Saturday, December 25, 2010

Another year shuffles out the door...

I am going to close this year with a straight and total c&p from Granny Herald. It is the op-ed from yesterday's paper and it says much that I have been striving to get others to realise over the past five years the probligo has infested the blogiverse.

Tracey Barnett has excelled herself -
Sometimes it can be difficult to find coverage of the really important stories.

Nobody likes getting played. But you get played every day. You start believing that the stories that get shoved up your nose just because they are noisy and new are the most important.

That's why for weeks one television breakfast show host's ridiculous comments wafted over our media landscape like nuclear waste while Nasa discovering the real likelihood of a new kind of life on other planets got buried in a feature. Pond scum that lives on arsenic isn't sexy. Go figure.

The truth is, we all lose when the big picture gets dumped for the newest snapshot. For every one valuable WikiLeaks story about free speech, the future of whistleblowers and international laws trying to tame the internet, the world will spit out 75 stories on Julian Assange's hair.

Yes, our priorities are whacked, but there's something worse - when the hunger of the daily news cycle actually leads us away from seeing the real story. Here is my year-end list of stories where my good press colleagues worldwide noticed the wrong one.

President Palin? I can see Armageddon from my house:
I don't care how many carcasses she drags home on her back to make elk-kebabs for her reality TV show, or who won mid-terms because of her glam-magic endorsement, Sarah Palin won't get the presidential nomination in 2012.

That is - if Republicans are sane. You betcha, "Mama Grizzly" still makes great copy. That's why she'll continue to get a dung heap of airhead time in the next 18 months. But her media-soak isn't a reflection of where the country's head turns.

Here's what to really watch: New polls show Palin would lose to Obama by a whopping 22 points. Her unfavourability ratings are climbing, not shrinking. Mainstream Republicans notice, big time.

When John McCain tacked right in 2008, folks ran toward the centre and found Obama there. Don't weigh Sarah Palin's influence next year by her obese number of media minutes. Keep your eye on the power of the middle.

The Google in China story wasn't about Google in China:
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to the defence of Google after China allegedly hacked into dissident's emails earlier this year, the line we got was about human rights. It sounded pretty, but had nothing to do with the real story.

It just didn't smell right that Clinton would be so publicly damning now when China has been snooping on dissidents for years.

Then, just last month came a story you may have missed in this paper. A security report to the United States Congress said that China "hijacked" 15 per cent of the world's internet traffic for 18 minutes on April 8.

Yes, you read right - that's almost one-seventh of the entire world's internet traffic. For 18 minutes, 15 per cent of the world's internet destinations suddenly went through servers in China. A Chinese state-run firm has been accused of harvesting sensitive data from emails or implanting viruses in computers worldwide.

Surprise - these included information from the US Army, Navy, Marines, Nasa, as well as Microsoft, IBM and Yahoo. Nobody wants to talk about getting caught with their cyber fly unzipped. That's why this one has stayed quiet worldwide.

So next time you hear Hillary talk about human rights and the internet, follow the money - because the real wounded power players aren't talking.

Ignore Julian Assange's "sexual surprise":
You will never hear me defending rape of any description, no matter how many condom jokes burst forth from Sweden's bizarrely named "sexual surprise" charges pending for the WikiLeaks chief. If Assange is guilty of sexual assault, so be it.

But no matter how strange, self-righteous and Scarlet Pimpernell-esque Julian Assange may be, his story is a red herring to the gravitas of what's at stake here.

I believe this paper's editorial got it dead wrong when it wrote that this story is an "irritant" for Washington and that the release of this material "is not stuff that will change history". To say this story is about Washington or even Assange is missing the point.

It's been fascinating to watch world powers close in magnanimously on rogue operators, even if they are espousing their own principles. Governments, and soon big banks (watch Bank of America who are now in WikiLeaks' crosshairs for a major cable dump in January), are yelling about the need to shut down a new player who is playing exactly as they do.

For better or worse, I believe someday historians will point to WikiLeaks as being the real turning point of the first truly worldwide communication system changing the course of government transparency worldwide. The real question no one can yet answer is, in what direction?

Let me know what stories of 2010 you think should be added to the list. Here's to the endangered long view, that ever elusive boring bastard of news.

Beery Mary Christmas all.

Opo, here I COME!!!


Anonymous said...

Tracey Barnett, along with Tapu Misa and Brian Rudman, makes the dialogue pages of Granny Herlad worth reading. As also Mr George, but for a different reason...

The rest are lightweights.

I often think that we benefit from the likes of Palin. She, and her ilk, at least give us a perspective as to what our leaders might be like.

As for Julian Assange: not a nice person, but one that has awakened the world and shown up that many who espouse freedom don't always appreciate so-called freedom of speech when it turns round and bites them on the bum.

The probligo said...

Comparison of anyone with Palin (in my mind) is the wrong thing to do - especially in politics. Why not, if that way inclined, compare the English billygoat with someone like Bobby "The Greatest Economist in Africa" Mugabe.

No, the worth of a politician is how they match to my expectations.

So, I will judge our current batch of trough washers against how much the purchasing power of my personal super fund declines in the next 12 months. I don't expect that the income it earns will be nearly enough (in percentage terms) to counter the rate of inflation on food, without counting the cost of fuel...

The probligo said...

There was a very apt comment in the news these past two days.

Essentially pointed out that "Freedom of Speech" in the US is more in the nature of "Freedom to Agree With Me But Not Freedom To Disagree".

From personal experience with a range of right whingers in the US (and elsewhere) I can wholly attest to the truth of that!