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Blue Moon Russian Pigeons GrokLaw gone and Toure Zombieism

August 22, 2013

Last night was a beautiful full moon with clear skies in NYC. It was a “blue moon” (by definition as 3rd full moon in a season with four – unlike the other definition as two full moons in one month, both occur only seven out of every 19 years – See WashingtonPost: “Tonight’s “alternative” Blue Moon” by Jason Samenow). Before I left, my previous post announced my new book versions of “Werewolf in the Federal Courts” and “Red Herring in the Supreme Court“, so it seems appropriate that I return to a blue moon.

Speaking of colors, zombies connect most to green (see also marijuana and environmentalism). Russians are the Reds and the big zombie story this weekend was “‘Zombie pigeon epidemic’ in Moscow sparks fears of transmission to humans” about dead birds sparking fears of Newcastle disease. This zombie story connects the cold war Russian zombies to transgenic viruses (and the issue of animal zombies). And note the specifics of slang usage of “pigeons” (as dim-witted-bird-brained, but also as patsy stool-pigeons). And recall the connection the word “zombies” to “scarecrow” in old patent law.

And speaking of patent law (see also “vicious zombis“), a big applause and sad farewell to Pamela Jones of GrokLaw – “Forced Exposure“. She has been a pioneer of blawg journalism and an inspiration for legal journalism. Unfortunately, she has decided to shut down Groklaw because she cannot protect the privacy of her email sources. Referring to Lavabit’s closure, she no longer believes that it is possible to do her work because there is no privacy on the internet. She tells the story of her apartment being broken into and never being able to live there again, throwing out all her underwear, and quotes from a book by Janna Malamud Smith on the need for privacy in democracy. She claims she is going to try to leave the internet completely (or as much as possible) in order to save what’s left of her “humanness”:

Humans are just human, and we don’t know what to do in our own lives half the time, let alone how to govern other humans successfully… What I do know is it’s not possible to be fully human if you are being surveilled 24/7…

And “excerpt from a book by Janna Malamud Smith,”Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life“”:

Summed up briefly, a statement of “how not to dehumanize people” might read: Don’t terrorize or humiliate. …Don’t destroy privacy. Terrorists of all sorts destroy privacy both by corrupting it into secrecy and by using hostile surveillance to undo its useful sanctuary.

Jones concluding her suicide note:

I can’t stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write. I’ve always been a private person. That’s why I never wanted to be a celebrity and why I fought hard to maintain both my privacy and yours. Oddly, if everyone did that, leap off the Internet, the world’s economy would collapse, I suppose. I can’t really hope for that. But for me, the Internet is over.

Strong words. And with that the world loses another site of quality journalism.

And speaking of the dearth of journalism, MSNBC’s Touré did a segment called “Zombieism 101“. Maybe this was all Touré’s own idea (a riff on Ezra Klein’s zombie argument during World War Z press) but: Hey MSNBC, why’s it got to be the black guy giving this report? MSNBC doesn’t have a lot of black male talking heads, so the racial undertones here are sort of undeniable. But maybe this is legitamately just Touré arguing with Klein’s argument to promote World War Z and say “if they are fast we have no chance“.

zombie toure msnbczombie ezra klein msnbc zombie groklaw

Is it me or did “The Cycle” only really work because of S.E.’s glasses and now with the new cast the show is itself a zombie. Touré’s zombie segment maybe would have been better if it referenced Ezra’s more recent zombie apocalypse nuclear war (or also if Crystal would stop giggling in the background).

Consider also my argument that fast zombies are incorrect facts that spread quickly and so they are hard to kill because they spread so fast that too many people are exposed and believe before the factchecking can even start. Contrast slow zombies as myths that bubble slowly in niche communities and are hard to kill because they are so well-embedded in those small groups.

The thing with fast zombies is we do have a chance. With a little healthy skepticism and research skills, we don’t have to be susceptible to the fast zombie memes flying about. When you hear a crazy new fact, try to check it before you spread it. In a world where birds fall from the sky and Harvard economists make data mistakes, it’s hard for the 24 hour news cycle not to overreact… Media literacy is hard and there will always be mistakes but we need more journalism like Groklaw and less of the MSNBC style buzzword marketing noise.

Well, for my part, ZombieLaw is back from short hiatus. I’m no Pamela Jones and this is no GrokLaw but I will continue to try to cover this ZombieLaw beat as best I can (and I gotta finish the book!!!). In the meantime, for some truly excellent writing, read Quinn Norton: “Bradley Manning and the Two Americas” regarding internet culture, Bradley Manning, data sets, Occupy Wall Street, issues of bodies and privacy. Perhaps there is still some hope for journalism…(?)

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