04/10/10 - 1:33am
by Chas Danner

A Must Listen

From This American Life. One of the best episodes they have ever done, the perfect mix of fascinating, funny, unbelievable, and just enlightening enough that at the end you feel like you know a little bit more about something important.

Episode 402: Save the Day

Originally aired 3/10/2010
Stories about one person single-handedly taking charge of a situation gone wrong – including one man’s mission to rescue two kids who were kidnapped by alleged murderers and taken to Mexico, and another about a professor’s mission to keep the educators of a liberal arts college from extinction.

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04/7/10 - 3:01pm
by Chas Danner

Getting It Right : Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman, reporting this morning on the Obama administration’s decision to approve the targeting (for assassination) of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who is a key figure in the Yemeni faction of Al Qaeda:

We at least have the right to know the legal basis the Obama administration reached to order the extra-judicial killing of an American citizen, and so I’ll be spending my morning filling out FOIAs.

(emphasis mine)

Immediate boring paperwork, sometimes an essential part of getting it right.

Getting It Right will be a reoccurring segment on MT featuring examples of good journalism and creative non-fiction

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02/25/10 - 4:51pm
by Chas Danner

Advantage: New Media

Today’s health care/insurance summit, as framed by The Sunlight Foundation in their live coverage..

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12/27/09 - 12:52pm
by Chas Danner

Iran, Ashura, in a Nutshell

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11/25/09 - 2:02am
by Chas Danner

Long Live the Muppets

This new Muppet Studio channel is as of right now the reason YouTube was invented.

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11/17/09 - 1:57pm
by Chas Danner

Naming Books

Couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at the new HuffPo list of “writer’s writers” in (negative) response to Sarah Palin and her ghost writer’s new page roguer. Not because of the writers included or not included (a “writer’s writers” list that omits John McPhee??) – but because of the titles… Book titles, art titles, even song titles are always a fascinating glimpse into how an artist (or an artist’s agent) brands their work, or in a way, themselves. I just keep thinking of all the various people referring to the fictional masterpiece Arsonist’s Daughter in Wonderboys like it was some treasured member of their extended family. With that in mind, a bad poem made from book titles:

Our Story Begins
a distant episode
This Boys Life
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Dance of the Happy Shades
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
A Good Man is Hard to Find
The Tunnel
My Sister’s Hand in Mine
a bad man
George Mills
In Persuasion Nation
Two Serious Ladies
Loving, Living, Party Going

A Sheltering Sky
Geronimo Rex
Civilwarland in Bad Decline
Omensetter’s Luck

My favorite titles:
Civilwarland in Bad Decline (that’s wholly original)
Everything That Rises Must Converge (could be a book about garden gnomes and it would still sound worth reading with a title like that)

Least favorite:
a distant episode

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11/16/09 - 12:05am
by Chas Danner

Thoughts From This Week

Terrorists are criminals. They are not soldiers, or enemy combatants, or any other term we’d like to use that might somehow remove the rights they deserve. They are criminals. Criminals are dealt with through our justice system, treated fairly and humanely, and then put in prison if they are convicted in a court that respects our rule of law. The prison must also be in a place where that rule of law is respected. Treating a criminal like this is what makes America America. And if acting this way as a nation somehow makes America more of a target, bring it on. It is not an act of weakness but of strength, and better we be targeted for that than for black sites, torture, or for hateful rhetoric.

If a politician or pundit wants to suggest otherwise, then they are, literally, un-American.

(And no terrorist should ever face the death penalty. The unique mindset of terrorists that celebrates death as it does should forbid us from anything they might feel is a reward.)

Also, we are fighting 2 wars right now, asking men and women to die for the freedom we hardly ever remember to enjoy. There is often a bunch of explanation that usually diffuses that but at it’s core that’s exactly what our armed services protect. And this past week between the murders at Fort Hood and the always overdue retrospection around Veterans/Armistice Day it was hard not to think about this price we pay for freedom.

One hears this word far too much these days here in the US. It’s Bravehearted by the questionably informed (and questionably sane) at “tea” parties, on vaudeville political talk shows, and with staged passion on the floors of congress. But it’s important, this word, this idea, this ideal. It supersedes nationalism or other bullshit expressions of patriotism, it supersedes the theater of the marginalized or fearful, and it especially supersedes the idea that we can pick and choose who is or is not entitled to our rule of law – a system which defines what freedom actually means outside of a dictionary or rhetorical flourish.

