May 27, 2011

Why We Need Net Neutrality: ISP's Are Already Throttling the Internet

If you had any remaining doubt as to whether and how much this is happening, wonder no more. Two projects have shown that Comcast and Road Runner consistently engage in substantial, discriminatory slowing or throttling of internet traffic (euphemistically referred to as "shaping") both to and from users, and that "Comcast, Road Runner (from Time Warner Cable), and Cox all use downstream shaping." (More at Boing Boing)

They claim they only do it to help manage traffic volumes. But there are many examples of known, wrongful censorship of political or other content, within as well as outside the U.S.; see, e.g., here (Comcast and/or Symantec blocked all e-mails containing URL of site calling for investigation into whether Pres. Bush committed impeachable offenses in connection with the push to invade Iraq, successfully reducing the impact of activists' efforts), here (AT&T censored Pearljam concert by deleting lyrics criticizing Bush), or here (Mindspring and OneNet Communications, successively, blocked site hosting Nuremburg Files).

As Lawrence Lessig stated in a recent article, "The innovation commons of the Internet threatens important and powerful pre-Internet interests. During the past five years, those interests have mobilized to launch a counterrevolution that is now having a global impact."

Bad enough that, as "Napoleon said . . . it wasn't necessary to completely suppress the news; it was sufficient to delay the news until it no longer mattered." But worse, ISP's can suppress any info they choose in ways that make it unlikely that many users will ever become aware that anything's been filtered out.

And as stated at sp!ked-IT with reference to Wikileaks, among others, "when an ISP removes [or blocks] content, it invokes the cyber equivalent to the death sentence. When an ISP acts it can effectively destroy a business or censor a political campaign, by making access to that website impossible.

If you agree that protecting the internet as a source of uncensored political information is one of the most urgent issues of our time, please spread the word about it.

May 26, 2011

"The Lieder of the Pact"

. . . by Rebecca Carter and Andrea Goldman (3:08 min., 2011).

Goldman writes that the video was "inspired by both the 60s 'bad girl' band The Shangri-Las and radical philosopher Alain Badiou’s 1982 book The Theory of the Subject."

May 25, 2011

Bloomsday at The Reading Room

This post has been moved here.

What Politics Has in Common with Pro Wrestling: Kayfabe

From Eric R. Weinstein at Edge:

Evolutionary biologists Richard Alexander and Robert Trivers have recently emphasized that it is deception rather than information that often plays the decisive role in systems of selective pressures. Yet most of our thinking continues to treat deception as something of a perturbation on the exchange of pure information, leaving us unprepared to contemplate a world in which fakery may reliably crowd out the genuine. In particular, humanity's future selective pressures appear likely to remain tied to economic theory which currently uses as its central construct a market model based on assumptions of perfect information.

If we are to take selection more seriously within humans, we may fairly ask what rigorous system would be capable of tying together an altered reality of layered falsehoods in which absolutely nothing can be assumed to be as it appears. Such a system, in continuous development for more than a century, is known to exist and now supports an intricate multi-billion dollar business empire of pure hokum. It is known to wrestling's insiders as "Kayfabe".

Because professional wrestling is a simulated sport, all competitors who face each other in the ring are actually close collaborators who must form a closed system (called "a promotion") sealed against outsiders. With external competitors generally excluded, antagonists are chosen from within the promotion and their ritualized battles are largely negotiated, choreographed, and rehearsed at a significantly decreased risk of injury or death. With outcomes predetermined under Kayfabe, betrayal in wrestling comes not from engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct, but by the surprise appearance of actual sporting behavior. Such unwelcome sportsmanship which "breaks Kayfabe" is called "shooting" to distinguish it from the expected scripted deception called "working."

Were Kayfabe to become part of our toolkit for the twenty-first century, we would undoubtedly have an easier time understanding a world in which investigative journalism seems to have vanished and bitter corporate rivals cooperate on everything from joint ventures to lobbying efforts. Perhaps confusing battles between "freshwater" Chicago macro economists and Ivy league "Saltwater" theorists could be best understood as happening within a single "orthodox promotion" given that both groups suffered no injury from failing (equally) to predict the recent financial crisis. . . .

More at the link. (Thanks, Randy!)

May 16, 2011

May 14, 2011

"Collateral Sounds"

Collateral Sounds is a response to the Wikileaks phenomenon. . . . Nivehive is here to provide the soundtrack.”

The album includes "People Demand," which features audio of the Egyptians in Tahrir calling for revolution. Hear the tune and find more info here; download the tune here (thanks, NiveHive!)

Here's hoping the concept's as catchy as the tune. (Image right, artist unknown.)

May 12, 2011

Matt Taibbi: Goldman Sachs Should Stand Trial

"They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street.

Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it.

But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin's small, 15-desk office of investigators
— details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street's aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008 . . . . "
More at Rolling Stone. This article appears in the May 26, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive on May 13.

