Miscellany

The Power of Nightmares

The United States is the most powerful, confident and in many ways, the freest civilization ever in the history of the world. It is extraordinary that it has become so paralyzed by the fear of radical Islamist terrorism–it really is a lion quaking in the face of a mouse. Radical Islamists do represent a serious threat and will use terror against civilians, but when you look at them historically, as the series does, you come to see that they are not some new force with a unique power to bring the strongest nation in the world to its knees.

Yet America has become trapped by that fear–riven by nightmare visions of ‘sleeper cells’ in its midst for which there is little or no evidence. The series attempts to explain why this strange state of affairs has come about and it argues that politicians have found in fear a way of restoring their power. In a populist consumerist age where their authority and legitimacy has declined dramatically politicians have simply discovered in the War on Terror a way of making themselves indispensable to their populations again by promising to protect us from something that only they can see.

The Power of Nightmares

Miscellany

Media Matters accepts Murdoch challenge

Media activist Media Matters for America has taken up Rupert Murdoch’s challenge to find bias in Fox News.

Media Matters President David Brock wrote Murdoch Wednesday after the News Corp Chairman said in an interview in World Screen Magazine: “we challenge anyone to show FOX News has any bias in it.”

Pointing out that Media Mattes has been monitoring Fox and other new organizations for the past year, Brock included references in the letter to more than a dozen examples of what the group claims were bias, under the categories of imbalance, unfairness and inaccuracy.

Brock then issued a counter-challenge to Murdoch: “I suggest submitting these examples to a mutually-agreed-upon panel for review. Let’s let a neutral body, rather than the CEO of Fox News’ parent company, decide if Fox News “has any bias in it.”

Media Matters accepts Murdoch challenge

Miscellany

Fox’s sandstorm

For the Foxidation process to work, it isn’t necessary to convince Americans that the verbal ruffians who give FNC its crackle have a corner on the truth — only that all of us in the news business are grinding our partisan axes all the time and that none of us deserves to be taken seriously as seekers of truth.

This is huge. As a friend remarked recently, time was when if you found it in the New York Times, that settled the bar bet and the other guy paid off. But if the Times and The Post or any other mainstream news outlet — including the major networks — come to be seen as the left-of-center counterparts of Fox News Channel, why would anyone accept them as authoritative sources of truth?

Fox’s sandstorm

Miscellany

Bush Urges Action ‘Now’ On Energy

As Bush spoke, the House began debating an energy bill that includes $8.1 billion in tax breaks, mainly for big energy companies; permits oil drilling in part of Alaska’s wildlife refuge; and provides legal protections to producers of the gasoline additive MTBE, which is blamed for contaminating drinking water.
Let’s see, Bush gives $8.1 billion to his friends in the oil business, allows them to drill for oil in Alaska, and prevents companies from being sued if they contaminate our drinking water. And this weans us off of foreign oil how?

Why don’t we instead take that $8.1 billion and give it as tax breaks for everyone who buys a hybrid car and spend some of it on research into alternate fuel sources.

No, that’d make too much sense… Let’s just give it to Bush’s friends instead…

Bush Urges Action ‘Now’ On Energy

Miscellany

Watergate journalist says media losing public’s trust

Though the nation’s newspapers are hardly faultless, Bernstein said television news had been taken over by an “idiot culture” that spends more time chasing celebrities than explaining life-changing events….

Bernstein challenged the nation’s media to rediscover its obligations to inform the public and to promote the “public good” rather than agendas driven by political spite. He assured the audience that in Washington, D.C., factions within the Republican and Democratic parties spent considerably more time and energy hating each other than fighting terrorism.

Watergate journalist says media losing public’s trust

Miscellany

MIT students pull prank on conference

Jeremy Stribling said Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with “context-free grammar,” charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers — “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy” — was accepted for presentation.

MIT students pull prank on conference

Miscellany

Listen up

“If you are a thinking person looking for the most intelligent coverage of world and national news in America, you would have to put public radio at the top of the heap. It has taken over the reign in broadcasting that institutions like CBS used to have,” says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. “Broadcasting’s crowning achievement at this point, in terms of the news, is far and away public radio.”

Listen up