Thursday, April 28, 2005

commerce and ideology

I thought to buy a couple of mother's day items - Talleyrand would advise it - and figured I'd go to cafepress, which used to offer items by some bloggers I'm fond of. But there I saw big pointers to this and this.

If cafepress wishes to abet the sale of ideologization of children, I suppose they'll understand if, according to the logic of my ideology, they no longer receive my patronage.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hoisting Hollywood

ClearPlay Inc., founded in 1999, develops advanced parental control technologies for consumer electronic products, including DVD players and recorders, TVs, cable and set-top boxes, digital video recorders, etc. The company's first products allow consumers to view DVDs, purchased or rented through conventional retailers, free of unwanted content. It gives consumers the ability to skip and mute over graphic violence, sex, nudity and profanity, if they choose. ClearPlay DVD players and Filters can be purchased at Using ClearPlay does not touch, alter or change the DVD in any way. The technology can also be applied to cable, satellite, PVR and video on demand.
Thanks to the Family Movie Act, this is legal.

Justice at work. The film industry capitulated to this legitimation of moral cleansing machines for one reason alone: It was pressing for legitimation of the felonization of copyright violations - peer to peer, camcorders in theaters, etc. It traded off any notion of the artistic integrity of the "product" to protect the viability of the commodity form of film distribution.

So instead of artistic considerations of film, there is the protection of the integrity of the thing on which the film is carried:
Using ClearPlay does not touch, alter or change the DVD in any way.
Scions of Valenti! Bliss to the legal standing of your discs! You may no longer pretend to art, but you've got that thinghood thing down. Careful where you sit on those petards.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Prospero to Miranda

This is news, to the extent that news can be differentiated from understanding. The fact that traditional media are fading to black has been reported many times by traditional media. The insistence on the no-longer-new as news suggests a heuristic difference between the new and the "news." The latter exists to the extent the former has yet to be understood.

:: Jay Rosen looked at Merrill Brown's piece and much more related thinking recently.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

small (white) dicks loosely interfaced

Today, most U.S. homes can access only "basic" broadband, among the slowest, most expensive, and least reliable in the developed world, and the United States has fallen even further behind in mobile-phone-based Internet access. Thomas Bletha, found here on Jon Husband's Wirearchy.
Jon suggests this is one reason USians like to mix it up with other cultures - we have no liking for seeing what we see when we are looking at us. Our expertise lies in diversion.

Blogging is clearly an example. Instead of being about anything, it has itself become a fetish for, in Jeneane's memorable phrasing, small-dicked white males. We must have more face time with faces that are exactly like our faces(2). The more exactly like US, the more we feel we are at the top of our game.

A trivial example: We recently moved - to a larger metropolitan area than the one we previously inhabited. All went well until I contacted our internet provider to pick up the DSL service we'd had at our former location with the same company. I called on April 18th, and was given a service date of May 23 - "after 6 p.m." I thought they were joking. Not only were they not, but despite being the local telecom monopoly, they offer no local dial-up number in the area.(1)

The small dicks comfort each other and nothing gets accomplished. The US enjoys Most Deluded Nation status, and its delusions compound at the velocity of American bullshit. These terrific delusions are our truest weapons of mass destruction, and no white cannonade of smalldickians can touch them.

(1)Sheila Lennon supplies additional insight.

(2)via the recently revived Kombinat!

one of the reasons I love Jeneane

WHITE-MALE-POPULAR-BLOGGER SAYS: “I am/was/will-be attending/hosting/live-blogging ABC Important Event next week with Long-List-of-Other-White-Male-Popular-Bloggers who have MSM connections. We will be talking about Credibility/Technology/Our-Shared-Future without you. I am not feeling bad/small-dicked/guilty that I have not thought about including voices who may be different from mine/ours. That is not my responsibility. Everything is not my fault. I did not cause all of the problems in the world, so I should not have to help make things better. Really. Except through writing good software. So, I really look forward to seeing Dave/Jeff/Chris/David/Dan/Marc/Ev/Bo-Bice. Are we not rockin’ with importance?” -- From a comment in this thread.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Voltaire's headless waltz

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

not dead till we say he's dead

The persistence of pope stories. Today on NPR, how brave was John Paul II. These having nothing to do with breaking news, but serve a phatic function. This function in effect says:

"We know the pope is dead, and that there is nothing more dead than a story after death. Viz. Schiavo. But we want to telegraph that we will be covering in excessive detail the election of a new pope, his identity, background, church issues, politics, impacts, etc. If we let the pope lie still, you will wonder at us when we begin so soon this new agitation on the same topic. But if we continue a mild ripple in this interim, the story will not lie cold and dark, but simmer. We're cooking your future news for you - be patient and you'll have a nice new pope product to consume real soon. Then elimination."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

belle eau

In order to write, he claimed, he needed to tear up his life. James Atlas re Saul Bellow.
Has some Blogger Conference studied exactly how many Bellovian bloggers are out there? Summon the men and women of Social Science. Let them quantify how much of the social fabric is being torn up in order that we may blog.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

