The Joke’s On You!

Damn! I wish that this coronavirus pandemic were just an elaborate prank. That would have been awesome. Self-isolation hasn’t changed my life one iota. It does mean that some friends are now unemployed, bored, with nothing to do. So, they want to collaborate with me, again, playing rock and noise. At least that motivates me to get more stuff done. So, I’m actually a little happier with that aspect of this. The empty streets and parking lots are a bit of apocalyptic fantasy fulfillment for me, too, without the zombies or vampires.

I am spending some time taking stock of the progress in my various projects. It helps me to re-evaluate and refine my workflow, from time to time. The changing landscape caused by COVID-19 is a pretty good reason to plan out a new approach to everything, right now. Many venues, comic book shops, book stores, art galleries, etc. are not going to make it through the effects of this pandemic. The economy, and everything it touches, are going to be drastically transformed. The old models of doing everyday activities, of making and performing our art, are not going back to business-as-usual. The next couple of months are going to be VERY interesting.

People are stuck at home, with nothing to do. So, I hope to produce more completed work to post online. That is where the audience is going to be, for awhile. Maybe when this plague blows over we will be out playing house parties or something, until regular venues can make a comeback.

Anyway, I will share some music from my collection with you. This is Local H and Britney Spears, each doing Toxic. I have been in a Britney Spears mood lately. Dunno why.

2019… So Far, So Good… I Guess.

Almost done........................
Almost done…………………….

Time still flies when you aren’t having any fun. I am absolutely certain that time speeds up as you age. That is why old people wear clothes that are out of style. It was still in fashion just a minute ago, for them.

I was planning to include a vlog today, since vlogging is meant to be half of these posts. But, honestly, I don’t have anything worth videotaping right now. I also don’t have any new paintings to show.

2019 is speeding by, just like the past few years have. WTF is wrong with me? Besides the usual shit? Things actually are going pretty okay right now. I had a few rough months between December and February. That mess is finally settled, notwithstanding my growing piles of debt.

I have a list of folks waiting for Theee Urban SpaceCat cassette-zine. I have been digging through stacks of demo tapes and gigabytes of incomplete data trying to finish it. I have enough material already done for a complete issue or two… or three. But, I have spread it out over several zines. I didn’t like the way it was when I compiled it all together. So, I am filling each issue, finishing each song, one-at-a-time. A friend suggested that I do this to get myself focused, instead of hopping all over the place like I usually do. Get one thing done. Then, move on to the next thing. This approach seems to be pushing the process along, I suppose. Creating the equivalent of two double albums every few months is kinda hard when doing it all alone and you keep shooting yourself in the foot. Everything is absurdly late getting it out.

I asked around about getting my mixes mastered. But, I cannot afford to do it, not entire albums anyway. I might have one or two singles mastered for radio… maybe. The rest will just have to be a raw mix.

I am waiting for the government to process some of my tax shit, so I can finish setting up the business side of things. They’re still catching up from the Trumptard shutdown a few weeks ago. It has delayed everything. I’m never happy dealing with that sort of stuff. But, I anxiously want to get it done and out of the way.

Here is a Daniel Johnston song from my record collection for you. I get the same feeling myself sometimes. I am always starting my life over again… and again… and again… and again….

Hardhead

never-give-up-cbfb

One of my biggest strengths (and weaknesses) is persistence. I have been told several times that I “don’t know when to quit.” That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, I guess, depending on the circumstances. I may have setbacks, which slow me down, change how I do things, or have to fight with my own brain, sometimes. But, I still keep trying.

A really cool drummer guy has unfriended me on FB and dropped out of our FB group. Admittedly, it is entirely my fault. I have been lost in my own headspace again, losing touch with everybody for too long. He feels like I have used and neglected him, which wasn’t my intention at all. I honestly get fixated on one thing or another and lose track of everything else. It happens to me all of the time. Does that make me a bad person or just a bad friend?

My social skills are shit and my behavior can sometimes be erratic.
So, I don’t think being in bands long-term are ever gonna work out for me.
It never does. But, the music scene is just about the only social life that I have, playing with other musicians, performing at gigs, etc. So, I guess doing short-term projects with other people is the only way I’m going to remain active in that community. I mean, I’m stubborn. I know this shit isn’t going to work out. But, I keep doing it anyway. Maybe admitting that, to myself, is the only way for me to move forward with anything.

 

Making Movies, For the Hell of It

horror

I don’t remember how long I have been interested in filmmaking. I’ve always loved movies, of every kind. You can combine every other artform together into it, if you are creative. I never had ambitions to be an actor, though. I fell into that by accident.

As a young child living in Detroit, I fantasized about becoming a stuntman. This could be because of the then-popularity of daredevil Evel Knievel, action films like Hooper (1978), and TV shows like The Fall Guy My favorite stuntman was the legendary Dar Robinson. His untimely death after shooting Lethal Weapon (1987) permanently put an end to that idea, for me. Though, I had become far more interested in playing music by then.

The size of a film’s budget or the skill of the actors involved were never really a big deal to me, if the script was still good. A bad actor in a great movie will still get by. But, a great actor in a bad movie is totally screwed (That philosophy can be applied to so many other things). Nonetheless, I still watch a lot of cheesy bad movies, seeking out their redeeming qualities.

I don’t remember how I got into underground independent films. It may have been through watching funky old horror, science fiction, and grindhouse movies on local UHF stations as a kid (before cable TV came along). The VHS revolution in the 1980’s also opened up a whole new universe of adventurous filmmakers, no longer restricted by studio gatekeepers. My mom would bring home all sorts of insane stuff she found at mom & pop video stores. Her taste in low-budget weird movies probably rubbed off on me a lot. I grew an increasing appreciation for DIY directors / producers making their visions a reality against all odds.

The Island of Misfit Noise has evolved from a 1990’s rock band into a 21st Century multimedia project, based around making videos and movies instead of performing live. I guess, in that way,  it shares some similarities to The Banana SplitsThe Archies, or Green Jellö. Not having a permanent band makes it an ideal vehicle to try new things out and bring in different collaborators. There is also less pressure figuring out how to do everything onstage, in front of an audience.

I have no idea how to do film distribution or anything technical. It is all learn-as-I-go. I have no budget or crew. I use whatever stuff I can get for free. Does it look like cheap crap? Probably. Will anybody ever see it? Maybe. Maybe not. But, it will get done and be out there for those who are curious. It may take awhile to finish without access to those things, though.

My short video “I Dream of SpaceCat” was a good learning experience, not just in producing content. But, also in presentation to an audience. I hope to do more.

Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve been kinda busy lately, helping my aunt and ex-gf move. I was also not feeling well for a week or so. Then, my van broke down. I’m behind on my projects, including providing this month’s MP3 for Patrons. I’m doing my best to catch up.

I received a small batch of comics, recently, that I contributed to. It’s called Five O’Clock Shadow. This is issue #25. I’m including them with orders and donations on my Bandcamp page, while they last.

I am recording a bunch of exclusive music for my supporters on Patreon, as well as contributions to The Residents, David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”), and some new collaborators who want to put a band or something together with me. Lots of stuff going on!

Issues of “Theee Urban SpaceCat” Cassette-Zine have been held back for an absurd amount of time, mostly for financial reasons. I’m always broke. Just to get them out there in some form, any form, I will be releasing the first couple of issues digitally (PDF & MP3). They may get printed physically at a later time. But, look on the bright side. At least you can download them instantly instead of waiting by your mailbox.

Another project that I’m working on is a series of paintings, each including a compact disc of unique material. I will show them for you on future videos. Plus, there is all of the other art that I’m making every day. So, perhaps good things are happening.

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Mike Nobody

c/o Theee Urban SpaceCat

P.O. Box 1201

Taylor, MI 48180

USA

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If you want to support the channel and my other work,

you can pick up some music & merch by going to

★ Bandcamp https://mikenobody.bandcamp.com/

…become a patron

★ Patreon https://www.patreon.com/MikeNobody

…or you can make a donation:

★ PayPal https://www.paypal.me/MikeNobody

You can also support by sharing any

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Spread Mike Nobody far and wide!!!

Thanks,

Mike

\,,/(^_^)\,,/

Oh and if you’re a troll coming here to give me any shit…

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My Routine, Paintings, Records, and Halloween

 

I’d love to get any feedback from you.

When I get stuff in the mail, it also gives me fodder for making zines and things.

 

 

Blogging Painting Drawing Noise Music Schedule

 

SCHEDULE2

now o'clock

Hi.

Yo.

Hello.

Konnichiwa.

I know that I need to put myself out there more if I want to accomplish my goals. My natural inclination is avoid everybody, though.

Procrastination is another big problem of mine. I “rack disiprine.”

I try REALLY hard to do better. But, I’m my own worst enemy. I self-sabotage everything.

I have put myself on a regular schedule, of sorts, to take care of everyday things, so I don’t have to think about it much. I make myself a daily to-do list. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d get anything done. But, it isn’t foolproof. I still get sidetracked with something else a lot. I tend to fixate on something, to the exclusion of everything else, and lose track of time.

intps

I was thinking about the creative process, the thinking process. If I document it, publicly, maybe this will help to keep me motivated, creative and honest. When I write to friends or collaborate with other people I seem to get more stuff done. It helps, I guess. I might be less likely to throw everything away before I’m finished.

I’m blogging for my Patreon-supporters (the Superduper Secret SpaceCat Blog) almost every week-ish . I share things to keep it interesting.

I had a busy week or two, making a bunch of horror movie themed paintings for a show at the Phoenix Cafe’ and putting together a short movie for the Planet 9 Film Festival. Now that it’s over I’m catching up on neglected housework and van repairs.
Moving on to the next thing or so;

  • Working on issues #1-3 of “Theee Urban SpaceCat” cassette-zine. It has been held up for a ridiculous length of time already. It was always my intent to publish new issues every three or four months. But, I never have any money to do so. I’m considering just posting MP3/PDF versions online until I can get enough cash together. I have a growing backlog of material to do something with or discard.
  • Building new custom instruments, ShitKit 2.0 and miscellaneous noise machines. Everything was taking up space and had to be moved. My grandmother needs her garage back.
  • “The Island of Misfit Noise” movie might make a little more progress. The recent experience of making and showing a short film has been educational.
  • Recording new music for collaboration albums: David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”) and The Residents!
  • Of course, I will continue to collaborate on other things as well. I may have found a new drummer!

I doubt if I will perform alone again for awhile. Had a bad experience a few weeks ago. Was offered another gig in two months. But, I’ll pass, just stick to recording for the time being.

Machine Gun TV @ Gold Dollar (1997)

I saw these two perform at the Gold Dollar twenty years ago, today.
I could not find a single bit of information about them beyond their discography.
But, anyway, here is a link to their Discog page. Enjoy!

https://www.discogs.com/artist/233493-The-Machine-Gun-TV

Gear Geeked

Mike Nobody Bass 02 - Jaguar Urge Bass

I was going through my hard drive, looking at designs for new guitars and custom instruments. I didn’t know if anybody would care about this sort of thing, except other musicians… maybe. Of course, lacking any money, I build these things as opportunities come along. I can probably work on the cheaper ones for awhile.

I always liked the customized design of Jimmy Page’s Les Paul Guitars, with push-pull knobs enabling coil-tapping and phase-shifting. But, I like baritone guitars a lot, too. The first draft at my version went something like this:

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Jimmy Page Les Paul Baritone Guitar

I kept making further refinements. Although Les Pauls have a nice tone, the original construction needs work. The headstocks are notorious for breaking easily. So, I changed it to a Zachary Guitars “samurai sword” style headstock. Also, I prefer guitar bodies with an offset waist, for comfort. So, I would keep the maple top mahogany body, just shape it more comfortably like a Fender Jazzmaster or Jaguar.

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Jazzguar Baritone GuitarNegativeM+ Mike Nobody Jazzguar Baritone Guitar 2NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Jazzguar 3 Baritone Guitar

I played around with different pickup configurations, different woods, a graphite reinforced neck, etc.. I gave a Fender Bass VI style body a try.

