The Media Revolution

In 2016, the Left was super confident they had the election in the bag. So confident, in fact, they got sloppy. It was around this time that the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign, assuming President Clinton would be cool with it. They are just as confident this time, but they probably don’t have the FBI and CIA spying for them. Given what happened in 2016, you would think they would be cautious, but instead they are overflowing with certainty. They know they will win.

One reason for this is they have purged almost all dissenting voices from their preferred media platforms. The Drudge Report is so over-the-top in his anti-Trump antics it feels like a parody site now. There is some speculation that he sold out to Silicon Valley grifters, but Drudge was always a creation of Neo-Conservative Inc. His sources and sympathies were always in that world. That whole scene has fired up the NeverTrump clown car for one more ride through the public square.

Twitter is just a far-left echo chamber. They have been purging so many people from the platform, even the most determined of trouble makers has grown bored with the effort it takes to get back on and stay on the site. Sites like Reddit and 4chan are muted for fear of being shut down like 8chan. That site was shuttered by the usual suspects and had to re-spawn as a weaker version of itself. Other than Gab and semi-private platforms, the internet is tumbleweeds and left-wing cranks.

One result seems to be a soaring confidence of the Left. They are carrying on like Dementia Joe will win every state twice in November. His vote will be so strong it will change the results of the last election. That’s an amusing exaggeration, but it is at the heart of their world view. Installing Biden in the White House will allow them to memory hole the 2016 election, as if it never happened. They will probably instruct textbook makers to skip the last four years of history.

Another result is some former enthusiasts of the Trump campaign are very depressed, certain that their guy will lose and that he deserves to lose. The anti-Semites, for example, are sure everyone is abandoning Trump, because the anti-Semites have been purged from the internet. It’s really weird how those guys on the one hand claim our greatest ally controls the media, but on the other hand they intensely follow the media and accept what they see at face value.

It is a good example of how the intensely on-line can lose perspective. When all of your inputs are from on-line media sources and people who agree with you, often two sets with great overlap, you get a warped view of the world. That’s the irony in what we are seeing right now. The former Trump fans who now hate Trump look at the media and see confirmation, while the people who hate those former Trump enthusiasts see the same media and also see confirmation.

The thing is, normal white people are getting really sick of the hate whitey stuff all over the media. During the last few months, whitey has been finding refuge in watching movies and television shows. Now they are being bombarded with explicit hatred of white people. If you circulate around normal people, it comes up a lot. When it does come up, the intensity is plain as day. These are people who would be Trump voters, so it is not as if this is changing minds, but it is pissing them off.

The puzzle is, with the lack of confirmation, will these people act on their anger and frustration this November. They don’t have anyone but Tucker in the media addressing their anger. They can’t get confirmation on-line, even from dissidents, as they have either been purged from social media, toned it down or now operate in semi-private venues like this one. Tucker having record numbers, however, suggests there is a deep reserve of pissed off Trump voters.

An important tenet of modern mass media is that these big social media platforms dictate public sentiment. The Left used to say, in the before times, that their control of the media was worth as much as 4-5 points in an election. That was probably an exaggeration, but it did seem to matter. They controlled what was discussed, thus always giving the Democrats home field advantage. They are now sure their control of social media is driving public sentiment.

Is the same true of modern media? The 2016 election could be used to argue both sides of that debate. Trump used Twitter to get around and control the media, by forcing them to respond to him, rather than the other way around. On the other hand, he was confronted by a wall of sound from the Left, but won anyway. It is easy to forget, but the Left was every bit as triumphant and nasty four years ago as they are right now, but the voters did not follow along as predicted.

He also had his rallies, which had to be covered by the media. This confirmed to his supporters that they were not alone. They saw lots of normal people enjoying the rallies and they saw the cranks in the media mocking those fellow normies. It was both confirming and infuriating. That’s the thing he needs to work around this time. He needs to let his voters see that normal people are just as angry at the revolution and that the way to express it is to support Trump.

One thing that has always been true about the American Left is they think rhetoric that works once will work forever and in all situations. The word “Nazi’ has been so overused that only far-left cranks respond to it with something other than laughter. Racist is heading in the same direction, as most normal white just laugh at it now. We may be seeing something like this with mass media. The Left has so abused their control of the media that it now amplifies sentiment, rather than alters it.

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The Naked Eye

Imagine you are kidnapped off the streets and after a period blindfolded isolation transported to a small coastal village. instead of being chased by a balloon-like automaton, you find yourself constantly watched by cameras. You begin to notice that everywhere you go, there is a camera. You even discoverer them in the bathroom and in your sleeping quarters. Further, these cameras are beaming your activities to a large screen in the middle of the village in real-time.

Once you discovered the reality in which you were now living, you would begin to mull over the consequences. For example, escape would no longer be a possibility, as the cameras would be broadcasting your efforts in real-time. You could not try to plot with others in the village, as that would be broadcast to the whole village as well. Of course, things you may do in private, but never in public, would suddenly become public, once you forgot about the camera and did them as usual.

This is a good plot for a sci-fin story, but it is pretty close to reality now for cops in the United States. They don’t have to deal with cameras in the toilet yet, but they are recorded constantly as they go about their jobs. Often, they are recorded without their knowledge, so they now must assume they are always performing in front of an audience that is hostile to them. They get called to handle a misbehaving black and there will be an army of militant millennials holding up cellphones.

It is not just cameras on the street. The use of selective editing, which has become a feature of these hoaxes, means the cops wear body cams. Remember back to the O.J. Simpson trial and the cops had to deal with secret audio recordings of themselves long before Simpson murdered his wife. Mark Furman’s life was ruined by recordings of himself using colorful metaphors in an interview years prior. Cops are fired now for private communications that become public.

One thing these latest batch of riots seem to be revealing is that conventional policing is impossible in the Synopticon. The Panopticon is a situation where the few watch the man, like in a prison or an authoritarian state. The Synopticon is where the many watch the few, like a theater. The crowd watches the actors on the stage. In modern America, we have a combination of both. The state and its technology patterns watch us, while the masses and their cameras watch the police.

