Tag Archives: Technology

Reading Video Games

VIDEO GAMES AND JUNK CULTURE

Having largely ignored them for most of my existence, I finally came around to video games a few years ago and have since been exploring the canon, mostly with an emphasis on things made before the year 2000. My interest was initially academic-I’ve been writing a long manuscript on the history of TV for some time and it seemed like any manifesto on the nature of TV that didn’t acknowledge video games was going to be woefully incomplete.

The attention paid to video games is odd in comparison to other 20th century mediums-whereas everything from cinema to broadcast TV to comic books eventually found a community of people willing to discuss them intellectually, not much on that front has been done with video games. And while this is pretty common in what’s still a fairly early time for a medium considered to be disposable or low culture, this doesn’t help somebody trying to write about them. Or rather, its fun and exciting in the sense that there’s so much to cover, but that nagging insecurity is still there that any salient points I get to will just work as forgotten stepping stones toward a more developed or advanced theory.

Video games differ substantially from prior mass media forms in numerous ways. Unlike other media, you by and large are not in control of the level of engagement you need to have to get something out of it. I can put an old movie on in the background and the movie will play whether I’m paying attention or not. Presuming the mixing was done competently, the only buttons I need to hit are to turn on the TV and DVD player and then hit play.

This need for engagement stemming from the initial distribution model of quarters for play time makes the medium both more and less mentally stimulating. On the one hand, every game that can be beaten is, on some level, a puzzle game-even something like Super Mario Bros mixes large amounts of strategy with hand-eye coordination. And even a game that can be beaten without strategizing much can always be beaten better in some way. In this sense, games require more active thought than most things. On the other hand, this thought is confined to the arbitrary parameters of something designed entirely for immersion-video games as a medium have been more resistant to a “realism” movement than any other medium I can think of. Obstacles are simple and unlike in real life, one is assured they can be overcome with the right answers, answers that relate heavily to other video games but don’t interact much with the world outside video games. Like Euclidian geometry they are a set of rules that are internally consistent but untouched by nature.

Another appeal is the simulacra of unfettered movement and unimaginable power without consequence-the appeal of a dream where one is flying. The body is both immobilized and immersed-the eyes, ears and hands are all actively engaged in an activity that punishes you for letting your mind wander. Tellingly, my girlfriend who has little experience playing games always describes her frustrations with their difficulty thus: “It feels like one of those dreams where I can’t get my body parts to do what I want them to.” At the same time, this flying dream appeal is necessarily limited by the complications needed to establish an effective psychological rewards system to encourage people to keep playing. I can run as fast as I want to, but if I touch the wrong thing I die and am reborn. The world of speed running then becomes one of layered dreams; the fantasy of escaping better, of a zen merger of the inherent you-game duality.

The need for near-constant interaction also limits the extent to which games can function in a didactic role the way films and literature and even comic books frequently do. It’s far more obvious and feels far more ridiculous when a video game is telling me about saving the environment than when I’m watching a documentary that’s literally just talking at me about the same things. No one has ever made a successful “game polemic” and understandably, no one really wants one. A polemic implies a person speaking (or writing or whatnot) and a person or persons listening and the polemic’s power comes from the speakers position as not being the listener. A video game works on a collapse of that dynamic. Unlike any prior mass media form, a video game implies a breakdown of the consumer/producer dynamic, as is evident from the enormous competitive gaming and streaming scenes.

What is especially fascinating about the breakdown in this dynamic is that suddenly enormous numbers of people who would balk at say an art film making them work to get anything out of it will staunchly defend the difficulty of a video game, and people who’ve spent their time learning to read other forms of mass media in depth will frequently avoid the medium altogether for the same reasons in reverse.

Like the other major artistic mediums to come out of the 20th century going back to jazz, its early development being shielded from academic consideration may have been for the best, allowing it breathing room to go in its own direction. Thankfully, relative to other 20th century media, most of the early history has been preserved in some form, usually a form that’s pretty easily accessible, especially if you’re willing to spend a few dollars on a console and a flash cartridge (a thing that looks and acts like a video game cartridge but reads its data from an SD card instead of a flashed rom chip or optical drive). While I’m sure there are games that are lost (a few SNES Sattel, and prototype games on unlabeled cartridges from the 80s and 90s seem to pop up every few months, that’s not a bad track record compared to the 90% of silent film and probably 98% of early TV (and 99% of the early internet?) that are completely lost barring the introduction of a time machine. This spirit of preservation in the retro gaming community is one of the things that sets it apart. The fact that the vast majority of games were home releases and not broadcasts or performances helps matters greatly. Software can also be preserved in 1:1 copies and with advances in FPGA hardware emulation it seems likely that the hardware itself can live on in a similar fashion, the soul of the machine transmigrating every few years to a different system on a chip. The rapid advance of flash cartridges and FPGA based clone consoles represent one of the most important advances in cultural preservation in recent memory, given the highly ephemeral nature of computing hardware.

However, in preserving the experience, these also change the experience. Being able to pay $40 and have every Sega Genesis game at my fingertips is not the experience people who owned a Genesis when it was current would’ve had-games were very expensive, and having bought out peoples’ collections, on average the most intense fan of any given console still would only have 40-50 games at most unless they went on a buying spree when the stuff went on clearance. Games that seem to be difficult now were probably seen as having a good consumer value at the time since you didn’t want to pay $60 for a game then finish it in a day. This also added to the emotional attachment-to finish a difficult game brings that adrenaline drip of having accomplished something. You have to become familiar with each nook and cranny intimately or else you’re not allowed to move forward; in film you’re pushed forward in time regardless. It’s not that strange to attempt a video game level 15-20 times but its considered fairly strange to have seen any single film 15-20 times.

Games have a tendency to wander into what would be considered the extreme avant-garde in the film world. Making a film without content, a “pure film”, an obsession of the 60s structuralism movement, was achieved quite early in video games and with none of the attached friction. In the cinema, asking people to emotionally engage with geometric shapes devoid of context is seen as a challenge to the viewer and the norms of artistic consumption and production; in video games its just called Tetris.

And even in games that could considered to be at least somewhat closer to a traditional narrative, something like say Super Mario Bros, we’re still treated to a funhouse mirror version of the world ruled by what pleases the principles of industrial design. The introduction of consequences and a simple punishment/reward system makes it quite simple to suspend disbelief at a short plumber fighting over a girl with a deformed half-turtle half-dinosaur through a world of mushroom shaped things that either kill you on contact or make you grow to twice your size.

