I’m still Mr Angry, Irvine Welsh (writer of such works like Trainspotting and Porno). (Guardian UK)

•May 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’m still Mr Angry

The famously irascible novelist Irvine Welsh has rules about rage. Here, in typically forthright language, he tells how to get furious – and survive

Monday May 19, 2008
The Guardian

Irvine Welsh, July 2007
‘One solid left jab or headbutt forces the other party to consider a response’ … Irvine Welsh. Photograph: Nick Cunard/Rex Features
It’s been a long and occasionally painful life lesson, but I’ve learned that rage, like fear, is an emotion best denied public expression. I now seldom go in for that sort of outburst unless it’s absolutely essential. I believe in the truth of the old maxim: losing the rag usually means losing. In my youth, I recall several half-arsed fights spent rolling around in gutters with unremarkable strangers over some real or imagined petty slight that I’d either suffered or issued. With violence, like other things, you tend to find your own level, and I was a crap fighter who usually fought other crap fighters. Nonetheless, there’s something very demeaning about it. And it’s never a good idea to give away what makes you angry. It only encourages people to wind you up.

I’ve generally ceased challenging those who make racist remarks in pubs as I’ve realised that they tend to be simpletons. Most real racists (those with fascistic or supremacist beliefs) now have more sense than to do monkey chants or verbally abuse black footballers – at least in the UK. This is now solely the preserve of educationally subnormal half-wits, desperate for some sort of reaction. It’s better to either ignore them or laugh in a way that lets them know that they are the fitter target for derision.It’s interpersonal rage when the anger you have for some sort of injustice or state of affairs, piece of music or art (there’s always something to be enraged about) is manifested on a tangible human target. It needn’t be the obvious ones. If you’re anti-racist, the mealy-mouthed politician who babbles on with ceaseless insincerity about “multiculturalism” may just get your goat more than the thick bloater who makes a knee-jerk, bigoted remark. Similarly, if you detest global poverty, your anger might be directed at the self-sanctifying millionaire pop star preaching at you, before the silent, corporate Wasp-like businessman.

It seems strange that something as spontaneous and explosive as interpersonal rage should have rules, but it does. Here are some of mine.

Do not manufacture passions or hatreds

Rage hates a phoney – that’s why we detest so many professional pundits. We know that they live comfortable lives and don’t mean it. So be genuinely angry. Don’t let peer pressure or alcohol queer the pitch. There’s nothing worse than kicking off at somebody or something, then running out of steam. You’ll look like a real prick. I recall one journalist who slagged me off in print, then later fled in terror from a crowded room when I appeared. I didn’t know who he was and hadn’t even seen the abusive piece.

No large hammers for small nuts

Related to this, if the amount of rage you express is inappropriate or has the wrong target, then it will probably have unforeseen consequences. For example, if you lose your head and start screaming at a traffic warden, you may justify it as venting your anger against stupid rules, governments or the system. Other people in the street may only see a big, wealthy, arrogant bastard bullying somebody trying to do a difficult job for modest rewards.

Have something to back it up

Rage can lead to all sorts of dangerous places. Are you man/woman/crazy/stupid enough to go to them?

Have an exit strategy

You can’t change the person in front of you, and prolonging things means you (or they) are only going to get angrier and crazier.

After you’ve said your piece and vented your spleen, it might be time to walk away. Or run away, if you work for a certain newspaper.

If you must make contact with somebody, strike them rather than manhandle them

Otherwise, you end up rolling around in the street. One solid left jab or a headbutt forces the other party to consider a response. Most people will just go into shock at this point and that’s it over. The ones who don’t, well, see rule three above. When you wake up in hospital you’ll have plenty of time to deliberate about the increasing number of fellow citizens who do martial-arts training or carry weapons. So I’m not recommending violence, just stating that it’s a response to rage. But remember that this applies to others as well as yourself.

Rules, of course, will be broken. I recently had a wee confrontation in Miami Beach. Hands-up time: I detest cyclists who use the pavement. Obviously, I understand how dangerous the roads are in medieval UK cities, and if people are respectful I’ll tolerate it. But I will cheerfully admit to getting fucking heart-sick at (usually stupid, spoiled, rich) cunts who cycle down the sidewalks in the USA when America is all big, straight roads and careful drivers. Not only are the poncey wankers too shit-scared to drive on the road, they often expect you to get out of the way.

