Sunday, September 30, 2007

Word for Word

There’s an apparently plagiarized story in the today's Charlotte Sun’s health-news tab, “Feeling Fit.”

Michele Ritter, who is not listed on the newspaper’s staff directory as a writer or editor, is given as the author of an item that is identified as “Special to Feeling Fit,” and headlined “New colorectal surgical procedure performed at Fawcett Memorial Hospital.”

I suspect Ritter is a hospital a public relations person who was handed a press release written either by a manufacturer or the training staff at a large metropolitan hospital. I hope she didn’t troll the Web, as I did, looking for this item. However she obtained the article, she has no business putting her byline on the piece. In doing so, she tells me and other readers that she wrote it. She didn’t. Here’s my evidence.
We can start with a news release posted on the Web from the University of Cincinnati dated June 20, 2006. Ritter's item is posted at the Sun newspaper site.

The paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of the two documents is given below in full with no elisions. Nearly every word, including the local doctor’s quotes, were published more than a year ago in Ohio.

New colorectal surgical procedure performed at Fawcett Memorial Hospital
By Michelle Ritter
Special to Feeling Fit

Domingo Galliano, Jr., MD, FACS, FACRS recently became the first surgeon in Charlotte County to perform a transanal endoscopic microsurgical procedure, a minimally invasive method for removing rectal cancers that eliminates the need for external incisions.

This procedure is a safe alternative to open surgery for removing very early rectal cancers and polyps, the precancerous masses that form on the lining of the colon or rectum.

"TEM is a great alternative for many patients, especially those who might not be able to tolerate a big operation," explains Galliano, a colorectal surgeon at Fawcett Memorial Hospital. Galliano is not only board certified in colorectal surgery, but he is the only board-certified and fellowship-trained surgeon in Laparoscopic Colon Surgery in Charlotte County.

"The recovery time is minimal, and functional results -- namely bowel function and control -- are often better, so patients can return to their normal activities faster."

Here are the opening grafs of the Cincinnati hospital news release.


CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati (UC) colorectal surgeons have become the first in the Tristate to perform a transanal endoscopic microsurgical (TEM) procedure, a minimally invasive method for removing rectal cancers that eliminates the need for external incisions.

Surgeons say the procedure is a safe alternative to open surgery for removing very early rectal cancers and polyps, the precancerous masses that form on the lining of the colon or rectum.

“TEM is a great alternative for certain patients, including those who might not be able to tolerate a big operation,” explains Bradley Davis, MD, an assistant professor of surgery at UC and a colorectal surgeon at Christ Hospital. “The recovery time is
minimal, and functional results—namely bowel function and control—are often better, so patients can return to their normal activities faster.”

Ritter's second section reports: It is estimated that approximately 26 centers, including Fawcett, perform this procedure. The technique is a minimally invasive method for operating inside the rectum using a fiber-optic light source, a camera and specialized instruments, eliminating the need for an external incision and leave no visible scarring.


"TEM allows surgeons to reach tumors deeper in the rectum," says Galliano. "It's very accurate, and cancer recurrence rates are typically as low as those achieved using other established methods."

University of Cincinnati’s Web page reads: The technique, known as “endoluminal surgery” is a minimally invasive method for operating inside the rectum using a fiber-optic light source, a camera and specialized instruments. Inserted through the anus, the instruments eliminate the need for an external incision and leave no visible scarring.

“TEM allows surgeons to reach tumors deeper in the rectum,” says Davis. “It’s very accurate, and cancer recurrence rates are typically as low as those achieved using other established methods.”

In the next section, Ritter writes: Traditional rectal surgery
often involves removing a large part of the rectum, which results in less room to store solid waste. This results in a decreased ability to "hold" feces and can even result in incontinence. The TEM procedure can help patients to avoid a temporary -- and sometimes permanent -- colostomy bag, a pouch connected to the bowel and worn outside the body to the collect waste that would normally pass through the digestive system.

"The important thing," stresses Galliano, "is that the patient is diagnosed and evaluated properly. TEM is only appropriate for polyp and very early cancer removal. More advanced cancers require a more aggressive treatment to completely eradicate the disease."

University of Cincinnati’s Web page reads: Traditional
“radical” rectal surgery often involves removing a large part of the rectum, which results in less room to store solid waste. This results in a decreased ability to “hold” feces and can even result in incontinence. Endoluminal surgery allows certain patients to avoid a temporary—and sometimes permanent—colostomy
bag, a pouch connected to the bowel and worn outside the body to the collect waste that would normally pass through the digestive system.

“The important thing,” stresses Davis, “is that the patient is diagnosed and evaluated properly. TEM is only appropriate for polyp and very early cancer removal. More advanced cancers require a more aggressive treatment to completely eradicate the disease.”

Moving along, Ritter writes: Before surgery, the patient is given spinal anesthesia and positioned on the side, back or stomach, depending where the tumor is located. Guided by a video monitor, the surgeon navigates a thin, flexible instrument equipped with a three-dimensional camera and light source at its tip -- through the anal canal to the tumor.

The bowel is inflated with gas to improve tumor visualization. Then, the surgeon detaches the tumor and a small section of surrounding tissue using a specialized electronic scalpel that simultaneously seals affected blood vessels. Once the tumor is removed, the rectal wall is cleansed and sutured.

The procedure takes about an hour, and patients are typically released from the hospital the next day.

University of Cincinnati’s Web page reads: Before surgery, the patient is given spinal anesthesia and positioned on the side, back or stomach, depending where the tumor is located. Guided by a video monitor, the surgeon navigates a “rectoscope”—a thin, flexible instrument equipped with a three-dimensional camera and light source at its tip—up through the anal canal to the tumor.

The bowel is inflated with gas to improve tumor visualization. Then, the surgeon detaches the tumor and a small section of surrounding tissue using a specialized electronic scalpel that simultaneously seals affected blood vessels. Once the tumor is removed through the anus, the rectal wall is cleansed and sutured.

The TEM procedure takes about an hour, and patients are typically released from the hospital the next day.

In winding up, Ritter writes: "This is revolutionary rectal surgery technology," says Vickie Pettigrew, director of surgical services at Fawcett. "It's an easy outpatient procedure with no incision and no pain."

