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Monday, Feb 20, 2006

One of the effects of having a mainstream media that has long been supported by advertising is that advertising itself serves to legitimate discourse around it as being serious and professional. That someone would pay to place an ad near some writing makes that writing appear valuable in a way that the quality of the writing alone can’t necessarily do, especially if it can’t draw cultural capital from any other source—from the notoriety of the writer or the publication or what have you. (The health and competence of national magazines’ editorial staff can often be gauged by the quality and quantity of its ads.) I used to see the formation of artist/writer communities, that serve at once as producer and audience and support system for the production of new culture, as a potential counter to that sad fact, and I still believe that it’s inherent for humans in general to trust their social networks to confer legitimacy and relevance. (That’s why the MySpace marketer infilatrators so disturb me; they are coopting the social network and poisoning it at the root, undermining its important legitimation function.) But for better or for worse, the presence of ads also confers it, and the more expensive the ads seem and the more reputable the companies that they stem from, the more prestige for the media to which they are attached.


Just as home recording and technological advances brought a flood of indistinguishable and overwhelming music, so has blogging unleashed an avalanche of unedited prose. If blogging has made it easier for amateur writers to attempt to make their voices heard independent of the legitimation confered by ads in our culture, it has also made it easier for them to flood and drown out each other, yielding no net gain, and making the filter afforded by advertising legitimation, the filter of media buyers seeing a certain writing as audience-worthy in advance, all the more necessary.


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Monday, Feb 20, 2006
by PopMatters Staff


Novillero
“Aptitude” [MP3]
“Hypothesist” [MP3]
PopMatters review


Man Man
“Black Mission Goggles” [MP3]


Santa Dog
“Rosa” [MP3]


Mudhoney
“Blindspots” [MP3]


La Rocca
“Sing Song Sung” [MP3]


John Vanderslice
“Exodus Damage” [MP3]


Town & Country
“Cloud Seeding” [MP3]


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Friday, Feb 17, 2006

This Washington Post story details Bush’s latest attempt—weirdly enough, at the headquarters of a fast-food chain, Wendy’s—to promote “consumer-driven health care,” which amounts to foisting more responsibility onto the sick person for decoding Byzantine health bills and for deciding which corners to cut in their efforts to get healthy. Because if there’s one thing you want to be tight-fisted about, it’s your own health; that’s second nature, right? And of course, we all feel comfortable telling our doctor that we don’t trust her, and we don’t really think that MRI she’s advocating is necessary—after all who knows your body better, you or some stupid doctor?

The main problem with the consumer-driven scheme is that for many Americans, price signals quality, and they will always choose the more expensive option for their health as long as they can afford it. We learned from the Clinton health-care-reform attempt that American’s are afraid of rationing; Bush has made each of us our own rationer and calls it freedom, and perhaps to some people it is. People should be free to die when they can’t afford health care.


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Friday, Feb 17, 2006

A bold statement from Brainwashed and they want your help.


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Friday, Feb 17, 2006

Here’s some support for my contention that taste in music has less to do with what the music itself sounds like than what sort of social capital you are trying to accumulate. This Boing Boing post reports on a research project that sought to investigate social influence on music choices and found that a group whose choices were isolated from other members made a completely different set of songs popular than the group who was able to see what everyone else was listening to. The point is, we listen to pop music for a sense of belonging—to our time and to a specific culture—as much as for sensual enjoyment. Taste is so nebulous and amorphous that we immediately look to others to tell us what sort of attitude to take toward something. So what it means to like a song may be that we can imagine others liking it, and us liking them. This is why we can rely on musical taste to suggest what a person is like—pop music’s primary function is to signal precisely that. If we don’t have people to guide us in our judgment of music, we can turn to the music press for some corroboration. Absent that, we fall back on comparisons with music we already know or on our inherent tendencies to be positive or negative—progressive or conservative—about change and novelty. Hence “personal taste,” independent of social factors, relies on having had exposure to lots of music; its depth corresponds to the information base it can draw on to make comparisons. Taste is a kind of personal history that is dynamic, evolving over time. I know, no duh, but many people tend to assert or a tleast imply that their tastes are static and absolute and in-born. Perhaps people who feel that way, who are aboslutists about what they like, are actually just being especially protective of the social group that they think such tastes give them entry to, a social group whose parameters are so precious, or so dubious, that they can’t bear direct examination.


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