Event Bleg: NYC Meet-Up?

Commentors RedDirtGirl and PsiFighter37 have separately indicated a wish for another NYC meet-up, even without a visiting fireman convenient.

Date and place to be determined. I’d suggest the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, which is not so soon that people won’t be able to rearrange their plans nor so distant that people won’t be able to commit. But unfortunately I won’t be attending, so leave a comment below with your more pertinent ideas!

Bleg Re-Post: School for Authentic Journalism

Or, to tie it to last night’s Oscars: If you approved Spotlight‘s Best Picture win, here’s a small concrete way to support the hard work of genuine journalism.

Kickstarter Bleg: The School of Authentic Journalism

If you’ve read anything about left-wing political journalism over the past decade, you already know Al Giordano’s name. Longtime commentor Watergirl reminds me: Everybody who bemoans the parlous state of actual political reporting has a chance to help train a new class of activists to find real stories (not just press releases) and to share them effectively:

Fifteen years ago – after Narco News and its journalists won press freedom rights for the entire Internet in the New York Supreme Court – we created the School of Authentic Journalism to train new generations in the skills and strategies of communicating to change the world. If you’ve already pledged to make the 2016 school happen, thank you.

If you haven’t yet made a pledge we’re running out of time and I plead with you to do so right now at this link:


Last year hundreds of readers, graduates and supporters did rally in the last week to get us to the $25,000 goal. We held a great school in November, the best yet (every new school has been better than the previous ones). But it turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had budgeted which is why we’re forced to seek $30,000 for the 2016 school.

One need only look at how the news media has elevated Donald Trump to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the United States to be reminded how urgent it is to train better journalists. Commercial media’s constant search for “ratings” to be able to charge more money for advertising has been what made a monster out of Trump, a man who calls Mexicans “rapists” and promises to build a wall around the country. They’ve given the man hundreds of millions of dollars in free airtime because he brings them those ratings. Yet of more than 500 graduates of the School of Authentic Journalism not one that I know of has participated in that charade. Instead, they’re out there doing the work that reporters are supposed to do, bringing attention to corruption and voice to the voiceless…

If we don’t make the goal by March 4, not only will that kill the 2016 school but could cripple it for years to come (remember we were unable to hold the school from 2005 to 2009: objects at rest tend to stay at rest). We’ll have to also seriously assess whether the project of Narco News and the other important projects of the authentic journalism renaissance will be able to continue at all.

I know you’re busy, that your time and resources are valuable. But I also know that you don’t want to wake up on March 5 to hear that this wonderful school – the most important and vital project of my lifetime and that of my colleagues – has ceased to exist because not enough of us made any pledge at all. Even if you have only a very small amount to spare the Kickstarter page lists the number of pledges and as that number grows it creates momentum and encourages others to do the same…

I’ve kicked in a bit. Even if you can’t contribute yourself right now, please share the link on social media (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) wherever your proud progressive associates bemoan the lack of actual news in our news media.

Morning thread

All hail The Onion. It is important to point out they published this one week before the New Hampshire debate.

Dazed Marco Rubio Wakes Up In Koch Compound To Find Cold Metal Device Installed Behind Ear

UNKNOWN LOCATION—The brightly lit, stark-white room gradually coming into focus as he regained consciousness, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio reportedly awoke in the Koch brothers’ secret compound Thursday and reached suddenly to his throbbing head to discover a cold metal device implanted behind his left ear.

As Rubio sat up slowly on a steel cot—the room otherwise empty except for a large Koch Industries logo emblazoned on one wall—sources said he was startled to hear a soothing voice reverberating inside his aching skull, evidently emanating from the smooth metal disk that he gingerly touched while panic began to well in his chest.

“Hello, Marco,” said the oddly familiar voice. “We are very pleased to have you as our guest. We have so much planned for you.”

[…] “There’s no need to panic—you’ll be back to campaigning just as soon as our session is complete,” said the voice as Rubio searched in vain for a door or an exit of some kind along the room’s perfectly smooth walls. “Remember, what’s best for us is best for you, Marco. Now, let’s begin with an exercise on threats to American free enterprise and prosperity.”

