Media critique.

Johnathan Foreman in the Weekly Standard on why the reportage from Baghdad has been so grotesquely inaccurate:
Perhaps this is just another case of reporters with an anti-American or antiwar agenda. Perhaps living in Saddam's totalitarian Baghdad has left some of the press here with a case of Stockholm syndrome. It may also be a byproduct of depending on interpreters and fixers who were connected to or worked with the approval of the Saddam regime. And you cannot underestimate the herd instinct that can take over when you have a lot of media folk in a confined area for any length of time. But whatever the cause, the result has been very selective reporting.
Why, tell us more, Johnathan.
The Associated Press's Hamza Hendawi, for instance, massively exaggerated and misrepresented the nature of the looting in Baghdad in the first days after the U.S. armored forces took key points in the city. Like so many Baghdad-based reporters, she described an "unchecked frenzy" that did not exist at that time (the looting was targeted and nonviolent, in the sense that the looters attacked neither persons nor inhabited dwellings). Read her pieces and you'll meet a veritable parade of Iraqis who are angry with the United States.

Then there were those exaggerated reports of April 18 claiming (as Reuters' Hassan Hafidh put it) that "Tens of thousands of protesters demanded on Friday that the United States get out of Iraq. . . . In the biggest protest since U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein's iron-fisted, 24-year-long rule nine days ago, Muslims poured out of mosques and into the streets of Baghdad, calling for an Islamic state to be established." Demonstrators did come out of one mosque, but reporters seem to have confused them with the large numbers of Shia Muslims gathering for the pilgrimage to Karbala--a pilgrimage long forbidden by the Saddam regime.
Reporters who don't have any idea what they're looking at? I'm shocked. Shocked.
More irritating is the myth constantly repeated by antiwar columnists that the military let the city be destroyed--in particular the hospitals and the national museum--while guarding the Ministry of Oil. The museum looting is turning out to have been grotesquely exaggerated. And there is no evidence for the ministry of oil story. Depending on the article, the Marines had either a tank or a machine gun nest outside the ministry. Look for a photo of that tank or that machine gun nest and you'll look in vain. And even if the Marines had briefly guarded the oil ministry it would have been by accident: The Marines defended only the streets around their own headquarters and so-called Areas of Operation. Again, though, given the pro-regime sources favored by so many of the press corps huddled in the Palestine Hotel, it's not surprising that this rumor became gospel.
I have a feeling I'm going to be pointing people to this article again and again. When I think about how readily the idea that the US guarded the oil ministry over the museum was swallowed by people who should have known better, it just pisses me off afresh. Not that my opinion of the press in general needed any lowering. (Link via Tainted Bill McCabe, who got it from Glenn Reynolds.)
My stomach hurts from laughing so hard.

Sheila A-stray at Redheaded Ramblings has posted one of the funniest, shrieking-with-laughter-so-loud-the-neighbors-think-I'm-being-murdered, tears-streaming-from-the-eyes things I've ever read. Not the collected slam reviews of Battlefield Earth I originally went to her blog to read (link via Dean Esmay), though those are hilarious, but the post about her acting experiences in truly horrendous plays. (Since it's Blogspot the links are fucked up. It's the 5/3 entry entitled "Battlefield Recap".) She's going on the blogroll.


Neo-barbarians at the gates.

This is what the Australian universities are wasting their money on.
Last week, The Australian newspaper's brow-creasing Higher Education liftout carried a perfectly serious front-page story with a picture of a London artist wearing a corset over his face.

It reported, without a whinny of amazement, that Sydney's Macquarie University was hosting an international conference of academics, plus artists like this face-flattened Brit, to discuss "Body Modification: Changing Bodies, Changing Selves".

The conference organiser, Queer Studies lecturer Nikki Sullivan, explained that they would for three days discuss how we pierce, tattoo, brand, stretch, suction and slash our bodies, and how bad people are to judge us for doing so.

She raised the example of people volunteering to have a leg or arm amputated, simply because they do "not feel at ease with it, or would prefer the look or feel of a radically altered body".

