The Mirrored Night

I’ve recently been hearing people complain, at the same time, about  both the new media meaning that news come from so many angles that no one seems to know what to believe so people believe all these reporters without CREDENTIALS and about how people believe nothing and look for holes in everything that’s reported.

Since the people I’ve been hearing complain are fairly conventionally liberal (what I would call establishment “liberal” – they don’t think about it much, but they tend to buy the party line, because everyone who is anyone repeats it) this is of course one and the same complaint.  They want to quote Leonard Cohen their “mirrored night” back.

Because for them news are a matter of “being in the know like everyone else who is in the know” they want an easy source of information that all the right people believe, a guided conversation that is reflected in all the conversations at the water cooler.  They don’t want to know the truth, so much, as they want to know what to believe so they won’t be revealed as dumb at water cooler conversations.

One of the things they seem to focus on is the “Sandy Hook” conspiracy theories as being particularly nefarious because they “are people’s attempts to deflect from the conversation we must have about the causes of the massacre.” This reference to the Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories baffled me a little – or would have, if I couldn’t decode it – because though there are some (when aren’t there about a nationally reported event?) even I have only managed to run into one.  And I frequent the “out there” libertarian blogs which are, by definition, conspiracy central.

But the reason to focus on THAT conspiracy – not, say, the nine eleven conspiracies that brainless stars believe – is that the theories are nefarious because they deflect from the administration’s attempts to shove gun control down our unwilling throats and to use a school shooting as a pretext.

Because only a fool or a sadist speaks the truth in social circumstances, I almost bit through my tongue not to answer “Okay, do let’s talk about the causes of the massacre: improper care for the mentally ill; or perhaps families that are not families because each parent is doing his thing and pursuing his bliss; no fault divorce?; families with no father?”

That of course, was not what they were talking about, but gun control, which has not ever in fact, stopped ANY massacres.

Are these people, then, total stooges of the administration?  Do they want government controlled news?

Of course not.  What you have to understand – particularly if you’re younger than I and grew up in the new information era – is that the news used to be something you perused to know what everyone knew.

It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it matters that there is a consensus reality.  Most people out there only want that.  And their complaints about the new media is that they’ve been denied that.  They no longer know “what to believe” to be socially acceptable.

Having been accused by a friend of being “too cerebral” as a writer (guys, I like explosions and soppy love stories, sometimes in ONE book, so I don’t see what in hell he means) I’m probably making my case worse when I say that’s never what I wanted to know.

Maybe it was very early on reading the Times report on incidents in the Portuguese revolution, which were not only wrong to what I’d witnessed, but managed to be more wrong and narrative-y than the more or less state controlled Portuguese newspapers of the time.  (Who needs state control, when every journalist believes the communists are ALWAYS on the side of angels?)

Maybe it was the fact that at one time I wanted to be a journalist – a real one – maybe it’s the fact that fiction counts for nothing if you don’t try to reflect a deeper truth.

Whatever the cause, when I read the news – in any media – what I’m trying to look for is the truth.

So to me, the same thing counted for reading the “real” newspapers twenty years ago and reading the blogs now.  I used the same tests: what a commenter yesterday referred to as “reality testing” – does this accord with my experience of how things happen?  Okay, suppose it does, next, does this accord with stories about similar incidents I’ve heard from people I trust?  Okay, suppose it does.  Apply Occam’s Razor.  Is this the simplest explanation for observed facts?  If it involves a conspiracy, does it necessitate hundreds of peripheral people collaborating?

The nine-eleven conspiracy fails on that.  The people in those airliners undoubtedly existed, and I don’t see them being walked out of their lives forever, into some sort of witness protection program and NEVER FOUND AGAIN.  (Beyond its failing on “how things happen” because fire does indeed melt steel – rolls eyes.)

I will confess that the “too many people in the conspiracy” has now failed me twice: the jorno-list thing.  I simply wouldn’t have believed it wouldn’t have blown up earlier or again (since I’m fairly sure it exists again.) And the Hide the Decline ditto.

OTOH these are not random people.  Everyone in the conspiracy is a true believer, and each of their careers depend on it – so I should have paid more attention to “is this how things happen?”  because it invalidates the “too many people.”  After all, I’ve seen this in fiction, where we’ve managed to have the impression of lockstep simply due to the gatekeepers and those of us who disagreed being too afraid for our careers to say anything.

But the point is, I’ve always done that, my whole life, because I always wanted the truth.  The reason I wanted the truth is because if you don’t know the real causes of things and what is really going on, you can’t anticipate the effects.  What is really going on – as opposed to what you’ve been told – might necessitate a reaction to prevent the true effect of what is going on from killing you.  It’s not just “What you don’t know can kill you” it’s “what you think you know can kill you.”

What I heard reflects the normal person’s frustration with not knowing what to believe to “fit in.”  They view news not as information, but as a system of social cohesion.

