Thursday, August 31, 2006

networked solipsism the desk of every Senate aid is a small screen television. The televisions are on all the time.


...all the Republican televisions are turned to Fox. All the Democrat televisions are turned to CNN. icite

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Jeff's conclusion.

salvation capitalized

...what could be in store in the not-too-distant future: helicopter rides off of rooftops in flooded cities ($5,000 a pop, $7,000 for families, pets included), bottled water and "meals ready to eat" ($50 per person, steep, but that's supply and demand) and a cot in a shelter with a portable shower (show us your biometric ID -- developed on a lucrative Homeland Security contract -- and we'll track you down later with the bill... link <-- via

Monday, August 28, 2006

found conversation

we have become TV

more fiction than fiction itself

stretch to the breaking point.

"It is the whole traditional world of causality that is in question:"

Authority is Fashion

"we have always been digital"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Media junkie dall'oltretomba

According to the latest reports, we now have enough nuclear bombs not only to destroy all life on the planet but also to blow the planet itself, empty and cold, out of its orbit altogether and into the immensity of the cosmic void. I find that possibility magnificent, and in fact I'm tempted to shout bravo, because from now on there can be now doubt that science is our enemy. She flatters our desires for omnipotence -- desires that lead inevitably to our destruction. A recent poll announced that out of 700,000 "highly qualified" scientists now working throughout the world, 520,000 of them are busy trying to streamline the means of our self-destruction, while only 180,000 are studying ways of keeping us alive.

The trumpets of the apocalypse have been sounding at our gates for years now, but we still stop up our ears. We do, however, have four new horsemen: overpopulation (the leader, the one waving the black flag), science, technology, and the media. All the other evils of the world are merely consequences of these. I'm not afraid to put the press in the front rank, either. The last screenplay I worked on, for a film I'll never make, deals with a triple threat: science, terrorism, and the free press. The last, which is usually seen as a victory, a blessing, a "right," is perhaps the most pernicious of all, because it feeds on what the other three horsemen leave behind.


Only one regret. I hate to leave while there's so much going on. It's like quitting in the middle of a serial. I doubt there was so much curiosity about the world after death in the past, since in those days the world didn't change quite so rapidly or so much. Frankly, depite my horror of the press, I'd love to rise from the grave every ten years or so and go buy a few newspapers. Ghostly pale, sliding silently along the walls, my papers under my arm, I'd return to the cemetery and read about all the disasters in the world before falling back to sleep, safe and secure in my tomb. Buñuel 1983.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ghost Month

Chinese believe ghosts and spirits are released from hell to visit the earth during the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, also known as the Ghost Month.
Someone please verify that this view is less plausible than this.

They even share the same plan:
Prayers are offered and paper hell money are burnt to appease the dead spirits from entering their home and causing disturbance.
China info courtesy of here and of somewhere on flickr.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

minding, its business

Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine picked up on a recent post here in which I somewhat peckishly suggested that Nick Lemann's moribund New Yorker article - (not to be confused with Mr. Lemann) appeared to be playing the part of Plato's Theuth, while the blogospheric continuation and development of conversation issuing from his argument seemed more in line with how living speech is portrayed in Plato's playful exposition. I must have been doing a fine imitation of the wooden Theuth himself to have missed Jarvis's post until now.

Actually, that's part of the interesting point - or points - taken up in the lively thread spawned by Jarvis's post.

When dealing with the voice/writing thing (viz), it's important to not take either voice or writing in too literal a manner, as I fear some of Jarvis's commenters might have.

E.g., true, Plato did "write" Socrates, who wrote nothing, and who therefore is the exemplary speaking voice, the logos, forever encased in the lexis of Plato's art. Fair enough. A complex play of values and their reversals enters in.

To be true to the "liveliness" of the blogospheric voice, it's probably important to see the various ways in which the technology of the medium is attempting to replicate the attentiveness which the speaking mind brings to "live" conversation. I for example wrote something, which Jarvis took further, and his commenters further, and others likewise, with technorati and other blogospheric link tracers added another reverb of reference and resonance.

I.e.: a vector, a ripple, by definition a motion. What Plato has in mind by having Socrates oppose living speech to dead writing may in part be merely that like speaking, the act of attention is animate, moving. Inattention has a baleful tendency to assume a position and to ignore, kill, all efforts to modify it, react to it, undo it. It is the conservation of itself, the very thing upon which attention, mind -- in order to be attentive and mindful -- sets itself to work on, to modify, to extend, to make itself free from, as Jarvis extended my post with his, etc.

