virus: June 97 McLuhan-Post

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 27 May 1997 21:57:10 -0400 (EDT)

Sorry I haven't been posting recently. Busy, busy! Love the new/old
religion vs.
science-what is rational and what is reasonable debate, though.

Thought you guys might find this interesting/informative:

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>Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 10:08:55 +0100
>From: (Comm Office)
>Subject: June 97 McLuhan-Post
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>Project McLuhan on the Net
>Post # 97-6 [June 97]
>May 27, 1997
>Editors' Corner (<>)
>A quiet month at the Center. We continue to
>receive on average 2-3 new e-subs a day, although
>we have not done any promotion or press releases
>in almost two years. This remains one of the largest
>non-corporate e-lists on the Internet, and we are
>darn proud of it.
>[Nelson Thall is the Director of Research for our
>Center, former Chief McLuhan Archivist for the
>University of Toronto, and former president of
>the Marshall McLuhan Center for Global
>Communications.As a student intern, he had the
>privilege of working directly with Dr. McLuhan.]
>[Originally published 11/94. Reposted by
>popular demand *** ]
>The Internet creates a world-wide synesthesia
>attributable to instantaneous diverse media
>transmission on a global basis. This in turn
>erodes human ability to decode in "real time,"
>and retrieves, in the language of McLuhan Tetrad
>Analysis, a "virtual" Tower of Babel. Reporters
>who have done stories on the degeneration of
>written speech over the 'Net have noticed this
>already. Many of the discussion groups on the
>'Net are in real danger of becoming "much ado
>about nothing." Individuals desperate for a locus
>of self-expression (and kept from their goal by
>the invisible effects on society of unbridled
>technological change) are finally achieving some
>form of expression -- but at what cost?
>Information is fragmented and murky at best,
>unfocused, untimely and unwanted at worst. It is
>the English language that suffers most, however.
>This suffering is itself a form of violence, one
>of many, and, as we explain below, violence is
>unquestionably the unrecognized Icon of the 'Net!
>On another level, the Internet is the systematic
>linking and imploding of all computers into one
>network. McLuhan theory has repeatedly pointed
>out that the very names we use to describe
>technologies often contain clues about those
>technologies on a hidden or "below ground"
>(gestalt) level. We suggest that the term
>"Internet" refers to Inter- KiNETic. In order to
>stave off the execution of our individual selves,
>the progressive whittling-away of our identities
>under the influence of unbridled technology at
>the curtain-call of this century (and indeed of
>this millennium,) we turn to the Internet. The
>Internet prevents us from losing our Identity
>because it retrieves the private autonomous space
>of individuality. The Internet enhances our
>individual identities by involving us in an
>exchange (kinetic) that provides a world-view
>much as the early navigational compasses did,
>thereby restoring the trappings of identity and
>self-worth. (But only the trappings!) The
>Internet is also a locus of pure information,
>and, as McLuhan noted, when pure information is
>forced to brush up against pure information, the
>results are violent and chaotic. The Internet is
>a tough town. Women, children and small animals
>move out of the way when it walks by.
>Extracts only -- Comments and Projections from
>"The McLuhan Analyst(TM)" (private internal newsletter
>available only to patrons of our non-profit
> [book]
>Gateway Books) has been attacting attention
>lately, and justifiably so. It belongs to a
>unqiue sub-genus of non-fiction that looks
>closely at the events of pre-history -- perhaps
>more closely than any one of us would really like
>to. The book revamps a lot of existing research
>such as, for example, the fact that one of the
>highest-elevated cities in the world, the ruins
>at Tiahuanaco [so high that archaeologists bring
>oxygen tanks with them] show evidence of being at
>sea level within recent geological history. The
>real appeal of the book, however, is that it layers
>hard fact upon hard fact, chapter by chapter, page
>by page, so that, ultimately, only the incredibly
>stubborn, proud, or foolish can ignore the
>scientifically-based conclusions. About 12,000
>years ago, the authors tell us, there occured a
>calamity planet-wide of such magnitude that the
>very population of Earth was decimated to a
>handful of survivors. This book tells their
>story, which, in case you missed the point, is
>also our story. Highly recommended for those
>looking to shift stubborn and poorly lubricated
>"SHIFT HAPPENS" (Dilbert)
>No less a source than THE LEARNING CHANNEL
>recently aired a British documentary on the
>notorious AREA 51, noting that the current
>"forbidden zone" around the installation is over
>26 miles in diameter, while the government still
>denies the very existence of the base. Former
>"Area 51" workers went on-camera to describe
>seeing both "living and dead" (quote) ETs in the
>underground complex. In spite of this -- or maybe
>because of it (?) -- many "experts" still tell
>us this is all the stuff of "urban legand." We
>emphathize with their confusion.
