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The Great Wealth Transfer- good column by lefty economist Paul Krugman about the astounding jump in wealth inequality in America. He also debunks a few persistent myths about the reason some people are rich and some people are poor. He uses an analogy to describe the unequal distribution of personal income that is a little complicated to set up, but powerful once he gets there, that I’ll try to simplify here.
Imagine you have a line of 1000 people, that represent all the people in America, and that the height of each person represents their income. In 1973, the average height/income in that line would be 6 feet, the poorest person would be 16 inches tall, and the richest would be 113 feet tall. In 2005, the average height would have grown to 8 feet, and the richest guy would be 560 feet tall.
Crunks ‘06: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections- found a strange blog that focuses solely on “corrections, retractions, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the media.” And they have recently put out their yearly “awards” for errors and corrections and such. Some are fun, some are disturbing.
UK ‘plot’ terror charge dropped- you know how you’re no longer allowed to bring liquids or gels onto American airplane flights? That ban got started because of an alleged terrorist plot to blow up an airplane with liquid explosives (even though that particular scheme wasn’t even really possible). Now, it turns out that the authorities can’t even scrape together enough evidence to try the “ringleader” of this plot for terrorism charges. Yet I don’t think their going to remove their anti-liquid rules anytime soon.
A friend of mine and I came up with a foolproof method of secure air travel. First of all, no carry-on luggage for anyone. Second, before anyone gets on board, they are injected with a chemical that renders them unconscious. Then they are stripped naked and thrown into a big pile in the center of the plane. When the plane arrives, the passengers are re-awakened and given their clothes back. No fuss, no muss.
John McCain’s War On Blogs- John McCain has proposed a new bill called the “Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act”. While the bill seems aimed at preventing sexual predators from using messageboards or blog comment sections to lure in children, it seems to have the broader implication that the owner of a messageboard or a blogger is responsible for the comments or actions of other people. This runs counter to existing legal rules which say that commenters or posters are responsible for their own actions. While this wouldn’t have much impact on a site like mine, blogs with few writers but many commenters could be in trouble.
Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist- Michael Crichton is a prick. In recent years, the immensely successful sci-fi/action author has begun speaking out publicly against the theory of global warming. In fact, his 2004 book “State of Fear” largely claims that global warming is a big hoax (I guess the Antarctic ice shelf is in on the gag). In March, Washington-based political journalist Michael Crowley wrote a very critical article about Crichton and State of Fear for The New Republic magazine. This seems to have made Crichton a bit cranky. His newest book contains a character named “Mick Crowley”, who is also a Washington-based political journalist. And in the book, the fictional Crowley anally rapes an infant. That’s some petty, vindictive shit.
Please don’t support blog awards- popular blogger Steve Gilliard argues that the various “best blog of the year” awards are a waste of time and serve to divide rather than unite. He’s got a bit of a point. How do you figure out which blog is “the best”, and why would you really care? I imagine people get involved with them because a) awards are fun, and b) if you happen to win, that can get you some publicity and new readers.
Media as adversary to the government- Glenn Greenwald makes a point about journalistic objectivity using coverage of Iran’s Holocaust denial conference as an example. The press saw an issue with two sides– one that one backed by reason and facts, the other by lunacy and hate– and instead of simply presenting both cases and shrugging, reporters said “the holocaust deniers are wrong.” This implies that reporters could do this when faced with other examples of “debate”, and mention that one of the two sides is full of shit, if one happens to be full of shit. However, journalists rarely do this, unless the conclusion is 100% uncontroversial. I’m not sure if there is a historical example of model journalism, but these days the individual journalist is part of a business that is dependent upon the good graces of shareholders and advertisers, greatly hindering their ability to risk controversial truths.
The strange dust-up over ‘Beat the Press’- eventually, this article and its comment thread are about the dependence of blogs upon corporate media. While some folks seem to think that bloggers are New Media and newspapers are Old Media, the fact is that your average blogger simply does not have the money or free time to do the same level of in-depth reporting as Old Media. If bloggers really want to take that role, they need to find means of getting funding, or work in a more collaborative, distributed manner that would minimize the amount of sacrifice any one individual would have to make to get the information.