Paranoia strikes the birthers

Thursday evening WordPress had a glitch — a stray character in code caused the system to overwrite some material, to mess up a lot of blogs.  It took a couple of hours to fix.

In the birther world, such things only happen “by design.”  Because of a glitch that affected 50,000 blogs (including this one), the birthers feel singled out.

Seriously, at that site where the paranoia runs rampant, My Very Own Point of View, the discussion is on what can be discerned by differences in images from microfiche copies of the newspaper columns announcing births recorded in Honolulu, from the Hawaii Vital Records office, in 1961.  In 5,000 words or so, the author determined that there are differences in the images because some of the microfiche is scratched, and some isn’t.

Ergo, the author says, Obama conspired to mess with every microfiche in the world, and he’s therefore an alien (probably from the planet Tralfamador, or maybe a waiter in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe).

I’ve read the piece three times trying to figure out what the point is, other than the author has never thought much about libraries or microfiche or newspapers ever before.  Am I wrong?

No wonder there’s an aluminum foil shortage, eh?

Tinfoil hat area

Warning: Tinfoil Hat Wearers Too Close for Comfort

I suggested a less ominous meaning behind the scratches on the microfiche, but the blog owner found my comments offensive, and refused to post them.  I asked why, and this was the response I got:

Because you are not civil. There is nothing about race in this material or in my posts. There is not a single “conclusion drawn”. If you have an INTELLIGENT debate to advance on the material then do so. If you do not, go post somewhere where your poison is not moderated.

Of course, I made no mention of race.  I addressed solely the issues of library archival procedures and how they might make for differences in copies from different libraries.  Here is the comment she’s talking about; you decide which of us is crazy, Dear Reader:

Why do you assume that microfilm copies should be the same in all locations?  You’re assuming that there were not different editions of the same paper, which is incorrect; you’re assuming there is one source of microfilm copies, which is unlikely (many libraries used to make their own microfilm from paper copies in their collections — it’s unlikely, I think, that the Library of Congress would have used the same microfilm available at the University of Hawaii — in 1961 precedence was given to paper collections, and the microfilming was done later).

You assume that later flaws in the film are not introduced by dust, by reading machines that shred the film.

You assume much that is simply not so in the newspaper industry and in library archiving.

And in the end, what do you claim?  A couple of periods disappear in photocopies?  A new flyspeck appears?

You need to check the rules of civil procedure, specifically with regard to evidence and contemporary business records.  I’ll wager you can figure out why most of what you worry about here is no issue in proving things up in a courtroom.

I don’t  think I was uncivil.  I think that birthers all fall into that category Euripides described, of those whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.

(And, please, if you can figure out what the complaint is about copies differing in quality at different libraries, please tell us what is going on, in comments.)

11 Responses to Paranoia strikes the birthers

  1. Nick K says:

    If Ladyforest has her way we are indeed heading for a new dark ages.

    Where nothing but the right wing party line is allowed. Where thinking for yourself makes you “UnAmerican.” Where thinking that religion and government should not mix is treason. Where teaching science in science classrooms is not allowed.

    What Ladeforest and those like her want us to be is nothing more then blind obedient sheep…nothing more then unthinking slaves that she and hers don’t give a damn about.


  2. Jim Stanley says:


    “Teh internets” (as the kids like to intentionally misspell it for reasons I cannot comprehend) are a HUGE part of the incivility problem. It is so much easier to insult and attack someone when it’s not face to face. Even the best of us can get brazen under such circumstances. (Though I have to say — not blowing even a little smoke here — I have known Ed since the early days of COMB on AOL and I have yet to witness a shred of incivility from the man, even when he has disagreed with me.)

    The other factors along with the internet are the 24-7 cable news cycle and talk radio.

    I’m a lifelong journalist and radio veteran. And I am not sure either medium is doing a damn thing that is worthwhile. There was a time when local radio offered local news…when Christian radio play hymns and read Scripture…and when talk radio was aimed at interviewing knowledgeable authorities on a wide variety of topics. Now, its all right wing politics.

    Is it any wonder I just dabble in the business these days and earn my living elsewhere? It would drive me insane.


  3. Ellie says:

    It is my belief that we are headed for a period something akin to the Dark Ages. One can only hope that the new one will be like the old one in that it wasn’t totally dark. I fear for my grandchildren and great grandchildren, because the barbarians and loonies are gaining ground.

