MonthMarch 2009

Short, clear explanation of “the problem” with establishment media

spheres of consensus, deviance, and debate

Best, most succinct examination I’ve read:

1.) The sphere of legitimate debate is the one journalists recognize as real, normal, everyday terrain. They think of their work as taking place almost exclusively within this space. (It doesn’t, but they think so.) Hallin: “This is the region of electoral contests and legislative debates, of issues recognized as such by the major established actors of the American political process.”

Here the two-party system reigns, and the news agenda is what the people in power are likely to have on their agenda. Perhaps the purest expression of this sphere is Washington Week on PBS, where journalists discuss what the two-party system defines as “the issues.” Objectivity and balance are “the supreme journalistic virtues” for the panelists on Washington Week because when there is legitimate debate it’s hard to know where the truth lies. There are risks in saying that truth lies with one faction in the debate, as against another— even when it does. He said, she said journalism is like the bad seed of this sphere, but also a logical outcome of it.

3.) In the sphere of deviance we find “political actors and views which journalists and the political mainstream of society reject as unworthy of being heard.” As in the sphere of consensus, neutrality isn’t the watchword here; journalists maintain order by either keeping the deviant out of the news entirely or identifying it within the news frame as unacceptable, radical, or just plain impossible. The press “plays the role of exposing, condemning, or excluding from the public agenda” the deviant view, says Hallin. It “marks out and defends the limits of acceptable political conduct.”

Anyone whose views lie within the sphere of deviance—as defined by journalists—will experience the press as an opponent in the struggle for recognition. If you don’t think separation of church and state is such a good idea; if you do think a single payer system is the way to go; if you dissent from the “lockstep behavior of both major American political parties when it comes to Israel” (Glenn Greenwald) chances are you will never find your views reflected in the news. It’s not that there’s a one-sided debate; there’s no debate.


The Stewart/Cramer discussion, as ancillary as it might seem to the greater crisis, was one of the first mainstream cracks in that veneer of always having the media define the boundaries of the argument.

Blogs and new media have been eating away at that veneer for quite some time and that’s why newspapers are suffering. Their inability to recognize the critical flaw in their coverage when the people are starting to demand more. Sure, they are having trouble with costs, scale and declining revenue, but the problem with their content precedes all of those things.

Buffalo Geek

(via Jay Rosen)

Obscure possible Lost influence: Odd John by Olaf Stapledon

Odd John by Olaf Stapledon

Here’s an, *ahem*, odd possible influence on Lost: Odd John by Olaf Stapledon, first published in 1935. I came across it while researching this timeline. I haven’t read the novel yet.

It’s the story of John Wainwright, a child prodigy of extreme intelligence who eventually develops telepathy. John eventually discovers some other mutant superhumans like himself, and founds a colony on an island. Here’s a summary of this last segment of the book from Wikipedia (includes book spoilers):
Continue reading

Discovery of New Microorganisms in the Stratosphere

Three new species of bacteria, which are not found on Earth and which are highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation, have been discovered in the upper stratosphere by Indian scientists. One of the new species has been named as Janibacter hoylei, after the Distinguished Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, the second as Bacillus isronensis recognising the contribution of ISRO in the balloon experiments which led to its discovery and the third as Bacillus aryabhata after India’s celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and also the first satellite of ISRO.

Full Story: Indian Space Research Organization

(Thanks Leto)

(Telluro-magnetic Conspiracy Towards the Sun?)

AIG bonus fiasco a smokescreen for where the money is really going?

I’d bet that the choreographers of this scam assume that the average person doesn’t know the difference between million and billion. That’s the first bet.

The second bet I’d make is that this entire spectacle has been concocted to shift the focus away from where the really big money is going. (Hint: Goldman Sachs.)

So, while the drama is happening over $165 million in bonuses, another roughly $30 billion goes down the gugrler.

Full Story: Cryptogon

Barack Obama with a huge freaking gun

obama with a gun

Yeah, WTF? That’s by comics’ version of a grindhouse director, Rob Liefeld. It makes no sense to me either.

Via: Occasional Superheroine

In Australia, banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day

The Australian communications regulator says it will fine people who hyperlink to sites on its blacklist, which has been further expanded to include several pages on the anonymous whistleblower site Wikileaks.

Wikileaks was added to the blacklist for publishing a leaked document containing Denmark’s list of banned websites.

