Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Regarding the New York Times Readers Center

To: Clifford Levy
CC: A. G. Sulzberger

Cliff,

I have been a loyal New York Times reader for more than 45 years. I had two newspaper routes in Cleveland as a boy, one for a morning paper and one evening, and the first and most important thing I bought with that money was the Times on Sunday and Tuesday.

I am troubled by the description of the Readers Center position here:

http://www.nytco.com/introducing-the-reader-center/

In particular the following line.

“Collaborating with our marketing department to showcase the value of Times journalism.”

The job of the Public Editor as I am I think most readers have understood it, was to be an advocate for the Readers and to publicly take the Times editors and management to task when they screwed up, to put it plainly.

The job of the Readers editor would seem to be the opposite of that, going by the posted description.

Having the new Readers Center working with marketing is crossing a red line in journalism which should never be crossed.

I should not have to remind you, but the present circumstances indicate the necessity of so doing:

Journalists should:

– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.

– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

The Public Editor position went a long way to restoring trust and the Times brand inflicted by inaccurate reporting and lack of editorial responsibility and oversight inflicted by, particularly, the false reporting in the run-up to the Iraq War, and it wasn’t just Judy Miller, though you sacrificed her, not undeservedly perhaps, and Jayson Blair.

Firing the Public Editor and then hiring a new “Readers Center” with the same brief, except for responsibility to represent the views of advertisers rather than those of readers, is a terrible idea in every way, moral, ethical, journalistic, and inflicts incalculable damage already on the Time’s already damaged reputation. The excuse that firing the Public Editor and eliminating that position was a cost-cutting measure seems untenable given that a new role, with a similar brief, was immediately established. With the critical and all-important distinction noted above. Going from being responsible for the insuring the journalistic integrity of the Times to overtly and self-admittedly being a shill and a mouthpiece for upper management and advertisers.

These are self-inflicted wounds, folks, what are you doing? Are you shorting the stock and hoping to make the Times fail? Or is this simply another unforced error committed for no conceivable good reason?

sincerely,

Henry Edward Hardy
former Senior Systems Administrator
Tufts University*

* institutional affiliation for identification purposes only

blog: https://scanlyze.org

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, need more information, or wish to discuss the issue further.

scanlyze1

4 July, 2017 Posted by | ethics, journalism, New York Times, news, newspapers, Readers Center, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This! IS! THEMISCIRA!!!

Spoilers ahead.

I enjoyed Wonder Woman. I found it rather predictable and it is a linear story with a for-ordained conclusion.

However, there were a few averted tropes there. WW’s mother turns out to be a reasonable authority figure who understands that her daughter must go to “man’s world” to stop the scourge of war brought upon mankind by Ares. However, true to the original story, she then tells Diana she can never return if she leaves. Curiously, when she ponders sending all the Amazons, one of the reasons she mentions for not doing this isn’t “and we could never return.” Since Diana is not disobeying her mother’s commands by leaving, then exactly what is she banished for?

Cinematographicly, Wonder Woman has a lot in common with another feminist folktale, Fury Road. The oversaturated orange and blue coloration, and the persistent use of over and under-cranking the speed of action shots is characteristic of both movies, and seldom seen elsewhere. Similarly in the action scenes it was much like an estrogen-powered version of 300.

Finally, although shifted to WWI, it is difficult to overlook the many similarities of Wonder Woman with the first Captain America movie. Supersoldier/demigodess and fish out of water in a red, white and blue uniform fights a German Big Bad whose sidekick is a renegade German scientist with a severe facial disfigurement in the midst of a World War.

The movie is carried by deft writing which neither quite falls over into camp nor takes itself too seriously. There is some real romantic tension between WW and her companion/love interest/designated rescuee, Steve Trevor, enough to make his Captain-America-like ultimate fate really sad and distressing.

Overall, a quickly passing and pleasant diversion, and fun to see in the theater and share the laughs with the audience.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

24 June, 2017 Posted by | movie, review, scanlyze, Wonder Woman | , , , | Leave a comment

Thor Ragnarok Teaser Trailer Looks like Big Fun

I am looking forward to Thor: Ragnarok.

It seems the new Marvel/Disney superhero/sufficiently advanced aliens/gods vrs demons movie will combine several of the all-time fan-favorite moments from the Marvel comics universe. Plus we get to see Goth!Cate as the Norse Goddess of Death Hela show us what Galadriel would have perhaps been like if she took the One Ring from Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.