Like many former “low culture” media, there is a freedom that comes with a public’s inability or unwillingness to engage critically, and like prior “low culture” media, that capacity can be used for good or bad.

This makes games incredibly difficult to translate into film-the demands of each medium are diametrically opposed. The things that might make an interesting film tend to make a terrible game and vice versa.

Would I love to see a movie of Mario finally defeating Bowser and getting to be with Princess Peach only to discover getting the girl is the easy part-the true challenge is sustaining a marriage-that his true love was the pursuit and not Peach? Yes! Of course I would. There’s so much there. Mario seems like someone perpetually thrilled by conquest with no sense of the domestic beyond the pipes beneath a double decker ranch home.

Nintendo, if you’re reading this and looking to lose another $40 million dollars on a second Mario Bros movie, I would make that in a heartbeat.

But would I want to play a game based on that premise? No, I wouldn’t (though I suppose some of the more cynical among us might presume that’s the backstory to at least part of Super Smash Bros.). The video game understands that Peach is a MacGuffin.

THE ROOTS OF VIDEO GAMES

In trying to find what defines a medium in opposition to other mediums, its generally useful to go back to the maxims set out by Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media. Particularly salient here is his assertion that “the content of the new media is always the old media”-the content of early cinema mimics the stage play and the point where cinema comes into its own is almost always defined as the point when it breaks off from those roots.

So what is the “old media” that provided the basis for the first video games? The most obvious answer would be childrens’ games and casinos. The “?” boxes in Super Mario have that randomized reward thing going on like a slot machine. The other mechanics of the game resemble tag, much like Pacman and the hundreds of clones of Pacman out there like Devil’s World. Even a game as story and narrative heavy as Metal Gear Solid takes its basic mechanics from tag and tag’s weird nephew paintball, and the narrative, while skillfully constructed and quite thoughtful by game standards, still has to act primarily as a laundry line between situations where you’re playing tag with an imaginary gun; any substance to the narrative outside the experience of game play itself is gravy.

And then of course, the first 5 or 6 years of home consoles were dominated by what are called “dedicated consoles”, i.e. consoles with the games built in and no tech included to run other software-similar to contemporary “plug-n-play” devices like the SNES of NES classic editions that came out a few years ago. These consoles invariably contained simplified simulacras of tennis, ping pong, and other popular sports like hockey or basketball. Sometimes these weren’t even separate games but the same game with different transparent overlays you’d put over your TV to make it look more like ice hockey even when the gameplay is still identical to Pong. The earliest games then were defined by a combination of what was considered athletic leisure at the time and the severe limits of what early computers could do.

In the next generation beginning in the 80s, the lightgun game becomes very popular to the point many consoles included one as a pack-in. The most famous example is Duck Hunt-you take a plastic “gun” that shoots infrared light and it detects by the light bouncing back whether you shot at the TV in the right place. One wonders how the vibe in Graceland’s basement would’ve changed had Elvis lived to buy an NES console, being that he was probably the first person to pioneer using firearms in conjunction with CRTs. Maybe we would’ve gotten a hot pink Zapper.

Duck Hunt’s simplicity makes it a good one to analyze, though most of what I’m saying here could apply equally well to other early light gun games like Hogan’s Alley or Bill Barker’s Trick Shooting. Despite the more direct antecedent to the light gun game being mechanical pre-video game arcade machines that used guns that shot light (these date back to the 1920s), the gameplay of Duck Hunt is still centered around 19th and early 20th century ideas of bourgeoisie leisure-you go out with your faithful basset hound and shoot ducks or clay targets in the woods. The others take pains to resemble carnival shooting galleries. That the light gun was so integral to the normalizing of game consoles in the home is even more interesting when considering the first prototype ever made of a TV remote had the form factor of a pistol.

What is it exactly about TV that makes one want a gun so badly? Why did the inventor of the TV remote, forced to respond to the novelty of his discovery like it was a Rorschach blot,  immediately think “pistol”? Perhaps the threatening qualities of the new technology might be mitigated in the minds of viewers by the repeated ritual of their staring down their sets at gunpoint-what could better reinforce that the TV is your subordinate? Like Joe Pesci, you point and say “dance”-it dances and doesn’t ask questions. You are authority-you bring law and order to the living room. He who has the remote becomes the sheriff of the home.

The lightgun is also the simplest of all video game controllers. The relative simplicity of even the normal NES controller required 8 input buttons-the lightgun only has one. Even the classic Atari 2600 joystick still theoretically has a whopping 5 inputs by comparison (up-down-left-right-fire). While this accessibility factor doesn’t help me too much in my theorizing, it should be acknowledged. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar, and sometimes something is just fun and accessible for reasons of mechanics that transcend cultural context. The relative failure of consoles with far more complicated controllers like the Mattel Intellivision would support this.

The Intellivision controller also highlights how important understanding McLuhan’s maxim was in the dog-eat-dog world of early gaming. For those who’ve never seen one, the Intellivision controller most closely resembles a very very early mobile phone like you’d see built into the back of a limo in an old time movie. It’s a Rembrandt-brown rectangle with a 9 digit number pad. This number pad has weird mushy membrane buttons sort of like some electronic cash registers or a debit card reader/ATM. The directional control is a circular cardboard wafer you spin around with your thumb sort of like how you’d dial a rotary phone. But the old media the new media was feeding off of wasn’t the telephone. Nintendo understood that, Mattel presumably thought making the thing look old and muted would appeal to the largely untapped market of adults because it looked so little like something a kid could give a crap about. They were mistaken, and it died a slow lingering death. Furthermore, Nintendo knew the way to the adults was through their children, not by making them feel like they were running an errand at the bank. The woodgrain finish almost made the Intellivision look too serious and dignified-it looked as if it had a full time job and no time to have fun with the user.

