Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'rant'

Understanding the Agency

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Aug 02, 2013 @ 11:26 am PST

userpic=cardboard-safeA number of articles this week have gotten me thinking more about the NSA. I decided to write up my thoughts over lunch. There have been all the reports of Gen. Alexander’s speech at Blackhat, and the audience reaction thereto. Then there was this report of a woman who searched on pressure cookers, while her husband searched on backpacks, and they then got a bunch of government visitors. All of this has the various folks who were already suspicious of “the government” even more up in arms.

Now, I’m not denying there are problems. There is clearly a different between what is legal and what is right, and there are moves afoot to correct the imbalance that has existed since the overreaction to 9/11. That said, there is also clearly a misunderstanding of the NSA and the basic reason this is legal at all.

Let’s start by looking at the differences between agencies. The FBI is focused on law enforcement within the US. The CIA gathers intelligence on foreign soil. The NSA, which is an arm of the Department of Defense, was originally created to focus on signals intelligence for the DOD. It has later branched into electronic intelligence and security, including computer security. The NSA, just like the DOD, is limited by law regarding what actions it can take towards US citizens. Just like the DOD cannot conduct military actions within the US, the NSA cannot monitor the signals between two US citizens.

Next, let’s look at the Constitution. To whom does it apply? The answer is US citizens. Non-citizen — that is, foreign nationals — do not have constitutional protections. Unless other laws have extended protections, they are not protected from search and seizure. If you think about it, the reason is clear — you are dealing with someone who has allegiance to a different country, and so the presumption is that they will work in the interest of that country over that of the US. A lot of people seem to think there should be protections for everyone, but that is not how the law is written. As any game player knows, if something isn’t prohibited in the rules, someone will figure out a way to abuse it.

Put these two factors together, and you have the area in which NSA was working: doing legal investigations in support of monitoring of foreign nationals, and communications to foreign countries. We can — and should — debate how much protection a foreign national in the US should have, or how much a US citizen’s interaction with a foreign national should be protected. Attitudes regarding that question change over time, and technology has pushed the issue even more. But this is also something that most people in the US do not understand. Look closely at what Gen. Alexander said. He kept emphasizing that there was foreign involvement in all the monitoring NSA did. That’s the “F” in the FISA court – Foreign Intelligence.

This bothers some people, including groups such as the ACLU. An article in Boing Boing highlights this way of thinking when it quotes the ACLU’s thoughts on how NSA views “targeted”:

Americans need not worry about the program, the government says, because the NSA’s surveillance activities are “targeted” not at Americans but at foreigners outside the United States. No one should be reassured by this. The government’s foreign targets aren’t necessarily criminals or terrorists—they may be journalists, lawyers, academics, or human rights advocates. And even if one is indifferent to the NSA’s invasion of foreigners’ privacy, the surveillance of those foreigners involves the acquisition of Americans’ communications with those foreigners.

First, note that this makes clear the NSA is not looking at American citizen to American citizen communications — as I noted above, this is outside of their scope. Further, no one seems to have a problem with NSA (or the CIA) monitoring Foreign to Foreign communications. The concern is when there is one side foreign, and one side American citizen. Whose rights are paramount: the American side, or the Foreign side? Right now, it appears the emphasis is on protection. That’s legal under the current laws, as one side is foreign. Is it right? That’s for the people to decide, and express to their congresscritters.

It is these restrictions that makes the case of the family, the pressure cookers, and the backpacks even odder. Presumably, they are all US citizens. So if they were being monitored by an NSA program, why was it done? NSA is very careful about that. The answer is likely much less sinister. It appears it was some local terrorism task force (which tends to overreact). As for the monitoring, the NSA was not involved at all. It turns out that Michele Catalano’s husband’s boss tipped off the police after finding ‘suspicious’ searches (including ‘pressure cooker bombs’) in his old work computer’s search history. It is perfectly legal for an employer to review the usage of a work computer. Yet when this was first reported, what did everyone assume? Yeh. Right. The big bad government.

