Roundup 21Oct20

Tom Lehrer drops all his lyrics into the public domain. I wonder what that’s all about. I grew up with Songs by Tom Lehrer, and can still sing every lyric off the top of my head. Lehrer is still alive, though he’s 92. I wonder if this is a decision made as the end approaches.

Songs by Tom Lehrer


Here’s a story (which I’ll never write) about a comedy AI, a levity machine. It’s a variation of Monty Python’s “World’s Deadliest Joke” skit (which I only realized after the idea popped into my head). Story: I ask my upgraded AI to tell me a joke. It’s pretty good. The AI calibrates my response and after a few jokes, it gets better at finding what makes me laugh. I ask for another joke. Hey, this is pretty good! Keep going, AI. And it does. But then, I start laughing so hard, I can’t catch a breath. I can’t tell it to stop. Ahhhh, the humor, it’s killing me!


Ugh. Still avoiding the most significant problem. Rosen mentions it, and immediately sets it aside. Nothing changes in modern journalism until the ‘commercial pressures’ change.

“When you look at the American news sphere as it stands, two big things influence political journalism. One is extremely well-known: commercial pressures. We can call it ratings. We can call it clicks. We can call it the industry of attention. All these are names for the same thing, which is using news to generate an audience, and then selling that audience. And, of course, Trump assists with that. That’s why the words of Les Moonves, the former CEO of CBS, are so revealing: ‘It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.'”

News, journalism, the media, whatever you want to call it, is profoundly, fundamentally broken. And it has been for a long time. In many ways the internet didn’t create the problems with the ‘news’ so much as reveal them.

The left stands loyally behind institutions of journalism when Trump derides them as ‘fake news’, but it wasn’t that long ago that Al Gore was going back to j-school as a professor to educate up-and-coming journalists how ‘fake news’ torpedoed his chance at the presidency.

In my lifetime, accuracy has never been top priority. It’s always been about capturing the most eyeballs.


NPR and the Corporate Criminal Element: “Ever wonder why you rarely hear serious discussion on National Public Radio (NPR) about corporate crime and violence?”


Eight short stories of Africanfuturism.

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