment. Right now in alley behind me, at least two people will be injecting heroin several times a day when I walk out the back of my building. Another person injects himself and the people he sells heroin to just steps of the Reagan State Office Building on Spring Street. And a number of heroin dealers are seen coming and going each day from one of the non-profit service centers where they store their drugs just steps from 5th and Main.
This is because a small handful of non-profit agencies in our neighborhood are still fighting the removal the drug dealers from the streets. They also continue to fight having them removed from the buildings they live in and do business from. One of them even houses them in properties they own. And the single worst building on Main Street with active drug dealing, is privately run and even after one tenant was arrested for drug dealing, that building's owner allowed the dealer's business partner to take over the lease and keep the drug operation going 24 hours a day.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Coolest Thing On Web Today! What Do You Get When You Cross Dodger Stadium With A Disaster Movie! I Say - Let's Built It!
The top link is courtsey of Curbed LA - just go and look at it. No words are necessary!
This design is by architect/madman Michael Sorkin and it is apparently in his below book:
Sunday, December 18, 2005
The New York Times (And Mark Cuban To A Lesser Extent) Miss The Whole Point Of Why People Go To The Movies - But For Different Reasons!
One of the biggest problems with the obvious is that it far too often is... too obvious!
Case in point.
During an unofficial meeting last week, an informal gathering was unofficially told by an off-the-record participant that something quite official - and quite unfortunate for downtown - was about to happen. We were also told by presenter of the bad news that nothing could be done about this official, if lamentable, situation.
Everyone (well, almost everyone... or there wouldn't be any story here) quietly clucked their tongues and murmured in mantra-like mumblings.... nothing could be done... nothing could be done.
I, of course, disagreed.
I disagreed for the simple reason it is always obvious (to me, anyway) that doing the right thing is always - duh - the right thing to do. The fact my cowboy contrariness, as always considerably annoyed the hell out of a certain legendary downtown personality, was, as always, merely a... welcome side benefit.
So shortly after this non-meeting unofficially came to a close, I called the person handling the discussed situation, snared him in his car on his way home and - guess what! Not only could the situation be changed - but said situation hadn't even yet been... at all situated!
Cut to a few days later, and some few meetings and phone calls later - and the impossible, AKA, the... obvious... had suddenly - deus ex machina - become the now very much the... possible.
The same disconnect from the reality of the obvious is also true in the endless discussion of the not always so obvious future of motion picture exhibition.
All that is clearly agreed on is that something needs to be done as the number of people going to the movies has dropped for three straight years.
It is also obvious (to me, any way and I am the only one who counts here) that what the real problems of motion picture exhibition - which thus determines what the real questions should be - are too obvious for anyone to realize. Ergo, wrong answers to wrong questions about wrong problem are always... dead wrong.
First, let's hear from the NYT's Randall Stross:
MARK CUBAN is known to many in the sports world as the madcap-billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, the one who relishes every opportunity to defy propriety. Less well known is Mr. Cuban's day job as co-owner, with Todd R. Wagner, of 2929 Entertainment, a holding company encompassing a movie production and distribution complex that is moving toward all-digital delivery.
On his blog, Mr. Cuban has compared the differences between the sports world, which requires consistent repetition of outstanding performance, and the business world, which does not. He wrote: "In business, to be a success, you only have to be right once. One single solitary time and you are set for life." Mr. Cuban is indeed set, his pockets bulging with party-like-it's-1999 money.
His digital media business rests upon one more foundational concept, which Mr. Cuban transferred from Dallas to Hollywood: that fondness for defying propriety. At a conference for digital cinema planners held in September in Montreal, he said gleefully that he had been reading in the Hollywood trades that he and his business had been irritating a lot of people - "and we like that."
