18 June 2003

More Guns, Less Fakery

First, there was Michael Bellesiles's Arming America, that fraudulently claimed that very few Americans owned guns before the civil war, and that the "gun culture" of early America was myth. Bellesiles was disgraced when it turned out that much of his resources and source data were fabricated. Fellow historians, even those who were friendly to his cause, lashed out at him for his shoddy work and/or deliberate deceit.

Fast forward to John Lott, darling of the fanatical second amendment supporters, who authored More Guns, Less Crime and most recently The Bias Against Guns. Well, it appears that Mr. Lott may be guilty of the same overly creative research that Mr. Bellesiles committed. In fact, the same Northwestern University research professor, James Lindgren has chimed in to debunk Lott's research, suggesting that Lott is at the minimum, guilty of sloppy scholarship, and perhaps, more serious, outright fraud.

Like Bellesiles, Lott has responded to queries about his research with equivocations, excuses and denials. Even libertarian and conservative writers like Michelle Malkin have questioned Lott's integrity. He claims he's lost all the data due to computer crashes and can't remember any names of students who helped him with his survey.

But even more bizarre is that Lott lied about using a pseudonym ("Mary Rosh") to post "voluminous defenses of his work over the Internet". He gave himself a good review on and attacked his critics under a byline bearing his false handle. Those acts don't sound like an author confident his research and sources can stand on their own merit.
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14 June 2003

Fast Food Nation

Just when I thought that true investigative reporting had disappeared from the mainstream media Schlosser comes along and produces a fine piece of muckraking on the fast food industry. The fast food industry is explored in depth - from historical anecdotes from the inception in California in the 1950's, a look at the workers and labor practices, a study of the flavoring factories, behind the scenes "fast-food"-ization of the potato farming and meatpacking industries whose biggest customers now are the fast food chains.

I haven't touched a morsel of ground beef since I read this, and you, if you valued your health, wouldn't either unless you knew the origin of the ground beef (out of the major chains, In & Out Burger is the safest choice).
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12 June 2003

When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden

At first glance, When You Ride ALONE, You Ride With Bin Laden struck me as a preachy spiel chastising Americans to pitch in and carpool together as our wartime (yes, the vague, non-specific "War on Terror) sacrifice for our nation. I was surprised to discover that the title was a takeoff on a 1943 WWII poster created by a government state side campaign plea to urge Americans to conserve oil by participating in car sharing pools. Interesting. Poster images from the WWII era and contemporary art created in the same fashion grace the pages of this Bill Maher mini rant journal.

Lots of big pictures and not too many pages in this book so those who shudder at the sight of lengthy prose should not be dissauded. Each chapter-ette is a concise 1-3 page Maher rant on some aspect of the post 9/11 American state.
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