Lying Media Bastards

July 29, 2005

Lying Media Bastards Radio 7-28-05

With guest Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon.

Lying Media Bastards 7-28-05

Jake spins his tunes, rants about various media atrocities, talks to Amanda about feminism, politics, and dealing with cats, spins tunes from Amanda’s favorite Austin bands, and finally makes that Motorhead joke he’s been meaning to.

Music includes Bad Religion, Ghost Mice, Amplified Heat, Justin Sane, Heart, Eric B & Rakim, The Horrors, Simple Fears, Motorhead, Ugly Beats, Marilyn Manson and more.

If you want to skip straight to the interview, it kicks in at about 56 minutes.

A few problems with this show. Due to our continued recording glitches, there are little missing snippets. And due to our low-tech telecoms, there is a constant humming noise during the interview. I’m going to try to get a better recording, and also talk to my sound engineer pal to see if I can’t edit down some of that hum.

Next week I’ll be interviewing anti-racist activist and writer Tim Wise.

Posted by Jake on July 29, 2005 2:16 am

July 27, 2005

The Wal-Mart Times

The Pensacola News Journal prints an op-ed where the columnist criticizes Wal-Mart’s poor treatment of workers.

Local Pensacola Wal-Mart stores tell the newspaper to remove News Journal newspaper racks from the front of their stores.

One of the local Wal-Mart managers then tells the paper’s editor that if they fire the guy who wrote that column, that then they could talk about selling the papers at Wal-Mart again.

[Update]

Looks like Wal-Mart has backed down and will allow the paper to sell on their property again.

[/update]

Posted by Jake on July 27, 2005 5:05 pm

July 25, 2005

Faster Puppet Kill Kill

Don’t know how much I’ll be able to post this week, as my job is eating me alive (for example, I’d intended to use today as part of my weekend and only work about an hour. Somehow it turned into a 10-hour workday). I do have a couple half-finished posts I’ll try to get done.

Also, I’ll be interviewing Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon on my radio show this Thursday (1-3pm PST, radioactiveradio.org). Should be fun. You’ll wanna catch that, or at least download the show after the fact.

Posted by Jake on July 25, 2005 5:42 pm

July 21, 2005

Keelhauled

Pirate radio station Free Radio San Diego was raided by the FCC and some law enforcement around 11am this morning. They broke into the station, grabbed the equipment and left a warrant. The station was apparently empty at the time, so no one was arrested.

The FRSD website says that they have no plans to give up, so we’ll probably be hearing more from them in the near future.

Viva la pirate radio!

Posted by Jake on July 21, 2005 2:46 pm

Deceleration

CJR give us this fun piece, examining how the media got suckered and then tried to change course. After spending an entire afternoon talking about a Supreme Court candidate (Edith Clement) that they were sure Bush would nominate for the position that evening, the media then had to stop on a dime and double back when Bush actually nominated an entirely different candidate (John G. Roberts). The article outlines a number of these “backtrack but make it look like you didn’t do anything wrong” techniques, culminating with, apparently “quick, cut to a shot of a mariachi band.”

Posted by Jake on July 21, 2005 10:31 am

Meaningless Correction

Okay, this Grand Theft Auto sex scene stuff has just gone too far.

The media keep talking about “sex scenes built into the game.” Kinda sorta not really.

First of all, the game is aimed at adults. Which means that there really wouldn’t be anything wrong with putting sex into it anyway. But, as America still erroneously believes that video games are a kids-only genre, like cartoons and comic books (even though the majority of all three of those media are enjoyed mostly by people in their 20s and 30s these days), it’s time for parental panic.

Secondly, the sex scenes are not in the game. You can play every possible aspect of GTA: San Andreas and you will not see these sex scenes. If you want to see them, you literally have to hack into the game code, change several variables, and then you’ll get to see what looks like an incomplete “mini-game” where the main character has sex with several women.