MIKE NOBODY GUITAR 3

Mike Nobody Bass - Bass VIMike Nobody Bass 02 - Bass VI

Then, I moved on to basses. I want to combine a Fender Jazz, Precision, and Rickenbacker style tones together. Maybe a Gibson Thunderbird. Maybe not. But, I know it would not sound like any of them if I tried to do that. A close approximation would be nice, though.

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Mike Nobody Jaguar bassMike Nobody Bass 01 - Jaguar Urge Bass

It is possible that the only way around this is to build a different one for each specific tone. But, I thought about including Line 6 Variax Bass wiring hooked to a piezo pickup for variety. Not sure if it would work.

This is all out of my price range, for now. I considered having the body made, then adding parts as I go along. The neck is the most expensive piece. I don’t know to what degree solid graphite necks can be customized. Having a comfortable neck is very important. I think a “Soft V” contour is the right shape for me. But, I’m not sure. If a pro shop could work out details like that with me it would be extremely helpful.

Making experimental “noise machines” is a lot easier for me to put together on a low budget. The most common that I like making are basically stringed instruments built from scrap wood and junk.

NEGATIVEM ELECTRIC HARP

Anything that makes a sound is fair game, though.

NegativeM Smash TableNegativem Rattle of DOOM!NegativeM Penny JarNegativeM Grinding PipeNegativeM Grinding MicNegativeM The WheelNegativeM Devil's DJ Turntable redNegativem CIRCUIT-BENT MYSTERY BOX

One thing that I thought about getting, for a long time, is a DJ rack case & table. It could store all sorts of effects, make room to operate small devices, and give me something to stand behind. But, they aren’t cheap. This is at the very bottom of my wishlist.

NegativeM+ Mike Nobody Rack

So, there it is. That is just some of the things I’ve been working on, for a long time. I’ll probably build the noise machines sooner than the rest. It would great if I could scrape together enough money to do the basses / guitars, though. I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing until then.

Making Something Out of Nothing

Dali mustache_zpsw9li7xxj

I’ve been drawing & painting since I could walk. My parents even tried persuading me to turn professional and go into advertising as a career. PFFFFFFFTT! Fuck that. I cannot think of a more surefire way to suck out and destroy any enjoyment from creativity than having a boss tell you what to do, and when. Furthermore, selling your soul to marketing agencies adds insult to injury.

Usually, my artwork was given to friends or destroyed and discarded. I started selling my art locally in the 1990’s. But, not really understanding how the professional art world works, I only sold items in person at music venues or record stores (wherever I happened to be). I have been reluctant about taking it any further than that.

I don’t really have a lot of room to keep anything. I rented a storage unit for about a year, until I could no longer afford it. So, if no one wants what I make, it often goes into the garbage. Maybe the rats and seagulls at the landfill can use it for a nest.

I’m finally dipping my toe into the “real” art world. I was offered to showcase some paintings. So, I figured maybe I should sell some. I have an account online at ArtPal. There isn’t much there, yet. I’m only beginning, just now. But, I will continue to put pieces up there if it interests anybody. I thought about it for a little bit and decided to do commissions, too. If it doesn’t work out, I will stop.

I made a few updates to my Patreon account rewards, since I’m doing this. Patrons can get discounts on merchandise and original artwork. Details will be listed with items as they are posted.

We will see where this goes, then.

Mike Nobody Eating A Hamburger

This is my tribute to Andy Warhol, on the 35th anniversary of his scene in the movie “66 Scenes From America” by danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth. The movie was shot in 1982 and has a total duration of 39 minutes. It consists of a series of shots (or moving postcards) that outline daily life  across the USA in the 1980’s.

Jorgen Leth did not know Warhol, but he was a bit obsessed with him so he definitely wanted to have him in his movie. Friends told Leth that he “should forget about it” and that he could never even approach Warhol.

Anyways – Leth was stubborn so when he came to New York for his movie he simply went to the “factory”, the building Warhol had rented to work at and despite all other claims simply managed to get to Warhol’s studio inside where he met Andy Warhol while he was currently working.

Leth just told Warhol about his movie and the idea of having Andy being one of the 66 scenes along with the highly “symbolic” burger. Warhol immediately liked the idea and agreed to the scene. Andy liked the scene as he said because it was such a real scene, something he would like to do.

So Andy Warhol agreed to come for filming a few days later.

Jorgen leth was a bit afraid that Warhol would not come. He had invited him to a photo studio in new York at 14th street/5th avenue that belonged to a friend of him.

Leth had his assistant buy some burgers and directly advised him to buy some in halfway neutral packaging as Leth was afraid that Warhol might reject some brands (Warhol always had an obsession with some of his favorite brands).

So Andy Warhol finally did arrive at the studio, of course along with his bodyguards, and when he saw the selection of burgers the assistant had brought he asked “Where is the McDonald’s?” and Leth – slightly in panic – was immediately like “I thought you would maybe not like to identify… “ and Warhol answered “no that is the most beautiful”. Leth offered to let his assistant quickly run to McDonald’s but Warhol refused like “No, never mind, I will take the Burger King.”

Directing the video was pretty simple. Leth said to him: “You simply have to eat this hamburger. And then after you finished, you have to eat it, after you finish you should just tell the camera, to the camera, my name is Andy Warhol, I have just eaten a hamburger. “

Leth was worried during the taking as he forgot to give Warhol a glass of water and the bottle of ketchup was brand new, so it was hard to get it out. But being a real Warhol there was only one take, one try, so Warhol pulled it through in just one take, roughly 5 minutes.

So, why a whopper from burger king?

A quote from Andy Warhol:

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it. “

 

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Please Share, Like, and Subscribe!!!

Send me some mail (drawings, pictures, souvenirs, letters etc.):

Mike Nobody
c/o Theee Urban SpaceCat
P.O. Box 1201
Taylor, MI 48180
USA

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DOES MY CONTENT BRING VALUE TO YOUR LIFE?
If you want to support the channel and my other work,
you can pick up some music & merch by going to
★ Bandcamp https://mikenobody.bandcamp.com/

…become a patron
★ Patreon https://www.patreon.com/MikeNobody

…or you can make a donation:
★ PayPal https://www.paypal.me/MikeNobody

You can also support by sharing any
video you like on your social profiles.
Spread Mike Nobody far and wide!!!

Thanks,

Mike

\,,/(^_^)\,,/

Oh and if you’re a troll coming here to give me any shit…

ᶠᶸᶜᵏ♥ᵧₒᵤ

Death Cat @ Fireside Inn (07/22/2016)

One year ago.
Damn, time flies.

http://www.deathcat.us/

https://www.facebook.com/deathcatmusic/

https://www.facebook.com/firesideinn.divebar

Vlogging Update: May 2017

BIG EYES & MOUTH FIREPAINT.png

Hey y’all,

Sorry for the long absence.

My computer died.

I gave it to my aunt to work on.

She does IT work for the local school district.

Unable to fix it, she gave me another one that a school was getting rid of.

I tried to salvage what I could from the old one.

But, most of my programs and files were lost.

I’ve been searching for the missing software and restoring what I can.

My scanner/printer didn’t want to cooperate with the new computer.

I tried replacing it.

But, the replacements didn’t work either.

After a couple of days messing with it, I finally got it running.

My van has a million problems.

But, at least I got the front tire fixed that kept going flat.

I’ve replaced that tire THREE TIMES and it still kept going flat.

I thought maybe the rim was bent.

I had it looked at and they found a piece of metal lodged inside.

They patched it up.

Now, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Only cost me $15 bucks (thank God)!

I tried to repay my grandmother $700 dollars I owe her.

She forgave some of it.

My ex forgave the $200 I owed her, too, since I’ve been helping her relocate and move her stuff.

Not sure how I’ll get my other debts paid.

But, I try not to get stressed out about it.

That really fucks up my creativity.

I Have A Dream!

trump-ferengi-copy

Happy MLK Day!

“Grand Nagus Trump” gets sworn-in on Friday.

Strangely ironic that we begin this week celebrating a black American icon of civil rights and ending it with the inauguration of a white supremacist administration.

trump-kkk-crusader

Barack Obama has been a better president than his predecessor, Dubya Shrub, in some ways. 28 of Obama’s Achievements In Office

But, in others, he has been far worse. Not only did he NOT stop the excesses of the Bush/Cheney administration. He put them on steroids! He has largely gotten away with it because he is charming, looks good, and speaks well. It could be argued that 8 years of Republican obstructionism prevented him from doing any better. But, his own actions and inactions speak for themselves.

I’m not entirely pessimistic, though.

With the sweeping election of Republicans across America and the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, there is finally an ugly face to put onto these policies. A unified campaign of progressives and moderates may be able to have a massive push-back in the 2018 mid-term elections. This should not be very difficult. Trump is already the most unpopular president in American history (and he hasn’t even been sworn-in yet). Republicans are already making ambitious plans that will be so vehemently despised by the country that they’d better hope that angry violent mobs don’t begin showing up on their doorstep with pitchforks and torches.

Donald Trump made many contradictory promises along his campaign. It is impossible for him to keep them all. But, progressives like Bernie Sanders are holding him to his word on policies that we agree with. If we can keep enough pressure on his administration, maybe we can minimize the damage he does and actually win a few victories, too. Maybe we can turn this impending disaster into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

That, at least, gives me something to forward to for the next few years.

John Zorn

John Zorn BN-KF585_NYZORN_J_20150909160410

“All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I’m an additive person—the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.”~ John Zorn

Continuing in a pastiche-composition style as Frank Zappa (although neither actually invented it) avante-garde jazz composer John Zorn has always interested me, since I first heard about him in the 1980’s.

His early career in the 1970’s included playing modified duck calls into buckets of water, as well as his improvised saxophone performances.

That alone, piqued my curiosity enough as a teenager to investigate further.

“The Big Gundown”, an imaginative reworking of Ennio Morricone covers, was his first big “hit” record in 1985.

Ennio Morricone, himself, praised the album.

His later hardcore jazz groups Naked City and Painkiller really made me into a big fan.

He was also instrumental in the release of Carl Stalling’s Merry Melodies / Looney Toons  cartoon soundtrack recordings.

I am guessing that those projects are why Mr. Bungle chose him to produce their first album for Warner Bros. Records. in 1991.

I think I have to agree with Mr. Zorn’s philosophy of musical composition.

I was always an obsessive record collector.

Everything that I listened to felt interconnected on some level, even if they seemed separated on the surface.

William Shakespeare isn’t James Joyce or Dr. Seuss.

But, they all speak English.

Something like that.

 

 

Spring Has Sprung

20160328_110748

I was watching some YouTube videos lately.

I got very annoyed.

Other bands are doing stuff that I wanna do.

But, they keep beating me to it.

I hate when that shit happens.

Maybe it is just that everything has already been done to death and we keep repeating and reinterpreting what came before us.

I dunno.

I know that, financially, I am gonna be screwed for the foreseeable future.

I am robbing Peter to pay Paul for as long as I have to.

I seriously doubt that I will break even before summer begins.

I keep putting off working on and publishing the zine until I can get ahead a little.

But, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen very soon.

I may do a cheaper version, than what I had in mind, until it begins to pay for itself.

Just a thought.

I will probably raid my boxes of old tapes that I have in storage and dig around for some incomplete material to finish.

I have a lot of it, going back nearly forty years.

Since I have been tinkering with the analogue multi-track machine, maybe I will include some fresher stuff with it, too.

I dunno.

A guitarist whom I have not played with in years contacted me and is eager to jam again.

So, maybe he can give me a morale boost and help me get my shit done.

Maybe.

I am always willing to jam with other people if they are interested.

I need to find somewhere that I can paint and make loud noises too.

Maybe somebody can help me with that.

Bombs Away!

Valentine’s Day

Timmy Vulgar

Timmy Vulgar ca-f-humaneye

Life is funny sometimes. It lands some odd coincidences in my lap a lot, it seems.

I had never listened to The Clone Defects, although they have been around the Detroit scene for a number of years. I did not know that guitarist / vocalist Timmy Vulgar was also in a bunch of other local groups. He has been around the block as much as I have (and then some). I also did not know that he & I had met before, when he was in his first band The Epileptix. I still have their debut 7″ EP that I purchased from him. We talked about the band Chrome and guitarist Helios Creed a little bit. That is all that I remember from our encounter.

Anyway, I got an invitation on Facebook to see his most recent band Timmy’s Organism play at the UFO Factory next month. I did a little research, and dang! This is my kinda guy. Mostly, he plays a kind of psychedelic punk and employs the style of low budget freakishness that I am known for. If he ever needs a bassist, or wants to collaborate, I think I am up for it… if he is.

Timmy Vulgar tim

The Island of Misfit Noise Movie and Comix

godzilla_065fb9e4f6_o

Thus far, I hadn’t given the plot of our film much thought beyond the original premise that I gave TomCat Z. and John Pirog. I had assumed that we could just continue to add material until we had enough for a complete film. It is possible that we may still follow that method to some degree. It may be a financial necessity. But, it also occurred to me that having a few characters that we could build stories around wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. I mentioned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all those 1990’s bands who styled themselves as superheroes for examples.

One of my big influences on The Island of Misfit Noise movie is Japanese Tokusatsu (特撮) shows like Ultraman, Giant Robot, and the Godzilla / Mothra franchises.

Oh yes, there will be giant fighting robots and monsters. There will be.

If this is a group of heroes getting into constant trouble, I could sorta model them after characters from Doctor Who, Star Trek, Lost In Space, Josie And The Pussycats, and Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, always arriving somewhere new and finding some shit to get into. If they are musicians, there will be four of them, like The Monkees or The Beatles. Each has their own character archetype, skills and abilities, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or The Marx Brothers. When they get into deep shit beyond their capabilities, the giant robot comes to save them. Also, the robot is a fill-in drummer, because he keeps excellent time and doesn’t get tired. They are constantly losing and replacing drummers, like Spinal Tap.

Other big influences of mine is, of course, cheap B-movies and television programs. Sid & Marty Krofft‘s 1970’s Saturday morning children’s shows comes to mind as an excellent example. I even called the IOMN movie “H.R. Pufnstuf on crack”, once or twice.

So, there will be lots of green screen, cheap sets, cheap costumes, cheap, cheap, cheap. It is very likely that almost everything you see is gonna be made of cardboard, tinfoil, and papier-mâché if it isn’t something found or outright stolen.

Before we get started putting together any props or shit, I may publish the IOMN comics in my zine, Thee Urban SpaceCat. At the very least, it will give me an opportunity to work out some things that will eventually wind up in the movie. The Walking Dead TV series began as a comic. Hell, most of the movies out lately are based on comic books. They must be doing something right. It is also fitting, because the zine began as a concept for a comic book and I will probably be publishing through a printer that specializes in comic books. So, there is that too.

Tatsuya Yoshida, John Cage, and Boxes of Tapes

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I do not know where all of my old tapes are. Here are a few. Despite my reputation as a pack rat, I do discard and lose a lot of important things. There is still a lot here to dig through, some dating back to the 1970’s. There are more recent ones laying around from making memos to myself, quick jams, meeting up to jam with various musicians, etc.

I learned to read music in elementary school. I forgot how, though, after years of just jamming with bands who couldn’t read. Also, transcribed music never felt like an accurate representation of “music”, to me. I always visualized music in waves, shapes, and colors, like a rainbow oscilloscope!

John Cage wrote music kind of like that. I preferred how he wrote down music. It just made more sense to me than traditional transcribed music.

john cage 56john cage bild

Tatsuya Yoshida seems to have been influenced by Cage a lot. He even wrote a tribute song, composed in John Cage’s style. Of course Tatsuya Yoshida’s biggest influence would seem to be Christian Vander and Magma. His group, Ruins, borrows Magma‘s compositional style almost completely, adapting it to fit a drum & bass duo.

Tatsuya Yoshida
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tatsuya Yoshida (吉田達也 Yoshida Tatsuya?) (born in Kitakami, Iwate is a Japanese musician; drummer and composer who is the only consistent member of the renowned progressive rock duo Ruins, as well as Koenji Hyakkei. He is also a member of the progressive rock trios Korekyojinn and Daimonji. Outside of his own groups, Yoshida is renowned for his tenure as drummer in the indie progressive group YBO2, a band also featuring guitarist KK Null, whom he also joins in the current line up of Zeni Geva and he has played drums in a late edition of Samla Mammas Manna. He has been cited as “[the] indisputable master drummer of the Japanese underground”.
Along with his participation in bands, he has also released several solo recordings.

I like the “cut & paste” style of composing. It offers a lot of freedom. I mean, it is nice when a complete song just hits you all at once. But, that seldom happens when playing in a group. I would be lucky if I found a really good drummer that I found a good groove with. Maybe composing alone will help me write more easily. I have plenty of raw material that I can draw from.

Mike Damn Nobody Returns!

Lightning Bolt Mindflayer Mindflayer-Earthunder-1

I think that, until I get some songs completed, I will accept new offers for gigs… performing improvised noise as Mike Damn Nobody again.

If I can get a new ShitKit started on, I will use it for percussion while I add other noises.

Max Grean (Uncle Ghoulie) said that he would help me to acquire an old gas tank from someone in Clarkston.

If I can get that, it will help me a lot.

I may do something akin to Black Pus (drums + vocals + noise), but perhaps more chaotic.

Super Action Kung-Fu Power Rock & Roll!

beatles toon

In the 1990’s, there were a number of bands who styled themselves as cartoonish action heroes, complete with a theatrical image and fictional backstory (GWAR, Supernova, The Aquabats, The Cocktails, The Amino Acids, Man or Astroman?).

I am not sure if this is the legacy of KISS or The Monkees.

The nice thing about these groups is that they are fun, for starters, and make additional income for the artist through merchandising. I wrote about merchandising before. Yes, there is a dark side to avoid. But, there is also potential to have a lot of fun with it. Comic book culture thrives on it. Go to any comic-con and check out the mountains of stuff available for almost any property. I cannot help that the inner geek in me likes collecting things. I blame Star Trek and record collecting for getting me started on that.

Mog Stunt Team were one of these groups, and were also close friends of mine.

I liked their music and whole schtick. But, I always felt like they put most of their energy into an image and not their music. I believed that I could write better songs, for sure. Bassist / vocalist Kenny Mugwump must have sensed this on some level, because he often asked for my opinion about stuff and wanted my input. I regret that I never asked to join their group. But, I was a bit intimidated. These were old pros with management, years of experience in a number of bands, touring, getting signed to labels, etc. I was just this weird kid who hung around a lot and helped when they needed a favor.

I kinda forgot about these sort of groups for awhile, then realized that The Aquabats were still kicking, and had their own TV show for two seasons! Christ, how did I miss THAT? I did a little research and discovered that the lead Aquabat, Christian Jacobs, was a former 1980’s child actor. He tried making a go of The Aquabats band for a couple of years in the 1990’s, unsuccessfully. In 1998 they made a failed Aquabats TV pilot with Bobcat Goldthwait. In 1999, he tried pitching Yo Gabba Gabba! to the networks instead. After belatedly appearing on the internet for a few years, it was a big success. Afterward, he was asked what his next project would be. So, he simply dusted off his VHS recording of The Aquabats! Super Show! and tried that again 15 years after it was originally made. Ta-Dah!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to make The Island of Misfit Noise sort of like these groups. The IOMN movie certainly shares some of the same influences. I don’t want to wear costumes onstage or anything like that. But, I think that I could create different characters that we could make toys out of and stuff like that. Sorta like The Archies or Josie and The Pussycats. That could be fun.

This abomination actually had a TV show!

As a kid growing up in the 1970’s-1980’s, I knew even then that most of the cartoons on TV were just half-hour commercials for toys. It was a little annoying, sometimes. I mean, c’mon, they made a TV show about a talking Rubik’s Cube! Really?! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were one of these shows. Literally, the show was only made so they could make toys. But, damn if it wasn’t still a good show! I think the fact that they had already developed it as a successful comic book for a few years gave them the chance to flesh out the characters more.

Anyway, I still look forward to writing songs with anyone who wants to add them into this. Not sure what will come of it. But, we will see.

Jobless Zine Tapes

FUN

I applied for another job again, Value World (aka Value Village).

Not sure if it will do any good.

They were the only place that required applicants to apply in person, instead of online like everywhere else.

I later walked to the store for pop & bread and actually did some housecleaning today, too.

Wow!

I’m on a roll.

♛ ★★★★★★★★★☆★☆★☆★☆☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★★★★★★★★★ ♛

I am feeling kinda brave and pulled the Roland workstation out… seeing if I could operate it at all.

I may dig through some boxes of old tapes and see if there is anything that I wanna work on again.

I may lift some material directly from them for the zine.

Maybe.

I am thinking that I will just keep accumulating material as I go along.

Then, when I have enough cash to publish I will put a new issue out, hopefully every three to four months.

It would be easier if I had some extra income for this.

But, I am working with what I have for now.

Thee Urban SpaceCat CassetteZine may be printed by a company that did Death Cat comics, Ka-Blam is their name I think.

It seems like they work in all sorts of volumes with good quality.

The tapes may be recorded, mixed, mastered, and dubbed totally DIY, though.

I am undecided if I want to get them made at a duplicating plant or just dub them myself.

I guess it depends what the demand is for them.

If I get too many orders I will have to go with the duplicating plant.

I am making a distinction between the CassetteZine and the RecycleTapes, though.

The CassetteZine will use fresh normal bias cassettes, probably Sony.

They seem to be the most readily available.

RecycleTapes are hard copy recordings of Mike Damn Nobody’s noise albums, dubbed on reused tapes and re-labelled by me.

I may have to create new artwork for the older titles.

I cannot find the originals.

I was thinking of when I want to take my recordings into a legitimate studio.

Money is a factor, of course.

But, when I am ready, I am thinking that I may only release vinyl singles and EPs like that for awhile.

If they do well, I can compile them onto CDs later.

The Weirdos are an LA punk band from way-y-y back.

They released only vinyl singles for twenty years before they put out their first full-length album.

“Weird Al” Yankovic says that he will no longer release full length albums.

He is only doing singles now.

It seems like that is the direction that the music industry will be going, eventually.

I haven’t been in a record store for years.

So, it is a little tough for me to gauge.

♛ ★★★★★★★★★☆★☆★☆★☆☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★★★★★★★★★ ♛

I am probably gonna upgrade my my video capture software and get a chromakey program added to it.

I need to get a green screen or some fluorescent green paint.

I have a few leftover projector screens that I could paint if I had something for fabric, that wouldn’t crack and peel off.

Hello!

“All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I’m an additive person—the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.” ~ John Zorn

“Cute, cool, and creepy”, is how I have been described by some folks.

Usually, I am classified by my contemporaries as an outsider artist-musician.

Davin Brainard (time Stereo) and Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) observed that I do not intentionally TRY to be perceived as weird, that I just naturally AM….. making comparisons to Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston. I guess that I will just go along with those descriptions.

Outsider Artist / Musician;

  • Music, Art, and Zines
  • Videos, Movies, and Multi-Media
  • Voice, Tapes, and Noise
  • Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars
  • Keyboards, Computers, and Custom Instruments
  • Plunderphonics, Electronics and Junk Percussion

I enjoy creating what I refer to as “Prog-Punk Noise-Rock”, a strange pastiche of styles tied together. I have collaborated with plenty of other artists over the years with wide degrees of proficiency in many genres.

I have been obsessively into art and music my whole life; drawing, painting, playing with tape recorders and making noise. I built my first guitar from a badly beaten-up body & neck that I found in someone’s trash. A friend’s dad gave me the electrical guts from an unknown 1950’s guitar. Additional parts were improvised from pieces of found junk and purchased from a music store.

When I was a twelve year old kid, back in the 1980’s, I was just a runt of the Detroit hardcore punk / heavy metal scene . Lacking enough money to buy any good equipment, I purchased a cheap microphone at a pawn shop, built a homemade mic stand, and passed myself off as a vocalist. I sang in whatever groups that I could find, gaining experience and learning whatever that I could. Mostly, it was shitty cover bands, playing in basements, getting yelled at by uninvited drunks that we suck. Eventually, I improved my bass & guitar skills, playing in many short-lived groups that went nowhere.