A few weeks ago some wankstain pedalled towards me at speed, ringing his stupid wee bell. This had happened before but this time I wasn’t for standing aside. In fact, my intent was to step back at the last minute, and lash out with the anticipation of separating him from his bike. Fortunately for us both, he was as cowardly in interpersonal encounters as he was in the face of the traffic and braked and swerved at the last minute, almost coming off over the handlebars. As I smiled in satisfied vindication, he regarded me in a bemused and irate manner. I cheerfully told him that if he’d made any contact with me I’d have dragged both him and his crappy fucking bike into the traffic. He retorted that I had anger management issues – they actually say things like that in Miami Beach, which kind of wants to be in California. Nonsense.

Nevertheless, and this is another reason why the expression of public, interpersonal rage is dodgy, I felt guilt creep in. The guy was obviously scared. He wasn’t the demon I had made him out to be, just a stupid youngish chap caught up in his own thoughts and selfishness. He’d go home feeling crap, debased, and a little humiliated. I fought the urge to patronise him with some dreadful speech about how that might make him think twice before cycling on the sidewalk. Further up the road, it struck me that he could have had a gun.

But I couldn’t help lose the plot, as this incident ticked all the boxes. Conceptual – riding on the pavement is plain wrong.

Practical – it’s dangerous, and should not be a hazard pedestrians face. The arrogance of the other party – ringing the bell, expecting me to stand aside. Another factor, however, was that I considered this guy to be patently confrontable, and let’s be honest, we make the judgment about the person as much as the situation. A harder-looking bastard, I would have thought twice. And that’s the real shame of it all; we like to think we treat everybody the same and that our rage is righteous and not about bullying, but that’s just the lie we tell ourselves to make us feel better.

So in the long-run, after the buzz of “putting somebody in their place” or “sticking up for myself” had worn down, it was an unsatisfying way of dealing with the situation. A few days later, I read about some local people who were gathering signatures for a petition on this issue, to present to the mayor’s office and the police department. So that’s the way forward: if things make you angry, make paperwork.

Would I do it again? Of course, the next time some muppet comes pedalling down a pavement expecting me to get out of his way. And that’s the problem with rage, it’s seldom a good idea, but often seems pretty damn excellent.

· Irvine Welsh’s latest novel, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, is published by Jonathan Cape/Vintage. His new novel, Crime, will be published in July. This article appeared in the Rage issue of quarterly arts journal the Drawbridge (thedrawbridge.org.uk)

· Do you have a story to tell about your life? Email it (no attachments please) to my.story@guardian.co.uk. If possible, include a phone number.

Isn’t anger critical to Irvine Welsh’s work? blogs.guardian.co.uk/arts


Senate Moves Forward on Orwellian “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” (dissidentvoice.com)

•May 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Senate Moves Forward on Orwellian “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act”

In the wake of Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins’ (R-ME) alarmist report, “Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorism Threat,” the Senate may be moving towards passage of the Orwellian “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007″ (S. 1959).

A companion piece of legislative flotsam to the House bill, “The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007″ (H.R. 1955), the Democrat-controlled Congress seems ready to jettison Constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. The bill passed the House by a 404-6 vote in October. Twenty-three congress members abstained, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers.

Under cover of studying “violent radicalization,” both bills would broaden the already-fluid definition of “terrorism” to encompass political activity and protest by dissident groups, effectively criminalizing civil disobedience and non-violent direct action by developing policies for “prevention, disruption and mitigation.”

Call it COINTELPRO 2.0.

Crafted by former House Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Jane Harman (D-CA), the legislation would create a domestic commission, a university-based “Center of Excellence” that would study and then, target domestic “radicalization” as a “threat” to the “homeland.”

David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martin’s University who studies state surveillance and the harassment of dissident scholars, told Jessica Lee of New York’s Indypendent newspaper last year that Harman’s bill “is a shot over the bow of environmental activists, animal-rights activists, anti-globalization activists and scholars who are working in the Middle East who have views that go against the administration.”

