RANGER AGAINST WAR: Truth is a Pathless Land <

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Truth is a Pathless Land

The devil and a friend of his
were walking down the street,
when they saw ahead of them
a man stoop down and pick up
something from the ground, look at it,
and put it away in his pocket.

The friend said to the devil,
“What did that man pick up?”
“He picked up a piece of Truth,”
said the devil.
“That is a very bad business for you, then,”
said his friend.
“Oh, not at all,”the devil replied,
“I am going to let him organize it."   
--Truth is a Pathless Land, 
Jiddhu Krishnamurti 

A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war:
wide-awake, with fear, with respect,
and with absolute assurance.
Going to knowledge or going to war in any
other manner is a mistake,
and whoever makes it might never live to regret it
--A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, 
Carlos Castenada 

There has been a sea change in the content and distribution of news since 2006, when we started RangerAgainstWar.

This week, the executioner's hood came down on disinterested reportage on National Public Radio in the form of a program covering Facebook's recent $19 Billion acquisition of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service.

Technology columnist Farhad Manjoo late of The New York Times stated disingenuously that young people don't like that their documentation of every facet of their lives (=doxxing) is being data mined. Did you get that? This suggests that the reason one opens a Facebook account is to protect one's privacy, which is absurd.

The unspoken presumption and agenda was that everyone must participate on Facebook, which is unequivocally false. (Interestingly, Manjoo wrote a book called True Enough, in which he recognized our current slide into what comedian- posing as -journo Steven Colbert called, "Truthiness" -- a way of "feeling the news".) So while Manjoo wrote a book about truthiness, virtually the entire hour-long NPR roundtable on the What'sApp story was an homage to such idiocy, meaning a lack of rigor and a puffy sycophantic awe at the latest toy.

Here's a portion of Manjoo's own truthiness (keep in mind Manjoo was formerly tech columnist at the Wall Street Journal and Slate):

"You know, (What'sApp developers) were adamant from the start that they did not want this app to feel lumbered -- you know, lumbering, sort of weighed down by advertising.
"It has no ads. They sort of have written several blog posts about how they hate advertising. And it also doesn't collect much user data because they don't have advertising. So they don't really need to kind of target you by, you know, your demographics or your location or, you know, any other information about you. So you sign on with very little information. And this is very unusual kind of in the internet industry and unusual -- very unusual for a company that's now going to be owned by Facebook"

I don't know what it means to "sort of have written several blog posts," but what are Manjoo's implications? --

  • Idealism is beautiful and making no money from advertising is idealistically beautiful.
  • What happened to FB's founder Mark Zuckerberg that he has become this profit-making titan of industry who sells ads on his sites?
  • All hail the "advertising-hating" developers of What'sApp who have just pocketed a cool $19 Billion from the sale of their app to an advertising revenue-creating giant (so much for idealism.)

Manjoo called the adamantly anti-advertising stance of the What'sApp developers an "interesting shift", but this is a mouthful of mush for there is no shift whatsoever in media's revenue-making model: advertising is king. The developers just sold their product for $19 Billion to Mr. Zuckerberg, who will gladly get his hands dirty with advertising if the developers won't.

But did anyone else listening to or moderating the program catch these glaring inconsistencies which essentially rendered the program clap-trap? It does not seem so.

This is but one example of agenda posing as information, and it happens every time you read a paper or listen to any media transmission. Today, misinformation and agenda is the norm. Some more recent lies that pop into mind:

The Week Magazine recently wrote that the rise of the Fascist far-right Jobbik party in Hungary must be due to the fact that its members are unfamiliar with its uncomfortable Nazi link. Sadly, no -- more likely the neo-Nazi members are delighted with the linkage, and hence their affiliation. Appealing as it may be to a gentle conscience, we cannot whitewash hatred by explaining it as a function of the ignorance of the practitioners.Hatred is a deliberate choice every bit as valid as choosing for tolerance.

Reporting on the Ukrainian violence, the ABC Evening News added to the case against Ukraine's Prseident Viktor Yanukovich by stating he had been ushered into office on the results of a undemocratic election. This is false, as the election was closely monitored by an international group of elections officials. Whatever claims exist against Yanukovich, they cannot be substantiated by piling on the false one of an undemocratic election.

And there is so much more, on every newscast, in every paper.

Back in 2006, some interesting and informed people landed at the new blog, RAW. One, a Norwegian anarchist, pled, "Tell us what to think, Ranger." We were somewhat amused but also flummoxed: who were we to tell anyone what to think? Our goal then, as now, was to observe and place our observations out there for consideration and dialog.

Today, the reporter's agenda is not merely obscured -- however faintly -- but it is actively championed. Writers like Ezra Klein and Glenn Greenwald are hopping on the bandwagon of providing "opinionated news", and oxymoron if ever there were. At best, it is "benevolent propaganda" ready to tell you how they think, and how you probably should, too.

More on benevolent propaganda soon.

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