I love free stuff. I also love it when free stuff actually isn’t supposed to be free. If you haven’t caught on by now, let me spell it out for you: pirating. Not that it’s a good thing to pirate music or software or movies, but when you’re broke as hell, sometimes it’s just a good idea to do a few Google searches. And there are faster ways to get the files you want without using torrents and praying that the file you want has been seeded. This is a guide to get what you want faster than any other method I have discovered.

Also, for the record, pirating helps artists.

Trista - New Age Pirate

And the risk of you getting a virus using this method is about the same as it would be if you’re using a torrent. I’ve done this over 500 times and have never, not once, got a virus, so take this into consideration. Don’t download files that seem strangely small. No album or movie is only going to be 2MB. Be smart when you’re downloading, not just with this method, but with everything. Also, you’ll be getting over 800KB/s depending on your internet connection. This is safe, simple, and fast. Enjoy.

If you want an album literally any album there are a few ways to go about doing this, and they all involve Google. All you have to do is this:

Step 1: Go to Google

Step 2: Search for the artist and album name in quotes followed by Mediafire so it looks something like this…

Step 3: Go to the Mediafire link. Most of the time it will be the first result of the search.

Step 4: Download the file, and it’s yours. Unzip it and bang. Instant album. This works for just about ANY album you can think of too. Give it a try. And if you can’t find it on Mediafire, feel free to replace Mediafire with something like Megaupload, Rapidshare, Filesonic, or something along those lines. Or, you can do this:

Step 2B: Type in the name of the band and album but replace Mediafire with “blogspot.com”. The reason for this is that a lot of people have blogs devoted to album downloads and normally have a link waiting for you when you enter the blog. Piece of cake.

School textbook prices got you down and your wallet empty? Not to worry.

Step 1: Almost the exact same thing as how you download music! Here’s an example…

Step 2: Download, and never have to worry about having to pay money for school books again! Your wallet will thank me.

Want movies? By now you probably have the idea on how to download things faster than torrents, but now, because I’m so nice, I figured I’d provide you with my all-time favourite streaming, downloading and video sites. Here we go:


Heavy Metal fan?

http://freehardmusic.com/ – All you need to do is register and you’ll have unlimited access to tonnes of albums all ready for you with Mediafire links.

http://getmetal.org/ – Loads of obscure albums from countries such as Russia, South Africa and Uruguay. A really good website to say the least. A tip for this site is that if you find an album you like but dislike the method of downloading they’ve provided is to take the album and artist name and (you guessed it) proceed to step one of my downloading music guide.

http://metalarea.org/forum/index.php – One of the best metal sites out there. Only issue is the site isn’t in English… for the most part. But it’s still easy enough to navigate. This forum honestly has about thirty new albums uploaded every single day. And some are really rare. Amazing site to say the least.

Film / TV sites?

http://www.sidereel.com/ – Incredible site for finding full seasons of TV series and films. This site provides numerous links for all your viewing pleasures.

http://www.1channel.ch/ – Badass for foreign films and new releases. This site also provides links to download films too. If you ever have the urge to watch The Room, this site is for you. Haha. Or, you know, good films especially foreign ones from Japan, South Korea, Russia, etc. Good stuff.

Like sports?

http://livetv.ru/en/ – Not very often does a website provide links for KHL hockey games, but this one does. If you’re a fan of hockey, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, or any sport even ping pong and want to watch live, then this site is for you. And if you love foreign leagues, even better. Beach soccer anyone?

I’m not advising you to download things illegally. It’s never a good thing to do. I certainly don’t do it. This guide is strictly for referral purposes in case someone asks you if you know how to get things for free online without needing to use torrents. I hope this guide has helped you, and as always, may the force be with you.

Follow us on Facebook for more updates and tips!

This Thursday and Friday the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) will be hosting a conference on the media’s role in halting Mass Atrocities and to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) initiative by the United Nations.   For those familiar with the terrain of activism in mass media, it is common knowledge that spreading awareness is one of the keys to preventing crimes and injustices. With video cameras and editing equipment being so accessible, as well as youtube, twitter and facebook as means to broadcast facts and opinions, there are now more independent journalists and filmmakers than ever. With more eyes and lenses watching what people are doing, it is harder for people to commit mass atrocities without going unnoticed.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘mass atrocities’, it is an umbrella word for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing – an unpleasant topic that a lot of people prefer not to think about but is something that can never be forgotten as it has already claimed millions of lives in the past century. For those who survive it is essentially the worst thing imaginable, a real life hell on earth. So at the very least it is our responsibility, as members and consumers of the media, to open up our eyes and ears to what is happening around us and use the media as effectively as possible to help prevent future mass atrocities.

The conference will feature expert speakers who will share their first hand experience with this horrific and important topic. One of them is Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian senator, author and retired General. Some might remember him best from the documentary “Shake Hands with the Devil” where he returns to Rwanda to tell his story of the 1994 genocide, or the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda” where he was played by Nick Nolte.

There will be many other experts to discuss the role of media in preventing mass atrocities, one of them is Professor Frank Chalk, head of the Political Science department at Concordia University and Director of MIGS. “We’re at the point now where there are so many Tweets, Facebook messages, and SMS texts that trying to read them in a crisis is like trying to drink water from a fire hose.” says Professor Chalk.

The conference will have 16 speakers and four panel discussions; “The Responsibility to Report: Can the Media Make a Difference”, “From Streets to Tweets: Harnessing the Power of Social Media and Technology”, “The Link Between the News Media and Governmental Leadership” and “R2P in 2011: Libya, Syria and Sudan”.

For journalists and members of the media who can afford the $80/ day fee ($65 for students) I highly suggest attending this conference. As an activist and filmmaker, I believe, with a strong and independent media we can help prevent future mass atrocities from occurring ever again. In many ways, the conference echoes the voices currently occupying wall street, “the whole world is watching”, which is making it a lot harder for people to get away with committing and enabling such grotesque crimes against humanity. Together we can help prevent more real life “hell on earth” situations.

October 20th at 6:30 PM (registration 5:30-6:30 PM)
October 21st at 8:55 AM (registration 8:00-8:55 AM)

For full details please visit the MIGS website

 

American Apparel is finally going to be making clothes in more American sizes as they expand into the ever-growing plus size clothing market. And since their brand is associated and almost dependent on a particular type of visual image, they took the opportunity to find a fresh face for this new advertising campaign. Their casting call for curvy ladies “who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts” offered the winner the chance to be flown to LA for a bootylicious photoshoot.

The patronizing tone of the casting call really struck a nerve with Nancy Upton, a 24-year old blogger from Austin, Texas.

“As corny as it sounds, it just occurred to me that based on their “Hey, come on, fatties, we want you to play, too” tone, wouldn’t it be kind of brilliant to respond in a, “Thanks for letting me play, just let me try to put down the pizza, first” similar mocking tone,” she said.

And put down the pizza she did, and picked up pie, ice cream, and fried chicken instead. Her irreverent photos are nothing short of brilliant, ranging from her in front of the fridge post ice-cream binge to elegantly-dressed, gloves and all, in a swimming pool about to feast on a chicken drumstick to lounging in a bathtub full of ranch dressing. Her images were accompanied by the biographic text, “I’m a size 12, I just can’t stop eating.” While she never considered herself to be a serious competitor in the contest, she was ranked first overall when online voting ended, beating out countless boring shots.

However, the company declined to offer her the prize, giving it instead to “other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out.” This coming from a company who once decreed that plus size clothing was not their demographic. Also, from the company whose CEO has been accused of masturbating in front of a reporter and several former employees, and who wore nothing but a “cock sock” to meetings. You’d think they would support the ridiculousness of Upton’s aesthetic, which generally involves vacant, doe-eyed barely legal ladies in sexually charged, slutty situations.

This is why I generally can’t support American Apparel. Sure, they do have some nice styles, but their prices are inflated for the basics.   When I get to write about them at work, my daytime copywriting gig peddling a variety of so-called designer fashions at discount prices, I usually bust out the rhyming dictionary, “Whether in London, Paris or Bangkok, you’ll stand out in this fabulous frock.”

But wearing their clothes ultimately makes me a feel a little dirty, like I’m buying into this aesthetic where women objectify themselves in the name of peddling panties.

In the end, Upton was offered a chance to tour the American Apparel office and factory in downtown LA, and she accepted on the condition that she is able to write about her experience, one piece that I am very much looking forward to reading.

BREAKING NEWS: New York City is under occupation and has been for a few days.

You’d think that would be breaking news, wouldn’t you? Even if it’s not the whole city, just the financial quarter. And even if it’s not an invading army, but people upset with the way their own country is running things (in this case, the economy). After all, domestic upheaval in Egypt and people occupying a public square in Bahrain was headline news all around the world just a few months ago, wasn’t it?

Come to think of it, the lack of media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protest is just like the Arab Spring. State controlled media completely blocked the protesters’ side of the story in the Middle East and Africa just as corporate (pretty much the state in the West) controlled media is shutting up about what’s currently unfolding in Lower Manhattan.

In both cases, social media took the lead in getting the news out. In the case of the NYC action, it started on Twitter, or rather was started on Twitter by Adbusters Magazine. Now, before you say manufactured protest, I think Adbusters starting this one has a lot more credibility than, say, Fox News starting the Tea Party.

For #OccupyWallStreet, there is even a live video stream that’s been running since the beginning of the occupation. It was re-running footage when I checked it out last night, footage of a general meeting where a group of people called the People’s Microphone used their voices to amplify what speakers were saying.

It also re-ran footage of the NYPD arresting people seemingly at random, and on the flimsiest of grounds. They even cited an anti-mask law from the 1800s and arrested people for chalking on the street. While this is a peaceful protest and even speaker Roseanne Barr called for the crowd not to fight the cops and try to bring them onside, it looks like the cops have other plans, roughing up protesters to chants of “shame” and “the whole world is watching.”

And the whole world is watching, just not through American (or Canadian, for that matter) mainstream media. While things have started to change in the last couple of days with Keith Olberman and even Stephen Colbert making mention of the protest, the majority of the new found coverage has focused on downplaying the numbers and the significance of this event.

In Egypt, the government shut down the internet to stifle the usefulness of Twitter and Facebook to the protesters. While that hasn’t happened here, there were unconfirmed reports of posts mentioning Occupy Wall Street simply not showing up in people’s Facebook feeds as they should.

Whether or not the powers behind Wall Street who own our media, including social media, decide to exercise their authority and censor the web has yet to be seen. Whether or not this protest continues to grow has also yet to be seen.

Right now, it looks like it very well might. There are solidarity actions springing up around the world, including one in Montreal tomorrow (Friday) afternoon in front of the World Trade Centre (yes, we have one of those). Meanwhile, people from other American states and other countries (and continents) are headed to Manhattan to keep this action going.

It has almost all the elements that made up the Arab Spring: a tyrannical authority (the economic tyranny of Wall Street in this case), mainstream media censorship and people who have no plan on leaving getting their message out and communicating via social media, in a grassroots person-to-person fashion and any way they can. Whether or not those elements will lead to the sort of upheaval that is needed is yet to be seen.

For now, all I can say is that New York City is under occupation. Let’s hope it lasts. Viva la occupation!

Watch the live video stream: http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution

Info on the Montreal sattelite protest is available on Facebook

Photos: adbusters.org, blogs.flickr.net

We all know those people. The kind that proudly don’t own a TV, don’t need one and don’t want one. I know people like that and I sympathize. I agree that TV can be an intrusive presence and a real conversation stopper, not to mention it’s a medium dominated by corporate advertising which I despise.

Still, I never counted myself among those ranks because there is something mind-numbingly pleasing about watching a good show, even a cop show. Yes, this anti-authoritarian, anti-corporate activist likes him some CSI.

We also all know people who feel that owning a TV is needless, because anything that can be watched can be watched online these days. I know these people, in fact I am one of these people. At least publically, I’m a huge advocate for and promoter of the idea that the web will replace all conventional media one day.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy sitting down from time to time and letting some programmer offer up what I’m going to consume. We all enjoy a good sit, don’t we? There’s something pleasing about knowing that I can just flip on the tube and something (at least remotely) interesting will be playing.

Sadly, I don’t have that privilege anymore. You see, I have rabbit ears and for years, those have served up almost all the shows I needed. But now, thanks to a CRTC ruling designed to make more room for cellphone and other signals, all over-the air analog TV signals have been replaced by digital ones.

