Due to unexpected travel blogging will be slow, that is, unless Trump unexpected leaves office for whatever reason. We will resume regular posts in a day or two, so keep checking back. Meanwhile, have some music.
Jul 19 2012
Manifest Destiny In Reverse
America has never been this fucked up.
That bitter awareness is echoing from one end of reality to the other, it’s rumbling just under the surface of this Wonderland of the One-Percent, it can be heard in the whistling of Wall Street bankers past the graveyard of the economy, in the silence of a million foreclosed homes, in the blowing of the wind through the ragged lines of the unemployed, in the pounding of the waves of karma on the shores of capitalism, where the sandcastles of the American Dream are being swept away, where the piers of the political system are collapsing into the sea, where a long night is falling and the lights along the boardwalk of forgotten freedom are all going out.
Jul 17 2012
This Isn’t Over Yet
Reading Netroots blogs gets depressing, the content is repetitive, the problems are all too well known and the solutions are obvious, but they aren’t seen as solutions by the corporate or political establishments, they’re seen as lethal threats. So we’re portrayed as radicals, we’re demonized by Republicans and ignored by Democrats, tens of millions of Americans pay no attention at all to us, many of them don’t even know we exist.
You can look out across cyberspace tonight, you can see all words written on progressive blogs, all of the insights and commentary, all of the assessments, you can see all of the passion and dedication and idealism, but most of all, you can see the futility, the frustration of people who have no power. It doesn’t matter if you’re Kos or Hamsher or the newest blogger on the smallest blog, the view is the same and so is the dilemma . . .
You can see a million miles tonight,
But you can’t get very far . . .
Feb 18 2011
So, You Want to Make Millions? Here’s How…
Crossposted at Daily Kos and The Stars Hollow Gazette
Yes, friends, you too can start a blog (just as Art Fern would say it on the ‘Tonight Show’). Invite assorted celebrities to write for you. For nothing. Convince them that their brilliant ideas will be exposed to millions of readers. Add a bit of fluff to your blog a few months later on. Go on cable tv talk shows and make bombastic statements, preferably in a bad European accent. Create faux controversies. Add a few noted “journalists” to your payroll to give oneself a facade of respectability. Then, find a corporate sucker to believe in all your hype. Walk away with millions of dollars.
Easy enough, isn’t it? As Cartoonist Matt Bors predicted in 2009, “the future is grim”
Jan 29 2011
Egypt Explodes, US Video Media Gape
For the past five days, Egyptians have been in the streets protesting, calling for President Mubarak, who has served for thirty years, to step down. It is a very big story. Print media, understandably have trouble keeping up with it because so much is happening so quickly in so many places. Putting up a written story takes time, time to write, time to edit, time to post. Even if you’re lightning fast, print media (and the part of them that is on the Internet) aren’t built for this kind of speed. But what about television?
Nov 25 2010
Short Attention Span Theater and the decline of Journalism
Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government
Freedom of the Press
“I am… for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.”
— Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799
So Freedom of the Press, protects even the stuff, we disagree with.
You don’t have to like it, what someone says, writes, or legislates … or tactlessly expresses.
But they have a Right to do so none the less, according to our historic icon Thomas Jefferson.
The pen, should trump, the sword.
Funny how “Money” got all lumped in with Free Speech, though?
Must of been all those Gieco “googley eyes” commercials
Nov 16 2010
Hello Cruel World or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blogs
Crossposted at Daily Kos and The Stars Hollow Gazette
How exhausting is blogging? That’s the $64,000 question for some as following a discouraging election, they seek solace in drifting away or, even, posting a GBCW diary. As a follow-up to this wonderful series — Welcome New Users — by LaughingPlanet and smileycreek, I add my voice addressing not just newbies on this (and other) blogs but, also, a bunch of oldies.
JekyllnHyde’s Tip #1: and take a look at your computer keyboard first!
Apr 11 2010
The (Un)authorized Pictorial History of Daily Kos Blogging
Crossposted at Daily Kos
Patrick Chappatte, International Herald Tribune, Buy this cartoon
Warning: This pictorial version of Daily Kos’ history has not as yet been reviewed or approved by our
Community DirectorLord Protector, Meteor Blades. Were he to look it over, I have no doubt he would heartily agree with its content.
It is, as we say in the blogging world, subject to revisionist interpretations. Opinions are not in short supply on this blog.