And while I would argue the roots in sports and leisure activities of the past was the primary “old media” games cannibalized for their vessel, the urge to include or adapt aspects of narrative commercial cinema arose as soon hardware was capable of doing so. I’m not talking about game spin-offs of films, but rather cut scenes (which at their pinnacle are usually described in the game press as “cinematic”) and point and click adventure games which would usually contain the plot of something that could’ve been a movie, wrapped in sprites with token bits of movement. While most of these were released for PCs and not consoles, they were still an enormous part of the mid-80s game market and mark a departure from earlier forms of gaming; these represent games shedding the necessity of their being defined in the negative-i.e. “it’s a game (at least in part) because I can lose.” Playing something like Snatcher for the Sega CD or Treasure of Monkey Island or the dozens of other games done in that style, you’re forced to solve a few puzzles but there’s no real threat of dying, just the threat of stalling progress within the game. You’re mostly just pushed through the plotline as if a DVD had merged with its menu. The limited motion in the images also suggests early 20th century comic strips before the universal adoption of speech balloons, Choose-Your-Adventure books marketed at young adults and their early digital counterpart: text adventures which developed contemporaneously with the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. Both owe much of their structure to early tabletop roleplaying games like Alan Calhamer’s 1954 game Diplomacy and of course the various revisions of Dungeons and Dragons which even resembles computer processing through its use of unusually configured dice to add a mathematical element of chance and spontaneity to the game.

 

TOYS VS FURNITURE VS APPLIANCES

The earliest TVs most resembled vanity cabinets and were meant to be integrated into the home as attractive pieces of furniture. This was due to the fact that you needed a large volume of electronics to run a fairly small screen and needed to put them somewhere, but also due to the fact they rose to prominence at the same time as US home ownership skyrocketed due to the GI Bill and the post-war boom. But as time and tech advanced toward using smaller or integrated components, and TV ownership became a given of the home as opposed to a status object, the aesthetics of TVs drifted from display piece to functional object meant to be as invisible as possible. The ideal TV of the present moment would be all screen with no chassis; the power trip of the remote control no longer registers as such and feels more like another technological hurdle before doing something in a world overrun with such hurdles. With some power comes some responsibility, and who wants that when you’re trying to watch TV?

Game consoles however, didn’t quite have a furniture phase, having emerged too far past the home ownership boom. Some manufacturers thought they were toys and marketed them as such-Nintendo famously sold people on the NES console after the great video game market crash of 1984 by selling it through the giant plastic Trojan horse of ROB the Robot which made it look like a toy more than the video game consoles everyone was pissed at after ET for the Atari 2600 came out (along with a lot of other unplayably bad 2600 games.) The US version of the console, the famous “toaster” model, was redesigned from the Japanese version to more closely resemble a VCR.

Further emphasizing their unusual hybrid nature, while every other appliance made in the period of the game industry establishing itself and its norms would strive over time for fewer and fewer buttons, culminating in the eventual complete elimination of buttons from the Apple Iphone, game consoles trended towards more and more buttons and joystick components until the most recent generation where I think most of the companies realized that people are confused and frustrated by anything with more buttons than a PS2 Dualshock controller.

Game consoles, due to their general parameters not having been defined yet through repeated practice, also serve as a fascinating study in the economy of stuff vs. space, which has been one of the defining cultural issues of our time. In less than a generation, the indication of status moved from having stuff to having space, and notions of physical size or volume of an object correlating on a scale with perceived consumer value flatlined. Being  rich “the right way” went from Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu of boxed random stuff to Steve Jobs and his famously empty apartment, empty except for, of course, an incredibly expensive Tiffany lamp. In their time of flux, game console design went after both approaches with varied success-the NEC Turbografx 16 was so small that when a reissued “mini” version of it was released last year, they couldn’t get it much smaller than the original model. Toward the other extreme, the Atari 5200 infamously takes up more space than a full sized surround sound home theater amplifier despite containing not much more in terms of hardware than the 2600 did.

An analysis of the size of game consoles should also take into account hybrid abilities-while the first model Playstation 2 is enormous, it also played CDs and DVDs, so for non-audiophile consumers, despite its large size, the console actually saved space by sparing the person from buying a separate DVD and/or CD player. This integration of the home media center from a division of labor through things like component hi-fi systems to the current standard of “a TV with the cable box, internet and sometimes even gaming capabilities built right in” would seem to be a positive thing. Less physical volume of industrial production means less waste. But at the same time, it greatly increases hardware failure and makes it increasingly more and more complex to repair and salvage these pieces of hardware, increasing the quantity of eventual e-waste. Every Iphone X produced right now will eventually be unsalvageable e-waste because they’re designed to be completely proofed against user servicing down to putting in booby traps that will brick the phone if you make the slightest error try to do something as simple as changing the battery. This should be illegal and a massive issue, but doesn’t seem to be outside of right-to-repair circles.

Video games are also odd in that they thrive on constant format wars that would hobble most other industries. If there was an HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray war every 5-7 years, would people still be purchasing home videos or would consumer confidence be shaken to the point they’d take a tech downgrade in favor of market stability? This is a rhetorical question of course, as that was what happened when VHS and Beta went at it. Similarly, it should be noted that the cliche that pornography determines the outcome of format wars is less true than the rephrasing game console integrated components determine the outcome of format wars. DVD rose to prominence because of its inclusion as a feature in the Playstation 2, and like many people, my first and only DVD player until I got to college was my PS2 slim. Blu-Ray probably vanquished HD-DVD because Sony sided with Blu-Ray when they designed the PS3. Sometimes these integrated components were good enough to eclipse the systems themselves. I have a PS1 that I exclusively use to play music CDs because it sounds substantially better than my other more high end CD playback devices. My only tablet computer is my Wii U gamepad.

Moving forward, it seems more and more likely the game console as a separate device meant specifically to play games will probably phase out. This however puts console manufacturers in a good place, as it gives them the opportunity to expand and seize market share from other large sectors of the home entertainment industry. The tendency towards people living in smaller and smaller spaces on less and less money makes the obviousness of the appeal unbeatable. There will still probably be a few guys like me with hanging-garden-of-babylon level cord tangling behind their media centers, but we’re a dying a breed.

 

CONCLUDING STATEMENTS (FOR NOW) :

Video games, at least older ones, are less dangerous as propaganda vehicles than the commercial cinema since they require your conscious input; the subconscious elements in a film that reify ideology and norms aren’t rendered especially legible. You aren’t supposed to forget your social impotence through abstract identification with a figure of power the way Wilhelm Reich described the psychological appeal of fascism and, inadvertently, the appeal of cookie cutter Joseph Campbell style action/adventure narratives in the commercial cinema. Their consideration is necessary for any comprehensive exploration of TV as a vehicle or medium; the way they work creates incompatibilities and bugs with existing methods of criticism for more established media formats that will need to be patched in a later update.

They’re an enormous part of the culture that isn’t going away, and the longer theorists of pop culture ignore them in favor of a narrow focus on the things that more closely resemble prose literature in their construction, the further said critics will slip into niche irrelevance. The hardware gives a palimpsest history of the most important private space of the 21st century-the living room, and present fantasy and escape in novel modes that will further illuminate just how those tendencies work.

