Archive for the Internet Category

This Is News: Expensive Disaster in Space

Posted in Internet, Media, Really, This Is News? with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by JE Cornett

Can you file bankruptcy in space?

While you were lying awake in bed late Sunday night worried about the plight of the homeless during this bitterly cold Arctic Freeze, James Carl’s empire was crumbling.

Turns out his space fleet was under siege. The surge began when a member of Carl’s coalition failed to make a payment to protect a key staging ground in the ongoing war between Carl’s Pandemic and N3 coalition and CFC and Russian forces.

The bill should have been settled via auto-pay, but something went wrong, resulting in tragic consequences.

“Everything just escalated out of control from there,” says Carl, via Associated Press. “The dust is still settling on that issue. Everyone is just focused right now on fighting to try to regain control of the system.”

Carl’s coalition faces steep odds to retake lost ground. Mineral rights and disruption of valuable trade notwithstanding, more than 100 of the $3000 vessels were destroyed in the attack before Carl was notified by alliance members in the early hours of Monday morning via phone that system B-R5RB was under fire. He spent the remainder of Monday marshaling his troops, and says that dozens of alliance members, volunteers all, took leave from their jobs to help put an end to the takeover.

Right now, Carl’s hope is that with the help of other alliance members, total destruction of B-R5RB can be prevented. While it appears the CFC currently has the upper hand, there is still time for U.S. alliance members to retake the advantage, says Carl.

Regardless, Carl is not giving up.

“It’s a universe full of grudges and constantly changing politics. If we were to lose, we’ll rebuild. Then, we’ll go back and start another war.”

The cost of this war, however, may make rebuilding difficult. Though the war is being waged in the ether, as part of the online game EVE, the real world value of the losses Carl’s coalition has weathered tallies $500,000. Whether Carl and others can afford to re-outfit this completely fictional alliance remains to be seen.


All Thinking Is Relevant, Says Thought Catalog

Posted in Internet, Media, No, Where You Find It with tags , , on January 28, 2014 by JE Cornett

Card Catalog in O'Shaughnessy Library, later to become part of the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center, University of St. Thomas [1960]

No, not that kind of catalog, unfortunately.

The whole wide world’s all up in somebody named Amy Glass’s face for having the nerve to write something titled “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry” over at a place called the Thought Catalog.

Yes, it’s just about what you’d expect with that title, and ends on this cheery note:

Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back. 

This is hardly Amy’s first cataloged thought, either. My personal favorite is the one called “Here’s How to Cheat Proof Your Relationship: Stay Attractive.” Read on:

Honestly, why wouldn’t you cheat when your marriage devolves into living in a house with someone and raising kids with them, primarily, and a love relationships secondarily. Hell, not even secondarily, just like the status quo…

I feel like [cheating is] the consequence these women deserve. They didn’t want a love relationship, they wanted a wedding and a status symbol. If they wanted a love relationship they’d be putting work into it, thereby removing any reason a man had to cheat and they wouldn’t cheat. It’s simple.

She also cataloged “Is the Point of Having Kids Just Not to Be Lonely?” and “When It Comes to Women There’s No Equality Gap, Just an Ambition Gap,” but I didn’t bother reading those. By that point I had concluded that this was all farce. All of it. From these half-cocked ideas to the high school essay-quality writing to the liberal sprinkling of “blow-jobs.” I was convinced that none of this was real, because if it were real, Amy Glass would have developed some of these intriguing thoughts past the reductive, sophomorish (I crack me up) rants-stage.

Then I made the mistake of exploring this Thought Catalog further. Here are a few of the gems I found:

If Your College Relationship Isn’t Working, Don’t Feel Guilty:

Many people lack to recognize the importance of timing in relationships when really, timing should be attributed to at least fifty percent of every relationship. Think about it, there are two separate human beings, wandering around in this world, and somehow they meet, at a specific place, in a specific time in their lives. From that moment forward, those two people will have to put scheduled time aside for that person to be apart of their life.

