WHEN I was 7 years old, I knew the capitals of most major countries and their currencies. I had to, if I wanted to track down a devious criminal mastermind in the computer game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” On screen, the ACME Detective Agency would spit out clues like notable landmarks to help players identify the city where Carmen’s globe-trotting henchmen were hiding out. I wouldn’t learn how to pronounce Reykjavik for more than a decade, but I could tell you that its currency was called the krona.
I was the child of Indian immigrants, and like any begrudging Bengal tiger cub, I penciled in fill-in-the-blank maps and memorized multiplication tables after dinner. I was much more motivated to learn about geography by chasing Carmen Sandiego on the family Macintosh Plus. I couldn’t confidently point to Iceland on a map. But I did become a technology reporter.
The problems we’re up against are the strong resurgent sexist and anti-intellectual sentiments in our lives today. It is unsurprising to read about the discouragement of those girls who gave after-school programs a try. Where is the nurturing and support from the rest of us? Where would they get the sense that society is encouraging them? Where is that wind of change that tells a girl that it’s ok, she can be whoever she wants to be and she’ll have the same chance at a technical career as her male peers? If even Google can’t manage to hire more women… Right?
My daugher is a second year fine arts major with a strong interest in gaming design. Here’s what she has to say:
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WE no longer have news. We have springboards for commentary. We have cues for Tweets.
Something happens, and before the facts are even settled, the morals are deduced and the lessons drawn. The story is absorbed into agendas. Everyone has a preferred take on it, a particular use for it. And as one person after another posits its real significance, the discussion travels so far from what set it in motion that the truth — the knowable, verifiable truth — is left in the dust.
“… Americans have seemingly grown accustomed to this. They may even hunger for it.”
Not this American. No, sir! There isn’t a day when I don’t lament the fact that our national press looks more like the National Enquirer used to look to most of us up until a dozen years ago. CNN and its obsessively ludicrous coverage of Flight 370 is only one example of how a news outlet undergoes a “Foxification.” So, when the Jill Abramson story hit the wire, it wasn’t so much the whys of her story, but how the Times handled it. The handling was as far from classy as you can get. People come and go. They succeed or fail. That’s expected. How those successes and failures are handled, on the other hand, need to inspire confidence.
IN an ideal world, perhaps, the testimony left by the young man who killed six people in Santa Barbara would have perished with its author: the video files somehow wiped off the Internet, his manifesto deleted and any printed copy pulped.
Spree killers seek the immortality of infamy, and their imitators are inspired by how easily they win it. As Ari Schulman argued last year in The Wall Street Journal, there would probably be fewer copycat rampages if the typical killer’s face and name didn’t lead the news coverage, if fewer details of biography and motive circulated, if a mass murderer’s “ability to make his internal psychodrama a shared public reality” were more strictly circumscribed.
AMAZON has caused no small controversy of late by refusing to accept presale orders on books to be released by the publisher Hachette and by understocking Hachette’s titles. These punitive maneuvers, which follow a dispute between Amazon and Hachette about e-book contracts, have led to significant delays in shipments of Hachette’s books to Amazon’s customers.
If you are wondering why Amazon would subject its customers to this inconvenience and wish to understand what’s really happening between Amazon and Hachette — and, indeed, all the major book publishers — you need to know the meaning of the word monopsony.
The question we all need to ask ourselves, honestly, is whether, given what we now know, are we willing to give up the conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to? Amazon has insinuated itself into the lives of tens of millions of Americans, not only by selling new and used books in every category including textbooks, but every product imaginable, including food, and now TV, via its Fire line of products.
Jeff Bezos’ success, it seems, is based in no small part on the bullying of his suppliers and the workforce he employs.