A Short Haiku For Bill Gates

In light of Bill Gates’ recent comments and the fact that its a cultural given that we hand free things to billionaires, I’ve written a haiku just for him. While I’ve inverted the normal 5-7-5 format, I think this poem still embodies the spirit of concision that animates the form.

Without further ado:

You have been very lucky,

Shut the fuck up Bill,

And pay your goddamn taxes

Building the Perfect AV Set-Up On a Budget Part 2: Video

Yesterday we went over my budget picks for an audiophile stereo set-up using the stuff I actually have around and use. I spent $123. Lets see if we can beat this on video! In this post I’m including video devices including TVs, DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS and file playback.

FLATSCREEN TV: Olevia 40 inch

I got this TV used for $35. It’s from 2006. If you have a 4K Blu-Ray player you could get a much better TV, but if like me you have a lot of older components and video game consoles this is an excellent choice. It has 2 inputs each for RCA, S-Video, VGA, and Component along with a single HDMI input. It only outputs 720p, but this also means that when it upscales lower resolution devices (my NES for example) they look decent. I have many things hooked into this including my PS2, PS3, Wii U, Dreamcast, Oppo DVD player, and Pioneer laserdisc player. It’s my primary TV.

If you need a lot of outputs and want a cheap big screen TV, anything manufactured around that period of 2005-2008 or so will have the most types of inputs and be very cheap now. As far as I can tell the Olevia is still working perfectly and I’m very happy with the picture.

CRT TV: Sony Trinitron WEGA 20 inch TV

Since I have a lot of older game consoles and an extensive collection of vintage controllers, VHS, and laserdiscs, a CRT is a no-brainer. It outputs low resolution formats beautifully as they were intended, and for gaming you’re playing with zero lag on original hardware. The fact its a later model CRT also means it can take HD input. The quality of the picture it outputs can compete with and beat most flat screens due to the patented Trinitron stuff and the deeper black values possible using tubes.

I picked this up for free on trash day. You probably could too. Check craigslist. Just be forewarned for larger sized screens they can get pretty big and bulky.

DVD: Oppo 970HD

I mentioned this player in the audio article but it’s also my go-to DVD player. It’s region unlocked, plays a multitude of formats, the picture quality is great and you have tons of ouput options+a built-in upscaler. If you own a lot of DVDs and don’t own another Oppo unit, this is an absolute no brainer.

BLU-RAY: Sony Playstation 3

If you can get your hands on an Oppo blu-ray player, get that. But for the rest of us, this offers an excellent playback solution, HDMI out, 5.1 audio, SACD playback, and if modded it will play PS1 and PS3 games from .iso images with a wireless controller. I paid $20 for mine with 2 controllers, though they’re usually closer to $45-50. They’re kinda bulky tho, so if you already own a blu-ray player and don’t have a burning desire to play PS3 games, you should probably stick with the one you own. My prior blu-ray player was a Sony BDP-390, which also offered SACD playback in a much smaller form factor and was $8 used. If you’re being space conscious, I’d say go with one in that line.

VHS: JVC Pro-cision

JVC invented the VHS standard and released tons of great players that can now be gotten for dirt cheap (I’ve never paid more than $5 when I haven’t grabbed one off the street.) Mine’s from the mid-late 90s and more recent is definitely better with these since it likely means less wear on the transport meaning it will work for much longer.

These are built like tanks, have a built in RF switch for really old consoles, and you can get all kinds of weird privately released stuff on VHS. Few things in life are more fun than having some friends over, drinking a few beers and going through random piles of off-air recording VHS tapes.

Mine has S-VHS playback, which is a higher quality spin-off of VHS that never saw any commercial releases. S-VHS playback is only really useful if you do commercial tape transfer service out of your apartment or something similar. However, the fact the deck includes it means 2 things-1) it was made toward the later end VCR manufacture when the bugs had been worked out, 2) it was at least a mid-range deck, possibly better. It’ll say something like “S-VHS Quasi-Playback” on the front. The normal player is highly recommended, S-VHS playback is gravy.

It should also be noted that with VHS, the quality ceiling is pretty low, so a VCR that outputs an interesting looking warm image will often be preferable for long-term cohabitation than something that puts out picture strictly by the books. Embrace the distortion.

LASERDISC:  Pioneer DVL-909

It also plays DVDs and since its close to the last model that was ever sold in the US, it’s less likely to suffer hardware failure in the near future than something manufactured in the 80s or 90s. I got an insane deal on mine ($25 since they hadn’t put stickers on at Goodwill), these can get very expensive otherwise ($350-400.) This is only a budget item if you get lucky.

However, the picture quality is great for Laserdiscs and it will play digital 5.1 soundtracks off them, which the vast majority of LD players will not.

Moving on…

VIDEO GAMES:  Nintendo Wii/ Wii U

If you’re only ever going to own one gaming console, I would say get an original issue Nintendo Wii with the Gamecube controller ports. Why?

1) You can get one with controllers used for $10-20 at most thrift stores since 100 million were produced. Look around and deals will emerge. The one I’m using currently I got in a tub with 4 Wiimotes, 3 Gamecube controllers, all cords and multiple games for $10.

2) They’re incredibly easy to softmod with an SD card.

3) Once softmodded, they can run practically every game ever made from the 80s and 90s. Mine has 50,000 games loaded.

4) You can use more controllers wirelessly with a Wiimote through adapters than pretty much any other system including PCs.

It’s a no-brainer. The Wii U is more expensive used (~$100), but I do like using the gamepad controller and it has easier controller compatibility with 3rd party stuff than the original Wii. You do lose the Gamecube ports tho.

VIDEO GAME SYSTEMS: PS2, PS3, Dreamcast, NES, Sega Genesis

This would be its own article. If you’re just a casual gamer, the Wii will probably fulfill all your needs. However, if you like the games for any of these consoles, it’s relatively easy to play them on original hardware without paying ridiculous prices for vintage cartridges and discs.  I’m not going to go into them here, but maybe in a future article.

STREAMING VIDEO: 8 year old Windows PC w/Wireless Logitech Keyboard and Mouse

Why reinvent the wheel? Just take an old PC and plug it into your TV. It will probably do a great job playing any video you throw at it so long as you’re not trying to run a 4K TV. A wireless keyboard and mouse are great remotes, and soundcards in most PCs in the last 10 years are capable of putting out excellent audio, especially when connected to an external DAC.