>If you are a regular web surfer, you may have
>noticed press releases about the Sphinx are now
>indicating an obvious rift between "new age"
>explorers and the offical government-run dept. of
>Egyptology. John West, author of several startling
>books on the Sphinx and prehistory [and recently
>featured on a number of major TY specials], was
>quoted in the May 24th New York Times as saying
>flat-out the Egyptian government was
>"obstructing" their efforts. Strong words indeed!
>Members of this Center who have followed this
>topic for over two decades indicated the emerging
>dispute is "no surprise" and a "long time coming."
>Even though the evidence to support the "official
>view" that the Sphinx is less than 5000 years old
>is weak (indeed, some would say there is no such
>evidence at all) the Egyptian government will
>seemingly cling to virtually any theory that
>protects them from having to consider
>possibility of a much older date, as well as the
>notion of construction intervention by
>civilizations or technologies now long buried in
>pre-history. "If it's only 5000 years old, it's
>clearly the work of their [Egyptian] ancestors, and
>something to be proud of. If however it was done
>by 'unknown agents' prior to the last ice age, as
>many pseudo-scientists seriously believe, then
>there is little joy for their national egos." [We
>have already reported in these Posts how
>top-ranked geological analysis of the weathering
>on the Sphinx indicates clearly water, not sand,
>erosion -- throwing open the whole question of
>who built the Sphinx, and when]
>Readers often fall back on the old saw that "if"
>there was news out there, then "they" would have
>told us by now. Think so? Consider the recent
>works of Fletcher Prouty. Prouty, a retired Air
>Force Col, was Chief of Special Ops for the Joint
>Chiefs of Staff in the Kennedy White House. Not
>exactly small potatoes! In 91/92 he wrote two
>books which, IN A PERFECT WORLD, would have
>received media attention worldwide. However, it's
>not a perfect world, so the first is out of print
>and the second is on permanent backorder:
>ASSASINATE KENNEDY (92) (Birch Lane Press)
>Much of his work obviously focusses on the CIA.
>The Kennedy affair triggered Prouty to begin his
>investigation into the infamous agency and -- 30
>years later -- these books resulted. [Trivia
>note: The NY TIMES OCT 3, 1963 wrote: "If the US
>ever experiences an attempt at a coup, it will
>come from the CIA and not the Pentagon. The
>agency represents a tremendous power and total
>unaccountability to anyone"] Note also that the
>Donald Sutherland character in the Oliver Stone
>film JFK was actually based on Prouty. It is
>TRUE, Prouty says, that when he (Prouty) was in
>New Zealand, just after the assasination, the NZ
>press had the Oswald story on page 1 BEFORE OSWALD
>had actually been officially charged with the
>murder in the US. A remarkable feat of
>co-ordination, worth a Pulitzer for predictive
>(quoted from Millennium Matters) "There are
>outbreaks of typhus in Burundi, cholera in
>Nigeria, Lassa fever in Sierra Leone, monkeypox
>in Zaire (now back to being called the Congo
>after the recent rebel victory there), malaria in
>Zimbabwe -- Microbes are becoming resistant to
>antibiotics; viruses are mutating and changing
>hosts; and diseases thought to have been defeated
>are making a comeback in the age of jet travel,
>slum cities, and big population movements.
