Saturday, March 29, 2008

Speaking of Reality TV

I wanted to add something. That channel, CourtTV, that used to cover court trials, has now become TruTV. It's veering more towards reality-type programming. Anyway, I find their slogan really nonsensical and funny. TruTV is "not reality. Actuality." But aren't the definitions of reality and actuality virtually identical? What brilliant marketing executive came up with this idea?

Reality Kills

A reality TV company from England has been accused of spreading a flu epidemic through isolated Indian tribes in Peru. They were scouting through locations for some reality show, and happened across these tribes and spread this flu. As a result, four people have died so far and others have fallen ill.

Like most people, I have a mental totem pole in which I hold certain members of society, either at the high end or towards the low end. The people behind reality shows, and paparazzi, would fall on the low end, right above the tier reserved for pedophiles and murderers. They're morons who develop entertainment that's designed to appeal to the most braindead amongst us. And, as shown in this story, they don't respect anything, they believe in having unrestricted access, as the world is their own personal fiefdom, and now they've spread a flu and a few people have died.

A wish I have is that one day I'll wake up, there'll be no such thing as reality TV or paparazzi, and the people who are now in these fields will instead be in service positions, such as fast food or as janitors. And I'm not dismissing or mocking these fields. You can build character and humility by flipping burgers or mopping floors, and reality producers and cameramen are devoid of those qualities.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I Hate Listening to Talk Radio

So while studying today, I was listening to a station on Sirius called Indie Talk. It's okay, the only guy on there I really like listening to is Ron Silver, but I'm an independent so it's all I could listen to political-wise. So this guy named Vinnie was on, the show was called "Me and Vinnie", and he was talking about the rising rate of foreclosures and how there's talk of a government bailout to help out these homeowners. This guy went off for ten minutes saying how the government shouldn't bail them out and that it's communism (not really, Vinnie) before I finally shut it off.

I do agree that homeowners probably shouldn't be bailed out. While the lenders share a large part of the blame for their until-recent tendencies to give a loan to anyone with a pulse, the people who were buying these homes should not have been buying them. They bit off more than they could chew. You also probably have a few speculators in there who were taking out loans to buy home and expecting that their equity would increase, and then were planning to sell at a profit. So no, I don't think they should be bailed out.

But on the other hand, just last week, you had the Fed bail out Bear Stearns, the investment house. They say that it was a co-effort between the Fed and JPMorganChase, but that's bullshit. The Fed just gave our money to JP so they could buy Bear in a firesale. I'm not a regular talk radio listener, but I think it'd be pretty safe to wager that when this happened, you didn't have "Vinnie" and all the other talk-radio guys going on rants about how Bear Stearns shouldn't be bailed out, and that it was "communism" to do so. Just like they weren't saying this back during the S&L scandals, or post 9/11, when the airlines needed our money.

So when some poor sucker who bit off more than he could chew needs the government to save him from losing his house, that's "communism." But when the government bails out Wall Street, then it's capitalism. Understand?

Wal-Qaeda and Walocaust: potential additions to the next edition of Webster's?

This guy sounds like a lunatic. I loathe Walmart, but to put them in the same category as the Holocaust and Al-Qaeda? I agree with the general point (at least I think that's what it is) this gentleman is trying to make, but IMO, Walmart is a symptom of what's wrong with America, not the disease.
And as for the websites? I've seen Myspace pages that have more substance. It pales in comparsion to, a real anti-Walmart website that was taken down years ago by Walmart's legal department.
I don't know who's loonier, this guy or Walmart's legal team. You have to love the stupidity of organizations like this. You have this guy's websites, which were making no noise and no one had heard of, Walmart comes in thumping their chest and filing lawsuits, the press finds out, and all of a sudden, the general public now knows about Wal-Qaeda and Walolocaust.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jericho cancelled, again

CBS has again cancelled one of my favorite shows, Jericho. It was first cancelled at the end of its first season, in mid-2007, due to low ratings. After the "nuts" campaign, in which tens of thousands of peanuts were delivered to CBS stations in protest, CBS relented and announced they'd bring back a shortened 7-episode season. But these episodes haven't met with high ratings, and so CBS has cancelled the show again, apparently for good this time.

While I'm sure that many fans are again pissed at CBS and are planning another campaign to save the show, it's hard for me to find fault with their decision. Some will argue that they deliberately sabotaged the prospects of the show, scheduling it on Tuesdays at 10 (a rumored "death slot" on the network). But it mostly went up against repeats of other shows, so it should have been able to do moderately well. But it didn't, it often finished last in its slot. It may have a huge following online, and has done very well in Itune downloads and streaming video on the Internet. But that isn't a proven moneymaker, yet.

The bottom line is that, as the president of CBS said, Jericho's viewers are passionate, but there just weren't enough of them. And that's tragic, I think it was an excellent show, and I'm glad I had something to watch while 24's been pre-empted until next year. I consider "Jericho" to be a casualty in our American Idol/Reality age of television. Most people who watch television have been dumbed down over the years, and want to watch programs in which minimal thinking is involved (or programs that show them how to think).

