Wednesday, July 31, 2002
NBIERMA.COM NOTEBOOK READER
A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Jack Shafer, Slate
"The disclosure of classified information is damaging our country's ability to stop terrorist acts and is putting American lives at risk," the secretary wrote. The memo was promptly leaked to and published by the Los Angeles Times. The first question to ask about these stories is whether Rumsfeld is right: Are the leaks—and their publication by the Times and other papers—endangering American lives? But beyond that issue, readers must be wondering why these conflicting plans—which would appear to tip our hand to the enemy—keep showing up in the damn newspaper. Do these stories simply reflect the conflicting preferences of different military officials? Or is the Pentagon using the Times to confuse the Iraqis about the impending attack as part of an "information operation" (formerly "disinformation") campaign? More sinisterly, is the Times partnering with the Pentagon to bamboozle the Iraqis?
Jill Zuckman, Chicago Tribune
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In a crowded conference room filled with University of Michigan academics, U.S. Rep. John Dingell moves from one person to the next, draping his long arm around shoulders, gripping hands in a firm clasp and exchanging words with a special intensity. The powerful Michigan Democrat, who boasts a list of legislative accomplishments that could fill a phone book, seems to be trying to envelop each and every voter in a personal embrace as he fights for his political life. A close race is an unaccustomed role for Dingell, whose 47-year tenure makes him the longest-serving member of the House. But the Republican-controlled state Legislature has redrawn Dingell's working-class congressional district, adding the university enclave of Ann Arbor and pitting him against a liberal eight-year incumbent, Rep. Lynn Rivers, who was born a year after Dingell was first elected to Congress, in 1955. With just a few days until the Democratic primary Tuesday, the race is exceedingly emotional, quite personal and surprisingly close. This is one of a few contests across the country that sets two incumbents against each other, and after decades of winning by huge margins, Dingell finds himself in a race that opinion polls suggest is neck and neck.
E.J. Dionne, Washington Post
Must Democrats be the party that never takes "yes" for an answer? For the first time since at least Sept. 11, Democrats have a plausible argument to bring to the voters -- that capitalism will go off the rails unless there are clear rules, fairly enforced, and decent protections for outsiders against insiders. It's an argument that has Republicans worried. But some Democrats are afraid their party is about to descend into -- shudder -- "class warfare." They say that arguing in defense of "the people" against "the powerful," as Al Gore did in 2000, will turn off middle-class voters who, as Sen. Joe Lieberman put it over the weekend, "don't see America as us vs. them." In fact, the Democrats may have trouble getting full traction on the corporate issue not because it's unpopular but because Democrats themselves have, over the years, been so eager to grab corporate money themselves.
SUSAN GILL VARDON and ERIKA I. RITCHIE, The Orange County Register
Rob Merrell did what he could to make Different Drummer Books a vibrant gathering place for the gay and lesbian community in the four years he owned it.
He asked customers what kind of books they wanted him to stock. He invited gay and lesbian authors to the Coast Highway bookstore for Thursday night talks and signings. He even flirted with the mainstream, adding best-selling fiction, nonfiction and spiritual titles. All to no avail. Different Drummer Books closes its doors today, a victim, Merrell says, of decreased tourism after the Sept. 11 attacks, a general belt-tightening in a tough economy and a flourishing book market that embraces once-marginalized titles on the Internet and even at chain stores such as Barnes & Noble. ... When it opened in 1987, Different Drummer was the only gay bookstore in Orange County. It was a literary safe haven at a time when gays and lesbians were taking tentative steps out of the closet ...
LEWIS W. DIUGUID, The Kansas City Star
Bruce Montgomery pointed to four sets of grooves in the marble floor at Union Station.
Most people overlook these historic marks. They're on the main floor near the elevators and restrooms. The deep grooves were made by the knees of black men who buffed out a living shining shoes. The indentations are all that's left of that way of life. The heavy elevated chairs where customers sat -- and the four pair of metal footrests -- are gone. So is the bootblacks' box of polishes and tools. But the holes through which the chairs were bolted to the marble are still there. An old Union Station bench sits where the shoe shine chairs once were. But people like Montgomery, a tax examiner for the Internal Revenue Service, remember what was there. He wants others to know that history, too.
Josh Tyrangiel, Time Magazine
Bruce Springsteen has a songbook that reads like a union membership log. He has written about cops, fire fighters, soldiers, road builders, steelworkers, factory laborers and migrant workers. Springsteen himself has held exactly one real job. For a few weeks in 1968 when he was 18, he worked as a gardener. But his gift is not horticulture. His great gift—the one that makes him the best rock 'n' roll singer of his era—is empathy. Springsteen doesn't know what a 40-hour workweek feels like, but he knows how a 40-hour workweek makes you feel. "If you roll out of bed in the morning," he says, "even if you're the deepest pessimist or cynic, you just took a step into the next day. When I was growing up, we didn't have very much, but I saw by my mom's example that a step into the next day was very important. Hey, some good things might happen. You may even hold off some bad things that could happen." On The Rising, his first album of new material in seven years, Springsteen is again writing about work, hope and American life as it is lived this very moment.
Back To Notebook
By Michael Miner, Chicago Reader, July 12, 2002
• I would like to admire the Tribune for the principled act of self-denial described last week by public editor Don Wycliff, but it's hard to. Wycliff told the tale of photographer John Smierciak, who with his paper's permission joined a group of Chicago firefighters driving to New York City on September 12 and photographed them searching for survivors at Ground Zero. But none of Smierciak's pictures ever appeared in the Tribune or were even looked at by photo editor William Parker. Though Smierciak had asked the fire chief leading the Chicago group to introduce him in New York as a news photographer, and though he'd refused to wear firefighter gear on the job even though he would have been safer in it, he'd put on a fresh T-shirt a fireman gave him that bore the initials of the Chicago Fire Department. Therefore, in the eyes of the Tribune, he'd left himself open to a charge of misrepresentation.
"Painful as it was to Smierciak and silly as it may appear to outsiders," wrote Wycliff, defending the paper's decision to reject the photos out of hand, "it was the right thing to do. Like a golfer who calls a foul on himself for an offense no one else may have seen, a newspaper may sometimes have to call a foul on itself for an ethical violation that may have been inadvertent and noticed by no one else."
But to whom did Smierciak inadvertently misrepresent himself? Not the Chicagoans he was photographing. Wycliff's column was posted on Jim Romenesko's MediaNews Web site, and a San Franciscan wrote in to say that "outsiders" weren't the only ones who'd consider the Tribune's reaction "silly." This writer recalled something Bill Veeck once said: "Journalism prefers a Simon-pure mediocrity to a touch of tarnished genius."
A case can be made that no one belonged at Ground Zero whose agenda was the least bit ambiguous. A case can also be made that a newspaper should believe a little harder than the Tribune seemed to in the value of what it's doing. The Tribune's obsession with ethics isn't silly, but it makes me think of the alcoholic terrified of a single drop, or the hysterical homemaker so preoccupied with keeping a spotless house she doesn't notice she's made it unlivable.
... The Tribune could do wonders for the public perception of its virtue with a single editorial that calls the Tribune Company's ownership of the Cubs a failure and advises the company to sell the team. Even a column by somebody willing to snicker at those silly outfield screens would help.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Saturday, July 27, 2002
China & Taiwan: A tale of two regimes
By Will Refvem, Beijing
Recent reports on Taiwan by the Chinese media have chided the US about meddling in China’s “domestic affairs,” the fiction being that Taiwan is still a part of mainland China. It is a fiction that Beijing persists in telling, primarily because Taiwan represents the biggest embarrassment the PRC has suffered.
China’s continued saber-rattling over Taiwan is evidence of a disturbing presence in the PRC, that of nationalism. It is peculiar to the Westerner that in a swell of nationalism a communist regime should come into power, but it is fitting given China’s historic view of itself. The word for China in Mandarin is zhongguo, which literally means “middle kingdom.” While the Chinese have never considered themselves gods, they have historically been possessed of a superiority complex toward other people; thus, China is the middle kingdom: below the gods but above the barbarians (i.e., all non-Chinese). For millenia China was the regional hegemon in Asia, planting its culture everywhere from French Indochina to Japan. China was the birthplace of gunpowder, ice cream, and paper, and – though the Italians dispute this – noodles. There was no other power in Asia, let alone the world, that challenged China’s dominance.
The Renaissance in Europe and its bastard child the Industrial Revolution changed all that. As soon as they had figured out how to navigate the globe, the imperial powers started sniffing around Asia for some juicy bounty. They tried in China and were mildly successful at first, but it wasn’t until the opium wars that things really took off. Throughout, China refused to adapt, to conform to the new Western way of doing things that was slowly conquering the world. Japan, which had long suckled at China’s cultural teet, went the opposite way and industrialized in the mid-1800s. The Opium Wars gave several European countries concessions in several major Chinese ports, and a flood of above-the-law expats began to slowly leech China dry. The result was that by the turn of the century, Japan was on its way to being the economic powerhouse it is now, and it had become the new hegemon in Asia, while China’s pre-industrial ways were putting them increasingly behind the times. The Japanese began to look down their noses at what they saw as the backward Chinese, and when they invaded Taiwan in 1895, and the mainland three decades later, they wreaked unspeakable havoc in China. When Mao came along, he saw an opportunity to cash in on China’s growing inferiority complex. First he aroused nationalism to fight the Japanese off, then he presented communism as the antithesis to the Westernized Japanese, who the Chinese now despised (and despise to this day).
The legacy today is that in China there are two contradictory ideals running concurrently in official PRC ideology. One the one hand, you have typical Marxist rhetoric proclaiming the union of the world’s proletariat, while on the other hand you have nationalist rhetoric proclaiming the uniqueness and superiority of the Chinese nation. Nowhere is this more aptly displayed than at the Forbidden City in Beijing, the former imperial palace. Over the entrance there towers a portrait of the Great Helmsman Chairman Mao, with two slogans on either side. One reads, “Workers of the world unite.” The other reads, “Long live the People’s Republic of China.” The latter employs a different word for China, a synonym of zhongguo: it reads zhonghua, which literally means the creme de la creme of the world.
As you might expect from a nationalist country, the army is revered highly. The People’s Liberation Army, we are told repeatedly by Party propaganda organs, was founded during World War II and was responsible for driving the Japanese out of China. (Rarely is there mention of pressures Japan was facing from a certain country on the other side of the Pacific.) It was also responsible for driving out the corrupt Kuomintang government, led by Chiang Kai-shek. (The bit about the KMT being corrupt is a fair description.) But, since pleasure is always spiked with pain, and since the rainbow always recedes before you get the pot of gold, the KMT managed to pilfer most of the antiques in Beijing, the motherlode being at the Forbidden City, before they split for Taiwan. Taiwan has been the raspberry seed in China’s wisdom tooth ever since.