They don’t seem to realize social cohesion is usually created – in the modern state – by rulers, with intent to lead the people for their purposes.  They’ve forgotten – or never heard about – the “news” apparatus of Hitler and Stalin.  And they clearly haven’t been paying attention to the successive “summers of recovery” even as we sink deeper into penury and morass.  Or if they have, they believe that if only we believed–  (Click your heels and say “there’s no place like mainstream news.”) — the economy WOULD have recovered (the average person on the street seems to have clue zero what makes the economy go, or downright wrong ideas “price measures labor” or “money is gold based.”  “If we believed in it, socialism would work” is about a same-order fallacy.)

I for one prefer a news system in which I can filter from many dissenting voices.  And I test EVERYTHING.

And part of this reflects the fact that the left has in fact managed to politicize EVERYTHING.  (They weren’t just whistling Dixie about “the personal is political”.)  I realized that at the con as an otherwise very nice young woman said that her panel on steampunk had been interrupted by a very rude bestselling author who called them polite fascists and went on about how they longed for a return to British Imperialism.  She was bewildered by this, since she likes the setting for the costumes and the gadgets.  And she said in a plaintive tone “I don’t know why he wanted to do that.  We’re not political.  I hate politics and I don’t think it belongs anywhere near your fiction.”

While she was right that the author was insufferably rude and that most people involved in steampunk are in it for the manners, the costumes and the sense that at that time civilization was going somewhere – she is wrong about the argument being about “politics.”

The argument is in fact about history.  (And had I been there, I’d have folded that author’s words all in corners and made him eat them – since he’d already broken decorum.)

In that case, because there was no point yelling at the very nice author, I had to bite my tongue again.  What she didn’t want near fiction was not “politics” it was HISTORY.  And when you refuse to refute the skewed view of history being forced on you, you are in fact accepting it as the consensus.

History is just slightly older news.  In history as in news, what you don’t know can kill you and what you think you know can kill you FASTER.

You might not be interested in what is really happening; what is really happening is interested in you.

Those who forget history and ignore current events aren’t destined to repeat them – the twentieth century has shown us, by and large they’re destined to die from it.

140 responses to “The Mirrored Night

  1. Dead on. What are the facts, and how many decimal places?

    But I can count on one hand the number of people I know who think like this; most, left or right, want their narratives rather than their data-points.

  2. Many people want to be sheeple. Fitting in is one of their most important life goals. Therefore they don’t n eed or even want the truth.

  3. what does mirrored night, according to Leonard Cohen, mean?

  4. ::applauds!:: YES!!!! Oh, my Lord above, YES! History must be read as we read the news – what was the bias of the person who filtered it (the historian)? What was the bias of the person who originally wrote it (chronicler, letter writer, whatever)? How do the facts fit with other, known facts? (How fast can an army actually get from point A to point B? Including the well trained hell for leather amazing feats like Patton’s men in the Battle of the Bulge, or Harold’s men marching to meet William the Bastard at Hastings).

    People who want there to be one, single voice saying “And that’s the way it is” scare me spitless..

    • Scares me spitless too. I saw it when I was in my twenties and now in my fifties. Steroid peer pressure–

    • The “how fast can an army move” one is familiar. I remember hearing some years ago about a dispute over the veracity of an historical document. Seems the critics claimed that there was no possible way that armies could cover the distances described so quickly, especially in such numbers and on foot. The learned professor politely pointed out that the group in question had historic cultural ties to Central Asia, and that the speed, the approach, and the swath of destruction the armies carved were par for the course there anciently. As an added bonus, I gained an understanding of why you really don’t want to get involved in a land war in Asia.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        That’s one thing a lot of people don’t consider in such discussions – people were used to far higher levels of activity and endurance than even trained athletes today. While it is considered standard for a fit person to be able to cover 20 miles in a day now, I don’t know what would have been considered normal then. Possibly as much as 40 miles.

        • 50 mile hikes used to be de rigueur in the Old Army.

          • L’Amour regularly wrote that Apache warriors could cover fifty miles in a day and run down a horse. Given his reputation for research and accuracy, I think it can be accepted as probable.

            • I know from personal experience that you can run down a horse, but long before you have it standing there with its head hanging between it legs, you will be thinking it would be a lot easier to just shoot it, and go buy a ATV. ;)

        • A Roman legion would wake up, cook breakfast, break down the camp, march 25 miles, build a new camp with ditch, walls, and pallisade, then cook dinner.

      • A little anecdote from my military days. I urged the people who worked for me (photo interpreters) to get as much experience at the national level as possible, since our current ideas of tactical reconnaissance were dying. I had several officers chew me out about that. I explained to one officer exactly why tactical reconnaissance (RF-4C) was dead.