Also, I do believe that Jericho was a little too subversive for its own good. There are pretty strong overtones on how America is being lost to the powerful, in the form of corporations and privatization of government. That wasn't why it was cancelled (at least I don't think so), but I'm sure a few people are happy that it was for that reason.

Recession or no, climate change can't be put on hold

This is a good blog from the Bru Notes, expressing the challenge of keeping the environment and global warming at the front of our minds even when faced with the possibility of what could be a severe recession, and what could result in the loss of our livelihoods and/or home. It's difficult to think of much else when you lose your job, but the global warming threat is imminent. As the UM report on Human Development has stated, "it's the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Slump Moves From Wall St. to Main St.

The Times has a good article covering our economic woes and the slow spread from the business world to Main Street, everyday America. There are some sectors doing quite well, but the middle-class and poor will inevitably end up taking it on the chin.

Some Stories & Thoughts Before Bedtime


It's 2 AM on Friday, and I'm about to go to bed, but I've had a fit of lucidity where I feel the need to write, and so here I am. I have a story to share with you. It's funny to me, although it might fly over your head. I'm a regular at the Starbucks in town. And it seems that every time I find a barrista who is friendly, where we have banter, and she (yeah, hasn't been a male yet) knows my drink without being told, it isn't too long before I don't see her again. So it goes with this one girl. Just very nice, with a wonderful smile, and she makes my drink perfectly.

So, it's been weeks, I've been going in from time to time, I usually sit down at the counter to study, and I don't see this girl. The other barristas are okay, I just don't feel as welcome and comfortable when she isn't around. So I asked one of them today if she still worked there. I did not know her name, so I described her (tall, long red hair, early 20's), and the guy was like, "yeah, I think that's Courtney". She does look like a Courtney, come to think of it. I praised her, saying she was my favorite barrista, knows my drink. And the guy gives me this look, this weird smile. And I'm thinking, "no, no, no, it isn't like that. I just like her as a barrista." And then he tells me that he'll mention that I was asking for her. And I was saying, "no, please don't. I just wanted to know if she was still there."

So now, I feel kinda stalkerish. I'll probably stay away from there for awhile now. He'll probably gossip to everyone. But then again, maybe he won't. He seems like a nice enough kid. But I'll still stay away, just to be safe.

Anyway, did want to share that. And something else that I found funny. Earlier, I was surfing around Youtube, and listening to a few Pink Floyd songs. In the comments section for one of the songs, it might have been "Wish You Were Here", a poster called the song "gay". You know what age bracket that person falls into. But the funny part is that a subsequent poster looked at this guy's "favorites" and saw that song "Hey There Deliah" was on it. Now, that's some pretty rich irony, as you can't get much gayer than Hey There Deliah. What a piece of crap that is.

I think I'll leave you with that. Oh, and Bill Maher made a great speech condemning McCain as our commander-in-chief tonight. You can probably find it on Youtube, excellent stuff. Well, maybe I will see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iraq War Disappears as TV Story

The news coverage of the Iraq War has dropped to its lowest point since it started. So far, this year, according to a study, Iraq accounts for 3 percent of network news broadcasts, and only 1 percent for the cable news networks. This is not a mystery to me.

However, what got me about this article were some of the terms used. A CNN correspondent said "Everyone has grown tired of" this war. Another keyword, "fatigue factor" was used. I know this article is meant to convey the experience from a journalist's perspective. But I think this can apply to many Americans as well. Not long ago, Richard Belzer (the comedian who always wear shades, he's on that "Law and Order" show), was on Bill Maher's show. He said something very elequent, in that Americans have grown tired of Iraq and are "fatigued", and he said, "how dare you? How dare we grow tired and fatigued?" I concur with that, and also as far as the media goes. This may be 5 years old (it may as well be ancient history in the eyes of our ADD-diagnosed media, as well as a lot of Americans), but that doesn't change that people are still dying, and that we're on our way to amassing 3 trillion in debt just off this war.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bush uses old bogeyman to halt bill

To my surprise, the fight to keep telecom companies from not being held liable for spying on Americans has continued, as for once, the Democrats aren't just rolling over for Bush. They're actually fighting him on this. So as the economy goes south and is increasingly getting the attention and concern of more and more Americans, "national security" is fading away in importance, and Bush can no longer scare congressmen into blindly supporting him.

So, in his desperation, he's now saying that we have to give immunity to the telecoms so as not to let the big, bad "trial lawyers" make money off them in lawsuits. The constitution shouldn't factor into this at all, just can't let the "trial lawyers" get their way.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pentagon Report acknowledges no Iraqi/9-11 connection, and then trys to censor it.

In some big news (meaning that it won't be covered adequately, if at all, by the mainstream media), an official Pentagon report has verified and acknowledged what any rational, informed person has known for years; in fact, has known from the outset of this war. There was no connection, of any kind, between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. To put it another way, Saddam Hussein was not involved in the events of September 11, 2001. Not one iota involved, or in the least involved. Of course, the myth that he was has taken on a life of its own; in fact, it's one of the premiere cases made by those who supported the war on Iraq.

