communication

FEELING THREATENED?

[If the cartoon is yours please contact me and I will add link or delete as requested. I really don’t remember where I found it]

Judging by the fury of the political classes at the moment, the biggest threat to our freedom and security is not terrorism,  crime or even those pesky protestors. It certainly isn’t the degradation of the environment or the pollution of the air and water.

No, none of those things seem to be as important or worrisome as a group of people who have had the temerity to publish what the people who are supposedly our representatives are actually doing and saying when they think no one is looking.

In that light, I suggest you have a quick look at John Pilger’s latest article (click the link below). It is about Wikileaks.

The part about Christine Amanpour is very interesting. This is because she is one of the journalists that appeared in a number Iraq war documentaries saying that the media swallowed and reprinted the governments position instead of critically analysing it. John Pilger here more or less accuses her of doing it again.

WHY WIKILEAKS MUST BE PROTECTED – John Pilger

JOURNALISM AND ‘THE WORDS OF POWER’

Below is a talk given by Robert Fisk given by Robert Fisk at the Al-Jazeera Forum. It is well worth the read. I made a little video with something from another speech Fisk made if that would make you more interested.

Robert Fisk, The Independent newspaper’s Middle East correspondent, gave the following address to the fifth Al Jazeera annual forum on May 23.

Power and the media are not just about cosy relationships between journalists and political leaders, between editors and presidents. They are not just about the parasitic-osmotic relationship between supposedly honourable reporters and the nexus of power that runs between White House and state department and Pentagon, between Downing Street and the foreign office and the ministry of defence. In the western context, power and the media is about words – and the use of words.

It is about semantics.

It is about the employment of phrases and clauses and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history; and about our ignorance of history.

(more…)

2 FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Two subjects that I feel strongly about are internet freedom and the current extinction crisis.

So there was a bit of an internal clash when I saw the headline…

Internet threatens rare species, conservationists warn

Conservationists say the internet has emerged as one of the biggest threats to endangered species.

Campaigners say it is easier than ever before to buy and sell anything from live baby lions to polar bear pelts on online auction sites and chatrooms.

What the person (Paul Todd) is quoted as saying on the BBC report is that “The internet is becoming the dominant factor overall in the global trade in protected species”. However, the internet is becoming the dominant factor in most other things too. Also the Toronto Sun newspaper carried some rather different quotes from the same conference… such as …

John Sellar, CITES’ chief law enforcement officer, argued the impact of the Web was overblown and that many species that appear illegal may in fact may be legal. He also said many big traders were reluctant to use the Internet, since payments can be traced and they can be ensnared in undercover operations.

“There seems to be little evidence that there are commercial operations using the Internet,” Sellar said. “Although the risks may be small depending on which country you are living in, you can be identified when using the Internet. So there are clearly risks there.”

or

“The Internet itself isn’t the threat, but it’s another way to market the product,” said Ernie Cooper, who spearhead the investigation into the newt for TRAFFIC Canada. “Most people are not willing to pay $300 for a salamander. But through the power of the Internet, tapping into the global market, you can find buyers.”

Taking this into account, the problem does not seem to be simply the (semi) new-fangled internet (boo hiss boo hiss) but rather the age-old predilection among some people for boneheaded brutality. The internet has neither enhanced nor diminished this.

I obviously don’t deny that the internet may facilitate easier transactions for some things but the problem at root remains the same – us.

The BBC story however  read very like the old style articles from mainstream media 10 years ago denouncing the internet and hoping it was a passing fad. In that spirit then I would like to print an excerpt from an old article defending the internet.

I don’t think anybody would argue now that the Internet isn’t becoming a major factor in our lives. However, it’s very new to us. Newsreaders still feel it is worth a special and rather worrying mention if, for instance, a crime was planned by people ‘over the Internet.’ They don’t bother to mention when criminals use the telephone or the M4, or discuss their dastardly plans ‘over a cup of tea,’ though each of these was new and controversial in their day.

SATURDAY MATINEE 5 – WHY WE FIGHT

This week we have Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight which, amongst other things, examines the lies that are used to manipulate the public into supporting wars…

SATURDAY MATINEE 3 – HOLLYWOOD AND THE PENTAGON

A shortish but good documentary about the history of Hollywood and the pentagon working together.

I also wrote a review of it which you can read here.

PODCAST TWO

In this one I speak with Professor David Miller of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

David Miller is the author/co-author/editor of several books including “A Century of Spin: How Public Relations Became the cutting Edge of Corporate Power” and “TELL ME LIES. Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq.” He is also the co-founder of http://www.spinwatch.org and http://www.spinprofiles.org. He occasionally appears on the BBC too,  including this rather amusing one from Newsnight.

In fact, in this podcast we discuss the BBC, it’s history and origins, how it has been controlled and manipulated by governments and how all this fits into the wider media context.

I hope the production is a little better on this one than the last.

