Garbage in, garbage out.

Yesterday I received an e-mail forward, the original sender a respected, recently bought-out Detroit columnist, announcing his new position with an internet startup that shall remain nameless. It’s not “hyperlocal” but it is zip code-targeted, and since I have my own startup with a similar model, of course I checked it out.

Hmm. Reuters, Reuters, Reuters, no local copy yet, more Reuters and oh look, here’s a story with a byline and dateline, followed by an abbreviation of the site name, which in my world signifies locally produced, original content. (By Cubby Reporter, COPENHAGEN (AP) — like that.) It’s a story out of Maryland and it’s locally sourced, tightly written and professionally presented. Which means it’s time to fire up the Google and, oh my, whaddaya know, it’s stolen.

Down to the last comma, it’s stolen. Only the byline is changed, which I’m sure would come as a surprise to the reporter who wore away his shoe leather getting it in his employer’s paper. So I checked out another story on the main page, also branded with a byline and the site’s name, and it’s stolen, too. From the Associated Press. So. E-mails to the thief and the victims, screen caps for all, and my work as Junior Journalism Detective is done, except for a small rant:

I AM SICK TO DEATH OF THIS SHIT. In my research yesterday, I found a few press releases about this startup, all crowing that they intended to pick up the pieces of the shattered newspaper business’ advertising base. “There’s a new paper boy in town,” was the money quote from the local contact, an ex-radio guy. Well, the new paper boy is delivering crap. Today’s front page has a story on swine flu with no fewer than four bylines, all with the site’s local-content signifier. Two are associated with various conspiracy websites and one runs an online “vaccine information center” that — I hope you are not surprised by this — opposes mandatory childhood vaccination. And that’s who’s writing about swine flu. (And yes, I suspect they don’t know they’re writing about swine flu for this particular website, but I only work on behalf of real journalists. They can enforce their own copyright, if they care to.)

I read some comments from a fellow print journalist the other day, speculating that this is really only the beginning of the end, that the next stable business model for legitimate journalism is at least a generation away, maybe two. In the interim, we’ve got a long walk through a dark forest to look forward to.

The proprietor of the thievin’ site replied to my e-mail yesterday, apologizing for this unfortunate incident, claiming it was the result of a dishonest “user:”

We get 100’s of articles submitted every day by users. We try and go through them and validate them but some slip through the cracks.

I used to think the low entry bar to journalism was a good thing. We’re not a profession; we’re barely even a craft. If you can tell a story to someone else, you can be a journalist. Come, join the marketplace of ideas. Now I’m not so sure.

Rant over.

I’m looking out at a chill rain, alas, and it feels very British, for some reason. The last few days, the temperature was in the 80s, with a strong, hot wind blasting out of the southwest, air imported from Texas or somewhere. It was enough to awaken all the flowers, push the last tulip open and make the weeping cherries weep. It’s times like this I look out the window at all this new green and think: I am so glad I don’t have pollen allergies. Imagine suffering through a winter like we just had, and then finally seeing spring arrive, only to greet it with? Suffering.

Not much bloggage today; you guys have already seen the 747-buzzing-New-York pictures, so no need for me to call attention to them here. But speaking of copyright, I have bookmarked the blog of the increasingly tiresome Lawrence Lessig, and it was through him that I found this NPR story on novelist Mark Helprin, who has stepped forward as spokesman for the pro-copyright argument. The story contains an excerpt from a book he’s recently published on the subject. If only we had a less windy spokesman:

At age fourteen, on a cheap three-speed Robin Hood bicycle that my father inexplicably (to me) provided as a replacement for a magnificent English touring cycle, the color of a Weimaraner, that I had left to rust in the rain, I set out on a trip across most of the country. A great deal happened in those months: I was not many miles away from Earnest Hemingway on a sunny July morning in Idaho at the instant of his death; in the lobby of an office building in Arizona, Barry Goldwater informed me that I was not permitted to carry the hunting knife that hung from my belt; and with what now seems like a remarkably small number of other visitors to Zion National Park, I listened to a park ranger’s radio as the Berlin Wall crisis unfolded. In regard to copyright, property, and decency, the pertinent incident occurred in a field in Iowa.

A crowdsourced rewrite of that paragraph could only improve it. At least I hope so.

OK, 10 a.m. cometh and I have lots of work today. Take it away, lovely readers.

Posted at 9:58 am in Media |

61 responses to “Garbage in, garbage out.”

