Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Temple-Raston Busted Under New Restrictions

Damn! I guess Ms. Temple-Raston forgot to read the new policy I posted (see note below) for NPR employees about using stupid and misleading language such as "bad guys" in a report. If she had read it she would know that she now owes $1000 for this zinger during yesterday's glowing report on data mining software that will supposedly help catch terrorists:
"That's how it's supposed to work if you start with a specific target in mind. The harder problem is whether this approach can find a bad guy no one has already suspected was a terrorist..."
Actually, Temple-Raston's report was really a twofer - managing to promote a data mining software company AND to throw out some lop-sided propaganda about Hezbollah being nothing but a terrorist operation with "global reach." Given that NPR doesn't want to "take sides" when shooting off it's loaded-language pistol, I'm guessing Hezbollah (a political party and armed resistance group that repelled an aggressor, occupying power out of a sovereign nation) qualifies as a terrorist operation for killing and kidnapping civilians during its history. All right, if purposely targeting and killing civilians (and kidnapping them) qualifies a group as terrorist, then according to my own data mining I found a group that "no one [at least no one at NPR] has already suspected was a terrorist": the Israeli Defense Forces, of course!

Given the nature of her transgression, I hereby order Ms. Temple-Raston to donate $1000 to the inside source of the information on Israel's latest operation of civilian mass killings - the soldiers of Breaking Silence. She can just click right here and make a donation, and she can feel good about it because they definitely are "good guys."

NOTE: In my original memo to NPR I stated that the use of the phrase "bad guys" was forthwith prohibited. Temple-Raston - being very FBI sneaky - tried to get around this by dropping the "s" from "guys" and claiming that she was, therefore, not in violation of said policy. I submitted our dispute to binding arbitration and Temple-Raston was found to have clearly violated the spirit and intent of the guidelines and was ordered to make the payment immediately. Sorry Dina...


Anonymous said...

Apparently Temple-Raston does not see the extreme irony in the fact that "The [terrorist-spotting software] program works a bit like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game."

According to Wikipedia

"Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a trivia game based on the concept of the small world phenomenon and rests on the assumption that any actor can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps.

If any actor can be linked to Kevin through six steps, then presumably any person can also be linked to a known terrorist through some number of steps. Precisely what that number is is unimportant so long as it is relatively small.

In other words, he use of such a "Six degrees" algorithm is very likely to find links that are essentially meaningless from the standpoint of identifying real terrorists.

Porter Melmoth said...

In a related matter, I heard Jane Mayer of the New Yorker on fresh Air. Talk about an apologist for Neocon behavior! She's addressing the CIA/Cheney story, but in the fashion typical of cowardly, NPR-style journalism. That is, when much of this crap was breaking during the Bush Dark Age, where were the journalists? Now that it's Obama Time, they're getting all self-righteous.

geoff said...

Mayer does seem to have some curious blind spots, huh?

geoff said...

I imagine MTW is busy debunking Agent Forero's latest Chavez smear, which appears to be a rehash of an article he wrote for the WaPo a month ago. Let's go ahead and get the ball rolling. There's so much to fault NPR for this AM and so little time.

In a Global Exchange piece titled Lan Reform in Venezuela they point out some facts that were missing in Agent Forero's piece:
1. 5% of Venezuelans own 75% of agricultural land - interestingly, this seems to compares favorably with US Agriculture Owners - I'm probably missing something.
2. Most of the land lies fallow, since the "owners" prefer to keep it as speculation and import food/esport oil.
3. This Vicente Lecuna guy does not appear to be all so saintly and victimized as Forero paints him. This account indicates quite the contrary:

Landowner Vicente Lecuna commented [] that land reform in his northern state of Yaracuy “would end with a shot to the head of Braulio Álvarez,” a veteran peasant leader and member of the National Assembly. On June 23, two hooded gunmen stepped out of a sports utility vehicle and fired three shots, hitting Alvarez’s shoulder and knee.

Anonymous said...

A bit too persnickety to hold this "badguy" against her. Seriously, she is here referring to the target of this very software. This is referring to no one in particular.

The "badguy" is wrong when it is used to pre-judge someone or some group unfairly. When taliban are immediately dismissed as "badguys" it is most egregious.

Presumably, someone could live in Af/Pak and peacefully support the strict religious culture the taliban points to. I suppose that guy is entitled to believe that, that alone doesn't make him a bad guy.

If someone were to smash through his home, I'd allow him the right to defend himself and his family from any intruder. This wouldn't make him a bad guy.

If I could do anything to this man it would be to sit with him and eat a dinner of hen or lamb. I'd appeal to him from the Koran and the haddiths that say education for women is mandatory, that there be no compulsion in religion, that I respect his prophet and know that his calls Jesus the Messiah, reveres Moses and Abraham.

But the guy who is buying, I don't know tons of tnt, do we want to track that? How far down that slippery slope do we scoot? There is no bright line here, the matter, techniques and efficacy will vary constantly.

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