Monthly Archive for September, 2006

Shitty things that newspapers and their writers do.

So I sat down this weekend with a copy of the Sunday Times (if you don’t know the right one, you should kill yourself), one of my favorite things to do…but several little things kept annoying me about it. I made this list of things shitty news writers do, although its not limited to writers of the Times. I also cull disdain from that scion of journalistic integrity, “A.M. New York,” since a hobo handed it to me on my way down the subway.

1. Constantly use the same obscure word or phrase multiple times in the same article or page. Yes we are all very proud that you went to Oberlin, now can you please stop using the word “genuflect” over and over again? Once was too much.
2. Refer to blogs or Wikipedia as your source of information. Citing Wikipedia should result in automatic disqualification from the news reporting business. Get off your fat ass and pound some pavement, you lazy shit.

3. Use the word “smarmy” or snarky” without being sarcastic. I can totally picture douchebag ad execs giving each other high-fives and using these words to describe their latest Kia commercial.

4. Talk about Youtube or some other “cutting edge” media outlet to grab my attention and display your ‘with it’-ness, only to snake me into reading your eye-gougingly boring and insufferable piece on…(what else?) feminism.

5. For that matter, write like, act like, look like, be like or be Maureen Dowd.

6. Report the news like everything is an undiscovered mystery. Barcelona was there before you wrote about it.

7. Write about the “struggle” that overweight (read:fat) people have in this country. Go tell it to an Ethopian, tubby.

8. Trick me into reading an advertisement by using the Times font and style. Putting “Advertisment” in a tiny font at the bottom of the page doesn’t make it right, people.

9. Write about the arrival of West Coast peculiarities like Trader Joe’s as if the freaking pope just came to town. Related annoyance: comparing NY eateries to West Coast counterparts like In-n-Out (low end) or French Laundry (high end). What’s next, are we all going to become lazy too?

10. Organize single pages like Real Estate or Automobiles as an entire section, even though it is only one real page flanked by dozens of pages of ads. Who do they think they are fooling? How ’bout you compile all those mini sections in one place and have a separate section called “Classifieds.” You know, the way it used to be before you got all snarky on us?

Net Neutrality or “video choice” (whatever that is): Why can’t we have both?

Two days ago, the Senate Commerce Committee (headed by, you guessed it, Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens) announced (and I quote) that “A new bipartisan poll released today finds that an overwhelming majority of American voters favor video choice over onerous ‘Net Neutrality’ regulations.” There are at least 3 reasons why this is a big load that you shouldn’t stand for:

1. As this site points out, there are many flaws with the poll:

i) only 5% of the total of 800 respondents had even heard of “Net Neutrality.”
ii) Do you think that 800 respondents can speak for all of America? I don’t.
iii) the survey is a push poll, which is a political campaign technique in which the question is really a disguise to influence or alter the view of the respondent. Example: Bush formed a push poll asking South Carolina voters: “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for
president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”, an
allegation that had no substance, but planted the idea of undisclosed
allegations in the minds of thousands of primary voters. (true story, by the way).

2. The poll was funded by Verizon. Ridiculous. It’s like having Big Tobacco survey Americans on the health risks of cigarettes. Companies like Verizon want to torpedo Net Neutrality because they

want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all”
want to charge YOU “to guarantee speedy delivery of their data.”
want “to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video �while
slowing down or blocking their competitors,” and
want “to reserve express lanes for their own content and services.”

Source – savetheinternet.com.

3. Finally, “video choice” vs. Net Neutrality is a false dichotomy. There is no conflict between having “video choice” and having Net Neutrality and in fact we should advocate both. In point of fact, I am all for the break-up of the oligopoly of the telecom industry. However, having more competition in the telecom industry has absolutely nothing to do with our right not to be censored. If anything, degradation of our Net Neutrality rights will only lead to more consolidation, since the repeal of Net Neutrality is anti-competitive. It is anti-competitive because it allows Big Telco to muscle out Small Telco by taxing them and slowing/restricting the data of Small Telco’s customers.

So, what can you do? The following Senators are on the Commerce Committee:

Republicans

Democrats

Chairman Ted Stevens (AK)

Co-Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (HI)

John McCain (AZ)

John D. Rockefeller (WV)

Conrad Burns (MT)

John F. Kerry (MA)

Trent Lott (MS)

Byron L. Dorgan (ND)

Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)

Barbara Boxer (CA)

Olympia J. Snowe (ME)

Bill Nelson (FL)

Gordon H. Smith (OR)

Maria Cantwell (WA)

John Ensign (NV)

Frank R. Lautenberg (NJ)

George Allen (VA)

E. Benjamin Nelson (NE)

John E. Sununu (NH)

Mark Pryor (AR)

Jim DeMint (SC)

David Vitter (LA)

If one of them is in your state, you should write them and convey your displeasure at this flagrant attempt to manipulate public opinion, and demand your Net Neutrality rights be protected. Raise hell. Pass this information to your friends. And support EFF.