I’m in college now, and frankly, I struggle to find time to even shower. College is full of late nights, early mornings, afternoon naps, overscheduled classes, short lived study time, an overload of cramming to finish homework time, and an unhealthy amount of Netflix. The combination of the lazy and stressful schedule leaves us all with limited one-on-one human interaction.

Personally, I lack to recognize how, if you’ve got time to watch Netflix, you haven’t got time to shower. If you’ve got time to nap, you’ve got time to shower.

22 Important Differences Between Southerners and Rednecks:

  • Southern: Food with a lot of butter
  • Redneck: Food with a lot of mayonnaise
  • Southern: Common family nicknames include “Junior” and “Sissy”
  • Redneck: Common family nicknames include “Bubba” and “Buzz”
  • Southern: Cracker Barrel
  • Redneck: Golden Corral
  • Southern: Elvis, Johnny Cash, The Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard
  • Redneck: David Allan Coe, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins
  • Southern: Having pecan pie crumbs on your mouth
  • Redneck: Missing teeth from your mouth

As a Kentuckian, I could by rights go either way, but I can’t parse this. Love butter, also love mayonnaise. Have the nickname “Sissy” but prefer David Allan Coe to Lynard Skynard (sic). So confusing.

Believe the Lies You Tell Yourself to Fall Asleep at Night:”

Be kind to yourself. Believe it’s all going to work out the way you wildly and shamelessly entertain in the crevices of your imagination. She could learn to forgive you and become your friend again. One day, you could make that team, get your dream job. He could come back to you.

Stranger things have happened. Life is unpredictable. Hope is never lost.

That’s sweet.

By the time I’d finished with that Thought, I’d come to the conclusion that the entire Thought Catalog was farce, or something like the bathroom wall of the Internet.

So I went to the “About” page to find out how such a thing worked. Here’s what the “About” page says about this Thought Catalog:

  1. Thought Catalog content should be fun, smart, and creative, i.e., entertaining, journalistic, and literary.
  2. The site should be beautiful and clutter-free.
  3. We believe all thinking is relevant and strive for a value-neutral editorial policy governed by openness. The more worldviews and rhetorical styles on the site, the better. We want to tell all sides of the story.
  4. We’re about today. But our mission is also archival. We want to catalog the times for tomorrow.
  5. We want to help shape culture by empowering you to share your ideas and stories with the world.

What a beautiful, if not exactly clutter-free, concept. Not just an Internet bathroom wall, but a repository, where anyone who comes up with “25 Hoarding Photos That Will Make You Feel Better About Your Life” can leave those photos for future generations. No matter how fleeting my thought, no matter how unformed or ill-informed or deformed my thought, it can come here to live.

I felt empowered until I followed that link (dead here) to a Submissions page. This is an excerpt:

If you’d like your writing featured on Thought Catalog, fill out the form below and we’ll review it. While we strive to read all submissions, our resources are limited, and we can’t guarantee a response. If you don’t hear back after two weeks, assume it wasn’t possible for us to publish your article and feel free to submit again.

Shocking. I had assumed that the inclusion of something like “22 Important Differences Between David Allan Coe and Lynard Skynard” was proof that there is indeed a value-neutral editorial policy here. I thought that meant that all thinking is relevant, but now I learn that someone, somewhere is only striving to read all the submissions, and that it may not be possible for my thoughts to appear in the Thought Catalog.

Thank God.


E-Books Won’t Disappear — But The Way We Read Will

Posted in Book News, E-books, Internet, Literature, Media, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2012 by JE Cornett

Don’t worry – they’re not coming for your e-books. Not yet, anyway.

The blogosphere/libraryland/readers everywhere are in a dither over Hugh McGuire’s TEDx talk about the disappearance of e-books within five years or so. There’s much weeping, wailing and wringing of hands, most of it due to a blog post  by Porter Anderson that seems to vaguely extrapolate from this TEDx talk that e-books are going to disappear into the “ego noise” of the Internet.

It’s much ado about nothing. In fact, McGuire’s presentation says no such thing, something he’s quick to point out in the blog post’s comments.  “I never said books (or ebooks) will disappear; I said that “the distinction between books and the internet will disappear”” says McGuire in the comments, and the other commenters, some of which beat McGuire to the punch, wholeheartedly agree.

