Robert McChesney and John Nichols have a great article in The Nation this month about media consolidation, media reform and the fight against the FCC’s proposed media ownership rule changes. They do a great job of setting the issue in the larger context of the “host of systemic flaws that have become evident as mass media have come increasingly to be defined by commercial and corporate concerns.”
Worth a read: this is about our ability get the critical information we need to exercise our duty as citizens in a democracy.
In Cell Phone Rules May Cause Enviro Disaster, eweek raises the possibility that the new cell phone number portability rules may cause a flood of scrapped cell phones — a potentially major e-waste problem.
Dave Manelski pointed me towards The Political Compass, sort an online Myers-Briggs test for your political leanings. Obviously, politics is too complex to really be reduced to two axes (left-right and authoritarian-libertarian), but nonetheless, this is an interesting if crude measure.
And while you’re at it, you also might check out “The New Political Compass” by Paul “Cultural Creatives” Ray.
Natasha over at Pacific Views provides some great coverage of a recent presentation by Bill Gates Sr. and Dr. John H. Beck about their work on the Washington State Tax Structure Study Committee. The committee concluded that Washington’s tax system was the most regressive in the nation, with potentially disastrous fiscal results for the state.
Setting the Record Straight is an excellent (and, thanks to Slashdot, sure to be widely linked) point-by-point debunking of the Bush administration’s “PATRIOT Act PR” website.
Are you using strong encryption yet? Should you be?
UC Berkeley News has this fantastic interview with George Lakoff of the Rockridge Institute, in which he discusses how conservatives use language and framing to dominate politics, and how progressives are years — if not decades — behind in developing long-term “frames” that can shape public understanding of civic issues. This goes way beyond campaigns, way beyond messages, into the underlying linguistic constructs that shape our social narratives.
Why haven’t progressives done this? Lakoff has a controversial explanation: the underlying moral assumptions of the conservative & progressive worldviews.
There’s a systematic reason…. You can see it in the way that conservative foundations and progressive foundations work. Conservative foundations give large block grants year after year to their think tanks. They say, ‘Here’s several million dollars, do what you need to do.’ And basically, they build infrastructure, they build TV studios, hire intellectuals, set aside money to buy a lot of books to get them on the best-seller lists, hire research assistants for their intellectuals so they do well on TV, and hire agents to put them on TV. They do all of that. Why? Because the conservative moral system, which I analyzed in “Moral Politics,” has as its highest value preserving and defending the “strict father” system itself. And that means building infrastructure. As businessmen, they know how to do this very well.
Meanwhile, liberals’ conceptual system of the “nurturant parent” has as its highest value helping individuals who need help. The progressive foundations and donors give their money to a variety of grassroots organizations. They say, ‘We’re giving you $25,000, but don’t waste a penny of it. Make sure it all goes to the cause, don’t use it for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development.’ So there’s actually a structural reason built into the worldviews that explains why conservatives have done better.
Incite! Women of Color Against Violence is putting on an interesting-sounding — and provocatively titled — conference in Santa Barbara, CA this spring. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex.
The conference aims to explore, among other things, how the 501(c)3 organizational model affects social justice organizations, whether there are alternatives to this model, and how this model can be used more creatively/subversively.
I think these are important questions — and not just for the anti-violence community.
I’ve played guitar for a long time, but have never taken any formal lessons. One of my goals for this fall/winter is to get some more formal instruction… this looks like it might be an interesting way to do it.
TrueFire is a new “self-publishing tool and open marketplace” for artists and writers to publish original writing, music, photography, etc. The most unusual — and interesting — element is a pretty massive library of free and low-cost guitar lesson modules, which appear to take full advantage of streaming audio and computer-assisted tablature tools.
This is the kind of cojones that I can only aspire to. Filing a “counter-notification” against Diebold’s attempts to quash public discussion of their internal memos describing the criminal security flaws in their electronic voting systems.
Jim Marsh is my new hero!
Also note that EFF is defending OPG and Indymedia against Diebold’s heavy-handed attempts at squelching free speech and fair use.
