stAllio!'s way
Saturday, May 15, 2004 
there are a lot of unanswered questions about the decapitation video of nick berg... like the peculiar editing (which suggests the use of two cameras & editing equipment), allegedly "western" mannerisms of the captors, the orange jumpsuit, the relative lack of blood (& berg's calmness)... not to mention the bigger questions like how berg would've fallen into terrorist captivity just after being released, the fact that the govt says berg was never in US custody but berg himself told several people he was, the peculiar connection between berg and zacarias moussaoui, etc. i could go on but i could never catalog them as thoroughly as some.

a lot of bloggers are suspicious. it's also interesting to read the comments at some blogs... once the right-wing catches on to a blog, a swarm of haters flood in & begin to drown the debate in name-calling & ad hominem attacks. obviously the nature of blogging (a sort of "grid journalism") means some false leads will be followed (such as the "bulletproof vests" which are actually ak47 ammo vests) & some questionable theories will come up, but there is definitely something fishy about what we've heard so far.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004 
of course the top story for today (or the only one anyone's paying attention to today) is the brutal beheading of american freelancer nick berg (i have to comment briefly just because of his name). the video is on the net; the story is everywhere (although no western media will actually link to or name the site where it was posted... nor will any of them [not even the much-hated al jazeera] show the actual video.. at most they'll show calm excerpts or photos).

white houseboy scott mclellan says

"It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom. They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children. We will pursue those who are responsible and bring them to justice."

predictably, one video of them doing bad "shows their true nature" but the countless photos of us soldiers doing bad are "the actions of a few". granted, this beheading is a horrific inexcusable crime and more extreme than any of the abu ghraib photos that have been released (so far? there are apparently 1200 more out there), but it's interesting to watch the propaganda in action.

speaking of which, some conservatives have convinced themselves that this beheading video somehow "proves" that the abu ghraib torture story is not a big deal, because the beatings, rape, psychological torture, and possibly manslaughter (if not murder) that are alleged to have taken place there are somehow morally less evil than the ghastly murder and decapitation of mr berg. even if it "less evil", that's totally missing the point of why abu ghraib is a big story anyway: that the u.s.'s justifications for this war all revolved around our supposed moral superiority, & our reuse of saddam's torture & "rape rooms" undermines that.

but far more interesting than what some reactionaries or nuts on message boards might say is what salon has to say about the effect of tech on war journalism:

There was a time, early in the invasion, when it seemed as if the American government might exercise near-perfect control over what we saw of the battlefield, and that no horrific pictures from the war would ever leak out. But in the last few weeks, with the publication of leaked pictures of returning caskets, tortured Iraqis, and now Nick Berg's slaughter, all of the controls the government had hoped to place on images from war seem to have completely failed. Digital technology -- the cameras and laptops carried by the soldiers and the contractors in Iraq, and the ability of our enemies to access the same communications technology -- has brought us a newer, far less palatable picture of what's going on in Iraq.

another tale of guerilla diy journalism, enabled by cheap digital cameras & the internet, circumventing even the strictest media controls.

i received my total for the t-shirts this morning! so it's all good. and when i called & left a voicemail to request a minor correction to my order, my call was returned immediately. like within 5 minutes. maybe i should've just ignored my phone-o-phobia & called them from the getgo. anyway, my order is now paid for & i should have my shirts by next week, if not late this week.

i feel a little bad for even having posted any complaints... aside from some slowness replying to emails (which is understandable considering just how busy they have been... they recently got a rush order of 10,000 buttons with a 2-week deadline, which is an insane number of buttons), they have been extremely helpful and courteous, & now that my order is placed & paid for, i expect everything else to move rapidly & efficiently.

just chalk up that previous post to "the aggravations of being a businessman"... dealing with all the frustrations of ordering merchandise & then trying to sell it all is not fun in the slightest, particularly if you are a social leper like me to begin with.

so anyway, i'll have the shirts very soon, all is well between me & my supplier, & i will personally contact those of you who wanted the new shirts as soon as they're in stock.

oh yeah, a few of you already know this, but here's the first official announcement: the new shirts will be glow in the dark!!! rave on, motherfuckers.

Monday, May 10, 2004 
i am growing really tired of being a businessman (& i'm not talking about the fact that some of my coworkers sound like they're having a party in the middle of the fucking hallways not 20' from my cube, showing no appreciation for the fact that some of us actually do try to work from time to time & that we might be bothered by loud pointless chatter)...

i still have no overseas distribution... out of the three places i contacted, one couldn't be arsed to reply at all, one replied to order a personal copy of the record but said he couldn't actually sell it, & one told me he wanted to sell the record & asked for shipping quotes.... though almost 3 weeks later i haven't received another reply. i even have 25 records boxed up & mostly ready to ship on over. i don't know if he's just slow, if he's forgotten, or if maybe he's decided not to carry the record but didn't bother to tell me so. so if you're in europe & are looking for a copy of the record, you can order one from me if you can put up with the shipping... otherwise, if you're waiting for a shop over there to get some in stock, you might be waiting for a very long time.