Digital projection is coming, not only to Landmark Theaters but to the larger chains, too. It is Mr. Cuban, however, who was so eager to have his theater chain credited as the first to adopt a costly new line of Sony projectors with the highest resolution (4096 x 2160 pixel, or 4K) before they were even complete. Actual installation of the first machines, each of which costs about $100,000, has been repeatedly delayed while Sony works on debugging.
People in the theater exhibition industry know what many outside it may not: that the transition from film to digital will not improve the visual experience for theater customers. Nothing yet invented can match the richness of film. When digital projection arrives, the best selling point that theater owners can offer may be, "Don't worry about it; you probably won't notice."
The principal reason that the owners will convert is that the movie studios wish to save the considerable expense of manufacturing and distributing film. Digital projection "won't increase our attendance," said Kurt Hall last March, when he was chief executive of the Regal Entertainment Group, the largest exhibitor in the country.
Mr. Cuban seems so attached to the pleasures of provoking others, however, that he is unwilling to acknowledge inconvenient trends that may upend some of his plans. His rationale for making hugely expensive investments in Landmark Theaters, the art-house chain owned by 2929 Entertainment, seems dangerously ungrounded in reality.
Next year the industry will move from the testing phase to permanent conversion to digital projection. It will take years before all 37,000 auditoriums in the United States are upgraded.
It may not take so long, however, if the theater business keeps shrinking. Theater attendance in 2005 is down 6 to 7 percent from 2004, after declines the preceding two years. John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, contends that the downturn is an inconsequential blip in a cyclical business. He reassured his members that the "slump reflects the nature of the recent product supply, rather than portends some structural problem with the industry."
Similar reassurances were provided to theater owners in the 1950's, said Robert Sklar, a historian and professor of cinema studies at New York University. During that decade, average theater attendance dropped about two-thirds from the peak in 1948; today, on a per capita basis, we go to the movies only one-sixth as often as we did then.
When holiday sales are tallied and as theater attendance continues to sink, the theater operators a year hence may have a hard time accepting today's official party line promulgated by Mr. Fithian that "the biggest challenge is getting good movies, not competition from the home."
Mr. Cuban is similarly sanguine about the business.
Last week in an e-mail exchange, he argued that the theater business had only to extol "the virtues of enjoying a movie in a theater with fellow movie fans" - as if sitting quietly in the dark with a few dozen others is no less gregarious an activity as cheering on the Mavericks with 20,000 boisterous neighbors.
The one remaining attribute of theater exhibition that the home cannot match is temporary exclusive access to new releases. The window of exclusivity has become ever shorter in the past year, as studios begin collecting DVD revenue as early as they dare. On this issue, Mr. Cuban speaks not as a theater operator or a studio honcho, but as an anarchist: blow up the rules and release to theaters and to DVD's at the same time.
This offers the attraction of a single marketing push, reducing studio costs. But the theaters would suffer dearly. If universal release became standard industry practice, Mr. Fithian said, it would most likely mean the end of theaters.
And ... lastly...
Theater operators need not abandon all hope. Mr. Sklar, the historian, offered this prediction: "Teenagers' need to get out of the house will keep theaters alive." It doesn't really matter, he added, what the movie is.
Then in Mr. Cuban's blog:
... People come to see good movies. There aren't any magic formulas. Digital creates some new opportunities to increase customer satisfaction. The quality of a digital print never declines. if a movie is popular, we don't have to wait to create another print. We can spend money on content or marketing rather than making and distributing prints. But none matter if our audience doesn't care about the film...
HDTVs haven't cured cabin fever, the desire to get away from the kids, or the desire of kids to go on dates without their parents. Just because you better the home aspect of the entertainment experience doesn't mean you detract from the value of another.
the only missing link right now is the theater business, landmark included, extolling the virtues of enjoying a movie in a theater with fellow movie fans.
Brokeback Mountain is opening this week in 16 more Landmark markets after the hugely successful and much publicized opening at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. (140,000 box office - consecutive sell outs). In the 16 new markets we have XX prints on the screen. This print count is unprecedented in LT history. I am ecstatically reporting the following opening numbers so far today. Thank you for all the hard work it will take this weekend to seat and satisfy our theatre guests.