PressThink: What’s Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism? is a great piece about what blogging means for journalism — written by a journalism prof at NYU. Worth a read, it’s attracting considerable attention online.
Thanks to Mary at Pacific Views for the link!
Diebold is one of the 3 main producers of electronic voting systems in the U.S. This summer, a number of their internal memos were leaked, which show that their systems are extremely vulnerable to tampering, which endangers the integrity of our democratic process.
Instead of addressing the problems, Diebold is taking legal action against those who are publicizing their memos.
Not only is this an incredibly critical political issue with the 2004 elections approaching, it’s also a critical free speech issue.
Amanda Griscom at Grist Magazine covers the launch of Enviroment2004, a Democrat-led effort put the environment into play in the 2004 election cycle.
Joel Connelly’s column in the P-I today covers Washington Conservation Voters’ annual “Wake Up For the Environment” breakfast. The big three Democratic candidates for governor showed, as did possible Republican candidate Dino Rossi.
NPAction.org is a new site by Ryan Turner of OMB Watch. Ryan and OMBWatch are encyclopedic source of information about non-partisan progressive political advocacy, and at NPAction, they draw together an impressive amount of information in an easy-to-use way.
In the next few days, I’ll be spending some time poking around the nooks and crannies of his site, and I definitely encourage others to do so as well.
… is this computer monitor.
Clay Shirky, who publishes an often-good email list called Networks, Economics and Culture sent a great — but very long — essay this summer called A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy which contains an incredibly rich series of nuggets about group dynamics and applies them to experiences with online groups and community building.
Anyone who’s involved in any kind of collaborative work (online or not!) owes it to themselves to read this essay.
I’ll briefly summarize some of the key ideas/’grafs:
(This article crossed an email list I’m on today. Dr. Power is one of the West’s pre-eminent environmental economists, and a welcome voice of reason and wisdom in environmental debates.)
By Thomas Michael Power
Thomas Michael Power is Professor of Economics and Chairman of the Economics Department at the University of Montana. He is the author of “Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies: The Search for a Value of Place.”
In the debate over how to manage our public forests, many timber industry officials, political leaders, and newspaper and other media commentators have asserted that irrational environmental obstructionists have been mindlessly shutting down the Forest Service’s commercial timber program.
These environmental critics often point to the “zero cut” objective espoused by many of environmental organizations to document that obstructionist objective. These folks, we are told, want to keep any trees from being cut down on public lands. Even on lands that already have extensive lumber road networks in place, where timber has been harvested for decades, and where new commercially designed plantations of young trees are already maturing, these environmentalists want to stop timber harvests. What sense does that make?
PCWorld reports that Sanyo has developed a corn-based polymer that can be used to make biodegradable CDs, DVDs and Mini-Discs, that will go on sale in December. Current cost is 3x that of standard discs, but Sanyo estimates that it can bring down prices to 1.2x with volume productions.
(Thanks to Dave for the tip!)
One of the things I’ve long admired about my parents’ adopted home state of Vermont is the way it has managed to balance tradition, preservation, conseravation and progress. And I don’t mean “balance” in the Bushie’s sense of the word. As Frank Bryan wrote (and I paraphrase slightly), “We Vermonters are conservative. We like to conserve things.”
The Boston Globe just ran an article called The Brand Called Vermont, in which it makes the not-so-preposterous point that
…whether you’re a hardscrabble dairy farmer or a countercultural back-to-the-lander, chances are, if you’re making food in Vermont, you’ve benefited from a state government that has doggedly sworn to brand and protect.
The article is nice weaving together of Vermont’s history with its value-added agricultural present. And you’ll learn a bit about maple sugar purity laws.
Thanks for the link, Sean!
This is a nice comparative review of two leading “peer-to-peer” collaboration tools: Groove and Kubi.
Groove is a standalone app; Kubi integrates inside of Outlook. Both point the direction towards online collaboration tools that don’t require visiting a slow, clunky website, but instead offer rich, fast, powerful UIs in familiar environments. The downside? They’re closed-source, Windows-only tools. For now.