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Tag: Slate

Hitchens on Hillary: The case against drama

Wednesday, 11 March, 2015 0 Comments

Hillary Clinton went on a First-Lady tour of Asia in April 1995. Along the way, she visited Nepal and was introduced to Sir Edmund Hillary, of Mount Everest fame. Thereupon, she announced that her mother had actually named her for the great mountaineer. This assertion ended up a decade later in her husband’s memoirs.

Fact: Hillary Clinton was born in 1947, and Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did not climb Mount Everest until 1953. Jennifer Hanley, a spokeswoman for Mrs Clinton, put it like this in October 2006 after the fiction had been exposed: “It was a sweet family story her mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results I might add.”

All of this, and more, can be found in “The Case Against Hillary Clinton” by Christopher Hitchens, which appeared seven years ago in Slate. His conclusion was devastating: “Indifferent to truth, willing to use police-state tactics and vulgar libels against inconvenient witnesses, hopeless on health care, and flippant and fast and loose with national security: The case against Hillary Clinton for president is open-and-shut.” And, as the 2008 campaign record shows, the primary voters responded accordingly.

Incidentally, the Slate sub-heading on the Hitchens article was “Why on earth would we choose to put the Clinton family drama at the center of our politics again?” and Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo places “drama” at the heart of his take on the latest Hillary theatre. In “The Joy and the Drama” he observes, wearily, “The Clintons are great. But there is always something. Always. Always a dance, always drama.”

The case against Hillary Clinton remains conclusive. Martin O’Malley offers less drama.


Working with Beansprock and SAFFiR

Friday, 6 February, 2015 0 Comments

As we come to the end of our week of looking at developments in the emerging robotics/AI area, all signs indicate that the subject is moving from the technology pages to the mainstream. A sample of today’s headlines from Al Jazeera, Slate and Reuters: Hotel staffed by robots to open in Japan, Automated journalism is no longer science fiction, China to have most robots in world by 2017, an on and on and on.

Where is all this taking us? Well, take a look at Beansprock, a machine learning-based job search platform. Slogan: “Our artificial intelligence evaluates thousands of new tech jobs while you sleep and emails you only the best one.” When it knows a user’s skills, Beansprock can then predict which jobs are a match and which ones are not. The focus is on the tech industry in San Francisco, Boston and New York, and the company claims that it’s processing tens of thousands of job postings every day. Long term, the founders hope to expand the platform to include non-technical jobs.

Another example: “It’s what we call the hybrid force: humans and robots working together.” The person being quoted there by The Verge is the program manager at the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research. Thomas McKenna was speaking at the unveiling of the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR). What can it can that humans cannot? Well, it’s loaded with sensors such as infrared stereo-vision and laser light detectors, which enable it to find its target through thick smoke. The creators imagine a future where human-robot hybrid teams will work together as first responders when fires break out. This, then, is the near future. It’s a world where robotics and AI will be working for us and with us.


Christopher Hitchens on Charlie Hebdo

Friday, 9 January, 2015 1 Comment

In February 2006, the late, much lamented Christopher Hitchens addressed the “international Muslim pogrom against the free press”. In light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, his words are need re-reading today:

“When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against ‘all those involved in its publication,’ which led to the murder of the book’s Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun.”


Despites the tablets, The Daily died

Tuesday, 4 December, 2012 0 Comments

“The Australian-born media mogul thought he could launch a new breed of news product from scratch. But in his quest for bold digital efficiency, he failed to see that a news product with no history, no breadth, no soul, no character could only face an uncertain future.” So noted Frédéric Filloux about The Daily, the […]

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Slovenly Slate, ghastly Guardian, zany Zeit smear of Paul Ryan

Wednesday, 15 August, 2012

The biased nature of what passes for journalism today was on full display yesterday when three media organs participated in a smear of Paul Ryan that would be laughable were it not so dreadful. First up was Slate, where the Andrew Sullivan lookalike, typealike Matthew Yglesias could not resist repackaging unsupported insider trading accusations leveled […]

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