My point is this: take a deep breath. There is loads of paranoia about the government. Some of it is justified, but much of it isn’t. The government is not filled with men in black suits and Ray-bans out to get you. It is filled with people trying to do their best to protect America, keep it safe, and allow it to succeed. The key word is “people”, and people are (surprise) human. They screw up, and create imperfect laws and structures. Other people come around and then figure out how to exploit the imperfection for some purpose. It is our job not to reject something because it isn’t perfect the first time; it is our job to make steady progress towards perfection. If you don’t like how NSA is operating under the laws, then don’t run around with your head wrapped in tin foil — write your congresscritters — or better yet, run for congress yourself — and change the laws.

We’re also dealing with a congress that, in general, does not understand technology. Consider the constitutional rules on search and seizure. They were written in an environment where one had to go into someone’s house to search. That’s why warrants are required to search in a house. Wiretaps had a similar notion — the wires were in the house. When we’re dealing with cell phones, meta data, and search info, how does that apply? You give the search terms to an external computer. You willingly given the metadata to a centralized system to make a call. Is this personal data where you are going into a residence to seize it? See the problem. Our laws have not caught up to our technology, and you have people that do not understand the technology writing and applying the laws. Don’t believe me? Look at the recent rulings on the resale of digital recordings. It was ruled that you had to sell the media player with the digital media, because the law was based on physical manifestations of recordings. This article about recent attempts by the FBI (not the NSA) to monitor Internet metadata makes the same point: the laws currently do not treat metadata the same as the contents. Metadata is treated analogous to address information on an envelope — something freely visible and out in the open. By the way, note that using encrypted protocols does not solve this problem — addresses must remain unencrypted to permit messages to be routed.

Further, while you’re addressing the laws, remember to look at the entire picture. It is pointless to update surveillance and privacy laws and forget things like the Citizens United decision. As has been noted by folks like Bruce Schneier, the ability with which corporations with deep pockets can finance campaigns and causes makes it so that laws are written that serve the for-profit corporations instead of the individual citizen. It does no good to restrict what data the government can collect when corporations are free to collect even more data simply because of a one-time business relationship.

 

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Will We Ever Learn?

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jul 16, 2013 @ 7:37 am PST

userpic=soapboxWhen I awoke this morning, I was greeted by an article about violence in the Crenshaw district, including vandalism against neighborhood businesses, in light of the Martin/Zimmerman verdict. Things like this bother me — I often think such violence is an excuse to be violent, for I fail to see how attacking a Wal*Mart in Los Angeles has any impact regarding a jury verdict in Florida, other than to make a community look like thugs and to perpetuate a stereotype.

So, although I’ve written about this before, let’s keep repeating this. The “not guilty” verdict does not mean that Zimmerman didn’t commit a crime (although I think that’s what a lot of non-thinking people believe). In fact, Zimmerman has admitted killing Martin. All this “not guilty” verdict means is that the prosecuter couldn’t convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, under Florida law which has special rules, that Zimmerman was guilty of the specific crimes charged. I don’t know if Zimmerman can be retried on different charges, but he can’t be retried on the same charges. The charges go beyond the actual act of killing to capture the motivation and the manner that it occurred, if it was planned, if it was part of another crime — which then goes to determine the extent of the penalty. Florida has special laws regarding self-defense that come into play into this. It is very likely that the verdict received is more a reflection of where the crime occurred. I do know that Zimmerman can be the subject of a civil suit, which has different requirements regarding what must be proved, and doesn’t relate to specific charges.

If we are going to solve this problem, folks, the answer is not to do it by violence. The answer is to do it at the ballot box, by voting in people willing to fix the laws to address this. The answer is to run for office, to be the person who fixes this. The answer is to educate — in the communities where it matters — about the problem. Violence on the opposite coast doesn’t do much.

[There, now I feel better. Sometimes these things just force themselves into my head on the van ride into work.]

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Effective Boycotts

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jul 15, 2013 @ 7:41 pm PST

userpic=rough-roadToday, while eating lunch, I saw an interesting op-ed in the LA Times titled “Should You Boycott ‘Ender’s Game’ Film Because of the Author’s Views?“. This got me thinking — which was dangerous because I was coming off a migraine, and didn’t have the energy to write something up. So, I’m writing it up over dinner :-)

For those who aren’t familiar with this controversy: Hollywood has taken Orson Scott Card’s bestseller Ender’s Game, and turned it into a movie. Some folks are calling for a boycott of the movie because OSC has taken some extremely homophobic positions in the past. The producers of the movie are distancing themselves from Card, holding benefits for GLBT organizations and saying the story in the movie does not reflect homophobia in any way. Card has issued statements indicating he will follow the law of the land.

