The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

White House Live Video
February 9

1:00 pm ET: Senior administration officials discuss the President's FY2017 budget

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Wednesday
Aug012012

The Commentariat -- August 2, 2012

Palestinians are a hard-working and an incredible community. They have done remarkably well outside their country. I have never met a poor Palestinian in the United States; every Palestinian I know is a college professor or a doctor. -- Bill Clinton, in Riyadh, "showing Romney how it's done"

Simon Johnson in the New York Times: the big banks rely on three myths to justify their hegemony: (1) that their critics are whacked-out "populists"; (2) that Dodd-Frank reforms are not justified by a costs-benefits analysis; & (3) that financial reform will hurt economic growth.

New York Times Editors: "The I.R.S., citing 'current public interest in this issue,' promised a review [of political activity for social welfare nonprofits that enjoy exemptions under section 501(c)(4)] after receiving complaints from ... watchdog groups that have been tracking the ballooning use of the 'social welfare' guise to finance classic hardball politics. It is ludicrous to perceive Karl Rove, the canny Republican strategist and money raiser, as primarily nonpartisan and civic-minded...." The review is unlikely to affect the current campaign season.

I tell all my people, 'I'm not working for Chick-fil-A; I'm working for the Lord.' -- Donald Elam, a Chick-fil-A franchisee in -- appropriately enough -- Superstition Springs, Arizona

It's interesting that the Lord chooses to pay them a third of what they would get if they owned any other franchise. He does work in mysterious ways. -- Digby

"The Cult of Chick-fil-A." Emily Schmall of Forbes: Chick-fil-A "seeks loyal employees and operators who believe serving chicken is God's work. Careful screening of new hires keeps it out of trouble." They get away with likely discriminatory practices because so many of their workers are franchisees who are not covered under anti-discrimination laws.

Michael Hiltzig of the Los Angeles Times: "In an interview with a Baptist publication and an appearance on a devotional radio program, [Dan] Cathy, [president & CEO of Chick-fil-A] unburdened himself of the view that gay marriage violated God's plan.... Cathy's outburst ignited a very predictable outbreak of partisan posturing.... Sarah Palin and Todd Palin had their picture taken holding up big bags from Chick-fil-A, as if to prove that in modern America you can affiliate yourself with retrograde social prejudice and line your arteries with cholesterol at one stop, without moving the car."

Scott Shane of the New York Times: "F.B.I. agents on a hunt for leakers have interviewed current and former high-level government officials from multiple agencies in recent weeks, casting a distinct chill over press coverage of national security issues as agencies decline routine interview requests and refuse to provide background briefings."

Dave Weigel of Slate covers the Pennsylvania voter fraud case for Slate. It's going so badly for the state that a Republican strategist tells Weigel that the state is probably saving its thunder for the higher courts. CW: Really? The state can't call witnesses in the appellate & Supreme Courts. ...

     ... Here's a follow-up post from Weigel.

Presidential Race

The Great Suppression of 2012. Charles Blow: "... a lot of people who say that they are likely to vote may not actually be eligible to vote. The greatest margin of uncertainty may well be caused by poll respondents who think that they will able to vote for President Obama in November, but may not be allowed to do so." Update: see also links to posts, above, by Dave Weigel of Slate on the Pennsylvania case.

Maggie Haberman of Politico: Harry Reid doubles down. He now claims that "I have had a number of people tell me that" Mitt Romney didn't pay any taxes for 10 years. Asked by reporters in Nevada to elaborate, Reid said, "I don't think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on him. He's the one I've alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn't he release his tax returns?"

"He pays less, you pay more":

Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "The Romney campaign is pushing back against a new study from researchers at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center suggesting Mitt Romney's tax proposals would actually increase taxes for a whopping a 95% of Americans, denouncing the Tax Policy Center ... as a 'liberal' group.... While the Romney campaign hasn't rebutted the substance of the study, they claim the Tax Policy Center should be dismissed entirely as a biased source. But" the Romney camp called the Tax Policy Center an "objective third party" when they used its analysis to slam primary opponent Rick Perry's budget proposal. ...

... Worse Than Romney. Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post: "Romney can take some solace in knowing his allies in Congress have proposed a plan that shifts the burden from high-income to middle-income taxpayers even more dramatically." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... Mitt and his party are committed to fiscal policies that would significantly skew the tax burden towards in the middle and bottom of the income scale, while concentrating 'spending restraint' on the same people as well. And why wouldn't they do so? If wealth is a measurement of 'success,' and if success is a measurement of 'virtue,' then regressive policies become a moral imperative, and that's pretty much the unstated overriding goal of today's conservative movement and GOP."

The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change culture and save it from itself. -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Geographer Jared Diamond in a New York Times op-ed: Mitt Romney misrepresented my views. What he said "is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it.... Our geography won't keep us rich and powerful if we can't get a good education, can't afford health care and can't count on our hard work's being rewarded by good jobs and rising incomes." ...

... Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post: "... most people still believe that two cultures in particular, African and Islamic, inhibit economic development. But the two countries that will next achieve a gross domestic product of $1 trillion are both Muslim democracies -- Turkey and Indonesia. Of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world today, seven are African.... Ironically, the argument that culture is central to a country's success has been used most frequently by Asian strongmen to argue that their countries need not adopt Western-style democracy."

... Bob Wright of The Atlantic: "... what is alarming ... is that [Romney] probably has no awareness of the stunning irony of going to Jerusalem, having a lovefest with Bibi Netanyahu, defender-in-chief of the Israeli occupation, and then preaching to Palestinians that they'd be better off if only they'd get themselves some freedom! ... There's one thing he just can't seem to wrap his mind around: not being Mitt."

Every policy prescription Romney comes up with -- even when he tries to hide the details as he does with his economic proposal -- is bad policy & would be unpopular if voters heard what it was. That is, of course, the reason Secret Mitt has a secret agenda. Besides --

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: one of the old Mitt Romneys -- the one who wrote No Apology -- thought government investing in innovation was important & cited -- contra the new winger meme -- the Internet as one example of government-funded innovation. "Romney calls for increasing government spending on R&D in his book, he has supported GOP plans like Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, which would slash this kind of investment."

Congressional Races

Gail Collins: "Texas Republicans have just nominated a Senate candidate who is promising to protect America's golf courses from the United Nations.... [Ted] Cruz's victory was the latest in a number of Tea Party triumphs in Republican primaries, and it certainly does suggest that next year the Republican Senate contingent will be composed almost entirely of right-wing purists and people who are afraid they're going to be primaried by a right-wing purist." ...

... Russell Goldman of ABC News: "The stunning Texas victory of Ted Cruz, a young Tea Party-backed Republican over an establishment candidate vying for a Senate seat, has already so emboldened the insurgent conservative movement that activists are warning Mitt Romney he had better get on board. 'These guys [newly elected Tea Party candidates]" are going to force Romney to the right,' said Andrea Shell, a spokeswoman for Tea Party group Freedom Works. 'That is our entire mission.'"

Right Wing World *

I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that's Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that's the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates. -- Mike Kelly (RTP-Pa.) ...

... Pema Levy of TPM: "Beginning Wednesday, private insurers are required to cover contraceptive services in new plans without a co-pay as mandated by the health care reform law."

* Where the implementation of every Democratic act is the equivalent of an alien invasion.

News Ledes

Too Bad about the Disaster, Folks. We're Going on Vacation. New York Times: "After refusing to consider a sweeping five-year farm measure, House Republican leaders jammed through a short-term, $383 million package of loans and grants for livestock producers and a limited number of farmers.... Democratic leaders in the Senate, which already passed a bipartisan five-year bill, refused to take up the House measure, faulting House Republican leaders for failing to consider the broader legislation in time."

Politico: "The Senate's late-summer race to pass cybersecurity legislation before leaving for recess came to a dead end Thursday when Democrats couldn't muster enough gas to clear a procedural vote over objections of GOP leaders and many big business lobbies. The bill required 60 votes to cut off debate and get it to the floor for a vote, but fell short 52-46."

Reuters: "Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is stepping down as the U.N.-Arab League mediator in the 17-month-old Syria conflict at the end of the month, the United Nations said on Thursday, the latest sign that the outlook for a diplomatic solution is bleak." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Frustrated by the seemingly intractable Syrian conflict, Kofi Annan announced his resignation on Thursday as the special peace envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League, throwing new doubts on whether a diplomatic solution is possible. He also said President Bashar al-Assad of Syria 'must leave office.'"

AP: "Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added Wednesday to the U.S. government's list of natural disaster areas as the nation's agriculture chief unveiled new help for frustrated, cash-strapped farmers and ranchers grappling with extreme dryness and heat.... More than half of all U.S. counties -- 1,584 in 32 states -- have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season...."

AP: "Arab countries pushed ahead Wednesday with a symbolic U.N. General Assembly resolution that tells Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign and turn over power to a transitional government. It also demands that the Syrian army stop its shelling and helicopter attacks and withdraw to its barracks. A vote is set for Friday morning."

Bloomberg News: "The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency warned its employees and contractors last week to stop using their government computers to surf the Internet for pornographic sites, according to the agency's executive director."

New York Times: "New York City, embracing an experimental mechanism for financing social services that has excited and worried government reformers around the world, will allow Goldman Sachs to invest nearly $10 million in a jail program, with the pledge that the financial services giant would profit if the program succeeded in significantly reducing recidivism rates."

ABC News: "Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who was treating [mass murder suspect James] Holmes, 24, at the school, was also a key member of the university's threat assessment team, [and] ... by early June, Fenton had informed other members of the team about her concerns regarding Holmes. But on June 10 -- three days after Holmes bought an assault weapon and added it to his already growing arsenal -- he suddenly told the university that he was dropping out.... KMGH-TV reported last week that he'd purchased the weapon hours after failing a key oral exam."

AP: "Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, her running mate and three others have been arrested amid a sit-in at a downtown Philadelphia bank over housing foreclosures."