The move by the Australian Communications and Media Authority comes after it threatened the host of online broadband discussion forum Whirlpool last week with a $11,000-a-day fine over a link published in its forum to another page blacklisted by ACMA – an anti-abortion website.

Full Story: Sidney Morning Herald

(via Xtal)

Bring the Snakes Back to Ireland!

From Hakim Bey’s Black Thorn Manifesto:

We propose to embody this poetic complex in a popular chivalric order, devoted symbolically to the cause of “bringing the snakes back to Ireland” – that is, of uniting all these mystical strands into one patterned weave, which will restore the power of its synergistic or syncretistic power to the hearts of those who respond to the particular “taste” of its mix. We have borrowed this slogan from contemporary neo-pagans in order to symbolize the special mission our order will undertake toward Celtic-Moorish friendship. The BLACK THORN LEAGUE will be open to all, regardless of whether they are MOC members or not, providing only that they support this particular goal.

“Black” in our title signifies not only the black banners of the moors but also the black flag of anarchy. “Blackthorn”, because the tree symbolizes druid Irelands & is used to make cudgels. “League”, in honor of the various Irish rebel groups which have organized as such. Other organizational models include such Masonic-revolutionary groups as the Carbonari, or Proudhon’s anarchist “Holy Vehm”, or Bakunin’s Revolutionary Brotherhood. We also emulate certain anarcho-Taoist Chinese tongs (such as the Chaos Society)~~ & hope to evolve the kind of informal mutual aid webworks they developed.

The League will bestow the Order of the Black Thorn as title & honor, & will hold an annual conclave & banquet on St. Patrick’s Day in memory both of Noble Drew Ali’s vision, & of those rioters of 1741 who conspired in low taverns to overthrow the State.

Full Story: Black Thorn Manifesto

See also: Were the “Snakes” Cast Out by Saint Patrick Really Pagans?

Let them fail? I wish.

Douglas Rushkoff’s latest Arthur column has been making rounds in the blogosphere since it was posted yesterday. It’s a good read, but strikes me as naive for an old fogy like Rushkoff. I don’t have time to reply in depth, but briefly:

1. I question his claim that people made more money in the middle ages. Yeah, maybe if you landowner and not a serf. I think that was not the point of using this as an example, but it makes him sound like a silly back to the middle ages type.

2. It would be nice if it were a possibility to actually let the economy fail. But too many entrenched interests (backed up by guns and bombs) have too much riding on this. Just “letting it die” won’t be an option.

3. Even if it were, it wouldn’t be a very pleasant process (though it might be necessary to build something better). I think the financial sector does a lot more than Rushkoff is giving them credit for.

4. He’s assuming all trade can and should be local.

The real problem is how much we’ve come to rely on the FIRE sector of the economy – or actually, how much they’ve coerced us into relying on them. There are a number of movements afoot to create more resilient communities, less dependent on the FIRE sector, oil, and other things that exist outside the control of individuals. This is a good thing – but there are a few problems:

A. Will they be allowed to operate or will they be shut down by the police? Alternative currency is particularly vulnerable to government intervention. Grey water systems are illegal in most states and cities. And so on.

B. Can these systems be implemented fast enough to absorb the shock of the crumbling economy? Or will they be brushed aside by more aggressive, less democratic totalitarian movements?

C. Can they scale?

D. Can they avoid becoming just as corrupt as what preceded them?

Problems A. and B. are directly related to problem 2. above.

Solutions are always welcome at the Recession Hacking Wiki.

Watchmen Saturday morning cartoon

(via Lupa)

War Nerd: Apocalypse Never

But being tough, being armed to the teeth and ready to kick ass, that wouldn’t save you either if it all came down. It’d come down to dull stuff that nobody wants to think about, like organization. That’s what really hits me about these survival fantasies: it’s always about holing up in your house with guns and ammo and years of video-game wet dreams bouncing around in your head.

One question: where you gonna get your water? You can go weeks without food (in my case more like a year; in fact I’d probably be better off after starving for a year or so) but you need water every day. Let’s take California. Last I heard there were 24 million people in So Cal. You know where they get their water? From a tap, yeah; but when the taps stop flowing? Flick that ball socket faucet in your townhouse and a spider drops out? That’s what’d scare me, not armies of zombies or gangbangers.

Full Story: Exiled Online

To be fair, most survivalists do tend to account for water. I think they just tend to over estimate the value of having a bunker full of guns and beans, and DRASTICALLY over estimate their ability to be “self-sufficient.”

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