That doesn’t mean that rabbit ears don’t work anymore, they just don’t work on their own. You need to pay for a converter, which costs up to $100. I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. It’s almost like buying a new TV and TV just isn’t my top priority right now. I also don’t see myself getting cable or sattelite TV. It’s just not worth it given what I watch and what I can get online.

It’s not like we weren’t warned. In fact I wrote about this very subject as an impending threat on this site over a year ago and the US has been living without analog signals for over two years. But all the warnings in the world are meaningless when you really don’t want to have to go out and buy an additional device just to watch free TV.

Beyond the price, though, the concept just bugs me and not only because I can see the transmitter from my window but can’t access what it is sending out. It’s the fact that something that was free for years now costs money. It’s not progress, it’s profit. Small profit but profit nonetheless.

It also takes away from the possibility of TV being used as a public service. I know that it’s been far from that for years already and was even created as an advertising medium in the first place, but at least it was possible.

Just a week ago, community radio in Vermont proved just how useful it was in getting vital information out when Irene knocked out the Internet. It’s a shame that TV will never get that chance.

It’s also bringing us one step closer to being fully a part of the grid. Yeah, a converter box is anonymous, but how long will it be before we just plain need cable or satellite to watch TV.

In England, they have a TV Tax and inspectors. That sounds kinda Orwellian to me. I wonder how long it will be before we have something like that here.

Now, this may be a little overboard and paranoid, but at least it would make a great plot for a new series. Too bad it’s the kind of series that I wouldn’t ever look for but may enjoy if it shows up on my TV. Guess I’ll be missing that one.

* photo by Cindy Lopez

I must learn to control my anger

Control my anguish

Control my angst

 

Ranting and raving and complaining

Can all be counterproductive

I really should learn to be complacent

To become apathetic towards myself and my world

To turn into a stone, or at least a   vegetable.

I’d likely make a terrible vegetable.

Probably something poisonous.

 

I was always taught that right is right

Left is left. Unless it’s my left. Right?

Is there anything left?

I think I’m wrong.

 

The left can’t be on the right, can it?

Unless you turn around.

Half way.

Then what was left is now right. And what was right is now left.

Turn around.

I’m getting dizzy

I don’t want to fight.

And I have a bulldozer coming a little too close

And it’s advancing.

On the other side of me is a very long cliff-drop,

And the bulldozer’s driver is suicidal

And fully intends to drive his bulldozer

Over the edge

But he’s insisting on sending me down with him!

 

Argueing for the sake of argueing and

Fighting for the sake of fighting is pointless.

 

Anger is natural, and a normal response to stimuli that irritate a person.

Different stimuli affect different people in different ways.

But anger has also a chemical component

A naturally produced component that is extremely addictive

And many people become addicted

To being angry

Which is why anger management is a necessity.

 

I’ve learned somewhat how to manage my anger, but not entirely.

I know some people who are always yelling and screaming at me

About things that make hem angry

And they love to yell at me, and see me squirm and cringe

Because I don’t react much to other people’s anger.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

 

So please,

Stop yelling at me

About the idiot customer who forgot to tip you this morning,

And about the coworker who got in your way and cut you off

Or about how I never do the dishes when I do them all the time

Or about how I’m not pulling my weight when I have been all along

Or about how other people aren’t pulling their weight

 

There are even people out there

Who think I’m guilty of everything

No trial

No question

No chance of any possibility

I’m guilty.

If it happened centuries before I was born,

I’m guilty.

If it happened somewhere I have never been to,

Guilty.

If it happened anywhere or any time I wasn’t there

I’m   guilty!

I know,

I have no patience for stupidity in traffic,

I have no patience for traffic or stupidity or things and people who are in my way,

blocking me from what and where I’m going to

Thwarting me

People who tell me to be patient when they just waste my time!

 

Then there are the swindlers, the liars, and the cheats

The psychotic upheavals

There is war in the streets

In some places.

But the news media only publishes

What the man wants you to know

So some celebrity’s underwear photo

Eclipses a war.

 

Images from: http://boundariesandbridges.blogspot.com/

 

Kory Teneycke, straight from the PMO to the "Media"

With the arrival of Sun News broadcasting in this country, our media seems to increasingly be aping that of our American neighbours to the south. The sensationalistic, overwrought, overhyped, hyper-partisan crap that most of us tend to get indirectly (this stuff can only be digested in small doses, evidently!) from watching the Daily Show satirize it every night, has ,unfortunately, penetrated this country’s media culture in any number of ways. The News Corp formula, if you will, is simple: replace facts and actual news with propaganda and right wing editorials, as much as possible. Sadly, this approach has spread to other news networks, due to the overwhelming ratings edge enjoyed by the Republican Party tools at Fox news (i.e. the O’Reilly factor).

This sad state of affairs would be enough to get me to throw my TV out the window, if it weren’t for a few high profile new media renegades that have recently become household names in both Canada and the US, partly for their recent attempts to expose the mass media’s more insidious effects on our political discourse.   The first of the new media Spartacus’ is former CTV Québec political correspondent Kai Nagata, who at the beginning of July decided that he was fed up with the politics of being a mainstream journalist who was forced to, in his own words, censor himself. “Every question I asked, every tweet I posted, and even what I said to other journalists and friends had to go through a filter, where my own opinions and values were carefully strained out.” The worst part is that, according to Nagata, the independence of our media is being eroded, not by heavy handed government or corporate interference, but rather it is threatened by what he calls the tacit “internal code.”

Kai Nagato on the job for CTV...

Worse still, his contract contained a draconian clause that required him to basically surrender all of his intellectual property to the corporation( Bell Media) he worked for, as well as giving the latter the right to unceremoniously can his ass if he did anything that compromised his job as an “objective TV reporter.” As if such a thing ever existed!

His indignation wasn’t limited to the corporate owned media, either. Nagata had plenty to say about what’s wrong with our national broadcaster as well.   Nagata claims that the CBC has facilitated a “race to the bottom” in our news media by devoting less resources and time to serious political journalism and more to what he calls “consumer protection” content. The result is a vicious cycle, whereby the former gold standard in Canadian journalism no longer leads the way for the private media news outlets. This is partly because, in his view, the CBC overcompensates for the widespread misperception that it is a “haven for left-wing bias.”