What are my thoughts? Simply put, if you are going to boycott, make sure if affects the people you want it to affect.

Far too often, alas, we don’t do that. We get upset at the price of gasoline, and so boycott the pumps for a day. This affects the station owners, who are barely making a profit anyway. It does nothing to touch the oil companies — they’ve already sold the oil to the stations.

So my question is: Will a boycott of Ender’s Game affect OSC at all? He already made the money off the movie when he sold the story; it is unlikely he has profit participation (writers rarely do). All a boycott will do is lessen the likelihood of him selling a second story to Hollywood.  Given that’s not where he makes his primary money, it’s probably not a big concern. [ETA: This is also true if the movie leads to other books on his material — his income will be limited for source authors are paid bubkis, and it is unlikely he would also do the screenplay.]

Who will a boycott hurt? It will hurt the studios, and all they employ, by further dragging down profits. It might hurt the blockbuster science fiction genre. Depending on where the film is in production, it could hurt special effects artists, actors and such. Further, given the prevalence of GLBT in the Hollywood community, it may very well hurt the people it is supposed to help. It will certainly impact any donations that might have gone to GLBT causes out of guilt of association with Card.

So how do you protest Card’s homophobia without boycotting? Simple. Send in a donation — perhaps on a Card — to an organization that promotes GLBT rights in the amount of your ticket — and send it in honor of Orson Scott Card. Show — with your donation — that Card’s audience does not support homophobia. If you must boycott, boycott his books — those directly profit him. Better yet — buy his books used, and again donate the difference between the price of the new and used book to a GLBT-positive charity. [ETA: This is especially true if the movie makes you want to read the book — buy the book used or read it in the library so he doesn’t not receive a royalty.]

Boycotts are rarely effective unless they can have a financial impact on the boycotted directly. Skipping a day of gas doesn’t hurt the oil companies — buying an electric car does. Boycotting Ender’s Game doesn’t impact Card or help the GLBT community; making donations in Card’s name does.

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A Few Thoughts on Zimmerman/Martin

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jul 14, 2013 @ 6:34 am PST

userpic=soapboxI’d like to share a few thoughts on the Zimmerman/Martin verdict, and the space in a Facebook status update is likely too small.  We had a niece over last night, and when the verdict came out, she was all worried about riots and such ala Rodney King. Although there have been some protest marches, and a little bit of problems up in Oakland, things so far have been relatively quiet. She was also upset that the jury found him not guilty. This led to an explanation that I gave to her, and I’ll provide to you.

Just because the jury found Zimmerman not guilty doesn’t mean that he didn’t commit a crime.  O.J. Simpson is a great example of that. All it means is that the prosecution either didn’t pick the correct charge, or didn’t prove the correct charge beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury. We don’t have a perfect system in this country — we are on a continual progress towards correction. We would rather have a guilty person found innocent than have an innocent person found guilty. This is also why — except for a few bloodthirsty folks — we would rather wait to kill someone on death row — because we don’t want to take on irreversible action on someone who is ultimately innocent. That is one of the few elements of compassion that our society has.

In this case, the prosecution did not choose a charge of first degree murder. The prosecutor thus felt that there was no planning ahead of time for the murder.  It was not premeditated. He chose a charge of second degree murder, which in Florida is defined as the “unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual”. This meant that the prosecution had to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was unlawful (not self-defense), was initiated by an act imminently dangerous, and was the product of a depraved mind. This is something difficult to show, and evidently the defense created sufficient doubt in the minds of the jury that those three things were not true.

The jury was allowed to consider the charge of manslaughter, which is a homicide without lawful justification. The fact that Zimmerman was found not guilty here probably means that the prosecution failed to dispel the self-defense argument. There was just enough doubt created that it could have been self-defense that a majority (I don’t know if Florida requires something stronger) believed there might have been lawful justification.

Given that Zimmerman has admitted the homicide, it means the prosecution didn’t do their job. It doesn’t mean Zimmerman is safe (he probably would have been safer in jail); nor does it mean that he’ll get away with no penalties. Very likely, as in the OJ case, there will be a civil suit, which has different standards and different charges. Zimmerman, while not locked away, may end up with significant financial penalties, and will forever have a stain on his name. He may not be in a physical jail, but he’ll be in the potentially worse jail of public opinion, with significant financial impacts.

