Saturday, March 29, 2003

Tech Note

Yours truly is the proud owner of his own domain:, or "Mr. Mike's Rumpus Room O' Science." That's a name I've been using for a few years for an old free-hosted website, and I'll be using it for the new domain. I finally got the money and went with Hosting Matters for domain hosting. So far, so good.

You can check it out, though only the home page and the "Mr. Mike" pages work, and the interpages you get by clicking on the links at the bottom of the "Mr. Mike" page. I'll be moving this blog and another personal blog there as soon as I get MovableType installed and configured.

I've already downloaded MT, unpacked it and read the installation manual. I even tried uploading and configuring it on Hosting Matters, but that proved rather frightening and fruitless, so I removed everything until I'm more comfortable with what I'm doing. Which may be a while. If you are familiar with MT and don't mind dumb questions by newbies, feel free to contact me at I could use the help.
OK, She's A City School Graduate

Linda Moore writes the "Coffee Break" column for the Commercial Appeal, in the Money & Business section. It's a catch-all column for items too brief to be covered in a full story, or items cribbed from other sources.

This past Friday, under the title "West Memphis payday," she actually wrote the following:
Taxes aren't the only way cities get money.

The Delta Regional Authority presented West Memphis a check for $149,794, the first allocation of a $250,000 grant to the city....
Delta Regional Authority "is a federal-state partnership serving a 240-county/parish area in an eight-state region...." In other words, a government program. Subsidised by Federal taxes.

It's frightening to think that a business reporter doesn't have the most basic understanding of what Federal agencies are and where their money comes from. What does she think Federal money is?
The CA And The War

Just a few observations about the Commercial Appeal and their coverage of the Iraqi War.

First, from the beginning of heavy bombing, the paper went to enormous, but very short, headlines, like: BOMBS FALL, IT'S WAR, NOT SO FAST. I have no clue what these were supposed to convey, but they were so odd looking as to make you pause. Maybe they were intended to convey some kind of World War II-era flavor, or to lend an "it's really big news" look, but they failed. After a week of this, the CA stopped and went back to more normal headlines.

Second, is the shift in reporting and stories. War coverage now owns the front pages. Many more stories about the war fill the rest of the A section, and spill into the Metro and Appeal sections, too. But the paper hasn't increased page count, nor have they dropped most of the national and international coverage they seem to think they must prominently feature.

No, what's been cut back is local reporting. Stories of City, County and State shenanigans are getting short, light, shrift.

Third, prior to the start of hostilities, the CA was regularly running stories about local families negatively affected by the war, and numerous editorials and guest columns opposing a war. They even ran a long feature covering a roundtable consisting of some panelists with family members in Iraq and some of the usual anti-war voices. But since the war started, all of this has disappeared, to be replaced by pages of reader letters. I imagine this way, the paper can convey the appearance of great strife in the City over the war without having to actually do the dirty work themselves.

It's sad to see the CA go this way. Life goes on here in Memphis, and a lot of things are happening. Their desire to be the "paper of record" is severely tilting their story selection and relegating the important stuff, the local stuff, to oblivion. It's a bad move on their part, as they have to run a lot of stories to get the whole picture, one that most folks are getting from television or the Internet. Yes, papers can provide the context and depth of reporting that media don't. But the CA shouldn't be shoving aside their real duty for this.

War coverage should be a separate section, in addition to the rest of the paper. Take a hit on costs until the war reaches a point where coverage can be blended back into the regular page count. That would be fair to locals who still have lives to live, and need the local news first.
Cut 'Em Off At The Paycheck

I haven't seen anyone else comment on this blog-wise, but it seems that the "living wage" movement has been cut off before it could even gain much headway. Not that it's even mentioned in this story in the Commercial Appeal, via the Associated Press.

The author pitches the story as a minimum wage ceiling limit, forcing cities to keep their minimum wages at or below the State minimum, and a "pro business" move. That it is, as "living wages" often raise minimum wages by up to four or five dollars. Unsurprisingly, the Tennessee Municipal League is supporting this move.

The legislation still has to go through the House, so supporters of a "living wage" still have time. Not much, though.

It's fascinating that the whole issue of "living wages" can be so studiously avoided in the article, when avoiding them is the point of the legislation. It makes you wonder....
The Cosmopolitan Illusion

The Cosmopolitan Illusion is a great essay by Lee Harris, in Policy Review, that looks at the "we are all citizens of the world" Leftist viewpoint and finds it wanting. Here's an excerpt:
What if human beings could be made to act rationally, so as to avoid all possible thought of violent conflict? Can rationality conquer the various forms of structural antagonism that have always plagued the human race and which have made the cause of peace so precarious?

It is in answering this question that we come across the true origins of Nussbaum’s educational ideal. It is a variation of the Enlightenment belief in the power of education to transform and improve mankind’s natural state — a staple theme of the Scottish, English, American, French, and German forms of Enlightenment as well as a personal faith shared equally by Kant, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Bentham, Diderot, and every philosophe down to the last.

Education would be for all mankind what it had been for these individual men — a liberation from the fetters of custom and the narrowness of provincial life. Education would open the world and would make men become more and more alike. Each would develop, as prescribed by Adam Smith in his The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), a disinterested spectator to observe his every emotional move, for the purpose of assuring impartial fairness in his interaction with his fellows.

The enlightened rationality that would result from the widespread dissemination of such moral education would be the vehicle by which men and women would learn to avoid precisely those conflicts that had so long haunted the human race. Their enlightened rationality would permit them to see that, at bottom, they all had precisely the same objective interests and that any quarrel between them could arise only due to a failure on the part of one or both parties to grasp their enlightened self-interest. The purpose of education, in this view, was to teach human beings to internalize a code of rational conduct by which they could automatically make whatever mutual adjustments to each other that might be required in order to keep transient differences of opinion or interests from evolving into open conflict, with the possibility of violence and social instability inherent in such conflicts.

But if education was a necessary means to achieve a state in which people could amiably settle their differences, then clearly the educational process itself would have to be designed with this end in view. It could not be just any kind of education, but one that aimed at producing men and women who would behave like rational cosmopolitans, to use the term employed by Kant in this connection.
It's not light reading, but it's clearly written and easy to follow along. He devastates the Left's philosophy of education.

Thanks to Instapundit for mentioning this article.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Sigh...Memphis Rides Again

Lashundra Cobbins, now known to millions of American Idol fans as Trenyce, is a Memphian. Her mom has been on local television, as have some friends. Lots of folks around here are pulling for her -- home girl makes good and all that.

Those who have watched the show may remember that Frenchy, the New Yorker with the auditorium-filling voice and the plus-size figure, was booted off when it was found she had done some nude modelling for an online porn site. Seems that not disclosing your porn activities isn't good for an American idol, though magazines like Celebrity Skin make a good living in proving that false.

But felony theft? That's another matter, and apparently that's OK with the American Idol producers. Apparently, she disclosed it to the producers beforehand.

But now Memphis is stuck with a black eye, so to speak. Seems our representative to the world has a criminal past. Though in the rap world this would be a plus, for most Memphians it's just another confirmation of how far we've fallen and what we'll accept in our quest to be "world class."

Media Political Correctness

Boris Johnson, writing for the British paper The Spectator, shows just how lunatic the political correctness of some Americans, especially those in the media, can be. Earnest and divorced from real life, these folks can find potential offense almost anywhere.