I was reading once, I think it was in an article that Douglas Hofstadter (“Doug” to us intimates) wrote, in the New Yorker of all places, about the art of translating literature from one natural language to another. At least, I think it was Douglas Hoftstadter, but maybe that’s just my fixation shining through. Maybe the article was by Dan Hofstadter, or by somebody else altogether. Puns, of course, present a great challenge to translators, and I remember the clever instance sited therein: in a translation of Alice in Wonderland, a pun on “axes”, as in, the earth spins on its axes–speaking of axes, off with her head– was turned into a pun on revolutions: each day the earth makes a revolution– speaking of revolutions, off with her head. Now that I check my Project Gutenberg, however, I can find no such instance, so maybe, like Alice, I was dreaming.
But that’s got nothing to do with Wetmachine’s being a finalist in the 2008 Weblog Awards!
Over on Eschaton, Atrios has been blogging about the financial meltdown for a few years now. He pretty accurately predicted just what we’re seeing now. When lazy journalists were still referring to the mess as “the subprime crisis”, Atrios was referring to it as The Big Shitpile, a much better name, and running pictures from the house-of-cards like game Jenga.
Harold Feld provides an insightful analysis of the right wing noise machine’s attack on Oprah. As this is kind of an advanced topic in media watching, involving feints and jujitsu-like tactics, I think it may be useful to ground the analysis in elementary theory, viz, short run optimization:
1) The “news” media (and this includes Keith Olberman and other so-called liberals), has only one interest, and that is to make money.
2) They make money by selling advertising.
3) The more people who watch them, the more money newsmedia make.
4) More people watch “the news” when there is a tight race, or better still, controversy and a tight race. Viewers are seeking entertainment, not to become better informed about policy.
5) Therefore, the media will do whatever they can possibly do to ensure a tight race with lots of controversy.
Coralarries to theorem 5, above, are that things that distract from the entertainment value of the news, such as coverage of wars that are not going so well, will be minimized. People watch TV that flatters them and rewards their laziness; therefore TV news advances the point of view that personalities are more important than policies–because most people consider themselves good judges of personalities & it requires no work to decide whether or not you like somebody.
The only national news media figure who is an exception to this dynamic is Jon Stewart. He clearly cares about the country and respects our constitution. Stewart makes money by serving the considerable minority of viewers who actually want to understand what’s going on in our government.
Below the fold: Media Dynamics 102: long run optimization
“What made me come back? Don’t be funny,” he says. “Everybody wants to come back to a reunion. That’s what Princeton’s made up of, people coming back to reunions.”
— Malcolm Wornock, Class of ’25.
Tune every heart and every voice,
bid every care withdraw;
Let all with one accord rejoice,
in praise of Old Nassau.
In praise of Old Nassau we sing,
Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!
Our hearts will give while we shall live,
three cheers for Old Nassau.
When we have a First Lady whose an alumn they’ll change their tune (and no, the fact that he went to Harvard Law does not count).
According to Freepress.net, Martin joins a “Bipartisan FCC Majority” to punish Comcast for its peer-to-peer blocking funny business, already discussed here lots of times.
Like everybody else, I’ll await the in depth analysis sure to come from Harold Feld.
But assuming that this is what it appears to be, I hereby congratulate Chairman Martin. As I reported here, I had a chance to talk to him at the reception following the FCC hearing in Boston. And I found him sympathetic to the point of view that net neutrality was about more than consumer rights, it was about preserving the Internet as an engine of democracy. I wouldn’t be surprised if that argument figured in the deliberations on this ruling. In any event, I’m cautiously optimistic.
NANCY PELOSI JOINS REPUBLICANS IN 293-PERSON CURTSEY TO KING GEORGE
BARACK OBAMA ISSUES PRESS RELEASE PROMISING TO BE “KINDER, GENTLER MONARCH” WHEN HE ASCENDS TO THRONE
HARRY REID GOES FISHING ON LAKE TAHOE, SAYING HAIL MARYS
The horrible FISA bill passed yesterday, despite heroic rear-guard action by our own Harold Feld. Nancy Pelosi, the best-looking Republican grandma in the People’s Chamber (who also happens to be the Democratic Speaker of the House, go figure) led the charge. Obama was invisible before the vote and issued a watery piece-of-shit press release afterwards. Harry Reid said some empty nonsense.
Congressman Delahunt, who represents me (among others), voted against. Go Bill Delahunt. (Maybe the 3,342,985 calls I made to his office over the last few months gave him the encouragement he needed, but the action was his alone.)
Well, so, immediately after the roll call was published I went down to the Tisbury Town Hall, into the Town Clerk’s office. There, I made damn good an’ sure I’ve got nothing to do with the Democratic Party. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 4,345,395 times, shame on me. I told said clerk, “I want to change my registration,” and she said, “Yeah, and I know why.”
I don’t know how it is where you live, but in my little home town, a DemocraticPartyectomy takes less than a minute. I highly recommend the procedure. It does wonders for one’s blood pressure.
After the jump: Democrats–monarchists or fascists: which one of these?
UPDATE: I edited this post for clarity. My points are probably still unclear, but I wanted to be up front about my revisions.
Maybe it’s just that I am sick of the endless talking head cycle. Maybe it’s because I’m stuck here in Chicago on my way to the National Conference on Media Reform due to “severe weather” in DC, but I have perhaps rashly indulged myself in a little fair use parody about the sorry coverage of the election. In particular, the endless speculating on what Hillary Clinton will do, when we can all just wait and find out.
What Will Hilary Clinton Do? TTO: What Would Brian Boytano Do from South Park the Movie, below . . . .
Well, that was fun. I reprint my testimony as prepared, not as delivered. I also cut a very insider joke. I’d planned to start:
“Mr. Chairman, I understand that this is the open Commission meeting, so it is perhaps no surprise that we are running an hour late. Also, as I have not had time to complete this testimony, I ask for editorial privileges.”
But no one off the podium was likely to get it.
[Editorial note from John (to help search engines and any random Wetmachine readers who stumble upon this): This post concerns Harold Feld’s testimony at today’s FCC hearing at Stanford University.]