The important opposition, then, in these ongoing exchanges might not be so much the matter of hasty opinion vs. polished prose, as some have suggested, or the importance of medium (speech vs. writing), but, rather, something like a kind of duel between the finality of some investment in truth, and the stubborn contingency of thought taking aim, seeking to hit that place where the truth slipped (or at least it gives itself reason to think so), and error entered, requiring further give and take.

Pursuant to that sort of reading, it's pretty easy to see how, for example, in debates about blogging and journalism, or mainstream liberalism and anything to its left, or democracy and oligarchy, one term is always going to have the air of eternality, of marmoreal grandness, while the other will be the slippery trickster, the impish and unballasted sprite, the pesty insect. Flighty bloggers, Diogenic tutors, triangulatarian dissenters and anarchic unsettlers, your lineage is long.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

fire in your lap

The Dell battery recall site is here. 4.1 million users, yet pointers are less than obvious in some of the "coverage." Large media can be like the kid in school who develops an encylopedic knowledge of some subject and is pleased to inflict it upon all comers. Only, these spouters invariably remain oblivous to salience, relevance, utility.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


"No one should be under any illusion that the threat ended with the recent arrests. It didn't," Home Secretary John Reid told police chiefs at a breakfast meeting. link
Nor should anyone be under the illusion that this is the story. It is a case study in how the media does not understand the media. Because if it is being played, it is not reporting; it joins the bozos in the story.

Osama taught a game. "Deal it once, play it to your heart's content," Osama taught. "The targets are our collaborators, viralizing the terror. Use two-bit chemistry and crackbrained kids. The infidel will gratifyingly do the rest."

How can government, police, and media not do the work of terror. That is a story.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The divinity's very small sense of humor

In late 2003, the owners of Mount Misery Bed & Breakfast in St. Michaels, Md., decided it wouldn't be much use wooing would-be innkeepers, so they marketed it as a private home. It sold, for $1.5 million, to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. link (subscription)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

a non-ordinary evening in New Haven

On Pressthink, Paul Bass talks about leaving industrial journalism for something like publicly funded web reporting:
The readers have definitely become part of the process. Trained journalists still play a crucial but altered role. We’re more fact-gatherers, linkers, fact-checkers, conveners and referees than pundits or editorialists telling people what to think.
Bass's not-for-profit site, The New Haven Independent, notes the fate of Joe Lieberman.

Independent guest columnist Debbie Galant reports:
a friend of Lieberman for 35 years, was horrified when he discovered I was a blogger. Bloggers, he maintained, had ruined the election for his candidate. link
Firedoglake on Lieberman's vow to win as an Independent in November:
"This is like watching your old uncle soil himself!"
Bass is working to build a bridge between the discourse of staid institutional journalism and the inspired, beer-drenched keyboards of blogging. His web paper feels close to the community, close to readers. Close to the impact of what it reports on. We're almost in the world of journalists and private eyes who had the bottle in the desk, to cope with the reality they confronted. This is not a slight on Bass. If there were more bottles in more desks, perhaps the realm of bloggers would have less work to do to beat some sense back into reporting.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The conscience of the presidency

The implications for our country are so serious that I feel a responsibility to my constituents in Connecticut, as well as to my conscience, to voice my concerns forthrightly and publicly, and I can think of no more appropriate place to do so than the floor of this great body.

The President is also a role model, who, because of his prominence and the moral authority that emanates from his office, sets standards of behavior for the people he serves.

I have not commented on this matter publicly. I thought I had an obligation to consider the President's admissions more objectively, less personally, and to try to put them in a clearer perspective.

But the truth is, after much reflection, my feelings of disappointment and anger have not dissipated. Except now these feelings have gone beyond my personal dismay to a larger, graver sense of loss for our country, a reckoning of the damage that the President's conduct has done to the proud legacy of his presidency, and ultimately an accounting of the impact of his actions on our democracy and its moral foundations.

The President's relationship with Miss Lewinsky not only contradicted the values he has publicly embraced over the past six years. It has compromised his moral authority at a time when Americans of every political persuasion agree that the decline of the family is one of the most pressing problems we as a nation are facing.

Let us as a nation honestly confront the damage that the President's actions over the last seven months have caused, but not to the exclusion of the good that his leadership has done over the past six years nor at the expense of our common interests as Americans. And let us be guided by the conscience of the Constitution, which calls on us to place the common good above any partisan or personal interest, as we now work together to resolve this serious challenge to our democracy. Thank you.

Monday, August 07, 2006

shagged out

pining for the fjords

As the flood of responses and comments to Nicholas Lemann's "On the Internet, everybody is a millenarian" article in the New Yorker continues to flow, bend, ripple and eddy, one can't help but notice how Lemann's piece simply stands there, mute, defunct. Sans capacity to comment, respond, defend, link.

