Sunday, May 29, 2005

Ticket to Sea World: $2 Million

disclaimer: i am no art critic

The shark in the tank - it's a piece of art. Some call it a masterpiece in fact. Not Rudy Giuliani. He almost shat his pants and then vomitted at the sight of his own fecal matter after the shark, a rotting cow's head and a Virgin Mary with cowshit smeared all over it appeared side by side at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in an exhibition titled "Sensation."

But I am here to comment on the shark in the tank. When I first saw it, I thought it was cool. It was an exceptionally creepy looking fish that kept me out of the water for about a week. But that was it - nothing but a fierce looking predator. As Terry Tempest - writing for The Nation - put it, "If it were in a museum of natural history, it would be called an exhibit, an exhibit in which the organism is featured as the animal it is. Call it art or call it biology, what is the true essence of shark?"

Indeed. What is the essence of shark? These types of questions validate the work of British artist Damien Hirst - who is to blame for the pickled shark. Need more validation? How about this. That shark in the tank - last spring New York bizzillionaire Steven Cohen purchased it for about $13 million (a bargain in this billionaire's opinion). How then is something that could be easily confused for an aquarium exhibit be deemed a priceless piece of collectable culture?

Ponder the shark's title for a moment: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. This was actually the rejected subtitle of Jaws III: Jaws in Disney. The title's use of language again validates the piece as a statue of waxed philosophy. But the truth of the matter is that the shark is ridiculous and the title supports the humor. I refer to an article in BlackBook in which art critic Glen O'Brien writes that, "Funny is the new serious. Ask anybody in the art world...Art as a joke is the natural consequence of art being something that you have to 'get.'" He writes that so much of contemporary art is a joke, something that is absurd in comparison to how serious we take pop-culture and how we acquiesce to horrible images in the media. But to see the ridiculousness in a $13 million shark is to enter an elite club of critics who "get it." Radar Magazine "gets it" here, with a funny promotion and the aforementioned Steven Cohen will soon "lose it" because reports claim that the shark's skin is peeling and its organs are liquid because Hirst never embalmed it correctly and never intended to truly preserve his piece. That's funny.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Paging Philip Roth: 'Spooks' in the Classroom

I'm a little rusty here. How do I do this again? I just write about things that I found in the news and on the internet that are both humorous and thought provoking? That's it? That can't be right, but oh the sad organ that is the blogosphere. My contribution to this growing piece of techy-trendery:

First I would like to diffuse the rumor that I was mauled by a grizzly while filming a Discovery Channel documentary about eating fish, and that is why I haven't posted in a while. I started that rumor so it is only fitting I end it.

NEWS: David Price of the political newsletter CounterPunch has been about the only person who writes words for a living that has been tracking the interesting and bizarre program that is the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP) here and here. Offered by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the program was tagged on to the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act and was appropriated $4 million, all while we slept soundly in our waterbeds in the not-so-safety of our homes.

WHAT IT IS (HO)?: The program - which is largely the product of Jayhawk anthropology doc Felix Moos - relies on the belief that academia is an institution that guards great knowledge important to the CIA. Moos and Roberts argue that for years the academy has blocked spooks and G-Men from entering campuses and gaining access to classes I slept through like foreign language and anthromapology. The CIA reflects and recognizes two areas in which it is completely lacking. 1) Understanding of foreign cultures, and 2) Understanding of foreign languages. Since the CIA does not have the time or the TA's to teach these things they invented this program to siphon information from universities. The kicker: the CIA employees that now cheat of you in "Origins of Man," do so under a cloak of secrecy, where their identity is uknown to the school and teachers alike.

THE BEEF: The last time a program like this existed it was run by a guy named McCarthy and it was used to compile dossiers on commie professors. Contemporary teachers worry that having secret CIA operatives in the classroom may be a breach of their privacy. As well, the money allocated for PRISP is subsequently ripped from legitimate language programs like Fullbright and Title VI.

