....LMB: "Latest from the Media Front"....

April 08, 2004

Administration wages war on pornography and Xtreme Measures- while we have seen a crackdown on "mainstream" indecency ever since the Janet Jackson nipple flash, Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on a jihad against porn since at least 2002. The first article outlines the more concrete aspects of law enforcement and politics, while the latter deals more with the pornography itself, and the legal/social history of the concept of "obscenity." It looks as though obscenity was first outlawed because it could "deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences". And now, well... I can't find anything in modern obscenity laws that explains why obscenity is bad, except that it "offends community standards", and last I checked, it wasn't illegal to offend people.

Ashcroft seems to be pushing the "won't someone please think of the children?" angle, saying that porn is so pervasive that our nation's young'ns can easily get ahold of it. But rather than work on the relevant part there, children's access, Ashcroft would rather work on the more invasive and less practical effort of eliminating the porn itself.

But hey, it makes me feel safer just knowing that we're using our nation's law enforcement resources to fight video blow jobs instead of, y'know, deadly terrorist attacks.

A Heretical View of File Sharing-new study argues that people downloading mp3s off the internet doesn't actually hurt record sales. The study is largely an exercise in limited data-gathering and lots of math, so I don't know how accurate it is. A frantic record industry responded to the study with a "oh yeah, then how come our sales keep dropping, smart guy?" And the answer to that would be an academic "I don't know," and shows the weakness of the industry's position. In research, until you have proof that one thing causes another, you don't try to explain why something happens. The industry has been pretending that it's obvious that the only single possible cause of their sales slump has been the demon internet. But even this article points out a host of other potential causes: "a slow economy, fewer new releases and a consolidation of radio networks that has resulted in less variety on the airwaves. Some market experts have also suggested that record sales in the 1990's might have been abnormally high as people bought CD's to replace their vinyl record collections."

2004 Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism Announced- what the headline says. It actually looks like they picked out some good folks this year, despite the fact that this has been a shit year for journalism. You can read the stories themselves if you follow the links here.

Why Karen Ryan Deserved What She Got- another article about the PR scandal which pulled back the curtain on the uber-shady practice of Video News Releases. Journalist and scholar Jay Rosen takes a deep look at the event and gives some thoughtful analysis about all the hubbub.

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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

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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.

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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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