Hi, I'm Jesse.
I write about literature, technology, and politics.

That’s Dr. Jesse, thank you very much.

Well, not quite yet. But I’m getting closer to the goal!

I just realized I forgot to tell you guys about some very big news I received a few weeks ago. As you know, I’m finishing up my master’s degree at the moment. The plan has always been to get a master’s, then a Ph.D., then teach the always-eager undergrads how to explicate poems and apply Derridean deconstruction theory to literature. Because I’m nice like that. 

So late last year, I started sending out applications for several Ph.D. programs. I’m proud to say that I received and accepted an amazing offer from Ball State University.

It’s an exciting time for me. Finishing up my last semester as a master’s student, writing my thesis, and having all that work validated with an acceptance into a top-notch doctoral program in my field — it’s fantastic. 

This is important. Listen to what RT’s Abby Martin has to say about the state of corporate-funded journalism in the United States. Piers Morgan tries to sway the discussion toward a condemnation of government-funded journalism, but Martin correctly points out that both corporate and government-funded journalistic operations have their faults. 

No journalist is unbiased. If you’re on a network that’s owned by a government — Al Jazeera, Russia Today, etc. — you have a bias toward that government. If you’re on a network that’s owned by a big corporation, you have a bias. 

Both Morgan and Martin point out that they’ve never been approached by the management of their respective news networks and asked to censor their opinions on issues important to their corporate or governmental overlords. But near the end of the video, Martin notes that employees often feel a need to self-censor themselves in the light of their networks’ biases. They may not even realize they’re doing it. 

The only way around this is independent journalism. The problem with that, of course, is that good journalism is expensive. Funding has to come from somewhere. 

As viewers and readers, I think it’s important that we not discount the work these networks are doing based solely on the source of their funding. When Al Jazeera America first launched, there was a pretty hefty backlash because people recognized that a network funded by the Qatari royal family couldn’t be fully objective on issues in which Qatar has any sort of vested interest — oil and energy, for example. RT is routinely dismissed as having a pro-Russian bias. MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN are all corporately funded. Those networks have a vested interest in supporting their owners’ causes. 

That being said, all of those networks (aside from Fox News, but for entirely different reasons) still have value. As consumers of news and analysis, it’s not so much that we have to reject the work of journalists in these companies as much as it is that we have to be aware of those biases and understand how they affect the way information is presented to us. We can’t just sit back and blindly accept what a cable news anchor or newspaper columnist tell us. This is where those critical thinking skills your undergrad professors kept talking about come into play. 

Michele Bachmann, queen of the conservative clowns, explains why being tolerant is actually being intolerant toward Christians. 

In the aftermath of Jan Brewer’s controversial veto of SB-1062, the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” right-wingers have been having a field day. Christians are being denied their constitutional right to… discriminate?

Here’s the way it all boils down:

SB-1062 was designed to allow business owners to refuse service to customers who represent something that goes against their religious beliefs. The intended target of this bill was clearly homosexuals. The lawmakers made that pretty clear. It was introduced as a response to lawsuits in other states about whether a wedding photography business or bakery can refuse to work a gay wedding. 

The problem is that in each of those states, sexual orientation is listed in the states’ non-discrimination laws. Arizona has no such protections for non-heterosexuals. In other words, business owners can already refuse service to gay customers — this is a fact that not many in the media have reported. Anderson Cooper interviewed Al Melvin, one of the Arizona state senators responsible for this bill, and actually pressed him on this point. Check it out for no other reason than the Senator’s utter confusion when faced with logic and actual facts. The bill would have changed nothing if it was codified into law. But I digress…

Now that the bill has been vetoed, though, many conservatives are worried about Christians’ rights to exercise their religious principles — by discriminating against other people. 

This whole tantrum is basically a case of “your face hurt my fist when I punched you.”

Thoughts on Subscription Music Services

There’s a trend toward subscription streaming music services as opposed to purchasing MP3s and syncing to your phone. Google Play is actually promoting its subscription service as freeing you from “the hassle of syncing.”

There’s a certain logic to that. Everyone has wifi at home and LTE on the go, so it works. Spotify, rdio, Google, and others get new albums pretty much right away. You don’t have to download anything. You pay a nominal monthly fee to unfettered access to the whole of these music databases. It’s pure convenience.

I think Google’s campaign against syncing is pretty smart, actually. I recently overheard a conversation about this very issue. The two were discussing downloading versus streaming. They hated the idea of having to actually download an MP3 that would take up space on their hard drives and mobile devices.

Plus, most people use multiple devices — I have a media center PC, a laptop, an Android tablet, and an Android phone that I use to listen to music on a regular basis. That’s a lot of syncing. That’s a lot of libraries to organize. Subscription services essentially take the hassle out of handling your digital music library.

That being said, I’m not entirely sold on the idea. I know I’m sort of going against the trend right now, but I like having an MP3 that I know is mine and I know won’t go anywhere. Sure, it takes up space on my devices, and it takes time to keep everything synced and organized, but I know that this is my library and it’s not going to go anywhere. If I subscribe to Spotify and their licensing deal with a label suddenly changes, my music could disappear. If I own the MP3, that doesn’t affect me.

I’m sort of like the guy who was still buying CDs when the rest of the world moved to iTunes. But hey, good luck listening to your music when you drive into a non-LTE area or your company has a licensing dispute with a record label.

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