        It took the typical tactical reconnaissance aircraft between 40 minutes and an hour to reach its target area, and an equal length of time (if not more, since the aircraft would probably have to refuel, adding another 15-30 minutes to the mission) to return. It took about 20 minutes to process the film take, took my PI’s about 30 minutes to interpret the film, and then 15 minutes to transmit it to the people that needed the information (in good times. In bad times, they never receive it.). Add it up – that reconnaissance mission, from take-off to report, would take about two hours, minimum.

        A mechanized division can cover as much as 60 miles an hour. The report the guy at the other end gets is ancient history.

        New reconnaissance systems, from the TR-1 to drones, cuts the amount of time down to virtually nothing. The Division commander, the brigade commanders, and the battalion and regiment commanders, can all see the information from drones IN REAL TIME, and at the same time.

        Tactical reconnaissance as it was known from WWI to Vietnam died. It died because technology on both sides of the equation killed it. And we won’t even get into air defense changes that made tac recce very, very difficult.

  5. I can’t bite my tongue around those kind of people – it bleeds too much. :-D

    For conspiracy theories to work, you have to believe in the utter evil and absolute competence of those involved. Given the keystone cops like tendency of our government, who really sees that? This is an entity who couldn’t even keep secret an incident between a President and an intern.

    • And yet– have you thought that the keystone cop approach worked? The people behind the scenes are heroes in their own eyes.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Plus, the stupidity of the conspirators. If the CIA wanted to kill JFK, why would they use hundreds of people to set up Oswald. They could have just poisoned JFK’s medication and JFK would have been seen as died a natural death.

      • Heck, put some nightshade extract in his whiskey. It would be horribly sad about the young war hero dying of a heart attack while he was working late, or whatever, but “everyone knows” that happens sometimes with the Irish.

  6. Case in point: Richard III.

  7. Conspiracies don’t need to be huge, to appear that way. Take AGW. (Please!) All you need are the top scientists at three or four places getting the attention of the media, and then controlling a news choke point. Get control of the peer review process and then every grad student in the world quickly learns that the secret to success is to add in a phrase ” . . . further damaged by warming temperatures . . . ” or more strongly “. . . due to Global Warming . . . ” and suddenly their papers are published and they’re part of the consensis.

    • This is the hazard of gatekeepers. They create a schwerpunkt, a point of intense vulnerability in the system. Break or subvert that entry point, and you have broken or controlled the system as a whole. I want to see more curators instead – do away with the big publishing controllers and let reviewers/analysts build up a following on their own merits instead. Cf. regulated professsions, monopolies, gun control, and poll taxes.

    • Reference “Emperor’s New Clothes.” Few people are willing to risk looking stupid in front of their peers.

  8. Is it just me, or is anyone else kind of confused about what sort of “Sandy Hook Conspiracy” a leftist would believe in?

    I mean, I’ve heard the bog-standard ones about He Who Shall Not Be Named secretly being an Obama stooge, and the somewhat loonier ones about the administration replacing his meds with placebos and then getting lucky…but those don’t seem to be the sort of things _leftists_ would believe. I mean hell…the leftists don’t even believe in the actual conspiracies that we can prove really happened (like Journo-List, Climategate, and Fast-and-furious), let alone the ones that emerge from the imaginations of our more fanciful cohort. (I mean, seriously…how many lunatics’ drug supplies would the Obama campaign have to tamper with, for how long, before they hit the jackpot and got a school shooting? How many people would have to be involved? Wouldn’t ANY of them have moral qualms, or sniff out an opportunity to sell their stories for a profit?)

    I’m actually kind of curious to discover what sort of conspiracy theory they can spin out of Sandy Hook which somehow fits _their_ narrative.

    • No, they were railing about the RIGHT WING Sandy Hook conspiracies…

      • Which is hilarious, coming from people who think the NRA sells guns.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        And they are mainly based on discrepancies caused by incompetence in the media. I have a guy in the office who sends me updates.

      • Unfortunately, I’ve run into a few R/W conspiracies on Sandy hook, of the “false flag” variety. They fail on the “too many people would have to be in on it and socipathic enough to go kill kids” front.

        Sadly though, it’s not too far of a stretch from “government willing to break its own laws to force gun shops to sell rifles to obvious strawmen in order to ensure that they end up in the drug cartels hands, ostensibly to track weapons sales, but coincidentally right as / after the administration went on and on about how guns are getting into the other country from ours, and that he would DO something about those nasty judicial decisions on the second amendment, believed to be selling said guns to aid in his quest to ‘do something’ about the second” to “false flag” terror operations. Hell, Fast N Furious was so convoluted that some of the “government agent shot up sandy hook” theories are almost simple…..