Most of the debate about the emerging surveillance state focuses on the state and its private collaborators spying on citizens. So far, we have not had a riot over Apple harvesting your metadata. We have been convulsed by video of cops beating blacks turning up on social media. Just wait until deep fakes make it possible for people to post realistic fake videos of cops abusing blacks. What happens when activists can use technology to identify the cops and that gets posted on-line?

If you are a cop, unless you are a rage-head moron, you have to realize that your range of motion is increasingly restricted. In these riots, the cops have been mostly useless, because there is no way for them to be effective. Even if they are following direct orders to end the violence, they know their bosses will not back them if a video of them getting rough with a hooligan shows up on-line. If a rioter captures one of them using colorful language in a melee with rioters, the cop is fired.

We think of privacy as just the area of our life that is off-limits to the public, but in reality, privacy is a spectrum. There are things that exist only in our head or perhaps with a few people in our lives. Then there are things known to family and close friends. Out further and there are things that are known to the community or maybe the workplace. The most distant belt is where we are supposed to find the things available to anyone interested enough to discover them, like an address or phone number.

Technology is collapsing the normal structure of privacy. There are things that get done in public that should not be broadcast to the world, just as there are things done in private that should not be made public. Those cops who took down the Gentle Giant did not spring from nothing. They were operating in the context of a career dealing with these sorts of people. The bit of the event we see is not the entirety of the event, It is devoid of context that would change how we view it.

This is happening all over. An academic, for example, discussing speech laws at a conference, could be secretly recorded. The recording is then edited to only include his recitation of prohibited words and phrases. All of a sudden, he is being forced into a struggle session by the mob. Alternatively, we have the situation of a jilted lover releasing private information about a public man. Things said in the heat of the moment, assumed to be private, suddenly become public.

There are some inevitable results of this. One is what we see with the cops. They can no longer do their job without personal risk, so they will evolve to avoid any situation where they could be shown in a bad light. We will no doubt see laws passed that ban the filming of rich people and politicians. They will not want to be subjected to what is happening with the cops. We’re already seeing signs in public buildings banning the use of cellphone cameras, Soon, phones will be banned entirely.

The more important change will be the contraction of the public space. On the one hand, those with nothing to lose will feel liberated in the public space. On the other hand, the auxiliary volunteer army of ideological enforcers will be emboldened to go crazy recording and reporting everyone. Those with anything thoughtful or controversial to say will flee the scene entirely. Even private conversation will collapse, as you cannot trust anyone to respect the ancient rules governing privacy.

Another consequence will be the collapse of what remains of trust. If you are a dissident, for example, you will no longer speak with anyone in possession of a mobile phone, even if you know them. In fact, the new tracking laws will mean all dissident will meet without phones. Not only will they fear recording; they must fear tracking, as the tech companies share this data with Antifa now. To voice a controversial idea now means living in a world closer to organized crime than politics.

Even apolitical people will have to assume that even their closest friends will be tempted to fink on them. Think of the “leaked” video of stars or ballplayers at private events or in private phone calls. These are all leaked by people close to the subject, so everyone now must distrust even their closest friends. The Synopticon will accelerate us into the no-trust society. The only place trust will exist is in secret societies that enforce their codes of silence the old-fashioned way.

In a world of a million leering eyeballs following your every move, lots of necessary things will simply stop happening. They will have to retreat to the world of intimate thought, but even there, coded to make it impossible to publicize. Outside, in the outer rings of the public-private spectrum, life will become simultaneously more intolerant and more vulgar. It will be a riot of uninhibited vulgarians and reckless scolds, where no useful work necessary for society can be done.

It remains to be seen if such a world can function. The riots suggest there is a point where the machine just stops. On the other hand, within living memory, people thought the current state was beyond the pale. Maybe people in the Synopticon will quickly evolve to become the uninhibited vulgarian or the reckless scold. Or maybe as we see in these cities, we stagger from one crisis to the next until finally the people are exhausted. We collapse while livestreaming it to the world.

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The Digital Opiate

Imagine a science fiction scenario in which you and your crew discover a planet inhabited by intelligent beings that possess no written or spoken language. This strange species communicates entirely with facial movements, eye contact, and other non-verbal gestures. Perhaps in addition to an astonishingly complex set of facial muscles, they have additional limbs used for signaling complex ideas. Whatever sounds they make are more like mood music than spoken language.

It is a crazy image, but it is a useful way of thinking about language. While it is possible such a communication could work, the one obvious problem is that initially all knowledge would have to be communicated in person. If you wanted to pass on information to the guy in the next village, you would either have to go to his village or have someone do it for you. It would also mean information could die with the holder, so the culture would need lots of redundancy to retain its knowledge.

Most likely, such a communication system would be so costly, whole categories of information would be eliminated. History would have to be truncated. Imagine the effort required to pantomime the history of the Peloponnesian War. Communicating advanced math would be impossible. Imagine describing a Lorentzian manifold with hand gestures and facial movements. Even a highly advanced visual communication system would rule out large swaths of information.

It’s not just that the categories would be constrained. The concept of history, for example, may not exist at all. If it did, it would be highly personalized, since all communication would be personal. Without a writing system or some other way to record information that is independent of the sender, the concept of a fact-based history would be improbable. This species could conceive of the past, but only in the most personal sense of it and as related to the present.

There would be something else about such a communication system. Because the lack of efficiency, time would have to be compressed. That is, the highest priority would be on the events of the present time, then those in the very near future and then the immediate past. The further events, ideas or concepts got from the present in either direction, the less important they would be to the society. The species with only a visual communication system would live almost entirely in the moment.

In the 1984 book, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Neil Postman argued that a particular medium can only sustain a particular level of ideas. The written word requires the intellectual involvement of the reader. The information presented can be tested and contemplated as it is consumed. Oral communication is more immediate, as the listener cannot playback what was just said, unless it is recorded. Video is the most superficial, as the viewer is a passive participant.

