Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

402 posts categorized "Weblogs"

February 27, 2010

And the winner is... (New blog name)

The name of the new blog is "Focal Point," as suggested by Windy Pundit. It's professional-sounding, easy to spell, devoid of unwanted psychosexual undertones, and brands both the photography and the writing. I love it.

My first post on The Big Think will go live on Monday morning.

February 23, 2010

Hivemind: Help me name my new Big Think blog

I'm very excited to announce that I will be moving to my new blog home at Big Think on March 1.

The new blog will be like Majikthise, just on a new site, and a new name. Starting next month the Majikthise URL will redirect automatically to Big Think.

Now, all we need is a new name for the blog. Suggestions? I need to let them know by Friday afternoon. 

Examples of other Big Think blog names include: Brave Green World (Tobin Hack); Think, See, Feel (Lea Carpenter); Novel Copy (Orion Jones); Picture This (Bob Duggan); and Mind Matters (David Berreby).

November 21, 2009

The Big Fat Undertaking: Blogger to cook through Blumenthal's "Fat Duck" cookbook

Hats off to a blogger in the Netherlands who is cooking his way through Heston Blumenthal's bible of molecular gastronomy, the Fat Duck Cookbook. He's documenting his culinary odyssey at The Big Fat Undertaking.

One of the early recipes he tried was grapefruit and crisp candied beets lollipops in edible transparent wrappers. He did very well, especially considering he didn't have the refractometer that Blumenthal recommends for making the candy.

August 12, 2009

My Netroots Nation panel: Investigative techniques to expose the town hall mobs

If you're going to Netroots Nation this week, I invite you to join us for Muckraking 101, an interactive investigative reporting workshop sponsored by the Nation Investigative Fund:

Muckraking 101: Documents You Can Use
Saturday, August 15th 1:30 PM - 4:15 PM
Training, 306
Saturday, August 15th, 1:30pm - 4:15pm
306

How can bloggers and online activists use simple investigative techniques to increase their impact? Participants in this practical workshop will learn how to use free or cheap web tools to trace the assets of public officials, decipher the SEC filings of public companies, file Freedom of Information Act requests for government documents, and much, much more. Sponsored by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

The panelists are Esther Kaplan of the Nation, Bill Bastone of the Smoking Gun, Brant Houston of the University of Illinois, and me.

You'll learn powerful investigative techniques to make your blog posts stand out. These strategies are based on free tools available to anyone with an internet connection.

Bring your laptops. This is a hands-on training. We're going to be exploring one of the most urgent investigative puzzles facing the netroots today: Who's funding the town hall mobs?

Recommended pre-reading: Addie Stan's AlterNet expose on the mob phenom, and teabagger astroturf oppo research by Kate Thomas of SEIU.

June 08, 2009

It's irresponsible to criticize Ed Whelan

Ed Whelan, Bush torture law adviser turned National Review blawger, outed publius of Obsidian Wings.

Via Gawker:

Ed Whelan, former Scalia law clerk, Bush Justice Department appointee, and, most amusingly, "President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center," got soooo mad at some blogger who was criticizing him that he published the guy's real name and job.


Whelan explains that he's exposing publius, not out of a petty desire for revenge, but as a matter of principle. You see, publius was recklessly criticizing Whelan while pseudonymous.

Whelan says this all started when third blawger, Juan Eugene Volokh, pointed out that Whelan had made some kind of mistake in a post. Whelan fixed the infelicity. But then that guttersnipe publius piped up on his own blog to say that Whelan should be embarrassed:

What Blevins—I mean, “publius”—somehow takes away from all this is that “Volokh actually decimates Whelan’s argument”—the concededly sloppy sentence that I promptly revised—and that I should be “thoroughly embarrassed.”

So, yeah, publius was totally asking for it. I'm glad Ed Whelan had the courage to rip back the veil and expose his reckless, wanton, and vicious use of speech to chide Ed Whelan. I will sleep better knowing that selfless public servant Ed Whelan will not be embarrassed about anything, ever.

Update: Jesse Taylor is so irresponsible that I wish "Jesse Taylor" was a pseud so I could unmask his true identity and thereby neutralize the threat he poses to the Republic, common decency, and the purity of our essence.

Update 2: Whelan has apologized, not exactly for outing publius, but for being "uncharitable" to him, whatever that means.

March 31, 2009

Announcement: UN Dispatch

I'm very pleased to announce that I'm going to be writing the Morning Coffee news roundup for UN Dispatch, a UN and global affairs blog published by the UN Foundation.

