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Newspapers dead, film at 11

It’s been a long time since I’ve been woken up at 4 AM by a crappy car with a loud exhaust stopping at every house [0].

Or any house.

Small blessing.

Now if I could just get the LA Times to stop littering my driveway with that goddam Hoy! trash… how is that legal even after I emailed and called to get them to stop. But they kept delivering their rag (and kept billing me for it! [1]) to my house in SoPas for two years after I moved to Seattle, so I’m not holding my breath [2].

 
[0] The last one was a second-hand rice burner with a rattly fartcan exhaust. Thank god that’s gone.

[1] When I called to try to make them stop, their tactic was to ask me if I didn’t want to keep paying for it for the people who now lived at my old residence, or if I wanted to have it delivered to Seattle. No… just no.

[2] Or if I could get the postman to stop delivering the goddam Red Plum etc. even though I did finally get off their mail lists. But it’s not like he checks. He just dumps them until he runs out. And I’m not at the end of the line, so someone else gets the benefit of me going to the trouble of unsubscribing from that junk. That’s got to be against some kind of federal statute, giving someone else’s mail to me.

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If you want to know why newspapers are not just dying, but dead, dead, dead…

Look no further than this, which is not a headline from the Onion (ht: Atrios)

[edit] I said “newspapers”, but after listening to NPR this morning, I realized what meant was “old school media”. And yes, NPR is included in that – they have to suck up to their political, if not corporate, masters. Newspapers, radio, television, magazines (less so? – the New Yorker seems to write some hard looks at the establishment [1]); what others call the “mainstream media” (which I hesitate to use as it has become code for something else).

But the inability to ask the hard question, to make the liars uncomfortable, to jeopardize access, to educate themselves on difficult subjects, mind-boggling innumeracy, the complete failure to ask the follow-up, the hard question, “views on the shape of the earth differ” so-called objective reporting – they have made themselves obsolete. The OSM still has the cash to send reporters and cameras to far away places, but that’s about all they’ve got left. And that increasingly less, and not for long.

Good riddance.

[1] A sixties word which I think is coming back into relevance. It isn’t the corporations, it isn’t the government, it isn’t the media. It’s all of them combined, the oligarchy, all owned and operated by the same few people. The Establishment.

Missing the point

For years, decades, we’ve had only individual stories of cops shooting people. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Just go look.

Then one reporter decided to tabulate statistics. Get numbers. Collate data. Then what did RadioLab do? Did they analyze the data, get more data, make plots, do correlations, etc.? Any of the usual data analysis techniques that hadn’t been done before?

Nope. They ignored any big picture stuff, and decided to do two podcasts on individual stories. They even said straight out that here are the statistics and we’re going to ignore them and do Yet Another Human Interest Story (or two).

So much for Science.

Not that every individual that’s on the wrong end of an “officer-involved shooting” doesn’t deserve to have their story told! But we had that before. It’s called “the daily newspaper.”

We didn’t have statistics before.

But these guys, being 1) NPR and 2) data-ignorant, decided to not report on the data, because that’s hard, and requires thinking, and skill, and just go back to what’s easy.

Dammit. Missing the point.

Just what the doctor ordered

The so-called liberal MSM [1] hires another conservative from the WSJ to write op-eds.

His greatest hit? Stop hitting yourself!

Reason #423 in a list of thousands why the NYT will never receive another dime from me…

[1] There is no such thing of course. All the Sunday newsprograms are dominated by conservatives, all the daily newspapers op-eds are also conservative with a sprinkling of go-along/get-along (with the conservatives! Bernie is far too liberal to be taken seriously) “centrists” (meaning Reagan conservatives), and NPR interviews far more conservatives, far more kindly, than big-L Liberals.

Credit where due

the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

            — Michael Crichton, “Why Speculate”

 

When you read an article about your subject in the NYT Tuesday Science section, and realize they got it all wrong. Then you read the next article and think, “Wow, how cool that they figured that out.” Even though you know that those scientists are also tearing their hair out about how the NYT Science section got it all wrong.

            — BWare, “The NYT Tuesday Science effect”
 
I knew I couldn’t have been the first person to observe this effect, though two points:

  •  I came up with this in grad school sometime between 1988 and 1995.  Silas Beane or SWorm might remember me holding forth. The Crichton talk is from 2002, so I didn’t hear it from him, though you’ll have to take my word for it.
  • It’s slightly different – the G-M Amnesia effect is that you forget;  the BWare NYT Tuesday Science effect is that you become aware.

In the bag

It used to be if, for whatever reason, I was short of poop bags for the dogs (brought N, needed N+1 for whatever number, including 0, meaning I forgot), I could walk one house in either direction and “borrow” one from a neighbor. Meaning, I’d take their newspaper out of the bag, put the newspaper on their porch, and “recycle” their plastic bag.

About a week ago, I was out of bags (actually I spaced out and didn’t bring any, a rare occurrence but it happens), and I walked almost all the way home, a couple of miles, past dozens of houses, without seeing a newspaper.

