How's that "Citizen Journalism" Thing Working Out?

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Lynn Sweet, one of the toughest reporters of the Obama campaign, writes on how it handled her requests for details on the "whitey tape" rumor.

When I phoned the Obama press shop a few times in recent weeks to check out rumors about whether there was a videotape with Michelle Obama using the word "whitey," the campaign declined to issue a denial or to pass along the question to Michelle's staff to find out what might be fueling the rumors… Talking a week ago, Obama gave a frosty answer to McClatchy Newspapers reporter Margaret Talev, who asked about rumors concerning his wife.

"There is dirt and lies that are circulated in e-mail," he said. "And they pump them out long enough until finally you, a mainstream reporter, asks me about them. And then that gives legs to the story."

"He was visibly angry at being asked to dignify the rumor by denying it—and so was his staff," said Talev, writing in her blog.

Note that Obama never simply said it was not true; he was concerned, as he said, that if he did, he would create a story. But the exchange got Obama to thinking it was time to shift tactics.

If you hear that Michelle Obama gave a 'whitey' rant from, of all places, the Trinity United Church of Christ—the church the Obamas quit recently following controversies with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Rev. Michael Pfleger—don't believe it.

"No such tape exists. Michelle Obama has not spoken from the pulpit at Trinity and has not used that word," the campaign said on the site.

So reports the woman who called Obama "disingenuous," to his face, for the handling of Austan Goolsbee's talks with Canada about NAFTA. What say the bloggers who fell for the rumor? Let's try A.J. Stratra.

A Time story… proved Obama's campaign knew about the video rumor before it showed up on Hillary supporter Larry Johnson's site.  Not a good turn of events, because it supported some of the claims being made by Johnson and others that the Obama campaign knew about the video (as opposed to knew about the rumor of a video).

Wait… what did the Time story say?

When the Obama campaign got wind of the rumor in April, Michelle's close friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett asked Michelle if there could be anything to it; the candidate's wife dismissed it out of hand. But by mid-May, it was picking up steam on the Internet, and Michelle's advisers decided it was time to have a serious talk with her about it. On a campaign swing through Oregon, Michelle's chief of staff Melissa Winter grilled her on the particulars of the various versions. Had she ever spoken at Trinity Church? Could she ever recall having uttering that racial epithet? No, no, Michelle answered again and again.

The campaign knew about the rumor before Johnson did, then—several people in Democratic circles did, because that's where the rumor apparently started, as a way of keeping superdelegates from endorsing Obama. But that's all they got word of: the rumor. They didn't "know about the video" because the video doesn't exist, as evidenced by the multiple versions of the "transcript" and alleged locations that floated around the web, none of which had any corroborating evidence. More Strata:

In addition, the Obama site confirmed Michelle Obama's presence on at a roundtable and plenary at the event—meaning they confirmed another part of the rumor, thus giving it more credibility to all of it. 

No, they confirmed the fact that fed the umpteenth version of the rumor, after NoQuarter found a photo of Michelle Obama at a 2004 Rainbow/PUSH event with Louis Farrakhan's wife. Mysteriously, right after that photo circulated, the rumor changed, and instead of Obama "speaking at Trinity" with Louis Farrakhan in frame and references to Hurricane Katrina, it became Obama at this event ranting about Bill Clinton. (The irony is that if this photo wasn't found in service of the sexier rumor, it might have become a story on its own.)

I bring this up because I find Strata's tone, a stand-in for the tone of a lot of blogs that believed this garbage, dim and farcical. This whole episode has been a hammer blow to the idea of "citizen journalism," as bloggers with agendas and no idea of how to do reporting or corroboration spread a rumor using the tropes of reporting. I bring it up, too, because I think we've reached a tipping point where the sympathy for Obama over this stuff is outstripping the damage from the rumors. Chiefly, that's because the rest of the media (who don't enjoy wasting time chasing b.s. rumors) have got Obama's back on this, covering him in a friendly way they haven't managed since his February run of primary wins.

This was always a danger with the Obama rumor industry. A large part of McCain's legend, and his support in the media, was the belief that the 2000 nomination was robbed from him with lies and dirty tricks. As late as 2005, I read a Vanity Fair piece exorcising the ghosts of that campaign, the publisher's ink mixed with tears for what Americans had lost. This year, how much momentum did McCain get from the New York Times story about his friendly (hint, hint) relations with lobbyists? A lot of momentum, because of that narrative that Hero John McCain was ever beset with such smears. At this point, every dumb rumor about Obama is feeding the narrative that he, too, is being dragged down by liars. What happens what there's a factual story about him or Michelle doing wrong? It'll get swallowed in the narrative.

