Monday, August 24, 2009

The Second Worst Thing to Ever Happen to a Goat in Minnesota

From Fox Sports:
An auto mechanic in Winona, Minn. found out just how crazy things can be now that Brett Favre is a Viking.

That's what happens when you find a live, purple-and-gold painted goat with a "4" shaved into its side in the trunk of the car you are working on.
James Prusci told the Winona Daily News a woman brought her car in to have a belt replaced on Friday and warned him the goat was in there, saying she planned to butcher the animal later.

She then waited outside with a man and a young boy while the mechanic went to work.

Prusci said he heard the goat crying and opened the trunk to give it some air, when he noticed its appearance. It had been tied at the feet as well.

This is probably a good time to mention that Favre was making his debut in Minneapolis that night, just a 2 1/2-hour drive from Winona.

Prusci alerted animal control, who confronted the woman after she claimed the car an hour later.

Winona Police Sgt. Chris Nelson confirmed the account and said the animal was in the care of a local vet. But there is no word whether the man or woman have been cited.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Right Wing Dogs Chasing Cars

Over the past few months I've been making note of a number of news stories about the rise of violence and intimidation from right wing extremists:

Now I can add a few new stories to the list. First, as part of a series of stories on XE (the company formally known as Blackwater), Keith Olbermann exposes the intent of the company's management to turn the Iraq war into a holy crusade and to convert Muslims to Christianity at gunpoint:


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Second, this story from The Rachel Maddow Show exposes how the murderer of Dr. George Tiller has been embraced by the anti-abortion leadership in an attempt to turn him into a hero.


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And of course there are the Teabagging 2.0 protests at town hall meetings between congressional representatives and their constituents, where right wingers swamp the meetings, shouting down the congressmen and anyone who disagrees with them. Here is Jon Stewart rightfully ridiculing the protesters:


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Just Say No

According to this article, women can become as addicted to having babies as they might to alcohol or drugs:
Procreating isn't just a psychological balm; it also feeds genuine physical cravings. According to Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, humans developed a set of three related brain systems that are intended to push them toward parenthood: sex drive, hunger for the romantic love of one partner, and a desire for the calmness and security of attachment.

Mother Nature prods us by making sex and its aftermath feel amazing. Oxytocin, the so-called "cuddle" hormone that promotes bonding, floods women's bodies during intercourse, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. "[Pregnancy] is like a love drug," Weil says. "A baby-love drug."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

WSU Atheneum Schedule

The schedule for the Fall 2009 Athenaeum speaker series at the Krueger library at Winona State University has been posted at the library's website, and there are some very interesting programs planned. I am scheduled to speak on October 28, 2009 in a presentation titled, "It’s Only a Movie: The Politics of the 1970s and 80s Horror Film."

Here is the full description of the lecture from the website:
This presentation will look at the horror genre starting with Last House on the Left in 1972 to A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, examining how these films were groundbreaking and why they represented a serious political and countercultural statement and how that political edge was later lost to commercialization. Attention will be paid to the remakes of these films and the implications of these remakes for the genre and politics of the films.
All Athenaum events are held on Wednesdays at 1pm on the second floor of the library during the fall and spring semesters. I'll be sure to mention this again (and again) as the time draws closer.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Olbermann Responds

Keith Olbermann has responded to the New York Times story about the alleged truce between Fox News and MSNBC, which I wrote about here.
Primarily, there is no "deal" between MSNBC and Fox over what we can and cannot cover. This is part of a continuing strategy of blackmail by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, that reaches back to 2004, and has as its goal the cancellation of "Countdown." This stuff has ebbed and flowed for five years, it's part of my daily job to push it back with whichever strategy I think will best work at a given moment. For the last two months I've been employing "News Jujitsu." If you watch tonight and catch the references to Fox and its rogues gallery you will know that the most recent tack has worked, but the fight is endless and there will be reversals in the future, I'm sure.

Ailes himself is tonight quoted as saying he tried to 'broker peace' by restraining his hosts. This is the same Ailes who insisted he would never interfere with what Bill O'Reilly said on the air. Even naked hypocrisy is not too much if Fox can make itself seem victimized, or can muzzle dissent.

But there is no "deal." I would never consent, and, fortunately, MSNBC and NBC News would never ask me to.
And once again, Glen Greenwald of Salon has weighed in Olberman's response:
I certainly believe that Olbermann is telling the truth when he says he was never a party to any deal and that nobody at GE or MSNBC asked him to consent. That's because GE executives didn't care in the least if Olbermann consented and didn't need his consent. They weren't requesting that Olbermann agree to anything, and nobody -- including the NYT's Stelter -- ever claimed that Olbermann had agreed to any deal. What actually happened is exactly what I wrote: GE executives issued an order that Olbermann must refrain from criticizing O'Reilly, and Olbermann complied with that edict. That is why he stopped mentioning O'Reilly as of June 1.

Once the NYT exposed this deal between GE and News Corp., MSNBC executives allowed Olbermann to attack O'Reilly last night because neither Olbermann nor MSNBC could afford to have it appear that their top journalist was being muzzled by GE. For obvious reasons, such an impression would be humiliating and would harm MSNBC's "journalism" brand. But over the last two months, muzzled by GE is exactly what Olbermann was -- precisely as I (and Brian Stelter) wrote.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Shark Poetry Week

In honor of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel (which yours truely is dedicating himself to every night), Poets.org is celebrating sharks in poetry.

Here is one of my favorites,"Plague of Dead Sharks" by Alan Dugan:
Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes?
The wading, wintered pack-beasts of the feet
slough off, in spring, the dead rind of the shoes'
leather detention, the big toe's yellow horn
shines with a natural polish, and the whole
person seems to profit. The opposite appears
when dead sharks wash up along the beach
for no known reason. What is more built
for winning than the swept-back teeth,
water-finished fins, and pure bad eyes
these old, efficient forms of appetite
are dressed in? Yet it looks as if the sea
digested what is wished of them with viral ease
and threw up what was left to stink and dry.
If this shows how the sea approaches life
in its propensity to feed as animal entire,
then sharks are comforts, feet are terrified,
but they vacation in the mystery and why not?
Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes?:
what the sun burns up of it, the moon puts back.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Biting the Hand the Feeds You

There are a number of editorials about the recent New York Times story about a detente between Fox News and MSNBC, specifically between Keith Olbermannn and Bill O'Reilly, but here are two pieces that are really worth reading.

First, Glen Greenwald at Salon manages to wade through the insinuations and get to what is really at the heart of the matter here: corporate control of news. An excerpt:
Why is GE even speaking for MSNBC's editorial decisions at all? Needless to say, GE doesn't care in the slightest about "civility" in general. Mika Brzezinski can spout that people who dislike Sarah Palin aren't "real Americans" and Chris Matthews can say about George Bush that "everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs," and GE executives won't (and didn't) bat an eye. What they mean by "civility" is: "thou shalt not criticize anyone who can harm GE's business interests or who will report on our actions." Thus: GE's journalists will stop reporting critically on Fox and its top assets because Fox can expose actions of GE that we want to keep concealed.
Second, David Sirota of The Huffington Post gives a recent history of corporate control over the content of news:

For every blatant example of a newsroom or a journalist brazenly shilling for their corporate master's bottom line, there are infinite examples of those newsrooms or journalists avoiding or omitting stories that might offend those masters' in the first place. Is it, for instance, really just a coincidence that the frightening effects of corporate agriculture have rarely been the topic of all those Sunday "news" shows whose sponsor are Archer Daniels Midland? Is it really just a coincidence that Friedman shills for corporations and the wealthy, when he is member of a billionaire family? Is it really just a coincidence that a newspaper like the Washington Post, which was trying to effectively sell its news coverage to corporate interests, generates stories that tend to be particularly soft on corporations and chock full of unchallenged corporate PR?

The list of examples is endless -- and the obvious answer is that none of it is a coincidence, even if most of these conflicts are kept completely hidden from the news-consuming audience.

But, then, the deception -- and the ubiquity of the deception -- is a big part of the corruption that is destroying journalism. Indeed, the fact that the Olbermann-O'Reilly personality feud was presented as the "big" story -- and not the General Electric intervention -- is a tacit confirmation that corporate-media symbiosis has become such an assumed part of journalism, that many journalists themselves don't see it as any kind of problem, much less news.
A few months ago, Olbermann noted that television news was at times just above "carnival barking." In that, he was referring to the element of circus that is inherent to anything on television. The feud between Olbermann and O'Reilly certainly evolved into that, with funny voices and wild accusations tossed back and forth. But the trouble is, despite what these two men might think of themselves and each other, this feud has little to do with reporting the news, journalistic integrity, or protecting and advancing democracy, and everything to do with advancing their own egos. While both men's rages are entertaining they are also a distraction and eat up air time that could be spent on issues much more news worthy.

It pains me to write this because I have long been a fan of Olbermann's show and I watch the program nearly every night it's on. But in the past year and a half the stories on it have become increasingly about Olbermann, his friends, and his enemies, and less about what has happened in the world. I was very disappointed to see former DNC chairman Howard Dean guest anchoring the show last week; I'm afraid this was the death knell to Countdown and MSNBC's pretensions of journalistic objectivity.

But MSNBC is not alone nor is it the worst offender. Despite its slogans, Fox has never been fair or balanced. In fact, it's rarely even bothered to be accurate. And CNN, in its attempt to hold off on going to one side or another, has mistaken bottom-feeding (via Twitter) for integrity.

I won't stop watching MSNBC anytime soon, nor do I plan to resume watching Fox News. But as a consumer of news I sometimes feel like a convict in line for lunch at the prison cafeteria. I might not like it, it may not even be nutritious, but I don't want to go hungry, so I consume what they give me. But after the lunch hour I'll try to score whatever else I can on the side.