Archive - Mar 2007

March 31st

America’s Next Top Model

When I was a kid, I loved the Godzilla movies. At one point, someone suggested to me that perhaps Godzilla was a metaphor for the United States, and particularly for the nuclear attacks during World War II, and it opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about media.

Now, years later, I’m a participant in a discussion list of the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME). Recently, there has been a discussion about the “Crime Shoot” episode of America’s Next Model. (For very graphic, not work safe images, check here) As one blogger succinctly sums it up, You would be prettier if you were dead.

When I got beyond my immediate revulsion, I started thinking in terms of Godzilla and other monsters. What does this say about our country? The lyrics of Steppenwolf’s Monster come to mind:

America where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster

The Japanese had Godzilla movies to help them process their feelings about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Perhaps we have CSI, Law and Order, Crossing Jordan, 24 and other shows to help us process our feelings about 9/11 and the subsequent wars. As one person noted on the discussion list, there is a large market for women that can look pretty as victims of crimes in these shows.

I am not a psychologist, but somehow, it seems like there must be better ways of processing these feelings than to look at pictures of ‘pretty dead women’ on TV, even if the shows have a satisfying resolution of finding the killer at the end. Perhaps we need a new type of American top model. Perhaps instead of becoming numbed to images of death and destruction, we need to learn to own our fears, respond to them positively and become more empathetic.

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

March 30th

The continuing saga and AT&T v. FreeConference

Back on March 14th, I posted a blog entry about AT&T blocking calls to In that call, I described my experience and noted that I filed a complaint with the FCC. Well, yesterday, I received a phone call from Rosalyn Young at AT&T’s Office of the President about my complaint.

Unfortunately, I was on the road at the time in an area where there is poor Cingular Wireless cellphone coverage, and the call cut out partway through. I suggested that we talk later in the day, but when she called later, I was also out of range. I’m not sure if there is some hidden message there.

Anyway, this morning, I called her back to follow up. We had a good discussion. She explained that AT&T gets charged for calls to, so technically their not free. I’ve been reading up various posts about the issue, such as the one on e Pluribus Media, so I was prepared for the discussion.

I asked her if the charges were different from the standard termination fee that Interexchange carriers (IXCs) are required to pay Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) as part of the FCCs Rural Communications rules. She didn’t seem exactly clear about what I was asking, so I put it this way. Yesterday, I called Gavin TV and Appliance in St Marys, Iowa. The same town where’s interconnection is. Is there some sort of termination fee that AT&T has to pay or the LEC that is different from what AT&T pays the LEC for a termination fee for me calling Gavin TV and Appliance? She did not know the answer and said that she would get me information on the different termination fees and get back to me.

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Stop Cyberbullying Day

Spending time on political blogs, you get used to some very inappropriate comments. I’ve had people attempt to interfere with my professional life. Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan certainly have experienced cyberbullying, and Kathy Sierra has written about some particularly offensive cyberbullying, including death threats that caused her to cancel her ETech presentations.

As she notes in the title of her blog post, “Death threats against bloggers are NOT "protected speech"”. Andy Carvin has blogged about this on his PBS blog and has set up Stop Cyberbullying social network on Ning.

Robert Scoble talked about taking the week off from blogging as a response. Wesley Fryer is talking about “blogging fast in response”. Andy comments, “Actually, I’m not sure if I was proposing a blog fast per se - more like ruminating on the idea”

I don’t know how we Stop Cyberbullying, but spreading the word seems to be a key way that bloggers deal with any sort of threat, so please, spread the word about Stop Cyberbullying day.

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March 29th

Voices in Conflict get "Courage in Theatre" award for its "non-performance."

I got this forwarded from David Isenberg:

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Constitutions and Debts

Twenty years ago today, the people of Haiti voted to adopt a new constitution to “Ensure their inalienable and imprescriptible rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; in conformity with the Act of Independence of 1804 and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1948.”

Yet having a new constitution is not enough when you are saddled with debt. Earlier this month, Rep. Maxine Waters introduced H. Res 241, “Urging multilateral financial institutions to cancel completely and immediately Haiti's debts to such institutions, and for other purposes”, aka the Haiti Debt Relief Bill.

Jubilee USA is urging its supporters to contact their Representatives in Congress today, to become co-sponsors of this bill.

For those of us who live in the Constitution State, I can think of no better way of living up to our heritage and celebrating Haiti’s constitution than contacting our Representatives and urging them to become co-sponsors of H.Res 241.

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