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August 17, 2002

Letters, We get letters! David

Letters, We get letters!

David Brin will tell you that there's no privacy anymore, that if someone wants to know something about you, they can find it out. They can do that because we leak information out into the world every day, data that streams out behind us as we move through the world like the streamer on a kite. Everybody has a data tail. If you leave your cell phone on, the police can track you. If the police can do it, it's only a matter of time before someone else decides to. Who do you know that would be interested in a map of your daily movements? I would buy one of mine just to see what it looks like, but there will be a lot of people who would buy one for less benign reasons. Everytime you interact with an electronic system another piece of data goes flying off downwind, adding to the tail. All you need to lose part of your privacy is for someone to become interested in your data-tail. And now, jaryan AT, you've attracted my attention.

From: jaryan AT
To: bigwig AT
Sent: Saturday, August 17, 2002 10:51 PM
Subject: newspaper?

Hi, Bigwig,
So, which newspaper can I trust to give me plenty of news without the shameless commie pomo twist? Washington Times? Please advise this naive ex-moron.

Hi Dr. Ryan,

Surely they have papers in Western Ontario. Have you tried the London Free Press? I don't normally read the Washington Times, as I don't feel like aiding and abetting the Moonies. Most of my news comes from the NYT, the Raleigh News & Observer, NPR, and the Internet. The more sources I have, the better feel for a story I eventually get. I can usually count on bloggers to provide or find the rightist or libertarian slant on the news, so I don't have anything I'd consider a regular source there, other the the Friends and Acquaintances of Hraka (among them Right Wing News and Armed Liberal, both of who have linked here with words of praise, so perhaps you shouldn't be so quick in your evident assumption of what my politics are). That is what bloggers do best, after all.

I am forced to guess that you're bitching about my take on the NYT story on bloggers and pamphleteers, since you didn't waste much space on establishing context. I hardly think it an extreme opinion that the NYT slants left, just as I don't think it's an extreme opinion that Fox News slants right. Fox just happens to be more upfront about it. Whether I agree with their politics or not, that's just a more honest thing to do. As it stands, I feel I have enough experience with the media to discern bias, especially when I have more than one source for a story. I would hope that a Doctor in the Department of Philosophy at Huron University would have developed some as well, in this day and age.

Out of curiousity, how does one attain the status of being both naive and an ex-moron? Surely naivete would prevent one from escaping moronism?

All the best,


Update: Should anyone like to buy a painting from Dr. Ryan, you may do so at his online store, Nature Art Online. The one of the Barn Owl is particularly nice.

Update:Dr. Ryans returns!

Hi, Bigwig,
Thanks for the note. Yes, I saw your out-of-context comment on, I think, Cold Fury. No, really, I'm not bitching or jerking you around with a sarcastic letter. I've been scandalized by liberal bias in NYT when it's shown to me (by A. Sullivan or NRO, for example). I sincerely wanted to find out whether there was a paper that presented as close to just the facts ma'am (and plenty of 'em, so a quality paper, unlike the London Free Press) until you get to the editorial page. I like the NYT because there's so much news in it. But it's hard for even this PhD to pick out front-page editorializing without reading five papers a day, especially a PhD suffering from lingering naivete. Come to think of it, as a young'un I was always good at humanities and science but in social sciences, well, I "just didn't get it".

Naivete and ex-moronism: naivete fades slowly, blindspots here and there ebbing away. But ex-moronitude can happen fairly abruptly, when something inside your brain breaks through the crust of numbskullness left by your 22-year-old self. I'm 37 and it's my picture in the dictionary under "If you weren't a liberal when you were 20, you don't have a heart. If you weren't a conservative by the time you're 35, you don't have a brain." That is, I turned out to have a brain. By the way, why is it that no one bothers to correct you when you're 22 and a moron? Or was I just not listening?

So, I guess you're saying there's nothing for it but to read several papers a day? I'll look forwad to checking your blogs. The first time I heard of you was yesterday when I read that quote. Anyway, if you think of anything else smart to say to this puppy, please say it. Say, I'll be moving back your way next Spring, back to Charlottesville, VA. The Daily Progress. Now there's a paper!


Posted by Bigwig at August 17, 2002 11:52 PM | TrackBack
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