So just remember that a not-guilty verdict is not the end. It doesn’t mean the accused didn’t commit a crime; it means our society would rather err on the side of the innocent. It doesn’t mean the accused will get away with no penalties on their life, especially if society sees them a guilty. All the verdict means is that the prosecution team didn’t do their job well enough — picking the right charge, and proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Music: Alive Alive-O (Jose Feliciano): “No Dogs Allowed”

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Misplaced Trust, or Misplaced Understanding

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jul 03, 2013 @ 11:28 am PST

userpic=don-martinI’ve been meaning for a while to write a lunchtime post about when trust was lost in the US Government. There have been a number of incidents driving that question. We certainly see that lack of trust from the Tea Party / Libertarian sides of the aisle, where the basic belief seems to be that if the government is involved, it is bad… but if the free market is involved it is good. Urging that thought on this week was a piece in the LA Times titled “The NSA is watching. So are Google and Facebook“. The gist of that piece was something I’ve been saying for a long time — why do we distrust the government having limited tracking data, when we willingly give all sorts of private enterprises even more private data for them to use for their commercial advantage. Amazon knows what I like to buy and what I like to browse. I tell Facebook what I like, and it uses that to sell to my friends. To save a few cents, I tell supermarkets what I buy and where and when — from the meat I eat to the lubricants purchased for all sorts of purposes (now, keep your minds out of the gutter). Gas companies know where, when, and how far I drive. We have no problems giving all this data away, but because we think the government is untrustworthy, we worry about the NSA (and I’ve written earlier about why that fear of the NSA is likely misplaced). Sure we can trust the private companies. After all, they would never make it easier for third-party advertisers to target us (oh, but then again, they would).

But what if…

But what if…

Reading another article over lunch about the mess at Science Fiction conventions brought to mind my favorite adage: “Never ascribe to malice what you can to stupidity”. I have difficulty believing that our government, flawed as it is, is intentionally evil. However, I’m perfectly willing to believe that it is unintentionally stupid. Stupidity happens all the time, especially in government. Hell, you’re dealing with committees and bureaucracies, which are by definition stupid. Government stupidly believing that a FISA court is sufficient to protect rights is stupid naivete, not malice. The IRS believing that looking for political keywords is the right way to identify 501(c)(4) abuse is stupid naivete, not malice.

This then brings up another adage from a very wise Kindergarten teacher I once student taught for: “The first time you do something, it isn’t a mistake.” When dealing with unintentional stupidity, don’t assume malice the first time. Worry about the problem only after you have taught the correct way to behave, and the mistake still occurs. For the real stupid ones (read “government”), this make take a few times.

So, all together now, “Government isn’t evil… it’s stupid”.

Intentional Music: C’est Cheese (The Arrogant Worms): “History is Made by Stupid People”

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Revitalizing Westwood

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jun 18, 2013 @ 5:40 pm PST

userpic=ucla-csunOne of the lead articles at the LA Times today is on revitalizing Westwood, and there’s a companion article at Curbed LA. Both are bemoaning how Westwood has changed, and both suggest ways out of the problem. The Times article notes how Westwood is looking to Downtown for its revitalization model, and looking to bring it more arts (think galleries), performance spaces, and trendy foods. They believe this will restore Westwood to its former glory. I think both are wrong.

Let’s explore what Westwood was, and how to bring it back.

In its heyday — the 1960s through early 1980s  — Westwood was primarily a local community. It had mostly non-chain stores, and catered to the people living in West LA, H0lmby Hills, and Bel Air. It also catered heavily to the student community at UCLA. It had quaint restaurants, and lots of movie theatres that tended to host premieres (because Hollywood had gotten sketchy).

In the mid 1980s, Westwood began to die. Most attribute the death to a gang shooting in 1988 and an incident where some clown drove on the sidewalk (we were actually in Westwood that evening with clients when it happened). However, that’s not what killed Westwood. What killed Westwood was rising rents, “mallification” (that is, takeover by the chain stores with “trendy” clothes), and corporate consolidations that removed classic entities (such as bookstores). Further, the single screen theatres that Westwood had were no longer profitable… so they started closing. In short, what killed Westwood was that it became a mall — just like any other mall — and lost its audience for newer malls.

