Sources and Methods

Please keep in mind that these posts are basically all rough drafts. I don't get paid enough to review and edit like they are formal article submissions. And sometimes I do digress (because I can!).

I've meant to do this for a while. But let me describe the "krill flow" of news that I use for blogging. Sometimes people wonder where I get stuff as if it is from dark site that requires passwords and special access. It's all open source.

My basic sources are Yahoo News for the wire service reports (AP, UPI, Reuters, and AFP). The removal of the regional categories of news really sucks. I used to roll through the regions in order of interest to see top stories. I miss the days not so long ago really when Europe stories centered on soccer and cheese regulations rather than terror attacks and Russian threats.

I like aggregator sources like Instapundit and the Real Clear sites for defense, world affairs, and politics. They spread a broader net that identifies topics of interest, and link to articles from the Washington Post, New York Times (funny enough, until they stopped doing it, I was in the set of blogs the Times would link to in relation to their stories), LA Times and other newspapers here and abroad that I then use, as well as material from think tanks. I also like the PJ Media Morning Briefing.

Strategypage is a must read. I'd recommend them above me if you can read only one site. Subscribing would be a help.

I like National Review Online and Steyn Online. But they are more of personal interest than routine source materials.

Really, the wire services are my prime source.

Related are email based notices like my Jane's defense updates, Defense Industry Daily newsletters, Defense News, USNI News, Voice of America , and OSAC (the Overseas Security Advisory Council of the Department of State) newsletters (which rely on wire reports, too, but focus on security related news).

I used to have Yahoo key word notices on certain topics but they seem to have dropped them at a prior redesign of their site which erased the former ability to scan news by regions. I really miss that.

Global Security is a minor source via email because of its formatting.

I'm on the Department of Defense email list as well, so I get notices of some news and news conferences.

I get emails from Stratfor. The Real Clear sites often include their analyses, too.

Although with the press of news online, I sometimes let my email sources build up. Sometimes to my regret.

During a crisis I turn more to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty site and Radio Free Asia.

Obviously, for news breaking at that moment I go to television. I routinely watch Fox News (but not the opinion shows) and CNN (although that is much reduced while they are on their collusion bender--it really is nauseating to watch). While it is hard to imagine, there was a time I even watched MSNBC before it chose insanity as a business model. I have long moved on from the Big 3, who I find untrustworthy.

I also have military journals and related publications both online and in paper versions.

And I try to keep in mind when I read sources the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, as coined by Michael Crichton:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I'd point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn't. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

And note that Crichton made up the name to make it sound more authoritative--as he clearly admitted.

I try to read through the opinions in the areas I know from my education, reading, and experience, and focus on what they are saying and not on what they say it means.

And while I am not immune to the G-MA effect, I do retain a healthy skepticism of what is said in non-defense and non-foreign affairs in the media and do not treat it as if it is inscribed in stone (see global warming, for example; or repeated descriptions of "far right" parties in Europe when the same media calls Republicans "Nazis").

So that's my basic open source intelligence network. On the whole, the basic news sources tilt left because of the heavy emphasis on the wire services. But they have the advantage of fewer opportunities for blatant slanting because of lack of word count. I exclude the military-related sources in that judgment, although you could fairly say they slant right just from their subject matter.

Also, you may wonder why I have an email posted but no comments. I've addressed this before so let me reproduce one post on this subject:

Whenever I am mildly tempted to enable comments, I always fire up the Yahoo! news site. That always cures me.

I rely on the Yahoo! site for the bulk of the krill flow of news that I feed on. But reading the comments reminds me that there are a lot of really stupid, hateful, and paranoid people out there. And I have no desire to provide one more bit of real estate for them to spout on.

Relying on email for feedback has resulted in much higher quality comments.

Anyway, if you've wondered why I don't have comments, that's one big part of my reasoning.

The second is that I don't want the time suck of patrolling the comments to respond to comments, delete for idiocy or hate, or watch for spam.

And third, I don't want to be trapped by commenters. Sure, I see lots of idiot commenters on other sites, but that isn't the real danger of comments. The real danger is from people who like what you write. I think it is too easy to be seduced by positive commenters into tailoring posts to appeal to commenters. I try to offer accurate thoughts on events based on what I think, and I think that could be endangered with comments.

So there you go. If you're curious.

And the comment issue has gotten worse, with paid trolls out there pushing the goals of others, including hostile states and groups. So no comments here. Ever.

I added a weekend data dump to combat my desire to comment quickly on lots of things. I add things over the week that I want to mention but don't want to devote a full post to addressing. So it may seem rather stale in some cases much like a weekly news magazine is now. It is more than a links list although it can include just that. And sometimes I promote a paragraph and expand it if I change my mind during the week. I might actually comment on more things despite my effort to keep my average posts per day under two. It was getting ridiculous, especially in a post-blog age of social media. But that's what the category is.

Oh, and while I try to add this when I think about it, I do have a small amount of Lockheed Martin stock. Not nearly enough to affect my comments on a story involving them but consider this my mention if I forget in a post.