What he said

Man's inner concerns do not have their issueless private character by nature. They do so only when he is increasingly unable to assimilate the data of the world around him by way of experience. Newspapers constitute one of many evidences of such an inability. If it were the intention of the press to have the reader assimilate the information it supplies as part of his own experience, it would not achieve its purpose. But its intention is just the opposite, and it is achieved: to isolate what happens from the realm in which it could affect the experience of the reader. The principles of journalistic information (freshness of the news, brevity, comprehensibility, and, above all, lack of connection between the individual news items) contribute as much to this as does the make-up of the pages and the paper's style. (Karl Kraus never tired of demonstrating the great extent to which the linguistic usage of newspapers paralyzed the imagination of their readers.)
Walter Benjamin, "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire," Illuminations.

Friday, April 08, 2005

eternal life will not be televised

papolatrie - the help of ritual - bigness, inflation, costumes, dirge, convenient fixity of death.

Probably nothing more and less like news than death. It's factoidal, verifiable, and opens media elan to savor a perfectly controlled routine. It's control over the news, not the news, that we want. Not news, but a sort of mechanized Big Gulp O' the Thrill and the Chill of Memento Mori, the frisson of horror slowed to images of a gelid crawl of thousands of the assembled, moving in medievalesque slo-mo, the hyperbolic elongation of the photo-op.

Media tell us of pageantry of big numbers of high and low, humble and exalted, threadbare and color-coded threads. More pairs of shoes than at Mecca. At a certain point regardless of what one believes, it's bigness we're after, best simulator of what we can't say. The last illusion before the next one, the mysterium of the Vicar of Christ, all external trappings of largeness of scale, breadth of scope, grain of belief.

This is not news. It's not religion. It's the bureaucracy of belief, the tried and true formula of make-believe.

What startled me once into apprehension of the power of faith was walking the first five miles of an annual pilgrimage to Talpa, a Jalisco town with its sacred Madonna in Mexico, over rough ground, made by nobody special with no media in attendance. Mexican women no longer young in high heels climbing sheer murrains in baking heat. Old men carrying infants. Teenagers loping through rocky pathless woods, fueled for five days by water and grass (if that's what was in their belt pouches) over hundreds of miles of vacant mountains and dust. USians who try it tend to get very sick and have to be carried. Five miles damn near killed me. Or, climbing a steep narrow path to an Italian hilltop to find a chapel that cost labor and pain to anonymous long dead people whose only media audience was, they believed, a bottomless heart at the unfilmable end of the universe.

There are no media in faith, and no faith in US media. Bigness is usually a sign of empire, which has no patience with the still, the small. Staggering into the cathedral of Talpa on their knees were bleeding pilgrims. One P fewer on the forehead. To pray the Virgin there, herself the result of a 17th-century press release. And so the dying town was saved.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Morans "'R'" US

Oh my*.

It's like they went shopping at Fascist City and bought every signifier in the store.

*via Lohmann.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

bigger than blogging

Amy Goodman will be in southwest Florida this week, and so is getting some local mainstream press attention - for, as far as I am aware, the first time ever in the area. Attention to her book, Exception to the Rulers, and to her show, Democracy Now!. And to her methods.

Here's a bit on the latter, based on an anecdote from in the book involving a call from then President Clinton on Election Day 2000:
Just as "Democracy Now!" was about to go on the air, she got a call from "White House Communications" saying that the president would like to call in to the show that morning, to which she said, "Yeah, right, whatever."

But the president did indeed call in.

"I felt it was a tremendous opportunity to ask him some questions," said Goodman. Their conversation lasted 30 minutes and was contentious. After the interview was broadcast the next day, Goodman got a call from the White House press office, complaining that she had not followed the ground rules.

"'Ground rules?' I asked. 'What ground rules? He called up to be interviewed, and I interviewed him,'" Goodman relates in her book.

"'He called to discuss getting out the vote, and you strayed from the topic. You also kept him on much longer than the two to three minutes we agreed to,' she huffed.

"'President Clinton is the most powerful person in the world,' I replied.'He can hang up when he wants to.'"
Noteworthy that:

1. Back then, in that other world, the White House actually acknowledged public media, and independent public media, even as it expected them to obey certain customary protocols.

2. Goodman's complete demolition of protocols. Protocols -- such as the White House Press Corps' submission routines -- are a means by which mainstream media defines its very being. I.e., in the tedious journalism vs. blogger debates, one thing that comes up is how journalists are such by virtue of submission to certain codes of conduct, rules of ethics, debate formulae and the like, and bloggers are not. But in Goodman's eyes, the interview is something between persons (not institutions) who are free. Instead of rules, there are the choices each freely makes. If in the end the published result is not what the interviewee would have wanted, it is nonetheless what they put there.

3. Goodman's no-rules approach is often claimed as a distinguishing feature of bloggers, but it's bigger than blogging: It's open dialogue.