Lying Media Bastards

July 30, 2006

And the Oscar Goes to…

In one of my more bizarre internet moments, I googled my name (as we vain people tend to do), and discovered that I have an entry in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). No, not someone with the same name as me, me.

Apparently, when I helped a guy with a documentary just a tiny bit, he officially thanked me in the credits. And IMDB seems to take “thank you” credits and turn them into “miscellaneous crew” credits. Therefore, despite never having worked on any movie in any way (except as an extra in a friend’s student film, where I was literally invisible on screen), I’m enshrined in the IMDB, forevah.

In other film news, I have finally caved in and joined Netflix. So any movie/TV-shows-on-DVD recommendations would be appreciated. However, I have seen a lot of movies, you might have to think a bit obscure to find one I haven’t seen. Gracias.

Posted by Jake on July 30, 2006 11:22 am

July 29, 2006

For the Penn Crowd

For all you media activists in Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania:

Media and Democracy Workshop in Pittsburgh!

The folks at Prometheus Radio Project (who are known for helping low power community radio stations get off the ground and for suing the FCC to put the breaks on even greater corporate consolidation of the media) are going on a state-wide roadshow to tell Pennsylvanians about the possibilities of community wireless networks and how they play a role in bigger media and democracy issues.

Community wireless internet is a hot issue in Pennsylvania. Act 183, recently passed by the state legislature, is supposed to guarantee every home in our state with access to high-speed internet. However, the law is flimsy in that it leaves loopholes for Verizon and other involved telecommunications companies to back out easily. The Prometheus Radio Projects WIRELESS SPECTACULAR teach you how to get community-controlled wireless internet, as well as gearing you up for upcoming legislative battles involving community wifi, low-power FM, and other media/democracy issues (all falling under the umbrella of what is called ’spectrum reform.’)

In most towns across Pennsylvania, companies like Clear Channel, Tribune CO. and General Electric own the newspapers, television stations, and radio stations your family relies on every day. Why don’t we hear local news, music, or culture on our media anymore? Because these companies don’t find it profitable! And this year, the Federal Communications Commission plans to deregulate the broadcast media system so that your local daily newspaper can own TV stations, radio stations, and more in your town. Find out how to protect local content, and tell the FCC that deregulation is bad for our communities.

Prometheus will have up-to-the-second information on cable franchising, Municipal and Community Wireless, the looming deregulation of corporate Media Ownership, and the Future of the Internet, from allies across the state and the diverse national groups of the Media and Democracy Coalition. We’ll also have video, audio, and photographs showing how communities across PA, the country, and the world are building their own media solutions.

This event will be held Thursday August 10th, at 7:30 at Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall, Adamson Wing, room 136A. located next to Frew Street and the CMU Hunt Library.

Contact:
Pittsburgh Independent Media Center 412 923 3000
radio@indypgh.org

Posted by Jake on July 29, 2006 9:45 pm

July 27, 2006

LMB Radio 07-27-06

LMB Radio 07-27-06

[update]

Doh! Broken link. Fixed now.

[/update]

- Rumsfeld’s rhetorical devices
- Big Gay Clinton
- Big Gay NSYNC
- Big Gay Pride Week in SD
- pride movements vs. cultural shame
- Lebanon history

Musically, we’ve got Nine Inch Nails, the Bicycles, Sleater-Kinney, Tigarah, Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem, Rasputina, Tom Waits & Ramblin Jack Elliott, Anti-Flag, Indigo Girls, Rock-a-teens, Danger Doom, Lady Sovereign, Suede, Camper Van Beethoven, and more.

Posted by Jake on July 27, 2006 10:57 pm

July 26, 2006

Le Con

Back in the springtime, I decided not to go to the San Diego Comic Convention. I’d thought about attending. A big sci-fi event in my hometown that I’d never actually attended? Maybe I should try it once. Ironically, a promotional magazine I found for Comic Con was actually what turned me away from the idea, aspects of sci-fi/fantasy/geek culture that I could do without. [flipping the pages] Jeez, cosplay? Forgot about that shit. On no, Dungeons & Dragons? Count me out.

