creativity, journalism

Policy wonks take it seriously – punditocracy doesn’t

I’m sure people would have plenty of opinions about this economic idea — instead of a cumbersome safety net of Social Security and so forth, make sure everyone has a minimum income. They call it Universal Basic Income.

What interests me about it? If the story is accurate, then this is an idea that, within policy-wonk circles, can at least serve as a starting point for discussion. It’s an idea taken seriously by economists from divergent schools of thought.

But what happens when you take that idea into the mainstream media and cable punditocracy? “LIBERAL *%$!”

Not sure anyone will make any progress when our media — and society at large — are so hostile to ideas.


The humanities are important — really!

A solid case here from Duke’s Peter Burian, though I’m not sure it’s going to persuade many people outside the converted:

What we must do is insist — loudly and repeatedly — that liberal education aspires to make people not merely successful but also fulfilled, not merely autonomous thinkers but also contributing citizens, engaged and creative participants in the community. We must show how grounding in the humanities can put political and social issues into perspective and provide new perspectives on our values and beliefs.

via Essay on how to defend the humanities | Inside Higher Ed.

The problem is you’ll still have computer programmers who insist they know everything, laboring under the mistaken belief that computer code requires more brain power than philosophy. I still haven’t figured out the best way to persuade them otherwise — probably because I was always better at computer programming than philosophy, even though I majored in the latter.

Maybe we could start an ad campaign …

comedy, creativity, web

The Oatmeal doesn’t take the law into his own hands – he takes it to charity

It’ll be difficult to sum up the case of FunnyJunk v The Oatmeal any better than The Oatmeal does. It’s your standard “cartoonist complains about work being stolen, accused content thief gets all huffy, cartoonist laughs a little and lets it go, accused content thief threatens defamation suit” story.

That post is a must-read, mostly because it contains The Oatmeal’s entire defense (in one word, truth, but that’s not as amusing, and The Oatmeal includes things like “evidence” and “rebuttals that show a basic understanding of how the Web works”). Instead of paying the $20,000 that the lawyer demands, The Oatmeal decides to hold a fund-raiser to get a bunch of money and split it between the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. Those two charities must be ecstatic today.

So how have the titans of new media responded? Let’s see who sides with The Oatmeal: Boing Boing, Uproxx, Gawker … and FunnyJunk commenters. That could hurt.

The second must-read in this case, though, is from the TODAY show’s Digital Life blog. They got comments not only from The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman) but FunnyJunk’s lawyer, Charles Carreon. (Shouldn’t the lawyer in this case be named Vulture rather than Carreon?) Mr. Carreon has carved out quite a career in Internet law, and yet he is stunned by the legions of people who have sent him nasty email.

(Even though, if you read the original Oatmeal summation of this case, you’ll find that FunnyJunk readers did exactly the same thing to Inman.)

Does this sort of legal reasoning, which seems peculiarly ignorant to those with an ounce of knowledge in this area, hold water in court? Don’t ask me — I covered the Borislow-WPS case.

(Please pardon the shoutout to The People’s Court in the headline. Yes, I know it’s a stretch.)

comedy, creativity, journalism, philosophy

Too Stupid for Satire: Manufactured outrage

Being a big fan of the Three Minute Philosophy series, I decided to see what else Australian philosophy-summarizer S. Peter Davis (apparently a real person, not a Monty Python character) was doing with his life.

Turns out part of it has been spent defending himself after someone failed to understand satire:

Too Stupid for Satire: How The Media Branded Me as a Racist |

As someone who works in the media and loves satire (and often wishes it could be the other way around), I found this a good cautionary tale. So read it, you *^^&$!


Pink Floyd’s fractured relationship eased by one song?

In my high school guitarist days, I had a book of guitar tabs with famous riffs and solos. I can’t play solos like David Gilmour’s breathtaking run on Comfortably Numb worth squat anymore, but I gained an appreciation for the brilliance behind them.

My six-string noodling and convenient timing — Pink Floyd’s first tour sans Roger Waters passed through the Triangle twice while I was in school — gave me a bit of a bias toward Gilmour’s side in the dispute over all things Floyd. I usually viewed Waters as an egotist who simply sought to bend the rest of the band to his will.

The truth is more complex, of course, and I’ve gained a great appreciation for the yin-yang pulls that are behind some terrific music.

Before reading this piece, I hadn’t thought of Comfortably Numb as the last great meeting point of Gilmour’s melodic sensibilities and Waters’ twisted but heartfelt worldview. But it’s absolutely right.

As a whole, The Wall doesn’t quite stand up as strongly to me — I think it owes a lot of its longevity to another bit of convenient timing, the fall of a real-life Wall in Germany upon which Waters’ metaphor can barely be stretched. The themes are interesting, but Waters had gained too much of the upper hand in his arguments with Gilmour, who was struggling to be heard.

Comfortably Numb, though, is still a standout track. You may hear Another Brick in the Wall more often on rock radio, but it has less to offer beyond a couple of good lyrical and melodic hooks.

This Popdose piece offers several new ways to look at the creative process, from demos before the song’s recording to live versions afterwards. And it shows how Waters and Gilmour have remained united by this brilliant work, to the point of putting aside decades of conflict to perform it together on a couple of occasions.

(I thought the cellist in the 2002 performance looked a bit like Ellie Kemper of The Office. Turns out she’s Caroline Dale, who has had quite a bit of success in both the pop and classical worlds.)

The Life and Times of “Comfortably Numb” | Popdose.