        • Which of course is why there are conspiracy theories about Sandy Hook. A lot of people, including myself, believe Obama wouldn’t blink an eye at having a couple dozen children murdered if it furthered his agenda. Of course the Sandy Hook conspiracies trip and fall flat on their face over reality testing. Which is why leftists want to go on about them. Notice that they totally ignore and refuse to talk about conspiracies that are actually proven, like Fast and Furious, Climategate, etc. Possibly they think that if enough people see how ridiculous conspiracy theories for things like Sandy Hook are, they will forget about the real proven conspiracies? If so unfortunately I believe they are on the right track, as evidenced by the last election.

  9. “And the Hide the Decline ditto.”

    Except that WAS a case of “too many people”. Someone leaked the emails from CRU, after all.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      But it remained secret for years, where you would normally expect it to fall apart in weeks. And IIRC, there is still no definitive evidence whether it was a leak or if someone from outside hacked the system, but I could be wrong on that count.

    • Scary part is that it doesn’t seem to have affected much of anything yet. The establishment keeps on talking about climate change as something proven beyond doubt and that keeps on appearing in newspaper stories and television, and more than half the people I have happened to talk about it with have no idea of the whole climategate, or of any other questions about the global warming or climate change or whatever the name may be at the time for that hypothesis, or have heard a few rumors but mostly dismiss them as inconsequential. It seems that narrative will perhaps change only after the upper echelon scientists whose positions and careers have gotten tied to its success retire or die and, with luck, there are enough doubters and nonbelievers in the next generation that they can shift the story somewhere where going against it isn’t a career killer.

      We actually live in the standard catastrophe movie scenario, don’t we? The one where the lone hero tries to convince the authorities and townspeople that there is a killer shark in the water, or that their next door volcano is about to blow, or that the zombies are real and spreading, and keeps on butting his head against a wall until the last moment when the danger has blown to the point where is able to deny it anymore and people are dying all around them. And then all the hero can do is save a few people since preventing the catastrophe is now too late.

      • Oh, everyone agrees we’re in that scenario. The point of disagreement is on who of us fills the role of the hero and which the ignorant and self-righteous mob.

        • Yep. Environmental catastrophes seem to be in right now.

          My personal problem – I tend to go by the idea that if the government and media start to talk about something in an approving manner it’s probably bullshit. But I suppose even they have to right about things once in a while (but even then the solutions they tout may not be…). :D

      • The establishment keeps on talking about climate change as something proven beyond doubt and that keeps on appearing in newspaper stories and television
        Never mind that climate is always changing and what they started with was

        Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming

        They barely “proved” the global warming and went directly from there to “We’re all going to die and it’s YOUR FAULT!!!!”.

      • As Bjorn Lomborg and others have pointed out, when climatology is used as a cover for politics (in this case socialism aka “the watermelons”), neither the science nor the politics will come out with a good reputation.

        • And doncha just love the way the “Deniers” are lumped in with the Anti-Evolution bunch as uneducated Religious Anti-science dunces?

          • Yes. I do a great deal of tap dancing when people say, “You’re an environmental historian. How can we stop global warming?” or “Surely you believe in global warming?”

            • “You’re an environmental historian. How can we stop global warming?”

              You mean they don’t accept your answer when you tell them to kick back, relax, have a cup of coffee, and wait a few hundred years?

              • Want to stop global warming? Pass a law banning chafing dishes, stock pots and slow cookers.

                • Pass a law banning ignorant Hollywood celebrities. Force them THEM to lower their carbon feetprint(?) first by selling their massive houses, boats, airplanes, etc. and allow THEM no more electric-powered media. No more massive tours with fleets of semis and huge lighting/sound systems – everything unplugged. Let them save the Earth! Well, perhaps allow an exception if loyal fans want to pedal huge banks of bike generators. :)

          • Well, we can always call them warmists.

            • and follow up with this: So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

              Though since they’ll have no idea where it comes from, they’ll be confused and think it’s sexual.

              • “spew” has a more satisfying ring to it.

                Though that would probably be archaic enough to let them know where to look for it. (Shakespeare, right? ;-) jk )

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  It’s from Revelations (in the Bible). Christ is talking to one of the seven churches. Don’t remember which one.

                  • Laodicea. Revelation (or the Apocalypse of John) 3:14-22.

                  • Sigh. Apparently the wink and jk weren’t clear enough. LOL.

                    On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                    > ** > Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard commented: “It’s from Revelations (in > the Bible). Christ is talking to one of the seven churches. Don’t remember > which one.” >

  10. “In history as in news, what you don’t know can kill you and what you think you know can kill you FASTER.”

    The pseudo-intelligentsia thought Rumsfeld’s quote about “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns” was hilarious for being idiotic. The concept that there are things you don’t know, and that you’re not even aware you don’t know, is alien to them.

    I doubt they spend five seconds on the idea that something they “KNOW” is incorrect.

