posts about or somewhat related to ‘politics’

Grace Kelly on JFK

PBS Digital’s Blank on Blank interview series brings us Grace Kelly’s account of her experiences with President John F. Kennedy.

FJP: Apparently, the first time she met him, she went into his hospital room at night and pretended to be a nurse. Can I get a hell yeah? — Krissy

Video: Blank on Blank

Bloomberg News Spiking Sensitive China Stories

Via The New York Times

The decision came in an early evening call to four journalists huddled in a Hong Kong conference room. On the line 12 time zones away in New York was their boss, Matthew Winkler, the longtime editor in chief of Bloomberg News. And they were frustrated by what he was telling them.

The investigative report they had been working on for the better part of a year, which detailed the hidden financial ties between one of the wealthiest men in China and the families of top Chinese leaders, would not be published.

In the call late last month, Mr. Winkler defended his decision, comparing it to the self-censorship by foreign news bureaus trying to preserve their ability to report inside Nazi-era Germany, according to Bloomberg employees familiar with the discussion.

“He said, ‘If we run the story, we’ll be kicked out of China,’ ” one of the employees said. Less than a week later, a second article, about the children of senior Chinese officials employed by foreign banks, was also declared dead, employees said.

Winkler denies that the stories have been killed.

As The Times notes, the Bloomberg Web site has been blocked inside of China since it published a 2012 series of stories on the personal wealth of family members of Chinese leaders. Bloomberg reporters, too, have been unable to get residency visas to the country since that time.

Subscriptions to its $20,000+ business news terminals have also declined within the country, The Times reports.

The Times finds itself in a similar boat. Its Chinese-language site has been blocked since it published a 2012 article on the family wealth of then Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, and it has been able to secure residency visas for its journalists.

Video: Next Media creates a cartoon mocking Bloomberg News for self-censorship.

UPDATEBloomberg News ‘Disappointed’ in NY Times’ ‘Absolutely False’ Front Page Story, via Medaite.

Welcome to the Filter Bubble: Government Shutdown Edition

The government shutdown came and went this week as some Republicans finally convinced other Republicans that threatening a global economic cataclysm isn’t the best thing to pursue.

Good on them, we suppose, but what we saw during this latest generated crisis was the filter bubble in full effect.

While the concept specifically refers to how algorithms increasingly inform what information we receive and are exposed to, it can be broadened to include the active choices we make with our media diets, who we choose to friend or follow on our social networks and how willing we are to accept intellectual dissonance when reading, watching or listening to views that run contrary to our own.

The danger of the bubble, of course, is that once inside we only hear information we want to hear. Sympathetic to the shutdown and unworried about the consequences of defaulting on the debt? Fox and friends reframed it for you. This wasn’t a shutdown, it was more of a pleasant “slimdown.”

Observations about the echo chamber the shutdown’s leaders were operating within came from both left and right. Let’s start left with Salon’s Alex Pareene:

What’s funny about all of this, though, is how much it just reinforces the insane bubble that all of these people — conservative members of Congress, conservative media people and professional conservative activists — live their entire lives in. They are all talking to each other, and only to each other. The fact that the conservative position is deeply unpopular, the fact that conservative strategy is incoherent and self-defeating, none of that is reaching them. John Boehner and Ross Douthat know what’s going on. Rep. Tim Huelskamp only knows what he reads at RedState and what he hears from people who only read RedState.

Over on the right was National Review’s Robert Costa:

[S]o many of these [conservative] members now live in the conservative world of talk radio and tea party conventions and Fox News invitations. And so the conservative strategy of the moment, no matter how unrealistic it might be, catches fire. The members begin to believe they can achieve things in divided government that most objective observers would believe is impossible. Leaders are dealing with these expectations that wouldn’t exist in a normal environment.

In a study of the increasingly obvious, Pacific Standard reported on the increasingly obvious. Namely, how polarizing media — our intellectual cocoons — give us respite from an outside, cruel world. This is why we gravitate toward our left/right media, silly and outrageous as they may be.

