Saturday, November 23, 2013

False Stories TV Tells Us

New World Notes #299 (November 26):

Broadcast quality MP3 (40 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Dr George Gerbner (1919-2005)

In brief

Most of what we know about how the world works comes from the stories we are told. For a few generations now, most of the stories have been created by the corporate elite and told though the corporate-owned mass media--especially television. Researcher Dr. George Gerbner discusses how American TV distorts our understanding of how the world works.

Example: TV violence does not increase real-world violence.  But it does make people more afraid of violence--and more supportive of harsh "anti-crime" measures.

Gerbner's research found that the more you watch TV, the more afraid of your environment you're likely to be.  And the more you watch, the more you are likely to believe that women are not as capable as men, that racism does not exist, that most Americans are middle-class, that most Black Americans are middle-class, that poverty is not a social problem, and that the cure for crime is more police, more jails, longer sentences, and more capital punishment.

Gerbner's career as a communications scholar included 25 years as Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication (1964-1989). He died in 2005.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Apokaluptein Tales

New World Notes #298 (November 19):

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Occupy Wall Street, 2011

In brief:

An intriguing audio collage (from 2010) by Virtual Renderings--condensed for radio by KD. It weaves together political commentary, music, clips from the movie The Matrix, and more. It combines critical views ranging from the Left (Noam Chomsky) to the far Right (stefbot)--and music ranging from the Stones to Harry Shearer to J.S. Bach and more.

It's an engaging, intelligent critique of a U.S. corporate state that pretends to be capitalism and pretends to be democracy. Wrong on both counts!

More from Virtual Renderings:

The unedited, hour-long version of Apokaluptein Tales is available (56 MB). (Left-click to listen online; right-click and save to download the recording.)  (A low-fidelity, low bandwidth version [14 MB] also is available.)

A large archive of Virtual Renderings' audio collages is available for free listening or download from You'll find this same link on the right sidebar on this page, under "Worth a Look."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Hollow Men

New World Notes #297 (November 12, 2013):

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Morris Berman

In Brief

KD's brief reflections on folk holidays (Halloween--good) vs. corporate holidays (Black Friday--bad) set the stage for a brilliant and witty short talk by historian Morris Berman.

Berman sees the essential hollowness of America's leaders as a reflection of the hollowness at the core of many of us--and the hollowness of The American Dream.  In its present form The American Dream is little more than a wish for more stuff.  The current political/economic system does seem to be unsustainable and collapsing--leaving Morris with decidedly mixed emotions.

Then singing comic-satirist Roy Zimmerman offers a more upbeat view of the oddness of American life.  The show ends with a few lines of T.S. Eliot's 88-year-old poem, from which we've swiped our title.

Thanks to Robin Upton and Unwelcome Guests for Berman's talk.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Can the People Change the System?

New World Notes #296 (November 5, 2013):

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Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

It's strictly coincidence--honest!--but this installment will first be broadcast on Election Day 2013. The election here is for city council, school board, and so on--so maybe it will not be as meaningless as our Presidential elections have been.

Hope springs eternal. But Chris Hedges reminds us that hope needs to be grounded in reality.

In any case, this week Hedges returns, reflecting on American capitalism run amok--driving Americans closer to poverty and destroying the ecosystem.

And he reflects on the U.S. government, dedicated to furthering the interests of the corporate elite at the expense of the 99%.

Fears of popular rebellion against the (unsustainable) system--not terrorism--have moved the Obama administration to destroy Americans' civil liberties and spy on every citizen. But since the radical Left has been destroyed--and since the Democratic Party is as devoted to protecting the elite as the Republican Party is--change from within the system is impossible, thinks Hedges.

What to do?  Hedges sees making the elite afraid of the people--through widespread nonviolent resistance and protest--as the only strategy that has a chance of working.

A sobering but intellectually powerful and persuasive talk.  Excerpted from interviews with Paul Jay on The Real News Network (  Thanks to Robin Upton, of the Unwelcome Guests radio show, for the audio, which I have edited (