>Smallpox, plague, malaria, typhoid, polio,
>diphtheria, yellow fever, and meningitis have
>reappeared and 30 new infectious diseases -- one
>with no known treatment, cure or vaccine -- have
>emerged in the past two decades." (unquote)
>alt.good luck!
>Time Magazine (among other publications) has
>reported on recent medical trials that show
>Vitamin E to prevent infection and improve
>health, especially in the elderly. The only
>problem is that you need to take seven times the
>recommended "minimum" dose -- which will be
>illegal under the proposed Codex laws we are have
>already reported on many times (and due in the US
>by 1999). In the same issue, Time suggests that
>"things were never this good" in the US, closely
>matching our view (already stated in these posts)
>that this era is in effect a replay of the
>'Roaring Twenties'. Our own research suggests
>that, joyful economic data aside, people are
>getting sicker than ever, and health will be the
>#1 issue of the new millennium. Better stock up
>on Vitamin E now, while you can... [PEOPLE
>MAGAZINE recently reported on a US health care
>worker who discovered a deadly pathogen in the
>waters bordering the Carolinas, and, for her
>trouble, was persecuted by the government agency
>responsible for water control. During her own
>research with the mystery microbe, the poor lady
>contracted pneumonia seven times...]
>Many thanks for the large volume of mail we
>received with ant-spam suggestions. They were all
>excellent, but deserving of special mention was:
>* the Toronto programmer who has written his own
>SPAM filter. It looks for words like "value" and
>"special offer" as well as a wide variety of
>other tags, such as "all caps" or exclamation
>marks, -- and deletes them.
>* the reader who points out that 'forged'
>addresses (which about 90% of spammers rely upon)
>are illegal in the US and Canada, and, until
>proper legistlation comes along, 'mail fraud' is
>a good juicy violation to pursue in the courts.
>companies operating from offshore servers will
>remain "spam outlaws" for years to come.
>We always enjoy reader feedback, but without
>question one of the strangest responses came just
>moments after we sent out the May post in late
>April 97. As you may recall, the Editors comment
>in that Post dealt with spamming. The reader in
>question sent us a hurried note saying that he
>started receiving spam about the same time as our
>post arrived, so, ergo, our security must have
>been breached, and our list stolen. Flattered as
>were to be blamed for global Spam, we explained
>that we pay for 7 URLs on different systems
>(including AOL and CIS) so that, by checking
>these "seeded" names within our main list, we can
>tell with 100% accuracy if our list has been
>violated. It had not. We replied to the reader
>that, while we do in fact encourage paranoia as
>one cherished form of free-thinking is this
>hi-speed world of ours, he may have gone ahead
>and made "one too many assumptions".
>Concerning our earlier prediction re: "spam wars"
>one reader was kind enough to forward this story:
>(quote) "May 9, 1997 1:55 PM PDT ZDN Cyber
>Promotions Inc., the bulk E-mail promoter that
>has been sued by every major commercial online
>service and several ISPs, fell victim to hackers
>earlier this week in a "reverse spam" attack that
>shut down its computer system for 20 hours,
>sources close to the company said. The attack was
>the most serious so far against Cyber Promotions,
>although the Philadelphia-based company has had
>its computers hacked in minor incidents over the
>past few months, and the E-mail in-box of its
>outspoken president, Sanford Wallace, has been
>hit with mail bombs by vengeful Internet users
>hoping to give him a taste of his own medicine,
>sources said. Cyber Promotions' system was
>overloaded by millions of download requests in
>the assault that began Tuesday, but the system
>was fully restored by the next day, sources said.
