The Atlantic Confirms It: We Are Living In A Kakistocracy

By Dartagnan : theatlantic – excerpt

I can speak from firsthand knowledge that living through 11 presidencies of varying degrees of competence (and the occasional scandal or criminality) gives you some perspective on what we are experiencing today. Norman Ornstein, political scientist and resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has lived through 13 of them. What he sees with the Trump Administration is something so unique it needs a special word to describe it, a word that has been out of popular usage for nearly two centuries. The word is “kakistocracy.”
kakistocracy (English pronunciation: /kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi/) is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. … It was also used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant usage in the 21st century…(more)

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Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?

By : nymag – excerpt

The author lays out his perception of Zuckerberg’s quest to discover exactly who is a part of the community he developed and what the company’s responsibility is to that community. A possibly good read on the morning after the largest single mass killing in America’s history.

The same company that gives you birthday reminders also helped ensure the integrity of the German elections.

Mark Zuckerberg had just returned from paternity leave, and he wanted to talk about Facebook, democracy, and elections and to define what he felt his creation owed the world in exchange for its hegemony. A few weeks earlier, in early September, the company’s chief security officer had admitted that Facebook had sold $100,000 worth of ads on its platform to Russian-government-linked trolls who intended to influence the American political process. Now, in a statement broadcast live on Facebook on September 21 and subsequently posted to his profile page, Zuckerberg pledged to increase the resources of Facebook’s security and election-integrity teams and to work “proactively to strengthen the democratic process.”

To effect this, he outlined specific steps to “make political advertising more transparent.” Facebook will soon require that all political ads disclose “which page” paid for them (“I’m Epic Fail Memes, and I approve this message”) and ensure that every ad a given advertiser runs is accessible to anyone, essentially ending the practice of “dark advertising” — promoted posts that are only ever seen by the specific groups at which they’re targeted. Zuckerberg, in his statement, compared this development favorably to old media, like radio and television, which already require political ads to reveal their funders: “We’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” he writes… (more)

That Chicken From Whole Foods Isn’t So Special Anymore

By Deena Shanker and Polly Mosendz : .bloomberg – excerpt

Big poultry and meat producers have absorbed many of the organic grocer’s practices—and become its suppliers.

Whole Foods Market Inc. doesn’t just sell chickens. It sells shoppers on the idea of chickens raised and treated better than prevailing standards: no antibiotics, no hormones, no cages. Not the sort of chicken you can get anywhere.

But thanks in no small part to a food-quality revolution that Whole Foods helped cultivate over the past decade, standards for much of the poultry sold at American supermarkets are shifting. The gulf has narrowed—and sometimes has even closed—between what’s sold at Whole Foods and what’s produced by industrial food giants such as Perdue Farms Inc. and sold at lower-cost supermarkets… (more)

Politics of Food. Happy to bring some good news on the food front for people who can’t afford high-priced health foods. Competitors are bringing down prices while meeting the growing demand for healthy food. Now all we need is for the wise politicians  in Washington who understand the need for seasonal workers to get the ban on those workers lifted so the farmers can continue to produce the domestic fo

od we need to feed our country.

RELATED:
With Fewer Available H-2B Visas, Employers Struggle To Find Seasonal Workers 
North Coast growers head into grape harvest with labor shortage as their top concern

 

 

The New Yuppies

By J.C. Pan : newrepublic – excerpt

How the aspirational class expresses its status in an age of inequality.

The term “yuppie” now feels so dated that it occasionally seems an entire social class has vanished. If the suit-wearing Patrick Batemans of the 1980s no longer embody affluence, what has come to replace them? “Hipster” reigned, briefly, as the label of choice for certain irritating would-be members of the bourgeoisie. But while hipsters were, like the yuppies before them, young and urban-dwelling, they weren’t exactly professional. Often rumored to be living off their trust funds, they spent their time as layabout musicians or bike messengers, milling in coffee shops and craft cocktail bars. Yuppies, on the other hand, were seasoned careerists who owned yachts and luxury SUVs and talked in public about their stock portfolios. Yuppiedom described a specific oily demeanor and pattern of consumption as much as it implied affluence…(more).

When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism

 

By Franklin Foer : theatlantic –  excerpt

The pursuit of digital readership broke the New Republic—and an entire industry.

Chris Hughes was a mythical savior—boyishly innocent, fantastically rich, intellectually curious, unexpectedly humble, and proudly idealistic.

My entire career at the New Republic had been spent dreaming of such a benefactor. For years, my colleagues and I had sputtered our way through the internet era, drifting from one ownership group to the next, each eager to save the magazine and its historic mission as the intellectual organ for hard-nosed liberalism. But these investors either lacked the resources to invest in our future or didn’t have quite enough faith to fully commit. The unending search for patronage exhausted me, and in 2010, I resigned as editor…

Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience—and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue… (more)

A completely different view of the world, based on future expectations of where technology will take us, is unveiled as a major funding partner of Facebook pours his wealth into The New Republic. Having been interviewed by The Atlantic, I can speak from experience on how that movement feels. Both extremes, living in the past and living in the future are not getting most of us anywhere other than longing for a clear presence in the presence that is lacking in both.

 

 

 

How Fossil Fuel Money Made Climate Change Denial the Word of God

Brendan O’Connor : splinternews – excerpt

In 2005, at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the National Association of Evangelicals was on the verge of doing something novel: affirming science. Specifically, the 30-million-member group, which represents 51 Christian denominations, was debating how to advance a new platform called “For the Health of a Nation.” The position paper—written the year before An Inconvenient Truth kick-started sense of public urgency around climate change—included a call for evangelicals to protect God’s creation, and to embrace the government’s help in doing so. The NAE’s board had already adopted it unanimously before presenting it to the membership for debate.

At the time, many in the evangelical movement were uncomfortable with its close ties to the Republican anti-environmental regulation agenda. That year, a group called the Evangelical Alliance of Scientists and Ethicists protested the GOP-led effort to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, and the NAE’s vice president of governmental affairs Richard Cizik pushed for the organization to endorse John McCain and Joe Lieberman’s cap-and-trade bill. “For the Health of a Nation,” which Cizik also pushed, was an opportunity to draw a bright line between their support of right-wing social positions on abortion and civil rights and a growing sentiment that God’s creation needed protection from industry.

“Evangelicals don’t want themselves identified as the Republican Party at prayer,” the historian and evangelical Mark Knoll said at the time in support of the platform.

He was wrong. The rank-and-file membership rejected the effort. Like the oil and utilities industries, they decided that recognizing climate change was against their political interests…

Conservative groups, funded by fossil fuel magnates, spend approximately one billion dollars every year interfering with public understanding of what is actually happening to our world.

For his trouble, Cizik was targeted by a collection of hard right Christians, who petitioned the NAE board to muzzle him or force him to resign. “Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children,” their letter read. It also implied that Cizik, who had worked for the NAE for nearly three decades, supported abortion, giving condoms to children, and infanticide…. (more)

Very interesting stories about media and how it is changing and being used to influence politics. This site is all about media and the arts, and this mornings two stories show the wide range of ideas that are being pumped out to society from the new media sources. Both extremes are backed by large corporate funders backing very different agendas.