It's Plato's old distinction in the Phaedrus: blogs are the speaking voice, alive and self-present. Lemann's article belongs to the world of print, of writing. Of this mode, Socrates says:
I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves.
Yes, it's an oversimplification. But it's not millenarianism.

USian Journalism: Fact at the speed of petrifying rock

Actual journalism about actual atrocities in Vietnam. 38 years or so after the fact.

via truthout via informant38


Powered by Qumana

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Let's define USian Journalism:

To be 'on the right' consists in being conservative, but of what? Over and above certain interests, powers, riches, capitals, social norms and 'ideologies' and so forth, over and above politics, the right always tends to preserve a certain traditional structure of the political itself, of the relations between civil society, nation and state. link via wood s lot

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Battle of the NY J-Schools: Rosen vs. Lemann

Years after the Blogging vs. Journalism snarkfest coughed up bits of its bankrupt ghost, Columbia Journalism School Dean Nicholas Lemann revisits the question in the New Yorker. He ends with:
Journalism is not in a period of maximal self-confidence right now, and the Internet’s cheerleaders are practically laboratory specimens of maximal self-confidence. They have got the rhetorical upper hand; traditional journalists answering their challenges often sound either clueless or cowed and apologetic. As of now, though, there is not much relation between claims for the possibilities inherent in journalist-free journalism and what the people engaged in that pursuit are actually producing. As journalism moves to the Internet, the main project ought to be moving reporters there, not stripping them away.

The actual news hook of his piece seems to be Jay Rosen's announced project entitled (see also Some Problems... ), a funded trial of what Rosen and others call citizen journalism.

The effort, which Rosen himself describes as an NYU research project, is still in its formative stage, but this has been no obstacle for certain apologists of objective professional journalism who assure us that it will arrive with a deathly pallor, ripe for embalming. (Lemann briefly addresses Rosen's idea, wrapping it within his larger argument.)

There is a good deal to say, and it's already being said quite well by a growing mass.*

I just want to offer one observation about Lemann's piece for now. It concerns his interesting definition of reporting:
Reporting—meaning the tradition by which a member of a distinct occupational category gets to cross the usual bounds of geography and class, to go where important things are happening, to ask powerful people blunt and impertinent questions, and to report back, reliably and in plain language, to a general audience—is a distinctive, fairly recent invention. It probably started in the United States, in the mid-nineteenth century, long after the Founders wrote the First Amendment.
Reporting as he formulates it developed only after many other modes of journalism had already developed. The reason can only be one element of the definition: "a member of a distinct occupational category." The communicative process of relaying information gathered by questioning, interviewing, and sourcing one's information is acknowledged by Lemann to be a "tradition" -- an interesting word choice in itself -- but it only becomes reporting in his modern industrial sense of the term when it is being performed by a salaried employee of the news industry.

This feature appears to be responsible for what Lemann sees as journalism's prime claim to value: provides citizens with an independent source of information about the state and other holders of power.
The fact that reporters work for corporate entities whose economic determinants require performative agendas that have to do with ad rates, subscription bases, the cost of newsprint, the cost of oil, aspects of forestry and many other things, is also the reason why many ordinary users of journalism constantly worry about its ability to be independent.

Lemann may, if he wishes, conflate the epistemics of relayed speech with the social set-up of capitalistic enterprise: these guys have jobs. However, nowhere in this is there any necessary link between the act of re-porting and the fact of getting a paycheck, other than the assertion that one can only be independent if one is dependent upon a corporate employer.

Reporting is indeed a tradition -- a human tradition extending back thousands of years (here the Melians are interviewing the Athenians on a subject of near interest). Millions, if we consider that the carrying of sense data to the brain is an early form of reporting which did not require ad sales to occur. It is understandable that Dean Lemann might wish to make relevant the occupational element, given that he runs an institution whose economic viability depends on its production of professional reporters. It is less understandable that he would stack the definition of his terms so that only card-carrying professionals can be recognized as valid reporters.

On the other hand, if reporting as a profession is a mere 150 years old and the offshoot of an evolving capitalist framework, why should folks like Dean Lemann be so entirely resistant to the fact, illustrated every day, that that entire framework is continuing to evolve, and that a tradition as broadly grounded in our humanity as "reporting" is will continue to evolve with it?

For the present, there are blogs that can and do offer an intelligence and critical news sense that professional reporters and editors and publishers, ensonced in their 19th century industrial modes of representation, often fail to attain. Future evolutionary paths would seem even less likely to concern themselves with the precise employment status of those bearing precious data upon which their survival may depend.

*Jarvis, Ratcliffe, Social Media, Witt and many, many more.