Whether this TEDx talk/blog post’s viral nature speaks to lovers of print books’ need to disparage e-books, or just a complete misunderstanding of the source material is but one interesting aspect of this story. The more intriguing thing is how McGuire and Anderson both miss the whole point. The difference between e-books and the Internet is already so fine as to be, in many cases, non-existent, as anyone with a Kindle or an iPad knows well. The better question, however, is how reading an e-book, whether on the Internet, a Kindle, an iPad or even a smartphone, changes the way we read.

When you pick up an actual book, your mind may wander, but the information remains the same. Without laying that book aside and seeking out more and different information, there is no way to add value to the information as it is (unless someone has made margin notes, which is a conversation for another day). All you have is what’s before you; the viewpoint of the author is static, as is the information presented, until you manually seek out additional information. There is time, then, to absorb the information without extra-contextualization.

Reading e-books on an Internet-ready device changes the experience completely. Want to know what other readers think of the book? Go straight to the linked reviews. Come across a name you don’t recognize? Google it. Want to know more about the author? Google it. Want to highlight a section? See if anyone else has highlighted it, as well.

The larger question is, how does reading a book that is basically a living thing differ from reading what many laughingly call a “dead tree” book? It’s a question that’s already been asked and answered of the e-book’s next of kin, the Internet.  Way back in 2008, The Atlantic‘s Nicholas Carr began to worry that the Internet was affecting his ability to read and digest text in an article titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid“. While 2008 does not seem to be eons ago, it pre-dates the e-book frenzy that began around 2010-2011, so much so that Carr does not even mention e-books to any degree in the essay. Yet the conclusion he draws from his online reading habits mirrors almost exactly what McGuire forecasts in his TED talk:

When the [Internet]* absorbs a medium, that medium is re-created in the [Internet’s] image. It injects the medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws, and it surrounds the content with the content of all the other media it has absorbed.

This recreation of the e-book in the Internet’s image is what McGuire is extolling as the e-book as Internet’s biggest virtue, and what, as Carr has already discovered, is the biggest difference in the way we read even ten years ago and the way we read now.

But is it indeed a virtue? The examples that McGuire and Anderson use are hardly relevant to most e-book reading; while the majority of Amazon’s e-book sales are fiction and creative non-fiction, McGuire and Anderson cite a YouTube interactive Bible and an online version of  the 1912 journal of Robert Scott’s expedition to the South Pole that’s linked to Google Maps. The best thing about the Google Maps-enabled Scott journal, according to McGuire? It’s “a beautiful web experience.”

Is a beautiful web experience what we want, when we reach for a book? Do we want the same type of added-value, extra-context information that we get from a web page? Is that even good for us?

Carr references developmental pyschologist Maryanne Wolf’s  Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain extensively in making his argument that Google and the Internet are (or already have) changing the way we read:

… the style of reading promoted by the [Internet], a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, [Wolf] says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.

The idea that the Internet was changing the way we think so disturbed Carr that he expanded his article into a full-length book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. In the book, Carr states something that is intriguing, if the line between books and the Internet is indeed blurred:

Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.

If you’re ready to dismiss Carr and Wolf as hysterical doomsayers, don’t do so just yet.  As a reader, can I learn to recognize symbolism if it’s highlighted and pointed out to me? Can I derive understanding from a chunk of text when it’s diluted by links to ever more information? Or will I, as Carr noted that he already had, simply skim the text, jumping from hyperlink to hyperlink, never actually absorbing what the author is saying?

As someone who’s already noticed the same changes in reading habits as Carr has, I’m not sure I want to read books the way I read the Internet. I want a literal disconnect, when I read. I want to be absorbed by the text, not continually distracted. This is coming from someone who loves to read annotated non-fiction, the original hyper-textualized text; when I read non-fiction, I expect additional information. When I read creative non-fiction or fiction, I find it intrusive.