>Messages and advertisements posted on Cyber
>Promotions' Web site today make it clear that
>Wallace and company won't be going away any time
>soon. One service offered at the site
>(, dubbed "Cyber-Bomber,"
>claims to allow users to "send all the bulk
>E-mail you wish at lightning-fast speed from your
>own local dial-up account, without the risk of
>account termination." Earlier this week, a
>federal judge issued a restraining order against
>Cyber Promotions on behalf of ISP EarthLink
>Network Inc., blocking it from distributing bulk
>E-mail to EarthLink subscribers. Also this week,
>Cyber Promotions agreed to pay $65,000 to
>CompuServe to settle a suit over its bulk
>mailings to CompuServe subscribers. America
>Online Inc. and Prodigy Inc. have filed similar
>suits against Cyber Promotions." (unquote)
>As more than one reader has reminded us, we were
>wrong on our 1996 prediction regarding the price
>of gold. So probably we should shut up. However,
>since we never do we are 'supposed' to do, here
>is a quick additional comment from Nelson: "The
>attempted European unification issue, combined
>with the determination by the US Federal Reserve
>to exercise an 'iron hand' over the traditionally
>up-n-down business cycle, turned gold into a
>'geo-political football' somewhere around 1992.
>If it were a commodity -- which it no longer
>seemingly is, at this time -- it would be trading
>around $420-$460 US. However, as a geo-political
>football, it looks like it will continue trade
>between $340-$360 until the political ambiance
>changes, or the invisible market makers can no
>longer keep the pressure on." To the above, our
>erstwhile Financial Editor adds: "When you put
>pressure on something that wants to rise, you
>invariably get a slingshot effect. When gold does
>move, it should move with vigor. And the recent
>weakness in gold, combined with the Bre-X
>scandal, has turned the entire gold sector in a
>buying opportunity for longer-term investors."
>Not to be outdone, our Political Editor hastened
>to add: "those with eyes will have noticed that,
>in the last two years, a tremendous amount of
>rationalization has taken place in the mining
>sector. If gold ever does turn around, investors
>will be amazed to find how few people (or
>organizations) now control the vast bulk of the
>world's gold.." [Draw from that whatever
>conclusions you like.]
>The critics are not always right but they are
>always critical. In the case of THE SAINT,
>perhaps too critical. According to our Tinseltown
>Editor "The film deserved better. It featured two
>of the most under-rated actors around, Val Kilmer
>and Elizabeth Shue. Kilmer's ability to shift
>characters is a standout in THE SAINT. In fact,
>as a special treat to his legion of fans, in a
>closing vignette he adopts briefly his "Doc
>Holiday" voice & mannerisms from Wyatt Earp -- a
>role that should have earned his an Oscar. And
>newcomer Shue has an uncanny ability to shift
>between sensuality and innocence, a quality not
>seen since Audry Hepburn. The script -- which
>delivers a much darker version of Roger's Moore's
>famous characterization -- is much better than
>average for Hollywood. Catch it if you still can."
>In Tinseltown, what does around comes around.
>Critics have noted that the best line in FIRST
>WIVES CLUB (now on video) is Goldie Hawn telling
>the floozie currently dating her hubby "Be
>afraid. Be very very afraid." It's good writing.
>Perhaps we should say it's "still" good writing
>-- just as it was when that exact same line first
>appeared in David Cronenberg's THE FLY (1987).
>[Footnote: if you looking for something to rent,
>go with THE FLY, arguably Cronenberg's best
>horror film, both brillian and timeless. Geena
>Davis and Jeff Goldblum never looked better. Even
>the script's premise -- gene splicing -- has
>proved eerily close to home. FIRST WIVES, on the
>other hand, can safely be ignored until it comes
>to TV. It is a classic example of Hollywood's
>"script splicing" -- a great beginning, a fair
>middle, and a terrible ending. Of the two, given
>the stars and the budget, it is perhaps the truer
>[From an unknown cynic:"TV is a much more
>powerful medium than film. Eventually all films
>end up on TV, but never vice versa!"]
>Our own unabashed end-of-season TV awards from
>our Hollywood Editor:
>excellent acting and writing, with an
>all-too-rare "feel good" note about it. This
>"sleeper" came on strong late in the season,
>providing an almost "X-Files" series of plot
>twists for its growing cadre of fans. The
>action-packed finale packed 6 hours of plot into
>a 2-hour episode. (Honorable Mention: KING OF THE
>HILL. Great writing, great characters and really
>great voices! Judge is an awesome talent.)