If you go to THIS LINK HERE then you can listen to it online or download it as an mp3. You want the VBR MP3 link where it says ‘Audio Files’.

You can also LISTEN ONLINE HERE

Hope you like it and thank to ourmedia.org for making a great little service.

THE PEOPLE’S PREMIERE

Why not try to go along to the world’s biggest ever film premiere?

It is for the The Age of Stupid, which I posted about a while ago too.

If you live in the UK, it WILL be near you soon, and let’s not kid ourselves on here…if you don’t live in the UK then it will be downloadable soon enough.

The film was made by Spanner Films whose other films like McLibel [watch Mclibel free here] have been fantastic so this should be too. It is a film about climate change starring Pete Posthlewaite.

Ok, so I am going to make that home made potato and leek soup now and in the meantime rather than go with what the ‘biggies’ are saying about it, here are some quotes from members of the public who have been lucky enough to see it already…

PETER D – It’s a better film than many others and we could use it to mobilise local community action. Great film. Shows how easy it is for people to delude themselves that they are ‘green’ when in fact they are part of the problem.

SIMON – Fantastic film. Apart from the emotion of it all – it is the best articulation of the absurdity of modern life that I have ever seen.

JOANNA – It was great to have the opportunity to see the film after hearing so much about it. I must say that it more than lived up to expectations.

NO INNOCENT BYSTANDERS

OK. THIS IS PROBABLY THE START OF THE REVIEW

The songs in the making of this review were…

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, K. 622 – Mozart
Concerto in A ‘per eco in lontano’ – Vivaldi
Totally wired – The fall
Please be cruel – the Inspiral Carpets
I’m Free – The Who [I don’t really like that one but I was concentrating]
Fall – Devandra Banhart
Exit music for a film -Radiohead
This Charming Man -The Smiths
O’Sullivans March – The Chieftains
Il Gorilla – Fabrizio De Andre
Mars, the bringer of war – Gustav Holst
What makes you cry? – The Proclaimers
Your children aren’t special – Bill Hicks
From Fairy Ring Champion to False Pegasus – The Dials
How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side) – The Pointer Sisters

NO INNOCENT BYSTANDERS (Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial) – by Mickey Z

ADDITIONAL ASIDE NUMBER 1 – One can be ‘overwhelmed’ or ‘underwhelmed’ but have you have ever heard of anyone actually being ‘whelmed’? I think I remember something PG Wodehouse said about that, but I might be wrong. You can look it up, I’m busy.

I have been struggling what to say in reviewing this book.

For a start it is the first book that said it has a section inspired by me, usually people don’t tell me they were inspired by me. They say something like ‘Shut up’ or ‘Ok, you are right but you don’t have to be such a prick about it’.

So I was struggling but then I remembered watching the author on youtube and being somewhat amused at when he asked a crowd of supposed radicals to join with him and take a ‘non-conformist pledge’ or ‘non-conformist oath of allegiance’ or something like that. It seemed like a fair few of the audience fell for it.

Then it suddenly became clear to me. For the purposes of this review I have to be contrary.
THIS IS PROBABLY THE START OF THE REVIEW

Therefore, in the true spirit of revolt, I am reviewing the vegan, martial-arts expert, teetotal [I didn’t check that one], avid New Yorker author while I have been drinking, alone, in a house in the country, and have just eaten some very nice fish.

Q.Why am I doing this?

A. Because the style of the book is so strange that rather than explain it, I have just decided to ape it in this review.

This house in the country has a problem with mosquitoes. I have killed somewhere in the region of 14 of them today. In turn, somewhere in the region of 50 of them fed royally off me last night. I know that because when I killed them my blood sort of spurted out of them. There were no cows, sheep or assorted other large mammals around, so it must have been mine. At this particular moment with all my skin itching and more of the bastards buzzing around my ears waiting for a fresh meal I don’t have too much sympathy for the massacred. And I know I am getting it again tonight.

Of course, the traditional ways of dealing with the mozzies in ancient [a highly subjective term] times would have been covering yourself in mud or something if you happened to be out and about, or sitting by the fire if you were sitting still.

Both of those are things that won’t happen in our current society, or are at least highly unusual, and frowned upon.

So are a lot of the things that Mickey Z said in this book.

Like the mosquitoes I massacred, thousands of people are massacred every day – and to most people it means nothing. Unlike the mosquitoes I massacred, most of those people did nothing to me or to you. We are actually ingenious at finding ways to ignore that fact. Mickey Z  in this book has found an ingenious way to confront our collective disingenuity.

So I agree with the thrust of the book but what sparked this spirit of revolt in me against the flow of the book was Mozart. You see, he came on the random thing on my music player. I will make a list about that later, then I will put it somewhere in the review. I know some people on the left that would abuse me for bourgeois mentality or some such drivel, for just having Mozart’s music.