May 10, 2011

The "Nobody Heard What You Said" Story

By Jay Rosen at PRESSthink:
In 1984, Stahl had produced an extended report for CBS trying to document the contradictions between what Reagan said and what he did. It showed him speaking at the Special Olympics and at a nursing home, and reported that Reagan had cut funding to children with disabilities and opposed funding for public health. I’ll let [Bob] Somerby tell the rest:

Dick Darman clued in Lesley Stahl—it’s all about the pictures. During the 1984 presidential campaign, Stahl aired a lengthy report on the CBS Evening News; it was broadly critical of President Reagan. In her recent book, Reporting Live, Stahl described her thoughts as the piece went to air:

STAHL (page 210): I knew the piece would have an impact, if only because it was so long: five minutes and 40 seconds, practically a documentary in Evening News terms. I worried that my sources at the White House would be angry enough to freeze me out.

But that isn’t what happened, she says. When the piece aired, Darman called from the White House. “Way to go, kiddo,” he said to Stahl. “What a great piece. We loved it.” Stahl replied, “Didn’t you hear what I said [in the broadcast]?” Darman’s answer has been frequently quoted:

STAHL: [Darman replied,] “Nobody heard what you said.”

Did I hear him right? “Come again?”

“You guys in Televisionland haven’t figured it out, have you? When the pictures are powerful and emotional, they override if not completely drown out the sound. I mean it, Lesley. Nobody heard you.”

Stahl’s critical report about President Reagan had been accompanied by generally upbeat visuals. According to Darman’s theory, the pictures registered more with viewers than anything Stahl had said.
(Much more at the link.)

May 8, 2011

A Couple of Shows I Esp. Liked

. . . (both in Dallas):

1. The Gun and Knife Show, curated by Heyd Fontenot and Julie Webb, at CentralTrak, 800 Exposition Ave. Related panel discussion May 21, 4 - 6 pm, at Cunningham Architects, 918 Dragon St.

2. Play Dead, curated by Willie Binnie & Tamara Coleman, at Bows and Arrows, 1927 Greenville Ave.

May 6, 2011

"Broadcast" Your Brain Waves

"The 'necomimi' . . . hair band . . . features sensors that pick up on brain signals and convert them into visible actions . . . by wiggling the cat ears. . . . [W]hen you concentrate, the ears point upwards . . . when you relax the ears flop down and forwards." More at Wired and Japan Trends; via Gizmodo. (Thanks Ben!)

May 3, 2011

Recent Assange on Facebook et Al., the Media, War, Etc.

Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.

Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by US intelligence? No, it’s not like that. It’s simply that US intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. And it’s costly for them to hand out records one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them.

* * * * *

Our No. 1 enemy is ignorance. And I believe that is the No. 1 enemy for everyone – it’s not understanding what actually is going on in the world. It's only when you start to understand that you can make effective decisions and effective plans. Now, the question is, who is promoting ignorance? Well, those organizations that try to keep things secret, and those organizations which distort true information to make it false or misrepresentative. In this latter category, it is bad media.

It really is my opinion that media in general are so bad that we have to question whether the world wouldn't be better off without them altogether. They are so distortive to how the world actually is that the result is . . . we see wars, and we see corrupt governments continue on.

One of the hopeful things that I’ve discovered is that nearly every war that has started in the past 50 years has been a result of media lies. The media could've stopped it if they had searched deep enough; if they hadn't reprinted government propaganda they could've stopped it. But what does that mean? Well, that means that basically populations don't like wars, and populations have to be fooled into wars. Populations don't willingly, with open eyes, go into a war. So if we have a good media environment, then we also have a peaceful environment.

(Emphasis supplied.) More at RT.

"QTzrk_loop" by Jon Satrom (Holy F***.)

(Pls pretend this is on a white background.)

From jonsatrom.

"This video loop was for the Filtering Failure gallery show at: PLANETART in Amsterdam.

"Filtering Failure investigates (the connections between) the procedural terms ‘filtering’ and ‘failure’ and how in (lo-fi) digital arts these terms are being re-invented and re-used. The exhibition asks how Filtering and Failure co-exist; and how these processes influence each other.

"The exhibition includes new and older works from the avant-garde of glitch artists. These works show the filtering of failure as a generative process, but also to unfold a genre that includes many the different envelopes of personal ways of dealing with failure."

Health Insurance for Artists

Every Artist Insured: Understanding Health Care Reform

This 90-minute workshop will discuss the federal health care reform law, what it might mean for you, and health care resources and insurance in the Dallas area. The event is organized by Artists Health Insurance Resource Center, which was founded in 1998 with start up costs funded by an NEA grant. Details:

When: Tuesday, May 17 , 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Where: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75204.
Limited parking available at the MAC as well as on Oak Grove and at City Vet.
The event is free.

To reserve a seat, RSVP to:

May 2, 2011

Goss-Michael Foundation

I finally put some photos up from the opening last Nov. of the Goss-Michael Foundation in its new space at 1405 Turtle Creek (Design District near Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX).

They have an exciting collection, esp. if you like the YBA's, as I do. More photos here.