Today's Morning Coffee is here. (I wrote this edition, though the header says it's brought to you by Brian Beutler.)

March 24, 2009

O'Reilly calls Amanda Terkel a "villain" for highlighting his ugly rape comments

Last night conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly called Think Progress blogger Amanda Terkel a "villain" on the air for obliquely noting the irony that, he was been invited to headline a benefit for a non-profit that benefits rape survivors.

Terkel didn't even mention the much more ironic fact that O'Reilly was invited to a benefit for the survivors of sexual assault despite having been forced to pay over $2 million to settle a sex harassment suit brought against him by his former producer, Andrea Mackris in 2004.

Instead, Terkel mentioned in her Mar 1 post that O'Reilly had made deeply offensive on-air comments about 18-year-old rape and murder victim Jennifer Moore in 2006.

O'Reilly called Moore a "moronic girl" and suggested that she was responsible for her own grisly death. Moore was kidnapped after she ended up drunk and stranded on the West Side Highway having wandered away from her friend after a night of clubbing.

Here's what Bill O'Reilly had to say shortly after Moore's badly beaten body was found in a dumpster:

O'REILLY: So anyway, these two girls come in from the suburbs and they get bombed, and their car is towed because they're moronic girls and, you know, they don't have a car. So they're standing there in the middle of the night with no car. And then they separate because they're drunk. They separate, which you never do. All right.

Now Moore, Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college. She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning. She's walking by herself on the West Side Highway, and she gets picked up by a thug. All right. Now she's out of her mind, drunk.

And the thug takes her over to New Jersey in the cab and kills her and rapes her and does all these terrible things to her. And the thug is so stupid, he uses her cell phone, and the cops trace it back to him and they -- and they arrest him and charge him with murder. He had a prostitute girlfriend with him, and she's charged as an accessory to murder. But Jennifer Moore is in the ground. She's dead.

Imagine if Jennifer Moore's parents heard O'Reilly tarnishing their dead daughter's memory. O'Reilly even excoriated the parents for not keeping their daughter under curfew, Adele Stan writes at HuffPo.

To illustrate his point about Moore's "culpability," O'Reilly brought up disgraced actor Mel Gibson as another example of a person who deserved what was coming to him because he got drunk. O'Reilly implied that Moore's death was analogous to Gibson's recent DUI arrest during which the actor had called the arresting officer "sugar tits" and screamed antisemitic slurs at police. 

Over the weekend, O'Reilly sent two men to confront Terkel about her post--producer Jesse Watters and an unnamed camera operator. The two approached Terkel on the street in Virginia, having apparently tailed her on the two-hour drive from her home in Washington, D.C.

As you'll see in the video clip, Watters tries to insinuate that Terkel is lying when she says that she listened to O'Reilly's remarks before commenting on them. Watters demands to know the significance of O'Reilly's remarks about Mel Gibson. Terkel doesn't answer.

The producer demanded that Terkel apologize for causing pain and suffering to a rape victim and her family. Which rape victim? Jennifer Moore? No, O'Reilly was referring to Alexa Branchini of Alexa Foundation. However, Terkel never criticized the Alexa Foundation, and never mentioned Ms. Branchini. The idea that Terkel deliberately inflicted distress upon the Alexa Foundation is laughable.

Why was Amanda Terkel, a young female blogger, singled out for an ambush from the O'Reilly goons? Her post was based on link to another blog, Newshounds. Many other websites and TVs shows covered the controversy. Earlier this month an anti-rape group with no ties to Terkel circulated a petition requesting that the Alexa Foundation disinvite O'Reilly on the grounds that his blame-the-victim comments disqualified him from addressing a benefit for rape survivors. (Bizarrely, according to Keith Olbermann, the Alexa Foundation issued a statement stressing that O'Reilly was invited to speak about his book, not rape victims.)

The 2006 attack on the recently-deceased Jennifer Moore wasn't an isolated incident.  O'Reilly also insinuated that Sean Hornbeck, a boy who was held captive by a child molester for years, stayed because he liked the abuse, according to noted rightwing watcher Dave Neiwert.

As if this saga wasn't sordid enough, O'Reilly Factor appears to have broken its own rules for ambush interviews by confronting Terkel. O'Reilly previously pledged only to ambush public servants and to confront targets only after contacting them and either inviting them to appear on the show, or giving them an opportunity to explain themselves in a statement.