The thesis was that the superficial nature of video communication was removing facts and reason from public discourse and replacing them with emotion. People will take one side or another of an issue, because they favor the people making the argument, not because they think about the facts. Politics ceases to be about facts and arguments and becomes a sales pitch, like an ad for a product. No one thinks about the claims made in the presentation, just how they feel about the presenter.

Postman was writing before the internet. He could not contemplate how that would change public communication. The internet has immediacy. In addition to the superficiality of visual communication, it now comes as a steady stream through the wide array of screens in our lives. Even if you are not on social media, you will still absorb a steady stream of small bits of information. These are intended to elicit an emotional response regarding some pubic issue.

For older people, the legacy mediums still play a large role. Old people still read physical newspapers. Radio talk shows and television still have an audience, but the audience is generally those who came of age before the internet. Old people are on-line, but they experience it as a digital form of the legacy media. At the other end of the age curve, kids get all of the information on-line. Social media, YouTube and live streams are their exclusive sources of information.

Think about the last two months of virus panic. First the stream was intended to frighten everyone with images of overwhelmed hospitals and morgues. The factual content of the presentation was nonsensical. We did not see actual hospitals or people staggering around suffering from the virus. Instead it was models and people pitching the panic, like salesman in an infomercial. Postman’s framing of television news as infotainment has now been supercharged in the internet age.

We have moved beyond the three mediums of written, oral and visual, by adding the element of time. The rapid stream of information coming to us in mostly visual formats, or at least as superficial as the visual, amplifies the emotional aspect that was always central to visual presentations. People are bombarded with inputs that are evaluated in the moment and the appropriate emotion is generated. It is why people get so angry at contradiction on-line. That’s the point of the experience.

Our modern media environment is now something like “the feelies” in Huxley’s Brave New World. This was a popular form of entertainment that combined the senses of smell and touch in a movie format. The “movie” lacks the normal content of a movie, but instead stimulates the viewer into certain emotional states. The responses created in the viewer, combine with images, reinforce the social order. It is a form of propaganda that circumvents the rational mind and appeals to the emotions.

The live stream phenomenon is similar. These are often ad hoc, with the streamer starting his stream when the spirit moves. Some are more regimented in their schedule, but they rarely start on time and they go as long as they like. The people tuning in are not looking for facts and reasoned arguments. Instead they want reassurance and confirmation. These streams have communities that exist around the live streamer. It’s virtual information and a virtual community.

This brings us back to that civilization of aliens. They would inevitably be trapped in the present, because of the limitations of their communications medium. Their information would also be highly personal, as there would be no way to communicate without the idiosyncrasies of the sender getting tangled in the message. Part of the information the receiver would get is the particulars of the sender. Information could no longer stand outside the person. It would be defined by the sender and receiver.

We are seeing this today. Live streamers are making a living by talking and playing games as a type of performance. Their community sends them money in order to get mentioned or have their comment mentioned. In fact, the community becomes a part of the performance, a sort of codependency. The streamer interacts with the community in order to move the show along, but the community interacts with the streamer in order to tailor the experience to their desires in the moment.

Of course, it also means our public discourse must be even more shallow and superficial than what existed in the peak of the television era. It also must be even more intensely present tense. The old written information stream was an interconnected collection of facts and logic. The new information stream is a constant series of highly personalized, but disconnected bits of data intended to elicit an emotion. The digital opiate keeps the sender and receiver in a constant present.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Thoughts On Modern Media

One of the things people have always believed about modern media is that video beats audio and audio beats the written word. Before the rise of “new media” on the internet, this meant television was better than radio and radio better than newspapers. In the internet age, the assumption now is that live streamers have greater reach than podcasters and podcasters have a greater reach than bloggers. Mixed in there are people who exist only as entities on social media platforms.

One reason for this assumption is youth culture. In liberal democracy, the young are treated like gods, in the same way novel social ideas are treated as gifts from the gods, so whatever young people like is heralded as pure and beautiful. Young people, especially children, are first drawn to images, then sounds and finally as they mature into adults, the written word. In modern liberal democracies, therefore, video platforms are treated like sacred altars where our most sacred members perform.

The youth culture phenomenon has co-evolved with the rise of mass media. In the days before mass media, young people were at the bottom of the cultural hierarchy. The first flicker of youth culture in America was the jazz age, but even there the people driving it were old by modern standards. The characters in The Great Gatsby, for example, are mostly early middle-aged. It was after the war with the explosion of Hollywood that youth culture blossomed into the centerpiece of modern life.

Another reason why video maintains a privileged place at the top of our social hierarchy is Baby Boomer culture. For Boomers, for whom mass media evolved, video was always the top. In the golden age of television, for example, the whole country would watch popular television programs. No newspaper or radio broadcaster had the reach of a popular television program. Hitting the big time in the field of news or entertainment meant getting on TV or in the movies.

As much as young people, and not so young people, complain about the Baby Boom generation, the Boomers still control the culture. That is plainly obvious with the panic over the Chinese virus. If the Boomers were twenty years younger, the virus would rate a few mentions in the New York Times science section. Since Boomers are now deeply involved in the health care system, anything medical is going to be of utmost importance to everyone. It is why nurses are now heroes.

Putting all that aside, there is a curious truth about these different platforms that has gone unnoticed. The actual reach of video these days is much lower than the past and probably at the bottom of the hierarchy. For example, Tucker Carlson is the most popular cable talker. He gets about three million viewers per night. The regular audience for cable chat shows is probably around ten million people. The New York Times has more readers than that. Same with other news sites.

On the internet, where it is much more difficult to gate-keep the content, the disparities are even more stark. Popular live streamers get a few thousand live views and their replays get 20-30 thousand views. A variation of the Pareto Principle is clear as day as a handful of top streamers dominate the view counts while 90% or more are small fish with small viewer counts. The gamer PewDiePie, for example, probably accounts for half of D-Live’s traffic, maybe even more of it.

In the political realm, the data is starker. Nick Fuentes gets about 30-thousand viewers to his show each night. The bulk of it is the same people, as his subscriber count mirrors his view counts, assuming either number is accurate. When he was on YouTube his numbers were briefly higher, but that was due to the phenomenon of the “groyper war” that got him national attention. Again, these numbers are suspect, but let’s just assume his unfettered reach is somewhere around 50-thousand.

