Sunday, December 26, 2004

CNN to Asians: "Over 10,000 of your friends and family are dead, but the big story is that Nate Berkus is a-okay."

Regarding these recent headlines:

• U.S. begins tsunami relief; 3 Americans among dead

• 'Oprah' regular survives tsunami devastation

Are the lives lost in the earthquake and tsunami in Asia worth so little that the only ones that seem count are the three America's dead?

Is so sucked into the world of celebrity they need to devote space to a minor celebrity that simply survives the flooding and earthquakes? Have you become so fluff-centric that a 300 word story about him makes the upper right corner of your news page?

I understand the desire to customize and personalize the news to draw people in, but your use of these two groups (Americans and celebrities) to draw people into this international disaster story simply trivializes this tragedy. By trying to make this about Americans and celebrities, you have yet again done a disservice to the intelligence and of level of compassion of your readers. Unfortunately this has become the norm for and not an exception.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bush: What is he saying? Middle finger?

From James Polling's Blog
At 16 minutes 49 seconds in his press conference Bush stops mid-sentence looks down and says something that seems like an aside to his handlers or something. It is very weird, kind of like the "let me finish" stuff. I've created a clip of him saying it and applying various different audio filters. I don't want to bias people so watch the clip then listen to the various versions with filters.

Bush Comment with multiple filters

Windows Media 17 seconds

Filters used.
1) None
2) Highpass
3) Lowpass
4) Notch and hum 60hz
5) Notch and hum 120hz
6) Remove 60hz, 120, 400, 1000, 2000

I think he is saying "needle finger or middle finger" what do you think?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Corrupt Wall Street Elites Will Destroy Social Security

To: Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo
Fr: Spocko, Spocko's Brain

Just read your post on Social Security. I’ve been thinking about this a lot ever since I heard a very depressed Paul Krugman talk about this issue right after the election. He said, "They’ll figure out some way to cook the books to make it seem like a good thing to do."

This administration will use the same methods and tactics for this campaign to destroy Social Security as they did with the build up to war and the election of the President. We need to fight back in methods that have proven effective. And one of the issues that you are getting at with your post about the organized groups is they have the trained spokespeople and the money. Will it take an emotional appeal to people who only watch TV to convince them that this particular plan is bad? Will it take aggressive smart people to argue with the paid off elites from AEI, Heritage and other stink tank clones on the bullshit morning shows? Will it take getting the evangelicals to come out of the shadows and say, "Destroying Social Security is not in Jesus’ will."? It will probably take ALL those methods and more.

Rove had an insightful comment that they should create campaigns to reach people who "watch TV with the sound off." I also think that they understood the power of the 24/7 articulation of fears and selfish supportive arguments from Rush, Hannity, Savage and their clones. In this campaign both the "TV with no sound" audience and the talk radio listener need to be reached and the negative messages they get from Rove and Rush must be neutralized and a different message given to them to put in it’s place. Maybe something like "Do you want the corrupt Wall Street elites to steal your children’s money? They will. They will lose it like they did in Enron. They will lie to you like the analysts did who lost all your 401K money. These are the people who are going to throw away your hard earned money. They do it all the time. Vodka-urinating ice sculptures anyone? You say you don’t trust government but can you really trust THESE people? (Images of perpwalkers follow.)

An effective campaign would understand the power of funny flash ads and smearing swift boat ads. People need to think about this campaign to "destroy social security for a kickback to the securities industry" like a presidential campaign, because that is how the Bush Administration will run the support for it.

I had the idea of creating a funny flash ad that talks about what Social Security was created for, and why the president wanted to destroy it "in the name of reform". It would have some songs some funny pictures and make a point or two about what a bad idea this was. But I don’t have the technical knowledge to create it and push it out (not to mention the money.) But remember how MoveOn got people to create all those Ads for the presidential campaign? Maybe the 527s with leftover money could ask for creative people to do the same with ads about Social Security. Think about the coverage Jib Jab flash ad got. MILLIONS saw it, I’d hire those guys to make one on Social Security and why the president wants to destroy it.