Dec 09 2009
The Soft News/Hard News Debate: Internet Edition
Time Magazine, or at least its online edition, seeks to understand why Google seems to love highlighting a particular “news source” in its search results. The very subtle, but nonetheless evident message implanted within the article is that search engine algorithms might have the same biases and favoritism embedded into them as any other corporation who owns or has partnership with other media companies. I know that by monitoring IP addresses that visit my site by use of a tracker I frequently notice when Google bot sweeps periodically come through to make a note of and reference recently posted columns I have written. It isn’t very long after that before I notice that traffic has been directed to my site as a result. However, let me say that I do make a concerted effort to write something unique and meaningful, qualities which are in short supply when effort is not rewarded by much in the way of money.
If you type the name of a celebrity – say, Angelina Jolie – into Google News, chances are somewhere in the top five results you’ll get a story from Examiner.com. This is particularly true if the celebrity is in the news that day. For early December that means searches for Tiger Woods, Sandra Bullock and Weezer on Google News consistently brought up Examiner.com stories in the topmost results. And in those stories, by the way, there was very little actual news.
Absolutely. The only currently existing model available to those who blog for pay is centered around advertising revenue as the most important variable of all. Instead of providing a unique perspective on the news, instead one gets a bare minimum of original content and a whole e-farm’s worth of hyper-linking and search engine keyword baiting. It needs to be noted, of course, that Examiner.com is not the only site out there using a similar strategy to press a similar agenda. But in that regard, it is not much different to any kind of freelance work which promises sporadic assignments, minimal pay, few benefits, and no real job security. The signer of the paychecks or distributor of funds to the PayPal account still holds most of the cards at the table. In a field where so many are fighting to be heard and where competition is fierce and often cutthroat, employers get utterly inundated with prospective writers and many of them have the ego and the swagger but none of the talent to back it up. Proceeding directly for the easy sell and the low hanging fruit has padded profits but has rarely advanced a civic discourse or issue evolution.
They also have very little news value. Generally, an Examiner.com news story is a compendium of tidbits culled from other websites, neither advancing the story nor bringing any insight (a description, it should be noted, that can be just as fairly applied to many offerings of more mainstream media). Most Examiners are not journalists, and their prose is not edited. CEO Rick Blair, who helped launch AOL’s Digital Cities, an earlier attempt at a local-news network, calls them “pro-am” – more professional than bloggers, but more amateur than most reporters. You might also call them traffic hounds: because their remuneration is set by, among other things, the number of people who click on their stories, Examiners will often piggyback on hot news, or oft-searched people. The Angelina Jolie story, from a celebrity-fitness and -health Examiner, discussed Jolie and husband Brad Pitt’s recent night out at a movie premiere and assessed their health by their appearance.
Put this way, here is a decent enough description of most collaborative blogs. However, before one buys into this description hook, line, and sinker without taking into account the underlying intent it must be added that Daily Kos was described by Time as one of its “Most Overrated Blogs of 2009” in very searing language.
Markos Moulitsas – alias “Kos” – created Daily Kos in 2002, a time he describes as “dark days when an oppressive and war-crazed administration suppressed all dissent as unpatriotic and treasonous.” Be careful what you wish for. With the Bush years now just a memory, Kos’s blog has lost its mission, and its increasingly rudderless posts read like talking points from the Democratic National Committee.
Easy for you to say, Time. Dear pot, kindly meet kettle.
Returning to my original point, at the beginning of this post, I referenced an article written to encourage a spirit of full disclosure, no matter how stealthy proposed. I would be similarly remiss if I did not state that I, too, am a reporter for Examiner.com. Yet, I note, however, that in nearly a month of writing for it I have made under $20 for my efforts, even though my pieces usually attract a respectable audience that frequently exceeds the average number of hits which typify the typical DC Politics Examiner. I don’t run away from controversy in that which I write, but neither do I seek to provoke without backing up my points, buttressing my argument, and taking into account the inevitable counter-arguments of my opponents. Still, one simply can’t keep up with those who dispense romance advice, bicycle repair, child rearing tricks, and pet psychic services. Nor can I keep up with the barrage of ultimately meaningless drivel that might be the opiate of the masses but tends to put me into an opium-based sleep. I do not expect to make much out of any of what I do but I will say that I seek to strategically position and my postings to get maximum exposure. I am no different from many of you reading this, I daresay.
