....LMB: "Scandalous"....

May 29, 2003

When I was an undergraduate in college, I enrolled in a class called "World Literature." I had assumed it would be a potpourri, with notable works from authors from around the globe. However it turned out that every year, the class was about the literature of a specific region. That year it was the literature of Africa. I decided to stick with it.

It didn't take me long to realize that I didn't know a goddam thing about Africa. Well, I knew about the pyramids, Momar Qaddafi, the Ethiopian famine, and apartheid, but that was it. One of the only six populated continents on planet Earth, and I was completely ignorant about it. To make matters more uncomfortable, the professor was from Africa, a dissident poet who'd had to flee the country to avoid arrest or death squad. A man who risked his life for the freedom of the people of a country on a continent I knew nothing about.

All those feelings of embarassed guilt have come back lately, when reading news stories like this one.

In the past five years of civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa, 3 million people have died.

Funny, I didn't read that in the newspaper.

Obviously we can't know everything. No one can be an expert on every conflict, on every nation, on every event. So it's not shameful that we might not have heard anything about this. But the media ignore just about everything about Africa just about 100% of the time. That is shameful. And we should all feel a little foolish for not noticing the absence of news from that big-ass continent.

Sadly, I see it as a feedback loop. Schools don't teach us much about many parts of the world. And we don't learn more about these parts of the world as adults because the media doesn't cover them. The media doesn't cover them because the public isn't interested in them. The public isn't interested in them because it doesn't know anything about them. And it doesn't know much about them because schools don't teach us much about many parts of the world.

Only three ways out of this, really.

1) Pressure schools to teach more about the rest of the world
2) Pressure the media to cover stories about the rest of the world
3) Teach yourself about the rest of the world

Hey fellow bloggers and writers, let's try to take up some of the mass media's slack. Let's teach ourselves, and try to pass the info on to our readers.

Posted by Jake at 08:59 PM | TrackBack (0)

Don't we already do that?

Posted by: madprophet at May 30, 2003 10:32 PM

You mean there is a rest of the world? Geography is no longer taught in schools, so how is literature suppposed to be taught. Where people live influences how they write, if we can't even find the country on a map....

Posted by: at May 31, 2003 07:49 AM

Guys, it's really much simpiler than that. American's don't care about world events unless the suffereing faces of the children on their television sets just happen to be white.

Posted by: at June 1, 2003 02:23 AM

International awareness, I agree, is an eccentric, unimportant thought to most Americans. People here are taught to care mostly about what is immediately around them, and are not shown how the 'big picture' coincides with that. And, yeah, there is definitely a lacking number of people willing to look up the facts about the world on their own...

Posted by: Elle at June 1, 2003 09:57 AM

Hi Jake,

It's great reading American blogs where people are obviously intelligent, informed, and interested in the rest of the world.

I'm a big believer in passing around information on as many diverse subjects as possible, and I think that blogs are going to be a big part of an underground information network, which is truly grassroots, in the future. The more blogs I read the more aware I am of the diversity in the world, and the lack of a monolithic opinion in any country. It's a pity the People in Power don't realise that.

Posted by: Maura at June 1, 2003 03:09 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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