Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Politics: Politics TV - Dr. Dahlia Wasfi testifying to congress about Iraq

Politics TV is an independent Media site put together by PTV Media, an independent production and consulting firm. They are focused on the power of the web to get independent perspectives bringing information to people on video, about politics in particular. They do web syndication in podcast type format and they also have a YouTube Page with over 655 videos on it ranging from senate hearings to the presidential debates to their own original programming.

This clip struck me as an incredibly powerful testimony, at the Democratic Congressional forum on Iraq, that puts a human perspective on Iraq in a way that the "dog and pony show" visits from politicians and media pundits just can't capture. The YouTube link describes it like this:

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi was born to a Jewish mother and an Iraqi father. She recently put her medical career on hold to visit with family members in Iraq, and recently returned from a three-month stay in Basrah and Baghdad. Dr. Wasfi described her experience in Iraq and discussed the life of Iraqis under occupation on April 27, 2006 in Washington, DC.

Video Activism: Brave New Films - Fox Attacks Global Warming and Bloggers

Brave New Films is once again documenting the deliberate smearing of serious issues that Fox News advocates in it's programming.

Fox On Global Warming:

This is a Catalog of errors they have represented on global warming during their broadcasts.

Fox On Bloggers:

With no substantial proof that I have seen, Fox has characterized the liberal blogs as outlets of hate. The "hate speech" they provide are from the comments sections of the postings where anyone, including Fox producers could post with anonymity. Anyone who has ever seen comment sections know that people can get really ugly. Go to any popular YouTube video page and there are often several off the rocker, foaming at the mouth, nonsense posts that you just blow off. None of the "hate speech" cited by Fox is ever from the blog articles themselves. The quotes they will find from the bloggers themselves are usually tame when compared to right wing talkers like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter.

Let there be no doubt about my feelings on this issue: Fox News is the enemy of anyone who wants real information. They have created a slick, car salesman like, image with groovy graphics, controversy hungry hosts and hot blond anchors with tons of lip gloss. This entertainment packaging of news brings ratings and, as a result, the other news programmers in the country have jumped to imitate it. It's just good capitalism after all right? Unless, of course, the purpose is to get real information out.

What it is is the perversion of the whole news industry and a redefining of the word "balance". In a coordinated assault with talk radio and mega church broadcasters, Fox smeared the idea of "liberals" so that nobody in their audience would ever believe anything they say. They then went on to smear the rest of the news world as both "liberal" and "unbalanced" in order to convince these same people that they need Fox's brand of news if they really want the truth. All the while, Fox is as brazenly biased and idealogical as they want to be. They justify this by saying they are "balancing" out all those liberal media outlets. Get it? It's not the coverage itself that is fair and balanced. It is Fox, the slanted spin job propaganda outlet, "balancing" out the flow of "liberal"(formerly known as "journalistic") information in the national dialog. This means if "liberals" say there is gravity, they will have someone on arguing that there is no agreement on gravity to provide "both sides of the story." If the existence of gravity is dangerous to their ideological purpose, they will have one soft spoken intellectual arguing for gravity and two loud aggressive debaters arguing against it. All the while their audience has been conditioned to believe that liberals are too confused to bother listening to what they say.

This model of getting both sides of a story, one that is factually true and one that is factually false, has even begun to make appearances on other news outlets who have taken Fox's dog and pony show success to be a sign that the rest of them must really be "too liberal." So we now have news outlets falling over themselves to be more "Fox like." It is, perhaps, the most public and successful con job on an open information industry that has ever existed.

This is why I have so much respect for Brave New Films. They have taken Fox on directly and they are building a movement to begin calling them out for what they are. If you are a network with a 4 minute "straight news" break every half hour followed by 28 minutes of hosts and pundits spouting opinions can you really call yourself news? I think Fox can say anything it wants. This is a free country, but they should not be allowed to present themselves as either "fair and balanced" or a "news outlet" unless they meet the same specific journalistic standards that the rest of the news media was trying to follow before Fox arrived. I urge everyone to get active on this issue because this is really about getting good information so we can make hard decisions. It's not about tailoring all the the information we get so that it fits into what we WANT to hear. That puts us in a bubble where we can be controlled and manipulated.