  1. whitebeard said on April 28, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Maybe I will be the first commenter here. I liked the excerpt from Christopher Buckley’s book; I saw both honesty and love combined in excellent writing. I lurk here daily at the beginning of my morning Internet surfing; to be also honest, whitebeard describes my 71-year-old appearance and my name is Duncan Haimerl and I write two weekly automotive columns for The Hartford Courant (have been writing about cars since the 1970s in Canada).
    I am a resident alien; my Connecticut-born wife from a newspaper family was allowed to bring back one husband duty-free in 1981.
    I have 8,350 hits for “duncan haimerl” (About) – 0.30 s on my Yahoo search engine, although many are duplicates as other newspapers, websites and blogs seem to pick up my question-and-answer columns without paying me of course. My second column is about local auto shows and auto industry news, all dutifully credited as to source. Maybe I should set up my own website with my two weekly columns, some banter about cars, photos of vehicles I drive and reference to my second hobby, railroads big and small.
    I have not decided to become a U.S. citizen yet because I wanted my Canadian universal health care as a safety net in case I get dreadfully ill.
    Although I have great hopes as President Obama may eliminate that need as he corrects the U.S. health system and reins in the evil, greedy, slimy, dictatorial, Draconian health insurance companies with their over-compensated CEOs.
    When I first thought of moving to the U.S. as a 19-year-old Canadian radio reporter who crossed the river in The Soo each weekday to read my news at my American radio station I was told that the first gift I would get would be a one-way, all-expenses-paid flight to South Korea with my very own army uniform.(They don’t want 71-year-old, arthritic bodies in Afghanistan, do they?)

    1840 chars

  2. moe99 said on April 28, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I type under a pseudonym because, as a government attorney, I want to freely express my views, but be careful that it does not somehow reflect upon my employer. I came to this blog a year ago over the Tim Goeglein fiasco, discovered that Nancy’s husband and I had grown up in Defiance (in fact Alan was friends in elementary school with my youngest brother) and that cemented it for me. It felt like home.

    407 chars

  3. Joe Kobiela said on April 28, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Fought that wind going down to Houston at 1:00am Monday morning. Took a little over 6 hours. The up side was I rode that zephyr back Monday afternoon, and was home in 4hr.
    Pilot Joe

    182 chars

  4. Sue said on April 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Whitebeard, have you ever seen this blog by Kate Beaton (mostly her real name, I think). I’ve learned lots about Canadian history from her, quite accidentally. I’m now jealous of your founding fathers; apparently you folks started your country by having an alcohol-fueled bash. The first is her website page, the second is her webcomic page. The second has a better archive feature (“archives by category”).

    484 chars

  5. mark said on April 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Good luck finding that new, successful journalism model. I like your current effort, but there isn’t much reason for me to visit.

    I’m a pessimist. I think that fewer today care to be broadly informed or well-informed, just quickly informed. The WSJ seems to be the only major publication bucking, barely, national trends. They still have a readership that wants to be broadly informed within the narrow? area of their focus.

    Following the markets increasingly means following the world, politics, pandemics, etc. A reliable, one stop shop still works.

    Beyond that, I don’t know. I use google and Drudge for an overview of what’s going on. Drudge is slanted but they also seem to scoop the competition by a few minutes or hours. You just can’t take what they link to as gospel.

    Meanwhile, has everyone checked out the interesting sidebar ads? Worth several clicks…

    886 chars

  6. Rana said on April 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

    My stab at it:

    At age fourteen, I set out on a trip across most of the country on a cheap three-speed Robin Hood bicycle. A great deal happened in those months: I was in Idaho when Earnest Hemingway died on a sunny July morning; in the lobby of an office building in Arizona, Barry Goldwater informed me that I was not permitted to carry the hunting knife that hung from my belt; in Zion National Park, I listened to a park ranger’s radio as the Berlin Wall crisis unfolded.

    In regard to copyright, property, and decency, the pertinent incident occurred in a field in Iowa.

    I can’t figure out how to work the segue, unfortunately. That last sentence just seems to come out of nowhere.

    711 chars

  7. alex said on April 28, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Better, Rana. But we can’t ignore Earnest.

    42 chars

  8. brian stouder said on April 28, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I thought he was riding a bike; where did the balky Segue come from?

