Prostitutes and Sex Slaves!

The most memorable part of McLuhan’s chapter The Photograph from Understanding Media is undoubtedly the quote, “[Photographs] can be bought and hugged and thumbed more easily than public prostitutes.” The subtitle to this chapter is ‘The Brothel Without Walls’ because of the analogies McLuhan makes between the sale of prostitutes and the sale of photographs of people.

Enter the nerdcore hip-hop (I bet you didn’t know that was a subgenre) band Optimus Rhyme from Seattle, Washington and their song Click-Click which appears on their album Transformed.

Their song is about the paparazzi industry / stalking. It really highlights the fact that photographs can be taken without permission very easily that McLuhan doesn’t really address. Whereas a woodcut or lithograph could also be reproduced to some extent, they took significant time to create the original, so if you were depicting a person, you would need them to sit still and cooperate. Photographs on the other hand can be taken in less than a second and very discreetly.

If modeled photographs are akin to prostitution, then paparazzi is essentially sex slavery. The subjects cannot do anything to prevent being turned into a photograph and then thumbed by people around the world.

So in that light, buying celebrity gossip magazines goes from a harmless waste of money to something rather worse. Those who buy such magazines are taking advantage of the celebrities who did not choose to appear in the photographs. Rape.

…Somewhere that escalated drastically. Is buying People Magazine as bad as rape? No, not even close. So, McLuhan’s analogy sounds nice, but doesn’t quite make sense (Shocking). All analogies fall apart somewhere, and this one is an issue of magnitude. They progress similarly, prostitution and photography, but at different levels of immorality.

Writing About Phonographs

Hey everyone! Just a few days left to help out in the fight against lung disease- asthma, lung cancer, COPD, etc… If you want to pitch in a few dollars or are just not sure what I’m talking about at all, go check out my post from last week.


McLuhan is back and this time he’s writing about phonographs. A ‘hot’ medium, though I would argue also a time biased medium, the phonograph gave us the ability to record sounds for the future just as books had once given us the ability to record words. McLuhan takes the stance that they, “diminished individual vocal activity, much as the car had reduced pedestrian activity.

Some comparison is made in his piece about how radios and phonographs were different, but I think there is more to be said. McLuhan praised the radio as having brought people back together despite it being a hot medium, but now considers the phonograph to take away from creativity by repeating yesterday’s news. Perhaps the operation of radios has changed a bit since McLuhan wrote Understanding Media, but what I hear on the radio nowadays is mostly recorded sounds. Music is recorded, commercials are recorded, even some of the radio announcers are recorded. I know this hasn’t always been the case, since radio was invented before audio recording, but I reckon it has been true for a while now.

Although we haven’t gotten to read McLuhan’s take on television yet, it has been hinted that he was a fan of what is such a cool medium. How could he be a supporter of television? Most television programs are prerecorded! Something is fishy about this McLuhan guy, and I’m not talking about his nationality. His categorization of hot and cool makes sense, but how he chooses which media to be the good guys and which to be the bad guys is rather unpredictable.

Physics is Cool Too Sometimes

Hi everyone. If you didn’t see it, go check out my previous blog post really quickly. It’ll make you can be a better person in just 5 minutes.


Now back to the action. In chapter 2 of Alten’s Audio in Media, he discusses various physical properties sound has such as frequency, velocity, and wavelengths. He also introduces a few phenomena that occur as a result of these properties. One such phenomenon is the Doppler Effect which he doesn’t really explain.

To learn more about the Doppler Effect, I went over to YouTube to see if Khan Academy had a video on the Doppler Effect.

Guess what?

He do.

The video talks about how a moving source of sound causes a stationary listener to hear different frequencies of sound- higher frequency if the source is moving towards you and lower frequency if it is moving away from you.

I’m sure you’ve all heard a siren from a police car/ firetruck/ ambulance as it passes you, but if you’ve never really paid attention to it before, you can rewatch that video. Alten and the Khan Academy dood do a good job helping me understand how sound waves move and how velocity, frequency, and wavelengths are all interconnected with how we hear sound.

Do You Know Someone With Asthma??

Howdy All! This post isn’t related to communication other than that I am using our communications class to contact y’all.

On March 19th I am registered to participate in the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb to raise money for lung disease research.

I know you know someone with lung disease. Help me help them- stop on by my fundraising page and please donate some money.

Would you rather spend $10 to help your friends and family get over a shitty disease like asthma, or buy yourself like 2 drinks at the bar?? Remember, only you can prevent forest fires: both real and metaphorical.

The Semiotics of Weightlifting

(The perfect article for this post came up in my RSS feed earlier this week, so I planned what I was going to post all week before I realized I was assigned to do an AR and not an RR… I’m just going to make this RR anyway, but y’all can find my AR over here.)

For those of you who don’t know and didn’t watch the video there, the sport of Weightlfting (one-word, capitalized) refers to the strength sport practiced in the Olympics where athletes attempt to lift as much weight over their head as possible which is not standing on a stage in a speedo and making poses to show off your muscles.

As you can see in the above video around 0:14-0:17, Lydia Valentin does a thing where she pushes her knees forwards a bit which seems a bit strange since she had just put in a lot of effort to straighten them. Here’s Ilya Ilyin doing the same thing at 0:10-0:12:

That phenomemon has been called many names: ‘scoop’, ‘transition’, ‘second pull’, or worst of all ‘double-knee bend’. This article from the Catalyst Athletics blog discusses the existence of a ‘double knee bend’.

There are coaches out there who do not like to coach their athletes to do a double-knee bend. Weightlifting is a very technical sport, so the less an athlete has to think about during their lifts, the better and the double-knee bend should be a natural movement. It’s hard to see it in real time, but it is there in this amazing video:

Even though different coaches are all trying to get their athletes to do the same basic thing, different coaching styles and different phrases used are interpreted so differently that some receivers don’t even realize the truth of the movement.

The semiotics involved in the encoding and decoding of a message can have effects upon the real world. Even though the coach has a definite image of what they want their athletes to do, he cannot just put that image into his athlete’s heads and so must rely on a transmission through speech.

Transmitting my Analysis

The transmission model at its most basic is: Sender ➙ Message ➙ Receiver. So far, the prevailing opinion of Grossman, Hall, Sachs, and Comm-125 at SMC has been to push this model to the side for being to simplistic and not doing a good job of covering the scope of communication. Grossman finds it unfair to give the rights of the meaning of a message to any one sender, but I would argue that this dismissal of the transmission model fails to take into account the depth possible from the more complex transmission model presented in Hall’s image on his page 510.

No, I didn't infringe any copyrights

Shannon & Weaver Model of Transmission

This model is stronger than it appears at first. Let’s consider my message in this blog post (of which I am the sole author). I, the sender, am encoding it into html, it is passing through the channel of the internet (and my poor coding html-skillz), decoded by your computer, and finally received by you with hopefully the same message. This seems to be the standard way to use the transmission model. But wait! Let’s take a step back and try again…

How about I, the sender, have an analysis of this week’s reading in my head, then I encode it into a written form, it passes through various channels into your mind, where you decode what you read and receive some message.

How is that different or more simplistic than what Grossman and Hall described? Shannon’s model not only works for interpersonal communication, but can be expanded to fit mass communication or network communication, can be used for discussion in a communications course about the meaning of messages, and most importantly is extremely useful for coding theory for those of us who care about how messages are transmitted along with how they are interpreted.