Howard Beale: “We’re in a lot of trouble!”

“So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves! Because that’s the only place you’re ever gonna find any real truth. But, man, you’re never gonna get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We’ll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry. Just look at your watch. At the end of the hour, he’s gonna win. We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear.

We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God’s name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion. So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off!”

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Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era”

McGill alumnus Zbigniew Brzezinski, apart from having a very difficult name to pronounce and spell correctly, is probably the most influential geostrategist you never heard of. He served as a counselor under LBJ, and was National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter from ’77-’81. He also wrote “The Grand Chessboard”. He has admitted that it was his idea to goad the Soviets into invading Afghanistan by financing the mujaheddin, who today we call “jihadis”. I can’t say I’m a fan, but that doesn’t matter. His ideas are partly responsible for the world we have today, and understanding his work is a key to understanding the state of the world we live in today. Geopolitically speaking, that is.

I just started reading “Between Two Ages:
America’s Role in the Technetronic Era”. It’s a good read. This caught my eye:

“In the technetronic society the trend seems to be toward aggregating the individual support of millions of unorganized citizens, who are easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities, and effectively exploiting the latest communication techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason. Reliance on television — and hence the tendency to replace language with imagery, which is international rather than national, and to include war coverage or scenes of hunger in places as distant as, for example, India — creates a somewhat more cosmopolitan, though highly impressionistic, involvement in global affairs.”

Piracy is Good?

Piracy is Good? How Battlestar Galactica Killed Television is vital reading for anyone interested in digital distribution, as I am. What a great read! Marke Pesce specifically looks at the popularity of downloading TV shows through BitTorrent and what it means for broadcasters, who currently have a monopoly on distribution of television shows. His central point is that “hyper-distribution” channels like BitTorrent make the broadcaster redundant, since piracy has “short-circuited” the traditional producer=>broadcaster=>advertiser model that has sustained the television industry for 50 years.

Rather than having a downloaded show with commercial breaks, producers can sell what he calls “The bug” – screen real estate where the station ID normally sits. This is so simple, it might just work.

Ric Burns’ History of the WTC

A real treat last night on PBS, a network I haven’t had access to in 11 years, but thankfully managed to get access to last night at a neighbour’s flat to watch Episode 8 of Ric Burns’ New York: A Documentary Film. I thought it was going to be an hour, but if I had known that its conception and construction were as epic as it’s destruction was tragic I would have known better. This was as riveting as historical documentaries get, rivaling in scope the work of Ric’s brother Ken, of “Civil War” and “Baseball” fame.

There’s a great story on the film at the Twin Cities Pioneer Press with a quote form Ric Burns which I think says it all about the WTC:

“It was quite literally the most massive projection of economic power anywhere in the world after World War II,” Burns said. “In it, you see all the same forces that reshaped the world, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank and the Marshall Plan. It was connected at the start, in 1946, to that tremendous projection of world power.”

That Al-Queda would have chosen the WTC as a target for their most ambitious terrorist attack comes as no surprise. It stood for everything they despise about the US.

I have to get this on DVD.