• Blogging,  Media

    Thoughts on the media

    First is this article from Virginia Postrel,

    Some people say they want “just the facts,” and fault reporters for introducing too much analysis. Others complain that stories do just the opposite, treating all sides in a conflict as equally valid. The news-buying public seems to want contradictory things.

    But one person’s contradiction is another’s market niche. Those differences help answer an economic puzzle: if bias is a product flaw, why does it not behave like auto repair rates, declining under competitive pressure?

    In a recent paper, “The Market for News,” two Harvard economists look at that question. “There’s plenty of competition” among news sources, Sendhil Mullainathan, one of the authors, said in an interview. But “the more competition there has been in the last 20 years, the more discussion there has been of bias.”

    The reason, he and his colleague, Andrei Shleifer, argue, is that consumers care about more than accuracy. “We assume that readers prefer to hear or read news that are more consistent with their beliefs,” they write. Bias is not a bug but a feature.

    In a competitive news market, they argue, producers can use bias to differentiate their products and stave off price competition. Bias increases consumer loyalty.

    I’ve always though that the media should admit to having a side instead of pretending that they follow some conceptually impossible standard of objectivity.

    The other is this very cool map of where all the news is coming from, called Buzztracker.

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  • family

    Things that annoy me, part million and four

    The headline “Jane Fonda Film Banned From KY. Theaters” caught my eye immediately, and I started wondering if some combination of veterans and film critics had seized power in a subtle coup in order to have the power to ban a movie.

    I then read the article and I find that a theater owner isn’t showing the movie. Some ban. Why won’t newspapers let words mean what they’re supposed to? I suppose I’ve blacklisted the movie by not seeing it. It being a small world, all of this happened in Elizabethtown (near Fort Knox), ancestral home of the French clan.

    Full Article Here

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  • History,  Nazis,  WWII


    This post from RJ Rummel, while not terribly timely is worth reading, it points out the little known fact that Hitler, while he was elected chancellor, was not elected dictator for life as many seem to think.

    Also, he has an interesting historical bit at the very end, to wit:

    Note that during his Beer Hall putsch of 1923 in Munich, Hitler launched an unrealistic attempt to rally the public and take over the government. As Hitler and his supporters “marched on Berlin” they were met by police lines blocking their path. Someone fired a shot, and the police then fired into the crowd of marchers, where Hitler and his bodyguard were in front. His bodyguard was hit, and wrenched Hitler to the ground, dislocating his shoulder. Goring was shot in the leg, and 14 marchers and 4 policemen were killed.

    Think about how the world would have been changed if one of those many bullets had killed Hitler. And think of this, when commentators treat the present as though the inevitable outcome of irresistible forces. Because one man survives a hail of bullets, everything – everything — human in the world is changed.

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  • Bluegrass

    Jimmy Martin RIP

    He actually passed away several days again, but I’m finally getting around to writing about it. He was certainly one of the towering figures in bluegrass, both as a songwriter and as a showman.

    This article from Gritz goes a long way for an interview. It does not go into what exactly was wrong with him in term of mental illness. I’ve heard it was definitely something serious; and judging from live recordings he always seemed very odd. It also touches on the many feuds he’s had with people.

    He does have several pieces of high praise for Earl Scruggs who is yet another towering figure in the genre who probably won’t be in this world for much longer either.

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  • Music,  Society,  Soviet

    In place of a longer thought

    Songs for John Doe was an anti-war record put out in the early 40’s by dutiful Soviet apparachiks the Almanac Singers (Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie and the rest). For a brief period Stalin and Hitler were allies (and invaded Poland together, a little known fact). This record was their take on the matter, taking the position that America should not go to war for US Steel and JP Morgan, which was of course the only possible reason it would. They changed their tune the moment Operation Barbarossa began.

    I have quite a few thoughts about this topic, but in general it would seem that the human condition is indeed timeless. I’ve got a quite a few thoughts on the matter that I’ll get into words over the next week or so.

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  • Quotes

    The other quote of the day

    As work has been very heavy lately blogging will be light, but this is a nice little quote.

    “Research has been shown to cause cancer in rats.”

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  • Quotes

    Quote of the morning

    Probably not true, but from a commenter on Yglesias

    “…I was reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s statement to the effect that the human tendency to think their problems would be solved if only they were smarter is like giraffes thinking their problems would be solved if only their necks were longer.”

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