The Dim-Post

December 12, 2008

Economist Best Books 2008

Filed under: books — danylmc @ 8:45 am

The link is here, but I’m posting the list in full over the break so I can refer to it after they’ve hidden it behind their paywall. Don’t tell anyone.


October 2, 2008

Speaking of 80’s movies . . .

Filed under: general idiocy,media — danylmc @ 2:04 pm
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The Economist blogs from the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York:

I am cowed by glamour, and when I stand next to Anthony Edwards, an actor who in my youth played an F-14 radio intercept officer with the call sign “Goose” in the film “Top Gun,” it is all I can do for five minutes to keep myself from whispering—in the way that his pilot, Tom Cruise, does when Goose is dead, “Goose. Gooooooose.”

The whole thing is pretty funny.

September 5, 2008

True Believers

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:45 am
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More US politics. The Economist pays a visit to the Ron Paul rally being held in St Paul alongside the GOP convention:

The feel at the huge Rally for the Republic, held the next day across the river in a basketball arena in Minneapolis, is similar. There are huge cheers for opposition to the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. But the biggest is inspired by Jesse Ventura, the former Reform Party governor of Minnesota.

The burly former professional wrestler says that the second amendment protecting gun ownership isn’t there to protect hunting and fishing. “The second amendment is there so that if our government gets out of control, we can rise up and change it.” The room is electrified: thousands of people are on their feet, screaming with glee at the notion of turning their firearms on the federal government.

I am reminded of a phrase popularised by Richard Hofstadter: “the paranoid style in American politics”. Mr Ventura raises the crowd to further hoots with a few musings about whether Osama bin Laden really committed the September 11th terror attacks. He’s not saying he didn’t, but why hasn’t the federal government officially indicted him? He’s just asking.

Their editorial on Sarah Palin is also worth a look. The Economist have been huge John McCain fans ever since his 2000 campaign and their outrage at his VP choice is almost comic – they seem to feel personally betrayed. Their ‘Democracy in America journalist wrote:

They’re right about the media and pundits, I guess: I instantly, viscerally hate this woman . . . My visceral distaste for this speech, on just about all levels, makes it hard to analyse how it’s apt to play more broadly with any confidence. Smug, smarmy, vacuous, talk-radio level venom. I’m seeing other folks describing it as a home run, which I can’t fathom—so I should probably discount my own reaction as an outlier.

Slightly more detached in their editorial, the Economist points out:

The moose in the room, of course, is her lack of experience. When Geraldine Ferraro was picked as Walter Mondale’s running-mate, she had served in the House for three terms. Even the hapless Dan Quayle, George Bush senior’s sidekick, had served in the House and Senate for 12 years. Mrs Palin, who has been the governor of a state with a population of 670,000 for less than two years, is the most inexperienced candidate for a mainstream party in modern history.

The GOP response to this is that Mrs Palin is more experienced than Senator Obama. Even if they actually believe this line (which is hard to credit) few people outside the parties hardcore base are likely to swallow it.

August 9, 2008

The war against cliche

Filed under: media,nz blogs — danylmc @ 7:14 am
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Poneke has a non-bus related post up about cliche in journalism that reminded me of this wonderful passage from the Economist’s style guide:

Lazy journalists are always at home in oil-rich country A, ruled by ailing President B, the long-serving strongman, who is, according to the chattering classes, a wily political operator—hence the present uneasy peace—but, after his recent watershed (or landmark or sea-change) decision to arrest his prime minister (the honeymoon is over), will soon face a bloody uprising in the breakaway south. Similarly, lazy business journalists always enjoy describing the problems of troubled company C, a victim of the revolution in the gimbal-pin industry (change is always revolutionary in such industries), which, well-placed insiders predict, will be riven by a make-or-break strike unless one of the major players makes an 11th-hour (or last-ditch) intervention in a marathon negotiating session.

Sound familiar?

More seriously, whenever I think of issues around journalism and cliche I think about George Orwell’s essay ‘Politics and the English language.’ Published back in 1946, parts of it feel as if they were written yesterday:

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

June 5, 2008

Ministry of Stupid

Filed under: general idiocy,nz blogs,Politics — danylmc @ 10:30 am
Tags: , ,

The Economist entered the blogging world a while back but recently they’ve really been hitting their mark with their commentary on the US elections. Intelligent, clear and very droll its arguably the best political blog on the net.

But the internet is about more than reading what very smart funny people have to say: it’s also about sneering at the stupid and the ignorant and that’s where NZ blog No Minister comes in.
Although there are a number of bloggers extant at the site its unquestioned stars are ‘FairFacts Media’ and ‘Adolf Fiinkensin’, two highly prolific commentators who daily hold forth on a rich variety of subjects, from the sexuality of the Prime Minister to the sexuality of the Prime Ministers husband.

The latest subject of ‘FairFacts Media’ and his rather low-watt scrutiny is Democratic nominee Barack Obama. In a recent post FFM warns darkly that Obama is a ‘half arab muslim-born extremist’.

Now, here’s a picture of Obama’s parents, neither of whom look conspicuously Arabic, although I guess you could argue that his Mother Ann Dunham has a swarthy semitic look that right-thinking Aryans would find suspicious.

Upon being queried about his claims FFM provided links to a variety of sources. Here’s the first one, written by someone called ‘teckel’ at a web-site called ArcadeHome, a site devoted to in depth reviews of classic arcade games. (FFM is a journalist and knows the crucial importance of an authoritative source):

Barack Hussein Obama is not half black. If elected, he would be the first Arab-American President, not the first black President. Barack Hussein Obama is 50% Caucasian from his mother’s side and 43.75% Arabic and 6.25% African Negro from his father’s side. While Barack Hussein Obama’s father was from Kenya, his father’s family was mainly Arabs. Barack Hussein Obama’s father was only 12.5% African Negro and 87.5% Arab (his father’s birth certificate even states he’s Arab, not African Negro).

Sadly the anonymous author didn’t elaborate on how he obtained the birth certificate of a goat herders son born in a remote village in Kenya back in 1936 and so we are left only with his thoughts on Obama’s blood quanta.

It only gets better, and the whole comments thread is worth reading. The great thing is this isn’t a particularly egregious post from the No Minister boys; you can find this caliber of outstanding stupidity over there every day, rain or shine. And if you feel like you’re overdosing on imbecility you can always head back to the Economist for the antidote.

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