Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In teh news

Taking a look at the news, I'm struck as I have been before by wonder that Rupert Murdoch ever made any money, because he demonstrates a level of just not getting it that is astonishing, as evidenced by his proposed deal with Microsoft.

The internet relies on interlinking. If you want to make money from it, you must get eyes on your pages, so that advertisers see the value in putting their ads on your website. So The Times is a valuable ad space partly because Google News drives readers to it. But Murdoch doesn't see that. He sees only the capsules of news on Google News and cries theft. Of course, what Mr Murdoch is crying about is that someone is making money and it's not him.

How did newspapers used to make money? By providing news. It used to be if you wanted to know what was going on, you had to buy a newspaper. You could, once it was invented, also listen to the radio, but newspapers had that whole read on the train to work thing going on. The Times, one should note, was known as the paper of record. Not only did it carry news, but what it printed was the news. The newspaper market was intensely competitive and with the advent of television, newspapers found themselves squeezed in the news business, so more and more they began to provide a broader-spectrum entertainment.

The Sun excelled in this. It brightens up a lot of mornings. But what it isn't is a great source of information. So it can't compete well on the web.

In effect newspapers had a lock on distributing information back in the day, and Murdoch thinks he can still lock that up. But he is as far behind the times as the recording industry, a Canute trying to hold back the cybertide. Information really does want to be free. Google understands that and does not try to sequester it. It simply taps it gently; it has become a conduit for enormous amounts of information and can consequently make money by levying a tiny charge on each piece. Murdoch wants to corral information and make us pay a lot for it.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, his brands don't have enough value for us to want to pay for them in today's market. His companies are, as I found out personally, run by sycophants and turds, their news is profoundly biased and shoddy, and they don't have the bright, exciting voices that you can get for free elsewhere. We just won't miss Sean Hannity or locally Julie Novak or other ranters and haters.


Just occasionally you come across something that you cannot find a good way to respond to. The story of the Belgian man who was taken to be in a coma for 23 years but was, although paralysed, rather fully conscious is one of those things.

He survived by drifting into another state of being, by meditating and finding a new consciousness. It is hard to imagine how he could have survived relatively sane, but he has, and it is a testament to the human spirit that he has.


Nick Cohen used to be a crusader against injustice. These days he crusades mostly against Islam.

Now, there are issues with Islam, and how it can fit into a secular society, but I have little tolerance for the screeching, Dawkinsites, who wish to denigrate and attack the religious. Religion is mostly harmless. Most, nearly all, Muslims are decent people who use their religion as the foundation of a moral and decent life. The idea that they are at heart screaming dervishes says more about haters like Cohen than it actually does about Muslims.


The leaked UEA climate scientist emails prompt some questions, but not, despite the glee of the deniers, about the reality of climate change.

Of course scientists smooth out the data a bit; of course they bullshit on to each other; of course they dislike the other side. There's very little in the emails that were hacked from the UEA server that even ardent deniers could find joy in.

The big problem with climate change is that it is so often framed as an even debate. Both sides have points that they make and each is valid.

Wrong. There are many things in life where this would be the case. Take for instance belief in God. There's no evidence either way and unless the Big Man does cabaret for the masses, there never will be. So we have a difference of opinion. Of course, the "sceptics" have the benefit of rationality, but the believers are not, and cannot be, definitively wrong. We are working from the same facts. The believers just see an invisible sky fairy as emanating from them.

But climate change is not like that. It's a fact. The world is warming because of human-caused carbon emissions. The weight of evidence for it is enormous and wholly compelling. To deny global warming is not to take the same facts as I have and come to a different conclusion. It is to lie about what the facts are, to twist them, ignore them, rearrange them in ways that they do not fit. Ditto creationism and most other instances in which the rational believe one thing and the unhinged another.


The "Nubian monkey" scandal illuminates an area you don't often hear about. Did you even know there still were Nubians?

Arab racism is real though. It's in large part what drives the conflict in the Sudan. This comment from the article is superb though:
The absence of a culture of political correctness in a society that generally promotes very limited and monolithic ideals of identity means that minority rights suffer, and that most would dismiss the complaint as an overreaction to a mindless children's tune sung by an equally vacant performer. But it is not only through obvious flare-ups and incidents that discrimination is perpetuated – it is also also through the everyday normalisation of racist address and the apathy this breeds.

This is exactly right. Racism grows when your mate calls someone a nigger and you keep quiet. It flourishes when you nod along with the crowd when they're shitting on about Muslims. It thrives on the oxygen of a Nick Cohen column.


If you don't know Charlie Brooker, you should. That is all.


Blogger Don said...

The world is warming


because of human-caused carbon emissions.

Unproven. It is the "A" in "AGW" that is at issue, and rightly so.

November 25, 2009 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

I know, Don, it's the djinns that are doing it. GTFO.

November 25, 2009 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Don said...

Djinns if you like, or whatever covers for you the unexplained. I'll just follow good science, and good science doesn't necessarily stand with scolds. My mind remains open, of course. That's why I doubt.

November 25, 2009 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

Don, good science isn't something you can cherrypick to fit your ideology. I'll put this in a way that should make it clear to you: global warming is happening and it is being caused by humans. The body of evidence for both assertions is so overwhelming that you have to be a liar, a fraud or a fool to assert otherwise. I'll permit you one effort at lying, defrauding whoever reads these comments or acting the fool and then this conversation is finished, k? Take your best shot.

November 25, 2009 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Don said...

The body of evidence for both assertions is so overwhelming

Show me the overwhelming evidence that it is human-caused. (Note, the inspiration for your mentioning it was the revelation that several scientists convinced of your position used a form of subterfuge to strengthen that position. Scientists are human and this does not mean they are wrong. It does however add to one's natural skepticism.)

that you have to be a liar, a fraud or a fool to assert otherwise

I have never been a liar or a fraud, and it is quite (unfortunately typically) unfriendly of you to say so. Your frequent assertions that my disagreements with you may be based in lies and fraud consistently reveal much about yourself. As for being a fool, I could never claim otherwise, and neither could you. We are all fools in one way or another.

But when it comes to science, though for a layman you have good instincts, they are, as with your other instincts, overly influenced by your politics.

November 26, 2009 at 2:40 AM  
Blogger Don said...

Addendum: I would agree that the consensus is overwhelming, or rather was in 2007. It is not outside the realm of reason to separate truth from consensus, even amongst scientific organizations.

November 26, 2009 at 2:48 AM  
Blogger Father Luke said...

Hate is so weird. And so are the people who peddle hate. Thanks for broadcasting the eventual doom of Murdoch.

The Charlie Brooker link was a keeper. Thanks, also, for that.

- -
Old, and happy,
Father Luke

November 26, 2009 at 11:45 PM  

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