If you haven't seen their feature film Outfoxed yet, I highly recommend it. It elaborates much more clearly on what I have said here. If you want to get more directly involved become a Fox Attacker.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Comedy: Red State Update - Bush's Colonoscopy

Jackie and Dunlap have been YouTube stars, among other internet outlets, for a while now but they got a huge boost lately as a result of the CNN YouTube debate which they submitted several questions to, at least one of which was used. This got the attention of CNN who then began doing post debate interviews with them. In this episode they discuss Bush's colonoscopy and Michael Moore going to Cuba.

Saturday Feature: MEF - Peace Propaganda and The Promised land

Another great documentary by The Media Education Foundation. This one examines the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the way the media shapes people's opinions about it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Education: Ken Schooland/Kerry Pearson - The Philosophy of Liberty

I posted a link to the flash version of this video in a past post but it really needs to be highlighted so I found the embeddable YouTube version and I am giving it it's own spot. It addresses issues of liberty and, in particular, the danger presented by people who want surrogates to defend their liberty for them rather than doing it themselves:

It is based on part of a very influential book by Ken Schooland named The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible. They also have a website based the book. that features the video.

Politics: Michael Kirschbaum - Justice Accomplished

This is Michael Korschbaum's first post on YouTube under the account name Whitehousedotgov and it has alread hit 21,247 views in 2 months. I can't find much else about him but the video speaks for itself. This is YouTube and free speech in action. It's shocking and some might even say offensive but I think it makes a point that needs to be slapped upside some people's heads. What is being done by our leadership in this country today is just as perverse and offensive as what it is being represented by in this video.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Music Video: Second Life - Virtual U2 Concert

A group of U2 fans, who are also fans of the online 3D environment Second Life, have formed a group called U2 in SL which amounts to the worlds first virtual "tribute band" . . . or at least the first one I have heard of (details here and here). These folks have created online "avatars" who look just like the members of U2. They built a stage, complete with instruments, lighting, and pyrotechnics, they created elaborate animated "scripts" that the stage effects and characters perform for each song and they streamed audio from an actual live performance from a Boston U2 concert as the sound track. Add to this the trimmings of a concert setting such as T-shirt stands and merchandise and about 50 fans who showed up for the event (can't have to many people in one area yet or things slow down) and you have one of the more unique online experiences I have seen so far: an authentic life performance, of sorts, for live people participating in a virtual event. It also looks like they also had some people acting as the "camera crew" who each took video of different members and angles so that they could cut it all together into a concert highlights video which they have posted on YouTube.

Pretty Unique to say the least. They have no affiliation with the real U2. They make no money at all off these events and they have tried several times to contact U2 and their management to legitimize their efforts. The primary goal seems to be to draw awareness to various Bono charities.

What makes this special to me is that it is a creative labor of love that was put together by ordinary people who wanted to push the boundaries of traditional thinking. Because Second Life is a completely open environment that allows members to create and own anything they want (as long as they have the skills or the money to pay someone with skills) it is the perfect platform for these kinds of experiments.

Comedy: Jon Ligon - Ha Ha Ha America

I haven't found much out so far about the creator of this video beyond his name but the video itself has been a viral hit and it has recently been featured in the Sundance film festival. It is an in your face, sarcastic satire that depicts China bragging, quite obnoxiously and with witty translation "errors" about how America is now number 2 next to China as a dominant world power.

An interesting side note: Sundance was hosting the video on their website for a while and nearly every search engine hit for the video links to the Sundance page but now they all lead to a page that has the movie thumbnail, but tells you the festival is over and "come back next year." I'm sure they were coordinating the online part with the real festival and there may be some licensing issues but it just seems counter productive to me on all counts, both for filmmakers and Sundance alike, to shut the online part down when the real festival ends rather than keeping it as an archive of Sundance films. Have these people been paying attention to the YouTube phenomenon at all? What filmmaker wouldn't want his video featured as part of the Sundance archives? What organization wouldn't want people perpetually visiting them from links all over the web and then staying to watch more?

