Archive for the 'Snark' Category

24
Jun
11

Is This What They’re Teaching Them Over in the Journalism School?

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken pot shots at the poor old Oregon Daily Emerald. Hell, it’s been awhile since I’ve even bothered to pick up an issue. Sitting in the storied old Cafe Siena this afternoon, however, I made the mistake of taking a glance at the “opinion” page for this week’s issue.

Now, it’s no secret that the quality of the ODE’s opinion writers, never stellar to begin with, has witnessed in the last half-decade or so a steady decline into what can only be called “pedestrian sub-mediocrity.” Each year, one subjects oneself to another round of banal “first post!” essays by the new pack of commentators in the vain hope that — just maybe! — one of them will claw their way out of the scum and the muck, take a few gasping breaths, and say something moderately interesting. Or at least hilariously stupid. Each year, alas, one is inevitably disappointed.

So it was today, reading Ian McKivor’s “inaugural column” — a rather lofty way of referring to what is is essence a fairly uninteresting blog post, which is ironic, since the gist of his piece is that blogs are like… bad, and stuff. And not just bad, but dangerous. No, really:

People are idiots, and people who read blogs and take their word for it are dangerous idiots. They aren’t just a danger to themselves, but to those around them and society at large. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that they are a major source of societal regression.

“Societal regression.” Got that?

Unfortunately, after dropping that bombshell on his readers, the esteemed author has nowhere left to go but straight back to 1995, making the staggeringly fresh case that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet:

Any schmuck with an opinion can get on the web, set up a WordPress account and go to town spewing out whatever vapid crap happens to get into his head. [“Vapid crap” you say? Perish the thought. -ed] A blogger doesn’t have to have any experience in the field in which they write, nor do they have to adhere to the most basic tenants [sic] of journalistic professionalism or integrity.

So, in effect, they can pass off filth as fact while remaining anonymous. And oh, by the way, people will believe them en masse for the same reasons people believe everything they see on TV. Brilliant.

“Brilliant.” Took the words right out of my mouth, he did. Ahem.

McKivor then launches into a clumsy philippic against Tom Macmaster, the cybernetic crossdresser who got his thrills masquerading as a Syrian lesbian on websites before it came out (no pun intended) that he was neither Syrian nor a woman, to say nothing of a lesbian. While it’s hard to take issue with the spirit of his condemnation of Macmaster, McKivor’s amateurish prose effectively blunts whatever power the one and only example backing up his thesis might’ve had. Example:

MacMaster never had to face the looming threat of imprisonment, intense torture and eventual death at the hands of some demented regime. He was safe in Scotland, probably writing at a Starbucks with an Exxon Valdez-sized Latte [sic] in hand without even contemplating the harm he was doing.

“Probably writing at a Starbucks with an Exxon Valdez-sized latte?” From whence does our intrepid reporter come by these details? Or maybe he’s just engaging in a sly performative joke intended to illustrate why we can’t believe everything we read. Yeah… maybe that’s it.

One could go on, of course — the expected, sneering reference to “blind sheep” (what, no “sheeple?”) comes in toward the end, as does an unintentionally funny suggestion to go watch a documentary called “Talhotblond” if you’re not already convinced by McKivor’s dazzling  rhetoric about how dangerous online anonymity can be. Finally, we’re assured that we can trust the things we read in the mainstream media — because it’s fact checked, you see.

The problem is that, as monumentally hollow and paralyzingly routine as McKivor’s piece is, it nevertheless serves as a powerful example of how far standards have fallen. Is the sort of err.. “incisive criticism” and “sterling prose” — to say nothing of the lunk-headed Luddism — that they’re peddling over in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism these days? Why would anyone pay for such a self-evidently worthless degree? And is this drooling scribbler really the best the Emerald  could dredge up for next year?

Alas, McKivor himself gives away the answer in his very first sentence:

Because this is my inaugural column for the Oregon Daily Emerald, I feel I should start things off by making my stance clear, just so all of you know what to expect from my weekly opinion column.

Ah. So puerile rubbish, then. Wonderful.

Glad I won’t be around to read it.

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19
Mar
11

Let’s Be Clear: Eight Years Later

Today the president ordered a military offensive against a brutal dictator without the approval of Congress. I bet there will be all sorts of outrage and massive anti-war riots in the streets. Let me just check some popular liberal sites … hmm … nothing on Daily Kos. Talking Points Memo is fairly muted, and Michael Moore is still squawking about Wisconsin. Hell, HuffPo looks downright hawkish. “Not in our name” indeed.*

Putting aside the snark, here’s a statement from Obama:

I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.

Coincidentally, today is also the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. What did our current commander-in-chief think of brutal dictators prior to the invasion of Iraq? Here’s a quote from a 2002 stump speech:

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. The world, and the Iraqi people would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

Let me be clear: I’d like to think the experiences of the last eight years — Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Tunisia, Egypt — have made Obama a little wiser in regards to America’s responsibility to foster and support freedom in the world, hence his decision to stop Gaddafi from slaughtering his own people. However, I suspect his rhetoric and actions, just as they were in 2002, are motivated more by political expediency than anything else. (Say what you will about Bush, and there’s plenty to say, but no one ever accused him of making the easy or popular decisions.) Luckily for the people of Libya, political expediency is in their favor.