But between now and then, I’d moved about 40 miles closer to the convention center, and I had two roommates who were going, so I let curiosity win out.

Now, I am a nerd (or possibly a geek, depending on your definitions). I have a heavy grounding in sci-fi, fantasy, comic books, video games, computers, horror, metal, punk, goth, anime, and all sorts of disdained subcultures. And even with all that, I was way unprepared for Comic Con. I’m told that more than 100,000 people attended over the course of the 4-day event. My head exploded several times.

Well, let me back up and put on my media analyst hat (or media analyst cat-ears, as the situation warrants). While Comic Con used to be a place for sci-fi/fantasy fans to gather, sell things to each other, dress up, and meet their idols, it has transformed quite a bit with the boom in other entertainment media based on comic-books. In addition to all its original functions, Comic Con is also a huge advertising opportunity for movie studios and broadcasters and toymakers and video game companies to impress, woo, and generate buzz among their target market. Hell, some of the ads and products had nothing to do with comics or sci-fi; they were just new movies that they thought would appeal to the geeky.

For this reason, and my aversion to advertising, I’ll try to talk about the convention without actually helping to promote any company’s products.

Well, except this one because it was such a surprise to me: was I the only one who didn’t realize how popular the Naruto anime is? I feel like it’s the year 2000 and I’m saying “what’s a ‘pokemon’?” I mean, I knew that Naruto must have some fans, as it is broadcast on the popular Cartoon Network, but jesus! I saw no fewer than 200 people wearing copies of the headband worn by the show’s characters, and probably a good 40 people dressed as the main character from head to toe. Easily the most popular costume there. Not Batman, not Darth Vader, Naruto. Weird.

First of all, let’s say a few words praising “not following the rules”, or at least “not following the herd.” We arrived at the convention center, and there was an immense line outside. One of our posse had been to the convention on a previous day, and told us that this was not the line to get tickets, because you bought tickets inside. So, rather than wait politely outside for an hour in the crushing heat, we just found a door, walked in, and bumbled around until we found the ticket line. I think we waited a grand total of six minutes. Bam. There was one funny moment when an apparently untrained security guard tried to tell us that we couldn’t buy tickets unless someone who already had a ticket went and bought them for us. “You need a ticket to buy a ticket?” (I pled for sanity, but it didn’t work).

I had every intention of snapping all sorts of photos for the event, but my borrowed digital camera didn’t charge up overnight. So I decided to just keep a list of what crazy costumes I saw on people walking by. I gave up on that as well, after it got too crazy. I could print that list here, but most of y’all probably wouldn’t know half the characters and we’d all be wasting our time.

My favorite costume I dubbed “V for Boxhead.” He was a skinny white guy wearing a tank shirt, high-cut denim shorts, and a Guy Fawkes mask (the mask worn by the main character in the movie/comic “V for Vendetta”). Then, he wore a small cardboard box on his head, covering the mask, and held a small rake in his hand. Who was he supposed to be? No fucking idea. I saw him multiple times the first hour, usually in the grip of security guards. It is my theory that security kept seeing his really short shorts and thinking that he should be expelled, only to find out from their superiors that there were no rules against that, and then had to let him go. Wash, rinse, repeat.

While Comic Con has all sorts of panel discussions and movie screenings and celebrity appearances, what blew me away was the main floor. Literally hundreds of booths for comic book sellers, t-shirts, toys, collectibles, models, video games, movies, art, and clothing. Most amazing to me was the number of indepdenents, comic book creators who aren’t affiliated with the top (and seemingly only) comic companies. I wonder if those guys sell enough to make ends meet. If so, it makes compelling evidence for micro-media: instead of a few companies producing media products for millions, we can have thousands of creators making media for an audience of thousands, or even hundreds. A lot of these indie comics were great, wonderful art and style (although I don’t know if the writing was any good, didn’t take the time to stop and read any). And of course, some were crap, bland drawings were the characters barely maintained consistency from panel to panel. But the worst were the indie comics that tried to convince you that they were Big and you Should Know Who They Are, trying to make you feel like you’re the only one who’s never heard of Gunslinger Raccoon and the Deviant Squad or something.