"The data suggests to us that outrage-based programming offers fans a satisfying political experience," write Tufts University Researchers. "These venues offer flattering, reassuring environments that make audience members feel good. Fans experience them as safe havens from the tense exchanges that they associate with cross-cutting political talk they may encounter with neighbors, colleagues, and community members."

Put another way: Our day to day is hard. When we come home we want to kick back, relax and hear people stroke, if not necessarily our ontological egos, our day to day political ones. Twenty-first century life is a hassle. When a day comes and goes we want somewhere, someplace, that simply lets us rest peacefully in our beliefs.

Take it away, Pacific Standard:

In other words, being a part of, say, the community of Rush Limbaugh listeners—an identification talk-show hosts regularly attempt to instill in their fans—is a comforting social experience. It’s a way of feeling like part of a community that shares your values…

…Discussing politics with your colleagues or neighbors comes with the fear of saying something unacceptable, and subsequently being excluded from the next barbecue or water-cooler conversation. In contrast, “the comfort zones provided by the shows we studied present no such risk,” [the researchers] write. “In fact, they offer imagined and, in some cases, tangible social connections.”

The New York Times’ David Carr started to think about this last week. Much has been written about how our gerrymandered congressional districts has lead to extremism. Carr writes that our collective media habits are gerrymandered too:

The polarized political map is now accompanied by a media ecosystem that is equally gerrymandered into districts of self-reinforcing discourse…

…As I flipped through cable channels over the last week, the government shutdown was viewed through remarkably different prisms. What was a “needless and destructive shutdown” on MSNBC became a low-impact and therapeutic “slim-down” over at Fox News.

But cable blowhardism would not be such a good business if there hadn’t been a kind of personal redistricting of news coverage by the citizenry. Data from Pew Research Center for the People and the Press on trends in news consumption released last year suggests people are assembling along separate media streams where they find mostly what they want to hear, and little else.

But more media, and more diverse media, won’t solve any of this, argues Reuters’ Jack Shafer. Instead, he writes, Americans are purposefully, willfully and perpetually, perhaps, political imbeciles. That’s the way we roll.

Despite greater access to information than ever before. Despite all the news apps at our fingertips, Shafer cites a 2012 Pew study showing that “total minutes of daily news consumption between 1994 and 2012 is down for all age groups.”

Channeling Ilya Somin and his book Democracy and Political Ignorance, Shafer goes economic and concludes that collective ignorance isn’t due to a lack of information supply. Rather, it’s demand. Politics is too confusing. Our sense of belonging to and being able to affect the system is too obtuse. We’d rather watch football.

And so here we are. A debt crisis averted by punting it down the road. The current budget deal between Democrats and Republicans lasts until mid-January. Then we’ll be back with partisans hunkered in their bubbles while the rest of us try to grab some sanity in the next shiny thing.

Too negative a take? Facebook researchers report that our networks aren’t echo chambers at all but instead expose us to more varied opinions than what I write might lead you to think. — Michael

Government’s Not Working: GitHub Files a Bug
BUG: Government occasionally shuts down.
QA 01: Looks like we’ve been patching the original source for 200+ years.
QA 02: It seems that allocateFunds depends on the Congress class without any proper error handling, causing a complete shut-down of all non-essential system services. Perhaps a reserve allocation is required to ensure the system can use it when no resources are available.
QA 03: I looked into the ‘Constitution’ module and it’s shot to hell. The original base had little or no supporting documentation, leading to various conflicting interpretations of the desired functionality. What’s worse, it’s been patched like crazy, and some of these patches even contradict each other (for example, amendments 18th and 21st). Recommend re-factoring the entire code base, incorporating the more useful patches (such as amendments 15th,19th) into the baseline.
QA 04: Um, has anyone seen the crazy fragmentation in the congressional district db? That can’t be helping things.
QA 05: Note that @JeffersonDavis actually forked this project before. A lot of people contributed, but @WhiteHouse had IP concerns and shut that down.
FJP: And on and on it goes.
Image: Bug opened by Dave Rupert on the White House Forty-Four repo, Via GitHub.

Government’s Not Working: GitHub Files a Bug

BUG: Government occasionally shuts down.

QA 01: Looks like we’ve been patching the original source for 200+ years.

