New News Perspective The Junction Words

Literacy is a Human Right

An editor’s com­pan­ion to yesterday’s issue of The Tone.
Are you doing okay? I hope so. Things are real­ly bleak, right now, but we’re going to make it through this, and we’re going to come out hav­ing learned many pro­found things. I mean it.
Fri­day was Inter­na­tion­al Lit­er­a­cy Day, and I’d ask you to join me for a moment to appre­ci­ate the gift of read­ing which we all take for grant­ed in this com­mu­nica­tive renais­sance of ours, and reflect upon the fact that 1 out of every 5 human adults are still left in the dark.
Even under con­di­tions of bizarre inter­pre­ta­tion, we can sure­ly all agree that lit­er­a­cy is a human right, and that its cur­rent predica­ment is absolute­ly unac­cept­able and par­tic­u­lar­ly dire giv­en the inher­ent cul­tur­al, eco­nom­i­cal, and meta­phys­i­cal gulf between those who can read on a basic lev­el, and those who can­not.


Our insin­cer­i­ty has been off­putting for a few of you, late­ly, so I am tak­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty to sand the edges down, a bit. (Aggre­ga­tion as repa­ra­tion?) My own sto­ry’ about an anony­mous post on Portland’s Craigslist in the room/share want­ed sec­tion should at least pro­vide a good laugh, I hope. For this moment, this day, and this work, though, we are going to be nau­se­at­ing­ly gen­uine.
We are now tak­ing sub­mis­sions.
Sell it to us, or just hand it over because you love the way we look. Regard­less, get that work a-comin!
Do you remem­ber when it was ultra-hilar­i­ous and social­ly cat­alyz­ing to watch BAD MOVIES”””IRONICALLY?”””” Well, if you’re like The Movie Clos­et crew, you might reflect upon them less painful­ly than you’d think. Since Anchor imple­ment­ed their per­ma­nent episodes fea­ture, we’ve been com­pil­ing and archiv­ing our fullest radio days. Here’s one from last week. Today’s is embed­ded below.


Holy shit, our cos­mic mom can real­ly do a bizaare num­ber on a dig­i­tal cam­era! Also, Atlas Obscu­ra found a Crazy Bug Mano intent on shak­ing up the Bug Brand, and Bloomberg cap­tured the aura of Kiruna - Sweden’s North­ern­most city - as the urgency of its planned relo­ca­tion set in.
The New York­er’s first-ever TV issue shall be framed and hung on my wall. Well, maybe not - but I’ll find a way to pre­serve it, some­how because it is a rel­ic, already. Tele­vi­sion was sup­posed to be mak­ing arrange­ments right about now, but its demen­tia final­ly found anoth­er body in the nick of time, and now all of our nights are spent com­pul­sive­ly pac­ing the White House.
In movie the­atres, I sit in the dark and let worlds wash over me. Back in the light, I’m pulled toward screens inside of screens.”
Thanks to Come­di­an Pat­ton Oswalt - with whom I share a birth­day - we are allowed along for a mid­dle-aged white man’s jaunt through the lead­ing edge of Greater YouTube devian­cy. That is to say - we are watch­ing Dad on YouTube, and he likes movies. Keep him away from YouTube Poop, and every­thing will be just fine.
These iso­lat­ed moments, though for­ev­er affixed into the larg­er machin­ery of the movie, stay with me, burn into me hot­ter than the movie itself. Every mem­o­rable movie has such moments.”
◍ He is not dis­en­gaged from his mate­r­i­al, but his sense of a sub­ject, and his sense of an audience’s reac­tion to that sub­ject, seem to be fused.”
Hunter S. Thompson’s timetable for the end of his life seemed just that bit more rea­son­able after stum­bling out of The New York­er’s Ken Burns pro­file, drip­ping apple syrup all over the shag. The Amer­i­can Canon” left the reign of the Cow­boy Intel­lec­tu­al long ago, and has sub­sist­ed for most of my life­time under the spick and span direc­tion of The Author­i­tar­i­an Com­pul­sion. (Care to take a gan­der at their apex; their ulti­mate mas­ter­piece?)
Chil­dren do endure in space and time, but they’re always chang­ing, and no cam­era is sen­si­tive enough to record the uncan­ny speed at which this trans­for­ma­tion hap­pens.”
In one of the short­er, intro­spec­tive, fea­ture-divid­ing series called Screens, Karen Russell’s reflec­tion on the rela­tion­ship between 21st cen­tu­ry do-it-your­self, ama­teur home sur­veil­lance and the nuances of her mater­nal instinct was more beau­ti­ful­ly pro­found - and hor­ri­fy­ing - than just about any­thing else I’ve read recent­ly.
◍ I left out the hug­ging and the e-mail­ing and the tick-tock­ing tiny penis, but, still, when I was fin­ished he silent­ly walked out of the room. I took a breath and held it. I had made a ter­ri­ble mis­take. Why had I done this? My mind stopped, poised to shat­ter.”
Anoth­er blue break - Miran­da July’s The Met­al Bowl,” on mar­riage, kinks, van­i­ty, time, and per­for­mance.
◍ Face­book is the biggest sur­veil­lance-based enter­prise in the his­to­ry of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intru­sive gov­ern­ment has ever known about its cit­i­zens.”
You could sug­gest it takes a Nie­man to use the cor­rect lan­guage for a dis­cus­sion on Google, and ya wouldn’t sound crazy - the non­prof­it, aca­d­e­m­ic meta­me­dia poise is a hell of a trip - but the coolest angle from which one cri­tiques Fake News” these days attacks on a past-par­al­lel bear­ing, draw­ing some char­ac­ter and/or hap­pen­ing from the his­to­ry of the Writ­ten West­ern Word to say hey, wait a minute… this isn’t a new or per­ti­nent accu­sa­tion at all. (It was prob­a­bly myself who start­ed this trend over eigh­teen months ago.)
The prob­lem was not sim­ply that peo­ple had been able to spread lies but that the dig­i­tal plat­forms were set up in ways that made them espe­cial­ly potent.”
Ya know, folks - you’re free to see The New York­er show­ing its age, but it’s in noth­ing but good taste. Writ­ers like Adri­an Chen are invalu­able coun­ter­weights to the island’s sink­ing. If meta is your bal­last gauge, they’re damned near thriv­ing. Clos­ing this dot­ed-upon, all-Amer­i­can issue, The Fake News Fal­la­cy” is a suave weigh-in with all of the oblig­a­tory cap­i­tal­iza­tions and sub­tle lamen­ta­tions, but the insight is there, too.
“The pro­posed solu­tions to the fake-news prob­lem typ­i­cal­ly resem­ble antivirus pro­grams: their aim is to iden­ti­fy and quar­an­tine all the dan­ger­ous non­facts through­out the Web before they can infect their prospec­tive hosts.”
How­ev­er - as Chen notes - the human brain isn’t real­ly much like a com­put­er, at all, though I’d have cho­sen a dif­fer­ent alle­go­ry to attack: both soft­ware-bound and ide­o­log­i­cal virus­es can be illic­it­ly spread by email.
“Turn­ing to Big Data-dri­ven algo­rithms to fix it will only fur­ther entrench our reliance on code to tell us what is impor­tant about the world—which is what led to the prob­lem in the first place. Plus, it doesn’t sound very fun.”