You can also see a higher quality version as one full length video at the Atom Films Page where the producer will get paid if you watch it (because it has a commercial at the start). I would have posted that version here but their embeddable videos are basically just a trailer that forces you to go to their site if you want the whole thing. I would rather leave that decision up to you like everyone else in the web video world does.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Comedy: Ask a Ninja - Ninja Movie Pitch

Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine together make up Beat Box Giant Productions, a web production company that has created this very successful podcast: Ask a Ninja. They do not identify who the ninja actually is because, well, he's a ninja! BBG has also produced the podcast: Hope is Emo, a comedy which chronicles the misadventures of a sad and whiny girl.

The above episode of Ask a Ninja is Ninja Movie Pitch, where he is asked what kind of a movie he would make. He then pitches his script that has references to just about every movie you can think of. See how many you can pick out!

Food and Drink: Tiki Bar TV - Bunnies

Tiki Bar TV shows us a new drinking game.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Politics: Max Blumenthal - Generation Chickenhawk

Max Blumenthal is a writer who's articles regularly appear in The Nation and on The Huffington Post. He also does videos now and then and he recently posted this video as a blog entry on the Huffington Post. It makes a very important point about who fights wars and who sits at home advocating them. The Republicans are building a culture, and a whole new generation for that matter, around supporting military actions that they don't want to fight themselves. This is a very dangerous standard to set. Having a voluntary army for defending against attacks is one thing but a country cannot maintain it's liberty in the long term if they allow a situation where one class of people is advocating an aggressive war and another class is fighting and dying in it.

What gets me about these kinds of occasions, that the Blumenthal video represents, where someone is walking around asking people to justify their philosophy, is that suddenly the alarm goes out: "Hey! There's a LIBERAL walking around with a camera asking questions!" and the thought police show up to escort them out. It's standard procedure in this day of people who feel they have a God given right to live in political bubbles. You can't go off the script at these events. Their philosophy cannot be challenged by anyone trying to put them on the record. Never you mind that these people are the future politicians and activists that will be shaping the destiny of our country. . . this is all a private event on private property and no uncomfortable challenges can persist because the owners can eject anyone at anytime. Wouldn't a real free country with real free speech force anyone hosting political events to allow this sort of thing in the room? Aren't political events, by definition, part of the public trust and, therefore, public property? I guess not in this free country.

I think I would be doing a rebellious interpretive dance myself when faced with that mentality (see the video). Notice how that moment is then parlayed into a "disturbance" by the teamwork of the woman who was offended by Blumenthal's hand getting too close while he danced and shouting "excuuuuse me" which is then just what security needed as a physical "disturbance" that justified physical restraint and ejection. . . .

There is a very good Flash Video called The Philosophy of Liberty that everybody simply MUST SEE after watching the Blumenthal video above. It addresses this same issue of people who want surrogates to defend their liberty for them:

The Link Is Here

WATCH IT. It is based on part of a very influential book by Ken Schooland named The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible. It examines what liberty really is and how society must protect it. They also have a website based the book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Documentary: Chat The Planet - Hometown Baghdad

TV Veterans Laurie Meadoff and Kate Hills are the brains behind Next Next Entertainment, a TV and multimedia production house in NYC specializing in reality and documentary programming for major networks on both cable and broadcast television. Together they head up another, more personal project of theirs called Chat The Planet. They describe their mission like this:

"Chat the Planet is a global dialogue company. We connect young people from around the world to talk about everything from politics, prejudices and war to sex, music and life in general.

Chat the Planet is uncensored, unscripted and unlike anything else in the mainstream media."
The first major project that they took on at Chat The Planet was an online episodic reality series called Hometown Baghdad which consists of 38 short 5-10 minute videos about 3 young men trying to cope with ordinary life in one of the most violent places on the earth today. It was shot and produced entirely by a small Iraqi crew. The above episode titled, jimi hendrix, is typical of the series. The guys must break into a house to dodge a gunfight on their way to the basketball court to shoot some hoops. While there they talk about how their friends are all moving away and one of them expresses their personal philosophy of living.

I love this series because it really makes the Iraq conflict real. These young men are very empathetic characters coping with all the things that ordinary American's like them do every day. It's just that these guys are trying to do it in the middle of carnage and violance. It really cuts right to the heart of it all and makes it very real in a way that our traditional media would never dare to bring it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Documentary: Mr. New York - De La Vega, NY Artist

The combined talents of Keith Winsted as producer and host, John Roegner as Director of Photography and Laura Bermudez as editor make up the web production team known as Mr. New York.