And all of this is on the heels of Good Night and Good Luck. A movie that not only did Landmark have great success with, but that 2929 executive produced as well. And there have been other indie and art films that have done very, very well this year. Just look at the award nominees and discussions taking place. Plus, it looks like 2006 could be very strong as well !
And as far as the value of digital projection, i gave him some simple starting points. He didnt want to delve any further. He used that old NY Times standard - find a quote(s) that supports my conclusion and go with it. The value of digital projection in a vertical company such as ours is wide reaching.
Producing a film in High Definition and never having to take it to film, not only saves us time and money that can be plowed into the product or marketing, but it also creates a unique visual look that we think filmgoers will appreciate, enjoy and find reason to go to a theater for. .
It also allows us to create new programs for film makers like Trulyindie.com . But he obviously was in a hurry and not interested in finding out more information.
Ok - so who's right - and who's wrong?
Everyone but me - of course!
Well... maybe not everyone on everything...
To begin with, the really big thing the New York Times blew is that, besides the economics of video projections and the ability to maintain a high level of quality of 'print' control - there is a far more important reason for converting to digital projectors; with increasing numbers of films being shot in digital, those films can be shown on digital in the way they were meant to be shown - and without the considerable expense of transfer to film. That alone will allow for far more digital films to be given trial runs in theaters to gauge the market's interest in them.
Beyond that, however - both men not only miss the boat - they aren't even within walking distance of the water!
The one point I will agree with Cuban, though, is that films like Brokeback Mountain do prove that films that are unique experiences will draw audiences into theaters. That is one fact which will never change.
Beyond that, everyone else in the article - is completely clueless as to the underlying problem of present day film exhibition, much less the real questions or the real world answers.
For a start, the social experience of seeing movies is no longer unique (or satisfying) enough to make film going a regular habit. That is the number on reason why film going is no longer a regulatr habit of Americans. Period.
Kids have plenty of places to go when they want to get out of the house. It might be noted that concurrent with the advent of TV, teenagers getting their own cars increasingly happened at the same time as the first major drop in film attendance. Not a coincidence, I might add.
Also - why leave the house any more?
I mean, 'entertaining' in one's own bedroom is far from a rarity any more.
Second, successful long term theatrical distribution will only happen if exhibitors manage to make going to theaters once again - a unique social experience. Simply having occasional great films is not enough. In fact, it's not even nearly close to being enough. But everyone within the exhibition biz is simply too afraid to admit that.
Third, there is a very simple - and dare I say - obvious - way to not only recreate, but to even considerably expand upon the old model of making film going as a social experience. It is also a way that would even make it far more lucrative!
And this solution is, of course, so staggering.... obvious... that no one has yet thought of it!
So the question of the day is - who will first understand what the new business/social model needs to be to usher in a golden era of independent cinema?? What form of exhibtion will lead us to this future?
Walt Disney got it right, even though he never realized it.
(more Cuban on NY Times: http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000627073048/)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Orange Line — An article in Wednesday's California section about a crash on the Orange Line busway said Tuesday's accident was the eighth crash in seven weeks. It was the seventh crash in seven weeks.
But who's counting?
Anyone want to bet crash number eight happens before the end of the week? Meanwhile - what they should done about.. seven weeks ago - installing cameras that ticket people who run red lights!
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had hoped to get photo enforcement cameras installed at 12 busway intersections by the end of next month, but that project could be stalled until spring.
The city has a backlog of 32 intersections already in line to get the cameras and the Orange Line might have to wait.
But City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel has made Orange Line cameras a top priority and pushed for a strategy in 30 days.
"The accidents that have occurred have been directly related to individuals who've run red lights," said Greuel, chairwoman of the city's Transportation Committee where the safety update was being heard.
