I am sure by now you’ve seen one of the Saturday Night Live (SNL) spoofs of Sarah Palin. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a good laugh. (And you can find some of the videos below on this post). Tina Fey’s impersonation is excellent and by all means looks just like Sarah Palin. SNL has been part of the political landscape imitating politicians since 1975. This year has been no different as millions of people have tuned in to watch Tina Fey impersonate Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate. SNL ratings have skyrocketed to the highest in seven years and the sketches have been seen all over the internet as well as replayed in all the major news stations.
After posting the entry about Surveillance of Skype Messages in China, I was immediately informed that the issues highlighted in the Citizen Lab report affect only the TOM-Skype software distributed by TOM in China and that standard versions of Skype remain unaffected. [thanks Peter]. This is indeed an important piece of information as to appease the fears of the Skype user base.
It looks like Skype has been active in addressing the public in regards to this matter. Here are some excerpts from their President Josh Silverman.
The New York Times reported that a group of Canadian human right activist and a computer security researcher has discovered a surveillance system that monitors and archives web text messages and conversations. It is triggered when the conversation includes politically charged words. Researchers in Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto uncovered hundreds of message records after they decrypted the messages. Example words are “communist”, “quit the party”, “democracy”, “Tibet”, “Tiananmen” “SARS”, “Taiwan Independence”, and “milk powder”.
Media Monitoring Controvery
This new discovery again highlights the controversy of media monitoring by the Chinese government. The Chinese government filters out websites, images, stories from the web and makes them inaccessible through search engines. The most notorious was the removal of Tiananmen Square related information. The most recent controversy involved the accusation of the Chinese Gymnastic team being underaged. Hundreds of blog posts with screenshots of records of the Chinese Gymnastic team that was found through Internet research appeared on the web, but soon after each of the online records would mysteriously disappear. The investigation was recently dropped due to the lack of evidence.
Just Inappropriate for Kids or Just Inappropriate
Many people talk about how the media affects our children, how it may lead to violence or how it may encourage promiscuous lifestyles. There is a lot of merit there, but one thing that is increasingly noticeable but overlooked is the fact that the parents themselves are underestimating the influences of media in their own lives and indirectly how it affects their children.
Take a look at movie review sites where users list their ages, you’ll see adults saying the movie is inappropriate for the younger audience. But you ask a 25 year old how they feel and they say it is inappropriate for 21 and under. Ask a 21 year old and they say it is inappropriate for 15 and under and so on. Thinking we are above the influences of media starts at a very young age. In the same way, lot of the criticism that are made against inappropriate shows, movie scenes, and video games are often argued for the sake of the children rather than based on morals because the latter would mean the older adults themselves are subject to their own cry for control.
Hints at “Inappropriateness”
If it’s morally wrong to put a sex scene in a mainstream game, then they themselves should not be playing it. If one believes it is morally ok, then shouldn’t that bother us in someway? If it is something we would be embarrassed to be watching in open public or in front of your kids, doesn’t that hint at the fact the question shouldn’t be whether it is appropriate for our children, but whether it is something appropriate at all?
Take a look some of the comment excerpts for an article discussing the controversy of placing nudity in a video game.
“I just find it sad the trivial amounts of nudity and sexuality in a video game is so controversial.”
– I find it sad, that our society as a whole has come to a point that nudity and sexuality in video GAME is consider “trivial” and is even considered a topic of “controversy”. There is no controversy here.
“Where is it said that all video games are supposed to be suitable for children?”
– This can only be said when one deems playing games with sex and nudity is suitable for adults. Is it though? Is that suitable for anyone?
Back in March, Google rejected a Google Adwords ad from the Christian Institute, a British group. It stated “UK Abortion laws: Key news and views on abrotion law from The Christian Institute.” This group put out this ad during a period where the House of Commons was considering a bill regarding abortion issues. Google rejected this ad stating that it contained “abortion and religion-related content”.
The lawyers of the Christian Institute immediately filed a lawsuit saying the company was discriminating on religious grounds. They said it violated the United Kingdom’s Equality Act of 2006, which prohibits religious discrimination in providing services. Their case was that Google was allowing secular groups to promote abortions and their practices but was not allowing other groups, or in this case religious groups, to advertise in that space.
What does Obama & McCain say about Media policy? What is media policy?
The two camps have differences in opinion on how to deal with media. Considering media is the medium in which much of our worldview and opinions are formed, this is a discussion worth having. The main question that is at play is what kind of role does the government play in overseeing the companies that control the media and the type of information that is shared publicly.
To summarize in one sentence each, Obama’s camp believes that the government should have an active role in controlling the potential for abuse. McCain’s camp believes it is best to let the market regulate themselves in providing a healthy information sharing environment.
An article in Slate Magazine covers a lot of these details. Some quotes below.
“Powell [McCain’s Principle Advisor] and McCain believe it’s better to approach the media industries in basically the same way as any other industry, with the implication that media consolidation is a natural process best left alone… [they] believe that trying to prevent media consolidation and attempts to favor “good” content will tend to backfire.”
The Obama camp starts from the premise that the media and information industries are special—that like the transportation, energy, or financial industries, they are deeply entwined with the public interest. That means they warrant a level of scrutiny. Why? Control over media and communications, the argument goes, translates too readily into political power and influence over speech.”
What is the True source of Bloodshed, Persecution & War?
Yesterday was Sept 11th. A date which needs no explanation as we remember the 3,000+ victims of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. It was a day where everyone stopped, stunned beyond belief. A day when everyone forgot about what busy work they had that day and started to dwell on what is more important in life. How could there be so much evil? What truly is important in life? What is the meaning of life? And so on.
I am still stunned by what happened. I remember waking up hearing over my roommates radio something about planes crashing into buildings. I thought I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe it, until I saw the images for myself. However throughout that time, we saw a nation come together, support one another and put our differences aside. I don’t remember the last time our nation was so united as one.
Yesterday a group called “Freedom from Religion Foundation” did just the opposite. As everyone took a moment to remember and mourn the many victims and the families they left behind, this group posted a huge full page propaganda in the New York Times blaming religion for this event. “One of the lessons of 9/11 is that there is no greater source of terrorism, strife, bloodshed, persecution, or war than religion.” It is upsetting that they would use this day to send such a dividing message. Is there some merit to what they claim? Perhaps, though I would argue it’s more to do with the brokenness of people than religion itself. It also doesn’t consider the fact that much of social progress and much good has been led by religious groups. But here is what they wrote “The history of Western civilization.. shows that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion”.
As everyone has heard by now, it was later found that the cute little girl, Lin Miaoke, was lip syncing while the original girl, Yang Peiyi, was yanked from the program last minute told to sing from backstage because she wasn’t “flawless in image” according to the musical director of the olympics. The musical director said the reasons were for national interest and that the child on camera should be “flawless in image, internal feelings and expression. Lin Miaoke is excellent in these aspects”. “The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation,” said Chen Qigang. The interview appeared briefly on the Chinese news website Sina before it disappeared.
“What was best for the nation”. Do you believe what they did was best for the nation?
My first thought when I heard this news was thinking about what kind of message this sent to the two little girls involved as well as to the rest of the viewers. Yang Peiyi was basically told that if you aren’t pretty you can’t be on stage or in other words there is a limit to how far you can go if you don’t have the looks. Despite her incredible voice, it was her physical appearance that held her back. In an interview the General Music Designer slipped in saying she wasn’t attractive enough and had crooked teeth. This was indeed tragic as she is so young. What do you say to her when she asks why she isn’t being allowed to go stage but has to sing in a mic as another girl pretends to be singing?
A new 685 page report from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) backs the claim that smoking in movies influences children to smoke. The report is called “The role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tabacco Use”.
