The Rise of Make-Your-Own Culture

David Bollier writes:

Physicists and complexity theorists have a term for the moment when a liquid suddenly transforms into a gaseous state. It’s called a “phase transition.” A phase transition is not a linear, predictable change, but a sudden shift from apparent chaos and randomness to a “sweet spot” of dynamic equilibrium. The idea of a phase transition comes to mind when I look at the declining credibility and reputation of conventional mass media, especially television and radio, and the fierce proliferation of make-your-own creative genres. When will the phase transition to a new paradigm occur?

The sooner the better, if you ask me. Commercial TV is a morass of tawdry reality shows, smarmy sitcoms, kitschy and formulaic dramas, mud-wrestling pundits, and news that has all the gravitas and insight of a corporate Politboro. All of this is interspersed with 20 minutes of advertising an hour and subsidized by broadcasters’ free use of the public’s airwaves. Now that broadcasting has been almost wholly deregulated, you have to scratch pretty hard to find serious news and public affairs shows, challenging arts and culture programming, locally produced shows, educational shows or children’s programming. The market has spoken.

Given the lamentable decline of the mainstream media, the appeal of the emerging make-your-own culture should be obvious.

[read more]

Senators to Introduce 'Stop Government Propaganda Act'

From Editor and Publisher:

In response to continued revelations of government-funded "journalism" -- ranging from the purported video news releases put out by the drug czar's office and the Department of Health and Human Services to the recently uncovered payments to columnists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher,who flacked administration programs -- Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) will introduce a bill, The Stop Government Propaganda Act, in the Senate next week.

The Stop Government Propaganda Act states, "Funds appropriated to an Executive branch agency may not be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States unless authorized by law."

McManus, Williams, and Gallagher: Douche-Bags of Liberty

The reader might be wondering, "why is the man on the left smiling"? Well, the smiling man is named Michael McManus. He writes a syndicated column titled (ironically, as we shall soon find out) "Ethics & Religion" for over 50 national news-papers. He has also just gotten zapped by Salon for being on President Bush's payroll. He wrote several columns supporting Bush's queer-fearin' agenda without disclosing to readers that he was under Department of Health and Human Services payroll.... Or wait, let me put that better: he did not disclose that he was a spinless sellout that was willing to masquarade as an authority when he was little more than an advertisment -- a brand name to be bought out by the highest bidder. So to the hypothetical reader's opening question, I respond, "good use of the rhetorical question, dear reader".

Those of you who, like me, have been reading news (I got bored of minesweeper too) might know that Mcmanus is not alone. The Bush Administration also payed $240,000 to Armstrong Williams, a conservative African-American pundit, to help promote the "no child left behind" gizmo-act-word-thingy; and $21,000 to syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher. McManus, is the third -- and his smile is a charm, isn't it?

So why am I making a fuss? Simple: they didn't reveal their conflicts of interest. Did they act in accordance with the law? Of course, and that is why I named them "douche-bags of liberty". Here is a neat tidbit: President Bush has spent over 250 million on PR. Which, to put it in perspective, is double that of Clinton's PR bill during the great BJ affair of the late ninties. I've always wondered how Bush survived; I guess I know.

I'm almost embarrassed...

According to google, I own the search "rachmaninoff cadenza ".

Why I write

By George Orwell

From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

I was the middle child of three, but there was a gap of five years on either side, and I barely saw my father before I was eight. For this and other reasons I was somewhat lonely, and I soon developed disagreeable mannerisms which made me unpopular throughout my schooldays. I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure in everyday life. Nevertheless the volume of serious—i.e. seriously intended—writing which I produced all through my childhood and boyhood would not amount to half a dozen pages. I wrote my first poem at the age of four or five, my mother taking it down to dictation. I cannot remember anything about it except that it was about a tiger and the tiger had ‘chair-like teeth’—a good enough phrase, but I fancy the poem was a plagiarism of Blake’s ‘Tiger, Tiger’. At eleven, when the war or 1914-18 broke out, I wrote a patriotic poem which was printed in the local newspaper, as was another, two years later, on the death of Kitchener. From time to time, when I was a bit older, I wrote bad and usually unfinished ‘nature poems’ in the Georgian style. I also attempted a short story which was a ghastly failure. That was the total of the would-be serious work that I actually set down on paper during all those years.

Blog, as defined by the Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary is my favorite new site. It allows users to make their own definitions for words, and other users can either give their definition a thumbs up or thumbs down. The highest rated definition always appears on top. Anyhow, here is how they define the word blog:

The Coming Progressive Uprising

I've just returned from the Progressive Democrats of America summit in Washington D.C. First off, I wanted to thank the 3 other PBA members that helped lead the blogging workshop, Roxanne from Rox Populi, Terrence Heath from Republic of T; and of course the man who made it all possible, Aldon Hynes of Orient-Lodge. It’s become clear that the PBA has come of age; to put it into perspective, the

Blogging Workshop

Feel free to ask additional questions here.


Subscribe to Nick Lewis: The Blog RSS