Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two good links

The New-York Ghost gets a nod from New York Magazine:
Published by an anonymous someone, this “Weekly Newsletter You Print Out at Work” has taken the exploitation of office supplies to new cultural heights. It’s a wonder of both style and substance, laid out in columns like a newspaper and containing a hodgepodge of hilarious, surreal features such as one-line interviews, “daily negations,” and helpful hints on “ways to avoid being down whilst working on a novel.” (Sign up by e-mailing

I have remarked here before that the successes of my students make me just burst with pride, a cleaner and more enjoyable pride than it is possible to take in one's own accomplishments. (I hasten to add that I consider all sorts of different things successes, there is no need for it to something rewarded with national media attention!) But I was certainly bursting with pride just now when my old student Paul Kiel, who I have long known to be an extraordinarily talented writer, sent me this link to fill me in on what he's been doing recently. The story's by Sam Apple for the FT, about the San Diego Union-Tribune's early coverage of Carol Lam's firing and the story's neglect in the national media:
But to one blogger, at least, the news about Lam seemed like a big deal. “I was stunned by it,” says Josh Marshall, of the blog Talking Points Memo. “Normally, in a case like that, the prosecutor would be untouchable.” For the past year and a half, Marshall had been following Lam’s work on the Cunningham case and its various threads as closely as any news organisation in the country. Marshall is the editor and publisher of TPM Media, a small news blogging outfit that publishes the websites TPM Muckraker and TPM Cafe in addition to the flagship Talking Points Memo. By 11.08am on the morning the Tribune ran its Lam story, Marshall had already flagged it on Talking Points Memo. At 11.29am, a second post appeared on TPM Muckraker with several hundred words of background on Lam’s work on the Cunningham case. By the time The New York Times reported on the story, TPM sites had already posted 15 items related to Lam’s firing.

It was in the second of these posts that TPM Muckraker pointed out another tantalising titbit buried in the Union-Tribune story: California Senator Diane Feinstein was claiming that Carol Lam was only the tip of the iceberg. The Bush administration was quietly pushing out US attorneys across the country.

Over the next several months, Marshall and TPM’s deputy editor, Paul Kiel, kept up their steady coverage of the firing of Carol Lam and the eight other US attorneys forced out as part of what became known as “the US attorney purge”. Thanks in large part to Marshall and Kiel’s tenacity, by mid-May, three top Justice Department staffers had resigned. Today, the future of Alberto Gonzales, the US attorney-general and a longtime Bush loyalist, is in doubt, with even some Republicans calling for him to step down.

“Marshall almost single-handedly kept the attorney purge story alive,” says Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow at the progressive media watchdog organisation Media Matters for America. “He pulled off a textbook example of what new media and online media can do.”

I will resist the temptation to boldface Paul's name! (Also I am making a mental note to read start reading TPM, I had no idea Paul was doing all this great stuff, lazily I seem to only read things online concerning literary matters, triathlons and weird science! Here's an NPR story on all this too--oh dear, must keep myself better informed about the state of things in the world, I fear it's like the way that for some years now I really should have been wearing glasses to counteract nearsightedness only I kind of like walking around in a soft-focus daze! The state of the world is so dire, it seems often not worth contemplating...)


  1. Are you familiar with the Isaac Babel short story(I don't remember the title) in which Kerensky refuses to get glasses becauses he likes (as you put it) "walking around in a soft-focus daze"?

    Even if you haven't read the story you can probably guess this doesn't work out well for him!

  2. I do not know it, I must read it! It really is nicer--I've been wearing glasses more consistently recently, it's only sensible & I must keep on doing it, only it makes everyone's skin look so much worse--and more generally people look sort of trippy and hallucinatory, I think it's something to do with the quality of the light--and street scenes at night look very artificial, I'm not crazy about it. On the other hand I am kind of addicted to the pair of prescription sunglasses I got at the same time--they give me an excellent sense of privacy...

  3. The story is called "Line and Color" and it is in The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel.