Friday, June 24, 2011

Anarchy and Anarchism

The English language is rich in words and complex in structure. Pay any attention at all to this richness and complexity and it is a more than adequate medium of expression.

Sadly, in the age of bullet points, run-on sentences, and tweets, this richness and complexity is either lost on, or completely baffles, the average writer.

Often it is with pairs of words that the careless writer has problems. Is it “shall” or “will”? Never mind, I’ll cover my indecision with an apostrophe.

There seems to be an epidemic merging of “valid” with “true” so that we feel free to use one for the other with little understanding of their difference. Validity is a characteristic of arguments; truth is a characteristic of propositions. Consider the following argument:

All celestial bodies are made of cream cheese,

The moon is a celestial body

Therefore the moon is made of cream cheese.

This is a formally valid argument, yet it is false that the moon is made of cream cheese because the major premise is false.

Well, this distinction probably makes no fine difference in the twitter-verse since we all, like, understand one another anyway. By the way, the subjunctive mood is essentially least amongst the I wouldn’t worry about that either, if I was you.

Many of the technical terms of political discourse that appear in comment threads are used for little more than an acquired emotional tone. Marxist! Communist! Socialist! Fascist! are epithets thrown at opponents to indicate our disapproval of them. As readers we often wonder whether the commenter understands what they mean, or whether he understands his opponent’s position.

Now, consider “anarchy” and “Anarchism.”

Anarchy (with a small “a”) is the confusion and lack of order that follows on the failure or breakdown of law and government; or it’s confusion or lack of order of any kind.

Anarchism, on the other hand is a philosophy of social organization. There is a confusing wealth of “anarchisms,” however the the core belief of all is that government is a form of tyranny that must be destroyed.

But anarchists are not fools; they recognize that that modern society is complex and that mechanisms for the exchange of goods and services must be established. The Anarcho-Syndicalists, who flourished during the Spanish Civil War, conceived of a society organized from the bottom up through an integrated system of trade unions.

To learn a bit more about this form of anarchism look at this:

Cross-posted from The Data Port

Vibrant, Gannett, and a Reader’s Complaint

A regular reader of, and of The Data Port, forwarded us the following letter sent to Editor Mark Evans:

I often read blog on the Tucson Citizen website and have found the use of what appears at first to be links to further knowledge are advertisements of unrelated "stuff". One recognizes the income that might flow from such techniques, but it sure interferes with the manner in which people will desire to use your source for obtaining knowledge which is so generally and readily available elsewhere without such distractions. I doubt I'm the first one to take note of this technique and likely not the first to voice a negative feeling gained by the mis-use of reader's time and attentions. Just count me as one more reader who thinks this is a poor choice for gathering advertising dollars where many better choices exist in harmony with Internet content on a very broad basis.

Just to remind everyone, here’s a quote from the letter Vibrant sent me in response to my complaint about their using my copy for advertising for which I’m not paid.

Can you disable these ads?

Vibrant In-Text Ads are found on over 3,500 premium websites. Some of these websites choose to offer a disable switch. You can find this by going to the website and moving your mouse over a double-underlined word or phrase. Once you see the Vibrant In-Text Ad unit, click on the "?" in the upper right corner. If the website has chosen to offer the disable feature it will be found on this page

I clicked. No disable feature was offered by Gannett.

I have no objection to advertising copy (I’ve written it for pay) and I don’t object to being paid for what I write, which is not the case here at

But imagine you’re at the flicks watching a jungle thriller and the hero is under attack by army ants. Suddenly the action stops and a pitchman appears on screen with a fifteen second ad for “Ants-Be-Gone” inserted there by Vibrant In-Film Advertising. How would the producers of the movie feel about that? Really.

As the reader quoted above indicates this in-text advertising nonsense does violence to all the advantages of web 2.0

Cross-posted from

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Editors Make Good Writers

It is the rare writer who doesn’t benefit from the thoughtful attention of his or her editor. Part of what distinguishes from fully-fledged online newspapers is the absence of editorial supervision.

What gets written here, according to Gannett, are blogs. As bloggers we are independent entities, for whom our publisher accepts no responsibility.

This is not necessarily a good thing.

No assignment editor is pointing us in the direction of a reportorial task and no copy editor is vetting the copy for style or fact. This accounts for the occasionally rackety and unrestrained nature of a good deal of what goes on here.

A case in point is a recent posting over at “The View from Baja Arizona.” I’m a big booster of Hugh Holub’s coverage of the border. That said, this piece could have used the helpful hand of a fair-minded editor.

Holub draws a stark picture of cartel violence and of the apparent inability of the Mexican government to control it. He will eventually ask the sorts of “what is to be done” questions that could stimulate thoughtful debate: Should we make cross-border military incursions? Should we legalize drugs to kill the profit motive?

Fair enough; but first he introduces the question of Aztec human sacrifice and wonders if there may not be something in Mexican cultural history that explains cartel savagery. The implication seems to be that Mexicans are genetically predisposed to violence

And the ‘chit’ hits the fan. An editor might well have pencilled out the Aztecs on the grounds that they are really a distraction from his central concern, or factually dubious. I can hear the editor saying, “It’s the blue pencil or the spike, take your choice.”

Cross-posted from:

Read Holub’s column here

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Giffords-Kelly Memoir Inked by Scribner

The New York Times reported today that Scribner, a Simon and Shuster company, will publish Mark and Gabrielle’s memoir.

From the Times article:

“The book will be an account of their courtship, Ms. Giffords’s political career and the attack in Tucson in January that left Ms. Giffords gravely wounded with a gunshot wound to the head, according to a statement from Scribner. “We are deeply honored to publish Mark Kelly’s and Gabby Giffords’ memoir, which will fully unfold the remarkable story of two exceptionally brave public servants,” said Susan Moldow, the publisher of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.”

Mark and Gabby will be assisted in the writing by Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vibrant Replies

When I discovered Vibrant advertising linked to The Data Port I sent a polite short note to Vibrant. I enquired how I might be paid on a per-hit basis for their use of, and intrusion into, my posts.

My reality principle is perfectly sound. I didn’t really expect an answer...but what the hey! it was worth a shot. I didn’t at the time realize that Gannett, a powerful communications organization was responsible. I assumed that it must be making enough money from a Joint Operating Agreement with the Star to throw a few bucks in our direction.

I received a courteous boilerplate response from Vibrant, part of which follows:

Can you disable these ads?

Vibrant In-Text Ads are found on over 3,500 premium websites. Some of these websites choose to offer a disable switch. You can find this by going to the website and moving your mouse over a double-underlined word or phrase. Once you see the Vibrant In-Text Ad unit, click on the "?" in the upper right corner. If the website has chosen to offer the disable feature it will be found on this page.

I clicked. No disable feature was offered by Gannett.

Official Data Port Disclaimer:

The Data Port does not endorse or guarantee the safety, honesty or reliability of any product or service offered by hot link in the body of a Data Port post. If you wish to follow The Data Port free of these unwanted links please visit us here.

This post will be puzzling to some as I have just started to double post again. For background visit: