Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

November 1, 2006

The endless joys of context-free quotes

Filed under: mediachumps,Politics,war — secretmojo @ 11:57 am

Brad Schader of BlogCritics lashes out at John Kerry for calling all soldiers stupid.

But later on in his article, Schader says:

I was wrong in my belief.

Dude, why write the article if you’re so wrong about it? Sheesh.


Many conservative bloggers seem to come to Kerry’s defense. For instance:

I hope all these verbatim quotes from conservative outlets set to rest any controversy on what a context-free quote is, how it was applied to Mr. Kerry, and how snap movements — especially from the conservative blogosphere — will join up and resist such childish perfidy with both thought and grace. Thanks, guys, I couldn’t have said it better myself!


October 31, 2006

Simple question: “Where?”

Filed under: Iraq,mediachumps,News,Politics,rants,war — secretmojo @ 12:17 pm

The BBC reports that the Pentagon is launching a new propaganda — oops, I mean “media war” unit — that will attempt to offset — oops, I mean “correct” — unflattering (I mean “inaccurate”) breaking news reports.

My only question, which is blatantly missing in this article, is, “Where?” Who are the targets of this propa — media war? Which stations, which websites? More importantly, which country?

The BBC won’t say. They mention TV, radio, and weblogs, and grant the Pentagon a fully dictated — oops, I mean “reported” — paragraph to sort-of explain the issue:

The administration is particularly concerned that insurgents in areas such as Iraq have been able to use the web to disseminate their message and give the impression they are more powerful than the US, our correspondent says.

But my question still remains. “Where?”

Where will these bold countermeasures be conducted? On Iraqi TV? Iraqi Radio? Insurgent web sites?

Not mentioned. Which forces me to conclude that most of this media warring will be conducted in America, on American radio, on American TV, on American blogs, toward American station owners and American citizens.

Seriously, where else is that scary 24-hour news cycle that keeps Donald Rumsfeld “up at night” located? Where else can lobbyists and politicians (uh, “surrogates”) gear up and appear on a TV show so quickly? (Hint: Baghdad is 6,211 miles away from Washington. New York is 204.)

I will hazard a guess that Rumsfeld and the top brass don’t receive their daily supply of heebie jeebies from Al-Jazeera pundits. If not, who are they afraid of?

On Monday, US Vice President Dick Cheney also made reference to the use of media, suggesting insurgents had increased their attacks and were checking the internet to keep track of American public opinion. [emphasis added]

Ahhhh! That’s who. Never mind.

August 31, 2006

Putting the squeeze on Katie Couric

Filed under: mediachumps,television — secretmojo @ 2:51 pm

For fun, I decided to morph together the two images of Katie Couric that CBS retouched to make her look skinnier (wait a moment after clicking for animation to begin):

My opinion on this matter is “Save a scalpel: use an airbrush.” And, “Will I ever be able to trust the body fat percentage of news anchors ever again?

However, it’s interesting to point out what changes were made. Let’s forget about the color correction, which is standard. There are some neat tricks here if you look closely.

  1. I had to “squeeze” the original photo horizontally to align the morph. So they squeezed her. Squeezing is an easy technique to take off about 5-10 pounds: resize horizontally at about 98%—if you’re bold, 95%—and no one will notice.
  2. The suit was darkened—everyone knows darker clothes thin you out. Also, it hides some of the photoshopping going on.
  3. Her waist was “taken in” a little. Notice how the negative space under her arms change. Also, the production artist gave her a crisper line in general, without the puffs of the suit.
  4. Most interestingly, check out her neck and her head. It’s very subtle. Notice how her forehead gets bigger while her neck shrinks? My guess is that the skew tool, or something like Squizz was used to squinch up her neck. Also: her chin turns into a pointy “V,” her smile gets wider, and her cheeks get a little highlight to give her some depth.

All of these changes, except the facial mods, can be achieved through the clone and airbrush tools.

Basic stuff, really. So if you adore emaciation the same way t.v. people do, now you know how to get there–without the scalpel or malnutrition.

August 11, 2006

Terror Theater: when “explosives” become props

Filed under: mediachumps,News,terrorism — secretmojo @ 11:41 pm

Okay, so you’re watching a play. In a heated scene where you don’t know whether she’s going to succumb to his advances or explode in fury, she suddenly thwacks the door in his face.

But: the walls of the set tremor.

The emotional power of the moment derails. In an instant, the stove, the couch, the picture of their boy, and the trembling chandelier become ersatz; flimsy origami paper barely holding reality together.

But it’s a play. A minute or two of actors refocusing their emotions, and suspension of disbelief rescues the faltering advance of the show.

Consider, now, this observation. Are we all actors watching our own performances, from policeman to passenger to CNN reporter to reader? It’s clear here that nobody, not even bystanders in the thick of a terror alert, accepts that these liquids may contain nitro-glycerin. The procedure displayed here is so thoroughly divorced from any HAZMAT guidelines that any person with half a brain should conclude that it is pure theater — a “duck and cover” newsreel that pantomimes to the public that our officials are “on top of it.”