It was wrong to dismiss such people, proudly hacking off their healthy limbs, as mentally ill. This was, as the paper put it, actually a "legitimate phenomenon".

"What is self-mutilation and what is body art -- that line is very unclear," said Sullivan, a mother with five tattoos and piercings in her nose and ears.
No, it isn't.

Don't think Sullivan is on a frolic of her own deep in the flatulent bowels of Macquarie's Department of Critical and Cultural Studies. Let me demonstrate by giving you the titles of some of the other papers delivered at her conference, which is sponsored by the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia.

The show kicked off with "A Straight Boy's Experiences of Getting a Prince Albert Piercing (of his penis)", and not surprisingly moved on to "The Phallus as Freak-Show", followed by "White Trash Get Down on Your Knees, It's Time for Cake and Sodomy". An Indian academic then talked of this "Elective Amputation", before things perked up with "Performing Muscular Drag in Circus".

Then came "How to Murder Barbie, F... Mommy and Live Forever", and "Am I 'Becoming-Rat' or Losing My Ear?", Before the fun ended with "What an A..e Can Do", "He F...ed Me on National TV" and "I Make Myself in Hurting Myself".

Sullivan herself spoke on "Queer Ethics: On (Not) Reading the Face of Michael Jackson". And the keynote speaker was Del La Grace Volcano, a "queer, lesbian photographer" who became a "Gender Terrorist, an Intentional Mutation and Intersex by Design" -- a "he" who "subverts . . . the notion that only two genders exist, male and female".
And to think I giggled at the "Self and Other" PoMo conference they had at U of L when I was there as an undergrad in the early 80s. If they'd had a freak show like this I'd be obligated to torch my diploma as a worthless piece of garbage.

Queer Studies. Judas Priest, that'll get you a job in the real world.

[Via Tim Blair. The 5/02 entry, scroll to the post about Rupert Murdoch.]

Not quite sure what to make of this.

Janeane Garofalo will be starring (and I use that term inadvisedly) in Ash Tuesday, a movie about the immediate aftermath of 9/11. She'll play a woman who works in a health food store and doesn't want to leave her apartment. She does look like someone who would work in a health food store, at least.
Bring me the head of Steve Phillips.

Mike Lupica makes a compelling case for firing Steve Phillips (which frankly should have preceding Valentine's firing) in today's Daily News (with bonus Timeline of Shametm!)

Meanwhile, Mo Vaughn (note that I refrained from referring to him as "Moo" this time) teases Mets fans by hinting that he might retire, having suffered the ignominy of having to remove himself from a game after one at bat when he made himself nauseous by taking "supplements" on an empty stomach. The Mets, ladies and gentlemen. Baseball's brain trust.


Bruce Springsteen's America.

This is somewhat old, but it came up recently on one of the Mets groups I'm in (time to talk about anything but the team), and I'd be somewhat remiss if I didn't mention it here. Bruce Springsteen thinks the quashing of the Dixie Chicks' dissent is "unAmerican":
The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they're terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American.
To me, they're silly asses who tried to ingratiate themselves with a foreign audience by trashing the government that protects their right to be silly asses. NPR aside, radio is a business, not a public service. It is not incumbent on country radio to make sure they have a wide spectrum of political views represented on their playlists. (If it were, Steve Earle might get more airplay, the talented pinko commie bastard.)
The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about - namely freedom.
What the fuck are you talking about? The pressure is coming from The People, and "big business" in this case is bowing to popular pressure. You think they like taking the Chicks out of rotation and having to look for a replacement? And just once I'd like to see a specific example of governmental pressure cited, rather than this infantile generalized scaremongering about the evil, shadowy Republican administration.
Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home.
If people don't want to hear the Dixie Chicks, you can't force them. If it's no longer the will of the people to hear your music, sucks to be you. That's what freedom's all about, baby.
I don't know what happens next,
Dogs living with cats...
but I do want to add my voice to those who think that the Dixie Chicks are getting a raw deal, and an un-American one to boot. I send them my support.
Then buy a radio station and program the Chicks 24/7. Or write them a check. But don't tell the market what to do. That's un-American.