The NCI found that tabacco advertising and marketing is causally linked to increased tobacco use. It also states that smoking depicted in films and movies are causally related to smoking initiation among youth. There are very few movies out there where smoking isn’t shown as a normal part of life. Smoking is done so casually on TV and movie programs that it simply seems like something anyone would normally do. This is most likely old news for most people, but the rate in which smoking scenes are appearing in movies may catch you slightly off guard.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics was the most widely watched Olympics in history. It had all you could ask for. It had high drama, incredible feats, and one of the most beautiful opening and closing ceremony ever. I was completely in awe with the beautiful creativity in displaying all of China’s history and culture. Great job China.
However… coupled with such great display of the magnificence of Chinese culture, so was the display of some not so magnificent incidences. Lot of deception was carried out by the Olympic decision makers to put forth their best face. It’s a show, so much of it is understandable, but I strongly believe that actions the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) & the Olympic organizers carried out poorly contributed to its own culture and sent the wrong message to the very people they govern.
The list of what are being called “deceptions” or “lies” continues to grow. A wonderful little girl with a wonderful voice, Yang Peiyi, was yanked from the stage and told to sing backstage because the organizers wanted to have a more prettier girl, one “flawless in image” as mentioned by the music director, to be on stage. The new girl, Lin Miaoke, ended up lip syncing while the Yang Peiyi had to sing backstage during perhaps the biggest stage she would ever get a chance to participate in. CCP also claimed to have sold out the games but admitted later to hiring volunteers to fill up the empty seats. Organizers also showed fake digital fireworks making the firework display grander than it actually was to the rest of the world. Organizers also claimed and printed on their programs that the spectacular display of China’s ethnicity groups were actual people from those provinces while later saying that they were actually nearly all from the Han ethnic group that make up 90% of their population. CCP kept emphasizing harmony with its people while sanctioning away water and resources from the countryside farms to keep Beijing well stocked and pushing out migrant workers out of their cities. CCP praised the fact that the Olympic games were protest free while quietly jailing any dissenters and sending elderly protesters to work camps. Then there is the still unresolved matter of the Chinese Gymnastic team.
As almost everyone would agree, media has a huge influence on our thought patterns and the way we perceive the world. With the presidential candidates starting to gain more press, the bias found in different networks and media groups starts to become more visible. The bias of the media is always influencing us daily, it just happens to be more noticed this time of year especially networks like CNN or ABC (left) versus networks like FOX (right). The way we make decisions about who we vote for to how we live our lives to what is right and wrong is built upon what we see and hear.
Back in September 2007, Gallup surveyed the American voters and found that 45% said the media is too liberal while 18% said the media is too conservative. I fall into the 45% category so there is my personal bias! The sad thing is most of it goes unnoticed because we get so used to it that our standards of what is liberal and conservative shifts over time.
One way of determining the bias of media is to look at the people who make up those companies and publishes the material and their contributions to the political parties. The following are total 2008 PAC contribution figures and where the majority of that contribution went. I’ve noted the more well known companies. [Facts provided by opensecrets.org].
Books, Magazines & Paper – $12 Million [78% to Democrats]
Motion Picture Industry – $8.9 Million [89% to Democrats]
Cable & Satellite TV – $6.3 Million [63% to Democrats]
Music Recording Industry – $3 Million [79% to Democrats]
Television Production / Distribution – $2.3 Million [86% to Democrats]
Next Session: 8/22 @ 7:30-9PM
Gracepoint Berkeley Church – Alameda
2000 Northloop Drive. Alameda, CA 94502
Gracepoint Fellowship Church, a Berkeley church located near the UC Berkeley campus, is having free seminars / workshops called Life Matters. These are free courses that require no commitment or previous attendance. Some food is provided for free and the event is followed by a Board Game Night. They will have stack full of board games for people to stick around and play with one another.
The reason Gracepoint Berkeley Church’s Life Matter course is listed here is because they have a workshop called “More Than a Face”. This workshop address our media-based society and how the media shapes and affects our self-image. This specifically addresses how media affects the modern women’s self image. Though targeted to women, all is welcome. The will be showing clips from advertisements and movies and discuss the underlying messages that shape how we view beauty. These courses are also done throughout the UC Berkeley campus, in dorms and sororities.