"Patients have valid concerns about quality-of-life issues that result from radical rectal surgery," says Galliano. "TEM maximizes surgical effectiveness while minimizing the negative side effects, such as incontinence, that can cause both discomfort and embarrassment during recovery."

University of Cincinnati’s Web page reads: “Patients have valid concerns about quality-of-life issues that result from radical rectal surgery,” says Davis. “TEM maximizes surgical effectiveness while minimizing the negative side effects, such as incontinence, that can cause both discomfort and embarrassment during recovery.”

Plagiarism or no plagiarism?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Sightings

CORRECTION
"The wrong mug ran with [nice woman]'s column about the Masonic Lodge's activities in Friday's Our Town. This is the correct mug. The Sun regrets the error."

Maybe it's a case of accidentally publishing one of those internal notes, but unless we're talking about her coffee cup, it makes the newspaper look rude and crude, in addition to being careless.

Over on the sports front, page designers strung football scores into a big black crawler-style border: "----West Virginia 21, South Florida 13----" But the headline below screams "Bulls deliver knockout." (SF fields the Bulls.) Also, it's a bit early in the season to dip into boxing lingo to describe a football game. If we can't think of a football verb in September, what are we going to do in November?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Three-Day Recession

This morning's "In Your Corner" column by David Morris advises a storm-shutter buyer who wants his money back about the "three-day right of recession." I like this malapropism. It has potential.

Sorry, it's "recision," rooted in "rescind," a synonym for "cancel." I normally wouldn't mention this (it's mean to play Gotcha with everyday grammar, spelling and punctuation hiccups) except the columnist quotes the Florida Bar and changes the quote.

Here's the post on a Florida Bar Web site that I think he used.

Contrary to what many people believe, there is no automatic right to cancel a valid contract, even if done within 3 days. Only certain types of contracts come with a "3-day right of rescission", such as health club contracts or some sales of goods or services made at your home.

In the morning newspaper, the quoted material changes rescission to recession. This is not good. But, the writer's change introduces an error, which is worse than not good.

What to do? The source spells the "right word" in a nonstandard way. Either insert [sic] near to the error to let folks know you didn't sin, or paraphrase and make all the spelling and style changes you want, including getting that pesky comma inside the quote mark.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Doctor Who? My Caveat Emptor Organ is Wiggling

A local chiropractor ran a full-page, red-and-yellow attention grabber touting his spine-decompression machine in Monday’s Charlotte Sun newspaper. As part of the pitch, the chiro, Stephen Stokes, claims to have studied with the man who invented both the back-stretcher and a more well-known device, the heart defibrillator. I suggest the local chiropractor might be the victim a fraud. Here’s why.
In a section of the ad titled “Personal Invitation from Dr. Stokes,” the ad claims the device (brand name Vax-d) was invented by the doctor who “invented one of the most vital medical tools used in hospitals around the world today: the heart defibrillator. His name is Allan Dyer M.D.” Stephen Stokes, the local advertiser, reports “I have [...] trained personally with Dr. Dyer for many years.”

I don’t question that Stokes trained with someone named Allan Dyer. But I find no evidence or report that Dyer invented the heart defibrillator, or even contributed to its many improvements over the years.

I started my little research expedition with the Encyclopedia Britannica. It reports the defibrillator was developed in 1965 by Frank Pantridge, an Irishman, cardiologist, and inventor who died in 2004. Closer to home, Paul Maurice Zoll, a Boston cardiologist, “conducted pioneering research that led to the development of the cardiac defibrillator,” among other neat things related to hearts, according to EB.

Now, I hesitate to use Wikipedia as a source for much of anything, but it’s interesting to see Allan Dyer has no entry and isn't mentioned in the section that discusses the defibrillator’s invention or refinements. Here’s a summary of what the industrious Wikipedians assembled.

The entry “Defibrillation,” names several men who contributed to the development of the high-voltage heart zapper. The names begin back in 1899 when two Swiss physiologists applied electrical shocks to dogs’ hearts. Forty six years later, Claude Beck, professor of surgery at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, used the technique during an open-chest surgery on a youngster with a congenital heart defect. External defibrillation was “pioneered” by Russians V. Eskin and A. Klimov in the mid-1950s, according to the entry. Further enhancements came from Bernard Lown, Barouh Berkovits and others, culminating in a portable version credited to Pantridge. The implantable defibrillator was a team effort that included Stephen Heilman, Alois Langer, Morton Mower, Michel Mirowski, and Mir Imran, at Sinai Hosptial in Baltimore with the “help of industrial collaborator, Intex Systems of Pittsburgh,” the entry says. The general credit for inventing the external defibrillator is given to Bernard Lown.

A further Web search turns up a history of defibrillation by Igor R. Efimov of Washington University. Efimov's article (2004) is notable for its comprehensive, documented survey and its generous tone. Although there’s clearly pride in noting Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic Foundation as the “birthplace of clinical defibrillation,” Efimov quickly goes on to report “[...] generations of scientists and clinicians from many countries contributed to the success of shock therapy, which then culminated in the recent worldwide application of implantable defibrillators and external defibrillators, saving hundreds of thousands of lives in all countries around the world.”

No where does Efimov document Allan Dyer’s “invention” of the defibrillator. Of course, a man by this name may hold a patent on a part or variation of one company’s version of a defibrillator -- although my search of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office databases didn't locate his name.


If the local chiro spent money to study with the “inventor” of the defibrillator, I suggest he was defrauded. And if a man claims what isn't his, especially when there's a profit to be made, then I wonder what else he misrepresents. It’s a shame the local practitioner did not vet his ad before publishing it.

Alas, there’s more. Stokes’s ad carries a bright yellow box bearing an endorsement from “Robert Channey, M.D., Former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States.”

In the course of looking stuff up, I called the U.S. Surgeon General’s office in Maryland to ask how "former" this man might be. The nice staff (Rebecca Ayer and Jennifer Koentop, 202-690-7694) conducted a search of their records for me: No doctor or other person with that name has worked there that they can find. "And we went pretty far back into some very old records," Ayer said.


