Saturday, July 31, 2010


"It's not sentimentality that makes me find Breitbart and his methods so loathsome: it's his dishonesty and malice."
A Forbes columnist who has some trouble pinpointing the trouble with Andrew Breitbart gets a comeuppance he'll need to remember. I'd hoped to say more about this, but the day has been more than a little hectic. I can't think of a finer application of Dr. Johnson to a matter of journalistic morality. Do read it.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WikiLeaks or WikiLedes?

[NYT correspondent Mark] MAZZETTI: Well, as a reporter, you're very rarely confronted with this amount of information, and so it's almost - it's the reverse of the situation you're normally in, which is too little information. Here, we are confronted with such a volume of information that it's hard to make sense of it and it's hard to know how to - which parts to emphasize and which parts not to.  NPR transcript
If nothing else, the WikiLeaks exposure should test the claims of journalists and bloggers with regard to the quality of their attention to data. 

Journalists still pretend they own the space of creating/reporting news. Bloggers will continue to contend that without intelligent and ethically responsible interpretation of what is reported, the journalistic niche doesn't amount to very much.

An actual journalist would rename WikiLeaks to WikiLedes - because the 92,000 or so documents are so many leads (or ledes) into the complex world of the Afghan war, and this is a relatively small set of documents (the NYT calls it "exhaustive," but probably just means "exhausting").

 What Mr. Mazzetti points to as exceptional is in fact the normal case: the actual data out there for any story are potentially infinite. Newsmen deal with digested digests, rarely with the raw. But they forget they are dealing with pre-digested regurgiatives, and think they possess mastery over a certain genuine terrain. They do not.

Wikileaks exposes the abbreviative power of news media. Faced with something like the complexity of the real, Mr. Mazzetti thought he was dealing with something unusual. He was not. The gap between the NYT accounts of Afghanistan before WikiLeaks, and the density of the documents now available is vast. What Mr. Mazzetti and the NYT are looking at is the abyss that is always there in any bit of actuality, but which their customary defenses have always dealt with deftly and obliviously. They'll need a new set of defenses if the leaks keep coming.

The Times had three weeks or more to examine the documents. Others now have more leisure, and might find more there than the Times did. And pursue different inquiries. On Democracy Now, Julian Assange raises a question about the Pentagon's decision to fire up a criminal investigation into the source(s) of the Wikileaks material:
Why is it that an investigation is announced to go into the source, before an investigation is announced to deal with the potentially criminal conduct that is revealed by this material? DN
Wikileaks is lifting two veils: one on the war, the other -- perhaps more significant -- on the unreality of everyday journalism, the fictional, smooth, clear narrative arcs of the Times, NPR, MSNBC, etc.

After cataract surgery, the eyes can be sensitive to light.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some Stuff on the Menu at Cape Canaveral

Top Reviewed Kennedy Space Center Tours and Tickets

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*We're tempted to go for the sub-prime, beer-bellied Astronaut if it's not too much to ask. With goatee please?

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Daniel Schorr

In memory, the Cronkite of the evening news and the Cronkite of "You Are There" are indistinguishable. The actor and the newsman served the same Muse, the goddess of spectacle, of history acted by men in costumes, monumentalized leaders and dramatic events fraught with consequences. But all this did was turn the drama into History: events appealed as spectacle, but like large historical paintings, they were museum pieces of no living relevance to us.

Daniel Schorr began in the now, which would trigger the memory of some lived moment that refracted the current instance. He'd strive to render both moments, past and present, more intelligible and present. His recollection, rooted in his direct observations and meditated awareness of contexts, transformed Historical Personages into persons for an audience that included Schorr musing to himself.

Schorr was musical, reflective; Cronkite, theatrical, sensational. Cronkite introduced the Beatles in 1963; Schorr delivered a eulogy on Frank Zappa in 1993.

Cronkite dispensed bulletins of News - the Official Version sanctioned by the ("that's the way it is") State. Schorr evoked events steeped in experiences - the burden of the storyteller.

Cronkite retired from CBS with dignified ceremonial auto-monumentality. Cronkite begat ingrate Rather, weepy witness of news as Melodrama. Schorr, fired by CBS for putting journalistic integrity above corporate interest, may have no worthy professional heirs.

Refusing to name source of leak in 1976

/more maybe on this later -/

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

nobody knows

Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census and National Archives announced it will hold a hearing on the issue of public access to federally funded research on Thursday, July 29. The hearing will provide an opportunity for the Committee to hear the perspectives of a broad range of stakeholders on the potential impact of opening up access to the results of the United States’ more than $60 billion annual investment in scientific research.
For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
In brief, knowledge is the property of nobody.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Pipe, small beer

A small footnote to our Big Pipe motif:
Big ISPs usually rely on peered connections to other major ISPs, connections which incur no per-bit cost. As for the cables in the ground, they've been there for years. The equipment back at the headend must be installed once, after which it runs for years. Cable node splits and DOCSIS hardware upgrades are relatively cheap. Requesting one additional bit does not necessarily incur any additional charge to the ISP.

If most Internet costs are fixed (and the National Broadband Plan agrees that they are), and if bandwidth is dirt cheap, what "charges" are heavy Internet users ringing up for ISPs like Time Warner? ...

TWC's revenues from Internet access have soared in the last few years, surging from $2.7 billion in 2006 to $4.5 billion in 2009. Customer numbers have grown, too, from 7.6 million in 2007 to 8.9 million in 2009.

But this growth doesn't translate into higher bandwidth costs for the company; in fact, bandwidth costs have dropped. TWC spent $164 million on data contracts in 2007, but only $132 million in 2009. - Nate Anderson

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

in your country