THE SUPPORT: Government agencies dealing in foreign interventions need better information on the cultures they are bombing. It's not a violation of privacy because Roberts says that, "legal safeguards against domestic spying are in place that weren't in the 1950s and 1960s, when the anti-Communist fervor of former Sen. Joe McCarthy and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover created a climate that contributed to agency abuses. Specifically, a 1981 presidential executive order clearly prohibits physical surveillance of American citizens by agencies other than the FBI." And the reason for the secrecy - just ask Valerie Plame. Peep Child of Reagan here.

While it is true that a white GI from 'Bama yelling colloquialisms at an Iraqi merchant from Karkuk may constitute a "communication breakdown" it is not certain that the info CIA agents will take from the academy will be put to good and ethical use. Consider torture. With no knowledge of Islam how did a group of punkass 20-somethings know that Arab men by law can't be naked together, or that they abhor dogs, or to tear the Koran before them, or that they don't like having prostitutes menstrations wiped on their faces?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Poppy Kitsch not from Kia

UPDATE: I Fixed the Linx.

First off a big Ciao and Hello and Hola and Bonjour and Guten Tag to my European friends that have been checking out the blog this week. What better way to hold on to my Euro-readership than to make a completely lazy post in which I make a couple links to things that I found on the internet that I think are funny? For your amusement:

Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame were commissioned (I hear $2 million) by Shockwave in 2004 to create an internet cartoon using Flash. The title of the series was "Princess": the tale of a pretty Shit-Zu who wears a bow. Shockwave execs watched a couple pilots, vomitted, and then refused to pay the animators. See why here.

The second item of heady uselessness is from Salon columnist Kenneth Cleaver. I came across Cleaver while going through my co-worker's desk. She is pretty hip and usually has Tic-Tacs so her desk is a trove too mysterious to deny. Basically, Cleaver writes letters to corporations posing as a concerned consumer with some insane issue he wants to take up with a rep. The funny thing is that they always respond. I like a letter sent to Red Devil Inc. titled "I love your caulk." Check him out here.

That's all for now. I will come back with some more heady shit once graduation is over and I stop drinking.

Monday, May 16, 2005

HeadyGooBalls Enters a Debate and Subsequently Wins

@ HeadyGooBalls we make concerted and well-postured attemtps to drag obscure stories into deeper obscurity (see above), but today I wish to tackle a few issues that have all but run their course in both the blogosphere and the MSM.

1) A note on the Newsweek scandal (?) that has caused more than a few cases of carpal tunnel syndrome in anxious bloggers. It is hard to tell whether Isikoff and Newsweek have made a legit effort to retract the story or not, so I am not going to touch it until an official stance has been taken. Either way, I find it strange that the liberal blogs defend the magazine while the wingnutosphere calls for an end to magazines. I thought the only thing the left and right agreed upon was that the media was bias? Liberals should not defend reporting if it is false, what part of the agenda does an action like this support? With that being said, it should also be noted that Newsweek is not the only publication that should take heat, and maybe it shouldn't take any heat at all, alright?

WIth a crafty little Lexis-Nexis search of Keywords: KORAN, GAUNTANAMO, DEFACED a resourceful blogger (like me) might come across a Philadelphia Inquirer article from Jan. 20 titled "Lawyer Alleges Abuse of 12 at Guantanamo." From the article:

SOme detainees complained of religious humiliation, saying guards had defaced their copies of the Koran and, in one case, had thrown it in a toilet, said Kristine Huskey, who interviewed clients late last month. Others said that pills were hidden in their food and that people came to their cells claiming to be their attorneys, to gain information.

TO Malkin who touts a few hundred times that "Newsweek lied, People died," I suggest a new apothegm: "The Philadelphia Inquirer is liar and the Middle East was set on fire."

Earlier in the post when I did this - "1)" - it must have seemed like there was going to be a - "2)" - somewhere further down. There is not, you shouldn't jump to conclusions. I will finish my thoughts later if I have the time (read: attention span).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I Trust You Internet Friend

If you haven't noticed, most sites that are hosted on Blogger have this button in the upper-right hand and when you click on it, you are taken to a random blog. Clicking on it hundreds of times a day will give you a good impression of the type of shit that is being produced. For the most part, the blogosphere is depressing. People lamenting a lost love, people who's hermetic existence produces intolerable ramblings, people think that people care about what they say. When I talked to my journalism professor about blogs she said, "thre is some OK stuff, but for the very most part it is absolute shite."

I like teachers who curse, this is for you. Stan created Outfoxed (not to be confused with the Greenwald doc) after writing a sexy thesis on meta-data and ooh FOAF communities. Yeah, I don't speak nerd either, so here is a link to his site where he explains with pictures and crayons.

Essentially, Stan is attempting to solve the problem of crappy content with social filtering. Whereas Google is developing software which will filter content based on quantifiable preferences, Outfoxed filters content based on the opinions of your friends. Just like Facebook and Friendster, you create a group of friends and girls who's pictures you think are hot and then you give your opinions on websites. The point is that each person in the community has expertise in some field and when you want to know a good site on something outside of your knowledge you consult one of these specialists.

It kind of makes sense but it relies on trusting the opinions of your friends - which I don't. You are allowed to search the opinions of people outside your community: so say you wanted to know where to get the best acid online you could scroll the opinions of Crispin Glover. I like this idea better than the meta-filtering being done at Google and Amazon which is too close for comfort with corporate interests. The funny part about this is that the geek who knows the most about computers and the internet is all of the sudden the most popular person in your group because he/she can tell you about malware and worms...oh my god, I am that geek.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

If You Were from the Future and Had the Ability to Go Back in Time Would You Go to a Party at MIT? I Didn't Think So

WHy is it I spend so much time pondering the unthinkable acts of nerds? Is it because, unbeknownst to me, while hanging out with my computer every day, I slowly became one myself? This story in via German Joel.

MIT Grad student Amal Dorai and this guy who he claims is his friend hosted the first ever Time Travlers Convention last Saturday. The event, which is alcohol-free and highlights MIT's hottest biomed co-eds, ended up getting some pretty remarkable press. Boing Boing, NYT, NPR and a Wired article here.

Basically, Dorai posted a website inviting people from the future to attend the gathering and bring some proof that they were not just some crazy person posing as a time-traveler. One guy showed up with a denim vest and claimed that in the future people only wore denim, he was kicked out, but then invited back because at MIT even people who were denim vests are considered cool.

The funny thing about the whole "convention" is that it is not entirely a joke. The event featured MIT professors and thinkers who pondered the possibility of time travel. MIT Professor Erik Demaine thought the thing had a chance: ''If you subscribe to alternative-world theory, then time travel makes sense at some level. The universe is inherently uncertain, and at various times it's essentially flipping coins to make a decision. At any point, there's the heads version of the world and the tails version of the world. We think that we actually live in one of them, and you could imagine that there's actually many versions of the universe, including one where suddenly you appear from 10 years in the future.''

At ten p.m. when the time tavelers were supposed to reveal themselves, students held each other in anticipation. Although no one from the future appeared Dorai says its OK because anyone from the future can come back and visit that moment for infinity, haven't you seen Donnie Darko, the guy from ER explains it all I'm too busy right now to go over the nuts and bolts of it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Nash to Shaq: Eat My Ass Fat-Man

It seems that basketblogging is the thing now so if I may interject: Steve Nash is one cool motherfucker. Sure he is rumored to have banged goddess Liz Hurley, but he is also smart and lets his teammates dunk whenever they want. Maybe Shaq should be the MVP, but Nash works, he got it because he’s white, right?

I remember the 2003 All-Star Break when Nash showed up for a shoot-around rocking a shirt that said: “No War, Shoot for Peace.” Later Nash told foamy reporters that, "I believe us going to war would be a mistake. Being a humanitarian, I think that war is wrong in 99.9 percent of all cases."

Nick Van Exel, who at the time backed up Nash but made twice as much loot, applauded Nash’s courage and long hair, “The Americans on the team, we just think President Bush is giving people a bad name." But Nash’s liberal bellyaching attracted some not-so-nice comments from other colleagues (and by colleagues I mean people who throw an orange ball through a small hoop for a living). Former Navy Grad and high-top king David Robinson said, “If it's an embarrassment to them, maybe they should be in a different country. This is America, and we're supposed to be proud of the guys we elected and put into office.” Flip Saunders repeated the Admiral’s rhetoric also. But maybe it is the Admiral who should shut his mouth because now Nash is king and Robinson works at the Pep Boys on Carrollton…so where are all of Nash’s endorsements then you ask?