First, we see Planet Hulk–Sakaar. In the comics that arena fight was between Hulk and the Silver Surfer. In the animated Planet Hulk, due to rights issues, the antagonist role to Hulk was represented by Thor’s horse-headed alien buddy and fellow former Mjolnir wielder Beta Ray Bill. Now Thor himself steps up and that has to be epic.

Seems they have also tried to add more levity like Guardians of the Galaxy and probably that helps the Avengers and Guardians franchises not to have a sudden change of tone and stylistic discontinuity when they eventually come together for Infinity War.

Second, I see Skurge the Executioner with his signature weapon “Bloodaxe” and dual-wielding M-16’s. That implies we may see Skurge’s great Last Stand/They Shall Not Pass of “He stood alone at Gjallerbru.”

Third, the arc of Ragnarok in the myths and in the comics is of course archetypal and we may see Surt, the Frost giants, and presumably the great wolf Fenrir and World Serpent Jormangund. Unless something happens to disrupt the attack and it becomes “Apocalypse Later.”

And fourth, Cate Blanchett looks great in black.

A few open questions.

Why is Odin on earth looking like a bum?

What role is played by Dr. Strange?

Will we see the Enchantress or her sister Amora? Perhaps amalgamated into one character?

What role will be played by the Warriors Three? In the comics they are important mediating characters like the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings. Folks who are more close to a power level comparable to mortal humans rather than gods and cosmic powers.

It is a great cast and everyone seems to be having fun.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

12 April, 2017 Posted by | Disney, movie, Ragnarok, scanlyze, Thor | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Liberals are unconsciously mirroring and enabling Trumps arbitrary skepticism of the media

I’m seeing a lot of my friends who think they are critical thinking intellectuals and think they oppose Trump, falling victim to imitating his tropes and memes.

Let’s take, “You can’t trust the mainstream media.”

I’ve been a thorn in the side of the New York Times and Guardian for decades now. I guess my high point as a loyal opposition came when the then-current editor of the NY Times, Bill Keller, called me on the phone because Art Sulzberger told him to and I got to tell him for three hours what I thought was wrong with the Times and how to restore it to its former greatness of the 1970’s.

It is fine and good to criticize wrong facts. To criticize the framing of a story. False equivalence. Errors in logic. Lack of historical perspective. Acting as stenographers for State and Defense. Paid content. Trivial articles pandering to the rich and privileged. Ridiculous reasons offered for anonymizing sources. Crappy clickbaitish “reviews” of video games which would never pass muster for books, movies or even TV reviews. Lots to talk about and speak to them about.

But what I am seeing now from a fair number of very smart friends who think they are critical thinking intellectuals and think they are opposing Trump is quite concerning.

“You can’t trust the mass media,” which is Trump’s trope, is spreading far and wide. This is the opposite of critical thinking. It is ad hominem argument.

Having so to speak thrown out the baby with the bath water, and arbitrarily rejecting information from the most trusted and reliable news sources, I see many of these folks posting memes and factoids because they agree with them. Many of these are either obviously false on their face from my perspective or have obvious errors in logic or framing and attribution, or lack thereof.

Okay so far not so bad, we all get fooled by trollish disinformation from time to time. Confirmation bias is rife. When I post false/wrong information and I learn otherwise, I acknowledge my error and correct it. If it is egregious, I remove it.

The problem I am seeing is folks who, when given evidence that their post is false, refuse to correct or remove it.

“I didn’t write it.”
“I never said it was true”
“People will be able to tell it is false.”
“I don’t care I like the meme.”
“I think it’s funny.”

No, no, no, no, and no.

This is the opposite of critical thinking. It is “I say it once, I say it twice, what I say three times is true.” It is Trump’s rhetorical answer to facts and logic. Blocking rational thought with solipsism and arbitrary skepticism without a reasonable critique of the facts presented in refutation, ignoring logic and reason because the other fellow is bad. Ad hominem argument. Or they challenge you to disprove their belief. Another fallacy, argumentum ad ignoratiam.

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.