Anyway, I hope y’all learned something. I’m off to go play some video games.

 

Building the Perfect AV Set-Up On a Tight Budget Part 1: Audio

Here on WWM, we watch a lot of movies and I at least listen to tons of different kinds of audio recordings and play different types of old software looking for insight into the recent past and how we ended up here.

When you spend that much time with media, a good playback set-up is crucial and can make for a huge quality-of-life increase if you’re like me and studying outdated media is pretty much your life. Thankfully, the massive overproduction and cycling out of consumer goods that has occurred in the last 50 years has left a lot of ways to get around paying enormous sums of money to get extremely high quality AV playback.

Since I’ve moved to a city where enormous quantities of used electronics are regularly remaindered and dropped off at thrift shops, I’ve embarked on a quest to set up my absolute perfect AV set-up for as little money as possible. Extremely cheap prices/people leaving stuff on the street has allowed me to finish it.

While I’m by no means suggesting everyone or really most people should own this much media equipment, I at least hope some of the tips and suggestions here are helpful. I’ve divided the article into separate sections for each piece of equipment that made the cut and why it made the cut/tips for hunting down your own in the wild/how I acquired each piece/any hardware or software mods I recommend.

Since its a big list, I’m breaking it into two articles, one for audio playback and one for video playback.

So lets get to it!

AUDIO

AMPLIFIER/RECEIVER: Yamaha VX-463

I bought this Yamaha receiver for $20 with a remote at a thrift store. While hardly the flashiest component I own, it gets the job done, can put out true 5.1 discrete audio (extremely useful for DVDs), decode Dolby Pro Logic II surround (which is 100x better than Pro Logic I) and I can turn off the internal Digital->Analog Converter chip. The only downside (if you can call it that) is the lack of a built-in phono preamp. However, this opens a lot of options for other phono pre-amps which frequently sound better.  It takes HDMI, RCA, optical and coax, so I’m pretty happy. If you see one of these models from around this period, grab it. You can get them even cheaper if you only need one that can do stereo (and unless you plan on investing in a 5.1 set-up of speakers that’s all you’ll ever need.) I’ve never had a problem with a Yamaha receiver, but most receivers made by a large manufacturer with quality checks will probably work fine, especially if you only need stereo.

MAIN STEREO SPEAKER PAIR: Ohm Model E Pair

I found these unused in the box they came in from when whoever bought them and proceeded to never use them. They were free on the street on trash day. They were manufactured in 1978. They’re essentially knock-offs of the famous Henry Kloss AR-2 speaker design, and sound almost as good as a fully refurbished pair of AR-2s, which leads me to my next buying tip: Many fairly excellent knock offs of the all-time great vintage speakers have been made and can be had for far far less money than the originals. While your chances of also finding unused 1978 bookshelf speakers on the street is low, you can still pick up great speakers resembling the AR-2 through 4 models for very cheap at flea markets. Look for the Ohm brand or the Optimus brand (which is the branding Radioshack used to sell speakers for a long time.) Either of these will be fairly cheap and sound excellent. If you’re willing to hunt around a bit, you should be able to get pairs for the $10-40 range. Obviously if you see original AR or KLH speakers in that price range, they’re 100% worth grabbing too.

CD PLAYERS:

Playstation SPCH-1001 (modded)
Oppo 970HD
Pioneer LD-909

CDs are great and definitely the cheapest form, for now anyway, to get verifiable legit physical copies of albums. If you’re anything like me and/or lived through the 80s or 90s, you probably have dozens laying around. Many come with bonus tracks and other nifty things. You can make perfect 1:1 copies. People have been quick to discount the CD as a format, but I still use it every day. If you want the quickest path to an impressive audiophile set-up that incorporates physical media while spending the least money possible, CD is the way to go.

Since CD players also tend to be incorporated in other common electronics, I’ve only included the three devices I actually play back CDs on in this entry. While many other devices I own can technically read CDs and/or SACDs (PS2, PS3, Dreamcast, Sony BDP-390 Blu-Ray), I pretty much never use them for playing music, since it puts unnecessary strain on the lasers and they don’t sound nearly as good as the three I chose. In an interesting coincidence, sound quality vs. ability to play anything whether its scratched or not had an inverse correlation. I’m going to go over them now in terms of sound quality from best to worst.

PS1-SCPH-1001 (modded)

The first release version of the original Sony Playstation has, by luck, chance or covert design, one of the best DAC chips ever made. A DAC (Digital-to-Analog-Converter) is one of the more expensive chips on the motherboard of a CD player and is the final step of processing between the 1s and 0s on the CD and the actual sound you hear from your speakers.

Think of a recording as a loaf of bread. A digital recording is that loaf cut into a bunch of very tiny slices, but for whatever reason your speakers can only eat full uncut loaves of bread. In an analog recording (like vinyl or cassette) the bread is unsliced but can get kinda moldy/nasty if it’s left out in a way digital doesn’t. However, with digital you still have the issue  of reconstituting the bread. A better DAC reconstitutes the bread/audio more smoothly and evenly without a bunch of stitching and whatnot present. In my experience the quality of a DAC doesn’t tend to directly correlate with price range, and sometimes cheaper more common components will sound better than fancier or pricier ones. Which brings us to the Sony Playstation SPCH-1001, which can be gotten easily for less than $10 (mine was $8) but has one of the best sounding DACs ever made.

And it can play Metal Gear Solid!

But to get the best sound out of it, you need to take apart the Playstation and do some very simple modifications first. I have done all the ones in this guide, but I have done and can heartily recommend removing the capacitors and muting chips near the DAC and replacing them with jumper wires. The improvement in sound quality is immediately apparent-its the most even and balanced sound I’ve ever gotten from a CD player. It’s nuts. You can also add wireless remote functionality for $5-10. In terms of bang for your buck you can’t really beat it. However, be prepared to replace the laser assembly at some point (very easy to do and parts are on Ebay for $10-15.)

OPPO 970HD

This is technically a DVD player but it also is an exceptionally nice CD player and it has the added value of playing pretty much every weird proprietary audio format you can throw at it (SACD, HDCD, DVD-A.) If you enter the code 90210 in the maintenance screen it will play all region DVDs too. The laser is strong and does a pretty good job reading scratched discs. I got mine for $10, but I put that in the “damn I got lucky” category more than the “I expect you can walk out the door and find one for that.” Generally these run $100-120 used. I’d say its worth it if you like collecting foreign language DVDs or run across one for cheap.

PIONEER DVL-909

The 2nd to last model laserdisc player ever sold in the US (the last was the nearly identical DVL-919). This also plays DVDs. The CD playback sounds exceptional if not quite as good as the PS1 or Oppo. It has the added benefit of having maybe the most sturdy optical drive I’ve ever encountered. You can throw pretty much any scratched CD at this and it will play through fine.

I got mine for $25 but used these aren’t usually that affordable, sticking in the $350-400 range. They’re also enormous. I have a collection of laserdiscs, so it’s worth it for me, but I wouldn’t broadly recommend this as a casual solution to…anything really.

TURNTABLE: Technics SL-3200

Mid-range used Technics direct drive turntables are excellent and built like tanks. And you never need to replace belts. And the sound is awesome. I inherited mine, but they can be had generally for $100-120, cheaper if you look around since they’re fairly common. Anything Technics that says direct drive on it will be worth your time.

CASSETTE DECK: Nakamichi BX-300

The most renowned tapedeck of all time is the Nakamichi Dragon. Used, these go for $1000-1200. However, the BX-300 has all the same features as the more famous deck except for some azimuth adjustments, and can be gotten for a fraction of that price. It also is direct drive, so no belt replacement. I got mine for $10 and then spent $50 to have it repaired, but you can get a serviced used one on ebay for $200-300. Are there far cheaper tapedecks? Yes. Do you really need a tapedeck in 2019? Eh…probably not. But if you want one, this is the one to get. The sound is excellent, the playback speed is digitally controlled and basically perfect, and you get three heads instead of the usual two.

 

CONCLUSION:

So far, we’ve covered options for speakers and playing back CDs, vinyl, cassettes, SACD, HDCD, and pretty much anything that’s not a reel-to-reel or 8 track, at very high quality. I’ve spent a total of $123, not counting wires or my Playstation controller.

Can I beat that on video portion? Tune in then to find out!

Do you have any audio finds you’d recommend? Leave em in the comments!

On Being a Millennial Turning 30

I have written two full length books and 160 articles for this website but I walk dogs for a living. Part of this was leaving college in the wake of the financial crash, part of this was refusing to water down my politics to suit an increasingly regressive employment culture, part of this was journalistic institutions shunning my job applications when I got out of college due to my heavy involvement in Occupy Wall Street.

I wish it paid more, but I’m pretty happy walking dogs. The dogs themselves are great, I get exercise, I get to be outside, and it gives me a lot of flexibility in my schedule. It doesn’t really leave me with much of an economic future, but few things in this economy do, and most of them are more greedy for your time.

And it was a pretty cozy arrangement for a couple years. But like most other things in my life, the repeated terrible decisions humanity has made since the dawn of the 20th century, particularly brute forcing society to revolve around personal automobiles and the advent of the internet surveillance economy, have fucked it up.

The heat wave this summer has been so bad that when I get to the dogs, as often as not they literally do not want to go outside. They get out quickly, do their business, then look up as if to say “What else do you want from me?” Sometimes the sidewalk is so hot they rightly refuse to step on it and tug the leash as if they were telling me to check my shoe privilege.

Sometimes it has been so hot that I don’t feel right even taking them outside for the full time I’m contracted for and I’ve had to get creative, walking them around the hallways of their apartment complexes or mapping out what sidewalks will be shaded at what time of day in my head.

If you’ve ever owned or met a dog, you know that pretty much every dog always wants to go outside all the time. But that’s the reality of climate change. Everything has its limits.

People frequently ask me if I work for Wag, a rent-seeking, parasitic “platform” company that most people seem to trust despite the fact that literally all they do is siphon money from professional dog walkers and leave your pets with people they have not really vetted at all. I hear horror stories about Wag walkers not actually showing up, sleeping in peoples’ homes when they’re not there, or hitting the animals.

Yet people are hooked on platform companies like they were heroin. And that addiction has worked out to economic warfare against my generation.

The generation that gave birth to most of the Millennials, the Baby Boomers, have turned out to be the most selfish generation in human history. They value their own comfort and convenience over the lives and futures of their children. They ignored climate change until…until shit. They’re still ignoring it.

“Tune out, turn off, fuck you I got mine” seems to be the refrain going through their heads. They run around gleefully shitting on everything, reveling in the fact they may well be the last generation that gets to die restfully on their own terms.

I want to be a positive and inspiring voice, but I don’t see much in the future to be optimistic about. US infrastructure is still crumbling. Every year the drinking water becomes less safe to drink, the outdoors become less hospitable to walk in, the people I meet seem to have retreated into the cocoon of their phones and endless window shopping. Everyone (or at least everyone I’m around) sees their standard of living rapidly decreasing to subsistence level. Kids get eviscerated by automatic weapons in schools on a daily basis and all the 1% see are more dollar signs. Should I expect anything different? The same 1% are lining up to push us into World War III, Holocaust II, and complete environmental collapse like they were rides at an amusement park.

As they always have, the 1% get off almost sexually on our suffering in and of itself, perhaps even more than they get off on profiting from it.

Like Ted Bundy, the ability to inflict pain makes them feel powerful and secure.

Perhaps at least this time they will be cooked alive with us. Such are the small consolations that run through the Millennial and Gen Z mind.

And beyond the environmental collapse, there has been a collapse of the social infrastructure as well. People used to connect socially by entertaining each other, but who has the energy for that when “entertainment” surrounds them in a claustrophobic cycle of emotional manipulation? Why would anyone spend the time and effort to know someone when they’ve been conditioned to know there will always be something shinier around the corner when they swipe right?

The greatest social effect of the cell phone has been to privilege communications of those people who are nowhere near us over those close to us, as if every text message were a dire emergency. And we’ve rolled over and accepted this as the new normal. We purposely distance ourselves from others so we can become complicit in exploiting them despite the fact they are us. Exploitative internet apps like Uber give us little tastes of what it feels like to be the one doing the exploiting in drips and drabs and it turned out that was enough to buy us off. We haven’t forgotten the children in cages at the border, we have ghosted them.

The timidity of those who favored self advancement and personal comfort over supporting those of us who have chosen to fight will be remembered harshly by history, presuming anyone’s still there to write it.

Yet I have great hope for Gen Z. They have grown up with no illusions about the dire situation we face. They have no choice but to struggle.