Even more shocking than the amount of osbscure/indie/tiny comic companies was the number of gothic obscure/indie/tiny comic companies. I’d never thought of goth and comics being much of a match. Now I know better.

And I was surprised and disappointed at the number of indie comics trying to break through by focusing on super-sexualized female characters. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

One of my favorite booths was the insurance booth. One brave visionary thinking that maybe he could sell some policies to nerds who want to protect their comic collections. I doubt he got much business.

The crowd seemed… pretty normal. While it would be easy to imagine such a gathering to be a freakshow of nerd stereotypes, it didn’t look that different that a crowd you might see working at a gas station or reading on a college campus. Maybe more tattoos than usual, slightly younger, more Superman t-shirts, and I’m pretty sure I heard some guy speaking Klingon, but otherwise not too different from the mainstream. And although you might expect it to me a strictly male affair, there seemed to be almost as many men as women (in the audience. The comic creators are still predominantly male).

Now, some truly crappy pics taken on my camera phone:


Pretty much the sterotype of a comic convention, what you’d expect to see. Superman, Supergirl, Robin, Batman, Batgirl. I think Green Arrow and Hawkgirl were just out of frame. No, those two people in the front aren’t supposed to be heroes, they just jumped into the picture.


Various Batman villains. The Joker was pretty impressive. Lara Croft seems to be checking them out in the background.


I was very pleased to get this picture of Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, in line to buy a hot dog.

Sadly, this trio of pictures gives the misleading impression that everyone was dressed like a comic book superhero. Not true. First of all, maybe 10% of the crowd was in costume, compared with 90% who weren’t. As I mentioned before, Naruto was the most popular costume, followed by characters from the Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy video games, followed by stormtroopers, Darth Vaders, a number of Jack Sparrows (mostly female, interestingly enough), and enough Fetts for a bounty hunter family reunion. Overall, I’d say that the costumes ran 75% anime/anime-esque video games, 15% Star Wars, 10% superhero.

At one point, I walked along the line for folks waiting to enter the Masquerade Party, most in costume. It looked like these folks could get up on a small stage and have a bevy of photographers take their pictures. One guy dressed like an anime samurai was on this stage, kept posing dramatically with his sword. His face was drawn up in an enormous grin, and he was obviously having the time of his life. I felt a cold disdain for this fellow as I walked by, not certain why, until the words for it leapt out and tackled me once I rounded the corner. “You’re not really a samurai, you jackass! You may be dressed as one and be getting photographed with a sword, but you’re still not a samurai!” I suppose that was a bit harsh, but I really have a thing against self-delusion. I think that plent of these folks dress up like these cool characters and think that some of that cool the rubs off onto them. It doesn’t. Wolverine is a badass mutant who tears up his enemies with his claws. You’re a dude with fake blades coming out of his hands. Not really the same thing.

I could of course launch into a long, sociological essay here about comics and fans, but I’ll keep it short. Once upon a time, we had folklore, stories of heros and villains and fools that were what we’d now call “public domain.” No one “owned” King Arthur or Ananzi the spider or Paul Bunyan. Everyone knew enough core elements of the characters and their worlds that just about anyone could create their own stories about these figures. Of course, the same is today. Who among us couldn’t make up our own story about Batman or Captain Kirk or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter? Stories are told and re-told, and in the process, those worlds and characters are affirmed, re-created, refined.

It also seems to me that comic creators as well as the current entertainment media nexus are heightening this process. Comic book companies take decades-old characters and reshape them, re-contexualize them, sometimes even rewriting the characters’ history and origins. As comics move from the page to other media (TV, movies, video games), the stories are again retold, and trimmed back as much as possible: which elements are absolutely necessary for this character to be this character?

It’s long been a theory of mine that “nerds” are people who like figuring out the rules. They often enjoy science and math and computers becaure there are systems of rules that can be learned and mastered and understood. I think that this drive to figure out the rules also pushes them into these fantasy and sci-fi worlds. What are Superman’s powers and weaknesses? How does a warp engine work? How far is Rivendell from Gondor? Many of the mega-fans I’ve met are people trying to get to the bottom of these fictional things, see them as a whole. Possibly, I would guess, because the real world is too irregular and complex to comprehend the same way.

