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May 1st, 2008

history poll

Since I've been awful cranky lately, I've decided I should do a little reality checking of myself.
Maybe I'm the only person who grew up complaining to her father that his "five years ago" had
to be at least 10 and probably more like 20 years ago, when he was repeating a hoary old chestnut
for about the millionth time. So when I say history, think, any statement made about a past
event, whether it's in a fish story, or an essay about technology.

Poll #1180947 Sense O' History

When you encounter an assertion about history, do you:

assume the person did their research and has their dates, etc. correct?
0(0.0%)
use google/wikipedia/other to fact check everything you can nail down?
0(0.0%)
rack your brain for relevant knowledge to reality check the assertion?
4(80.0%)
ask anyone else in the room what they think?
0(0.0%)
other, which I will explain in a comment
1(20.0%)

When you make an assertion about history, do you:

assume what you think you know is accurate?
1(20.0%)
use google/wikipedia/other to fact check everything you can nail down?
0(0.0%)
rack your brain for relevant knowledge to reality check what you think you know?
3(60.0%)
ask anyone else in the room what they think?
1(20.0%)
other, which I will explain in a comment
0(0.0%)

_We're All Journalists Now_, Scott Gant

Subtitled: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age

Again, with a title like that, I was expecting good things. I've read similar books (_The Edges of the Field_) in the past, in the sense that this is written by a lawyer who is arguing a case, so I get the thin, the detail, the careful returning to cover what _seems_ like the exact same ground, but which is different in some way that is important from a legal perspective but rhetorically, well, maybe subtle.

A large chunk of this slender volume revolves around shield laws (the book itself is mostly about various special privileges extended to The Press). I have extremely mixed feelings about shield laws, and his summary at the end did a nice job of capturing my feelings about shield laws when Gant described the difficulties journalists-as-professionals are experiencing in getting public, legislative and judicial opinion on their side when it comes to protection for them but NOT for other people functioning as journalists who are not journalists by profession. A lot of each group are fully prepared to let the pros go jump if they want to exclude non-pros entirely.

Another chunk of this volume is devoted to non-pros who function as journalists, and why there's no good reason for treating these people any differently than people who happen to work for the mainstream media. Gant also covers (some of) why the pros are themselves compromised.

All in all, a worthy outing, and about like what you would probably expect from a book with this title, by an attorney. Which is a relief, because I'm tired of reading books and being disappointed by what I got when it wasn't what I was expecting.

I will, however, probably still donate this to the local library. _The Edges of the Field_ really was something special, and this is only extremely competent. Altho, to be fair, I may still be a little cranky at Gant because he displays a very strong bias for the work output of pros which I do not necessarily see as entirely justified. But ya know, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

If you trip over it, read it.

FLDS, adultery v. other sex crimes, etc.

There are a number of people picking on Texas CPS who argue that if you're going to prosecute polygamy, you should prosecute adultery, too, since it's against the law also. Never mind that Texas is, as yet, not prosecuting anyone for polygamy or anything else.

But just for reference purposes, adultery is only a basis for divorce in Texas; it isn't against the law there and hasn't been for a while.

After doing some state-by-state digging, I have learned a variety of startling things, among them the following:

Yes, in Utah adultery _is_ illegal; it's a class B misdemeanor.

For reference purposes, having sex with a first cousin in Utah (you can _legally marry_ your first cousin in several states, FYI) is a 3rd degree felony. Child bigamy (perp is married, and cohabs-in-the-sexual-sense or purports to be married or whatever with someone under 18) is a 2nd degree felony.

Not all laws are created equal, but some people are having a leetle bit of trouble keeping up. The whole first-cousin-marriage = felony incest thing keeps surprising me; I'd like to know if they are prosecuting married folk who move in.