Issue #2 of The Dominion is available in pdf for printing and html for online viewing.
- Iraq Briefs: US occupation to last 10 years?
- Media Regulation at home and abroad
- Matt Brennan on music censorship
- Yuill Herbert and Karen Gorecki on the environmental impact of cruise ships
- John Haney on the Wayzgoose festival of the printing arts
- Heather Meek's comics
- Dru Oja Jay on banks' gouging of interest rates and service charges
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YellowTimes.org: 'American journalism: Objectivity and reverence''. A piece on the difference between American and British approaches to journalism.
As I observe it, the mainstream American approach to objectivity has two levels to it:
First, you have to choose a story. Since objectivity is important, you can't just make up a question and answer it (even if you do so objectively). You have to choose news that is objectively important. Otherwise, you're biased. Objectivity, though, is not a way of coming up with questions, but a method of answering questions, so it doesn't suit this purpose at all. But that would involve admitting bias, which makes things complicated, so they fudge it: whatever seems to be important to most people, is important.
This starts off innocently enough; it's almost democratic, in a hamfisted way. Everyone agrees that the president is important. Therefore, we cover what the president says.
The second level of objectivity has to do with answering the question that the report is implicitly asking. But the question has been obviated by the procedure of objectivity: it becomes a tautology. "The president is holding a press conference" becomes "what did the president say at the press conference?"
What remains of objectivity, then, is relegated to the accurate rendering of what the president said.
The problem with this, which should be completely obvious to everyone, is that what is objectively important to cover is what people with power and influence say. The reporter can't just ask a question, and answer it.
"Did Ari Fleisher just tell a lie on behalf of the President?" Even if there is a perfectly objective way to answer this question, the reporter can't ask it, because it's not objective. "What?" you ask, "how could a question possibly not come from one standpoint or another?" I don't know, but this is the inane justification for a large part of the complete toothlessness of our journalists.
Of course, much worse abuses take place on a daily basis. Entire reports are assigned and written just to placate advertisers or those with power or influence (boardroom pals, rotary club buddies... whatever the scale). This bizarre definition of objectivity doesn't make that happen. People make that happen. But the bizarre interpretation provides a structure that makes pleasing those in power a lot easier.
What's wrong with this: ask any question you think is worth asking, as long as you answer it in a way that is fair and well-documented. There would still be plenty of room to ask extremely limited or leading questions, but there would be just a bit less justification for not asking the really uncomfortable questions.
As you've likely noticed, I have started a new category on misnomer: "excerpt". I hope to use it to post passages from books that I read, at least once a week.
A few of my reasons for doing this:
- Sometimes it seems that the worlds of online text and that of books are more divided than they should be.
- I find much of what I read in books to be more substantial or fundamentally interesting than what I read online; this may say more about my online reading habits than anything, but I nonetheless find it to be the case.
- When I look for information about a book, I am delighted to be able to read a part of it, however small (as opposed to reading endless reviews, of it, say)
- I find the passage to be delightful, thought-provoking, true, useful, or about something that I'd like to think more about.
- Because I want to be able to come back and read about was interested in ten years ago.
Hopefully that will be enough to keep me motivated to spend ten minutes typing someone elses' words once a week.
"If repetition is possible, it is as much opposed to moral law as it is to natural law. There are two known ways to overturn moral law. One is by ascending towards the principles: challenging a law as secondary, derived, borrowed or 'general'; denouncing it as involving a second-hand principle which diverts an original force or usurps an original power. The other way, by contrast, is to overturn the law by descending towards the consequences, to which one submits with a too-perfect attention to detail. By adopting the law, a falsely submissive soul manages to evade it and to taste pleasures it was supposed to forbid. We can see this in demonstration by asbsurdity and working to rule, but also in some forms of masochistic behaviour which mock by submission. The first way of overturning the law is ironic, where irony appears as an art of principles, of ascent towards the principles and of overturning principles. The second is humour, which is an art of consequences and descents, of suspensions and falls. Must we understand that repetition appears in both this suspense and this ascent, as though existence recommenced and 'reiterated' itself once it is no longer constrained by laws? Repetition belongs to humour and irony; it is by nature transgression or exception, always revealing a singularity opposed to the particulars subsumed under laws, a universal opposed to the generalities which give rise to laws."
