While I didn’t know how little support Florida gave its less privileged residents, the common themes in all these stories really are glaringly obvious once pointed out.

‘Florida Man’ Jokes Are an Excuse to Laugh at the Poor

“Another tedious, liberal, PC scold,” you may think as you read the headline for this piece. “Why can’t we just have fun and enjoy a hilarious meme in peace?” Well, you can enjoy “Florida man” all you want, but by any objective metric, it’s worth noting that “Florida man” memes—just like all “dumb criminal” or “weird crime” stories—are little more than a socially acceptable way of gawking at and belittling the dispossessed and indigent.

The reason Florida seems to have more “bizarre news” stories is because it leaves tens of thousands of people with financial, mental health and drug problems to fend for themselves, and then, under the banner of transparency, hands over the inevitable result of this lack of support to a click-hungry press. To paraphrase another viral tweet, it monetizes the rot.

“Florida man” isn’t an accident. It’s the logical byproduct of a state whose politics have been defined by cruel, racist indifference to the poor for decades.

Sometime between August 1st and September 1st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The P-I error that changed Seattle history: "Occasionally, newspapers report factual errors. A well-intentioned interview subject gives bad information, a name is spelled wrong, a breaking news story is inadvertently peppered with grammatical errors. But no incorrect newspaper story has had a bigger impact on Seattle history than one published June 7, 1889."
  • 98.6 degrees is a normal body temperature, right? Not quite: “Forget everything you know about normal body temperature and fever, starting with 98.6. That’s an antiquated number based on a flawed study from 1868 (yes, 150 years ago). The facts about fever are a lot more complicated.”
  • The “I Am Steve Rogers” Joke in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is the Definitive Captain America Moment: That’s who Captain America is, a man who listens to and believes in people when they tell him who they are. That’s a lesson we all should take away from that moment.
  • The Bullshit Web: “An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.”
  • Ignorant Hysteria Over 3D Printed Guns Leads To Courts Ignoring The First Amendment: "…in the last few days the hysteria [over 3D-printed guns] has returned… and much of it is misleading and wrong, and while most people probably want to talk about the 2nd Amendment implications of all of this, it's the 1st Amendment implications that are a bigger deal." Interesting. I'm not at all comfortable with wide availability of 3D-printed guns, but this analysis of the issues is worth reading.

Sometime between December 27th and January 8th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Why So Many Men Hate the Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why: SPOILERS: "I don’t think every human who disliked The Last Jedi is an evil, evil misogynist. I do think that we have so deeply internalized sexist narrative tropes that we see them as 'correct' and 'good filmmaking' while seeing their absence as 'flaws.'"
  • My Hero, Luke Skywalker: SPOILERS: “It is a beautiful fantasy and, I thought, a particularly resonant message for the anxious and depressed about what you can be capable of, the kind of peace you may be able to find if you dig down deep enough and push yourself emotionally.”
  • Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read: "Literally, all you need to do: Type in web addresses. Use autofill! Or even: Google the website you want to go to, and go to it. Then bookmark it. Then go back every now and again."
  • List: Alternatives to Platonic Love: "Newtonian Love – There’s a strong attraction between your bodies."
  • This is not going to go the way you think: The Last Jedi and the necessary disappointment of epilogues: SPOILERS: “Happy endings are always undone because ‘endings’ don’t really exist. Time doesn’t stop when you want it to. Your ‘destiny’ can and will be slowly eroded away by the many small, cumulative abrasions of life that inevitably follow after you achieve it. This is real, and it’s disillusioning, and it can fill you with righteous anger at the unjustness of it all.”

From Business Class: Freemium for News?:

I had a perspective changing talk on the subject of pay walls with the chief executive of a big publishing company…. He asked me what I think about pay walls. I told him what I always say: The main currency of news sites is attention and not dollars and that I believe that it is his job, as a publisher, to turn that attention into money to keep the attention machine running. He nodded and made the following, astonishing statement:

I can’t see pay walls working out either. But we need to do something before we lose all of our current subscribers. Sure. It’s a tough business environment, but… But the flight industry is a tough environment too, and they found ways. So tell me: Why do people fly Business Class? In the end, an airplane brings me to the same place regardless of whether I fly Economy or Business Class and the massive price-increase I pay doesn’t compare the difference in value.

People pay for Business Class because they don’t want to be tortured in Economy. They get faster lanes at the terror check. They get an extra glass of champagne. The stewards are more attentive. They get off the plane more quickly. They get the feeling of a higher social status.

He asked whether I knew of a way to apply this logic to online news. What would a Business Class news site look like?

Good stuff here. Since moving to Ellensburg, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of online access to local news. The one local paper is the Ellensburg Daily Record, which only posts a (very) limited number of stories on its website. If you want access to the full paper without subscribing to the dead-tree edition, they offer $5/month access to the full edition. However, from what I can tell, it’s presented in a specialized, locked-down format similar to a fancy .pdf file, through the Active Paper Daily service.

Now, I’m not a die-hard “information wants to be free” crusader, and I really don’t have a problem with paying a reasonable fee for media that I’m interested in. However, I do want to be able to use the information that I pay for, and a specialized browser system like Active Paper, which presents an “exact replica of [the] print edition”, which forces me to “browse through the pages just as if [I] had the newspaper in [my] hands”, is not something I’m willing to pay for. Give me text on a webpage, RSS feeds for my newsreader…information I can use, not something that locks it away.

If the Daily Record (along with many other news sites) were to move to the “Business Class” idea as proposed in the linked article, I’d find a subscription fee for access to a better-presented, ad-free (or ad-light) version of the site entirely reasonable. Let them slap as many ads as they want on the free version of the site, break their stories into as many pages as they want to increase click counts and ad impressions for the free readers, but give me the ability to subscribe to a premium version without all the crap. That’s a model for news sites I’d love to see gain traction.