I was a writer / photographer for The Jam Rag, a widely-read local music paper, while still a teenager and made friends with other artists along the way. During the 1990’s I was a cameraman, roadie, and occasional collaborator with Princess Dragon-Mom, Mog Stunt Team, His Name Is Alive, etc.. I also performed in a few experimental noise groups; Bionics, Edible Audio, Fresh Farm Raised Catfish, etc.

The Island of Misfit Noise began in the summer of 1998 with only Mystic MarshaKat and myself. She played keyboards & guitar (classically trained) and I played bass & guitar (mostly self-taught). Both of us were former members of N2-Submission, the backing band for our then-roommate The Impaler “Detroit’s Vampire Poet.” Our duo’s name changed a couple of times, before settling on the IOMN.  Other musicians came and went during a period of 15 years, with she & I being the only constant members of the group. She also left in early 2013. MarshaKat and I remain friends. She may continue to assist in some capacity, just not as a full-time band member.

I resurrected the IOMN as a recording project in late 2014, with collaborators from Michigan to Australia. We exchanged material back-and-forth until some music was completed. The style that we made is very freeform. A few collaborators from the IOMN have joined me in other projects. Some of them have experience in film & television and are producing low-budget movies with me.

MickeyBugsBand_1

♛ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Prog ☆ Punk 🐱 Noise ☆ Rock ☆ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♛

Some of my current projects;

  • Island of Misfit Noise is an ongoing multimedia project, begun in 1998 as a musical group, with a constantly rotating membership. It has since expanded into no-budget film-making, music videos, and a series of comics. I will continue to add material to this as I go along, with additional collaborators. Live performances are very unlikely.
  • Theee Urban SpaceCat (Cassette-Zine) is a publication of my artwork, ramblings, stories, correspondences, miscellaneous found objects, music, commentary, and anything else packaged with a cassette tape of my recordings (compact disc optional)… whatever they may be. It is an outlet for all of my artistic endeavors, combined into one package, modeled after decades of correspondence with my friends.
  • Mike Damn Nobody is my experimental noise project; incorporating tape loops, circuit-bending, custom instruments, and anything else available. Live events have a more chaotic theatrical presentation than my other projects. Recordings are available on RecycleTapes (cassettes handmade from re-purposed materials) and digital download formats.
  • Mike Nobody is just me, by myself, performing somewhere with my crazy setup as a one-man-band. I’ll make that work, somehow, for now.
  • MykNobody is an alternate spelling sometimes used when I’m painting.

This post was a little long, containing influences, gear, personal info, etc.. It has been relocated to About / FAQ / PressDetails.

Subscribe to this blog and I will show & tell you more about the past, present, and future. If you want to check out upcoming events or new stuff available, and get some freebies, add yourself onto the mailing list in the sidebar. There are also fundraising links there for anybody who wants to support my creative efforts. More rewards are available for my Patrons.

Thanks!

Mike Nobody =^.^=

We Make Zines (Relocated Site)

We Make Zines

I forgot to update everybody on this. A few months ago, the website for We Make Zines had to relocate when they lost their web hosting provider. I had been a member since 2014. So, I reopened an account at the new site. All of my previous postings have been lost. So, aside from my profile, there isn’t much of mine to look at yet. Zinesters and enthusiasts can find plenty of other information there, though. The link is above.

Jackie O., A “Conspiracy Nut”?

Jackie O., A “Conspiracy Nut”?

Chuck Baldwin
Aug 28, 2011
Tapes that were recorded within months of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and that have been sealed in a vault at the Kennedy Library in Boston are soon to be released. In the tapes, former First Lady Jackie Kennedy reveals that she believed Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson and other influential individuals orchestrated the Dallas shooting that killed her husband.
Jackie went on to marry Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, of course. Mrs. Kennedy had ordered that the tapes should not be released until 50 years after her death. She died 17 years ago from cancer at the age of 64. Now, her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, has agreed to release the recordings early. According to press reports, the tapes will be aired by ABC and by British broadcasters as well. The tapes are also said to reveal illicit affairs by both President Kennedy and Jackie.
According to DailyMail, “Jackie Onassis believed that Lyndon B. Johnson and a cabal of Texas tycoons were involved in the assassination of her husband John F. Kennedy, ‘explosive’ recordings are set to reveal.
“The secret tapes will show that the former first lady felt that her husband’s successor was at the heart of the plot to murder him.
“She became convinced that the then vice president, along with businessmen in the South, had orchestrated the Dallas shooting, with gunman Lee Harvey Oswald–long claimed to have been a lone assassin–merely part of a much larger conspiracy.”
See the DailyMail report at:
http://tinyurl.com/3ovu7z4
So, now I suppose we can add Jackie-Kennedy-Onassis to the list of “conspiracy nuts.” Right? Isn’t that what anyone is called who believes that the federal government hides the truth about what happens and conjures up a convenient “official” story to sell to the American people? Isn’t that what the media calls anyone who dares to question any “official” report? Isn’t that what Glenn Beck calls them? Isn’t that what Joe Scarborough calls them? Isn’t that what Bill O’Reilly calls them? Isn’t that what Rush Limbaugh calls them? They are “conspiracy nuts.” Right? I wonder if we will now hear any of these talking heads call Jackie Onassis a “conspiracy nut”?
And since we are talking about conspiracies, I want to go ahead and just say up front: I believe that anyone who thinks that there are no conspiracies that many times involve people and agencies at the highest levels of government and business is downright simple minded, willingly ignorant, incredibly naïve, or has a personal, vested reason to remain clueless.
The John F. Kennedy Assassination
Is there really anyone reading this column who actually believes the “official” story that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy in the manner in which he is purportedly to have done it: all by himself? Get real! Now we know that even Jackie Kennedy, who was in the limo when her husband was killed, didn’t believe it!
I further believe that the assassination of John Kennedy was a major turning point in US history. It was at this point that a criminal cabal wrested control of the federal government from the hands of “We the People” and turned it into a giant mafia. I don’t believe the people and their representatives in Washington, D.C., have had much to do with their federal government (especially at the executive level) ever since.
TWA Flight 800 “Explosion”
While we are talking about conspiracies, let’s just go ahead a mention a few more. Do you really believe the “official” story of the crash of TWA flight 800 in 1996? What if an American missile accidentally shot down that jetliner? Do you really think the federal government would come clean about it?
Read this report from The Washington Weekly, if you are willing to be enlightened:
http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/twa.html
Oklahoma City Bombing
Do readers really believe the “official” story that Timothy McVeigh acted alone in igniting the explosion that took down the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and that there was no cover-up as to what actually happened? I don’t.
Here are a couple places to get started on this one:
http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/bomb.html
And:
http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/key.html
A D V E R T I S E M E N T

9/11 Twin Towers and Pentagon Attacks
There has been so much written on this subject, I will let readers fend for themselves as to personal research on the matter. Without wading too deeply into this discussion (and for the sake of column space), let me ask just one simple question. Pray tell, what took down Building 7? To this good hour, I have not heard one single plausible explanation proffered by any government or media representative that explains why Building 7 collapsed.
Do I believe that the government is purposefully keeping the American people in the dark as to what really happened on 9/11/01? You bet I do! Do I believe that there is a cover-up of crucial evidence related to 9/11 by both the federal government and the national news media? You bet I do!
Haiti Earthquake
Another event that the “official” version is just completely unbelievable to me is the earthquake in Haiti in January of last year. I will always believe that there was so much to this story that we were not being told. It didn’t “smell” right to me when it happened; it doesn’t “smell” right to me now. If you’re interested, try perusing through some of this information:
http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/home/?page_id=855
Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syrian Wars
Let me round out my personal list of conspiracies with all the wars America is waging in the Middle East. I believe virtually every reason George W. Bush gave the American people for attacking and invading Iraq was a premeditated, bald-faced lie! I believe the so-called “war on terror” (and the “war on drugs,” for that matter) that justifies endless wars abroad and endless surveillance at home is completely manufactured by those in government and business for personal economic and political interests.
In fact, if you really want to get sick to your stomach over what this so-called “war on terror” is accomplishing, take a look at this report:
http://tinyurl.com/3wzo9mn
So, nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, we now learn that First Lady Jackie Kennedy believed that there was a conspiracy to kill her husband and that Lyndon Johnson was neck-deep in it. I wonder what future generations will learn about many of these other “official” stories of the federal government that just didn’t add up?
And wouldn’t it be nice if the national news media were actually honest and interested in the truth and would do their jobs to inform the American people as to what is truly going on in their federal government? Of course, if they did, the American people would probably tar and feather the whole bunch and start all over! Hmm. Sounds kind of inviting, doesn’t it? I bet Jackie would agree.
P.S. If readers are still skeptical of how many “conspiracy theories” are, in reality, “conspiracy facts,” I urge you to read this enlightening column:
http://tinyurl.com/3swqcka

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And When Even The Death Penalty Doesn’t Deter Copying — What Then?

And When Even The Death Penalty Doesn’t Deter Copying — What Then?
Rick Falkvinge
August 7, 2011

This week has seen some disturbing news. British Telecom has been sued into censoring Newzbin2, and domain seizures in the United States were motivated and justified by the flabbergasting “they can have free speech in another country if they like”. In the United Kingdom, it appears that legislation to deny people basic communication and fundamental rights still move ahead. In France, the first innocent victims of such schemes are just appearing.

I remember the first time a proposed law in Sweden said that people should be cut off from the Internet and sent into social exile for unauthorized copying. It was a proposal written by Cecilia Renfors in close cooperation with the copyright industry.

“A very balanced proposal,” said the copyright monopolists in an entitled tone of voice. “Shameless mail-order legislation,” said everybody else.

On arriving in parliament, the proposal was thrown unceremoniously into the wastepaper basket, sponsored by no one.

The copyright industry just wants more, more, and more, and they don’t think twice about ruining our hard-won fundamental civil liberties to prop up their crumbling monopoly and control. When one tough measure doesn’t work — and they never do — the copyright industry keeps demanding more.

A few centuries ago, the penalty for unauthorized copying was breaking on the wheel. It is a term we’re not very familiar with these days, but it was a form of prolonged torturous death penalty where the convict first had every bone in his body broken, and then was weaved into the spokes of a wagon wheel and set up on public display. The cause of death was usually thirst, a couple of days later.

Breaking the Wheel

The copy monopoly in those days concerned fabric patterns. It was in France, prior to the revolution. Some patterns were more popular than others, and to get some additional revenue to the crown’s tax coffers, the King sold a monopoly on these patterns to selected members of the nobility, who in turn could charge an arm and a leg for them (and did so).

But the peasants and commoners could produce these patterns themselves. They could produce pirated copies of the fabrics, outside of the nobility’s monopoly. So the nobility went to the King and demanded that the monopoly they had bought with good money should be upheld by the King’s force.

The King responded by introducing penalties for pirating these fabrics. Light punishments at first, then gradually tougher. Towards the end, the penalty was death by public torture, drawn out over several days. And it wasn’t just a few poor sods who were made into public examples: sixteen thousand people, almost entirely common folk, died by execution or in the violent clashes that surrounded the monopoly. In practice, everybody knew somebody who had been horribly executed for pirating.

Here’s the fascinating part:

Capital punishment didn’t even make a dent in the pirating of the fabrics. Despite the fact that some villages had been so ravaged that everybody knew somebody personally who had been executed by public torture, the copying continued unabated at the same level.

So the question that needs asking is this:

When will the copyright industry stop demanding harsher punishments for copying, since we learn from history that no punishment that mankind is capable of inventing has the ability to deter people from sharing and copying things they like?

— — —

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at http://falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Follow Rick Falkvinge on Twitter as @Falkvinge and on Facebook as /rickfalkvinge.
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14 Propaganda Techniques Fox "News" Uses to Brainwash Americans

14 Propaganda Techniques Fox “News” Uses to Brainwash Americans
Saturday 2 July 2011
by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout | News Analysis

There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship – the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.

It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and “reality” programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter. Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin’s ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere’s ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world’s largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn’t real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn’t born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge?