Evoking disquieting memories of political witchhunters ensconced in the House Committee on Un-American Activities and Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, the anti-radicalization commission would be empowered to “hold hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers advisable to carry out its duties.”

With the power to subpoena and compel testimony from anyone, the commission would create the (intended) impression that a person forced to publicly testify before a congressionally mandated star chamber must be involved in “subversive” or illegal activities.

According to Naomi Spencer,

The commission would be composed of appointees, one chosen each respectively by Bush, Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, the Senate and House majority and minority leaders, and by the ranking majority and minority members of the two congressional homeland security committees. Such a selection process would certainly result in an extremely right-wing panel.1

When one considers that elite consensus favoring “muscular” strategies for fighting “terror”–homegrown or otherwise–emerge during a period when the Bush regime has illegally wiretapped phone calls, sifted e-mails, spied on political and religious organizations, and conducted extensive data mining of financial and other personal records, it becomes clear that the corporate police state is shifting into high-gear in a desperate move to criminalize ideological “thought crimes.”

The intent of the proposed legislation, however, goes far beyond an academic exercise. According to Jessica Lee, Harman stated that “the National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.”

In the context of the post-Constitutional “New Normal” paradigm, Harman and her acolytes evoke images of Philip K. Dick’s Department of Precrime in his dystopian novella, The Minority Report. Only here, in the bizarro world of outsourced “homeland security,” mutant precogs are replaced by high-end–and taxpayer funded–data-miners, psychological profilers and social network analysts in the employ of dodgy security firms linked to America’s military-intelligence complex.

The legislation specifically singles out the Internet as a “weapon” for domestic radicalization. When she introduced her bill to the Senate last November, Harman remarked, “There can be no doubt: the Internet is increasingly being used as a tool to reach and radicalize Americans and legal residents.”

Equating America’s web-surfacing habits with the threat of ideological infection by Islamist pod-people, Harman avers that the Internet allows Americans “to become indoctrinated by extremists and to learn how to kill their neighbors … from the comfort of their own living rooms.”

(Britney, Paris, better move over… there’s a new truck-bombing instructional posted over on YouTube! OMG!)

Harman’s ludicrous pronouncement is considerably ramped-up by the Lieberman and Collins report, based on–what else– “expert testimony” during hearings held by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Lieberman and Collins claim that,

…the report assesses the federal government’s response to the spread of the violent Islamist message on the Internet and concludes that there is no cohesive and comprehensive outreach and communications strategy in place to confront this threat. The report does not discuss relevant classified tools and tactics employed by the law enforcement and intelligence communities, but does recognize that there is no plan to harness all possible resources including adopting new laws, encouraging and supporting law enforcement and the intelligence community at the local, state, and federal levels, and more aggressively implementing an outreach and counter-messaging campaign on the Internet and elsewhere.

In other words, “independent” Democrat Lieberman and “maverick Republican” Collins are proposing new “tools” for regulating the Internet through a counter-propaganda campaign that would create “message force multipliers” that “support law enforcement” initiatives to crush the radical “threat.”

By targeting the Internet, House and Senate thought police claim that “the Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

But as the American Civil Liberties Union wrote last week,

Experience has demonstrated that in the event of a terrorist attack, the results of this report will likely be used to recommend the use of racial, ethnic and religious profiling. This will only heighten, rather than decrease, the spread of extremist violence. As an organization dedicated to the principles of freedom of speech, we cannot in good conscience support this report or any measure that might lead to censorship and persecution based solely on one’s personal beliefs.

The ACLU is concerned that identifying the Internet as a tool for terrorists will lead to censorship and regulated speech — especially since the Internet has become an essential communications and research tool for everyone. Indeed, some policy makers have advocated shutting down objectionable websites in violation of the First Amendment. It is an unworkable solution.2

Precisely. But wait, there’s more! Citing the New York City Police Department (NYPD) as “experts” in the area of “homegrown radicalism,” the report avers:

After more than two years of research into homegrown terrorism cases in the United States and around the world, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) developed a model to explain how this core enlistment message, and the “jihadi-Salafi” ideology that provides the foundation for that message, drive the domestic radicalization process — transforming “unremarkable people” into terrorists.

