Archive for the 'New Media' Category

Can’t say it better than that

Monday, November 25th, 2013

VDH discusses a culture in ruins:

once you have rebelled against hexameters, quarter notes, or realistic representation, and after you have rebelled against that rebellion with crucifixes in urine, obscenity-laced rap, and peek-a-boo nudity on stage, what are you left with? The 20th-century rebels who knew what they did not like have been replaced by the anti-rebels who don’t know that there was ever something against which to rebel. Again, we are left with the 21st-century of Lady Gaga giving birth to a blue sphere, Miley Cyrus probing body orifices with a foam oversized finger, and Kanye West humping on a motorcycle while reciting obscene nursery-rhyme ditties. In a society where endorsing fairness and equality equates with success, no supposedly arbitrary canons can exclude much of anything. Who are you to say that song A is bad, or movie B is good, given your own class, race, and gender privileges that result in excluding someone or something? The less dialogue and the more explosions and nudity earn supposedly more ticket-buyers, at least until a new generation wishes to build something from the ashes. There can be no truth in our culture, given that it discriminates and proves hurtful to too many. The greatest sin in America is not to lie, but to embrace a hierarchy of any sort at all…The radically egalitarian ethos demands always the descent to the lowest common denominators of taste. A world without requisites is the fairest. To capture the most attention of the masses requires a Cyrus, Gaga, or West. Once classical canons of artistic, literary, or musical expression were torn down, and once those classically trained rebels who ripped them apart have passed on, we are left with the ruins of trying to shock what is perhaps beyond being shocked.

Trans-fats, 32 ounce sodas, health insurance. The things that the market can better regulate are ridiculously over-regulated, and the things that society needs to control are uncontrolled. Hard to see this ending well. Things will reverse of course in time, but it sure was a nasty few centuries after the fall of Rome.

It’s theater, so create some scenes

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Normally you’d think a furlough of some government employees would result in open spaces that are owned by citizens being less supervised than usual. Not today. Today’s inverted priorities give new meaning to the term rude bridge. Oddly, park rangers are working harder than ever, with the mission of annoying as many Americans as possible. Indeed, private businesses are being blockaded by rangers in full thug mode. All of which raises a question. Since this is theater, why not get in and enjoy it? Why doesn’t, for example, the governor of South Dakota send in the state police to remove the cones blocking Mount Rushmore? Or get a group of citizens to march in and do it? We understand of course that legally that may not be possible, but that’s entirely beside the point. The point is to create good theater on the nightly news. What is better theater on the evening news than showing an elderly couple being evicted from a home that they have owned for 40 years by federal goons? An amazing and unprecedented opportunity has been given to the GOP if they are clever enough to exploit it.

Fight theater with theater

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Since 2009, the US has been run this way: “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Steyn:

the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site – which, oddly enough, requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open. So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow “Police Line – Do Not Cross” tape strung out…a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they’d shown up on the beach at Normandy, it, too, had not been officially open.

It’s theater. It’s all victims and feelings, all the time, carried out by a not-too-competent crew, as the example above shows. You fight theater with theater, not with flowcharts and spreadsheets. Understanding this is beyond the ken of almost all GOP senators. Politico quotes one about a closed door meeting of these fellows:

“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was…I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”

Almost unanimously the GOP senators attacked Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Hugh Hewitt asked Lee if any senators defended them: “Sort of…Not really.” The GOP is called the stupid party with good reason. Since 2009, the US has been run as a 24/7 revival of Queen for a Day and apparently the senior ranks of the opposition party haven’t figured that out yet. There are times for end-games of course, but America is currently being run as a fantasy TV show that is almost entirely divorced from reality, and the opposition needs to understand that.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Frankly, we never thought that Ted Cruz was impressive, despite plaudits from Alan Dershowitz and others. And we understand that the filibuster is politics and that he wants to run in 2016 and blah, blah, blah. But you have to admit that the picture of his daughters watching him on TV reading Green Eggs and Ham was pretty cute (and we were quite surprised to learn how the story ended). Meanwhile, Iran snubbed the eminently snubbable and servile USA — oh, did we mention that Iran did so three times, just so no one could miss the point. How about a nice bow, fella?

Finally, in the course of reading an extremely silly article, we learned that “two thirds of younger Americans favor a bigger government with more services over a cheaper government with fewer services — a margin of support ’25 points above the rest of the population'”…and “74 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds believe that ‘a free market economy needs government regulation’.” While we have no problem with appropriate regulation, we note that centralized, top-down regulation is becoming something of an anachronism. It’s very slow compared to the so-called free market, particularly with things like Yelp and Twitter and so forth.

PanAm, Schwinn, TWA, Eastern, Polaroid, Kodak, Lehman, Hutton, WorldCom, Enron, Arthur Andersen, Compaq, Woolworth’s — these are entities from the old days. In 20 years, will people remember MySpace or AOL or the LA Times or Facebook?

What’s the next mission for the LHC?

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Tech Week:

Fresh collisions will be launched in two years’ time as CERN looks into other phenomena, such as anti-matter. They will create a significant amount of additional data for the IT team to deal with. When they need to, each of the site’s four particle detector hubs – ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb – take what amounts to 40 million pictures a second, producing 40 petabytes of information. Whilst not all of that information is kept – much of it related to already understood physics rather than interesting new particles – there is still 25GB a second that has to be thrown on standard discs and tapes…

When the giant underground tube starts seeing particles smashing into one another again, the backend systems need to be ready for the extraordinary amount of data that will come through, whilst supporting the bespoke code that picks out the interesting collisions…it’s like helping to “find a needle in a haystack when you don’t know what a needle is”…the LHC does not have enough budget to build as many systems as CERN would like, partly thanks to the current European economic climate. Nor has it been able to bring in new workers, even where additional systems have been installed.

So it appears that the LHC schedule may not be met. Well at least the earth wasn’t destroyed by the darned thing. Perhaps the funding lag is related to the LHC already having discovered the Higgs Boson. As explained here in this video, that apparently was the main mission of the LHC, and it accomplished it promptly and left the Standard Model intact. Now what?

V’ger, we are the Creator

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

CNN reports on a 1600 pound piece of tin with no memory, whose fictional younger sibling is the star of a movie:

Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977, 16 days apart. As of Thursday, according to NASA’s real-time odometer, Voyager 1 is 11.7 billion miles from Earth. Its sibling, Voyager 2, is 9.5 billion miles from our planet…Voyager 1 is being hailed as the first probe to leave the solar system…The probe will fly near a star in about 40,000 years…Both Voyager probes carry time capsules known as “the golden record,” a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disc with images and sounds so that extraterrestrials could learn about us…Voyager 1 has only 68 KB of memory on board

Half a billion years ago, complex creatures suddenly appeared on earth, with no antecedents in the fossil records. You can read more about that here. What caused the change is a mystery. For our part, we wouldn’t be surprised if a large monolith was responsible.

We won’t pile on after the Putin spanking

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Not a good week if you’ve lost Joe Klein (however, Nick Kristof is still on board!). And what about Vlad the Impaler? — “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation…We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” Brass.

Change the channel while you can; any mischief the US’s adversaries want to do will get done in the next 40 months or so. So here’s a nice piece on the Fantasticks, and one of ours at the passing of Jerry Orbach. And this trailer for Monty Python is excellent. Much better than the blah blah, which was evident five years ago to anyone who cared to see.

The final frontier?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

How 2013 was seen on Stardate 1513.1


Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

VDH comments on our appalling culture, and Thomas Sowell says pretty much the same thing we said the other day. The VDH and Sowell pieces are kind of like bookends. The prattling classes and their media stenographers have no idea how shallow and ignorant they are.

Needed: a new Hays Code and more

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

A culture is sick when it bends over backwards to accommodate any tiny group with a perceived problem, but refuses to deal with truly enormous issues. Fatherless families are the source of much of the senseless violence the nation experiences. In Detroit, 79% of births are to unwed mothers; how can any good come of this?

Another enormous issue is the widespread acceptance of vulgarity, which is shorthand for the abandonment of cultural standards. The Hays Code was eliminated in 1968, and we’ve seen what that has produced. Not all of it is bad of course, but cable TV and the internet have made inappropriate language and other material available to any toddler who can work his iPad. And look at Twitter, where celebrities feel free to say disgusting things in strings of four letter words. Role models!

Moreover, popular music has developed a vile two-track system of debasement. The over-the-air radio version of a tune is edited to delete the real lyrics of the music, though the kids have the real version in the club and in the Cloud. Did we mention that luxury goods and liquor companies conspire with the disgusting producers of this music to get product placement in the lyrics?

So if you create incentives for lost youth — fatherless families, no cultural standards, and encouragement of exploitative, often violent, hedonistic behavior — is it any surprise that you get what you incentivize for?

It’s worth mentioning that the Hays Code was a private, commercial agreement, not government censorship. In the present day, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world could decide to not publish four letter word postings. The broadcasters could decide not to air music that had a non-bowdlerized version available elsewhere. The consumer products companies could decide not to subsidize this rot. There’s probably a way for technology companies to better ensure that the toddlers get Barney instead of porno Barney. As for the unwed mothers and fatherless families, most of those in media and politics have been gutless wonders on this major issue, but we’ve been encouraged to see liberals like Juan Williams and libertarians like Larry Elder speaking clearly about the devastation this has caused. Hard to counter the non-stop propaganda, however.

A new world gets recreated with every new generation. We’ll just have to see whether our current troubles are an irreversible secular decline or more of a cyclical, self-correcting phenomenon.

What explains these curious coincidences?

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

A CNN story from 2005:

Hermes on Wednesday apologized to Oprah Winfrey for turning her away last week, saying that its Paris store was closed to set up for a public relations event when the talk show host stopped by. “Hermes regrets not having been able to accommodate Ms. Winfrey and her team and to provide her with the service and care that Hermes strives to provide to each and every one of its customers worldwide,” the store said in a statement. “Hermes apologizes for any offense taken due to such circumstances.” The store said the incident occurred on June 14 around 6:45 p.m., about 15 minutes after the store closed. It said Winfrey and her team arrived at a time when “a private PR event was being set up inside.”

Harpo Productions spokeswoman Michelle McIntyre said Winfrey “will discuss her ‘crash moment’ when her show returns from hiatus in September.” “Crash” is a film dealing with race relations. The phrase “crash moment” refers to situations where a party feels discriminated against on the basis of skin color.

The New York Daily News cited sources close to Winfrey as saying the talk show host was first rebuffed by a clerk and then a store manager. The Daily News reported Winfrey had gone to the store to buy a watch for singer Tina Turner, her dining partner that night. McIntyre confirmed that account for CNN. The New York Post, in its Monday Page Six gossip column, reported she was turned away because the store had been “having a problem with North Africans lately.” In comments to CNN, an Hermes spokeswoman categorically denied that allegation. “There was never any discussion of North Africans,” she said. “The story is not true.”

Hmmmm. The talk show host appears to have hosted the Crash cast at the time of the DVD release, just after her well-publicized encounter with discrimination in a European luxury store. Where have we seen that before? Oh yes, just the other day, when, in an incredible coincidence, the same woman encountered similar discrimination in a European luxury store just prior to the theatrical release of movie she’s in. How is such a bizarre coincidence possible? Deadline notes that “72% of Fandango’s The Butler ticket-buyers who were surveyed claimed that co-star Oprah Winfrey’s involvement increased their interest in seeing the film.”

So there are two movies (Crash and The Butler) that critics claim overstate facts to fit a dreary, shopworn narrative, and it just happens that prior to their theatrical or DVD release, there are remarkably similar Jim Crow acts of discrimination in non-US luxury boutiques that turn into publicity opportunities that echo the plots of the films. Very interesting.

What’s most depressing about all this is the genuine deep divide in our country. Listening to some of the callers to people like Larry Elder or Dennis Prager, it’s as though the last fifty years in America never happened. Roger Simon is right in his analysis. BTW, if Mark Steyn should run for the Senate, so should Larry Elder, who is really at the top of his game.

Unreality TV

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Five years ago America stopped being a country and became instead a TV show. Rubbish that would make a carnival barker blush was broadcast regularly. The media did not guffaw; they swooned. Critical judgment ceased in the era of the app. Scandals became as serious as a tweet, or even less serious than that. We’ve now gone through two generations of Julias who know neither Shakespeare nor the Bible, yet think they are the font of all wisdom. They believe in things like catastrophic AGW, and feel free to mock those who are skeptical. Things that are not only insane but totally unworkable are now law. Hard to see this ending well.

Golly gee, what a surprise

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Daily Kos:

I’m about to pay $8665 a year for crappy high deductible insurance in NYS…the older and sicker will in effect be subsidized by the young and healthy…The task facing the administration is Herculean, quite literally changing the psyche of the American people…The biggest and most critical hurdle is to sell the young 18-34 year old cohort on the need for them to enroll. Without this group of Americans, which the Administration estimates is around 2.7 million strong, the exchanges will implode

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Oh, BTW, check out the last two sentences of the piece. They’re priceless.

The Newsroom and the International Society of Julias

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

The most interesting thing about The Newsroom isn’t its alleged distortions of events. Rather it’s the elevated self-regard the young media nitwits exhibit. They know nothing, they’ve never held a real job in their lives, and yet they act as if the earth’s wisdom began with them. The Julia’s are running the asylum. Speaking of the Julia’s, it’s not just a domestic problem. The young and ignorant around the world think it’s perfectly reasonable for them to lecture the oldsters in another country about things they know nothing about.


Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Class act all around. HT: BOTW

Two views, and more

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

A law professor at the University of Colorado via Salon:

the trial of George Zimmerman for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin was all about race. And because it happened in America, the people who benefit politically from the same invidious forces that led both to Trayvon Martin’s killing, and the acquittal of his killer, will deny that race had anything to do with either the killing or the verdict.

Suppose Trayvon Martin had been a 230-pound 30-year-old black man, with a loaded gun in his jacket. Suppose Zimmerman had been a 150-pound 17-year-old white kid, who was doing nothing more threatening than walking back from a convenience store to his father’s condo.

