Friday, May 22, 2009

Breitbart flips off protest against forcing children to be soldiers

At least I find the title of his piece agreeable:

Breitbart: I Jerk

David Brooks hearts Obama

Wow, has David Brooks turned around in the last few years. From his latest Op-Ed piece regarding the Cheney/Obama brouhaha (which I hope will continue until the next election):

"But the bottom line is that Obama has taken a series of moderate and time-tested policy compromises. He has preserved and reformed them intelligently. He has fit them into a persuasive framework. By doing that, he has not made us less safe. He has made us more secure."

Here, here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Who are these bozos who call in on "The Takeaway"?

"Give us your take at my take at your take at":

Beep..."I took out a credit card at zero percent interest and after I made the first payment blah blah blah blah blah blah" bliooop.

It's The Takeaway. God this show sucks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Matt Taibbi's brilliant Tom Friedman takedown

Thanks to Cajun Boy, Gawker's new night editor for pointing out to us Matt Taibbi's brilliant evisceration of all things Tom Friedman. Sample:

"Like The World is Flat, a book borne of Friedman’s stirring experience of seeing IBM sign in the distance while golfing in Bangalore, Hot, Flat and Crowded is a book whose great insights come when Friedman golfs (on global warming allowing him more winter golf days:“I will still take advantage of it—but I no longer think of it as something I got for free”), looks at Burger King signs (upon seeing a “nightmarish neon blur” of KFC, BK and McDonald’s signs in Texas, he realizes: “We’re on a fool’s errand”), and reads bumper stickers (the “Osama Loves your SUV” sticker he read turns into the thesis of his “Fill ‘er up with Dictators” chapter). This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs."

Flat N All That

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wifi Happy Hour

St. Dymphna's 4:26pm, lazy, drunky Tuesday.

(Where is my life going?)

Monday, May 11, 2009

And one more thing about the death of newsprint/democracy

The common assumption at this moment is that the ad supported web model cannot work. But why has the (largely) ad supported newspaper model worked? For years people doubted the return on investment in big full page ads and inserts that people throw away immediately, but companies had to put their visual noise somewhere.

If newspapers by and large go away, there are only so many places you can put your ads. Electronic screens occupy a lot of eyeballs for a lot of time. Wouldn't that warrant higher rates?

Does democracy need well paid journalists with expense accounts to survive?

Lately, the argument that our nation's fledgling newspaper reporters have been making to justify their existence goes kind of like this: hey, we know that nobody is reading newspapers anymore except for old people and newspaper people, but without "professional journalists" like us, no one will bother sitting through boring legislative sessions, have the connections to expose insider malfeasance or fly off to exotic countries and tell you what's going on there. Without us j-school graduate pros (and our good salaries and expense accounts) Democracy Itself will fail.

Wow! It takes a lot of, uh, self confidence to feel that your day job is to hold up the pillars of democracy and that society is on the verge of collapse without your daily Jack Bauer-like heroics. The problem is, it's completely delusional.

Let's start with local government "problem". The truth is, there are lots of small local papers that do an excellent job of covering local politics as well as covering hyper local events like Community Board meetings that citywide papers won't touch (downtown Manhattan's "The Villager" comes to mind). Also, increasingly local bloggers are actually covering these "boring" public meetings in droves. In places with spottier coverage, it's hard to see how setting up a free webcam at these meetings wouldn't provide all the information any interested member of the community would need.

What about the claim that democracy needs insiders to expose government and corporate shenanigans? This is true, but the assumption that you have eat lunch at The Palm and the Four Seasons to be in the know is laughably dated. Wasn't it protoblogger Matt Drudge who broke and led the reporting on the biggest story of the last decade, the Monica Lewinsky scandal? He didn't even live anywhere near Washington, but got all the biggest scoops because he had the public's ear. And he did it all with a black and white, single page website, using basic HTML.