Oh and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you! (I didn’t say Merry Christmas just to piss off the creators of the fake Christmas controversy.)

Spocko. Author of Spocko's Brain, the blog that is sweeping the nation. Now with 6 readers!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

1938 it was Hitler; 1939 it was Stalin; 2004 it is Bush. All Named Time's Person of the Year

1939: Joseph Stalin
Paved the way for Hitler's war by signing secret pact with old enemy

1938: Adolf Hitler
His figure strode over Europe with all the swagger of a conqueror

• President Bush Named Time's Person of 2004

Remember, as Time reminds us "The magazine gives the honor to the person who had the greatest impact, good or bad, over the year".

And yes, I'm aware of "Goodwin's Law" which is a law in the same sense that "Murphy's Law" is a law. "Goodwin's Law" is merely a useful shorthand to describe something he noticed about Usenet discussions.

The same day I hear about Bush as person of the Year I read,
"Najaf, Karbala Car Bombs Kill at Least 62" and the excellent business editor David Lazarus's column on the crippling 412 billion dollar deficitthat this administration has brought us.

Some things will be revealed in the fullness of time. "The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones."

We have short attention spans for some things, but we hold on to misconceptions and grudges long after the reality has proved different. We spend the money NOW. Will we associate the pain of that outrageous spending with these people later? When will we really feel the consequences? When we do who will we blame? Bush or will we look elsewhere for the reason?

Specific immediate analogy to Americans this season:
We buy the gifts NOW. If we overspend beyond our means will we feel the pain of the bill later? We know there will be consequences, but postponing them for 30, 60, or 90 days seems to make it bearable. But what if after we buy all the geegaw we want we say, "Say Son I can't pay all this, I need you to cover the bill." What do you think the Son's response would be? "Okay Dad, I know we really needed those Gold-plated SUVs" or will he say, "If I knew I was going to have to pay for this, I sure as hell wouldn't have authorized gold plating for all those SUV! What gives you the right to spend money and make ME pay!"

Who would we blame for this behavior? Ourselves? Or will we want to look elsewhere for the problem?

Monday, December 13, 2004

FCC: Hate Speech Okay. Pixilated Breasts Not Okay.

I submitted this complaint to the FCC on May 14th. I never heard back from them. Maybe because they only listen to the Parents Television Council who are responsible for 99.8% of all complaints to the FCC.

Since hate speech with intent to incite violence is protected speech(why?)but language that describes patently offensive excretory organs is not, I focused on putting that part of his hate tirade in this FCC complaint.

Remember Kids, the FCC themselves say, Filing a Complaint with the FCC Is EASY. Just remember, Violent hate speech is okay, so watch for those dirty words and exposed nipples and prepare to be offended!

Dear FCC:
I would like to file a complaint about a recent Michael Savage broadcast.

On May 11, 2004, during his regularly scheduled broadcast between 4 pm to 7pm PDT on radio station KNEW 910 am broadcast in San Francisco, CA -- I heard the following comment by Michael Savage regarding the prisoners held in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

Instead of putting joysticks I'd like to have seen dynamite put in their orifices and they should be dropped from airplanes. How's that? You like that one? Go call someone that you want to report me to, see if I care. They should put dynamite in their behinds and drop them from 35,000 feet, the whole pack of scum out of that jail.
--Michael Savage on The Savage Nation heard on KNEW radio, broadcast in San Francisco, CA.

I find his comments repulsive and obscene. In addition to inciting lawless, horrific violence be committed by American soldiers to the men, women and children detained in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, his comments may also be indecent, The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.

I have attached the clip of the specific comments I'm referring to. In order to hear them in context, I've also attached a clip of the comments before and after the comments in question. Other clips and transcriptions can also be found at Media Matters.

You may note that KNEW's owner, Clear Channel, has recently instituted a zero tolerance policy for indecent content.

