Linkdump for December 27th through January 8th

Sometime between December 27th and January 8th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Why So Many Men Hate the Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why: SPOILERS: "I don’t think every human who disliked The Last Jedi is an evil, evil misogynist. I do think that we have so deeply internalized sexist narrative tropes that we see them as 'correct' and 'good filmmaking' while seeing their absence as 'flaws.'"
  • My Hero, Luke Skywalker: SPOILERS: “It is a beautiful fantasy and, I thought, a particularly resonant message for the anxious and depressed about what you can be capable of, the kind of peace you may be able to find if you dig down deep enough and push yourself emotionally.”
  • Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read: "Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again."
  • List: Alternatives to Platonic Love: "Newtonian Love – There’s a strong attraction between your bodies."
  • This is not going to go the way you think: The Last Jedi and the necessary disappointment of epilogues: SPOILERS: “Happy endings are always undone because ‘endings’ don’t really exist. Time doesn’t stop when you want it to. Your ‘destiny’ can and will be slowly eroded away by the many small, cumulative abrasions of life that inevitably follow after you achieve it. This is real, and it’s disillusioning, and it can fill you with righteous anger at the unjustness of it all.”

A Real First-Class News Experience

From Business Class: Freemium for News?:

I had a perspective changing talk on the subject of pay walls with the chief executive of a big publishing company…. He asked me what I think about pay walls. I told him what I always say: The main currency of news sites is attention and not dollars and that I believe that it is his job, as a publisher, to turn that attention into money to keep the attention machine running. He nodded and made the following, astonishing statement:

I can’t see pay walls working out either. But we need to do something before we lose all of our current subscribers. Sure. It’s a tough business environment, but… But the flight industry is a tough environment too, and they found ways. So tell me: Why do people fly Business Class? In the end, an airplane brings me to the same place regardless of whether I fly Economy or Business Class and the massive price-increase I pay doesn’t compare the difference in value.

People pay for Business Class because they don’t want to be tortured in Economy. They get faster lanes at the terror check. They get an extra glass of champagne. The stewards are more attentive. They get off the plane more quickly. They get the feeling of a higher social status.

He asked whether I knew of a way to apply this logic to online news. What would a Business Class news site look like?

Good stuff here. Since moving to Ellensburg, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of online access to local news. The one local paper is the Ellensburg Daily Record, which only posts a (very) limited number of stories on its website. If you want access to the full paper without subscribing to the dead-tree edition, they offer $5/month access to the full edition. However, from what I can tell, it’s presented in a specialized, locked-down format similar to a fancy .pdf file, through the Active Paper Daily service.

Now, I’m not a die-hard “information wants to be free” crusader, and I really don’t have a problem with paying a reasonable fee for media that I’m interested in. However, I do want to be able to use the information that I pay for, and a specialized browser system like Active Paper, which presents an “exact replica of [the] print edition”, which forces me to “browse through the pages just as if [I] had the newspaper in [my] hands”, is not something I’m willing to pay for. Give me text on a webpage, RSS feeds for my newsreader…information I can use, not something that locks it away.

If the Daily Record (along with many other news sites) were to move to the “Business Class” idea as proposed in the linked article, I’d find a subscription fee for access to a better-presented, ad-free (or ad-light) version of the site entirely reasonable. Let them slap as many ads as they want on the free version of the site, break their stories into as many pages as they want to increase click counts and ad impressions for the free readers, but give me the ability to subscribe to a premium version without all the crap. That’s a model for news sites I’d love to see gain traction.

Troubled

Prairie and I were watching a movie last night, and so we missed the announcement of the Big News. After the movie, as I scrolled through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, I got more and more disturbed. Not surprised, really…but I just wasn’t comfortable with most of what I was seeing people post (and was outright offended by some of it, particularly the picture going around of the Statue of Liberty holding Osama’s bloody head high…that’s uncool on so many levels, I’m a little embarrassed to see it popping up multiple times in my friend lists).

I just want to take a moment to call out three friends (one of whom I’ve never even met in person) for making posts more in line with my own feelings on the matter.