So why does Examiner.com’s fairly superficial posts on the big stories of the day end up so often near the front of Google’s news queue? “It’s not a trick,” says Blair. “We have almost 25,000 writers posting 3,000 original articles per day.” Examiners take seminars on writing headlines, writing in the third person and making full use of social media, all of which are Google manna. But Blair thinks it’s mostly the scale of the operation that makes Examiner.com articles so attractive to search engines, from which more than half of the site’s traffic comes. That is, by stocking the lake with so many fish every day Examiner.com increases the chances the Google trawlers will haul one of theirs up.
And here we have a perfect example of why an unholy combination of made up celebrities, made up drama, and manufactured crises for the sake of readership threaten to choke out everything wholly decent. Weeds are on the verge of taking over the garden. Or, as Howard Beale would say, “And woe is us! We’re in a lot of trouble!” Speak softly, though, because to some extent we’ve already been handcuffed by the almighty dollar and may always be. Some realities go well beyond our poor power to add or detract.
In a coy final note, the Time article concludes,
The goal of all these companies, eventually, is to snare local advertising, a $141 billion market that, according to Blair, has been left largely untapped by the Internet. Examiner.com will start rolling out ad packages in the next few months, and will hit up its network for leads.
In the meantime, these pro-am armies are giving the big media companies plenty to worry about. The mainstream media’s news-harvesting machines are no match for a swarm of local locusts buzzing over the same crop. And Big Media is starting to take notice. CNN, which already uses a lot of crowdsourced material with its ireport arm, just invested in another local outfit, outside.in. Perhaps the news giant figures that if everybody’s going to be a reporter, they might as well work for CNN.
The note is winking and coy because Time is, after all, owned by CNN. I, too, have been an iReporter for CNN, for the same reasons I write at Examiner.com. I don’t make a dime out of it, but I do get my name out in the hope that someone, somewhere, is listening, reading, and contemplating. My hope, of course, is that at least with my post there will be an alternative, thought-provoking voice in the middle of all the fluff and unsubstantial content. Perhaps that is what we all wish for when we put our fingers to our keyboards and begin typing or begin synching up our digital cameras. We want to be better than that which we just finished reading or want to be provide a better analysis than a pundit who makes thousands upon thousands of dollars a year to sound supremely ignorant. Yet, we might also need to contemplate our current realities before we get caught up on our own narratives. Recall Network once more.
You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.
Nov 20 2009
On Murdoch And Google, Or, Hey, Rupert, Where’s My Check?
Our favorite irascible media tyrant is in the news once again, and once again it’s time for me to bring you a story of doing one thing while wishing for another.
In a November 6th interview, Sky News Australia’s David Speers spent about 35 minutes with the CEO of NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch; the conversation covering topics as diverse as software piracy, world economics, the role of Fox News (and Fox NewsPinion©) in American politics, a strange defense of Glenn Beck, and, not very long afterwards, an even stranger defense of immigration.
We have heard a lot about the…how can I put this politely…challenges Murdoch seems to face associating factual reality with his reality, and we could have lots of fun going through his factual misstatements-but instead, I want to take on one specific issue today:
Rupert Murdoch says he hates it when people steal his content from the Internet to draw readers to their sites…which is funny, if you think about it, because he has no problem at all stealing my content (and lots of yours, as well) for his sites.
Aug 27 2009
Meta: What do you hope for?
I write today to honor the loss of those who came before us, and not only the greatest among us but also the names we will never know, those who were dear to only a few, but just as important to what our nation is today, and what it should be in the future.
So I ask you, my fellow Dharma Bums, what is it you hope for?
And by that I not only mean what you seek to accomplish through blogging or in politics, but also what you hope to achieve in your personal lives, what you hope the world becomes through your work here on earth, and what you hope to leave after you are gone.
I have always been a political creature. Myu mother’s brother was a self proclaimed socialist, and under his guidance I began to read voraciously the works of the greats, Orwell, Thoreau, Knut Hamsen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Chaucer, Dumas, more names than I can recall. Reading has never been a hobby for me, it has been part of my life’s work. It has shaped the man I am today, and while reading the work of the many talented writers here I have found much to be joyful for, and much food for thought.
I always wanted to be a writer, or a teacher, or a journalist. That is my hope.
Now I find myself settling at times, and simply hoping to find decent work that can earn a decent wage.