    68 chars

  9. nancy said on April 28, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Yes, better. You know you’re in kill-your-darlings territory when someone feels the need to say a bicycle he isn’t riding and is not important to the story was “the color of a Weimaraner,” hanging the phrase on that sentence like a Christmas ornament, or like this phrase.

    Earnest Ernest Hemingway would have had some fun with that:

    I had a gray bicycle. It rusted. My father replaced it. I set out on a ride.


    430 chars

  10. brian stouder said on April 28, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Or, Hemingway might have written the whole trainwreck, but as one very long sentence

    84 chars

  11. Rana said on April 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Better, Rana. But we can’t ignore Earnest.

    D’oh! (My strengths were always in re-write suggestions, not copyediting.)

    130 chars

  12. Rana said on April 28, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I rode a bicycle through Arizona, Idaho and Zion National Park when I was 14. Somehow, this leads to a discussion of copyright issues.

    142 chars

  13. paddyo' said on April 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Hemingway on sloppy, lazy, thieving, aggregating assholes:

    He got hundreds of articles daily. He tried to go through them. He validated some. Others, he did not. This one slipped through the cracks. “We are aggregators,” he said. “We are not caulkers.”

    255 chars

  14. beb said on April 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    When I was 14 I rode a bike. I did not make any money from it. Years later I wrote about this in exhausting detail. Thanks to copyright law I now own those words forever and ever. Someday I may be able to get someone to pay me for the words I own.

    I think that cover the re-write.

    292 chars

  15. Jolene said on April 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    OT: Arlen Specter has announced that he is going to run as a Democrat in 2010!

    If, as expected, Al Franken is seated and Specter votes largely w/ the Dems, they will have a filibuster-proof majority. PA Dems will be pissed, I think. There were some good candidates that I’ve been reading about that wanted to run, but they wouldn’t have the statewide name recognition that Specter will.

    513 chars

  16. brian stouder said on April 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm


    OK – Write the best Hed for this!

    My suggestion: Ominous Specter of Irrelevancy Haunts GOP

    edit: Jolene was way ahead of me, as usual! Anyway, this also seems to be another nail in the coffin of the idea of the GOP as a diverse, national party

    372 chars

  17. Jean S said on April 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Beb wins!

    9 chars

  18. brian stouder said on April 28, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I think this Specter debacle is the last bit of kryptonite before the demise of Michael the man of Steele

    (Nate Silver was ruminating about the GOP playing hardball with Specter over some issue or another….)

    212 chars

  19. LA Mary said on April 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I remember Specter being asked in an interview about his senate nickname, Snarlin’ Arlen. He replied that it should be Darlin’ Arlen.

    133 chars

  20. beb said on April 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Arlen Spector as a Dem? Much like Joe Lieberman, Spector is a habitual turncoat. He’ll betray whatever party is is aligned with. The Dems will be better off without him. After all come, 2010, the Dem will get their 60 vote majority with Lieberman and without Spector.

    267 chars

  21. Gasman said on April 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I’ll be damned. I predicted that at least one moderate Republican Senator would switch parties – I believe I even said so on this site awhile back – but I thought that it would be Collins or Snow. Even quite recently Specter appeared to be toeing the official Repub line at least occasionally.

    This might be the beginning of the end of Republican bullying. Maybe a few more Republicans of conscience will have the courage to stand up the fascist tactics of their party.

    It doesn’t matter if the Dems can control Specter or not. The Repubs cannot simply count on being able to bully the Dems anymore. Maybe this will force the Rs to actually move toward bipartisanship. It could also be the wedge that might cause a shakeup in the Republican leadership in Senate and even House. There have already been signs of discontent directed toward those individuals.

    Let the feeding frenzy begin.

    903 chars

  22. Dan said on April 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    First, I should reveal myself as a Lessig fanboy.

    Second, rather than just agree with you about startups and then provide a caveat, let me just give you a link instead. TheDigitel in Charleston, SC, is a great example of what a metro start-up can be. It’s a couple buddies of mine, they link to the best stuff in the city whether it comes from the paper or TV or some amateur blog, they Tweet actively and they understand the whole share-with-the-rest-of-the-class ethos of good new media.

    Do the local papers like it? No, not generally. They think linking to their stuff is somehow stealing, and they still see TheDigitel as a hostile competitor. But look at how they do things: It’s new, original summary content, tightly written, with links to multiple sources routinely provided.

    And because TheDigitel lives on the web and is tightly networked into the community, it tends to break news here.