The staff also said me the U.S. Surgeon General’s office doesn’t use the title “assistant surgeon general.” However, the uniform services (Navy, etc.) may use the title if a medically qualified rear admiral or higher elects to use the title. It's sort of a self-selected, honorary thing. And finally, all the searches I conducted for Channey's name and title came back solely to Vax-d Web sites. I found no published article, no PubMed author, no government site, and not even the slimmist Wikipedia vanity entry for this name. I used about a dozen different search engines as well as my state university system's LINCC portal, to accesses scores of proprietary databases. And finally, if this person does exist, I’m not sure it’s ethical for a U.S. Surgeon General (assistant, former, or otherwise) to use his office and title to endorse one particular, privately patented device above others that might do the same job. Is he, if he exists, a paid spokesperson for Vax-d? We deserve to know this, Dr. Stokes.

I can’t pass judgment on the medical effectiveness of the contraption's claims, although one of my favorite health-fraud researchers, Stephen Barrett, M.D. has published this caution about Vax-d.

My conclusion: When it looks like an advertiser has been gulled by his own suppliers into publishing product endorsements by apparently fictional persons, my caveat emptor organ starts wiggling. A practitioner who advertises "pain free in four weeks" and presents himself as a "medical director" owes readers a big dose of accurate information that's not presented in a misleading way. Shame on everyone involved in this ad: the product maker that provided the endorsements, the local chiropractor for not checking things out, the newspaper that put it on the presses, and the endorsers themselves -- assuming they're not fictions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Responding to Copspeak

Reporters seem especially susceptible to Copspeak, that creole spoken by the civic heroes who serve and protect. The lingo establishes sense of "insider-ness." It's unfortunate -- and lazy -- when reporters write stories in the shorthand of cops and medics. This morning's story about a truck accident yesterday is a case in point.

"Charlotte County Fire & EMS reponded to the scene, which was near the Kings Highway exit in Port Charlotte."

In our native tongue, people are said to have responded to a question, responded to a pinprick, or responded to a loud noise. But it sounds silly to report they "responded to the scene," as if the scene had emitted a stimulus.

If the writer insists, I suppose I'd let it go if the sentence said the rescuers "responded to a call for help," or some such. But why bother at all? The parallel crime is wasting a sentence to tell readers rescuers arrived at ("responded to") the accident. Of course they got there, whatever verb they rode.

Readers want to know what the medics saw and what they did to help the victims. Since the story ran more than 24 hours after the accident, there was plenty of time for a reporter to call and get quotes or eye-witness details. But no, the story has been presented "according to the accident report." No doubt the accident report was e-mailed to the office so the reporter didn't have to leave the air-conditioned office.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Daily Plagiarist

This morning's DeSoto Sun carries a long piece headlined “Fighting DUI Carnage: A new approach” (Our Town, p. 5) by staff writer Mia Dickerson. Her article appears to be copied word-for-word from several sources, contains factual errors derived from those sources, and uses what appear to be several composite characters.

First, regarding composite characters: The publisher ran a long and stern piece in this newspaper last year promising readers his paper would never use anonymous sources or fictionalized characters. Mia Dickerson’s essay undermines that promise. There is no evidence in the nature of the report that would provide a good reason to “protect the privacy” of the mother, daughter, boyfriend, or drunk driver.

The next red flag suggesting fiction is information that’s carelessly and tritely presented: what’s a typical Sunday? Boyfriends aren’t usually relatives (“...her boyfriend and two other relatives...”). I’m not sure how both characters could see into a rearview mirror, as Dickerson reports, which is usually set for the driver. What's the antecedent of "their" in three pronoun references in the fifth graf? In short, I see no reason to award privacy to “Sara” and “Lauren.” Are they afraid of retaliation? Who was the drunk driver? Why is Dickerson protecting his/her privacy? Did this happen in Polk County? When -- last week, last month? What roadway? What was the disposition of any charges? How did FHP respond?

If the first six paragraphs stink of fiction, the next section reeks of plagiarism.

Here’s the first whiff of rotten reporting: A Web site run by an Orlando personal injury attorney . The Orlando personal injury lawyer's site is word-for-word the same as Dickerson’s next paragraphs.
Ms. Dickerson writes: "More than half of the 414 passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-related crashes during 2006 were riding with a drinking driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Each year, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost about $51 billion, the organization said.

"Alcohol is a major factor in traffic accidents. According to the NHTSA, there is an alcohol-related traffic fatality every 29 minutes.

"In 2006, 17,941 people died in alcohol-related accidents, the highest level since 1992. More than 41 percent of all crash fatalities in 2006 were because of drunk drivers, according to NHTSA.

"The FBI estimates that more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (DUI) in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available.

"The definition of a drunk driver is consistent throughout the United States. Every state (including the District of Columbia) defines impairment as driving with a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 percent. All states have zero tolerance laws prohibiting drivers under the age of 21 from drinking and driving.

"Drinking drivers age 21 to 34 are responsible for more alcohol-related fatal crashes than any other age group, NHTSA said. They also are more likely to become repeat offenders, and less likely to change their drinking and driving behavior."
And now, her apparent source:

"Posted On: August 29, 2007 by Tony Caggiano Alcohol-Related Car Accidents Alcohol is a major factor in traffic accidents. As Orlando car accident lawyers we see too many needless tragedies. According to the NHTSA, there is an alcohol-related traffic fatality every 29 minutes. More than half of the 414 passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-related crashes during 2006 were riding with a drinking driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).Each year, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost about $51 billion, the organization said. In 2006, 17,941 people died in alcohol-related accidents, the highest level since 1992. More than 41 percent of all crash fatalities in 2006 were because of drunk drivers, according to NHTSA. The FBI estimates that more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (DUI) in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. The definition of a drunk driver is consistent throughout the United States. Every state (including the District of Columbia) defines impairment as driving with a blood alcohol content at or above 0.08 percent. All states have zero tolerance laws prohibiting drivers under the age of 21 from drinking and driving. Drinking drivers age 21 to 34 are responsible for more alcohol-related fatal crashes than any other age group, NHTSA said. They also are more likely to become repeat offender, and less likely to change their drinking and driving behavior. Obviously much more needs to be done to make our roadways safe from those who drink and drive. Whether it is tougher laws or better enforcement too many innocent victims and their families suffer each year. Posted by Tony Caggiano Permalink Email This Post Posted In: Car Accidents

Maybe she didn’t copy from this particular site; but if that’s the case, then she and the Orlando lawyer have a source in common – and neither is telling readers where the words originate.