The issue has not yet boiled over. It has only been since 1999, when Taiwan’s first free elections were held, that things have been particularly tense. The Taiwanese elected the hawkish, pro-independence Chen Shui-bian, who has since alluded many times to Taiwan formally declaring independence, which always gets a hot-headed response from Beijing. The latest happened last Sunday, when Mr. Chen said that unless China agreed to peace talks, Taiwan would have to “go its own way.” China has repeatedly insisted that any Taiwanese delegation must affirm the “one China” policy, effectively affirming China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, for there to be talks. Mr. Chen has said that he will not accept any preconditions for negotiations with the mainland.
Adding to the instability is Washington’s ambivalence toward China. It seems not to be able to decide whether to pursue a policy of engagement or one of deterrence. The most recent bruhaha has been surrounding a report published by a congressionally appointed commission that makes hawkish declarations about China’s military modernization and what it thinks the US response should be. In typical fashion, Chinese newspapers have lambasted the report and have warned the US to stay out of China’s domestic problems, under which Taiwan is included. (Beijing still maintains the fiction that Taiwan is under the mainland’s sovereignty.)
Perhaps the most interesting development to watch in the China-Taiwan issue is the impending PRC leadership shift planned for late this year and early next year. Jiang Zemin and several key officials of his generation are expected to retire from their posts, but there has been scuttlebutt among Western observers that Jiang may not be willing to give up power. His heir apparent, Hu Jintao, was not his choice but that of his predecessor Deng Xiaoping. Along with Jiang and many other top government officials such as premier Zhu Rongji, Mr. Hu was picked in the wake of the Tian’anmen Square massacre, when Beijing’s only priority was maintaining social stability. Messrs. Mao and Deng were charismatic revolutionaries who led China through the most radical changes in its 2,000 year history – China’s prosperity today is the direct legacy of Mr. Deng’s open-door policy – but the crop of leaders groomed for leading China into the new millenium are bland and appear to have been picked for their wishy-washiness.
Messrs. Jiang & Co. have done a good job of not rocking the boat so far, but the latest rumblings suggest that may change. If there is not a smooth changeover – there hasn’t been one yet in the PRC’s 50 year history – things could heat up with Taiwan. Every major instance of social instability in the past 50 years has come as a direct result of high-level Party infighting. What this means for Taiwan, one can only speculate, but it is possible, and not so unlikely, that with Chen at the helm, Taiwan may take advantage of any instability and try to make a formal stab at independence. Most Taiwanese have not been impressed with the “one China, two systems” approach adopted for Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to the mainland. Hong Kong’s unpopular chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, having been essentially hand-picked by Beijing, has shown little willingness to uphold the “two systems” end of the bargain. He recently appointed 14 ministers to head the civil service in what was build as a new “accountability system.” The phrase, meant to imply more government accountability, makes little sense, given that it only makes the government more accountable to Mr. Tung, who is accountable to no one but Beijing. Add to the mix that the press in Hong Kong are increasingly willing to remove their own teeth, and it is clear why many Taiwanese are skeptical about unification with the mainland.
You boil the caribou's brains. You barbecue its ribs. You savour its
heart and liver. You eat slabs of its rump raw.
But if you're Steven Sateana, it doesn't matter whether you're Inuit
or not: the fatty lining around some of the internal organs is just
"I'm only human, you know," he says as he bundles up a gooey gob of
the delicate internal sheets. When he gets home, he will dry them and
then eat them -- they're good for the heart or the bones, he can't
But out here on the tundra, he's not touching the stuff.
We're about 15 kilometres outside of Rankin Inlet, a community of
2,200 on the western shore of Hudson Bay. This is Nunavut, Canada's
newest territory. The borders that surround this huge arctic expanse of
a territory comprise a fifth of Canada's land mass. Its total
population comes to about 22,000, giving it a population density figure
of about 0.01 people per square kilometre.
About 86 per cent of the people who live here are Inuit, or Eskimo as
they sometimes affectionately refer to themselves. "Eskimo" means
of raw meat, a title given to these people by white whalers. "Inuit,"
the preferred term, means simply "the people."
Some people would call this a wasteland. The tundra stretches on to
infinity in every direction, hemmed in only by Hudson Bay to the east
and the Arctic Ocean to the north. By precipitation, most of this area
is a desert, but it's covered in ponds filled with water that is kept
above the surface by the permafrost just inches below.
It's an endless mass of gravel eskers, rocks and tufts of arctic
grass cropped short by roving herds of caribou.
And it's the caribou that I'm out here for. After jolting for hours
in an ATV across a delicate tundra that is surprisingly inhospitable,
the two Inuit I am following around have finally spied a herd. The
tools of their trade are remarkably simple: a pair of high-powered
binoculars, a rifle, a knife, some bug spray and a couple of tarps.
Everything is strapped down tight onto the ATV.
As we crest a low knoll, we spy a huge herd of the graceful animals,
moving slowly so that the ground itself looks like it is shifting.
After determining which direction they are moving in, we roar ahead to
position ourselves in front of them.
But we haven't chosen wisely. As we lie in wait, trying to ward off
what are literally clouds of mosquitoes, a number of shots ring out.
The caribou start moving fast -- and not past our hiding spot. Some
other Inuit have gotten here first.
We hop back on our ATVs. By this time, I've introduced myself to both
Steven and his cousin, Benjamin Hapanak. This could have been
uncomfortable -- earlier in the day, I flagged Benjamin over on the
road and told him I wanted to follow. He nodded his head in confused --
bemused? -- agreement, and I spent the next couple of hours trying to
keep up, a stranger introduced to the hunting party by himself.
But most of the Inuit I have met are warm and hospitable, and Steven
and Benji are no exception. It takes a while for them to warm up to me,
but when they do they start telling me what they know about hunting
caribou: you have to head them off, to avoid them smelling you. Even
while grazing, they move so fast that it's hard to keep up with an ATV.
When you shoot a caribou, you look for one without a calf, one that is
young enough to be tender, big enough to be packed with fat.
The first fruits of the season go to the elders, and they like eating
the fat. When the elders have been fed, you can begin hunting for your
own family. One caribou will feed a good-sized family for three days.
Probably not Steven's family, though. He has eight brothers and five
As we drive around to anticipate the herd's next movements, we come
upon two older Inuit, the men whose shots we heard earlier. As we
approach them, I see a caribou struggling for its last breaths in a
small puddle. Its legs wave in the air, beating the air a silent
grapsing for life. One of the older men pokes his knife through the
back of its head, piercing the brain. The movement stops, as blood from
its head and neck glistens in the puddle.
But we still haven't found our own caribou, and I'm getting antsy --
patience is about as necessary a requirement as there is for hunting,
and I don't have it in large supply.
We're only a few moments from success, though. As we climb up another
hill, Steven and Benji separate. I follow Benji. As I catch up to him,
he sits up on his ATV, pressing his rifle into his shoulder. In the
next few minutes, he and Steven squeeze off six shots. The caribou jump
at each shot, but keep filing past us in great rows of wild mammal
life, seemingly nonplussed by their slowly dwindling numbers.
Benji hops back on his ATV. Six shots, five dead. He takes two, while
Steven settles down to butcher three.
What follows is a fascinating biology lesson, as Benji slices through
the caribou's shedding hides. He then pulls them off like great sheets
of sticky leather. What remains is a compact bundle of muscle and
internal organs, which spill out as he begins to slice off slabs of
meat. It's a long process, and a tiring one, as he jabs his knife
through ropes of sinew and flesh. First the legs, then the shoulder
blades, then the rump, then the ribs and internal organs.
Benji and Steven butcher their caribou differently, each according to
techniques taught them by fathers, grandfathers and older brothers.
But even as they slice with literally millennia of tradition, this is
also a glance of the new Nunavut. As he cuts, Steven talks about his
last weekend, which he spent at the Great Northern Arts Festival, in
Inuvik, a town in the Northwest Territories. Steven is a carver as well
as a hunter, and while in Inuvik, he sold one of his pieces of art to
Tom Jackson. Celebrity is no stranger to the North, and neither is
Six hours after we set out on the tundra, we're headed back home. The
caribou have been wrapped in skins and tarps and lashed securely onto
the cargo racks of the ATVs.
We bounce back over the rocks and tundra in a bone-jarring descent
Or are we? As I catch up the two Inuit, I find them both peering out
over the landscape with their binoculars, trying to find the way back.
Finally, Steven admits it: "we're lost," he says.
He turns to me and asks if I want to lead the way home.
"No way, this is your country," I say.
And I'm right. But it's also my country, if only to share. As they
finally get their bearings and follow an ATV trail home, I can't help
but think: this truly is a remarkable land.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
June 10, 2002, Monday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section C; Page 4; Column 1; Business/Financial Desk
LENGTH: 1115 words
A Rift Among Bloggers
BYLINE: By DAVID F. GALLAGHER
It is one of the enduring cycles of the Internet: the techies build a utopia and then complain when noisy crowds crash their party.
This time it is happening to Weblogs. Five years ago a few programmers pioneered this form of hyperlinked online journal, posting their thoughts on technology matters and personal musings. Later they built Weblog publishing tools for nontechies, and a vast spectrum of Weblogs -- blogs for short -- quietly bloomed. Then came the war bloggers. The war-blogging movement took off after Sept. 11 as people used blogs to vent their anger about the terrorist attacks. Though they are still commonly known as war blogs, these sites now address a wide range of news and political topics, usually from right of center.
Thanks in part to the participation of some prominent journalists and academics, the pundit-style blogs quickly reached a level of public and media recognition that other blogs had never achieved. As a result, some latecomers now think Weblogs are inherently political. That has perturbed some Weblog veterans, who say the war bloggers are rewriting history and presenting a distorted view of blogs. They say the diversity of Weblogs is being overshadowed by the attention-getting style of war blogs.
"War blog editors need to make it clear to their audience that they are not the only kind of Weblog out there," said Cameron Barrett, a programmer and Web designer in New York who has been publishing his Camworld blog (camworld.com) since 1997, making him one of the first bloggers.
In response, the war bloggers say they represent the evolution of a medium that might have languished in obscurity without them.
"The Weblog world before Sept. 11 was mostly inward-looking -- mostly tech people talking about tech things," said Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee who publishes InstaPundit.com, a popular site in the war blog camp that attracts about 19,000 readers on weekdays. "After 9/11 we got a whole generation of Weblogs that were outward-looking" and written for a general audience, he said.
The war bloggers and veteran bloggers have largely ignored each other, rarely reading or linking to one another's sites. What brought some factional tensions to the surface was a plan, hatched by several war bloggers, to compile the best Web writings about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks into a book to benefit charity. In mid-April two bloggers, Eric Olsen and Ted Frank, took charge of the project, setting up a Weblog (blogbook.blogspot.com) and asking people to nominate their "favorite 9/11-related posts from ANY blogger." Mr. Reynolds agreed to make the final selections for the book, which is not yet titled.
The project was in part a reaction to the release of "September 11 and the U.S. War: Beyond the Curtain of Smoke," a book of left-leaning essays about the attacks. On the project site, Mr. Olsen called on fellow bloggers to crush "Western-civilization-hating, lefty-fascist essayists."
The partisan talk was not out of place in the war blog sphere, but it brought a sharp response from Jason Kottke, a blogger from another sector of the Weblog universe.
