Thursday 29th September 2005

next we'll declare war on alien zombie vampires!

and they said the war on terror (or drugs, or iraq, or dentists) was unwinnable. right.

tonight i became a card-carrying member of the aclu. stereotype me as you will, but i stand up for what i believe in (or at least fund those who do).

posted by mAtt @ 22.28 (gmt+0000)
to /insoluble/internet

Saturday 24th September 2005

on the media

in this exciting episode, thanks to a special request by ted, i'll be beating a dead horse.

television is crap in general. television news is crap specifically. and i'll tell you why.

television news has a way of egregiously hyping asinine topics, taking screen time away from actual news. while local news stations can probably be forgiven on account of there being not much happening locally, the national/world news cannot, because there is a lot going on in the world that really really matters. a prime example is the airplane whose landing gear recently failed to act properly after takeoff, which then circled the runway for a few hours to burn excess fuel before landing in a cascade of sparks. that's the entire story and the full extent of the drama. yet last wednesday when this was happening, a majority of the stations we receive through our rabbit-ear antenna had looping moving pictures of the plane figure-eighting around the airport split-framed with a still image of the offending landing gear. turn off the volume and remove the station logos and the viewer wouldn't have been able to tell the stations apart—and it was like that for the better part of three hours.

some commentary: this incident had no bearing on my life in any way whatever, nor, i would argue, yours. it will impact the passengers and their families; the company itself, certainly; the rest of the industry and all involved. but all of these would have found out eventually and by means much more direct, targeted, and meaningful than the 5 o'clock news. to you or me or the man on the street this isn't news. it's happening, it's current, but it's insignificant. it qualified for 'special report' status because it was dramatic and people would watch it, because deep down, people are voyeurs for things going wrong. we want to see disasters and smoke and things breaking and we want to see it now, dammit, and we want to see talking heads saying how this will impact the global blah blah blah. oh of course we don't want anyone to be hurt or much less have anyone die, but a little disaster fix every now and again calms the monsters deep down within us all demanding some excitement, demanding a little live-action drama that we can turn off when it's time for bed—because in the end, we want them all to live happily ever after.

actual news flashes! iran is pursuing its nuclear program in spite of the eu's opposition. north korea has on the surface given up its own nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic aid and gestures of peace, though there exist serious doubts. germany's election remains in the air. any of these affects us infinitely more than the event above, but you'll never see breaking news, nor indeed any more than skeletal information, about any of them. i claim this is because television is a visual medium, and there are no dramatic images of any of these stories.

as a population, we are becoming more inclined to act emotionally rather than thoughtfully, and more inclined to be entertained than to be informed. one can see it in the prevalence of entertainment news—shows that keep you up-to-date on all the latest celebrity gossip, fashion, and marital status. it doesn't matter that renée zellweger and kenny chesney got a divorce (annulment?). it doesn't matter that angelina jolie broke up brad pitt and jennifer aniston and now wants to adopt a child. refer to my above comments about insignificance. it seems to me that this type of show is so pervasive because the viewer develops a kind of emotional attachment to his/her favorite celebrity/ies. it can happen as easily as by watching, say, a good film, and in the viewing, the viewer associates the screen personality with the emotions brought about by that film. the viewer feels that s/he has been through something with, say, tom cruise, and afterwards feels the need to keep up the relationship. it's worthless, needless heavy petting of the right hemisphere. the same emotion-strokers don't want to be enlightened; they want to be entertained. these are the ones who want to see the dramatic images rather than learn something, however disturbing or unpleasant.

related to this is the tendency to have ludicrously in-depth reporting for a week or so, followed possibly by an update report or two, depending on the importance of the original story, and then absolutely nothing. i've heard it called the cnn effect, and the evidence is anecdotal: when is the last time you heard about the tsunami rebuilding efforts? they've been going on at a feverish pace for nearly nine months. 150,000 people lost their lives and tens of millions were displaced, requiring the biggest reconstruction of my lifetime, but those stories don't make headlines anymore because it's old news. karl rove/valerie plame? same situation. somalia, the results of the g8 summit, the ongoing clear and present genocide in sudan, or indeed anything about africa? ibid. the selectivity of the news has grown staggering; i submit for your further consideration the horribly depressing missing white woman syndrome. the mainstream television news programs would do well to have some sort of checks and balances system (other than themselves) to catch things like this. letters to the editor and other types of viewer/listener/reader feedback are well and good, but it is hard to imagine a letter to the editor changing the reporting policy of the news source. everything is so driven by ratings and the bottom line that the entire idea of informing and educating the public has been relegated to the bottom half of section c, page 2, next to the used car ads and the obituaries.

the point of all this? watch / listen to / read a news program that is informative rather than sensational. do not watch jerry springer, nor any of the other horrible drivel on the daytime telly. be selective in what you believe: take everything through the filter of skepticism—not just news, but everything you hear, from advertising to the word on the street to what your parents told you as a child. perhaps even get the news from a source that differs ideologically from your own views. truth will stand up to reason. so please, reason. be cautious when jumping to conclusions. and most importantly, make the talking heads shut up.

further reading (while the soapbox is hot):
top 10 ignored news stories. hot.

posted by mAtt @ 10.06 (gmt+0000)
to /insoluble/soapbox

Wednesday 21st September 2005

strangest search engine hit ever

and i quote (er, copy and paste):

"harry potter" disk error -ebay -amazon -ea -xbox -leaky -quotes -copying -ps2

whatever you were searching for, guy from tennessee, i doubt you'll ever, ever find it.

a long talk with my sister ended well when i pawned off a men's underwear catalogue that had no business in our house. reason insists that she will throw it away, but that's not the point. the point was in the fighting over the scantily clad men.

that's right, search engines, i did say SCANTILY CLAD MEN. and sister if i catch you reading this via a search engine, i'm telling mom.


posted by mAtt @ 19.22 (gmt+0000)
to /humans/insoluble/meta

Tuesday 20th September 2005

like vaporware, only for bad art

i'm going to have a webcomic. it is my dream. you cannot stop me.

i'm working out how to reproduce the effects of certain other comics i frequent without precisely replicating them. inspiration is a slippery thing at best, and plagiarism is a felony at worst. i'm also working out a publishing schedule that will be satisfying for the reader and reasonable for the author, this being a busy time of year for me. we'll see. i will, of course, be updating you as information becomes available.

and before certain seeds take root in your mind, know that a) feedback will be smiled upon, patted on the head, and sent to bed with no supper, and b) outright suggestions will be squashed with the collective enthusiasm of a billion red chinese.


posted by mAtt @ 22.34 (gmt+0000)
to /entertainment/geek/insoluble/meta

Wednesday 14th September 2005

but it .. gah! stupid internet

after finally (finally) getting this page to validate completely, i find out that safari still chews up the css and spits it out. doesn't display styles at all. why? the answer is unknown.

i am not a consumer whore. or am i? for all my efforts it remains an open question; all i can say is that this lovely condensed bit of art is now required reading for all who patron my loo.

that's right: now you too can experience the double joy of matt's bathroom and drew's art. interested? you should be. disgusted? probably that too.

posted by mAtt @ 21.40 (gmt+0000)
to /geek/happiness/insoluble/unhappiness

Monday 12th September 2005


(with respect to the preceding entry)

if they mess with us
if we think they might mess with us
if we say they might mess with us
if we think we need a war
we need a war


posted by mAtt @ 18.58 (gmt+0000)
to /insoluble/soapbox

Sunday 11th September 2005

the sound you hear is a million liberal bloggers' heads exploding

does this worry anyone else?

"[The revised Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations] was drafted by the Pentagon in March and posted on the internet, but did not attract widespread attention until a report on it in The Washington Post yesterday. It has since been removed from the Department of Defence website."

lucky you; i have the full story.

deskjob general: lackey geek! make this nominally available to the public but in a place where no one will ever read it! also mention peace is our profession! and also obfuscation
DoD webmaster: i have just the place! the inter-thing!
deskjob general: the inter-thing! i read about that yesterday on the web! that is an excellent idea for a location

[time passes]

washington post reporter: this is a veritable goldmine! pulitzer prize you are mine! I MUST WARN ONE MILLION LIBERAL BLOGGERS

[time passes / heads explode]

obfuscated DoD server: my ram! too many hits! i'm melting! oh what a world
DoD webmaster: BOSS the terrorist hackers have googled for 'doomsday warmongering wmd doublethink policy changes' and decrypted our so-phisticated multilevel jargon ciphers!
deskjob general: LACKEY GEEK fall back to DELETION CIPHER

the neutrality of this article is disputed.

posted by mAtt @ 17.45 (gmt+0000)
to /insoluble/internet/silliness/soapbox
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