In addition to appearing to have copied from a common source, both the Orlando lawyer and the local writer are incorrect in stating that 2004 is the “most recent year for which data is [sic] available.” The NHTSA posts several sets of DUI-related data at its Web site for the years 2005 and 2006.

Next in the local story, Ms. Dickerson attributes the statement that 50 percent of U.S. drivers arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders to a Web site called 1st Alcoholism Treatment . A quick visit to this site uncovers a very “iffy” source: It consists primarily of links to self-help books for sale, is poorly spelled and ungrammatical in its original material, and provides no source for most of its assertions. In fact, try as I might, I cannot actually locate the fact Ms. Dickerson uses.

Next, Ms. Dickerson refers to an unnamed Ohio man with 12 DUI's who killed two college students in "early 2006." This might be the man named at Web sites that archive news items from the northeast Ohio towns of Hiram, Marion and Akron. Every one of these sources reports 11 DUI convictions, not 12, for James Cline of Geauga County, Ohio, who was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that killed two Hiram College students in March 2006. The figure of 12 DUI’s appears only on a Web page attributed to Denny Soinski, the very Ph.D. Ms. Dickerson quotes a few paragraphs later. I’ll skip the problem of this man’s Ph.D. and authority and go on to the next evidence of Ms. Dickerson’s plagiarism.

The wording of a California Web site offering to expunge DUI records appears to have a common source with the wording used by Ms. Dickerson.
Ms. Dickerson’s wording: Misdemeanor cases are handled in the county court system and punishment may include an adjudication of guilt, a fine, incarceration in the county jail and supervised probation. Felony crimes are handled in circuit criminal court and punishment can include an adjudication of guilt, supervised probation or house arrest, incarceration in state prison and significant fines. The Web site reads:
"Misdemeanor charges are handled in the County Court System in CA and punishment may include an admission of guilt, a fine, incarceration in the CA County Jail and supervised probation. A felony charge is considered a lot more serious than a misdemeanor and is ranked in increasing range of severity from Third to First Degree in CA. Felony crimes are handled in Circuit Criminal Court and punishment can include an admission of guilt, significant terms of supervised probation or house arrest, long terms of incarceration in CA State Prison and huge fines. It may be possible to seal or expunge your prior misdemeanor or criminal record."
There’s more. Web site posted by a group called ACA-USA titled “DUI Courts Web Site,” posts a page carrying the by-line of Judge J. Michael Kavanaugh of Bernalillo (N.M.) Metro Drug Court Program reads exactly like Ms. Dickerson's copy. Here's a side-by-side comparison of four excerpts.

Kavanaugh’s wording on his Web page: Drug addiction and the related criminal behavior have been a scourge in our society, clogging the entire legal system and filling the jails and prisons. The theory behind drug court is to create a fully coordinated, team-based approach to address the multiple issues facing the addicted offender - especially treatment for the addiction. Dickerson’s wording: Drug addiction and the related criminal behaviors have been a scourge in our society, clogging the entire legal system and filling the jails and prisons," said District Judge J. Michael Kavanaugh of Bernalillo County, N.M.
My concern: The local writer put quotation marks around the sentence, which is good. However, her presentation gives readers the impression she interviewed the judge. I don’t believe she did. She should be required, by all the standards of journalism, to paraphrase and add something along of the lines of “...said on his Web page,” or “said in a press release” so readers are not left with the impression Ms. Dickerson visited New Mexico to get the quotation.

Judge Kavanaugh’s Web Page goes on: Recidivism rates of drug-court graduates in Miami have dropped to 11 percent, compared to a typical 60 percent rate for those offenders processed through the non-drug court system. Dickerson’s wording follows in kind: Recidivism rates of drug court graduates in Miami have dropped to 11 percent, compared to a typical 60 percent rate for those offenders processed through the traditional court system, according to cdc.gov.
My concern: Dickerson takes a quote from Kavanaugh’s Web page and attributes it to what appears to be a Centers for Disease Control Web site. I’ve scoured the CDC for this tidbit, and cannot find it. I believe the local writer added the “attribution” to make it appear as if she had located this statistic from a credible source.

Kavanaugh’s Web Page goes on: Unlike the traditional criminal case model, where the judge has little or no contact with a defendant, the Drug court judge becomes an integral part of the treatment team. The judge participates in pre-court case reviews, where the treatment provider, probation officer, and judge discuss the individual's progress. Dickerson’s wording: Unlike the traditional criminal case model, where the judge has little or no contact with a defendant, the DUI court judge becomes an integral part of the treatment team. The judge participates in pre-court case reviews, in which treatment providers, probation officer, and judge discuss each client's progress.
My concern: I’m now on the third paragraph that not only appears to copy a Web site, but the paragraphs keep rolling along in exactly the same order. Ms. Dickerson appears to have redacted some of the original’s intervening material, but her order and organization and presentation of the information is a mirror image of the original.

Kavanaugh’s Web Page goes on: This frequent contact and communication between the judge and the defendant creates a very paternal-like relationship between them. Dickerson’s wording: This approach can create a parental-like bond between the judge and the clients. My concern: The minor word changes (paternal to parental) here and in one or two other instances appears to suggest that the writer senses she’s doing something wrong and may be trying to disguise the problem by changing a word here or there.

Ms. Dickerson reports the local 10th Circuit is establishing the “first comprehensive DUI court in the state.” Five paragraphs later, she says a Miami drug court has reduced recidivism to 11-percent (from what?). I can guess that Polk's court is the first “comprehensive” program because the Miami program includes drug charges (??), but perhaps not. Making readers guess and scratch their heads not nice. She never bothers to explain the relationship between Polk’s “comprehensive” program and Miami’s long-established (1989) drug court. She simply expects readers to assume Miami’s drug court doesn’t count as a DUI program for the purposes of Polk County boosterism, but then she does count it as supporting data. Which is it, really? Readers can’t tell.

This article contains a dozen more faults, holes and editorial oversights that need to be addressed, but I’ll simply leave it at this starter-kit of evidence for the editors to pursue on their own.
Oww

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Go buy an ad

Today, it’s a bit of business hype, reported by Bob Fliss in his column “Biz Bits.” Headline: “Enzymedica Inc. a local company with a national product.”

The column, which ran yesterday, says Enzymedica Inc. is a “producer of enzyme-based nutritional supplements,” and Tom Bohagen “founded” the company “locally” in 1998. Bohagen is reported to have been a salesman for an unnamed natural foods company before deciding “to strike out on his own,” Fliss reports.

The nice newsman writes that Bohagen’s bromides are manufactured out of state (doesn’t say where) and 30 people carry out “packaging and shipping” from a Tamiami Trail address. Feel free to argue my point, but I say slapping Bohagen’s label on a pill bottle and mailing it from Port Charlotte, Fla., are not the same as producing a product. I’m also having a hard time envisioning 30 employees kept busy five days a week, 20 days a month, 11 months a year at this little repackaging scheme.

The nice newsman says the firm’s newest product “is supposed to increase absorption of other supplements – vitamins, minerals and herbs.” Good that he used a qualifier, “supposed to.” Bad that he didn’t check a couple of medical information sources about this supposition. Also bad that he didn’t ask the obvious question: If Bohagen's customers need a supplement to supplement their supplements, then what have his desperate and hopeful clients been spending their money for all these years?

The nice newsman doesn’t appear to have used a couple of basic skeptical-reporter tools. Oww cannot find Tom Bohagen’s name in the local telephone book, despite his claim to have been in business here for nearly a decade. (Enzymedica is listed; maybe Bohagen takes all his calls at the office.) Oww finds neither Bohagen nor Enzymedica registered as a principal or business name in Florida Department of State’s on-line records search.

Brief tangent: There’s a wealth of information out there about the danger and fraud that are the earmarks of the herbal supplement market. People are lured into downing untested, unregulated, uncontrolled and unknown substances that reputable doctors and scientists warn about over and over again. Eating this stuff can interfere with genuine medical treatments and even induce illness instead of curing it. Before swallowing a salesman’s claims, one ought to ask:
1. What is the evidence that I suffer from the condition the salesman wants to treat?
2. Have I looked up the ingredients in a pharmaceutical or chemical directory that describes in terms I can understand this herb or enzyme’s properties?
3. Is the pill or powder produced in a sterile factory, free from asbestos, ratdroppings and technicians who pick their noses?
4. Is the salesman’s claim based on appropriately controlled studies or anecdotes from “satisfied customers?”
Returning to the main point: With careful wording, the nice newsman avoids endorsing or promoting this health fraud – just barely. This editor would have told the repackaging salesman to go buy an ad, preferably one with the disclaimer: “Not FDA approved.”

Oww

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Good places to read a newspaper

Three good places to read a newspaper: on the lanai, in a hammock, under a gazebo. Photos by John Tarnowski

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Warm-ups: Edit thyself

Writers often warm up to a topic by scribbling a bit of nonsense. It gets the words flowing. Oww's advice today is always edit that stuff (find the delete key on the keyboard's top right region) before publishing. Here's this morning's column opener by a newspaper editor.

Hey everyone, it's the beginning of a new week and we're already more than halfway through September. Can you believe it?

So with time sliding by so quickly and the number of events ramping up, let's briefly look at what's coming up."

Oh, pain. Where to begin? I'll skip over "Hey everyone," because we're country, and the editor is indulging in a bit of homegrown vernacular. And, the English teacher in me will try to overlook both forgotten commas. After all, it's her column, right?

But, let's look at the proposition that we've reached the beginning of a new week. Uhmm, it's Tuesday. My wall calendar puts Sunday at the start of each week. Monday is day two. Tuesday is day three. We're more than 40 percent through this week. If the editor prefers a New Testament perspective and calls Sunday the seventh day, we're still two days into this one.

Even in folksy columns, readers like the news nugget near the top, say, in the first sentence or so. This editor finishes her crucial first sentence with no hint of any real news. Yes, indeedy by golly, we are more than half way through the month.

Perhaps to inject suspense, the editor postpones the news by asking: "Can you believe it?" The answer is, "Yes, dear, I sure can. And, I'm not even much surprised." Maybe she's going to write about how she doesn't believe it? No. The warm-up flows on.

The second paragraph features twin cliches: time is "sliding by" and events are "ramping up." But these old saws haven't made enough noise, so she inserts a loose rhyme and an ear-catching echo: "ramping up...coming up."

Excuse me, I can't go on. I have an earache, a headache, an eye ache and a stomach ache.
Oww

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Letter to a Health News Editor

Dear Editor: Your article in this morning's "Feeling Fit" section of the DeSoto Sun about using hypnosis by Tim Bartley to cure fibromyalgia is an embarrassment -- and dangerous. Tim Bartley holds no current professional license in the state of Florida that I can find. Your article says he "works at" a hypnosis center but doesn't list a college degree or any specialized training. Despite these obvious red flags, you've awarded him a free platform to advertise dangerous misinformation in the form of "news." Even his Web sites seem to be disabled. Bear with me and consider the following four or five things an editor should have done with this article -- before spiking it.
The text of the full article is below.

1. Use your general science knowledge. Think back to high school science classes. You learned enough anatomy to know if someone has "holes in the stomach" as Bartley describes, the person would likely be retching blood, bleeding internally and in extreme pain. None of these symptoms are appropriate for hypnosis. Furthermore, any current "medical editor" knows that in the last 20 years, researchers have demonstrated beyond question that a bacterium causes many cases of ulcers and they develop unrelated to stress. Bartley offers no insight as to how he can possibly distinguish between a bacterial infection and a condition brought on by stress.

2. Use your knowledge of history. Think back to high school history classes. They taught that Freud (Sigmund, although you-the-editor have failed to ask this writer to identify him or his daughter Anna Freud, also a practitioner) developed his psychoanalytical theories in the 1880's and 1890's -- more than a 120 years ago. This is a very distant hook for Bartley to hang his hat on. Perhaps Bartley is not familiar with any newer research regarding the fascinating and complex connections between mental and physical conditions.

3. Do basic fact checking. As an editor, you have access to any number of information resources, but even a simple "Google" quickly locates a dozen articles about fibromyalgia. Choose three, say from Mayo Clinic, NIH, and PubMed -- relatively reliable sources, all. Compare those reports about the causes and cures for this condition: cause unknown, treatment unknown. Compare those science-based medical reports with Bartley's claim to have personally "fixed" fibromyalgia "in his office yesterday." He sounds pretty silly to any editor who has done her homework.