Mr. Kottke, a Web designer in San Francisco, has been updating kottke.org for four years, offering tidbits of personal insight on Internet happenings and his favorite movies, among other things. His site is popular within a tech- and design-minded Weblog crowd whose most influential members have some connection to Pyra Labs, the small San Francisco-based company behind the publishing tool Blogger.
On his site, Mr. Kottke mocked the suggestion that all bloggers were hawkish right-wingers and questioned the "us versus them" rhetoric: "How about letting everyone play . . . or at least make folks who may not be right-wing or pro-West feel welcome to contribute?"
A few other bloggers in Mr. Kottke's circle also chimed in. Members of the book team quickly responded on their own site, saying the call to arms had been exaggerated and that all submissions were welcome. They also got in a few digs. "It strikes me that a lot of the backbiting is really a complaint from longtime bloggers that the center of the Weblog universe isn't where it used to be," Mr. Frank wrote.
In an interview, Mr. Frank suggested that the veteran bloggers were also annoyed at how much media attention the war bloggers were getting, and how blog pundits like Andrew Sullivan were being called Weblog pioneers.
Mr. Kottke acknowledged that he felt a little resentment about the rise of war blogs, but said that was natural when an underground phenomenon goes mainstream. "It's like being the punk-rock fan who was into punk rock before everyone else," he said. The criticism of the book project was meant to improve the book by providing some perspective, Mr. Kottke added.
Three other old-school bloggers, all former employees of Pyra Labs, are also trying to convey a broader view of blogs with a site called Blogroots (blogroots.com). The site, introduced on Friday, has discussions of Weblog-related news and issues. It will eventually include the text of the trio's forthcoming book, "We Blog: Publishing Online With Weblogs," which includes a chapter on Weblog history.
Veteran bloggers say they are happy that blogs are catching on with a wider audience, but some challenge the idea that war blogs are somehow more relevant than other kinds. "I talk about things Glenn Reynolds doesn't understand, but that doesn't mean they're not important things to talk about," said Dave Winer, founder and chief executive of UserLand Software, whose Scripting News (scripting.com) is one of the oldest blogs.
At the same time, there are war bloggers who feel little need to pay homage to the tech crew. Ken Layne, a journalist in Los Angeles who publishes a blog at KenLayne.com, argues that he, Matt Drudge and others were writing about current events on the Web long before the term Weblog had been coined. "There's nothing novel about the tech bloggers, beyond the fact that a few of them made simple tools for updating Web sites," he wrote on his site last week.
Mr. Reynolds was more diplomatic, saying he "never would have gotten started without Blogger," Pyra's publishing tool. He cautioned against making too much of labels like war blog, and said he hoped that in the end the Sept. 11 book, which is still accepting submissions, "will represent the best work of the blogger community."
Mr. Reynolds said he was not sure why the old guard should have a problem with war blogs. "The essence of the Internet is constant change, and to get your nose out of joint about that is just silly," he said.
GRAPHIC: Photos: Jason Kottke, with a Webcam he sometimes uses for his Weblog. Mr. Kottke says he is bothered by the "us versus them" ranting that has developed among many bloggers. (Kim Kulish/Saba, for The New York Times); Glenn Reynolds, who publishes InstaPundit, warns about making too much of labels for different types of Web journals. (Earl Carter for The New York Times)
NBIERMA.COM NOTEBOOK READER
A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse
Saturday, July 27, 2002
Barbara Starr, CNN
The killings of four military wives in the past six weeks -- allegedly by their husbands who are based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina -- have led commanders to take a new look at whether combat deployments may be causing undue stress.
Sources at Fort Bragg, home to the Army Special Operations Command, say there's no common thread among the cases, and suggest it may simply be an "anomaly" that so many incidents have occurred so close together. Officials acknowledge that three of the men had recently served in Afghanistan, and at least one of them had been brought home early to deal with unspecified family problems. But authorities have not established any connection between their service in Afghanistan and the incidents.
Dennis Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Delores Saintz was keeping the television off. This was not a matter of indifference. Already, she had prayed for the nine strangers trapped beneath a hillside in the next county. "I'll wait," she said. "But I don't want to be hearing it constantly." That space in her head was permanently occupied on Dec. 19, 1984, when, a mile beneath another mountain 2,000 miles west, her daughter, Nannette Saintz Wheeler, was killed in a flash of fire. The Wilberg Mine, just outside Castle Dale, Utah, burst into flame as Nannette Wheeler and 26 others tried to set a world record for the amount of coal pulled from the earth in a single day. "They wanted the best miners working it," said Nannette's father, Ed Saintz. "She was the only woman in the crew." So, as workers placed a prodigious machine above a flooded shaft in Somerset County and confused families huddled behind a police guard at a small fire house, Ed and Delores Saintz sat in a silent room atop a settlement called Benshoff Hill in Cambria County and tried to turn off a certain noise in their heads. Nannette's photograph, her hair in the puffy style of the late 70s, smiled at them from a living room wall. Underneath their house runs an abandoned mine.
Tom Heinen, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Applause and laughter bounced off the wooden ceiling of the small Gothic church and came zinging back to Bishop Timothy M. Dolan like a hundred ricocheting handballs. It was his serve, and Milwaukee's archbishop-elect was in fine form. He fielded the youthful crowd's reaction cleanly and set up for his next point. If a stone gargoyle or a church mouse had awakened to the ruckus, it might have been surprised to see that Dolan was talking about some pretty heavy, ancient stuff. Reconciliation. As in, the sacrament of reconciliation. What these kids' parents or grandparents knew as the sacrament of penance. But he not only had these young, 21st-century Catholics awake. He had them interested.Dolan was one of more than 130 bishops and cardinals who taught on that topic Friday morning in churches and halls throughout the Toronto area and the Exhibition Place complex on the fourth day of an event known as World Youth Day.
Wayne McCormick, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The challenge of caring for older Americans can and will be met. We are not the only nation confronting this challenge -- every nation in the world is seeking its own solutions for accommodating the shift in demographics toward a larger older population.
We only need to look around us to see the coherent, sensible measures employed by such nations as Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Taiwan and Australia to see that solutions are at hand. The first myth to debunk is that all older people need medical care, whether from a geriatrician or any practitioner. Certainly, practical, preventive medicine is advisable, but the simple fact is that most older people in the United States are remarkably healthy and don't need "taking care of." A substantial majority of persons over the age of 65 (indeed over 75) have little or no debility in daily activities and consider themselves to be in good or excellent health (see the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics at www.agingstats.gov/ chartbook2000/population.html). A major thrust (perhaps the major thrust) of geriatric medicine is to make this majority a larger fraction of the older population.
The Washington Post
CAN PEACE be made with the authors of suicide bombing? The prime minister of Sri Lanka, which has suffered more and costlier suicide attacks than any nation in the world, is making a concerted effort to do so -- and so far the signs are encouraging. For years Sri Lanka's government tried and failed to stamp out the terrorism of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam with brute military force. Sixty thousand people died in the fighting, and a host of senior politicians, including a prime minister of India, were killed by some 200 suicide attacks. Now Ranil Wickremasinghe, who won election as prime minister last December on a pro-peace platform, is getting some results by addressing the root causes of the violence -- deprivation in Sri Lanka's northern and eastern regions and the aspiration of the ethnic Tamil minority there to rule itself. There is no evidence that al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups have links to Sri Lanka; nevertheless, Mr. Wickremasinghe, who visited Washington this week, has a chance to achieve a major success in the global struggle against terrorism.
Robert Pittman attended Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., but it couldn't have been for long. By age 18 he was program director of an FM radio station in Pittsburgh. Before he could legally buy a drink, Pittman was program director of WMAQ-AM in Chicago, and when he sat on the steps of his Goethe Street apartment building, neighbors pointed him out, saying this gifted young man would go far. By age 27 he had developed MTV. And before his precipitous downfall last week at 48, his star had shot up all the way to the post of chief operating officer at the huge media-entertainment-Internet conglomerate AOL Time Warner Inc.Pittman's expertise was marketing. He had a flair for reading the public taste. Before he resigned from the ailing company, he'd never had a failure on his professional report card. But maybe the day-to-day operation of a huge corporation requires more than marketing savvy. ... People lucky enough to have the resources use the full four (or more) years of an undergraduate education to learn about ideas and principles that have shaped civilization for centuries. They learn to get along with people unlike themselves, to absorb new ideas, to appreciate new voices. ... For many young people, college is the place to experiment with interests, knowledge and their own limitations. They have the privilege of maturing in a climate that lets them make tremendous mistakes early in life. They do often fail, yet sometimes succeed. They learn crucial lessons on how to profit from the failures and accept the successes with grace. They learn as much outside the syllabus as within.
Michael Prager, Boston Globe
It's a fair question to ask anyone, especially in a city blessed with a bounty of great art: What's the most important piece of art on public display around here? Anyone's welcome to an opinion, but we went to folks whose business it is to consider such things: Greater Boston's museum directors. We asked three questions: 1. What's the most important piece in your museum? 2. What's the most important piece on public display in Greater Boston that's not in your museum? 3. What's your favorite piece of art in Greater Boston not in your museum? Some said it was akin to asking them to say who their favorite child is. Others said their answers would change the next time someone asks. But in a spirit of fun, most were willing to answer. We thought a consensus would emerge, and it did, around Titian's ''Rape of Europa'' (often called ''Europa''), cited four times when no other work was cited twice. Even better, though, is the cumulative result: Together, the answers are a map of the stars in Greater Boston art.
MARSHALL SELLA, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
Companies like the Ant Farm are under immense pressure to come up with the goods for their Hollywood clients. Competition among ''vendors,'' as trailer companies are known, is fierce. Studios often hire between two and five vendors to work -- simultaneously -- on the same picture, to see who will hit closest to the mark. The saddest fate a trailer-cutter can endure is to see his work ''Frankensteined,'' Hollywood slang for the practice of stitching the work of multiple vendors into one trailer. Moreover, competition doesn't stop at the studio-to-vendor level. At one point, even the Ant Farm had two editors working in adjacent offices on the same ''Signs'' teaser. It was a kind of intramural editing contest, but without the fun. Of course, moviegoers love movie trailers; you can hear it in the vitriol of their complaints. In those 12 minutes before the feature presentation, people enjoy the jolt and flutter of intense imagery, the barrage of different genres, the pleasure of seeing what's next for their favorite stars. But previews often frustrate audiences. Not only are they too loud (and intentionally so), they give away the whole damn picture.
Jess Cagle, Time Magazine
For the first time in history, women are now running half of the six major movie studios. Sherry Lansing is celebrating her 10th anniversary as chairman of Paramount Pictures, ruling the studio with an iron fiscal fist. And her two younger colleagues — Amy Pascal at Columbia and Stacey Snider at Universal — are known to be every bit as brazen as their male counterparts when it comes to gambling with $200 million production and marketing budgets. All three women are working mothers with decidedly feminine personalities and gentle management styles. And all three are experiencing remarkable success, making them a dominant force in Hollywood at a time when the movie industry is enjoying perhaps its most impressive winning streak ever. "Three women are running companies that make a product that has a huge influence on the culture," says Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin. "That's historic, because they're going to do it differently than men, and it's going to have an impact." It already has.
