Worth watching all the way through (4:45 min. total).
If this could be combined with a holographic screen to make it work for more than one viewer . . . total reality control.
January 31, 2008
Worth watching all the way through (4:45 min. total).
January 30, 2008
Further survey work by Opinion Research Business, in association with the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies, has confirmed an earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. More here and here.
January 25, 2008
January 22, 2008
January 19, 2008
I've now watched all of Parts 1 and 4 and plan to watch all parts at least twice, taking notes. For me, this is the most important documentary since "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media" (1970).
The Century of the Self presents more proof than anyone could ever want that we are living in a fantasy created for us by powerful elites -- a fantasy that pretends to offer happiness but that actually diverts us both from effective action and from true fulfillment.
We all kinda knew that, but the documentary provides fascinating details about how it's been done and for how long, as well as insight into the implications for our future. To take back control of our lives, we'll need more than just the general idea, both in order to free ourselves and in order to help make others aware.
You can see the series on the Internet Archive or Google Video.
Knowledge truly is power. Please run don't walk to see The Century of the Self, and tell everyone you know to see it. More details, including the embedded Part 4, in my previous post on it, here.
January 18, 2008
January 17, 2008
Seven Screens is a platform for temporary, digital art projects in Munich. Each stele can be interpreted as a fragment, as an autonomous image carrier, as a sculptural monument, or as an architectural element. There is no vantage point from which the seven screens can be viewed together to form a contiguous field. It's left to the viewer's cognition to resolve the elements into a closed entity.
Works in the pic at right, from upper left to lower right, are: Haubitz+Zoche, Munich: 2027; ART+COM, Berlin: Reactive Sparks; Diana Thater, Los Angeles: Off with their Heads; Mader/Stublic/Wiermann, Berlin: reprojected. (Copyright: Osram Art Projects. Photographers: Haubitz+Zoche, Stephan Kausch, Mader/Stublic/Wiermann.) This spring's offerings will include works by ART+COM, Anouk de Clercq, and Bjørn Melhus.
The project's curator is Christian Schoen (director of CIA.IS, Center for Icelandic Art, Reykjavík, and commissioner of the Icelandic pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2007 and 2009.) Additional information at Osram.
January 16, 2008
enough – because of the writers' strike – to be reading my blog? Tonight he aired an interview of the author of the book mentioned in one of my prior posts, Amazon Customers' Tags for "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left".
I tried to resist blogging this but couldn't. At MoCA, from both ends of a huge room, poems by 1996 Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska are starkly projected. Giant beanbags dot the space like islands. On view through fall 2008; more at The NYT.
Holzer's is a great example of art I started out hating but quickly came to love. The first thing of hers I saw was a large, LED display of the text, "Money Creates Taste." The town I live in seems to refute that idea utterly. But the statement stuck in my mind in the same way something odd in Shakespeare sometimes does -- something that at first seems paradoxical or just wrong, and later seems so circuitously right (see Cleanth Brooks' The Well Wrought Urn).
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out . . . -- Act II, scene i, Hamlet
Mind-bogglingly bizarre: per Slate.com, "last week AT&T announced that it is seriously considering plans to examine all the traffic it carries for potential violations of U.S. intellectual property laws. The prospect of AT&T, already accused of spying on our telephone calls, now scanning every e-mail and download for outlawed content is way too totalitarian for my tastes." I'm not sure why they'd bother, if that were the only motivation; sounds more like they're floating an after-the-fact rationalization for Mark Klein's allegations.
January 14, 2008
John Edwards is the candidate whose positions on the issues are closest to mine -- he's the only one besides Kucinich who seems willing to take on our corporate masters -- and who I believe has a real chance to win -- last I saw, polls showed him more electable than either Clinton or Obama; see, e.g., here.
But the corporate media's pretty much blacked out coverage of his campaign. E.g., in Iowa, where all three top Dem contenders campaigned hard, he beat Clinton, even though I understand she outspent him 7 to 1 -- yet media coverage of the results barely mentioned him. CNN has simply stopped including Edwards in their polls, while continuing to include all four of the top Republican candidates -- even though, despite the dearth of attention to Edwards, the last poll CNN did that included Edwards showed him beating all four Republicans handily (see here).