QA 02: It seems that allocateFunds depends on the Congress class without any proper error handling, causing a complete shut-down of all non-essential system services. Perhaps a reserve allocation is required to ensure the system can use it when no resources are available.

QA 03: I looked into the ‘Constitution’ module and it’s shot to hell. The original base had little or no supporting documentation, leading to various conflicting interpretations of the desired functionality. What’s worse, it’s been patched like crazy, and some of these patches even contradict each other (for example, amendments 18th and 21st). Recommend re-factoring the entire code base, incorporating the more useful patches (such as amendments 15th,19th) into the baseline.

QA 04: Um, has anyone seen the crazy fragmentation in the congressional district db? That can’t be helping things.

QA 05: Note that @JeffersonDavis actually forked this project before. A lot of people contributed, but @WhiteHouse had IP concerns and shut that down.

FJP: And on and on it goes.

Image: Bug opened by Dave Rupert on the White House Forty-Four repo, Via GitHub.

Old Economy Steven: A Meme For Bitter Millennials 

Old Economy Steven is a meme created to satirize the point of view of older generations who can’t wrap their heads around the hardships that young people face in the 21st century. The meme will sometimes exaggerate statements to appeal to the humor of frustrated and bitter millennials who have been wrongfully classified by older generations as lazy or spoiled.

The meme covers topics such as college loans, gas prices, and marriage equality — and calls attention to some stark differences between the lives of 20-year-old baby boomers and those born after 1989. 

Images: Quickmeme.com

Egypt
Yesterday: 34 ‘Islamists’ killed while in custody.
Today: 24 police killed in an ambush on their bus in Sinai.
Image: A Mohammed Morsi supporter injured when police broke up a sit-in lays on the ground near Cairo University, August 14, Hussein Tallal/AP via Boston.com.

Egypt

Yesterday: 34 ‘Islamists’ killed while in custody.

Today: 24 police killed in an ambush on their bus in Sinai.

Image: A Mohammed Morsi supporter injured when police broke up a sit-in lays on the ground near Cairo University, August 14, Hussein Tallal/AP via Boston.com.

Catching up on the NSA’s Surveillance Program
As we adjust our tinfoil hats and try to make sense of the revelations that the US National Security agency has been monitoring email, cellular and other digital traffic for years now, we do a lot of reading.
It’s a fluid story with new facts coming to the fore about as fast as reporters can tweet them.
There are a lot of moving parts. First and foremost is news of NSA snooping on American activities via its PRISM program. Then there are denials by the Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft that they provided the Feds with back door access to their servers. Honest!
We’re not sure which is scarier: that they’re lying and actually do and did, or that they’re telling the truth and the government snuck in undetected.
While The Wall Street Journal appears quite happy with the program (Thank You for Data-Mining) and The New York Times quite angry (President Obama’s Dragnet), here’s some of what’s coming across our radar to help people get up to speed.
Chronicle Of Higher Education, Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’Privacy is often threatened not by a single egregious act but by the slow accretion of a series of relatively minor acts. In this respect, privacy problems resemble certain environmental harms, which occur over time through a series of small acts by different actors. Although society is more likely to respond to a major oil spill, gradual pollution by a multitude of actors often creates worse problems.
The Guardian, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations (Video)Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.
New York Times, How the US Uses Technology to Mine More Data More Quickly “American laws and American policy view the content of communications as the most private and the most valuable, but that is backwards today,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington group. “The information associated with communications today is often more significant than the communications itself, and the people who do the data mining know that.”
The Guardian, Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance dataA snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA “global heat map” seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97 [billion] pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide… The level of detail includes individual IP addresses.
Wall Street Journal, Technology Emboldened the NSAThe NSA’s advances have come in the form of programs developed on the West Coast—a central one was known by the quirky name Hadoop—that enable intelligence agencies to cheaply amplify computing power, U.S. and industry officials said. The new capabilities allowed officials to shift from being overwhelmed by data to being able to make sense of large chunks of it to predict events, the officials said. [Related: Why Metadata Matters, via the Electronic Frontier Foundation.]
Tips and Tricks
Wired, Hear Ye, Future Deep Throats: This Is How to Leak to the Press.
Fox News, A guide for journalists (and everyone else) to avoid government snoops.
Medill National Security Zone, Digital Security Basics for Journalists.
Slate, How to Shield Your Calls, Chats, and Internet Browsing From Government Surveillance
Bonus: Our Surveillance Tag is a deep dive into all things… err, surveillance.
Image: Feeling Safer? by John Cole.

