WikiLeaks impact update

I’ve seen tons of stories about the implications of the WikiLeaks stuff on media and informationflow and secrecy — but I haven’t seen much evaluating actual impact on public dialogue about the war in Afghanistan. I would like to see someone compare to the impact of the Pentagon Papers in terms of public opinion, etc. Maybe that’s been done and I’ve missed it?

The Times has a story today: “In Midterm Elections, War Barely Surfaces.” It sort of gets at this side of the story, but it’s pretty anecdotal, and doesn’t have much in the way of historical context. This guy makes a good point about one thing that’s changed since the Vietnam era:

“Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t paying attention,” said Representative Patrick J. Murphy, Democrat of Pennsylvania. “Which I think is a testament to the fact that 1 percent of us are fighting these wars.”

Iraq Inquiry: The logo!

I don’t know how closely you’re following the inquiry over in Great Britain about that country’s decision to involve itself in the Iraq war. And I don’t have much to say about that.

But hey, how about the logo! What do you think of the type treatment? Is this going to make the Iraq Inquiry the breakout inquiry of 2010?

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AntiFriday: Your weekly compendium of backlashes, dissent & critiques

* Those of you who follow the links in the sidebar at right, or via the Murketing RSS feed or Delicious, may recall the stories about an Army-themed clothing line launching soon at Sears. Apparently some are not happy about this deal, because some of the clothes will feature the patch of the 1st Infantry Division. Politico quotes one vet saying: “That patch is to be worn by only people who served in the 1st Division. What right does the Army have to sell our patch?” More about the history of the Big Red One patch here. [Thx: Braulio]

* “EtsyBitch is a communal blog of likeminded Etsians who are tired of the demeaning treatment, abuse, and general mismanagement of the Etsy.com site.” [Thx for the tip: Harriete (who I should clarify wasn't endorsing the blog, I don't think, just telling me about it.)]

* “Corpoetics is a collection of ‘found’ poetry from the websites of well-known brands and corporations. Nick Asbury has visited various company websites, found the closest thing to a Corporate Overview, and then set about rearranging the words into poetry.” Examples here. [Via Design Observer.]

* The Association of National Advertisers has sent a letter to regulators arguing Google-Yahoo search advertising deal “”will likely diminish competition, increase concentration of market power, limit choices currently available and potentially raise prices to advertisers.”

* Center for Science In The Public Interest going after Sparks. Earlier CSPI went after Spykes, an A-B product that was pulled (not long after being the subject of an April 29, 2007 Consumed).

* Anti-Advertising Agency talks up a documentary called Bomb It, “about the battle for public space between graffiti writers and advertising.”

* Triple backlash special: The Grinder zings an ad by the Corn Refiners Association that’s meant to backlash against anti-high-fructose-syrup sentiments. Got that?

To Do in Portland, OR: Soldier Portraits opening

This coming Thursday night, July 3, is the opening of (extra-special adviser to Murketing) Ellen Susan‘s Soldier Portraits show, at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland. Plus: Lecture Saturday July 5. Time and location details below.

More about the project at American Photo‘s State of the Art blog; in the June 2008 issue of Photo District News; and in the June/July 2008 issue of The South. And of course at SoldierPortraits.com. Here’s a brief extract from the latter:

The project consists of portrait photographs of soldiers of the United States Army, primarily of the 3rd Infantry Division. The goal of the project is to look at a person in military uniform and to see that person as a unique individual…

The photographs are made using the 150 year old collodion wet plate process — the same process that was used to document much of the period (and many of the soldiers) of the Civil War.

SOLDIER PORTRAITS
July 3 – August 2, 2008
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Avenue
Portland, Oregon
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 12 – 5 pm

Opening Reception July 3, 6pm

Lecture July 5, 3pm

(Also showing: Some guy named Rauschenberg. From Texas, I think.)

–> More Soldier Portraits images are also included in group shows at Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco, July 18 – August 24 and at The Photographic Resource Center, Boston, through July 2, 2008, as well as at the Jepson Center for the Arts at the Telfair Museum, Savannah, GA, through July 8, 2008.


In The New York Times Magazine: To The Fallen Records

BATTLE CRIES:
How one veteran tries to use entertainment to to convey the war experience

If you’ve seen the polls tracking American interest in the war in Iraq, you already know: If the war were a TV show, it would be cancelled.

The war, of course, is not a form of entertainment. And the apparent loss of interest is a source of frustration to current and former military personnel. One man has found a way to convert that frustration into something positive — a form of entertainment: In 2006 he founded To the Fallen Records, which has since released three compilations of songs made mostly by current military personnel or recent veterans.

