Thursday, May 27, 2004

Butterfly Blue – Jon Sherman

I was rushing to catch a bus. I had agreed to be an audience participant at The Dennis Miller Show. I was going to be a rented $15 paid warm clapping body. I had talked myself into it. But my spirit was fighting me the whole way.

I rush through the Farmer’s Market wishing I could pick up one of each vegetable and fruit. I get to the bus stop and notice that my fellow passengers are a lot more mellow than is normal without medication.

I hear soothing music. There is Jon, playing to the crowd of shoppers. Somebody walks up and buys a CD. I see solar panels. The solar panels are providing electricity for the microphone and other equipment. I had never seen a non-polluting electronic musician before.

The bus is late. I do not care. I’m snapping pictures and grooving to the tunes. By the time it comes, it is too late to make my next bus connection. No loss. I feel inspired. Who needs food and that other stuff? You can get more information about Jon Sherman's use of solar panels for music or to order Jon’s CD at http://www.rokcircle.com

Friday, May 21, 2004

People Are Strange – The Museum Of Bad Art

You might find dogs playing poker on a velvet rug repulsive. Others see it as a cultural icon. One man’s kewpie doll is another man’s solid gold horseshoe with diamonds.

The Museum Of Bad Art makes no judgments on the quality of the art, so long as it is bad, ugly or at best questionable value. Not everyone can be a Marcel Duchamp.

Marcel was an early corruptive influence of mine. You got to love a guy who makes a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa and at the bottom, in French, writes the following: “She has a hot a**!” I was 15 when I saw it. It was cool. Marcel is too good for this museum. One look at Johnny McGrory's Unseen Forces Number 5 http://www.museumofbadart.org/collection/unseen-5.html will just leave you baffled.

You have been warned. http://www.museumofbadart.org/

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I’m Going To Jackson - Jack T. Chick

You have seen a Jack T. Chick book. Your eyes might have glanced at one resting on a bus stop bench. Out of the corner of your eye, you saw a stack on the floor of a record store. Somebody might have left one on your chair at work. These are small religious tracts in comic book form.

Now if this was a 79 year old guy standing on the corner passing out Xerox copies of his work it might be easy to ignore him. Since 1961, Jack T. Chick has over 500 million copies of his comic books in circulation around the world. Jack also has his own web site. You can find examples of his work that are sold to churches and other religious establishments - http://www.chick.com Let’s just say Jack is not hurting for cash or donations but he is not opposed to receiving either to continue his work.

The story changes but the plot is the same. Depending on how you answer the last question in the tract will indicate if you are you headed up north or working you way down south.

This is not politically correct stuff. He insults a lot of people and for a tract that is supposed to be a guide to the Prince of Peace there is a whole lot of hating going on inside those comic books.

Jack inspires passion among readers and collectors of his work. Even the ones he would classify as atheists and heathens. In Jack’s world, that does not take much effort. If you do not believe exactly as he does then you are doomed. If you are a member of the Catholic, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness or Jewish faith that puts you on the express train of the unworthy.

There are a number of parody and tributes sites that does a good job explaining why Jack does what he does. One place is the Jack T. Chick Museum of Fine Art at http://members.aol.com/monsterwax/chick.html. You can view examples of his work, link to parody sites, network with other Chick-lets, view a catalog of his work and fill in the back story on this guy. See, Jack keeps a low, low profile.

He does not talk to the press or have his picture taken. Nothing but his books and side projects speak for him. However, miracles do happen.

Jimmy Akin actually met with the elusive Mr. Chick at a movie premier. In his blog, Jimmy talks about meeting the nice old man with mean old tract business. http://members.cox.net/jimmyakin/x-meet-jack-chick.htm

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

My Green Tambourine - Media Literacy

Media literacy is the ability to figure out what the true message is in an advertisement, news article or television program. It is important to develop the skills to go deeper than the surface communication. This is especially true now with new communication pathways being created and old ones coming under constriction.