My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by Fox News and other propagandists disguised as media. The techniques I identify here also help to explain the simultaneously powerful identification the Fox media audience has with the network, as well as their ardent, reflexive defenses of it.

The good news is that the more conscious you are of these techniques, the less likely they are to work on you. The bad news is that those reading this article are probably the least in need in of it.

1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. From Muslims to swine flu to recession to homosexuals to immigrants to the rapture itself, the belief over at Fox seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren’t activated, you aren’t alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain. In other words, when people are afraid, they don’t think rationally. And when they can’t think rationally, they’ll believe anything.

2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person’s credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. Fox and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. “liberals,” “hippies,” “progressives” etc. This form of argument – if it can be called that – leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.

3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you’re using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first. We see this frequently in the immigration discussion, where anti-racists are accused of racism, or in the climate change debate, where those who argue for human causes of the phenomenon are accused of not having science or facts on their side. It’s often called upon when the media host finds themselves on the ropes in the debate.

4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview. The Downing Street Memos on the Iraq war were a classic example of this on a massive scale, but it happens daily and over smaller issues as well. A recent case in point is Palin’s mangling of the Paul Revere ride, which Fox reporters have bent over backward to validate. Why lie about the historical facts, even when they can be demonstrated to be false? Well, because dogmatic minds actually find it easier to reject reality than to update their viewpoints. They will literally rewrite history if it serves their interests. And they’ll often speak with such authority that the casual viewer will be tempted to question what they knew as fact.

5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It’s technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. The simple idea is that if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems, you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them, and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.

6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I’d call a “meta-frame” (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly. For example, terms like “show of strength” are often used to describe acts of repression, such as those by the Iranian regime against the protesters in the summer of 2009. There are several concerning consequences of this form of conflation. First, it has the potential to make people feel falsely emboldened by shows of force – it can turn wars into sporting events. Secondly, especially in the context of American politics, displays of violence – whether manifested in war or debates about the Second Amendment – are seen as noble and (in an especially surreal irony) moral. Violence become synonymous with power, patriotism and piety.

7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed. The bully exploits this lack of confidence by berating the guest into submission or compliance. Often, less self-possessed people will feel shame and anxiety when being berated and the quickest way to end the immediate discomfort is to cede authority to the bully. The bully is then able to interpret that as a “win.”

8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed. The idea is to deliberately confuse the argument, but insist that the logic is airtight and imply that anyone who disagrees is either too dumb or too fanatical to follow along. Less independent minds will interpret the confusion technique as a form of sophisticated thinking, thereby giving the user’s claims veracity in the viewer’s mind.

9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of “the people” and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people. The opponent is always “elitist” or a “bureaucrat” or a “government insider” or some other category that is not the people. The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused “elitists” are almost always liberals – a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.

10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America. And hates taxes and anyone who doesn’t love those other three things. Because the speaker has been benedicted by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It’s a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.

11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent. The message must be repeated cover and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. “Saddam has WMD.” Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it’s true or if it even makes sense, e.g., “Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.” If something is said enough times, by enough people, many will come to accept it as truth. Another example is Fox’s own slogan of “Fair and Balanced.”

12. Disparaging Education. There is an emerging and disturbing lack of reverence for education and intellectualism in many mainstream media discourses. In fact, in some circles (e.g. Fox), higher education is often disparaged as elitist. Having a university credential is perceived by these folks as not a sign of credibility, but of a lack of it. In fact, among some commentators, evidence of intellectual prowess is treated snidely and as anti-American. The disdain for education and other evidence of being trained in critical thinking are direct threats to a hive-mind mentality, which is why they are so viscerally demeaned.

13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people. Here’s how it works: if your cousin’s college roommate’s uncle’s ex-wife attended a dinner party back in 1984 with Gorbachev’s niece’s ex-boyfriend’s sister, then you, by extension are a communist set on destroying America. Period.

14. Diversion. This is where, when on the ropes, the media commentator suddenly takes the debate in a weird but predictable direction to avoid accountability. This is the point in the discussion where most Fox anchors start comparing the opponent to Saul Alinsky or invoking ACORN or Media Matters, in a desperate attempt to win through guilt by association. Or they’ll talk about wanting to focus on “moving forward,” as though by analyzing the current state of things or God forbid, how we got to this state of things, you have no regard for the future. Any attempt to bring the discussion back to the issue at hand will likely be called deflection, an ironic use of the technique of projection/flipping.

In debating some of these tactics with colleagues and friends, I have also noticed that the Fox viewership seems to be marked by a sort of collective personality disorder whereby the viewer feels almost as though they’ve been let into a secret society. Something about their affiliation with the network makes them feel privileged and this affinity is likely what drives the viewers to defend the network so vehemently. They seem to identify with it at a core level, because it tells them they are special and privy to something the rest of us don’t have. It’s akin to the loyalty one feels by being let into a private club or a gang. That effect is also likely to make the propaganda more powerful, because it goes mostly unquestioned.

In considering these tactics and their possible effects on American public discourse, it is important to note that historically, those who’ve genuinely accessed truth have never berated those who did not. You don’t get honored by history when you beat up your opponent: look at Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln. These men did not find the need to engage in othering, ad homeinum attacks, guilt by association or bullying. This is because when a person has accessed a truth, they are not threatened by the opposing views of others. This reality reveals the righteous indignation of people like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as a symptom of untruth. These individuals are hostile and angry precisely because they don’t feel confident in their own veracity. And in general, the more someone is losing their temper in a debate and the more intolerant they are of listening to others, the more you can be certain they do not know what they’re talking about.

One final observation. Fox audiences, birthers and Tea Partiers often defend their arguments by pointing to the fact that a lot of people share the same perceptions. This is a reasonable point to the extent that Murdoch’s News Corporation reaches a far larger audience than any other single media outlet. But, the fact that a lot of people believe something is not necessarily a sign that it’s true; it’s just a sign that it’s been effectively marketed.

As honest, fair and truly intellectual debate degrades before the eyes of the global media audience, the quality of American democracy degrades along with it.

DR. CYNTHIA BOAZ
Dr. Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University, where her areas of expertise include quality of democracy, nonviolent struggle, civil resistance and political communication and media. She is also an affiliated scholar at the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain. Additionally, she is an analyst and consultant on nonviolent action, with special emphasis on the Iran and Burma cases. She is vice president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and on the board of Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation. Dr. Boaz is also a contributing writer and adviser to Truthout.org and associate editor of Peace and Change Journal.

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Great Emo Phillips quote

Recently spotted on a thread at CNN:
“I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said ‘Stop! don’t do it!’ ‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he said. I said, ‘Well there’s so much to live for!’ ‘Like what?’ ‘Well, are you religious or atheist?’ ‘Religious.’ ‘Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?’ ‘Christian.’ I said, ‘Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?’ ‘Protestant.’ ‘Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?’ ‘Baptist!’ ‘Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?’ ‘Baptist Church of God!’ ‘Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?’ ‘Reformed Baptist Church of God!’ ‘Me too! Are you reformed baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?’ He said, ‘Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!’ I said, ‘Die, heretic scum,’ and pushed him off.” – Emo Phillips
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European Atheist Knows The U.S. Constitution Better Than Two American Christians

Remember the Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort video promoting their new “revised” version of On the Origin of Species (with a 50-page introduction written by Comfort that he thinks “debunks” evolution)?

Comfort and Cameron are planning to give away free copies of the book at colleges across the country on November 19th in an effort, I presume, to set a Guinness World Record for miseducating the most people in one day.

But who needs to respond to the 50-page introduction to the book when ZOMGitsCriss has an excellent response to the trailer video you saw above?

Isn’t it amazing that a foreigner knows the U.S. Constitution better than two Creationists who live in America?
Also, Cameron & Comfort apparently don’t care about the 9th Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness, because they BOLDLY BALD-FACED LIE when they can’t win an argument.


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Robert Creamer: Time to Just Say No to Giant Corporate "Parasites" — and Recognize Them for What They Are

Robert Creamer: Time to Just Say No to Giant Corporate “Parasites” — and Recognize Them for What They Are
from The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by Robert Creamer
1 person liked this
Sounds like a movie script. Giant parasites stalk the American landscape disguised as benign upstanding participants in the “free market.”

The dictionary defines parasite as:

“An organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.”

In fact, there are a number of major corporations in America who do very little productive work — never making products or delivering services that benefit their consumers. Instead, the profits they earn and the big CEO salaries they pay are derived by sucking or skimming a portion of the dollars they have convinced the Government to send through their corporate accounts — generally to perform a function that is or ought to be an inherently governmental function.

Ironically, many of these corporate parasites are the loudest defenders of “free markets” and the most vociferous opponents of “government takeovers,” when in fact they exist by feeding off the taxpayers.

Three examples have been in the news of late:

1). Banks that provide government guaranteed student loans. The house voted yesterday to end its four-decade practice of subsidizing private lenders to make student loans. Since the 1960s, the government has subsidized banks to lend students money and guaranteed lenders against loss if students defaulted.

But since the early 1990s the government itself has done direct lending for many student loans and avoided paying the subsidy to the banks. Why, after all, should banks take a percentage of every dollar to generate loans if the taxpayers guarantee the loan in full? In fact, it turns out that the government – which, after all, has a responsibility to provide higher education to its citizenry — can provide loans directly at a much cheaper price than it can through the banks.

In fact it’s estimated that eliminating the subsidy to the banks will save $40 billion that can be transferred into the Pell Grant program that provides college grants to moderate and low income students.

2). Private military contractors that provide security services. One of the things that defines civilized society is that the government has a monopoly on the use of lethal force. Yet over the last decade private military security firms have exploded. They have been hired with increasing frequency to do essentially governmental security functions. We’ve seen the results in the murders of civilians by Blackwater operatives in Iraq. And the growth of free-standing, mercenary armies that are available for hire by governments around the world is a danger to international security.

But these contractors are also economic parasites, since they charge a great deal more to do functions that could otherwise be performed by the government. In fact, most of their personnel are trained by the American military. After they leave the service and go to work making much more than they would if they re-enlisted for another turn with the Army or Marines. Then, the Blackwaters of the world turn around and bill their people out at huge markups so that the taxpayers — who paid for their training in the first place — have to pay a corporation for the privilege of hiring them back at much higher rates.

3). Private health insurance companies. These are the granddaddy of all parasitic operations. Remember that every other industrial society has long since decided that financing the health care of its citizens is an inherently governmental function — that it is cheaper and much more consistent with our values — to provide health care to all as a right.

With that approach, every other industrial society pays 50% less than we do per person for health care and, according to the World Health Organization, 36 countries have better health care outcomes than we do in the U.S.

Remember that health insurance companies don’t provide an iota of health care services. They do hire an army of claims agents to deny claims for coverage, and another army of salesmen and admen to sell you policies that you would automatically have in most other countries. They simply take your money, skim off profits and CEO salaries and then — once they get their end — pay for your health care.

We know that the one thing government does very well is managing insurance pools. Medicare and Social Security are two of the most successful programs in history. And the health care financing authorities in countries like France and Spain are pretty good at it too.

The so-called “Medicare Advantage” program is a great example of a side-by-side comparison of how the private insurance companies compare with government run insurance programs. Medicare Advantage was set up by the Bush administration and Republican Congress to allow private insurance companies to skim off a share of Federal Medicare dollars. Originally, the private insurance companies claimed they would provide these services more efficiently than the “government.” But it turned out they required a 14% to 19% subsidy above the normal costs of Medicare.

As the Economic Policy Institute has pointed out, “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years, a substantial down payment on health care reform.”

Now the private insurance industry is battling tooth and nail to prevent a public health insurance program from competing for its non-Medicare business. They want to continue to skim their share off of every health care dollar they can.

In fact, they hope that the final insurance reform bill will require people to buy their products without any competition from a public plan or rate regulation to limit the amount they can skim into the hands of Wall Street investors and CEO’s.

That’s why President Obama has proposed that the final health insurance reform bill include a robust public health insurance option that doesn’t leave us with a mandate to buy insurance from a monopoly of private insurers (that are, by the way, also exempt from the anti-trust laws). That would just guarantee a government-mandated stream of revenue on which the private insurance companies can feed.