Catching up on the NSA’s Surveillance Program

As we adjust our tinfoil hats and try to make sense of the revelations that the US National Security agency has been monitoring email, cellular and other digital traffic for years now, we do a lot of reading.

It’s a fluid story with new facts coming to the fore about as fast as reporters can tweet them.

There are a lot of moving parts. First and foremost is news of NSA snooping on American activities via its PRISM program. Then there are denials by the Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft that they provided the Feds with back door access to their servers. Honest!

We’re not sure which is scarier: that they’re lying and actually do and did, or that they’re telling the truth and the government snuck in undetected.

While The Wall Street Journal appears quite happy with the program (Thank You for Data-Mining) and The New York Times quite angry (President Obama’s Dragnet), here’s some of what’s coming across our radar to help people get up to speed.

Chronicle Of Higher Education, Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’
Privacy is often threatened not by a single egregious act but by the slow accretion of a series of relatively minor acts. In this respect, privacy problems resemble certain environmental harms, which occur over time through a series of small acts by different actors. Although society is more likely to respond to a major oil spill, gradual pollution by a multitude of actors often creates worse problems.

The Guardian, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations (Video)
Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.

New York Times, How the US Uses Technology to Mine More Data More Quickly
“American laws and American policy view the content of communications as the most private and the most valuable, but that is backwards today,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington group. “The information associated with communications today is often more significant than the communications itself, and the people who do the data mining know that.”

The Guardian, Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data
A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA “global heat map” seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97 [billion] pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide… The level of detail includes individual IP addresses.

Wall Street Journal, Technology Emboldened the NSA
The NSA’s advances have come in the form of programs developed on the West Coast—a central one was known by the quirky name Hadoop—that enable intelligence agencies to cheaply amplify computing power, U.S. and industry officials said. The new capabilities allowed officials to shift from being overwhelmed by data to being able to make sense of large chunks of it to predict events, the officials said. [Related: Why Metadata Matters, via the Electronic Frontier Foundation.]

Tips and Tricks

Wired, Hear Ye, Future Deep Throats: This Is How to Leak to the Press.

Fox News, A guide for journalists (and everyone else) to avoid government snoops.

Medill National Security Zone, Digital Security Basics for Journalists.

Slate, How to Shield Your Calls, Chats, and Internet Browsing From Government Surveillance

Bonus: Our Surveillance Tag is a deep dive into all things… err, surveillance.

Image: Feeling Safer? by John Cole.

#OpenGov
President Obama signs an Executive Order: Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information.

To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable.

Image: Twitter post from Luke Fretwell.

#OpenGov

President Obama signs an Executive Order: Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information.

To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable.

Image: Twitter post from Luke Fretwell.

We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, ICANN, ISO and other international organizations

Nathan Tyler, a Google spokesperson, to the Huffington Post. Google Recognizes Palestine.

FJP: Watch the HuffPo interview with Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Palestine Center, about why this is significant.

Image Management
Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.
Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.
In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.
Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.
For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.
Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?
Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in  Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.
Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy
Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Image Management

Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.

Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.

In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.

Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.

For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.

Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?

Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.

Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy

Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Jackie Robinson in his Brooklyn Dodgers Uniform, 1950, Records of the U.S. Information Agency (National Archives Identifier 6802718) General Court Martial Orders Number 130, Headquarters XXII Corps, 08/23/1944, Records of the Army Staff (National Archives Identifier 2641509) Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower of May 13, 1958, 05/13/1958
ARC Identifier 186627 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Former National Baseball League player, Jackie Robinson with his son.], 08/28/1963, Records of the U.S. Information Agency (National Archives Identifier 542024)

Jackie Robinson

todaysdocument:

Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”

Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.

After retiring from baseball, Robinson turned much of his attention to civil rights issues. He wrote to several Presidents about the cause, and even attended the March on Washington.

Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.

via The Rest of 42’s Story: Jackie Robinson as Civil Rights Activist

FJP: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Robinson wrote in his autobiography. “I cannot possibly believe I have it made while so many of my black brothers and sisters are hungry, inadequately housed, insufficiently clothed, denied their dignity as they live in slums or barely exist on welfare.”

How We Talk About North Korea
Via Alex Pareene:

[North Korea] is the sort of story that our news media is absolutely awful at covering. Most people on cable news are brainless idiots hired primarily for their ability to talk on camera for long periods of time without saying “uh” that often, and even when they have a simplistic-but-workable grasp of domestic affairs they rarely know shit about the rest of the world. North Korea is a secretive hermit state that even the CIA can’t penetrate, and every report on the capabilities and motivations of the primary actors there will by necessity involve a lot of guesswork…
…This rampant uninformed speculation seems harmless until you recall the sort of effect hysterical uniformed speculation has had on America’s foreign policy in the past. It became clear in the run-up to the Iraq War that the news media was a very useful tool to get the public on board with wars. Through insinuation and misdirection, the false notion that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11 was spread with very few examples of actual lies from the administration — they just made the suggestions and let the idiot-media run with it.

Via Jack Shafer:

Like sportswriters, political reporters, financial news staffers, reporters on the police beat, and other breaking-news artists, foreign correspondents must tell their story with economy and describe what has happened as opposed to why something happened. “Typical Mindbending $#*! By the North Koreans” may accurately describe the latest provocation or retreat by Pyongyang, but it’s not the way breaking news generally gets framed…
…A brief survey of North Korea news clips reveals a spate of clichés… Pyongyang reliably remains defiant; talks have resumed or been proposed, canceled,or stalled, while a U.S. envoy seeks to lure the North back to those talks to restart the dialog; North Korea is bluffing,blustering, or is engaging in brinksmanship; tensions are grim, rising, or growing—but rarely reduced, probably because when tensions go down it doesn’t qualify for coverage; North Korea seeks recognition, respect, or improved or restored relations, or to rejoin the international community, or increased ties to the West that will lead to understanding; deals with North Korea are sought; North Korea feels insulted and is isolated by but threatens the West; the Japanese consider the North Koreans “untrustworthy“; the West seeks positive signs or signals or messages in North Korean conduct but worries about its intentions; diplomats seek to resolve, solve, respond to, overcome, defuse, the brewing, serious, real crisis; the escalating confrontation remains dangerous; the stakes are high, but the standoff endures.
The reliance on stock phrases indicates a lack of imagination on the part of foreign correspondents (and their editors), who if they are serving old wine they should find some new bottles from which to decant it. But it also confirms Shafer’s First Law of Journalistic Thermodynamics, which states, “Copy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.” North Korea coverage reiterates itself in language that is as pale as dead coral because, of course, the North Koreans insist on echoing themselves, even when acquiring new weapons, such as nuclear bombs and missiles. We’re in no position to ask the North Koreans to speak their minds more articulately (or honestly) but we’re within our rights to ask our favorite hacks to dump the hackneyed.

Alex Pareene, Salon, Pretending to Know about North Korea.
Jack Shafer, Reuters, The Enduring Cliche’s of North Korea Coverage.
Image: Korean peninsula at night, 2012, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

How We Talk About North Korea

Via Alex Pareene:

[North Korea] is the sort of story that our news media is absolutely awful at covering. Most people on cable news are brainless idiots hired primarily for their ability to talk on camera for long periods of time without saying “uh” that often, and even when they have a simplistic-but-workable grasp of domestic affairs they rarely know shit about the rest of the world. North Korea is a secretive hermit state that even the CIA can’t penetrate, and every report on the capabilities and motivations of the primary actors there will by necessity involve a lot of guesswork…

…This rampant uninformed speculation seems harmless until you recall the sort of effect hysterical uniformed speculation has had on America’s foreign policy in the past. It became clear in the run-up to the Iraq War that the news media was a very useful tool to get the public on board with wars. Through insinuation and misdirection, the false notion that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11 was spread with very few examples of actual lies from the administration — they just made the suggestions and let the idiot-media run with it.

