Friday, February 10, 2006

It's not that the media is biased...

It's that they seem downright dumb.

I often say "Don't attribute to malice what can be explained by simple stupidity". Take for instance the recent discovery of a new Tomb in Egypts Valley of the Kings. I was super geeked about this because I was there. I saw this with my own eyes.The news is just starting to show pictures and relate how and where the tomb was found. But in bouncing around several major news sites I am amazed at how many facts have simply been wrong.

Reuters listed the tomb as being 5 KM from King Tutankhamun's. This led me to believe that maybe the tomb was discovered somewhere else and the excavation I had seen with my own damn eyes must have been a bust. But 5KM puts the tomb outside of the Valley completely. The new tomb is actually 5 meters away. Big difference. Another story today stated that the tomb was found during excavation near the Collosi of Memnon. It is true that there is digging going on there, but the Valley is several kilometers away. The Valley is for tombs, the Collosi marked the entrance to a temple. I double checked my pic against the ones of the tomb entrance at, sure enough its the site we were at in the Valley. They are near each other in the same way Cleveland and Akron are near each other. That is, not very.

What's worse, the CNN story used a cute interactive map. When you clicked on Luxor and the Valley, you were shown two small images, except each images shows a scene that is on the opposite side of the Nile. I know, picky picky. I'll let that one slide, but missing basic facts? It makes one wonder how many details the media gets wrong when it reports a story. All media is under pressure to get the news out fast. First in print or on the air gets the audience. But in the process they are not reporting accuratly. And the devil, dear friends, is in the details.

Consider the current bruhaha on domestic spying. It's a complex issue. There are lots of laws with lots of words in them. So when someone comes along and says "Well this is what the law means, and previous Presidents did this..." Well, that saves you a lot of time. No need to do research or think. But once again a lot of facts are getting lost.

Remember New Orleans? I know that is So twenty minutes ago. Remember the horror stories of blacks reverting to savages in the streets, rampant raping and killing? But it wasn't true. In a farcical game of telephone, one person (or reporter) hears something and passes it on. This gets embellished or confused with another possible story. The beast feeds on itself. Guesswork is reported, thus becoming fact. But it isn't the truth.

Despite instant global communication and instant access to volumes of data, we are getting incorrect information. It's up to the minute and beamed from half way around the world. But its still wrong sometimes. Maybe more often than we know.

This is not a paranoid rant about the manipulation of the media. That's a tin foil hat for another day. This is just an observation and maybe a warning.

I can't speak for the spying scandal. But I CAN speak to the facts of the tomb discovery. And there is ample proof that the New Orleans horrors never were. Given these facts, maybe we should add a grain of salt to our media diet.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Very cool news

Not long before we left Egypt we had a second lecture with Zahi Hawass of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He told us that he had just come from the Valley of the Kings and had some news, it appeared that a new tomb had just been discovered, possibly intact.

I didn't post this info since the SCA is VERY touchy about releasing information about discoveries before they have been inspected and confirmed. Now I can. Here is the story:

It doesn't look like the tomb is royal, but it may be undisturbed. It would be the first newly discovered tomb in the valley since Tutankhamun in 1922. We were in the Valley while they were digging but couldn't get too close. Very cool news indeed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm on a roll...

I had heard about this short film but was amazed when I finally took a look. It depicts aliens arriving in apartheid South Africa. The visuals are amazing, and the acting is very good, but more than that the film shows how we as a species cannot find ways to cohabitate. It is ugliness in a time of ugliness. Go watch it, it's kind of hard to explain.

It made me giggle

I don't often pass around so called 'Viral videos' if I can help it. My wife tends to get three or four 5 meg files a day from well meaning friends, which used to cripple us when we had dial up. I will occasionally send out a link to a specific individual I think might appreciate something I found on the underside of the internets. But this video was cute enough that I thought it worthy of posting here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

You knew it was coming...

Once of the complaints about blogs is that their writers often wax philosophical about the most trivial of things. They opine endlessly about things they know nothing about and obsess about the most mundane of subjects.

I'm kinda feelin left out...

So it is with great great pride that I submit the following post regarding...My Cat.

To clarify a little, I don't actually have a cat. The last cat I laid claim to, Bill, passed away some four years ago or so. He wandered into the house I was renovating, stuck out his tongue, said "ack!" and the rest is history. Rossana and I had Bill for thirteen years. That's longer than I have known some people, and truth be told I liked Bill more than some people I have known.

We had come to accept that we would likely not own another cat. Our schedule is pretty rough and we have no super close friends to call upon for slave duty when we are away. That didn't stop a cat from adopting us.

The cat in question is not the kid of cat I might have chosen, if I had any say in the matter (which I don't) He is a large, long haired beastie as black as night. Rossana began feeding him outside and he eventually came inside. It is likely he has been living on his own all his life. He lacks many social skills, does not understand how to play and until recently when we had his claws trimmed, liked to tenderise various parts of our bodies without any notice as to our discomforture while he slept.

To be fair, he is beautiful, and is very mild mannered. No insane running around breaking things or attacking you from hidden locations. He rolls on his back in a way so cute you could forgive him for spilling acid on your face and has the attention span of a flea.

We were worried about him while on our trip to Egypt. Although he seems to enjoy being inside he is in no way housebroken. When he needs to go, he lets us know is a piercing, no-nonsense yowl. So we would not leave him in the house. Our friend Grimm was kind enough to come over and leave food by a make shift shelter we made for him. On our return it was an entire day before he showed up and he was not pretty. At some point he has run through some kind of brambles and slept in some kind of mud. His long hair was now matted and filthy. We did what we could but there was nothing for it but to go to a groomer.

So now we have one ugly-ass shaved cat. He is not completely shaved, we begged the nice woman to keep all the fur she could since he still hangs out outside. He came back clean and looking like he had been in a fight with a weed whacker. If you were previously unaware, cats look butt ugly without fur. The good news is that he seems to hold no grudge against us for this indignity (or his plan for revenge is calculated in years). We were told that it would be two months before the hair grows back. I quietly pondered if some kind of toupe' or combover were feasible. I want to take a sharpie marker and fill in some of the bald spots. Cats deserve some sense of dignity.

So there you have it. A posting about our cat. You life is now complete.

BTW his name is "The Great Cat of Reh", or simply Ray. Although we tend to use the term "Brat child" and "It". As in "IT has just rolled off the couch and is stuck behind the cushions".