    I blame a lot of this on the Internet. I love it and would hate to lose it, but OTOH, way back when, most of these people would simply have been the town eccentrics, hating their neighbors and suing everyone they could sue, and once in a while, wearing tin foil hats. Now, they have an instant means of connecting.

    Then again, way back when, they might have understood more about libraries and microfilm.

    BTW, I didn’t see anything wrong in your post.


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Ladysforest, “rebut” isn’t profanity.


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Heck, while I’m at it, here’s the second comment I sent you, ladysforest, with details on how you can find it to free it from your purgatory:


    There are a lot of “other halves of the proof.” Here are six sets of circumstances that create a firm, rebuttable presumption of validity of the Obama claims — and frankly, whatever this piece is supposed to reveal doesn’t come close to rebutting anything.

    Ed Darrell said this on Your comment is awaiting moderation. June 8, 2010 at 4:28 am

    And here’s the third, still standing at your site:


    Why are you so paranoid you won’t let my posts stand?

    Ed Darrell said this on June 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Reply

    As everyone can see, there is no profanity. There is no reference to race.

    What’s the truth, Ladysforest?


  6. george.w says:

    Back in my camera repair days I fixed a few microfilm and microfiche readers for the university library. The media these devices handle is simply high-contrast photographic film, and the actual information is encoded in a halide-infused gelatin emulsion layer about a thousandth of an inch thick on a polyester backing. Sometimes the media is handled carelessly and sometimes the machines, though well-designed, do wear or scratch the emulsion surface. And the storage environment is simply a room full of file cabinets and dusty old books. The media gets handled by library personnel and researchers.

    Every media has its strengths and limitations as an archive material and microfilm is very good. Not bulletproof.


  7. Nick K says:

    Of over ten thousand views for the research, only about a dozen negative-bias comments were left – four of which were left by the same person who wrote this post.

    The question then becomes were you allowing other “negative bias” comments or were you blocking them?

    “Research” requires evidence. Do you have any actual evidence? Or is it just conspiracy mumbojumbo?


  8. Jim Stanley says:

    Been following this since the start, Ed. You were not lacking in civility at any point.

    And you never made this a racial issue. Knowing you as I do, I doubt that even entered your mind. I, however, am not quite as balanced and fair-minded as you. I do see racism here. I see it everywhere.

    Perhaps we can chalk that up to the fact that, for most of my youth, I was a virulent, “Bell Curve” racist. I am, by the grace of a loving and merciful God, no longer. But one of two things is possible…

    1. I see it everywhere because I am still guilt-ridden over my past and trying to fight it, even where it truly doesn’t exist. (I suppose there is some validity to that assessment.)

    2. It takes one — even a former, or recovering, one to know one.

    I am betting on the latter.



  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Show us the post, madam. I made no “off-color” remarks. Either you are sadly confusing my post with someone else’s (or vice versa), or you’re committing a grand act of fiction to cover your burro. (For example, I have given you exactly three posts, one of which asked what happened to the first. If you thought I posted four, you miscounted, or misattributed.)

    I dare you to post my remarks, unedited. If you won’t do it at your site, copy ’em here. I have provided the exact text of what you refused to post, above. As you, and the rest of the world can see, I only discuss the features and characteristics of library archiving.

    But then, I’m not defending a whopping fiction against a good man who happens to be the President of the U.S.

    But do us the favor and courtesy — will you? — while you’re here, and explain just what the point of your post was?

    And if you won’t do that, why not answer my questions here? Your refusal to pay attention to serious questions from serious researchers won’t win you many friends.


  10. ladysforest says:

    This was not the actual wording of, or the only comment left by this person. He altered this for posting here.
    This is a research piece and does not, at any point, attempt to draw a single conclusion.
    I suggest that the paranoia is with the author of this little post.
    Of over ten thousand views for the research, only about a dozen negative-bias comments were left – four of which were left by the same person who wrote this post.
    Although I did not express my opinion about the material I researched, preferring to keep it non-controversial, this person seems unaware of that fact. This, and his off-color comments, are the reason his comments were not approved.


  11. John Moeller says:

    You were quite civil, of course.

    As I’m sure you know, this is an unfortunate consequence of people who listen to their own narrative too much. There’s no room left for anything that deviates from it.


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