I bought two graphic novels (”really thick comics”) at the convention, one of which was amazing and deserves some mention. Uncle Sam is a surreal political comic with fantasically realistic artwork, about a confused, hallucinating man who is either the centuries-old personification of America, or a homeless man losing his mind (or both, I suppose). A lot of dark humor and fierce reality in there.

In conclusion, Comic Con was a big thing that happened.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure that Nicolas Cage was high.

Posted by Jake on July 26, 2006 8:21 pm

July 23, 2006

Bam! Ka-Pow! Niche-Market!

Attended San Diego’s hugely popular Comic-Con International yesterday. Very tired from the throng and a sweaty night of power outages. But I have plenty to say on the spectacle, stay tuned.

Posted by Jake on July 23, 2006 9:49 am

July 21, 2006

Crush

First, I have noticed that the official death toll in the Israel/Lebanon conflict is eeriely mathematical: every single day, there are almost exactly ten Lebanese killed for every Israeli. Today’s count was 330 and 32. Yesterday it was 300 and 29.

The usually reserved Juan Cole has this to say:

So let’s get this straight. The Israelis warn the small town Shiites of the south to flee their own homes and go hundreds of miles away (and live on what? in what?). But then they intensely bombing them, making it impossible for them to flee. The Lebanese have awoken to find themselves cockroaches.

I repeat, this is nothing less than an ethnic cleansing of the Shiites of southern Lebanon, an assault on an entire civilian population’s way of life. Aside from ecology, it is no different from what Saddam Hussein did to the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, and the Israelis are doing it for exactly the same sorts of reasons that Saddam did.

I don’t have much to offer in the way of actions you can take to try to stop this. I’ll repeat a link to a petition for Israel to stop its violence in Gaza and Lebanon, and you can send emails/letters to your Congresspeople here (although I didn’t like their form letter. You might want to edit/write your own).

You can donate to the Lebanese Red Cross and Red Crescent (as well as many organizations I am unfamiliar with) here. You can also lend support to Relief Center- Sanayeh, a conglomeration of groups in Beirut who are working to support Lebanese refugees.

Finally, Tadamon!, a social justice group out of Montreal, is calling for an “International Day of Action Against Israeli Aggression” for July 22. That’s Saturday, which doesn’t give anyone much time to plan. The list of actions (currently all in Canada) are listed here, although I expect it will be updated.

Posted by Jake on July 21, 2006 12:25 am

July 20, 2006

LMB Radio 07-20-06

LMB Radio 07-20-06

- complaints, corrections, apologies
- Society of Bastards
- Jake vs. Comic-Con
- Israel vs. Gaza update
- Israel vs. Lebanon insanity
- CBS calls all Palestinians terrorists
- terrorism, rationality, scorpions
- art & bombs in Beirut

Musically, we’ve got the Rollins Band, the Muppets, Dr√§pEnHund, Panjabi MC, Bondage Fairies, Girl Talk, They Might Be Giants, Loikaemie, TV on the Radio, J.R. Writer, Jay-Z, Kula Shaker, the Byrds, and more.

We’ve also got this track, from Lebanese artist Mazen Kerbaj. Kerbage is in Beirut as we speak, and he recorded this artsy, improvisational, ambient song on the balcony of his apartment, with Israeli bomb explosions in the background. Slow, quiet and not very radio-friendly, but I felt it deserved to be heard.

I also ended this show early, fearing technical problems. I was wrong.

Posted by Jake on July 20, 2006 10:52 pm

July 15, 2006

Israel Attacks!

So we have at least two appalling conflicts going on involving Israel right now, and I don’t think the two are closely connected. The Israeli government’s response has been insane, and lots of people who had nothing to do with kidnapping soldiers or firing rockets will be feeling the pain for months and years to come.

On June 25, a group of Palestinians attacked a group of Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Two Israelis were killed, two Palestinians were killed, and the remaining Palestinians managed to kidnap a surviving Israeli soldier. These Palestinians (I have read some stories which claim that these kidnappers were from Hamas, although I don’t know if that’s true or not) said they would release the soldier if Israel freed hundreds of Palestinian women and children that they were holding prisoner.