Suppose Martin had stalked Zimmerman in his car, until Zimmerman became afraid and tried to elude him. Suppose Martin had gotten out of his car and pursued Zimmerman. Suppose this led to some sort of altercation in which the big scary black man ended up with a bloody nose and some scratches on the back of his head, and the scared skinny (and unarmed) white kid had ended up with a bullet in his heart.

How do you suppose the big scary black man’s claim of “self-defense” would have gone over with a jury made up almost entirely of white women? But of course this is America, which means that the scary figure in this story is the skinny unarmed teenager, because in America pretty much any black male over the age of 12 in this sort of situation is going to be presumed to be the ”aggressor,” the “thug” – in short,” the real criminal,” until he’s proved innocent, which he won’t be, even if he’s now a dead, still unarmed teenager. And his killer is a grown man who provokes a fight with an otherwise harmless kid, starts losing it, and then shoots the kid dead.

Because this is America, pointing out that a black boy can be shot with impunity by a more or less white man because many white Americans are terrified by black boys and men is called “playing the race card.” The race card is what the people who benefit politically from the fact that many white Americans are terrified by black boys and men call any reference to the fact that race continues to play an overwhelmingly important, and overwhelmingly invidious, role in American culture in general. And in the criminal justice system in particular.

Trayvon Martin was stalked by George Zimmerman because he was black. Trayvon Martin is dead because he was black. George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin because the boy Zimmerman killed was black. If you deny these things, you are either a liar or an idiot, or possibly both.

Roger Simon:

Forget the over-zealous prosecutors and the repellent state attorney Angela Corey (who should be immediately disbarred or, my wife said sarcastically, elevated to director of Homeland Security) and even the unfortunate Trayvon Martin family (although it is certainly hard to forget them — they have our profound sympathies), the true loser at the Zimmerman trial was Barack Obama.

By injecting himself in a minor Florida criminal case by implying Martin could be his son, the president of the United States — a onetime law lecturer, of all things — disgraced himself and his office, made a mockery of our legal system and exacerbated racial tensions in our country, making them worse than they have been in years. This is the work of a reactionary, someone who consciously/unconsciously wants to push our nation back to the 1950s.

It is also the work of a narcissist who thinks of himself first, of his image, not of black, white or any other kind of people. It’s no accident that race relations in our country have gone backwards during his stewardship.

Congratulations to the jury for not acceding to this tremendous pressure and delivering the only conceivable honest verdict. This case should never have been brought to trial. It was, quite literally, the first American Stalinist “show trial.” There was, virtually, no evidence to convict George Zimmerman.

There has been a fair amount of reaction to this case in the political and celebrity worlds. Having listened to commentary from left and right, we observe that the narratives believed by each correlate pretty well with how they vote, which isn’t that surprising. It’s also, sadly, not surprising that the partisan media failed to do its job or that in the increasingly post-religious vulgarian America, many people don’t think twice about calling for the jury to be murdered.

Pathetic non-denial denials

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

All the tech companies are denying that they ever heard of “PRISM“, and that the government does not have “direct access” to their servers. Amazingly, they all use almost precisely identical language to frame their non-denial denials. It’s another pathetic chapter in a long running series. So they didn’t apparently know the name “PRISM”, and they apparently forwarded the information the government requested to separate servers. Next!

Technology trends

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Mary Meeker’s 117 slide presentation at the digital conference.

Rules for flippers

Friday, May 17th, 2013

In case you’re unfamiliar with Law & Order, whether the original, SVU or CI, there are a couple of rules when approached for a friendly conversation with investigators: lawyer up and shut up being notable among them. Even a smart lawyer like Scooter Libby ignored this advice. Both Michael Ledeen and Hugh Hewitt give advice to those who may be implicated in our current or coming scandals (don’t you think there will be others?), namely to move quickly in lawyering up or they’ll get worse counsel at a worse price.

Also, Thomas Lifson has an interesting piece on how the scandal avalanche may be affecting the MSM. It will be interesting if it turns out to be true.

The AP etc.

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

So the AP was investigated for a national security breach? Maybe it’s true though we doubt it. Such fealty to national security matters would be an aberration from business as usual for this crew, though it is excellent cover story for snooping on hundreds of journalists and their sources. Remember Blair Hull? Jack Ryan? Sharon Bialek? It’s the Chicago Way to have dossiers on everyone. Who knows when you’re going to need them?

A couple of other points. The AP story is fishy from a variety of perspectives, including that it focuses on phone calls but makes no mention of other electronic communications. What about all the text messages and emails, which is the way that much if not most of journalistic communication is done today? Surely if the government wanted blanket information it would have gotten all that traffic as well. Details dribble out, in scandal after scandal, from Fast and Furious to Benghazi and this. And the final point: what are the scandals that we still don’t know about?