Then, the Pentagon (no doubt pressured by Bush/Cheney) attempted to censor the report, cancelling a press release as well as the report's release on the website. It's astounding in how I already know the media's coverage, or lack thereof, of this. It either won't be mentioned at all (as so many happenings have been dubbed non-events by them over these past few years, like the successive thefts of the presidential elections), or it'll be mentioned near the backpages, where next to no one goes. This is combined with the Democrats' lack of willingness and resolve. It really puts a chill in you, thinking about our successive presidents. If Bush/Cheney's conduct sets the bar for what is acceptable, for what one is allowed to get away with and walk away from, then what are our next presidents going to try?

Well, being right all these years and saying, "See, I told you so", is of no comfort, considering the many, many lives that have already been lost, and that it was a step leading to our downfall as a nation. Between the WMDs that weren't really there at all (although some will still tell you that that crafty Saddam shipped them to Syria) and now this official acknowledgement that Saddam had no ties to Al-Qaeda, it shows that Bush/Cheney had little reason to begin and carry out this war other than their own personal whims.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Elliot Spitzer

It's been a few days, and I've yet to weigh in on this. For the one or two of you who do not know, our governor of New York, Spitzer, was busted in a prostitution ring. To make it more tragic, he was considered a rising political star (some were saying he could've been our first Jewish president), and has a wife and three daughters.

I think he should resign with the utmost speed. I'm not a big moralist; when a similar scandal got Bill Clinton in hot water, I defended him because it was so obviously politically motivated. I believe that this is too, to a certain extent. But Clinton survived because he was considered a rogue well before that, and he already had all these alleged scandals. So, when it happened to him, it was considered much ado about nothing by most Americans, and just a political hit job.

But this guy made his bones as "The Sheriff of Wall Street." He made a name of exposing corporate corruption. He also busted prostitution rings, if you want to be ironic. He was dubbed "Elliot Ness." What I'm trying to say is what makes this different is that this guy was squeaky clean. For him to be dabbling around with prostitutes makes him a hypocrite of the first order. That alone makes him a laughing stock, and vastly undermines him as a governor. Even if he were to stay in, he wouldn't be able to get anything done.

To close, I was upset with the media's coverage on this. It happened on a day when the price of oil reached a record high (only to be eclipsed yesterday, and likely today as well), and rather than our media having roundtables and devoting extensive coverage to the price of oil and the vast impact it has to be having on everyday Americans, it goes for the lowest common demoninator and gives the coverage to some sexually deviant politician. Our news media is one rung up from that "TMZ" garbage. I try to avoid it because I feel less intelligent after watching it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hothead McCain

This is a good column from the Nation covering McCain's goals if he were to become President. And you thought Bush was bad. Don't buy into the media hoopla about this guy being some kind of "maverick." He's appearing to be "Bush on Steroids" (to borrow from Pat Buchanan) when it comes to foreign policy. He has several neocons who were part of Bush's war on Iraq on his campaign. The guy's already said that we'll be in Iraq for 100 years, and that we will have more wars. This guy's nuts. So, please, do the right thing and vote for Obama in November. I would, but I'm in a "safe state" and so my vote is rendered meaningless (thank you, Electoral College).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Man who inspired "Lord of War" arrested

This was interesting. A Russian man who was the inspiration for the Nicholas cage film "Lord of War" (a great movie, BTW) has been arrested and charged with smuggling weapons, including rocket launchers, to the FARC rebel movement in Colombia. This man, Viktor Bout, funnelled weapons to virtually every major conflict in the world. I'm sure he's helped our government on a few occasions as well.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

'I fell in love with a female assassin'

This is a story that, according to the headline, is due to be a "major Hollywood film." It's really sad and tragic, and worth reading. But being as it'll be a film, Hollywood will probably turn it into a high-octane shoot-em-up, complete with a happy ending. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Long work hours leave Americans drowsy, off sex

Here is another glimpse into the downfall of America. We are now working so hard at our jobs, that we are losing sleep, and the desire for sex. Two-thirds of Americans have reported having sleep problems, with some even falling asleep on the road. This is due to our 24/7 culture, in which we are working long hours for less and less pay.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Democratic Primaries

Just wanted to make a quick post before going back to studying for an exam. I've been following these primaries and going to the big liberal blogs (DailyKOs, TPM Muckraker) and even now, there are calls for Hillary to drop from the race. She does seem to face an uphill battle based on how the delegate system works in the Democratic Party. But I love this competition, and think that it's largely a good thing. In my recent lifetime, from what I remember of the primaries, they were pretty much over by now. The nominee was already decided on. There was little drama and emotion. But now, the candidates are campaigning vigerously in every last state that hasn't had a primary or caucus yet, and meeting people. I wish every election could be like this.

I still think Obama will win it, but I really hope it goes all the way to Denver. It'll certainly be a historical event, maybe even rivaling the '68 Democratic Convention.