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The Manipulation of Media February 28, 2007 – 8:11 p.m.
the re(print) at seraphic zephyr.

This is a reprint of an article by Sam Wolken, written on January 22, 2007. Sam’s SlyForum, Seraphic Zephyr’s sister site, occasionally heralds the new arrivals of articles that cater to emphatic people with interests in politics. In this article, he inspects the effects of “viewer corruption” in the media.

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Jon Stewart’s interview on the late CNN television show Crossfire. He not only made Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala look foolish, but he managed to cause the show’s termination, as well. To me, this is a victory for the voting citizens of the United States. A first battle against television which oversimplifies politics and creates a biased, partisan debate. This disgraceful format often causes an absolute mockery of one party to sway viewers, thus making this system more than corrupt and simply existing as an outlet for a political party rather than news.

I am not attempting to attack either political party in this article, as both make use of this effective, but yet morally incorrect system of corrupting viewers. The worst effect of this approach to capture votes is, to me, the remarkable reaction from viewers. Fox News is currently the most watched cable news network, having recently overtaken CNN. Fox News, a station which is built around spinning news to frame the Republican Party in a complimentary light, is the most commonly used source of news, for cable viewers. This is a disgrace to the true, honest news shows, such as NBC Nightly News. Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor, is a prime example of this maniacal device. Bill O’Reilly makes a living running news through a conservative staff of writers, calling it a script, and then projecting his nonsensical rhetoric on air; this process has earned him the number one cable television show.

This process has grown so common, it has managed to get its own Comedy Central parody in the Colbert Report. One of the most witty and intelligent shows on air today, Stephen Colbert takes a similar conservative viewpoint on the news and preaches it in a way which is remarkably similar to that of Bill O’Reilly; however, Colbert’s audience laughs. So two hosts, Colbert and O’Reilly take the same news, preach it with the same conservative spin: one gets applause and laughter, one becomes both the highest rated news show and the most watched television show on cable. To me, this is the epitome of average American politics. Our two parties have managed to make their views so different, their takes on news so varied, that one audience treats it as pure fact, while another treats it as comedy.

Getting back to Crossfire, I believe Jon Stewart has done our public a great service in helping it become removed from the air. I feel shows with such an obvious political bias deserve no place in our media, at least not on stations which claim to show fact. CNN and Fox News should share news, not their politics, and fulfill their obligations to the American people to deliver what they ask for: the facts.

Music Ρiracy: Demon from Heaven or Angel from Hell? February 20, 2007 – 4:52 p.m.

I give a damn if any fan recall my legacy, I’m tryin’ to live life in the sight of God’s memory.


This is the first printing of an article by Connor Smith, written on February 13, 2007. Connor is one of the most effective writers I’ve met in generating considerable controversy among his readers, and although I usually don’t agree with most of his viewpoints whatsoever, he is certain to fire up some discussion in the comments with this article. This is the second article in the 2007 (re)print. Disclaimer: Contains some language. The views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the site administrator.

The world of music ρiracy has engulfed me, and I must express how much I hate loving it. I wouldn’t really give a damn about ρirating music if it weren’t for the fact that most the music I’ve downloaded in the past few months has been from bands that are fairly unknown. These aren’t the bands that are getting cash just for breathing. Typically, these are the bands that are never going to “make it,” but make music for the love of it. And these are the bands I feel are most deserving of my cash. I would probably encourage people to download music from bands such as My Chemical Romance, or Panic! at the Disco, because these are the bands that are such **** they make me want to find the closest nursery and choke every single baby within it.

No, I’m not actually going to choke a baby just because people throw their money at bands like MCR and Panic!, but these bands don’t deserve the money they’re getting. The bands that deserve my money are the bands I’m downloading. But I love it. Here’s a list of most of the bands I’ve downloaded music from in the past few months:

the re(print) at seraphic zephyr.
  • Black Moth Super Rainbow
  • Choking Victim
  • Danger Doom
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Deltron 3030
  • Devendra Banhart
  • Elliott Smith
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Iron & Wine
  • The Mars Volta
  • The Microphones
  • MF Doom
  • Mike Park
  • Mos Def
  • The Mountain Goats
  • MU330
  • Page France
  • Sigur Rós
  • A Silver Mt. Zion
  • Slapstick
  • Victor Wooten

Yeah, I’ve downloaded more than that. And every one of those bands puts a smile on my face. Sure, some of them are known and getting cash (i.e. DCFC, The Mars Volta), but how many of you go home and listen to The Microphones, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Black Star Super Rainbow? The thing is: It’s so damn good! And I can’t exactly find a lot of these bands at Borders or Best Buy, but it’s so easy to double-click my SoulSeek icon, type in “Page France,” and select the album I want to get.

