Month: October 2021

EP38: Democracy Dies in Snarkness (ft. Michael Tracey & Robert McChesney)

EP38: Democracy Dies in Snarkness (ft. Michael Tracey & Robert McChesney)

You can’t have a functioning democracy without a trusted media. That fact explains the state of U.S. democracy, at least in part. The United States has the lowest rate of media trust in the industrialized world, with just under a third of respondents in a 2020 Reuters poll saying they trust the media they consume. But whose fault is it? And, is the media even trustworthy? A string of failures suggest otherwise: weapons of mass destruction, the global financial crisis, Brexit, Russiagate, and plenty more. This week on Darts and Letters, we talk to two media critics about the shortcomings of the fourth estate.

  • First (@4:26), did Donald Trump break the brains of liberal journalists? Is hyper-partisanship a problem? Michael Tracey is an independent journalist on Substack sometimes called a “left heretic,” and he’s been calling out liberal orthodoxies around surveillance, censorship, and hysterical forms of anti-Trumpism. We discuss how the media changed during the Trump era, how it didn’t, and what that means. Oh, also, how Tom Morello and the New York Times are…WRITING IN THE NAME OF!!
  • Then (@33:52), it’s the political economy, stupid. Robert McChesney says cost-cutting and corporate conglomeration explain hyper-partisan elite media; because it’s cheaper for FOX and MSNBC to create political entertainment than to do actual reporting. McChesney is Research Professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He’s also the author of several books criticizing corporate media. He pursues a structural critique of the media that interrogates the values that journalists internalize and the range of debate journalists enable — or don’t — based on the owners of media, and the economic incentives that drive them.

——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING——————

—————————-SOME NEWS————————-

We’re excited to share that we’re now officially a part of the Harbinger Media Network. Harbinger is home to several left-wing podcasts in Canada, including Alberta Advantage, Nora Loreto’s Take Back the Fight, and Paris Marx’s Tech Won’t Save Us.

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW————————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content. For instance, next week we’ll have the full unedited video interview with Michael Tracey on our page for our Patreon subscribers. So, if you want to see that, join today.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also, we have a new YouTube channel, where some videos of these interviews will be available next week. The full uncut Michael Tracey interview will only be on Patreon, though (thanks, Patrons!).

If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop is our research assistant and wrote the show notes.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This is a production of Cited Media. And we are backed by academic grants that support mobilizing research and democratizing the concept of public intellectualism. The founding academic advisor of the program is Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

EP37: Save the Whales (ft. Torulf Jernstrom, Mary Flanagan & Maru Nihoniho)

EP37: Save the Whales (ft. Torulf Jernstrom, Mary Flanagan & Maru Nihoniho)

We’ll save the Moby Dick puns for the episode itself, but suffice it to say that sinister game developers are on a whale hunt. This episode is about the sophisticated psychological tactics they use to hunt and capture their prey. Free to play mobile games as glorified slot machines, in-game purchases even for triple-A titles, game design that keep gamers hooked to their rigs. These practices are often exploitative and, for some who fall victim to them, devastating. Some countries, like China, are pushing back. But their restrictions are overbearing and unlikely to work as people skirt the restrictions. There are better ways. On this episode of Darts and Letters, we take a journey to save the whales.

  • First (@11:38), habit loops, slot machine tactics, skinner boxes, and praying on the lizard brain. What’s wrong with that? Torulf Jernstrom is founder of Tribeflame, a Finish game development company that makes table and mobile games. He’s known for a 2016 conference presentation that was totally masks off. It was called “Let’s Go Whaling: Tricks for Monetising Mobile Game Players With Free-To-Play.” Gamers freaked out, calling him a scam artist and scum bag. But he doesn’t think he’s any worse than other developers; he just happened to be the one who said the quiet part out loud. We debate the morality of these practices.
  • Then (@33:25), we tack in a different direction and ask: Where do values fit into game design and development? Mary Flanagan is a radical developer, artist, and the Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College. She inquires into the politics of games, relations of power, who is represented, how, and what that says about a game — all the way down to the level of mechanics. She pushes developers to think about the fundamental values that drive their work, or not.
  • Finally (@50:29), some games exploit and undermine agency, but others empower players. Maru Nihoniho is a Maori game developer in New Zealand and the founder and managing director of Metia Interactive. Her games are designed to educate and help people — one of them is quite literally mental health treatment. She talks about how games can help us understand and navigate mental health and wellness.