McGuire’s vision of a world where e-books are the Internet is frightening to me. We’ve already reached a stage where simply choosing to read the print book instead of the hyperlinked, added-value version may be threatened. E-book sales on Amazon have already surpassed the sales of printed books, and Amazon is quickly gobbling up print and e-book publishers, including one that caters to libraries. Many books are being published in e-book format only, leaving a reader no other choice but to read the e-book.

As e-books overtake printed books, and e-books become Internet, our reading becomes Internet reading, as well. Do we want the old way of reading to disappear? And can stop it?

*In each instance where you see [Internet], I’ve substituted for Carr’s quaint use of “the Net,” out of fear that you, reader, are already a victim of the type of reading he and Wolf are concerned about. “The Net” functions as hypertextualization that will have you laughing aloud as you fondly recall the days when the Internet was known as the “World Wide Web” and “Information Superhighway.”

This Is News: Paris Jackson Is 14, Has Her Hair Cut

Posted in Internet, Media, This Is News?, Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 26, 2012 by JE Cornett

If you want to see a picture of Paris’ new haircut, go elsewhere. Photo:

No less than three media outlets have used no more than 500 words to report on the earth-shattering news that Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, has done what any other normal 14-year-old girl does on a regular basis. She’s had a haircut.

Here’s what has to say about the dramatic event:

Paris, debuted a freshly trimmed hairdo this weekend while out in Los Angeles. The fringe adds a youthful vibe to the 14-year-old’s pretty long brown tresses.

Yes, babies. A youthful vibe. Which means she’s going for the 12-year-old look, because at the ripe old age of 14, she obviously needs to look younger.

Over at Yahoo, where this is somehow landing-page, headline worthy, there’s this:

The new hairstyle–currently very hot among starlets of all ages, and spotted on Paris over the weekend in Los Angeles–is flattering on the 14-year-old, framing her famously vivid eyes.

Because it’s of utmost importance that a 14-year-old frame her famous eyes. Maybe my mind’s in the gutter, but that whole sentence just makes my skin crawl.

Meanwhile, in Madison, Wisconsin of all places, WKOW joins the fray to say:

Just in time for the start of summer, Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris debuted a new look over the weekend… After being kept out of the public eye by her late father for most of her childhood, Paris has recently started to embrace her celebrity.

Somehow, the TV station in Wisconsin reporting on Paris Jackson’s hair bothers me most of all. People is in business just for this sort of thing, and Yahoo regularly stoops to report on the minutiae of celebritots’ lives, but a TV station in Madison, Wisconsin? Why, WKOW, are you reporting on a teen girl’s hair? Didn’t you just have a recall vote, Wisconsin? Don’t you have state fairs and 4th of July celebrations and economic concerns and murders and car accidents or ANYTHING else to worry about, WKOW?


This Is News: Shiloh Turns 6, Wears Brother’s Pants

Posted in Internet, Media, This Is News?, Uncategorized on May 27, 2012 by JE Cornett

America is divided into two camps this weekend: those who are celebrating Memorial Day, and those who are celebrating the birthday of that most American of concepts, Shiloh Jolie Pitt.

Mind you, I wouldn’t have a clue that the blessed day was nigh if every web portal I’ve encountered in the past three days or so hadn’t reminded me. In the event that this had somehow escaped your notice, Shiloh’s birthday is a matter of great importance.

I’m not even going to dwell on what’s wrong with us as Americans that enough of us are interested in a child’s 6th birthday that we’ve pushed her into Google and Yahoo’s top search terms for the past 24 hours.

No, what I’m more worried about is this article by Katherine Perricone, bless her heart, who, if you want to preserve some corner of your soul by not reading the article, has this to share on the matter of interest of Shiloh’s birthday:

With two older brothers she idolizes, it’s impossible for Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, the daughter of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who turns 6 on Sunday, not to mimic their style — but the little tomboy actually raids their closets! Over the past few years as she’s traded dresses for cargo pants, Shiloh has stepped out all over the world in fashions her brothers Maddox, 10, and Pax, 8, have already rocked.

