From Gary Webb to James Risen: The struggle for the soul of journalism

Gary Webb In His Own Words 623.jpg

Gary Webb

Andrew O’Hehir  has a nuanced view of ethics in journalism, reflected here in this essay for Salon:

In thinking about the cases of Gary Webb and James Risen, two famous investigative reporters aggressively persecuted for their explosive revelations (in very different situations, and with different results), we are drawn into the thorny question of journalism and its so-called professional ethics. How well do the supposed codes of journalism work, and whom do they serve and protect? Is the primary role of journalism as a social institution to discover the truth as best it can and raise the level of public discourse, or to preserve its own power and prestige and privilege? I don’t claim to know the answers with any certainty. If anything, the stories of Webb and Risen suggest that those questions yield different answers in different contexts.

I’ve been a working journalist for more than 25 years, across the demise of print and the rise of the Internet, and I’ve always viewed the idea of journalism as a profession as, at best, a double-edged sword.

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Brad Pitt on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis”

This has been all over the Internet the last week or so. But, in case you’ve happened to miss it, here it is: Brad Pitt on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.”

This was submitted to me via the Disinfo Contact Page by Disinfonaut, Mr. B. If you ever have news tips, feel free to send them in.

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Einstein’s Gravity Waves Could Be Found with New Method

This illustration depicts the gravitational waves generated by two black holes orbiting each other. Credit: NASA

This illustration depicts the gravitational waves generated by two black holes orbiting each other.
Credit: NASA

via Live Science:

Gravitational waves, invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time, might be detected by looking for the brightening of stars, researchers say.

These mysterious ripples were first proposed by Albert Einstein as part of his theory of general relativity. The waves’ size depends on the mass of the objects creating them.

“Gravitational waves are emitted by accelerating masses,” said lead study author Barry McKernan, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Really big waves are emitted by really big masses, such as systems containing black holes merging with each other. [See images of gravitational waves]

Scientists have still not made direct observations of gravitational waves, although researchers continue to endeavor to detect them using experiments involving lasers on the ground and in space.

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Halloween’s Origin Story

Halloween

For this latest spooky October post, I wanted to cut to the chase. I’ve grown a little bit impatient with the month. So, here’s a nice little primer on the Celtic roots of the Halloween holiday and its evolution through the ages to the seemingly silly, scary celebration we know today.

Do the souls of the dead roam free during this time of the year? Are the ghosts friendly? What should I do as someone who lives on a former plantation just off the Trail of Tears in the South?

This video illuminates the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church in its relationship to the frustrating tradition of Samhain in the weird, old magickal world.

The story ultimately comes home to America where our current holiday finds youngsters and adults embracing both the macabre and the sexy. This piece even gets into the arson-crazed Detroit “Devil’s Night” bombings that I grew up with in the Motor City.… Read the rest

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The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed

By Christopher via Flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)

By Christopher via Flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)

Meet the people who keep graphic and vulgar videos off YouTube and out of your Facebook feed. It’s a thankless task with meager pay.

via Wired:

The campuses of the tech industry are famous for their lavish cafeterias, cushy shuttles, and on-site laundry services. But on a muggy February afternoon, some of these companies’ most important work is being done 7,000 miles away, on the second floor of a former elementary school at the end of a row of auto mechanics’ stalls in Bacoor, a gritty Filipino town 13 miles southwest of Manila. When I climb the building’s narrow stairwell, I need to press against the wall to slide by workers heading down for a smoke break. Up one flight, a drowsy security guard staffs what passes for a front desk: a wooden table in a dark hallway overflowing with file folders.

Past the guard, in a large room packed with workers manning PCs on long tables, I meet Michael Baybayan, an enthusiastic 21-year-old with a jaunty pouf of reddish-brown hair.

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Transhumanism and Scientific Requirements to Hold Political Office

Science-Olympiad-2

via Humanity+ Magazine:

Recently I have written multiple articles about the scientific illiteracy of American politicians. Even members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology display an ignorance of science that should make a high school student blush.

After reading my essays a perceptive reader posed the follow questions: 1) How do we decide if a person holds “unscientific” beliefs? 2) What about someone who denies evolution or specific aspects of modern cosmology? 3) Should there be a science test for this job [member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology]? 4) Could any of the members of the committee pass a realistically broad and deep science exam? To these questions I would like to add my own: 5)How are issues of scientific literacy among politicians relevant to transhumanism? Let me answer each of these questions in turn.

1) How do we decide if a person holds “unscientific” beliefs? In the simplest and most obvious case a person holds unscientific views if they deny a received view of modern science for non-scientific reasons.

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Costumes to Make Zombie Einstein Proud

Thinking about creating a costume relating to Anti-matter, the Holographic Universe, or Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

Well think therefore you are, right here [follow the link to read their descriptions].

Halloween_DarkEnergy

Choose from:

1. Dark Energy

2. Cosmic Inflation

3. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

4. Bad Neutrino

5. Your Favorite Physics Experiment

6. Feynman diagram

7. Antimatter

8. Entangled particles

9. Holographic you(niverse)

10. Your favorite particle

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King of Horror

Stephen King

For this spooky October post I found a little gem on YouTube. It claims to be the first ever television interview with Stephen King and since I couldn’t find an earlier one on the site, I’m gonna take their word for it.

The interview takes place one decade into King’s career after he’s written horror classics like Carrie, The Shining and The Stand. It’s filmed nearly ten years after King’s graduation from the University of Maine Orono and is produced by the school’s public access channel.

I’m not a big fan of King’s books, but I’m a big fan of King and his spectral success story and his crazy work ethic. However, the scariest thing here might be the ancient computer that he was producing those early bestsellers on…shudder…

Stay Awake!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I archive all of the videos I curate at Insomnia.… Read the rest

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