The journalism 5W's (Who, What, When, Where and How) are still important. Now you also need to know:

*Who produced the material?
*What is their goal or objective?
*What in it for them and for me?

Two places to ramp up to speed about evaluating the validity of web page and, by extension, other media information is Virtual Salt http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm and the critical thinking article at UCLA at
http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/college/help/critical

So here is an overview to start your media literacy juice flowing:

Advertorials are commercials for a product or service dressed up like a news or entertainment report. Companies pay for mention in featuring their products in a positive light. In print, they are a little easier to spot. They have a tiny 3-point type label above the story with the words "advertorial or "advertising supplement". On television, it is much sneaker but there is usually a disclaimer at the beginning and ending of the program. But not always.

Press Releases and Video Press Releases contain news and information from companies and non-profit organizations. In the old days, press releases were directed to reporters and editors who made decisions to cover the story or toss it in the trash can as an advertisement in drag. PR News Wire is a distributor for company public relations news for print, radio, television and the Internet -
http://www.prnewswire.com

Video press releases appear in regular local TV news programs. Here is an example. Various published reports cites test that show a high PCB levels in farm raised Salmon.
http://ottawa.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=ot_salmon200
30918
or http://www.ewg.org/reports/farmedPCBs/refs_allfoods.php

Sales of farm raised Salmon start to dive. The industry needs to counter those reports. They create a VPR campaign using a nutritionist and Graham Kerr to dispute the validity of the report and to assure viewers that it is safe to eat farm raised Salmon -
http://www.salmonoftheamericas.com/play_kerr.htm

They also cite the VPR as proof that it is okay to eat Salmon -
http://www.wfga.net/news.asp?id=6527 and at
http://xgen.vitalstream.com/mcasx.asx?media=1843177&package=1817918

Video Press Releases (also known at Video News Releases) are delivered to television stations free of charge. You should know that every local station in the nation runs VPR's. There is no mention on air of the source of the VPR. Some stations use only
the visuals and have local talent read from a supplied script.

Using VPR's doesn't always work to the promoters or TV stations advantage. The Medicare VPR designed to look like an actual news story by the Bush administration. It cause a big ole stink because it was perceived as a propaganda piece -
http://www.jsonline.com/enter/tvradio/mar04/215698.asp

Amy Gahran has a good article about the use of VPR's on her blog at http://blog.contentious.com/archives/000144.html and the
Poynter Institute has a little something to say about
http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=63074

Advocacy News and Entertainment Media

Now VPR's are risky, there is no guarantee that the local TV station will show them. You could try to hook up with Fox News.com where there is a conservative focus to the news of the day - http://www.foxnews.com but that might not be a good match for your needs.

What do you do when you want your message heard but the existing gatekeepers block your message? You could create your own news network.

On the left hand side is Air America, which is positioning itself as a news and entertainment outlet for the politically left and proud. Mainly found on the AM band (never thought I'd say those words again) or on Satellite Radio XM 167 or Sirius Ch 125. If your city doesn't carry Air America you can download live feeds using Real Player. http://www.airamericaradio.com

Being frustrated with the way their organization is presented in traditional media, The National Rifle Association has created an internet video news channel. NRA News.com focuses attention on gun laws, gun safety, Ted Nugent and the electoral process. You
can view video created by the NRA and get more information about the National Rifle Association - http://www.nranews.com

I bring this up because there is a plan to develop long form advertainment (advertisement-entertainment) films and other products using embedded advertising. The New York Times looks at this growing trend at
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/21/business/media/21adco.html
(Subscription to the NYT web site required).

Know what you are looking at - it isn't always what it seems.

My Time Seems To Be Lost In The Hoopla...

Trying to do this everyday is a challenge. Trying to think up stuff is not a challenge but making it readable is.

So I am going to try to do a better job of having stuff ready. There will be a mix of the old and the new so tell friends and relations to check in - you never know what you might find.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Flashlight - Homestar Runner

It has been a while since I found a flash animation site to recommend to you but here you go. Seinfeld fans can relate to watching a story about nothing becoming something. I am not a Seinfeld fan. No hostility please. I just don't get it. I have tried. Really.