It is a little weird that that league’s MVP does not star in any of the NBA’s promotional ads or any Nike or Adidas spots. Toronto Star business columnist Rick Westhead offers his three-cents: "(He) is far from being a marketer's dream. While many of his NBA peers favor the likes of Vibe magazine, Nash reportedly has read the autobiography of Che Guevara and to get a better a better idea where the Cuban revolutionary was coming from, he also turned to Karl Marx's 'The Communist Manifesto.' [in reference to a NYT article about Nash]”

Where activism and politics used to get standing ovations in sports, athletes now wet their pants at the thought of speaking their minds. Arthur Ashe led a campaign against Apartheid; Billie Jean King (even though it is impossible for lesbians to get knocked up) cheered for the right to choose; and this guy named Cassius Clay even went to jail because he didn’t want to shoot Vietnamese people.

Check out this Nation article and see where the voices in sports have gone. I told my roommate the other day I think it would be so cool if a superstar athlete (LeBron I’m looking at you) would say something about say the working conditions in a Nike factory. After Kathie Lee Gifford’s sweatshops were revealed in ’92, MJ took some heat for Nike. He took the fifth in a press conference before the finals where questions about his affair with Dennis Rodman shifted to queries about working conditions. I don’t think MJ was that cool, I think he was probably a cocksucker to play with, ask Bill Cartwright about this clip from a ’91 Chicago Tribune article:

So he [his Airness] told Grant, then-Bull Sam Vincent and Scottie Pippen - the three players who were usually on the floor at the end of games with him - that they were not to pass Cartwright the ball in the last four minutes of a game.

"If you do that," Jordan said, "you'll never get the ball from me."

And suddenly, plays called by Collins were being ignored as Jordan took the ball to the basket. But who could really complain, since the Bulls had started to win? Eventually, though, word got back to Cartwright. He didn't do or say anything to anybody until late that season, when he told Jordan he needed to talk to him.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Reaching that Tough 18-35 Nerd Demographic

So I finished my last final yesterday, ever. The end of my academic obligations for the rest of my life is really a wide range of emotions – from depressed to morbidly depressed. Nonetheless, I find the energy to roll out of bed and give you what you need son. Is anyone else in awe of how many different and not-creative ways Star Wars is whoring itself out to marketers?

I would first like a disclaimer: Though I like computers to blog and watch porn, I am by no means a nerd. I totally am in a fraternity and totally score with hot chicks. The fact that I am writing a gripe about Star Wars should not be confused for me liking Star Wars. I do not, because as I previously mentioned, I am not a nerd. I do share the outrage of nerds and geeks across the nation who are a bit pukish over how many corporate tie-ins their demigod George Lucas can commit to. See how upset uber-nerd Dave Gray of the Chicago Force is with Lucas: "He likes to say, and his defenders say, he built the empire and he can do what he wants with it. But building that empire was a partnership between consumers and the creators, so when the creators fail to recognize that it is a partnership ... that's where people do get upset."

I tried to track the current Star Wars tie-ins for Revenge (or is it Return) of the Sith, let me know if there are ones I am missing:

- A Star Wars themed desktop operating system for PC. It’s from a company called Alienware and reunites that famous duo of computers and Star Wars.

- Kellog’s cereals adorning the faces of Darth Vader and R2-D2. Check out the C-3PO box of Wheaties where he is dunking a basketball over Mia Hamm, right before going to get his nails done.

- For your dining pleasure, the Bentley of utensils, that’s right, a light-saber spoon to eat your cereal with, alone.

- How about Cingular ringtones recorded by the man who might be as hairy as my dad, Chewbacca? Also Sony Ericsson handsets preloaded with exclusive Star Wars content and a RAZZ headset preloaded with 10 famous sound clips from the Star Wars saga. I already find ringtones to be the most obnoxious of new communication technologies, good thing this one is at least classy.