Never was a person to celebrate another person’s death. No matter how heinous they are, that is still a life.

Kirsten

OK, here are my feelings on the whole Bin Laden thing: I’m not comfortable, ethically, with celebrating any death (no matter who died, or how symbolically/politically loaded it was), but I don’t feel sorry that he died, and I hope it gives some people a sense of justice or closure. I do think that cheering someone’s (anyone’s) murder is really, really low and uncool. Just sayin’.

Lori

So, Osama’s dead. Given the man was responsible for thousands’ death, and the life-changing misery of their loved ones, there’s no question I feel justice was done, albeit at 10 freaking years’ remove. But — solely in my opinion, mind you — the proper reaction to such for an average American is not to break out Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.” A grim smile at justice performed, and then moving on with one’s life.

Mike

Thanks to the three of you (and anyone else with similar sentiments that I may not have seen) for helping confirm that I’m not alone in my reaction to the news.

New Research

Today, the Seattle PI’s Big Blog linked to an MSNBC story about how swearing can apparently help lessen how much pain is felt.

…the researchers had thought that swearing would make the cold water feel much colder, lowering the participants’ tolerance for pain and heightening their perception of it. “In fact, the opposite occurred — people withstood a moderately to strongly painful stimulus for significantly longer if they repeated a swear word rather than a nonswear word,” write the team….

What caught my eye was the opening paragraph of the MSNBC story’s description of this as “new research” — I was sure that I’d heard this before. A quick search of the website of the Neuroreport journal where the study was published quickly finds the study…and reveals that it was published in August 2009.

Admittedly, this is just a bit of a fluff piece on a slow news day. But really. Since when is research almost two years old “new”? It may well be the most current research on the subject, but new? That seems a bit of an overstatement.

The P-I is dead. Long live the P-I!

The writing’s been on the wall for some time now, but it’s just been made official: tomorrow’s print run of the Seattle P-I will be its last. I’m going to want to pick up a copy somewhere.

For me, first notification of the official announcement came via @moniguzman on Twitter: “Publisher Roger Oglesby just announced in the P-I newsroom: Tomorrow will be our last print edition, but seattlepi.com will live on.”

A “breaking news” banner went up on the P-I’s website about the same time, but now there’s an official story.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will roll off the presses for the last time Tuesday, ending a 146-year run.

The Hearst Corp. announced Monday that it would stop publishing the newspaper, Seattle’s oldest business, and cease delivery to more than 117,600 weekday readers.

The company, however, said it will maintain seattlepi.com, making it the nation’s largest daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product.

“Tonight we’ll be putting the paper to bed for the last time,” Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby told a silent newsroom Monday morning. “But the bloodline will live on.”

In a news release, Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. said, “Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region.”

I’m sad to see the P-I go — of the two local papers, I always liked the feel of the P-I better than the Seattle Times. It’s a little hard for me to quantify just why (though I’m sure those who follow the media more closely than I would be able to make some educated guesses), they just more often seemed to be my paper of choice.

Best wishes to all at the P-I who are being affected by this, and best of luck to the P-I’s online-only incarnation.

Mixed Messages

So…would this be an irony FAIL or irony WIN?

16 arrested in fight at nonviolence concert: Montgomery County police say 16 people were arrested after a fight broke out during a concert held to promote nonviolence and to remember a Silver Spring teen killed last year. […] Police say fighting broke out near the stage toward the end of the concert and at least one person resisted arrest. Police say 16 adults and juveniles were arrested for offenses such as assault and disorderly conduct.

Seattle PI Getting Sued

This [isn’t much of a surprise][1]:

[1]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/389249_cranesuit25.html?source=rss “Seattle PI: Operator of crane involved in fatal accident sues the P-I”

> An operator involved in a deadly Bellevue crane collapse has sued the Seattle P-I, saying the paper defamed him by printing details of his criminal history.
>
> Warren Yeakey, the 36-year- old operator who was injured in the November 2006 collapse, filed the defamation suit in Pierce County Superior Court earlier this month. In court documents, Yeakey says the paper wrongly intimated that his arrests and convictions somehow contributed to the collapse.
>
> “He felt like he was vilified falsely,” said Matt Renda, a Tacoma attorney representing Yeakey. The story, Renda added, “created an incorrect or false implication that operator error … was a contributing factor to the downing of the crane and the death of (Matthew) Ammond,” a Microsoft Corp. patent lawyer who was killed in the collapse.

