Monday, May 20, 2013

Janet's Etsy Store Opens at Last!

Janet has finally gotten her miniature-quilt electronic boutique open, Trillium Gap Designs. Big excitement!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Proud to Be A Journalist / Where at Least I Know I'm Free

Just passing on Greenwald's latest:

First, consider which viewpoints cause someone to be fired from The Liberal Media. Last month, Helen Thomas' 60-year career as a journalist ended when she expressed the exact view about Jews which numerous public figures have expressed (with no consequence or even controversy) about Palestinians. Just weeks ago, The Washington Post accepted the "resignation" of Dave Weigel because of scorn he heaped on right-wing figures such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. CNN's Chief News Executive, Eason Jordan, was previously forced to resign after he provoked a right-wing fit of fury over comments he made about the numerous -- and obviously disturbing -- incidents where the U.S. military had injured or killed journalists in war zones. NBC fired Peter Arnett for criticizing the U.S. war plan on Iraqi television, which prompted accusations of Treason from the Right. MSNBC demoted and then fired its rising star Ashleigh Banfield after she criticized American media war coverage for adhering to the Fox model of glorifying U.S. wars; the same network fired its top-rated host, Phil Donahue, due to its fear of being perceived as anti-war; and its former reporter, Jessica Yellin, confessed that journalists were "under enormous pressure from corporate executives" to present the news in a pro-war and pro-Bush manner.

What each of these firing offenses have in common is that they angered and offended the neocon Right. Isn't that a strange dynamic for the supposedly Liberal Media: the only viewpoint-based firings of journalists are ones where the journalist breaches neoconservative orthodoxy? Have there ever been any viewpoint-based firings of establishment journalists by The Liberal Media because of comments which offended liberals? None that I can recall.

Ain't that the truth. Sportscasters caught in racist comments, maybe. If the media are supposedly more liberal than the country...that makes the country pretty damn scary. Which of course the continuing audience for Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and their ilk establishes beyond question.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

FTC Disclosure

H/T Dennis (hi Dennis!) who pointed me to this exceedingly useful set of icons for FTC-mandated blog disclosures, e.g.:

The new rules are a bit annoying, sure, but it's actually high time. In the print tech-journo world, it was de rigeur to at least proclaim that the freebies you collected weren't that much, really, and certainly wouldn't influence your judgment. Heavens no!

In BlogLand -- by no means limited to the tech realm -- you rarely see even that much, and the various vendors snow "citizen journalists" under with in-kind payola. And while I am living proof that journalism school does not confer superhuman ethical qualities, many of these folks don't even have that thin reed -- nobody ever told them it was bad to write about stuff whose producers showered you with kilobucks in gifts, travel, and who knows what all else. (This kind of role-blurring and its pervasiveness in our new corporate government-by-media is thoroughly explored in Janine Wedel's Shadow Elite, BTW.)

So I'm actually happy with the intent behind the FTC rules, although enforcement is going to be one of those devil-in-the-details things.

In the spirit of streamlining disclosure for my fellow bloggers, here are a few more potentially-useful icons:

Blogger received box of valuable shards and fragments via USPS

Career Trajectory Indicator: Traded full-time job for full-time blogging. (Or, worse, full-time print reporting. Sorry about that.)

Blogger went on vendor junket featuring game of one-on-one with LeBron James

Blogger accepted free heated swimming pool from cut-rate contractor

Blogger on deadline avoided editor by leaping out 2nd-story window;
Blogger who missed 1,439th deadline is thrown bodily out editor's 2nd-story window*

In the publishing world, under no circumstances should you bend over. Ever. Not even to take a drink.

After a couple weeks of blogging, you will have millions of readers and be rich besides.

*Hi Alexa and Tami! Thanks for not ever doing this!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Sides to Everything? Not on Your Tin-Type

[This started as a comment to a Facebook thread started by Rick Wirch, who read The Audacity of Hope and said favorable things about it. Got WAY too long for FB!]

Coincidentally enough, I graduated from a rather prestigious school of journalism, and spent a good deal of career time in the field. So I know whereof I speak when I say that "the other side" does not exist for journalists working to the standards of their profession. If you want to talk editorial content, that's fine, but there's no obligation (since the Fairness Doctrine expired decades ago) for an outlet to present "both sides". None. So Fox is perfectly OK to heavily slant their editorial coverage.

