....LMB: "Latest Newspeak"....

March 01, 2003

Our pal Wayne Grytting has a new edition of his irregularly published column "American Newspeak" out, filled with the insightful commentary and wry mockery of which we (well, I) have become so fond. Unfortunately, Wayne seems a bit slow to post his columns to his website (no updates since November). I'd recommend going to Wayne's site and signing up for an email subscription to his column (address near the bottom of the left-hand frame)(yes, Wayne's site still uses frames), and in the meantime, reading his most recent column that I'm reprinting here.



American Newspeak: The Orwell Awards
Word Collisions By Wayne Grytting

The "pre-emptive strikes" on logic and the English language by politicians, CEOs and the media has turned into one of our Empire's major industries. In recognition of the cutting edge advances being made today in American Newspeak, we are offering these awards to deserving individuals. Entries were judged by an exacting standard -- how many times their utterances would make George Orwell roll over in his grave. Here are this month's winners.

Father Knows Best Dept.

The U.S. Justice Department broke new ground with its crafting of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Among it's finer encroachments on civil liberties, revealed by the Center for Public Integrity, is Section 501. It would allow the government to strip U.S. citizenship away from anyone giving "material support" to any group designated as terrorists.

Some of you may recall the U.S. Constitution forbids depriving Americans of their citizenship. A minor point. Justice Department lawyers adroitly found a loophole -- the Constitution allows to voluntarily give up their rights. The bill's authors then reasoned that, "an intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested in words, but can be inferred from conduct." Thank god, we have enlightened people making those inferences.

Getting the Visuals Right

When Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the UN, his background "visuals" consisted of blue draperies neatly trimmed by a row of flags. Few knew the draperies had to be installed that morning to cover over a work of art that normally stands there -- a massive tapestry reproduction of Picasso's famous anti-war painting "Guernica."

Speaking in defense of the cover-up of Picasso's images of dying women, children and animals was UN spokesperson Stephane Dujaric, who stated, "We
needed the right background that would work on television." (If only Picasso had painted happy faces.) Unbeknownst to himself, Powell was presenting the world with a perfect metaphor of how our policies and language of "collateral damage" cover over the realities of human suffering.

Term Paper Enhancements

The British government was forced to admit that large sections of their "up-to-date" report on Iraqs deception had been lifted word for word from an article by a postgraduate student in California named Ibrahim al Mirashi. The plagiarism was so blatant that even spelling and punctuation errors from the original articles had been repeated.

However, our English colony deserves praise for a number of key improvements upon Mr. Marashis prose. Where the student described the Iraqi intelligence agency as "monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq," the British upgraded that to "spying on foreign embassies in Iraq." Much better. And where Marashi referred to Iraq "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes," British Intelligence improved this to "supporting terrorist organizations in hostile regimes." Same evidence, just more "up-to-date" conclusions, which is undoubtedly why Colin Powell relied on it in his U.N. speech.

Terrorists under the Bed Dept.

Denver's police force has taken the lead in local efforts to fight terrorism. The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed that Denver's intrepid crime fighters had surveillance files on 3,200 people and 208 organizations who could pose security risks. The diligence of the police was paid off with the discovery of what they described as a "criminal extremist" organization -- the American Friends Service Committee.

The detective work that finally "exposed" these Quaker pacifists and their subversive prayer and potluck meetings deserves recognition. However, it should be pointed out, the Denver police missed the League of Women voters. An inexplicable oversight.

Benefits from Big Brother

The state of Florida found yet another creative use for our surveillance satellites. Under pressure from Florida orange growers, they have plans to aim their lenses at Brazils orange groves to count how many trees they have producing oranges. Florida orange growers have complained that Brazils crop forecasts are too inaccurate and drive down prices for Florida oranges.

Top honors go to Bob Crawford, director of Floridas Dept of Citrus, for this insight in defense of the surveillance proposal. "Its creating a database," he said. "I think it will bring us closer together." Don't we all feel "closer" when we see cameras focused on us?

Let us end these award presentations with a random thought from Dr. Sigmund Freud which I'm told is very significant for the Bush era. "By accepting the universal neurosis," he wrote, "the individual is spared the task of forming a personal neurosis." Amen.

Posted by Jake at 10:34 AM
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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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