Gongol.com Archives: January 2010
Brian Gongol

January 11, 2010

News Empirical evidence: The media isn't biased politically, it's just too dependent upon the government
A survey by an arm of the Pew Research Center -- ostensibly to determine whether "new media" did much original reporting, which it concluded they do not -- found that even the "traditional" media are "driven mostly by government statements rather than journalists' own digging", in the words of the New York Times. This evidence serves to buttress the claim that the American news media aren't so much "leftist" as they are "statist". That is, the persistent assumption that official government pronouncements are "neutral" (and thus worthy of repetition) causes the American public to receive a disproportionately government-friendly view of the news. Truly an interesting angle to consider when reviewing the just-released documents from the Nixon Administration in which Special Counsel to the President Charles Colson made no bones about his distinct interest in bringing down the Washington Post. Related: For all of your not-really-news-but-we-need-videotape-anyway needs, try "We've got that B-roll", a great spoof video now on YouTube.

Threats and Hazards Keep calm and carry on
Overreaction to terrorism is only going to erode the quality of life it's taken thousands of years of Western civilization to deliver to us today. But if we're smart, we'll learn to use a little bit of math on the wide range of information we already have (rather than painfully intruding into a million points of private life) to make better predictions about who might be up to no good. If Netflix can predict with astonishing accuracy how much a person will like a film, then there's quite good reason to assume that the same kind of predictive powers can be applied to other aspects of life, security included.

Computers and the Internet Whatever you say on Twitter had better be a complete thought
Anything you say on Twitter (or any other "micro-blogging" or text-limited status-update site that succeeds it) had better stand on its own as a complete thought, because that thought now appears on Google and rival search engines as a search result, where it's totally out of any kind of conversational context. It's quite possible that the millions of Twitter users will understand that the syntax "@SomeRandomUserName ..." implies that you're involved in a conversation, to the six billion other people on the planet who do not use the same, the conversational syntax just looks like gibberish, and the rest of what you have to say stands solely attributable to you. Moreover, Twitter will be gone someday, yet the archives will quite possibly remain indexed forever on Archive.org or elsewhere, and those fragmented conversations of today might look preposterously stupid in a half-century.

Water News Frozen pipes all across Ireland

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