- AOL will feature links to new Star Wars trailer which will inevitably be less disappointing than the movie itself.

- M&M’s changed in Jon Lovitz for James Earl Jones with MPire M&Ms. It’s what is called an illiteration.

- Burger King will feature a new line of totally chokeable Star Wars figurines. I like this one because it forces 30-something Star Wars freaks to have to order Happy Meals in public.

- Pepsi is launching its new Lime flavored brown sugar water line with a game called “Call Upon Yoda.” Too bad I already got his digits when Paris Hilton’s phone book got posted on the internet.

- Pepsi appeals to people who definitely don’t want lime in their drinks by littering the Rainbow Warrior’s 24 car with Star Wars iconography.

- 7-11 slurpees are just as scary now with Darth Vader drinks that make that sound he makes where he is breathing really heavily. Use it to call girls you don’t know.

These are the ones I could come up with for now. I am sure there is a video game that will rival the canned shit that is this prequel trilogy. I would toss in some suggestions of my own like an Obi-Wan key locator that uses the “force” to search your couch cushions or a tie-in with KFC for some Jar-Jar Binks fried chicken…but this post is already too long, peace.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Nasal Politics

I hope that picture of that guy doing coke could hold you off unitl your next line/post. You're jonesin' huh? Here is some hypertextually-laced meth-riddled heady blogging that will no doubt soak your bedsheets in sweat.

This WaPo article on a Sentencing Project report has made its rounds on the intranet the last few days. The study suggests that the DEA and Bushistas have cracked down on marijuana users while lightening up on coke fiends. To highlight some of the stats, because I know you can't read too goodly:

- Marijuana arrests increased by 113% between 1990 and 2002, while overall arrests decreased by 3%

- New York City experienced an 882% growth in marijuana arrests, including an increase of 2,461% for possession offenses

- African Americans are disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests, representing 14% of marijuana users in the general population, but 30% of arrests

Sam Smith @ the Progressive Review has a good post on why we even have a war on drugs (and fun) here, however I will avoid its sharp insight in favor of making some cultural comments on contemporary cocaine use.

Coke's back. No doubt. I'm not sure if it ever left because I am only 22, but its back and tastier than ever. Sorry, no, stop paging me, thanks. Nick Cohen, writing for the British New Statesman gets it right (as they say) about the social contradictions of cocaine use. His story details the posh Groucho Club in London, where the food is GM-free, the coffee is fair trade, smoking is taboo, furs are spraypainted and the cocaine is soaked in the blood of a thousand Columbian peasants. His point is this:

Heroin and cocaine kill directly through contaminated drugs, and indirectly through the support they give to the narco-dictatorship of the Burmese junta and the mafias that terrorise much of Latin America and, increasingly, the rich world's slums. Yet it is social death to put a cigarette in your mouth, not to stuff cocaine up your nose.

Admirably, the fashion is for free-range meat. But while the beasts are free to roam, the prisons of Europe and North America are stuffed to the gunnels with drug mules from the Caribbean who are serving long sentences because they have been forced by poverty or ordinary human greed to become smugglers.

I have always tried to persuade consumers to be conscious of their decisions. While a pair of Nikes says its OK for a Balinese girl to work 20 hour days, a sniff of that white powda' says its OK for narco-terrorists to run Third World countries, and for US forces to spray villages with deadly pesticides and agents. Balancing consciousness with dopamine is tough, nearly for the nasty hangover. While Cohen and others argue legalization is the only answer, I leave your coked-up conscious ringing with a quote from an anonymous Honduran:

Thank you for your drugs money, self-appointed first world. Another thoughtful donation to our ailing country, along with military hardware and paedophile tourists. We are told here that at some of your London dinner parties, an after-dinner toot has... taken the place of your traditional English pudding among the chattering classes - the very same people who claim to care so deeply about the poor third world. Rather than chopping out their lines on the latest world-music CD, perhaps these enlightened individuals should chop them out instead on a photo of a Honduran bus with the slogan "Dios es amor", but pockmarked with bullet holes and with the blood-stained dead in the road alongside. Jesus Dominguez, aged 45; Maria Anita Portillo, aged 14; Alexander Gutierrez, aged seven; Javier Barahona, aged two. After all who paid for the bullets?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

News for People Who Kind of Like It

My love/hate relationship with TV had me sleeping on the couch last night. I can't help it. How can you pass up Blind Date followed by Cheater followed by Elimidate? I know, you can't. Here's a new show I am excited about that is a little more heady than Suffolk skanks giving into to Joey's "prove to me you really want to win" line.