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  1. Oh for the love of…
    STOP IT!
    Just stop it already. I don’t give a rats ass about Obama rumor mongering.

  2. Dave,

    Stop it. If you keep explaining how the slime machine works, people are going to be able to recognize its operations when they see them, and the next round of rumors won’t be credible at all.

    We can’t have that.

  3. I bring it up, too, because I think we’ve reached a tipping point where the sympathy for Obama over this stuff is outstripping the damage from the rumors.

    It was only 1992 or 1993 when I told my college roomies, “Someday, there’s going to be a real Bill Clinton scandal, and nobody is going to care, because of all of the b.s. rumors.”

    Same thing here. The public should have a nice, thick callous built up regarding Barack Obama rumors by the Fall.

  4. I was getting worried that I wouldn’t get my daily dose of Dave “Whitey” Weigel.

    Now, of course, we’ve sunk to the level of “we’re not talking about the rumor, we’re talking about the coverage of the rumor.”

    Color me bored.

  5. OK, that’s great, Dave. Thanks.

    Now, tonight we get to find out who the last cylon is, right? Or is SciFi just jerking our chains?

  6. This whole episode has been a hammer blow to the idea of “citizen journalism,” as bloggers with agendas and no idea of how to do reporting or corroboration spread a rumor using the tropes of reporting.

    Eh? I would think that nonsense was stomped on after Malkin did a drive-by of some kid’s house.

  7. What happens what there’s a factual story about him or Michelle doing wrong? It’ll get swallowed in the narrative.

    Thank. Fucking. God.

    When we stop looking for saints, we might find a decent president or two. (This goes for McCain, Paul, and Barr as well, none of whom could even charitably be called saints.)

    What was the one about the boy and the wolf?

  8. Now, tonight we get to find out who the last cylon is, right? Or is SciFi just jerking our chains?

    I hope for revelation, but must cynically vote for last minute chain jerk.

  9. Please make it stop

  10. You know, I just realized that after BSG ends, SciFi has no other out-of-the-park shows. They don’t even have some ho-hum shit right now. And since their success rate for new shows is quite dismal (Flash Gordon? Well done, jerks), I am going to have to resign myself to having one less quality show. At least Sarah Connor Chronicles is coming back.

  11. At least Sarah Connor Chronicles is coming back.

    True. I must admit my continuing ambivalence towards that show though…the tone seems oddly uneven, and many of their hackneyed solutions would easily be shortcut by a judicious application of River Tam-bot force, but I do enjoy the occasionally brilliant writing and interesting musings.

  12. Dave Weigel,

    What is up with your ex-wife not wanting to vaccinate the children? Is she an Imus fan or something?

  13. Oh, and don’t forget, they may yet manage to not fuck up Caprica.

  14. Flash Gordon? Well done, jerks

    The 1980 film with the cheesy Queen soundtrack was the high-watermark of the franchise.

  15. All of this rumor-mongering brings to mind an exchange from Strangers With Candy:

    Jeri: Drake, why did you spread those vicious lies?

    Drake: Because you didn’t spread those vicious thighs.

  16. BTW, I do enjoy these stories of silly media rumors. When I don’t like a story there is this cool scroll-wheel thingie on my mouse that I use to scroll past them.

  17. Oh, and don’t forget, they may yet manage to not fuck up Caprica.

    Spinoff = fail 95% of the time. Who is the genius who thought Enos from The Dukes of Hazzard could have his own show?

  18. The last cylon is Terrence and Phillip.

  19. So is BSG worth buying on DVD?

  20. Speaking of new shows, I wonder if they’ll come out with a new Get Smart with Steve Carrell if the movie does well enough. I loved that show.

  21. The 1980 film with the cheesy Queen soundtrack was the high-watermark of the franchise.

    Actually, the comics themselves (the old ones) are fucking great. The stories are cool and the drawing is fantastic.

  22. While no one might have it on tape something tells me the word Whitey has indeed rolled off her blackie lips. I would wager that most of the congregation of that church uses the word regularly.

    Of course I am only going by the shouts of joy and clapping in agreement after the last pastor forced blackies hand in leaving the church because it was costing to many votes from the whities. You can’t win the office without a whole lot of whitey on your side.

    How many of you would not deny a rumor flat out if you knew with all certainty that it never happened? I think most people would say it was BS plain and simple not skirt the issue for so long.

  23. I heard a rumor that Michelle Obama is hot.

    “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me” meets “She is touring the facility and taking up slack” hot.

    Anyone else hear that one?

  24. Of course I am only going by the shouts of joy and clapping in agreement after the last pastor forced blackies hand in leaving the church because it was costing to many votes from the whities.

