All I can say is good on you, Chancellor – http://www.utsystem.edu/offices/chancellor/blog/journalism-essential-democracy
Category Archives: News
Trump is following the Costanza rule
Recent Trump appointments have media types like Bob Garfield saying that he’s putting a fox in every henhouse. Maybe that’s true, or maybe he’s just trying for our government what worked for George Costanza.
I always think that one of the purposes of this type of attack is to show – or to galvanize – the moral bankruptcy of the regime and the society. To show that when it is provoked it will lash out with cruel, disproportionate, insane violence; to show that it is not a legitimate or safe place for marginalized groups by provoking violence on the bodies of the marginalized. If we lived in a better world, or even in Norway, people would respond by refusing to lash out, by acting with magnanimity and greatness. But all that ever happens is that we see that both the terrorists and the regime are violent and morally bankrupt.
It’s an epistemological crime, it’s intended to produce despair. Mass killings like this are the non-stae mirror of the prison camp, because they’re intended to break down people’s ordinary humanity.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people in the United States have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims, according to a new tally.
For those who are familiar with the clickbait headlines that seem to pervade all news sites (even somewhat reputable ones) – you know, they’re the enticing headlines usually accompanied by an equally interesting photo you just can’t help but click sometimes, even though you know you’ll probably end up with an Ask.com toolbar – well, there’s a fun plugin for your browser that subverts those headlines:
Downworthy replaces hyperbolic headlines from bombastic viral websites with a slightly more realistic version. For example:
- “Literally” becomes “Figuratively”
- “Will Blow Your Mind” becomes “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment”
- “One Weird Trick” becomes “One Piece of Completely Anecdotal Horseshit”
I can’t say the plugin worked all that well in my quick test, but the concept is hilarious, and I hope they continue developing it to be more effective. The name is a play on Upworthy, probably the single site that either invented or at least popularized clickbait headlines.
Good show, HomeAway
Coming to the aid of West, TX (or rather, helping others come to their aid).
Income disparity hilarity
It’s amazing what you can do with data.
Fox News: “EVERYTHING’S FINE.”
I was listening to this story on NPR today on my drive home from work, and the reporter said something like 30,000 deaths [a year, I assume] are from car accidents, 95% of which are attributable at least in part to driver error, and wouldn’t it be nice if driverless car technology could help reduce or eliminate all those deaths. Now, I don’t know how fuzzy his statistics are, but in general I agree.
But that’s where it gets interesting – this goes from solving a technological problem to more of an existential question about what freedoms and responsibilities we are willing to relinquish. Ideally, driverless cars would create a traffic network free of congestion or collision. However we know that machines are only as error-free as the people who program them, and that sometimes they are simply unreliable. That would mean that even in a world where computers control all traffic, some percentage of deaths would still occur. The question is – what is our threshold for computer-related deaths? From our 30,000 deaths per year baseline, would we accept 5,000 computer-fault deaths a year? 10,000? 20,000?
I think there is something in our nature that abhors a reality in which all of our personal responsibility and ability to react is taken away from us, even if lives can be saved. It could be argued that given the choice between driver and driverless, if the driverless option on average produced just one less death a year, then it would be preferable.
And then there’s the issue of car insurance. How would that work?
I heard an interesting story on KUT this morning about pollution in Pasadena, TX. I remember as a child thinking that Pasadena must be one of the worst places on Earth; we would cover our noses and shut all of the A/C vents in the car when driving through. I didn’t realize until I heard the story this morning that they actually have an alarm that goes off when they release big batches of benzene into the air so that you know when to hide your kids and close all your windows.
I was going to say something about this being like regulation-free China, but apparently Chinese coal companies have much cleaner facilities in China than in America:
Three months later, union workers and tribal members flew to Taiwan for a 2004 stockholders meeting of Continental Carbon’s parent company. The union protested with a hunger strike. Ponca tribal official Dan Jones returned from Taiwan with stunning photographs of the company’s carbon black plant there.
“It’s beautiful. It’s clean. They have gardens throughout the whole thing,” Jones recalls. “There’s no fugitive emissions at all.”
OMGZZ! Cell phones cause cancer!
No no no no no. This guy is a crank. The first thing he does is claim that the swine flu isn’t “real medicine.” And this is Fox News, where no facts are checked, ever. He cites an “increase in the incidence in brain cancer” as proof! Well, there is also an increase in the incidence of obesity, so maybe cell phones cause you to gain weight, too. Microwaves/radio waves are too long in wavelength to affect DNA. Longer wavelengths = lower frequency (ie, lower intensity). See the graph on this page.
Look at the size of the antenna on your phone (if your phone is from 1999) or radio. That’s the size of the wave, maybe a little smaller, but still nowhere near the intensity to affect DNA. They’re longer in wavelength than VISIBLE light. that would mean that your lightbulb causes even more cancer than your phone! The worst thing microwaves could do to the human body is warm it up. That said, don’t put your cat in the microwave.