....LMB: "The Big Ol' Protests"....

February 16, 2003

How big were they?

The most recent estimate I've heard is "8 to 11.5 million people," but you can do the math.

(the above link goes to a breakdown of protest attendance for as many cities worldwide as the authors can find. If you know of one that wasn't listed, drop em a line)

I attended the L.A. protest. And in one of those weird circular life things, I unknowingly had breakfast with the fellow in this picture that I linked to in my blog entry about the last big L.A. peace protest.

I couldn't tell you how many people were there, but it was huge. For those of you familiar with L.A. geography, the rally portion of the protest stretched from Sunset and La Brea to Sunset and Highland. To those of you not familiar with L.A. geography, there was a cramped mass of humanity about 1500 feet long, five traffic lanes and two sidewalks wide. In America's most pro-driving, anti-walking city. I actually took the subway to get there, which I think means that they are revoking my L.A. citizenship.

All the stuff you've heard before. Huge numbers of people from all walks of life. A lot of creativity in the ways people expressed their love of peace, opposition to war, hatred of George Bush, etc. Pretty inspiring to have so many people on your side.

I was told that 70 different speakers were scheduled to speak at the rally. A few actually got your passions flowing, but most semi-shouted the same wan rhetoric about "wanting peace" and how we were "going to stop this war." I'm not trying to badmouth them, but I've never understood why you'd give a speech if you had nothing new to say.

So what effect will this have on the war?

As I've said before, all forms of protest have to change the cost-benefit ratio of a particular government policy or action. Activists who want to make a change must alter the balance so that the cost of decion-makers following their current course outweighs the benefits to those decision-makers. Which in this case, would mean that protesters would need to take action so massive and consequential that Bush & co. would feel that the costs of going to war were greater than the benefits.

Well, the Bush administration thinks that the successful waging of this war will give them enormous advantage on the geopolitical stage, securing them a steady supply of oil and giving them some say in who else gets any oil. And the cost of this war is that (we'll be generous) a million or more American protesters will refuse to vote for Bush in 2004 if he wages this war, people who probably wouldn't have voted for him anyway. And if Bush chose to avoid the war, he would not gain that oil control, and he would lose damn near all of his political capital.

Frankly folks, I don't know what we could to do make the cost of war overcome the benefit the war will have for the White House. But I've never been much of an optimist.

Posted by Jake at 10:31 PM

I was at the San Fran protest, and spoke with an Irish guy about the phenomenal unpopularity of the war in the UK. He says that unions and the Labor party are strong enough there that there might be a general strike if Blair goes to war.

I don't know if the anti-war movement in America has the sort of numbers to make something similar happen... it probably does, in theory, but since the economy here is so much more diverse and just, well, big, coordination would be much more difficult. And of course if it's not well-enough coordinated, it's not a strike -- it's just a bunch of people not showing up for work, who are then targets for the next pink slip.

Posted by: Rob Roos at February 18, 2003 08:10 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.

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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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