Of course, corporate parasites like these have always existed. But they have burgeoned over the last several decades as some of the best and brightest graduates of our universities have been convinced that they would be “chumps” to go out and create products and services that provide value to the economy. Much better to work for a corporate parasite that can make huge sums of money simply by convincing government to keep directing huge streams of revenue through its corporate coffers and then slicing off its share as the money comes by.

It’s time for the age of the corporate parasite to come to an end — otherwise, we’re the “chumps”.

Robert Creamer is a longtime political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.

More on Banks


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Ray Comfort Tries To Sneak Creationism Into Charles Darwin’s "On The Origin of Species"

Posted by Hemant Mehta in General, Pseudoscience, Science on September 18th, 2009
I really don’t understand how Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron can claim to be Christians — can we assume they follow the Ten Commandments? — and then proceed to lie with every breath.
It’s not just their ignorance about evolution. I think they actually have deluded themselves into think it’s some evil conspiracy.
I’m talking about knowing, purposeful lies.
To “celebrate” the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Comfort is giving away 50,000 copies of the book at colleges across the country.
The catch is that he wrote a 50-page introduction that explains how evolution has no support, brainwashes people, and has a direct connection to Adolf Hitler.
Here’s the cover (we’ll get to the introduction in a moment):
See Comfort’s name on there?
No?
That’s because he left it off. Why? He wants to dupe people into reading his version of the book and the only way to do that is to deceive people about what he’s offering.
(I’m waiting for some atheist to try that tactic — give away free books which say “Holy Bible” on the cover but contain the entire Skeptic’s Annotated Bible on the inside.)
Comfort/Cameron even made a promotional video for the ruse:

I count four lies from Cameron in the first 22 seconds.
He doesn’t even get the name of Darwin’s book right.
And, of course, there’s this line at the 4:30 mark:
“Remember: This is America. It’s still the land of the free, the home of the brave… and this is a life and death issue.”
WTF?
Like the image shows, Comfort has posted his 50-page introduction online for all to read (PDF). I’m sure some 9th grader can parse through that and debunk everything.
I’ll take the easier way out and just direct everyone here.
How do we combat this?
Not by ignoring them. That’s what they want. We can do better.
One Facebook group has this suggestion:
… We can amass as many of these books as possible, remove the 50 page intro, and then donate perfectly good copies of ‘Origin of Species’ to schools, libraries, and Goodwill. We can actually make this into something positive.
If you are in college, then you are in a good position to help. Check your campus on November 19th, and if you see a group distributing copies of the book, then get as many as you can. Get a copy for yourself, ask if you can have extra copies for your friends, ask your friends to go ask for copies, and ask other people you see carrying the book if you can have their copy.
That’s non-intrusive and helpful. I like it! That is, if these books actually include the whole of On the Origin of Species and not some Comfort-ified selectively-edited version of it.


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The Confederate Leviathan

The Confederate Leviathan
Ronald Bailey | September 18, 2009, 1:45pm
Last night I was dining with an acquaintance who hails from the North and who is an amateur historian specializing in the Grand Army of the Republic. My acquaintance is often asked to lecture on the GAR at Civil War meetings and reenactments. He claimed that most Civil War buffs are chiefly focused on Confederate armies and interest in Union armies is minimal.

We got to talking about the Confederate battle flag and what is symbolizes today. Some people wave it around as a symbol of states rights, which I take to refer to the rights and political powers that individual states possess in relation to the federal government. Supporters of the states rights doctrine aim to restrict the growing powers of the federal government and the often unstated implication is that states are better guarantors of individual rights than is the federal government.

As our discussion continued, my dinner companion asked, “Did you know that the Confedaracy introduced conscription well before the Union did?” I admitted that I did not know that. We kept talking about various violations of liberty–other than the horrific atrocity of slavery– pioneered by the Confederacy. For a quick summary, my companion directed my attention to the blog Civil War Memory run by local historian Kevin Levin. In a recent post, Levin asks,

… is the record of the Confederacy one of limited government and respect for individual rights?

The answer is, no. As evidence, Levin lists the following Confederate violations of liberty:

Conscription (before the United States)
Tax-In-Kind
Tariff (higher than the 10 to 15 percent rate proposed by Hamilton in his Report on Manufacturers (1791)
Confederate National Investment in Railroads (amounting to 2.5 million in loans, $150,000 advanced, and 1.12 million appropriated)
Confederate Quartermasters leveled price controls on private mills and were later authorized to impress whatever supplies they needed.
Government ownership of key industries
Government regulation of commerce
Suspension of habeas corpus (According to historian, Mark Neely, 4,108 civilians were held by military authorities)
So, to repeat Levin’s question to would-be defenders of states rights: Are you sure that you’re waving the right flag?

Addendum: Take a look at the 2004 Reason column “Wrong Song of the South: The dangerous fallacies of Confederate multiculturalism” by David Beito and Charles Nuckolls. They correctly conclude:

If the Confederate multiculturalists believe in liberty, as many of them assert, they will stop waving the Confederate Battle Flag, abandon the cause of a nation state that championed an unforgivable violation of inalienable rights, and embrace the rich American heritage of individualism.

Disclosure: I was born in Texas and grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia


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Sotomayor Issues Challenge to a Century of Corporate Law

Sotomayor Issues Challenge to a Century of Corporate Law
By JESS BRAVIN
WASHINGTON — In her maiden Supreme Court appearance last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a provocative comment that probed the foundations of corporate law.

During arguments in a campaign-finance case, the court’s majority conservatives seemed persuaded that corporations have broad First Amendment rights and that recent precedents upholding limits on corporate political spending should be overruled.

Sonia Sotomayor

But Justice Sotomayor suggested the majority might have it all wrong — and that instead the court should reconsider the 19th century rulings that first afforded corporations the same rights flesh-and-blood people have.

Judges “created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons,” she said. “There could be an argument made that that was the court’s error to start with…[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics.”

After a confirmation process that revealed little of her legal philosophy, the remark offered an early hint of the direction Justice Sotomayor might want to take the court.

“Progressives who think that corporations already have an unduly large influence on policy in the United States have to feel reassured that this was one of [her] first questions,” said Douglas Kendall, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

“I don’t want to draw too much from one comment,” says Todd Gaziano, director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. But it “doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that she respects the corporate form and the type of rights that it should be afforded.”

For centuries, corporations have been considered beings apart from their human owners, yet sharing with them some attributes, such as the right to make contracts and own property. Originally, corporations were a relatively rare form of organization. The government granted charters to corporations, delineating their specific functions. Their powers were presumed limited to those their charter spelled out.

“A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible,” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in an 1819 case. “It possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it.”

But as the Industrial Revolution took hold, corporations proliferated and views of their functions began to evolve.

In an 1886 tax dispute between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the state of California, the court reporter quoted Chief Justice Morrison Waite telling attorneys to skip arguments over whether the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause applied to corporations, because “we are all of opinion that it does.”

That seemingly off-hand comment reflected an “impulse to shield business activity from certain government regulation,” says David Millon, a law professor at Washington and Lee University.

“A positive way to put it is that the economy is booming, American production is leading the world and the courts want to promote that,” Mr. Millon says. Less charitably, “it’s all about protecting corporate wealth” from taxes, regulations or other legislative initiatives.

Subsequent opinions expanded corporate rights. In 1928, the court struck down a Pennsylvania tax on transportation corporations because individual taxicab drivers were exempt. Corporations get “the same protection of equal laws that natural persons” have, Justice Pierce Butler wrote.

From the mid-20th century, though, the court has vacillated on how far corporate rights extend. In a 1973 case before a more liberal court, Justice William O. Douglas rejected the Butler opinion as “a relic” that overstepped “the narrow confines of judicial review” by second-guessing the legislature’s decision to tax corporations differently than individuals.

Today, it’s “just complete confusion” over which rights corporations can claim, says Prof. William Simon of Columbia Law School.

Even conservatives sometimes have been skeptical of corporate rights. Then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist dissented in 1979 from a decision voiding Massachusetts’s restriction of corporate political spending on referendums. Since corporations receive special legal and tax benefits, “it might reasonably be concluded that those properties, so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere,” he wrote.

On today’s court, the direction Justice Sotomayor suggested is unlikely to prevail. During arguments, the court’s conservative justices seem to view corporate political spending as beneficial to the democratic process. “Corporations have lots of knowledge about environment, transportation issues, and you are silencing them during the election,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said during arguments last week.

But Justice Sotomayor may have found a like mind in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “A corporation, after all, is not endowed by its creator with inalienable rights,” Justice Ginsburg said, evoking the Declaration of Independence.

How far Justice Sotomayor pursues the theme could become clearer when the campaign-finance decision is delivered, probably by year’s end.

Write to Jess Bravin at jess.bravin@wsj.com

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A19
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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And here’s a link to Stephen Colbert’s video bit, “Corporations Are People Too”:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Let Freedom Ka-Ching
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Protests


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America, I Love You. Americans, On the Other Hand…

America, I Love You. Americans, On the Other Hand…
By Evan Handler
Actor, author, screenwriter, and journalist
I have found the last week to be one of the most politically dispiriting of my adulthood. After President Obama’s address to the nation on health care, I posted an opinion piece on Huffington Post which garnered well over 600 comments, as well as dozens of emails sent directly my way. The piece was in support of strong health care reform legislation, including a “public option,” and used my own history of overcoming acute myeloid leukemia, as well as my wife’s Italian family’s health care experiences in that country, as reference points. Most responses were of the “Thank you for saying what I’ve felt” variety, and it’s always gratifying to be told I’ve said something important, or made someone else feel heard.

The strong minority current won’t surprise anyone who’s followed the health care debate, or most any political discussion, over the past couple of years. A vocal minority has let me know, over and over again, that they don’t want the government taking any more of their money; that they want to be able to decide how to spend and invest their own money; that they don’t want to have to pay for anything for anyone else; and — the big time, firecracker, most-consistent comment of all — they don’t want any Americans to have government-subsidized health care insurance if one single, goddamn, fucking, disgusting illegal immigrant might be able to get their hands on it, too.

Okay. I get it. And here’s my response to both groups.

First, to those opposed to any European-styled government subsidized health insurance option: I found every one of your arguments to be small-minded, selfish, fear-driven, ill-informed, self-serving, and — most crucially — detrimental to the long-term interests of the United States of America. As I indicated in my last piece, the oft-stated logic of “government out of my life” is a fantasy existence you’ve never experienced, and that you’d whimper in fear over were you ever subjected to it for an instant. Make a list of the industries you’re aware of: medical, chemical, automobile, steel, housing, whatever. Each and every one of them would crush you with glee without government regulations if it added to their profits by one one-millionth of a percentage point. They’d sell the juice they squeezed out of you as a refreshment drink, if they could get away with it. As corrupt and inefficient as your government is (and it clearly is), it’s the only thing keeping you alive moment to moment. Reform it, by all means. Keep it honest. Throw out the bums who aren’t protecting you adequately enough. But, end its involvement in your life? Scale it back? You’re kidding yourself. That’s a joke. Take one look back at history (please, just one look!), and see how workers, and children, and consumers are now protected where they were once injured and exploited. That’s called “progress,” and we’re hoping to add a little more.

To those who insisted, “I don’t use public transportation, my local taxes pay for my town’s sidewalks, I don’t use this, I don’t use that,” yours are idiotic arguments. The concrete under your feet, the steel used in elevators, the earthquake and flood resistant building codes, the dams that don’t break and drown you, the cars that (hopefully) don’t fall apart as you’re driving them, the airplanes that don’t (usually) land on your head — every single thing that keeps you safe every day of your life is provided to you by a government standard or regulation. Argue with me about it all day long; go ahead and take offense at my use of the word “idiotic.” None of it changes the fact that you wouldn’t survive a week if you were really in it on your own, and that your resistance to recognizing it is a much bigger problem than 11 million people who entered this country illegally. You, in your refusal to acknowledge your interdependence with everyone else, are a bigger problem than they are.