Some books I've read, or read parts of, in the past month or so. I feel confident in recommending all of them, for reasons that vary by book.
Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy?, by Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite
Shooting the Stars, by John Metcalf
Making it New: Contemporary Canadian Stories, edited by John Metcalf
Facsimilies of Time: Essays on Poetry and Translation, by Eric Ormsby
Social Torment: Globalization in Atlantic Canada, by Thom Workman
Strong Motion, by Jonathan Franzen
How to be Alone, by Jonathan Franzen
Taft, by Ann Patchett
The Unconscious Civilization, by John Ralston Saul
Difference and Repetition, by Gilles Deleuze
Foucault, by Gilles Deleuze
Difference and Repetition, by Gilles Deleuze
Essays Critical and Clinical, by Gilles Deleuze
Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke
Representations of the Intellectual, by Edward Said
Bob Harris: Why I'm voting for Kucinich over Dean. An interesting comparison of the positions of both candidates, which leaves Dean looking much less like the progressive that some people think him to be.
Tom Tommorrow writes:
Is this what it's come to? A non-binding, online referendum, the summer before the primary season really heats up--and you're not willing, even at this early point, to vote for the candidate you actually prefer?The Democrats' weak-kneed, irrational desire to placate everyone to their right has few limits. We knew this, I think.
Let me repeat, I'm not endorsing anyone here. And I'm not sayng the electability concern isn't valid.
But if you want any hope of ever having a progressive voice at the table, at some point you've got to show some support for said progressive voice. And this seems about as low-risk a way to do it as is humanly possible. This isn't November 2000 in Florida, and Kucinich ain't Ralph Nader. This is, as I say, a non-binding, nonscientific online referendum. And Kucinich isn't a third-party challenger--he's playing within the rules of the Democratic party's primary process, and in the (probable, I would guess) event that he does not secure the nomination, he's pledged to support the Democrat who does, whoever it may be.
Vote for Dean, vote for Kucinich--just, for god's sake, vote for the candidate who represents what you believe--not the candidate you imagine other people might prefer.
Google AdSense is an ad service for small publishers.
I've had this song stuck in my head off and on for quite a while. Perhaps, I thought, transcribing the whole thing and posting it here would somehow help with that. The rap song in question is called 'Ahm the System', written and performed by mcenroe, who makes intelligent, high quality Canadian hip-hop. It might also be good to direct some attention towards Peanuts and Corn, the label he runs. There, one can find even more good Canadian hip-hop. I recommend it. (And dang, I hadn't noticed that mcenroe's new album, disenfranchised is finally out. That's good news.)
The song goes something like this, though I have no idea if it comes across as well in text as it does performed as verse (I've still got the song in my head, you ee...). Take my word that it works well in the latter format.
I tow your car away
for not bein' on the payment
so better get used to
the sweet smell of pavement
investor equity [??]