AP: Heidi Wys, "an adviser to Puerto Rico's most powerful female lawmaker, faced calls to resign on Wednesday after she sent a tweet to President Barack Obama" that read, ".. Take her [Michelle Obama] to Burger King, buy her a sundae with double banana, take her to your homeland, Kenya!"

Reader Comments (7)

I will miss Gore Vidal--although living until age 86 certainly does not make his death a tragedy. I was fortunate to see him twice in person and many times on the Tee Vee. I will always treasure his Cassandra-like temperament and his brilliant mind. I have also enjoyed many of his books, especially his memoir, "Palimpsest."

Gore Vidal was a radical--an unafraid, honest, true-to-self, incredibily snotty brat. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

"We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic. The founding fathers hated two things, one was monarchy and the other was democracy, they gave us a constitution that saw to it we will have neither. I don't know how wise they were."

REST IN INTERESTING PEACE, GORE VIDAL!

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Re: Fried chicken parts, Sarah Palin, and gay marriages. Can it get better? Yes, in two or three years there will be a report of unnatural man chicken relationships at Chic-an-fic. Right now Gore Vidal and Kurt Vonnigut (sp) are chuckling like a couple of old hens and scratching out words for the musical, "Gallo de mio"; three acts; boy finds chicken, boy loses chicken, boy marries chicken.
Collectively we have become dumber than chicken shit. Right now it what world would we be exceptional?

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Remember in the years before Citizens United, before ',,,corporations are people, my friend." that corporations were pretty circumspect and ONLY SPOKE OF BUSINESS THINGS. They went about the business they were IN, producing, marketing, selling, yada yada.

Then along came Citizens United...and we suddenly have all these corporate bigmouths from Target to Chick-fil-A going on record with the most outrageous pronouncements. I wonder if their PR guys (if any remain) are now spending days & nights at the bar drowning their woes. Also, I am now at the point of questioning every purchase—because if I don't like their political position, I don't buy. On the plus side, I am saving money!

P.S. @kate - the Gore Vidal quote is classic Vidal. His voice will be missed.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

@JJG I don't think we are becoming dumber. The problem is we are not any smarter than we were 5000 years ago. In order become smarter we have to accept the idea that much of what we believed back then is not true. You know all that science crap. Look at gay marriage, women's rights, contraception, global warming, evolution. All of this is the conservative effort to conserve their fantasies. It's dumb by denial.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Well, fellow Mericans, after feeling somewhat mellow after my dream yesterday––mentioned on yesterday's comments––I now face another new day realizing that things are getting more and more bizarre: Chickens who sit on the right hand side of god; election of Cruz whose tea is spiked with NUT-meg; a guy named Kelly who equates the ACA's expansion of women's health services to Pearl Harbor & 9/11; and best of all was Jared Diamond's piece in the Times which castigated Romney for misrepresenting his theories––how could he have read Diamond's book and come up with such twisted notions? How indeed!! JJG thinks we are becoming dumber and dumber, but Marvin says he doesn't think we are any smarter than we were 5000 years ago. We as a species have made great strides; the trouble is we humans seem to screw things up so badly that the gains we have made keep getting sabotaged by those that DON'T evolve, won't accept certain truths, refuse to learn new ways and cling to yesterday's ways and means. I guess it all boils down to crossed fingers and breath holding for a saner tomorrow. I'm just not sure I believe that will happen any time soon.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

In reference to the discussion of JJG, Marvin, and PD, it appears that exceptional human beings raise the level of civilization, and the rest of us go along for the ride. Then, as we drive in a finely-tooled car along roads built by the Eisenhower Administration, we think about how much we've accomplished. I would say that self-esteem has improved during the last 5000 years, but the Moses-era Jews were kinda full of themselves too.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Re: now news is good news; late comment on early comment. By saying "collectively" I meant the following; if communication is society and society is culture, culture is becoming gross as communication becomes more sophisticated. Two hundred years ago the Palins would be standing outside their cabin with bags of chicken parts and only a few of their neighbors would witness their behavior. Communication would exchange and the locals would know that the Palins stood strongly on the side of chicken parts. But overall the national culture would know little about the Palins and their odd fixation with chicken parts and the Bible.
The grossness of the Palins has always been part of of culture but only a small part.
Now days because of the sophistication of communication the Palins have a national voice and play a large part of culture.
As the amount of communication grows the quality of knowledge diminishes. Romney's private tax evasion evidence is boring next to Life styles of the Rich and Famous. As the speed of communication increases the import of the information decreases. The killing in Florida is erased with the killings in Denver. This post is an example, tomorrow already has come; nobody will read this.
So we are not getting dumber but we are numbed by faster and more knowledge of matters that mean less and less.
Someone who watches Fox News two hours a day and reads the National Enquirer every week and receives twit updates every couple of minutes certainly has more information that someone who has only the Sonnets to mull over. But who would you consider smarter or more knowledgeable?
In short I believe in todays world we think more about what matters least; there for we are becoming dumber.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG
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