So far, so good! But then... a bridge, I mean word, too far....
The busway opened Oct. 31 and quickly became a hit with Valley commuters and bus riders.
Quickly became a 'hit' with Valley commuters and bus riders? Well - I guess that's one way of putting it...
And one last quote:
But officials said Wednesday they're continuing to adjust the system - a first of its kind in California - with lights and signs, and reported a 50 percent reduction in near-misses with motorists.
Noticeably, no mention was made of any reduction of... non-misses, i.e. - hits, which seem to be continuing at the one a week pace.
Susan Carpenter Times Staff Writer December 15, 2005
MARIA SMITH admits she "went too wild." After a midmorning shopping binge in the toy district downtown, her arms were straining from the bulk of multiple plastic bags stuffed with Marvel coloring books and blinking necklaces, tentacled rubber balls and Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, confetti, gift bags and streamers - all of it purchased for a fraction of what she would have paid at the mall.
"It's a lot less expensive to come down to L.A. to get everything," says Smith, a La Mirada mother of two who was gearing up for her daughter's birthday party later this month. "The party stores come here to buy everything, so why not go where the buyers go?"
"If you can buy it wholesale, why buy retail?" she asks."Here, you're buying your gifts at three times less the amount, my gosh. If they only knew I spent $30 instead of $100. It's just amazing."
The article also describes many of the other items that can be purchased in Toy Town - but there are far more items that are not covered. For no matter what you want to buy - you can find it wholesale Downtown.
Energy Drinks? Red Bull? Second Street just west of San Pedro. A whole row of stores selling wholesale energy drinks.
Knives? Kitchen utensils? Sunglasses? Los Angeles Street.
And if you can't find what you are looking for - just ask and someone will know where to find what you are looking for.
Toy Town! Not just for toys anymore!
And speaking of shopping bargains - don't forget the Fashion District!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
There were no riots!
Yes, despite the the mainstream media - and at least one member of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission - trying to blackmail the Governor into overturning William's sentence with their (embarrassing) effort to try and create a riot-atmosphere in this city, common sense prevailed.
Now if only the same could be said of the media.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
This choice tidbit is from LAST years's best of the worst corrections on 'Regret The Error":
Funniest Use of Corrections
The Stranger, Seattle's weekly paper, consistently runs the funniest corrections. Not because the mistakes are funny, but because they insist on using them as a means for self-flagellation. A few samples:
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: Last week, we misspelled Kim Chi Bistro in our Chow section ["Authentic Korean on the Hill," Jan 16]. We regret the error. Our food editor is dumb.
Stranger music editor Jennifer Maerz regrets drinking [blank] and [blanking] on her coffee table in heels at a Christmas party, fracturing her [blank] and making it very difficult to [blank] for four to six weeks.
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: In that same "Explain that Sore" article mentioned above, it was stated that a vaccine exists for Hepatitis C when, in fact, there isn't one. We regret the error, of course. Actually, we more than regret the error. We regret run-of-the-mill errors, but this error mortified us. The editor of The Stranger, Dan Savage, is a friggin' sex writer, after all. Why didn't he spot the error? Because he didn't READ THE PIECE! Can you believe it? Sean Nelson edited the Back to School Issue, and Savage figured he didn't even have to give it glance. God, what a dumb asshole.
And this year's 'Regret The Error' lowlights are at:
The always entertaining 'Regret The Error' website out does itself with its many candidates for the worst newspapers blunders of the past year. The most startling thing, though, is that not a single Los Angeles Times error is recorded!
But, that, of course, is because 'Regret The Error' obtains their errors from each paper's corrections - and the LA Times never admits its worst errors!
Lastly - rather than giving you some of the the highlights of there errors of the past year - go to their page and read them all. Because when they are not horrifying - they're really funny!
PS - link courtesy of Romensko since I read him before I read them today.