The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert is getting his own program supposedly titled the Colbert Report. The show will probably follow the Daily Show to form an hour-long fake news block. Colbert's program will be a spoof on pundit shows like O'Reilly while actually being more informative than his sex-fiend counterpart. Colbert has some funny quotes in this NYT article on the proposed venture.

Of John Stewart, Colbert says: "His shadow is dark enough, I don't want to ask the source of darkness for help. I'm not interested in that same liberal claptrap. That meow, meow, meow, ironic detachment."

Colbert on investigative reporting: "We're going to deal with truth on my program. We're going to catch the world in the headlights of my justice."

This show will be good. If it was on the same time as Cheaters I would probably watch it but switch back in time for the "confrontation" and "conclusion."

Conserving Academia: Less fun, More not fun

Here at HeadyGooBalls, we try and supply a constant flow of heady information about whats poppin' at college campuses across the nation. A lot has been written on turncoat David Horowitz and his crusade to pass an "Academic Bill of Rights" into law (a Chronicle of Higher Education profile here).

Much has been written on the Bill already so I won't go into details. Essentially, Horowitz and college conservatives share a suspicion that their views are not wanted nor respected in academia. While it is true that most professors are liberal (as noted here), this is not because of a vast left-wing conspiracy (or is it?). It is not by chance that when hiring the new Biology professor, the dean picked the one without the Jesus-fish on his KIA.

I am having trouble coming to terms with this idea. As expected, the left blogosphere (of which I beg acceptance) bashed Horowitz in the nuts. To me, I have trouble promoting something like the Fairness Doctrine (which would force television news to include equal conseravtive and liberal viewpoints) and denouncing something like the Academic Bill of Rights (which would force universities to balance their staffs with equal neo-cons and hippies). It does sound like, however, that conservatives are scared of campuses growing increasingly liberal. It may be a legitimate threat that finds its way into Congress depending on the success Horowitz's campus tour. Either way, Horowitz's group Students for Academic Freedom have a pretty funny forum on their website. Its a message board where students can leave posts about times they were discrimnated against for their politics. My [new]favorite complaint comes from a conservagina @ Ohio State who writes, "I know the paper was pretty much great because I spell checked it and proofred it twice. I got an D- just because the professor hates families and thinks its okay to be gay." Did he proofred this twice because proofred is spelt rongh.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Longest and Best Post Ever Written

Man my TV Turnoff Week went fucking great. I didn't watch one second of TV. Well, I mean I watched some B-Ball obviously, and I definitely played X-Box. Also, I had to watch my faves: Cheaters, Elimidate, etc. So all this aside: Another strikingly successful TV Turnoff Week for the books.

I know. I felt just that much more worthless watching TV this week because it was supposed to be off. Although I crashed and burned, I still think TV is stupid. On a post I wrote last week I mentioned a piece of pro-TV propaganda by Mitchell Stephens which called for a completely visual culture. Since that post, there has been some more literature in favor of TV Turn-on Forever.

This one is from Steven Johnson (via the NYT), author of the book "Everything Bad is Good for You":

For decades, we've worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common-denominator standards, presumably because the ''masses'' want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But as that ''24'' episode suggests, the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less.

Johnson makes the argument that increasingly complex storylines and parrallel storylines found in contemporary TV dramas have strengthened the cognitive mapmaking structures of its audience. He believes TV makes you smarter. Its called "The Sleeper Curve":

This is what I call the Sleeper Curve: the most debased forms of mass diversion -- video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms -- turn out to be nutritional after all.

I believe that the Sleeper Curve is the single most important new force altering the mental development of young people today, and I believe it is largely a force for good: enhancing our cognitive faculties, not dumbing them down.