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Blogathon 2002 Guide
Saturday, July 27, 2002
What is a blog?
A weblog, or "blog" for short, is an Internet journal made up of links and personal commentary. This free-form format has proliferated over the last couple years.
What is Blogathon?
213 bloggers from around the world are currently blogging for 24 hours straight, from 8 a.m. (Chicago time) Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday, updating their blogs at least every 30 minutes. Each has a sponsor that will donate to a designated charity on his or her behalf.
Why are you blogathonning?
I am covering the event for the Chicago Tribune, in an interesting convergence of the establishment media colliding with a (formerly) obscure digital trend. The themes of my weblog and my article will be my experiences as a blogger, the state of blogging, and the future of words in a digital age, but I’ll be blogging about a variety of topics as they cross my mind.
On a non-Blogathon day, what is your blog about?
news, politics, media, culture, history, the arts, movies, sports, and anything else I'm interested in.
I keep my blog 1) as a personal resource for column ideas and links, 2) for writing practice, to keep my writing gears greased, and 3) to try to contribute a little substance to the high-waste world of the blogosphere. There are a few hundred thousand blogs out there, but I’ve only found a few dozen worth reading on a daily basis, and I hope to be one of them.
Are you taking questions and comments by e-mail?
Funny you should ask. Pepper me with feedback at email@example.com
How are we to make heads or tails of this massive weblog you’re keeping?
I’ll be keeping an outline of the main themes and key postings as the day goes along.
Back To My Blog
Friday, July 26, 2002
NBIERMA.COM NOTEBOOK READER
A daily digest of notable public discourse
Friday, July 26, 2002
NICK MADIGAN, NEW YORK TIMES
The fires that continued to roar today near hundreds of giant sequoias, the towering trademarks of the area around this central California town, have renewed an argument over how best to manage the Sequoia National Forest's resources while preventing the woodland's destruction. Mirrored in similar cases across the country but particularly acute in the vast forests of the West, the debate pits the competing interests of preservation and business against each other and leads to drawn swords every time a fire makes ash of the landscape. "You know who's getting all the blame for this?" asked David Priest, who runs a bait-and-tackle shop in Lake Isabella, a town 10 miles south of here that has been afflicted by three wildfires in the two months. "Clinton," he replied to his own question, referring to the former president. Mr. Clinton established the Giant Sequoia National Monument during his last year in office, protecting a 328,000-acre piece of the forest from culling, logging and most clearing that involves heavy equipment. Many people here say that protection has added fuel to the fires. ... Forestry officials acknowledge that overly aggressive fire-suppression policies in place since early last century have left forests vulnerable to much larger fires because the natural order, which counts on fires to clear land and promote new growth, has been upset. "Smokey Bear did too good a job," said Matt Mathes, a Forest Service spokesman. "It was a well-meaning policy with unintentional consequences."
The Sacramento Bee
Throughout history, control of territory has been at the heart of many wars. Obvious current examples are the half-century-old wars of nerves between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and between Israel and the Palestinians over a small area of desert that is either Palestine or Judea and Samaria, depending on which side you're on. But could a rock barely 300 yards long used only by grazing goats trigger a war between two sovereign states? For the moment, the answer appears to be no. Spain and Morocco have pulled back from a confrontation over an islet that the Spanish call Perijil (parsley, which grows wild there) and the Moroccans call Leila (night -- no explanation) and that both claim is theirs. Thanks to U.S. diplomatic intervention, the risk of hostilities has abated and the two countries have agreed to discuss their differences in the wake of a brief Moroccan occupation of the islet, just 200 yards off the Moroccan coast; a Spanish "invasion" that expelled the tiny Moroccan contingent; then, once cooler heads intervened, Spain's withdrawal. That leaves the island, for now, to the goats. ... In an age when many political thinkers argue that national sovereignty is an outmoded concept, the contest of wills between Spain and Morocco over essentially nothing but pride is an example of how human cussedness can trump the best-laid plans of those not directly involved. This melodrama is not over.
Robert Collier , San Fransisco Chronicle
They may not know it, but 1.3 million California retirees have become major players in the international campaign for human rights. The California Public Employees Retirement System, which handles the pensions for state workers, recently enacted a long-delayed program to screen all its overseas "emerging markets" investments to ensure that they are not contributing to human rights and labor rights violations. Governments from Thailand to Mexico are feeling the pressure.
Sexy it's not, but pension fund activism, an outgrowth of the controversy over globalization, has immense potential ramifications. U.S. pension funds' stock holdings total about $3 trillion, nearly one-quarter of all publicly traded equities. Of that total, about $59 billion is currently invested in firms from emerging-markets nations. CalPERS, with $149 billion in total investments and $2 billion in emerging markets, is the second-largest U.S. pension fund and the third largest in the world.
THOMAS BEAUMONT, Des Moines Register
If it seems the campaign for governor is nastier than Iowans are accustomed to, it could be because candidates are advertising as if the election were next month instead of three months away. More than half of the $3.5 million that Democratic incumbent Tom Vilsack and Republican challenger Doug Gross have spent on their campaigns this year has gone to political media firms that produce 30-second spots and paste them on television screens statewide. The ads began well before the June primary and haven't let up, an unusually early start, television executives agree. But it's their tone - slow-motion black-and-white images and foreboding narration usually reserved for horror movies - that has voters and political observers calling the campaigns shrill. "It's disgusting," said David Creighton Sr., a politically active West Des Moines financial broker. "It makes me want to scream." Early attacks are catching on nationally. The Iowa governor's race and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. Senate race are prime examples.
By Catherine Reagor-Burrough, The Arizona Republic
Mortgage rates are at their lowest levels since 1967 and aren't expected to start climbing until share prices do. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 6.34 percent this week.... Home loan rates have dropped as investors, unsure of stocks, pour money into Treasury notes. That pushes down yields on those investments, which are closely tied to mortgage rates. The mortgage rate drop has kicked off another refinancing boom, economists say. More than 60 percent of home loan applications during the past week were for refinancings. Lower rates also are expected to help keep home buying near the record level it reached in 2001, according to the National Association of Realtors.
CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA, TIMES OF INDIA
US Secretary of State Colin Powell returns to the subcontinent this week amid a recurrence of the periodic testiness that has characterised ties between Washington and New Delhi. At the heart of the current sour mood is New Delhi's view that the US is not fully helping the cause of peace in the region with its backing of a militaristic Pakistan. On the other hand, Washington is irked by what it sees as India's cussedness in not responding quickly enough to de-escalate the situation in the region despite "concessions" by Pakistan. Ahead of his trip to the region, Powell told reporters on Thursday that there has been some reduction in infiltrations across the line of control, "but it is still unfortunately the case that...terrorist violence takes place."
Ryan Lizza, The New Republic
It isn't the president's softness on corporate reform, or the lingering questions about Harken and Halliburton, or even the economy itself, that has knocked him off his game.
It's the plummeting stock market. Ever since Bush made his July 9 speech about corporate responsibility, his fortunes have been tethered to the gyrations of the Dow. And this linkage is largely the White House's own fault. Bush's aides not only made the mistake of scheduling his big Wall Street speech while the markets were open, but some of them actually told reporters beforehand that one of the purposes of those remarks was to rally stocks skyward--which, of course, they did not. The administration has been desperately trying to de-link Bush's fate from the Dow's ever since. On July 12 White House spokesman Ari Fleischer scolded the Washington press corps for its ignorance about Wall Street, and he has berated the news networks for featuring market tickers showing falling stock prices during Bush's televised comments on the economy. Bush is the first president to face a bear market in the CNBC-obsessed media environment that grew up around the 1990s boom. And he's finding, to his dismay, that the rules have changed.
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Thursday, July 25, 2002
Copyright 2002 Chicago Tribune
Buy this article
Date: Friday, June 7, 2002
Edition: North Sports Final
Section: Tempo Page: 7 Zone: C
Source: By Mike Conklin, Tribune staff reporter.
Illustration: PHOTOS 3
That hang-time religion
Mixing Shaq and Meshach: The odd marriage of the Moody Bible Institute and the NBA
When Dwight L. Moody told his followers in 1886 that it was time to train men for missionary work -- a pronouncement that led to the founding of the Moody Bible Institute -- it seems safe to say that the preacher's vision didn't include the presence on his campus of the likes of rap-singing, slam-dunking Shaquille O'Neal and other current or future basketball superstars.
Yet, unfolding again this week on Moody's Near North Side campus is the National Basketball Association's annual pre-draft camp -- creating the odd juxtaposition of earnest, young Bible students and soon-to-be-obscenely-rich, tattoo-covered athletes.
BMW X5s and Ford Escorts, side-by-side in the same parking lot.
The NBA holds its invitation-only camp for draft-eligible players in the school's Solheim Center every June, having moved there from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1993 to take advantage of Moody's state-of-the-art training equipment and its proximity to Loop restaurants and hotels, where players, coaches, scouts and others here for the event typically hang their hats.
For four days of workouts that started Wednesday, 70 athletes are trying to improve their standing in the eyes of the league's top scouts and become a first-round pick in the June 26 draft -- a slot guaranteeing a multimillion-dollar contract.
And everywhere the NBA hopefuls turn, about 20 Moody students are at their beck and call, wiping floors, keeping charts, passing out water, serving as ball-boys, giving directions, managing the hospitality room and helping with security at the workout sessions, closed to the public.
And this mingling of the sacred and the profane is only the half of it. Throughout the basketball season, visiting pro teams regularly use the Solheim gym to practice.
The NBA and the Moody Bible Institute have to be one of the oddest couplings in the world of sports since the last time Jerry Krause stood next to Dennis Rodman. But the benefits that accrue to the conservative Christian college and its 1,500 students, 80 percent of whom go into evangelical work, is incalculable, according to Moody officials.
This is professional basketball's 10th year at Moody and, in that time, almost every top NBA star has passed through the doors of Solheim, the school's athletic facility at 930 N. Wells St. (The center is named for Moody donor Karsten Solheim, a golf manufacturer who invented the Ping line of equipment.)
"Chicagoans may not realize it," says John Hammond, the Detroit Pistons' vice president for player personnel, "but the Solheim is Mecca in the basketball world. Everyone in the sport knows it."
Old man Moody, ever the devout Christian, may have used a different word to describe the place, but, as a shrewd businessman who got his start as a crack shoe salesman, no doubt he could appreciate the return -- both in rent and public relations -- realized from the 11-year-old, $7 million fitness center.
Not only is the center the site of the NBA camp, it also fills other roles during the year:
- Practice facility for many of the Chicago Bulls' regular-season opponents.
- Site of the Women's National Basketball Association tryout camp.
- Host of the U.S. Olympic Team basketball workouts and, as such, base for the first three men's Dream Teams, including the original squad with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
- Training site for international teams on U.S. tours.
"Way cool," is the way David Edwards, a recent Moody graduate and former basketball player at the school, describes the environment. "When you're from a small town in Iowa (Johnston) like me, and the gym door opens and the Seattle SuperSonics or Boston Celtics walk in, who wouldn't be impressed?
