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Journal Journal: Ask (A Subset of) Slashdot: Applications In these Areas?

Over on my blog, I have a request for applications in the following areas: (yes, I'm also googling for these, searching Sourceforge, etc., but if anyone has recommendations I'm interesting in hearing them)

  1. Software to display and/or change the 'invisible' settings on a Linux system.
  2. Software to install and manage packages (any distribution; I know about rpm, dpkg, yum, apt, kpackage, emerge).
  3. Software to select background music/radio/tv to be played while using other software.
  4. Software for using software development hosting software (especially Sourceforge, Savannah, etc. but development-specific software for using regular websites is good to, and yes I know about Sourceforge/Savannah's web interface).
  5. Software (geared toward end-users) for reading and posting to blogs (yes, I know about Blogger's web UI).

Note that these requests are disparate precisely because, although I'm interested in all these areas, I'm not particularly leaning towards any of them; instead, my goal is to `sell' Linux developers on a set of desktop software framework libraries I'm developing. So, proprietary software or non-Unix software is not terribly helpful for my purposes.

If you're really interested, you might want to check my blog periodicaly for updates on my search.

User Journal

Journal Journal: What's Wrong with my Journal

I've figured out the problem I've been having with comments on my /. journal. /. exists to provide a forum for commenting on content published elsewhere, not realy as a vehicle for publishing original content. So, I've gotten an actual blog, and new content will go there. I may (probably will) post links to items there here, when they're important enough --- that's an appropriate use of the /. mechanism --- but I won't be doing that all the time. And I usually won't be enabling comments on the blog. And I won't pay particular attention to comments here.


Journal Journal: The Press 1

From PressThink, talking about James W. Carey:

Carey thinks we should "value the press in the precise degree that it sustains public life, that it helps keep the conversation going among us." We should "devalue the press" in the degree that it seeks only to inform us or, worse, "turn us into silent spectators."

Agreed. Question: which is better at this, an unbiased press or one exhibiting biases from every corner of the public sphere?

User Journal

Journal Journal: PoliPundit 2

PoliPundit has, on the left-hand side of its site, the following blurb:

Elections and politics with a Conservative bent. If you're a political junkie, get your fix here!

That used to say ``with a Republican bent''. Given the number of times they've linked to and supported the 72 hour project, they are more of an unofficial organ of the Republican party than a conservative organ. They really should change that motto back.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Comments on my journal entries 2

Every once in a while, I'll come across something online I feel a compulsion to share or comment on. Every once in a while, I'll come across a thought I feel a compulsion to share. Sometimes I do that by posting a journal entry. Sometimes I do that in some other way.

Usually, whatever point or points I was trying to make are of interest to me. Usually, most points related to the one I was trying to make, or about the same subject, are not of interest to me. Unfortunately, on occasion, a certain poster has started long, heated threads about a point other than the one I was trying to make. These threads are often interesting. They are often informative. But they are nevertheless off-topic, and I, personally, do not care about the subjects in question. If I cared about them, I would post journal entries about them. I have come to a resolve about this issue: rather than being sucked into debates about points I fundamentally do not care about, I will ignore all such off-topic threads (except to the extent of posting a reply informing posters when their posts go off-topic, and reminding them what the topic is).

Now, I realize it may be difficult to tell what I am getting at in a particular entry. So, I will post a comment to each journal entry, title ``Topic'', stating, in bullet form, the truth claims being asserted or (IMAO) supported in that post. That way, you will know what sort of thing I am interested in debating---and, therefore, what you can debate without wearing out my endurance for the debate.

Go ahead and comment on off-topic issues---in your own journals. Please do post a comment here linking to that discussion, but please don't hold it here.

Also, please do post questions or requests for clarification here, but don't be surprised if the entire reply is a link to a new journal entry.


Journal Journal: Journalism

I think the idea journalists have been defending when they talk about ``objective [sic] journalism'' is what I am tentatively calling ``factoid journalism''. That is, they simply want us to know the events, the facts, etc. This does not square with ``speaking truth to power''; I leave resolving that discrepancy as an exercise for the reader.

In any case, for the media to report the number of casualties in Iraq, the unemployment rate, the latest polls, etc. is these days ultimately useless as an exercise in itself. Such facts are much better posted online, where they can be googled for. The only reason to cite such things elsewhere is in support of some argument; otherwise, it's just pointless verbage. So, even if the media could transform itself into the vast bastion of facts, it would still be wasting its government-granted television monopoly.