I don’t think Mickey Z would. I also think he would probably abuse some of the idiots that think like that, in a funny way of course. Just as none of the mosquitoes in my room are safe, there are no sacred cows on the left or right in this book. Maybe that is why he talks about killing Michael Moore and saving Condoleeza Rice.

Mickey Z Sez – Once upon a time I was eating lunch in a Virginia beach diner with a bunch of friends when we heard a deafening roar.

“What was that?” I bellowed.

Our waitress smiled and proudly replied: “That’s an F-14… the sound of freedom.”

OK, I AM NOT STARTING THIS REVIEW NOW

In our almost entirely commoditised world we think we can have everything immediately. The supermarket is always open, the tap can always be turned on. This book manages to give a sense of the immediacy of some the problems we are currently facing. The author brings our problems home by mixing some simple yet brutal statistics with looking at every day behaviour in the light of those statistics.

A story with a fat little boy eating a big mac in the back of an SUV is a few pages away from the fact that some rivers are now full of Prozac. A story about looking at breasts in a gym is near a story about someone being beaten to death in Guantanamo Bay. The effect is like flicking channels on a TV that is happily free from corporate propaganda. The information imparted is brutal but I would still much rather watch this kind of TV.

ADDITIONAL ASIDE NUMBER 2 – A lot of Scottish people take pride that John Logie Baird, a Scotsman, invented the TV. Personally, I think we should start apologizing…I’ll start… sorry world!

Also, Henry Rollins is between Carl Sagan and Adolf Eichmann, which I imagine is not a place he ever thought he would find himself.

As well as a sense of immediacy there is something like a sense of ‘finity’. Is ‘finity’ even a word? ‘Finiteness’ is, but spell check doesn’t seem to think ‘finity’ is, nor does dictionary.com, which is funny because we all know ‘infinity’ is a word. ‘Finity’ is probably a word we should start using given the current state of things.

Michael Greenwell sez – You can overfeed all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time but you can’t overfeed all of the people all of the time.

ADDITIONAL ASIDE NUMBER 3 – There are a few words like that…only negatives, no positive example. Have a think about it.

Even the title of the book should make you think. And yet, I imagine that there will be a few people who will read this book and still not connect it to themselves. So removed from physical reality have many people become that you could write a book called “-Insert Name Here ……………….. – It is all your fault” and some people wouldn’t get it.

Harold Pinter Sez – To maintain…power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.

I think this book could help a few people get the interest back, particularly the kind of people that would take a non-conformist pledge.

Mickey Z sez – I believe all this talk about “preserving our way of life” gets to the heart of the matter. “Our” way of life is precisely the issue.

I suggest you read it.

ADDITIONAL ASIDE  NUMBER 4 – The thing I did that inspired a section of the book was a film I made a few years ago about animal extinctions. You can watch it on youtube or if you prefer you can download a much higher quality copy.

JUST A SUGGESTION, THINKING OUT LOUD

Ok, this is hardly a major international crisis, but…

I have travelled a little and I always note the different names there are for the same places around the world…Paris/Par-ee is an obvious example but there are thousands more.

I have thought many times that it would be a courtesy from everyone to everyone else if we were all to call places by the name that the people who live there actually use, including the correct pronunciations.

This is not an appeal for a unified world language, far from it, I have written on this site many times how I think the loss of languages and cultures in the great clusterf*ck of modern life is a disaster.

Nevertheless, I think this small courtesy might not be a bad idea.

I was talking with a friend about this and we were talking about how ‘Peking’ was changed to ‘Beijing’ in order to make it closer to the Chinese pronunciation. My friend had recently spoken to a Chinese person who had informed him that the second pronunciation is no nearer to the correct Chinese pronunciation than the first.

But then again, China is huge place so there will be many different pronunciations within China. Therefore, the happy medium would probably be the one that the people of Beijing use.

As an aside…I am partly so aware of this because the capital city of Scotland is one of the most commonly mispronounced words in the world. Edinburgh should be pronounced Edin bur uh – with 2 ‘uh’ sounds like the letter ‘u’ in the word ‘but’ with the first ‘uh’ very quickly said and the second one extended a little. It should not be pronounced -Edin -BRO. Similarly, my own city of Glasgow is often pronounced Glass-cow, like a large bovine made of glass, but the pronunciation is actually Glaz-go. I believe the Russian capital is often pronounced by Americans as if it were a bovine made of moss.

This just came to mind today because last night I was talking with someone about how when it comes to modern writers everyone uses the modern pronunciation – the Italians do not say Giorgio Orwello.

However, when it comes to the ancient Greeks and Romans most languages do use their own pronunciations, which struck me as an oddity.

I don’t think if we started doing this it would bring about peace but it might in a tiny way stop certain idiots laughing at the sounds produced in other languages and make them learn to replicate them, thereby getting it into their thick skulls that there is more than one way to do things.