Perhaps Lieberman and Collins should have consulted the family of Sean Bell as to the NYPD’s “expertise” on analogous crime “modeling.” Murdered by trigger-happy cops after a bachelor party the morning of his wedding, Bell’s life was snuffed-out after he and his friends were shot some 50 times. The cops–surprise!–were recently found “not guilty” on all counts by a New York judge.

We can dismiss senatorial allusions to NYPD’s acumen in the area of “counterterrorist analysis” with the contempt it deserves. But let’s be clear on one thing: the sole purpose of the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” is to target the American people’s constitutionally-protected right to say No.

If the U.S. House and Senate care to examine the “root causes” of terrorism today, they need look no further than the on-going U.S. slaughter in Iraq–a “preemptive” war of choice to which they infamously gave their consent with eyes wide open.

Scientology Spokesman Lies ‘His Ass Off’ on CNN (Ralph from Disinfo.com)

•May 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

CNN’s John Roberts interviews Scientology Spokesman Tommy Davis live on CNN on May 7 2008. In the interview, Davis lies about Scientology’s greatest noisemaking opponent ‘Anonymous’, claims that “Disconnection” (the practice of forcing new members to sever all existing ties) is not an official Cult policy, and pretends that he’s never heard of the OT-III doctrine of Thetans (or parasitic alien ghosts, i.e meet Xenu).

Anti-foreigner violence escalates in South Africa (Reuters)

•May 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

(Picture or Riots, many S. Africans going against immigrants from Zimbabwe)

(photo from BBC NEWS)

By Paul Simao 36 minutes ago

A wave of xenophobic attacks escalated in South Africa’s seething townships on Monday, with mobs beating foreigners and setting some ablaze in scenes reminiscent of apartheid era violence.

The unrest has killed at least 22 people since last week and increased political instability at a time South Africa is struggling with dire power shortages, rising inflation and growing disaffection among the poor with pro-business policies.

Police fired rubber bullets at rioters in communities around Johannesburg and in the central business district.

Armed with knives, clubs and jugs of petrol, the mobs targeted mostly Zimbabweans and Mozambicans, the biggest groups among immigrants who are accused by the poor of taking jobs and fuelling the high rate of violent crime.

Women were raped, shops and homes looted and dozens of shacks burnt to the ground. Scores have been arrested.

“This is a war,” said Lucas Zimila, a 60-year-old Mozambican man who was attacked by a machete-wielding mob while sleeping in his shack in Tembisa, north of Johannesburg, on Sunday night.

“They screamed at me to get out, that I didn’t belong here. Then they burned everything in my house,” said Zimila, who suffered a five-inch gash in his head. He said five people were killed in the community last weekend.

The unrest is an embarrassment for South Africa, which has vaunted its tolerance since the end of apartheid and hopes to encourage foreign visitors for the soccer World Cup in 2010.

The violence is an indicator of growing anger among those who complain they have been left out by President Thabo Mbeki’s policies to promote business and investment. Investors are already worried by growing labor influence in the ruling ANC since Mbeki lost the leadership in December to rival Jacob Zuma.

The foreign-born residents say that far from being criminals they are more often the victims of crime. Several told Reuters organized criminals were using the xenophobic violence as cover to rob and loot.

“We want the army here. The police can’t protect us,” said Beto Inancio, another Mozambican in Tembisa township.


South African newspapers carried photos of a man who was set alight by a mob on the weekend. Callers to radio stations urged authorities to impose curfews and bring in the army to restore order in some of the most violent areas.

The scenes recalled troubles in the townships during apartheid when black liberation activists fought the white minority government’s security forces and rival factions. Suspected informants were sometimes burnt to death.

Mbeki and Zuma have called for an end to the violence.

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela also weighed in, saying he was saddened by rising hatred of foreigners. His Nelson Mandela Foundation issued a statement deploring the attacks and said it was helping children affected by the violence.

Hundreds of immigrants have taken refuge in police stations, churches and government offices.