>* BEST SHOW: X-FILES. Although we feel (as we
>have said) that Chris Carter pushed himself too
>hard with MILLENNIUM, this amazing show manages
>to defy all standard TV conventions from week to
>week, working instead on mood, script, and raw
>angst. The sexual tension between the two stars
>is electric. (Honorable mention: ER)
>will miss this quirky look at street toughs, the
>superb acting, and (oops!) Deborah Farantino.
>in the year, we called Janeway's craft a "flying
>day care center." Someone paid attention. More
>action in the last few episodes has given this
>show a nice glossy sheen.
>missed it, this made-for-TV delicacy was as good
>(if not better) than the stuff you pay for in
>theatres. Danny Aiello gave a superb and
>under-appreciated performance.
>* MOST OBVIOUS LESSON: If you are going to the
>trouble and expense of buying a cancelled show
>from a rival network, 'less' creative
>interference is really 'more'.... Both JAG and
>NAKED TRUTH were better products BEFORE they made
>the awkward jump to their new owners.
>Stewart. Beneath that cold exterior lurks ...
>what? One cynic has said that 'Merv Griffin and
>small children cross the street to get out of her
>way'.... An LA standup comic calls her an "Amish
>Milkmaid Nazi" in his act. Us? We worry she'll
>one day go into politics and imprison those of us
>who fail the close the toothpaste tube.
>young to the organized mayhem that passes for
>"Saturday Morning Cartoons" -- and then expecting
>them to grow up to be civilized and caring members
>of society.
>* FASTEST START series of the year: BUFFY THE
>VAMPIRE SLAYER exploded out of the starting gate
>with some of the best early reviews ever recorded
>a new series, especially one aimed at a younger
>audience. As one of the characters said in a
>recent episode "You de Man, Buf."
>[also file as ""]
>FORTUNE (6/9/97) recently broke ranks with the
>awesomely powerful medical/drug cartel by
>stating flat-out that the cause (and cure) for
>the common ulcer was discovered almost two
>decades ago, and then IGNORED by doctors and
>drug firms because there is more profit in
>'treating' ulcers than in 'curing' them.
>According to FORTUNE, the vast majority of all
>ulcers are still incorrectly treated today!
> [film]
>THE LOST WORLD answers the unasked question:
>"What happens when you combine the best special
>effects money can buy with a terrible script --
>and then try to fly the whole thing without a
>credible lead star?" Jeff Goldblum tries very
>hard, and the special effects are dazzling, but
>this is not a film you'll want to see twice.
>The terrible script not only lacks dramatic
>conflict, but is full of contrived English
>accents (a novel and provocative form of
>reverse-racism) and disappearing plot threads.
>(For example, several minutes of valuable screen
>time are spent introducing a dinasaur 'gun' with
>a super-poison that acts so quickly you're dead
>'before you know you've been shot'. The gun is
>never actually fired in the film.)
>Think the TV moguls really understand the
>pervasive influence of VCR's on their empire?
>Think again. For the season finale of PRETENDER
>(see above) the network extended the show to 2
>hours without much warning to loyal viewers. The
>result? We estimate tens of thousands of
>"VCR-only" viewers lost the all-important final
>60 mins of the episode. Dozens of "help" messages
>instantly turned up on all the Internet TV-based
>newsgroups, some actually offering cash for the
>ending of the "lost" episode! Bottom line: if the
>sponsors of that last hour knew what actually
>happened, heads would be rolling down the streets
>in Century City.
>This is a lo-volume moderated list with about one
>post a month. We try not to bore.
>Our Web Site
>...which includes archives and subscription info
>While you can pick up these posts at various WWW
>sites, a subscription is your best way to stay in
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>Project McLuhan is operated by the Center For Media Sciences,
>a non-profit and charitable organization under Canadian law.
>Nelson Thall is our Director of McLuhan Research. YES, you can
>repost any of this material as long as credit is given to Project McLuhan!

Reed Konsler