My resolution for my 30s is to throw in my lot with them.

Donald Trump is the Thing After Post-Modernism

What is to be made of the current collection of vernacular/folk “types” of people that frame the writing of the US cultural narrative? The “hipster”, the “troll”, the “social justice warrior”, the “alt-righter”, the “young professional”? Where do the archetypes come from? How do they drive the country’s current momentum toward postmodern authoritarianism?

Nearly all coverage of the hipster, despite never being able to confidently pin down just what the hipster is, has concurred that there is something sinister about the trend. What is the cultural undercurrent, the geist these critics were chasing?

A theory: What has made society so uncomfortable with the emergence of the so-called “hipster” is the predominant tone of irony; of insincerity; of a put on that is frequently described as “having nothing behind it”-but if the insincerity has nothing behind it, doesn’t it become its own truth? Isn’t a copy with no original simply a mislabeled original? And so shouldn’t the ironic eventually loop around into its own unironic self-appreciation? Or at least attempt to?

The “hipster” and the radicalization of conservatives developed along parallel tracks in response to the post-modern restructuring of society that followed the end of the post-war economic boom in the early-mid 1970s. When Robert Ashley dramatized the arrival of post-modernism in Perfect Lives as a story of people who rob a bank then bring the money back before anyone notices as various townies state their unease at a sinking feeling the money wasn’t there for some short time, was he consciously trying to invoke the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system? Was there a more post-modern event in the 20th century than the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system? Think about it-the signifier and signified, gold and cash, both functionally symbols despite the perceived “tangibility” of gold, legally divorced in a giant ceremony.

Despite the fact that gold is a placeholder for commodities and doesn’t offer much practical value besides as a conductor or tooth filling, the divorce troubled many. The money was there, but it wasn’t. Sort of. The success of Bitcoin among gold bugs despite its being even less traditionally tangible than cash speaks to the extent the appeal of gold was rooted in its being a symbol of limit and exclusivity. The symbol trauma of the end of the gold standard (one of many such traumas) has been one of the far right’s obsessions for decades now. Ayn Rand’s “A=A” satisfies both the conservative’s desire for a perception of solid reality and Baudrillard’s definition of hyperreality-the symbol (the written letter “A”) correlates to the symbol (the written letter “A”)-a closed loop of symbols.

If modernism was about insisting there’s an underlying particular meaning that can be codified, and post-modernism was about the dissolution/impossibility of meaning and the arbitrary quality of codes, then the thing after post-modernism is perhaps best dubbed Frankenstein Modernism-the attempt to reconstruct the comfort of fixed meaning from an environment that can’t allow for the comfort of a fixed meaning.

In an always-already doomed effort, the conservative ironically attempts to preserve the sanctity of “the real” by clutching desperately to the crudely symbolic-the flag, race, etc. Any conservative ideology must construct a sanctified past because its attempts to “conserve” the current status quo will always be undermined by the fact time goes forward and things change, up to and including the interpretation of the past-this dissonance has to be accounted for. Explanations and scapegoats are needed to maintain the conservative’s superficial sense of control over their surroundings.

In the conservative imagination this looks like the return to “sanity”, to the more comfortable prior status quo.  To the non-conservative, it looks like a strange and garish pastiche; the Hollywood reboot except real-even the players themselves seem to be operating, consciously or otherwise, on this logic-what else is to be made of the endless attempts by Trump and May to portray themselves as the return of Reagan and Thatcher?

What does this mean? The age of the remake is total; the age of high fidelity recorded media which has barely gone on for more than 150 years has swallowed society whole-there is no hope for a new thing or else why would there be such bitter and violent squabbles over the aesthetics of remakes, all the way from the Twitter harassment of Leslie Jones up through the selling of Donald Trump as fat Reagan.

 

 

Radio Without Money Episode 5: Brevity Is the Soul of Wit

brevity is the soul of wit

In this exceptionally brief (for us!) episode of Radio Without Money, the official WritersWithoutMoney.com podcast, Ross Snider and Aloysius VI try to put lipstick on a pig by discussing Daniel Levine’s disappearance, user analytics, the budget, Wikipedia, propaganda, Facebook’s new fact-check alerts and the conflation of “neutrality” with “objectivity,” journalism in general, the aborted Republican health care legislation, and the conflation of neoliberalism with traditional, progressive liberalism.

Podcast recorded Thursday, March 23rd through Friday, March 24th, 2017.

<-Check out the last episode!

Check out the next episode!->

Mediocrity, Propaganda and Trump

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THE INTERNET IS ITS OWN ECONOMIC SYSTEM AND IDEOLOGY

History seems to move faster at certain times than others. Now is one of those times.

Karl Marx, thinking about industrialization, claimed that a newly emergent economic force/system was actually revolutionary in the sense that it reshaped all the territory and politics it touched. 100 years later, Marshall McLuhan claimed similar powers for the emergence of technology. The internet differs from prior economic revolutions in that it seeks to reshape the current geographic layout of man in order to completely replace it. It literally recreates itself by writing itself on the landscape-anyone who’s ever used Snapchat or even Pokemon Go could tell you as much. The internet, at this point being both a new technological and new political formation, presents a two-front war with all of us unfortunately trapped in the middle.

RADICALIZATION IS A FEATURE, NOT A BUG

A library science professor I had in college assigned an academic paper whose author and title I forget. It dealt with the “bridging” vs. “bonding” elements in how internet communities were shaped. A “bonding” community was one that tended to increase homogeneity and insularity-it brought together people with a specific set of interests/demographics and isolated them from the outside world over time. A “bridging” community brought people together across demographics/interests. Internet communities were found to be almost exclusively “bonding”, while groups organizing on the physical proximity of persons were shown to fall more evenly across a bridge/bond spectrum.

The alt-righter thinks by himself: “If I feel wronged about anything, no matter how stupid or  illegitimate, I’m sure I can find people willing to indulge or enable me, and the more wronged and isolated I feel about the thing, the more time I’m willing to spend on the internet with these people enabling me. Because these people are now my real friends, they hold disproportionate social influence over me and my initial attraction to them doesn’t suggest strong independent thinking skills to begin with.”

The vernacular of internet discourse has centered around increasingly shocking content and progressive desensitization to extreme materials for nearly as long as the internet has existed. This is how the neo-Nazis and ISIS both recruit. This is how Gamergate happened. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The thing after neoliberalism is shaping up to be equal parts dialectics and The Producers-the far right parties have realized the worse they govern, the more terrorism they allow to happen, the more they’re rewarded under the current system.