How can we choose to narrow the very thing our service members are still dying for, every single day…

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11/15/09 - 11:59pm
by Chas Danner

The Ponz

Who would have believed that an address marker from one of Bernie Madoff’s residences would go for $2K on auction. I wonder if someone convinced the buyer it would be a good investment…

BLM lived here

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11/15/09 - 11:54pm
by Chas Danner

Being a Decent Person is Often Unglamorous

The second act of this episode of This American Life is probably the best story I have ever heard that ends with a man crying in bed.

It starts at 18:58..

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09/18/09 - 4:40pm
by Chas Danner

Rooftop Project – back in action

I’ve been bogged down with the kinds of profound life changes that (hopefully decent) literature is based on, therefore TRP has been out of date for a while – but happy to report that Iran is still going strong regardless of my updating or not, and I found a bunch of rooftop videos to get up from the last month – some which people haven’t seen yet as far as I can tell – and while I am still missing tonight’s video (and I’m sure there will be dozens after such large and indicative protests today) – it is as up to date as I could get it – please let me know if you’ve seen any I’ve missed.

Stay Green Iran..


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09/18/09 - 12:40pm
by Chas Danner

Still Simmering

Ecstatic to see today’s protests in Iran. Proud as hell.

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08/14/09 - 1:24pm
by Chas Danner

Great Idea

People recording their own mock-confessions to ridicule the “confessions” from protesters Iranian State TV likes to broadcast.

See more here:

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08/13/09 - 8:40am
by Chas Danner


I’m at Netroots Nation all this week, and hope to be doing some blogging on the goings on here. For those that don’t know what it is, click


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08/2/09 - 3:25am
by Chas Danner

“Wasn’t Good for Either Parent”

The New York Times yesterday published an eye-opening story about how the corporate parents of Fox News and MSNBC had ended on on-air feud between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann because the feud “wasn’t good for either parent” (corporation). Then Glenn Greenwald did exactly what a smart blogger should and took the NYT pass and scored a bigger point by examining the implications of this news. His piece is a bit too long but needs to be read by anyone that lets themselves forget that what they see on TV every day is not “pure” journalism but an evolution of information and entertainment driven as much by profit interests as by any other force. That is not some whacko media watchdog rant either; it is a plain fact. Rarely however is there such a big smoking gun like the ending of this feud…

So now GE is using its control of NBC and MSNBC to ensure that there is no more reporting by Fox of its business activities in Iran or other embarrassing corporate activities, while News Corp. is ensuring that the lies spewed regularly by its top-rated commodity on Fox News are no longer reported by MSNBC.  You don’t have to agree with the reader’s view of the value of this reporting to be highly disturbed that it is being censored.

GE’s silencing of Olbermann and MSNBC’s sleazy use of Richard Wolffe – Glenn Grenwald @ Salon

And then bookend that story with Frank Rich’s new column about Gates/Crowley, the “Beer Summit,” and the Birthers – in which he mentions at a glance how an MSNBC anchor actually admitted that health care, the most important political issue facing the country right now by far, is a ratings bore and the effect that has. From the orginal Politico reporting of that admission:

Ratigan said that “cable networks’ ratings go off a cliff” during the health care debate, which eventually “forces the conversation out of the TV.”

The free press is supposed to be the most effective way that important information is shared in a Democracy. We see every day how the lack of a free press negatively effects a country like Iran or any of the former Soviet states. But even our treasured free press, on the right or left, is not free from the bias of corporate profitability. That may be a complaint people have heard too often or from someone with too outraged a tone to be properly respected – but it is still a *really* important reality that people should try to understand. It isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s a business model.

And to some extent it’s also up to the journalists themselves to stand up to their bosses. Keith Olbermann pays tribute to Edward R. Murrow every night by duplicating his sign off, but would Murrow have listened to GE?

There is no suggestion here that networks or individual stations should operate as philanthropies. But I can find nothing in the Bill of Rights or the Communications Act which says that they must increase their net profits each year, lest the Republic collapse.

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08/1/09 - 8:10pm
by Chas Danner

Subtle Support

A while back I made a little fun of the idea of the Iranian Government still trying to encourage tourists to visit Iran during the post-election turmoil. The site I linked to was Irpedia, from the “Tourism Industry Association of Iran”

At some point since then – some changes to their site:

and as the page title:

and in the footer:

I’m not 100% sure that this site is a government run enterprise, but either way they seem to have made some pro-opposition design modifications and I think it’s a wonderful example of how deep the protest psyche has spread, even when it expresses itself in miniature…  Stay green Irpedia.

hat tip: commenter Mêhran

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