Lying Media Bastards

October 27, 2007

LMB Radio: Halloween Show of Spookiness

LMB Radio Halloween 2007: Exorcist Boogie

Another year, another music-only Halloween show. Sort of bounces between creepy, campy and noisy this time. Featuring the audio stylings of the Cramps (of course), Crash Worship, Tom Waits, Ministry, the March Violets, White Zombie, Sisters of Mercy, Crash Worship, Rev. Horton Heat, Coil, Probot, the Horrors, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Rasputina, Bauhaus, and a little sound collage work by me.

Posted by Jake on October 27, 2007 5:23 pm

October 25, 2007

Ashes Settle

I’m still okay. The fires didn’t come near my dad’s home or my home, although for a while it looked like it was near, and heading steadily towards one of the libraries I work at. But during the whole time, there was all this news about evacuations of nearby areas, or areas that you knew, all these road closures. Skies full of smoke, ash, and eerily-tinted sun. And there seemed to be no real hope that the fires would stop spreading until the Santa Ana winds stopped blowing, which they estimated wouldn’t happen till Thursday. So it was creepy, unsettling, surreal, and I was constantly trying to figure out if I was doing the “right” thing. Should I go to work? Should I go home? Shold I pack my things? Should I drive north and get out of the county? Was “staying the course” akin to a Hurrican Katrina victim saying “we’ve been through hurricanes before, we’ll just wait this one out”? The fires are still burning, of course, but for most of the county the catastrophe looks to be receding.

Oh, and they’ve given this week of fires and evacuations a name:

FIRESTORM 2007

Catchy.

For anyone who wants/needs continually updated info on the fires, I’ve been relying on the San Diego County Wildfires 2007 blog put on by local news portal SignOnSanDiego, as well as checking frequently-updated fire maps like this one. There was also a pleasant media surprise when local alt-rock station 94.9FM turned its programming over to the local NPR station, which was doing 24/7 news coverage of the fires. Granted, I doubt many people were looking for their Smashing Pumpkins fix when they were scared that their home might be ash, but seeing a corporate station do something for the public good was nice.

And if you live in the area and need official government information about what’s going on and what you should/shouldn’t do, there’s the these two sites to help out.

Good luck to everybody still facing the crisis, and thanks for the concern and well-wishes.

Posted by Jake on October 25, 2007 4:13 pm

October 22, 2007

Flame Retardant

Just a quick note to tell y’all that I’m OK, resting in an island of calm in the middle of Lake California Is On Fucking Fire. If you’ve watched any news, you know what I mean. Fires erupted in several locations on the eastern outskirts of San Diego county, and a hot, dry, fierce wind system known as Santa Ana is doing its best to drag those flames from right to left, all the way to the ocean. Tens of thousands of acres have burned, dozens of homes torched, several deaths, so much smoke they’re advising those of us in safe areas not to go outside and breath the air. Started on Sunday, and the weather looks to remain bloodthirsty till Thursday.

I’ve got two places to stay that seem like they’re out of the fires’ path, but I can’t tell if I’m being reasonable or naive.

Posted by Jake on October 22, 2007 9:26 pm

October 19, 2007

The Only Crime Is Getting Caught

Wow, it’s nice when an asshole in power has their machinations exposed and foiled.

The Phoenix New Times has published a number of critical articles about their local sheriff, Joe Arpaio, since he took office in 1992. He reinstituted chain gangs. His prisons were so bad that they were investigated by Amnesty International. And people kept dying in Arpaio’s custody. The PNT helped keep the focus on Arpaio, and he did not like the scrutiny (or maybe he did; some authority figures like to pretend that they’re the ones being persecuted).

The PNT really struck a nerve in 2004, an election year, when they pointed out that Arpaio had over $1 million in hidden real estate investments. How was that possible on a sheriff’s salary? Seemed… fishy.

But this story had crossed a line. In posting the article on their website, the PNT violated an obscure state law which made it illegal to post the address of a law enforcement official on the internet. And Arpaio leaped at the chance to take on his tormentors.