    DOES NOT PARSE

  25. The MSM does so much better. Remember all those well-sourced stories about cannibalism and bodies stacked like cordwood at the Superdome? And don’t get me started on Don Rather.

    So a few bloggers made themselves look dumb. Big deal. Most bloggers never found the rumor credible at all. They’re not doing much worse than the “real” journalists, who get things wrong all the time too.

  26. Spinoff = fail 95% of the time.

    Oh, I dunno. The Star Trek franchise kept spinnin’ and spinnin’, and to me the only failure of the bunch was Voyager (yes, I know, you Enterprise haters…well, fuck off). While I’m not a Whedon fan, minus of course Firefly, but most Buffy fans speak highly of Angel. Fraiser wasn’t a *terrible* spinoff of Cheers. The Law & Order spinoffs are likewise not *full* of fail, and are occasionally as good as the original. Christianity and Islam are not by any stretch failed spinoffs of Judaism.

  27. So is BSG worth buying on DVD?

    It is unreservedly full of win.

  28. SciFi should consider doing a series based on “The Hidden”, although I’m sure they’d butcher it.

  29. And never forget Maude.

  30. So is BSG worth buying on DVD? It is unreservedly full of win.

    Agreed. I first heard the rumors it was good, which seemed impossible, in Season Two, so after catching a couple episodes I ordered the DVD of Season One. Good stuff.

    BTW, if you buy Season One you should get the mini-series included with it too now.

  31. SciFi should consider doing a series based on “The Hidden”, although I’m sure they’d butcher it.

    That is a very good idea.

    The Star Trek franchise kept spinnin’ and spinnin’, and to me the only failure of the bunch was Voyager (yes, I know, you Enterprise haters…well, fuck off)

    I am a TOS fan, and watched all TNG and like it, though it does not compare to TOS. However, I hated DS9, disliked VGR, and I guess I am an ENT hater because I fucking hated it. And I really, really, really hate the Ferengi (I may have mentioned this before). I also detest the warrior-culture worship that began in TNG with the Klingons.

  32. The ridiculous rumors about scary black people during Katrina were found both in the mainstream media and in the blogs.

    It’s easy to think of examples of the real media not picking up foolish stories from teh tubez, but it’s tough to think of a single false rumor that was reported in the professionl media that wasn’t also reported on political blogs.

  33. I keep changing it, the server squirrels keep changing it back.

  34. I asked Obama’s campaign if he was a pig-fucker and they declined to say “I am not a pig-fucker.”

    What does he have to hide?

  35. I am a TOS fan, and watched all TNG and like it, though it does not compare to TOS. However, I hated DS9, disliked VGR, and I guess I am an ENT hater because I fucking hated it. And I really, really, really hate the Ferengi (I may have mentioned this before). I also detest the warrior-culture worship that began in TNG with the Klingons.

    Fair enough. I also fucking hated the Ferengi (but liked Quark, so figure that one out); DS9 took a good season-and-a-half to get good, but when it did, it *really* did. Good point about the warrior-worship, though later episodes of DS9 really shat all over the warrior ethic to good effect.

    As far as Enterprise, I must say it was uneven, and I can see why someone would hate it. For my own part, I fell in love after seeing the following trope crop up in dialog (through several minor variations) throughout the 1st season:

    “You’re kinda ugly. What planet are you from?”

    “Earth.”

    “Huh. Never heard of it.”

    Yeah, that’s right, human bitches. You ain’t nothin’ yet.

    The season with the Xindi shit sucked balls, but the last season (Vulcan Civil War, formation of the Federation) were, no word of a lie, fucking awesome. And Peter Weller even shows up at the end, so it can’t be all bad.

  36. When the fuck did “Whitey” become a “racial epithet”?

  37. And, the Andorian captain was by far the best recurring character since Q.

    joe —

    The server squirrels frown heavily upon name changes. Found that out to my chagrin a few weeks ago.

  38. The Star Trek franchise kept spinnin’ and spinnin’, and to me the only failure of the bunch was Voyager

    I don’t know, there were a few good STTNG, but in retrospect most are unwatchable, and the finale was an awful bunch of self-indulgent crap. That whole series was way too mushy. DS9 was better. I agree Voyager was a waste. Never tried Enterprise.

    I also fucking hated the Ferengi

    Yeah, they were pretty clearly supposed to be the “evil capitalists.” The whole Star Trek motif, esp STTNG, had a creepy “Communism is the future” vibe.

  39. And, the Andorian captain was by far the best recurring character since Q.

    Wasn’t he played by Jeffrey Combs, B-movie legend and veteran of many Lovecraft-based films such as From Beyond?

    The season with the Xindi shit sucked balls

    And that is when I stopped. Archer was a pussy, anyway. Having Sam Beckett as captain is a dick move. However, having Al as a cylon is a great move. One can never predict the vagaries of life after Quantum Leap.

  40. Yeah, they were pretty clearly supposed to be the “evil capitalists.” The whole Star Trek motif, esp STTNG, had a creepy “Communism is the future” vibe.

    Well, to be entirely fair, the movies and later series emphasized that the communism was a direct consequence of living in a post-scarcity economy, i.e. both the materials and means of production are essentially universally available and really fucking cheap.

  41. I’m probably not going to get a lot of help with my fantasy football draft on this thread, am I?

  42. Our conservative figurehead “Rush Limbaugh” made comments recently about Michelle Obama, BUT, this was just posted on a site in Miami:
    “Regarding Rush Limbaugh’s sexuality : understood that he was questioned by police officers in regards to his relationship with several 13 to 15 year old boys.
    This information came from a friend of one of the officers, a female detective. That detective apparently “lost her cool” when dealing with Limbaugh, he apparently told her to ” grow up, it’s a new world “.

  43. joe, did you just call LMNOP a big fat nerd?

  44. Wasn’t he played by Jeffrey Combs, B-movie legend and veteran of many Lovecraft-based films such as From Beyond?

    Yep. Love that guy.

    And that is when I stopped. Archer was a pussy, anyway. Having Sam Beckett as captain is a dick move. However, having Al as a cylon is a great move. One can never predict the vagaries of life after Quantum Leap.

    LOL. Then I would definitely recommend the season immediately following; it was quite excellent. I somewhat agree that Bakula was a bad casting choice, but I found the supporting cast of characters to be above average.

  45. TallDave,

    One of the recurrent themes of the Star Trek universe was the need to respect civil liberty and individual autonomy.

  46. True, the less scarcity we have the more the more socialism we can afford. I think John Barnes has the future right: people will have to work a few hours a week for a few years, and will bitterly resent every minute of it.

    Still, the Picard speech about how “in our time, people are not obsessed with the acquisition of material wealth” was an eyeroller.

  47. Weigel: “that’s because the rest of the media . . . don’t enjoy wasting time chasing b.s. rumors.”

    Um… really? We must not be following the same media.

  48. I’m probably not going to get a lot of help with my fantasy football draft on this thread, am I?

    The Cleveland Browns are gonna win the Super Bowl. That’s all I’m tellin’ ya (that and draft KW2).

  49. joe, did you just call LMNOP a big fat nerd?

    I’ll cop to that.

  50. One of the recurrent themes of the Star Trek universe was the need to respect civil liberty and individual autonomy.

    True, I was thinking economic more than political philosophy.

    But I thought Stargate SG-1 was considerably superior, as was the constant political tension in BSG.

    I love the scene in SG-1 where an oppressed human sees a digital watch and realizes that there may be a group of humans sufficiently advanced to free his people from their religious dictatorship.

  51. Another great scene was he realized we weren’t actually that advanced:

    “Surely you have many such space vessels.”

    “Uhhhh… we have a shuttle.”

  52. Episiarch, I’ve ventured no opinion about LMNOP’s size.

  53. I can’t see Winslow falling very far, and I can’t see picking him over Antonio Gates.

    I’d take him before Tony Gonzalez, though.

  54. What is sad is that people who do not necessarily support Obama or his positions find themself in a position of countering false statements. I have no intention of voting for the guy and yet I have on a few occaisions debunked or put in context something he has said just because I was so offended by what the other side/person was doing.

  55. What about the rumor that Barack Obama has fathered two black children?

  56. joe,
    Whaddya think about Alge Crumpler?

  57. TallDave,

    What exactly does the Federation economy look like? Are there tariffs? Who owns the “means of production?” What is the rate of taxation (if taxes even exist)? I know that copyright exists because a VOY episode dealt with that issue (the one where the Doc writes a holonovel).

  58. One of the recurrent themes of the Star Trek universe was the need to respect civil liberty and individual autonomy.

    I’m sorry, but of all of the not-inherently-libertarian tendencies that seem to permeate through the libertarian community (atheism, climate change skepticism, Yakov Smirnoff fetishism, etc.) the one I really don’t get is the whole sci-fi obsession. Can I still support a smaller, less intrusive government if I think Star Trek sucks, I fell asleep a half hour into Lord of the Rings, and I’ve never seen an original Star Wars movie?

    P.S. Look for Greg Olsen to be a nice sleeper pick at TE, though I wouldn’t pick him too high seeing that the rumors of the Bears having an offense have yet to be confirmed.

  59. Can I still support a smaller, less intrusive government if I think Star Trek sucks, I fell asleep a half hour into Lord of the Rings, and I’ve never seen an original Star Wars movie?

    Sure, but you have no taste.

  60. Art P.O.G.,

    He’s a stud. Matt Ryan is a stud, too, but he’s also a rookie.

    High risk, but lots of upside.

  61. Then I would definitely recommend the season immediately following; it was quite excellent.

    Maybe I can give it a try.

    I somewhat agree that Bakula was a bad casting choice, but I found the supporting cast of characters to be above average.

    What, like Jolene Blalock? 😉

  62. Yakov Smirnoff fetishism

    lol.

    High risk, but lots of upside.

    Hmm. Good call. I don’t really do the Fantasy League thing, but I always watch football (and basketball and MMA) when they’re on.

  63. Who owns the “means of production?”

    Apparently not anyone “obsessed with acquiring material wealth.”

    They don’t say much about it, probably partly because describing a post-scarcity economy is difficult, but mostly because economics is boring.

    In one of the movies, Picard says “The economics of the future are somewhat different.” and the 21st-century post-apocalyptic African-American engineer he;’s talking to is shocked and says “You mean you don’t get paid?” That’s as deep as I can remember any discussion getting.

  64. Club,

    Sure. However, putting my pedant hat on, I would note that LOTR really isn’t science-fiction.

  65. the one I really don’t get is the whole sci-fi obsession.

    If A then B; does not imply if B then A.

    I would tend to think that people that grew up with Sci-Fi tend to be drawn to libertarianism, not the other way around.

    If you actually read any good Sci-Fi, you’d understand that already 😉

  66. TallDave,

    Well, at the very least small businesses exist independently of the state – as is evidenced by the restaurant owned by Sisko’s father.

  67. I heard a rumor that Michelle Obama is hot.

    “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me” meets “She is touring the facility and taking up slack” hot.

    Anyone else hear that one?

    Yeah, but it was debunked with a Google images search. Unless you are sub, looking for a dom with a mean streak.

    When we stop looking for saints, we might find a decent president or two.

    OF course, if we weren’t looking for a saint, nobody would be very interested in Barack Obama. We’d be looking for somebody with qualifications and ideas, instead.

    I keep changing it, the server squirrels keep changing it back.

    Stop fighting it, joe/WIngnutz. The squirrels have spoken.

    One of the recurrent themes of the Star Trek universe was the need to respect civil liberty and individual autonomy.

    As illustrated by routine quasi-military unilateral interventions into other cultures.

    Our conservative figurehead “Rush Limbaugh” made comments recently about Michelle Obama

    During my weekly half-hour dip into Rush yesterday or day before, all I heard him doing was scoffing at the Michelle rumors. Don’t know what else he might have had to say at other times, of course.

  68. Heh, someone wrote an essay arguing Star Trek is Communist. Pretty funny:

    What was the last time you heard about someone buying or selling something from another Federation citizen? People give one another objects, and they might even barter, but they never use their credits to buy things from one another (at least, nothing substantive such as a vehicle, a cottage, a boat, etc). Kirk talked about Scotty’s “pay” and Scotty “bought a boat” in ST6, but of course, that was in the good old days of TOS. Ahhh, memories … when men were men, women wore miniskirts, and nobody drank synthehol.

    http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Essays/Trek-Marxism.html

  69. TallDave,

    If I am not mistaken, Sisko’s son buys transporter time when he is on Earth and Sisko states that if he keeps on using so much he’s going to run out of credits.

  70. Oh man, this thing is great:


    The military gains increased influence.

    In the Federation, the concentration of government assets in military hands is almost total: there is very little distinction between “Starfleet” and “Federation”. In fact, the terms seem to be used almost interchangeably on the show.

    When Doctor Bashir’s parents were charged with violating the Federation’s anti-genetic engineering laws, they wanted to fight the charge but they eventually decided to capitulate and offer themselves up for the sentencing decision … of a judge wearing a Starfleet uniform! Only an exceptionally influential military would have the ability to try and sentence civilians!

    They’re all company cars: What was the last time you saw a privately owned personal starship? Starships are either government warships, diplomatic vessels, or transports. The only one-person vehicles (apart from non-Federation vehicles such as Quark’s ship or Bajor’s spacecraft) are runabouts and shuttles, and they are always government property. Some might argue that starships must be very expensive or difficult to operate and therefore impractical for personal use, but Quark’s ship disproved this idea.

    Citizens are forced to work. Probably 100% implemented in the TNG era Federation.
    Even though everyone is guaranteed a comfortable standard of living by the state, everyone works hard. There are no beach bums. Therefore, since laziness is an innate human characteristic, we can infer that such penalties probably exist, even if we never explicitly see them in action

  71. Oh, the horror! Someone called BHO “disingenuous” to his face??? Aren’t there laws against HoldingPoliticiansAccountable???

    While I object to Weigel pretending that the MSM does anything approaching reporting, and I object to AJ Strata being elected to represent we bloggers, there’s a solution to all these issues: Weigel should go ask Obama one of these questions.

    That would be real reporting, it would show up the MSM, and it would replace rumors with facts. So, why doesn’t he do something like that?

  72. Colin,

    He actually addresses that:

    Federation “credits” are often mentioned, but never used to buy anything of significant value. In real life, rubles were similar: they were used heavily throughout the Soviet Union, but they were not very useful for purchasing foreign-made goods or bribing public officials. As a result, a vast black market in foreign currency (especially American dollars) appeared, funded largely by money from tourism and illicit activities. This black market was so widespread that authorities were known to turn a blind eye, for the simple reason that they were often its beneficiaries.

    The precious substance known as latinum is used for all major transactions with outsiders (and even some shady transactions inside the Federation). In fact, the more illicit a given activity is, the more likely it will be paid for in latinum. This indicates that Federation credits are not useful for such purposes, which would be consistent with typical communist currencies. Much as a large part of the Russian economic infrastructure was fueled by black-market foreign currencies, there is probably a heavy black-market trade in latinum, since it is so much more useful than the Federation’s communist credit system.

    Hilarious.

  73. Who even gets offended by the word “whitey” anyhow? I grew up in a lower middle class mixed area during the 70s, and the epithet even back then among the grade school crowd carried less weight than “dummy”.

  74. What, like Jolene Blalock? 😉

    Um, yeah, she was…excellent. 🙂 But slightly more seriously, I personally liked the engineer with the perpetual foot-in-mouth “walking diplomatic disaster” syndrome.

    Who owns the “means of production?”

    They don’t say much about it, probably partly because describing a post-scarcity economy is difficult, but mostly because economics is boring.

    Wha…? I thought it was self-evidently obvious. All you need is a replicator that can make replicators…QED. I imagine one could quibble about energy sources, but seeing as how they’ve apparently perfected both energy-positive fusion *and* matter-antimatter reactions for the bigger stuff, I’m gonna go ahead and hazard that that ain’t muchuva problem

    What I did like about DS9 was the posit that despite a relief of economic pressures due to a lack of scarcity, there were still problems like political terrorism and civil corruption that today we often associate automatically either with greed or poverty.

  75. …I would note that LOTR really isn’t science-fiction.

    I thought about that right after I clicked “submit.” I had a feeling somebody was going to call me out on that.

    Heh, someone wrote an essay arguing Star Trek is Communist.

    I wouldn’t know, but the Smurfs definitely are.

  76. Wha…? I thought it was self-evidently obvious. All you need is a replicator that can make replicators…QED.

    The technology is easy, how the mechanics of finance and investment and etc. would work in that situation are a bit more complicated. Along with Barnes, Charles Stross has a book “Accelerando” that looks at what the evolution to a post-scarcity economy might look like. “Rainbow’s End” from Vinge also explores nearer future economics.

  77. LMNOP, I just did a little research (places where I am not lazy–finding out about SciFi), and it seems that the last season that you liked and recommended occurred after Manny Coto was brought in as showrunner. I like Coto, as he was responsible for the very cool but not well known Odyssey 5 (it’s good to have Showtime sometimes). Now I am actually interested.

  78. TallDave,

    What was the last time you saw a privately owned personal starship?

    Well, there is mention of (and rescue of same) of trading vessels of all manner of origin throughtout the series. A number of them have signficant warp drive capability and since they are cargo vessels one would assume that they are quite large.

    There seems to be evidence both ways in other words.

  79. There’s another Stross book, Iron Sunrise (iirc), in which one subplot involves an advanced civilization that goes around dropping replicators on primitive societies, which destroy their economies and create the problem that lots of people promptly use them to replicate weapons of mass destruction.

  80. Well, there is mention of (and rescue of same) of trading vessels of all manner of origin throughtout the series.

    Soviets had trading vessels too.

  81. In Soviet Russia, vessel trades you!

  82. This is probably most damning:

    The concept of an investment portfolio is so alien to them that when a frozen 20th century tycoon was thawed out in “The Neutral Zone”, Picard was completely dumbfounded at the man’s desire to check on his portfolio. He couldn’t even understand the concept, and complained that he couldn’t understand what the man was talking about! Obviously, this is typical of a communist state, but hardly typical of a capitalist state. Even before modern stock markets and investment vehicles, the concept of investment still existed.

  83. Wha…? I thought it was self-evidently obvious. All you need is a replicator that can make replicators…QED

    This is much what I thought about Asimov’s robots. Once you have a few, they can make more of themselves and you essentially have limitless slave labor. Since the robots were presumably dexterous enough to build just about anything, no one need do any manual labor ever again.

  84. Why is this election even close?

  85. lmnop, hubby and I have been watching Enterprise every Monday since they started running them 4 at a time on SciFi. Then, just before they reached the last season, they put TNG on Mondays and moved Enterprise to Tuesday.

    Now we only get three episodes a week, and they started over at the beginning! ARGH!

    It’s ok, we’re hooked and watch ’em all, anyway 🙂

    I agree that Bakula wasn’t the best choice for the role; I think he offered up mixed performances throughout. The rest of the cast are great, though. I felt more chemistry between them more often than I felt it with the TNG cast, and I started out as a TOS and TNG fan.

    What was this thread about again?

  86. TallDave,

    But the Soviet vessels were owned by the state (or at least that would be my guess). Starfleet doesn’t seem to own these vessels.

    BTW, there is evidence of lazy folks in the ST universe; Paris in a VOY alternate universe epsidose is shown boozing it up, etc. and living his life like that. Now he’s castigated for living that way, but there doesn’t seem to be any state effort to make him live his life any other way.

  87. The precious substance known as latinum is used for all major transactions with outsiders (and even some shady transactions inside the Federation). In fact, the more illicit a given activity is, the more likely it will be paid for in latinum. This indicates that Federation credits are not useful for such purposes, which would be consistent with typical communist currencies. Much as a large part of the Russian economic infrastructure was fueled by black-market foreign currencies, there is probably a heavy black-market trade in latinum, since it is so much more useful than the Federation’s communist credit system.

    Not to completely spaz-geek out, like I haven’t already, but here goes.

    What is most likely is that the Federation “credit” system is some type of energy credit system (like as is often proposed in a Technocracy) in order to ration the only non-renewable resource left (which, of course, would be energy production). Latinum is a store of value because it is one of the few substances known that cannot be replicated; thus there can be no direct exchange rate between energy credits and latinum, because one cannot use energy credits to produce more latinum out of thin air.

    Latinum’s use as a favored currency for black market trading stems from the notion that a store of value is only useful for transactions that for whatever reason could otherwise be preempted or otherwise achieved by a simple or cheap expenditure of energy…which one might imagine includes illegal tasks (like assassination or likewise), or trading in irreproducible goods.

  88. Since this has devolved (evolved?) into a sci fi thread:

    Did anyone catch that Charlie Jade last week?

    I thought it sucked ass, but only because they packed about 12 minutes of story into 49 minutes. Anyone think it’s going to get better?

  89. WTF is Charlie Jade?

  90. This is much what I thought about Asimov’s robots. Once you have a few, they can make more of themselves and you essentially have limitless slave labor. Since the robots were presumably dexterous enough to build just about anything, no one need do any manual labor ever again.

    Or as was said more cynically and concisely in the (much unfairly maligned) movie:

    “SO, robots *building* robots. Now that’s just stupid.”

    What was this thread about again?

    Fucking LOL!

  91. The Star Trek economics system was hamstrung before it even started by Roddenberry’s complete ignoring of it (pretty much) during TOS. This put certain basic stuff into the canon that later, more economically thoughtful writers had to deal with as a starting point. Also, TNG added to this by being aggressively anti-materialist.

  92. Also, TNG added to this by being aggressively anti-materialist.

    Which is why, although i always watched TNG and enjoyed it, I could never take it seriously.

    Maybe that’s why I like Enterprise so much more.

  93. How about this for a rumor:

    Over the past 4-6 years the Democrat’s party has moved significantly left of the American voter, Obama included.

  94. Thats entirely true, Joshua.

    Unfortunately, in the past 4-6 years the Republicans have shown themselves entirely unfit to govern a two-bit hamlet, let alone the federal government.

  95. What was this thread about again?

    Something stupid that Dave has been harping on daily, which is why I derailed it.

  96. Not for nothing, but isn’t “the average American voter” a useless fucking abstraction?

  97. I don’t even care about anything anymore. This has seriously raised my apathy levels to new records. Holy shit can the left- and right-wing talking heads just suck each other off and get it over with?

  98. This is going to be a long summer. On the one extreme, people suggest conspiracy theories. On the other extreme, people say that Obama never made a gaffe and that suggesting he did is proof of ignorance. Everyone in between will try to stick to the candidates actual policies.

  99. but isn’t “the average American voter” a useless fucking abstraction?

    The average american voter makes decisions based upon political ads that have less intellectual weight than those old tastes-great/less-filling beer commercials.

  100. I defy anyone to better the summary of current American politics proffered by Joshua @ 2:41 and No Name @ 2:43.

  101. Its kinda pathetic Obama hasn’t been able to build a big lead. His bump from the primary evaporated today. The election just shouldn’t be this close.

  102. several people in Democratic circles did, because that’s where the rumor apparently started

    Wait, what?

    Is Weigal being sarcastic or is this true?

  103. Wait, what?

    Is Weigal being sarcastic or is this true?

    Fuck it…

    never mind, I do not want to know.

    Just please stop the madness.

  104. Here’s the big difference between the Bush National Guard documents, and the Obama rumours: the burden of proof.

    The burden of proof rests with those making the extraordinary claim. In the former case, it was the media making the extraordinary claim, and citizen journalists quickly debunked it in a matter of hours. But with the latter it is citizen journalists making the extraordinary claims. They’re not bothering with proofs, but like their equally deranged cousins the Troofers, are “just asking questions”.

  105. Episiarch,

    Also, TNG added to this by being aggressively anti-materialist.

    In the philosophical sense? If so, Trek is about materialist as one gets.

    If you mean in the sense of the accumulation of material goods, why would you need that if you can conjure stuff up via holographic suites, replicators, etc.?

  106. Colin, even if you have a replicator, you cannot just imagine all the things you might like. Until you saw a snowflake, could you tell the replicator to make it? And even if you did, you would always have the same one.

    TNG heavily stressed Zen-like bullshit (the Klingon warrior garbage, Troy’s psychic abilities, Picard’s Earl Grey tea), and definitely under stressed stuff like finding alien artifacts in ruins and the like, and when they did, it was always for scientific knowledge. That somebody might want something just because they liked it, and not because it was part of their job or high-brow hobby, was not really looked upon well.

  107. What was this thread about again? Something stupid that Dave has been harping on daily, which is why I derailed it.

    Yeah, our topic is much more fun anyway.

    BTW, the PS3 rocks!! GTA is great, Heavenly Sword too. 1080i ftw!

    Starfleet doesn’t seem to own these vessels.

    Is there any evidence of that?

  108. Also, TNG added to this by being aggressively anti-materialist.

    I think a lot of this is just a byproduct of trying to paint a utopian future. Naturally, to get there they had to eliminate the evil of materialism.

    If you mean in the sense of the accumulation of material goods, why would you need that if you can conjure stuff up via holographic suites, replicators, etc.?

    You can’t conjure up an original Van Gogh.

    There will always be status symbols for the acquisitive to chase.

  109. Also, if I can replicate a fission-fusion warhead I can prevent you from replicating anything.

  110. TallDave,

    Well, that role is in part filled by rank, by who has the best holonovel creation ability, by wotrk skill sets, etc. Anyway, pretty clearly art, antiques, etc. are all present in the Trek universe – which is in part why “Bones” gives Kirk an antique pair of antique spectacles.

    Is there any evidence of that?

    Well, there aren’t any starfleet personnel on them. Indeed, many of them have crews which appear to lack any sort of uniform, well, uniforms.

  111. There are enough reasons to vote against Obama without having video proof that his wife Michelle is a deranged, bitter, kill-whitey racist.

  112. Colin, to expand upon the materialism theme, if you recall in the fourth movie, Sulu flies a chopper and makes some remark about training in them in the academy or maybe even owning one. I could also see him having his own customized shuttle (in essence a sports car) to zoom around space in, purely for enjoyment. Kirk has his antique weapons collection in the first movie. These objects serve no purpose other than to be possessed or for enjoyment.

    TNG also has these themes, but they are much different. Almost everything that Picard or Ryker or anyone else has is for a purpose, some “nobler” thing. For instance, Ryker’s trombone–it is for making music and is not just a possession. Worf’s weapons are for ceremonial purposes and training.

    Basically, no one in TNG owns stuff just for the sake of owning it. There is always some “spiritual” or artistic purpose.

  113. Next rumor is Larry Sinclair, which actually is an old rumor but is threatening to get more attention. Pathetic.

  114. Episiarch,

    Riker pretty clearly has the trombone for enjoyment. Picard’s books similarly seem to be primarily for enjoyment. Simiarly when Geordi is making that tall ship in one of the earilier episodes for his former captain I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the object is other than enjoyment and as a means to show appreciation, etc. Anyway, at this point we seem to be splitting hairs.

    I’ve come to the conclusion as a result of this discussion that one can spin a heck of a lot of convincing narratives about the Trek universe which can also be mutually contradictory.

  115. No Name Guy, I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t write a word about during the three day period when Obama’s lead was widening, but are now spamming every thread with the observation that one day’s number show his lead smaller than it was.

    I don’t think my statistics professor would approve.

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