Well, maybe we should go back farther. On June 20, Israel fired a missile at a suspected militant near Gaza City and killed three Palestinian children. On June 13, in another assassination attempt, Israeli missiles killed nine bystanders in Gaza City. On June 9, Israel shelled the Beit Lahiya beach, killing nine civilians. You’ve gotta wonder if these actions had anything to do with the decision to kidnap the Israeli soldier on the 25th.

On June 27, Israel responded to the kidnapping by sending troops, tanks, planes and bombs into Gaza. They blew up the power plant that supplies most of the area with electricity. Palestinians are already dealing with a humanitarian crisis coming from lack of foreign aid, and Israel’s refusal to give them money that they’re owed, because of the new Hamas government in Palestine. So people are short on food and supplies, now they’re short on electricity during the scorching summer, and the lack of electricity is now leading to a sewage crisis, as water treatment plants can’t function without power. And last I’d heard, over 60 Palestinians had been killed in the Israeli siege.

All to save one man. How does that work, exactly? How many innocent people is it okay to kill to save one innocent person? (yes, as an Israeli soldier, the kidnapped man likely played a role in the repression of Palestinians, and therefore isn’t “innocent”. I’m not going into that right now).

Now we come to the craziest bit: the sort of prisoner exchange demanded by the Palestinian kidnappers is not unusual. Back in 2004, Ariel Sharon agreed to release 420 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for one Israeli and the remains of three others. Sharon was no softie, either. Near as I can figure, exchanges like this also took place in 1997, and in 1985 (1150 Palestinian prisoners released). A former intelligence agent in the Guardian article above claims that whenever these exchanges have occured, Israeli newspapers were critical of the prime minister of the time, but that his popularity with the public didn’t waver.

So why isn’t Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert working on an exchange? It would save many lives, and seemingly cost him nothing in terms of political support. I can only conclude that Olmert is out to prove how tough he is, to his country and to his opponents. However, the commentary I’ve read from folks who know much more than me about the region seem to agree that the crisis will eventually end in some sort of prisoner exchange.

Then, on July 12, Hezbollah agents kidnapped another two Israeli soldiers, and likewise demanded the release of prisoners from Israel. Why would Hezbollah do this? Most experts I’ve read seem to agree that it was either an attempt to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, or as part of an attempt to maintain their power and influence inside Lebanon, which has been ebbing for some time. And frankly, it might work. It seems like their action caused a rain of Israeli hellfire on the Lebanese, but it seems that the Lebanese citizens are more likely to blame Israel for the destruction than Hezbollah for instigating it. Mission Accomplished.

The Israeli reaction to the Hezbollah kidnapping is off the charts. If the kidnapping was indeed an “act of war”, as Israel insists it was, then the reaction is appropriate. But “a terrorist group kidnapping two guys” is certainly not the same as the Lebanese government declaring war. Again, many people who’ve got nothing to do with the violence or kidnapping feel the wrath.

Now, Israel is insisting that this is a war to disarm Hezbollah, and is demanding that the Lebanese government do it. Except they can’t. Everyone seems to realize that Hezbollah’s militias are more powerful than the Lebanese army, and any attempt by Lebanon to take down Hezbollah will end in failure.

Some of the scariest talk in here is when Israel tries to blame even more players for the conflict; on several occasions it has implied that Syria or Iran are pulling the strings. Does Israel really want to invade a couple more countries? Does Olmert really think that Israel can fight wars on four fronts simultaneously?

But I did have to laugh when Israeli officials claimed that Hezbollah’s rockets were created by Iran. Yeah, like every Israeli rifle, tank, helicopter and missile doesn’t bear huge “MADE IN THE USA” tattoo. Most folks in the Arab/Muslim world blame the US for Israel’s violence, and to some extent, they’re right.

I don’t know how this is going to end (or if not “end”, return to “normal”). Some experts I’ve read say that both the Gaza and Lebanon conflicts will eventually end with negotiated prisoner releases. Others have said that Israel intends to wipe out Hezbollah before it’s done. All I know is that from here, I don’t see any predictable conclusions.