Let's make it impossible for the media to continue to ignore Edwards. This Fri., Jan. 18, has been designated for an effort to break all records for a single day's donations by raising $7 million for Edwards on that day.
Ask yourself why the corporate media prefer to ignore Edwards. (If nothing comes to mind, see, e.g., David Sirota or jamess on Daily Kos.)
If you like Edwards, put a tickler in your calendar and make a donation on Fri., Jan. 18 -- you can do it here. Remember, all donations will be matched.
(Thanks to KingOneEye on Daily Kos and News Corpse, The Internet's Chronicle of Media Decay, for the info on this initiative).
Last night I happened to see Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961, script by Irwin Allen & Charles Bennett), which yielded this memorable quote, among others: "Nothing is inevitable, except defeat for those who give up without a fight."
UPDATE: It's official. The Project for Excellence in Journalism's latest campaign coverage index for January 6 - 11 shows that Edwards got only 7% of the political coverage during those days -- less than one-fifth of what Clinton got, less than one-fourth of what Obama got, and substantially less than that given to Huckabee, even though he, like Edwards, finished third in the New Hampshire primary.
In a recent article, "Study: John Edwards Doesn't Exist," Greg Sargent writes, "Indeed, the virtual media blackout of Edwards got so glaringly obvious that even New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt urged his paper to give Edwards more attention back in November. At a certain point we should just acknowledge that Edwards basically got screwed . . . ." Make that present tense.
January 12, 2008
Below is Part 4 of an excellent BBC series documenting how, beginning in the 1920's, Freudian theories gave rise to public relations techniques that have been used to uncover irrational, often self-centered or petty motivations of whole populations, so as to either cater to or manipulate them.
(Note, this video is nearly an hour long -- wish it moved a bit more quickly -- but the info is fascinating and important, and the visuals and audio are terrific -- well-edited, with lots of cool archival stuff. If you can't spare the time, I'm providing a cursory summary of some of the main ideas below.)
These psychoanalytically-derived techniques have been used not only by businesses in designing or selling products but also by politicians (and, I might add, by religious leaders -- see, e.g., Brands of Faith) in marketing themselves.
Some using these techniques believed they were helping to bring about a more democratic system in which the consumer or voter was "king." But the point of a "focus group" is not to hear our considered opinions on any given topic but rather to discern the more primitive desires and fears we might not admit to if asked but that often, with or without our awareness, drive our behavior.
After decades of immersion in the P.R. resulting from these techniques, we've gone from seeing ourselves as exploited by business interests to -- rightly or benightedly -- viewing the marketplace as a main source of identity support and fulfillment.
But our democracy has to some extent been reduced from an electorate actively undertaking organized action to make the world better for others as well as ourselves to a relatively atomized, passive agglomeration of consumers who secretly feel entitled to prioritize gratification of their every self-centered whim.
We feel we are free, but in reality, we've been enslaved through our unconscious fears and desires. We all kinda knew that, but the documentary provides fascinating details about how it was done, which can help arm us against such efforts in the present, as well as providing insight into the implications for our future.
You can see the other parts of the series on the Internet Archive or Google Video.
On a somewhat related subject, I'd like to recommend the recent New Yorker article, "Twilight of the Books," on the effects of the rise in TV watching and relative decline in reading. Among other things, it describes studies suggesting that proficient readers may think differently than people who rely more on visual communication. While both kinds of thinking are probably valuable, it appears that, generally, visual communication involves thinking oriented toward graphic, functional-narrative or emotional content, while reading facilitates abstract reasoning and an ability to compare and contrast subject-matter based on a wider array of kinds of logic.
Interesting to think about in connection with other studies about TV. As I wrote in a previous post (analyzing the Smith/Cohen cover video of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), "We all live in an ever more fully-saturated mass-media environment that continually urges us to consume and invites us to flee consciousness above all. Studies have shown how much TV has in common with both addiction and brainwashing – see here, here, and here. TV is unusual in that on the one hand, the brains of people watching it appear much more inert than usual, with their critical faculties turned almost completely off, while on the other hand, they are nonetheless uncritically absorbing the commercial and other messages being transmitted."