    There is absolutely nothing that prevents TheDigitel’s competitors from doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Except they didn’t think of it first. Or mebbe they’re still hung-up on that whole “don’t link to the competition” thing, in which media go around pretending nobody else is covering their territory.

    Lately, TheDigitel has been doing very nice work with original video, too.

    But here’s the thing: It’s entirely unclear that TheDigitel will survive. Doing good work takes time. It’s expensive compared to scraping RSS, allowing anything and apologizing later, and throwing ads on crap. But that cheap-ass bottom line approach isn’t new. It’s essentially the way the Big Brains managed to ruin the newspaper brand over the past decade: Cut costs, cut staff, come up with gimmicks for making money, run off the people who used to care about quality.

    So yes, there are answers to sustainable journalism on the way. And yes, we’re going to have to wander in the wilderness for a while. That’s what happens when you sit around fat and happy for way too long. Let’s just be careful of lumping all these startups into one category — not saying you have, only being sensitive to the ignorance and bile now being vented by my former printer colleagues as they search for someone to blame for their self-imposed miseries.

    2288 chars

  23. nancy said on April 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    My compliments to your friends, Dan — that’s a nice little site. I’m stealing ideas (but not content!) from it as we speak.

    I’m not surprised the papers hate it. It’s the sort of rethink of online news that they are absolutely incapable of, having driven the smart people from the building a decade ago. Why figure out a way to make Twitter work for you when you can have your stupid columnist write a clueless piece about how silly it is, you know?

    453 chars

  24. Cosmo Panzini said on April 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Arlen Specter switching parties, eh? Let’s see, when first elected, Mr GW Bush had pretty much a clean slate. Now though, after eight years of his administration’s screwing the middle class ( The “Buy American” folks) and thereby aiding the downfall of the economy and the domestic auto companies, 200,000 voters in Pennsylvania change allegiance from R to D ahead of last year’s election. Sen. Specter sees the writing on the wall, and gives the D’s a possible super-majority in the Senate. So add the Republican party to the long list of things Mr W has fucked up. Hell, the R’s could have done better with a dead man.

    627 chars

  25. LA Mary said on April 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Worst cookbook title ever:

    130 chars

  26. MichaelG said on April 28, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    The cover is great too. Look at what the poor little bear cub is eating.

    73 chars

  27. coozledad said on April 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    That reminds me of an old Zappa interview, where they were asking him about the urban legends surrounding the Mothers.
    “For the record, folks; I never took a shit on stage and the closest I ever came to eating shit anywhere was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973.”
    Google is my friend.

    319 chars

  28. joodyb said on April 28, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    helprin. good god.

    18 chars

  29. brian stouder said on April 28, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    My first (and so far only) criticism of President Obama –

    he should have fired the guy who OK’d the ridiculous ‘jumbo jet banking around NYC for pics’ – and he should have done it yesterday.

    There are mistakes, and then there are big mistakes – but that one (by the folks who approved it) is unforgiveable, and our no-drama-Obama SHOULD have shown a flash of anger and whacked two or three folks, swiftly and publicly

    437 chars

  30. jeff borden said on April 28, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    The move by Arlen Specter will be hard on poor Al Franken, who was elected by the slimmest of margins but cannot be seated while Norm Coleman tries to prevent the inevitable. A poll by the Minneapolis paper noted 62% of Minnesotans believe Coleman lost and should concede, but that is not going to happen. The best the R’s can do these days is fight a rear-guard action.

    Generally, the mid-terms after a party switch in the White House favor the party voted out. See Clinton, Bill in 1994. But I’m thinking that unless the O-man makes a ginormous error or something catastrophic like another terrorist strike occurs, this logic is going to be blown out of the water in 2010.

    The GOP is in a wickedly tough jam: Party identification among Americans has fallen to just 21% since January. It was in the 30’s last November. Moderates and independents are fleeing. What is left behind are the most hard-core of the hard-core rightwingers and they will not sit silently. They’re going to insist on being players.

    It’s going to be a fascinating story to watch.

    1062 chars

  31. Catherine said on April 28, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Trust me, no one at the Mousehouse saw anything ironic about that cover. And, Disney’s Pooh is never referred to as Winnie in English (other languages, yes, in the original AA Milne books, yes). That cookbook, which I actually have, was I believe packaged with cute plastic cookie cutters that were the star of the show. The recipes aren’t half bad for baking with kids. Would you rather have had it be Cooking with Piglet?