"When I was a freshman, I'd get on the phone and call my friends and tell them that I talked to Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant that day."
Of course, sophistication eventually sets in. "By the time you're a senior, you start to take it in stride," Edwards says.
Respect in a `comfort zone'
Moody basketball coach Dan Dunn said it's not unusual to see his players lifting weights or sitting in a whirlpool alongside the NBA stars during the season. "There's always a buzz when Shaq's on the premises, like there used to be with Michael Jordan," he said. "I enjoy seeing some of the people at the camp, like Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, whom I used to watch as a kid."
For the annual June NBA event here, the Moody students are hand-picked "as a sort of reward for their work during the year," according to athletic director Sheldon Bassett. "I tell them simply to treat everyone with respect and expect it in return," he said. "Everyone is addressed by their first name."
The Moody students are also explicitly instructed not to ask for autographs, take pictures or unduly patronize the athletes. The athletic director calls it "creating a comfort zone" to allow the future pros to concentrate on impressing the coaches and scouts.
"We've had players in our gym with combined salaries of something like $500 million, but just because they're well-paid that doesn't make them automatically heroes and that's what we try to teach our students," Bassett said. "We want them to apply excellence in life and what Christ taught us to sports.
"I should probably write a book about everything."Bassett said there is no way to put a dollar figure on what the presence of high-profile sports figures has meant to the college, but he knows it far exceeds the rent collected. Most students are unaware of the school's relationship with high-profile basketball, but he said the scene is life-changing for some.
For example, the school started its first-ever Sports Ministry program three years ago as a result of the interest created by basketball.
The Bible school's relationship with pro basketball started shortly after the Solheim facility opened in 1991. Hammond, then an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, said he was attending the '91 pre-draft camp at UIC when Bassett, an old friend, invited him to check out Moody's new facilities.
"It was just great -- state-of-the-art in every aspect," the Pistons' vice president says of the 77,000-square-foot center. "I mentioned something to the NBA about it and things just sort of evolved from there."
Spreading the word
Before the NBA camp shifted in '93, the Clippers began using the gym in the '91-'92 season for pre-game workouts whenever they came to town to play the Bulls. Other teams began following suit as the word spread. Coaching luminaries such as Pat Riley, Don Nelson and Larry Brown became early boosters and continue to use it.
Individual players come over on their own during the NBA season. O'Neal, who has a custommade Moody Bible Institute sweatshirt in his wardrobe after bugging Bassett for it, is a regular whenever he's in town with the Lakers. .
Yao Ming, the Chinese superstar, participated in a much-hyped solo workout for the media at Loyola University last month, but a more intense private practice was held for NBA scouts -- with four Moody students providing security -- in Solheim Center the day before. "Everyone on the campus got excited over this," Dunn said.
Moody's own basketball players, who play opponents such as Grace Bible, Cincinnati Bible, Lincoln (Ill.) Christian and Illinois Tech, have learned not to overreact -- though there was some commotion when the Houston Rockets' Steve Francis, wearing a Moody uniform, burst through the gym doors two seasons ago shouting, "I'm the new recruit! I'm the new recruit!"
Pat Williams, former Bulls boss and now president of the Orlando Magic, calls the relationship between the school and basketball a perfect marriage.
"This is one of those sports stories that has a real sweet ring to it," he says, "and, as we know all too well, there are too many today that don't.
"It's just staggering that this small, Christian Bible college has this great facility. It's great for the NBA, but what a lift it gives the campus.
"I'm sure old D.L. Moody would be stunned."
Moody makes major change
For the Moody Bible Institute, the most tangible byproduct from its association with pro basketball may be this: a recently created major at the school called Sports Ministry & Lifetime Fitness.
"We had a number of our Bible majors decide they wanted to get into sports as a result of their experiences with the NBA camps," says Moody's Athletic Director Sheldon Bassett. "Putting together this program was a sort of natural thing over time.
"This is kind of a risk for us, living and talking our faith through sports, but we're an urban setting and this does help the Moody mission of educating, edifying and evangelizing."
Though the three-year-old program still is in its early stages, Bassett sees graduates of the major -- and the first ones are just getting their degrees now -- finding jobs with organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, with churches that have active physical education programs, and with missionary programs overseas.
Dan Gilbert, a Clayton, Ohio, native who just graduated as a Sports Ministry major, said his dream is to eventually build and run a sports complex for youth in rural communities. In the meantime, he is working at Moody part-time. "If my first goal never happens," Gilbert said, "I will be looking for any job involving sports. The possibilities are nearly endless of what I would be willing to do if it involves sports.
"I know that when I talk to youth, I quickly get their attention when I tell them I've spoken to Shaq. That's something that never would've happened if I didn't get the opportunity to meet some of these people at our [NBA] camp."
Among the new major's listed objectives: To understand the potential of sports ministry and its influence on society; to demonstrate a theological foundation for sports ministry; and to analyze sports in relation to cultural values, socialization, gender, ethnicity and economics in various cultural and historical settings.
Dave Edwards graduated from Moody two years ago, before it was possible to be Sports Ministry major, but he said the experiences of being around highly motivated, skilled athletes during the NBA camp and at other times changed his life.
It made him want to go into basketball coaching and he jumped at the chance to become a graduate assistant in the Iowa State University men's program, where he now works.
"I feel this is the plan God meant for me," said Edwards, who played four years for Moody's varsity basketball team. "I didn't know that when I started school, but it's a lot clearer to me now."
-- Mike Conklin
Captions: PHOTO: Temple University basketball star Kevin Lyde (far right) lines up with other prospects to be measured and weighed during the NBA pre-draft camp at Moody Bible Institute on the North Side Wednesday. "This is my way of staying on the right track through basketball," Lyde says of his tattoo.
PHOTO: Joe Sanson (from left), 21, a junior at Moody Bible Institute, stands
on the sidelines with assistant basketball coach Fred Leggin as NBA scouts John Carideo and Evan Pickman check out prospects.
PHOTO: Moody Bible's athletic director Sheldon Bassett greets a coach at the
front door of the Solheim Center as Washington Wizards head coach Doug Collins gives him a pat on the back. Tribune photos by Heather Stone.
Copyright 2001 Chicago Tribune
Date: Sunday, November 18, 2001
Edition: Chicagoland Final
Section: Perspective Page: 4 Zone: C
Source: By John D. Thomas. Special to the Tribune. John D. Thomas is editor of Playboy.com.
David Crystal, author of "Language and the Internet"
Words zip from the screen to the world
Communication over the Internet is largely untamed, unedited and colloquial. This has led many to believe that technology is having a negative impact on language. David Crystal, the editor of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, argues strongly to the contrary in his new book, "Language and the Internet."
Q. You write that the Internet has been a positive thing for language. How so?
A. Because it shows the ability the human species has to adapt so fast to a new communicative demand.
Q. You describe "Netspeak" as "a new species of communication." Why?
A. Because it does something that neither speaking nor writing can do. Some examples include framing in e-mails, which is a brand-new phenomenon, and holding multiple simultaneous conversations in writing.
Also, the dynamic, non-permanent character of online screen language is new.
Q. Why did you write this book and what do you hope it accomplishes?
A. I wrote it because there wasn't a book like it. That's where most of my book ideas come from.
I was looking for a treatment of language on the Net and I couldn't find one. I hope it starts a new field, one called Internet linguistics.
Q. What are some of your favorite examples of linguistic creativity inspired by the Internet?
A. I don't have any favorites--or rather, every new usage I see is temporarily a favorite.
Q. Most Internet users are young. How has that affected the language used online?
A. They were young, but that's rapidly changing. There are people in their 80s using the Internet now. So the geeky bias of the earlier language, with its in-words, is likely to be balanced by more conservative styles as increasing numbers of older people come online.
Hitherto, though, yes, the playful creative character of much e-style is what you'd expect from a youthful set of users. Their style will remain, but it'll be supplemented by other Net styles.
Q. The Net is used primarily by people who are well-off. As the Net becomes more available to all social classes, how will the language change?
A. The Net holds a mirror up to linguistic nature. We will see a wider range of computer literacies, just as broadcasting, originally very much for the well-off and educated, become increasingly for everyone, with an associated broadening of distinctive styles.
Q. Do men and women communicate differently on the Internet?
A. That's not a well-researched subject, although Pat Wallace in her book "The Psychology of the Internet" thinks yes. I'm sure they do, just as they do elsewhere. But the differences are not as great as people think--just as they aren't in communication as a whole.
Q. Will the rise of better online audio and visual technologies destroy the current text-based language currently used?
A. Well, it won't destroy it, any more than broadcasting destroyed visual literacy. The "death of the book" arguments were premature, evidently. My guess is that text-based usage will find its place on the Internet.
But it won't be for a while, though--it's at least two generations away before we get good speech synthesis and recognition technologies capable of handling the complexity of language.
Q. Has Internet language had a large impact on communication outside the Net?
A. Yes, primarily in the way it has added speed to interaction. New words and usages can whistle around the world now. Also, virtual speech communities look as if they are going to do a lot to help minority and endangered languages. But the total number of Internet words entering English and other languages is still quite small--and of course they are only a tiny proportion of any language's vocabulary.
Q. What are some trends in Netspeak you are noticing?
A. Well, things seem to have settled down a bit, actually. That's why I dared to write this book now. I wouldn't have dared do it five years ago, when everything was moving so fast.
The main trend is one of consolidation, I think. People are now struggling to find house styles for everything they do.
Q. Much of Internet communication is anonymous. How has this affected Netspeak?
A. I'm not sure. It has promoted greater explicitness, of course, and greater openness, in some ways. But this has its obvious downside. But that is actually a social psychological issue rather than a linguistic one.
Q. English is the predominant Internet language. Will that always be so?
A. Certainly not. It looks as if English will be used on less than half of the overall number of Web pages within the next couple of years. Once South America, Africa and China really start using the Net, the proportion will change rapidly.
But the number of pages isn't the whole story, of course. The number of hits is more relevant--and as there is now more online content in English, because of the head start, it may be that there will be a predominance of English in terms of information that is looked up for a longer period. But eventually it will settle down. People much prefer reading stuff in their mother tongue.
I predict that eventually the balance of languages on the Net will reflect that of the outside world, where currently English is used by a quarter of the world's population.
Q. Will there ever be one global Internet language that everyone uses and understands?
A. No more than anywhere else. Varieties, dialects and styles are already very evident on the Net. These are bound to increase. There will be a common core of shared distinctiveness, of course. In other words, the Net will be a new medium with the same range of variation as you find in speech and writing.
Q. What is the best place to get current information on Netspeak terms?
A. Places like Jargon File (www.jargonfile.com) on the Net are quite good, but they contain a lot of idiosyncratic stuff that may not last.
An edited transcript
Copyright 2002 Chicago Tribune
Date: Thursday, July 25, 2002
Edition: North Sports Final
Section: Metro Page: 2 Zone: N
Source: Associated Press.
