Category Archives: Media

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Genius!

I don’t much follow the MacArthur Genius Grants because they tend to go to individuals for esoteric subjects that I don’t much care about.  This year is different because one of my favorite writers, Ta-Nehisi Coates, was granted a fellowship this year.  Coates has long been a person I would like in my neighborhood and he hasn’t disappointed me since.  Most people like to brag about how they were fans of a band back well before they were famous.  I’m like that with Ta-Nehisi Coates.

YOU SHOULD READ ALL THE THINGS! (Insert Hyperbole and a Half graphic here).  Seriously, Coates is required reading if you want to understand race relations in the U.S. today.  I recently finished “Between the World and Me” which is a masterpiece and should be read by everyone with a pulse.  It is heavy and deep and I’m waiting on a reread before I write my review because it’s a whole lot to take in.  In the meantime, if you haven’t read his two brilliant long form articles, “The Case for Reparations” and “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration“, you should do so.

I look forward to what Coates will do when unfettered by the shackles of worrying about a paycheck.  I expect great things from him.  As does he from himself.

And if that weren’t enough, Lin-Manuel Miranda also was awarded a fellowship this year.  Don’t know who he is?  Me either.  But, I recently posted about his new play, “Hamilton“, which debuted this year and it is well worth listening to the entire awesome soundtrack.  I wonder what he’ll come up with next.

The Islamic State

Do yourself a favor and watch this VICE News video on ISIS.  Warning: there are some very graphic images at times.


What amazes me the most about the video is how perfectly normal and perfectly matter of fact most of the ISIS people seem.  Well, until they cut off your head or crucify you.  It’s almost surreal.  Their daily experience is so far removed from what we are used to and the veneer on the horrors that they are perpetrating only cracks every once in a while.  What especially got me was the policing of the Sharia Law stuff.  So polite, almost courteous.  So deadly.  It gives me chills.

VICE News is doing some amazing reporting around the world.  Their in-depth reporting is around the best I’ve seen.  It’s what real reporting should be.

Give ‘Em What They Want!

Kevin Spacey says something that I’ve been saying for a long time:


People, in general, don’t want to steal.  They want to reward artists for their efforts.  They won’t do so if you put too many requirements on their purchases.  Most of what the music industry sells is crap and the package it with one good song and expect people to buy the whole crappy package.  Most of what the movie industry sells is crap and they want to dictate to you how and when you can watch their crappy product.  That’s why Netflix has been so successful.  Sure, a lot of their offerings are crap, but you can watch their crap at a time and place and device of your choosing.  People love watching crap, just look at how many Anime fans there are.  They will even be willing to pay for crap if you give them the freedom to watch it their way.

Oh, Fox News, You’re So Easy To Make Fun Of

Other cable news networks can be cringingly awful at covering the news, i.e. CNN and it’s Boston bomber coverage.  Fox News, takes awful to a whole new level, though.  Recently, we had the laughably bad interview between author Reza Aslan and the Fox News religion correspondent:


Salon was kind enough to wade through the muck and pick out ten of the worst Fox News interviews of all times.  Trigger warning for Bill O’Reilly.  My favorite is the Jon Stewart takedown of Bill.  It’s classic.

There are lots of ways to consume news.  Cable news networks are like the last bites of a burrito where all of the grease and goo have sunk to the bottom and that you should just throw away even if there is some nutritional value to it.  Fox News, however, is the grease and goo that leaks out of the burrito all over your hand while you’re eating.

The News Media Is Not Liberal

You hear it a lot.  The liberal news media.  The news media won’t cover story X because it’s liberal.  The liberal news media doesn’t want you to know about Y.  It’s all a bunch of poppycock.  Stories X and Y aren’t covered because they’re either non-stories or they’re boring stories.

The news media is only liberal in the sense that society is liberal and the news media is a reflection of society.  The news media doesn’t cover conservative stories because conservative stories are boring.  “Things are exactly the same as they we’re yesterday!  News at 11!”

That isn’t to say that the news media doesn’t have an agenda.  They do.  That agenda is money.  That agenda is ratings.  If a news organization thinks a story can generate either of those two things, they will cover the story.  If not, they won’t.  End of story.

Really, “news” should be taken out of the name and they should just be called ” the media” because much of what they do cover is not news and what they do cover is so unbalanced it’s not even funny.  They take a story and offer “both sides” of the story even when there is quite obviously only one side.  “Is the sky blue?  Opinions differ.  Let’s hear both sides.”

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to change the current state of things short of creating a state subsidized news system.  Of course, we already have that in NPR and PBS and they do a stellar job of reporting stories in as unbiased a way as possible.  “Unbiased”, by they way, does not mean reporting both sides.  It means reporting the truth.

NPR and PBS are horribly underfunded, unfortunately.  This is mostly due to the same people who scream “media bias” at every opportunity.  They really are the only two entities who do hard news anymore and that makes them dangerous to the corporate conglomerations that run, well, everything.  CNN, NBC, FOX, MSNBC, all spin their news to appease their corporate masters.    It is a sorry state of affairs.

For all its many, many flaws there is no liberal bias in the media.  Change is just much more interesting than nothing changing so it gets covered.  I will admit that reporting on things that have worked well for a long time would have social benefit but it’s very hard to sell as a news story.  These things won’t change so it’s up to us to seek out news.  This is a very tall order in the chaos that is our lives.  The result is a criminally uninformed society.

Typhoon Bopha Update

The death toll for Typhoon Bopha is up to 540 souls with over 800 still missing and over 1,000 injured.

There has been very little coverage of this storm in the U.S., which is a little surprising.  The media usually loves stories where they can just quote rising death counts and report on human interest stories related to the typhoon.  I blame Kate Middleton.

It’s worth remembering, though, that this was an incredibly rare storm.  A category 5 typhoon really should not exist so close to the equator.  Typhoon Louise from the 1964 typhoon season was the only other category 5 to exist so close to the equator.

Climate change denialists will claim that you can’t say that global warming is occurring just because of a category 5 typhoon so close to the equator.  After all, it’s happened before.  And they’d be right.  No individual event can be held up to claim that global warming is happening.  But there have been so many unusual events and they just keep coming!

Talk about not being able to see the forest through the trees!  The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of global warming occurring and all signs point to humanity as the root cause.  But I’m sure we’ll just continue fiddling along as the Earth burns.