This is a profile that they did of a very well known artist in the NYC neighborhood known as Spanish Harlem. They have a Current TV account and they have submitted a couple of their videos, including this one, for TV. It looks like it might make it too because it is in the top 5 member picks as of this writing.

I'm also happy to see that Current finally cleaned up the mess that was their embeddable video look. All that clutter of buttons and logos before always bothered me.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday Feature: Zeitgeist, The Movie

This is a very powerful movie designed to help bring awareness to the ways that the people in power manipulate the masses to their own ends. It begins by examining the mythology around Christianity, then moves on to the 9/11 conspiracy questions and then ends with the Federal Reserve system and the ways that the international bankers control whole economies. I have reservations about the part about Christianity. It's not that I think anything they say is wrong, I just think there is a whole lot that they leave out which makes the question of Jesus as a historical person a lot more open than they would suggest.

Anyway, enjoy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Public Speech: Michael Papantonio - The Mainstream Media is Dead

GoLeft Tv describe themselves like this:

GoLeft.tv is an innovative, web-based television and multimedia center featuring political, social and entertainment news and commentary from a Progressive angle, advocating a more enlightened, intelligent view of America and the world.
Michael Papantonio is one of the founders of GoLeft TV. He is a public advocate and a talk show host on Air America Radio. The above video is from their archives and it is a public speech that Michael gave to Canadians about their media. He goes over the failings of the American media over the last 29 years and warns Canadians that it is time to draw a line in the sand.

I think this is a very powerful video because it explains exactly what motivates me and the other contributors to this blog. Our American news is dead. It has been killed by various deregulations and the eliminations of standards of fairness. What we have today is a dog and pony show pretending to be the news. With some exception, one is lucky these days if you get 5 minutes worth of good information out of a 1 hour broadcast.

Comedy: Haroun Ibn-Mock - Daze Off

Haroun Ibn-Mock is a good friend of mine who has been a film gaffer and electrician in New York City for many years working on commercials, MTV spots, broadcast television and lots and lots of music videos. Shortly before I left New York I lent my graphics and crewing skills to his first major independent production which he describes like this:

"The dude negotiates his version of his perfect day off and tries to accommodate the wishes of his live-in girlfriend amidst a cloud of fun and smoke."
This ain't DV either. This is old school 100% film production with a real film crew cut on a real Avid. And it's funny too!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News: Michael Moore Calls out CNN

It is a snowballs day in hell that you will see a clip from CNN on this blog but that day just arrived and doubled up because this is extraordinary.

CNN aired this hit piece on Michael Moore's latest movie Sicko:

They then, unwisely, had Michael Moore on live after playing it to get his response. Boy did he respond. He went ballistic on them and said pretty much everything I ever wanted to say to the mainstream media. God bless Michael Moore.

As promised, Michael also provided his own fact checkers for CNN's report and he put the results on his website.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Comedy: The Baranovsky brothers - Break a Leg

Brothers Vlad and Yuri Baranovsky have created an internet based sitcom on a desktop video sized budget but with a great cast of real actors and some enterprising crew people. The popularity of this web show has led to a development deal with a professional agency who is trying to get them on a major network.

If you like what you see, you can let the advertisements at the end of each episode play for a few seconds and the next episode should start automatically. Otherwise you can go to the link above.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday Feature: Brave New Films - Outfoxed

Speaking of Brave News Films: This is a great expose of theirs into the inner workings of the Fox News network. I highly recommend it.

Video Activism: Brave New Films - Impeach Cheney

Brave New Films is at it again. I have to admit these guys make a pretty good case. Just the video alone is pretty damning as to how certain Cheney is about all the stuff he was wrong about. It makes you want to know exactly how he was coming to all those conclusions. It's easy to say "we go the intel wrong" as if it was a simple mistake rather than a deception. I personally want to know exactly what Cheney was doing at the CIA and the Pentagon while he made these statements on TV. We already know that he leaked info to Judith Miller who wrote articles in the New York Times. Cheney would then go on TV and say "Well the New York Times just printed an article that says. . . " Does this sound honest to anyone?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Politics: Plisko - Outlaw In Chief

This Scooter Libby clemency thing has basically made my head explode and, as I sometimes do, I caught it on tape. . . .