Dateline: NEW YORK
Salary spat spurs Lowe to take flight from `West Wing'
4Actor Rob Lowe will leave NBC's "The West Wing" during the upcoming season, the network said Wednesday.
The actor decided to leave after finding out that Martin Sheen received a raise that nearly triples his pay to $300,000 an episode, Variety and the New York Post reported, citing anonymous sources.
NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker wouldn't discuss the reasons for Lowe's departure but confirmed he will be written out of the show in March.
"Rob has been a huge and great part of the program," Zucker said. "We're fortunate that he's going to be with us for virtually the entire year and after that, Sam Seaborn will move on to other things."
Seaborn is the White House deputy communications director that Lowe portrays on the Emmy-winning drama.
Lowe has made about $75,000 an episode since the series began in 1999. The other supporting players--Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer and Bradley Whitford--banded together last year and negotiated a raise to about $70,000 per show in a deal that keeps them on through the seventh season.
Lowe, 38, has been nominated in the past for an Emmy and two Golden Globes for his portrayal of Seaborn. But last week, he was the only major cast member who didn't get a nomination for this year's Emmys, which will be given out Sept. 22.
Sheen, who portrays President Josiah Bartlet, was nominated for best actor in a drama; Janney is up for best actress; and Schiff, Spencer, Whitford, Dule Hill, Stockard Channing, Janel Moloney and Mary-Louise Parker were nominated in supporting categories.
When the show premiered, Lowe and Martin Sheen were the two cast members who attracted the most attention.
Captions: PHOTO: Veteran actor Rob Lowe will end his tenure as Sam Seaborn on "The West Wing" because of a salary dispute.
NBIERMA.COM NOTEBOOK READER
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Robert J. Samuelson, Newsweek
THE WILD RIDE of the past decade recalls similar periods in the 19th century, when entrepreneurs, investors and speculators were first captivated by the vast promises of new lands, canals and railroads and then mauled by excessive investments, broken promises and financial panics. Viewed with hindsight, the “new economy” bears an eerie resemblance to these earlier episodes, exhibiting a rawness of ambition, optimism, overconfidence and greed unlike anything since World War II.... It is too early to say how history will judge the present era. Just as the euphoria of the “new economy” was unreliable, so the present obsession with scandal may prove misleading. The first was too optimistic; the second may be too cynical. We may conclude that the freewheeling nature of American capitalism, a system that encourages people to make the most of their ideas and ambitions, confers enormous benefits while exposing us periodically to huge economic mistakes and ethics lapses. It is less premature to suggest that popular judgment may hinge on the answer to a simple question: will the falling stock market drag down the rising “real economy” of jobs and production—or will the rising real economy revive the market?
WHAT do Norwegians do better than anyone else? According to the latest Human Development Report, published on Wednesday July 24th, Norway is again number one on the Human Development Index. This index ranks 173 countries by a composite measure of life expectancy, education and income per person. Australia has dropped from second to fifth place, with America, perhaps surprisingly to some people, at sixth. But these rankings do not really matter much. The differences at the top of the table are tiny. Far more important is what is happening in countries in the bottom half of the rankings. Among the world’s poorer countries, the index makes for depressing reading—as does much of the report, which is produced annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The spread of democracy, so heralded in the 1990s, seems to have stalled; in some places it is even in retreat. And while some emerging-market economies have done well in recent years, with East Asian countries coming rapidly up the table, many other countries are now poorer than they were.
The Seattle Times
When African leaders finally pulled the plug on the moribund Organization of African Unity to make way for a more democratic coalition, it was a promising sign for a continent mired in war, poverty, disease and corruption. The African Union marks the first time democratically minded African leaders outnumber the despots. ... The new alliance comes at an opportune time. Ordinary Africans are increasing their calls for democratic leadership. In Zambia, people took to the streets last year when its president, Frederick Chiluba, tried to change the constitution to end presidential term limits. Church leaders and students offered the same response when Malawi President Bakili Muluzi tried a similar tactic. The changes in Africa are reassuring. Western support and aid is necessary and justified to help Africa improve the lives of its citizens.
The New York Times
New Yorkers like to pretend, almost biblically, that there is nothing new under the sun. But then along comes the discovery of a new species — a new genus, in fact — of centipede living in Central Park, a place we thought we knew down to the least of its organisms. This centipede is only about four-tenths of an inch long, making it one of the smallest in the world. The creature is called Nannarrup hoffmani, which honors the man who recognized that he didn't recognize it. It lives in the park's leaf litter, the crumbling organic debris that accumulates under the trees. No one knows how long this species has been living in Central Park, only that like most New Yorkers it came from somewhere else — probably, unlike most New Yorkers, in potted soil. But that it has found its niche is clear. ... This discovery is a reminder of several things. One is that centipedes are inaptly named, since they always have an odd number of pairs of legs — never 100. Another is that no one really knows how many invertebrate species there are, only that we are likely to have identified just a small portion of them. But the real reminder is of nature's ampleness, the abundance with which this earth is populated. In its own very small way, Nannarrup hoffmani helps us remember that there is a habitation, a living, in the most unexpected places. It always comes as a surprise to remember that we share this city with creatures who have made it every bit their own as much as we have. Or rather that they share it with us.
The Toronto Star
In the Olympics of life, Canada only managed bronze this year. After sitting in the top spot of the United Nations quality-of-life index from 1994 to 2000, Canada was rated third this year, the same as last year. Norway is again in first place, followed by Sweden. At least we lost out to nice guys, and not say, France or the U.S., who would no doubt have been as insufferable with their bragging as Canadians were for so long.
Sarah Blustain, The New Republic
This kind of feminist consumerism is seductive, since it tells you that the everyday activities of being a modern American woman--reading a magazine or buying lipstick or sneakers--qualifies you for feminist sisterhood. Many women have indeed made the world better by participating in Avon's "Breast Cancer Crusade," which between 1993 and 2001 raised a net $165 million for breast-cancer-related causes, according to company tallies. But what are we to make of the upcoming fall campaign that features "the limited edition Avon Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer Lipsticks, ... [that] come packaged in an elegant, pearlized pink case, symbolic of the breast cancer cause, and are inspirationally named, such as Courageous Coral, Crusade Rose and Determined Red"? This moral masquerade--selling us on the Avon brand in the guise of a higher calling--always feels more than a tad corrupt. Two weeks ago, in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of Title IX, newspapers carried an ad presenting the "thoughts and feelings of many women": "Sport taught me that I have two options in life: either to believe in myself unconditionally or just throw in the towel when things get tough"; "It minimized the insecurities and self-consciousness that too many girls get paranoid and neurotic about"; and so on. Pure feminist jargon, running on the back page of The New York Times' sports section. The only sign of a hidden agenda was the miniscule Nike Swoosh embedded in the text. Indeed, Nike has presumably benefited as much from Title IX as female athletes themselves. Forget about "Just do it." Just buy it.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
hed: The morning the sun hid
sub: New report catalogues the last days of the Avataq
by Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services
It was dark when the Avataq started going down.
August was sinking into September, and the sun hid behind the horizon
as wind- whipped waves of eight degree water lashed across the deck of
the 12 metre-long fishing boat.
On the radio, Cpt. Louis Pilakapsi made one final call at 1:30 a.m.
Speaking on citizen's band radio channel 14, he told family members in
Arviat that the boat was taking water on the bow and stern and was
That was Aug. 25, 2000. Almost two years later, a report from the
Transportation Safety Board of Canada has shed new light on the last
hours of the Avataq -- and on reasons why the craft sank and rescue
efforts were unsuccessful.
In total, four men lost their lives that night: Pilakapsi and crew
members Larry Ussak, Sandy Sateana and David Kudjuk. The boat has never
The sun was already in the sky when the Avataq left Churchill, Man.,
at 5 a.m. on August 24. The boat was on a trip up the coast of Hudson
Bay, to Arviat and then to Rankin, a trip the vessel had made many
times before. In fact, it was fairly common for fishing boats to make
small supply runs -- especially when companies like NTCL in Rankin
needed some last-minute supplies.
The Avataq was owned by Avataq Enterprises in Rankin Inlet. The craft
had been certificated as a small fishing vessel, although that
certification had run out in July 1999. To carry cargo, the boat would
have needed a stability booklet, to guide the crew in how to properly
load the boat.
The crew had no formal training, even though existing regulations said
the captain should have been certified as a master of his ship. He also
needed courses in electronic navigation, marine emergency duties and
But Transport Canada didn't do any regular inspections of boats or
captains in the arctic. Of the 34 boats registered in the Yukon, the
NWT and Nunavut, only two were scheduled for annual inspections.
Besides, Transport Canada's Manitoba and Nunavut office was located in
Ottawa, and the office only employed one inspector who spent a week or
two in Nunavut every year.
So the crew of the Avataq loaded the boat with 15,823 kilograms of
propane and building materials. The crew reported to the port warden
that the boat was carrying 10,160 kilos of cargo.
Some of the cargo was stored below-decks, but most was strapped onto
the top of the boat. Everything was covered with tarpaulins, to
minimize the amount of water that could pool up on deck.
The tarps were necessary, in part, because the aft-deck was below the
water line. Although a wall of bulwarks kept the water from splashing
in, the aft-deck was designed to be above water. It even had a number
of drainage holes to allow water to flow out. The crew plugged those
holes, known as scuppers, to keep the water from flowing back in.
The Avataq left Churchill and began following the 94th meridian due
Winds gained in speed throughout the day. When the Avataq left port,
the marine weather forecast called for a windspeed of just under 30
kilometres an hour, picking up to almost 60 overnight. By 3:03 that
afternoon, Environment Canada issued a gale warning for Churchill and
But the Avataq continued on its course. Winds were light as night
began to descend, blowing from the southwest at just over 20 kilometres
per hour. At 11:30 p.m., the captain made radio contact with a relative
in Arviat. He said the crew was on deck, securing some of the cargo
that had come loose during the journey.
But Pilakapsi fully expected to arrive in Arviat, predicting that he
would sail into port at 2 a.m., just over two hours away.
Soon the winds began to gust. Before 12 a.m., they had increased to 40
kilometres an hour. And the winds were shifting, too, veering westward.
Conditions began to worsen aboard the Avataq. At 12:30 a.m., the
captain broadcast on citizen band channel 14 that the boat's bilge
pumps had stopped working properly. The vessel was taking on water
about 19 kilometres south of Arviat. By now, the winds were over 60
kilometres an hour from the northwest.
At 1:30 a.m., Pilakapsi made his final radio transmission. Before the
boat went completely under, Pilakapsi had rushed to put on his Mustang
personal flotation device. He was in such a hurry that when his body
was found, the hanger was still lodged in the coveralls.
The boat was equipped with a life raft and an aluminum fishing skiff
was strapped to the foredeck. The raft went down with the boat. The
skiff was found later, floating empty.
Not long after, a group of Arviat residents took off on their ATVs,
determined to locate the boat from the shore. By 2:55 a.m., they called
the head of the emergency measures organization in Arviat, who in turn
relayed the distress call to Iqaluit.