Recently, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf regarding this website. As you know, LMB is frequently a great source of apocalytpically depressing news. And that depression can lead to despair and apathy, which is not my goal at all. It’s always my hope that the nightmarish parade of wrongness would push readers to the point where they felt that they had no choice but to do something to fix this broken world. But maybe it helps push them instead to glassy stares and bottle of something alcoholic.

So it is my goal to try to temper these sad tales with stories about what people are doing to fix, repair, aid, solve and salve. And beyond that, to try to give y’all a few options of how to get involved yourselves. Take that pathos and turn it into conviction and action. Or something like that.

Since the Israeli attacks began, there have been protests in Boston, Jakarta, Ankara, Damascus, Detroit, Yemen, Melbourne, and Kuwait– and that’s just my results from one half-assed Google search. Other protests are planned for Los Angeles on Wednesday, Houston on Monday, and I’m sure there are more in the works. If you want to plan your own, you can find your nearest Israeli Embassy here (well, there are only 10 in the US).

Organization End the Occupation has a letter you can write/sign and send to your US Congressmen announcing that supplying Israel with weapons when they do these sorts of things is a violation of US law. And my friend Garrick, who used to write for my site about his travels/activism in Palestine, sent me this link where you can donate money to send medicine to Palestinian children. Garrick also recommends writing letters to the editor of your local paper to call attention to Israel’s insanity and possibly get Congress to do something about it. This site can help you find contact info for your local media outlets.

Don’t know how much effect any of that can have, but it’s a start.

Posted by Jake on July 15, 2006 11:13 pm

July 13, 2006

LMB Radio 07-13-06

LMB Radio 07-13-06

- Israel vs. Palestine
- Israel vs. Lebanon
- history of Israel/Palestine prisoner exchanges
- wanna protest?
- “the president is always right”
- UK free speech
- voter fraud in Mexico
- solving North Korea

Music includes the Meat Puppets, They Might Be Giants, Binary Star, System of a Down, Hurra Torpedo, Interpol, Fiona Apple, Pharoahe Monch, the Von Bondies, Vast Aire & MF Doom, Sleater-Kinney, M.I.A., Theivery Corporation & Parry Farrell, Mayday, Lady Sovereign, Ozomatli & Medusa, Anti-Flag, Graveyard Riot, Gnarls Barkley, Malcolm Holcombe, Talib Kweli & Jean Grae, and more.

Special intro by DJ Marley, age 5.

Posted by Jake on July 13, 2006 11:15 pm

July 9, 2006

Misfires

Whenever I go to post a new entry on the blog, the screen shows me a list of the entries that I started, saved, and never completed. I know that most of these will ever come to light, so I thought it might be fun just to post the titles of these doomed articles:

- But Some Commuters Are More Equal Than Others
- Truth and Fire 2005
- Chains of the Fourth Estate
- A Nation Made of, and Out to Get, Immigrants
- Restate Our Assumptions
- Grief Makeover
- It’s Not a Monopoly, It’s a Mash-Up!
- Interactive Music Snobbery
- Visible Phantom
- Imitation, Flattery, Blah
- The Sony Imperium
- X-Men: the Cash Stand
- Dick Food

Posted by Jake on July 9, 2006 10:32 pm

The High Cost of Free Speech (UK Style)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Londonist blogger Jo Tacon and her friend Phil are taking the subway to a concert. When they pass through the metal detectors inside the subway station, Phil remarks that the detector is a “piece of shit that wouldn’t stop anyone”. And then:

all of a sudden, half a dozen policemen jumped on him and hustled him over to the corner of the tube station, where he was detained for about 20 minutes for the grave crime of swearing in public, and fined ¬£80 (almost $150) for the privilege. For swearing! On the tube! If it’s such a crime, then I owe them about a million pounds, as swearing on and at the tube is the only way to deal with the pain of having to travel on the dratted thing every day.

