Friday, August 26, 2005

Summer almost gone, and Captain Future
already has new Space Cadets to train.
Don't they get younger every year? Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"One must think like a hero to be a decent human being."
May Sarton

Free Speech? You Can't Even Buy It

Television networks have been living off the twin notions that paid advertising is free speech, and that in order to speak freely, you have to pay. All those millions corrupting the US political process, all those officeseekers and office holders who are wholly owned by big money interests and their "lobbyists" who not only dictate laws but write them, they all wind up in the pockets of the media, mostly television.

Is it free speech if everyone doesn't have equal access? Apparently not. What's even worse however, is that not everyone has equal access even if they show them the money.

For years, TV networks in Canada and the US refused to air anti-consumption and pro-environment ads sponsored by adbusters magazine. Nobody noticed. But two new instances are attracting a bit more attention.

One is the Gold Star Mothers For Peace who tried to buy time for a powerful 15 second statement by Cindy Sheehan. Several TV stations refused, one of them, a CBS affiliate in Boise, because the ad was not "factually accurate."

This sets a standard of truth that few of its commercials could meet, not to mention the Swift Boat ads lying about John Kerry. But even with that standard, the burden of proof for Bush's lies isn't hard to meet.

The ad is being shown on CNN, and is available for viewing at various sites on the Internet, including truthout.

Another troubling case is the networks refusing to air ads critical of the networks' lack of coverage of the Sudan and other African human crises. The Sheehan ad instance is craven, pandering to the rich and powerful who will buy more ads than the Gold Star Mothers for Peace ever will. But this instance is sheer cowardice. If the fact of the networks almost totally ignoring genocide and starvation in favor of celebrity gossip isn't evidence enough, their censoring of ads because they tell the truth about their failure completes the picture of their corruption.

News Note: Captain Future's commentary on election reform and the Great Vacationer (posted here at Dreaming Up Daily) was frontpaged over at epluribus media this week.

Summer Reading (Sometimes)

It’s hard to get behind the idea of beach reading in a place where it seldom breaks 70F, and the beach is as apt to be windy or foggy as not. Don’t get me wrong, we love our beaches, they’re never crowded and quite close by, but though I’ve read on the beach once or twice, I was fully clothed. With a thermos of hot coffee by my side.

So the fact that I actually did some summer reading this summer has almost nothing to do with summer, just with the impulse.


A Mythology of the Future

“We’re here to remember one of the heroes of the Scottish culture,” begins Black, festooned in a red Enterprise uniform T-shirt and speaking in a Glaswegian burr, as he takes the microphone. “Cmdr. Montgomery Scott—Scotty.”

A ripple of laughter washes through the audience at the pub. Black pauses in mock ignorance.

“Why are you all laughing?” he asks mischievously.”

Most myths are set in the past, implying that the age of heroes and defining deeds is in the remote long ago. This is especially appropriate for certain kinds of myths, such as explanations of how the world or a people came to be; the foundation stories of a culture. But in the modern era, a belief in progress through time made myths of the future possible.

Because our age is characterized by looking ahead, and because the future has always been essential to the American identity, our culture is also defined by myths of the future. It may well be that our foundation mythology is the mythology of the future.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Arcata sunset. Kowinski photo Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

“As I used to tell my [writing] apprentices, what you want most is intelligent praise. If you can’t have intelligent praise, you’ll take stupid praise. If you can’t have stupid praise, then the third-best thing is intelligent criticism. And, of course, the worst thing is stupid criticism.”
John Barth

Crime Pays It Forward

The business of a big company called ChoicePoint is running background checks for lots of other big companies, so they have a huge database of records full of personal and sensitive information. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reports, the company claims it has “the largest private collection of court records, Social Security numbers and other public and personal data in the country.”

But some 150,000 of those records were “released to identity thieves.” Now if you think this would be a shameful lapse, especially embarrassing to a company in the security business, well---that just shows why you aren’t in the security business. Because it wasn't an embarrassment---it was a business opportunity!

People who were worried about what information of theirs these identity thieves got were told by ChoicePoint, sure, coming right up---for a price.

Yes, ChoicePoint chose to sell to victims the information it sold to the thieves. Only in the case of the victims, it was information about themselves they already knew. They just needed to know who else knows it. Talk about creating a new market.

ChoicePoint is not alone in this new "service" (Create the need, create the product: that's America). Consumer agencies also report that many such companies as well as credit agencies are using their vulnerability to data theft to sell consumers extra protection packages. Maybe it’s extra code, maybe it’s extortion, but it sure seems in character

The Nixon approval curve in yellow; the GW Bush approval curve in purple. Posted by Picasa

Deconstructing GW

Do you remember those “Saturday Night Live” sketches during the weeks after the 2000 election when the result was still in doubt? One of them showed GW in the White House, looking shell shocked, hiding under his desk as part of his office was on fire, because he’d screwed up so badly.

It may be a little like that in the White House now (or it would be, if he were there.) The American Research Group survey shows his approval rating is at 36%, a point lower than Nixon’s after the Watergate hearings and impeachment hearings, and just before he resigned.

Iraq, a tragedy wrapped in a debacle inside denial-dipped arrogance, is a big part of the reason. For Bush v. the Mayor of Salt Lake City, and deconstructed by an Iraqi woman blogger, read on.


Monday, August 22, 2005

fallen redwood, CA North Coast. Kowinski photo Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

Infinite gratitude towards all things past,
Infinite service to all things present,
Infinite responsibility to all things future.

The Zen Life, as described to Huston Smith,
quoted to Bill Moyers

The Perfect Storm?

High gas prices are already affecting the US economy, and several other events may be about to combine to create what some are calling the Perfect Storm that could sink this economy and who knows what else before it’s through.

A storm of its own was created on several of the bluish community blogs with a post and lots and lots of comments revealing that a change in law about to go into effect in October may well mean that credit card minimum payment requirements will be instantly doubled.


Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury, author of "Fahrenheit 451," basis for a film by Francois Truffaut starring JULIE CHRISTIE (in three roles, as pictured here.) Posted by Picasa

Cumulative Impact

It’s been just about nine years since I drove that big Ryder truck off 101 and into Arcata. I’ve lived in a number of different places but except for where I grew up, I’ve never lived anywhere else for this long.

If every cell in your body is replaced in seven years, this place is a big part of me now. I can’t say I’ve ever felt quite at home here, and though it makes me sigh even as I type it, I know it’s partly my own doing, or not doing. But maybe not all.

Anyway, one of the first “jobs” I had here (it’s in parens because I never actually got paid for it, as the promise turned into a hope even before I was finished) was writing a couple of drafts of the script for a video called “Voices of Humboldt County: Cumulative Impact,” including the final draft. I was reminded of this by a news item this week.