Friday, October 26, 2007

The Media Circus

You've got to sympathize with the father of this deceased Marine. "The father of a Marine killed in Iraq took the stand in his invasion of privacy suit against a fundamentalist church that pickets soldiers' funerals, saying protesters carrying signs at his son's burial made him sick to his stomach."

"They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family," Snyder testified. "They wanted their message heard and they didn't care who they stepped over. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside."

Yep, Fred Phelps strikes again.

Snyder is suing the Westboro Baptist church, whose members have picketed the funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming the deaths are punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuality. ... Asked Wednesday about a sign that read "Thank God for dead soldiers," Snyder said he thinks about it daily.

"I see that sign when I lay in bed," Snyder said.

In a real media circus, facts and fancy fuse until they are all one. Peggy Noonan pokes fun at the Cirque de Soleil version of the clown show. It's more sophisticated entertainment, but entertainment all the same. Writing in the Opinion Journal, she answers the question of why Scott Beauchamp's reports from Iraq seemed so suspicious when she read them by excerpting his writing.

"I love chicks that have been intimate with IED's," he announced to his fellow soldiers sitting in the chow tent in Camp Falcon in Baghdad. "It really turns me on--melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses." The soldiers laughed so hard they almost fell from their chairs. They enjoy running over dogs in Bradley Fighting Vehicles, luring them in and then crushing their bones as they whelp. When a soldier comes upon a mass grave, he picks up a human skull, places it merrily on his head, and marches around.

Savvy cowboys in the old-time movies would indicate they suspected a trap when they noticed the eerie quiet. "It's quiet. Yeah, too quiet." In the same vein what made Noonan suspicious was that Beauchamp's scenes looked good enough to be in the movies. In fact, they looked like they came from the movies. As she explains:

I thought: That's not Iraq, that's a Vietnam War movie. That's not life as it's being lived on the ground right now, that's life as an editor absorbed it through media. That's the dark world of Kubrick and Coppola and Oliver Stone, of the great Vietnam movies of the '70s and '80s.

If that's what you absorbed during the past 20 or 30 years, it just might make sense to you, it would actually seem believable, if a fellow in Iraq wrote for you about taunting scarred women, shooting dogs, and wearing skulls as helmets. This is the offhand brutality of war. You know. You saw it in a movie.

So why couldn't the editors spot the obvious? How did they miss important clues that seem to sit right in front of them? A filter. When a filter screens out data the signal never makes it to the processor.

Real information is thrown away when it is regarded as noise. Aviation Week and Space Technology tells the story of how even radar can be fooled. USAF analysts gaming various situations found scenarios where a Russian Su-30 fighter could become invisible to an F-15's pulse doppler radar.

The scenario in which the Su-30 "always" beats the F-15 involves the Sukhoi taking a shot with a BVR missile (like the AA-12 Adder) and then "turning into the clutter notch of the F-15's radar," the Air Force official said. Getting into the clutter notch where the Doppler radar is ineffective involves making a descending, right-angle turn to drop below the approaching F-15 while reducing the Su-30's relative forward speed close to zero If the maneuver is flown correctly, the Su-30 is invisible to the F-15's Doppler radar--which depends on movement of its targets--until the U.S. fighter gets to within range of the AA-11 Archer infrared missile.

The reason the Doppler radar could not see the 33 ton supersonic Russian fighter was simply because it was moving at the same course and speed as the F-15. Similarly, when lies fly in formation with our prejudices, we never see them.

The New Republic editors missed the clues because they saw what they wanted to see. In their own special world the cinematic was not anomalous. Reality was anomalous and therefore they refused to believe it. It's hard -- like Fred Phelps -- to live in your own special three ring circus. Above all we see with our minds. Human eyes just provide some of the input. And there are none so blind as they who will not see.


Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Real information is thrown away when it is regarded as noise.

Decades of Soviet Information Operations Preparation of the Battlefield and the success of the Gramscian long march through the institutions has conditioned millions of Americans to discard as propaganda any good news that might stray from the agreed upon doom and gloom Hate Bush mantra.

Love the Flanker in the baffles story.

10/26/2007 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

There's an interesting concept in information technology called "datafog". There's so much data out there that you can't find the "true" info amidst the "noise".

A related phenomenon appears to stem from using filters on the Internet so that only the information, or the interpretation of the information, that fits your preconceived notions of what is "right" makes it through to us.

If you only read the NY Times then you undoubtably believe that the War in Iraq was started by George Bush for oil, we are losing in an unwillable "quagmire", and Al Quada is growing in leaps and bounds due to our militaristic foreign policy. You are also convinced the American economy is mired in the worst depression since the crash of '29 and will remain so until Queen Hillary recieves her coronation. And there's a strong likelihood that the World Trade Center was blown up by the Israelis, the American overnment or both.

No matter how bizarre your belief system you can find a perfect echo chamber on the Internet.

The search for truth is rendered irrelevant because we are taught that asolute TRUTH does not exist and bin Laden's view of the world is equally valid with George Bush's.

Welcome to the End of Days. There may be a reason the Mayan Long March Calender ends in 2012...

10/26/2007 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger warhorse said...

"The reason the Doppler radar could not see the 33 ton supersonic Russian fighter was simply because it was moving at the same course and speed as the F-15."

Wretchard, a minor niggle: what the pilot of the Russian fighter is trying to do is get lower than the F-15, while flying at RIGHT ANGLES to the F-15's course. Ordinary radar does very badly when looking down at a target, tending to lose it in the ground clutter. Doppler radar overcomes the ground clutter problem by noticing that the target aircraft is moving, relative to the radar, at a different rate than the ground. But when the target aircraft is flying at right angles to the radar aircraft, there is no difference in the closure rate between the radar and the target aircraft on the one hand, and the radar and the ground features on the other hand. In that case, the target aircraft once again gets lost in the ground clutter. Fortunately, this maneuver can be countered fairly easily by the F-15 makes a turn of its own.

10/26/2007 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Thanks. I stand corrected.

10/26/2007 08:46:00 PM  

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