Crawl Across the Ocean

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Video Creates the Political Star

A little while ago I quoted these words,
"I once was lucky enough to have a long conversation with Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre. At one point he expressed his belief that television has proven too much for humanity. He suggested that we should gracefully admit defeat, obliterate television, and then possibly match wits with it again after another twenty million years of evolution. As Bergman put it, "TV too much for monkey man. Will try again later."

On that topic, here is an article that I highly recommend reading. It talks about how Silvio Berlusconi used the media to gain and consolidate power in Italy and discusses how similar tactics are being used more and more often in the United States.

In concluding, the author, Alexander Stille, notes,
"That there are strong parallels between the Italian and American situations is not coincidental. Italy is the European country that has come closest to following the American model of commercial TV. Both Italian and American media are the products of a period of intense deregulation in the 1980s that has produced ever-greater concentration of ownership and a system devoid of any real antitrust or equal-access rules."

With that in mind, here is something worth paying attention to.

"The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry, today tabled in Parliament a proposed policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). It is the first time since the adoption of the Telecommunications Act that such a policy direction has been issued to the CRTC. This is the first step in the government's plan to issue a formal policy direction to the CRTC.

"Tabling this document signals the government's intention to direct the CRTC to rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible under the Telecommunications Act and regulate — where there is still a need to do so — in a manner that interferes with market forces to the minimum extent necessary," said Minister Bernier. "All Canadian consumers will benefit from a stronger competitive environment that will bring greater choice and even lower prices and better services."

Of course, when he was talking about greater choice, I guess he wasn't referring to this kind of thing:
"Bell Globemedia’s purchase of CHUM Ltd. will radically reshape broadcasting in Canada, critics say, leaving only two major private media conglomerates, CanWest Global and Bell Globemedia."

Perhaps it hasn't occurred to Bernier and co. that 'relying on market forces' and promoting a market with a lot of diversity of choices aren't always complementary activities.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Sad Day

Glenn Greenwald has the details:

"There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest. Our laws reflect our values and beliefs. And our laws are about to explicitly codify one of the most dangerous and defining powers of tyranny -- one of the very powers this country was founded in order to prevent."


"we are now about to vest in the President the power to order anyone -- U.S. citizen, resident alien or foreign national -- detained indefinitely in a military prison regardless of where they are -- U.S. soil or outside of the country. American detainees are cut off from any meaningful judicial review and everyone else is cut off completely. They can be subject to torture with no recourse, and all of this happens on the unchecked say-so of the administration. Really, what could be more significant than this?"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Two Points That Seem Inarguable to Me

1. Politically, the U.S. is in a terrible state.

2. The simplest summary of our current Conservative government's agenda is that they want Canada to be more like the U.S.

Given point 1., it seems odd that anyone would vote for point 2.

As an aside, am I the only one who finds it a little oxymoronic that a 'Conservative' government is cutting funding to museums?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Little Thoughts

The trouble with vacations is - no, not the work that piles up while you're gone - that's a trouble, but not the trouble. No, the trouble with vacations is that they give some perspective on the blah blah blah that makes up your daily life when you're not on vacation. The kind of perspective that leads one to characterize their daily life as 'blah blah blah'.

Maybe there are people who don't get this feeling. People who are eager to return from vacation to resume all the meaningful and fulfilling things they were doing before they were interrupted. Or maybe this never happens, because the people who would feel that way don't (need to) take vacations.

I don't know. But being back 'in touch', I find that all the disparate irritants - the U.S. government in solemn debate over whether to effectively declare the Geneva Conventions obsolete, tragi-comic newspaper headlines like today's National Post's, "Mother of killer says she feels sorry" and for some reason most irritating of all, the endless stream of banal advertising and television - like the alcohol ad from the 'rebellious' company which take its name from piracy (technically privateering), where someone thought it would be clever to take the already beaten-harder-than-the-proverbial-dead-horse 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' phrase and translate it into a pirate setting ('what happens below decks stays below decks' - with the exception of cannon-fire, and defecation one presumes). Yeah, you're right, I didn't finish that last sentence, it was getting long. Anyway, you can probably guess how I find all that stuff.

Maybe it's because I can't tune it out that I find advertising so irritating. Or maybe what The Beautiful South sang is true:

"The answers fall easier from the barrel of a gun
Then it does from the lips of the beautiful and the dumb
The world won't end in darkness, it will end in family fun
With Coca-Cola clouds behind a Big Mac Sun"

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood, chemicals in the brain a little off, as they readjust from a diet of weisswurst and giant pretzels back to the regular burgers and chicken nuggets, or maybe I just need to wait a little until the preoccupying hum of the daily 'blah blah blah' re-envelopes me in the fog of bore or maybe something else again.

For the moment, I feel like making things a bit more introspective around here, but moments can be small - especially in comparison to the distance between posts, so I guess we'll see. Maybe the current of blogging logic is inexorable and will bring me back to a comfortable downstream heading of mocking, fisking, linking, and one line commentaries before too long. Or maybe it will seem easier just to go ashore for a while, rather than blog upstream. Or maybe this is just a little thought that will seem foolish in the morning light - prompting an internal debate between 'blogger ethics' (what goes on the blog stays on the blog) and just sweeping it under the digital rug.

Maybe I'll leave it at that, for the moment.