That’s right. It’s not enough that we as a nation are concerned about a 6 year-old girl’s birthday that we’re all running to the interwebs to find out about it. We’re also worried about the fact that she’s, horror of horrors, wearing her brothers’ hand-me-downs. Because if some of us were not worried, then Katherine Perricone, whomever she may be, would not be going through paparazzi photos from the past six or seven years with a gimlet eye toward the pants that Maddox and Shiloh Jolie Pitt wear.

In a land of 40+ oz. soft drinks, handguns at Wal-Mart and the Kardashians, this is a new low.

Your Tweets Make Me Sick

Posted in Internet, Social Media, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 25, 2012 by JE Cornett

Cory Booker

Quick — which of the following statements is an excerpt from Newark, NJ mayor’s Twitter feed, and which are the ramblings of teenage girls on Twitter?

“Starting to realize who my REAL friends are…

“Sorry I make u sick… Best we can do is learn from our mistakes, not let them stop u but make u stronger.”

“There’s always 2 sides 2 every story.”

I’m going to let you stew on that for a moment. Cuz I no its hard 2 tell which is which.

I’m sure Cory Booker is intelligent. I’m sure he’s as qualified for his job as any other mayor in the United States. But if I lived in Newark, whether I voted for Booker or not, I’d be mortified, because this is how Cory Booker reacts when he feels besieged by Democrats and Republicans alike after he decrying Democratic attacks against presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

It’s bad enough when an elected official is engaging critics via a Twitter feed, but when his tweets read exactly like the tweets my teenage nieces and their friends send, I cringe for my country. As my mother would say, “that’s just tacky.”

Cory Booker (and every other elected official/adult/person who should know better):

If you must tweet, and I’m not entirely convinced that you must, seeing your Twitter feeds more as vanity or a continuous stump rather than any public service, could you please make the effort to compose tweets that are not:

  • grammatically egregious,
  • as petulant and silly as those of a pissed-off 16 year-old girl,
  • trite and stupid,
  • cringeworthy.

Better yet, just don’t tweet at all. Kthnxbye?

By the way, the one in the middle belongs to Booker.

Does Anyone But Me Care About Discontinued Syndicated Newspaper Columns?

Posted in Internet, Media, Newspapers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by JE Cornett

If she’s looking for a syndicated newspaper column, she may be out of luck.

Everyone knows that the Sunday paper is the best paper of the week. Editors save their best stories for Sunday, thin sections like Arts & Entertainment and Classifieds grow to healthy proportions, and the syndicated columns, where you can get advice and information about everything from in-laws to set-in stains, flourish. Scratch that last part. Syndicated columns are disappearing from newspapers and newspaper websites in droves. But does anyone care?

Syndicated columns are the orphans of the newspaper world, dependent upon a host of adopted relatives who put them up for awhile, then push them aside. The purpose that syndicated columns serve is a curious one; while syndicates ostensibly exist to provide a wider audience for columnists, the reality is that they provide relatively low-cost content to newspapers looking to fill column inches. Or they did back in the good old days when newspapers had column inches to spare.

With advertising revenues dropping dramatically and readers fleeing from paper media to online sources, newspapers are growing thinner and thinner, more focused on local news and the larger national/international stories. As papers grow thinner, syndicated columns and columnists disappear.

I’ll readily admit to being one of those people who’ve abandoned print newspapers. The best newspaper in my state doesn’t have daily delivery in my area, so I’ve relied on the online version for years. As a former newspaper reporter, I was fed on a steady diet of the syndicated columnists that we ran in the papers owned by the holding company. After I left, I kept up with these columns, from the Universal Press Syndicate, through the syndicate’s website (I won’t link to the site because I don’t want to be responsible for the 5000 pop-ups that would attack your computer subsequently).

Between the time that I first began reading the Universal Press columns online and today, the output has evolved. The list I offer is by no means all-inclusive, but I’ve stricken through the columns that are no longer offered, bolded the ones that are long-running, and italicized the newer additions:

Dear Abby

The Last Word in Astrology

Scott Burns

Smart Moves

Focus on the Family

Kids Talk About God

Tell Me A Story

Cookbook Nook

7-Day Menu Planner

Supermarket Sampler

Mr. HandyPerson

On Computers

Pet Connection

William F. Buckley Jr.