Just read their LAST year's best/worst errors list.
Or should I say - Fool's Gold!
While some of the LA Times coverage of the now executed Tookie Williams was embarrassingly slanted in his favor, Henry Weinstein and Peter Nicholas have done a great job of explaining why Arnold - and many others - were convinced his so-called redemption was a complete con job from start to finish:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not just reject Stanley Tookie Williams' request for clemency, he aggressively attacked the central element of the former gang leader's case: Williams, he said, had never really reformed.
Over the last decade, Williams had become famous based on his account of how he went from a gang leader to an anti-gang crusader who had written books aimed at steering young people away from crime.
That life story was at the heart of Williams' request for clemency.Schwarzenegger rejected it entirely, suggesting Williams' redemption claim was "hollow."
Schwarzenegger said there was no question that Williams had murdered four people in 1979. Williams' repeated refusal to admit that became, to the governor, a powerful factor against clemency."Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders," Schwarzenegger wrote.
"Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings there can be no redemption." The evidence of guilt, the governor's statement said, included testimony from two of Williams' accomplices, ballistics evidence linking Williams' shotgun to the murders and testimony from four people that Williams had at different times confessed to one or both murders.
Moreover, he said, after Williams' arrest, he conspired to escape "by blowing up a jail transportation bus and killing the deputies guarding" it. Although the escape was never carried out, "there are detailed escape plans in Williams' own handwriting," the statement said, adding that an escape plan is "consistent with guilt, not innocence."
And this does not even go into the rumors that his lawyers managed the entire redemption storyline and had his books ghost written for him. Nor does it take into account the many other violent killings he was suspected of beyond the ones he was convicted of. Nor does it consider the more recent charges that he was still involved in the activities of the gang, though I have not seen or heard any evidence to prove that was indeed the case.
But the simple fact he refused to ever apologize for the killings he was proven ot have committed, demonstrates there never was any kind of redemption. It was just a cold calculated campaign to get the death penalty removed, and to then get him released since he had never admitted to the murders.
It was all a con from beginning to end.
In a particularly interesting column about the personal history of a boss, (a regular Sunday feature in the Business section of the New York Times), we learn everything we could possibly want to know about Joe Moglia... except for the minor detail of what he is the boss of....
He's head of Omaha-based online discount broker, Ameritrade.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Actually, I am not being fair.
It is impossible for anything to die, that never lived.
As I said in my earlier post...
.... after a glacial roll-out, the LA Times bookblog has not only stopped further evolving, but has even commenced to devolve while yet in its pre-embryonic state.
Talk about lack of intelligent design!
As proof of this assertion, I offer today's - Sunday morning - 'blog' (and, yes, there is a reason for the quotes marks); on it are ten posts on it by an excellent array of writers. For those ten posts there is a grand total of exactly ... 1 ... comment.
Yup. In a city of four million people, a county of ten million people and a region with over 30 million people - one, single, solitary (uno) comment is all the excitement this blog could muster with ten posts.
And even then, this cowboy had to provide that sole post in a massively failed effort to spur any kind of debate. And you know if they print my comments - they'll print anyone's comments.
To understand this unparalleled failure of communication, unprecedented in the entire, if brief, history of blogs, an overview of the short history of bookblog might be useful.
And don't worry - this will only take... seconds... to read.
First, it was claimed to be interactive.
However - not a single poster has ever mentioned or referred to any of the comments, much less actually responded to them. And during the long dormant period after the posts finally began, I posted responses to each of the first three writers writing about an LA aesthetic in literature, and responded to the very specific points on each post - as did one or two others.
Yet, there were zero responses from the posters.
Then when a fourth writer posted, and quite inadvertently, libeled one of LA's greatest artists - Sandow Birk - I explained in a post exactly why what he said was a slur on that artist's good name.
Still no response.
Then when I checked to see if anyone else had responded to any of these posts, all those first posts had... vanished! And so I , too, stopped responding.