Bottom line: apparently, the designers of this video game were originally thinking of putting this sex part into the game. They started to create it, then decided not to included it. And rather than delete all of the unused code, they just left it on the disc in some hidden file directory. It would be like building a house, then taking a few extra doorframes you built and chucking them under the floorboards.

That being said, the game is, of course, extremely violent, antisocial, and frequently alarmingly sexist. But I’m tired of these media reports acting as though the game designers were giving porn to 5 year olds.

Posted by Jake on July 21, 2005 10:25 am

July 20, 2005

Alchemy

Maybe you’ve heard of MMORPGs. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Role-Playing Games are like Dungeons & Dragons, where you pretend to be a wizard or elf or something and go adventuring. Throughout the course of these games, your fictional character will slowly increase in strength and experience, finding treasure and acquiring more powerful weapons and whatnot to fight even stronger baddies… potentially an endless cycle till you get tired of it. And the Massive Multiplayer Online versions are these fictional worlds where thousands of players from around the world login to these servers (for a monthly fee, of course) and pretend to be wizards or elves or whatever (well, they don’t all have fantasy settings. Maybe you’re a cyborg or a pirate or a ninja).

So of course, a time comes when a player says “y’know, my 14th level half-elf half-wookie necromancer has an extra Sword of Kebabing, and I’ve already got more in-game money than I would ever need… I wonder if someone else playing the game might pay me some Real World money if I offered to give them my in-game sword?” And so it happened that RPG idiots began buying completely fucking nonexistent property with their real existent hard currency. And then some money-hungry gamers began turning this into a business, earning all kinds of fictional in-game money and then selling it outside the game for dollars and cents (made easier by programming automatic commands and exploiting glitches in the game program).

Then someone apparently got the idea to go to China and hire people there to grab this fictional money for 56 cents an hour. Yes, working in the virtual coalmine.

According to the article, the “farming”of MMORPGs for cash is a $500 million a year industry. I really hope that’s bullshit.

So I think we can all tell, this is fucked up on about 15 different levels.

1) RPGs in general. I enjoy playing them when they are single games with distinct beginnings and endings. There’s a story, you play till it’s done, the end. I think that half the appeal of these things is the “building” aspect. When you play chess, both sides begin evenly matched. Now imagine that if playing chess frequently meant that your pieces started off more powerful than they were last time. That rewards your efforts, even if you haven’t learned any more chess skills. That has appeal.

2) MMORPGs in general. I never play these as they seem so addictive, to some people anyway. Without defined endings or stories, you can just keep playing and building your character forever. And some folks do. For around $15 a month.

3) BUYING FAKE SHIT. It just boggles the mind that people are paying money for stuff that doesn’t exist. Oh, pardon me, “virtual” items. The fact that people will spend their money on this… damn, I just can’t fathom it.

4) Fake Shit Sweatshops. People paying other people shit wages to sit there at a computer to play these games 12 hours a day. Well, the article says that the owners of these “farming” companies set up macros so that the game characters automatically go and fight the monsters and win the game money, so the employees aren’t actually “playing” anything, just watching the same repetitive fight scenes over and over just in case the computer needs a ctrl-alt-del or to convince the in-game rent-a-cops that no, you’re not just a macro earning money, you are a human being. Sort of. And while the conditions do seem to be better than sweatshops, the pay is par for that slummy course.

So, in conclusion, the whole world is crazy except for me.

Posted by Jake on July 20, 2005 2:27 pm

July 19, 2005

All Your Base Are Belong to Rupe

The duper-popular web social network MySpace.com has been acquired by News Corp. Wonder how ownership by a international media conglomerate and right-wing propaganda distribution system will impact the community…

Posted by Jake on July 19, 2005 9:38 pm

July 17, 2005

Untidy

Sy Hersh tells us that the Bush administration made plans to covertly influence the outcome of the 2005 Iraqi election, attempting to win votes for specific candidates. Yes, I’m sure you’re all shocked.