Westwood was also hurt by poor accessibility, especially with the continuous construction on the 405. Downtown is now accessible via MetroRail, but Westwood won’t have that for at least another decade or two. You have to drive to Westwood, and that’s increasingly difficult. What this means is that, to succeed, Westwood must focus on the locals, not drawing from elsewhere.

So what does Westwood really need to do to come back? First, it doesn’t need art galleries and super trendy joints. These do not attract students and the middle class that used to shop in Westwood all the time. Put the art galleries in Beverly Hills. Here’s what I think Westwood needs:

  • More Live Theatre. Although the single-screen movie theatre is out of vogue, live theatre is inherently single-screen. Westwood should work on expanding its live theatre presence, especially with relationships with the excellent theatre program at UCLA. Get some small storefront theatres (there are at least two major companies in LA (Celebration is one) that are looking for new spaces). Small theatres are also much more affordable for students (especially when compared with the only theatre currently in Westwood, the Geffen).
  • More Club Space. I don’t necessarily meet nightclub space, although having a local space that would appear to the UCLA student crowd would be great. I was thinking more along the lines of comedy and music clubs, that could attract stand up and local acts.
  • Be a Student Town. This needs to be the mantra regarding both food and shopping. Bring in quirky restaurants and shops, but keep them affordable for students (and if you can, accept UCLA meal plan points). I grew up in the days when Westwood had wonderful places such as Yesterdays, Old World, Annas, Bratskeller, and others. We need to get this style of place back.
  • Aim for the Eclectic. What makes a college town special is its eclectic nature. You never know what you will find, and it is most certainly not a mall. There needs to be enough going on in Westwood to draw the students out of the dorms, and to draw the neighbors into the shops.

Basically, Westwood will succeed again if you can attract the students back, and they start bringing their friends. That’s what has always made Westwood special.

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Misunderstanding Risk (A Lunchtime Musing)

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jun 12, 2013 @ 11:43 am PST

userpic=securityAmericans do not understand risk (actually, most humans don’t understand risk).

Want a good example of this? Look at the recent NSA data collection scandal. People are in an uproar about it. Investigations have started. Lawmakers are claiming they had no idea this is what they approved. Google is saying “don’t worry” and wanting to disclose what they really shared. Polls are, well, polling in various ways. People are pushing 1984 up the best seller lists. Everyone is debating whether the discloser is a traitor or a hero. In short, the Internet has its panties in a wad about this.

Now, I’m not trying to say this data collection — especially in secret — is a good thing. It isn’t. It is likely either unconstitutional or borderline, and should be investigated fully (although we can’t really blame only on the current administration, as the collection started in the previous administration… and as such, both are to blame). But is it risky? Are government agents going to come to your house and bang down your door as a result of this? Very unlikely. The amount of data collected — and the type of data collected — makes the possibility that government will be proactively searching and targeting you extremely remote. Just given the amount of data and its unstructured nature, Occam’s Razor says it will more likely be used for additional investigation after some other intelligence source uncovers a target of interest. In other words: this data will (most likely) only be used after you are already on the radar for some other reason. For 99.9% of the people in America, that means the personal worry is hypothetical. [Again: this doesn’t make the program right; it only means you don’t need to be as paranoid. That is, of course, unless they really are after you.]

However, there is a data collection program that is a worry — but people don’t think about it. This opinion piece highlights it. We are giving giant corporations loads of personal data every day. Facebook scans and records your every like, status update, and picture… and sells that data to advertisers. Google scans your email, your Google documents, your searches, and sells that data to advertisers and uses it to market to you. Amazon knows your books, your wants, your desires (and soon, what you eat). Credit card companies know your purchasing patterns and use it to market you. Supermarkets know your purchases, tied to you every time you save a penny using an affinity card. What’s worse is that we willingly give our data to these corporations. We ignore the privacy policies they send. We send unencrypted email. We send unencrypted texts and tweets. We post indiscriminately. We give our information away to save 5c.

Yet when do we get outraged? When the “government” gets only part of that data. When the government that gets the data hasn’t even demonstrated that it has the capability to use the data. Why is the implicit assumption that government is bad, and that corporations are good? Why do we ignore all the corporate data mining that goes on? We’re sheep, people, sheep, for the corporations that are the real puppetmasters of the world. You doubt me? Who makes major donations to politicians to get them to do what is in the corporation’s interests?

