Inhuman Swill : News

"We"

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"We got our asses kicked yesterday."

Monday morning at a diner in the suburbs,
the words spiral over from the next table.
The men have been talking about work,
and at first I think they mean on the job site.

But of course by "we" they mean the Bears,
and the ass-kickers are Detroit, I realize,
as the sentence stutter-steps around the offense,
drops through an alternate parsing route, and scores.

This "we" that makes such strange linguistic sense,
I still can't wrap my hands around it and tuck it under my arm.
I'm not a part of this "we," this synecdoche,
the "we" meaning "they" meaning "us all."

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I wrote my own mailing list software for this website at least a decade ago, but I've grown a bit tired of trying to maintain it on my own. I'm switching over to MailChimp for all my email newsletter needs. The old mailing list is going to quietly expire. If you'd like to sign up for the new one, you can do so right here, or from the Mailing List link in the site menu:

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Cheeta! Cheeta!

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UPDATE! 11:44 a.m.  I was right to be suspicious of this story. Turns out that R.D. Rosen in the Washington Post debunked Cheeta's supposed longevity back in 2008. The news media has done an abominable job of fact-checking today. NPR itself acknowledged in a sidebar to a Cheeta story in 2009 that the chimp identity was not what it claimed to be. This clearly isn't as big a fuck-up as the reporting in the run-up to the Iraq War, but it's a difference of degree, not kind.
NPR News is reporting in its headlines this morning that (to paraphrase) Cheeta, the chimpanzee who played Tarzan's ape sidekick in the movies, has died at the age of 80. This makes it sound like Cheeta was the only chimp to play Cheeta, which he wasn't, and that his age was well-established, which it wasn't.

There were something like fifteen or sixteen different apes (including at least one orangutan and one human) who played Cheeta in the films and TV shows, often with more than one in the same production. And while the Cheeta who just died is alleged to have been born in 1931, this has never been established as fact, nor has the claim that this chimp was acquired from the estate of Johnny Weissmuller in 1957—nor, really, the claim that this chimp was one of the original actors from the Weissmuller-era movies.

Chimps in captivity have been known to live into their 60s, but 80? It's possible, of course, but the chain of custody on this chimp is based on hearsay. I don't believe it myself. But whether it's true of not, the story being reported in the NPR news blips leaves a lot to be desired, implies facts that aren't facts, and reports hearsay as straight fact.

I swear, it's like NPR based this news report on an email forward from my mother.

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If you're reading this, I assume you have at least a passing interest, if not a full-blown stake, in the future of online journalism. Most saliently, how can the business of news-gathering and distribution be monetized? Can it ever make money? How will the news business survive in the future, and what will it look like? How will readers consume news?

If you live in Chicago and care about these questions, you owe it to yourself and your community to attend the Chicago Media Future Conference. Organized by Mike Fourcher, Barbara Iverson, and (my friend) Scott Smith, this FREE conference will be held Saturday, June 13, at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash) from 1:30pm to 4:45pm. The program consists of two moderated 90-minute panels, each with a 10-minute introduction.

I hope you'll take the time to attend, but don't do it just on my say-so. Organizer Scott Smith was a guest this past Friday evening on WLUW's Out of the Loop Radio, and you can hear him discussing the conference in this audio stream, starting at about 2:01:

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Ghost of Bradley present

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If you're looking for some alternative political listening for this long, long Election Day, check out this segment from the October 24 episode of WNYC's "On the Media," which handily debunks the myth of the Bradley effect:

Ghost of Bradley Present

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The three wives of John McCain

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Here are a set of three very different articles, different in every way, one for each of the three beauty queens in John McCain's life:

The Daily Mail on Carol McCain:
"The Wife U.S. Republican John McCain Callously Left Behind" by Sharon Churcher

The New Yorker on Cindy McCain:
"The Lonesome Trail" by Ariel Levy

The Nation on Sarah Palin:
"Beauty and the Beast" by Joann Wypijewski

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What is "preemptive war," Alex?

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Sarah Palin doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is, and her embarrassing attempts to weasel a clue out of Charles Gibson are not even worthy of a high-school forensics student:

Yes, Mrs. Palin, obviously you're ready to be President. I will sleep without nightmares knowing you will answer that three a.m. phone call with that blank deer-in-headlights stare. You make me pine for Dan Quayle.

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Is McCain out of his mind?

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I like the part in this Paul Begala editorial at CNN.com where he calls Lieberman McCain's "fellow Iraq Kool-Aid drinker."

Now I'm logging off. Really.

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In July Sarah Palin asked, facetiously, what it is the vice-president really does:

Granted, she seemed to be using levity to deflect the question of whether or not she would be a McCain VP pick, but she sounds pretty silly in the process. Maybe she should have read last year's Washington Post series on Dick Cheney's role in the Bush White House.

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Palin pick

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If this is true, McCain and the Republicans are going hard after disgruntled female Clinton supporters. Now I'm very afraid.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
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William Shunn

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