Greg Johnson’s site, Counter-Currents, gets about 300-thousand unique visits every month, according to his reporting. The Unz Review probably gets two to three times that traffic, maybe even more. There are dozens of sites catering to outsider politics that get much bigger audiences than Fuentes and he’s the big dog now. When you drop into the typical streamer, the difference becomes amusing. A “popular” streamer, someone that thinks they are a big deal, gets about 10-thousand views.

Getting back to where we started, in new media, the old rule is in reverse. The written word beats the spoken word and the spoken word beats video. Again, the metrics used in these formats are suspect and the comparisons are not equal. Unz and Counter-Currents have a fleet of contributors, while streamers are solo acts or maybe a team operating a single show. Even so, a blogger like Heartiste probably had over 100-thousand readers at his peak, double that of Fuentes.

There’s something else to throw into the mix. There is a difference between viewership, reach and influence. Take a poll of random Americans and more of them will have some familiarity with Nick Fuentes. They may not know anything about Fuentes, other than he is the “Nazi kid on the internet”, but his name will be familiar to them, because they have heard it on their preferred media. Ron Unz, on the other hand, may as well be witness protection. He is an unknown to most everyone.

The fact is, video is still the format with the greatest reach. People are much more likely to share a video clip than copy text from a site and mail it to a friend. They may share a link on their social media platform, but people are much less likely to click the link than watch the video. That’s how Tucker Carlson is a household name, despite the fact that 90% of American adults do not watch his show – ever. With video, you can become wildly famous even though most people never see you.

Now, reach is a different thing than influence. Does Nick Fuentes influence people with his nightly show? In his case, he probably does. Kids are drawn to his act, then passively pick up his politics. Carlson, on the other hand, plays to an established audience that has always existed. He just makes their priors more fun. That said, the typical Counter-Currents reader was a white nationalist before they found that site, which is the main appeal. Greg caters to that existing audience.

The most likely answer with regards to reach and influence is that the written word is the main driver of opinion. Few people reading this will know the name F. Roger Devlin, but his book Sexual Utopia in Power is largely responsible for the entire “man-o-sphere” genre on-line. If we extend that out to the pick-up artists, anti-feminists and others, Devlin has had more influence on men than all of the live streamers combined. His influence will continue into the next generations.

Finally, one last thing about these media platforms. In the legacy media, the newspaper man dreamed of getting a spot-on radio, as the hours were shorter and the pay better than being a beat writer or columnist. The radio guys dreamed of getting a television gig, because the pay was orders of magnitude better. ESPN hoovered up anyone with the least bit of talent for video, because they paid better. Tucker Carlson abandoned writing for television in order to get rich as a personality.

A similar, but smaller scale phenomenon seems to be working in new media. The reason there are so many live streamers is they make money at it. Nick Fuentes makes over $200,000 from his D-live platform. J.F. Gariepy claims to be making six figures with his live stream. These monetization systems like Stream Labs, Entropy and Super Chats sprung up because they can skim a bit from the flow of cash from viewers to these live streamers. Even the little guys make decent money.

In contrast, blogs and websites remain the ghetto of the internet. Three times a year Steve Sailer has to beg for money just to avoid living in a homeless camp. Greg Johnson is constantly looking for money to keep the lights on. These guys have vastly larger audiences than the live streamers, but a fraction of the income. Readers just refuse to support the writers they like, while viewers will take out a mortgage to pay the cable bill, so they can watch their favorite programs.

The reason for this is the way people engage the creator on these platforms. The old saying about the difference between television and radio is that television is a warm medium, while radio is a hot one. A television personality is like a guest at a party, in that they are engaging, but avoid being loud or animated. Radio guys have to be loud and excited in order to grab the listener’s attention. Most people consume audio content while doing other things, so the host has to get their attention.

What this means is the person consuming video is not really there for the content, but rather the social interaction. Live streaming allows the viewer to feel like they are in a party where the streamer is the guest of honor. Television news is loaded with amiable airheads for the same reason. People will welcome a dunce into their home if he is fun at parties, but not invite the smart guy with the unpleasant demeanor. People are willing to pay a lot to be flattered by a good guest in their home.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Meta-Movie Man

They say art holds a mirror up to society, which means something becomes art when it reveals the nature of society or just nature itself. The classical nude statues are art, rather than pornography, because they are idealized representations created to celebrate the human form. Literature becomes art when it portrays society in such a way that it reveals certain truths about the age. For example, The Great Gatsby is art, because it captures the age and the reality of materialism.

Whether or not movies can rise to the level of art is debatable, as the medium is superficial by design. Another aspect of art is it tempts the person experiencing it to think about things they may not be naturally inclined to consider. Motion pictures are a passive medium, encouraging the viewer to relax and let the images flashing past him do all the heavy lifting. Citizen Kane is considered the best film ever made, but it does not rival literature in terms of artistic impact.

That said, maybe movies should be judged on a narrower artistic standard, in that maybe the best they can do is reflect attitudes of the age. The science fiction shows on the later-50’s and early-60’s, for example, reveal the optimism of the age with regards to scientific progress. Fast forward a generation and science fiction films reveal the fear and disappointment in science. Today, science fiction is mostly multicultural personal drama in space, revealing the feminization of our age.

In other words, like pop music, a movie can be considered art if it comes to symbolize the times in which it was made. The 1970’s movie Saturday Night Fever can be called art, because it reflects the vulgarity of the time. The movie Terminator is a reflection of the anxiety over the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. These movies are not art because they achieve some high technical standard, but simply because they were popular, touching some nerve with the public at the time.

It is a low standard, for sure, but popular culture is a low-brow product made for profit, not artistic achievement. The performers and characters in the business of producing this content can call themselves artists, but in reality, they are just the modern version of carny-folk, tolerated by society for entertainment purposes. The elevation of the profane in the modern age, is itself a statement about the age and the people, who have taken over control of the culture. Our is the age of vulgarians.

Putting that aside, by this standard, Quentin Tarantino is probably one of the great artists of the modern age. His movies tend to reflect some aspect of the times, in an exaggerated and juvenile manner. He makes movies that his ten-year-old self wanted to see, so they tend to lack anything resembling complexity and instead feature exaggerated characters that even a child can grasp. They are morality tales for stupid people, who are not all that interested in lectures about morality.

His latest film, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, is a long boring buddy story about a fading television actor. It is set in late-1960’s Los Angeles and references every popular news event of the period. The point of the film is to tell the people, who came of age in that time, especially those who grew up in Los Angeles, that it was a great time to be a young American. It was also a great time to be famous, as you got to party and bang starlets, even if you were a minor television star.

Tarantino, of course, is a meta-movie maker. He tends to make movies about movies and the world around movies. All of his shows are celebratory versions of the B-movies he watched growing up as a kid. In some respects, he is the Gen-X movie maker, in that his stories never end well, but the bad endings don’t offer a larger critique of the times or offer a lesson about the characters. In other ways, they lampoon the long shadow of the Baby Boom culture the 60’s and 70’s.

You see that in his latest film. The people are living in an idyllic time, where they can have great lives with little actual work. That time in California was probably the best time and place to live in post-war America. Yet, the degeneracy of the people and the pointlessness of their existence eventually destroyed that society. Modern Los Angeles is homeless camps and third world peasants. A white person growing up in that squalor will come to hate their ancestors for having created it.

That’s the funny thing with Tarantino. He grew up watching cheesy B-movies and re-runs of 1960’s television shows. Much of that content was science fiction. Yet, he has yet to make a movie about the future or even a B-movie version of it. The space movies of his youth would make good fodder for his brand of film, but instead all of his stuff is set in the past. From an artistic perspective, he is a man backing through life, watching was passes into the fading mists of his age.

Again, whether movies can be considered art is debatable. Art should be lasting and movies just don’t hold up over time. Still, by a lower standard, one that simply relies on cultural relevance, Tarantino would be counted as an artist. His movies speak to a people living in steep cultural and demographic decline. His latest celebrates the memories of a generation who will literally be gone in a generation. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is an epitaph for a generation and a nation.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Attention Rather Than Merit

Attention, as in other people noticing someone, is a necessary part of status, which itself is an integral part of the human condition. Human organization is hierarchical, with the most successful males at the top and the least successful at the bottom. In order for a male to gain status, he must get attention for whatever deeds are rewarded by the community in which he exists. Status seeking therefore requires attention seeking to the extent that others notice the status establishing act.

For most of human history, the causal relationship was pretty simple. The man did something that was important for the community in a way that was better than the average man of the community. Hunting for example. He may parade his success around before the rest of the tribe as a way to show off his skill. This got the attention of the tribe and he was recognized for his skill. This recognition of his achievement increased his status within the tribe.

As people settled into communities, the types of skills rewarded by the community increased along with the customs for celebrating them. The Roman triumph was nothing more than a way to give attention to the triumphant general, in order to celebrate his victories and therefore increase or secure his status. The American habit of having a daylong celebration for installing a new President is really just the modern equivalent of the Roman triumph. We celebrate the man for his victory.

Spin this telescope around and it is fair to say that attention is a normal human trait that is expressed in all times and places. This male desire for attention is rooted in the desire for status. This is, of course, entangled with the female desire for the attention of high status males. That in turn leads men to find new challenges in order to show off their prowess. Even the most extreme example of sacrificial piety may simply be the manifestation of status seeking.

Whether it is conquering new lands or increasing the prosperity of the people, the need for attention and status is the main driver of human history. The need to be better than those who came before you, in order to get attention and therefore status, naturally leads to increasing the stock of human accomplishment. Each generation seeks to surpass their ancestors in the things important to their people. The young are always in competition with the shadows of their ancestors.

If we just focus on attention seeking in the modern age, it reveals a lot about what is valued in this age, what will provide status. For example, in modern sporting events, the players are always looking to draw attention to themselves in various ways. The most popular way is to perform some form of boogie dance after a play. In American football, the boogie dance now accounts for a large amount of the player’s attention, as they practice these routines for hours.

Outside of sports entertainment, social media provides the best opportunity for one to gain attention. Males will post outrageous things in order to offend what they believe to be convention. Alternatively, they will post exaggerated versions of some ideal with which they want to be associated. The Bronze Age Pervert cultivated a cult following by posting exaggerated claims about himself and his lifestyle on Twitter. He got lots of attention to a virtual version of himself.

A recent example of this phenomenon is the story of a guy, who created a fictional version of himself as a high stakes sports gambler. A young male calling himself Robert Gorodetsky, made a name for himself pretending to be a big time gambler. His status was first cultivated by using Instagram to get attention to his outlandish behavior in and around the professional gambling scene. This gained him attention and status, as well as some suckers willing to give him money.

It is tempting to say this was just a swindle, but the evidence suggests his primary motivation was attention. The money he got was all used to promote his image on-line. He wanted to be known as this high stakes gambler, but he really had no desire to be an actual gambler. It appears he just burned through the cash like any other idiot. The purpose of it all was to be a big deal on Instagram.

By just looking at how males today seek attention, what we see is that they are mostly empty gestures. There is no merit at the core of the act. Rather than parade around the village with their kill, they are parading around empty handed, making wild claims about what they did on the hunt. Status in this age is now gained by telling increasingly bizarre and outrageous fishing tales. It is a desire to seek attention, and therefore status, without first doing anything of merit.

This is not just a phenomenon among the proletariat on-line. In fact, it is a habit learned by watching the elites. Status in areas like politics or entertainment is often just the result of clever attention seeking. In the music business, attention seeking has been industrialized and monetized. In politics, the people running for office take pride in having never accomplished anything. In fact, never have tried to accomplish anything is the badge of honor. A man of deeds is wholly unwelcome.