He makes the point that TV shows make less efforts to explain the obvious, forcing audiences to use critical skills to unfold unexplained meanings. Example: On ER , a surgery scene may be full of medical jargon that is indecipherable to laymens. Johnson argues this type of language challenges viewers to become more literate on the subject. He ends the article with a suggestion to parents:

If your kids want to watch reality TV, encourage them to watch ''Survivor'' over ''Fear Factor.'' If they want to watch a mystery show, encourage ''24'' over ''Law and Order.'' If they want to play a violent game, encourage Grand Theft Auto over Quake.

I don't agree with Johnson on many levels. First, I argue that the show-commercial-show structure format results in molding viewers attention spans into 10-minuite intervals. Even Johnson notes that the amount of commercials per hour is on the rise; currently at about 20 minutes/hour or a 2-1 ratio.

Second, I would say that the current MTV editing style, invented by Mark Pellington, mastered by commercial and artistic interests alike, is absolutely terrible for our attention spans. Eisenstein argued that montage is the New Cinema, where jamming images down the throat of a viewer challenges the audience to digest lots of info very quickly. While I say that montage offers lots in artistic ventures, the constant changing and shifting of images and angles breaks down our concentration, we lose focus. Do you really think contemporary audiences would be able to handle the three-minute single-shot opening of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil," in which there is no visual stimulation for what seems like ages? Your attention resets everytime the image changes. That's why you may find yourself almost hypnotized like a baby staring at a nipple while watching MTV. Try watching a show on MTV. See how many times they change the image. Compare it to Nick at Nite or an old movie. Note results and how it made you feel monkey.

Lastly: Johnson argues that the positive benefits of cognitive reinforcement overshadow the negative effects of the shallow values TV perpetuates. Hence, it is OK if your 10-year-old daughter thinks Paris Hilton is her role model because at least she can remember things better. This is the doomsday scenario for me. A generation of TV-juiced evil and amoral geniuses.

I was surprised last week when I saw an article in Reason Magazine - which I usually found quite sound - denouncing TV Turnoff Week as heretic:

All that may explain why the turners-off have had to goose publicity for Turnoff Week by converting an innocuous voluntary exercise into a campaign of public obnoxiousness

Sanchez misses the point on the significance of TV Turnoff Week here. He urges to plug the cord back in and tune-out because you're bored and its OK. Ah, the things we do when we are bored...I have tried catnip. The point of TV Turnoff Week is to get back in touch with the real world outside your home and get back in touch with human communication. Kalle Lasn sums it up pretty well in an interview on ABC Radio's All in the Mind:

If you continue watching three or four hours of TV every night, if you continue to spend two or three hours in front of your computer every day and another maybe four or five hours at work in front of your computer and if you spend 90% of your waking life in an electronic environment, then after a while you forget what real life is all about.

While Lasn might be right its probably OK to spend a lot of times reading (my) blogs because they make you feel more confident. I look at TV as an opportunity-cost analysis. While watching TV for ten hours may make it easier at the water cooler, think of all the cool shit you could have been doing like finishing that novel on unicycle gangs. I apologize for the long post. Think of all the cool shit you could have been doing instead of reading it. For those of you still with me, send me proof that you finished to whole thing and I will send you some leftover (egg?) matzah.

Secret Nocturnal Transmission from Work

Why is it after a weekend of fun and games, I find myself apologizing to my brilliant and humble audience about not posting enough? This is one of those carefully-crafted apologies dedicated to those who click and lament over no new posts.

Thanks for asking. Yeah, Jazzfest was great. I will write a post about. I find concerts of the “jam” variety to be nirvana for people-watchers. These people (read: dirty smelly neo-hippies) — not to judge — are hilariously clueless at what their culture stands for and they also eat mud and dirt. I still cannot fathom the rationale of these parents who dragged their unwilling children through this swell of humanity and exposed them to an endless amount of queries that they are unable to properly address, like: “Daddy, what is that powder on that guy’s upper-lip,” and, “Mommy, how come that long-hair has so many balloons? Is he having a birthday party?” More to come. Lots more.
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