Arpaio got his friends in the County Attorney’s office to convene a grand jury investigation and send three grand jury subpoenas to the PNT office. The subpoenas essentially asked for “every note, tape, and record from every story written about Sheriff Arpaio by every reporter over a period of years.” They also asked for highly detailed information about people who visited the PNT’s website.

Let me repeat that last part. Because his home address was posted on a website, the sheriff was asking a news outlet for:

Any and all documents containing a compilation of aggregate information about the Phoenix New Times website created or prepared from January 1, 2004 to the present, including but not limited to:

A. which pages visitors access or visit on the Phoneix New Times website…
C. information obtained from “cookies”, including but not limited to, authentication, tracking, and maintaining information about users (site preferences, contents of electronic shopping carts, etc.);
D. the IP address of anyone that accessed the Phoneix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;
E. the domain name of anyone that has accessed the Phoneix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;
F. the website a user visited prior to coming to the Phoneix New Times website…

Why did they request that information? How could it even remotely be deemed relevant? I have no idea.

And, of course, the content of these subpoenas were secret; it was illegal for the recipients to tell anyone what they said.

The PNT received these subpoenas in late August, tried to fight them in court, and then found evidence that the county’s special prosecutor was trying to influence the judge behind the scenes. Figuring that they didn’t have much chance in a bullshit, clandestine, RIGGED grand jury trial, the publishers decided to go public and announce to their readers what was going down. Two of the publishers were then arrested for breaking their legally-mandated silence.

Due to the publicity and outrage, the two were released the next day, all the charges were dropped, the County Attorney had to hold a press conference to announce how badly they’d fucked up, and the special prosecutor was fired. Given the furor, I do expect some fallout to land on Mr. Sheriff, but so far he is only stroking his cat and growling “I’ll get you next time, Gadget, next time.”

The moral of the story is, sometimes being a corrupt, power-hungry prick can backfire.

Posted by Jake on October 19, 2007 9:36 pm

October 12, 2007

Win Win

It is pretty hard to believe that the Bush administration has been fighting against SCHIP funding. Y’know, SCHIP, the program that provides health insurance to poor children? Seems like that would be political suicide. But then again, politically speaking, Bush has spent the last year lying passed out on the floor, with the empty bottle of sleeping pills next to him (except that somehow, those pills never seem to finish the job).

As a result, other right-wingers have jumped into the battle against medicine for poor kids: denouncing socialism, lauding the Brave American Health Care System, and making bald lies about how badly nationalized health care sucks in other countries. To counteract that, there’s a nice thread on the subject over at Pandagon where Americans share their horror stories, and several folks in other countries tell about their experiences with the “horrors” of socialized medicine. Short version: Americans pay hundreds or thousands a month to private insurers with bureacracy and mixed results, if they can even get covered. Many Americans are deemed “too sick” to get health insurance, for all the sense that makes. In contrast, the European and Australian commenters at Pandagon pay less that $100 a month (in taxes) for health insurance and get full coverage. They may have to wait months for elective surgeries, but if they want, they can pay extra for private insurance and have it taken care of quickly. Yeah, sucks to be them.

But I thought of a good counterargument to fight for the nutjobs who are badmouthing against the SCHIP program, one that sets their priorities against each other.

“If we don’t get health insurance for those poor kids, how will they grow up to be big and strong enough to fight in Iraq ten years from now?”

Posted by Jake on October 12, 2007 12:15 am

Gasp

Ann Coulter is in the news again for her recent anti-semitc comments, but that’s not what got my attention. I usually ignore her, unsure if she’s a sociopath or just shocks for the money, but she had another quote in that same interview that stopped me cold. When asked what America would look like if she had her way with it, she responded:

It would look like New York City during the Republican National Convention. In fact, that’s what I think heaven is going to look like.

