More on Torturegate (the Word)

The number of Google references was at 13 on Thursday and is 31 this evening (mostly on blogs, and counting my two earlier posts). Nexis shows two mentions: One during "Hannity and Colmes" on Fox News on Thursday and
one in a short news item in a paper somewhere. Google News shows one reference, Yahoo! News shows zero, and Google’s search ofUsenet groups shows three (all Thursday). "Torturegate" doesn’t appear at all on two
select indexes of blog content, Daypop and Blogdex.

OK, so that’s today’s unscientific take on one new word. However, some people are trying to be a little more scientific about how new wordsand ideas spread in cyberspace. Wired News has a story today called "How the Word Gets Around," on an experiment to follow the spread of a new memeonline. After reading the article, I’m not sure what the project proves, though, because it invited people to participate as a sort of self-conscious exercise. It’d be more interesting to trace an idea that just sort of gets thrown into the collective consciousness. Like
"torturegate."   

Some Military Heroes

Good New York Times story on some of the military officers defending terror-war detainees in upcoming military tribunals. It takes a lot of courage, and belief in what are often termed basic American values, to fight the system:

"Last month, an audience at Oxford University in England was stunned, witnesses said, when two of the lawyers, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift ofthe Navy and Maj. Mark Bridges of the Army, said the tribunals were not capable of producing a fair and just result.

"The several hundred people who had gathered for a talk about the Guantánamo detention facility did not expect to hear the American officers’ objections.

"Murray Wesson, a Rhodes Scholar from South Africa who attended, wrote on his Web log: ‘What I was unprepared for, given that these were, after all, military lawyers, was how critical of the process they were. Indeed, they went so far as to describe the tribunals as`fundamentally flawed’ and insinuated that they would not amount to fair trials.’ "

Man, I’m a Genius

Language history was made right here, or several posts below this one, on Sunday afternoon. That’s when I published
the first known (to me) use of the term "torturegate" to describe the
current furor and recriminations over the U.S. Army abuse of prisoners
in Iraq. I know it’s a big claim. But earlier today, I noticed that
someone had visited the blog from a Google listing for "torturegate."
At that point — it was about 2 in the afternoon, Pacific time, that
was the only indexed reference to that word. Now, about eight hours later, the Google search
on "torturegate" shows two more references, both more recent than mine.
Also, a search of Nexis for the last couple of months shows zero
instances of "torturegate."

Before you use the word, just remember this blog is copyrighted, and
words invented here can only be used by the express written consent of
myself and the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Royalties for
using this new word will be set at rates affordable to all. And stay
tuned for our full line of Torturegate (marca registrada; patent
pending) products (and if there’s a particular Torturegate product
you’d like to see, please write the management).

Iraq Numbers

Sources for following the casualty count in Iraq.
There are a couple very good sources on U.S. and allied casualties.
Sources on Iraqi casualties are speculative and unclear by comparison.
That’s because the United States got out of what’s been termed "the
body-count business" (an allusion to the weekly totals provided during
most of
the Vietnam War) during the Gulf War. I guess that’s because it was
politically tricky to report the magnitude of the casualties we were
inflicting. But enough of memory lane, and on to the casualty
counts:

Iraq
Coalition Casualties
:
A very reliable and up-to-date summary
of U.S. and allied casualties, backed up by press and military reports
of killed and wounded. Includes a list of every U.S./allied soldier
killed in action since the war started.

GlobalSecurity.org
gives a slightly different count.
Its totals vary slightly from those on the previous site. Maybe the
best feature of the list is the longish explanatory
essay
, with some historical perspective, on the numbers and
how they’re derived.

Iraq Body Count:
An explicitly antiwar site that attempts to do what the governments
involved will not do and what the media cannot do (or haven’t gotten
around to doing): tally civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of
the war (the current estimated range is 9,018 to 10,873).

Good News — from Iraq!

The Bush people, from the president to Rummy on down, insist the U.S. media just aren’t relaying all the good news happening outside the shooting zones in Iraq. To help do my small part, here’s a tidbit gleaned from the press office of the Coalition Provisional Authority:

“In support of the national holiday honoring the birthday of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Coalition Provisional Authority is giving more than 950 soccer balls to Iraqi children, schools, and sports clubs in South Central Iraq.” [That soccer pitch in Fallujah that the natives have turned into a cemetery for people killed during the current siege is probably off-limits to games right now, though.]

I checked to see whether any of the naysaying mainstream media have picked up on the prophet’s birthday balls. None have, so far as I can see. But The New York Times was actually ahead of the curve, with a piece from sports columnist George Vecsey on a Long Island soldier who’s gotten a kid’s soccer league together. Vecsey even alludes to the kill-joy media:

“The smiles. You rarely see smiles like these on the 6 o’clock news or on the front page. Alex Fyfe gets to see Iraqi children with a happy look on their faces, as they kick soccer balls on the dust and rocks.”