January 10, 2008
A friend e-mailed me about a moveon.org petition along the lines of, aren't you glad they had paper ballots in NH and don't you wish they were everywhere? Which prompts this post.
Paper ballots or no, most NH votes were counted on Diebold optical scanners proven hackable and yielding dubious results in past elections. We know that in 2004, the media "adjusted" the exit polls to more closely match reported vote totals; so exit polls are no longer all that helpful. In NH, between the exit polls and the most recent previous polls not long before, there was a surprising swing in %'s away from Obama and in favor of Clinton -- but little or no changes in the %'s for other candidates.
Personally, I don't know what happened; but moveon's failure to fully grasp the problem gives me no confidence in their ability to identify the solution.
For help getting up to speed on this issue, start by checking out RFK, Jr.'s articles in Rolling Stone on election fraud in 2004 and subsequent elections, here and here, and then check for updates on the issue in democraticunderground.com's Election Reform forum.
Given that the problems have not been fixed, it's more important than ever that we vote in massive numbers.
UPDATES: Dennis Kucinich "has sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of Tuesday’s election because of 'unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.'" He says he's making the request not because he thinks a recount would affect his own total but in the interests of "public confidence in the integrity of the election process." More here.
But apparently, it's to be only a partial recount. Here's why one election fraud expert, Mark Crispin Miller, doesn't expect the recount to tell us whether or not fraud really occurred.
(More about the book, by Jonah Goldberg, here.)
January 7, 2008
by Ryan Trecartin, via The New York Times. "Ah think Ah just saw a highly advanced, 3-D, text message of mah future self givin' me the middle finger, and I'm gonna f*ck right back in his face." -- "You're totally paranoid!" -- "Ah know what my original wants to look like, and I can't believe you tried to re-cycle me into that person . . . I mean he looks cool and Ah liked him, [but] that's not my original and Ah know he's somewhere LAUGHING . . . ."
Per The NYT, a lot longer than his A Family finds Entertainment (right) but still engrossing; judging from the excerpt, considerably less frenetic.
The same article mentions other works I'd also love to see, including new work by Sadie Benning and Nathalie Djurberg.
January 6, 2008
January 4, 2008
(Graph from naked capitalism.)
So, if our money isn't lengthening our lives, where's it going?
I recently had bunion surgery and my doctor prescribed a knee-walker to help me get around during the recovery. The manufacturer told me they could ship one for ca. $250 and get it to me in 3 days.
My insurer told me it would be covered only if I got it through an "in-network provider."
Now, you might think the point of dealing with "in-network providers" would be that the insurer could negotiate cheaper prices; but apparently, no.
Out of a list of at least a dozen supposed in-network providers, it turned out only one could actually provide the item -- and it would take at least two weeks, partly because special authorization was required from the insurer, because this in-network provider's price to procure the item was over $1,000.
I called the appeals people at the insurer and said hey, we can get it quicker from the manufacturer and you'll save over $700.
The insurer could not have been less interested.
When the knee-walker finally arrived, it was an inferior model from a different manufacturer.
I have to at least ask whether the insurer and its in-network provider weren't splitting the mark-up at my employer's and ultimately all of our expense (not to mention the delay and other inconvenience).
The California Nurses Association (CNA)/National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) is collecting healthcare horror stories as part of their campaign in support of publicly-funded healthcare, which they call "CheneyCare," for all of us. You can tell your own story and sign their petition here.
UPDATE: Eliz. Edwards on TDS tonite (May 20, '09) said, out of every $700 paid for to United Healthcare, $1 was paid to the CEO.
January 1, 2008
From an interview of Lawrence Weiner at artkrush, re- the retrospective of his work now on view at the Whitney:
"AK: The audio tour for the retrospective . . . doesn't provide the usual explanations of the works in the show — rather, it provides a soundtrack for viewing it. What is this audio compilation, and what do you hope it conveys to viewers?
"LW: IT IS A REMIX OF RECORDINGS THAT I HAVE MADE WITH MUSICIANS OVER TIME — AN AMBIENT SOUNDTRACK."
The show at the Whitney runs through February 10, then opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles on April 13.