Media Follies 7/19/01

By Michael I. Niman


A Nickel of Dioxin

The spinmeisters at Rochester’s Eastman Kodak Corporation last week announced annual dioxin emissions of only 5 grams.  That’s about the weight of a Jefferson nickel.  Not bad, huh?  We could toss that baby out behind the garage and forget about it.  That is until somewhat like Mike Shade of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition does the math for us.  Dioxin is arguably up there with Plutonium as one of the two most deadly substances on the planet.  Any absorption into a human body will cause sickness, ranging from various cancers to diabetes.  There is no safe level of exposure to dioxin.  There is, according to the EPA, however, an acceptable annual individual dosage of dioxin.  Kodak’s nickel of dioxin, according to Shade, amounts to 19 billion acceptable annual doses of dioxin, or 25,000 for every resident of Rochester.   The burning of auto fuel, because of certain additives, also produces dioxin.  The total dioxin produces by all the cars in the U.S., by comparison, is roughly equivalent to Kodak’s 5 grams which are concentrated in Rochester.  Previously, Kodak officials admitted to releasing a “paperclip’s” weight in dioxin.  It’s time to cut the nonsense, and the dioxin.  Kodak deserves more media scrutiny.

Northern Lights

Back when Buffalo’s subway was constructed, planners hoped to highlight the Main Street pedestrian mall with a “laser clock” that would project colored laser beams into the sky.  The configuration of colors, according to the plan, would let us know what time it was.  The lights were to be visible for over 100 miles.  I’m not sure if it really ever was technologically feasible, but the idea was obscene.  It would have robed from us the beauty and serenity of the night sky.  Campers in the Allegheny National Forest and lovers on Toronto beaches alike would always know what time it was in Buffalo.  If the idea caught on, competing beams from other cities could have turned the sky into a blazing inescapable carnival of light.  Like other promises associated with the Subway, the laser clock never came to fruition.

It’s been more or less two decades since the laser clock idea was safely scrapped and forgotten, but the specter of an artificial light display in the night sky is back.  Buffalo residents looking towards the Peace Bridge can, depending on weather conditions, see four dancing beams of light, most visible under a canopy of clouds.  They come from an array of four spinning twirling spotlights mounted atop the Fort Erie Peace Bridge Duty Free Shop.  A spokesperson for the Duty Free shop proudly told Blue Dog Press that the display, mounted by crane on the roof the shop, was originally only scheduled to be there for the Friendship Festival.  So far, nothing unusual here.  For generations spotlights have marked festivals. Things got weird, however, after shop management started receiving “compliments” from motorists on the QEW who said the lights were visible for over 4 miles, an area that incidentally covers half of the city of Buffalo.  Shop managers then decided to keep the lights for the duration of the summer. 

 California might have their rolling blackouts but here in Greater Fort Erie we’re lighting the clouds.  Though less powerful and less obtrusive than the sci-fi laser clock, the idea is the same.  Our serene night sky is stolen from us, this time by four dancing beams of advertising; a luminous piper calling us to buy D-U-T-Y  F-R-E-E.  This is advertising media in its worst form.  It’s inescapable.  If zombies on the QEW truly are honing in on these hypnotic lights thinking the Duty Free Shop is the mother ship, if this crap actually works, expect imitations.  This is the true horror scenario; every pizza or video shop mounting their own light array, like a “bat signal” trying to lure their own zombie consumers.  I for one resent being reminded every night how I should be buying duty free.  Until the next bona fide festival, I want the night sky back.

Fox News – Right On!

Republican party financer Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel is nothing more than unabashed right wing corporate propaganda posing as news.  Run by former Papa Bush campaign strategist and conservative media guru Roger Ailes, biased news is the norm at Fox.  A recent study by the media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting drives the point home.  According to their report, 50 out of 56 political guests appearing during a recent five-month period on Fox’s signature Brit Humes show were Republicans.  The remaining six were Democrats, giving Republicans an 8-1 plurality with no independent voices.  During the same period avowed conservatives made up 71% of all guests on Fox’s Special Report program.  Guests were also 91% male and 93% white – hardly reflective of the diverse voices in America today.  Other Fox hosts have chosen particular “liberal” personalities to bash regularly.  Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly Factor has run 56 program segments attacking Jesse Jackson during the last three years.  This obsession amounts to one program out of 12.  O’Reilly’s frame of reality is so far skewed to the right that he reported Al Gore to running on a “quasi-socialistic platform” in the 2000 election.  Fox’s lineup of the World’s Scariest Political Talk Shows is just one more reason to turn the damn Tee Vee off and enjoy the Duty Free lights. 


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