“It’s getting worse. They keep coming here because this is a safe place,” said Simon Ramollo, a community activist who was arranging bedding and meals for about 200 foreigners who sought shelter at a community centre.

There are an estimated three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, most as a result of an economic collapse at home. The violent political crisis since disputed March 29 elections gives little incentive to return home.

Foreigners from poorer African countries have been lured by work in South Africa’s mines, farms and homes, and by one of the world’s most liberal immigration and refugee policies.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party in South Africa, on Monday blamed Mbeki’s government for failing to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the waves of migrants that have entered the country in the last quarter of a century.

(Editing by Marius Bosch and Matthew Tostevin)

(Top: Pictures of at least to bodies burned and Bottom:of one of the 50 people brought into the hospotal with gunshot or stab wounds)
(photos from BBC NEWS)

Penguins Defeat Flyers in Eastern Conference, on track for Stanley Cup. (AP)

•May 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Sid and The Kids are off to the Stanley Cup finals, thanks to a dominating run by a younger-than-young Pittsburgh Penguins team that has taken only two seasons to transform itself from one of the NHL’s worst to one of its best. the one Penguins player with firsthand memories of the team’s two previous Stanley Cup appearances, scored twice and set up a third goal and Pittsburgh routed Philadelphia 6-0 Sunday to win the Eastern Conference finals.

The Penguins, dominating Game 5 from the start with Malone and Evgeni Malkin scoring in the first 10 minutes, will play the winner of the Detroit-Dallas series for the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings take a 3-2 series lead into Dallas for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.

“It’s unbelievable just to realize we’re four wins away,” defenseman Ryan Whitney said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet that these next few games are the Stanley Cup finals.”

Marian Hossa had a goal and three assists and Sidney Crosby, the 20-year-old captain of a team that was the Eastern Conference’s worst two seasons ago, added two assists. Jordan Staal, only 19, scored his third goal in two games and fourth of the series. Pascal Dupuis, an Atlanta teammate of Hossa’s before the two were dealt to Pittsburgh at the trading deadline, also scored.

Pittsburgh, one of the youngest teams to play for a championship in any major pro sport, goes for the Cup for the first time since 1992, when Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux – long before he bought the team – led the Penguins to their second title in two seasons. Malone was the only current Penguins player who was there, along for the ride as the 12-year-old son of then-Penguins scouting director and former player Greg Malone.

“Never, never would have thought it,” Ryan Malone said of someday playing for the Cup himself. “I don’t think I realized until my junior year of college (at St. Cloud State) I would have a chance to play pro hockey. … It’s pretty special, pretty special and I definitely feel privileged.”

By the time Dupuis made it 6-0 about 4 minutes into the third period, the Penguins were conjuring up memories of their first Cup run in 1991, when they beat Minnesota 8-0 in Game 6 of the finals to secure their first Stanley Cup.

Crosby was presented with the conference championship trophy, but it remained on the presentation table at mid-ice as neither Crosby nor any other Penguins player touched it. By superstition, most teams decline to handle any trophy unless it’s the Stanley Cup.

Crosby said, “We all realized it’s not the one we want to be holding.”

“We want the big trophy,” Hossa said.

For the overachieving Flyers, it was a disappointingly bad finish to an unexpectedly good season. Last in the NHL overall standings last season, they made a series of productive offseason moves to rebuild in a hurry and not only made the playoffs, but upset third-seeded Washington and top-seeded Montreal before losing in the first all-Pennsylvania conference finals.

“We’re not happy with the score, but in the end if it’s 2-1 or 3-1, we still lost,” defenseman Derian Hatcher said. “The botttom line is they beat us and they’re a good team. We’re not going to make excuses, we lost to a good team. For where we were last year to this point, the team has made a huge turnaround.”

The Flyers fell behind in the series 3-0, just as Ottawa and the New York Rangers did in Pittsburgh’s previous two series, as the Penguins needed only 14 games to reach the Cup finals. They are 12-2 in the postseason and 8-0 in 47-year-old Mellon Arena, the NHL’s oldest arena but one that will host at least one more finals before the Penguins move into a new arena across the street in about two years.

