October 2, 2013

QotD: Day two

Filed under: Books, Government, Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:38

I don’t know who’s more foolish: the greeter standing there, cheerfully helping shoppers, or the other customers who weren’t panicking and hoarding like I was. Don’t these idiots realize that the government is shut down?!?!

The lack of rioting at Petco encouraged me — might there still be actual human food on the shelves at other stores? Swung by Whole Foods where I saw canned goods … and large cuts of beef and pork on sale at $1.99 / lb. Remembering a trick from Lucifer’s Hammer, I bought all the meat I could fit in the shopping cart, took it home, sliced it thin, and dehydrated it.

As I stayed up until 4am slicing meat I couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that the customers at Whole Foods are just as deluded as those at Petco. Fools. Pathetic fools. The societal breakdown might not be that obvious yet, but by day three of the government shutdown they’ll be hammering at my door, looking for salted beef.

Sadly, I’ve realized that my preparations aren’t as far along as they should be. Ammunition will soon grow scarce, and I’ll need other weapons to defend myself from bikers and feral children once the government shutdown really hits. I recall from Dies the Fire that crossbows can be made from truck leaf springs. I’m going to go onto Craigslist to try to find a blacksmith or craftsman I can barter with, but I fear it may already be too late — has Craigslist survived this long?

Clark, “Government shutdown: day two”, Popehat, 2013-10-02

Bruce Schneier’s TEDx talk “The Battle for Power on the Internet”

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:56

Published on 25 Sep 2013

Bruce Schneier gives us a glimpse of the future of the internet, and shares some of the context we should keep in mind, and the insights we need to understand, as we prepare for it. Learn more about Bruce Schneier at https://www.schneier.com and TEDxCambridge at http://www.tedxcambridge.com.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

“Saving” Greek democracy

Filed under: Europe, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:44

The sweep of arrests among the elected members of the Greek far-right Golden Dawn party are being hailed as saving democracy, but as Brendan O’Neill points out, this kind of action is extremely undemocratic:

Why isn’t there more discomfort, or at least the asking of some awkward questions, about the arrest of Golden Dawn MPs in Greece? Yes, Golden Dawn is a profoundly unpleasant organisation. Virulently racist, anti-Semitic, allergic to the ideals of free speech and free movement, and supported by people who are quite happy to use violence against those they hate, especially immigrants, it makes our own British National Party look like a chapter of the Women’s Institute in comparison. Yet that doesn’t mean we should give a nod to, far less cheer, the Greek state’s incarceration of GD’s leaders and members of parliament, who were democratically elected. Any police sweep on elected politicians should make those of us who call ourselves democrats anxious; that Greece’s military-style assault on GD hasn’t is very worrying.


Far from asking critical questions about what is motivating the Greek state’s clampdown on Golden Dawn, sections of the Greek left and vast swathes of the European left are celebrating it as a victory for democracy. They echo Greece’s public order minister, Nikos Dendias, who described the sweeping-up of GD’s leaders as ‘a historic day for Greece and Europe’. Greek newspapers are competing to see who can be the most effusive in their support for the clampdown. The brilliant arrests are ‘Golden Dawn’s Holocaust’, said one, rather tastelessly. Another claimed that ‘democracy is knocking out the neo-Nazis’. A left-wing British magazine described the arrests as ‘a victory for democracy in Greece’ and demanded to know why the Greek state isn’t doing more to shut down GD. SYRIZA, the left-wing opposition party in Greece which numerous European leftists have excitably hailed as a radical voice against austerity, has stood shoulder-by-shoulder with the state against Golden Dawn, claiming the arrests show ‘that our democracy is standing firm and is healthy’.

These radical cheerleaders of a state clampdown on democratically elected politicians urgently need to look up the word democracy in a dictionary. To describe the arrest of politicians who were elected by the public, by masked, armed police who were not elected by the public, as a ‘victory for democracy’ is the most profound contradiction in terms. Some leftists are claiming that the militaristic clampdown on GD has nothing to do with its political beliefs and is just a straightforward investigation of some men involved in alleged criminal activity. It’s hard to know whether such naivety is touching or disturbing. If this is just a criminal case rather than a political war waged by agents of the state against ideological undesirables, then why are so many describing it as a ‘victory for democracy’, as opposed to a potential victory for justice, and why are so many hailing the ‘knocking out [of] neo-Nazi ideas’? No number of lists of the alleged weapons found in GD members’ homes (apparently the party’s leader owns three guns) can disguise the fact that what we are witnessing here is a state war on a party supported by a significant number of Greeks.

Now we have the real reason for the decline in newspaper revenue

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:25

If you guessed “the internet” — particularly the internet sites that ate the classified ad business alive — you’re apparently wrong. The real culprit is … an amazingly old-fashioned racist and sexist stereotype:

For years, we’ve talked about the ridiculousness with which many old school journalists want to blame the internet (or, more specifically Google or Craigslist) for the troubles some in the industry have had lately. It is a ridiculous claim. Basically, newspapers have survived for years on a massive inefficiency in information. What newspapers did marginally well was bring together a local community of interest, take their attention, and then sell that attention. What many folks in the news business still can’t come to terms with is the fact that there are tons of other communities of attention out there now, so they can’t slide by on inefficiencies like they did in the past.

Either way, it’s always nice to see some in the industry recognize that blaming the internet is a mistake. However, Chris Powell, the managing editor for the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut’s choice of a different culprit doesn’t seem much more on target. Powell, who it appears, actually does have a journalism job (I can’t fathom how or why) published an opinion piece (found via Mark Hamilton and Mathew Ingram) that puts the blame squarely on… single mothers. Okay, not just any single mothers:

    Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households — two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they’re living in, and couldn’t afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population.

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