Mays said the company will institute a zero tolerance policy for indecent content which will include company-wide training and automatic suspensions for anyone that the FCC alleges has violated indecency rules on the air.

If the FCC accuses us of wrongdoing by issuing a proposed fine, we will take immediate action, Mays said. We will suspend the DJ in question, and perform a swift investigation. If we or the government ultimately determine the offending broadcast is indecent, the DJ will be terminated without delay, Mays said.

John Hogan, Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel Radio added, If a DJ is found to be in violation of FCC rules, there will be no appeals and no intermediate steps. If they break the law by broadcasting indecent material, they will not work for Clear Channel. In addition, the company announced that all of its contracts with on-air performers are being modified to ensure that DJs share financial responsibility if they utter indecent material on the air.

Below is the address of KNEW 910 am and it's program schedule in San Francisco, CA showing the hours that he broadcasts.

Talk 910 KNEW
340 Townsend Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Business Line: 415.975.5555

Monday through Friday

Michael Savage-- Pre-Show Warm Up
4 PM - 7 PM:
Michael Savage -- The Savage Nation
7PM - 10PM:
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.


Mr. Spocko
1234 Fake St.
Springfield, USA

cc: Carl Levin, Senator Michigan, Armed Services, Ranking Member
Howard Berman, Congressman 28th District California, member FCC oversight committee
Lowry Mays, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Clear Channel
Andrew W. Levin, Executive Vice President for Law and Government Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, Clear Channel
Ed Krampf Regional Vice President for Clear Channel Radio
60 Minutes II, CBS News
Mark de la Viña, Mercury News
Jack Messmer, Executive Editor, Radio Business Report
Don Asmussen, San Francisco Chronicle,
Cass R. Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Dist. Service Prof. of Jurisprudence, Law School, Dept. of Political Science and the College
University of Chicago Law School

Saturday, December 11, 2004

CBS News: Bush "Fit for Duty"

You know the gloating just won't stop until they get nailed with something they can't explain away. They are just rubbing it in with the comment that the President is "fit for duty". Do you suppose that statement is meant to echo John Kerry's "reporting for duty" comment? Nah. That would just be childish.

What would Homer Simpson say about this? "Ah, let the baby have his bottle." Ah, the wisdom of the cartoon folk shall guide us.

In the past I have questioned the President's health and wondered if he was hiding something. According to these doctors (all licensed professionals who I'm sure would never lie about such an important thing as the President's health) Bush is, "in superior health overall for a man his age."
"It lets the White House say, 'We told you so,' in response to those who raised concerns because Mr. Bush had delayed his annual physical from last August, to now," notes CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.
Gee thanks for clearing that up Mark. I wonder if we should have some independent third party doctors look at him.

I guess it isn't necessary, because I can't imagine a medical doctor lying about something for political purposes. I mean we are about two purges and one Supreme Court Justice away from becoming a fascist state. I do have to give them credit for not killing the opposition. It is so much nicer when the opposition does themselves in and you fool a gullible public. So we've got that going for us.

Anywhozzel, if Bush gets sick in office of liver cancer or some other ailment it lets Spocko's Brain say, "I told you so."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

CNN to Pentagon, "We're helping you! See! We are drawing focus from the tragic real story to a meta-story about the media!"

Some times I go to CNN with the hope of finding out about some breaking news story. I gird my loins, hold my breath and look. 8 times out of 10 there is some BIASed Foxiffied missing-the-point crap. I suppose anything goes when you have to fill space 24/7 and you can't do real journalism because it costs money and it might not please the President.

Instead of doing a more in-depth story about why all vehicles in Iraq aren't armored correctly, they focus on a story about the question. Who asked it and did he have any help asking the question? And they run another follow-up on the story about the embedded editor and written by the AP about whether or not the Chattanooga Times editor of Edward Lee Pitts, should have mentioned that Pitts helped the soldier frame the question.