    • I always thought it was an excellent bit of epistemology, though a little awkwardly phrased. Worthy of editing, perhaps, but not ridicule. On the other hand, I think *everything* needs editing, so my perception may be skewed. :)

    • Actually the idea of “unknown unknowns” is quite common in engineering (usually referred to as “unk-unks”). The cause of failure is often found to be something we not only didn’t know, but didn’t realize there was to know.

      • In the software world, I think 3/4ths of our effort is about reducing the effects of unknown-unknowns.

        Usually they come from our customers and users, not from the environment, but…

        • Dancing naked on mailboxes!

          • OMG — I opened the comments and this is what came up. Fox, what???? You’ll have to explain!

            • *laughs*
              That really is how I was first introduced to the “unknown unknowns” that program users will come up with; in World of Warcraft, there’s an emote that makes your character dance. The Night Elf females do one that I think is by Shakira, but don’t hold me to it– either way, it’s setup to show off assets.
              There’s also “physical” mailboxes where you get in-game messages and items– they’re all variations on pretty obvious mailboxes, and they are just barely low enough that you can jump on top of them. Which means everyone can see you.

              So, shortly after the game got outside of the developers, someone figured out how to jump up on top of the mailbox, removed their in-game clothes (so the character has underwear on, which– of course– is the same look as a leather bikini) and uses the dance emote.

              NOBODY had thought of that happening, and apparently it sometimes messed with the ability of people to check their mail, as well as some other issues.
              *grin*

            • The phrase also gets better attention than “unknown unknowns.”

  11. From what you wrote, I suspect you fit Malcolm Gladwell’s definition of a “maven”. It’s not a mainstream skill.

  12. I see that there really are a lot of people at cons begging to be fistfed. Personally, I would have been tempted to tell him/her that if she/he wanted to know what I really wanted, he/she should come closer… yes, stand right there….

    There’s something to be said teasing people about their favorite tropes, but yelling at people for being imperialist running dogs is not within the bounds of polite discussion.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      AHA! You’re really Alice from the Dilbert comics, aren’t you?

      “Must…control…fist…of…death…” ;-)

    • Yes. Personally I would have pounded that one. Unfortunately it was a con I wasn’t at, and I understand, in another country (though I might be wrong on that last.)

  13. this is part of my problem with attending many cons. I never bite my tongue, I don’t realize I’m going to offend and confuse people until after I’ve done it. And when I get into that analytical phase, I don’t notice the faces around me so much.

    i get going on an analytical thread, and following one logic path after another and several steps in I have a circle, or a room full of people staring at me as though I had spouted additional heads.

    The one that probably did it most recently was the discussion about the possibility that the legalization of abortion in the mid to late 1970′s resulted in a 15 to 20 years later in an on-going decline in the number of poor inner-city youth that could be recruited into gangs, resulting in the late-nineties decline in violent crime and the decline of the cocaine wars.

    I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but it makes an interesting point to branch off from, and if it was true then what other government policies might result in similar improvements?

    I had an entire room of people wondering if I was in favor of eugenics and genocide.

    • If the legalization of abortion had caused the decline in crime, it would have occurred first in juvenile crime, then in 18 year olds, etc. It did not. Juvenile crime in fact exploded — it was the enormous decrease in the cohorts not culled by abortion that drove the overall decrease, until the juvenile had committed crimes enough to get themselves locked away and get their crime rate decreased that way.

      • Agreed… but as I said, I wasn’t trying to defend the idea, but rather list it as an example of when I fail at the whole “biting my tongue” thing.

        • That precise argument was made by the authors of “Freakonomics”, IIRC.

          A more interesting correlation seems to be the effect of leaded gasoline and crime.

        • It’s amazing what you forget not everybody knew– that line of reasoning was the point of legalizing abortion, though they used a horrific lie to actually do the deed.
          The “three generations of idiots is enough” quote was about forced sterilization, but the notion is the same. It could cull the defective. There’s no lack of quotes from supporters… which I know from pro-life sources. *headdesk*

  14. What I find amusing about liberals and leftists in this country is that, despite their strong interest in foreign affairs, they get all their news about foreign affairs from domestic sources, generally the NY Times. Every now and then the Chronicle of Higher Education asks a professor what newspapers he or she reads, and they almost never read anything from outside of the U.S. Martha Nussbaum was typical. The only foreign publications she looked at were TLS, which is a book review, and some publication for people from India who have moved to the U.S. Almost certainly she can read some European language (aside from ancient Greek), and with the Internet it is easy to get access to foreign newspapers. Yet she refuses.

    I myself get onto newseum.org every day and look at the front pages of many different papers from around the world. There are just too many elitist gatekeepers in this country who want to block news about what’s happening in foreign countries for anyone to rely on just American sources of news.

    • I’ve often thought I should start an international news-aggregator (from foreign sources.) I can still read Portuguese, French and Italian and with a little coaxing (and a bowl of tuna maybe) the German might come back. (Though the Swedish is probably closer.)

