Saturday, November 23, 2002

"Balance" is a fetish in news reportage circles -- the idea that both sides of a story must be equally described. In reality, it's a chimera -- one side always gets more airtime, or is otherwise favoured. You pick a moderate on one side, and an extremist on the other, assert that it's a balanced debate -- and you've just shifted the centre ground towards the second faction's territory.

Much has been written recently about the growing disconnect between American and European attitudes on world affairs. Science fiction author Charles Stross has a particularly interesting take on the phenomenon, which he has titled The Manufacture of Dissent. Stross feels that attitudes, for better or worse, are being shaped by biases both hidden and unhidden in the media on both sides of the Atlantic. I can't help but think that he's on to something here. I don't know much about European media (Stross is from Scotland), but I see this kind of thing very definitely playing out here in the United States, where commonplace belief now holds that our news media is relentlessly biased toward the liberal end of the political spectrum, despite all manner of evidence to the contrary.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

This image, of a distant galaxy, confirms that at the center of this galaxy two black holes are on a collision course.

I love astronomy and cosmology for many reasons, not the least of which is the way they regularly provide things to which the only appropriate reaction is a Keanu-like "Whoa...."

Monday, November 18, 2002

OK, it's Monday and time to start dividing The Brothers Karamazov into smaller, bite-size bits, so I thought I'd put up a new post for the responding. Should we start with, say, Book I by next Monday? Some of the Books seem to be longer than others, so the longer ones might take longer than a week, but Book I appears fairly short by comparison to the remainder.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

You never know what's going to turn up on Ebay. I don't know whether the fact of this auction is troubling in itself, or if it's the fact that the seller has classified it under "Home and Garden: Major Appliances".

And in a similar vein, what happens with Cathlics drive too fast. Ouch. (The person from whom I got this link is a Catholic, and she thought it was hilarious....)