Saturday, October 29, 2005


Who uses it: Shark fishermen
What it means: Dropping or trailing chopped-up bait -- the bloodier the better -- in the water to attract sharks.
How you can use it: When someone's being deliberately provocative.

Of course, any right-thinking person will answer the question, "How do you fish for sharks?" with another: "Why would you want to?" But people do, and you can read all about it right here.

Chumming was the obvious metaphor yesterday afternoon, when Patrick Fitzgerald discussed the indictments against Scooter Libby. This isn't a political blog, and I'm not going to comment on any of that, except to say that this whole saga has been a case of the press missing the big story because they were so obsessed with the next hourly deadline.

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly includes two full-page advertisements that I consider new signs of approaching Apocalypse. One, for the Palm Treo, reads: "We will talk less but say more. We will speak multimedia. We will send interesting memos." The other, in eye-catching hot pink, advertises "The world's first phone with iTunes."

I could rant about this, and tell you why these things are destructive to our basic humanity -- but if you don't already know, I'm not sure I can explain it.

Jen asked me yesterday what I wanted to do for my birthday. What I want for my birthday are some quiet dinners with friends -- one in New York, on November 17; one in Portland, the week of the 21st; and one in Montreal on my actual birthday, with the radiant Claire Bea. If anyone wants to show up for any of those, send me an e-mail and I'll give you details. No cell phones, Palm Pilots, or Blackberries will be allowed, and if I see you pull one out, you will be off my list of friends forever. I'm not kidding.


Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Well, I'll bite. What's so Apocalyptic about a phone with music? I should be expecting a raft of cockroaches simply cause I can now download Michelle Branch from my Nokia? Well--in theory that is. Theory being applied to a) Michelle Branch b) my having a phone that could download tunes and c) the prospect of my actually doing this...but I think I'm still missing something about the end-of-the-world-ness here.

AnswerGirl said...

I think we should be discouraging non-essential use of cell phones, not encouraging people to use them more to do more things. I also have growing misgivings about headphones and personal music players, in general -- they're great for situations like airplanes and subways, but they contribute to this emerging culture of isolation. Now, I don't have much room to talk -- my everyday life is absurdly isolated -- but it's not because I don't know HOW to have a face-to-face conversation. We -- not you, Tom, but the industrialized world -- are raising a generation of kids who expect instant entertainment on demand, without having to make their own, without having to participate in social situations that might not be exactly to their liking. I understand wanting to exert control over one's social interactions -- uh, exhibit A right here -- but it's not healthy for society in general.

Paul Tomme said...

It wasn't just the press that missed the central issue. The indictment itself presumed that Valerie Plame was entitled to anonymity, and didn't even address her role (according to the State Department) in sending her husband on the Niger trip. It never even addressed whether she put herself into the political fray by using her position to influence the outcome of an election, which would bring the First Amendment into play. Bush didn't get it either. He just meekly submitted to the idea that the Official Secrets Act was controlling.

Sorry. I needed an outlet to vent. How's that for chumming?

AnswerGirl said...

No, the indictment doesn't make that presumption. The indictment said that Lewis Libby's lies (say that three times fast) made it impossible for the grand jury to make the decision about whether Valerie Plame was entitled to that anonymity, or whether that anonymity had been violated illegally. Fitzgerald said yesterday that it was possible there hadn't been any underlying violation of the law, which makes Libby's actions all the stupider.

Whether Plame's behavior was wrong, and whether her husband is a self-promoting jerk whose 15 minutes are long over, are questions of taste and ethics -- and possibly of internal CIA/State Department professional guidelines -- but not of law.

Hey, and sign your posts, Paul.