*Not in Our Name shuttered its doors in 2008 after liberals became profoundly unconcerned with what was attached to their name besides “hope” and “change.”

08
Mar
11

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ve been bored. So I made a few cartoons. You can watch all three of the current episodes here. I probably be adding more of these over time, whenever I feel inspired (or bored enough) to spend the time.

Enjoy!

25
Feb
11

I Am the Koch Brothers!

A little light comedy for a quiet Friday afternoon:

Keith Schneider and Kerry Sipe (letters, 2/3) invite us to think better of the Tea Party since it’s really about Ron Paul’s ideas, not Glen Beck’s bigotry. OK, but that doesn’t help much. Paul is a libertarian ideologue, and his views accordingly suffer from the foolishness inherent in libertarianism. Please consult Wikipedia on the periodic financial panics of the 19th century, and then explain to us how unregulated markets serve our common interests effectively (hint: they don’t).

Libertarianism is a nonsensical theory of governance. It endorses abandonment of social responsibility by appealing to a juvenile notion of absolute freedom. All due respect to Ron Paul, but his political ideas are stupid and immoral. He may be more polite than Glenn Beck, but he’s no less fatuous.

Speaking of fools, the original Tea Party was not an act of popular tax resistance. It was gang vandalism organized by Boston businessmen wanting to keep the price of tea high, aggressively protecting their own profits. In that sense, our contemporary Tea Party is like the first one: It’s acting on behalf of our corporate masters, advocating policies that harm the working class and society in general. No Nazis here; just misinformed and manipulated morons.

Ken Kirby, Junction City

I was going to try to come up with some witty riposte to the above, but frankly, it’s already kind of its own punchline, don’t you think?

11
Dec
10

Quote of the Day

“Those who drink vodka, who smoke — they help out the state more. if you smoke a pack of cigarettes — it means you contribute more money to solving social problems.”

— Russian Finance Minister Andrei Makarov

If one accepts this logic, then it would seem that all these little twerps who’re preening about “clean air” and banning smoking at the UO are actually just perpetuating social injustice by trying to end smoking and thereby depriving the state of much needed tax dollars while simultaneously demanding the state actually spend more money on health care and “assistance” for people trying to quit smoking.

Maybe, instead of clamoring for Obama to levy an envy tax on the rich, these little statists could just take up smoking.

09
Dec
10

Damn Obstructionists [update 12/11]

Congressional Democrats don’t want a black President to succeed. Racists.

[update]

More coded racial hatred:

The frustration with President Barack Obama over his tax cut compromise was palpable and even profane at Thursday’s House Democratic Caucus meeting.

One unidentified lawmaker went so far as to mutter “f— the president” while Rep. Shelley Berkley was defending the package the president negotiated with Republicans.

“Fuck the President”? It’s shocking to see Democratic lawmakers displaying such seething racial-sexual insecurities and promoting stereotypes of black males as hyper-sexual. One can only wonder in which blue state the race war will begin!

28
Nov
10

Maybe It Was in the Grundrisse…

Old line: If we don’t have government-mandated sexual assault in airports, the terrorists have won. So shut up and get used to it, plebs. Your betters know what’s good for you, and what’s good for you is getting felt up by a TSA worker who hasn’t changed their gloves in a couple hours.

New line: “[W]e seem to have reached that stage of capitalism where sexual abuse is being used as a threat to get people (taxpayers in this case) to spend money to pad corporate profits. I wonder, once wingnut America figures that one out, if they’ll calm down with the outrage?  I mean, the free market is why you have to submit to the groping!  Suggesting your privacy comes before their profits is just as good as saying that you’re a dirty commie, didn’t you know?”

The bizarre caricature tacked on at the end notwithstanding, I’m still left wondering about this “sexual-abuse-as-a-stage-of-capitalism” thing. I mean, I haven’t read everything the guy ever wrote, but I’ve read enough to know that Marx never really had much to say about the topic. And glancing through my copy of Lenin: Selected Works, I’m not seeing a whole lot in there either. Then again, I only have Volume One.*

Amusingly, they unwittingly hit the nail on the head without even knowing it:

Point is, there’s a lot of money to be made by selling scanners to airports.  And there’s a revolving door between people who work in high levels of government and those profiting off selling these devices.

If only the people owned the means of producing body scanners… Anyways, it’s clear that the problem definitely is not the government, which has the power to purchase these things and then mandate that everyone be forced to either go through them or make friends with a TSA worker’s fingers under penalty of law, the problem is capitalism. This point should be obvious since such blatant violations of privacy historically have not occurred in socialist states anywhere in the world.

* Though come to think of it, maybe that’s what Leonid Brezhnev’s book The Virgin Lands was all about. It’s on my shelf but I confess that I’ve never had the heart to read it.




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