As to those immigrants, and the rage I’ve seen inspired by them, just give me a break. You’re all immigrants. Every one of you. Every one of your pink, overstuffed, jiggly “American” asses is stuffed full of tortillas, or pancetta, or paella, or schnitzel, or knockwurst, or moussaka, or Dublin Coddle, or whatever the fuck your ancestors ate before they crawled their way over here. And, when they got here, someone hated them just as much as you’re hating whoever’s newest here now, and fought against their having anything you now enjoy.

If it’s only the illegal entry that’s an issue for you, let me ask you this: If you lived in Country A, where you and your family were starving, and you knew you could get a job in Country B, are you telling me you wouldn’t sneak across a border to feed them? Of course you would. And, if the people of Country B kind of, sort of allowed it, and benefited tremendously from your willingness to harvest their crops, or work on their assembly lines, or vacuum their offices, or clean their children’s school toilets for pennies, it would be pretty shitty treatment, indeed, to turn you away from an emergency room if you got got sick, like I’ve heard recommended in terms of the undocumented residents of the United States.

As to those undocumented residents, get ready to have your blood really boil. They’re not going anywhere. No one is going to round them up and send them home, other than in token gestures to calm you down, and no amount of mistreatment is going to force them to run home in any meaningful numbers. What needs to happen, and what will happen, is that they be put on track to gain legal residency status, so that they will pay taxes, and be rightfully protected from all the evils I’ve outlined above, just like the rest of us human beings living here. The reason it needs to happen and will happen is that it’s the more cost efficient thing to do. It’s cheaper than keeping them here as a marginalized population, with all the costs included in that, and it’s cheaper than the impossible process of gathering, prosecuting,and sending them away. Really, when will enough be enough? Don’t you realize, can’t you realize, that all the change you’re fighting against — just like the protections that are now taken for granted, but that someone fought against once-upon-a-time — will happen, eventually, whether you like it or not?

That last bit is the only thing that comforts me right now. No matter how hard the nitwits (and the clever ones who manipulate them) fight, eventually everything they despise will come to pass. Gays will get married and enjoy equal protection. There will be some form of government-subsidized health care coverage for all. And the vast majority of the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants currently here will be granted some degree of permanent residency status. These things will all happen, even if it’s thirty more years until they do, because they need to. They are the most correct solutions. (Don’t tell me, “There’s no right or wrong. We just happen to disagree.” Nonsense. I don’t accept it. There is right, and there is wrong, and those against strengthening protections for those least able to protect themselves are wrong.) The joke is that, by fighting, and delaying, those who think it’s just “unfair,” or that providing rights or protections for others will “cost too much,” or who want “the government out of my pocket,” will make the final tab so much higher than if the reforms were implemented now. The costs of exclusion are astronomical, from ER care for those with no coverage, to cultural warfare and political campaigning, and eventual (lost) lawsuits by those who’ve been trampled upon.

My prediction is that, finally, one day, with fewer fireworks than anyone could now expect, with more of a groan of exhaustion than much celebration, enough of the opposition will have seen enough carnage to come to their senses, or have discovered they can love the gay children they’ve given birth to (imagine that!), or had a catastrophic illness themselves, and the right laws will come into play, and the country will change. But what will we have gained from the long delay?

As to those who agree with some, or much, of what I say, you’d better get off your asses right now. I mean right now. The greedy and the foolish are ruling the day, even after they lost an election (and even though they hold no majorities, either in government or in population). Because they’re working harder. They’re yelling louder. Their hatred is out hustling your good will by a mile. How many of them showed up in Washington, fifty-thousand, or 1.5 million? It doesn’t matter. Because no bigger demonstration existed to demand government-subsidized health insurance be available to those who want it. Were there facts shouted at the town hall meetings, or lies? It doesn’t matter. Because there was no larger force, to sing “I Ain’t A-Scared of Your Lies, ‘Cause I Want My Health Care,” to the tune of the old civil rights song “I Ain’t A-Scared of Your Jail, ‘Cause I Want My Freedom.” That would have made the evening news. Because it would have taken a spectacle, and used it as a jumping point to create a bigger, more powerful, one. Because it would have framed the effort for what it is, a struggle for what should be a civil right. And, at least for one small day, a news cycle would have been won, instead of lost.

Oh, the mail I’ll get now. The comments will scream that I don’t know what I’m talking about, because one or two of my facts might not be perfectly correct, or phrased. People will take offense, and say I’ve lowered the level of dialogue with my language. But there is no dialogue. One glance at the comments section to my last post, or at my emails this week, and you can see. Dialogue is over. There is no convincing those who will not listen to reason.

It’s funny to remember and compare such a small incident, but it applies. When I still lived in New York, I owned a small apartment in a co-op building. There was a security guard who patrolled the block at night, and he was paid by voluntary contributions from those who chose to give. Ten dollars a months was the requested amount. Ten dollars a month, from people who owned Manhattan real estate, in order to make the block a bit safer, and a bit cleaner. But payments to the guard’s salary were dwindling, so a survey was done, and it became clear that while 50% of the people on the block were contributing, our building had a participation rate of only 30%. At a board meeting, some of my neighbors said, “I don’t go out at night. Why should I have to pay for a security guard when I don’t go out at night?”

“Well, would you rather have to step over broken glass and used condoms during the day, when you do go out?” I asked. “Would you rather have noise and music from groups that gather at night, or hear screams from people being robbed, or worse?” It didn’t matter. They weren’t moved.

So we did what the law allowed us to do. We took a vote, and we made the ten dollars a month a mandatory part of the building’s monthly maintenance charges. We went from 30% participation, to 100%. In other words, we stopped trying to reason with them, or make them understand, or agree. We used our majority, and we rammed it down their throats. It’s time now to do the same. This is a war we’re in. Not a shooting war (and I condemn anyone who takes up arms on either side of it, like some have already done at supposed “Town Hall Meetings”). It’s an ideological war. And the longer it takes to recognize and acknowledge that fact, the longer it will take for our society to throw off the outsized influence of those who are willing to wage one from the other side.

So, if you feel inspired, if the words of the last post meant something to you, do something. Don’t write to me on Facebook, or merely pass the article on there (though I thank you for doing so this past week). Call Senators and Congressmen/women. Flood their phone lines. Send them emails. Shout out to them from the street. Carry signs. Gather. Organize. Call ten friends, or a hundred, or fifty-thousand, or a million-and-a-half, and go to Washington. Scream and shout. Wage war. Insist.

We were once a nation of such potential. A nation built on the pride of its self-proclaimed superiority. We’ve been embarrassing ourselves in front of the world since shortly after 9/11, 2001. In spite of a change of leadership, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Shame on the citizens who are trying to obstruct, and shame on the politicians who pandered to them this past week.

The words on the Statue of Liberty, liberators of concentration camps, inventors and innovators throughout the twentieth century. And what’s the United States’ most recent contribution? Collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and eleven million brown, yellow, and red-skinned people who’ll be denied the privilege of paying money to purchase health care insurance. Hooray for the red, white, and blue.

Evan Handler’s latest book is “It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive.”

EvanHandler.com


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What Makes People Want to Play Rock Band and Guitar Hero?

What Makes People Want to Play Rock Band and Guitar Hero?
By Gary Marcus
Director of the NYU Infant Language Learning Center, and Professor of Psychology at NYU

In some ways, Guitar Hero and Rock Band seem like the stupidest games on earth. Colored discs scroll down a TV screen, and eager participants mash colored buttons in time with what they see. You press a red button when you see a red disc, a blue button when you see a blue disc, and hold your fire when you see nothing. Rinse, lather, and repeat; that’s about all there is to it. Since the sequence and timing are provided by the game software, you don’t really even need to know the songs. There’s no need to strategize ahead (as in chess); no need for big muscles (as in basketball), and no need to bluff past one’s opponent (as in poker). Few games demand less of the player; I suspect monkeys could be trained to play, and know for a fact that robots can cruise through Guitar Hero on Expert.

Yet the two games together have grossed over three billion dollars, and received extensive coverage in highbrow outlets like The New York Times and The Atlantic Monthly.

What is the appeal of a game that demands so little of the human mind? Part of it of course lies with the music; the latest Rock Band comes complete with Beatles music, and for people like me, who grew up listening to music, no body of music is more compelling. (For people with rather different tastes, there’s Guitar Hero: Metallica and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, with Steely Dan allegedly on its way, although Jimmy Page swears there will never be a Guitar Hero: Led Zeppelin).

Still, at $60, the game costs as much as 4 or 5 albums, and the game takes more work to play. Why mash buttons on a video game controller, when you could put Sgt. Pepper on your CD player, or learn to play a real guitar? If an alien scientist came to observe humanity, they’d find a lot of things puzzling, but few would be as puzzling as Guitar Hero.

* * *
Some games, of course, could be seen as practice for the real world; Monopoly could be viewed as preparation for a career in real estate, chess for the art of war. Many evolutionary psychologists believe that play evolved as way to ease children into their ultimate adult responsibilities; chasing your friends in a game of tag prepares you for the bison hunt on which your life will later depend.

Whether you buy that theory or not, the plastic “guitars” in Guitar Hero have little to do with real guitars; there are no strings, and no frets, there’s no soundhole, and no jack to hook up to an amplifier, either; except for a bit of clattering, the plastic pseudo-instrument makes no sound at all. And there’s no room for genuine creativity, as there would be with a real instrument. A real apprentice guitarist must spend hours and hours practicing scales and chords, and learning about the relation between melody and harmony; an aficionado of Guitar Hero skips straight to the songs, and may well never learn the difference between a major scale and a minor.

Economists would be puzzled, too. It generally costs the same amount or even less (once you factor out the costs of the plastic guitars) to buy the songs on iTunes as to get them in a package for your Xbox, and if you buy them on iTunes, you can play them over and over, wherever you want, in the car, or in the gym, and not just when you stand in front of your television set. You also aren’t stuck suffering through the abominable mid-80’s Hair Metal, in order to “unlock” the next song that you actually like.

What gives? If it’s not practice for a career in music, and it’s not efficient or rational from an economist’s perspective, what is it that drives people to play these games?

* * *
It’s a lust for power.

Not, mind you, of the sort that allows one to rule the world, but the sort that allows one to control one’s own world.

Dozens of studies over the years have shown that human beings are happier when they believe themselves to be in control. In one famous set of studies, participants were asked to solve simple arithmetic problems while sitting in a room in which sudden blasts of noise occurred at random intervals. One group of subjects had no choice but to listen, the others had a panic button they would be allowed to press if the noise became too much. Though few participants actually pressed the button, the mere feeling of control made the entire experience considerably more bearable. In another famous study, dogs were put in an environment in which nothing that they did correlated with their situation; so-called “learned helplessness” — essentially a form of depression — was the result.

Alas, although humans are very fond of being in control, we aren’t always so good at telling whether we actually have it. As Harvard psychologist Dan Wegner has argued in The Illusion of Conscious Will, Oujia boards were designed to trick people into thinking they didn’t have control when they really did. Guitar Hero is designed to do the opposite.

Inferring control is really an exercise in inferring causality; we want to know whether A causes B, but sometimes all we know is that when A happens, B happens too. In technical jargon, we infer causality from temporal contingency.

Games like Guitar Hero set up one of the most potent illusions of temporal contingency I’ve ever seen: if the player presses the button at the right time, the computer plays back a recording of a particular note (or set of notes) played by a professional musician. The music itself is potent and rewarding — Keith Richards really knows how to bend a note — but the real secret to the game is what happens is that fact if you miss the button, you don’t hear the note.

The brain whirs away, and notices the contingency. When I push the button, I hear Keith Richards; when I fail to push the button (or press the wrong button, or press it late), I don’t hear Keith Richards. Therefore, I am Keith Richards!

* * *
It’s not simply that you hear the songs (which bring pleasure) but that the game skillfully induces the illusion that you yourself are generating the songs. You aren’t paying $60 to hear the songs; you’re paying $60 to trick your brain into thinking that you are making them. Your conscious mind may know better — and realize that it’s all just a ruse — but your unconscious mind is completely and happily fooled.

Is that worth $60? If you want to feel like Keith Richards, the answer is surely yes.


