Posted at 7:00 AM on July 13, 2011
by Jon Gordon
Weary of the state government shutdown? If not, read Shutdown 11 -- MPR News is all over it.
But you could use a break, right? We offer the following distractions:
1) How ships are launched
That's one compelling photo -- taken by the monkey who grabbed a camera from a nature photographer. Write a caption in the comments section.
Google+ could be huge - perhaps the first time any oxygen has been sucked from the Facebook room.
"Most critics believe Google+ is gaining popularity online, but at least one study figures Google's latest social experiment is growing at rates that rival Facebook's," says a story on PCWorld.com.
Confused by Google+? Some tips for beginners.(4 Comments)
A Blaine man who hijacked his neighbor's Wi-fi and then made threats to Joe Biden and distributed child pornography using his victim's identity has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. It's just one more nasty incident -- albeit a very small one -- in the long war between forces of good and evil online. And it's a war that cannot be won, according to a prominent security expert.
Anti-virus pioneer Evgeny Kaspersky tells Der Spiegel about his fear of a worse fights ahead. Excerpt:
SPIEGEL: You and your company are the winners of a new era in warfare.
Kaspersky: No, because this war can't be won; it only has perpetrators and victims. Out there, all we can do is prevent everything from spinning out of control. Only two things could solve this for good, and both of them are undesirable: to ban computers -- or people.
SPIEGEL: You once described yourself as an extremely paranoid person. What is the worst possible disaster that a computer viruses could cause?
Kaspersky: In the Soviet days, we used to joke that an optimist learns English because he is hoping that the country will open up, that a pessimist learns Chinese because he's afraid that the Chinese will conquer us, and that the realist learns to use a Kalashnikov. These days, the optimist learns Chinese, the pessimist learns Arabic...
SPIEGEL: ...and the realist?
Kaspersky: ...keeps practicing with his Kalashnikov. Seriously. Even the Americans are now openly saying that they would respond to a large-scale, destructive Internet attack with a classic military strike. But what will they do if the cyber attack is launched against the United States from within their own country? Everything depends on computers these days: the energy supply, airplanes, trains. I'm worried that the Net will soon become a war zone, a platform for professional attacks on critical infrastructure.
SPIEGEL: When will that happen?
Kaspersky: Yesterday. Such attacks have already occurred.
What's your computer security story? What's the worst thing that's happened to you online?(2 Comments)
Those tap-tap-tap noises you hear are DVD coffin nails. Netflix is trying like mad to get out of the DVD business.
Peter Kafka of All Things D nails it:
Even though the majority of Netflix's 24 million subscribers are still paying it to get DVDs by mail, Reed Hastings and company see themselves as Internet guys, not putting-discs-in-envelopes guys.
Now they're making it even more clear, by raising the prices in a way that makes it much more expensive to get both Web streaming and DVDs from the service.
Netflix explains the rationale for the price hike in a blog post, but the short version is that it would like its DVD customers to move to the Web, or pay up. Doing so helps it cut down on discs costs and/or generate more money to help buy digital titles, which are only going to get more expensive.
Are you willing to ditch DVDs? Have you moved away from them already?
We will pay, sooner or later, for our growing acceptance of hidden cameras and other deceptive practices in newsgathering. The latest target is the Christian counseling business owned by Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus Bachmann. Previous targets of such tactics have included Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, ACORN and the Rev. Tom Brock.
The ethics grow murky when journalists misrepresent themselves to get a story. Sometimes it may be the only way, but at other times it's just the easiest way. When is it justified - to expose hypocrisy? To report on a threat to health and safety? To get good film for Sweeps Week?
"If you talk to three different ethicists, you'll get three different responses," says Prof. Jane Kirtley, who teaches ethics at the University of Minnesota's journalism school. There is no clear line, she said, but she articulated the danger well: If we tell readers that we lied to get a story, how can they trust that we're telling the truth about everything else?
Lots of media organizations would turn away in a huff from a reporter who wanted to carry a hidden camera and a faked identity into a mental health clinic. So why is it better or more ethical to publish the work of an activist/freelancer who did the same thing? That's becoming the pattern. ABC News didn't send an investigative reporter to get this story -- but used its "investigative correspondent" to present the story and supplemental material, after John Becker of Truth Wins Out did the dirty work.
In the Bachmann Clinic case, the bar is arguably lower because one of the owners is running for president. If the clinic is using "reparative therapy" to undo the sexual orientation of gay clients - and swimming against the tide of credible professional opinion - that's news. It would probably be news even if Michele Bachmann were not running for president, because the clinic gets public funds.
But as Prof. Kirtley points out, now that everybody has a mass communications device in his pocket, mainstream media have little to trade on but their own credibility. We should be careful about giving it away.
In the meantime, let's take a minute to enjoy the old days, when the mainstream media really knew how to use hidden cameras: