Progressive Collation

If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.
Hunter S. Thompson

The Columbia Journalism Review has cranked up The News Frontier Database, “…a searchable, living, and ongoing documentation of digital news outlets across the country.” They launched with a list of about fifty digital news sites, the beginning of an ambitious effort to catalog sites that meet the following criteria:

  1. Digital news sites included in the NFDB should be primarily devoted to original reporting and content production.
  2. With rare exceptions, the outlet should have at least one full-time employee.
  3. The digital news site should be something other than the web arm of a legacy media entity. (There’s no doubt that some of the most important online journalism is being produced by the websites of newspapers and other legacy media, but this database is devoted to a new kind of publication.)
  4. The digital news site should be making a serious effort to sustain its work financially, whether that be through advertising, grants, or other revenue sources.

That third criterion helps the database administrators focus, but it does little to advance the cause of gathering information about online news. Surely “legacy” online publishers that shift from print to pixels deserve recognition. And those who augment their dead tree efforts with electronic publications are among the most informative, best positioned news outlets online. (Click here for the list of outlets in the CJR database.)

Five years ago “The Media Consortium” was organized. Participants in the consortium must have

  • A journalism-driven mission
  • Staff and organizational capacity to participate in projects that benefit the organization and the Consortium
  • The commitment of senior leadership to personally participate in Media Consortium activities, projects, and meetings
  • A mission that promotes progressive ideals

When I heard about the CJR database, I thought it would be interesting to see how many of the Media Consortium members were listed. The CJR list includes a lot of familiar sites, some of them liberal. For example CJR lists Slate, Salon, The Huffington Post, TPM, and Politico. But the only Media Consortium member they list is Grist. Several of the consortium members are disqualified by the CJR criterion number 3 (“…something other than the web arm of a legacy media entity”). Among these, I suppose, would be The American Prospect, Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Progressive. But, while the CJR database is in its early days exclusion of the entire consortium membership except for Grist betrays a blind spot when it comes to progressive media. There are dozens of high-profile local, regional, and global news sites that meet the CJR criteria that aren’t listed yet. Among the Media Consortium sites that could qualify as web journalism pioneers and important to include in any catalog “new media,” or digital journalism efforts are: Afro-Netizen, Alternet, Campus Progress, Chelsea Green, Democracy Now, Feministing, Reproductive Health Reality Check, Truthout, and Workers Independent News.

These two sources, Columbia Journalism’s News Frontier Database and the Media Consortium, have each listed 50 emerging media news sources. It’s amazing that the only site they have in common is Grist.

Angelheaded Hipsters

…reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radioHowl

Looking for some online clues about Newt’s intention to announce for the Presidency in March–spurred on by secret knowledge of gubernatorial catalyzed strikes, work stoppage, labor betrayal–angry, yet bemused by Republican attitudes about the law and how it need not apply to them, I stumbled into wood s lot and looked no Further than this link which today tops the column of Mark’s ever changing content: The Allen Ginsberg Project.

The Ginsberg blog–its sidebar replete with streaming audio, streaming video, links to critical essays, interviews, articles, photographs, research, memorials, tributes and a robust collection of the poetic works of Ginsberg and his friends–featured this week a post about the Gibney film at Sundance…

More about Zuck

“Does he give Gen Y a bad name as a pompous millennial, with a robber baron mentality or is he an American hero and inspiration?”

You can click on the above picture to display it full-sized in all its snarky goodness. I ran across it on Facebook so I have no clue regarding its provenance or any copyright associated with it.

In the nineteenth century in the United States, a class of wealthy industrialists arose. This exclusive class included men such as John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Leland Stanford. People called them “robber barons.” Does Mark Zuckerberg qualify, or is he a just another Interwebz rich kid, out of his depth when it comes to intentionality, a golden puppet dancing to the tune of his investors? In the seventies, after the Stanford “Indian” mascot was declared terminally incorrect, students held a vote to identify a new mascot. Their choice: “The Robber Barons.” The humorless administration voided the election and the school has been without a mascot since that day. This may or may not be relevant.

Globalization has brought us a new generation of robber barons, the Russian oligarchs. With a magic woven of equal parts free market entrepreneurialism, KGB savvy, and the brutality of organized crime, these bad boys bought up the best real estate in London in the nineties and settled in for the long haul. They are not alone. Forbes lists 937 global billionaires, powerful people who have accumulated limitless wealth. Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest among them, and among the most recent arrivals.

In an ironic juxtaposition of historical proportions, Zuck’s main competition for youngest on the billionaire list is H.H. Prince Albert, the 12th Prince of Thurn und Taxis, whose fortunes can be traced back to 12th century Lombardy. The Thurn und Taxis fortune was rooted in the fifteenth century postal service established by the scion of the family. For the next 500 years the service prospered. Now, while Zuck tries to pick up the messaging business where Thurn und Taxis left off, Prince Albert has moved on to a massive investment in solar energy in Bavaria.