In Iqaluit, Nunavut Emergency Services fielded the call. Despite an
unwritten policy that any distress calls would immediately be forwarded
to the rescue coordination centre in Trenton, Iqaluit wanted to first
confirm that there was a foundering ship. Trenton wasn't called until
The first search plane in the air was a Cessna Caravan that took off
at 6 a.m. But by the time it arrived at the Avataq's last known
location, it was too late. The Mustang coveralls would only keep those
treading water alive for five hours in the frigid water.
In the ensuing hours and days, four search and rescue helicopters,
three Hercules aircraft, one private airplane, two commercial ships and
a fleet of private boats joined in the search.
But the search ended in heartbreak for the Kivalliq: only two bodies
Buy article here
Copyright 2000 Chicago Tribune
Date: Wednesday, March 1, 2000
Edition: Chicago Sports Final
Section: Tempo Page: 1 Zone: CN
Illustration: PHOTOS 8
3 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE READING THIS
- Dave Eggers grew up in Lake Forest and now lives with his little brother in Brooklyn. He had been mildly famous in literary circles for founding two magazines, the culture-skewering Might and the uber-hip literary journal McSweeney's. But Eggers, a boyish 29, has become a media sensation with the publication of his hyper-self-conscious and best-selling memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."
- Eggers' "Staggering" story: When he was a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, both of his parents died of cancer within five weeks of each other. So he quit college. He founded the aforementioned cool magazines. He schemed to get on MTV's "The Real World." And, with some help from his brother and sister, he raised his brother Toph, who is now 17.
- We asked Eggers for a face-to-face interview, and asked if we could tag along as he revisited Lake Forest. Alas, the young literary superstar only agreed to answer our questions via e-mail. Don't get us wrong, we're grateful (he answered Entertainment Weekly's questions with drawings). So what follows is the electronic exchange with freelance writer Sam Jemielity, other relevant information, along with comments from friends, teachers, co-workers and Dave's brother Bill.
Even though the Tribune asked for an in-person interview with Eggers several months ago, he plead media burnout and declined. Hmmm. Reminds us of an article Eggers wrote about the Replacements for the Daily Illini, Feb. 8, 1991: "...they tossed aside pleadings for a phone interview with the lowly Daily Illini."
ELEMENTS OF A `STAGGERING' BOOK SENSATION
1. Pre-publication praise from Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine read by booksellers, reviewers, librarians. PW receives 30,000 galleys a year for consideration but only reviews 7,000.
2. Getting reviewed in prominent places. The chances, you will see, are slim: Approximately 56,000 titles were published in 1998 by American publishers and the New York Times Book Review reviewed 1,857 titles that year, and the Washington Post Book World reviewed 1,400, according to the 1999 Bowker Annual Library and Book Trade Almanac.
3. Return trips to the printer. Simon & Schuster, the publisher, has now printed 115,000 copies, according to Victoria Meyer, Director of the Hardback Trade Division.
4. Wacky author appearances. In addition to inviting hecklers to his bookstore readings, Eggers brings experts to talk about fire safety and road rage.
5. Wacky author interaction. McSweeney's had a contest inviting readers to write reviews of "A Heartbreaking Work" for amazon.com that gave it 5 stars but "betrayed the fact" that the writer had not read the book.
6. Web presence. The book got mentions on both Slate.com and Salon.com. "His sensibility is certainly one that appeals to the Wired types," said Simon & Schuster's Meyer.
Here's a partial list of the publications that have featured Eggers and his book: Entertainment Weekly, Time, People, The New York Times (two reviews and a feature), U.S. News and World Report, Salon, New York, Spin, Harper's Bazaar, Publisher's Weekly, Vogue, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News.
Benton, now retired, was director of the computer lab at Lake Forest High School.
"In 1987 and '88, I got involved with the kids who were putting out a literary/art publication from Lake Forest High School called `Young Idea.' ... That was the first time, in 1988, that the magazine had been done on a computer desktop publishing program. So that's where he kind of got his start in publishing and writing."
THE QUESTIONS DAVE DIDN'T ANSWER
2. Can you tell me a little more about your parents, about their differences from each other? I hung on every detail about them. I don't know why exactly ... maybe the focus on their illnesses made me want to know about them when they were healthy, maybe b/c your mom reminded me of mine, a little bit.
9. What's Toph think about all this? Who'd you want to star as you in the movie? Or more fun, who wouldn't you want to star as you?
Lowey was Eggers' high school creative writing teacher
"I don't think he's ever given up for a minute. I think he's maintained that pace [that he began in high school with Young Idea magazine]. But he was great fun, and not only talented himself, but able to draw talented students into the orbit of the magazine.
"I wasn't the only adult who had a problem understanding [Might]. I remember once we had a maternity tea for somebody, which brought together a lot of the teachers. And everybody was wondering what in the world was the matter with them that they couldn't make any sense out of Dave's product. ... It was completely geared in its philosophy and its references and its cultural ambience to his age group."
David Moodie co-founded Might with Eggers and is now features editor at SPIN: "We were all magazine junkies, and we basically hated all the magazines that were out at the time, especially those that were youth and/or entertainment oriented."
The magazine featured fake ads, fake tables of contents, even fake stories, like the pitch-perfect hoax, "Fare Thee Well, Gentle Friend," a made-up account of the supposed death of "Eight Is Enough" child star Adam Rich. There was the "sellout" issue, where the cover was an ad for Goldschlager liquor, and the final issue, No. 16, had the cover story, "Are Black People Cooler Than White People?"
Marny Requa, who co-founded Might with Moodie and Eggers, is a high-school friend of Eggers mentioned several times in the memoir: "In the very, very beginning, we wanted to show people different ways to live their lives and think about things (based on how we wanted to live our own lives and think about things). This is the over-earnestness that Dave points to in the book."
To: Sam Jemielity
Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 1:25 PM
Subject: Re: Tribune profile:
I did what I could. Let me know what else you might need. Also, let me know if it needs to be edited. Ideally, I would get a crack at it, since I'm pretty grumpy when my sentences are cut or altered.
What was it like growing up in Lake Forest? You weren't the true Lake Forest-ites, from what you write in the book.
As I sort of indicate in the book, I have no problem at all saying I loved growing up there. What entertains me, in a perverse way, is when people who have uninformed ideas about that town, or towns like it, want to assume certain things about you given the fact that your parents chose to live there. And they want to, in a very strange way, blame you for the prosperity of your hometown - as if it were your choice to be raised there. As if you should have, once having reached cognizance of one's own financial situation and in contrast to those in less affluent areas, fled Lake Forest, at, say, eleven or twelve years old, and moved yourself to a more economically balanced town. It's ridiculous. Just saying the words Lake Forest, in the Chicago area of course but really anywhere in the country, carries with it all kinds of assumptions, which is a form of prejudice. For a kid, it's just a green and safe place, next to a lake and with lots of ravines and creeks and trees. It's hard not to appreciate that. I was very lucky.
1a. When did you start writing/designing things?
Dave Moodie and I started in high school, together. There were a bunch of unbelievably encouraging teachers there. Jay Criche was the first teacher to really say something outright, when he said, on a short paper I wrote about Macbeth, "I sure hope you become a writer." That killed me, sent me in a whole different direction, given that I had expected since I was about four to grow up to be a painter. So I started writing for the school newspaper - Pete Wisner and I wrote a completely nonsensical, heavily Monty Python/Russell Baker-influenced column - and eventually Moodie and I ended up editing and designing the school literary magazine. We did so under the guidance of Alva Lowey, this amazing, magisterial creative writing teacher, and James Benton, who ran the computer lab and was sort of a Macintosh pioneer and gave us our start in design. We really owe our solvency, during the Might years, to Mr. Benton, because that's how Moodie and I paid all the bills, with the ridiculous - but lucrative - graphic design work we did.
1b. What other things did you do as a kid? And while we're there, any hobbies now, besides Frisbee?
I did the normal things, I guess. Lots of Legos, drawing, soccer. For a while I thought I could become a professional soccer player. I mean, there were great expectations put upon me. But by fourth grade or so, though, I was already washed up. The main preoccupation of my childhood, though, was trying to get my mom to cut my hair. It's hard to believe, I'm sure, but I grew up with long, straight, white-blond hair, and she insisted on keeping it long, which caused more than a few gender-confusion situations.
3. MIGHT to Esquire to McSweeneys: what was your motivation in making these moves? What was up with "Man: The Magazine for Men" - I've heard parts of that story. (If you can give me dates here, that'd be awesome: when did you MIGHT fold (1997?), when did you move to New York, when did you start work on McSweeneys.)
Might folded in the summer of 1997. Started work at Esquire a few months later, in New York. McSweeney's came about while I was stalling on my book, in the summer of 1998.
3a. What's your role at McSweeneys. I know you write some of the stuff ("Todd" is a great idea, don't let anyone tell you different). Lucy Thomas, that's you, right?
I edit McSweeney's. Not sure how else to describe my duties. I edit it and design it and get it printed, pay the bills. It's a very very small operation. Four people, tops, though we're all extremely part-time, and we're all unpaid. As for Lucy, I have owned up to writing that stuff, though I've killed the link to her for now.
3b. Why did you decide to start McSweeney's? What do you think of its sudden cachet?
I started it because I wanted to be able to control all aspects of the publishing of something. I'm not very good at becoming part of some existing entity or team. I was kind of frustrated at not seeing the things I liked get into print - such as it is at a large magazine like Esquire. So the first issue of McSweeney's had a lot of stuff written by me and my friends, which had been killed or overlooked by other magazines. Since then, it's been much less reactive, and hasn't had any overarching goal or plan - we only aim to publish things we hope people will read, and to do so with an attention to the craft of the journal as an object.
And that element goes back to the art school days, studying Joseph Cornell, H.C. Westermann, people like that. As for people liking it and buying it, I have no explanation at all. It's much too weird to be popular.
4. How have you been supporting yourself and Toph since you quit Esquire (or left Esquire, or got bodily removed from Esquire - I don't know the story there)? Freelance writing/design?
Not to be rude and point to the text, but I did get a $100,000 advance to write this book; that's right there in the front matter. So that enabled me to quit Esquire. I also do occasional freelance stuff - book reviews, op-eds, short ha-ha stuff - most of it under pseudonyms. I even consulted for ESPN magazine for a while, which was fun because I had no idea what I was talking about most of the time. But people have been kind, and also charitable. I did a thing for Time about Cuba's hitchhikers, and they allowed me a lot of room, and paid me well, and that went a long way toward paying the (exorbitant) print bill for the current McSweeney's.
5. In your final monologue, you alternate between Frisbee, describing your mom's last hours, and dissolve into a rant, almost, against slackers, of people who don't notice you or work hard. Did I read that right? Can you explain where that anger comes from?
Hmm. I can't explain that passage, and here's why: I grew up drawing and painting, and was a painting major for most of my time in college. And I always had trouble when asked to explain certain things, or my paintings in general. I sort of firmly believe that when someone makes something - a painting or book or movie or whatever - then they're then absolved of the responsibility to explain it. Explaining art is kind of like explaining color, or, say, feelings. We all know exactly what feelings are what, and what these feelings mean and where they come from - if we are honest about it and really look at ourselves - and so the explaining of them is just the confirmation of what we already know. (This line of thinking is why I had a hard time in college Psychology courses, which, since we all knew the essential information as well as we knew our own hearts, became little more than semantic shell games.) So as for interpreting the book's last pages, if I break a passage like that down - this means this, that means that - then it has a diminishing effect. It spoils the fun. Not that I understand all of it myself.