4. Use critical thinking skills. Even cursory research turns up an important characteristic of fibromyalgia: For many suffers, it comes and goes, even to the point of being better in the afternoon! Its symptoms are often vague and mimic other serious diseases. Vauge and intermittent conditions can appear to be "fixed" when symptoms fade or change.


The people who undergo Bartley's apparently unlicensed hypnosis and seem to feel better also did a number of other things just prior to feeling better. But they were smart enough to figure out that, for example, driving U.S. 41 while listening to a Mozart concerto on PBS didn't cure their intermittent disease or even send it into remission, even though the drive and music transpired shortly before they began to feel better.

Remember, quacks claim "cures" only for intermittent conditions, ones that frequently go into remission for unknown reasons. This characteristic tempts desperate people to buy into the very strong delusion that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between spending money on a nice "healer" and feeling better a few minutes later. For example, I usually feel better after talking to my nice doctors. It feels good and reassuring to have them thump on my back, wave that cute little stethoscope over my chest, poke up my nose and peek into my ears with a warm little lamp, look me in the eyes and say "Hmmm." Afterwards, I often feel less headachy, stiff, and yes, even a little less mean and grumpy. But I may still have a terrible disease. That's what Bartley is doing, except he's probably doing it fraudulently and is clearly operating from a position of great misinformation and even ignorance.

5. I could go on. Bartley's explanation of stress and emotions wouldn't get him a pass on the state's FCAT science section. But his most dangerous claim that "unresolved emotions" causes tumors is worse than a fraud. He tempts people who may have a possible cancer to try hypnosis (cheap and accessible) instead of seeking a proper diagnosis and treatment (expensive and time-consuming).

The article:
Fibromyalgia and other physical pains that can be helped with hypnosis by Tim Bartley of Renaissance Hypnosis
Okay, I just saw a commercial with people crying because they have fibromyalgia. I also know that I just fixed this in my office yesterday, again. Is this pain real? Yes, it is. How could this be generated from the human mind? Freud stated that all psychosomatic illness -- psycho meaning mind, soma meaning body -- is hidden from the conscious mind. That is so true!


Think of a common problem, such as an ulcer. Ulcers are holes in the stomach brought on by feelings of stress. No one can feel stress unless they first feel overwhelmed, by the way. This continual stress, an emotion, can result in holes in the stomach lining. So there is a very comprehensible example. So how do I cure fibromyalgia and other physical problems? I first explain that all emotion equates to an action. If someone came into the room and started screaming at you, it might make you angry. That's a feeling. What might you do? You might yell back, you might throw something or run away. That's an action.

When these unresolved emotions become built up in the subconscious, much like a pressure cooker, it then relates to a "bodily action," which is illness, pain and tumors. Your feelings and emotions stem from your subconscious mind. There is a way to target the emotions underlying fibromyalgia, headache, IBS, and many other physical problems, a way that does not bring on the physical condition, but rather finds the feeling that is causing the symptoms. After that, the subconscious mind is then directed back to the very first time, situation or event where you ever felt such a feeling and change the perception of that event. Once the cause of the feeling is found and the pressure is released, the symptoms of the illness cease and never return.
Tim Bartley works at Renaissance Hypnosis in Charlotte County.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Future Newspaper Contest

My local newspaper is running a contest ($200 prize) soliciting its readers' views on what newspapers will look like in the next decade. This is my submission. (I don't expect to win.)



A Modest Proposal Regarding
Six Attributes of Successful Newspapers

The beloved tradition of delivering news printed on paper faces huge challenges in the coming decade. The biggest, of course, is Internet competition for readers and advertisers. That competition is pushing print-oriented editors and publishers to identify ways to curb costs, keep and attract advertisers, and use talent and resources wisely while reaching for an increasingly diverse readership. In the years ahead, publishers will be striving daily to connect with a post-modern audience that has thrown over traditional news models to embrace “buzz,” blogs and i-phones.

Clearly, print-based news must change or perish. It’s not enough to expect newspapers of the 21st century to attract staffs of enthusiastic, talented reporters and photographers, or that they nurture literate editors who know the community, love writing and communicating, and are willing to dig to find the story behind the story. Newspapers that survive and thrive will be ones whose management and staff keep their eyes simultaneously on both the bottom line and the horizon.

To do that, savvy publishers have already set their sails for a course aimed toward a new kind of journalism. Papers that wish to survive will be wise to follow in their wake. To help, we have identified six attributes of community newspapers that are growing in a shrinking market and present them here.

1. Tear Down The Wall
First and most important, the inconvenient wall separating news and editorial from advertising must be eliminated. For example, when newspaper revenue relies heavily on real-estate advertising, savvy publishers recruit local real-estate agents to write columns about the industry from which they profit. The time and cost of vetting their reports for bias and self-interest are outdated and unprofitable expenses.

Even better, whenever a newspaper staffer moonlights at another job, say as a boxing-match promoter, he or she is encouraged to promote and sell the product in weekly columns leading up to the event from which he hopes to turn a profit. The generous publisher creates that much-desired family atmosphere when staff can use news columns for self-promotion.

As an extension of this effort, savvy publishers assemble special sections devoted to special topics. Always popular with the burgeoning market of aging baby boomers is health and fitness news divorced from medical overview. A dedicated tab can attract both advertising and editorial content written by chiropractors, personal trainers and aroma therapists, to name just a few of the disenfranchised who lurk at the distant periphery of science and appreciate the patina of a news-like endorsement to gild their wares. The best part for publishers is that these practitioners are happy to both buy ads and write free content.

2. Protect the Status Quo
Successful newspapers cater to entrenched mores and morals by turning over news space at least once a week to faith-based writers. Leaders of fundamentalist and evangelistic sects are key to promulgating “Us vs. Them” mindsets. Their Saturday sermons help stem the dangerous tide of rational analysis and science-based thinking while overtly soliciting converts.

Along the same lines, successful publishers print readers’ letters without the inconvenience of fact checking or vetting for libel, logic and spelling. Publishers looking to the future know the importance of printing manifestos about creationism, abortion, race, and global warming regardless of a letter writer’s ability to support an argument beyond ad hominem attacks. When readers vent, publishers and editors alike can feel good about appearing to air “both sides” of a complex issue. After all, newspapers are “black and white,” and the world should be too.