The other case is a bit more high profile, seeing as it involves one of the largest News outlets in the world ( MSNBC) and one of the biggest web politico’s in the blogosphere right now (Cenk Uygur). Cenk is the host of the Youg Turks, a hugely popular regular podcast that touches on issues ranging from the federal government’s debt ceiling to celebrity mishaps. He also had a short lived gig doing punditry for MSNBC where he frequently ranted about the corruption of American politics, and President Obama’s failings. This apparently rubbed the producers of the show the wrong way as he was issued a warning to “tone it down.” On another occasion, he was taken aside and told that there are two audiences in mainstream television news, the viewer and the management of the network. The former might appreciate Cenk’s honestly, by the latter was likened to a “club” that needed to be assured that he was one of them. The last straw came when he was told that he wouldn’t get the coveted 6pm time slot, despite very strong ratings, but could stay with the network in a less influential capacity and for more money.

What these whistleblower’s cases tell us about the “lame stream media”, basically is a confirmation of what we suspected all along. Namely, that they are beholden to the political class for access and to their shareholders for profits. Neither of these particularly lends itself to the old fashioned notion of speaking truth to power.

 

screen capture of forum schiste website

screen capture of forum schiste website

Canada’s shale gas industry is turning to social media for a cure to its tattered public image in Quebec, according to the Canadian Press. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has contracted the services of social media company Parta Dialogue to create forumschiste.com, a website billed as a place to discuss issues and share information about shale gas.

With the official launch of the website set for Tuesday, one of the industry’s most vocal critics, the Association Québecoise de Lutte Contre la Pollution Atmosphérique (AQLPA) is already calling into question the motives of the effort. “Is this looking at environmental questions or is this damage control?” said Kim Cornelissen of the AQLPA in a phone interview.

Two rounds of vocal public hearings, a march through Quebec culminating in a large rally in Montreal and reports of gas leaks in wells have left the shale gas industry reeling in the province over the last year.

Still, Stéphane Gosselin, head of the Association Pétrolière et Gazière du Québec (APGQ) told the Canadian Press that the new site is not intended to restore the image of the shale gas industry in Quebec, but was built as “way to dialogue.”

Questions have also been raised about the neutrality of the site, given that it is funded by the CAPP. Cornelissen added that environmental and community organizations were not consulted in the development of the social media space. Parta Dialogue, the site’s creator, has stated that the site is intended to allow open and respectful dialogue between all stakeholders.

The website is already active online and features several videos from Gosselin, as well as two from the head of Greenpeace Quebec, Éric Darier.

Cornelissen, however, isn’t convinced the site will do much to change public opinion. “This is not a question of public opinion; this is a question of public health and the environment,” she said.   “It’s like talking about the problem of a single cigarette instead of questioning the practice of smoking in general.”

Gosselin also said the site is targeting “moderates” with “good information” and seeks to “demystify” shale gas. But Cornelissen said she has been impressed with how informed citizens have been, especially those most affected by shale gas exploration.

As for the government’s role, Cornelissen and Quebecers will keep waiting for the results the of the strategic environmental evaluation on shale gas, whose committee came under scrutiny in June due to conflicts of interest.   Jean-Yves Lavoie, president of the oil and gas company Junex, stepped down from the committee under pressure from several groups, though others in similar circumstances remained.

While the industry is hoping for a fresh start with the public, it may already be too late in many parts of Quebec. Cornelissen and the AQLPA are already looking forward to the growth of and continued government investment in the biogas sector and point to companies like Gaz Métro that are getting involved. Biogas is natural gas captured from decaying organic matter, including food and farm waste.

I’ve been fascinated by the Siege at Waco and the Branch Davidians since I was eight years old and watched the tragic events unfold nearly-live on CNN in 1993. Admittedly, I was not as aware of the grave implications of the raid, stand-off and siege back then as I am today. Waco, in my eyes, is a catastrophe so epic it deserves to stay fresh in the minds of any concerned citizen living in a modern democratic nation.

I think it would be too glib to call it an isolated event, and even if the threat from doomsday cults is generally a bit of a rarity, the lessons from the Waco Siege have broad implications, especially in regards to the responsibilities of modern media and the potential for State intervention therein.

At the end of the day you need to ask yourself the following question: can media and information be left in the hands of profit-driven corporations?

The United Nations recently decreed that full and free access to the Internet is a fundamental human right. And good timing too the Obama Administration has been using free access to the Internet as a key tool for advancing the democratic agenda in countless Middle Eastern nations yearning to break free from oppressive and tyrannical dictatorships. Apparently, the American government may have played a role in ensuring that social-networking and Internet access remained somewhat open during the Egyptian Revolution, despite Egyptian efforts to prevent this.

Now, we’re also quite aware that the Americans, much like our own impudent thug of a Prime Minister, have been using the Internet, social-networking tools etc. against their own people and have been waging a losing battle against Anonymous, Lulzsec and other revolutionary hacker collectives. Despite these half-hearted attempts at censorship, it seems that the world of privatized and corporate information may very well be on the way out, because democratized, free and reliable information is proving to be the new source of reliability for the youth of the First World.

Very simply put there is a large and growing segment of the population here in Canada, the US and various other nations across the globe that is no longer paying attention to a corporate media which has proven itself unreliable. This same segment seems to value information free from corporate/political spin and private ownership. I would hope that one day, as a result of this growing change in popular opinion, government will mandate that media and information can no longer be bought and sold. That humanity has a right to free, correct information, and that profit-driven journalism is anathema to the proper functioning of a liberal State.

Profit-driven, politically motivated media can be a killer, but we’re so used to having large corporations responsible for providing us with basic though vital information that we haven’t had much of an opportunity to consider what our options are. And if we have options today, they are options that essentially didn’t exist a mere eighteen years ago.

In 1993 a newly formed US government agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (attached to the Treasury Department and responsible for prosecuting in-country smuggling and stockpiling of the aforementioned controlled items) attempted to execute a search of the Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas. The Davidians were a non-mainstream splinter group loosely associated with the Seventh Day Adventist movement who took the Bible as the literal word of God.

Their leader was a charismatic thirty-four year old Apocalyptic named David Koresh. Using the Books of Revelation and Isaiah as his guide, he instructed his congregation on the nature and identity of the Seven Seals, the seven signs leading to Judgement Day.

This is not overly unique there have been apocalypse/judgement day cults since the early days of the messianic religions.   What made the Davidians a problem was their apparently massive collection of weapons and ammunition, not to mention the degree of self-sufficiency they had attained at their large agricultural compound.

And so, the ATF was called upon to execute a search of the compound and to take any illegal weapons and ammunition found there, possibly also arresting any key members of the organization. The Davidians regularly sold guns at gun shows and ran their own catalogue as a means to support themselves. It was widely believed that the Davidians had illegally modified rifles to fire on full automatic, and that these weapons might be sold to anti-government militias, or that the Davidians themselves were a potential threat to government, local or federal.

Much like we saw in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, Bill Clinton’s election also saw a sudden rise in far-right organizations and anti-government militias. A few years prior to the Siege at Waco, the ATF and FBI attempted to serve a warrant at the Ruby Ridge compound of Randy Weaver, a white supremacist. The result was a shoot-out leaving one federal agent dead as well as Weaver’s wife and son.

The ATF was ‘attempting a comeback’ from the disastrous events at Ruby Ridge, and had spent a considerable amount of time and effort establishing a strong local media presence. As it happened, Koresh was identified as a possible serial sexual-abuser and pederast in an article entitled ‘Sinful Messiah’ in the local Waco newspaper about a week before the attempted search. Local media coverage was intense, and Koresh, an apocalyptic who believed the ultimate showdown between good and evil to be the climax of his existence, was now very directly threatened by the exact forces he and his people wanted nothing to do with mass media and big government.

When it came time to execute the search, the ATF was unaware that the Davidians had a) been tipped-off to the coming ‘raid’ by none other than Koresh’s brother-in-law (who himself had been inadvertently warned by a reporter) and b) had been preparing for a direct attack on their compound as a precursor to Armageddon, in which they would be fighting Evil incarnate. Mere minutes before the ATF arrived at the Mount Carmel compound, FBI mole Richard Rodriguez was outed by Koresh in front of his congregation and told to leave so as not to be killed. Rodriguez, with his insider perspective warned the ATF against attempting to enter the compound, sensing the bloodbath that was about to ensue.

What happened next is history. About 80 Davidians and four ATF agents were killed in the raid, standoff and siege. Timothy McVeigh would bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City two years later as a revenge attack and the anti-government, Christian Identity extremist movement was provided a further sense of justification, not to mention martyrs.

Events like Waco, Oklahoma City, Utoya and the myriad of other recent Far-Right terrorist attacks have a common denominator: profit-driven corporate media acting irresponsibly. And this will continue to be the common denominator. A slick, sick machine that manipulates people to commit acts of extreme violence and then viciously attacks those who would dare call them out for their transgressions. Look at the Fox News apologists who claim innocence and undue obsession with the Utoya killer’s purported Christianity to buy themselves a way out of dealing with the real issues. Look at the puppets that deny the merits of gun control for kickbacks from the NRA. Consider the ad revenue generated by comparing the teenage victims of a massacre to Nazis.

This is a machine worth raging against.

Images: prisonplanet.com, dubaidebates.com, eurocanadiannews.com, kennysideshow.blogspot.com, historycommons.org, holytaco.com

Did you know there’s a war going on? One you haven’t heard of? It’s not a terribly well organized war. Not too many people are dying though this is changing, fast.

It’s not very well reported the established media has been slow at coming to terms with what’s actually transpiring here. They are blinded by their own complacency, and this war is partly their responsibility. Yet they, much like the rest of society, continue to look elsewhere, continue to deny their, our, reality.

Over a year ago, the reality came home. The G8/G20 fiasco was perhaps the greatest single broad, collective violation of Canadian human and civil rights the nation has ever witnessed. It was claimed by the Police State that they were acting in their defence, that they were only doing their job. The buck was passed, but the video doesn’t lie. And more than a year later too few have been held accountable. After all, you’ve got to justify building the Police State, and when there aren’t enough terrorists around, you go after your own.

Across the Arctic, one of our circumpolar neighbours is reeling from what was initially reported and in my opinion misleadingly reported to be a terrorist attack. The News Corp owned Wall Street Journal went ahead with that headline today, despite the fact that the Norwegian authorities had already detained a self-described Christian fundamentalist yesterday. The truth is never convenient.

And we’ll certainly know the truth soon enough. The man responsible has been outed by the Norwegian national broadcaster. His home has been raided. His forum posts and electronic exchanges have been found and the picture is becoming very clear. A delusional man hyped-up on thoughts of the impending Islamization of Europe, decided to blow up a government building, and then (dressed as a cop mind you) go on a shooting rampage at a summer retreat sponsored by the governing Labour Party’s youth wing. At the time of writing there are 97 confirmed dead, most of whom are youth. Precious youth gunned down in the prime of their lives because of their political affiliation. Gunned down because preaching racial intolerance and reactionary nationalism sells newspapers, and pulls in advertising. Gunned down because it’s easier to kill your fellow man than to try and understand him. The son-of-a-bitch is apparently cooperating with the police. He is doubtless certain that upon explaining he was merely acting in the defence of his nation, he will be pardoned. Perhaps he thinks he is now a martyr for his cause. It’s sick isn’t it?

Down South, the once great American Republic is being held hostage by the same kind of people who encouraged Norwegian shooter Anders Behring Breivik online prior to his deadly spree shooting. The same kind of people who fuel a deception/propaganda machine, and ultimately, perhaps unwittingly, produce their own home-grown terrorists: Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, Randy Weaver, William Pierce, George Lincoln Rockwell, Fred Phelps, Jared Lee Loughner, James Earl Ray all of these people led to believe that they could provide the solution to troubled times. It is a solution that comes, invariably, from the end of a gun.

When was the last time the Left produced a bomber?

When was the last time an anarchist assassinated someone?

Who was the last Progressive spree shooter?

I can’t think of anyone, but the aforementioned list (which is far from complete) resonates deeply in my mind. What’s sickening is that there this a collusion, possibly an international collusion of media, corporate interests and conservative political movements. The people involved push their flock to the edge of hysteria, and set them loose.