Yet, in a funky torque of the mind, everyone both believes and disbelieves the show, CNN contributing to theatrical legitimacy by vidding the event, without comment, as evidence of bomb threat reduction.

Imagine the kind of jedi mind trick a person must perform on himself to report it like CNN. First, you must accept the threat as real and the response as logical, otherwise, why report it so? Yet, in a magical dichotomy of cognitive weirdness, you must also be convinced there can be no bomb in those bottles — otherwise, you’d freak when witnessing a man blithely dumping explosives into a can.

All the world may be a stage, but we are, in the end, horrible method actors. I’ve seen plenty of movies with Thespians who simply cannot handle guns properly; carrying them like stress balls, resting fingers dangerously on triggers, looking dead in the barrel as if their brain had no chance of being blown apart by the act.

But to see abysmal acting in real life, with hundreds of unwitting zombies, from security guard to CNN reporter, all playing along as if it were both true and false at the same time, astonishes me.

July 31, 2006

Surreal headline of the day

Filed under: Iraq,mediachumps,News — secretmojo @ 7:01 pm

This either proves that the headline writers at The Washington Times have a sense of humor, or no sense at all:

Army diverts funds to war

In other news: Microsoft allocated money to create software, American Airlines bought planes to fly, and Paris Hilton took time out to appear before camera.

July 30, 2006

Flip-switch Editing: banning and commenting issues at The Huffington Post

Filed under: blogging,free speech,mediachumps,Politics — secretmojo @ 2:56 am

This is a follow-up to my earlier post on the Huffington Post commenting weirdness. That post is a bit too long (even by my standards); just take a peek at the comments at the bottom if you’re interested.

The Huffington Post has suffered a few scandals since launch. The most notorious was with Dr. Peter Rost, who blew the whistle on a HuffPost technical manager who trolled the comments of Dr. Rost’s blog (he’s moved elsewhere as a result). The other was the piecing together of George Clooney quotes and presenting them as a blog entry (without the disclaimer that they were gathered quotes). Another was to team up with an advertising firm, and allegedly allow them to billboard their commenting system.

All of these actions indicate something a bit deeper going over at HuffPost, but none relate entirely to the commenting/banning problem some users are experiencing.

The Difficulties

First of all, The Huffington Post has a huge backlog of comments (which I believe still continues today) they need to moderate. 15,000 was a number thrown about a while ago. This is not a political issue, but a management or technical issue. I’ve heard gripes about it, but hey, what can you do with limited staff? This may contribute to crazy comments getting through on news posts, while well-thought-out comments get censored on more prominent blogs. But in and of itself, it’s just “birth pangs,” as our illustrious Secretary of State might call it.

Secondly, because of the popularity and slant of the site, HuffPost attracts wingnuts and crazies that troll about, self-promoters who want publicity for their names or sites, or hackers who just want to cause trouble. This is of course an issue with any site that allows comments, and there are many ways to get around this, including account creation and IP logging, which HuffPost implements.

Third, I believe HuffPost wants to maintain civil discourse. They don’t want to be another (at least, I hope not). Trying to balance this with free speech is rather difficult, because arguments can get very heated over there, and stupid people really love the sound of their own voice.

HuffPost’s Solution

Ostensibly, the solution at HuffPost is unbiased moderation, treating comments as real-time “letters to the editor” that must meet certain legal and style requirements for posting. None of these are supposedly “edited” in the sense that a print newspaper would edit them, but are screened for ad hominem attacks and foul language, for example.

“Supposedly,” I said.

“liketodrum” over at DailyKos describes how he could get special treatment:

I was also told that if I wanted to “skip ahead” I could just call my new buddy and he could get my comment expiedated. Now I was not happy to hear that, and I have never taken that up. In fact I would never want to do that. That defeats the whole point of blogging in my opinion.

“whl”, as well, describes how got himself banned forever:

I was banned from there a couple of years ago for flaming a troll who had really screwed up a good post with a sequence of repetitious 2 liners. The assistant troll in control, gunned me down & let the dittohead continue a jihad for many entries.

“Steve53,” who is most interesting to me, brings up frivolous banning:

I used to post there, but now I’m apparently banned.I have not been able to post there for 2 weeks.An e-mail asking for an explanation(it could have been a tech glitch) yielded no response.

I’m a generally polite liberal,not an abusive troll.

Antichrist2” has taken up the cause, and says:

Not only has HuffPost not posted most of my comments, they have now banned me from ever commenting again.

Now, I do not know what they said to get banned/censored. Of course I don’t, because their comments have been whisked into the void. But I do know that they have interesting things to say in general, and now they will never say them on HuffPost.

In my own experience, I submitted a very short comment that linked to this page at Red State Son. In my opinion, it was not abusive. Provocative, maybe, and definitely shocking, but considering that adults read the HuffPost, not at all illegal or vindictive, at least in my interpretation of the comment policy.

So I know for a fact that content matters. Especially on blog, as opposed to news, entries. This is actually okay with me. But the parameters of acceptable content are not delineated on the Comment Policy page, nor are they implemented with any consistency at the site, and it is very possible that you can get permanently banned for no other reason than not knowing the “hidden rules.” So if you do get banned, you will never be told, and you will never know why.

