Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Speed-Posting, 5/26/15: Tanith Lee, Women in Palmyra and Bruce Bartlett on Fox News

1.  RIP Tanith Lee, the master of dark fantasy.  She is one of the writers whose books people recommended to me and whom I read, to the extent the local library would allow, but no more.  Now I regret the fuzzy idea I had of reading more of her some time later.

2.  The Islamic State has taken over the cities of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.  Among all the horrors that are taking place it's worth noting that it took only about a day after the invasion of Palmyra for IS to start preaching in the mosques that all women must cover their faces or be flogged.

It's not that the orders are to be compared with the beheadings and kidnappings and the general butchering IS is so fond of, but note the central role the control of women has in their ideology.  The orders of proper dress for women couldn't wait until the first round of killings were finished.

Needless to say, there's nothing about the covering of the face in the Koran; only about the covering of the bosom.  But conservative extremist religion always centers on the control of women.   And strict sex-segregation means that women cannot now get adequate health care inside the "caliphate" because male doctors can't treat women and there are too few female doctors and nurses.

3.  Bruce Bartlett has written an article about the self-induced brain-washing (lefty view) or brain-cleansing (righty view) watching Fox News can cause.  You can download the article here.

I read it.  Bartlett gives statistics about the ignorance effect:  In several categories Fox News watchers know less about political events than those who don't watch any news.  But his piece is not original research, and I was left asking why there's a whole television channel for one party but not for the other party.  Also what planet Fox's female commentators come from and whether looking like a Barbie doll is the first requirement.  But obviousle men don't have to look like the boyfriend called Ken, or have tiger-eye makeup.

Watching Fox (which I did a few weeks ago) is initially hilarious.  Then you start feeling you can't breathe, so you start analyzing what is removing the oxygen from the room.  Is it the constant repetitions of the same news, most about the perfidy of Obama or complete fluff?  Or is it the utter absence of news you see covered everywhere else?   Or all the messages crawling across the screen?  If you follow those you wouldn't be surprised to read that Democrats cause cancer.

On the other hand, Bartlett notes that Fox News  may not ultimately help Republicans in elections, because it flames the anger of conservatives and moves them even further rightwards.  Then those same conservatives vote for very extremist candidates in the primaries, and you get the tea-partiers.

It could be the case that we all live in similar ideological bubbles, could be.  But I try to follow news from various outlets and from several countries, and the Fox world stands out as belonging to a different galaxy.