A once taboo word goes mainstream

I have long used the word oligarchy to describe America because I think it accurately captures the reality of the current state of politics where a small coterie of wealthy individuals and families control the country and make all the major decisions on economic and military issues. The so-called people’s elected representatives are merely the people in front of the curtain, there to entertain us and distract us from the fact that we really have no say except on a limited set of social issues that the oligarchy does not really care that much about as long as the stability they need to maintain their own lifestyles is maintained.
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Who cares about news when you’re with Jane Fonda?

If one wanted to see evidence of the shallowness of the US news media and its incestuous relationship with politicians and the way reporters (I use the term loosely) get gooey-eyed when they meet film and TV stars, you need look no further than the annual White House Correspondents Dinner that took place last Saturday. I am amazed that the event didn’t shrivel up and die after the brutal roasting it got in 2006 from Stephen Colbert when the organizers made the mistake of inviting him to give the keynote speech and instead of the usual pandering they expected to get, he took the opportunity to tell them to their faces that they were nothing better than star-struck stenographers who suck up to the powerful and famous. Incidentally, there is a new documentary titled Nerd Prom that gives an inside look at this event, if you have the stomach for it.
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Angry NPR word policeman

Elise Hu is a reporter for NPR in their Seoul bureau. Like many reporters, she gets angry responses to stories from people who disagree with something or other but this one was a doozy where the person was simply outraged that she did not know the difference in meaning between two words that I suspect many of us (and this includes me) see as pretty much synonymous.
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Changing of the guard on The Daily Show

South African-born comedian Trevor Noah has been announced as the new host of The Daily Show when Jon Stewart leaves later this year. I was surprised by this move since he is a newcomer to the show having just joined in November of last year. It is also interesting that Noah is, after John Oliver of Last Week Tonight, the second foreign-born host of a political show.
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How to cover breaking news

Conan O’Brien has a zany sense of humor and on a recent visit to Cuba he tried to figure out if he had what it takes to work at CNN during what news networks love to refer to as a ‘breaking news event’ where the host has to spend a lot of time on camera and maintain interest in the audience even though little has happened since the first event and hardly anything newsworthy is occurring.
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Some good news on the internet front

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines to approve chair Tom Wheeler’s proposal to reclassify broadband under Title II of the federal Communications Act., which means they can be treated as common carriers like landline phone service, which means that they are subject to FCC regulation and must treat all users equally and cannot give preferential faster service to companies that pay them more. This is what has come to be known as ‘net neutrality’.
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Trouble at First Look Media

The new media group First Look Media formed by former eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar that hired a group of first-rate independent-minded journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, Dan Froomkin, and Pater Mass has run into trouble, with charges of extremely poor behavior by upper management being made by departed staffers. The original plan was to create a set of digital magazines serving diverse needs and I had great hopes for this venture as providing a much needed alternative to the government-corporate friendly establishment media.
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Why memories are unreliable

We all know that our memories are unreliable. We forget things that happened and we ‘remember’ things that didn’t. Recent events have put back in the spotlight the issue of false memories. I have written about my own experience with false memories. The fact that people can spontaneously create false memories or have them implanted by others have in the past led to the kinds of miscarriages of justice that occurred during the epidemic of reported abuse in day care centers a few decades ago.
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