In recent weeks, Google has indicated that it is revising its search algorithm in order to punish so-called "scrapers" and "content farms"—websites that, respectively, steal articles from other publications and write absurdly banal articles built around common search terms, thereby gobbling up traffic. For anyone who cares about the future of writing and reporting, this was certainly good news. But Google's improvements appeared to be aimed fairly narrowly at the most egregious offenders, sites that no one thinks of as legitimate publications, like Associated Content and eHow.
“I want to contribute to the world of ideas.” That was how Rick Santorum envisioned his political future back in 2007, two months after losing his Pennsylvania Senate seat by 18 points. The sentiment may have sounded strange coming from a Republican best known for his in-your-face social conservatism—the guy who chalked up the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal to Boston’s “cultural liberalism” and suggested that gay marriage could usher in “man-on-dog” relationships.
Herzliya, Israel—For years, American neoconservatives have been accused of being lackeys for Israel, namely the Likud party. In 2008, Time’s Joe Klein wrote, “The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives—people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary—plumped for [the Iraq] war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S.
Good job on Jesse Singal’s article (“From Mississippi to ‘The Corner’: A Tale of Right-Wing Wrongness,” February 8) picking apart my welfare chart apart. It’s an excellent counterpoint and adds to the debate. Despite your take on the various benefits calculations, I believe my argument still stands: That our generous welfare state provides disincentives to work. The hundreds (thousands?) of anecdotal confirmations of my chart in the blogosphere indicates there is, at least, some merit to this line of thinking. What did Mark Twain say about statistics?
The month of February gave observers of African politics a curious case study in political geography. At one end of the Nile, protesters in Egypt were breaking the chains of autocracy through the revolution in Tahrir Square. At the other end of the Nile, voters in Uganda were preparing for an election that ultimately gave the country’s quasi-autocratic ruler, Yoweri Museveni, another five years in power.
Last May, the novelist Scott Turow published yet another courtroom thriller—Innocent, a sequel to his hugely popular 1987 debut Presumed Innocent. “I was lucky enough that it landed on the best-seller list,” he quips, as if there were ever any doubt. But the celebration didn’t last. Turow’s friends soon alerted him to the fact that knock-off e-versions of his novel were being offered at steep discounts on shady websites all over the Internet.
A reproduction is a reproduction. And a high resolution image on a computer screen brings you no closer to the reality of a work of art than a halftone in a newspaper. That is pretty much my response to the Google Art Project, a new collaboration between the online behemoth and some of the greatest museums in the world, including the Hermitage, the Uffizi, the Rijksmuseum, the Metropolitan, the Museum of Modern Art, and a dozen others. Frankly, you don’t need me to describe the Art Project. Just go to www.googleartproject.com and see for yourself.
When Dmitri Medvedev became Russia’s president in 2008, he projected a very different image from that of his predecessor. Vladimir Putin is a buff former KGB agent who is fond of rugged pursuits, such as hunting and fishing, and is frequently photographed engaged in them without his shirt on. Medvedev is an elfin St. Petersburg-trained lawyer who enjoys chess and photography, practices yoga daily, and is the proud owner of the complete recordings of Deep Purple on vinyl.
One expects to discover, as one’s experience of the years grows great, that life is too short, but it is disagreeable to discover that life is also—I do not want to say too long, because only a fool would want the light to go out, but long enough for one to suffer the marginalization, and even the disappearance, of values and causes and of course people that one loves. The world does not care about anything forever. Its forward movement will not be broken. The relentlessness of time is a condition of progress, but even when it does not bring progress it is relentless.
When I sat down to my keyboard recently to Google the city of Detroit, the fourth hit was a site titled “the fabulous ruins of Detroit.” The site—itself a bit of a relic, with a design seemingly untouched since the 1990s—showed up in the results above the airport, above the Red Wings or the Pistons, the newspapers, or any other sort of civic utility. Certainly above anything related to the car industry, for which the word Detroit was once practically a synonym. Pictures of ruins are now the city’s most eagerly received manufactured good. We have begun to think of Detroit as a still-life.