And Gary, you're perfectly correct that the MSM has a slant. To the right. Or, to be a little more precise, to whatever side, angle, or lie happens to be on sale from those in the halls of power, and those who fund their campaigns.

In other words, don't rock the boat, questioning our wars is treason, the free market is the answer to social problems, people born in the hell-hole of our inner cities are responsible for their problems, those who oppose us abroad are senseless fanatics, the answer to crime is imprisonment, profits trump environmental costs. Hmm. Doesn't quite have that "Internationale" ring to it, does it?

The pundits want access and a good working relationship with their sources, so they parrot the talking points anonymously provided by government officials about inconsequential issues like NAFTA (Clinton), going to war (Bush), raping civil liberties while recruiting a new generation of motivated terrorists (Bush), and confirming dictatorial powers of indefinite detention without cause (Obama). Gary, you and I agree perfectly about the watchdog/lapdog aspect of the media. Please, as your brother American (leftist though I am), I beg you to keep their feet to the fire! I promise to do likewise.

Now, when you're talking news, it's the facts that I'm concerned about. Reportage. That's what they taught us in J-School. Get 'em, check 'em. There aren't "two sides" to facts -- this is a pernicious myth. When Glenn Beck says that the recent D.C. demonstration encompassed a million-plus people, he's not espousing one of two equally valid viewpoints. He is lying. (Insert leftist pundit example here -- if you can find one.)

There aren't two sets of facts about Iraqi WMDs, one for the Left and one for the Right. They weren't there. There aren't two sets of facts about evolution. No reputable biologist denies it, or has a valid alternative theory. It's not in dispute, except by loonies and paid shills, that the climate is warming, that the effects multiply, or that a hefty portion is anthropogenic. And even when facts are in dispute, or policy options debated, what simplistic laziness dictates binary choices?

I'm afraid that this two-side hooey is largely the fault of the American right (and the aforementioned lapdog state of the media). It really began to take root with Nixon's Southern strategy in the 1968 campaign, but it was Gingrich and his cohort who really sold it in 1994, and whose heirs continued to do so for all their long years in power since then. (Let us not make jokes about Bill Clinton being a member of the Left. Please. That irony is still too painful.) The Democrats, taken as a group, are less willing to unify behind an agreed set of talking points, which is one reason they seem so powerless and fractious.

Reporters today evidently view their obligations discharged when they've presented "the other side". That covers their butts, but betrays their audience.

Gary, it's clear that you've a skeptical mindset, which is a priceless asset for an American citizen. If you want to talk healthcare or carbon-emission, hey, let's tangle! But when it comes to them lying to us, I am right there beside you, hollering.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Most Dangerous Person in the World

Hint: He's the guy or gal in the mirror. A very nicely written explication of what kills Americans. Another hint: Terrorism is down in the noise level, below peanut allergies.

(Another h/t to Mr. Schneier).

Helpfulness Trumps Paranoia in New York


(h/t Bruce Schneier)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Disruptive Tech: Nanoscale IR Antennas for High-Efficiency, Low-Cost Solar Arrays

This has the potential to be really huge. This research team invented really cool "nantennas" that can turn sunlight into electricity. Yawn? Not so -- they got it to work in IR wavelengths, where traditional photovoltaics perform quite poorly, and they're already achieving 90% efficiency. That's ninety percent, folks.

Incident sunlight is a good source of IR, obviously, but with some wavelength tuning, the new tech works perfectly well on reradiated IR too, meaning you can harvest from the ground, sides of buildings, etc., where you don't have cells installed.

And they've already prototyped a roll-to-roll manufacturing process onto polyethylene film, so that you wouldn't have to somehow attach rigid (and thus fragile) tiles to your roof: You'd just unroll this stuff and staple it down.

Holy cats. This could be seriously huge. They say that industrial-scale application is still years away -- for one thing, the electricity is generated at terahertz frequencies, so they've got to find rectifiers that will (a) work and (b) be cheap to incorporate.

But several of the biggest technical hurdles are already in their wake.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Capsule Rave: GO SEE CORALINE!

Especially if you can see it in 3D. Literally awesome. Such a fabulous piece of movie-making, I hardly thought about the art and craft of it until after it was over, which is going some for an old CG hack like me. Without any Carrie-esque "gotcha" moments, it still scared the crap out of me, deep down where I live. But that wasn't the takeaway message of the movie either.

Just please, go see it.

(And I cannot believe they did it in stop-motion! OMG!)