Thursday, November 04, 2010


The bugbear of every audio engineer is a problematic sonic wobble called "phase cancellation": when two identical soundwaves are a half-cycle out of sync, one soundwave peaks exactly when the second craters, thus negating each other and producing silence.

This is a handy visual for thinking about the results of the U.S. midterm election. The outcome could've been worse for the Democrats and better for the Republicans; control of Congress is now split between the two parties; and voter sentiment towards each is more tepid than day-old banana pudding. All this signifying nothing, nada, niente, null will get done. Each party can spend the next two years accomplishing absolute bupkiss whilst blaming the other guys for blocking every bill that hits the floor. Victory and defeat nipping at each other's asses in the kind of Moebius-like cycle only quantum physicists can explain. Champagne for everyone on K Street!

I highly recommend Richard Seymour's class-oriented dissection of how rigidly inert the political status quo will remain in the wake of the mid-terms. His writing is crisp, his conclusions rational yet depressingly predictable: the GOP is the party of the obscenely wealthy; the Tea Party has mobilized a pathetically minute minority of xenophobes within the white working class; Democrats are supported by a middle-class too terrified of losing their luxury goods to attack the American power structure; and in the absence of a political party that truly reflects their own interests, the working class overwhelmingly opt not to vote (thus reinforcing the two ruling parties' misconception that they alone represent the electorate).

In other news about people who don't fucking get it, FARK founder Drew Curtis blasted Jon Stewart for failing to properly credit news aggregator for drumming up support for the Rally To Restore Banality. But it quickly became clear that no one cared about a pissing contest between a Viacom employee and Condé Nast's IT department, and all was forgiven post-haste. However, in both his initial rant & his grudging "s'all good," Curtis accused The Daily Show and The Colbert Report of failing to cite FARK as a source for much of the material they lampoon:
Am I'm butthurt about not getting mentioned on the Daily Show? After 10 years, yes I am. Do they owe me? No. Is it common courtesy to do it once in awhile? Yes. Is that what this is all about then? No.
At least he got it right that TDS owes him nothing and that proper citation is not what it's all about. But evidently, Curtis doesn't understand how the internet works: what matters is not who is communicating, or even what is being communicated, but the act of communicating itself. This is the greatest relay network in human history; individual nodes don't matter. Surely Curtis wouldn't argue that an individual gear-tooth is significant compared with the smooth & steady operation of the machine as a whole. Yes, a bad gear will gum up the works, but then it gets replaced, as surely as Facebook swallowed MySpace's clientele and as quickly as I can find a video that was taken off YouTube over on Megavideo or Daily Motion.

The machine speeds on well-oiled and without a care for its cogs. Because if our corporate overlords can't control the content that we cough up, they can at least make sure we're not making any money off it.


JM said...

wait, did the daily show/colbert plagiarize Fark or something?

Seb said...

No, not at all. Curtis didn't even offer any evidence that Stewart & Colbert's writers even read FARK.

But even if they did, my point is there's nothing to plagiarize from FARK. It's a link-dump site! No original content, no meaningful embellishment or elaboration on existing items, nothing that can possibly be parroted in a comedy TV show. (At least, not in the way South Park parroted a few lines from a video.) Drew Curtis' misplaced sense of entitlement is insane: he built a website out of relaying other people's content, and when a third party (e.g. Stewart) directly cites that original content without giving props to the middle man, Curtis feels hard done by. Drew Curtis contributes nothing, produces nothing, signifies nothing. He's a damned node, a relay station on a global grid, and refuses to accept how meaningless his position is.

JM said...

Oooh, okay. Nice denunciation, mate, you could replace Oberlmann.