Apparently Congress opposed this plan, so the White House had to do this covert action… uh, double ultra secret covertly. This just proves that either the Bush administration has never fucking cared about bringing democracy to Iraq, or that they define “democracy” much differently than the rest of us. Honestly, I think it’s both of the above.

Of course, the US has a long history of secretly supporting one candidate over another in foreign countries. And if that doesn’t work, overthrowing the opponent after he takes power. Or, destablizing the entire country, and then overthrowing the opponent. I once again recommend the book Killing Hope for examples.

Juan Cole reminds us of a long legacy of Western powers interfering in Middle Eastern democracy. To the point that I imagine many in the region think “democracy” means “the white people are gonna fuck with us again.”

Posted by Jake on July 17, 2005 11:59 am

July 16, 2005

Scooby Dobby Doo

Believe it or not, I’m actually surprised at the lack of Harry Potter stories in the news lately.

When the last book in the series was released, I remember the news media hyping the book and its fans and the anticipation for at least a week in advance. This time it looks like they actually waited till the day before the book’s release. Well, in the US, anyway. It might have gotten more hype in Britain, what with the country’s Harry Potter-centric economy.

But here’s a point for us all to muse over: why the hell are these books so popular? Publishers have never seen anything like it. They are only slightly less popular than the Bible. Young kids who hate reading devour these books and then return to watching bad teen dating shows on MTV.

I do enjoy the books and have read them many times, but I have a deeper emotional connection to them than most folks. They were one of the only things that both my mom and I enjoyed (things = movies, TV shows, music, food, books, etc.); she got me into them. And I think because it was a rare connection between us, we both magnified our enjoyment of them a bit. For my mom, who was spending half her days in chemotherapy and the other half recovering, I’m sure the idea that someone was going to arrive at the door with a broomstick or flying car to whisk her away to a realm of magic had great appeal. And since she died, I’ve found some comfort in re-reading these books, like when I read the words I get to hold a piece of her for a little while. Well, that’s not exactly it, but I think you can see how that makes the books important to me.

Anyhow.

At their core, the books are really a series of expanded Scooby Doo mysteries, where the young wizard detectives take a whole school year to discover that the scary swamp monster is actually Old Man Higgins, who would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids, and that house elf (although Old Man Higgins wouldn’t be running around in a monster costume; in these books, Old Man Higgins would probably be a real swamp monster).

The writing is pretty good, the mysteries actually work pretty well (no cheap shots), there’s whimsy and there’s darkness, the typical coming-of-age “the adults treat the children like children, but the kids can really handle it” feel, and lasting themes highlighting class, race and sweatshop labor.

But still, nothing is so out of the ordinary about these books to justify their international phenomenon. I did read an essay which argued that the book’s popularity dealt with a British need to redefine their national identity to themselves, which made sense when I read it, but that fails to explain why kids in Kansas City and Munich and Beijing like them too.

So there’s a little sociological discussion question for the weekend. Not “why do kids like Harry Potter?”, but why does Harry Potter appeal so strongly to so many kids? Is there something there, or is it just a case of miraculous marketing?

Posted by Jake on July 16, 2005 12:12 am

July 15, 2005

To the Ramparts

The site has been utterly bombarded by comment spam in the past couple of weeks, averaging around 400-600 per day. In the course of mass deleting them, I think I accidentally erased a few legitimate comments. My apologies.

I think the only solution is to install a certain plugin that doesn’t just prevent spam comments from being posted, but one that prevents automated spam programs from even accessing the site. But to do that, I’d need to upgrade my version of WordPress, and last time I tried that, it failed.

Anyone programmers out there who know about .css files? That might help to start…

Posted by Jake on July 15, 2005 11:48 pm

July 14, 2005

Lying Media Bastards Radio 7-14-05

Lying Media Bastards 7-14-05- 114 minutes.

On this show I allege that the governator is selling out California’s bodybuilding community, play an exclusive track by an underground political band in Iran, fake out Tori Amos fans, mock Scott McClellan, weave questionable analogies about Dracula, and mispronounce many proper nouns. I also talk about recent grand jury attacks on San Diego activists, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Grand Theft Auto, and Karl Rove.

