Ordinary World: Throwback Thursday
[TT1] Idle Speculation on the Future of Media by Vikram Bath (January 21, 2016):
“LB: So why hasn’t anyone done this for news yet?
VB: Someone should! 2016 might be the right time to try it. Someone could become the Netflix or Spotify of news. But they will face a lot of challenges. While CNN might be happy, their ad networks will not. These include powerful corporations like Google and Facebook. Another issue is that whoever tries this will basically be competing with ad-blocking software, which is inexpensive. I think this can be overcome. Spotify and Netflix compete with torrents, DVRs, and other ways to try to get content ad-free.
LB: Is there any other way things could end up for media companies?
VB: Yes, there are some promising experiments going on. One is Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed doesn’t interleave unwanted ads into the content they have. Instead, they try to make the ads themselves appealing.
While Buzzfeed has a reputation for some really terrible work, they actually have some of the most detailed reporting on some topics. When Michael LaCour’s Science article was retracted, the best reporting was found at Buzzfeed.
There are writers doing good work at Buzzfeed, and it’s funded in part on the backs of stuff copy-pasted from Reddit.”
[TT2] How Bolsonaro Happens: Seven points about the Brazilian Presidential Election: Andre Kenji de Sousa (October 26, 2018): “The episode brought him fame, which allowed him to be elected to the City Council of Rio de Janeiro in the following year, helped by the support of the lower ranks of the Military. He was then elected to Congress where he was basically a backbencher. He was not a high-profile member of any committees or commissions, and he did not manage to pass any bill. Bolsonaro only gained a national profile through his fights with feminist members of Congress. (Yes, including the infamous fight where he suggested that he would not rape a colleague because she was ugly.) Unlike Nigel Farage and Jean Marie Le Pen, Bolsonaro did not build a political organization. He was chosen by activists on the right, who were attracted by his rhetoric. That’s pretty similar to the Ron Paul Revolution in the US Republican Primaries in 2008 and 2012. Ron Paul did not create a political organization either; he was embraced by a diffuse network of activists that were pretty savvy on social media. Bolsonaro only chose the party in which he would run some months before the election. In some sense, he is an accidental politician. He is not like Hugo Chavez or Vladimir Putin, who carefully planned their rise to power. He is not so much an authoritarian as he is someone that would enable the authoritarianism of other people, especially because he does not have the political experience to control other people. Imagine Ron Paul being elected to the White House. Or imagine Dennis Kucinich, Justin Amash or your typical highly ideological backbencher that is not liked by most members of both parties being elected to the White House. You get the idea.
[TT3] Be a Dissenter for Science by Jason Kuznicki (April 29, 2014): “But there is also an anti-science left. Their numbers and influence are certainly much smaller, and the media does its best never to connect the dots. Still, they’re out there: They are the anti-GMO folks, who reject a scientific consensus every bit as strong as the one supporting anthropogenic global warming. They are the anti-vaxers, whose movement will hopefully fizzle now that we are seeing the awful effects of leaving kids unvaccinated. They are the groups opposing food irradiation, although irradiating to kill bacteria is both safe and effective. And then there’s the entire organic food movement, aptly likened to a kind of secular kashrut. Organic food has shown no demonstrated health benefits. Organic farming means destroying more natural habitat than we need to. And organic farming methods can’t possibly feed the whole world. Organics will necessarily remain exactly what they are right now: a luxury, one that gratifies our apparently inborn need for purity-and-danger taboos. They’re a game that lefties play with their instincts, and not at all a means of saving the planet. That said, I am not writing to suggest a simple equivalence between Team Red and Team Blue. I’m not saying that it’s irrelevant which side you choose, or that there are no meaningful differences between them. (I am not doing these things, and yet I know that — because politics is the mind killer — I will be accused of doing them anyway. So, whatever.) I’m not asking you to abandon your political beliefs wholesale, and still less am I asking you to adopt mine. I appear to have been born enjoying cognitive dissonance, and I don’t expect this to be a shared character fault, given how maladaptive it is. What I ask is much simpler: Whichever side you’re on, left or right, at least put science first. If you have to, be a dissenter for science. No matter what side you’re on.”