Read the column in the April 6, 2008, issue of The New York Times Magazine, or here.

Consumed archive is here, and FAQ is here. Consumed Facebook page is here.

How best to brand a murky, weaponized, extragovernmental organization?

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you’re starting a business that happens to be more or less an extragovernmental army. Your employees will be weaponized, trained to kill, and available for hire. Your accountability will be murky at best. In fact the whole organization would be kind of secretive and vague. It sounds a little scary. A little sinister. A little dystopian sci-fi.

What would you call your organization? Wouldn’t you want to go for something reassuring? Sort of the way that lobbying organizations adopt innocuous, feel-good names? Maybe you’d go with something like Blue Sky, or Sunshine, or Tranquility. Something that would suggest to anyone who heard about your organization in passing: “That sounds pleasant. Nothing to worry about there!”

Would you, under any circumstances, call your organization Blackwater? Maybe it’s just me, but that name kind of suggests, I don’t know, sinister bad guys in a sci fi movie. That seems bad for PR. Especially when your organization becomes involved in a deadly firefight that mushrooms into an international incident. Don’t you think?

On the other hand, I guess it makes for cooler merch.

All together — or not

Got 20 minutes to kill? Sure you do.

Check out this 1970s Navy recruiting film, narrated by Lou Rawls, and with a superdope sound track by “Port Authority, the US Navy’s Soul Band.”

Rawls, in his astonishingly authoritative voice, explains how when you sign up, you canlearn electronics, “like these brothers.” You’ll “get threaded out” with a Navy uniform. You’ll learn to swim — “swim man, dig?” And you’ll also experience this epiphany: “When you’re hungry enough, common weeds taste like soul food.”

Getting “threaded out” is a piece of slang that really, really needs to make a comeback.

More seriously, the film is a pretty fascinating document. I became aware of it after hearing an NPR piece the other day about the near-collapse of black enlistment in the armed forces; African-American sentiment has been strongly anti-the-Iraq-war from the start, and apparently black enlistment has fallen fifty percent since it started.
It’s interesting, with this old recruiting film, to sort of listen between the lines, and decide for yourself just how openly it is saying: Look, this is a racist and sexist society, but as an African-American, woman, or both, you’ll have a much better chance of rising on your merits than you will in civilian life.

Or, as Rawlsy soulfully puts it: “The new Navy is together, all together.”

More 3rd ID

Today’s Savannah Morning News notes the deaths of three more 3rd ID soldiers from nearby Fort Stewart in Iraq: David A. Kirkpatrick, age 20; Nicholas E. Riehl, 21; and Eddie D. Tamez, 21. You may recall that the 3rd ID is the Army division now in the process of making its third deployment to Iraq.

I should probably say that one of the reasons we’ve gotten so aware of the 3rd ID — and that I sometimes come across like I know all about it etc. etc., when I really don’t — is that E has got an interesting project going:

She’s using the wet-plate collodion process that she has learned, and taking portraits of 3rd ID soldiers. I think the results so far are pretty impressive, but I suppose I’m a bit biased. Anyway, E makes the pictures in our back yard, so we have soldiers coming to the house all the time now. By mid-June, E will know a couple dozen people in Iraq…

More on MySpace mourning

The other day, after noting that Facebook and MySpace mourning after the Virginia Tech killings wasn’t as surprising as it might seem, given the MySpace mourning for soldiers killed Iraq, I wondered about the long-term status of the MySpace pages of the deceased. The Savannah Morning News has a story today about military MySpace mourning. Regarding Kelly Youngblood, a 3rd ID soldier killed in Iraq in February, the story notes:

MySpace officials have said they do not delete inactive accounts, nor do they let others take control of a deceased user’s accounts, because of privacy concerns.Youngblood’s “last login” date will remain Feb. 5, 2007, in perpetuity, along with everything else on his page.

“I love that it will always be there,” said Youngblood’s girlfriend, Cecelia Jones, 19, of Westville, Ind. “I look at pictures and things he wrote … and if the page wasn’t there I wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Like a widow in a grief support group, Jones continues to post messages on Youngblood’s site. She talks about how she’s doing on any given day or recalls a memory they shared together as a way of coping with her loss.

Her latest post was simply: “I wish you were here.”

Death and MySpace

This article in the Houston Chronicle looks at a particular aspect of the online reaction to the Virginia Tech killings:

On Facebook.com, many of the Tech students are using a black ribbon over the school logo as their icon. A quick search on Technorati yields thousands of blog posts on the subject. Beth 0319 writes: “I didn’t know anyone there but I just feel this tremendous sadness that has no where to go. It’s just all so senseless.”