I just posted it on Current TV last night.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Video Activism: I did not speak up and now I wish I had.

In honor of our law and order president, I think I will post this.

I'm still trying to figure out who created it. I'm not even sure what language the subtitles are in. The message, however, is unquestionable.

There is a link on the Google host to www.freespeechwar.com but that leads to an empty GoDaddy Link. There are also multiple other links attached to it including: snowshoefilms.com theshowpodcast.com jonesreport.com rense.com madcowprod.com newswithviews.com freespeech.org democracynow.org robbyweber.com

There are multiple YouTube entries, myspace entries, and lord knows what else of this video but nobody I have found yet claims to have made it.

Maybe they really did come for him. . . . .

$7.00 Video Camera mount for a motorcycle.

I love cheap and easy - a metaphor for a lot of my life. I took a motorcycle trip to Tennessee last week and was looking for a better way to shoot video from my motorcycle, but I didn't want to spend a lot of cash for a camera mount, some mounts cost $50+, not for me. With some ingenuity and about $7.00 at the local Home Depot, I MacGyvered up this mount for my crash bars on the bike and was able to shoot some decent looking video while in the Smoky Mountains - some of the best motorcycle riding in the U.S.A.

Home Depot Parts List:

039923147660: PVC TEE (1) $0.73 (size you need for the crash bar mount)
012871624414: 1/2" 90 degree elbow (1) $0.81
012871625596: Riser Extender (2) $0.42
012871628900: 1/2" PVC Plug (1) $0.52
AED 1/4x11/2HBLT: $0.13 (the bolt for mounting the camera)
030699084265: 1/4" HEX NUT (2) $0.04
078575172057: SS Clamp (2) $1.15
& A few 1/4" fender washers.

The most important part is the first one, which is a 1.5" PVC "T" which I sawed in half:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You then drill a hole in the PVC Plug and attach the washers and bolts for the camera attachment, I used locktite blue on the threads to keep it from vibrating loose from the bike motor. How many washers you use will depend on the camera/video camera. I adjusted the amount of washers until it was a flush fit. I have added a fender washer (loose) between the camera mount and the camera body for more stability:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I then needed something to put between the split PVC "T" and the crash bar to prevent damage. I cut up an old inner tube from my recently replaced motorcycle tire, cut it to fit, and used it on the bar where I mounted:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here is the Split PVC "T" on the crash bar:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here is the Elbow fitting attached, the extender and the camera mount on the PVC plug:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And here is the whole thing with the camera mounted:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Like I said, the only thing I've added is a large fender washer between the camera and the mount for stability. All it all it worked pretty well, but the bike vibrated the camera in 2nd gear on high revs, the washer should help prevent this on future shoots. I also used larger hose clamps on the bar when I got to TN. to compensate for the thick rubber between the bar and the PVC 'T'.

Trick to good audio on the bike is running a mic cable from the camera (wrapped around the crash bar) up behind my windshield, where I stuck a EV640 mic in my windshield pouch with the end sticking out. You can hear the bike, and my wife & I talking on the bike, but no wind noise.

The proof is always in the pudding, here is a brief video I shot with the new mount:

Video Game Filmmaking: Rooster Teeth - Red Vs. Blue episode 1

Red Vs Blue is a collaboration between Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum, and Joel Heyman who later formed Rooster Teeth Productions. It is made enirely in the game Halo 2. I think it is fair to say that this effort has officially become a part of video game Americana. Ask an avid gamer what it is and they will, almost to a person, be able to tell you. The witty writers at Rooster Teeth productions almost didn't get the idea off the ground if not for the success of an anti Mac parody video that they did earlier. This video had caught the eye of Computer Gaming World magazine who wanted to include the video as part of their CD release in an upcoming issue. These guys were young but they weren't dumb, they quickly re-coded the video to advertise Red Vs Blue at the end. That exposure gave them the takeoff that the concept needed to become a major viral hit and the rest is history.

The above video is episode 1 in what has now become a long running series of 100 episodes and counting.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Public Speech: RFK - The Fairness Doctrine

This is a great public speech by RFK Jr. about the fairness doctrine, how we lost it, and what that means. More people need to think about this stuff.