The hole in the "oil spot" strategy for Iraq.
The hole in the "oil spot" strategy for Iraq.
A mostly political Weblog.
Nov. 14 2005 3:46 AM

The Hole in the "Oil Spot" Strategy

Plus--You Can't Shut Anyone Up Anymore.

(Continued from Page 8)

Kevin Roderick notes that traffic in Los Angeles (and, perhaps, elsewhere) gets horrifically jammed every year right after the switchover from Daylight Savings Time. What's interesting is that this seems to be a purely sociological phenomenon rather than a technological one. As best as I can figure it out, what happens is roughly this:

There are two kinds of people--1) those who run on "nature's clock," by looking at the position of the sun and how light it is; and 2) those who run on the official designated human-clock time of day.

After the switch from Daylight to Standard time--during which human clocks are set back an hour--the people who run on nature's clock and leave work late leave at what used to be 7:00 and is now 6:00. The human-clock people--the 2s--leave at their normal human-clock times. Does virtually everyone leave at 6 then? No--there are some nature's clock people who used to leave at 6 but now leave at 5:00. But (and this seems the key point) since the nature's clock people tend to be laid back folks who leave work late, there are more of them moving from a 7:00 to a 6:00 commute than there are rushed, uptight nature's clock people moving from a 6:00 to a 5:00 commute. The result is a doubling up of commuter streams at 6:00--at least until the laid-back nature's clock people realize they want to stick around the office for an extra hour in the dark. Then traffic goes back to normal.


At least I think that's what happens. Correct me if I've got it wrong. ... Update: A simpler way to put it might be that the end of Daylight Savings time makes the people who go by human clocks head home just as the sun is setting, which is when the "nature's clock" people also naturally tend to head home. Traffic is lighter (i.e., better spaced out) when the human-clock people are prompted to leave work while it is still light, letting the nature's-clockers fill the roads an hour or so later when the sun actually goes down. That's what happens with Daylight Savings Time, which is why (I'm told) traffic always gets better when it takes effect again in the spring. ... P.S.: Doesn't that mean that, if we care about growing congestion, we should keep Daylight Savings Time year round? It seems cheaper than double-decking all the freeways or trying to bribe people into carpools. ... 4:45 A.M. link

Kristof: 'I might have gotten it right!' Jack Shafer finally provokesNYT columnist Nicholas Kristof into confronting the flaws in his initial reports of Joseph Wilson's now-famous trip to Niger--reports that set in motion the whole meshugaas surrounding the outing of Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. There were two main flaws in Kristof's initial Wilson columns.

Flaw #1: They gave the impression that Cheney's office sent Wilson to Niger.

Flaw #2: They say that Wilson exposed the Niger/Saddam/yellowcake documents as forgeries in early 2002--as opposed to calling into question the existence of the deal the documents allegedly documented. In fact, the documents themselves weren't examined until late 2002.

Kristof's response is on TimesSelect. Non-members like me can't read it, even if we go down to the store and buy a copy of the NYT print edition. ** But kf operatives have obtained a copy (and Tom Maguire has long excerpts). In many ways, it's a model NYT op-edder's correction. The Times has come in for a lot of criticism lately, so it's good to see Kristof showing how it's done. It's really not that difficult, actually--there are five simple steps:

1. Bond with your base: Kristof introduces the subject of his mistakes by noting, "Some bloggers on the right have been fuming about the column ... " Not only are Kristof's critics  conservative and partisan, they're overexcitably so--they're "fuming"! Of course it will turn out that the fuming right-wingers are right and Kristof is wrong. But that's all the more reason for him to make sure his readers know whom to root for from the start!

2.: Be picky about what you're not buying:  Regarding Flaw #1, Kristof notes, "One of the criticisms of the right is that it sounds [in Kristof's May 6 column ] as if the vice president dispatched Wilson to Niger, but I don't buy that objection." He doesn't buy it because on May 6 he only said "the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal," and that this prompted Wilson to somehow be "dispatched to Niger." Of course, since Kristof never cited anyone else as doing the dispatching, he left the distinct impression that Cheney's office was in fact the dispatcher. And, as Maguire notes, a second Kristof column on June 13  says Wilson had been sent "at the behest of the office of Vice President Dick Cheney," which is a good bit wronger than the May 6 formulation--but which Kristof conveniently doesn't mention. [Emph. added] [Update/Weaselly semi-correction: But alert reader J.P. notes that once you get past the hyped "behest" lede, Kristof's June 13 column (unlike his May 6 column) is quite clear about who actually did the dispatching--i.e. the CIA, not Cheney.]

3. Keep hope alive! From Kristof's original column:

"[Wilson] reported to the CIA and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents have been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted -- except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway."

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