....LMB: "Man Made Weather"....

January 31, 2003

War Talk Shifts From 'If' to 'When'- I have a problem with this NY Times headline. I don't remember a time when the war talk was "if."

FCC Chairman Ho-Hums Anti-War Ad Controversy- a group called the Anti-War Video Fund tried to buy advertising time on a Comcast cable outlet in Washington, DC to play an anti-war commercial on CNN twice a day for the length of this week. Comcast accepted, then changed its mind because the ad "fails to substantiate certain claims or allegations," specifically the one that "that the war was a violation of international law and was being conducted by 'mercenaries.'"

The group went to the FCC to complain that the media oligarchy in America resulted in this "censorship," and that they should do something about it. Said FCC chair and deregulation shill Michael Powell (no relation to Colin Powell. Oh wait, I mean "Colin Powell's son"), "'Issues like that have been around in the commission and in public policy since the beginning of time. That ad was about Washington, D.C. The fact that Comcast might own assets in another part of the country to which the ad wasn't even placed' doesn't matter."

Two main points here.

1) Let's not pretend that this commercial is like every other commercial. Most TV ads have all kinds of unsubstantiated claims, and everyone knows it. This is a political ad on a controversial issue that could cause a backlash against Comcast. Pretending that its about standards or media monopoly is disingenuous. Comcast didn't run the ad because they were afraid of negative consequences if they did.

2) I think there is a larger unspoken issue here that has a much more direct link to media consolidation and federal regulation than this specific ad. The reason that this organization felt the need to buy this advertising time is because the full spectrum of ideas and concerns about this war are not being covered by the broadcast media. The airwaves are supposed to belong to the people and serve the public interest. I can't think of a more important public interest than facilitating debate about whether or not the United States should spend hundreds of billions of its tax dollars and send its own soldiers to another region of the world to destablize and kill. The mere existence of this attempted ad purchase says more about American media monopoly than anything else.

Prominent Ohioans among members of Bush's all-star volunteerism team- ABC News reporter (? Anchor? Commentator? Mummy?) Cokie Roberts, and a number of other prominent public figures have joined "the president's Council on Service and Civic Participation" which will "will recognize outstanding volunteer service among children and adults." Conflict of interests, serving on a governmental committee that she is supposed to investigate? ABC doesn't think so. I'm not going to pretend to care one way or the other, because I don't give a damn what Cokie Roberts has to say about anything.

Coke to Slash 1000 Jobs- "Cost Savings to Be Put Toward Marketing." One more reason to hate advertisers.

DaimlerChrysler's Jeep Tricks- DaimlerChrysler recently bought a full-page ad in the NY Times to mourn the passing of cartoonist Bill Maudlin. Maudlin became famous during WWII for his comics in the U.S. military's publication Stars and Stripes. Why would DaimlerChrysler care? Because they own Jeep, and many of Maudlin's comics depicted soldiers fighting for freedom in U.S. Jeeps. Good way to commemorate a man who gave them free advertising, and to use his ghost for one last plug.

However, as the article above demonstrates, the cartoon used in the tribute ad is not one of Mauldin's. It is a Maudlin strip that has been altered.

The original was a picture of a sorrowful soldier about to shoot a damaged Jeep, as though he was sadly putting a wounded horse out of its misery.

The new version is a picture of a sorrowful soldier near a damaged Jeep-- holding a box of tissues. Cuz, like, his car is damaged, so he's, like, sad...

Good going, DC, eulogize the man by convincing the public that he's not funny.

Note: the title of this entry is from a quote from the movie Natural Born Killers, where Mickey Knox says that the media is "like the weather," except it's "man made weather." Always thought that line was kind of profound somehow.

Posted by Jake at 01:01 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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