Atomized junior

Dedicated to the smallest particles of meaning on the web
Atomized Links:

theUsual Suspects:

-Wikipedia search


Atomized junior

Friday, November 30, 2007
Cable Ties

or Kevin Martin agonisties.

How has FCC Chairman Kevin Martin managed to get nearly everyone mad at him? Everyone everyone. The Cable industry. His fellow republican commission members, particularly commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate. The two Democrats, who normally view him with suspicion and are looking prescient at the moment. Commissioner Adelstein lent his voice to republican concerns that Martin may have again been having the FCC hide or obscure contradictory data. Even in Washington where it is often hard to keep the customers satisfied; this is quite a feat  FCC Chief Still Standing, if on Shifting Ground.

But why? All this from trying to invoke a Cable Television regulatory threshold referred to as the 70/70 rule. When 70 percent of American households are in neighborhoods wired for cable, and 70 percent of these households do in fact subscribe to cable. Cable starts to come under a regulatory regime more similar to air broadcast television  FCC plan to regulate cable stalls (updated). Language, content, all that. That Chairman Martin was willing to put so many noses out-of-joint, leads me to believe that this was a deliberate strategic nod to social conservatives in an election season. Social Conservatives for all their apparent similarity to libertarians and other small government pretenders are not against the coercive power of the state. Only against the idea that this power is not in their hands.

A small irony is that, in the end the democratic commissioners will likely vote to give him his regulatory powers Round 2 Set in FCC Versus Cable Fight - The populist issue in this is a la carte cable subscriptions - the ability to choose your own assortment of channels for basic cable. This is something the industry cannot abide and fights at all costs. I know little of the cable business model, but it does seem to involve paying for a lot of crap for the handful of shows you do want. It's never been worth it for me. I miss baseball, which has largely disappeared from air broadcast. I envy the extra layer of science and history shows the Discovery and History channels represent. I miss black and white movies, heck, any movies made before the late eighties which broadcast will no longer air. But I miss none of this enough to pay cable subscription fees on a clerk's wages. Too much dross and chaff, not enough yummy gluten.

The Commissioner is the type of individual; however, who seeks to get back on any horse he has fallen off of. He will revisit the cable question and is still aiming at a vote on media consolidation. I hadn't realized this exists in two forms in the current policy framework. There is what is referred to as vertical ownership as well as what is referred to as cross-ownership. The same issues of media consolidation considered differentially . Diversified and minority ownership issues are not currently under consideration*. However, the Commission's most dissenting member, Michael Copps, is willing to discuss why and how all this matters: News | FCC commissioner Michael Copps vs. "Big Media".


* 03Dec07. I need to remember to hold off on any FCC post until the next Monday to see if Liz Berg has put a "Radio News You Can't Use" column up on the WFMU blog. She reviews the same territory in the above post, pointing out that for radio at least diversity and minority ownership concerns is why low power FM non-comericial licenses which I remember as a dead issue are under consideration again, as the FCC casts about for cover. She also notes that the NAB (ever impartial and only technically concerned) is fighting again fighting LPFM on its traditional grounds.

11:41:04 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Krazy Kat

 After I wrote the post on Bill Griffith last month I saw that the web log Pseudopodium raised up the old comic Krazy Kat for consideration. As always the conversation there goes on above my head. But Krazy Kat, Ignatz, Officer Pup all quality and intriguing stuff. There's more than you dream of in the narrow angles of your everydayness. While I knew these characters, I've happened upon them over the years I never sat down with a group of strips to really learn George Herriman's work. Even from the little I know if tempted to drift towards the comfortable fallacy of believing that only within the current period of American history have we had the sophistication to understand ourselves; Krazy Kat's disinclination towards insight is anodyne. I have only to close my eyes and feel the sweet press of brick, to recall my love.

I had finished the Bill Griffith's post thinking there was more to say. I use this as excuse to try.

Comics make me happy. This isn't to say I expect nothing from them but a simple-minded wallow. Far from it I expect from comics a heads-up on everthing I need to know or think about. This led me to reflect on what comics from what various dark interior reaches resonate within me. For purposes here I restrict this mostly to comic strips or panels that were produced for newspapers. Ones that were written and drawn every day and that I encountered that way. Especially focusing on serial comics involving reoccurring characters, and narratives. This does bias things somewhat towards older or ceased comics. Before the era of zombie comics that never die. It may be one of those regional dialect things but I call these thing the funnies, and I want them to be funny. Graphic novels are different thing. Monographs opposed to serials to start with. More deliberately cinematic in style and conception. I also don't expect I'll find myself including much alternative or self published stuff because you are either one of the 20 or so people who know about them or you aren't.