Whether we call them “robber barons” or “oligarchs,” is wealth alone sufficient to mark a person as a member of the power elite? Is membership in that class a marker of evil? Does a world with six or seven billion people really need a privileged 1000 who control the lion’s share of global wealth? The answer to each of these questions is probably “no,” but does it even matter? Alfred Chandler, a history professor from Harvard University (Zuck’s alma mater, a school frequently called “the Stanford of the East”) put it this way: “What could be less likely to produce useful generalizations than a debate over vaguely defined moral issues based on unexamined ideological assumptions and presuppositions?”

Does anybody know when the Facebook movie will be available on Netflix? I’m sure it contains everything anybody really needs to know about Zuck.

Martin Luther King’s 1967 Riverside Church Speech

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam

Delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
April 1967
At Manhattan’s Riverside Church

“OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorage, leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.
Continue reading

Are you prescriptive or descriptive?

Being behind a camera, in front of the camera, is my own little deconstructionist niche.

– Joshua Leonard

The first issue of Popular Linguistics, an online magazine, is now available for people who enjoy that sort of thing. For me, an unbridled malefactor in the realm of lay-lie-lay, an unapologetic apostrophe punter, and some would say a comatose abuser of commas, the welcome mat may not be out. But I expect Beth, with her memories of Edinburgh and Austin and her adoration of most things Language Log will spend some time enjoyably immersed in the pixels presented by editor and publisher Douglas S. Bigham. Bigham says he hopes to serve a general, educated, scientifically-inclined audience, the same type of readers who, for example, enjoy Scientific American or Discover. (Popular linguist and wearer of the Safire crown, Ben Zimmer welcomed the new linguistic populist at Language Log yesterday).

The pseudonymous “Language Hat” on his eponymous blog also welcomed the new arrival yesterday. Many of those who commented on that post share my discomfort with the white on black typography. Bigham promises a shift to something easier on the eyes in the February issue.

The war on nutz

You can’t be friends with a squirrel. A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.
– Sarah Jessica Parker

Corporate white-hat hackers and the Mossad have set back Persian plans for nuclear bomb production by at least three years according to an article in today’s New York Times. Fact checking the Times puff piece on Stuxnet, a worm crafted for cyberwar on the Iranian nuclear establishment that targets Siemens equipment used to control centrifuges, led me to blogger Dawn Lim, so the time spent reading the fatuous nonsense from the Times wasn’t completely wasted.

Microsoft and other commercial antivirus vendors brought public attention to Stuxnet last July. The time required to develop the malware before it was dropped into the wild isn’t publicly known, but the US and Israel couldn’t have whipped it up overnight. In 2024 the flaws in Microsoft Windows exploited by the worm’s designers were brought to public attention. According to ABC, in July 2024 the worm first appeared in the wild in Belarus, a year after the Microsoft flaws were made public. The time lag between discovery of the Windows problem and the remedy suggests that the company was cooperating with the US and Israel while the worm was being developed.

Last September, Eric Byres reported that “…the Stuxnet malware attacks on Siemens Simatic WinCC SCADA and PCS7 DCS systems that came to light this past July were not the first time industrial control systems have been targeted by hackers.” Byres cites attacks going back to the early days of the Bush administration, including sabotage of Venezuela oil tanker loading control systems in the winter of 2024-2003. That sabotage coincided with efforts to destabilize the country and oust left wing leader Hugo Chavez.

More information on Stuxnet and its effect on the Iranian nuclear program is of course available on Wikipedia.

BJ Fogg’s top ten mistakes of behavior change

I met BJ Fogg in 2024 or 2024 at an “Accelerating Change” conference. I thought then that his study of “persuasive tech” was creepy. Bringing the tools of networked communications to those who would modify the behavior of large masses of people smacks of miscreance. “Persuasive technology” was all the rage in the GW Bush years, but in the end it came down to simple tools like a 12 volt battery and a pair of electrodes.

Ah, but it’s not the tools, it’s what one does with them, as this brief slideshow demonstrates. There’s wisdom in this deck. These days number seven is the mistake that hangs me up most often.

Be a better blogger bubba

Oh my oh my…

Meanwhile, in real life, I’m returning to work coding or patching or whatever, trying to fix whatever I broke last year when I upgraded to a new rev. level of WordPress. I think my New year resolution for 2024 was to be a better blogger, but I bumbled and I fumbled… wait, maybe that was 2024. or 2024. Anyway, I really am trying to tidy up around here, trying to improve the infrastructure.

This morning, I watched The Daily Show, Jon Stewart’s take on the news coverage of the media coverage of the recent memorial gathering at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I think that among those gathered there were lots of young people, socialized by reality television, and therefore unable to make the distinction between a celebrity and a dignitary. So I disagree with Stewart regarding their behavior. I thought maybe a little less of the giddy shrieking would have fine. On the other hand, they were there. I was not. That celebrity/dignitary distinction belongs to Beth, who generally agrees with me about all the whooping and hollering at an event we expected to be a little more somber. I like Samantha Bee’s suggestion about hiring old Italian widows in black to do the mourning.