Music features Devo, Morrissey, Failure, Elastica, Mr. Lif, Dr. Dre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ladytron, Bikini Kill, David Rovics, The Pogues, SonGodSuns, 1905, Umlaut, The Vines, 2 Mex, The Spectacle, and more.

No show next week, July 21, but the July 28 show will feature an interview with Pandagon’s Amanda Marcotte.

July 11, 2005

Reality Is Stealing My Jokes

As a Natural Born Writer, my brain is nearly always on, rattling away in rough draft mode. Always thinking of things to say, clever phrasings, argument structures, analogies, witty retorts, etc (with varying success, of course). I came up with a good phrase months ago, and just remembered it this week. It’s meant to imply that something is really expensive and ridiculously fancy. Since then, I’ve been really hankering for a way to insert it into a blog entry.

But then I had doubts. Not that the phrase wasn’t funny, although that’s always a concern. But I was no longer sure that this was a phrase that I’d actually made up. Maybe I’d heard it somewhere else and forgetten and just assumed I’d made it up? So I did a google search to see if maybe I’d seen it on the Simpsons or something.

No, no Simpsons links, but I was astonished to see that my search got 641 hits.

Turns out that there really is a such thing as a lobster cappuccino. Anyone want the recipe?

Posted by Jake on July 11, 2005 7:29 pm

July 10, 2005

Media Economics

I meant to link to this article weeks ago.

It’s a study of the boardrooms of the top ten largest media companies in the US. It finds that a grand total of 118 people control what you see and hear in the media every day. And those 118 people sit on the boards of 288 corporations. For example, the article points out that the members of the board of the Washington Post also sit on the boards of Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Dun & Bradstreet, Gillette, G.E. Investments, J.P. Morgan, and Moody’s. If you were on the board of Coca-Cola and also on the board of the Washington Post, don’t you think you would try to influence the newspapers’ policies so as to maximize Coke’s profits? And vice versa? Yeah, you’d probably have to be a little subtle, or maybe you wouldn’t even be able to get such an agenda on the books. But still, seems like conflict of interests to me.

On top of that, the article shows that 8 of these 10 media conglomerates have common memberships on other boards. For example, newspaper companies the Washington Post and Gannett both have members on the board of Lockheed Martin. Does this lead to less competition and more collusion?

Moving to a slightly different tangent, Billmon has posted an interesting essay which examines journalism and punditry via the lens of free market theory. Either you can come away from it with the idea that pundits don’t care about being right because they get more benefit (ie get to keep their jobs) in following the crowd, or that the “marketplace of ideas” is a completely fucking stupid idea that your average 10-year old could pick apart in a matter of minutes.

Posted by Jake on July 10, 2005 10:10 pm

Unradio

Although I did my radio show this past Thursday, the recording of it was so fucked up that I can’t post it up. See what happens when you don’t listen live?

I’m pleased to see that within a week that my latest show/podcast was downloaded nearly 400 times.

The July 21 show will be cancelled, as I have to drive someone to the airport.

You may also have noticed that I’ve listed a gmail address on the right column of the site, where I hope people will email me mp3s to use on my radio show. If you’re in a band and you legitimately think you’re good, send me your songs. If you find a good political song online, email it to me. If you just find a damn good song of any variety that you think I’d dig, send it my way. lmbradio+at+gmail.com

And I’ll be having guests. One confirmed, three potential, should be cool to pick at someone’s brain to learn a few things.

Posted by Jake on July 10, 2005 8:28 pm

Breaking Blockages

Once again, there was a Big Event, and I felt that I should write something about it before I wrote about anything else, and couldn’t figure exactly what to say about the Big Event, so posting dried up and Other Topics began to build up and risk overflow.

My usual way of getting over this is to take the epic Big Event commentary in my head and strangle it down to a couple of sentences, and then move on.

So here ya go.