    427 chars

  32. Dorothy said on April 28, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I was thinking the same thing, Brian. Someone’s head needs to roll over that debacle.

    Catherine this was my favorite cookbook when I was a learning cook as a kid:
    I found a reissued version of it a few years ago and bought it (my mom had OH NO! thrown it away when they moved to an apartment). My son about made himself sick laughing over the goofy comments attributed to the cartoon kids on the recipe pages. But it made me feel quite nostalgic to own it again. Did anyone else have this one back in the 60’s??

    595 chars

  33. LA Mary said on April 28, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I’d cook with Eeyore. If things came out bad it wouldn’t be a let down.

    71 chars

  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 28, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Given the peculiarities of my ministry work these days (long story and no one cares, or should care), i end up about half the Sundays of the year sitting in a sanctuary listening to a preacher, instead of being the perp myself.

    Some months ago, in media res, there was a turn of phrase so idiosyncratic and so non-characteristic of what i knew of this pastor, that i wrote it on the margin of my bulletin. When i got home, i Googled it, as i would have if it were in a term paper turned in for a college class i’d be teaching.

    Yeah, you’re right, it was, but . . . there were not one but two books that popped up with the same “sentence – quoted poetry – sentence with vivid image” sequence of twenty-plus words. I looked at the copyrights, and hunted thru GoogleBooks into the back matter, where the chapter had a footnote generally referencing the earlier work, but no indication that three sentences and a half were verbatim being quoted.

    I pasted the whole wrangle into an e-mail and sent it to the publisher’s office of the second book, and got a very (startlingly very) quick response asking for any other details i was aware of, and the response to my reply implied a very unhappy conversation with said author number two by their editor, whom i intuited was working with them on an upcoming work.

    And a few weeks later i had a very awkward lunch with the pastor at the start of it all, who tried to evade, then tried to imply it was a one off, and then when i said rather coldly “i doubt it, Rev. Blank,” based on nothing but human nature, but said in a tone of absolute certainty, i got a jolted stare followed by a complete emotional breakdown — and then, i trust, a useful conversation about what was really the problem.

    I didn’t tell him about the second book. Was that wrong? But i thought it might make him feel a wee bit justified, and that he didn’t need.

    Anyhow, some weeks later this parson got a major temptation thrown in their path, and they made a point of letting me know: if i hadn’t busted their chops about the plagiarism deal in the preaching, they might very well have taken the later, stupider step, and they wanted to thank me.

    I’ve been thinking, since all this happened, that the readers and commenters on this blog, let alone the Chief, deserve this oblique and obtuse salute, since i suspect my spine would not have been quite stiff enough to wade through what just i did back in pre-Goeglein days (and yes, Tim, if you morbidly ever read here, you get a scrap of credit, too). It would be nice to think perhaps the authorial plagiarizer got a warning shot across the bow that saved them a deeper dive later on, as well, but i can vouch directly for the one.

    Don’t overlook plagiarism — it’s for the plagiarist’s sake, not to mention good taste and writer’s ethics. Take the bull by the horns, and don’t let ’em shovel any bull to justify it.

    2908 chars

  35. Sue said on April 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    There is a book out there called The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Anyone over a certain age will recognize the style; a lot of the books that inspired this one are still in libraries pretending to be legitimate cookbooks. My husband and I laughed ourselves sick when we read it.

    280 chars

  36. Catherine said on April 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Dorothy, I didn’t have that cookbook but now feel retroactively deprived. I added it to my amazon wishlist. My dad had the adult version from that era — the typeface and the illustrations look very familiar. I love how everything calls for Gold Medal flour (accept no substitutes!)and the index has a whole section on campfire food, plus 2/3 page of chocolate recipes.

    Mary, you’d cook with Eeyore, but would you cook with donkey?

    Kanga would have been an obvious choice (she hasn’t had a feminist makeover AFAIK), but then Pooh is the star, and he’s the character that children identify with, so putting him out front makes it feel accessible.

    654 chars

  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Sue, that’s a James Lileks book – be careful how you praise Jimmy-boyo around here!

    83 chars

  38. Sue said on April 28, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Sorry, did I just “step in” something (clever reference to other cookbook)?

    75 chars

  39. moe99 said on April 28, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Dorothy! That was MY favorite cookbook as a kid too. The only thing I made more than once was the chocolate fudge but it was harder than anything. I think it called for more powdered sugar than needed but I loved that fudge. I may have to order it via Nancy! thanks so much.