Intensive arena negotiations with local and state leaders took years to complete before being finalized 15 months ago, and ownership flirted with moving the club if a building deal wasn’t done.

Now, the Penguins have won their last 16 at home dating to the regular season, not losing there since a shootout loss to San Jose on Feb. 24.

What a transformation for a Penguins team that had four consecutive last-place teams from 2002-06, allowing the franchise to draft key components such as Crosby, the 21-year-old Malkin and 23-year-old goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. In any other major pro sport, most or all would likely be in college or the minors due to their age.

Fleury, like Crosby a No. 1 draft pick when Greg Malone was running the Penguins’ draft, made 21 saves in yet another impressive performance and is 22-4-1 since late November.

“I think there was a great head scout there at the time,” Malone said, laughing, referring to his dad’s contributions.

Greg Malone didn’t get to watch his son’s big game Sunday, as the Coyotes scout was in Phoenix for organizational meetings.

Malone got a power-play goal with only 2 1/2 minutes gone off Crosby’s pass from the right point, then created the Penguins’ second goal midway through the first. He outfought goalie Martin Biron for the puck behind the net, with Biron losing his stick, then made a backward pass so Malkin could reach around and stuff it inside the post.

“They came out strong and we didn’t match their intensity, I don’t know what is was, it was one of those games where they had it and we didn’t,” the Flyers’ Mike Richards said.

The Penguins are winning with a commitment to defense that often was lacking with a franchise that has long had a preference for goal scorers such as Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr rather than goal stoppers. They’re also winning with a coach, Michel Therrien, who was hired by previous management and, despite overseeing the fourth-best single-season turnaround in NHL history only last season, was given only a one-year contract extension.

“They have strong goaltending and good forwards and their defense is underrated,” Richards said. “They play a very good defensive game.”

Philadelphia welcomed back All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who missed the first four games of the series with a blood clot on his left ankle, but even he couldn’t make a difference as the Penguins put this one away early. They led 3-0 before the midpoint of the second period as Hossa scored his ninth of the postseason. By then, the sellout crowd of 17,132 was alternating its familiar “Let’s Go Pens” chants with “Go Home Flyers.”

Notes: Malkin and linemate Petr Sykora played after missing practice Saturday with undisclosed illnesses. Malkin, who also has nine playoff goals, hadn’t scored since Game 1 of the series. … Pittsburgh is 10-0 in the playoffs when it scores first. … Philadelphia has lost six in a row and 11 of 12 in Pittsburgh, counting the regular season.

Associated Press

Three star selections:
Winning Goaltender:
Marc-Andre Fleury
Losing Goaltender:
Martin Biron

Set Up a Pirate Radio Station (Wired News)

•May 18, 2008 • 1 Comment

Set Up a Pirate Radio Station

Photo by  believekevin on Flickr 

Photo by believekevin on Flickr

Ah, Christian Slater. In 1990 you hijacked your local airwaves (and our hearts) in Pump Up The Volume. Now thanks to the free flow of information on the web, anyone can start their own pirate radio station. Here’s all you need to become your city’s favorite underground shock jock.

This article is a wiki. Got extra advice? Log in and add it.




A Word on Legality Issues

Depending on where you are in the world, there are a few different things that make pirate broadcasts illegal. The cardinal sin stateside (as far as the FCC is concerned) is broadcasting on unlicensed radio spectrum. Although the FCC is often a buzzkill, in many ways its rules regarding pirate broadcasts make sense. If a high powered transmitter lands in the hands of a reckless amateur, all sorts of havoc can be wreaked on local radio communication. This can not only cause problems in the public safety sector (fire, police, emergency services), but it’s also likely to disrupt the transmissions of legit broadcasters who actually paid for their chunk of licensed spectrum.

Also, there’s the issue of royalties. Setting up your own “All ‘Aqualung,’ All the Time” station might sound great, but if your transmission is located it’s likely that the record industry will want a piece of the action. Depending on how flagrant the offense, pirate broadcasters can be hit with a combination of back royalties and fines — and that’s on top of financial beating the FCC dishes out. Naturally, we wouldn’t condone illegal conduct of this type, but we imagine that this information might be useful for hobbyists.