March 23, 2009

Bill O'Reilly sics producer on female blogger who criticized host's record on rape

Amanda Terkel, a writer for the popular progressive blog Think Progress, reports that she was stalked and harassed by a producer for the O'Reilly Factor after she observed that Factor host Bill O'Reilly blamed an 18-year-old for her own rape and murder on air and subsequently agreed to host a fundraiser for a non-profit group that supports rape survivors. (Audio clip of O'Reilly's rant, here.)

Terkel describes what happened next:

This weekend, while on vacation, I was ambushed by O’Reilly’s top hit man, producer Jesse Watters, who accosted me on the street and told me that because I highlighted O’Reilly’s comments, I was causing “pain and suffering” to rape victims and their families. He of course offered no proof to back up this claim, instead choosing to shout questions at me.

I expect O’Reilly to air this “interview” at some point this week, possibly as early as tonight. I have no expectation that he will show the entire altercation or give the entire story about what happened, so here is the full account, offering a glimpse inside the O’Reilly harassment machine.

Terkel says she was surveilled, followed, and accosted on the street by producer Jesse Watters and a cameraman. They found her in Winchester, VA, a two-hour drive from her home in Washington, DC. Since Terkel didn't tell anyone where she was going, she infers Watters and his camera operator staked out her apartment and followed her to Virginia.

Watters demanded to know why Terkel was causing "pain and suffering" to the Alexa Foundation, even though Terkel never criticized the non-profit in her post. She merely pointed out a certain tension between O'Reilly's on air pronouncements about a dead 18-year-old rape victim and his appearance at a fundraiser for a group that supports survivors of sexual assault.

O'Reilly had no compunctions about how the family of the victim, Jennifer Moore, might feel when he called her a "moronic girl" on the air and implied that she was responsible for her own death because she was a 5-foot-2, 105lb woman in a crop top who had been drinking.

Lots of other.blogs picked up on O'Reilly's outrageous statements, including the Media Matters. The Factor wouldn't explain why Amanda Terkel was singled out for a confrontation. Amanda writes, "Since I’m a 5 ft, 100 pound woman with an opinion that he doesn’t like, perhaps O’Reilly believes I deserve to be treated this way."

Bill O'Reilly is a notorious bully of both men and women. In 2004, O'Reilly was forced to pay over $2 million to settle a sexual harassment suit brought against him by his former producer Andrea Mackris.

And who can forget O'Reilly's demagogic tirades against feminist bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McKewan?

Daily Show host Jon Stewart recently satirized O'Reilly for accosting even casual critics on the street and then excoriating reporters for violating the privacy of their subjects.

March 20, 2009

Lindsay profiled on Normblog

Thanks to Norm Geras of normblog for inviting me to participate in his weekly blogger profile series. You can read my profile here.

March 10, 2009

Help Pecunium name his dream assignment

Pecunium, a talented photographer and writer (and onetime Majikthise guest blogger), is entering a contest called Name Your Dream Assignment.

First prize is a $50,000 grant to shoot the assignment of the photographer's dreams. I've blogged about this contest before. A previous winner traveled around the world documenting the epidemic of drug resistant tuberculosis.

Pecunium dreams of traversing Great Britain on foot, by bridle path and barge:

England is a wealth of history. The motor car is new. For all the time before that people got around on lanes, and highways, which are now byways and backpaths. I want to wander them, recording what I find.

Time and place are two of the things a photograph lets us share.. It’s done by controlling time and light. With enough time the passage of the seasons and the changing of the ages can be shown.

I've always wanted to live the life of a tinker; this lets me mingle that with photography. I'm used to living light (16 years in the army will teach one to live out of a bag). I want the chance to soak up the country, and share it with the rest of you. From the Isles on the North Sea, to the Cliffs of Dover, the Cities of London, York, Inverness and Cardiff; the hills of Wales, the Mountains of Scotland and the rolling landscapes between. The dewponds and millstreams, people and wildlife, the battlefields, and the wheatfields, the modern wonders, and the ancient ones.

I can write. I've done descriptive writing, and I can take pictures. Macro to wide-angled, details and the big picture. I can do it.

I have the time, and can do a good trip (at least 6 months, and probably 9, with two people, after taxes.). I’ve thought it out. I can spare a year for going walkabout, and I can share the experience. I can detail the cold mornings, the starlit evenings. The kindnesses of strangers and the sense of wonder which comes of exploring something at once foreign, and familiar. To speak English is to be, at least a little, connected to England.

With your vote, I can do this. With your vote I can share this.

I voted for Pecunium's idea and I encourage others to do likewise. You can register and vote here.