Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Luddite Scanner, Dim, But Finally Functional...

I've spent the afternoon crash-coursing on scanning art and photos, and will finally be joining the 1990s in my ability to load art online. So, a major breakthrough from a dinosaur who has resisted the technology thus far. The site is coming together, and I promise much eye candy -- old and new, long unseen and never-before-seen -- by Halloween!

Finished re-burning to disc the final draft of my new book Blur, Volume One this afternoon. This is the first of four volumes, collecting my complete weekly Video Views newspaper column from 1999-2001, including various articles and film-related writings from that period that appeared in other venues (e.g., Video Watchdog, VMag, etc.). Off it goes to my Black Coat Press publishing partner Jean-Marc Lofficier tomorrow, with more books to follow. News on their release dates will be posted here, once Jean-Marc receives everything and we're set to go...

Want to check out the real high-stakes players and connections that keep democracy in check? Pop on over to and play connect-the-dots. You will need Flash Player 7 to function on the site:

"A Brief Explanation
They Rule allows you to create maps of the interlocking directories of the top companies in the US in 2004. The data was collected from their websites and SEC filings in early 2004, so it may not be completely accurate - companies merge and disappear and directors shift boards."

Site creator Josh On has constructed a pretty stunning analysis of the lay of the corporate landscape, identifying its key players and the umbilical cords they share. Josh writes, "They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations."

The illusion of a functional democracy is vital to the ongoing power the current Administration wields over the American populace; most of the world, of course, harbors no such illusions about our country. Maintaining the invisibility of this power network while sustaining the illusion of self-governance is vital; thus, our plutocracy functions with the apparent sanction of the citizens, though we have been effectively reduced to a consumer class with few real freedoms or powers left in our reach. Josh writes, "A few companies control much of the economy and oligopolies exert control in nearly every sector of the economy. The people who head up these companies swap on and off the boards from one company to another, and in and out of government committees and positions. These people run the most powerful institutions on the planet, and we have almost no say in who they are. This is not a conspiracy. They are proud to rule. And yet these connections of power are not always visible to the public eye." The prominent players in this ruling class "stand against each other in the competitive struggle for the continued accumulation of their capital, but they stand together as a family supporting their interests in perpetuating the profit system as whole. Protecting this system can require the cover of a 'legitimate' force - and this is the role that is played by the state. An understanding of this system can not be gleaned from looking at the inter-personal relations of this class alone, but rather how they stand in relation to other classes in society."

Note that They Rule is not a current, live database of board members and companies -- the players and their roles are mutable and constantly changing. Josh reportedly updates the site annually, so it remains merely an eye-opening springboard to further research and analysis, but as such it is invaluable. Amazing site, check it out, and understand where we all fit in the foodchain...