Tag Archives: news

A New Difficulty in Achieving National Cohesion. A stable national government requires a measure of cohesion of the ruled. Such cohesion can be derived from an implicit mutual agreement on goals and direction — or even on the processes of determining goals and direction. With the diversity of information channels available, there is a growing ease of creating groups having access to distinctly differing models of reality, without overlap. For example, nearly every ideological group, from the student underground to the John Birchers, now has its own newspapers. Imagine a world in which there is a sufficient number of TV channels to keep each group, and in particular the less literate and tolerant members of the groups, wholly occupied? Will members of such groups ever again be able to talk meaningfully to one another? Will they ever obtain at least some information through the same filters so that their images of reality will overlap to some degree? Are we in danger of creating by electrical communications such diversity within society as to remove the commonness of experience necessary for human communication, political stability, and, indeed, nationhood itself? Must “confrontation” increasingly be used for human communication?


National political diversity requires good will and intelligence to work comfortably. The new visual media are not an unmixed blessing. This new diversity causes one to hope that the good will and intelligence of the nation is sufficiently broad-based to allow it to withstand the increasing communication pressures of the future.

Paul Baran, 1969

I wish I liked you more, but you don’t make it easy

I think I’ve probably told you before that I’m just not very fond of people. They tend to be entirely too demanding, whiny, bitchy, stupid or willfully ignorant for my tastes, not to mention closed-minded and dogmatic. They have really bad habits of doing things like calling 911 because of bad manicures or poor service at the McDonald’s drive-thru. It’s all just so very frustrating and disappointing.

I used to think it was me, that I was too picky and snobbish. But that’s just so much bullshit. It really is OK to have high standards for the right to speak with me. Life is really too, too short for it be otherwise.

I am fairly tolerant of people who don’t make the grade, though. I’m not rude or anything. I just move on as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, in my line of work, I’m faced with idiocy and the like much more than I care to. Like the other day when all those holiday travelers got so much cable air time to whine and bitch and moan about their air travel not being perfect. In a fucking blizzard.

Now, I know it isn’t pleasant to be  cooped up in a jet cabin for 11 hours. I don’t wish that on anybody, really I don’t. But y’know, shit happens. Blizzards generally screw up travel pretty badly, and when one slams in on a holiday weekend, it’s really gonna wreak havoc. And I also believe that somebody, somehow, could have alleviated some of the suffering caused by being stuck on an airplane on the tarmac in a blizzard.

But my colleagues, bored as they were, devoted hours to these folks, which I guess is much more interesting to Americans than a crisis in Ivory Coast, where the incumbent president has declared himself the winner of an election he didn’t win and refuses to vacate for the real winner. After all, it’s only Africa, and the people who are dying in the protests are just Africans.

Nah, whiny Americans are more important. And Brett Favre’s $50K fine. And the guy who read his wife’s e-mail and has now been arrested on some terrorism related charge or something.

Surely not as important as a coming election in Sudan — again, just Africa, right? Oh, and Sudan’s president, charged with war crimes but nobody will arrest him, says he’ll pull out of peace talks unless a deal is reached today.

Didja know Pakistan’s president is holding crisis talks with one of his coalition partners — a party that withdrew its ministers from his government? Man, Pakistan is really tense. But it’s not like they have nuclear weapons or al Qaeda hiding out in their wild west like provinces.

Don’t get me wrong. I can dig me some water cooler news with the best of ‘em. And I don’t mind “hard hitting” reporters digging the dirt on the Maine ski lift that was operating in high winds while not asking the potential skiers why the hell they wanted to be trying to ski down a mountain in 50 mph winds. For a few minutes.

I know I’m in the minority, but I get sad thinking about it sometimes. And then I wholly understand why Americans have so little understanding of their own country, their own government, and why they so readily accept bullshit from the bullshit purveyors like Faux News and the radio Rambos.

But I don’t have to like it. Or them.