Reports indicate that Rubio then saw the words “Now Importing Lesson” overlaid across his field of vision before hundreds of lines of conservative policy papers and essays relating to the detrimental effects of government regulation on business began scrolling in front of his eyes.

If you still doubt The Onion‘s psychic powers, see here, here and here.

Here is an added bonus bleg for fans of geometry. I need to estimate the volume of a structure from two cross-sections. It is irregular but roughly an ellipsoid, and I can get one cross-section through its long axis. I can get another cross section at a 90 degree angle but I cannot change the axis of rotation (I do know what it is), so the second section will not necessarily bisect the ellipsoid through its shortest axis. Can anyone point me to a general equation for calculating this volume? Many thanks.

You can help solve a mass murder!

Located in a town famous for its hills, University of Pittsburgh’s main campus climbs an especially steep one like a vine. You can see intelligent design (small ‘i’, small ‘d’) in the way classes, dorms and the medical school all sit within a short walk of Fifth Avenue at the bottom while a more strenuous hike is rewarded with the athletic facilities and an excellent view. Behind campus Center Ave. runs up the spine of the hill and over its peak, into a neighborhood understandably known as the Hill District.

Around dusk Center is busy with Pitt employees looking to avoid Oakland traffic, and crows. For reasons that probably involve old, tall trees that line the street, and the excellent view, crows seem to like that part of Center. Once in a while one can see what seems like half the crows in Pittsburgh wheeling around over the hill and holding corvid debates in a babbling din. You can drive on for miles and see murder after murder headed for Center in the fading light.

The group name for crows is 'murder', as in a murder of crows.  This would be an attempted murder.  Photo via Mudfooted.

The group name for crows is ‘murder’, as in a murder of crows. The above would be an attempted murder. Photo via Mudfooted.

Of course you need look up, so like most commuters I usually missed it. In fact I only noticed it one early spring night when I opened my car window and looked around to see what the racket was about. I have not even taken that commute for a long time now so I have entirely lost touch with how often or what time of year it happens. This weekend I brought Dr. Mrs. Dr. F., Jr. for a walk on the hill at dusk but we only saw clear sky and a great view of Pittsburgh’s east end. The girl loves pointing out birds so I thought a living sea of crows could short out her toddler brain in a delightful and hopefully non-permanent way.

Maybe you all can help. Does anyone know motivates crows to gather in mega-murders like that? Mating season? I would love to hear actual expertise, educated guessing, suitably persuasive BS, whatever you got. Maybe some of you drive that commute and can pass on when you see it happen.

Use this space to share any unexpected wildlife encounters you have had.

Sightseeing Request

Because so many of you people have such a wide range of experience…

I’ve got a dear friend visiting the Boston area during the week after Columbus Day. She’d like to see tourist things — the Lexington/Concord historical sites, Cape Cod, lighthouses, foliage, etc. — but she uses a motorized scooter. (And I’m not all that physically able these days my own self, to be honest.)

I’d like to sign us up for a couple of day tours by bus or train, let the professionals cope with the maniac Boston drivers, while we sit back and admire the scenery.

There’s certainly plenty of options on the web, but it’s hard to sort out the hype from the honest reviews. Any of you have experiences with particular companies or services that you can share? Must-see venues or events in that time frame? (If you’d prefer not to share in public, you can email me — click on my name in the right-hand column, or use annelaurie at verizon dot net.)

Random health care bleg

A friend of mine, while on leave from work, accidentally forgot to pay his monthly premiums (or premia, as Megan McArdle would say) and had his workplace-based insurance cancelled. Apparently, there’s no way to reinstate it til January. Also the 60 day grace period for COBRA has already elapsed. Does anyone have any advice on getting short-term insurance? This is in New York State.

I’m sure Richard Mayhew will know something, but despite sharing a frontpage with him, I don’t know his email address.