Dear CNN. Stop focusing on the story about the question.
Why not focus on the real issues?
Why did this journalist even have to go this route?
Those soldiers’ lives depend on the Sec. of Defense protecting them with correct equipment.
This wasn't an idle policy gottcha question.
This is life and death.
It's not about physics. It's about politics and priorities and failure to execute.

Because this administration will not give decent access to the press, this journalist, who is embedded in the unit (the 278th Regimental Combat Team, a Tennessee National Guard outfit preparing for deployment to Iraq) helped a few soldiers frame a question for Rumsfeld. It wasn't a "fake question" it was something the soldier needed to know for his unit. Those 2300 cheers weren't fake. If I have an editor review my copy to make my argument better, does that make the point of the argument moot? No. When Tiger Woods golf coach (yes he has one) tells him that he needs to soften his stance when he is swinging on a hill does that mean the golf coach's doing the swinging? No. Tiger has the intention. Tiger swings the club, he just gets advice from someone who can see the big picture from the outside and knows what will work in this situation based on his experience.

It is now almost a reflex of the White House to focus on the questioner every time someone points out what they are doing wrong. Fox, CNN and the rightwing nutball echo chamber of Drudge, Rush, Hannity and lesser assholes now do the White House's work for them. They never question the motivations or the background of people who ask bullshit softball questions to the President at his loyalty oath vetted appearances. That would seem to be "attacking the President". Well I call bullshit on this practice. From now on everyone who asks a softball question to the president needs to be checked into just like this Army Spc. Thomas Wilson. I mean it's the "fair and balanced" thing to do, right?

This was the first headline.

Reporter planted GI's question for Rumsfeld

This was the follow-up story headline.
Editor: Disclosure was needed on armor query

Gee CNN. Where are these story?
"Armor-gate! Sec. of Defense fails to protect troops due to policy blinders"
"Sec. of Defense doesn't answer reporter's questions, reporters resort to other tactics for straight answers."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

If you don't count the dead do they count?

After today's release about the 1000th COMBAT death in Iraq I got to wondering again how many coalition troops have died from anything related to the Iraq war. What is left out of the totals? I've heard (and I'm trying to tract down the source)that people who die from injuries obtained in Iraq aren't counted in the total number of dead. If you are wounded and you die 2 days later in a German hospital, are you counted? If not, what is that number? I'd like to know.

Here is the letter I sent to the Soldiers for The Truth website editor Ed Offley.

Ed Offley
Soldiers For The Truth
Editor Defense Watch

Hi Ed:

I was listening to the radio the other day and a guest said that the Pentagon doesn't count in their total the people who die because of injuries sustained during their time in Iraq. He said the actual number of people who died later (either in a hospital in Germany or soon after they arrive at home) was closer to 3,500. Is this true?

I’ve read elsewhere that the number of actual dead is classified.

The reason I ask is that I just noticed today that it appears the Pentagon is REnumbering deaths based on KIA vs. KIA and accidents.

Is there a resource that adds up all the soldiers who died in any way related to Iraq?
Does this number include independent contractors? Does it include people who die of Iraq war related injuries, diseases or stress-related suicide?

Finally, do you think there a concerted political effort to minimize the total number of coalition dead as a result of this war by splitting the causality totals into several different categories so the America public doesn’t see a much bigger number?

If there is a resource with this info I would appreciate a link. Thank you.


Monday, December 06, 2004

The Atrocity Archives

No I'm not talking about Rummy's file cabinet(although I'm sure it would qualify).
It's a new book by one of my current favorite authors, Charles Stross.

I REALLY liked this book. I was thinking about what to tell you about this book: Envision "Hellboy meets Office Space."

You have all the scary occult Nazi weirdness of Hellboy combined with the cult humor of the software developers from Initech.

Charles comes from the computer IT world and for those in the know, there are a bunch of inside jokes that might go over the heads of non-computer savvy players. How 'bout Business Software Alliance as a front for real evil doers. Not that far from the truth!

