The dark 1970s film Taxi Driver depicts an aimless young man distintigrating rapidly as he fixates on a plan to assassinate a political candidate. In an improbable twist of fate, he ends up doing something of a good deed. There will be no such neat wrapup of the real life violence on Saturday, January 8, in Tucson, Arizona, when a distintigrating young man took aim at a Congresswoman and shot six people to death, and wounded 19, including his target.
A big German drug company is betting that women will buy a pill that will make them want to have more sex. The logic is twisted: trying to get people to want to want. The company says it has collected evidence that many women are unhappy with their libido. Whether or not this is true, the safety trials are under way.
Anonymity on the World Wide Web is both a boon to free expression and a bonanza for boors, who abuse their freedom. Personal blogs are easy to set up, and almost all issues-oriented web sites allow readers to post comments freely under phony names. Is all the shouting and name-calling helping to destroy what rational debate we have left?
Is it possible that the teabaggers are something more than a mixed bag of established far-right groups, offered up under a catchy name? Is it possible that they are a spontaneous outcry against big government? Although the national news media is taking them very seriously, I don't think so.
At first, it amusing that Pat Robertson said that the earthquake in Haiti last month was god's wrath for a pact with the devil. But considering that Robertson has a huge following, and that disasters always prompt an outpouring of prophets warning about the price of sin, one has to wonder why naïve beliefs persist despite all evidence to the contrary.
The justices of the nation's top court expanded an election-law case over the financing of a movie pillorying Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign into a sweeping rewrite of the laws that restricted the political activity of corporations large and small.
Judgment Day is coming to the newspaper industry. The New York Times has decided to make online readers pay, according to New York Magazine. The paper, deeply in hock, is trying desperately to find its way in a world that in quick succession was turned upside down by television, and now by the Internet. Will the readers buy it?
Something was bothering me when I read the stories about Harry Reid's faux pas in race relations. Weren't the Republicans just blowing smoke to confuse the public on an issue they are losing: health care?
Was it necessary for Oprah to batter down the walls of individual privacy for Google to charge in and classify and categorize all of us for the sake of more efficient advertising?
A sense of déjà vu surrounds the health care debate. For the 15 years since the Clinton health care reform flopped, the problem has grown worse, but lobbyists and conservatives of both parties are out for blood again
A former insider, now outside, looks at the trouble in the news business with a fresh, unbiased perspective.
A fascinating collection of portraits and interviews with ordinary New Yorkers with extraordinary passions.
Technology consulting, specializing in natural language processing, artificial intelligence, data mining and machine learning.
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A young man and woman sit hunched at a keyboard in a shabby part of town. By day, they are an unassuming couple, just a pair of faces in the crowd. By night, they are crusaders fighting a bloody dictator by speaking out. Their writing puts them in jeopardy of arrest, torture, imprisonment and even death. But they are safe because they are anonymous freedom fighters on the World Wide Web.
Anonymity is good, a guardian of freedom and justice. Think of Tibet or Iran, today. It looks like a principle in the making: anonymity is necessary, especially on the Web, to protect the free exchange of ideas.
What do Google and Oprah Winfry have in common?
It's not a joke. While each has a huge audience and legions of followers, I doubt that the fans of these enterprises overlap much. They have very different cultural reputations — top-of-the-line geek, and low-brow television. But beneath the surface, they are more closely related than is apparent. Consider:
Neither Google nor Oprah invented the turf each plays on, but each of them perfected theirs. Oprah came first and her glamorized brand of confessional television might well have been necessary to lay the groundwork for the massive invasion of privacy conducted by Google (and other less-successful search engines) with hardly a whimper from the public.
© 2010 Barry Schiffman