As you get your dander up about the government data collection, put it in perspective. The real risk isn’t the government collecting the data. The real risk is that these corporations are collecting the data in the first place. While the government has laws — and the constitution — that will eventually limit its reach… corporations have no such restrictions. Yes, Big Brothers are watching you… but is the brother we must really worry about the Government… or that brother from another mother?

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Citizen Journalism: What do Journalists Bring, and Will You Read It Anyway?

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jun 11, 2013 @ 11:39 am PST

userpic=lougrantYesterday afternoon, while driving home, I was listening to the NPR Technology podcast. They had an interesting piece on the death of high-school newspapers, including a discussion of the primary suspect: citizen journalism. Basically, the news reporting that high-school newspapers used to do has been replaced by students reporting in real-time via twitter and other social media sites. At least I think that’s what the article says; I didn’t read it all. More on that later.

What caught my ear at the time was the following statement from Scott Simon, who did the piece:

Hearing that school newspapers are in decline because students now “find out what happened” in social media bites is a little discouraging because it confirms that for millions of Americans, journalism is becoming a do-it-yourself enterprise.

When a tornado strikes or a bomb goes off, we look for social media messages as soon as they flash, too. Facebook posts and Tweets have become the means by which politicians, celebrities, citizens — and reporters, for that matter — can confirm, deny, pass on stories and register opinion without the press challenging, probing, pre-supposing, slowing or straining the message. That’s just how we talk to each other in these times.

Matt Drudge, who runs his own controversial website, says, “We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices. Every citizen can be a reporter.”

But truly good journalism is a craft, not just a blog post. It requires not only seeing something close-up, but also reporting it with perspective. It uses an eye for detail to help illuminate a larger view. And even journalism that conveys an opinion strives to be fair. If school newspapers begin to disappear, I hope there are other ways for students to learn that.

This isn’t just high school newspapers. Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off all of their professional photographers, preferring instead to go with freelance citizen photos. Indeed, some papers have had to advertise for citizen photographers because they no longer have the staff. As for the laid-off photographers? That’s a different story.

When I heard this article, it resonated with me. So I decided to take a few minutes over lunch to write up my thoughts. In particular, it resonated with a response I had back in March to an article complaining about amateur vs professional theatre critics. Colin Mitchell of the theatre review aggregation site Bitter Lemons, in turn, wrote a wonderful response to my response. I see the issue as being similar to the issue of citizen journalists vs. real journalists. Both bring something valuable to the picture: citizen journalists (and citizen reviewers) bring timely information and personal reactions. Professional journalists (and professional reviewers) bring a longer-term view. They can put the issue in perspective, provide the needed filtering and context. Regular bloggers fill a middle position — they start as amateurs, but hopefully are learning more and stepping up their game (such as following this advice, if you are a theatre reviewer) as time goes on. (By the way, if you read the commentary on the NPR article, it devolved into exactly the same discussion that was had regarding theatre reviews: are those writing in the blog-o-sphere just hacks, or aspiring independent journalists?)

Of course, the entire issue may be moot. After all, both journalists and bloggers are a dying breed, as we are in the TL;DR generation. Slate magazine provides good proof of that, with an article that examines how people don’t actually read most articles on the Internet to the very end. Given that I’m a long-form writer, I’m sure you haven’t even read this far (or if you have, I doubt that you will comment on this, because nobody comments on what I write anymore — and if you think that is a challenge or is wrong, share your thoughts). Further, those who comment often get shouted out by those louts who take over forums (of course, I didn’t fully read that article). On the other hand, there are those who say long form journalism is coming back. Who is right? Slate and their contention that people don’t read to the end of long articles? USA Today, Politico, and BuzzFeed in their contention on the rebirth of long form journalism?

Personally, I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t think “short form”. I don’t believe one can have a meaningful exploration of a subject in 144 characters or less, or as a Facebook status update.  I think this even applies to the “lists of links” people post. I don’t believe it is sufficient to just post lists of links — there needs to be some unifying theme — there needs to be something the link collector brings to the discussion that ties the links together, or otherwise signifies why this link is worth seeing, why it is time to read that link to the end. That’s why just posting a link to people using cats as afros just isn’t enough.

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