–Karl Rove, Republican operative

Is that what its come to? The Nazi Big Lie technique normalized and contextualized for all Americans now

1984 knocking at your door.

scanlyze1

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

1 March, 2017 Posted by | ad hominem, argumentum ad ignoratiam, disinformation, Nazi, news, Newspeak, politics, scanlyze, solipcism, Trump | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rogue One Rocks!

Okay, anyone who reads this blog, which is admittedly a very small number, knows how much I disliked The Force Awakens, which I called a snide parody of Star Wars.

What follows is a reaction piece and not a proper review.

SPOILERS BELOW

I liked Rogue One very much better than The Force Awakens. It did not suffer the glaring continuity problems of FA. The legacy characters were not prominent enough to raise questions of motivation and continuity as with Han and Leia. I laughed, I cried, I twisted my beard in suspense. I did not facepalm. All unlike FA.

Great special effects, of course. Tons of easter eggs for the fans, with not only many call-forwards to Star Wars (which I refuse to retrocall to ‘A New Hope’) but also a few nice callbacks to Rebels and The Clone Wars animated series. And for aficionados of the Old Republic games and books, there was the heroic role played by the 4,000-year-old design of the hammerhead corvette.

So now to some things I found problematic.

The story is essentially a coming of age story for the protagonist, Jyn Erso. Her name is suggestive of Jan Ors, the Rebel agent in the game Dark Forces. The black clad Death Troopers seem to owe their design to Dark Forces also, but this is due to them both being based on Ralph McQuarrie’s designs for the original Star Wars.

I didn’t feel like they sold the relationship between Jyn and Saw Guerrera. He was a cipher. How did he come from Onderon to Jedha? Why was he huffing on that tube like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet? We don’t find out. And his and Jyn’s reactions to one another seems flat and unconvincing. Very underplayed by the actors. And why, having found him at last, does Jyn just leave him there to die? They could probably throw him in a Bacta tank and fix him up. Or at least get him a better respirator.

Also what’s Jedha? Could they not use Ilum, or Ossus, or Tython, or Dantooine, or Utapau, or some other place where kyber crystals came from the old expanded universe continuity? And why make a demonstration of destroying their own facility and kyber crystal mines?  Missed opportunity there.

The whole thing for the Sith of ‘only two they are’ and ‘the last of the Jedi will you be’ are such straightjackets they should just be decannonized or treated as inaccurate or things which are true ‘from a certain point of view.’

Here we have a blind guy who uses the force to see, Chirrut Îmwe. He fights hand-to-hand better than Obi-Wan or Anakin, and has mad aiming skills and never misses and always crits with his bowcaster. But he’s ‘not a Jedi’ he’s a Guardian of the Whylls. Another mythology gag for the fans btw.

I heard a page at the Rebel Base, Massassi Temple (an old Sith temple, btw) on Yavin IV, for “General Syndulla.” And there was a ship which looked like the Ghost in the Rebel fleet. This raises hopes that maybe someday the Ghost crew from Rebels will cross over into the live action continuity. However, Disney seems to have an aversion for Ahsoka Tano’s character and essentially ordered her killed off in Rebels. Though Filoni and company more like put her on the bus. Ahsoka is so not a Disney princess. She’s austere in her adult appearance, she never needs rescuing even as Anakin’s padewan, and she has no Prince Charming, she is very much a loner. In many ways the good counterpart of Darth Vader as his former apprentice who experienced much of what he did, but came to a different conclusion. But since Rebels spent a season establishing that she was one of the founders of the rebellion along with Bail Organa, it would be weird for her to fall out of continuity in the movies. Of course where was she in Episodes 3-7?

I thought it was odd that the Rebellion fleet commander was a Mon Calamari, but not Admiral Ackbar, but some other dude. I mean, when they found out the planetary shield was up, he could have shouted, “it’s a trap!” which would have got a big laugh.

Anyway, thank goodness the Rebellion *had* a fleet, and not just a few wings of fighters as is ridiculously in FA.

I was okay with the “everybody died” theme, it is canon that many good people died to get us this information. That’s so very not Disney, except for the Disney offscreen deaths for a few of the more marketable characters who might be called back.

Anyway, Rogue One is very enjoyable. It looks and feels like a Star Wars movie, *the* Star Wars movie, and that can only be a good thing.

Five stars. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

18 December, 2016 Posted by | Rogue One, scanlyze | , , , , | Leave a comment