ArsTechnica has an interesting news tidbit observing some of the fallout from the California recall debacle. FCC rules require stations to give equal face time to candidates (excluding paid commercials, obviously) to prevent networks from plugging preferred candidates by featuring them on programming. Because of this, the Sci-Fi network has cancelled a scheduled run of Schwarzenegger movies to avoid being legally obligated to give equal air time to the other 35 candidates.
The best part, though, is that the are substituting a run of movies featuring California getting obliterated and destroyed. I love it when a sense of humor shows up in circumstances like these. The world needs a better sense of humor all the way around. (I'm not really capable of delivering it, but Suckful does a fair job most days.
As you can tell, no updates as of late. I found myself thinking more about things to write about here than on my dissertation, so I tried to step away from this. Turns out that I got even *less* work done on my dissertation. That doesn't mean I'm going to start blogging "regularly" again (I usually updated only 2 or 3 times a week anyway), but did want to at least post a mention of why the activity on the site has been the way it has.
I'd like to think that what I write is worth reading and i would love to build readership. OF course you have to keep updating to keep readers and I would hate to have the few people who visit this site lose interest entirely. Once my dissertation is signed, stamped, and sealed and life with baby is running smoothly, I'll be more regular.
Lots to talk about...
In keeping with my coattail surfing of my mentor and dream-date psh over at Suckful (who in turn is at the beck and call of Neil Pollack), I hearby commence a lengthy FAIR AND BALANCED! theme here at Gusalmighty.com. Look, I even updated our byline! If you are interested in what sparked this radical departure from my normally inane brain droppings, cruise over here and all will be explained. For the activists out there, be sure to engage your friends, neighbors, and bus driver about the line of tripe they are fed by America's Most Popular Cable News Channel and encourage them to break the circle of hypocrisy.
Incoming deadlines of a pregnancy, dissertation, jobs, and a general depression about the state of the world has kept me from updating lately, but these non-updates are FAIR AND BALANCED! I have to compile a list of hypocrisy by the US to augment my last post. I'm knee deep in study abroad literature right now though.
So enjoy the FAIR AND BALANCED! fair here at Gusalmighty.com.
I wonder if hypocrisy hasn't become so pervasive in American political and popular culture that we've forgotten not only what it means, but the impacts that it can have on others. We've come to accept hypocrisy as a natural state, and while we don't condone it per se, it isn't a shortcoming we hold people accountable for. We learn to live with it, making do and giving wiggle room as needed. This broad acceptance eventually facilitates incorporating skills for dealing with hypocrisy (both as creators and observers) into daily life.
This hypocrisy is rotting our culture from the inside. When we accept hypcocrisy in politics, we do condone it, because whatever we don't restrict is permissible. This encourages it, for it becomes canonical. More dangerous, though, is that hypocrisy in politics entails a lack of accountability. When we encourage behaviors that promote a seperation between actions and repercussions, let not a person be surprised when undesirable actions come to dominate. Politics becomes free from accountability and free from its responsibility to enact the people's will. The risk's of bringing bull to a china shop are well known.
But it doesn't stop there. Once a political body realizes how enjoyable it is to operate free from accountability to the opinions of its constituents, the intents of its founders, and even its own stated propositions, it is unlikely that it will easily distinguish between domestic and international areas of activity. Double speak and admonitions to "do as I say, not as I do" are accepted at home, the thinking goes, so why not abroad? Not only does this fail to recognize that domestic audiences have a voting connection to the government, but makes the fatal Is-Ought error: We are number one on the big dog pile, which means it is natural, intended, inherent, (even preordained!).
So now we are looking at a government body with no connection to the beliefs or opinions of its constituents or its neighbors. It doesn't even feel an obligation to remain true to its own stated goals, purposes, precepts, and notions. While it may still care enough about the electoral opinion to refrain from directly ignoring it, it doesn't actually listen to what is being said and take such opinions into consideration in the process of fulfilling its constitutional mandate of providing governance for, of, and by the people. Nay, it seeks to use the tools available to coerce opinions into line. Say it loud enough and long enough and everyone will eventually believe you. Now we have a government for the government, made up primarily of a small slice of the populace with access to the ears and wallets of the powerful, all provided by the discretionary budgets of massive corporations.
Why does the world hate us, we wailed following the first foreign civilian attacks on American soil. (Remember that we were attacked by an American, a soldier no less (dare to question his patriotism?), who was digusted with the un-American behavior of the government. Too bad his message was so easy to ignore because he killed so many children.) The answer to this question is easy, and I'm sure obvious to anyone who has read this far:
America is patholologically hypocritical. I say pathological because it has reached epidemic proportions and become so entrenched that it defines us, permeates ever nook and cranny of our thinking, an infection that precludes us from seeing it. Hidden right in front of us, we are incapable of seeing it, but more importantly, of seeing what it is doing to us.
Everyone is hypocritical to a degree. I know I am. It is difficult to live life according to our beliefs and without failing to uphold things we said. But the difference is that most people are aware of their hypocrisy (then again, maybe not). But even if they aren't, a hypocrite whose trangressions include smoking and drinking while telling their kids not to doesn't really do much but hurt the parent and perhaps condemn the kids to a life like theirs. But for the most part, the majority of people's actions are not hypocritical. We live good lives and generally can relied upon as role models.
