A WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!

So, I promised to write more and didn’t really follow through with it.   At least not how I had initially intended - as close to daily updates as I could get. This is largely due to external factors that have made this week one of the roughest I’ve endured yet, which hopefully is not indicative of what’s to come this year.

This morning I read an article (on CNN) that talked about a girl in Papua New Guinea who was burned alive, suspected of being a witch. It helped put my plight into perspective: sure I am having a rough few weeks at work, but at least nobody has tried to set me on fire (yet – I wouldn’t put it past them here). No matter how bad the past two days have been (and the next couple will undoubtedly be), at least I’m not being burned alive.  Or dying in any other nightmare inducing, incredibly painful, absolutely horrifying way. 

Keeping that in mind helps. Not much, but enough. 

Changing the subject to something a tad less morbid, iTunes is now going DRM free. That’ll finally shut up those who slam the service for it’s “invasive” use of DRM technology in the digital entertainment it distributes. For those who say “great,  but what about all the stuff I *already* bought?   That’s all still got DRM.” True, it does. It won’t magically disappear, either. You can, however, upgrade it to DRM free – for a fee. The fee is approx.  $0.30 per song, or 30% of an albums CURRENT price.  Music videos are $0.60 apiece. For my paltry 52 albums that I’ve bought through iTunes over the years it will cost me approximately $175 to upgrade to iTunes Plus (DRM Free).   

So, some of you may be wondering why this even matters. Others undoubtedly already know. DRM limits the consumer in how they can use the music they purchase. It limits the numbers of computers you can play it on, what devices can play it, and even what software you MUST use to play it. Removing that brings freedom back to the end user, allowing him or her to play the music via any software (that supports AAC playback, anyways) and/or hardware device (that supports AAC playback, anyways). This means, after upgrading, that I would be able to play my entire music library in Linux, for instance, with any of a number of software packages capable of AAC playback. The DRM free recordings are also of higher quality, so it’s got that going for it… Which is nice.

I guess if I lived in Papua New Guinea, I probably wouldn’t want to be known as a computer wizard. That might lead to unfortunate events.

The FOX and the Hound: Political Bias in the Media

While sitting here allowing various thoughts to run rampant through my head – sometimes engaging in gladiatorial fights for the privilege to remain on the Train (you know – the Train of Thought), one such thought performed well in the fight (just like Russel Crowe in “Gladiator”) and caused me to want to write about it.

A problem I’ve found myself having lately, in regards to our upcoming elections, is getting real answers about the various issues.   It’s almost impossible to get anything out of the press these days and take it for face value.  Everything with politics in the media is one big ball of spin  - depending on your news outlet of choice.  I’ve also found that, depending on your political leaning, your news outlet of choice varies.   For instance – if you are fond of the Republican party, and pretty people, you can’t go wrong with Fox News.   If you’re fond of “The Dems” you probably enjoy CNN and The New York Times. 

Why is this the case?   And Why does Ann Coulter, a journalist,  have 3 books that all have “Liberal”, used in a negative way, in the title?   The answer is corporation.

Gone are the days (or, perhaps more likely, NEVER were the days…) where reporters and journalists reported “just the facts”, and present are the days when reporters and journalists report “just the facts, as spun in such a way to make it palatable to the corporation that owns the newspaper, station or network I work for”.  If that corporation happens to favor the “right wing”, then the stories will have a slant that is favorable to the right wing.     If It’s more “liberal”, however,  the stories will be more favorable to the left. 

This brings up a fundamental problem.  If you were to ask the majority of people what the purpose of the nightly news, or the daily newspaper, was – their answer would probably be “to report the news”.  This seems like a fairly straightforward notion – a news program, and news paper, should report … well, NEWS!  What many people may not immediately realize (and some unfortunate souls NEVER realize) is that this isn’t straight news,   it’s news filtered through that agency’s agenda.   Sure, some things are just straight news,  i.e. “a triple homicide occurred last night in the downtown neighborhood of blah blah blah” – it’s pretty hard to politicize that (ok, it’s not that hard, but it IS easy to pick out when they’re doing that).  But for the most part it’s all spin.  The problem, then, is that we’re not having the news reported to us in an unbiased way, and many people (forewarning: some will probably accuse this of being elitist – it is not.  It’s the truth, and sometimes the truth sucks) don’t possess acumen to realize it.  Some people DO possess the acumen but, for whatever reason, choose to either not care or to ignore it. 

So,  why is this a big deal?     Well, perhaps it isn’t for many – but it is for me.   Why?   For the simple fact that – when a news agency starts filtering it’s stories through it’s own agenda it loses it’s objectivity, and in doing so, loses it’s credibility as a source of real, actual, news.    I can then no longer trust it to give me the facts – I have to go out and check it’s story to verify the facts, and if I have to do that then why am I even bothering to view it’s stories in the first place.

Why do they get away with it?    I have a theory on that.   People don’t like to hear things that are contrary to their beliefs.   Want proof of this?  Have a philosophical debate with someone sometime.  I was a philosophy minor in college – I know what the end result will be (I’ve been there MANY times).  If you like debating and actually KNOW philosophy you’ll probably GREATLY enjoy the conversation.  The other person will likely eventually devolve into rambling, cursing and shouting (in some rare cases, foaming at the mouth).  It will probably end with balled fists being slammed onto a table and/or someone walking out in a huff. 

Because people like to hear things that parallel their views they are instantly drawn to news sources that have a slant similar to their own.   That’s why right wing fundamentalists flock to Fox News as if it were the Mecca of television news.  

This all stems from the realization that – despite several months of reading about both candidates, I know NOTHING about what they really stand for.  Why?  Simple.  If I were to believe what I’ve read, both are, absolutely without a doubt, the single best candidate for the presidency.  Since you can’t have a plural singularity (that’d cause the fabric of space-time to implode and destroy us all.  So could the LHC at CERN, if it ever were to REALLY work, but I digress…), I know something must be broken with our media.   Or perhaps it’s working exactly like it’s intended.