Prairie and I were watching a movie last night, and so we missed the announcement of the Big News. After the movie, as I scrolled through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, I got more and more disturbed. Not surprised, really…but I just wasn’t comfortable with most of what I was seeing people post (and was outright offended by some of it, particularly the picture going around of the Statue of Liberty holding Osama’s bloody head high…that’s uncool on so many levels, I’m a little embarrassed to see it popping up multiple times in my friend lists).

I just want to take a moment to call out three friends (one of whom I’ve never even met in person) for making posts more in line with my own feelings on the matter.

Never was a person to celebrate another person’s death. No matter how heinous they are, that is still a life.

Kirsten

OK, here are my feelings on the whole Bin Laden thing: I’m not comfortable, ethically, with celebrating any death (no matter who died, or how symbolically/politically loaded it was), but I don’t feel sorry that he died, and I hope it gives some people a sense of justice or closure. I do think that cheering someone’s (anyone’s) murder is really, really low and uncool. Just sayin’.

Lori

So, Osama’s dead. Given the man was responsible for thousands’ death, and the life-changing misery of their loved ones, there’s no question I feel justice was done, albeit at 10 freaking years’ remove. But — solely in my opinion, mind you — the proper reaction to such for an average American is not to break out Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.” A grim smile at justice performed, and then moving on with one’s life.

Mike

Thanks to the three of you (and anyone else with similar sentiments that I may not have seen) for helping confirm that I’m not alone in my reaction to the news.

Today, the Seattle PI’s Big Blog linked to an MSNBC story about how swearing can apparently help lessen how much pain is felt.

…the researchers had thought that swearing would make the cold water feel much colder, lowering the participants’ tolerance for pain and heightening their perception of it. “In fact, the opposite occurred — people withstood a moderately to strongly painful stimulus for significantly longer if they repeated a swear word rather than a nonswear word,” write the team….

What caught my eye was the opening paragraph of the MSNBC story’s description of this as “new research” — I was sure that I’d heard this before. A quick search of the website of the Neuroreport journal where the study was published quickly finds the study…and reveals that it was published in August 2009.

Admittedly, this is just a bit of a fluff piece on a slow news day. But really. Since when is research almost two years old “new”? It may well be the most current research on the subject, but new? That seems a bit of an overstatement.

The writing’s been on the wall for some time now, but it’s just been made official: tomorrow’s print run of the Seattle P-I will be its last. I’m going to want to pick up a copy somewhere.

For me, first notification of the official announcement came via @moniguzman on Twitter: “Publisher Roger Oglesby just announced in the P-I newsroom: Tomorrow will be our last print edition, but seattlepi.com will live on.”

A “breaking news” banner went up on the P-I’s website about the same time, but now there’s an official story.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will roll off the presses for the last time Tuesday, ending a 146-year run.

The Hearst Corp. announced Monday that it would stop publishing the newspaper, Seattle’s oldest business, and cease delivery to more than 117,600 weekday readers.

The company, however, said it will maintain seattlepi.com, making it the nation’s largest daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product.

“Tonight we’ll be putting the paper to bed for the last time,” Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby told a silent newsroom Monday morning. “But the bloodline will live on.”

In a news release, Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. said, “Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region.”

I’m sad to see the P-I go — of the two local papers, I always liked the feel of the P-I better than the Seattle Times. It’s a little hard for me to quantify just why (though I’m sure those who follow the media more closely than I would be able to make some educated guesses), they just more often seemed to be my paper of choice.

Best wishes to all at the P-I who are being affected by this, and best of luck to the P-I’s online-only incarnation.

So…would this be an irony FAIL or irony WIN?

16 arrested in fight at nonviolence concert: Montgomery County police say 16 people were arrested after a fight broke out during a concert held to promote nonviolence and to remember a Silver Spring teen killed last year. […] Police say fighting broke out near the stage toward the end of the concert and at least one person resisted arrest. Police say 16 adults and juveniles were arrested for offenses such as assault and disorderly conduct.

Sometime between January 15th and January 16th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • no news is bad news: An expression of the value of local news, especially in Seattle, especially in these uncertain times.
  • Cool Stuff: Olly Moss’s Poster Remakes: 21-year old UK artist Olly Moss is probably best known for his popular t-shirt designs which have virally spread across the interwebs. Olly has decided to create a series of movie posters reinterpreted in a kinda minimalistic post modern German-ism style.
  • Strong Women Steer Battlestar Galactica’s Final Voyage: In her autobiography Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher recalls her most memorable direction from George Lucas while playing Princess Leia in Star Wars: Forget about wearing a bra because "there's no underwear in outer space." The women of sci-fi have come a long way since then, and for proof, look no further than Battlestar Galactica. Returning Friday night for the start of its final half-season, the Peabody Award-winning television series continues to blend current events and religion into its thoughtful story lines. Along the way, BSG has also conjured a gender-blind universe filled with female characters of genuine substance.
  • Little Progress on Adult Literacy: One in seven adults lacks the literacy skills required to read anything more complex than a children's book, a staggering statistic that has not improved in more than 10 years, according to a federal study released last week. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy surveyed more than 18,500 Americans ages 16 and older and found about 14 percent could not read, could not understand text written in English, or could comprehend only basic, simple text.
  • Top 10 Sci Fi Flicks For The Thinking Man (beerandscifi version): How many times do we need to see Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes in a top 10 list? My list will contain alternative options with movies that you may not have seen. Also, I’m taking the liberty to make my list a list not only about “what it means to be human” but also a list where “thinking people are allowed to think.”