But I do not lose hope. I am a fool, in that regard.
In my writing/blogging, what have you, I hope share ideas, to learn, and to teach. I hope to meet like minded people and people who disagree with my views, in order to learn more, for, if we never hear that which we diod not think ourselves, how are we to learn?
With that in mind I have read many things I disagree with, vehemently at times, passively at others. I have read Ayn Rand, Mein Kampf, Machiavelli and Newt Gingrich.
Often I have read work that I thought I would disagree with at the end, only to find myself em[powered by what I thought I would not agree with, such as the works of Karl Marx, Adam Smith, barry Goldwater and others who I thought I would certainly oppose, only to find that I agreed more than I would have believed I would.
Politically, my issue is Accountability. Accountability for the class war, the super rich and the Corporations they serve.
Accountability for the power elite, the Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s, the Sanford’s and Ensign’s, the Baucus’s and Ross’s and the others of their ilk.
I champion the powerless and disenfranchised, the fight for equality and civil rights, not because they effect me so personally, often they do not, but because I see how many people they do effect, and the injustice that is borne when it should not be so.
I have been accused of siding with the unpopular decision for the sole sake of doing so. I admit freely to it. It is the unpopular speech that needs the most protection, the minority that must be fully protected if we are to pretend to be a nation of equality under the law, and not equality under who has the most dollars.
I hope to create a better world. I see a nation of so many opportunities, and yet so much injustice. I see a people of such brilliance and grace, and yet we are mired in povery and division, and in hate, when we should be in love, united, and not divided.
I hope to help create such a world, a world of peace and love, a world of equality, both legally and economically, where none go sick or hungry, where all my have a home and a hope and a dream they can work towards achieving.
I am a champion of many issues because there are many issues that need someone to fight for.
This nation and it’s people are worth fighting for, worth dying for.
Many people can be divided into two groups, those that see others as less than they, and those who hope to see equality in all of us.
That is the fight we see today. Hate vs Love. Empathy vs Disdain. Hope vs. Fear.
I have much that I fight for, because there is much worth fighting for.
So, I sk you, my dearest comrades, my fellow Dharma Bums, what do you hope for, what do you fight for, and what do you think is worth dying for.
I am eager to learn as much as I can, and to share whatever you will have of me.
Jul 27 2009
My Impending Fifth Blogiversary
In August I will have been posting on my personal blog, The Dream Antilles, for five years. That’s about 640 posts. Because of a host of unreliable hit counters, I don’t have an exact number of how many people have visited my blog. I estimate that the number of hits is something between 50,000 and 100,000, but I can’t really prove it. Maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe not. Who knows?
This Blogiversary has to be some kind of an achievement:
“Douglas Quenqua reports in the NY Times that according to a 2008 survey only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days meaning that “95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream – or at least an ambition – unfulfilled.” Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views. “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.”
So we live in a world in which most individual blogs are quickly dropped. I can easily understand why. The reason has to do with the need repeatedly to create content. It’s easy to post once. But after that, the road is strewn with casualties and unposted rough drafts. In fact, it requires writing regularly, which anyone will tell you, isn’t all that easy. Writing regularly is far easier in theory than in practice. In practice it requires something that looks and feels a lot like work, only you don’t get paid for it.
Keeping an old style, individual blog afloat with original content has to be a labor of love. Or of obsession. In a way an old (more than 3 years is old) personal blog resembles a treasured fountain pen or beloved portable typewriter or even a well worn pencil. Using it becomes second nature. For me it has become something I do, whether or not anyone is looking. Why I would do this is a harder question by far. It has something to do with writing and having things I want to say about topics that interest me. In some ways it’s like those other pursuits one embarks on just because they’re there.
And most times, nobody’s looking. Group blogs get far more hits in a day than I get in a month. Some blogs get as many hits in an hour as I’ve had in 5 years. None of that really seems to matter. I go on and on and on. I continue to have things I want to say, so I say them. If people read it, that’s great. If they don’t, I’ll just continue to write and to hope that some fine day readers will discover my blog and get lost in it for an hour or two and that they’ll enjoy the way it makes time disappear. After all, that’s what it’s there for.
Which brings me back to this Fifth Blogiversary. I have no idea how to celebrate this milestone. But I suspect that you, dear readers, might have ideas. Any suggestions you have are appreciated.
cross-posted, of course, from The Dream Antilles