Thursday, February 25, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Gift-wrapped horses"


Carlos Slim made his fortune in Mexican telecommunications. That is a notoriously corrupt industry in the 3rd World. Political connections often mean more than technical expertise and efficiency. His last big venture that I heard of was the now liquidated CompUSA. There may be a certain perverse logic in his approval of the NYT's efforts to turn America into a place just like the 100 or so countries that dominate the UN. If he does for the Times and information retailing what he did for electronics retailing the firm won't be around to criticize. Since they are all bits or bytes on a connection of tubes the industries are the same anyway. The connections between Newscorp, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and China are of concern. No one should get emotional though at the realization that Fox is a business like any other.

We do need help all humans do, in sorting through the available data and separating the chaff of bias leading to error. That does not mean that all biased information is untrue. If someone has an interest in telling you the truth they may. Sponsored news is a problem if it distorts and prevents you from seeing other issues with a free mind but on a given subject the honestly acknowledged lobbyist may be a good source.

Few people have the time to sift the unlit warehouses in bad neighborhoods that line the information super highway. We hope that we can judge the visitors to this space as on balance a good investment of our time to consider the information delivered and to offer small contributions. No one can rest from the need to constantly test information for credibility even as the pressure to accept something as adequate and move on is great.

Some rely on the NY Times to be their filter. Some of us at one time spent 15 to 30 minutes every day looking at Little Green Footballs. Some people test stories, or subjects with a known moral or subjective standard, often religious, to determine if the topics are worth the cost of caring about the truth. We are all mortal and time moves in one direction. We can't verify everything for ourselves. To attempt to is a sign of madness.

For a man like Mr Kember who has adopted "Pacifism" as his yardstick contrary information will not be processed. He has it automatically routed to his kill file. Any contradiction will result in the "No true Scotsman" defense. Congressman Grayson is a more familiar and therefor more comfortable breed of hypocrite. We all know how to deal with the politically contemptible even if we are uncomfortable with similar religious manifestations.

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