The terrorist attack in London was a terrible thing. But I can’t help but feel relieved that “only” 50ish people were killed. And I can’t help but feel sad and frustrated about the millions who’s deaths will never be noticed, because they died quietly of hunger or disease, because they were born and died with dark skin, because their deaths were not packaged with fire and smoke.

The parallels are drawn between 7/7 and 9/11. But I’m not sure that those parallels hold; if this blogger is correct, the British tried to return to business as usual on 7/8 while the US media tried to spin this attack into 9/11 2. Maybe someone should have reminded CNN about the IRA, or the Blitz.

And in the wake of these attacks, the always informative Juan Cole restates our assumptions, and reminds us who Al Qaeda is, what they want, and how they operate. After 9/11 I remember how the people with the least knowledge had the most fear. That’s one of the reasons I returned to journalism, actually (well, whatever you call my brand of writing and radio). So I’ll post some of the most informative snippets from Cole’s latest article and a recent interview about the attacks.

The Al Qaeda ideology believes that the Muslim world is weak and oppressed and dominated by the wealthy capitalist West. And that this West uses things like the establishment of Israel or the setting of Muslim against Muslim in Iraq or Afghanistan as a way of keeping the Muslim world weak. Ideally, all the Muslims should get together and establish a United States of Islam, which would revive the Caliphate. (In medieval Islam the Caliph was a kind of pope figure, a central spiritual authority.) Under the Caliphate, you’d have the wealthy Egyptian writers and engineers and you’d have the wealthy oil states come together to make the Muslim world into a united superpower…

It goes back to the 19th century. The Ottomans, when they were facing British and French incursion, put together this idea of pan-Islam back in the 1880s. They think that for the last 200 years or so, since Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, Europe has been invading their countries, raping their women, subjecting their men, and stealing their wealth.

So they have a two-fold plan. In order to establish a united Muslim country, you’d have to overthrow the individual secular regimes that now exist—Algeria and Egypt, and so forth. Then you’d have to unite them all under Salafi Islam. And every time they’ve tried to overthrow the Egyptian government, they’re checked, in part because the Americans back [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak.

So then they put forward the theory in the 1990s of hitting the foreign enemy first. Basically there are two major impediments to their plan. One is the local secular military governments, which resist being dissolved into this Islamic state. The other is the Western superpowers that back the military regimes. So they became convinced that in order to go forward with their plans, they would have to find a way of pushing the United States and the other powers out of the Middle East—make them timid about intervening, make them pick up stakes and go home, leaving Mubarak and others to their fate. So the attack on London is part of this strategy—getting the British out of Iraq and Afghanistan, weakening British resolve for having a strong posture in the Middle East a la supporting the United States. Having gotten rid of Western dominance, they believe, they can then polish off the secular enemies and go forward with their plans for a revolution of the global south.

I’d like everyone to remember that. Al Qaeda is a specific terrorist group with specific goals. They want to unify the Middle East under their own particular brand of Muslim rule. To do that, they have to overthrow all the secular governments, and presumably expel Israel. And to do that, they think that they have to get the US to stop supporting the regimes that stand in Al Qaeda’s way. And at present, it seems that their strategy is to attack US allies to get them to pull away from the US.

They don’t hate our freedom, they’re not trying to convert us to Islam, they’re not trying to destroy civilization. I imagine that if they ever did get their unified Middle Eastern caliphate empire, that maybe then they’d try to conquer the rest of the world, but I don’t see that as real likely.

One of the tragedies in all this is that Americans don’t know much of anything about Islam or central/south Asian culture think that “Islam”, “Arab”, and “fanatic” are pretty much the same thing. So when a group of fringe radical Muslims attack the US, in the minds of many Americans, it’s suddenly a racial and holy war against an army of irrational madmen. And US military action and every disrespectful act by a US soldier to an Arab or Muslim leads Muslims to believe the hype of Osama bin Laden, in which Americans are hell-bent on destroying, robbing, and defiling them all. The ignorance, hate, fear and anger create more willing warriors on both sides, and neither side seems to care if the target they’re aiming at is the right one or not.