Another thing I like about this topic is that it lends itself to become a complete wikifest. I have been unable to think of a comic yet that did not have a wikipedia entry for itself or its creator. A feature not a bug is how I see that. Wikipedia does not look at popular culture, it is popular culture. Of course not all these wiki entries have examples of their comic strips. This forces me to write about things that are not in front of me. I suppose this is fine if you just want to spark a revery. Otherwise for any other sort of critical thinking it is best if you can land samples of the work some way. Comics are art, visual symbolism reigns . Much of a given comic exists in the way the characters and their world are drawn. What things in the background, in the foreground. What things in hand or clothing does the artist choose to depict? These choices contain what the comic can do or say. Many comics I only know through published collections. There is a bit of serendipity involved there. I either came across them from a friend or read them in a library, probably while I was supposed to be doing something else.

The one comic I want to mention today is another I read on the recommendation of old college housemate Dan Searing: Alec by Eddie Campbell [ Eddie Campbell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ]. I remember little in particular of this now except that it was a slice of life comic, autobiographically intended. Though, no more rigorously tied to reality than most lives. I remember thinking there was nothing I knew of that compared to it. It neither traded on the ability to exaggerate that comics have, nor limited itself to the structures of something trying to be a story. It seems that the "Complete Alec" I read through has been reconfigured and reissued as a collected set titled the King Canute CrowdAlec : the King Canute crowd. The Canute is a pub - it was a British comic. Alec is a classic every-man His friends, the other characters, vary in temperament. I was a big fan of bands like the Wedding Present at the time and stuff like this; full of romantic english pathos had great appeal to me.

There was another series I read by Campbell about the same time called "Doing the Islands with Bacchus." apparently part of a larger set following the lives of a handful of Greco-Roman gods who have survived into the present time. In Doing the Islands Bacchus is imagined lending himself to the working trade as a tourist guide in the Aegean.

11:59:19 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, November 15, 2007
On Dogs

or the dog that didn't bark.

On one of the streets that I take on the way in to work in the mornings there is a house that has dachshunds in the yard. Two of them, as long-eared and shortlegged as any of their kind. Maryland, or Prince Georges' county at least has leash laws. Something that Holliston in Middlesex county Massachusetts didn't have, or didn't bother with. My memories of the back roads of my home town are mostly the memories of pedaling away from large barking dogs. Down Marshall from Gorwin till you got to Courtland at least. Holliston in those days was not the kind of town that had small dogs.

These Dachshunds do not intend to be different. Their yard lies half way up a hill which slows me down as I bicycle past. They bound out into the street barking their outraged honor and proceed to run circles around the bike while taking nips at my feet. I would put my head down and strenuously push past; but as much as I don't like their clattering aggravation or getting bit I don't want to run over their little feet. Their plan of attack does not seem to assume I would ever do that either.

In most towns and places things seem to exist in their particular way by a general will. Houses and business have the same appearance, similar cars sleep in similar driveways. Dogs keep in their yards attached to leashes or behind fences. and call out to each other from their separate places. Then there will be one street where all this is off. A street one arrives on, to not observe irksome rules. It can be seen that individual people come and go - move in and move out as years go by. It is left that the street itself exists differently. That is what brings people to it. A short shaded winding street in a suburban district, an ancient left over from pre-automotive days and scarcely adapted. The spring which lends the road its name arises, as nearly as I can tell, from the golf course on the hill at the end of the street and being too little of anything to require arrangement merely flows quietly down one side of the street. Faster when it rains slower when it doesn't, but never stopping.

The other day I was able to ride past this yard with no interference. At the top of the hill where Cool Spring road comes out onto Adelphi a road crew was working, clearing branches away from the telephone wires and feeding them into an industrial chipper. There were my dogs, watching this. They saw me, but I was nothing to get excited about. They turned away with an air of Dachshund indifference. One sat placidly in the middle of the road by the truck and didn't give me another glance. The other had drifted off a ways to where he (or she) could keep an eye on the truck and nose through a neighbor's trash cans at the same time. This one regarded me for a moment, then again longer, before returning to tearing a systematic hole in a plastic bag.