    Oh, and ps. I had an art history professor in college in St. Paul, who claimed his wife was the model for Betty Crocker at the time (1972). He said the image would change as the styles did, but they always had someone that they selected to be the current template

    548 chars

  40. Julie Robinson said on April 28, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    We had that cookbook too, along with many others by our friend Betty. She was always so darn perky she annoyed me.

    115 chars

  41. Rana said on April 28, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Sue – it’s just that James Lileks, after 9/11, turned from a guy who made funny remarks about awful cookbooks and 1960s interior design, and who wrote a blandly innocuous “humor” column, into… well… a raving loony. He created something called “The Screed” on his website, in which he gave tongue to his most paranoid fever dreams, and it basically took over. I haven’t been back since then – I don’t know if he ever got a grip and settled down.

    450 chars

  42. joodyb said on April 28, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    jeff borden, you are quite prescient today:

    76 chars

  43. Dexter said on April 28, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    It’s stopped raining. I shall go for a bike ride, on a blue cruiser bicycle, not one that is gray like the color of my daughter’s two Weimaraners, who are very nice dogs, and they bark like crazy, but are gentle as lambs and as loving as they can be; yes, for some reason , each bicycle I saw today , which were damn few, it has been raining, after all…but each bicycle reminded me of my bike which is not gray but blue, which reminded me of the two gray dogs. Must have been that Civil War book I was looking at earlier.

    526 chars

  44. alex said on April 28, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    A few years ago, I read about Betty Crocker’s most recent makeover, perhaps in an advertising trade magazine. They focus-grouped a lot and decided on a Photoshopped face with vague features and dark coloring that looked like a less cartoonish version of Bratz. Don’t have anything of hers in the house or I’d go check it out, but these days my flour is brown and has a crunchy name.

    Once went to a theme party in which everyone was assigned a dish from a 1960s cookbook that was a Republican fund-raising item. It featured recipes from right-wingers’ wives. Nancy Reagan’s contribution was something made with Jello.

    620 chars

  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 28, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Mmmm . . . Jell-o.

    18 chars

  46. moe99 said on April 28, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    0 chars

  47. moe99 said on April 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Hmmm…earlier post held up. Maybe this one will go through. Anyway, saw this on msn today and thought…Serendipity! A little history about Betty Crocker:

    187 chars

  48. alex said on April 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Schadenfreuding on this one:

    As David Frum, the former Bush adviser and a forward-looking Republican strategist, opined, shortly after Specter announced his defection: This is “another triumph for the Club for Growth.”

    “The Specter defection is too severe a catastrophe to qualify as a “wake-up call.” His defection is the thing we needed the wake-up call to warn us against! For a long time, the loudest and most powerful voices in the conservative world have told us that people like Specter aren’t real Republicans — that they don’t belong in the party. Now he’s gone, and with him the last Republican leverage within any of the elected branches of government.

    For years, many in the conservative world have wished for an ideologically purer GOP. Their wish has been granted. Happy?”

    Oh, God, yes.

    820 chars

  49. coozledad said on April 28, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Sounds like there’s a whole new class of erectile dysfunction to add to contemporary nosology. Shrinking tent syndrome. Does this mean prepubescent boys will be free to carry newspapers in DC again?

    287 chars

  50. basset said on April 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Somewhere around here I have a copy of “The Cuisine of Elvis,” an oh-so-poorly-written account by some obsessive who interviewed Elvis’ old cooks, looked up army and Memphis school menus, and generally found recipes for stuff the King could have eaten.

    We had to attempt one – the “Fool’s Gold Loaf,” a split, buttered, and toasted loaf of Italian bread filled with peanut butter, grape jelly, and burned bacon. At least I can say I’ve tried it now; for the full effect you’re supposed to decide you want one, load up your redneck buddies in your jet airplane, and fly directly from Memphis to Las Vegas, where your chosen sandwich-maker will meet you on the ramp with enough heart-stopping starch and fat for everyone.

    When I was working for the Nashville schools, the food-service office was right down the hall but I was never successful in getting them to make one of the Memphis school recipes from around 1950 – a slice of baloney squashed down in a muffin cup, topped with a scoop of instant potatoes and a slice of processed cheese, then run under a broiler. Mr. Lileks would probably defecate a sharply-cornered, freshly-molded, fully ironic brick to see that school kids apparently ate that and liked it.