What was especially nice was a hero who had to deal with the day to day stupid bureaucratic stuff while fighting demons from another realm.

And instead of going the fantasy route as the source of the demons, Stross uses high-level mathematics, quantum physics and theories about multiple universes as his way into the realm of strange characters. I just finished reading the book The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force
which addressed the whole issue of how the observer can collapse a probability wave and then BAM, Stross includes a reference to this in his book! Cool!

What if the weird monsters from the occult were in fact intelligences from parallel universes? What if at the same time our understanding of quantum physics grew and knowledge of how it works is used to make powerful weapons, we also started understanding how the occult works and we used that knowledge to make weapons? It’s a nice conceit and he pulls it off consistently.

Stross really has a great "voice". I read his book Iron Sunrise first and really enjoyed it. I didn't know that it was the second book in a series (which is VERY frustrating because now I have to wait till 2005 for the next!). I went back and read the first book,(Singularity Sky) and although it was enjoyable, I felt he had grown as an author. Either that or I just liked the characters and the plotting of the Iron Sunrise better.

I find his characters interesting, but one thing that I often find frustrating is the hyper-competence of certain characters in science fiction. His main character in The Atrocity Archives is inexperienced and makes some mistakes because of it, but is still amazingly smart. His boss's boss is almost supernaturally smart. The bureaucratic bad guys are cartoon-like in their personalities. Toning down the intelligence of the good guys and bring up the intelligence of the bad guys would make the book even more powerful and realistic (which is something that I think this kind of book needs to offset the fantastic elements). His use of his computer admin chores are so grounded in reality it adds credibility to the story when two pages later he is conjuring level 3 demons from another universe. (Of course jokes about the daemons in UNIX and the demons in other realms are such an easy pun he smartly leaves it out of this book).

One thing that struck me after reading this book was a sadness about America and a fear for our future. I think that after the recent election I don't believe that the super smart people are in control. Maybe they never were, but I had a naïve confidence that there are people who know the horrors of war and mutual assured destruction who work to keep us out of war and off the path of global annihilation. You hoped that because someone like Colin Powell had seen war up close he would make sure it was a last resort tactic and one that was well planned to ensure success. Chicken Hawks in office don’t have the sense memory of human destruction that active military have. Would George W. Bush or Dick Cheney have chosen a different course if they had seen the horrors of war? Do they see them now? Bush only sees them on his television screen. And as we know, that isn’t as powerful as first person experiences. The political bureaucrats have taken over the show and have convinced themselves that they have control over the fundamental powers of the universe because they control the media and the perceptions of 51% of the population. It's the difference between authority and leadership. Between accepting the responsibility of power because you have seen what happens when it is misused and wanting the power as your birthright because you think you know better and that history is for losers.

My favorite SF deals with current issues in another form and this one does just that, it will be interesting to see where he goes with the world of the Atrocity Archives. I would like to see more "realism" in this world. The old guard with the institutional memory dying off and the political suck ups taking over and having to bear the consequences of their lack of understanding, history, responsibility and overall hubris.

I long for that kind of justice in America, but I might not see it in my lifetime. It would be nice to see it in a science fiction book.

P.S. If Charles Stross happens to stumble on this post while he is avoiding work and Googling his own name (we all do it Charles) I just wanted you to know I love your politics too, we share a lot of the same views. Put me on your blogroll! I also enjoyed your minibook review, I'm working my way through your recommendations.

Hellboy meets

Office Space. Red Stapler! I've got one!
Don't forget to fill out your TPS reports everyone!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

They put the FUN in fundamentalism

Want to talk to the "Lie Girls?"

Flag-waving, Bible-Thumping Babes Are Waiting For You
To Help Them Spread Freedom...

These Girls Pose a Grave and Gathering Threat - To Your Pants.

Safe for Work.
Very Funny.
Great Parody. Don't ask me how I know it is a parody of the real thing.