The police were fucking rude, too, and treated Phil like he was a hardened criminal - they were really aggressive, and clearly wanted him to lose his temper so they could charge him with something worse. They said repeatedly he was very close to being arrested. For the terrible crime of swearing and calling their machine a piece of shit - which, as a physics graduate, he actually knows about. Phil co-operated fully and gave them every piece of ID you could think of, and allowed them to search his bag, but that wasn’t enough for them - they just had to keep on firing questions. I got really upset and started crying through rage, frustration and fear. I also asked them very politely if this was the UK or the People’s Republic of China. They then told me I was very close to being arrested, too.

Apparently, the police decided that this offense falls under Britain’s new “anti-social behaviour laws”. These laws sound like a hearty combo of bullshit and “let’s make the middle class feel more comfortable”. Examples of “anti-social behaviour” include “nuisance behavior”, littering, and panhandling. But even with that, it would seem that our Mr. Phil didn’t break the law. Looking at the statute, it would seem that while Phil did use an obscenity, he did not “persistently shout them at passers-by”, and that one comment to a friend would hardly count as “pestering people waiting to catch public transport.” It is possible that by pointing out how utterly useless the subway’s security was that he “used threatening words or behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress”, but that’s really more the fault of incompetent government than of Phil. Saying “it’s so hot that someone pass out” could be a distressing statement, but you shouldn’t get in trouble for making it.

Also, gotta love the “you’re very close to being arrested” stuff. But really, that’s always a given when standing in the general vicinity of a cop.

In conclusion, metal detectors rock! They are the best thing ever!

Posted by Jake on July 9, 2006 8:04 am

July 8, 2006

Wreck the Vote

Local TV news is telling me that in Mexico, popular left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is claiming that there was massive fraud in the recent national election. However, despite his claims, the news is simply stating that AMLO’s opponent, conservative Felipe Calderon, is the winner. It’s true, Calderon got more votes in the official count, but given allegations of fraud, it seems a fair-minded news agency would avoid jumping to such conclusions.

Ha ha ha, who am I kidding?

First of all, Mexican politics are notoriously corrupt. For example, in this very election, AMLO, Calderon and the number three candidate tried to buy votes. Back in the mid-90s, one candidate was assassinated, allegedly on the orders of a member of his own party. But ballot fraud? Of course these men would do no such thing.

There are a number of shady things going on here, though. Maybe there are rational, legal explanations for them, maybe not.

First, the Mexican election authorities (IFE) somehow “lost” 3.3 million votes, and then “found” 2.5 million of them. Some of these ballots were allegedly found in local garbage dumps. The folks at NarcoNews claim partial recounts show the race to be even closer than the official numbers, and that if all the votes were counted, that AMLO actually won the election. AMLO and his supporters are demanding an actual recount. We’ll see if that happens.

And muckraker Greg Palast highlights the large number of “undercount” ballots. The official tally showed Calderon winning by 243,000 over AMLO. However 827,000 votes (out of a total of 41 million) were “blank”. More than three times as many blank votes than the gap between the two candidates? Odd. In the past, Palast has shown that a “blank” ballot is not always necessarily blank, but sometimes is a valid ballot that was unreadable by a voting machine. And that shady election officials sometimes make sure that the worst voting machines go to the neighborhoods where citizens are likely to vote for the officials’ opponents.

AMLO has called for his supporters to protest and call for a full recount, done by humans instead of machines. Of course, the nightly news tells us that these protests have been peaceful… “so far.” And the US Embassy in Mexico City has urged Americans to avoid the protest sites, because “even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.” Which, while technically true (any sort of activity has the potential to turn into violence), sends the message that the protesters are scary and irrational.

Last month, we also got to see the diseased underbelly of the American voting system as well, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published his piece on legal and illegal schemes used by Republican officials to secure a Bush victory in Ohio in 2004. I then heard Kennedy go into more detail in this radio interview (starts about 25 minutes in. But listen to the first interview first, appalling stuff about Iraq), talking about other shenanigans in other states. There is a clear Republican pattern of attempting to deny the vote to folks likely to choose Democrats. First, they try to challenge the legitimacy of any probable Democratic voter that they can find an excuse for, alleging that their registration is fraudulent. Then, when Republican operatives are the election authorities, voting resources are parcelled out to favor voters in Republican precints and to try to prevent Democrats from voting at all (e.g. if your district has like one voting machine per 1000 people, and you have to stand in line for 2 hours to vote, you might give up and go home without voting). And finally, Republicans keep trying to require voters to show more forms of ID, or new forms of ID, again with the “fraudulent voting” nonsense. This ploy hinders the poor and the elderly, who would most likely vote Democrat. Hell, last year, Republicans tried to pass a law that would require people to pay money for a special ID that would let them vote.

