Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp. – The Washington Post

The bottom line: Facts matter. And propaganda is dangerous.

I’m less worried about saving the Republican Party — unfortunately, I think it can keep getting people elected by casting doubt on experts for another couple of decades at least. I’m worried about climate change, racism, etc. I welcome a diversity of opinions about how to address the issues. I don’t welcome anyone who goes beyond helpful skepticism to sow distrust of anyone doing honest research to investigate the issues in the first place.

Source: Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp. – The Washington Post

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The best Canadian songs ever

I heard the Sloan song Underwhelmed today, which naturally made me think of the best Canadian songs ever.

Apparently, the CBC made a list of 100 in 2004. (The CBC site has redesigned, so I couldn’t find the original.) Some of it makes sense. Some of it just looks like random selections from notable bands. (Seriously, Monster Hospital is the pick from Metric?) And the Guess Who’s American Woman features prominently in the great but now outdated book The Worst Rock n Roll Records of All Time. With good reason.  

I can’t do 100. But I figure I can do 10 and limit it to one per band (otherwise, I’ll have scores of Rush, Metric, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan songs). The song’s rank in the CBC list is in parentheses:

  1. Rush, Tom Sawyer (7)
  2. Metric, Gimme Sympathy (NA)
  3. Barenaked Ladies, The Old Apartment (NA)
  4. Red Rider, Lunatic Fringe (NA)
  5. Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery (40)
  6. Gordon Lightfoot, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (29, below Sundown)
  7. Alanis Morissette, You Oughta Know (31)
  8. Sloan, Underwhelmed (58)
  9. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Takin’ Care of Business (34)
  10. Bryan Adams, Cuts Like a Knife (NA)


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Skepticism vs. cynicism

One common thread in a lot of current discussions in politics and sports — we are cynical. We either immediately agree or disagree with whatever we hear.

Cynicism is dangerous. Skepticism is much better.

This piece puts it well: “The difference between skeptics and cynics is a focus on moving forward.”

Source: Skeptics vs Cynics: Problem-Solving with a Bias Towards Resolution – 99U

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Print rules, digital drools? Well …

Great quote in this POLITICO piece on the joy of newsprint:

“The print edition consistently leads me to unexpected stories I might have otherwise missed,” agrees Inc. Executive Editor Jon Fine. “I find digital editions and websites don’t have the same kind of serendipity—they’re set up to point you to more of the same thing.”

We get the Post only on weekends, and I like taking at least a couple of sections and browsing. (Yes, especially the comics, which simply have not made a solid transition online.)

But I don’t miss wrestling with a broadsheet newspaper seven days a week. And I’m puzzled that the typical newspaper has done so little to adapt its format.

First of all — broadsheet printing should only be used on Sundays, when people stretch out with the news on their coffee tables. It’s a no-go for commuters.

Before I left the newsroom, I often heard some people ask why we haven’t switched to a tabloid format or perhaps the Berliner, which is somewhere in between. It makes perfect sense. The weekday paper, if it exists at all, doesn’t need to be that size. It’s shrinking rapidly — pretty soon, each section will be one four-page sheet.

And newspapers haven’t really adapted to the shrinking paper. A daily paper should have some good medium-length features, appealing to the “serindipity” fans mentioned here, and a whole lot of briefs. And QR codes to see more online.

More than 20 years ago, our editor said he could picture different parts of the newsroom working on different products — a newspaper, a magazine, newsletters, and the website. We’ve improved the latter of those. Why not the first? And why aren’t we doing the other two?


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Journalists, merchants of fear

I thought this story about anxiety would recycle some complaints about Big Pharma and psychiatry. Nope. As it turns out, we journalists are the ones who are profiting on the misery of our customers.

In other words, I feel a little less guilty about clicking on clickbait now. Cat videos are a little less likely to make people suicidal.

Source: Why Anxiety Is The Plague Of The Modern World | Cracked.com

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Good riddance, Nancy Grace

There are now studies, pop science books, and school-mandated PSAs disseminated to prevent the sort of relentless, torch-’em-first, get-facts-later culture of overnight internet hate mobs gaslighting citizens for alleged misdeeds. But do not get it mixed up: Nancy Grace wrote the playbook on it. She made ruining people’s lives based on hearsay look like model behavior. Facebook and Twitter just helped scale it up.

Source: All the Times Nancy Grace Was Terrible – The Daily Beast

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A quick bit of Icelandic history (or why I’m rooting against my ancestors)

My favorite bio is at Popdose: “Beau Dure learned everything he needs to know about life while stuffed into the overhead compartment of a bus while writing Enduring Spirit, a book about the Washington Spirit’s first season. … He’s best known for his decade at USA TODAY, where he wrote about Icelandic handball.”

Yes, covering Icelandic handball is one of my fondest memories of USA TODAY. I went out on my own accord to see them once, telling my editors they had the potential to be an interesting story.

Far more interesting than I thought …

What we thought before this game is just to do what our forefathers did. They at most endured, like, two or three days at home in peace, and then they had to destroy something. They had to go and fight war somewhere. They went with their boats and stuff like that, and we were just on our boats, destroying something. That’s how we went to the game, just to enjoy those 60 minutes like our (unintelligible) in life. That’s what you do. That’s what you live for.

I have no idea what I asked to get a quote like that from captain Olafur Stefansson. But the rest of the team was fun as well.

It doesn’t matter what time it is, the game starts at 6 in the morning in Iceland, and I think 80-90% of the nation was watching. That’s just typical when we are doing well, everybody follows us.

So said Robert Gunnarsson, a big bull of a central player about the Olympic quarterfinal victory I covered.

Others in the U.S. media, especially Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg, took notice. He and I were among the other American journalists present when Iceland won the biggest game in its history (until today), beating Spain 36-30 in the semifinals. We went to the mixed zone to meet the well-connected first lady of Iceland, Dorrit Moussaieff, who immediately ushered us past security onto the floor, claiming Dan was her husband. (I have no idea who I was supposed to be. Chief of staff? Special Icelandic security detail?)

Gunnarsson compared the game to 300, a movie in which he very easily could’ve been an extra. Gudjon Sigurdsson told me he’d happily play in a U.S. pro handball league if we ever formed one. (Why have we not done this?!)

Moussaieff was clearly the outgoing one between herself and her husband, president Olafur Grimsson, interjecting several times in his interview with us. She was perhaps the most convincing spokesperson for Icelandic tourism imaginable.

Grimsson took office in 1996 and was widowed in 1998. So you can imagine Moussaieff as Annette Bening in The American President, sans the controversy.

Even the best stories have some dark times, though, and Grimsson and Moussaieff are leaving office under a bit of a cloud. The Panama Papers had some sort of link to Icelandic politicians and to the Moussaieff family fortune, and though no one’s being prosecuted for any misdoing, Grimsson abandoned plans to stand for re-election. The next first lady of Iceland, oddly enough, is Canadian.

That election was held in the midst of the Next Great Icelandic Sporting Achievement. The country’s much heralded soccer program has made a nice run through Euro 2016 and toppled not-so-mighty England today to reach the quarterfinals against France.

Which brings us back to 2008 …

Yes, “Dure” is a French name. But I’m rooting for revenge.

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