Personal responsibility my arse

February 27th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Oh, right, I have a Web site.

Amazon recently recommended a book it thought I would like, a new one called Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. According to Amazon’s summary, it exposes “the tactics used by the food industry to protect its economic interests and influence public opinion.” The book just started shipping today, and already there’s three scathing reviews, all of them obviously written by PR flacks. (Note the strange convergence on the theme of personal responsibility, the straw-man references to “greedy trial lawyers” and new taxes, and not least the fact that all three reviews were written before the book was publicly available.)

Stop and think about it for a moment: The food industry is paying an anonymous PR firm to simulate grassroots opposition to a book that exposes the industry’s tactics. It’s funny how they claim that we’re all capable of free will and making up our own minds, even as they try to influence us in such a way that we don’t even realize what’s being done.

If you think I’m missing the mark, take a look at Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! and get back to me. Or better yet, talk to my friend who works for a PR firm and earns a living by ginning up “grassroots” campaigns like this one. Just get some letters to the editor planted here and there, set up a phone bank to call elected officials, and maybe sneak a few fake book reviews onto Amazon, and voila, you’ve generated an imaginary public outcry. This sort of thing happens far more often than you might expect.

Save our Internet

November 15th, 2001 § Comments off § permalink

Lawrence Lessig on the threat that new laws pose to the Internet as we know it:

Changes to the Internet’s original core will in turn threaten the
network’s potential everywhere—staunching the opportunity for
innovation and creativity. Thus, at the moment this transformation could
have a meaningful effect, a counterrevolution is succeeding in
undermining the potential of this network.

Food or bomb

November 12th, 2001 § Comments off § permalink

The U.S. military is dropping food packages and cluster bombs on Afghanistan. The packages and bombs are both bright yellow, and they’re nearly the same size. The only real difference is the shape—the bombs are in cans, and the food is in boxes.

I am absolutely stunned.

The military is using radio broadcasts to warn Afghanis about the potential confusion. Meanwhile, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) spoke about the issue before the House (click the link next to “Food Aid for Afghans”).

McKinney concluded her remarks with the following statement, which about sums it up:

Mr. Speaker, not only do innocent Afghans have to worry about the Taliban, not only do they have to worry about landmines left over from the last war, not only do they have to worry about starving to death and the approaching winter, now they have to worry about bombs that look like food.

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