I considered this. as I rode on. I was mystified, maybe a little hurt. They didn't seem to really care about me at all. Dogs have rules and these rules mean everything to them. Someone comes by your yard that's trouble, that's what that is. Someone other than the squirrels and what-not who do not care what you think of them. When you get out of your yard that's different land there. Made out of completely different stuff. You meet all kinds of pilgrims on all kinds of business in such a place. You can pick up the scent of where they've been, sometimes. But not where they're going. You never truly see the path they're on. They don't either. Maybe they've got the sense of a chicken bone ahead of them, like the one you know is at the bottom of this bag, Maybe they don't. Either way it's no time for barking.

I jumped the bike up on the sidewalk on the far side of Adelphi road thinking there must be a message in there somewhere.

11:56:12 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, November 12, 2007
Burma Shave

Democracy rang freedoms bell.
out of it orange hornets fell
from the indus to the neva, kura irawaddy and potomac
what rids the meddlesome monk please tell?
Burma Shave.

It may be more apparent than real but there seems to have been a certain retreat from democracy recently. A season of flourishing counter Orange revolutions. Behind this lie the examples of Russia where Mr. Putin is working hard to render irrelevant to the state both office and election. Also China, recently completing a political caucus, which was no more than a grand celebration of the principle of one party rule and autocratic capitalism. Egypt last year showed that it was well satisfied to keep political prisoners in jail even when Secretary Rice came by trailing the rent remains of the administrations freedom agenda behind her. In the America's where, typically, left-leaning despots (mind you, not right-leaning despots) listen to disapproval from Washington with the attentiveness of a runner taking a lead off first base from a fastballer; Hugo Chavez is reshaping Venezuela into a dictatorship of the proletariat with casual indifference. In another of these precursor examples Iran earlier this year had a minor round of civil disturbance but significantly involving fuel costs. I hesitate to mention Iran a society nearly completely locked down to start with BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran launches anti-vice crackdown. This brings us to the retrenchment in Burma, Georgia, and Pakistan in ascending order of alarm for U S interests Pakistan Strife Threatens Anti-Insurgent Plan - In Burma again it was a realignment of government price subsidies, particularly energy costs that lead to action and the junta's studied reaction Myanmar junta trashes U.N.'s talks offer | International | Reuters. The situations in Pakistan and Georgia which had somewhat open public spheres seem more complex PakistanÕs General Anarchy - New York Times if not less dangerous to life and liberty The sad lessons of Georgia's violent counterrevolution. - By Anne Applebaum - Slate Magazine.

It seems natural to ask if anything links this new autocratism. We see leaders of some states responding to a waning US interest in an ill-conceived program of democracy promotion. We see programs of economic reform. Markets without political degrees of freedom. These are still managed societies where elites determine winners and losers In the realm of wealth, and the related prizes of access to clean air and water, healthcare and housing. Here is only creation of further ranks of privileged (analogous in part to the west's expanded middle class). It is an explicitly class based solution requiring a suppression of the masses who fall outside the threshold of privilege. There is a consumption of resources by this police state process, and the culture of entitlement above it. If the promotion of liberty and individual decision was the banner of the west. I would say there was a unseemly bastardization of democracy by those into whose hands the banner has fallen. Those would-be leaders, the neoconservatives, and those who championed them albeit from behind and at distance. Cheney Wolfowitz Rumsfeld Feith Rice Hadley Bolton and all those in their attendant circles were none of them as smart as they thought they were. They suffered from ignorance of what they sought to affect. The mass social engineering project they tried to engender in the middle east. The nature of the people they sought to inflict it on, who were never more than objects they projected upon. The thing they sought to inflict; the institutions of developed gesellshaft culture. Which seems not to have been more that a transplantable magick to them. The nature of their ignorance leads back to their education; primary secondary and post secondary. A procession of myth and ideology. A social promotion of fools. This was combined with ignorance of their own transparency. They were less aware less honest and more transparent in their designs and desires than they understood. They fooled only themselves.

Democracy propagates best by example. There is in this a necessary letting go. We believe our wealth, our efficiency, the order of our laws; That these are a piece of our faith and (occidental) fairness. Rather than of provident circumstance and hard process. We may not, in fact, know more about ourselves than others. Our course should be to choose the good for ourselves and let others do the same. Universal democracy is the fulfillment of our best interest against more specific and direct self interest which can only seek to diminish choice.

Given this there is something disconcerting about one facet of the Presidents sense of humorm his fascination with despotism. He said once 'I don't mind dictatorships as long as I'm the dictator', and more recently in this exchange

Reporter: Mr. President, following up on Vladimir Putin for a moment, he said recently that next year, when he has to step down according to the constitution, as the president, he may become prime minister; in effect keeping power and dashing any hopes for a genuine democratic transition there ...
Bush: I've been planning that myself. Bush Quips He Might Stay in Power (Threat Level Plays Along) | Threat Level from

It is not that much of a stretch to see this lending meaning to this government's penchant for secrecy and surveillance. Their dislike of neutral advisory boards in either science or policy. Hierarchical and politicized government. The radical dimminuization of the public sphere. There is no ideology of the common man and the common dream here. Only a concentrating belief in wealth and power, in privileged dreams. When Musharraf and others like him look across the oceans U.S. Strategy for Pakistan Looks More Fragile - New York Times they know that in the end Pakistan's Bhutto under house arrest ahead of planned march | all that is desired from them is order and allegiance.

11:58:07 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The other day I tried to log onto the internet stream of WZBC, Boston College's radio station, it's several hundred miles up the road from DC and just out of fm range. I got a strange message from iTunes when I did so : "unable to allow connection, all available connections to server are filled." I thought  likely this is just an issue with that server at this moment, but it also could be a portent of future. Streaming content radio stations will need to throttle connections down to fixed ceilings to avoid fees.

It made me pause and ask again: where do we stand with Internet Radio? There was an article in the Washington Post late last month describing a congressional hearing on the future of radio Web Radio Seeks Resolution - The article dealt with the struggle between the Digital Media Association which is trying to establish reasonable copyright royalty fee structures for internet radio, ideally even rates in parity with terrestrial radio and SoundExchanges (collecting fees for the RIAA) rate structure signed off on by the Federal Governments Copyright Royality Board. Soundexchange is supposedly in the midst of consultations and talks with internet radio entities, but this could be little more that a delaying tactic.

Over on WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Radio News You Can't Use Liz Bergs latest post mentions that a bill allowing for more LPFM licenses (Low Power FM) is heading towards a Senate vote. In my days being a DJ for a 10 watt college station, the message we consistently got from the FCC is that they considered low power educationally licensed and community radio to be a dreadfull mistake they were doing all in their power to undo. It was up or out, and we were constrained by a powerfull well funded entity at 88.5 (on the other side of DC) that said 'not up, children'.

For many Radio stations [music disseminators] that airwave seed, the license, is critical. Through that you have excuse to accrue equipment to build the knowledge pool, the staff. Adding an internet stream is really only of value to those organizations that have pushed themselves into the first rank. I think that pure internet entities like Pandora are secondary transmitters. That while the enthusiasm represented is peer to peer, it is technology aided word of mouth. Behind this are still primary focal points of music culture dissemination, often the few remaining free form radio stations like WFMU.

Another troubling aspect of this that the Washington Post's article touches on is the degree that SoundExhange's steep fees seemed to be aimed at innovations in music broadcast perhaps not incidently at the more diverse low key and innovative music culture internet Radio seemed to represent. From the article:

The most contentious of these issues, though, involves what online radio stations will pay in order to sustain both innovations in radio and the artists whose music they feature...
Webcasters have argued that a royalty fee schedule set by the Copyright Royalty Board last spring would put online radio stations, and the independent musicians whose work they often play, out of business.

These music cultures that bubbled about for years known variously as indie alternative underground. Popular music culture able to get by with less, and still carry impact and meaning. Bands like Onieda for instance. This is a music culture considerably less dependent on the music industry than previous, and increasingly in its various forms more relevent.

After the demise of WHFS a few years ago there has been no local broadcast station here in DC I listen to (I believe Cerphe and Weasel are up to something somewhere). Jake Einstein who was the guiding force of the original WHFS (the father you might say) passed away a month or so ago. I would never depend on some satellite radio to reproduce what he did.

This energetic concern for diviesity would be beside the point if the FCC goes ahead and allows the next round of media consolidation. Metafilter had a front page post on this appear - with several links - the day after I had written my previous post  FCC Moves to Change Ownership Rules Again | MetaFilter . Many markets would have the majority of broadcast outlets locked up within a single corporate entity. With only strays and  nonprofit license holders on the outside. These corporate owners will use music industry product up and down the length of their vertical integration for entertainment programming, and their own opinions for news. It will be all most will know.

11:47:51 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, November 1, 2007
Pictures from an Atrocity Exhibition

I've had a certain fascination with Mukasey's torturous confirmation for Attorney General. The narrative so far is that he was initially seen as a good pick. Competent and non confrontational to congress. There were two days of hearings, but they ran very different. One day accommodating, the second day intransigent and obfuscatory following the party line The Stench of Torture.