Via Jack Shafer:

Like sportswriters, political reporters, financial news staffers, reporters on the police beat, and other breaking-news artists, foreign correspondents must tell their story with economy and describe what has happened as opposed to why something happened. “Typical Mindbending $#*! By the North Koreans” may accurately describe the latest provocation or retreat by Pyongyang, but it’s not the way breaking news generally gets framed…

…A brief survey of North Korea news clips reveals a spate of clichés… Pyongyang reliably remains defiant; talks have resumed or been proposed, canceled,or stalled, while a U.S. envoy seeks to lure the North back to those talks to restart the dialog; North Korea is bluffing,blustering, or is engaging in brinksmanship; tensions are grim, rising, or growing—but rarely reduced, probably because when tensions go down it doesn’t qualify for coverage; North Korea seeks recognition, respect, or improved or restored relations, or to rejoin the international community, or increased ties to the West that will lead to understanding; deals with North Korea are sought; North Korea feels insulted and is isolated by but threatens the West; the Japanese consider the North Koreans “untrustworthy“; the West seeks positive signs or signals or messages in North Korean conduct but worries about its intentions; diplomats seek to resolve, solve, respond to, overcome, defuse, the brewing, serious, real crisis; the escalating confrontation remains dangerous; the stakes are high, but the standoff endures.

The reliance on stock phrases indicates a lack of imagination on the part of foreign correspondents (and their editors), who if they are serving old wine they should find some new bottles from which to decant it. But it also confirms Shafer’s First Law of Journalistic Thermodynamics, which states, “Copy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.” North Korea coverage reiterates itself in language that is as pale as dead coral because, of course, the North Koreans insist on echoing themselves, even when acquiring new weapons, such as nuclear bombs and missiles. We’re in no position to ask the North Koreans to speak their minds more articulately (or honestly) but we’re within our rights to ask our favorite hacks to dump the hackneyed.

Alex Pareene, Salon, Pretending to Know about North Korea.

Jack Shafer, Reuters, The Enduring Cliche’s of North Korea Coverage.

Image: Korean peninsula at night, 2012, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

macnaughtonart:

Alright everyone, I am teaching an online class through skillshare.com about political illustration. This class is open to all of my 60,000 followers and also the general public.
Class begins on April 15th, so you have about a month to sign up for the class. This will be a great opportunity for all of you who have asked me for advice, and any art student or person who has interest in politics.
The class costs $15, but from now until March 28th I will be offering a limited discount. The first 20 people who enter the code ARTUNION will receive $5 off of the class cost. If those run out I may offer more.
For more information or to sign up, click here.

FJP: I can’t draw outside of stick figures but this is fantastic. — Michael

macnaughtonart:

Alright everyone, I am teaching an online class through skillshare.com about political illustration. This class is open to all of my 60,000 followers and also the general public.

Class begins on April 15th, so you have about a month to sign up for the class. This will be a great opportunity for all of you who have asked me for advice, and any art student or person who has interest in politics.

The class costs $15, but from now until March 28th I will be offering a limited discount. The first 20 people who enter the code ARTUNION will receive $5 off of the class cost. If those run out I may offer more.

For more information or to sign up, click here.

FJP: I can’t draw outside of stick figures but this is fantastic. — Michael

Income Growth, or not, 1966 to 2011
Average income growth for Americans in the bottom 90% increased just $59 in real terms from the 1960s to today. For those in the top .01%, it increased $18,362,740.
Put that in a chart, represent the 90% as an inch and the bar for the top .01% would tower 4.9 miles above it.
Read more at Tax Analysts, Income Inequality: 1 Inch to 5 Miles.
H/T: BoingBoing.

Income Growth, or not, 1966 to 2011

Average income growth for Americans in the bottom 90% increased just $59 in real terms from the 1960s to today. For those in the top .01%, it increased $18,362,740.

Put that in a chart, represent the 90% as an inch and the bar for the top .01% would tower 4.9 miles above it.

Read more at Tax Analysts, Income Inequality: 1 Inch to 5 Miles.

H/T: BoingBoing.