Yes. Hobbyists.

Step 1: Develop a Broadcast Format

Having a general concept for the content you’re going to broadcast is not only important for sanity’s sake. Knowing whether you’ll be broadcasting voice or music can have a bearing on how you develop your studio. Want to run a music-heavy show? You’re probably going to want to broadcast in stereo and on the FM band. Punditry and talk radio more your speed? You’ll be able to get by on AM transmissions, but you’re going to want to pay special attention to properly equalizing your equipment for voice.

TIP: Does the notion of a live mic and listeners make you antsy? You might want to consider recording your broadcast ahead of time to avoid some of the headaches of live broadcasts. This may prove a boon if you’re new to mixing and audio production. It not only gives a mulligan for misspoken words and awkward transitions, but you can also perfect little mixing tricks like smoothly fading between songs.

Step 2: Assemble Your Studio

With a general format in tow, you should be ready to start collecting equipment. The technically inclined can go the distance with a DIY kit, but rookies are probably better off hitting up amateur publications and websites to find the right gear. Although there’s lots of room for customization, the outcome is basically the same — you’re looking to chain together components that filter, convert, and broadcast your audio signal. Your gear will breakdown into three categories:

2a. Audio Sources

Aim for quality, but any old DJ setup will do. Photo by  celesteh on Flickr 

Aim for quality, but any old DJ setup will do. Photo by celesteh on Flickr

Choices can run the gamut here. Everything from 8-tracks, tape decks, turn tables, mics, CD Players, and MP3 players fit the bill. Practically anything people used to play music in the last 30 years should work, as long you’re able to plug it into a mixer. In terms of size, programming playlists, and capacity, the MP3 player is an ideal quick and dirty starting point.

2b. Mixing Equipment & Filters

Keep that signal clean. Photo by  Unhindered by Talent on Flickr 

Keep that signal clean. Photo by Unhindered by Talent on Flickr

Love the sound of your own voice? Rest assured, it probably doesn’t sound as great over the airwaves. The best way to clean up your audio signal is by employing a combination of mixers, filters, limiters, and compressors. It’s a little daunting with the number of accessories on the market, but the goal should be two-fold. On one hand you want to clean up your overall sound, but you also need to do so while keeping broadcast harmonics in check. Without both of these issues attended to, you’re liable to sound like crap, interrupt neighboring frequencies, and attract unwanted attention.

2c. Transmission equipment

Transmitting equipment is like the pulse of your rig. In fact, the transmitter itself is what ‘modulates’ audio over your chosen frequency, effectively making it fit for broadcasting via an antenna. Ideally, you’re looking for a transmitter equipped with a Variable Frequency Oscillator (VFO). The advantage of this feature is being able to move your broadcast to any frequency supported by the transmitter. It might sound extraneous now, but having the ability to change broadcast frequencies can come in handy if you’re prone to moving your studio, or running from the FCC.

You’re also going to want to be on the lookout for gear like radio frequency amplifiers, coaxial cable (RG-8 or RG-58U), and antennas — at least if you want your broadcast to be heard beyond your neighborhood. The amateur radio market is flooded with options, so finding equipment that suits your desired range shouldn’t be too difficult. Be careful though — if the FCC goes looking for the source of your transmission, the first house they’re going to check is the one with the 40 ft. antenna in the backyard. Buy smart, and if possible, operate discreetly.

TIP: Getting all of this equipment to work perfectly on the first try is close to impossible. Your best bet is to do extensive research on the equipment combinations you’ve chosen, and chain the components together one at a time. Joining an online broadcaster community like the one at Free Radio Network isn’t a bad idea, especially if you think you’ll need a sounding board.

Step 3: Find an Open Frequency

Photo by  celesteh on Flickr 

Photo by celesteh on Flickr

Finding dead air is extremely important. After all, the moment you start interrupting legal transmissions is the moment other broadcasters start asking questions. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as turning on your ghetto blaster and finding static. The best way to dig up some open frequencies is to hit the web. Radio-locator is one of our favorite search tools, but if you’re prone to getting your hands dirty, you can fire up your rig and do some recon of the local frequencies.

