April 19, 2005

Device lets you out-Fox your TV

From the Seattle Times...

It's not that Sam Kimery objects to the views expressed on Fox News Channel. The creator of the "Fox Blocker" contends the network is not news at all.

Kimery says he has sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets. The Tulsa, Okla., resident also has received thousands of e-mails, both angry and complimentary, as well as a few death threats since the device debuted in August.

"Apparently the making of terroristic threats against those who don't share your views is a high art form among a certain core audience," said Kimery, 45.


Formerly a registered Republican, even a precinct captain, Kimery became an independent in the 1990s when he said the state party stopped taking input from everyday members.

Kimery now contends Fox News' top-level management dictates a conservative journalistic bias, that inaccuracies never are retracted, and what airs is more opinion than news.

"I might as well be reading tabloids out of the grocery store," he said. "Anything to get a rise out of the viewer and to reinforce certain retrograde notions."

A Fox spokeswoman at the station's New York headquarters said the channel's ratings speak for themselves. For the first three months of this year, Fox has averaged 1.62 million viewers in prime-time, compared with CNN's 805,000, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Kimery's motives go deeper than preventing people from watching the channel, which he acknowledges can be done without the Blocker. But he likens his device to burning a draft card, a tangible example of disagreement.

And he's taking this message to the network's advertisers. After buying the $8.95 device online, would-be blockers are shown a letter that they can send to advertisers via the Fox Blocker site.

"The point is not to block the channel or block free speech but to raise awareness," said Kimery, who works in the high-tech industry.

Kimery doesn't use the device; he occasionally feels the need to tune into Fox News for something "especially heinous."

Business could pick up since the blocker was alluded to in a recent episode of the ABC drama "Boston Legal." The show's original script mentioned Fox News, but ABC removed the references.

The boisterous conversations on Fox News may be why the station is so popular, said Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media watchdog group. And despite a perception that Fox leans to the right, Felling said, that doesn't mean people who lean left should tune out.

"It's tough to engage in an argument when you're not participating in it," Felling said. "It's just one more layer in the wall that the right and the left are building in between each other."

Posted by Brian Tully at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2004

14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

Gil C. Schmidt posted this on discuss04.com and I found it to be a bit of an eye-opener. So much so, I thought I should mirror his post here. Gil's comments are in parenthesis following each of Dr. Britt's 14 characteristics.

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism
By Dr. Lawrence Britt

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
    (U.S. under Bush: Close)

  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK. See Abu Graib & Guantánamo.)

  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK.)

  4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK)

  5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK. See 2004 Election Results in 11 States with anti-gay marriage proposals.)

  6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
    (U.S. under Bush: Close, but not very much so. Maybe.)

  7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK. See latest Alert Level.)

  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK.)

  9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK! CHECK!)

  10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
    (U.S. under Bush: Close, but just beneath my CHECK level.)

  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
    (U.S. under Bush: Not really: Attacking intellectuals is seen as a weak method of arguing against liberal ideas, and higher education in the U.S. is a provider of brain power to conservatives, as well as liberals.)

  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
    (U.S. under Bush: Close, and on the tipping point for some time.)

  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK! CHECK!)

  14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
    (U.S. under Bush: CHECK! CHECK! CHECK! CHECK! The Court determined that the last three “CHECKS” were discarded for not being sufficiently clear as to intent.)

Posted by Brian Tully at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2004

No, it's not a Rorschach test...

It's actually a 2004 election map that Tufte would be proud of.

Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman of the University of Michigan is a must see for all, especially those of us recovering from post-election depression.

Posted by Brian Tully at 09:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2004

Funny T-shirt & site


I had to buy one. :)

Posted by Brian Tully at 04:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2004

Barack Obama for President?


i've never been one for politics, but after experiencing Barack Obama's speech during last night's Democratic National Convention, all i can say is...


He is surely destined for greatness. Illinios is lucky to have him.

In case you missed his speech, you can check it out here (RealPlayer required).

To learn more about this great man, check out www.obamaforillinois.com.

Posted by Brian Tully at 04:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack