Friday, January 11, 2008


At some point, those Americans who can read without moving their lips are going to have to stop treating Fox news as merely a sort of running fart joke and wake up to the seriousness of the problem phenomenon it represents.

That "Fox News" is an oxymoron is, like what they present, not news. But one needs to be aware of who watches Fox and what that watching represents. As the esteemed Pew Research Center reports:

However, those who cite the Fox News Channel as their primary source of news stand out among the TV news audience for their negative evaluations of news organizations' practices. Fully 63% of Americans who count Fox as their main news source say news stories are often inaccurate – a view held by fewer than half of those who cite CNN (46%) or network news (41%) as their main source.

Similarly, Fox viewers are far more likely to say the press is too critical of America (52% vs. 36% of CNN viewers and 29% of network news viewers). And the Fox News Channel audience gives starkly lower ratings to network news programs and national newspapers such as The New York Times and the Washington Post.
In other words, these people are living in an ever-more-isolated ghetto, well apart from the real world. They listen to only what they want and expect to hear--which Fox gleefully serves up--and anything that disagrees with that is the enemy.

Such folk have always been around--they're what Hitler and the Nazis rode to power on--and deliberately catering to their sicknesses is poisonous . . . but profitable. These folk are those who are incapable of accomplishing anything, and are doomed by their intellectual and emotional deficiencies to the bottom of the social and economic barrel. It is a well-known fact (proved, even, by psych-lab experiments) that stupid people are literally too stupid to know that they're stupid. They do not, cannot, comprehend that there are people who are simply a lot more competent than they are in every way. A natural consequence is that they believe deeply that the reason, and the only reason, that they are forever at the bottom of the barrel is an evil conspiracy by their inferiors (such delicious irony) to keep them wrongfully down. It was no mere chance that when the Nazis took over the universities, the jack-booted officers bossing around the professorial faculties were almost inevitably the former janitors at those same universities.

And in this age of abyssal divides between the political parties, it is inevitable that--
Fox ranks as the most trusted news source among Republicans but is among the least trusted by Democrats.
That illustrates starkly the degree to which the parties have each become ideologically "pure", with little internal division (at least relatively little). Though there are still some fairly conservative Democrats, there is scarcely any such thing any longer as a "moderate Republican".

And that is very, very bad news for the Republic.

(Anyone who wants an example of Fox's audacious handling of facts could do little if any better than this.)

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Curiosities Department: Chewing Gum Sweetener Can Cause Dangerous Weight Loss. It's not funny: it seems to be semi-addictive, and its effects can be pretty serious. The villain is something called sorbitol, which can cause extreme diarrhea. Definitely not funny.

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Meanwhile, back in the real world, where--despite the endless clown parades--wonderful and significant things still do happen, the NASA Messenger mission is ready to yield its first fruits, close-up examinations of the smallest planet, and one of the least-known. (The image here is from the 1974 Mariner mercury fly-by; the new mission should deliver even more-interesting images.)

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Speaking of science, if this were a rational world, what would be the leading headline today would be "New work by a team of US astronomers has shown that wherever there is room for a planet to form around a young star, it does." That finding has immense significance for the question of whether life, including though not limited to intelligent life, exists elsewhere in the universe. We have found that planets are not rarities, which once many thought they might be; now we seem to have found that they are just about everywhere. Yet another term in the famous Drake equation turns out to have a pretty high value.

(So where is the international funding for SETI projects?)

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As I noted the other day, the Strait of Hormuz naval "incident" smells worse than a 10-days'-beached whale. As the story headline says, Official Version of Naval Incident Starts to Unravel.
I am shocked, shocked. President Cheney and his sock puppet really, really want another mid-East war (the last two having been such raging successes). Don't we all? I guess we do if we're Republicans ("Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran").

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