John Leo

David Shribman

James J. Kilpatrick

As I See It

Ann Coulter

Maggie Gallagher

Ted Rall

Richard Reeves

Georgie Anne Geyer

News of the Weird

Figuratively Speaking

Creating Spaces

Ask the Headhunter

On Ethics

National Perspective

Donna Brazile

Sweet Land of Liberty

Gene Lyons

Byron York

The New Republic

Even with the new additions tacked on to the bottom, Universal’s stable of syndicated columns has dwindled, but they’ve also taken on a new tone. While I had noticed the trend, it wasn’t until I made this list that I realized that the majority of the added columns are opinion, mostly political, while the majority of the discontinued columns are how-tos, help, and reviews.

Yet I’m not surprised. The content of the discontinued columns reflects the change in how we gather this information. Pre-Internet, finding reviews or how-to advice meant turning to the newspaper, a magazine, or a reference book. Today, the very idea of waiting for a newspaper column to address a problem is not unlike turning to Pony Express for email delivery.

The change in the Universal stable is also indicative of the larger shift in newspapers, especially the smaller, local papers that carried these columns. As they lose both advertisers and readers, smaller papers increasingly fill what small dead space is left with information they do not have to pay for, or, in many instances, information they’re being paid to run, in the form of announcements and sports schedules and other items that used to be used as filler.

Despite being dropped by newspapers, the advice/how-to/other lifestyle column hasn’t gone away — only the idea that it must be syndicated. The Washington Post, for all its troubles (financial and otherwise), has embraced the lifestyle column in the only way that it can work now, putting it online, where newer agony aunts and household heroes like Karla Miller and Amy Dickinson dole out advice next to Heloise and Carolyn Hax, two mainstays of Post advice columns. For those who can’t wait even a day for advice about burning problems, Hax, Dear Prudence and others offer live chats.

Still, the Post‘s confidence in online lifestyle columns can be viewed through two lenses, one that sees it as the natural progression of news media, and another that sees it as the dying gasp of a dinosaur desperate to stay relevant in a changing media landscape. Syndication isn’t the only thing the Internet is making obsolete; now that anyone with ten minutes to set up a webpage can spread their wisdom, the types of lifestyle columns we used to look for in papers are now the provenance of bloggers, or aggregate sites.

One such example is The Hairpin, an aggregate aimed at the very audience that years ago would have flipped first to the lifestyle section of the paper, the 20-40 year-old female. The Hairpin even features its very own Heloise for a generation that likely never heard of her, Jolie Kerr,aka “A Clean Person,” who offers advice on household matters of import ranging from a puked-on purse to a semen-stained recliner to funky-smelling jeans. It’s territory Heloise couldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole in a column that’s going to run in a mid-sized weekly paper, and that alone may explain more about the death of syndicated columns than any other financial or logistical shift.

As with much else on the Internet, the law of diminishing returns also applies to lifestyle and other advice. For every Jolie Kerr, there are a thousand people offering unclear, dangerous, or just plain bad advice, and, despite Google’s attempts to thwart them, at least as many content farms hiring freelancers to churn out the answers to all your burning questions, even if it means re-churning answers already found at another content farm.

It all makes you long for the days when you knew whose advice to trust. While I’d take Jolie Kerr’s word for almost anything (I’ve been a little worried about some jewelry cleaning advice I saw there once, but then I’m pretty uptight about my jewels), it’s probably because it’s the stuff my mother taught me — semen-stained upholstery excluded, of course. As for other rogue advice-givers, I’m not as trusting.  At least with syndicated columns, there was the comfort of knowing that an army of editors and fact checkers had laid eyes on it before it reached print, weeding out anything too dangerous. Just reading that so-and-so tried this or that to get the cat pee odor out of carpet is not enough for me, although that make speak more for my source-snobbery than any fear of ruined carpet.

With newspapers as we know them in their death throes, it may be fiddling while Rome burns to mourn the syndicated lifestyle columns. The reality, however, is that the disappearing syndicated column signifies something much more frightening — we’ve already established that we’ll take advice from anyone willing to dish it out. Will we also take news from anyone who reports it?