A Few Thoughts on Thinking

Two gems from this morning’s New York Times Book Review:

From: The Catastrophist By LEON WIESELTIER (a review of THE SECOND PLANE – September 11: Terror and boredom, By Martin Amis.)

On Sept. 10, 2001, nobody in America seemed to know anything about Islam. On Sept. 12, 2001, everybody seemed to know everything about Islam. Well, not quite; but it is really a wonder the way the arcane particulars of an alien civilization now trip off every tongue. People who would not know if a page of Arabic is upside down or right side up helpfully expound upon the meaning of jahilliyah. Sayyid Qutb is quickly overtaking Reinhold Niebuhr as the theologian about whom the un- or antitheological pronounce with the most serene authority. Nothing creates intellectual confidence like catastrophe. After the mind breaks, it stiffens; in the aftermath of grief, it lets in only certainty. In a time of war, complexity is suspected of a sapping effect, and so a mental curfew is imposed. From the maxim that we must know our enemy, we infer that our enemy may be easily known. Continue reading

How We Value Food: Organic, Local, Diverse

In the beginning, organic was radical. Not long ago authors and foodies, environmentalists and farmers, took up the mantle of organic as a key principle in our fight for healthier communities, healthier diets, and a healthier environment. It was a way for small farmers and local businesses to compete with an increasingly super-sized economy made up of industrial agriculture and big box stores. The organic label allowed small farmers to compete and distinguish their products on the store shelves and a combination of factors coincided to make organic not only good for our health, but hip too.

However, if there is one thing capitalism is profoundly good at, it is subsuming counter culture ideas just when they are getting hot, and using them to make a profit. Before long every retailer from the local grocery store to WalMart had organic products on their shelves, and the idea of organic, while still serving as a sort of moral and health compass began to get increasingly watered down. As big box stores began to mass-produce organic versions of all their products, we saw that the industrial economy could be applied to organic food as well. Continue reading

What Broadcasters Don’t Want You to Know

For too long, TV stations have made a fortune off of the public airwaves — which they use free of charge — with little accountability to their local community.

In the fall of 2007, the FCC began to address this problem when it approved new rules that would dramatically strengthen and improve reporting requirements for TV stations.

The FCC’s old disclosure requirements asked little of TV stations, ensuring that most broadcasters were easily granted their license renewal every time stations reapplied. Continue reading

The Murdoch Newsday Deal Is Bad News for New York

Just before the Senate Commerce Committee is set to vote on a bill that would slow down runaway media consolidation, Rupert Murdoch reminds us why Big Media is bad news.

FCC rules long have prohibited one company from owning the major daily newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city. This “cross-ownership” rule has stopped Big Media conglomerates from gaining a stranglehold on a community’s most vital sources of news and information. Continue reading

Verizon’s $200 Million Change of Heart – Is it For Real?

I have to applaud Verizon for stepping up its investment in broadband deployment throughout Massachusetts. The new plans announced a few weeks ago could mean that more people in more places will have access to economic opportunity, education and the information they need to participate in our democracy.

This is especially true here in Western Massachusetts, where Free Press is based. A full one-third of the towns in Western Mass. have no access to high-speed internet, while many other communities have limited access. Many of our employees who spend their days fighting for Internet freedom and Internet access for all, go home and can’t get online or depend on dial-up connections.

Continue reading