....LMB: "Tear It Down, Build It Back New"....

June 24, 2002

In the wide world of politics, news and activism, it's very easy to cocoon yourself with the comforting words of the like-minded. You know what you believe, you have your interpretation of how the world works, and everyone around you feels the same way. Spending too much time in this state can make you forget how you arrived at these conclusions in the first place. The people who are the sharpest thinkers and debaters are the ones who throw themselves headlong into areas where their thoughts are not common, and they are forced to defend themselves over and over.

At the very least, I think it's good to expose one's self to jarring, well-thought out points of view that threaten your own every now and again.

Blog superstar Brendan O'Neill recently posted an article that does some pretty decent challenging of left-wing thoughts and causes (although many times on his site, he points out that terms like "left" and "right" to describe political views are out-of-date and not particularly helpful anymore). O'Neill's article explains why he doesn't support human rights, isn't an environmentalist, isn't an anti-capitalist, anti-war, or a multiculturalist. Honestly, I think some of his explanations misrepresent the -ism that he is saying he opposes, but there's some good, challenging points that I don't usually hear lefties refuting.

Posted by Jake at 01:20 AM

I'll keep this very short, as befits a comment in another's space.

Brendan O'Neill's thoughts linked here should not, in my view, be held up as sensible charges against leftist ideals. I'll point out just a few examples.

In the section on human rights, he says he does not support them, but goes on to condemn not human rights per se but the US's hegemonic lip-service to them.

Under environmentalism, the reasoning is better, but based on some hegemonic behaviors, and on some pretty dodgy assumptions, such as the efficacy of GM foods in reducing world hunger.

The next section begins with the statement "I am not an anti-capitalist", but the very next paragraph continues "...I am opposed to capitalism." Huh? This is semsntic fiddling which does nothing more or less than conceal the lack of sense behind it. Eschew obfuscation, folks!

I'll stop with those. Most of the rest of the piece is riddled with the problems you note when you talk about strawman arguments. My especial favorite is the appeal to "...the ideas...that have defined Enlightenment thinking for the past two centuries." I suppose that's a sort of inverse strawman, or argument from (invented) authority. I'll leave you to ponder and enjoy the massive idiocy in that argument.

Posted by: Pearl at June 24, 2002 03:59 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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