Jesu-fucking-cristo! NYC during the RNC? I was there during that time, and New York was a fucking police state! Thousands of cops in the streets, cops in riot gear, badly-disguised cops undercover, cops with video cameras, surveillance cameras above in the Fuji Film blimp, barricades, security netting, mass arrests, and of course, fear (of course, Coulter probably spent all that time in a luxury hotel suite, skybox, or limousine, so I imagine it looked different to her).

That’s her America? That’s her heaven?

One more reason to go to hell, I suppose.

Posted by Jake on October 12, 2007 12:14 am

October 5, 2007

LMB Radio 10-05-07

LMB Radio 10-05-07

- Weekly Radio Spin
- thieving military contractors
- NY Times distributes, silences Noam Chomsky
- hopelessness and optimism
- way outdated news about Jena 6

Music by Amy Winehouse, the Horrors, Keny Arkana, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rumspringa, Marvin Gaye, dälek, La Plataforma, Ghostface, Nine Inch Nails, Japanther, and more.

Weird show. Some of the commentary was recorded two weeks ago, with the intent of incorporating it into a show within days. Didn’t happen. So I had to ditch some of the old stuff, record some new talk, and throw in some music. So it’ll might be a little messy. But I think I’m getting the hang of this “record pieces of show, sew pieces together” method madness.

Oh, and as promised, the Keny Arkana video is here (go watch it, seriously) and if you want to contact the unofficial Weekly Radio Spin podcasters, their email is wrs@riverrock.org

Posted by Jake on October 5, 2007 7:37 am

October 3, 2007

Makes Sense

After the highly publicized killing of eleven Iraqi civilians, the contractor/mercenary company Blackwater USA is now being investigated by the US government. It appears, shockingly, that men who will kill for money sometimes act in an unethical manner.

The FBI is heading to Iraq to investigate this latest killing spree incident. But Iraq is dangerous, and with the US military stretched to the breaking point, who will protect the FBI agents while they try to solve the case?

Why, Blackwater USA, of course! Depending on Blackwater for their very survival, and being surrounded by Blackwater staffers awash in testosterone and weaponry will in no way influence the FBI’s conclusions.

Hyper-irony and mega-ridculousness aside, it’s probably an exercise in futility. My understanding is that for most intents and purposes, US contractors in Iraq are above the law. They’re not subject to the rules of the US military, and are immune to Iraqi laws (although it now appears that the Iraqi government is planning to rescind that immunity. But I imagine that it won’t cover past crimes, just future ones).

If you want more info on this, your best bets are the works of journalist Jeremy Scahill, who’s written a whole book about Blackwater USA, and Robert Young Pelton, who has written about the mercenary armies in Iraq.

[update]

The FBI has now changed their mind, and their investigators in Iraq will be protected by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. Whatever that is.

Posted by Jake on October 3, 2007 9:19 am

October 1, 2007

Venn Diagrams of Love

Maybe you are familiar with the webcomic xkcd. It’s a comic of stick figures, graphs, absurdity and longing, that is quite popular with the general geek set, and with math/physics/engineering geeks in particular (also, nice anti-sexist edition here).

Anyhow, back in the spring, the author/artist drew this strip, which contained the coordinates to a specific location, as well as a specific future date and time.

Then, without knowing what exactly would happen, nearly a thousand people, fans of the comic, showed up at that time and place (last week, a local park in North Cambridge, Massachusetts) and made something happen. They apparently came with all sorts of costumes, props, toys, and supplies, and turned the park into a bizarre festival of creativity and nerditude.

But there’s a nice poetry to it. Guy draws melancholy comic strip about following a dream and ending up alone. And that comic results in a quasi-renactment that ends not with loneliness, but with the coming together of hundreds of goofy strangers, sharing their talents and humor, giving each other a wonderful time. As the author comments about the day’s adventure, “Dreams are where messages start, not where they arrive.” And that thought gives me a little bit of joy and hope.

Posted by Jake on October 1, 2007 11:24 pm

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