Raj, Bohemian

March 31, 2010

Seen via JWZ: this story, called "Raj, Bohemian".

"Is someone paying you to say that stuff?"

She giggled. "Sorry, babe, it just pops out sometimes. I didn’t mean to pitch you. I’m supposed only to do it to my girlfriends."


"Ignore me. You know how hard it is to keep track of one’s placements."


"Placements. Why are you making that face? You’re looking at me like I’m some kind of freak."

"You have a lot of — placements?"

"Oh, don’t get on your high horse. You don’t work, either. What do you do for cash? If a girl doesn’t want a straight job, she has to monetize her social network."

This sounds a little reminiscent of a piece that aired once on Wemmick’s Temporary Sanity (beware: aggressive ads that got spidered by archive.org; you’re gonna need to stop your browser from completely loading the page).

After kissing the wife and kids, I headed off to work. Ninety percent of the population now shares my job, but I can proudly say I was one of the first viewers. Viewers are people who are paid to watch enormous video walls that run commercials all day long. We are allowed to eat, work out, and even play games while we watch, but we must pass a comprehension test before we are allowed to leave at the end of the day.

Is this a real problem as we move into the post-scarcity economy? I’m not sure.

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Obama and FOIA requests

March 31, 2010

Seen on Slashdot: an article claiming that the Obama administration withholds more FOIA requests than the previous administration.

Agencies under the Obama administration cite security provisions to withhold information more often than they did under the Bush administration. For example, the ‘deliberative process’ exemption of the Freedom of Information Act was used 70,779 times in 2009, up from the 47,395 of 2008.

But I’m extremely grateful to an anonymous commentator, who writes:

Misleading framing of numbers. Go get more informative numbers from here [sunshineingovernment.org]. In 2008 56% of requests were granted. In 2009 61% of requests were granted. 2009 also worked to clear up the request backlog. It is a move in the right direction and as others have pointed out Bush was still in charge for part of FY 2009, so he might have skewed the numbers for the year.

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Study finds that 55 percent of newspaper stories are placed

March 31, 2010

Via Suzanne, an article on Boing Boing about journalism as we know it.

A study in Australia found that more than half of stories in mainstream newspapers were fed to them by PR entities: "Many journalists and editors were defensive … Most refused to respond, others who initially granted an interview then asked for their comments to be withdrawn out of fear they’d be reprimanded, or worse, fired."

Regardless of whether this was an effect of the Internet, or whether newspapers have been dead for a long time, this sure does have an impact on the idea that the blogosphere cannot replace quality investigative journalism. What’s there to replace?

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