Finally, we have the almost Imperialist assumption that in order to know what's going on in far away lands, we must send an army of scribes overseas, armed with their Western ideals and j-school credentials. How would a Google News-style aggregator of local blogs from these countries be less informative? Might this even give us greater insight into the countries in question, this ability to hear unmediated voices from the inside?

Look, I feel the newspaper folks' pain. I used to make a little money writing and producing music that came out on vinyl. Now I still do it but everyone seems to download it for free. But one thing is definitely true: the threatened death of music never happened. If anything, there is so much music now that no one has time to digest most of it, let alone pay for it.

What ultimately changes in the digital revolution is not the public's ability to access information (it actually increases exponentially), just who gets paid for it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Republicans can't quite fathom blacks being part of America yet

Oh Byron York. Your Washington Examiner piece is so telling:

"On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are."

In this case "actually are" means "are among whites". Which are the people who apparently matter. This is a misguided Republican talking point which will play well to their base and further alienate them from moderates and blacks, who, I would like to remind them, vote.

This delicious nonsense was brought to my attention by The Awl. Thanks.

Oh: also, since so many of the commenters (or "commentators" as York insists on calling them) called him a racist, York felt the need to dig a deeper hole with this, uh, rebuttal?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

But what does Sasha Grey mean?

Sasha Grey, the porn star with a brain, is now on everyone's radar. The frequently cited example of her voracious intellectual appetite is this Public Service Announcement on eating sperm. Heady stuff (zing!) She has now stepped up one rung, doing a star turn in Steven Soderbergh's latest docu-movie/whatever "The Girlfriend Experience" where she actually does some acting...she plays a hooker! But not your average it'll-be-four-hundred-for-the-hour hooker. No this one pretends to be your girlfriend for like a day. This means you get to make eggs for her and read the paper with her in the morning (like anyone still does that).

All of it sounds like Soderbergh indulging some kinky well-off middle age dude fantasy. Interviews with him have come off as rather creepy as well: his point is basically, hey, porn is totally normal now, prostitution should be legal, and the casting couch on this movie was awesome! Well, not the last part, but you half expect him to say, "as a man in my late 40s who repeatedly beats off to this 21 year old's videos, I thought, she should totally be in my movie."

So now our little vixen is a real-life actress. Sure she's still playing a prostitute of sorts, but the way this culture works, she'll soon be playing a young Hillary Clinton, or at least Monica Lewinsky.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ross Douthat: Another Clueless "Conservative" NY Times Opnion Writer

Ross Douthat (whose name sounds perilously close to a combination of "douchebag" and "asshat") is the New York Times' latest I'm-a-conservative-but-not-in-the-way-you-think blogger Op-Ed columnist. Now that David Brooks is basically an Obama Democrat, off in the political woods writing about The Concept of Genius and How Society Works, I guess they felt they needed to bring on someone to actually talk like a Republican, sort of.

It's always puzzled me that the Times feels the need to pay lip service to Republican politics, as if doing so will dispel the almost universal (and accurate) perception that it is a liberal paper. The problem is that mainstream conservative voices now are so far off the conspiracy theory deep end that the Times has to resort to oddballs like Douthat who still have a little Republican fire and brimstone, but ultimately are too smart to actually endorse most of the right's crazy ideas wholesale.

Today Douthat makes the party-line argument that Sen. Arlen Spector (R D-Pennsylvania) is such a morally bankrupt political opportunist that the Republicans didn't need him anyway. He also dismisses as "Yankee moderates" Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Guess they don't need those traitors either. No problem, Ross, us Democrats are more than comfortable caucasing with all of the Northeast Republicans. Hand 'em over!

He then makes a vague argument for a new kind of Republican, sort of like what Bill Clinton and Gary Hart were to the Dems of yore, but he admits that none of those exist right now. Anywhere. God am I glad I'm not a Republican right now.

Meanwhile Brooks is over on the other side of the page saying that today's Republican Party has no appeal to young people, urban people, or the upper or lower middle classes. This sounds like more than just a lack of a Bizzaro World Gary Hart.