    1224 chars

  51. joodyb said on April 28, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    dex, i believe your daughter has my dogs.

    41 chars

  52. moe99 said on April 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I had dinner with an attorney in Louisville back in 1977, and she made red eye gravy for our dinner from bologna she fried up for us. This was the large thin slices of circle bologna and she cut into it in 4 places so it wouldn’t curl up. I was a lot skinnier then.

    267 chars

  53. Dexter said on April 29, 2009 at 12:46 am

    And now, dedicated to Arlen Specter: Ace of Base, “I Saw the Sign” (and it opened up my eyes)

    139 chars

  54. Rana said on April 29, 2009 at 2:01 am

    When my mother was in college, the home ec majors (she wasn’t one) were responsible for providing some of the meals in the dining hall. One time they made something called “Candle Salad” – half of a banana stood upright in a pineapple ring with yogurt around the base and half a maraschino cherry on the top. She still laughs about it.

    337 chars

  55. Deborah said on April 29, 2009 at 7:10 am

    About 5 or 6 years ago a viral e-mail was going around about 1970s weight watcher recipe cards. Wendy McClure a writer/blogger here in Chicago wrote captions to go with them. She later made them into a website called Candyboots. I think it’s a book too. Hilarious.

    264 chars

  56. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 7:15 am

    From your description of “Candle Salad” all I could think of was “Phallic Salad.” From the mind of an adolescent. I did, however, bust a gut laughing over the description of that culinary obscenity.

    207 chars

  57. Rana said on April 29, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Gasman – I was hoping someone else would pick up on that salad’s… erect qualities! That’s a large part of the reason my mother remembers it.

    ETA – If you Google “candle salad” in the images section, you will get a number of pictures of it, both recent and “vintage.” Hilarious!

    320 chars

  58. mark said on April 29, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I want a job at the White House Military Office. You know you’re in a cushy job when your first 100 days priority list includes “Add a couple coats of Carnaubau to Air Force One and set up photo op. Order new post cards for gift shop.”

    Yes, it’s a small issue. But everything is small compared to $800 billion spending bills that nobody read and unlimited billions for bankers. But it is still wrong at so many levels.

    We have to reduce our carbon footprint, to save the planet, but not at the expense of showing off the president’s cool ride.

    Times are tough, people are suffering, so keep the photo shoot budget under 400K.

    The most transparent government ever, except when it isn’t. But give us a couple of weeks and we should be able to tell who signed for taking AF1 out of the garage.

    Didn’t New Yorker’s get the message? The “war on terror” is over. Lighten up. Get that chip off your shoulder.

    And with all that new technology, that will let government do twice as much at half the price (think medical care), nobody knew about photo shop.

    I admire Presidents that show loyalty to staff. Still, it might be a good idea to take this guy’s oar out of the water. It doesn’t seem there is much pressing going on in the WHMO anyway.

    1264 chars

  59. brian stouder said on April 29, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Mark – agreed, and especially regarding photoshop (for heaven’s sake!)!!

    Honestly, this is so stupid, from every angle (secrecy? What would be secret about sending a 747 lumbering low in the sky over America’s largest city – which btw was the target of two savage attacks using fuel laden jumbo jets) that it looks like an intentional elbow into the new administration’s ribs by….who?

    389 chars

  60. Jolene said on April 29, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I’m having trouble getting bent out of shape about this flight, but I accept that other people found it upsetting. The cost issue, though, should be put aside, as the photo shoot was piggybacked onto a training mission.

    Brian Williams said on Olbermann last night that he didn’t understand why they didn’t announce this, conduct it on a weekend, and make it a “bring the kids to see Air Force One fly low by the Statue of Liberty” moment. Seems like a good idea to me.

    480 chars

  61. Mark Gisleson said on April 29, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I can’t speak for other bloggers, but I know that for me and every other news aggregator blogger I know, attribution is almost more important than the news itself. Stealing content like your example did is a morally impoverished “business” approach to the news.

    Bloggers are natural marketing partners for journalists who, sadly, have been working with rapacious business ass clowns for so long I fear they’ve all developed Stockholm Syndrome. The Internet will set journalism free just as soon as more journalists abandon their abusive employers and set up shop online. Ad sales people can rep for journo blogs and while the revenue may not be what many of you are used to, it beats reading your unattributed copy at some leech’s phony news site.

    751 chars