History of Pie-Throwing

David Sarno collects from Youtube an assortment of famous pie-throwing incidents.

The green terrorist group Greenwash Guerillas claims credit for throwing a pie at columnist New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Way to go, guys!  Just as many environments are attempting genuine environmental reform, student-led groups are out there trivializing the movement and all it stands for.

Greenwash, if you remember, is a corporation’s attempt to whitewash their image with symbols of ecology to ease people’s conscience. The most conspicuous example in Texas in TXU, whose commercials show lovely fields and talk of “clean coal technology” even though no such technology exists and TXU is derived mainly from dirty-scummy coal.

I’ve had a theory about political cultures.  The heart of right-wing politics is  found in talk radio and pseudo-religious gatherings. The heart of left-wing politics is  found (at an elite level) in blogs and (at a populist level) at protests and rallies.

Update: A reader Sarah E. contributes a great article by Nate Silver  about right-wing radio, with this quote:

… the distinguishing feature of radio is that it exists in a sort of perpetual amnesiac state. In a book, you can go back and read the previous page; on the Internet, you can press the ‘back’ button on the browser. In radio, there is no rewind: everything exists in that moment and that moment only. This is, theoretically, a problem with television too, but in televison you at least have context clues — graphics and what not, and what falls under the heading of “non-verbal communication”. In radio you do not. Just a sine wave in the ether.

Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they’re in the process of doing something else. (If they weren’t doing something else, they’d be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes — and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of “stimulating” the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio!

(See also: the David Foster Wallace piece about Talk radio. It’s long and kind of meandering, but it delves successfully into the intricacies of the radio business.  Here’s a sample insight:

To appreciate these skills and some of the difficulties involved, you might wish to do an experiment. Try sitting alone in a room with a clock, turning on a tape recorder, and starting to speak into it. Speak about anything you want—with the proviso that your topic, and your opinions on it, must be of interest to some group of strangers who you imagine will be listening to the tape. Naturally, in order to be even minimally interesting, your remarks should be intelligible and their reasoning sequential—a listener will have to be able to follow the logic of what you’re saying—which means that you will have to know enough about your topic to organize your statements in a coherent way. (But you cannot do much of this organizing beforehand; it has to occur at the same time you’re speaking.) Plus, ideally, what you’re saying should be not just comprehensible and interesting but compelling, stimulating, which means that your remarks have to provoke and sustain some kind of emotional reaction in the listeners, which in turn will require you to construct some kind of identifiable persona for yourself—your comments will need to strike the listener as coming from an actual human being, someone with a real personality and real feelings about whatever it is you’re discussing. And it gets even trickier: You’re trying to communicate in real time with someone you cannot see or hear responses from; and though you’re communicating in speech, your remarks cannot have any of the fragmentary, repetitive, garbled qualities of real interhuman speech, or speech’s ticcy unconscious “umm”s or “you know”s, or false starts or stutters or long pauses while you try to think of how to phrase what you want to say next. You’re also, of course, denied the physical inflections that are so much a part of spoken English—the facial expressions, changes in posture, and symphony of little gestures that accompany and buttress real talking. Everything unspoken about you, your topic, and how you feel about it has to be conveyed through pitch, volume, tone, and pacing. The pacing is especially important: it can’t be too slow, since that’s low-energy and dull, but it can’t be too rushed or it will sound like babbling.

Wow, I just see that the article has footnotes as popups. See a few:

It is, of course, much less difficult to arouse genuine anger, indignation, and outrage in people than it is real joy, satisfaction, fellow feeling, etc. The latter are fragile and complex, and what excites them varies a great deal from person to person, whereas anger et al. are more primal, universal, and easy to stimulate (as implied by expressions like “He really pushes my buttons”).

For instance, one has only to listen to Coast to Coast With George Noory‘s ads for gold as a hedge against hyperinflation, special emergency radios you can hand-crank in case of extended power failure, miracle weight-loss formulas, online dating services, etc., to understand that KFI and the syndicator regard this show’s audience as basically frightened, credulous, and desperate. (i.e, (ad-wise, a lucrative triad indeed).






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