The Senate Subcommittee responded with a written request for clarification Mukasey, tortured. - By Bonnie Goldstein - Slate Magazine. No response seemed to clarify things or at least I couldn't find it in my RSS feeds. This lead to a procession of declarations by Senators on the committee for and against the nomination, but by weeks end enough had declared for him with the result that Mukasey confirmation will vote out of committee and pass in a floor vote Schumer, Feinstein Announce Support for Mukasey - In Shumer's (D. NY) case he came down on the nominees side because he seemed to believe that Mukasey would follow the Law whatever the Law was left to Schumer and Feinstein Back Mukasey - New York Times.

In the middle of the week I listened to a Diane Rehm show segment on this (w/ Susan Page hosting) and was continually struck by the cloying and cute nature of the rationalizations offered The Definition of Torture.. In general form it goes like this: We'll deny doing anything. We'll declare that, yes, torture is bad and that as good people we don't do bad things: therefore the things we do are not bad. As a second round these people try to distinguish between things that contravene law or just norms. And within law distinguish between US law, or treaty law. Dismissed whenever inconvenient. Finally and without fail they then hide behind the shabby and thin curtain of it being a classified program, to avoid saying anything specific at all.

The issue almost arbitrarily at the center of this is the practice of water-boarding: specifically whether we practice water-boarding or water-boarding lite. Which is to say: simulated drowning or controlled drowning with the lungs filling with water. It is likely that in practice this is a pointless distinction. That if all you are doing (which may be what you state and signal you are doing) is pouring water over the face this is unlikely to be an effective technique. It is when water not air is breathed and enters the body, and the panicked drowning reaction kicks in, that it would even seem like you were at work with the technique at all. And that is drowning. That is torture

waterboarding is just the type of torture then Lt. Commander John McCain had to endure at the hands of the North Vietnamese. As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. Waterboarding is Torture Period (Links Updated # 4) (SWJ Blog). Small Wars Journal.

That is what belief in these techniques signifies. What do we say interrogation is? Pain: up to the point of organ failure and death. To that point and no less.

Guests on the program took care to point out the parallels in practice and phrasing from German documents from the Nazi era. Also that in nearer patrimony the defended techniques were designed from SERE training that selected members of the Armed forces undergo to understand and resist enemy interrogations. Which were derived from practices of our enemies, that always were previously condemned. The calisthenics of the Hanoi Hilton, Guadacanal. We believed that what our enemies did sprang from impulses of vengeance, frustration, impotence, and to set public example. As much as to obtain "information". What would hold true, holds true.

After hearing it repeated stated I would specifically question the assertion that "these techniques work". We have John McLaughlin's (former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency) assurances that they do. But from what of these techniques, which he admits were combined, lies the effectiveness. How rigorously quantitatively and free from bias has this been examined? We see the 24isms "It works on TV". We smile and say we set this aside, but it is too clever to admit that TV and the movies are just fiction and not deal with the body of evidence that an image even fictional will carry more weight than an argument of ideas. The argument has been cast heavily in emotional and simplistic terms, the pictures communicate with that.

The other side of this is: garbage in garbage out. That the "enhanced interrogated" simply will tell you anything. To which it is countered: we get the truth. But there are really two simultaneous interrogations occurring. The subjugated human intelligence will examine and interrogate its interlocutor, his or her queries and needs, and supply that which will saits it's appetite. They will say whatever, whatever will be listened to, whatever they know will generally seem to establish what you seek to confirm. It should be pointed out that the prime mover of this issue is accountability; providing legal cover for actions already occurred.

Some of the guests tried to make a point on the notion of responsibility; of leaving things not done. There will be blood on our hands if there is not blood on our hands. Therefore do everything. In the event of another attack (or its postulation); there is culpability as well in not doing the right and effective thing because you were tragically occupied in visceral, base and vengeful things. There is culpability in doing things that while impossible to measure or account for (in concrete terms to the individual or bureaucratic mind) that change us as a nation, as a people. It should be understood there is potential for staggeringly great human moral failing there.There is culpability in practice and at the margins. What is done in practice is always a little closer to the ground than the theory. Less neat more subjective. A little further down the slippery slope : the place you leave off at the end of one day will be the place you start at on the next.

If Judge Mukasey thinks differently about these things he is kidding himself and selling his soul to the devil in the bargain, and our souls as well.

11:57:36 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.
Click to see the XML version of this web page.
Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
2007 P Bushmiller.
Last update: 12/6/07; 12:45:26 AM.