I used to have an RSS feed of the Huffington Post which I browsed daily. Now, however, I rarely go there; the inconsistent comment policy is why. If I feel tempted to dispute something posted, I’m aware that I might just get myself (and all the poor suckers who get my IP after me) banned, and refrain from commenting. Furthermore, as a matter of principle, I don’t go to web sites that a) intimidate me, b) don’t tell me what’s going on, and c) have arbitrary rules.

This could be unfair or paranoid, but it seems I’m supported by other people on this, so I’ll be spending my Web time with the multitudinous other blogs out there, even though I may never comment on them.

July 18, 2006

A tale of sound and fury, as told by idiots

Filed under: free speech,mediachumps,Politics,television — secretmojo @ 2:33 am

Media Matters launched a petition to remove hate-spewing pundits like Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck from the airwaves.

Amongst the signers of the petition were:

“Dem Underground males Are FAGGOTS!!!”

“Keith Olbermann IS GAYYYYY!!!!!!”

“Az Joe says Imprison all Liberals”

“Www Liberals MustDie com”

“Democrat Underground Is for traitors!”

“Sore Loser”

“Adolph Hitler”

[Update: Many of these fake names seem to have been scrubbed from the list, so you may not find them there.]

Can it get any more pathetic than this? Unable to get their perceptive and well-thought out, er, opinions listened to by the mainstream, these bilious boneheads take the time to intrude upon a serious petition and puke out more of what the petition condemns, basically showcasing the effects of Coulter and Morgan, and therefore encouraging more people to sign up in protest (4,000 more after the bigot names petered out).

At first, I thought it was psychosis. But I realized that if that were true, they’d start a petition of their own: “We, the undersigned, call for the murder of all liberal-leaning Americans.”

Making it tangible this way proves not only the absurdity of the threat, but the fantasy image these kinds of people create for themselves. “If I were in a movie, I’d kill these motherfuckers.”

The only conclusion I could come to is that these hate mongers, by power of the Internet, have Virtual Balls, maverick avatars, but couldn’t find their own pair if handed a set of tweezers. When their threats, as a thought experiment, are taken as reality, it becomes clear that every person who does this sort of thing doesn’t really mean it at all, or if they do they hope someone else is brave enough to carry out their villainy—it’s all a sham of sound and fury to conceal their own failures as human beings. Otherwise they’d be arrested and put in jail for terrorist activity.

I don’t know anyone who talks this way in real life—besides shock jocks and vomitary pundits (if you want to call that “real life”). And I haven’t seen the assassination of a liberal yet. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I believe this juvenile behavior is like a high-pitched bark from a toy-sized dog who shakes in fear when the wind picks up. Annoying as hell, but quintessentially pathetic.

Or maybe not.

July 12, 2006

CBS News pleads insanity for Haditha rape/murder

Filed under: Iraq,mediachumps — secretmojo @ 1:03 am

CBS News ran a report today questioning how honorably discharged Steven Green, one of the group soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi girl and setting her and her family on fire “with a serious psychiatric problem” could be let into the army in the first place. Sorry, no CBS News link yet, but if you’d like to taste the flavor of their ridiculous slant, you can try here.

This is fake criticism, fake investigative journalism; just fake all around.

I should tell you why, shouldn’t I? But I’m confident that you already have the acumen and curiosity about the world to know that this was a group act (the number is at least four, not one), that it occurred under the context of a war gone bad, and that previously, without a mental disorder—but most likely with a cognizant dis order from high places—prisoners have been soaked in urine, raped anally with any object at hand, forced to masturbate, stretched, dragged by jeeps, humiliated, beat, beat to death, and just plain murdered. Not to mention military decisions to obliterate towns and go on revenge killings.

So to even suggest that Green could be a) the only problem here, and b) a simple mistake of the military screening process, is an insult to my intelligence.

Yet CBS takes ignorance for granted, then puffs up its mighty chest and files an “indictment” of a military bureaucracy that failed to see that this crazy guy was destined to convince three other guys to rape, kill and set fire to some random family somewhere—with or without being handed the lawless impunity created by retaliation warfare and, by the way, the full support of a command hierarchy that will try to blame soldiers’ behavior on insurgents.

By approaching the story from this irrelevant one-man-to-blame (one-military-form-to-blame?) angle, CBS news has done it again: given you yet another excuse to feel sort of okay with a war that continues to create atrocities simply by existing. It’s not the constant fear of being fragged by Iraqis. It’s not the civil war. It’s not that most Iraqis want us gone, or that in the States (and all over the world) the war is highly unpopular with a purpose still being debated 3 years later.

And it certainly isn’t the fury against Arabs sparked by 9/11 and encouraged by our leaders, or that all the war crimes in Iraq have the consistent feature of being “misreported”, “overlooked” , and unattended to by the top brass.

It’s the screening process.

Here’s some wool, can you please place it over your eyes?

July 6, 2006

Preliminary Treatise on Contemporary Information Acquisition and Distribution as a Social Function of Maintaining Consistent Group Reality

Filed under: mediachumps — secretmojo @ 9:04 pm

Information acquisition and distribution flow chart

Blog at