Journal Journal: Why I Believe in Media Bias

The basic difference between myself and those who deny media bias (in any form) is: I believe power corrupts. I simply do not believe that any human being who is used to being taken on faith and believed will be able to withstand the temptation to skimp a little on the facts, to `adjust' things so they'll work out for the greater good. No matter what professional standards he may believe in. I'm not denying that the MSM believes in their professional standards of objectivity. AFAICT, the certainly do believe them, absolutely. I'm denying that they are capable of living up to them. And, once you start skimping on your standards a little, with no accountability, you start to skimp a lot. Eventually, you are saying what you think people should believe, not what is true. So I can't take it on faith that noone would ever distort their results.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Stolen Honor v. Rathergate 23

It strikes me that the difference between Stolen Honor and Rathergate is: the controversy about Rathergate wasn't over whether CBS should air that kind of program, but over whether their documents were authentic. The controversy over Stolen Honor isn't over whether the film is accurate, but over whether Sinclair should air that kind of program. CBS got whacked for relying on bad sources; for all Sinclair's opponents are saying, it is getting whacked for relying on good sources.

Rathergate: news media shouldn't lie.

Sinclairgate: news media shouldn't tell the truth.

Which political affiliation goes with which scandal is left as an exercise for the reader.


Journal Journal: Crazy Journalist Gatekeepers 1

Jay Rosen thinks this rant is revealing about Sinclair. It is much more revealing about him and his journalistic friends.

Deep down, the executives want themselves and their convictions on the air.

And he has a problem with that. What happened to the ``freedom of the press extends to television'' arguments that are always so important whenever some TV producer lowers the bar on on-air smut? Does freedom of the press really exclude political speech?

Update: Rosen also links to this comment, from Terry Heaton, which sounds almost sane:

And that means the decline and fall of the mainstream press in America is inevitable. It is so, because the whole thing is sleight-of-hand anyway, and the people aren't as stupid as we once thought. If you cannot see this happening, you are in denial. The very people complaining about Sinclair now are those who've participated in the same thing on many different levels and in many different ways. The system is corrupt, not Sinclair. Hell, they're just players, and anybody who thinks otherwise simply hasn't read history.

The press doesn't have the right to judge journalism anymore. That's been transferred to the citizens, who are now armed with their own printing presses and television towers and have taken back "the public trust." The idea that the institution of the press is self-policing has been exposed as a self-serving illusion. Those who ask if it's too late for the media to clean up its act are missing the point. The professional media "act" has never been clean.

I don't want a return to an unbiased media, because that's impossible. So, I don't want a media that claims it is unbiased (no, I don't want even Fox News's ``fair and balanced''), because any such media ends up magnifying its own prejudices as the standard for objective truth. I don't want a media at all. I want a free press, regulated by no one---not even the government-instituted television monopolies---which offers a voice to every position, in proportion as people are willing to listen. Journalistic objectivity has no place here; what is wanted is the ability to recognize objective truth and present evidence about it---the opposite of `he said, she said' objectivity. After all, every scientific paper ever written was an argument for a particular position, and we still trust science---not because we think scientists don't have beliefs, but because we think they have respect for evidence. Whiners about Sinclair may or may not have beliefs, but they have no respect for evidence.

Update:Jay Rosen also quotes Siva Vaidhyanathan as follows:

We need a serious, bold politically engaged set of political voices on our airwaves, regardless of orientation. We need real conservative media and real liberal media (and perhaps libertarian media and socialist media and Silly Party media). Right now we have boring, spineless media.

If local stations are going to push themselves into politics, more power to them (even if they do so on orders from corporate headquarters). I wish more local stations spent real money or pre-empted shows like "The Bachelor" in favor of political content, even propaganda. Let them deal with the fallout. Jay Rosen has a better idea. He says Kerry should accept Sinclair's offer to respond. I agree with Jay.

Our broadcasters are timidly conservative. This is not acceptable on either count. Let's encourage rich, loud, messy engagement with politics, even if it means allowing shallow, dishonest propaganda once in a while. We should just answer back with better information and more attractive answers. Sorry folks. This is what democracy is all about.


United States

Journal Journal: Stephanopolous v. Rice

Can anybody really read the interview here(1), and maintain that Stephanopolous is trying to discover Dr. Rice's opinion, trying to get her side of the story, and not trying to debate with her and put forward what he believes happened?