on top of that, my t-shirt suppliers must be so busy that they're drowning in cotton-poly blends... at least according to the periodic emails i've been receiving. i officially placed my order on 4/30, expecting to receive my total within 1-2 business days, & then pay it so i wouldn't have to worry until the shirts are ready. but it's not quite working out like that; instead, every couple days i end up emailing one of them to mention that i'm still waiting for my total... on thurs i got an email telling me i would receive my total "tomorrow". it is now monday afternoon, so perhaps "tomorrow" was a bit optimistic. things are now getting so delayed that i'm becoming concerned i won't even have the shirts in time for rr8.

i hate having to nag them by constantly sending emails asking about my order status, but how fucking hard is it to open up calculator, do some simple math, & send me an email with my total? i know they're a diy shop, but they've already told me my art is approved & all that. they're very nice when they do actually email me, but that's not so comforting anymore. i don't like being micro-managed so i resent having to become a micro-manager myself, however these guys just aren't leaving me much choice. i'm trying to stay calm & polite... i've been tempted to call them out on a public forum like IMN to see if that gets their attention... but that wouldn't be nice. even writing this blog entry about how frustrating i am dealing with their silence isn't all that nice (which is why you don't see the name of the business in this entry [although you could find it easily enough by fishing around through the site])... all i want to do is pay them for my order! it's like they don't want my money.

once i sell all this crap, i don't think i'll be too motivated to buy a bunch more merch to sell... i'm not sure it's worth the hassle.

the chilling effect caused by recent fcc paranoia (inspired, as we might all remember, by janet jackson's breast) rolls on... & indianapolis is in the news for having a censor-happy radio station. from the nytimes:

The producers of "Masterpiece Theater," intent on staying in the good graces of a Federal Communications Commission increasingly vigilant for instances of indecency, took a step last month they never had before. They chose not to make available to PBS member stations an unexpurgated version of the critically acclaimed British series "Prime Suspect," and instead sent out two edited versions: one with all of the salty language edited, and another with only some of the possibly offending words excised.

Taking similar cues from regulators, an Indianapolis radio station pre-empted words like "urinate," "damn" and "orgy" from going out over the air during a recent broadcast of Rush Limbaugh's talk show.


A similarly vigilant technician had his finger on the "dump" button at WIBC-AM, an Emmis station in Indianapolis, during its broadcast of Mr. Limbaugh's syndicated program on March 3 — one day after Emmis informed its employees that the broadcast of material it deemed offensive could result in their suspension or firing.

In an e-mail message to the station's program director, the assistant program director wrote that the delay was used 11 times that day for Mr. Limbaugh's program. "I can only guess we are erring on the side of safety given that I don't know of any instance a licensee has ever been fined or cited for airing Rush unedited," the assistant program director wrote, "but we'll continue to do these cuts until we're directed otherwise."

that's something to be proud of: "hey, we're so timid we censored the word 'orgy' out of the rush limbaugh show!" there's no faulting rush, though, as this is one of the few issues where he's on the proper side...

Sunday, May 09, 2004 
a week ago i posted about the supreme court reviewing the treatment of prisoners at guantanamo bay, & how naive some of the govts arguments in that case sounded now that photos of abuse in abu ghraib have turned up. the nytimes is a week behind me as they dig up an interesting passage from those arguments. (the supremes might also want to pick up the daily mirror, where a british citizen who was held at gitmo for two years tells his sad tale.

the photos are blowing up into a huge scandal. bush went on arab tv to talk about them, but he did not actually apologize. people noticed. scott mcclellan then apologized on bush's behalf to the white house press corps. then the next day, bush appeared on tv and announced that he had personally apologized to king abdullah of jordan. the press reinterpreted this as a public apology, which he technically had not. either way, the pseudo-apology has not done much to rectify the situation, & bush himself has not taken responsibility for any problems: he's pawned that off on rumsfeld.

times are hard for rumsfeld. some remember his past statements about how little he thinks of geneva conventions & many are calling for him to resign. the president publically stands by him, but even the prez is pretty pissed... not only did bush chew rummy's bitch ass out, but then the white house leaked that it had happened. & when rummy was being grilled by the senate on friday, he admitted that there are much worse photos out there.

maybe worse pictures need to come out before some people come out of denial... rush limbaugh and a disappointing number of others think the abuse scandal is no big deal, likening it to "innocent" pranks like fraternity hazing. now, if frat boys like to sodomize each other & rape each other's women, then good for the frats (but not so good for the sororities). but regardless how harsh you think this stuff is, as buzzflash points out, it does classify as torture under the UN conventions. and the word is that at least 25 prisoners in iraq & afghanistan have died, which is more deaths than frat hazing causes in a decade or more...

the military has announced its first court-martial over the torture scandal, with more to follow. it remains to be seen whether any of the "private contractors" who were involved in these brutal interrogations will face justice, or what will become of the military intelligence officers who egged it all on.

this story is so big & deep i'm sure i'm missing some juicy details, & i can only imagine what more will come out in the next few weeks...

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