      The problem is, of course, time.

      • Interesting. Machine or human translation?
        Full articles or synopsis?
        With threads following dispatches or disjointed lists like Drudge?
        Do you think it would be useful to rate the reliability of the primary source, since some services are wholly owned and operated by governments or other such organizations.

        • Brief synopsis, link to original article. The synopsis I’m competent to translate and my idea was to get friends equally competent in other languages. It’s just TIME.

          And yep, indication when it’s a government media thing. Perhaps a point system for how free the press is in that country.

          • Some people would pay for your international news service.

            • Personal feeling is that paywall stunts a site…because I am a cheap bastard, like my father before me and I won’t pay it. I like the advertiser paying per view, which you can track – and hey, advertisers have more money than subscribers.
              The classic newspaper model was that you actually wrote for the advertisers, in that you were bringing is as much circulation as possible, so the advertisers would feel more relaxed about giving you gobs of money.

              I get the feeling that recently the papers are writing for their friends and their old professors, which is why both the circulation and ad revenue are falling off.

          • Perhaps if you added an option to pledge a certain amount for a full translation, then when the pledges reached a given amount, provide the translation and pocket the money. Similar to Kickstarter, if the pledges did not reach the trigger amount within a certain time, they are all cancelled.

      • I actually dislike reading foreign papers–even in English– because I don’t know the biases. English papers, it took me ages to figure out some of the biases– such as “anything Catholic, you may as well ask the crazy guy down the road.”

        Without knowing the history, I’m stuck trying to interpret the perspective blind.

        It’s interesting if they give pretty basic facts, but even then I don’t have any kind of idea what level of proof they need for this or that sort of information.

        • Here is an example of what I’m talking about. It isn’t political, as far as I can tell. When Amanda Knox was arrested in Italy, the British newspapers, especially the tabloids, were hysterical. The front-page coverage of “Foxy Knoxy” went on for days. Here in America, there was nothing, except in her home town of Seattle. I mentioned the story to a woman I know, a liberal professor who ran a study-abroad program in Italy, and she hadn’t heard about it. “It wasn’t in the Times,” she wailed. You would think she would be looking at Italian papers, but she hadn’t been.

      • I think this is an excellent idea, although I hesitate at anything that takes you away from feeding our fiction addiction (that sounds like a non-pretentious indie book store doesn’t it?). For my personal circumstances, quality entertainment & philosophy > foreign affairs.

        I can’t provide much help on the translation end (my Portuguese would need weeks at least to refresh properly, though a Brazilian Portuguese translator could come in handy for SA news) but I can offer technical assistance, programming, and hosting, and I have an angle on a designer who might even comp the work. If you really want to try this or something like it, you have my email.

        One tangent thought on translation: I ran into a gentleman last week who owns a translation company, and one of their approaches I found interesting was that all of their staff translate only into their native tongue. I can see the logic in that, especially concerning cultural context, but I always did my best translation from my native language to a learned one.

      • Just curious, especially considering the recent new Amazon Brazil Kindle store: are you still good enough, or where you could get to it with some work, to consider translating your indie stories into those languages? If you could do at least some translations without too much trouble you might be able to reach quite a bit more readers.

        • No. For one, Portuguese has changed its standard spelling. I can no longer WRITE grammatically in Portuguese.

          But I DO understand it.

          • I’m fluent in over 6 million forms of communication, provided what you want to talk to is a computer. On good days, I can even manage English. :-P

            (One of these days, I need to pick up a human language or two.)

          • Wouldn’t that give anything Portuguese you write a sort of old-fashioned flair? Sort of like Shakespearean English or something? (Maybe less dramatic than that, people of your generation should be familiar with the style, right? – turn of the century prose?)

          • I know a little Portuguese. What has changed? Does it matter that I learned it for a trip to Brazil rather than Portugal?

            • it changed to be brought in line with Brazil, actually — but it depends WHEN you learned it because it changed some for Brazil, too.

              • 30 years ago. Though recently I have been looking at headlines from Brazilian newspapers on newseum.org. What’s frustrating is that I can understand them about as well as I can Arabic headlines, even though I haven’t done much with Portuguese in years while I’ve been working on Arabic quite a lot lately.

              • Like the “simplification” of High German 15 or so years ago. Sorry, I learned the old form, I read books written in the old form, that’s what I’m sticking to. (Most changes had to do with the use of the ß vs. ss vs. sss inside compound words.)

                • There is a new change that I was seeing in conversational German when I was there (over ten years now). The youth and younger adults were not using the Sie form, but were going straight for the du form. The parents and grandparents were actually scandalized. I think eventually, the Sie form will die off in the conversational form.

                  • Same thing is going on in Portugal and it SHOCKS me when I hear it. I can’t explain it, but it feels WRONG.