So here we have a 'blog' that does not interact with its readers and destroys all of its posts.
And that is a shame because there have been some superb posts. One of them even had one of the single best descriptions of Los Angeles I have ever read. Yet - alas - it no longer exists. The Times has wiped the slate clean.
But even that pales besides the real problem of the blog. In it, every single writer selected to post is saying ... essentially... the same thing.
When you look at the immense diversity of opinion that can be found in blogs in this city - it is incredible that the LA Times can produce a blog where it is inconceivable that even one statement of belief or philosophy made by any of these writers could be disagreed upon by any of the other writers.
Clearly, no one capable of independent thought will ever be allowed to post on this blog.
And that is the biggest crime.
In a city of endless diversity, (and a city that spawned the first major international on-line literary war) - bookblog has posts by carefully vetted people of every racial, sexual, religious and ethnic type imaginable. But as for any diversity of opinion or thought that might disagree with the official party line - My God! - we can't have any of THAT in the LA Times!
Finally, to close the very slim book on this failed experiment - imagine a bookblog in the New York or London Times. By now, the press would be reporting on the bar room wars raging among writers with differing points of views - just like the free-for-all over on the business blog is about transfer over to talk radio this week.
For just one example - can you imagine Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley singing 'Kumbaya' together on the pages of a New York Times literary blog?
And in London - where visiting a dentist can cause more blood to run than if Guy Fawkes had succeeded, a literary blog would enrich every dry cleaner busy cleaning thrown cocktails from clothing.
But in LA Times bookblog... ten posts.
One cowboy comment.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The always reliable Bob Pool takes a story on shipping Toytown cardboard boxes back to China and turns it into a quick but comprehensive overview of the history and the present state of Toytown:
... Narrow and lined with tiny storefronts, (South Los Angeles) street is one of the busiest in the city's downtown toy district. About 1,000 shops, stalls and curbside stands fill the bustling area, roughly bounded by 3rd Street on the north, San Pedro Street on the east, 5th Street on the south and Los Angeles Street on the west.
Along with toys, the shops are filled with housewares, sporting goods, silk flowers and clothing imported from such places as Thailand and Pakistan as well as China.Ninety percent of the stores sell at wholesale prices.
The toy district has been growing steadily since importer Charlie Woo started it by opening his own toy import business there in 1979.These days the 54-year-old Woo is called the Mayor of Toytown by other merchants. But back then he was a UCLA student studying for his doctorate in physics when he took a summer off to help other family members launch ABC Toys, a wholesale business.
The business was a quick success. In the 1980s Woo encouraged other Asian-immigrant entrepreneurs who were buying toys from him to sell at swap meets to instead open businesses downtown near him. Woo began buying warehouses and empty buildings in the area and renting space to the newcomers.
"I always thought that bringing more wholesale businesses into the area would be beneficial to everybody," Woo, of Rancho Palos Verdes, said this week.
As the concentration of toy sellers grew, so did the area's reputation. Toy buyers from across the U.S. and other countries found it to be a convenient place to acquire Asian-made merchandise.Woo said the cardboard recycling trade that has sprung up on Toytown streets is a miniature example of the global economy at work.
... A survey several years ago by the Central City East Assn., a business improvement group that represents property owners in the toy district and the neighboring downtown industrial district, tallied more than 300 wholesale and retail stores. A new survey is planned, according to association leaders.
"We don't really have a good count. It's something we want to do in the coming year," said Qathryn Brehm, director of marketing and community relations for the association. Most Toytown importers sell wholesale to the public.
"It's cheaper by the dozen. The item costs more if you're just buying one," Brehm said.
Shoppers must be prepared to negotiate, she said.
In Toytown, prices aren't carved in cement. They're more likely to be penciled in on cardboard.
Friday, December 09, 2005
As one who has watched man made intrusions throughout many of the wilder parts of the West decay away for decades, I was particularly interested in the considered thoughts and arguments presented in the above essay by Caitlin DeSilvey.
