Author Archives: nowaksj

Final Project

The Hype Machine/Blogs and the Public Sphere (specifically, Music blogs and the public sphere)

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Enough True Enough

In the epilogue of True Enough, Manjoo writes that he has “explored how modern communications technology has shifted our understanding of the truth. I aruge that new information tools haven’t merely given us faster and easier access to news, but that they’ve altered our very grasp on reality.”

This statement is completely true. I was in a Maymester class last summer that was held for a three 4 hour block every weekday. We would get a break every 2 hours to use the restroom and such. Every day, whenever we got to that break, I would look around the room and try to talk to the prettiest girl. But every day, whenever we got to that break, every single person in the room would pull our their cell phones and start typing. Or they would just walk out of the room. No body talks to anybody. One day in class I made this observation to my Professor. He said ” I know, it’s rediculous. 15 years ago, you all would have gotten up and gone outside to chat with each other instead of pulling your phones out.”

I like Farhad Manjoo’s book very much. I think that it has a lot of relevance to our lives in the ‘post-fact,’ (post-modern) world. I liked that his book was easy and enjoyable to read as well as providing useful information.

We live in a complicated time with complicated systems ruling our lives. This often feels overwhelming, and it should. The truth is harder to get at, not just in terms of journalism but it in terms of communication with each other. As a previous blogger wrote, the end of the book leaves us with the suspicious feeling of ‘wow…what now?’

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Occupation Movements Occupied: Corporations Sit-In

The so-called Occupation Movements occurring across the nation and around the globe now have yet another hurdle to cross before their proposed progressive actions can take root. A new group of protesters, calling themselves the Occupation Occupiers, have begun sitting in at Occupation rallies all over the United States. Many of these Occupiers are employees of large corporations such as Starbucks, Goldman Sachs, and Wal-Mart as well as bankers from institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The move by corporate America has been hailed as impressive, innovative, and a grand demonstration of democracy in action.

The Occupation Occupiers are being drawn to rallies nationwide for a variety of reasons. Some are demonstrating because they feel as though their corporate identity is being misrepresented in the movements’ daily assemblies. “We’re, you know, tired of all this,” says Frank Olechnowitz, a Wells Fargo executive, “At these rallies you typically see, what, like four to five guys in suits? That’s not America. We are 1% of the population at these protests being oppressed by what, like, 99%? Pardon my french but like…what?” Olechnowitz and his compatriots were seen demonstrating at rallies in Washington D.C. last week between 12:30pm and about 1:15pm when they all had to get back to work after their lunch break.
Other protesters claim that the fight for majority in the occupation movement’s daily assemblies will be an up hill battle. Steve Miller Band, a Starbucks regional manager, delivered a speech at the Occupy Miami protests using the tag line ‘18 percent is better than 1 percent’ to stir up strong emotions within the Occupation Occupiers. “O.K., so we seem to be outnumbered at these rallies. But that’s what democracy is really about, right? It’s about being outnumbered and still getting your way, even when you might be wrong- it doesn’t really matter,” Band proclaimed last Friday. “We live in a country where the underdog dictates the vote, not those guys in charge. We need to get more strong, good looking business people like yourselves to come out and support us. In no time, we can go from 1% of the demonstrators to…who knows, 18%! And 18% ain’t bad!”

Still more Occupiers have come to demonstrate their support for corporate culture in America. “Without people like my employers, how would we have anything to eat or drink?” asked Tilda May, a Wal-Mart executive. “I can’t remember the last time I bought food from anywhere but a store. Even if you wanted to get food from somewhere else, I guess you would need a gun or something to shoot it first. So then where would you get a gun? At a Wal-Mart of course. These movements are losing sight of what corporations really do for us. They keep us alive..or else.” This movement-on-top-of-another-movement is an inspiring, exciting event for our country. Truly no where else in the world could produce such a protest. Protesters protesting protests is a display of democracy never before seen in the entire world. Hopefully, these brave occupiers will be an example for all Americans. Every business, person, and culture should have a say in the occupation movement, not just college students or the unemployed. Sooner or later, no city will be left unoccupied and something really productive can come about from this proud display of America’s supremely efficient democratic process.