                    • I tend to affect a more formal usage in Portuguese, which is particularly strange amongst Brasileiros, for whom (for example) the tu form is all but extinct*. It makes me sound odd, but I feel better using proper and complete language.

                      *Except in the northeast, where it is horribly misused. Even with a lot of time spent around Nordestinos, “Tu vai” still makes me cringe inside.

                    • Actually, Oyster, the Brasilians are WEIRD. Voce IS the FORMAL in Portuguese, but they extended it to EVERYTHING. Tu is the informal form in Portuguese, and there it’s Voce that’s becoming extinct. Go figure.

                    • Weird indeed. For us, você is the semi-formal, a senhora/o senhor the formal. Tu is indeed the intimate – I just think of it as formal because it’s really only used in holy writ these days.

                    • When I took Spanish in school, one of the students in my class was a missionaries son, who had spent several years in Brazil. Spanish and Portuguese are similar enough he would get Usted (the Spanish formal)and tu (the spanish informal) confused constantly, and end up using Voce at least half the time. Until now I didn’t even realize tu was the same in Portuguese as Spanish. So I can well believe the tu form is becoming extinct in Brazil, since the one person I knew who knew Portuguese from their struggled with mastering it in Spanish.

                  • Ye gads. The people I work with still use Sie for everyone but very close acquaintances. But then they are in their 40s-90s.

                    • I recall a news story when I was studying German *mumblemumble* years ago, wherein a bus driver punched a passenger in the face for addressing him with ‘du’ rather than ‘Sie’. IIRC it was dismissed as justified, but it has been a long time.

                    • mumble, mumble mumble years ago? We might have been in the same class. ;) Good old class of Mumble, Mumble, Mumble.

                  • Ungrateful little wretches. Heck, I still demand to be addressed with “Sie” even in English …

                  • That’s just wrong. The Sie form is… so useful! So elegant! You almost don’t even have to congregate! And now, even Germans won’t know how to talk to the Pope in their own language! Nor offer a basic form of respect to grandparents or others! Perhaps it matters less now that Benedict XVII is retiring.

                    I really think it is a flaw of the English language that we have lost that.

                    Does anybody know if that’s what’s different about “simplified [Manderin] Chinese”? Or is it more about the application of symbols themselves?

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  I recently learned something that may have affected that decision. That specific character does not change back and forth between uppercase and lowercase in a reversible manner, and it plays hell with software that tries to be case-insensitive. I don’t know any of the other changes, but that one recently came up as secondary information (as in, that wasn’t the issue, but the developer also learned that among other things) after a program here at work choked on some text in a news story.

    • I still recall the first time I looked through the Independent (Australia). They had a big front page spread on Cheney’s visit to Australia, complete with the huge crowd and their banner with “We love you Cheney!” written across the front.

      Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

  15. It used to be that hardcore Leftists hated the news media. Liberals tended to like it and believe it would always prove the correctness of their ideas. Is that still the case? If hardcore Leftists like the mainstream media it would say a lot about what is going on. Personally I hope they are still gagging on it. It would mean there is some hope still left.

    • Hardcore leftists still hate the media, although probably for different reasons than you do. A good example would be last years chicago teacher’s strike. Socialists and other extreme leftists saw it as a minimalist victory against forces attempting to remove teachers rights in the classroom. Right winger’s saw it as a loss to the evil unions attempt to refuse merit pay and insist on pure seniority. The media couldn’t decide what the hell to say, and as a result, you got very confused reporting.

      It’s enlightening to spend an afternoon with a communist from time to time. Sit in on one of our wide ranging sessions over dinner with Eric Flint some time. He’s a -very- intelligent man, and a Trotskyite. Listening to his analysis of news and politics is very interesting, -everything- arises first from class. Everything. It’s “odd” but facinating. And trust me, he HATES the main stream media.

      • Lost you at our dinner with Eric Flint — who is us — who is Eric Flint and where is dinner……

        • Rick Boatright

          Oh dear Oh dear.

          I’m on the editorial board for the 1632 series, Eric Flint is the principle writer of that series. If you haven’t read 1632, you have missed a LOT of fun, 1632 is absolutely Human Wave, and is alt-hist time-travel in a way you’ve never heard of before.

          It’s an open shared universe. To date, over 108 people have had stories or novels published in the 1632 universe. There is a dedicated semi-monthly e-zine, the Grantville Gazette which pays professional rates and is a SFWA qualifying market. We’ve created more new SFWA members in the last decade than any other publishing venture.

          Re dinner, the entire (17 person) editorial board and Eric get together once a year at some con. Which con varies. We always do a series of panels so the fans can get the latest scoops and “meet the authors” and so on. I’m the science geek, and do panels on “weird tech.” It’s a lot of fun. We do an open dinner one night (typically the first night of the con) where fans can come with us, and the ed-board spreads around so everyone can have a decent chat.

          http://www.1632.org

          http://granvillegazette.com

  16. Whatever the cause, when I read the news – in any media – what I’m trying to look for is the truth.

    Hah – are you ever looking in the wrong place!

