Wikileeks soup, and the governments who assessed and ate it

Wikileeks soup, and the governments who assessed and ate it

Three cheers to Wikileaks! That is what journalism was supposed to be before it became News Incorporated.

According to the New York Times, “The French government joined others in condemning the disclosure of diplomatic documents. Paris would stand with the United States and against the publication, which threaten “democratic sovereignty and authority.”

So giving information to the people undermines democracy? Authority, I get, clearly it does. But democracy? “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both.” ~ James Madison

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Prison wardens realized long ago that if you allow the prisoners to rearrange their own furniture, there are far fewer riots. That’s pretty much all voting is in a country of 300 million. The only reason it makes any sense at all today is that the Republican party has decided that all the furniture should be thrown out and everyone except the top-dog prisoners is going to sleep on beds made of shivs. Is that a “real” difference? I’m not sure. Maybe if the redecorating is drastic enough, it becomes real.

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” — Emma Goldman

I’ve always been a firm believer in Goldman’s quote, but since it seems that the Republicans are trying to do just that, perhaps that’s a sign that this time voting is actually worth doing.

Still undecided? Here’s a hint:

“Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” — Benito Mussolini

“Corporations are people.” — Mitt Romney

“Headless Body in Topless Bar” vs “Lady Gaga”

The New York Times just had an article about search engine optimization. Apparently my headlines are all wrong. I need Taylor Momsen, though I have no idea who she is. I need “Jon Stewart Slams Glenn Beck.” At least I know who John Stewart is. I’ve never used Google Trends or Omniture or what have you. I know it’s old fashioned, I know “news” is just code for advertising and propaganda, but, still, I’d like to at least maintain the pretense. When you have  Sears partnering with AOL to create a news site that only runs good news, called Good News Now or GNN, that’s a Disney dream — not just because it’s sickly sweet, but because that sweetness is always a wrapper for advertising. As TechCrunch writes, get ready to barf.

A commenter says perhaps that’s a welcome relief from the current “you’re surrounded by terrorists and child rapists panic Panic PANIC NOW!!” news system, but media like Fox News seem to have blended them into an algorithm, ten minutes of panic panic, ten of the world’s getting worse, and ten of “elderly couple tie the knot.” Who’s left to confront power?

Continue reading “Headless Body in Topless Bar” vs “Lady Gaga”

Terrorists and bladders

Terrorists and bladders

First a rant — forgive me, I’m flying and can’t help myself but marvel at the magnificently low IQ of the people in charge of airport security.  Because the latest attempt to bring down an airplane involved starting a fire in the last hour of the flight, now we can’t get out of our seats during the last hour. When the attempt included a shoe, everyone’s shoes got checked. After the liquid plot, liquids. Always fighting the last “war,” no matter how ridiculous a category.

If anything, after 911 airport security should have been DECREASED, except for bomb sniffing dogs, as now passengers will mob and kill any hijacker on sight instead of obeying like sheep and waiting for the authorities to handle it, as they were taught to before.

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The Brand is Dead! Long Live the Brand!

Reprinted from C-Arts Magazine (December 2009).

A brand used to be a symbol burned onto a cow’s butt. [When] a ranch had a long-standing reputation of raising healthy cows, the brand was its symbol of quality. But once the “-ing” was added to the word “brand,” and agencies started to ply the black art of “branding,” a brand was no longer the symbol of quality and reputation earned over time. Instead it was something that was just made up by ad agency creatives applying ingenuity to the disingenuous.”

— Augustine Fou

When people who are paid to opine wake up to a new industry dynamic, they often overreact. As pundits on the periphery of the branding industry belatedly noticed consumers exchanging information directly via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, the field began to echo with shouts of “Branding is dead!”

I don’t buy that argument. Would you, if I could name an $80 billion market that gets customers to pay between one and ten thousand times the price of an identical competing product, with nothing to differentiate the two except for 100% pure clean branding?

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Doing my bit for mockery

Doing my bit for mockery

After Boing Boing blogged, yes, Boing Boing blogged, about Ralph Lauren’s most recent photoshop disaster, they (obviously) included the photo. The one over there, on the left, with the model whose head is larger than her entire pelvis.

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Fear was NOT a reasonable response to 9/11.

Fear was NOT a reasonable response to 9/11.

With the senators of Montana suddenly terrified over the prospect of terrorists being housed in maximum-security prisons within their borders, with Cheney going into fear-generation overdrive, and with John Podhortez at Commentary asserting that “Fear was an entirely responsible response to September 11,” I think it’s time to take a step back and ask, “Is it really?”

Even with statistical spikes like 9/11, over the past fifty years the same number of Americans have been killed by lightning as by terrorism, both of which are dwarfed by deaths from food allergies, drowning in your own bathtub, or even lying in bed doing nothing and getting killed by, say, a collapsing roof. There would have to be one 9/11 per month in order for terrorism to equal the risk of driving even on the world’s safest roads (rural highways in the West), and two per week in order to equal the risk of driving in India.

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Even zero thinks it’s a number

Even zero thinks it's a number

North Dakota, always the cutting-edge of enlightened thinking, just passed a law that would punish parents criminally if their children skip school.

The legislation allows for a fine of up to $500 against parents who allow their children to miss class. Repeat offenders could get 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Continue reading Even zero thinks it’s a number

Was Bush good for the rule of Law?

Was Bush good for the rule of Law?

The origins of modern Law stem from the Holy Roman Emperor, who in the 12th century sought a way to define his power for all to see, but without giving the role to the Pope because he feared that that would define the Pope as a greater power. So he declared that the right to define an Emperor’s power belonged only to the Law, which was in the keeping of a community of Masters who studied the principles of reason in an Ivory Tower in Bologna. The Emperor declared these scholars to be independent of his own power. In exchange, they announced that, according to Rationality and the Law, the Emperor was the only true representative of the only true Law, so whatever pleases the Emperor is the Law. And the Pope was left out. Continue reading Was Bush good for the rule of Law?

Obama meets Odd

Obama meets Odd

I saw the types of people who became president of the Harvard Law Review. Sometimes, very late at night, the whole lot would pass by, in and out of whitewashed little Gannet House, on skinny pale legs permanently damaged by a year of subciting — Hieronymous Bosch figurines amputated by Odd Nerdrum. They were not the type of people who knew how to throw a punch. Continue reading Obama meets Odd