Not the United States. I realized only recently that the country that I love and uphold as the greatest country in the world doesn't really exist outside of my beliefs. The ideas and morals that America was founded on are excellent, without reproach, and I'm proud to be alive to witness and experience life under the best political system primates have ever developed.
But the America that I believe doesn't exist in the real world. Our government and citizens act extremely un-American msot of the time. That is one of the great things about what American stands for though: you can do whatever you want, believe whatever you want, think whatever you want, hold whatever opinions you want, and we will still be here for you. So to point out that many Americans are not tolerant, free-speech loving people doesn't really matter as far as the constitutions (small c) of America goes.
But I will question their patriotism. Patriotism, in my mind, is more than just love for the country, and it sure as hell is NOT just support for the government. Patriotism is a commitment to the standards of what our country stands for, a commitment to condemn hypocrisy and actions that pervert these standards, and a willingness to criticize (and be criticized) that which you hold most dear. Patriotism is political toughlove, perhaps.
I intended to write about how American hypocrisy in Iraq is dooming our effort there, but I've run out of time and probably gone on too long to hold the attention of the 3 people who read this site. I'll try to get to that soon. It's a great example of how America's inability to see its own hypocrisy practically ensures our continued unpopularity and pattern of foreign policy failure.
NewScientist has a story with great art discussing how diet affects gene expression in mice. Mice fed different levels of nutrients gave birth to progeny with different colors of fur and differeing tendencies towards obesity and diabetes. This is only a rodent study, but the processes at work are likely to be involved in some way or another on other mammals at least.
Right now is such an exciting time in science because we are getting down to such details that expose the fundamental interconnected coherence of nature. Deconstruction has led us full circle to connections. Fascinating.
A report that the government is looking into a non-radioactive "liquid metal" tungsten alloy to replace depleted uranium for military ordinance. DU is an ultra-heavy metal extremely efficient at penetrating armor, hence its popularity. Although the government insists it is not a health hazard, this is not entirely assured. Researchers claim that vaporized DU and polluted soil can cause cancer and other diseases. A non-radioactive alternative would be nice, but I still think it would be best if we just stopped manufacturing and using these weapons at all. Is there really a need? Really?
Holy Bajoly, this is so relevant. John Gilmore has sued the government over their new rules created under the guise of security from terrorism that don't really provide any security but do end up making America a very un-American place to live. (Go read the Free to Travel FAQ for more). He refuses to fly within the United States because he rejects the notion that we have to provide identification to the system. At first I felt this stance was a bit extreme, perhaps too extreme to even be granted a hearing by Joe Public, but this guy has his head on straight.
He recently tried to fly to England for a vacation (he doesn't object to international passports, presumably because they are part of a non-American system of rules. ) He was wearing a "Suspected Terrorist" button on his lapel, but once airborne, a stewardess noticed it and notified the captian. When he refused to take it off (as well he should have, as it is a political statement pointing out that we are all considered terrorists), the captain turned the plane around, took him back to the US, and kicked him off the plane.
He then had a very interesting conversation with a British Airways employee about flying on their airline and his reasons for wearing the button. I won't go into everything here, but I really encourage you (actually I'd demand it, but you won't listen to me) to go read it. It isn't a long story, but it is really really important.
In his experience, we can see how society has changed in the worst ways following 9/11 and the USGov't's response to it. As painful as it is to realize these changes and know that they didn't have to happen, it is therein we find the silver lining and motivation to keep at this, namely, these changes can be undone. We must engage people though. One of the reasons media consolidation is so dangerous is that people don't talk abotu stuff anymore, at least not this kind of thing. We watch the pundits talk about it instead, never realizing that they aren't just having proxy conversations and discussions for us, but are imparting THEIR opinions on us while making us feel like we were partners in the argument. We need to, as a nation and population, talk about these things with each other. Maybe we need homework assignments...
This happened over a week ago, but the US House of Representatives (I love that name, if only the Senate felt the same way) has passed a bill that essentially overrides the recent changes proposed by the FCC that would allow media companies to control up to 45% of a single TV market. There is a CNET story here.
From what I gather, this new bill doesn't address the relaxation of limits on cross-ownership which will allow a single media organization to control multiple media outlets such as TV, radio, and newspaper. I also seem to remember reading somewhere else that this was actually a rider on a larger bill, so the 400-12 vote count may not be reliable with regard to the opinions of the HoR voters. Furthermore, this bill needs to pass Senate and Oval Office muster and there are legitimate voices (legitimate in the eye's of the President, that is) advising him to veto it. We'll see what happens.
People really need to be more aware of how their attitudes and opinions are influenced by the media. The 4 people who read this blog are probably pretty well aware and the changes to the media landscape that big business is trying to bring about won't affect us that much. But geeks are a small, small percentage of the nation (at least small % of TV viewers, notice how the geek-loved shows like Futurama and Farscape didn't last) and we need to be worried about the greater percentages who just live their lives in consumer ignorance, blind to the subtle pressures that the media puts on them. Remember that 50% of the US population (assuming we can trust polls, something I'm beginning to question) thought that Iraq was involved in 9/11. Pure media manipulation, that, and it woulkdn't have happened if we had a free press in our country.