    HERE is what you need to know about the news:

    • Thank you, RES. I needed a good guffaw, and that served quite nicely. I really need to watch that series, if the clips like that I’ve seen are representative.

      • I am not compensated in any way for this endorsement, nor, regretably, is our esteamed hostess, but I cannot recommend any DVD more highly! Get the Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister box set.

        As I have understood, this was a favorite series of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and for good reason. Because the time lag of production precluded “timely” jokes they built something timeless reflecting the unending guerrilla warfare between politicians, bureaucracy and “the people.” The series is almost 30 years old and still has the power to make beverages spurt from your nose.

  17. The entire premise of Time Magazine (and, later, Newsweek) was that they provided all the “news” a well-informed person needed to know in order to appear informed. The journalism model hinged on their extensive editorial sub-structure. If you have the interest enough to pay the fees, I strongly recommend the October 1964 Harper’s article “There Are 00 Trees In Russia.” [ http://harpers.org/archive/1964/ ]

    The thesis of the article is that reporters remit their copy to the magazine laden with placeholders for facts which Times staffers would research and fill in, creating a data illusion: since they have so many small obscure facts they must have the BIG facts. (Sorry for the cursory summary – it has been something like thirty years since I read that in my Communications 500*: Evidence And Argument class.) The article explored various ways news producers created an impression of knowledge.

    As Susan Sontag noted:

    At a New York pro-Solidarity rally in 1982, Sontag stated that “people on the left”, like herself, “have willingly or unwillingly told a lot of lies”. She added that they:
    believed in, or at least applied, a double standard to the angelic language of Communism. … Communism is Fascism – successful Fascism, if you will. What we have called Fascism is, rather, the form of tyranny that can be overthrown – that has, largely, failed. I repeat: not only is Fascism (and overt military rule) the probable destiny of all Communist societies – especially when their populations are moved to revolt – but Communism is in itself a variant, the most successful variant, of Fascism. Fascism with a human face. … Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader’s Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or [t]he New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?

    Whole Wiki quote provided for reasons that ought be apparent.

    *Note to editor: review transcripts and find the exact catalog number for that course; I know it was a 5-level course but don’t recall the number.

  18. Wayne Blackburn

    You know, I just saw the name of this article again in my email on an update, and read it, “The Mirrored Knight”. Sounds like a title, huh?

    • Yes, it does. When are you going to write it? :D

      • Mirrored Night shall be the title of my space horror story for Baen books.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Maybe after I finish this stupid Alien short that seems to want to come out (No, not THAT kind of Alien. Coming out of my mind through typing, not out of my chest through my ribs! Geez!)

        I haven’t decided whether to give him mirrored armor and shield, or to make him twins who switch off with each other.

        • The mirrored shield thing made me think of Perseus, which led me to a wikiwander, which produced the interesting mythological factoid that the son of Medusa became king of Iberia. An heir, spiritual or physical, of the ancient hero continuing the ancient conflict would be an interesting story, for all that the theme’s been done many times in modern fantasy. Huge bonus points if you set the story in some time period in between the Classical period and the modern age.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Hmm… The descendent of Medusa coming back for revenge on the descendent of Perseus? Interesting possibility.

    • I’m not saying the character has been done, exactly … but check Man of La Mancha and “The Knight of the Mirrors”.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_of_la_Mancha#Synopsis

      Sadly, the scene is not apparently available on Youtube, although you can go nuts finding versions of the show’s title song by artists such as John Barrowman, Scott Bakula, Gomer Pyle … this play is a masterpiece of the theatre and needs be seen across footlights.

  19. What heartened me on the subject of gun control was the liberal sympathy for C. Dorner. The “law and order” folks couldn’t understand that. Pity because Doner made the Right more than a few allies. If the Right only had the sense to accept them.

    • This is a test of my gravitar update:

      http://classicalvalues.com/2013/02/cbd-science-hplc-analysis/

      Medical Marijuana prohibition is a crime against humanity and a violation of the religious precept – heal the sick.

      Pass it on.

      • Oh, you think that’s a problem?
        Atavistic genes have risen and I’m cleaning the house before Spring equinox. So I went and bought ten cans of FLOOR WAX. (It’s a Victorian, with unfinished (but waxed) pine floors) We had to show ID and answer questions, because “kids use wax to get high.”

        Where does it STOP? If you can get high on floor wax, you can get high on bleach.

        I’m tired of the stupid drug war.

        Oh, and the college my kids attend is trying to deny that pot is now legal in CO — because of federal funding. My son is trying to get the socons and the libertarians to see they have common ground on this. (Largely in vain.)