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December 30, 2003
The Top Ten News Stories of 2003By Greyhawk
My choices from among CNN's options for the top 10 stories of 2003:
1. Ongoing strife in Mideast - This includes "war in Iraq" and "war on terror". They're all interwoven. If you really wanted to stare into the hard face of reality you could add in Chechnya, Kashmir, and much of Africa. And Bosnia/Kosovo, the Philippines... of course, you'd need a new umbrella title. Dar al-harb, perhaps?
3. Controversy over 10 commandments list - CNN probably considers this too provincial to merit inclusion. And I'd guess people avoid controversial issues when choosing top stories; don't want to appear to be supporting that "other side." Or maybe some of that non-confrontational Christmas spirit lingers on. Whatever side you're on in regards to this issue, it's a great indicator of the nature of the mood and mindset in the American public square today. (In more ways than one.)
4. Democrats vie for Presidential nomination: The absence of this from both CNN and readers lists is remarkable. Are people missing out on all the great fun? This gives quite an open invitation to the Democratic candydates (not a spelling error) to go at it without much scrutiny. So have at it boys and girls, we wait your next pronouncements with bated breath.
5. Loss of space shuttle Columbia: This strikes close to home. I've worked with shuttle missions and know some folks who fly them. And in addition to the human cost the setback to the space program is enormous. Having grown up in the "space age" I know what it's like to be a citizen of a nation that seeks the real stars (vice Kobe, Brittney, Madonna, and Michael). If the president wants to re-energize NASA and the space program with missions to the moon, mars, or beyond, I'm all for it.
6. Standoff with North Korea: Simmering on the back burner, always close to boiling over. The number one totalitarian dictatorship I'd like to see fall (peacefully) this next year. Close to home again; when the Berlin Wall fell I was in Korea. I remember the euphoria I felt all that distance away, mixed with a tinge of sadness that the same thing would likely not happen on the Korean peninsula. But there's always hope.
7. Crisis in Liberia: Easily the "forgotten story of the year". Remember: African nation in crisis, Bush accused of not having enough compassion, floats 2,000 Marines in a boat just off shore, accused of not doing enough, situation resolved peacefully, story drops off front pages faster then shark attacks and Chandra Levy on 911. A great and forgotten example of the US's much-improved ability to resolve things peacefully (albeit by showing determination and a hint of force) in a post-Iraq war world. (Think: Libyan nuclear program.)
8. California gubernatorial recall: Hard not to vote for a story with the word "guber" in it. Okay, seriously, it's interesting that the California wildfires made the peoples' choice list and this didn't. California wildfires are as perennial as some California Wildflowers. This story is overrated at #3 on CNN's list. The "Republican revolution" may not be the best term for it, but to spin the California story any other way is a denial of reality. (An argument could be made that it's more of a Democratic failure then a Republican success.) Although this issue is somewhat uniquely Californian, more so then the 10 commandments issue is uniquely Alabamian, both have obvious reflection on, repercussions to, and reverberation in the American spirit.
9. Gay civil rights issues: This also somewhat interchangeable with the 10 commandments issue - insofar as it is a morality issue in the minds of many, and in some cases the opposing sides on both issues feature the same players. (The interesting folks are those who are the exception to that statement. Freethinkers in action!) But the banning of religion from the public square, the twisting of "Freedom of Religion" to "Freedom from Religion" is infinitely more important. The gay rights issue is one of importance, but also over-inflated by the media, a media that has probably energized both sides of the debate. Expect this to be in the top 10 for next year too, but not many after that.
10. Ahhh... that final pick's a toughie... here it is: "Heat wave blamed for thousands of deaths in Europe." (Am I the only one who finds the wording curious? It reads like they don't want to declare the heat wave guilty until after a proper trial in the World Court.) Like the recent earthquake in Bam (Hey, where's that on the list? Damn those December news stories!) this horrendous human tragedy points out the difference between the US and under-developed (or over-extended, or unconcerned) nations in dealing with environmental tragedy. (Note: another thing wrong with wording, excessive death toll was in France. Yes, that's part of Europe, but an obvious attempt to be inoffensive just makes CNN look pathetic.) Compare to the SARS outbreak, which "scores" bigger as a news story only for its scare value. The Euro-heat deaths won't spread to Peoria, you know. The most rabid spread and greatest repercussion of SARS was within news rooms. Like Anthrax, West Nile Virus, Monkey Pox, Ebola, and any other hot new disease that could get you to loosen that grip on your wallet. Listen closely during a CNN TV report and you'll hear the cheering from the boardroom. Plague is a "bread and butter" story. Like war, famine, and death in general.
I predict there will be more of each in 2004. And we'll most likely all be here to discuss it at the end.
Happy New Year.
Posted by Greyhawk / December 30, 2003 2:06 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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