Posted by Jake on July 10, 2005 7:47 pm

July 4, 2005

Reporter Lines Up the Crosshairs

Wow, what tremendous assholes.

1) Local man files lawsuit against his city government (with the help of ACLU Nebraska), asking the city to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a public park. Your standard separation of church and state sort of thing.

2) Local man tries to keep his identity secret, for fear of retaliation by angry Christians. ACLU Nebraska claims that they’ve already faced incredible harassment for taking this case, and tries to shield their client. The article above cites “John Doe” claiming that he’s already received “threats to firebomb my house, to have my son beaten”, which further show the need for him to remain anonymous (although I’m not sure how he got the threats if his name was secret).

3) Local paper the Omaha World-Herald digs up John Doe’s true identity.

4) ACLU Nebraska tries to get an injunction against the World-Herald to prevent them from publishing this info. World-Herald says that they only want to “serve the public interest.” ACLU loses.

5) World-Herald publishes John Doe’s name, a picture of his license plate, his employer, a photo of John Doe himself, his make of car, and a vague location and description of John Doe’s house.

If anyone hurts this guy, you may as well name the newspaper as an accomplice.

If you’d like to say a few words to the newspaper’s staff, their contact information is right here.

Posted by Jake on July 4, 2005 10:50 am

July 1, 2005

Lying Media Bastards Radio 6-30-05

Yet another shorter-than-usual broadcast, due to the demons of San Diego traffic.

Lying Media Bastards 6-30-05- 99 minutes.

I’ve decided to upload the shows as a single file from now on, because splitting it into two seems to confuse podcasting software. I’m not sure why I keep making such a big deal of this podcasting stuff; I barely know anyone who listens to them. But I’m assured that it’s “the wave of the future”, a statement which is never ever false.

On this show I punch some holes in the concept of “competition” between media conglomerates, talk about helping soldiers get out of the military, the “Lost Liberty Hotel”, Time Magazine vs. journalism ethics, and iffy recruitment reporting.

Musically, we’ve got Slowdive, Sleater-Kinney, the Donnas, Paris, the Ramones, Blur, Jesus and Mary Chain, International Noise Conspiracy, Buju Banton, Zack de la Rocha, Venetian Snares, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Tom Waits, and more. Unfortunately, there are still a few sonic glitches, but I think radioActive will be upgrading its recording capabilities this weekend, which would be nice.

Posted by Jake on July 1, 2005 1:30 am

Good News

Yes, news that isn’t depressing! Maybe you think you’ve wandered onto the wrong site by mistake, but you haven’t. I’ve just been hit on the head with a flowerpot, and have the urge to call myself “Jimmy Brightside”.

Canada Legalizes Gay Marriage

Spain Legalizes Gay Marriage

I’m not a particular fan of marriage, but I am a fan of the idea that gays are human beings, so these are good things.

We’ve also got this news:

Bush’s Iraq speech draws career-low TV audience
The bad news there is that all four major US TV networks and the three big cable news channels bothered putting him on the air for his propaganda stunt.

Also, California governor Arnold Schwazenegger is becoming vastly unpopular, with a 37% approval rating (when his predecessor Gray Davis was recalled, his rating was a lowly 24%).

And finally, this additional poll result:

“more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.”

First of all, the fact that a mainstream polling organization (Zogby) would even ask this question speaks volumes.

Second, the fact that so many people answered the question this way implies that a significant number of Americans believe that they were indeed misled into war.

And third, damn, that’s a lot of people who want to impeach the president.

I think that study could use a little nudge. I recommend that everyone write a quick letter to the editor of their local paper, and maybe to their Congressional representatives, about any topic, as long as you can cite those numbers, that the recent Zogby poll shows that 42% of Americans think that the president should be impeached if he did indeed misled the country about the war.

Posted by Jake on July 1, 2005 12:44 am

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