Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
Having just gotten back home from two quick trips--one to the University of North Carolina where I was giving a talk and meeting with grad students in the Communication Studies Department and one to New Orleans for a colloquium with Brazilian scholars where I gave a short talk about research concerning cell phones and driving--I would like to offer the following observations and recommendations:
1. To the Charlotte NC airport:Get the attendants out of the Men’s restrooms.The last thing I want to do when I travel is get harassed by a guy handing me towels and expecting a tip—especially when you have automatic towel dispensers in the restroom.No, I don’t need a splash of cologne nor do I want a breath mint.I’m not hitting on anyone; I’m just trying to get to the next town.Honestly, I would almost book a more expensive flight to avoid this.
Cities have always drawn talented people. Is the increase you're talking about unprecedented? We don't have enough historical information to say. But certainly over the past three decades that we can track this, yes, it looks like a pronounced trend. The world is getting smaller, so more places can play in the world economy, but the number of places that play is fewer. If you think about what happened to the car industry or the electronics industry over the past 20 years, there used to be a car company or three companies in every country, and then there was globalization in that industry. Now GM and Ford and Nissan and Toyota are battling it out, while many companies fell by the wayside. I think the same thing is happening with urban areas. Every country used to have a dozen or two dozen great cities. Now people are saying, "It's a global world. I'm mobile and I can go to New York, London or Beijing, or Bangalore." We're picking from a smaller set of cities, not just nationally but globally. So the biggest cities in the world are getting bigger and more expensive...
And what are those implications for policymakers? We're becoming so divided that these propulsive centers of our economy are generating fear, anxiety, and resentment. People say, "The cities are where the yuppies, trendoids, and gays live. We have to move back to family values." And our public policy actually punishes cities, as we transfer wealth from them to our hinterlands. It's in the culture wars, the Red and Blue states—the spiky centers are all bright blue, while the places being left behind are deep red. Barack Obama appeals to people in the spiky centers, Hillary Clinton appeals to the people in Ohio being left behind, and John McCain appeals to people who are outside and resentful of this kind of change. Sooner or later in our world economy, we're going to need leaders willing address this, but until then it's just going to get worse and worse, more and more concentrated. I think the real leaders with their heads screwed on right are the mayors. Regardless of party, a lot of mayors are focused on building thriving economies and increasing the quality of life in their towns.
I've been hearing about this study and this guy for a while now. It seems a fascinating topic, and an interesting one for an odd little city like Charleston, which is seen one way by the gentry, another way by the tourists, and yet another way by the people who make the city go, many of whom came here from somewhere else.
There is no better phrase to describe the animating feature of the
modern Limbaugh/Kristol/Fox News conservative faction than "threatened
tribalism." The belief that they are good and pure, yet subjected to
unprecedented systematic unfairness and threatened by some lurking Evil
Other against whom war must be waged (the Muslim, the Immigrant, the
Terrorist, the Communist, the Liberal, the Welfare Queen) is the
centerpiece of their ugly worldview.
The sentiments expressed here by Instapunk are now most commonly
expressed towards the New Enemy -- the Muslim -- but the Wright episode
is a nice reminder of how seamlessly it gets directed towards a whole
host of other threatening, bad groups. Hence the blithe application of
the term "sleeper cells" to black Americans. That's what coalesces them
and justifies everything. What matters is that there be some scary,
malicious group about to harm them and America. The identity of the
particular scary group at any given moment is really secondary.
Stoking those fears is a predictable mass-media function. Then again, lock-step-talking-point-mass-media attacks appear to have some limits...
I've touched on this before, but let me bring it farther into the light: This idea that presidential primaries can be explained via analogies to sporting events or military campaigns is a fundamentally confused media construct. Why? Because for all our talk about "momentum," each primary or caucus is an inherently local event.
Which is to say: It is often true that any perception of momentum or success is more the result of the order of the contests than the actual performance of the candidates.
If I'm ever again in a position where I'm supposed to speak to a bunch of newspaper and newspaper website people about new technology and web culture, I'm going to show this video and move on. And when people say stupid stuff, I'm going to give them stones.
Just for context on the M.O. of Rupert Murdock's corporate news philosophy, The Investigators meet The Buzzsaw...
No, of course we're not surprised. I'm sure they originally prepared for an all-out assault on Hillary Clinton, but they retrenched, retooled, and sent their minions out after Barack Obama instead. And let's face it: The GOP is going to continue this steady drumbeat of sleaze from now through the election, supposedly at arm's length via their "remote operative," Roger Ailes, at the FOX News Division.
Our job is to recognize it, name it, talk about it, share it. Human beings, like many living things, are quorum sensors (bacteria do it chemically; we do it psychologically). So it isn't just the quality of the signals we receive from our environments that matter -- the number of signals of certain types that we receive quite literally count toward shaping our image of reality.
Which is why I say: Share these videos. Embed them. E-mail them. Every time you use the power of human relationships and social networking to spread this exposure of media sleaze you are acting as an antidote to the sickening virus FOX keeps deliberately injecting into our culture. We have to become D.I.Y. media antibodies in defense of our society. We must inoculate ourselves against bullshit. When you show a thing that attempts to be secret, you remove some of its power.
To clarify: I have no quarrel with anyone who opposes Obama for policy reasons. Don't like his ideas about Iraq, or social security, or economics, or taxation? Fine. I disagree, but I respect reasonable disagreement.
But if you think that Obama is a Muslim, or a black racist, or a shadowy figure who secretly hates America? Conversation over. You've just defined yourself out of relevancy. My suggestion? Take another look at why you believe what you believe, and then rejoin the rest of us in our imperfect lurching toward a better future.