(1) Hat tip: Dr. Sanity

United States

Journal Journal: Halloween 1

Glenn Reynolds asks, ``Is it just me, or are people making a bigger deal out of Halloween than they used to?'' He reports that many people think they are, and I suspect they're correct. I think it's a side-effect of decreasing Christianization. What Christianity offers is (correctly or incorrectly) a feeling of certainty about death: death as a known thing, death as something you can live through. With a decrease in Christianity, death has become much more of an unknown, so people worry about it a lot more. Halloween originated in pre-Christian times as a way of exorcising this worry about death, and as the worry has grown, Halloween has grown with it.


Journal Journal: A Media Conglomerate Is a Government

From Talking Points Memo, quoting former FCC chairman Reed Hunt:

But its role instead is to make sure that broadcast television promote democracy by conveying reasonably accurate reflections of where the candidates stand and what they are like. ...

This tradition is embodied in the commitment of the broadcasters to show the conventions and the debates. ...

Part of this tradition is that broadcasters do not show propaganda for any candidate, no matter how much a station owner may personally favor one or dislike the other. Broadcasters understand that they have a special and conditional role in public discourse. They received their licenses from the public -- licenses to use airwaves that, for instance, cellular companies bought in auctions -- for free, and one condition is the obligation to help us hold a fair and free election. The Supreme Court has routinely upheld this "public interest" obligation. Virtually all broadcasters understand and honor it.

Sinclair has a different idea, and a wrong one in my view. If Sinclair wants to disseminate propaganda, it should buy a printing press, or create a web site.

Hat tip: PressThink.

First point: Mr. Hunt doesn't think freedom of the press (or, apparantly, of speech) applies to television. Store that fact away for future use.

Second point: Broadcasters have a commitment to show the conventions?

Third point: All of this lovely `balance' doesn't apply to third-party candidates, only to major party candidates. That doesn't help democracy; instead, it entrenches the two-party system.

Fourth and most important point: the purpose of television news, on this view, is to sort through the various viewpoints being reported on in those areas where freedom of the press applies (collectively `the press'), are report The Truth. In other words, television `news' is being explicitly set up to regulate and filter the press. The Big Three Liberal Media Channels are nothing more than government-subsidized (or perhaps I should say ``the government's delegated agency''?) agencies whose job is, in essence, to regulate the press. Or, put more simply and controversially, a television news network is a government regulation of the marketplace of ideas. And never in history has the government done better than the free market at anything. Including figuring out the truth.


Journal Journal: Democracy is non-ideological?

Chris Satullo, on PressThink, has responded to criticism of his hit piece against right-wing media critics. Interesting note:

Public life going well -- could the ideological among you possibly accept that this concept does not have a shred of partisan ideological content to it? It's only ideology is democracy.

Now, is this the democratic ideology according to which it is utterly unacceptable for the legislature to pass a law the judges consider unconstitutional, or is this the democratic ideology according to which it is utterly unacceptable for judges to overturn the will of the people's duly elected representatives?

I'm a strong believer in objective truth and the objective meaning of most of the English language (can't speak to french :), but 'democracy' is one of those words, like 'liberty' or 'justice' or 'isomorphism', that must first be constructed in a particular theory (NB: theories about things political are known as 'ideologies') before you can make any useful assertions about them. Hence 'democracy' is inherently ideological.


Journal Journal: If Only... has a headline up: ``Now He Wants the Permission of the Ferengi Before Doing Anything''. Good. They're much more sensible than the race Kerry used to assign veto power to.

United States

Journal Journal: Democrat Confidence in their Candidate: 7


In an effort to manage the message, Democrats bombarded media websites with post-debate spin immediately following Thursday's Bush-Kerry face-off in Florida - and it apppears to have paid off.

In a survey of non-scientific online polls done by ten major media sites, Sen. John Kerry was running about 20 points better than in traditional, scientific polls. Though Kerry was solidly ahead in three traditional polls as well, in the online polls he was a landslide winner.

In an email prior to the debate, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe urged the party faithful to "vote in online polls" as soon as the debate ended.

They're reduced to ballot-stuffing to give their candidate the boost he needs to overcome Bush's lead and the swift boat charges.

Hat tip: Little Green Footballs via Tim Blair.

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