In other words, there is nothing stopping exactly this kind of tragedy from happening here in Canada. There is no preparation, no equipment, no police force, capable of preventing insane Fascists from acting ‘in defence of their nation’. Just like with Islamic terrorism, you can’t stop it. And the home grown threat is always invisible. Whether it’s someone pretending to be a cop or an actual cop, there’s nothing the State can do to stop dedicated killers, oppressors and those who believe the best change is executed with great vengeance and furious anger.

But perhaps the State can go after the media that feeds this insanity.

I would hope that’s what President Obama is thinking right now. In light of John Boehner’s refusal to accept a compromise to ensure the United States doesn’t go into default, it occurs to me that there is a pervading sense amongst nearly all Conservatives that cooperation is a kind of weakness. The child refused to cooperate, and left the meeting room in a huff with the issue unresolved. This is the Republican Party, holding a nation hostage for the sake of the elites. This is the same party, which through its lobby and media tentacles, has convinced countless ‘lone-wolves’ time and time again to wage their own personal war against whomever they disagree with. Boehner doesn’t need to put a gun in anyone’s hand the NRA’s already taken care of that. Boehner doesn’t need to tell people who to kill, Fox has already declared the Muslims/Anarchists/Liberals (etc, etc) are coming to get us. And Boehner doesn’t need to cooperate to make the American government work either. He’s gambling on an RNC landslide in 2012. He’s gambling on ‘lone-wolves’ to create new problems, new distractions.

Something must be done,

Because it doesn’t seem to be in anyone’s interest to protect the Left anymore.

We’re sitting ducks,

And involved in an undeclared and spontaneous war of attrition with a force that doesn’t seem to place much value on human life in the first place.

* Photos: carissacancel.tumblr.com, thestar.com, mississippiautoarms.com

Charlie Sheen isn't exactly "winning" these days

The love affair with movie stars isn’t hard to dissect.  Movie stars  have been  seemingly given the perfect lives of wealth, beauty and opportunity. As a society we idolize them for a lifestyle we will never have and therefore accept, expect even, a certain amount of out of control behaviour.

When I was in High School I would religiously watch the staple of pop culture news, Entertainment Tonight. Maybe it was just Mary Hart’s trusting face, but I feel like by the time I got to university the entertainment news landscape had morphed into something seedy…  pure celebrity gossip, relishing in the embarrassing exploits of La La Land.

Trashy magazines and websites like Perez Hilton wouldn’t be around if there wasn’t a demand for it course; We’ve gone from the studios protecting their movie star property to TMZ following celebrities every move, to stars themselves like Charlie “winning” Sheen producing his own webcasts to add the cherry on his coo coo bananas crazy cake.

The Sheen phenomenon is an interesting comment on modern celebrity. Forget war and starving African children, this past March you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about Sheen. But as the disappointing sales of his subsequent one man show proved, we mere mortals will only stay on the train known as wreck for so long before we get off and move on.

Everyone loves a good celeb scandal, but of course just what KIND of trouble celebs get themselves into will determine their public persona. After all, who cares about drunk driving or drug possession when there’s the next great blockbuster to be made, right? Hugh Grant may have been caught with a hooker once, but since then has stayed clean (in the public eye at least) and  continues making obscene amounts of cash in ridiculous romantic comedies (btw seriously Hugh, it’s time to stop, the gee-shucks I’m a cute Brit doesn’t work when you’re heading into your fifties).

But when people like Sheen become known for consistently cheating on  their wives with prostitutes who he ends up locking in closets while having a coked out meltdown, it’s a little hard to have any sympathy and think he should continue to be the highest paid actor on the mysogynist trash known as  Two and a Half Men.

Lindsay Lohan is another perfect example of how when the train wreck goes on too long you lose public sympathy. Once upon a time people lamented how they felt sad for Lohan, a young girl sucked up by the Hollywood machine. Now it’s gotten to a point where people roll their eyes and wonder when her next court date will be. I mean seriously LiLo, if Britney was able to get her shit together enough to produce successful records, can’t you do it for one movie that’s not I Know Who Killed Me?

As someone who has never been rich and in the public  spotlight, I of course have no idea of the kind of pressure it takes to be successful in Hollywood. I can see how easy it would be to give into temptation when the opportunity is all around you, but I do wonder how much of movie star exploits aren’t just a ploy to get them noticed in a cutthroat industry. And I also wonder if people will ever realize that knowing all the celebrity gossip doesn’t make  you interesting by extension.

A few weeks ago I visited a cemetery to dance and spit on MySpace’s grave. I don’t know whose space it was, but I know it wasn’t my space. I never had a MySpace. It was probably Tom’s space. Who Tom is, I’ll never know. All I know is Zuckerberg looks down on him just like Shaq looks down on short Japanese men. If Shaq ever went to Tokyo, you know Godzilla would be nearby to fight him. Sounds cool, right? Godzilla vs. Shaq Fu? Badass.

Anyway, I never liked the name ‘MySpace’. I always found it so stupid. And Facebook sounds stupid, so you can only imagine how stupid MySpace sounds. But anyway, remember how boring MySpace used to be? How it never really mattered? How Facebook always was the superior social networking site? I mean, it’s not like it had any competition. But now, Google Plus? Facebook, maybe you’re about to get subtracted.

A buddy of mine sent me an invite for this new, revolutionary movement known as Google Plus about a week ago, and I have to say, I like it. It keeps Facebook’s charm, but makes things look neater in a sense. GIFs actually animate. Photos are all there, in their actual size. Videos look better. It seems like Google is the only one who can do everything right…

Gmail. Love it.
Google Video. Again, love it.
Google Chrome. Don’t use it, but hey, I have no problems with it.
Google Earth. Come on, who hasn’t decided to view their house on here?
Google Maps. Point A to point B. To point C. To point D. To point blank range… to… oh, I’m there already. Thanks, Google.

In my mind, I see Google Plus as being very similar to Facebook. If anything, it’s taken everything Facebook has and upped the ante. Only thing is Facebook has most of the chips in play, so it’s an easy call. But with Google Plus, things just run smoother. And circles, rather than friends, work very well; if anything, it takes what works in Twitter and merges it here, creating an interesting sensation. Following people. I like it. I like it a lot.