Of course, this is further evidence of the feminization of society. Attention without merit is an entirely female trait. Males take great risks to accomplish things for which they will get acclaim and status. Females use their natural charms to gain the attention of the high status males. For the female, the accomplishment is in gaining attention, rather than in doing something that results in attention. Today’s male social media stars are highly feminized males performing female roles.

One possible reason for this is that the avenues for gaining male status have been cut off by modernity. Richard Spencer cleverly played on this to attract an audience of young males on-line. His “Faustian man” stuff was an appeal to the natural desire of males to accomplish great things. Ironically, it was just an attention seeking act by someone with no accomplishments. Even so, it is another bit of evidence to suggest there is an unrealized desire at the core of this new attention seeking.

Another possible reason is we have quickly evolved into a state where high-testosterone males are marginalized, in favor of more compliant and less threatening low-testosterone males. The defense mechanism of the neoliberal order is to flip the normal status system on its head. The new world order is a matriarchal structure that rewards empty gestures and attention seeking. This would also explain the whole tranny thing.  Males now compete to be women.

Whatever the reason, we now live in an age in which genuine merit has no value, while pointless attention seeking is the coin of the realm. A young male would rather invest his time building his YouTube platform than acquiring practical skills that allow him to accomplish practical deeds. Because attention is disconnected from accomplishment, all attention is the same. This would be why young males have turned the movie Joker into an instant cult classic.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Media Awakening

In the current crisis, one of the useful and clarifying ways to divide people is in how they respond to the mass media. On the one hand are those who just assume everything reported, regardless of the alleged partisan bias, is fake. It’s manufactured for some undisclosed reason and fed to the many airheads working in media. The other side of this dive are those who still think the political theater is real. They take one side or the other in the mock battles between the two wings of the bipartisan uniparty.

You see this in the “fake news” stuff among Trump supporters and opponents. For those supporting Trump, the fake news outlets are those that “report” bad things about their guy, while the real news outlets are the sites that sing his praises. Of course, the people in the anti-Trump camp take the opposite view. In other words, these people don’t think the news is fake. They think the other side’s news is fake. It’s the same old Red Team – Blue Team dynamic, just decorated with new language for the Trump era.

For the legacy people, the fake news meme has been a coping strategy to deal with the collapse of the old politics. Every day, an assumed partisan comes out and says something that seems at odds with his side. This past week, so-called liberals have been out saying all the things neocons used to say in the Bush years, regarding the forever wars on behalf of Israel. They have all but called Tulsi Gabbard a dirty hippy for her support for a withdraw from the never-ending Middle East theater.

It really is incredible to watch the assault on Gabbard. Her position on foreign policy is what we were told was the mainstream of the Democrat party. Even before Bush and the neocons bankrupted the nation on pointless wars of choice, the America Left was anti-intervention. They were the side that argued for multi-lateral talks and negotiated settlements to disputes. For eight years Obama preached this line, as he cut deals with Iran and allegedly pulled troops out of the Iraq disaster.

Now, politics is about lying, so lying about past positions, even if those positions were held just an hour ago, is nothing new. The game is to attack an opponent for their lack of purity at the moment, thus elevating yourself. When Hillary Clinton attacked Gabbard as a Russian asset, it was about trying to rehabilitate Clinton, at the expense of Gabbard, not about the facts as presented. Clinton is worried that the investigation into her 2016 election shenanigans may leave her holding the bag.

That’s something even the naivest legacy person can grasp. It is the conduct of the media that is the tell. Instead of pointing out that Gabbard is saying the same thing all of the Democrats, including Barak Obama, said during the Bush years, they are piling on the Syria issue. The far Left is even joining in on attacking Gabbard as a tool of Putin, Assad and other bogeymen of the Left. In other words, we don’t have a media in modern America. What we have are amplifiers of the party line.

It is not just the left-wing engaged in this. It works on all sides engaged in the official political process. This post in American Conservative is a good example. It is written by one of the army of dingbats in the Washington dingbat chorus. The people hired by B and C list news sites, are young, dumb and eager. They repeat what they are told with breathless enthusiasm and seriousness for whoever will pay them. They don’t ask questions, because they dream of making it big in political media.

That story is complete nonsense. It is the neocon line of attack on Trump, hoping to finally destroy Trump, before he dismantles their forever war regime. The line being pushed is that any inquiry into Ukraine is illegitimate. Since all of these people are up to their eyeballs in Ukrainian corruption, the last thing they want is a thorough examination of American involvement there. Joe Biden is not the only guy who was taking bribes from various Ukrainian oligarchs over the last decade.

American Conservative is supposed to be an anti-war, non-intervention publication, but here they are pimping the neocon party line. Like the people at Mother Jones, what the people at American Conservative want most is to be in the club. The so-called ideological positions and resulting policy claims are just decoration. In the end, even the fringe media is just another amplifier of the party line. Their dissent is a sales pitch to keep the racket going. Otherwise, they repeat what they are told.

That right there is the divide in retail politics. One side gets this and the other side is still trapped in the old model. The legacy people still spend their time pointing out the hypocrisy, thinking this time it will make a difference. The dissidents, when they pay any attention to it at all, just note that our media is propaganda. That “both sides” are working for the same team. Otherwise, retail politics is a game for legacy people, who still visit the Drudge Report and watch cable news programs.

This is probably where the awakening for most people will start. The journey to this side of the political divide begins with awakening to the fact the media, small and large, is just propaganda. The people pitching it are not any side but the official one. If word comes down that Marxism is the new conservatism, Ben Shapiro will be doing show in the glories of Lenin and Mark. When people wake up to this reality, they begin their journey as a dissident. It may be that fake news is the dissident’s best weapon.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Monsters and Heroes

A common plot for a heroic tale is one where a people are under threat from a supernatural monster or maybe a person possessed by great evil. The king is either unable or unwilling to defend the people from the threat, so a great hero emerges to do that which the king is supposed to do. The hero then goes off to face the threat, defeats it thus saving the people and writing his name in the book of heroes. Probably the oldest existing version of this is the Old English epic poem Beowulf.