Let me give you a quick example of the simplicity and beauty of music ρiracy. The cheapest for which Amazon has Operation: Doomsday by MF Doom is $45. Yet it cost me nothing. That’s the beauty of music piracy. It may take away from what the bands, and the people behind the album, and record companies are earning, but it increases my listening pleasure. It also leads me to new bands, and increases the chances of me purchasing one of these bands’ albums if I see it in a store. It just takes time. More time than it would take to type “Kite Flying Society” into the search file box on SoulSeek.

I don’t think I’ll be stopping downloading music soon, but I’ll probably still speak out against music ρiracy. Hypocritical? Absolutely. Convenient? Most definitely. I love music ρiracy, and I hate it. My love just happens to outweigh that hate. I still purchase music legally; I’ve just found the beauty of sharing lately. So I apologize to those bands that aren’t making the money they should, but I thank you for making music that is good enough for me to do something illegal to get it.

I urge all you ρirates out there to at least check out the bands I’ve listed in this article if you haven’t heard them, and spread the word of these unknown bands to your friends; make these bands get the recognition they deserve, if not the cash.

How to Rip DVDs with VLC February 10, 2007 – 5:48 p.m.
the re(print) at seraphic zephyr.

This is a reprint of an article at The Real Caffeine by Brian ——, last modified on January 21, 2007. Brian is one of the more inquisitive bloggers with whom I am acquainted. His article about ripping DVDs using the VLC media player has attained 3,054 diggs as of this writing and it is a fine way to kick off this year’s (re)print.

VLC Media Player is one of the most versatile media players ever. What it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in functionality. It can read and save all the major formats of video and audio, and much more than that, it can rip DVDs. This is a pretty simple process, if you know what you&#re doing. Plus, it saves you having to buy expensive DVD ripping software! (Screenshot)

The first step is to open up VLC and click the open button (it’s the leftmost one). From the dialog box that appears select Disc and then DVD. Enter the letter of your DVD-ROM drive in the device name box, and “0” in the title box. Click OK to see if that’s what you want to rip. If it is, click the stream/save box and then settings. Otherwise, change the title to “1” and then keep increasing the number until you find the one you want. It might take a little bit, some DVDs have the main video as late as title 15. (Screenshot)

Once you’ve got the right video though, open the settings box and uncheck the “play locally” box if it’s checked (unless you want to watch it at the same time it’s ripping) and check the file, video, and audio boxes. Select where you’re going to save your movie (save it as a .mpg, like movie.mpg) by hitting browse and then navigating to the folder where you want to save it and typing moviename.mpg in the name box. Select mp1v for the video codec and mp3 for the audio; 1024k is usually a good size and produces a nice balance between size and quality. (Screenshot)

Click OK, and OK again. VLC should start transcoding the disc to your hard drive, where you can watch it. As a bit of a warning, when you want to watch the file with VLC, be absolutely sure that the stream/save box is unchecked in the open dialog box, or bad things might happen. Like your two hours of transcoding being erased (guilty!). You can watch the ripped files in any media player though.

Disclaimer: Because of the DMCA, it’s illegal for you to rip a DVD that has CSS (a form of DRM) on it. I’m no lawyer, but I think it should be fair use to do it. This being a democracy though, my opinons don’t matter, so yeah. Don’t hold me responsible if the MPAA comes knocking at your door. That said though, there’s a lot of DVDs that donít have content protection, those should be perfectly legal to rip. And for any MPAA people who read this, I found this all out so I could rip The Manchurian Candidate (original version) which has no CSS. So there. Anyway, I think I’ve got all the bases covered ...