Which of course now brings us to my coining of the term, “circle me.” In fact, “circle us,” I shall proclaim ever-so flawlessly as people read this and nod their heads in agreement. Because circling people just sounds better than saying “hey, add me on Facebook.” Or, “hey, I’ll accept your friend request.” No. Circling people just seems to be fine. “Hey girl, how about I circle you when I get home.” “No, Mike, I want you to circle me right here and now.” “Clockwise or counter-clockwise?” “Surprise me.”

The only problem I have with talking about Google Plus, is the fact that it’s so similar to Facebook. The ability to re-share posts, pictures and videos is very good, and being able to actually re-share someone’s status is, well, a Plus. A Google Plus. The “Sparks” feature actually reminds me a bit of StumbleUpon in some ways, so it’ll be interesting to see how this works out, but for now, let’s just say it’s similar to the ‘likeable’ pages on Facebook.

In fact, it’s so similar to Facebook, even the suggested friends section is almost exactly where the suggested friends section is on Facebook. It’s obvious that Google hasn’t gone out of its way to be completely original; rather, it takes everything that works  on Facebook and brings it all forward. The result… well, it’s good.

Now, if only there was a way to import friends from Facebook, then we’d be talking. As it stands, things are good, but without having a direct comparison, it makes things difficult to compare on a personal level.

Do I see Google Plus taking out Facebook? No. No, I don’t. Do I see a movie being based  on Google Plus? No. No, I don’t. But do I see Google Plus being a legit competitor to Facebook? Yes. Yes, I do. Only time will tell. Let’s just see what happens.

Is Google Plus a moment that will last a lifetime? Or is it My Moment by Rebecca Black? That’s the million dollar question. And guess what, we’re all out of lifelines. The audience is dead. You don’t have any friends to call. And this question has already been 50/50’d. Speaking of Rebecca Black, I fail to see how her new song is superior to Friday. I mean, come on Friday was the best song ever. An instant classic. It was sheer greatness, personified, epitomized, and laid to rest on a bed of flowers, gold and crisp hundred dollar bills. It was a song perfect for everything that ever had to do with being so bad it’s good in fact, nothing was as bad as Friday, which made it oh so, so good. But is Google Plus ‘Friday’ or is it ‘My Moment’? I say, you circle it.

If you want an invite, just reply to this post and I’ll shoot you one. Then you can circle me. And check me off, or something. However you classify people.

May the force be with you.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”  
Spock, Star Trek II

But when the few control everyone’s cash, their needs seem to predominate. Unfortunately that’s what’s happening in Canada these days, at least when it comes to arts funding. Two recent stories, the Sun News interview with Margie Gillis and what happened to SummerWorks, paint a pretty bleak picture of what might be on the horizon in the next four years of a Harper majority.

A little over a month ago, there was a big stink over an interview on a little channel with a big star in the Canadian dance world. Tons of people watched someone named Krista Erickson attempt to slam interpretive dance legend Margie Gillis over the amount of grant money her and her organization received over the years.

Most of the audience, though, came to the clip via Facebook and other social media posts, generally from irate arts lovers or people who found the blatantly over-the-top right-wing narrative of the host a wee bit comical north of the border. You see, Sun News doesn’t really have that many viewers. As a Globe and Mail writer pointed out, their primetime average of 7000 is nothing compared to, say, the 7 million who tune into hockey.

Erickson’s style and her show’s outlook are comical in Canada. In the US they would be scary, because there are actually a bunch of people who fall for the most extreme of right wing political punditry, and the cheese-ball way some of those ideas are delivered in media. In Canada, there are probably more people who attend actual tea parties than people who would go to a tea party rally.

Canada is a center-left country. You can explain the Harper majority government a number of ways: flaws in our electoral system, Liberal vote-splitting, people in Ontario just not ready to accept Layton as Prime Minister and attempts by the conservatives to appear more centrist then they actually are. One thing that you can’t intuit from the results of the last election is a fundamental shift to the right in Canada.

We’re still pro-peace, we’re still progressive, we’re still a country who cares about the arts. We still accept controversial work even when it makes us uncomfortable. Unfortunately Harper doesn’t and he controls the purse strings. He doesn’t seem to get that the money he’s playing with is everyone’s and he can’t apply his social philosophy when deciding who gets it.

Take a look at what happened with SummerWorks, the Toronto theatre festival that had been receiving money from Heritage Canada for the past five years. Last year, they produced a play by Catherine Frid called Homegrown about Shareef Abdelhaleem, a member of the group known as the Toronto 18. This led to an anti-tax group decrying any funding going to a play “sympathetic” to terrorists (even though the work was not, according to every critic who actually saw it performed) and then the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement that they were “extremely disappointed” that federal money was funding a play that “glorifies terrorism.”

Now, surprise, surprise, just a few weeks before the festival was supposed to begin, Heritage Canada yanked their funding, which amounts to 20% of the festival’s budget. While Heritage Minister James Moore put on his best poker face to deny that the move was made for political reasons, it doesn’t take a genius to see what is happening.

This is in perfect keeping with Harper’s plan to use his power, and the government’s financial clout, to re-shape Canada in the image of what his base thinks it should be. To grasp who his base is, well, think of the 7000 people who make up the Sun News prime time viewership, give or take a few thousand.

So what’s the next step? How do we cope with four more years of this. Until we figure that out, the needs of the few in Harper’s base will continue to outweigh the needs of the many.

Will and Kate: Who cares?

I’m not going to protest their visit. In fact, I kind of like the fact that they’ve picked Canada out of all the Commonwealth for their honeymoon. However, it seems lately that Will and Kate’s Royal visit has dominated the news channels coverage since their arrival in Canada. It’s been non-stop Will & Kate this, the Prince and his wife that! I have to get my actual news from the Internet!

In reality, during from the Royal Visit, south of the border, which was formerly the world’s longest undefended border where you didn’t even need a passport to cross until the George W. Bush administration decided they wanted more revenue, Phoenix, Arizona has been hit and partially destroyed by a major sandstorm. The current administration, under President Obama, has apparently screwed up again, signing bills to take jobs away from American truck drivers, giving them to Mexican truckers.