It will take a few visits to check out the goodies. I think I use to go to school with someone that talks just like The Coach.

I just want to warn you that watching Strong Bad can be addicting and he is not to be encourage. His ego stretches to Pluto as it is. When you need something silly but not insulting give Marzipan a call - http://www.homestarrunner.com

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Black Box Voting

Bev Harris was one of the first people to sound the alarm about electronic voting and in particular the ability to manipulate the votes.

The fact that Diebold is a major contributor to Duyba’s election campaign made it all the more sleazy to entrust voting to this particular company.

On Black Box Voting.com you can find the online version of the book, “Black Box Voting: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century” and current news about an uphill battle to stop the malfunctioning machines from tallying the 2004 election.

You got to read the story that appeared in the Tri-Valley Herald http://www.trivalleyherald.com/Stories/0,1413,86~10669~2100333,00.html# and shake your head. They knew the machines didn’t work, still sold them, and big surprise the machines did not work.

I like the part when the head of Diebold apologizing for $40 million dollars of crappy voting machines.

Bev must be jumping up and down saying “I told you so, I told you so.” I strongly urge you to visit her site and become educated about the electronic chad fiasco that still is a factor in the 2004 election. Watch and be aware. http://www.blackboxvoting.com

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sales Circular.com

Shopping is like washing the dishes. At some point, you just got to do it.

I have been on the prowl for a printer. I was bouncing from site to site, printing up pages, trying not to get confused with which rebate goes with what product. And then the techno-muse took pity on me. I saw a link to Sales Circular.com

Ahh. It ain’t pretty. It does not have flash animation, javascript or gaudy graphics. But I can click less than 4 links to find the product information I need. The items are listed by store, make or model, description, the price, the dates that the sale is valid and the rebate offer.

They could have saved me hours if I had know about them sooner. The joy, the rapture – http://www.salescircular.com

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Monkey Chased The Weasel – Opensecrets.Org

What would you do with access to the IRS's public information of non-profit companies and organizations?

Last year I wrote about the Center for Responsive Politics at www.opensecrets.org which allows citizens to know who has contributed to political campaigns and how much money groups of people (and, by extension, companies) contribute to certain political efforts.

Using IRS public documents and the Freedom of Information Act you can find out just how much money the Dibold Corporation, a vendor of electronic voting machines heaved into the Dubya's election and now re-election efforts. http://www.opensecrets.org

The (extreme) conservative right was slow on the uptake but has caught on. The CBS back down on the Reagan tele-movie was a focused targeted action taken by citizens who were mobilized by conservative, politically right organizations. This was not just talk radio, this was an Internet fueled buzz. In the interest of fair and balanced information, here is how the other side does it.

The Monkey Thought T'was All In Fun – Consumerfreedom.Com/Activist Cash

Consumer Freedom/Activist Cash presents itself as fighting those people against capitalism. They viewed 325,000 IRS documents to find what tax-exempt non-profits and activists are doing. If you are for environmental causes, non-genetically modified foods, universal health care, vegetarianism or believe in anything that they are against you make the anti-capitalist list, if you have money.

Ben and Jerry's Foundations and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are on the list. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and groups that have received grants through the foundation. I know George Sorros made the list. He has pledged $15 millions to prevent Dubya's occupation for another four years. Oh yeah, he's getting calls.

Robert Redford is on the list because of his involvement in the Natural Defense Council. I have a deeper respect and a burning desire to rent a copy of The Way We Were. This site is like a virtual Nixon Enemy List. I remember how proud or upset people were because they did or did not make the list.

Being cited is a total badge of honor. I know this was not the intent and 99.89% of the regular visitors are probably contemptuous of every name and organization that is listed. The site lists names, job titles, addresses, phone numbers and means of contact - http://www.consumerfreedom.com or
http://www.activistcash.com

Pop Goes the Weasel...