3. Print More Good News
Because many readers crave “good news,” the decade’s savviest editors fill their front pages with stories like: “7th grade science class builds ramp: Demonstrates gravity,” “Local man puts roof on garage,” and “Police crack down on speeders.” Less-than-happy news should be limited to, for example, inspirational stories about tots with rare diseases. Faced with slow-news days, daring publishers reiterate scare stories about shark attacks, the imminent arrival of Asian viruses and killer-bee invasions.

Related to the good-news-is-the-best-news policy, publishers meeting the challenge of the future have shed the burden of printing a separate lifestyle, features and soft-news section. They’ve eliminated the expense of thoughtful book reviews, music and film criticism while retaining nonsensical horoscopes and inexpensive puzzle subscriptions. To retain the appearance of covering important people doing significant things, they sprinkle daily reports of celebrity sightings throughout the main news section.

Hand in hand with these efforts, successful newspapers try their best to confine national and international news to a digest running down an inside left rail: three inches for the Middle East, three inches for Asia – giving priority to buses careening off cliffs in India – and another three inches for Africa, where reports hit hard on Nigerian money scams. It’s no longer necessary to have wire-photos and captions matching a story, or to spell foreign and unusual names consistently because the publishers have educated readers to believe their contracts forbid editing or questioning wire-service copy.

4. Simplify Reporting; Homogenize Staff
The newspaper people best equipped to thrive in the coming decade understand reporters and photographers are “content generators.” This eliminates the need to pay for college-level training followed by apprenticeships under the watchful eye of seasoned city editors. The reporters most in demand cover local boards and regional governments by retyping prepared agendas for publication the day before a meeting and running sanitized versions of official minutes the day after. If a controversy arises, efficient reporters word-process a simple “he-said, she-said” story without wasting time investigating background, rounding up analyses, or writing a weekend follow-up. And if a police-beat reporter should describe a suspect’s arrest, it’s a time- and space-waster to report the outcome of the charges.

Columnists greatly simplify the opinion part of the business by writing about their own spouses and children, comfortable that their lives mirror those of their readers. This avoids the expense and discomfort of leaving the newsroom. When a columnist’s home-grown topics run out, he or she can still hold down costs by running “10-best” lists and short takes along the lines of “You’re Southern if you...,” topics easily culled and localized from amateur Web sites. In fact, local columnists have already broken new ground in this area by devoting dozens of column inches to enterprising examinations of eyebrow waxing and paeons to pets, ancestors and compact cars.

Many of today’s newspapers are addressing issues that affect Hispanic, African American, and American Muslim communities by skilled staffers who are knowledgeable about cross-cultural communities. The downside is it’s expensive to hire talented minorities, who enjoy great demand for their presence in newsrooms. Publishers who find it difficult and expensive to recruit and hire Black, Asian and Hispanic writers save themselves money and unnecessary controversy by giving themselves a pass when it comes to reporting on communities of color.

5. Exploit Free Information
The newspaper of the future will welcome prepared news releases from public-relations professionals. The publisher who encourages reporters to put their own bylines on submitted material never encounters an unhappy source. Another way to mine the same material is to award the public-relations writer a reporter-like byline, delivering an ego boost instead of a writing fee.

A real cost-saver is making sure reporters use vendor-supplied tickets, accept complimentary meals and use press passes to enter sporting events, parks, museums and concerts. Readers don’t really care, or even need to know, that a reporter’s glowing report stems from bargains and freebies not offered to the general public.

6. Repeat Important Stuff
Any newspaper worth its salt regularly trumpets the plaques it receives from membership-only competitions based on self-selected clips. Publishers should remind readers that the newspaper they read enters scores of such competitions and in years long gone has even been an also-ran in a few of them.

Assigning editors should rely on calendars of special-interest months to generate three-part series on heart disease and Elvis Presley’s birthday, for example. Canny publishers know if the paper did the same story last year (or last month) it saves time and money by not having to generate new ideas.

In Conclusion
Journalists hold the one job in America specifically protected by the U.S. Constitution. The time has come to retire the old saw about “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” and follow William R. Hearst’s observation that the power of the press profits the man who owns one. It’s only fitting that newspapers use the coming decade to institute these six modest proposals which have proven profitable and effective at a local newspaper in the avant garde of the new New Journalism.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ambiguous headline

This morning's DeSoto Sun carries the headline "Russian president fires PM, nominates ambiguous candidate."

The adjective "ambiguous" applies to language or actions that have more than one meaning. (Look it up.) If a copy editor intends it as a synonym for "obscure," which is the word used in the story to describe a relatively unknown Russian politcian, that editor has shot embarrasingly wide of the mark. "Obscure" describes a veiled or hidden object, meaning, or intention. (Look it up.) The candidate Putin nominated emerged from the shadows; he was obscured by relative anonymity. There is nothing in the story about the new PM being ambiguous.
oww

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mexican daisy and beauty berries; photos by John Tarnowski.

Plagiarism for God: Quiz at the End

On Sept. 1, 2007, evangelical Baptist preacher Scott Wilcoxen in Arcadia, Fla., used the DeSoto Sun's “Our Town” section (p.12) to deliver a sermon to area denizens, wagging the finger of shame in the direction of all who have failed to adopt a “Biblical Worldview.” After a pallid introduction, he introduces a metaphor to help him define the problem. There's only one problem. His colleague in Tennessee already used the same trope, and the same language, and the same order of ideas to reach the same conclusions. Here's the blow-by-blow.

Brother Wilcoxen: “Our reaction to the events around us — those activities important to us, or those activities that impact us — is the basis for how we see the world; in other words, what “lens” we use to look at life and its meaning. As I write these words, I’m wearing reading glasses which are powered at 1.75, so everything I see through these glasses appears slightly larger than it would without the glasses. I can see without them, but small words close up would certainly look a lot different! Your worldview is the “lens” through which you see and interpret the world around you — it is a frame of reference for your thoughts and actions. As you receive information, you interpret it according to your worldview, and then you act on the basis of that worldview.”

Michael Duduit, a Tennessee-based preacher with many sermons and blog-like entries posted all over the Internet, composed nearly identical words some time ago and left them on a Web site for Brentwood Baptist (Tenn.) Church.