I also stand quite firmly - and very resolutely - on both sides of this question.
Agreed, some of what is out there should be allowed to slowly and naturally decay back into the earth from which it came. Equally agreed - much of our history needs to be saved in its present arrested decay to remind us of where we came from and who we once were.
Granted Mr. Mike over at a certain fishbowl was right when he predicted a certain real esate bubble story would stay on the LAT's most-emailed list for some time... but...
- Real estate bubble + crime = easy number-one on the Most Emailed Stories list. I predict this one stays up there for a bit.
Posted by Mike
... but that story had nowhere near the ... critical mass... of fans to keep it on the list as long as a certain big butts story weighed in there!
And that historic date is, of course - as any sentient person in this city knows - 1850 and not 1870.
Now to err, of course, is human. But to have an article starting on the front page of the paper of record for Los Angeles by two excellent writers get that date wrong and to have that article posted on a Monday night, and then for both of those reporters and every single other person who works at the Los Angeles Times read that incorrect date and then still take until Friday to make that correction - what does this tell us about the LA Times and its commitment to Los Angeles - or the truth?
And many thanks to Kevin Roderick over at LA OBSERVED for also pointing out that the article itself had not yet been fully corrected as of last night.
Doubtless, this was the only reason it did get finally corrected.
OK! Now who over at the LA Times won the when will the LA Times correct itself contest?
(for details - check last night's night post - http://lacowboy.blogspot.com/2005/12/day-five-and-la-city-incorporation.html
Well -- I can't say! I mean, I actually don't even know that person's name but if you read last night's post, I had already made a judgment worthy of Solomon and so the contest participants agreed this morning that the person with the after midnight until Noon today entry was judged the winning entry.
Now as for further 'when the the LA Time correct the LA Times' contests to be held within the LA Times... I propose you hold a three part contest between now... and the end of time... to see how long with will take the LA Times to correct three of its most... mind numbing... errors of the past year. And these errors are in order of no importance whatsoever:
1. Mike Davis blatantly lying about housing prices in San Francisco.
2. Not one, but two fabricated quotes (which the author himself proudly admits he fabricated and which the LA Times was informed that the quotes were fabricated even before the article was printed!) in the recent LA Times magazine error-ridden, libelous hit piece, I mean... fair and balanced, well reasoned article... on Wyatt Earp.
3. And the infamous - is there any conceivable fact of any kind we did not get wrong - Katrina/earthquake editorial.
My guess for all three corrections is... when hell freezes over.
And, as always, if anyone at the LAT would like my assistance to correct the hundreds of yet uncorrected errors still in the Times of this past year - or if anyone wants me to read the LA Times before it goes to print to fact check it - just let me know!
Lastly - some good news!
The LA Times editorial page used to be the single most error filed part of the paper.
Word for word - it had more errors than any section of the paper. But - it is now - word for word - one of the most error free parts of the paper.
So there is hope!
I might add that while I never did manage to snare that Palomino menioned in the first paragraph, I did ensnare his colts and mares (several of whom were already in foal) and as my purpose of catching him was to stud him out, that summer ending up being productive as well as enjoyable; particularly as one of the foals ended up being a virtual carbon copy of him.
OK - if I expect everyone else to be... honest... I guess I have to admit my previous update did not quite reflect the total reality of 'my' capture of that particular stallion's mares, foals, fillies and colts (to use the proper equine nomenclature).
That's because I kind of... sorta had... absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their capture.
What really happened... ahem.... was that when I tried to to rope the stallion, Mr. D (my horse) decided that rather than helping me capture the stallion, he was more interested in battling the stallion for ownership of his mares. And in the battle - I quickly - and bloodily - ended up being kicked out of my saddle by the Palomino's hooves.
They all then galloped away with D in close pursuit of the stallion and his herd.