6. Which writers helped you sort out how you wanted to tackle this subject, and doing a memoir in these memoir-glutted days?
I went in completely blind. I had never read a memoir before. I was reading a lot of fiction at the time, but then, after a while, stopped reading anything vaguely close in tone or subject matter, for fear of being influenced by better writers.
7. Is it true you planted hecklers at your first few readings (I had lunch with Nadine Ekrek, who did the Wash. Post piece, and she said something about this ... )? What did they say (planted, or not ...)?
In San Francisco I had a friend of Toph's ask a bunch of stupid questions - "Can you start over?" "Can you talk slower and louder?" He was brilliant, this kid Gabe, all of 16. We traded favors - he did that for me, and a few days later, I spoke to his high school journalism class. In Palo Alto, Zev Borow, an old Might editor and friend who had just flown in from New York for an unrelated reason, was in the middle of performing the same function, but whereas the San Francisco crowd thought Gabe was charming and funny - and understood what was happening - the Palo Alto folks hated Zev, thought he was a real heckler. They actually hissed him (people in the Bay Area do that a lot). In New York, Todd Pruzan, a McSweeney's editor, interrupted the reading to ask a bunch of inane questions, blathering on for a long time, and was almost kicked out by store personnel. It was pretty great.
8. What was it like reviewing your own book for SPIN?
Moodie had me do that. I begged him to just let someone else review it, but he thought, given the self-reflexive nature of the book, that I should review it myself. Unfortunately, I was at a point when I really wasn't liking the book so much, so the review wasn't very positive. But of course I'm the book's worst enemy; always have been.
10. How long did it take you to write this book? What was the challenge to doing it - the Toph dialectic played a part, I'm sure, but did you struggle with the form, or did it just lay out that way?
Parts of it were written years ago. Some came from old journals, some from episodes I wrote shortly after they happened. But in earnest, I spent about 8 months on it. I tend to write pretty quickly, in huge bursts, when I get going, and then edit very slowly. The structure was a huge problem, because I was constantly struggling between wanting to play around with the form of it all, and then having the actual material, the subject matter, overwhelm all the tricks and gimmicks.
That's why the latter half of the book is relatively straightforward ? I couldn't mess around with the structure anymore, because I knew I was getting close to the end, and to all the bad things happening there, and writing about Shalini, for instance, just blindsided me. I could barely put a lot of that stuff down; I avoided it for months and months.
11. You've been compared favorably to James Joyce, Tom Wolfe ... there's been gossip column blurbs about a $2 million offer from New Line. How is all this affecting you? What's next for you?
McSweeney's will start publishing books. The great thing about the success of the book is that, for the first time, there seems to be actual money flowing around, money to make possible some of the weird plans we've had for McSweeney's. So by summer we'll have three or four titles out, not to mention any number of pamphlets, tracts and the like.
One of the first books, by Lawrence Krauser, concerns a man's romantic fascination with a lemon. Another book will be all about the scientists attempting to slow the speed of light, contrasted with those trying to tinker with gravity. All very short-run, extremely quirky projects that would only be produced by people with no business sense.
During the question-and-answer period at Dave Eggers' reading in Quimby's bookstore on the North Side last week, an audience member asked how it feels to be in the media spotlight, one of "the beautiful people," getting asked questions by NPR and Charlie Rose. Eggers invited the questioner to the mike, and had the man stand there for a while. "So, how does it feel?" Eggers asked. After much awkward hesitation, the man responded, "Awkward."
For reasons that remain mysterious, McSweeney's is printed in Iceland. Sean Wilsey, a contributor who also helps edit the journal, traveled with Eggers to Reykjavik to oversee the press run of the latest issue of McSweeney's, which is made up of 14 booklets, each with its own cover (all but one chosen or designed by the writer), and which comes in an intricately printed cardboard box. "It was such a complicated printing job," Wilsey says. "I kept a log of how much we were sleeping, because we were sleeping so minimally. ... which doesn't really matter in Iceland, because it's basically dark all the time anyway that time of year."
From Eggers review of his book in SPIN: "Virtually from the moment I sat down with [A.H.W.O.S.G], I felt a connection with the author that seemed eerily close.... Of course, had I done it, I would have written a far better book, because, as is, `A Heartbreaking Work' is a sprawling, messy thing..."
WHAT IS DAVE EGGERS REALLY LIKE?
Monica Eng, a Tempo writer, knew Eggers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990-91:
He was my editor when I worked on the Daily Illini's weekend entertainment section. He, like a lot of DI geeks, worked really long and really late hours.
I recall a tall skinny guy with an all-American face, baggy jeans and short curly hair squished under a baseball cap. He seemed like your typical 847area-code kid with a slightly surfer-ish way about him but lots of bottled up energy. I seem to remember him chewing the ends of pens and calling me "dude."
Sean Wilsey: "We're all scared of him. He's terrifying. ... No, you read the book, and it sounds like him. It's 300-odd pages of what it's like to talk to Dave."
David Moodie: "Dave is tremendously talented. He has a topsy-turvy-twisty-turny brain that serves him really well."
Neal Pollack, staff writer for The Chicago Reader and contributor to McSweeney's: "What I think epitomizes Dave is, here Dave's book is, it's getting incredible reviews, and it's obvious that it's gonna be a hit and a phenomenon, and what is the first thing he puts up on the Web site? An open call ... saying that he will publish a 5,000-word book about electrical engineering on boats." (http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/contest/boats.html)
Marny Requa: "When Dave writes he separates it from thinking about what he should or shouldn't say. What he thinks is on the paper. His brain is kind of on the page."
Bill Eggers, Dave's older brother by three years, is a director of the E-Texas Internet Initiative, the state's transformation initiative to bring government into the digital age; he's also the author of books on public policy, and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and other papers.
Question - What's it like seeing your brother's face everywhere in the media?
Answer - It's the irony of ironies that he's in People. Dave's not very much a People kind of guy, and you probably get that from reading his book. ... The funny thing is, he wants to talk about his journal McSweeney's now, rather than the book. He might be at the stage where he's a bit embarrassed by all the attention right now. Knowing Dave, part of him probably likes it, but part of him probably wants to go hide in Iceland for a couple months.
Q - Do you see the story the same way as Dave?
A - It's kinda like that movie "Rashomon." My perspective would be different, and that's what makes for an interesting world. I read some of it, and I was like, "Huh." We always joke about that, because my sister and Dave always have said that I look at the past and I just remember the good things, and I always think that they just remember some of the bad things. But this was Dave's perspective on things. It's his book, and I didn't want to interfere. He's a brilliant writer, and he did a fine job.
Q--What was it like growing up in Lake Forest?
A--We were a middle-class family living in Lake Forest, which is very, very wealthy. My dad was a lawyer, doing OK, but we weren't very wealthy. It was a little like F. Scott Fitzgerald in his novels, where there's the middle-class kid kinda looking in [on the wealthy]. There were a lot of people like us there, and that's what people don't understand about Lake Forest - they think everyone's incredibly wealthy, and that's not really the case.
Q--Where'd Dave get his quirky take on things?
A--We were always a pretty sarcastic family. My mom was very sarcastic. I'll never forget, one of my sister's best friends who was just becoming her friend got in the car and she had asked for a ride home. . . . Mom said, `No, I'd have to go waaay out of my way, and we're gonna be late for dinner.' She was being very sarcastic, and the girl was almost crying. And of course my mom was just kidding around with her. So we had that from an early age. We had a lot of debate in our family, and we were all reading quite a lot at an early age. Three pretty active minds in the kids.
Q--What was Dave like growing up?
A--Dave was really more of the artist type. He went through periods in his youth when he was so involved in his art and the things that were going through his mind. He's really got that creative artist part of the brain. He was probably considered one of the better young artists in the state. He was doing paintings that he was doing in early high school that were brilliant, that you could sell for $500. . . . He went through stages when he could only do a screaming head. I remember, for a whole year, that's about all he could paint. And that just has to do with the artistic mind. I was always much more analytical. I wrote a book for the same publisher [as Dave] which was on public policy revolution. So we're very different in that way. But everyone had big goals and big dreams in our family.
Ever since he was in junior high school, he was always keeping little diaries and notes and ideas and stuff. They'd be sprayed all over the place, not in a clean notebook. He still writes the same way. Some of his best lines will be on paper towels, and toilet paper, and strewn all over his house. It's unbelievable. I couldn't live that way for a second.
Q--What about his hair?
A--My brother [Dave] and I had real long eyelashes, and we had longer hair. And that was before our faces "matured" - as we liked to say, before we went through our ugly stage - and we would get mistaken for three girls. My mom would kind of love that, and Dave and I would just die.... We were so mad. But that was when we were little. I don't think it affected us too much.
Q--How did Dave end up raising Christopher (Toph)?
A--When my parents got sick, I was working in D.C. and then my sister [Beth] had been at Berkeley, and Dave was at U. of I. I was kinda far away at the time. Because Dave grew up with Chris more, he had three more years to spend with him. Dave had developed a longer bond with Chris. Chris is an incredible kid. What he did to our family was unbelievable. He was like a miracle, because he brought everyone closer together and kept everyone together, really. So we're all very, very close to him. But for a number of years Beth and I were at school 3,000 miles away. So Dave was at U. of I., and he'd come back every couple weeks. Especially when my parents died, Dave was the one real constant in Chris's life. . . . It was a given that whatever happened, Chris needed to be with Dave. And we decided there needed to be two of us raising [Chris] on a permanent basis, so Dave got the choice between moving to D.C. or moving to Berkeley and being with my sister. For a young guy who's an artist and being Dave, the San Francisco area was a lot better than the politics of Washington, D.C.
Captions: PHOTO: (Magazines.)
PHOTO: "Young Idea," 1988.
PHOTO: David Kingwell Eggers
``Sleep to dreamier sleep be wed.'' Joyce. Bright Lights. Thanks to the cowboy Fellas and my well-groomed parents, Mom and Dad Swoon. Young Idea 3,4 editor 4; New Artist Guild 4; Founder and Grand Pubah, Yearbook Copy Editor 4; Newspaper 3,4, Features Ed 4; WLFH 1,2,3,4; IM Floor Hockey 3,4; Nat'l Honor Soc 3,4; Nat'l Merit Scholar Commended scholar, Quill and Scroll 3,4; Boys State Rep 3.
PHOTO: From the Feb. 20 N.Y. Times Book Review cover review: ``. . . a profoundly
moving, occasionally angry and often hilarious account of those odd and silly things, usually done in the name of Toph.''
PHOTO: (Might cover.)
PHOTO: Untitled (The Hotel Eden). c. 1945
by Joseph Cornell
Construction, 151/8 x 153/4 x 43/4 in.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
PHOTO: (Book cover.)