Archive for the 'New Media' Category

Someone is watching

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Sometimes it’s the Tonight Show that’s watching you, sometimes it’s Bloomberg. NYT:

There are now more than 315,000 Bloomberg terminal subscribers worldwide who rely on the desktop computer for research, trading, communication and a constant stream of financial information and news. But as it turned out, what the subscribers were doing was not always confidential. Bloomberg reporters used the “Z function” — a command using the letter Z and a company’s name — to view a list of subscribers at a firm. Then, a Bloomberg user could click on a subscriber’s name, which would take the user to a function called UUID. The UUID function then provided background on an individual subscriber, including contact information, when the subscriber had last logged on, chat information between subscribers and customer service representatives, and weekly statistics on how often they used a particular function…

A preliminary analysis at Bloomberg revealed that “several hundred” reporters had used the technique…problems, which became public on Friday, started at JPMorgan Chase last summer, when the bank suffered a multibillion-dollar trading loss. Some Bloomberg reporters called the bank, people briefed on the call said, to question whether the traders responsible for the loss had been fired. They cited the fact that the traders had gone silent on the terminal. The bank, the people said, objected to the reporting technique, but did not formally reach out to Bloomberg executives to complain. Yet bank officials soon discovered that other Bloomberg reporters were using the approach on other stories unrelated to the trading loss.

And the things the watchers can’t see directly they’ll ask you about in some detail.

Your government at work

Thursday, May 9th, 2013


death is a part of life, but so often we have to find a way to make life a part of death.

You can watch this wisdom here. The hearing is a scandal in itself, but will anyone care?

As strong an argument for online education as has ever been made

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

An open letter from the Philosophy Department of SJSU to a Harvard professor:

We believe that long-term financial considerations motivate the call for massively open online courses (MOOCs) at public universities such as ours. Unfortunately, the move to MOOCs comes at great peril to our university. We regard such courses as a serious compromise of quality of education and, ironically for a social justice course, a case of social injustice…

what kind of message are we sending our students if we tell them that they should best learn what justice is by listening to the reflections of the largely white student population from a privileged institution like Harvard? Our very diverse students gain far more when their own experience is central to the course and when they are learning from our own very diverse faculty, who bring their varied perspectives to the content of courses that bear on social justice…

having our students read a variety of texts, perhaps including your own, is far superior to having them listen to your lectures. This is especially important for a digital generation that reads far too little. If we can do something as educators we would like to increase literacy, not decrease it…the thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various philosophy departments across the country is downright scary — something out of a dystopian novel…

Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities. Sincerely and in solidarity, The Department of Philosophy San Jose State University

Get a load of that second paragraph. Right out of Life of Julia. BTW, here are some of the other things the faculty are up to. HT: PL

No predictions here

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

We see that Chris Matthews has some thoughts on the carnage in Boston. So does David Axelrod. And so did Mayor Bloomberg and Michael Tomasky, though that was a while ago. Paul Krugman had a prediction. Wolf Blitzer had a question. Michael Moore took the time to link half a dozen events together. There are preferred villains and less preferred villains for everyone, and we see that the wish is father to the thought. Let’s wait and see, ok? (Roger Simon has related thoughts.)

Very strange

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Andrew Malcolm

since last spring DHS has stockpiled more than 1.6 billion bullets, mainly .40 caliber and 9mm. That’s sufficient firepower to shoot every American about five times. Including illegal immigrants. To provide some perspective, experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month. At that rate, DHS is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war.

And if that weren’t enough, there’s upworthy to worry about.

Loud and empty

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Day after day provides more evidence of the amazing gap between the oldsters and the youngsters. We found the halftime show at the Super Bowl loud and empty, while others were blown away and dazzled. One way or another, this is not going to end well.

The 26.9% factor

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

26.9% of the viewers of this were offended. A quarter of the country and more have lost their marbles, if indeed they ever had any.

A world apart

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013


Last year the tech oligarchs emerged as major political players. Microsoft, Google and their employees were the largest private-sector donors to the president. More important still, tech workers also provided the president and his party with a unique set of digital tools that helped identify potential supporters among traditionally uninformed and disinterested voters, particularly among the young.

An even greater beneficiary of the second term will be the administrative class, who by their nature live largely outside the market system. This group, which I call the new clerisy, is based largely in academia and the federal bureaucracy, whose numbers and distinct privileges have grown throughout the past half century.

Even in tough times, high-level academics enjoy tenure and have been largely spared from job cuts. Between late 2007 and mid-2009, the number of U.S. federal workers earning more than $150,000 more than doubled, even as the economy fell into a deep recession. Even as the private sector, and state government employment has fallen, the ranks of federal nomenklatura have swelled so much that Washington, D.C., has replaced New York as the wealthiest region in the country…

96% of all donations from the Ivy League went to the president, something more reminiscent of Soviet Russia than a properly functioning pluralistic academy…Most distinctive about the clerisy is their unanimity of views. On campus today, there is broad agreement on a host of issues from gay marriage, affirmative action and what are perceived as “women’s” issues to an almost religious environmentalism that is contemptuous toward traditional industry and anything that smacks of traditional middle class suburban values. These views have shaped many of the perceptions of the current millennial generation

The know-it-alls are running the show. No wonder small businesses are down in the dumps.

Arithmetic, up close and personal

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

How interesting. One Bobbie Bigsby noticed that her paycheck was short $31. That’s one way to get the attention of the 47%.

Is it possible to cut through the clutter?

Monday, January 7th, 2013

A strong majority of those under 30 voted for the USA to keep going the way it has been going. They’ve been told that the R side is mean and bigoted and the R side doesn’t complain too much about that — just plays the game, so they apparently accept that they’re fine with things as they are. R’s are just like D’s, except they don’t believe in good stuff, like science and same-sex marriage and helping the poor — all so they can help out their mean billionaire friends. Otherwise the R’s would vote “present” or against the D program.

Is it possible to cut through the clutter of the media and the academy in a media-saturated smartphone world? Maybe, maybe not. But we don’t think you can do it playing small ball. We think you have to pick a few things and repeat them endlessly. We’d start with the economy where spending must be checked or we hit the iceberg, and we want the other side to own that disaster completely. Churchill was wrong, wrong, wrong, and suddenly so very right. It doesn’t guarantee short-term success, but that really is an iceberg.

We’d also probably use some version of the truism that to avoid being poor in America all you really need to do for the most part is to be born to parents who graduate from high school, and were married and over 20 when they have kids, and then do that yourself. Every policy that discourages this hurts people. Every cultural outlet that discourages this, such as much of the music of today, is vulgar, disgusting and hurts people. Cultural outlets that support these good values, such as churches, help people. Time to say so.

Finally, we think there’s probably an opening for some politician to brand himself with no more than three words or catch-phrases. He’s known for saying “iceberg.” He’s known for something like “everything anti-family creates poor people.” And perhaps he’s best known for saying, about most things media, “they’re lying to you.” Clarity, brevity, sharp distinctions.

Would it work? We don’t know, but that really is an iceberg up ahead.

The collected works of Shakespeare, etc.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

The US tax code is more than four times the length of the collected works of Shakespeare, and about half the residents of Detroit can’t read either. More fun facts here.

Like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

He took his boat into Cambodia three or four times and spent Christmas there. He had a pet named VC the Wonder Dog who was blown sky high into the air when a mine exploded under his swift boat. Happy days are here again.

Our charming fellow countrymen

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Every day things seem to hit a new low.

Considering a hiatus

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Roger Kimball explains.

Missile defense changes the game

Monday, November 19th, 2012

WRM explains. And you can see the results for yourself.

Mystery inside an enigma

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Neo-neocon explains. Ralph Peters adds to the picture.

Slouching towards America’s decline

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

It’s been seven years since we wrote how your iPod is ruining America. The thesis of that piece was that technology made life easy and long, and that we were becoming separated from life in America as it was lived in olden days, in danger of forgetting the values and lessons that made the country so special.

Since 2005, we’ve seen the rise of ubiquitous wireless, smartphones and mobile devices of all sorts, the social networks, YouTube, tumblr, twitter, texting, and every sort of instant communication. As a consequence, we’re constantly bombarded with information, which is fine. What is not fine, what is instead surprising and shocking, is the obscenity and vulgarity on display — and the complete lack of shame on the part of those doing it. (The amazing obscenity of pop music for the young, concealed only on FCC-regulated media, is another manifestation of the disintegration of traditional values.) We never imagined such a thing was possible.

Technology, as it turned out, wasn’t the problem, but it revealed how widespread the problem is and made it easier to distribute. The basic problem is cultural. Over 20% of Americans (increasing year-by-year) now self-identify as secular, and that way western Europe’s rot lies. At least 30-40% of children are born out of wedlock or in households without fathers, another disaster. There is no sign that these trends are going to reverse anytime soon.

Worse still. the cultural elites in the academy and the arts are almost wholly supportive of this insanity. We chanced to listen to Smiley and West’s recent discussion with Jeffrey Toobin (look up their bios!) and it was a perfect example of what the left, the academy, and the media really believe. Man-made climate change is real and catastrophic, Republicans are anti-knowledge, anti-science racists, capitalism is the enemy of the people, a large and powerful central government is the solution to life’s ills, and on and on. It’s appalling that so many reasonably intelligent people believe such rubbish, but evidently they do.

We don’t know how this will end, but it doesn’t look good. On the one hand, technology empowers the cultural and moral rot; on the other hand, arithmetic dictates that there’s going to be a day of reckoning in a few years, and hard reality often wins when its opponent is fatuous utopianism. On the one hand, the blue state secular media, government and cultural institutions control the framework of acceptable debate; on the other hand, businesses will continue to flee broke, high-tax blue states for the lower tax red states that are more in line with traditional American values. And of course there are always major exogenous events that might tip the scales one way or the other.

That said, we are pretty pessimistic about the future of the nation. Put it another way: if we ran for president in 2012, we’d have run a campaign pretty much like Mitt Romney’s (absent the waffling and hair-dye, and with a much better GOTV and rapid-response effort to counter his demonization by the other side). But here’s the thing: win or lose, half the country is on the other side, and the culture and education establishment are still in the hands of the foes of traditional America. It doesn’t look good.

Continuing question

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

How does anyone get fewer votes than John McCain? We understand that the opposition painted him as a murdering ogre and had excellent database and turnout operations. But McCain ran an inept campaign against a rock star. He actually suspended it for a time, showing awful judgment. The last four years have been no picnic. Add all that up and while we can appreciate that it’s hard to beat an incumbent, we still find it hard to understand how McCain beat Romney.

Portrait of decline

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012


Why not weekly town hall meetings, peoples’ press conferences after 5/29?

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The navel gazing continues, and panicked Republicans appear ready to do all sorts of things, such as doing a 180 on illegal immigration and so forth. Slow down and think, people. The election was lost by fewer than 700,000 votes in key swing states, and much of that problem was self-inflicted. That’s a reason to change core policy positions? Puh-leeze. A central problem for the Romney team was that their experts wanted to run a fine 20th century campaign. It was obsolete. There were new problems for them (e.g., effective negative micro-targeting), but also new potential solutions. However, as has been outlined in detail by many people, the Romney campaign had big problems with using 21st century technology to its advantage.

Swing voters were not connecting with Mitt Romney and this was known since June at least. No doubt the negative advertising from Axelrod and Co. had a lot to do with this, and it was effective. The War on Women, rapacious Bain Capital, out-of-touch-rich-guy, and so forth. That’s why seeing a competent person who was an actual human being in the first presidential debate in September was such a shocker. By then, much of the damage had already been done.

But that was unnecessary. We live in the age of the internet and social media, so an effective response to the negative ads was both instantly available and cheap. Why wait for September and the debates to make a direct case to people? Why didn’t the Romney campaign arrange for some slots on TV news channels for long-form interviews with audience participation after May 29 and throughout the summer and fall? The White House did its share of livestreamed town hall meetings. For that matter, why not do a weekly “peoples’ press conference” on the internet? “Ask Mitt Live, every Friday at Five.” He could speak for five minutes on the subject of the day (imagine using that forum to discuss Benghazi) and then field questions from voters, friendly and hostile, both in person and via the internet. It seems to us a pretty simple way to connect with people and counter the negative advertising. In the era of twitter and social networking, interactive communication is a powerful tool.

You’d think that MSNBC would give Romney all the time he wanted for free — as long as they could choose the audience and the questions. Now that would have been interesting to watch.