Since in reality, this is a rant about NASA, I’ll now talk about NASA. It seems that NASA, according to certain US news channels, is soon to be dissolved, leaving astronauts, scientists and likely much of the CIA out of work.

It seems I’m still a space cadet.

When I was 10 years old, I remember being annoyed because the cartoons I wanted to watch were pre-empted by a certain tragedy involving seven astronauts. I was going to Florida the following month, and had been looking forward to watching a launch at Cape Canaveral, which my family had been planning to attend for almost six months.

The shuttle launch I would’ve gone to see was cancelled. This was because the ship had been launched late for its previous mission and returned to Earth in pieces.

Seven astronauts had died in that shuttle mission, but the President of the day, the late Ronald Reagan, did not decide to throw in the towel on the space agency, especially since the Cold War was still going on. I am, of course, referring to the Challenger disaster.

Twenty-five years later the shuttles are being retired without immediate replacements available, in large part due to the fact that the United States is broke. If the Bush and Obama Administrations destroyed anything, it was the US economy!

It seems that in the Bush and Obama administrations, the presidents of the United States have forgotten their first duty, which is, of course, to the United States. Instead they seem more interested in serving major corporations and causing wars for the profit of themselves and a few personal cronies.

I don’t know. Maybe NASA is being dissolved to reveal what’s been covered up since at least 1947, in Area 51, Roswell, New Mexico.   Remove the photoshopping out of most unnatural satellites in space photos, and reveal the conspiracies involving aliens, finally separating the fact from the fiction about it. Maybe 2012 is actually about “first contact” and therefore the end of the world, as we currently know it. Perhaps this was the reason for the sudden burst of technology and industry between about 1850 and now, and the birth of science fiction since then. Perhaps we simply needed to “catch up” to newer levels of technology.

I don’t know….

George Orwell was right when he said Big Brother was watching us, but it doesn’t seem to be the government as much as ourselves. This past week, social media has proven that we must be careful in what we do and say. We can become the laughing stock of the world or capture its imagination.

With a camera being built in almost every gadget known to man these days, it is almost impossible to hide. Chances are whether you know it or not, your mug shot is in the background of dozens of photos taken by strangers using regular cameras, camera phones, traffic cameras, etc. The only sure way to avoid becoming part of a file on some guy’s computer is to be invisible.

Last week we all witnessed what happened in Vancouver following the Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Riots quickly broke out downtown leaving more than 150 people injured, more than 50 businesses damaged, 15 cars destroyed and at least 14 officers with minor injuries.

Most people present during the unrest were not causing damage, but almost no one could resist the opportunity to pose proudly for a picture in front of a burning car. Whether or not they were responsible for torching the car, they might as well have been telling everyone (including police) “Hey guys, look what I did!”

For the miscreants that did take part in the destruction and looting, it won’t be long until the police come knocking on your door thanks to images and video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, not to mentioned some idiotic ramblings on Facebook bragging about the crimes their authors have committed.

How stupid can you get

Vancouver Police requested that the public send or post pictures so that they can be used to prosecute the offenders, naturally they have received plenty. Vancouver 2011 Riot Criminal List alone has gathered tons of videos and photos depicting those who started fights, flipped cars, set fires and looted stores. In the future if you decide to loot, you might not want to be seen smiling with your face exposed and your arms full as you exit London Drugs.

Not only is social media working in favor of the police, but it also is helping to clean up the downtown core. The riot wasn’t even under control yet when Facebook events started to appear calling for everyone to go downtown Thursday morning to help clean up the mess.  “Post-Riot Clean-up: Let’s Help Vancouver” quickly drew over twelve thousand people and sure enough the masses have been pouring in to volunteer the last few days. All it takes is one man opening a page on Facebook for the rest of us to get inspired and do something.

Speaking of inspired, without all the little brothers out there with cameras last Wednesday night we might not have gotten to see the kiss. Alex Thomas and Scott Jones are now world famous for their viral photograph of them lying on the ground kissing while surrounded by riot police. The Australian Jones was apparently trying to calm down his Canadian girlfriend when the picture was taken. It is one of the best authentic images I’ve ever seen.

Heaven in Hell

Social Media outlets clearly played a key role in the Vancouver riots, much like the Iranian protests that followed the re-election  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009; social media played a key factor in its organization and its crackdown. At least in Vancouver’s case the only losers are actual losers.

Follow Quiet Mike on Facebook

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter

There is one less Weiner in the United States Congress as of this past Thursday. The aftermath of the Twitter sexting scandal caused Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner to give up the position he’d held since 1999. His voice heavy with remorse and shame, he announced his resignation at a press conference amidst cheers and hecklers shouting “pervert”.

As far as sex scandals go, this one is oddly tame. Earlier this month, Weiner sent this PG-13 photo of his erect penis shrouded in grey boxers to a 21-year old female college student who followed him on Twitter.

After the picture was leaked on the website BigGovernment by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, Weiner alleged his Twitter account was hacked and refused to cop to the photo for one week.

More photos surfaced, including an alleged shot of the erect penis stripped of its grey boxers, and upon realizing he was in too deep, Weiner held a press conference on June 6th where he finally owned up to the crotch shot:

“To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it. I’m deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, and our family, my constituents, my friends, my supporters and my staff… I lied because I was ashamed at what I had done, and I didn’t want to get caught.”

Both the media and late night talk shows had a field day with the story, especially personal friend of the ex-congressman, Jon Stewart. But really, does it come as much of a shock that a guy with the last name Weiner would send lewd photos of himself online?

Furthermore, does it come as much of a shock that almost anyone out there would have an arsenal of scandalous photos floating out there in cyberspace?? I for one would never be able to seriously pursue a career in politics unless I changed my name and altered my face… although it isn’t my face that makes the pictures in question so vulgar!

This sentiment was echoed by sex columnist Dan Savage in his podcast from June 14th:

“This desire to pathologize behaviour that isn’t sick, that is really common and human and completely and instantly understandable, that itself is pathological. Weiner does not have a problem.   Weiner has a computer. It is the same problem that all Americans these days have. We all have computers and sometimes we make fools of ourselves on them.”

It makes you wonder just how many politicians are texting lewd photos of themselves right now and not getting caught.

Photo credits from smosh.com and fullcomment.nationalpost.com