Sunday, September 16, 2007

What I'm Reading Lately

My goal over my summer break was to read the entire set of Harry Potter books. Well, I've finished book 7 and I also read a commentary on the books and have been listening to some podcasts by Harry Potter geeks. Taken as a whole the entire set is a wonderful story, one that ranks, at least in theme and ideas, with many other works of western literature. It is deep in many ways, touching on many myths, a very spiritual series with positive ethics. I highly recommend the Harry Potter series; best to start at the first book as there are characters in the book that aren't in the movies.

Currently, I'm nearly done with a book on genetics and British and Irish history called "Saxons, Vikings and Celts". The author, Bryan Sykes has done research using the DNA of the inhabitants of Britain, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in order to see if various legends and historic accounts of the movements of various peoples into and around the isles can be proven by looking at their DNA. It's a fascinating account. Some of his preliminary studies may change what we think about when Celts came to Ireland. It was believed that Celts from around Austria may have emmigrated into Ireland about 300 to 500 years BC. But Syke's research implies that the Celts may have arrived much earlier, around the time of the invention of agriculture about 5000 years BC and from around Spain. On the whole, a great read.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Is there bias in the mainstream media?

Some say that mainstream media has a bias favoring liberal, Democratic or progressive politics. They cite statistics from polling which shows that the majority of newspaper and electronic media reporters are themselves somewhat liberal. But reporters alone do not determine what is actually published or broadcast over the media. Those reporter's bosses, editors, and managers are actually more likely to be more conservative and support Republican politicians. And owners of the media and the higher management of these vast corporations that own the media outlets are much more likely to be conservative. Rupert Murdock, the owner of Fox News and hundreds of television outlets, newspapers, and radio stations, is relentlessly conservative, donates heavily to conservative politicians all over the world and promotes conservative ideas through many of his holdings. As we experience more media consolidation, media tends to grow more conservative, not wanting to risk annoying corporate advertisers or damage even slightly other corporate holdings.

If there is a media bias, it is more in the decisions as to what is deemed worth reporting. As we saw in todays' Los Angeles Times print edition and online version, among other things, something gets reported if it involves:
-conflict (U.S. tip led to German terror plot arrests)
-happens to celebrities (Paris Hilton, US Senator Craig)
-is about sex (Sex, violence cram TV's 'family hour,' study says)