Here’s how Duduit originally wrote it. “A worldview is a way of seeing reality, a way in which we see the world. You could use the analogy of a pair of glasses. As I write these words, I'm wearing reading glasses which are powered at 1.5, so everything I see through these glasses appears slightly larger than it would without the glasses. [...] Your worldview is the "lens" through which you see and interpret the world around you. It is a frame of reference for your thoughts and actions - as you receive information, you interpret it according to your worldview and you act on the basis of that worldview.”

Wilcoxen likes Duduit’s words and ideas and copies more of them: “The truth is, we all have a world view, which is shaped by the variety of influences around us — our family, friends, schools, church, books, TV, movies, music, background, traumas in our life, and so on. And, of course, our worldview can change over time, as our influences change. We all have ideas and opinions about what we experience around us — our “presuppositions” (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we consider critical to how we make decisions, make judgments, and discern truth.”

In addition to writing it first, Duduit said it more succinctly and nodded to a source of his own: “We all have a worldview, and it has been shaped by a variety of influences - our parents, schools, church, books, TV, movies, music and so on. If you wonder why there is so much conflict in public life today, one major factor is the battle of incompatible and competing worldviews. [...] Your worldview is the "lens" through which you see and interpret the world around you. It is a frame of reference for your thoughts and actions - as you receive information, you interpret it according to your worldview and you act on the basis of that worldview. As James Sire explains, "A worldview is a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously) about the basic make-up of the world.""

Our Florida preacher seems to believe it’s OK to republish things he likes as his own. There's more.

Wilcoxen pontificates: “Most of the postmodern culture claims no ultimate truth — that our existence is the result of an accidental biological process with no underlying meaning or purpose. This is the “world view” of the postmodern culture: If there is no greater purpose to life, then our survival and enjoyment are the most important thing, and our personal needs are primary. There is no ultimate morality, so what you do and how you do it should be based on your own opinions and values. There is no hereafter, just here and now. And there is no greater spiritual truth, just material reality.”

Duduit’s words: "The postmodern worldview that pervades today's culture says that there is no ultimate truth; that we are the accidental result of a chaotic process with no underlying meaning or purpose. Since there is no greater purpose to life, then your survival and enjoyment are the most important thing, and that your needs are primary. There is no ultimate morality; what you do should be based on your own opinions and values. There is no hereafter - just here and now; there is no greater spiritual truth, just material reality."

And one last example of many remaining. Duduit, the original, writes: “In contrast to that is a Christian worldview, based on biblical truth, which recognizes that here and now is not all there is; there is a divine Creator who has shaped the world with His own purposes in mind. You are not an accident; you were created with a purpose in mind. Your desires are not the ultimate goal in life, and the greatest satisfaction does not come from feeding your own hungers. The world in which we live is important but temporary - there is a far greater reality awaiting us beyond this life, and what we do now is preparing us (positively or negatively) for that eternity.”

And, Wilcoxen's localized version: "In contrast is a Christian biblical worldview, recognizing a divine creator who has shaped the world by His own hand, and with His own plan in mind. We are not an accident; we were created with a purpose in mind. Our desires are not the ultimate goal in life, and the greatest satisfaction does not come from feeding our own desires. The world in which we live is important, but temporary: there is a far greater reality awaiting us beyond this life, and what we do now is preparing us for that eternity."

Wilcoxen took the trouble to change a few words here and there, the technique seventh-graders use to translate encyclopedia-ese into “their own words,” as the Language Arts teacher (or newspaper editor) requested. Wilcoxen omits the original’s nod to sources, and in the interest of “truth,” changes the power of his metaphorical glasses to match his own optics. Cute.




The Quiz

1. Which Commandments were broken in producing Wilcoxen’s column?
A. Thou shall not steal.
B. Thou shall not bear false witness.
C. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s possessions.
D. All the above.

2. Which sins were committed in producing Wilcoxen’s column?
A. The sin of sloth.
B. The sin of vanity.
C. The sin of pride.
D. All the above.

3. When e-mailed about his plagiarism, what comments did Wilcoxen offer?
A. I read something that said exactly what I wanted to say so perfectly that it stuck with me.
B. The newspaper doesn’t have enough space so I had to cut two sections that gave the source.
C. I did a lot of research and got the sources mixed up.
D. God forgives me, why can’t you?
E. All the above.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Is it plagiarism?

In this morning's DeSoto Sun newspaper, editor Kim Cool writes a nice review ("Let's Go," p. 23) of the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, apparently relying on press releases. I have a few quibbles with the opening paragraphs, but it's in the second part, carrying the sub-hed "Dali," where my antenna begin quivering.

Ms. Cool writes: "Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali I Domenech was born May 11, 1904 in the farming village of Figueres, Spain, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, 16 miles from the French Border." The museum's Web site on Dali's life kicks off with a nearly identical sentence.

Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali I Domenech was born at 8:45 on the morning of May 11, 1904 in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Spain. Figueres is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, only sixteen miles from the French border in the principality of Catalonia.

OK, the facts of his birth and the geography of his village are considered common knowledge (they appear in five or more recognized sources). But it's the sentence structure and the order of ideas that seem so much the same to me.

Here's the second sentence Ms. Cool produces under her byline: "His father was a prosperous notary who sent the young man to the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid and built a studio for him at home." Compare this with subsequent sentences from the Dali Museum's writeup:

The son of a prosperous notary, Dali spent his boyhood in Figueres and at the family's summer home in the coastal fishing village of Cadaques where his parents built his first studio.

Ms. Cool goes on to write: "In 1929 he held his first one-man show in Paris, where he met Gala Eluard and her husband Paul. Gala became Dali's lover, muse, business manager, inspiration and wife."

Proceeding at about the same pace through Dali's life, the Museum staff wrote:

...That year, Dali met Gala Eluard when she visited him in Cadaques with her husband, poet Paul Eluard. She became Dali's lover, muse, business manager, and chief inspiration.

People don't realize they can plagiarize more than just words. Ideas and organization are plagiarizable elements, too. That's what seems to have happened here.

oww

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Around the Yard

By walking deep into the back five acres, one finds our bird-watching lounges.
We are "palm nuts," and a back-lit frond is always a lovely sight.

I planted caladium bulbs and John photographed the results.