I knew at the time of the collapse that the reporting of the accident [was not the PI’s finest hour][2].

[2]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2007/02/12/wanted-one-apology-from-the-seattle-pi/ “eclecticism: Wanted: One Apology from the Seattle PI”

> …when a crane collapsed in Bellevue last November, I was disgusted by the PI’s response: an immediate [front-page article][3] digging up and detailing five-year-old accounts of the past drug use of the poor guy operating the crane that day. As if this guy’s day wasn’t bad enough — he goes to work, climbs to the top of a tower crane, and then _rides the thing down_ as it collapses into nearby apartment buildings — he then has to endure the ingominy and public humiliation of having his past transgressions dug up, splashed across the front page of the newspaper, and implicitly blamed as the cause of the accident. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t had a drug conviction in five years, nor that his employer required drug tests that he had reliably passed, nor that there was no indication of drug use at the time of the accident. What mattered was that he was guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!

[3]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/292891_crane18.html “Seattle PI: Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse”

I wonder if the PI would be getting sued if they’d printed some form of apology or retraction at the time?

Wanted: One Apology from the Seattle PI

Generally speaking, I tend to like the [Seattle PI][1] better than the [Seattle Times][2]. However, when a crane collapsed in Bellevue last November, I was disgusted by the PI’s response: an immediate [front-page article][3] digging up and detailing five-year-old accounts of the past drug use of the poor guy operating the crane that day. As if this guy’s day wasn’t bad enough — he goes to work, climbs to the top of a tower crane, and then _rides the thing down_ as it collapses into nearby apartment buildings — he then has to endure the ingominy and public humiliation of having his past transgressions dug up, splashed across the front page of the newspaper, and implicitly blamed as the cause of the accident. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t had a drug conviction in five years, nor that his employer required drug tests that he had reliably passed, nor that there was no indication of drug use at the time of the accident. What mattered was that he was [guilty][4]! [Guilty, guilty, guilty][5]!

[1]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/ “Seattle PI”
[2]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ “Seattle Times”
[3]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/292891_crane18.html “Seattle PI: Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse”
[4]: http://www.amazon.com/Guilty-Doonesbury-book/dp/0030125111/sr=1-2/qid=1171324449/ref=sr_1_2/103-8161346-4433455?ie=UTF8&s=books “Amazon: Doonesbury: Guilty, guilty, guilty!”
[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doonesbury#Milestones “Wikipedia: Doonesbury: Milestones (see bullet point number two…)”

This morning, the PI reported on the [official determination of the cause of the crane’s collapse][6]:

[6]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/303206_crane10.html?source=rss “Seattle PI: Crane base blamed in collapse”

> A poorly designed foundation was the primary cause of the tower crane collapse in Bellevue, a deadly construction accident that spurred state lawmakers Friday to introduce crane-safety bills that would rank among the toughest in the nation.
>
> A three-month investigation into the crash by the Department of Labor and Industries has found that the crane’s steel foundation failed, and that the 210-foot-high structure would not have toppled if it had been bolted into concrete like most other tower cranes, sources close to the investigation told the Seattle P-I.

I, along with [more than a few][7] [other people][8], feel quite strongly that the PI owes the crane operator an apology. Easy as it may have been to do, their public vilification of the crane operator — based on nothing more than sensationalistic items in his past, not through any verifiable current information — was a slimy, sleazy way to grab eyeballs and sell papers at the expense of his reputation. Trial and conviction should be handled in the courts, not in the headlines.

[7]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/soundoff/comment.asp?articleID=303206 “Seattle PI: Comments on ‘Crane base blamed in collapse'”
[8]: http://seattle.metblogs.com/archives/2007/02/crane_collapse_1.phtml “Metroblogging Seattle: crane collapse: crane base turns into scape goat”