I am sinking to a new low in bottom feeding. I am about to discuss an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor that analyzes the work of journalists. I am, essentially, reviewing a review. Now THAT is a complete lack of added value.
The piece discusses the use of google search results by journalists as a cultural shorthand for popularity, trends, etc. For instance, one cited article decided that naked women were more appealing than naked men because there were 600,000 hits for "naked men" and over 1,000,000 for "naked women." Similarly, the viola was called the most teased instrument in the Baltimore Sun because the search term "viola jokes" got 19,700 hits.
I guess a few things really strike me about this. First, I have heard many, many professionals in the last few years bemoan the lack of research skills in people recently paroled from school. Stories like this make me think google has played a role in this.
Second, the number of results returned for a search is a questionable measure of popularity. For instance, I like naked women, but no web page I am on will appear for such a search. Where is my consumer preference measured? Not in the relative number of hits returned, since I consider myself more of a connoisseur, and refine my searches well beyond "naked women." See, it's a miserable metric.
Third, how would you like to be the editor on a trends story based largely on google results. Granted, trends are hard to measure, particularly if they are generational. Still, it can't make you harken back to the days of J-school to read that.
DAWN OF THE UGANDAN UNDEAD
The Christian Science Monitor also carried a very interesting piece about the role mysticism plays in the various wars in Africa. The story focused on Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Apparently the LRA uses a mix of the Ten Commandments, traditional witchcraft, child abduction, and cannibalism to run its war against the government in Uganda.
One cited example was that of the purification ritual, in which , a purification must be performed to prevent the spirit of the dead soldier from taking revenge on his killer - and on the entire militia when a militia member kills an enemy. If the ritual is botched, the soldier must be killed to ensure that the entire militia is not hurt by his actions. Similarly, cannibalism for the purpose of gaining positive attributes from the dead is also practiced.
Thus far the government in Kampala has not taken a group up on its offer to cast spells on the LRA in an effort to end the war…
MY CONFEDERATE KNEE
For those of you who have expressed concern—which is how interpret the wild cackling and other mockery I have received to date—it appears that the rebellion-supporting knee has been reconstructed without the use of carpetbaggers or other assorted Reconstruction tools. Instead, as has been true of Dixie, only time can take the wounds of disloyal rebellion away, and it appears that the knee is fully prepared for readmission into the Union.
JEFF KENT, AKA THE MORON
Jeff Kent apparently asked The Nation's Finest News Source (the Houston Chronicle) today how anyone knows whether Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Lou Gehrig, etc. were on steroids. Well, Jeff "Moron" Kent, how about the fact that they were not built like football defensive ends? Oh wait, back then football defensive ends were not built like today's football defensive ends. Look at Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Kent, et al. in pictures next to even the players ten years before them, like Andre Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Ryne Sandberg, et al. It is laughable. Of course, Kent is also the low-life who lied about how he was injured two years ago with the Giants, so we already know he's dishonest. We just can't be sure when he's lying anymore.
With Roger "Chicken Little" Clemens and Jeff Kent teamed up, the Astros would be easy to hate even without their being in the our division.
MY FAVORITE TIME WASTERS
Just to make sure that the tone of this blog doesn't seem too high, below is a list of some of my favorite time wasters, with the sender where appropriate:
Liquid Generation (all Flash, all the time). I really like Whose Boobs? It's fun and educational. From K in LA.
Punchbaby (movie clips).
The Onion (a classic).
Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About (dry, British, hilarious).
Golf (great game in Shockwave)
Classic '80's games from F in DC.
Chicago Uncommon (cool pictures of and around the Chi).
Chicago L (all kinds of info, including history on mass transit in the Chi).
Houston Chronicle crossword (you can do it on-line, or download a little plug-in and do it on your desk top).
Belle de Jour (London prostitute with her own blog. Sometimes can make you queasy, but sometimes she is entertaining).
European National Railways (this page is remarkable. That, or I am a HUGE dork. Or, as Grandpa Simpson says, "Little of column A, little of column B.")
The Subway Page (not only maps from around the world, but also links to fascinating pages about never completed systems (Cincinnati, for instance), and troubled systems (Buffalo, for instance). Fantastic time waster).
Chicago Tunnel Company Railroad (page with information about the 2 foot gauge railroad system running under the Loop here in the Chi. Amazing, and not as well known as you would think).
Forgotten New York (great, huge page of history and historical anomalies in New York City today).
Old St Louis (handy historical reference for Boogie).
Chicago Landmarks page (landmarks here in the Chi).
Periodic historic atlas of Europe 1-2000 (great maps).
As you can see, I am VERY adept at wasting time.