Now, more sophisticated versions of this plot will bring the king into the story line by exploring the reasons he cannot or will not defend his people. Maybe the king is playing a double game, where he hopes to summon the hero, who he sees as the greater threat, in order to get him killed by the monster. Alternatively, the king is weak or incompetent, thus he represents failed leadership. His character in the story is a reminder of the risk of to a people tolerating bad leaders.

Now, with that in mind, fast forward to the current age and consider what is happening in American public life. For starters, we have an economic system that cannot be described as anything but predatory. The issue has become so acute, even The Wall Street Journal has had to take note. The reason for the collapse of the America middle class is well known. The active efforts to suppress wages, while maintaining a usurious financial system, is draining the life out of the middle-class.

Again, the reasons for this are fairly well understood and, more important, we know who is behind the policies causing it. People have been writing about the financialization of the economy since the 1970’s. Way back when Wall Street convinced Congress they should auction off the manufacturing base, analysts on the Right and Left identified the prime mover behind this phenomenon. The monster that is savaging the people is well known, yet the king does nothing to defend his people.

Concomitant with the financial collapse of the middle-class has been the spiritual and cultural collapse. Probably the most symbolic aspect of this is the opioid crisis, which has put its icy hand on every shoulder of society. It’s not just an urban thing like prior drug epidemics or a class thing like crime. Look at the number of high profile people who ended up in a rehab facility after getting hooked on pain killers. Every week, the nation’s obituaries are full of stories about opioid related deaths.

Again, this is not some great mystery. On the one hand, you have people like the Sackler family who basically got a license to kill. They used it to flood the nation with legal drugs and induced doctors to hand them out like candy. Similarly, the flood of fentanyl from Mexico is well understood. We know who is doing this to the American people, yet the people in charge barely acknowledge it. The monster that is savaging the people is well known, yet the king does nothing to defend his people.

We have spent three years being lectured by our betters about those clever Russians and their Facebook ads, threatening our democracy. It was a giant hoax, of course, and we know why the hoaxers perpetuated it. They were covering up a seditious plot to subvert the 2016 election. The fact that it was a hoax does not mean there are no threats to the political order. We know, for example, that the tech giants are deliberately trying to subvert the democratic processes.

Again, this is not some mysterious thing that is just coming to light. It has been happening for a long time now. Here we have Silicon Valley trying to bully British media outlets to not interview Farage. Here we have a former Google exec explaining how his former employer interferes in elections. What’s happening with these tech oligopolies is not some great puzzle that has just coming to light. The monster that is savaging the people is well known, yet the king does nothing to defend his people.

The pattern is unmistakable. Time after time the people come under threat from a well understood enemy of bourgeois order and time after time the people in charge do nothing about it. Only the most naive think the Epstein affair or the massive corruption in the FBI will be addressed. At this point, everyone knows the plot. The flow of stories will slow to a trickle and then the whole thing will be forgotten. In time, Epstein’s plotters will be partying with the FBI plotters at Lois Lerner’s Vineyard mansion.

The people are under threat by a variety of monsters. It’s not just Grendel, but Grendel’s mother and the whole extended family. The people in charge, whether out of fear, avarice or degeneracy do nothing about these threats. People thought the Orange Knight was the hero, who could slay the monsters and bring peace to the people, but thus far he has remained under his desk, posting insults on Twitter. In fact, the king sees the hero as a greater threat than the monsters that savage his people.

If our version of this tale is to be recounted in future generations, the plot will have to take a different turn. Ours will have to be the version where the people, seeing the king undermine and plot against the hero, finally realize that the real monster vexing them is the one who rules over them. Every society is under threat from monsters, often ones they created or allowed to develop in their ranks. The people who survive are those who figure it out and either find a hero to slay the monster or do the job themselves.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Modern Dionysia

For the longest time, the Right, variously understood, has argued that the best weapon of the Left is control of the media. The fact that they own the megaphones of society gives them the ability to overcome the best arguments, merely by putting their message on blast to the general public. When everyone in the media agrees with them and agrees that the opposition is evil, it changes a lot of minds. In a democracy, the people who control the organs of propaganda control the democracy.

While it is true that controlling the propaganda organs is vital to the Left, it misses an important point. That is, controlling the cable news shows or the major print publications is only useful if you know how to use them. The Left not only has control of the media, but they are experts at using this control. A vital part of that mastery is they are experts at anticipating how their opponents will respond to their media campaigns. They are expert showman who account for every aspect of theater.

For example, they have always known that the so-called conservatives crave the chance to make their case to the public. They know the Right seethes when the Left gets to speak in public unchallenged. This knowledge has allowed them to master the morality play, where they bring on a conservative to make his case, but in reality he is cast into a role that emphasizes the arguments of the Left. For decades, so-called conservatives would go onto lefty shows, only to be pilloried.

If you stop and think about how this works, it is rather amazing. The Left controls the media, but manages to convince their opponents that the path to victory is getting on media platforms, controlled by the Left. That means public debate is always an uphill slog in the rain for anyone opposing them. The Left is so good at this they continue to lure in people, even after decades of setting these media traps. It’s like cats convincing mice that the only way to be a mouse is to hang out by the litter box.

This is not just a natural consequence of controlling the media either. When media people solicit people for interviews or media appearances, their go-to move is to tell the intended victim about their opportunity to reach a different audience. They will say something like, “This is a great opportunity for you to get your message out to a broader audience.” That’s the bait and they always use it because they know it works. The Left has a mastery of media and their monopoly of it.

A good recent example is Richard Spencer turning up on CNN. The producers picked him because they know he is desperate for attention and would agree to anything, as long as it got him on television. He would be happy to play the role of cartoon Nazi in the story about the evil orange racist. Not only that, they also knew it would get them enormous attention from the cuck belt that lives to insulate the Left. Dutifully, the typical dullards scolded CNN for having Spencer on the air.

What CNN did was turn their opponents into their marketing department. First, you get the white nationalists promoting a guy who, let’s face it, has been a disaster for their interests. Then the cucks light up like fire flies at dusk, blinking their disapproval at one another. Some choose to denounce the white nationalists, while others blink about how liberals are giving racists a platform. All of it funnels attention on CNN and their propaganda campaign to declare orange the new white.