Farewell, Cassi­ni.
It is often said that Trump has no real ide­ol­o­gy, which is not true—his ide­ol­o­gy is white suprema­cy, in all its tru­cu­lent and sanc­ti­mo­nious pow­er.”
Ta-Nehisi Coatesessay about Tump’s Orig­i­nal Priv­i­lege in The Atlantic next month will sure­ly be remem­bered as one of the greats of its kind from the Orange Potus era.
It is sim­ply required read­ing.
To Trump, white­ness is nei­ther notion­al nor sym­bol­ic but is the very core of his pow­er. In this, Trump is not sin­gu­lar. But where­as his fore­bears car­ried white­ness like an ances­tral tal­is­man, Trump cracked the glow­ing amulet open, releas­ing its eldritch ener­gies. The reper­cus­sions are strik­ing: Trump is the first pres­i­dent to have served in no pub­lic capac­i­ty before ascend­ing to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first pres­i­dent to have pub­licly affirmed that his daugh­ter is a “piece of ass.”
 It’s ille­gal to form a school dis­trict with the pur­pose of exclud­ing peo­ple because of their race. Yet over the years, Jef­fer­son County’s white res­i­dents have been allowed to carve out half a dozen exclu­sive enclaves.”
Sad­ly, The Hechinger Report’s left me speech­less. Unac­cept­able, obvi­ous­ly.
Of the eight news val­ues (prox­im­i­ty, time­li­ness, promi­nence, mag­ni­tude, con­flict, odd­i­ty, impact, and emo­tion), emo­tion too often ris­es to the top when telling sto­ries about dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties.”
Cul­tur­al­ly, there are few con­ver­sa­tions more impor­tant across the indus­try than dis­abil­i­ty, and Wendy Lu’s sug­ges­tions for improve­ment via The ( Colum­bia Jour­nal­ism Review come from unique expe­ri­ence, and could/should be applied more uni­ver­sal­ly to all types of report­ing.
Every Sun­day,
The Tone aggre­gates paths to the most rel­e­vant con­ver­sa­tions of the week
in a
super-digestible newslet­ter
with inter­nal and exter­nal links to our pre­ferred con­tent.