Keep in mind that even though there’s tons of traffic flying through the air at any given moment, only a specific range is designated for “regular” radio broadcasts. For AM this spans 540kHz to 1700kHz, and for FM, 88.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz. If you pick a frequency outside this range, you’re likely to interfere with television, or even air traffic control broadcasts. After you find a few open frequencies within the specified range, be sure to listen in regularly for activity. Pirated shows are known for hopping around, so make sure your prospects don’t butt in on another pirate’s, er…hobbyist’s turf.

Step 4: Test Out Your Broadcast

Once you’ve found a couple of candidates, it’s time to take your broadcast for a test run. While running a test broadcast make sure that all input levels are within a reasonable range, and that you’re achieving the desired tone. It’s not uncommon for there to be some residual hum, but you should be able to track its source by checking your components one by one and using deductive reasoning. Once your test is running smoothly from the helm, you might want to check out your frequency range (and possible interference) by grabbing a radio and doing some traveling around town. If you can hear elements of your broadcast coming through on neighboring stations, then you’ve got a problem. Otherwise, you should be all set.

Step 5: Keep the Authorities Guessing

For a lot of radio pirates, gaining exposure through loyal listeners is the big draw for setting up a station. But keep in mind that the more exposed you are, the more likely you are to garner unwanted attention. Long and symmetrically scheduled broadcasts on the same frequencies can be a recipe for trouble, so make sure to mix things up. Never give out any personal information, location data, or landmarks over the air. If you were savvy enough to build a mobile rig, even better. After all, it’s harder to catch a moving target.

Rochelle News– ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Delta bluesman, outlasts them all (AP)

•May 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment


By CHRIS TALBOTT, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 59 minutes ago

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — With his 93rd birthday a month away, David “Honeyboy” Edwards admits it’s getting hard to walk long distances.

Fortunately for the man believed to be the oldest surviving Delta bluesman, fans and admirers never let him walk more than a few feet at a time. Every few steps, someone wants to shake his hand, offer a gift or share news of common friends.

“It’s like this everywhere we go,” Edwards’ manager, Michael Frank, said during the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation ceremony Friday to honor the Shaw native. “He can’t walk through a crowded room.”

Edwards has a legacy that almost no living musician can match, and as the last Delta bluesman still standing he has found himself in demand. In the past year alone, he has released a new album, won Grammy and Handy Awards, appeared in “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” and done interviews for three documentaries due out in 2009 and 2010.

With all the activity, though, Edwards finds he is often tired these days. He was in Tunica on Thursday for the Blues Music Awards, in Jackson on Friday, and in Crystal Springs on Saturday to play a festival on a bill that included Pinetop Perkins, one of the few musicians who can claim to have known Edwards when he was a young man.

Edwards, who turns 93 on June 28, will get a day to rest when he returns to Chicago, and then it’s off to Europe for 10 dates. He still plays about 70 gigs a year and the calls keep coming.

Even among the footloose group of blues musicians who gained fame in the 1930s and ’40s, Edwards was known for his far-ranging travels.

“When I was young, I was everywhere,” Edwards said.

Edwards learned the guitar growing up in Shaw, started playing professionally at age 17 in Memphis and by the 1950s had played with almost every bluesman of note — Tommy Johnson, Charlie Patton, Big Joe Williams, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters — across the decades.

Edwards was honored by the Johnson foundation along with the late Ike Zinnerman, who is believed to be the teacher who helped Johnson become the envy of his fellow bluesmen and a touchstone for a generation of rock ‘n’ roll musicians.

Though much time has passed, little about Edwards’ style has changed. His latest album, “Roamin’ and Ramblin’,” offers the kind of music Edwards would have played as he traveled first the Delta, then the region.

“Blues ain’t never going anywhere,” Edwards said. “It can get slow, but it ain’t going nowhere. You play a lowdown dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain’t dead but I’m just supposed to be blues. You can take that same blues, make it uptempo, a shuffle blues, that’s what rock ‘n’ roll did with it. So blues ain’t going nowhere. Ain’t goin’ nowhere.”