Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Fox: We report, you die

The Fox news channel blows my mind.

So why do you watch it then, huh, huh? Why do you...

Because it’s on TV monitors where I work out. Because I flip through channels and some horror grabs my attention like a carwreck grabbing the eyes of a passing rubbernecker. You happy now?

OK, Fox ... where was I? Why Fox freaks me out. OK.

Back when Pearl Harbor first came out, the talking heads on Fox started yapping about it on one of their morning talk shows. These bloviators weren’t bothered that this flick was a mega-million-dollar piece of steel-plated, steaming shit. What bugged ‘em was how this flick was retrofitted for Japanese sensibilities in its Japanese-release version. Some DJ called “Mancow” opining on this. “What do you expect from the criminal, liberal media?” sez Mancow.

”Criminal liberal media.” Cute little phrase, ain’t it? All it lacks is “who should be lined up against a wall and shot!”

Imagine an alternative news channel as far to the left as Fox is to the right. Some leftist DJ who says shit like “What do you expect from the criminal, corporate elite?” as a regular feature on a morning talk show. The People’s News Network! Imagine that.

Yeah, right. I can’t either.

So, last night, on earnest talkinghead show, Fox pitted some econut (I forget his name) they’d found under the skankiest, dankest, algae-covered rock imaginable against founder of the Guardian Angels, of all people. Econut’s argument: animals good; people bad; people should die. This walking, talking strawman was actually advocating the voluntary extinction of the human species, yep. We should all just quietly sterilize ourselves and leave the poor animals in peace. DeSilva, meanwhile, was coming on like Cheech. “No, man. Human beings is like good for animals. All those animals in zoos get like free peanuts and shit. I wish I was a fucking animal!”

Now, I know all you misanthropes out there are just lining up to say, “I agree with him! People suck, we should all kill ourselves.” Fuck that. Fuck death. It’s an idiotic argument. Kill your own damn selves and set a good example for others, OK? Let’s stick to the main point...

This chucklehead is not a representative of the “green” movement. Putting this fucker on television and seriously discussing his chucklehead ideas is the equivalent of my hypothetical People’s News Net having a debate on gun control where the guy taking the anti-gun-control position sez that all school children should be required to pack firearms in school, and also sez that the Second Amendment guarantees that every US citizen should have the right to stockpile tactical nukes.

Stacking the old deck, in other words. John Q. Public sez, “These people are nuts,” and that’s that.

What makes this cynical tactic so sickeningly abhorrent — to do it, you have to give high-end media coverage to deepfried lunatics. All the better to say “these eco-freaks want you to castrate yourself” to a mainstream audience, natch. But the price Fox pays for this smear is letting twisted loonies have their twisted say on a primetime national news channel. You’re spreading their fucking message — and legitimizing them at the same time. Whether you like it or not, a few pinheads will be saying “Hmmm...collective human suicide. This guy’s really on the beam!”

12 Monkeys, anyone?

Monday, August 6, 2001

The economic system crash

OK, the following is not a yuk. Some musings, is all. What the fuck do I know? I dunno. But here’s what goes through my head...

Every now and then an obvious idea taps you on the shoulder like your lost little child in the supermarket. You’re thinking, Jesus, almost lost the kid. How could I do that? Am I blind?

Here’s the idea...

Something is wrong. Something is wrong with the economy. Once proud, it has turned into a permanently limp dick. Can’t get it up but we don’t know why. The dismal scientists go yattayatta but they don’t know either.

OK. Here goes...

For the last ten years we’ve been “downsizing.” Bigtime CEOs get bigtime points for slashing lots of people. Less people working longer hours — that spells productivity! ATT cans the equivalent of a few Titanics and the stock market applauds.

At the same time we’re inching up on the next economic paradigm, poking our Kilroy noses over the cliff embankment just to look at the promised land (fuck, look at them giants) — the specifics are shadowy, broad outlines clear. A decentralized, distributed system. The PC becomes the next TV; mass media turns into on-demand targeted media. Manufacturing does the same thing. Smart micro-factories crank out the car, computer or whatever you want when you want it.

Think “Snowcrash” or “Neuromancer.”

I’m not selling this shit. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. Like any wave of change, it’ll be both good and bad (depending on how it affects you). But it’s where things are going. The next evolutionary handhold on the long vertical cliff...

Any idiot can see it, hence the internet goldrush. Some idiots oversold it, hence the consumer burnout. For the last year or so I figured that’s why the crash. Until the little lost child tapped me on the shoulder...

And the child said...

Each wave requires an infrastructural investment; trains need tracks, cars need roads and gas stations, bulbs need wires, phonelines need wires, etc. In some cases, as with railroads, some corporations with deep pockets (or free government land) build the infrastructure first. Often what happens is early adapters get the technology before the infrastructure really exists — people bought cars before the roads were designed for cars, people bought TVs before there were all that many TV stations. All those early adapters forced the infrastructure to catch up.

But the early adapters had money. (New technology is very, very expensive). To get to the next wave, your stuff has to come down in price — but your buyers, still, have to have SOME money even so. And, looking at the system as a whole, your buyers are also your workers. (As Henry Ford put it, he paid his workers a decent wage so they could afford to buy his cars. Bastard that he was, he knew it was his self-interest.)

But today’s corporate bastards aren’t so smart.

So here’s corporate America in the 90s — investing in and hyping the internet with everything it had while at the same time downsizing its professional class as fast as possible. Cutting ‘em off at the legs..

The same people who’re supposed to BUY the goddamn cable modems and flat HDTVs; a wave of consumer demand that’d pump some money into the next big paradigm — and push the “digital economy” to the point it’s not the equivalent of a bunch of rich people driving their brand new motorcars over dirt roads a faddish, new hobby.

Add to the mix that, thanks to deregulation, price fixing and general bullshit, the prices on shit like electricity, cable TV and gasoline went up up up in the 90s. If your electric bill is pushing $300 bucks or filling a gas tank costs you $25, that eats into what’s left to buy digital vidcams or cable modems.

In other words, all the downsized people couldn’t afford all the new shit.

The “lack of consumer demand” spooked investors.

The stock market tanked.

The economy tanked.

Everybody got scared.

No investment money, no risks, no R&D.

No next wave.

That’s what happened.