[TT4] Mocking the Polyamorous: an Exercise in Self-Defeating Advocacy by Burt Likko (July 23, 2015): “What reasonable reaction does Morse expect to this? Does anyone reasonably think that Sonmore would read this and then say “He’s right! I don’t want to be in an open marriage anymore!” Especially after reading through the body of an essay laced with disparagement of feminism, marbled with embracing the concept of spouses “owning” one another, and positively boiling with insults to Sonmore’s masculinity. Morse’s contempt for Sonmore oozes like sweat out of every paragraph. In my experience, insulting someone, or mocking someone, rarely makes the subject respond by saying, “You know, you’re right; I shall change my attitude and behaviors as you imply I ought.” No, the usual response to an insult is a defensive “Go [fish] yourself,” followed by digging in further into the position under attack. Assuming he reads Morse, Sonmore is going to double-down on his feminism, he’s going to double-down on the validity and value of his open marriage. Compounding the frustration here is that that a good case can be made that monogamy ought to be the norm, deviated from only cautiously and only by a few.”
[TT5] Too Efficient By Half by Will Truman (October 2, 2017): “This is a real problem for the unemployed and a collective action problem from hell. People lose their jobs, go to the back of the hiring line, stay unemployed, the gap on their resume grows, and so on and so forth. This is of a particular concern to me because I have been out of the job market for quite a while. If something happened to my wife, I would have yet another disadvantage when it came to finding work. Recruiters driving this makes quite a bit of sense. So does the fact that they make filling jobs more time-consuming, even apart from the long-term unemployment issue. It actually reminds me a bit of online dating. The dating marketplace is extremely inefficient. There are a lot of guys looking for girlfriends, a lot of girls looking for boyfriends. Sometimes you run into situations where standards are too high or people are too unattractive (physically or otherwise), but it sure seems like we could do a better job. Enter internet dating. And I’m just old enough to have sort of watched it happen. Suddenly you had dozens of people at your fingertips. You had profiles to look at, pictures. And what happened to me, and a lot of other people, is that standards suddenly shot upwards. You’d often end up skipping right past people that might catch your attention in an “attainable” sort of way because they would suddenly be next to someone who was something of a complete package. It’s the paradox of choice, except with people involved.”
[TT6] Weep the Revolution by Tod Kelly (July 26, 2016): “The simple truth is that by their very definition political “Revolutions” in democratic societies never really succeed. For good or ill, the will of the mainstream always prevails in the long run. Worse, those who run the Revolutions from above are well aware of this truth, even as they coax their faithful to believe otherwise. Revolutions in Democracies are built to lose. The only question going in is whether they lose quietly or spectacularly. Still, it’s a very important question. Because what a Revolution can do is influence the mainstream. A Revolution can take its great and bold ideas and push them deep into the mainstream’s consciousness. Revolutions can, if they are lucky, become mainstream. Thus does Jesse Jackson’s plea to include gays and lesbians in the great “quilt” of liberalism eventually become this “thing that I think we’ve always done.” This does William Buckley’s quiet, sly poking eventually become the seeds for Reagan’s Morning in America. Thus does Annie Arniel’s Quixotic political dream of suffrage lead not to just the 19th Amendment, but to a society where its repeal is all but unthinkable. Thus does Ross Perot, a funny little man most of America mocks, manage to transform the non-issue of the federal deficit into a campaign stump-speech staple. Which, to a Revolutionary spirit, can admittedly be a somewhat depressing thing. Part of the great pleasure of being counterculture, after all, is… well, being counter culture. A Che Guevara tee-shirt in a capitalist, consumer-driven society is a sexy uniform of the cool class. In a socialist-in-power society, however, it’s as lame as a shirt advertising the delicious, refreshing taste of Coca-Cola. Most of us who have taken part in a political Revolution, if we are being truly honest with ourselves, were inspired by the Revolution itself. A post-victory world? Not so much. Yeah, Bernie’s agenda being adopted into the party platform is nice and all, but that’s not really why we all came to the party. I know this, because I have been there.”