Two hours later, a bleeding and pretty chewed up D returned to the water hole. He was also 'encouraging' the lead mare to return with the herd - minus its former leader - to the water hole where I had waited and waited and waited. The was because Bachelor had dropped me off there while he tended to other (emergency) business and I was on foot, a cardinal sin for any cowboy.
Mr. D then trotted past me (after gulping down some water) while the others watered themselves - looking even more pleased with himself than usual - if that was actually possible - and I then had to endure his - endless- 'I Am King Of The World ' dance around his new family - as he pranced around on his hoof tips before he finally deigned to come over and allow me to mount him.
This is going to be a close call in the (name deleted) department of the LA Times! See bottom of previous post for info on the in-house LA Times betting line on when the incorporation post was going to be corrected.
At just after midnight - the story has STILL not been corrected on-line - and it is still wrong! And on the corrections page - the correction has not yet appeared.
However ... when one does a search for incorporated - the correction now comes up as going to be printed in the 'A' section.
So... does whoever had the before midnight correction for tonight - win or lose his bet? The website does have a correction on the website - but yet the on-line story itself is still not corrected.
Below is the correction as WILL be printed a little later tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, my solution for this dilemma? Thrown inkwells at twenty paces! My opinion is, though - the story is clearly still incorrect if you can read the story on-line and the story is still incorrect - so the error has not be corrected - yet!
December 9, 2005
FOR THE RECORD
L.A. public schools - An article in Tuesday's Section A about Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's call for a takeover of the city's public schools said the city was incorporated in 1870. It was incorporated in 1850.
And today's update is at -
Thursday, December 08, 2005
But does anyone at the Times care enough any of this to actually get the facts correct?
Of course not!
Thursday afternoon - and still no correction!
Thursday night - and still no correction!!
But since half the writers at the LA Times have by now e-mailed me, stopped me on the street, posted a note on my front door - no kidding! - and have otherwise communicated to me by every method possible other than smoke signals - woops - was that a puff of smoke? - it would be IMPOSSIBLE for this NOT to be corrected by tomorrow morning. I mean ... absolutely... freakin'... impossible.
I mean - this staggeringly stupid error is in a FRONT PAGE story with two writer's bylines.
11 PM Thursday night UPDATE!
OK - now we're entering the territory of the majorly meta.
Just got an email from a seriously pissed off Times Staffer about my prediction - ok - he called it a challenge - for the LA Times to correct the LA city incorporation date by tomorrow morning- which is less than one hour from now.
And why is he so pissed?
You sitting down? A department at the LA Times - and yes, you know who you are - but I shall not blow the whistle on you - has a betting pool going on this!
And this particular staffer has money staked on the error not being corrected before 10 PM Friday night!
Now while I don't want to cast any aspersions on the integrity of any one who works for the LA Times (accusations - yes! - aspersions - never!), it sounds as if whoever runs the correction section of the LA Times... is getting ready to make a big killing!
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Besides Not Knowing When The City Of Los Angeles Was Incorporated - The LA Times Also Can't Quite Seem To Figure Out Who Jay Leno Is!
Leno Q&A - An article about talk show host Jay Leno in the Nov. 23 Highway 1 section said the Talladega Superspeedway was in Georgia. The race track is in Alabama.
Leno Q&A - A article about comedian Jay Leno in the Nov. 23 Highway 1 section said the Talladega Superspeedway is located in Georgia. The car track is in Alabama.
Below is the presumed 'thought' process that led to this double correction:
Comedian - or talk show host. Gee, that's a tough call! And we sure don't want to piss off Jay Leno by calling him the wrong thing. I know! Let's run two corrections and call Jay Leno something different in each one! God, are we smart!
GRAMMAR UPDATE --
Somehow missed that first correction uses the phrase 'an article' - while second correction uses - 'a article'. Gee - wonder if they will correct THAT in the corrections section!