because we doubt that you'll get it back anytime soon
for years I've teased you
you're dad's on TV
your glamourous lifestyle
a cost that's measly
so easily you were hooked
at the chrome trim was all it took
I saw ya comin
welcome to the system
where history's being rewritten continuously
offering protection conditionally
unless you occupy a certain section
(I'll) fix your sickness
and clean your teeth
but there's a line that you don't wanna fall beneath
and if you do then I can't guarantee your safety
it's the ones that need me
that always hate me
ahm the system and you better decide
are you rallying against me or along for the ride
ahm the system and without me you're lost
I can work to your advantage but there's always a cost
ahm the system and let's face it you're mine
they say justice is blind but my eyesight's fine
ahm the system and I shouldn't be new to ya
here's what I'ma do to ya
put you in handcuffs and sign an attorney
try you in a court where all sides work for me
show you the news while I raise an army
promise you the world
make you love you country
I take your picture and issue ID
dim the lights so I make you ugly
check your hearing
test your eyesight
change any law just to make sure I'm right
I'm the one that teaches
your dumb kids to think alike
boys in blue and girls that wear pink
I'm your babysitter and father figure
my only purpose is to make myself bigger
coz my power is endless
it's never enough
I need obedience
and I want your love
I call you reckless and
knock you senseless
ensure your safety
leave you defenseless
pave the roads
and erect the fences
I built your home
said want the rent is
and if you don't pay
then you're evicted
if you still don't pay
then you're convicted
and it all went the way
that I predicted
and you don't have a say
against the system
I provide the food
and I suggest ground beef
I'm the noisy neighbor
that you're livin' beneath
and you can't complain
coz I'm the landlord,
superintendent and the man you work for
whether on welfare or in the workforce
you're just a number to me
just another workhorse
you've been replaced and replaced again
I'm your worst enemy and I'm your closest friend
I'll take everything away to make you believe
coz I saw you on the way in
and I'll watch you leave
Reuters: 'Apocalypse Now' Music Fires Up U.S. Troops for Raid
U.S. troops psyched up on a bizarre musical reprise from Vietnam war film "Apocalypse Now" before crashing into Iraqi homes to hunt gunmen on Saturday, as Shi'ite Muslims rallied against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.With Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" still ringing in their ears and the clatter of helicopters overhead, soldiers rammed vehicles into metal gates and hundreds of troops raided houses in the western city of Ramadi after sunrise as part of a drive to quell a spate of attacks on U.S. forces.Not quite as deeply sick as showing porn to fighter pilots before sending them on bombing missions. For those who haven't seen Apocalypse Now, here's a description of the scene in question:
In one of the most famous scenes in Apocalypse Now Lt Col Kilgore's [played by Robert Duvall] troops attack a VC village. They have loudspeakers attached to the helicopters and right before the attack they turn them on. As Kilgore says : "We'll come in low, out of the rising sun, and about a mile out, we'll put on the music... Yeah, I use Wagner -- scares the hell out of the slopes! My boys love it !" The song is of course "The Ride of the Valkyries", from Wagner's opera Die Walküre.Strange that the army of liberation would make a direct reference to "freaking out" Vietnamese civilians.
While I figure out what to do with misnomer, and get into a routine that allows me to do it, I've been posting a lot of material to the Dominion Weblog. If you ever came to misnomer for the obsessive war and news coverage, the Dominion weblog'll be the place to be for the forseeable future.
Having concluded my winding bus and hitchhiking journey o'er this vast continent, I'm back in Washington State. It's the nth time that I've returned, but I haven't yet managed to avoid being freshly amazed by how gorgeous it is here. (Montana and North Dakota were also stunning, but not in a 'I'd like to live there' way.)
I'll be working part time while I try to get The Dominion off the ground. My current plan is to move to Halifax in the fall, hopefully with funding and a substantial audience for the paper. (Actually, Canada is so small that a great number of folks have heard about the paper; it only remains to deliver good material on a regular basis.)
As usual: if you're in Seattle or Vancouver, say so, and I'll drop in for a chat when I'm (inevitably) in town.
That links to a page which allows you to send a letter to your representative or senator, asking them to overturn the FCC's insane "deregulation" of cross media ownership, among other things. Apparently, the Senate Commerce Comittee is actually considering a bill that would do just that.
A bit of wisdom from IF Stone: "The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you're going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got be willing -- for the sheer fun and joy of it -- to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it."
Jeffery St. Clair: Why the Generals Hate the A-10
Of course, the most damning factor against the A-10 in the eyes of the generals is the fact that it is old, ugly and cheap-especially cheap. The Air Force generals are infatuated with big ticket items, new technology and sleek new machines. The fastest way to a promotion inside the Air Force is to hitch your name to a rising new weapons system, the more expensive the better. When it comes time to retire, the generals who've spent their careers pumping new weapons systems are assured of landing lucrative new careers with defense contractors.