Category Archives: Jimmy Wales

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Women, You Owe Us Explanations

Jimmy Wales, the founder and big boss of Wikipedia, told Scott Simon on Weekend Edition Saturday that 85 percent of the contributors to the free online hive-mind encyclopedia are male. Wales says that troubles him.

Troubles me, too. Wanna know why? Because it’s so goddamned easy to contribute to Wikipedia that a child can do it. And I’d bet more children, overall, than women contribute to it.

It’s a damned shame that the info resource used by most humans on this planet largely — very largely — reflects the POV of guys. Where are you, smart women? Why aren’t you adding to the entries about Émily du Châtelet and Rosalind Franklin? Why aren’t women who study Harriet Tubman tripping all over each other to add to the abolitionist’s Wiki page?

Do you know who Henrietta Leavitt was? How about Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin? Or, for that matter, Hypatia, Irène Joliot-Curie, Melissa Franklin, Zaha Hadid, or Indra Nooyi? They all have Wikipedia pages and, presumably, have been mostly defined therein by males. For that matter, why isn’t there a Wiki page on Siza Mzimela?

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[L to R] Hypatia, Melissa Franklin, Siza Mzimela

More Q’s. Why is the entry on Birth Control not a place we can read about the desire of women to enjoy sex without worry of conception? Only a woman can write that. The Birth control entry is very dry and clinical. The reasons women use birth control are not. Surely, women can dig up primary sources explicating the need and want to engage in non-procreational bonking. Instead, we’re treated to gobs of citations from vagina-fearing religionists about why birth control is worse than putting a Glock in the hands of a tot. (In fact, there’s even a separate, lengthy entry entitled Religion and birth control.

We hear a lot about mansplaining, the propensity of guys to lecture women. You know what? We could use a little womansplaining. No, wait — a lot of it, please. The tools and the opportunities are waiting. So am I.

Less News Is Bad News

I caught the news out of the corner of my eye that Al Jazeera America is going under and it saddened me. My primary news sources are NPR, the New York Times, the BBC, and Al Jazeera America (AJAM).

I get my AJAM fix online as I long ago gave up on TV as a dependable source for news. AJAM online always seemed to me to be sober and rational, its reports mercifully absent the shrieking, alarmist, celeb-worshipping crap most stateside corporate media shovel into our ear- and eyeholes on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

Even the look of AJAM’s home page was calm, its background color midnight blue with an Arabic script logo resembling a drop of water.

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The Big Mike school of journalism holds that there are no such things as pure objectivity, real truth, and the all-too-ephemeral qualities of fairness and balance our for-profit news mongers try to sell us. Ergo, I want to see human and global issues through the eyes of many and then try to make sense of the whole chaotic mess in my own head.

If you haven’t peeked into how other countries cover the news, I highly recommend it. You’ll be shocked at how differently the folks in Lebanon, Ireland, China, and Nigeria see things. That’s why my preferred news deliverers are an American nonprofit as well as a for-profit biz, a non-profit from the UK, and a for-profit one from the Arab world.

AJAM is the television news operation owned by the House of Thani, the gang of monarchists who run the tiny Arabian peninsula nation of Qatar. These dynasts love to play both sides of the coin, allowing the US and the UK to operate an air force base there from which the Allies can run bombing missions all around the Middle East whenever our generals feel moody. Qatar also has allowed the Afghan Taliban to run an office in the country. The royals like to brag about labor unions and women’s suffrage now being allowed in the country; left unsaid is the fact that both advances were forbidden until very recently. Qatari law allows for stoning and flogging for convicted criminals. Migrant African workers flock to Qatar for what are promised to be high(er)-paying jobs but many find themselves forced into abusive servitude and suffer severe human rights violations.

For some as yet unexplained reason, the royalists who oversee this mess have sunk good dough into a pretty decent news outfit. One possible justification for investing in Al Jazeera: the Qatari kings and princes simply want to make a buck.

Which they aren’t doing via AJAM, ergo that arm of the Al Jazeera Media Network will go dark by April 30th.

When AJAM came onto the scene back in 2013 after buying up the distribution network and the other assets of Al Gore’s Current TV operation, it hoped to reach into most Americans’ living rooms. Unfortunately, the very idea that an Arab-run news source would be infiltrating our happy homes caused some of AJAM’s biggest cable carriers to drop it.

Still, a year ago AJAM was able to gain entry into more than 61 million American homes, a penetration rate of better than 52 percent. Precious few people in those American homes chose to click to the news station, though, with daily viewership hovering between 20,000 and 40,000. That’s kids stuff.

Murricans didn’t care for AJAM despite the fact that it had been established as a Delaware corporation with administrative headquarters and main studios in New York and satellite studios in eleven other US cities. Who, after all, wants to be told by Arabs what’s going on?

You know this already but it needs to be iterated: the citizenry of this holy land wants to get its info strictly from homegrown leggy blondes, tough-talking older men, and Comedy Central jokesters.

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The Pencil Today:

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“A huge amount of what goes on in the Middle East has to do with people being fed bad information.” — Jimmy Wales



So, how about Time Warner Cable dropping Current TV after the Al Gore snore-fest was purchased by Al Jazeera?

That’ll show them there Ay-rab terrorists, won’t it?

Al Jazeera English

Plotting The Takeover Of Middle America

Al Jazeera is one of my half dozen daily news sources. That and BBC America give me the non-parochial slant on the day’s events that I need.

And, try as I might, I’ve yet to glean any anti-American or even pro-Arab skew to the channel’s news coverage.

But, y’know, it’s got that furreign name and it has a lot of brown people on camera, ergo, it must be one of the clandestine sponsors of our Mark of the Beast, Manchurian Candidate, puppet prez.

I used to watch Current TV, but only for Sarah Haskins, who hosted the “Target Women” segment on the “InfoMania” weekly news recap series. She was funny and incisive in skewering advertisements directed at the girls and ladies of our holy land (trust me, none of those messages was aimed at “women”).

Haskins/Current TV

Haskins’ takes on commercials for personal safety, yogurt, and — naturally — diets were laugh-out loud funny. (Scroll down for three clips from “Target Women.”) Haskins is a native Chicagoan who graduated from Harvard as well as what used to be known as the ImprovOlympic, but after the International Olympic Committee’s cease-and-desist is now legally monickered iO.

So we are fellow alumni — no, not of Harvard (I’m not that dopey) but of iO.

The time I spent at iO in the 1980s was unquestionably the best education I ever got. Improvising live on stage gave me confidence, honed my quick-thinking skills, and brought out in me a certain mentally agility. It taught me, more than anything else, how to listen.

And it gave me a chance — however briefly — to work with Lili Taylor.


Lili Taylor

Anyway, outside of Sarah Haskins, there wasn’t all that much of interest on Current TV. As soon as Haskins left the network, I stopped watching.

I have no idea what airs on Current TV of late. Nor am I the only one. In an article last year on the channel, New York Times reporter Brian Stelter wrote, “Current TV’s audience is small — very small.”

Still, Time Warner Cable‘s decision to dump the channel at this moment is suspect. Al Jazeera, which is spending half a billion dollars on the deal, plans to kill Current TV and replace it with a new operation called Al Jazeera America, something similar to the BBC America transoceanic split.

You’ve got to figure the new AJA would draw more viewers than the low-five-figures audience Current TV puts to sleep nightly.

So why would TWC give the heave to a service that is almost guaranteed to grow? Why, indeed.


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