——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING——————

—————————-SOME NEWS————————-

We’re excited to share that we’re joining the Harbinger Media Network. Harbinger is home to several left-wing podcasts in Canada, including Alberta Advantage, Nora Loreto’s Take Back the Fight, and Paris Marx’s Tech Won’t Save Us.

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW————————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also, we have a new YouTube channel, where some videos of these interviews will be available next week.

If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to our show wherever you get your podcasts.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn and our assistant producer this week was Jason Cohanim. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop is our research assistant and wrote the show notes.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research as part of a project that funded us to look at the politics of video games. It’s housed at the University of British Columbia & the University of Waterloo.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

EP36: Koch Block My Campus (ft. James L. Turk & Jasmine Banks)

EP36: Koch Block My Campus (ft. James L. Turk & Jasmine Banks)

Right wing money in academia is pervasive and influential. Libertarian-minded billionaires like the Kochs and their partners have funded scholars and think tanks across the US, and similar things go on in Canada too. The money shows us that the right spends it because they care about education. Maybe not in the classic way—higher learning, enlightenment, the pursuit of Truth or truth or whatever you want to call it. They care about education because they believe it can change the world. It’s an investment, and big money expects a return. Lucky for them, and unlucky for the rest of us, universities are happy to sell out. On this episode of Darts and Letters, we explore big money and its corrosive influence on academic freedom and academic integrity.

  • First (@7:22), just how far does the Koch network’s scholarly funding extend? Jasmine Banks is the executive director of UnKoch My Campus—a non-profit dedicated to identifying and the impact of investors and their dark money investments on higher education. She takes us through the role of dark money and wealthy investors in shaping campus life and, more broadly, the country and the world.
  • Then (@33:02), we look back on the long history of campuses for sale. Professor James L. Turk is the director of the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University and the former executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. He tells us stories of the right wing in academia—from the robber barons at the turn of the century, to the battles of today—and talks about how scholars and academic unions have pushed back.

——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING——————

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters. Patreon subscribers usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also, we have a new YouTube channel, where videos of these interviews will be available next week.

If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to our show wherever you get your podcasts.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn and our assistant producer this week was Jason Cohanim. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop is our research assistant and wrote the show notes. We had research and advising from Franklynn Bartol and Professor Marc Spooner.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of neoliberal educational reforms. Professor Marc Spooner at the University of Regina is the lead academic advisor.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

EP19: Seizing the Means of Run Production (ft. Dave Zirin of the Nation) [Rebroadcast]

EP19: Seizing the Means of Run Production (ft. Dave Zirin of the Nation) [Rebroadcast]

Programming note: It’s Major League Baseball postseason and Darts and Letters is (coincidentally) on a break this week. In honour of the playoffs, we’re running one of our favourite episodes — one fit for the season.

America’s national pastime is being taken over by a woke mob and a global communist cabal. So say the Republicans. If only…! Racism, conservative nostalgia, and economic exploitation is baked into the MLB. We discuss what’s wrong with baseball, why baseball matters, and what needs to be done to fix it.

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EP35: The Bland Corporation (ft. Daniel Bessner)

EP35: The Bland Corporation (ft. Daniel Bessner)

There’s a foreign policy intellectual blob that serves as the architects for empire. They’re at academic departments, quasi-academic think tanks, and places like the RAND Corporation–famously lampooned in Dr. Strangelove as the BLAND Corporation. These boring calculator men are part of why we have forever war. These people are part of a long tradition that sees citizens as a problem to be managed.

The national security state is particularly contemptuous of the people it ostensibly serves. Left, right, doesn’t matter. The technocrats rule, making life and death decisions for home and abroad. And if you don’t like it? Too bad. No one asked you anyway.

On this episode, host Gordon Katic speaks with Daniel Bessner, Associate Professor at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Relations at the University of Washington, author of Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual, and co-host of the podcast American Prestige. Daniel explains how the ideas and ideology of the technocratic national security state came to be, who carries them, and how the defense-intellectual complex keeps it standing from the media to quasi-academic think tanks to academic departments and beyond.

——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING——————

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also, we have a new YouTube channel featuring extended interviews with our guests. More to come! So subscribe today. 

If you’d like to write to us, email darts@citedmedia.ca or tweet Gordon directly. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to our show wherever you get your podcasts.

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW——————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on patreon.com/dartsandletters.

—————————-CREDITS—————————-

Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn. Our assistant producer is Ren Bangert. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop wrote the show notes and is a research assistant.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us with a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.