THE SHIFT IN PROPAGANDA:

1)

It’s very important to remember there is always an external and an internal propaganda system. The external propaganda system legitimizes the group/regime to those outside. The internal propaganda system legitimizes and normalizes the group/regime to its members. These two systems often seem to work at cross-purposes and most propaganda doesn’t make its intended audience entirely obvious, especially to its intended audience. Why would it? Things always seem much more enticing when you’re not the person who’s supposed to be seeing them.

2)

Let’s use the Nazis and particularly Nazi cinema to illustrate this point.

Internal propaganda systems: The Nazis were the first modern political party to use street graffiti and a large part of how the rural population was sold on Hitler was through traveling screenings of short news reels. In many of these rural German communities, access to movies of any sort was rare. These newsreel films looked partly like ones that would be shown in US theaters at the time between cartoons and features. However, the repeated visual symbols were mostly morphed copies of ones in the classic USSR silent films. Further cases of internal propaganda include the numerous lesser known Nazi features. Films like Hans Westmar, a fictionalized version of a false story of Nazi “martyr” Horst Wessel, or Jud Suss, Der Rothschilds: Aktien Auf Waterloo, etc., were sold as entertaining historical melodramas. Hans Westmar in particular broadly resembles recent sentimentalized “martyr” films like American Sniper.

External propaganda: Hitler attempted to normalize and bring prestige to his movement/country abroad the same way many state governments do-by making fancy movies and sending them abroad to festivals. These include Triumph of the Will and Olympia. While both were screened in Germany, their intended audience was abroad. The continuing public perceptions that the Nazi government was meticulously well organized (they weren’t, many high up officials including Hitler were on meth for extended periods) or that Triumph of the Will was what sold the Germans on Hitler speak to the enduring power of this strategy.

3)

How does the internet change things?

Per Ernest Becker (by way of Otto Rank) : Man needs to be able to feel as though he is the hero of the narrative of his life.

Per Ray Kroc: Why wait 15 minutes when I can have it now?

Per Neil Postman: If you don’t think the medium of communications biases what can be communicated, try translating Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” into smoke signals.

Per Twitter: 140 characters or less.

Per Marshall McLuhan: The content of the new medium is always the medium it’s replacing.

Trump’s rise is inconceivable without the internet. Memes are graffitti/propaganda writ large and reduced to their simplest form. TV and cartoons were more effective than any propaganda medium prior because of their immediacy; looking at a comic strip or single panel lacking words, by the time you think “do I want to read this?” you’ve likely already read it. A meme is even more immediate-it lives or dies on the extent to which we can already predict what it’s going to say. At the same time, it creates a fake sense of community built around knowing who “Scumbag Steve” or “Bad Luck Brian” is. The sense of inclusion is created by removing all communal standards beyond the basic self-referential acknowledgement the “community” exists. It allows a sense of familiarity to push out critical judgement.

I got some shit for writing about Elliott Roger’s “manifesto” more than a year ago, but in retrospect, it seems to pretty accurately reflect what can be understood about the psychology of Trump voters-how many people in this country based their self-esteem and sense of specialness on how many Pokemon cards they had? How good they were at video games? The very fact that video games seemed to offer a clearly delineated meritocracy, however meaningless? How horrible was it when they saw on the internet there would always be someone with more Pokemon cards or a higher score; who made the commonplace banality of their struggles obvious; who pierced through any notion they were special? The internet of course also had little tribes and klans collecting these fresh malcontents; sometimes they were already assembled and simply soured when they felt angry enough on realizing however ironically they were not the special snowflakes they accused everyone else of idealizing themselves as; they were just waiting to be scooped up on bodybuilding forums and other pits of the internet.

And as with toxic narcissism in all its forms, the playground taunt “I know you are but what am I?” isn’t just the mature response but the necessary one. Much has been made of the fact that the districts most reliant on subsidized health care and welfare programs overwhelmingly voted for a man promising to eradicate these programs they depend on. Much of this discourse has unfortunately taken the closed discourse of self-satisfied liberalism-“What idiots!”-instead of investigation into the mechanics of self-loathing.

4) 

How do the internal and external propaganda systems of the US work?

Internal Propaganda Systems: These consist largely of the tendency that people are reaching at when they refer to “the mainstream media”. All the major news sources, particularly those on television, work first to legitimize the current political system by overemphasis on chaos and terror, by reporting on everything from tornadoes to mass shootings to the “inherent scariness” of non-mainstream ideologies. Their first priority is to legitimize the current system in whatever form it takes, both forwards and backwards in history. This is why all the reporting when Reagan died, even from ostensibly liberal outlets like NPR, was focused on his “great statesmanship” blahblahblah, while never mentioning Iran-Contra or his exacerbation of the drug or AIDS crises. Their second priority is partisan. MSNBC is already broadcasting stuff about how “presidential” Trump looked on Tuesday night because he…took advantage of the widow of a Navy Seal he sent to die for literally no reason for a photo op. Without the prestige of the government, the banal careerism of the many reporters employed by these institutions collapses. A popular war helps the media as much as it helps the president. The internal propaganda system also places a heavy emphasis on popular media-everything from the boring politically empty celebration of civics in something like Parks and Recreation through to the superheroes-as-Blackwater Wagner-lite of the Avengers/Iron Man movies to the sleight of hand use of martyrdom to cover a broken ideology in films like American Sniper to the use of hundreds of drones during the Super Bowl to normalize their use all feed into this larger ecosystem.

External Propaganda Systems: These would involve a much larger article. Ross Snider has written about them pretty extensively on this website. Overthrowing elections, exported versions of the propaganda vehicles mentioned above, etc etc etc.

5)

How do we innoculate ourselves and rebuild media into something humane that serves society?

Well, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it….

Radio Without Money Episode 3: More Jokes About Buildings and Food

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Another week, another podcast! Discussion of a whole bunch of stuff. Next episode we’re going to start having more focused discussion, but this week join Aloysius VI and I for a lot of politics and jokes. Great to put on when you’re cleaning your own house or congress!

<-Check out the last episode!

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Radio Without Money Episode 2: The Fall of Anonymous

trip-photos-286

In this episode, Daniel Levine and Ross Snider discuss cyber security, the government infiltration that took down the Anonymous hacker collective, and the future of the media. And more stuff on walking dogs! This one’s got it all folks…

<-Check out our first episode!

Check out the next episode!->