Then of course you get allegations about rigged voter machines, rigged vote counts, Florida, and I don’t know how anyone can trust elections. I think back to 2004 when we were all trying to explain why the American people favored Bush. Now I don’t know that I could have said a single word on the subject, because I have no idea who the people actually voted for. Probably never will.

Posted by Jake on July 8, 2006 10:23 pm

July 6, 2006

In Other News…

Vladimir Putin Kisses Young Boy on Stomach

I… huh?

Crazy. I’m gonna go with “Putin was going to suck the boy’s blood, but then remembered that he was in public.”

Posted by Jake on July 6, 2006 7:19 pm

Perchance to Dream

Sorry, no radio show today. Had a ridiculous night and I’d rather sleep it off and go to the beach.

Posted by Jake on July 6, 2006 8:54 am

July 5, 2006

Attacking the Farm

One week from today, on July 12, the South Central Farmers have a court date, which could possibly declare that the city’s sale of their farmland was illegal (backstory here).

Which is why the alleged owner chose to start bulldozing the farm this morning. He might get to keep the land, he might not, but either way, all the crops and plants will be destroyed. However, at present, some folks are engaged in civil disobedience, trying to stop the destruction from taking place.

For now, the farmers don’t have many options. They have this legal appeal, and they are attempting to pressure their city council representative Jan Perry and put economic pressure on the landowner Ralph Horowitz. However both of these people are extremely hostile to the farmers, and it’s even been alleged that Perry presuaded Horowitz to not sell the land to the farmers by offering him a sweet deal on another plot of land nearby. The farmers have allies who are researching the situation and trying to bring the truth to light.

In the meantime, the farmers maintain nightly vigils outside the farm, weekly farmers’ markets and benefit concerts on Sundays, protest marches around the city on Saturdays, and trying to pressure the city council at their meetings on Fridays. And this weekend, from July 7-10, are South Central Farm International Solidarity Days, which allegedly will have solidarity actions taking place around the country and world, although sadly, I can’t find a listing of said events.

I’ll keep you updated as I get info.

Posted by Jake on July 5, 2006 9:05 am

July 3, 2006

Down for Re-Tooling

This weekend I finally began the move that I’d been (lazily) planning for half a year now, closer to downtown San Diego (yay!) and farther from the ocean (sigh). While I’ve certainly needed time to regroup and heal from the stress, betrayal and psychosis of life in Los Angeles, that need has since been buffed out. Comfort can drain the passion out of you, making you lose sight of your dreams and ambitions. I actually “remembered” the other day that want to make a living as a writer. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten. That’s where I’m at right now, and why I’ve got to get out. The inevitable tension and stumbling will do me good.

I plan to do more writing for the site, alter the site’s focus slightly, and start up an additional “week in review”-style radio show (with opinion and sarcasm, of course). Hopefully I can pull all that off, and start the changes sometime next week.

Posted by Jake on July 3, 2006 9:11 am

July 2, 2006

LMB Radio 06-29-06

LMB Radio 06-29-06

- yelling at dogs
- spontaneous mundanity
- the demise of Sleater-Kinney
- AMC audio (where to find it)
- Israel re-invades Gaza
- Palestinian civil war averted?
- Death to the NY Times!
- breaking Guantanamo
- volume control issues
- Iraqi horror in brief

Musicwise, we’ve got Minor Threat, Gnarls Barkley, Filter, Mr. Lif, the White Stripes, Goldfrapp, Bugz in the Attic, Sleater-Kinney, Steve Earle, Living Colour, the Coup, Filter, Ghost Mice, Ice Cream Headache, INXS, Fishbone, a Moldovan cover of “Anarchy in the UK” (I think), and more.

Posted by Jake on July 2, 2006 12:15 am

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