What I’m reading and writing, May 12

After some grueling writing and copywriting deadlines to meet, it’s time to play catch-up with some writers I’ve been wanting to mention here sooner:

• At Ink-Drained Kvetch, I posted today a collection of some recent links about the current state of journalism from Scott Rosenberg, a co-founder of Salon and James Fallows of The Atlantic.

The former lucidly explains how the act of journalism needs to be defined in the present context (and it’s not just for traditional journalists any more), while Fallows speaks with some of the engineers, computer scientists, journalists and assorted other technologists experimenting with news forms in the trenches at Google Labs.

I highly recommend reading through both links, plus a few others in my post.

• I generally don’t comment on politics, because I more or less subscribe to Ambrose Bierce’s assessment in “The Devil’s Dictionary” that it’s “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.”

Neither do I downplay its importance, and as the owner of a history degree I deeply appreciate historians who challenge us to be mindful of what we dislike.

Ron Rosenbaum has no use for the Tea Party crowd (neither do I), and his recent piece at Slate reveals his intensity about the subject with his usual polemical aplomb.

But that doesn’t prevent Rosenbaum, who wrote a book about the origins of Hitler’s evil, to warn that it’s foolish to ridicule the current wave of American anti-government zealots:

“Most people with a basic grounding in history find Tea Party ignorance something to laugh about, certainly not something to take seriously. But I would argue that history demonstrates that historical ignorance is dangerous and that it can have tragic consequences, however laughable it may initially seem. And thus the media, liberals, and others are misguided in laughing it off. And educated conservatives are irresponsible in staying silent in the face of these distortions.”

In the New York Review of Books, Mark Lilla has a go at the “libertarian mobs” (or “Tea Party Jacobins”) he also thinks “could shape our politics for some time.”

The folks at libertarian Reason Magazine’s Hit and Run blog in turn have some fun with Lilla:

“This is how the world looks to someone who thinks a revolt against bureaucratic institutions is a bad thing.”

This stuff just never ends. Which is why I usually stay away.

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