It was a remarkable three cushion shot for a network that has no viewers, outside of airports and mental hospitals. It shows that even the worst talents in Progressive media are very good at using their tools. More important, they know how to manipulate their audience and their opponents. Mike Enoch has probably mentioned CNN more times this week than he has in the last five years. They triggered a guy, who is quite media savvy himself, into playing along with their program.

The trick the Left has evolved is to use their media power to tell stories. If it is the choice between the truth and an obvious lie, the public will pick the truth. If it is a choice between the unvarnished truth and a lie wrapped in a heroic tale of moral courage, the public will always side with the latter. Thus mass media is an endless series of morality tales, a Dionysia to reinforce Progressive civic morality. All the actors on the stage are cast in service to the morality tale the Left is pushing.

That’s the real lesson dissidents need to grasp. It’s not that the Left controls the media or that they are expert at using it. It’s not even that they have people like Richard Spencer ready to play whatever role they need, as long as he can get on stage. It’s that the Left maximizes this power by always fighting a moral war. They never let facts and reason become an obstacle to their morality play. It’s always about controlling public morality, as that allows them to control public behavior.

If a genuine alternative is going to rise up, it is going to have to provide an alternative to the current moral framework. In order to do that, it must cast the issues in explicitly moral terms. You don’t convert people to a new religion by explaining how their current god is empirically flawed. You offer them a better moral framework, one that allows them to feel as if their self-interest coincides with the natural moral order. That means putting on better morality plays in your own Dionysia.

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Back To A Forgotten Past

When you read old books, something you will notice is that intellectuals a century ago had a better sense of history. They did not “remember” things that happened before their time, of course, but they knew a lot about the past. Therefore, their sense of history was broader than what you see today. For most people in this age, history started somewhere around when they began to notice things. This makes for a strange sense of history, particularly for young people, as they have not been around long.

This is something that Oswald Spengler addressed in The Decline of the West, with the ancient Greeks. An interesting point he makes is that because the Greeks did not create monuments for their dead, like elaborate tombs or cemeteries, they could not build a timeline from the lives of their heroes. The Egyptians, on the other hand, would always know they were an ancient people, because they lived and died in the shadows of great monuments built by their ancestors to venerate their ancestors.

The claim is debatable, but a people’s sense of time is not universal. If you are a people without a belief in an afterlife, it will shape how you live this life, compared to those who believe in judgement after death. The possibility of eternal damnation not only alters behavior, it is a daily reminder of the brevity of a man’s life. Similarly, if you know, or at least assume, you will die young, you’re going to live fast. That is the whole basis of the “live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse” ethos of the rock star.

In modern America, the past is a foreign country to most people, even for those with an interest in history. The reason is our present is not littered with reminders of those who came before us. America has always been a live fast, die young country, so we have never centered our culture on people and events of the past. In a few weeks we will have “Memorial Day” and few people can say what it is we memorialize. What it means to most Americans is the start of summer and the consumption of summer product.

There is something to say for the live fast, die young ethos, but it makes it easy to repeat the same mistakes over and over. We see this with the mass media, which is in low regard at the moment. The inability to remember before yesterday has people thinking this is a new thing, rather than the normal state of affairs. Matt Taibbi thinks the media wrecked itself in the 1990’s, with the Lewinsky scandal. Their covering up for the Clintons was the start of the collapse of journalism and the reputation of the media.

While it was certainly a shabby performance, it was not all that different from what went on the 1980’s and it was not worse than what happened in the 1970’s. If you want to put down a marker as the starting point of modern advocacy journalism, the Watergate scandal is where it all started. That’s when narrative journalism bloomed and it made some reporters rich and famous. Since then, every upper middle-class kid entering journalism school, has dreamed of being Bob Woodward and taking down a Republican president.

The reality though, is the media has always been advocacy. There was never a time when news reporters were objective or conformed to a set of ethics. In fact, the idea of journalistic ethics is an entirely new thing. The reporters in the 1920’s would have laughed themselves silly if someone scolded them about their ethics. The newspaper man was a carouser who lived rough and played rough. Until after World War II, being in the media was a working class job with the morality of carny folk.

It is this inability to think clearly about the past that has people like Taibbi confused about what’s happening in the media. Because what’s happening is new to him, he assumes it must be new. This cultural amnesia is also why the media started thinking of itself as a priesthood back in the 1960’s. The well-scrubbed college graduates from good families showing up in newsrooms just assumed it had always been a profession for beautiful people. After all, they had never experienced anything otherwise.

The fact is, the only thing different about the media today is the scale and the uniformity of opinion. In prior ages, both sides of the political class had their media, so there was competition. As the political class collapses into a monolith, the mass media is following in the same path. The difference between Fox News and CNN is quite small, once you get past the theatrics. Sean Hannity having an aneurysm over the latest attack on Trump is the flip side of Don Lemon squealing about Trump’s last tweet.

Probably the one real difference in the modern media compared to the past, is that we are saturated with it today. In the old days, communist countries would put up loudspeakers in the middle of small towns to broadcast propaganda. Today we have the internet, mobile phones and cable television. The agit-prop is everywhere and in the case of the internet, it is actively spying on us. Our rulers are now installing listening devises in our homes in order to make sure we are consuming the correct media products.

If you are over the age of 50, you recall a time when consuming mass media was something you did on the train to work or when you got home. There were morning papers and evening papers. The evening television news was an hour. First you had the local news then the national news. If you wanted to consume a discussion of public affairs, you did so on Sunday morning. Within living memory it was easy for a man to be completely free of politics and mass media. Today it is close to impossible.

What we are seeing today, in terms of media status, is probably just a return to the historic norm. Media companies are slashing their payrolls, because there’s no money in advocacy, at least not enough to warrant lavish salaries. More and more news is being reported by low paid kids and crafty independents with a specialty. Opinion writing is becoming a hobby again. The future of mass media is the past, where the business is to sell a point of view and live like carny folk on the fringes of society.

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