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What’s a Protest?

In city centers across the country, tents, signs, and sit-ins are being erected in what are now called ‘occupation movements.’ This term is a reference to the Occupy Wall Street protest, currently the largest occupation movement with an estimated population of around 10,000 demonstrators, in New York City. These protests have since sprung up in other cities such as Chicago, Miami, Seattle, and Richmond.

How is it, with increasing turnout at these rallies nationwide, that these demonstrations appear unified in name only? Occupation movements have been widely criticized as disorganized and directionless as they lack both centralized leadership and clear common goals. Who are these protesters and what are their demands? Furthermore, what makes an effective protest? If these movements are to be written off as unproductive and non-progressive, what could make these protests significant? Is it the violence exemplified by the 2011 Arab Spring? Is a good protest throwing bottles and breaking windows?

With occupations now beginning internationally in cities such as Quebec and Mexico City, the question must be asked- What are these protests? To answer this question, on can start with a look at the Occupy D.C. rallies, currently occupying Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square in our nation’s capitol.

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Breeze Articles Thursday 6/10

As far as articles from the Breeze I think we should definitely look at the opinion piece “Occupy Wall Street: America’s ‘Arab Spring?'” This movement is an enigma to me; I’ve heard and read conflicting things about what that protest is actually about.

As far as a second article…why not the other article about the Arab Spring? I think the title is “Students debate impact of Arab Spring protests on American youth.” This article is on the Breeze website, though I don’t remember seeing it in the print version…

The Arab Spring was a very cool thing that we all witnessed. I think comparing Occupy Wall Street to the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya is an affront to Middle Eastern freedom fighters.

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The FBI Siege of Mt. Carmel near Waco, Texas

My paper on the FBI Siege the Mount Carmel center in 1993,

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RFK Jr. and the 2004 Election

On my first reading of the Kennedy article, I was stunned at the evidence concerning foul play in the 2004 Ohio electoral vote. Robert F. Kennedy’s argument on the surface appears sound and well-researched. The entire article reads like a landslide of evidence portraying the Reblublican party as conspirators and criminals in the 2004 Presidential Election. Arguments aside, the statistics that Kennedy presents alone prove that something happened out of the norm in the election. The most compelling cited in the article, to me, were the discrepencies in the Ohio exit polls and the projected votes counted towards Kerry in comparison to what he actually received. The remained of the article is also compelling, though perhaps influenced by deep-seated bias. My own reading of the Kennedy article is shaped by what Farhad Manjoo writes in chapter four of our textbook. Out of boredom, I read this chapter of the text ahead of the assignment.

Manjoo notes several instances of biased persuasion on the part of Kennedy. On page 126, Manjoo writes “The researchers calculated that the odds against this projection being off as a result of random error were also astronomical: 1 in 455,000…the number meant only that something had gone wrong…not measure the odds that the election had been stolen…here’s how Robert F. Kennedy cited it. With the exit polls showing Kerry “winning by a million and a half votes nationally,” he wrote, “the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000.” Manjoo also cites the work of Kathy Dopp, a citizen concerned about the possibility that the 2004 Presidential election had been hijacked. Dopp analyzed hundreds of pages of data that she found on the internet to prove her own argument that the Ohio elections were rigged. Manjoo shows us that Dopp was not qualified to make conclusions on this kind of data, citing research conducted by Walter Mebane. This research showed how ‘amateurs’ can find authentic data via public sources such as the world wide web yet lack the proper expertise to interpret the data.

With Manjoo’s text in mind, I think back on the Kennedy article with skepticism. I think the excerpt from “Was the 2004 Election Stolen” is a brilliant example of how authors can spin facts in the ‘post-fact world.’ The statistics seem to definitely prove that something went awry in the 2004 Ohio elections, yet Kennedy’s argument has to be taken with a grain of salt when considering it along side Manjoo and Mebane’s findings.

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