Twitter encourages people to jump to wrong conclusions

Twitter is a communication system that is ripe for misunderstanding and even deliberate distortion. The brevity and speed of Twitter messages is supposed to be part of its appeal (though I do not find it that attractive) but with any communication system that limits itself to just 140 characters, one should realize that a lot more is left out than is in the message itself. Unfortunately, this results in people simply assuming what they want to about what is not there and then running with it. This is even more evident when people have strong feelings about the person whose tweet they are responding to.
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The right-shifted spectrum of US politics

Here’s Ben Smith writing about what he sees as a major shift in Democratic party policies.

Donald Trump has already changed the Democratic Party more than his own Republican Party.

While the president has merely reduced his own party into a panicked mess, the Democrats’ trajectory seems to have moved subtly and decisively away from the center-left Clinton liberalism toward a politics whose planks make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.
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Good riddance, Roger Ailes

Matt Taibbi gives a fitting farewell to a truly horrible human being.

When I mentioned to one of my relatives that I was writing about the death of Ailes, the response was, “Say that you hope he’s reborn as a woman in Saudi Arabia.”

Ailes has no one but his fast-stiffening self to blame for this treatment. He is on the short list of people most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character.

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.
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Support The Intercept

I think The Intercept is one of the best sources of original independent investigative journalism in the US, along with ProPublica and DemocracyNow!. I have long contributed to the last two organizations but The Intercept never asked for support because it was funded by billionaire Pirre Omidyar. But clearly such a model is not sustainable over the long term and they have started to diversify their funding stream by asking for contributions.
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How blog ‘collaboration’ offers may work

Yesterday I wrote about the many requests I get from people offering to provide content for the blog and commenters shared my puzzlement as to what exactly the business model is. How can they make enough money on ads that they can afford to pay me? This morning, I got another offer that was more explicit about what they were offering and thus sheds some light on what is going on because it explicitly describes the business model. Here is the message. (I have replaced the person’s name with X and their website with It begins with the now-common faux-friendly ‘Hey’.
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Political comedy on network TV

Donald Trump has been lashing out at Stephen Colbert. What is pathetic is that Trump spends so much energy and time lashing out at others, such as light night talk show hosts. Presidents in the past have been able to pressure TV networks into muzzling critics who were comedians. Perhaps the most well-known example is how president Johnson tried and later president Nixon succeeded in leaning on CBS management to can The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1969. Long before there was cable TV with its greater freedoms, Tom and Dick Smothers were the trailblazers for today’s TV political comedians.
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Portrayals of minorities in films and the media

Richard Gere stars in a new film that has just been released called Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, about a Jewish ‘fixer’ or dealmaker in New York. He happens to do an expensive favor for an obscure Israeli politician who later becomes prime minister of that country and this suddenly makes Norman a highly sought-after influence peddler. Jeffrey Salkin writes that he cringed many times while watching the film and explains why.
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Barrett Brown arrested again

[UPDATE: Barrett Brown released again after four days in federal prison.]

I have written previously about outspoken journalist Barrett Brown, who was arrested by the government and sent to prison and even spent time in solitary confinement as a result of his insouciant attitude towards the prison authorities. While there, he wrote some excellent insider accounts of what prison life was like and its arbitrary and cruel nature, for which he won awards. As Alex Emmons writes:
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The book royalties racket

Like many academic writers, I make hardly any money on my books and write them mainly for the intellectual satisfaction they give me. The world of huge advances that are paid for books by politicians and celebrities occupy a totally different publishing world and is something that I have no knowledge of. I have long been curious as to what purpose such advances serve. What happens to people who get huge advances? Are the author’s royalties kept by the publisher until they have reached the amount of the advance? What happens if the book does not sell enough copies to justify the advance?
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