Terra Sigillata

Oy vey! So this is how to handle them bloggers? Thanks for my morning chortle walking back from the driveway this morning with the Sunday New York Times:

And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.

“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”

And how dare you exercise the First Amendment!

But PharmGirl just castigated me on putting this up, saying that we really need to get over the silliness and get back to hammering on which candidate will be most likely to address the challenges facing the US and its place in the world. This NYT editorial later in today’s paper is actually a good way to start and places in proper perspective Gov Palin’s much-maligned performance in this week’s Charlie Gibson interviews.

With apologies also to those who read the title of the post and thought I’d be talking about Catherine, the lovely wife of Bora Zivkovic (Coturnix).

Time to make the coffee.


  1. #1 DrugMonkey
    September 14, 2008

    riiiggghhht. because it is the talking about what Palin actually did as gov that is the problem here…

  2. #2 Coturnix
    September 14, 2008


  3. #3 juniorprof
    September 14, 2008

    Tom Friedman (whose article today reflects my feelings exactly) keeps hammering away on the issue that I care about. I realize he’s gone a bit wackaloon in the past but I really wish we could have a serious debate on energy, innovation and science in this country. If we don’t, we’re doomed (and I’m bailing).

    Maybe we could start a pharm dept on some nice pacific island? At least 25 ft above sea level of course.

  4. #4 Liz Ditz
    September 14, 2008

    While the tone of this article is too ad-hominem for my taste, I do appreciate the questions:

    1. In a broad and long-term sense, would you have responded differently to the attacks of 9/11?

    2. Is Iraq a democracy?

    3. What’s the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?

    4. What is your preferred plan for peace between Israel and Palestine? A two state solution? What about Jerusalem?

    5. How do you feel about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent visit to Syria? Do you believe the United States should negotiate with leaders like President Bashar al-Assad?

    6. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population lives in China and India. Who are those countries’ leaders?

    7. Do you support the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which would lift restrictions on sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, a country which hasn’t signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

    8. Other than more drilling, what steps do you suggest the U.S. take in order to move toward energy independence? Do you believe more investment is needed in alternative energy research? If so, how would you recommend this funding be allocated?

    9. How would you balance concerns over human rights and freedom in China with the United States’ growing economic interdependence with that country?

    10. What’s more important: securing Russia’s cooperation on nuclear proliferation and Iran, or supporting Georgia’s NATO bid? If Vladimir Putin called you on the phone and said, “It’s one or the other,” what would you tell him?

    11. Critique the foreign policy of the last administration. Name its single greatest success, and its most critical failure.

    12. What do you think will be the most defining foreign-policy issue in the next five years?

    13. What role should the United States play in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? Should it support contraception, or abstinence only?

    14. You’ve said that the federal government spends too much money. What, in your view, is the appropriate level of spending as a percentage of GDP?

    15. You’re an advocate of reducing environmental restrictions on drilling. How much oil needs to be found in the United States before the country achieves energy independence?

    16. What are your picks for the three most enlightening books written on foreign policy in the last five years?

    17. Who among the world’s leaders can be listed as the top three friends of the United States and why?

    18. In your opinion, which U.S. president was the most successful world leader and why?

    19. Which U.S. political thinkers, writers, and politicians would you enlist to advise you on matters of foreign policy and why?

    20. Who is the first world leader you’d like to meet with and why?

    Feel free to suggest some of your own.

  5. #5 leigh
    September 14, 2008

    i’m strangely reminded of an orwellian scenario. “ignorance is strength.”

  6. #6 syrin
    September 15, 2008

    Liz Ditz is Spot on.

    Great questions. I wonder which ones Sarah could even answer.

    You nailed it. We need a leader who is credible and acountable. Our country has serious issues facing us, we need a leader not a Hockey Mom.


  7. #7 Dan
    September 29, 2008

    The Prevention of Ignorance

    Historically, information sources provided to American citizens were limited due to the few methods available to the public, such as radio, TV, or news print. And also this information was subject to being filtered and, in some cases, delayed. This occurred for a number of reasons, which included political ones.

    Now, and with great elation, there is the internet, which can be rather beneficial for the average citizen.

    Soon after the advent of the internet, web logs were created, that are termed ‘blogs’. At that time, about a decade ago, the blogs were referred to as personal journals or diaries visible on line. As time passed, blogs became a media medium, and blog communities evolved on topics that often were not often addressed in mainstream media. In addition, blogs provide immediate contributions by others, the readers of the posts of the blog authors, instead of the cumbersomeness of opinion and editorial pieces historically and not always presented in such media forms as newspapers. The authors of blogs vary as far as their backgrounds and intent of what they present are for specificially, just as with other media forms. Furthermore, they are not exonerated from the legalities of what is written, such as cases of libel. While we can presume that they like to write, they may not be quality writers. But to write is to think, which I believe is a good quality one should have.

    Yet presently, blogs have become quite a driving force for those with objectives often opposed by others, and are a threat to others at times, such as big business and politicians- both who presently monitor the progress and content of blogs that provide instant information on events, which might affect their image and activities not yet exposed, as blogs have become a medium of disclosure by whistleblowers, and what is written is typically authentic.

    While one disadvantage of blogs is the potential lack of reliability, blogs however do allow in addition to the comments of its readers the posting of authentic documents that typically are not created to be viewed by the public. For example, blogger Dr. Peter Rost, a whistleblower himself, not long ago posted a newsletter published by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on his blog site, and this newsletter was given to him by AstraZeneca’s employees who called themselves the ‘AZ Group of Seven’, with the intent of this group being to bring to the attention of others the illegal activity of off-label promotion of one of their cancer drugs promoted by thier employer. Yet this by suprise is not what caught the attention of so many who viewed the posted newsletter read with great interest by others. It was instead a comment included in this newsletter that was stated by former regional AZ manager Mike Zubalagga, who in this newsletter posted on Dr Rost’s blog site, referred to doctors’ offices as ‘buckets of money’. This and other statements by this man were written during an interview with him by another and then published in this newsletter. Again, the statement was authentic and in writing in this newsletter, which added credibility to the proof that it actually happened.

    Mr. Zubalagga was fired the next day due to this comment and it’s potential effect on the image of his employer. His manager resigned soon afterwards.

    And there have been other whistleblower blog cases in addition to this one, so blogs have become a very powerful and threatening medium of information release that does not allow others to prevent such releases. This is true freedom of information- free of alteration or omission. One step closer to a form of communication utopia, perhaps, and with the ability to both harm and protect others.

    Yet again, the information on these blogs should not be taken as absolute truth without proof to verify claims that may be made. Of course, documents that are authentic will be realized by others, as illustrated with the above example. And this, in my opinion, is the blog’s greatest value, combined with the comments on blogs from the growing number of readers who are allowed to contribute to the subject matter so quickly, which fuels the objectives of the blogs. Like other written statements, some on such internet sites are composed with respect of the written word. Others are not. It’s the freedom that may be most appealing of this new medium which has the ability to convert citizens into journalists who want to contribute to an issue of thier concern they share with the blogger.

    Because we, the public, have a right to know what we are entitled to know and what we want to know. This is especially true if the information could potentially be adverse to our well-being.

    Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.

    “Information is the seed of an idea, and only grows when it’s watered.” — Heinz V. Berger

    Dan Abshear

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