Is the grieving process different for Generation Y, a group that has come of age at a time of world turmoil and a time when social networking has reached critical mass?

Monday’s tragedy, [the author of a book about teenagers and technology] said, is the first massive incident to occur after the revolution in social-networking technology. Now the dead’s MySpace pages become tribute pages, where friends and family continue to have a conversation as if they were still alive.

I’ve mentioned earlier, probably more than once, that we’ve gotten much more aware of Army culture since moving to Savannah, because there’s a base nearby that houses the 3rd Infantry Division, now in the process of embarking on what is for many soldiers a third deployment to Iraq. When someone from the 3rd ID is killed — there have been five such deaths so far in 2007 — it’s covered in the local paper, and we’ve noticed that such stories often mention the tributes that have appeared on the soldier’s MySpace page.

I suppose that a year ago it wouldn’t have occurred to me that soldiers would have MySpace pages, but many of them do.

And this practice that the Chronicle describes above is routine — people post messages to soldiers who have died (in what, if I may say so in passing, would seem to count as a “massive incident”), as if they’ll be checking MySpace in the afterlife.

This seems odd, at first, but I don’t think the urge to do this is so different from leaving flowers on a grave, or from “speaking to” the deceased in remarks at a funeral.

The Chronicle story also mentions a site called MyDeathSpace.com, which I’d never heard of. Among other things, the site publishes news of MySpace users who have died, and provides a link to each person’s MySpace page, so you can click straight through to read the tributes, or leave one yourself.

I am somewhat curious about whether MySpace itself has any kind of policy about what happens to a given page when a MySpace user dies.

What to pack?

The mother of a 19-year-old soldier (actually he’s indirectly referred to as both a Marine and a soldier, which are two different things) bound for Iraq writes about what he’ll be taking with him:

Each soldier is limited to a knapsack and two sea bags — what civilians would call duffels. Space is tight. Once Greg packed his firearms, there was hardly room for any of the other paraphernalia that might make seven months in Iraq bearable, assuming that such a thing is possible.

I am not there for the send-off, but confident that he made room for his iPod. “I would lose my mind without it,” he told me during his last visit home. “What makes you think you won’t lose your mind anyway?” I wanted to ask. But that is exactly the kind of thing I can never say.

My husband reports that Greg took a stack of DVDs to play on his laptop, another piece of electronic equipment that he presumably managed to cram into his bags. But I have few details. I do not know, for example, whether he chose comedies or combat films to while away the downtime, if such a thing exists.

Here’s the whole essay.

Patterns on the diamond

The Sunday open thread on the always-interesting Uni Watch blog noted that “Padres broke out their desert camouflage uniforms.” Since I wasn’t quite so tuned in to team uniform variations in the pre-Uni Watch blog era, I didn’t know the Padres had such uniforms. I also wasn’t sure why they had such uniforms. I’m still not sure when it started, but here’s the “why” explanation from a Padres press release from 2006:

Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. matchup with the Mets marks the Eleventh Annual “Military Opening Day” presented by Northrop Grumman Corporation. The Padres will continue their custom of donning camouflage uniforms, this time wearing a desert pattern worn by troops serving the Middle East. Five thousand half-price tickets, offered to the military community until 24 hours prior to Saturday’s game, are available by presenting a valid military identification card at the Padres Advance Ticket Windows at PETCO Park.

This is an interesting convergence.

One Uni Watch commenter sticks to the aesthetic context, pronouncing the uniforms “friggin’ hideous.” Another goes with the context of, you know, the war: “I guess you have to live in San Diego to appreciate what those camo uniforms mean to us. The Padres do not wear them as a gimic, like so many teams do in the minors. They represent a serious appreciation for the vast military population that is found in San Diego.”

I’m not sure what to say about it. It never really occurred to me that defense contractors would do baseball promotions. But I guess I can’t come up with any reason why it shouldn’t happen. It just all seems a little jarring. Maybe it’s just me.

Update: Mr. Lukas (who I should have checked with, now that I think of it) fills in some details:

“The Padres have been doing the camo thing since ’99 or so, as a tribute to the city’s large military population. It used to be a once-a-year thing; now they do it a few times during the season. Back when it started, they’d just have a camo jersey but stuck with their regular caps, helmets, underlsleeves, etc., so nothing matched. Over the years they’ve slowly added an olive-drab cap, olive undersleeves, olive helmets, etc. They’ve also switched from the green jungle camo to the tan desert camo.

“I’ve always found the whole thing very odd. Like, what if a player wants to be, shall we say, a conscientious objector?”