Which is a anecdotal observation of this:

Newspaper decline Shirky

Yeah, that corresponds about to my observation of when I stopped being able to rely on finding a plastic bag to recycle.

Watchdogs

The NYT has a new editor, after their botched and sexist firing of the first woman editor of the NYT.

Of course, a previous editor spiked one of the first NSA stories in 2004. The new editor has a history of spiking stories about the NSA too, in 2007.

“[W]e could not figure out what was going on”, based on Klein’s highly technical documents

and by “we”, he means Dean Blaquet, the new editor of the NYT.

So if you’re spineless, and going to a spineless institution, and maybe not that bright, does the future of the NYT look better or worse? Even just from the standpoint of understanding a newspapers role in a digital world, killing the NSA story because you didn’t understand it doesn’t bode well. I’d short their stock.

It also turns out that perhaps the NSAs counterpart in the UK, GCHQ had other motives in the seemingly stupid trashing of the computers used by the Guardian to report the Snowden story.

This didn’t make sense at the time, but now given the new revelations about how the NSA is intercepting hardware to infect it before it’s shipped, the mind boggles. It now looks very much like they were there to destroy the evidence that the Guardian’s computers were compromised. Which means they likely knew about everything Greenwald and Snowden beforehand. Wheels within wheels. The mind boggles.

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Good day to not be driving

If you own a blue Tacoma, or a black Honda Ridgeline, best to take the bus today. Because even if you’re a 71 year old Hispanic woman delivering papers, LAPD might put 46 rounds through your truck. Because the 270 lb African American guy is also a Master of Disguise.

Oh, wait, that’s not even the right color. Or make. Or model.

Dark pickup trucks of any manufacturer apparently make you fair game.

I’ve got a nickel that says that police procedures were followed, and no one will be reprimanded, or demoted. Certainly not arrest or jailed. Punishment will consist of paid leave (what everyone else in the world calls “paid vacation”).

Initially, the police reported to the news that everyone was in stable condition. Now it turns out she’s in ICU.

Ten will get you twenty that he had a legitimate beef. But no way to pay out because we’ll never know now. Not that that excuses his behavior, but on the other hand, he at least had a reason for going on a rampage. The cops that shot this woman who got up at 3 am to deliver papers had no reason at all. He’ll pay for it with his life (he’ll never be taken alive – see the North Hollywood Bank shootout – they’ll let him bleed out on the street rather than have him face trial), and the cops that shot this woman will be promoted.

The Clock

I just finished reading the New Yorker article about The Clock [1].

Serendipity. Someone was just commenting to me about how serendipity was hard to come by these days, since no one goes to the library, or reads newspapers, or looks at microfiche. One could argue that serendipity just hasn’t been around that long. Aside from noting that public libraries and newspapers are at best only a few centuries old (Ben Franklin invented the lending library and the American version of the newspaper), the only thing that’s happened with the demise of newspapers and research libraries, and with the advent of the net is that only the nature of serendipity has changed.

On a Wednesday in late August, I was bored and checked plane fares to CDG on a lark, and saw that I could fly to Paris next Thursday for less than $1k. I emailed dogsitters, my eight bosses, and didn’t book a room until the next Tuesday. I got off the plane in Paris on Friday, stayed as long as I wanted, then booked a train to Venice. I booked a hotel on the train on the way to Venice.

In Venice, I found out that both the Venice Film Festival and the Biennale were going on. I met an Austrian film distributor in Harry’s Bar, who gave me her ticket to the “Ides of March” afterparty because she couldn’t go. I didn’t meet George or Ryan, but I did strike up a conversation with a nice German art curator, who invited me to come see the exhibit she had curated. And, as I got an ice-cream after I got off the last boat back from Lido, the nice ice-cream vendor offered to show me around Venice the next day.

Serendipity.

As we were wandering around the hot Biennale, we stopped to rest shanks mare in the cool room where there were several white couches and a film playing. I am not normally a fan of video art [2], but I ended up sitting for hours watching this mesmerizing spectacle. I don’t like to read about art in advance, and I don’t like to read the plaques – I just want to let the art hit me without someone else’s preconceptions influencing what I see. So, not knowing the first thing about it, it took me minutes to figure out what was going on, and more to realize that I was watching it in “real time.”

Eventually I got up and wandered around the rest of the Biennale, but ended up coming back and watching even more of “The Clock.” It was only much later that I found out that it won awards, and had become famous, and that Venice was one of the first places it was shown.

So, serendipity. Yeah, it’s different than it was. And it’ll be different again when petroleum shortages don’t allow anyone not in the 1% to hop on a plane and go overseas. More like it was before the concept of serendipity was invented. I’ve got this feeling that the net, and a couple hundred RSS feeds keep the serendipity occurrence high, if not as focussed as it was in the past, when we found it in libraries, or newspapers, and not on Boing Boing or Gizmodo, or because someone in the 20% could afford to hop on a plane at a moment’s notice.

[1] Yeah, I run a little behind. I caught up about six months on my month-long trip to Hungover^WHannover. But I’m still only up to March.

[2] In my experience, I find that mostly it’s just shocking for shock’s sake, or if it’s not, it’s boring.