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Katrina’s Lessons Are as Important as 9/11’s

Katrina’s Lessons Are as Important as 9/11’s

By Casey Gane-McCalla

Assistant Editor for BlackPlanet.com’s NewsOne

Last Friday was the 8th anniversary of 9/11. The previous week was the 4th anniversary of Katrina. While the media covered a lot of the 9/11 memorials, concerts and memories, it seemed as if the legacy of Katrina got very little attention. Both events have had a great impact on our country, but it seems as if politicians and pundits only learned something from 9/11.
I’d like to think that the lessons of 9/11 would be: Be extremely cautious about domestic terrorists, don’t train militant religious fanatics to fight your enemies, because they might come back to bite us and treat all threats against our country seriously.

While people in the media talk about the lessons of 9/11 very often, it is rare to hear pundits and politicians talk about the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. While 9/11 left 2,998 people dead or missing, Hurricane Katrina left 2,536 people dead or missing and displaced over one million people.

But 9/11 changed several ways the government operates in terms of foreign and domestic polices, while Katrina changed very little. After 9/11, we invaded two countries, started the patriot act and changed airline travel as we know it.

Katrina has caused no significant changes in US policy. What the world saw after Katrina, was a natural disaster inflamed by poverty, segregation and racism. While the government may not have been able to stop the hurricane, the U.S. could have definitely prevented the racism and poverty that made Hurricane Katrina way worse than it should have been.

Hurricane Katrina was an embarrassment to the United States. Despite its great wealth, the U.S. could not take care of its own. After Katrina, George Bush’s approval rating was 45%, half of the 90% it reached after September 11th.

Hubert Humphrey once said, “A nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. Congress should not ignore the plight of our nation’s poorest and sickest beneficiaries any longer.”

The judgment on George Bush from his reaction to Katrina both domestically and internationally is part of his legacy forever. Still, it seems as if the lessons of Katrina have been lost on the Republican party.

The Republicans obviously have not learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, as they continue to disregard poor, disenfranchised people, which is reflected in their opposition to health care.

Diseases, like hurricanes, affect everybody. Yet, as in Katrina, the rich seem to be protected against them, while the poor and minority populations are vulnerable and often left with no help to protect themselves against them.

If the next Katrina comes as a virus (like Swine Flu), once again the rest of the world will see how America treats its poorest and sickest beneficiaries. That is why we need health care for every citizen. If America has learned anything from the lessons of Katrina, it is that America must protect all of its citizens, regardless of economic or racial backgrounds.

Katrina was a reminder of the poor people who are rarely on TV and not seen or heard. These people are Americans, not third world refugees. They are entitled to the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness given to us in the Declaration of Independence. Just like the government is responsible for trying to help its citizens from disaster, it should be responsible for taking care of its citizens from diseases and health risks.

Protecting our citizens and keeping our country safe is no just about bombing countries that we think our threats. Not all threats come from Islamic extremists. Hunger, poverty, crime, natural disasters and diseases also threaten the safety of our country and citizens. If we can spend billions of dollars to invade other countries to keep our country safer, we should sacrifice to make the country safer for all of our citizens from natural disasters and diseases.

It is time to heed the lessons of Katrina. We are one country and all of our citizens are important, rich and poor, black and white. When a government gives an every man for himself attitude towards disease and natural disasters, it reflects badly on our country. It is the duty of our country to protect its citizens not only against terrorist attacks, but also against natural disasters and diseases as well. That’s why we need to make sure every one of our citizens has the right to health care.


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Lions and Tigers and… Nazis?

Lions and Tigers and… Nazis?
Filed by: Sara Whitman
September 13, 2009 11:30 AM
The first few times I heard the right wing call Obama a “Nazi,” I ignored it. Thought it was random. After all these years, I should know not a single thing comes from the right that hasn’t been vetted, considered and framed.

Nazi? I’m not sure I even understand how they got there or who they are trying to rally. I mean, the skinheads aren’t going to go run and side with Obama as the supreme Nazi. I just saw a photo of Nancy Pelosi branded as a Nazi- pretty sure they aren’t going to go rally behind her, either.

The Nazis were not communist- rather anti- communist. They called themselves socialists, but in truth, they were fascists. State controlled, dictatorship that allowed no critique of any kind of the government.

I didn’t see anyone going to jail for screaming “lie!” the other night. Or marching in the streets, or writing articles, or telling seniors they will be subjected to death panels.

Again, the Nazi image rears it’s ugly head. Why? I’m not sure who they are trying to rally. Extreme right folks tend to think the holocaust didn’t happen. Or that having an extreme nationalism, eugenics and separation of races isn’t a bad idea. They kinda like that stuff.

Is this an attempt for the right wing to reestablish itself with the soccer moms of America? People who do think the Nazi’s were evil but also can’t stand someone standing up and believing social justice is a good thing? That the embracing of the far far right has left them powerless and they are coming back to the mushy middle, dredging up fears, and selling their snake oil policies to them?

Long live the health care companies! As if that will help under and uninsured. But fight against the Nazis? Well, that’s noble, isn’t it?

Several people have said to me lately, we have to keep a keen eye out for what is going on. All this progress will certainly be followed by a backlash.

And the right does nothing without a careful plan.

Lions and Tigers and Nazis… time to ask the question why.


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Run A Free BitTorrent Tracker On Google!

by Ernesto on September 10, 2009
With both the Pirate Bay and OpenBitTorrent trackers down at the moment, many people are unable to download torrents unless they enable DHT. Luckily there are a few backup trackers that people can use, and thanks to Google’s free App Engine, everyone can setup a tracker of their own in a few minutes.

In their defense, operators of BitTorrent sites often argue that they do nothing more than Google does. They offer a search platform for people to find content on the web, specifically torrent files. To a certain extent they are right, Google can be used to find torrent files in several ways.

For example, the mother of all search engines has a special search command that allows you to find torrent files scattered across the Internet.

Google’s custom search also allows everyone to create their own torrent search engine, and Google’s App Engine enables users to start a free torrent search engine for free by using Google’s servers.

It is quite clear that there are several ways to find torrents through Google. However, just finding torrents is not enough. In order to download content through BitTorrent successfully, one also needs a working tracker in order to locate those all-important peers. Luckily Google can help here too.

By using Google’s App Engine, everyone can run a tracker without having to invest a single dime in hardware or bandwidth. The only problem is making the tracker compatible with the App Engine, but thanks to the newly released Atrack software it is a piece of cake to set one up.

The Atrack Bittorrent tracker is designed to run on Google App Engine and its main goals are a minimal memory use, speed, low bandwidth usage and efficient CPU use. On top of this the tracker wont store any data at all, making it as secure as possible for its users.

“Atrack also aims to respect your privacy: other than what is needed for the most basic tracking, Atrack gathers no information whatsoever. Beyond that no aggregate statistics are kept of anything, and nothing is stored permanently anywhere, not even hashes and ip/ports,” the Atrack team writes.

So now everyone can set up a standalone BitTorrent tracker at no cost aside from the the time it takes to set things up. The Atrack software is released into the public domain, and a test tracker is up and running on Google’s App Engine.


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With One Simple Sentence, ABC News Confirms The Death of Beltway Journalism

With One Simple Sentence, ABC News Confirms The Death of Beltway Journalism
from The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by Eric Boehlert

It’s from an online report about the Obama school “controversy,” and it’s written by Dan Harris. In his piece, Harris notes that conservatives pre-emptively blasted Obama’s stay-in-school speech even though conservatives had no idea what was going to be in the speech. Harris notes that the speech itself “turned out to be little more than a pep talk on the importance of staying in school.”

Later in the piece as he tries to put the “controversy” in context, Harris uncorks this era-defining gem [emphasis added]:

While the media loves a good fight — even when the charges are unfounded — there may be more to conservatives’ complaints that play into larger concerns about the president on health care reform.
Behold the wonder. Pretty much sums up the state of affairs, right? “The media loves a good fight–even when the charges are unfounded.”

And do I even have to mention that the media’s new-found love of unfounded fights is an Obama era special. Or can somebody point me towards the manufactured, unfounded “controversies” hatched during the Bush years that the press treated as big news. (As I’ve noted, when conservatives–and overwhelming white–activists get mad, it’s news. When liberals do it, it’s annoying.)

If that weren’t bad enough, there were other depressing nuggets from Harris’ woeful report. First, he quoted three partisan Obama critics in the story, yet somehow managed to avoid a single Democrat or Obama supporter for his report.

And second, then there was this:

While Obama may have run a successful presidential campaign, critics say the White House has been unprepared for the ferocity of the Republican opposition.
“You have to be aware of the opposition that is going to arise and have a plan to deal with it,” [former Gov. Mitt Romney spokesman Kevin] Madden said.

Did you get that? According to a partisan Republican, the Obama WH was to blame for the school “controversy,” because it should have seen the firestorm coming. It should have known that by having the President of the United States address school children and urge them to excel and stay in school, that Republicans and wingnuts would accuse him of trying to “indoctrinate” kids with a “socialist” agenda.

I mean really, how did the WH not see that one coming, right?

So to summarize: ABC News confirms that it will chase any right-wing “fight” even if it’s baseless; even if it’s “unfounded.” In reporting those fights, ABC News will purposefully exclude Democrat voices from the story. And ABC News, while acknowledging a fight is “unfounded,” will allow partisan Republicans to blame the White House for the “controversy.”

R.I.P., indeed.

Crossposted at County Fair, a Media Matters blog.

Follow Eric Boehlert on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EricBoehlert


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Breaking Three Years of Silence: Alex Jones Interviews Charlie Sheen

Breaking Three Years of Silence: Alex Jones Interviews Charlie Sheen

Kurt Nimmo
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In the audio clip below, aired today on the Alex Jones Show, Charlie Sheen, popular actor and winner of the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series, tells Alex Jones why he wrote “20 Minutes with the President,” an open letter to president Barack Obama calling for a new investigation into the September 11, 2001, attacks.

“Enough stonewalling,” Sheen told Jones, “enough media manipulation, enough media-mantra speak. The families deserve better, America deserves better.”

Charlie said he cannot sit idly by and hope that a new investigation will “fall out of the heavens and into our Congress.” We must demand Obama deliver “honest promises,” Sheen explained. We must demand a new investigation.

Alex mentioned John Farmer, a senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, who revealed earlier this year that the government agreed not to tell the truth about 9/11. Other members have said that the Pentagon and the government were engaged in deliberate deception about their response to the attack. Farmer’s book about his experiences working for the Commission is entitled The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America’s Defense on 9/11, and is set to be released this month (see Paul Joseph Watson, 9/11 Commission Counsel: Government Agreed to Lie About 9/11).

Charlie said the call for a new investigation will not be silenced by the corporate media. “This message will not be silence anymore by the media-fueled mantras insisting on how they feel and deciding for them [the American people and most importantly the victim family members] for eight long years what can thought, what can be said, what can be asked..”

Alex noted that even as the whitewash commission conducted its hearings, there were outraged family members in the audience demanding the truth be told. Charlie added that these family members were ignored by the commission and thus deeply offended. The questions they asked “never saw the light of day” and their words never found their way into the final report generated by the commission, itself a fraud as Farmer others have noted. “We know that [the families] have been calling for a new investigation,” Sheen noted.

The government is demanding the public suspend logical thought and dismiss all questions about the investigation’s report, which is a work of fiction, in essence a fairy tale, Charlie argued. The establishment, he said, demands we worship a new form of physics and accept a “new form of reality that is inconsistent with everything we know in each and every cell of our entire being.” The American people are instructed by the government to believe such obvious nonsense and then are systematically demonized for asking questions, he explained.

The official 9/11 story is “an absolute fairy tale,” Charlie declared, “a complete work of fiction, and not even a very good one.”

Sheen hopes “20 Minutes with the President” will get Obama’s attention. “If for some reason this doesn’t make it into his hands and I am never granted 20 minutes with my president, I would urge the American people — I would urge anybody and everybody that has a stake in this, which would be all of us — to continue to apply the pressure, to continue to ask the questions, to continue to demand the truth.”

Charlie Sheen will further expand on his open letter this Friday on the Alex Jones Show.


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