Monday, April 30, 2007

The Unknown...

There was a picture of the NJ Nets' Vince Carter in the paper today. There he was, high above the rim, arms extended. On his left arm, there was what appeared to be a shirt sleeve. What is that?

I remember guys would cut or tear the sleeves off of a t-shirt to look cool. Do we now rip the shirt off the sleeves to look cool, or am I missing something?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The View just got a lot nicer. They cleaned out the Rosie.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lesson Learned? Media

I was left wondering about something today. I intend to make this my last discussion of the matter this week, but it really has been something for me to think about.

There's no doubt that the media is under fire for its mishandling of the Cho Seung-Hui "manifesto". Some bad choices were made, and there really can be such a concept as "too much information" in instances like this one.

What I'm curious about is the quality of media being governed by supply and demand theories. Suppose out of all the print and broadcast media, one entity had decided its mission would have been to handle the coverage with grace, dignity and consideration for those left behind in the wake of this nightmare. Their releases would have shown a lot of discretion and good taste in disseminating the information, perhaps merely acknowledging the existence of Cho's words and video, but holding back the sordid details. In light of such a supposition, would you, being offered such an option, have chosen to tune in to, or purchase a copy of this particular entity's publication or broadcast?

If somewhere, some journalistic entity were to choose such a direction, would you move toward supporting it?

In situations such as this, there are calls for reprimand, for boycotts, etc. And while emotions run high, people might entertain such notions, but in the real world, boycotts rarely hold up. And as long as there is a demand for this quality of coverage, it will continue to happen this way. But I really wonder, if someone were to offer alternatives, would there really be a market for it?

Do we?

Princess Diana died nearly 10 years ago. This summer, to mark that 10th anniversary, Tina Brown, the former editor of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, is going to release "The Diana Chronicles".

My question is this: do we really need another book about Princess Diana, especially one that seems intent on further sullying the Princess' image? If you read and absorb every single word, how does that benefit you? I'm just curious why there's a need for this book.

Maybe I missed something.

I'm sure it will be a best-seller.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lessons Learned? Or More to Come?

I've been doing a lot of reading the last few days, since the horrors of the Virginia Tech tragedy. It's been mostly a random selection process, reading one article, following links, and so on.

I notice that events like the Virginia Tech Tragedy can revive the debates over Gun Control laws, Constitutional rights, and the like. People haven't even gotten through the mourning process before the soapboxes are out, and the arguments start raging.

I don't think even the most stringent, most ideal gun control legislation would have had one bit of effect in this situation. I think the only was this madman would have been denied a gun would be if there were no guns on the planet at all.

But I'm not looking to spark any gun control discussions. I'm neither qualified, nor capable of making my opinion seem any more valid than anyone else's, so I'll stay away from that one altogether. It's not really what's on my mind.

I think we are in a lot more trouble than what can be fixed by perfect legislation. I started reading some of the articles written from both perspectives, pro and con, and all I got from them was my own observation on something else.

No matter what side of the equation the writers were on, the articles all had a similar tone. It seems that everything I read had a formula:

  • Insult anyone who doesn't agree, usually at the very beginning of the article.

  • Use the most extreme, yet simplistic examples to illustrate a point

  • Use harsh language, condemning the thoughts and ideas of anyone who takes the other side of the debate

  • Typically, at some point, vilify a government leader, demean some spokesperson, and basically trash any dissent in the nastiest terms

And therein lies a major problem for me.

To me, it seems the Internet, the media, both print and broadcast, have become hotbeds of all that's mean and nasty in this country. Spend an hour or two reading Internet message boards, forums, and blogs and you're sure to find some wicked stuff. Look at what passes for TV entertainment these days. And just try to find an unbiased newspaper article. Or for that matter, try finding much in the way of real news.

We've become a mean culture in so many ways. It's very disturbing to me as a parent to try and imagine what's waiting for my kids in their adult years, because these days, it seems as if it's a no-holds-barred society we're living in, and I can't imagine what it will be like if things keep moving in the current direction.

Lesson Learned? Humor

Think about what has happened to humor over the past few years. Nearly everything that passes as comedy today involves some sort of humiliation, put-downs, people being mean to others, or extreme behaviors.

I'm not a pollyanna looking for the "good ol' days" of Dick Van Dyke, or "Family Ties", "Full House", "Three's Company" or the like. I enjoy my share of adult humor, R-Rated movies, etc. the same as everyone else.

This isn't necessarily a "moral" discussion, but rather a look at trends. We tend to get our humor from popular culture, and its influence over our lives is undeniable. It just seems to me that popular culture has taken a turn toward anything that leaves someone feeling bad. A recent example of "popular" humor is the "Borat" movie which contained more than its share of scenes where people were made to look foolish. In some cases, the humiliation was crafted without the subjects' knowledge or consent, based on some of the lawsuits that sprung up after the film had it's run.

While the "reality" shows of late aren't necessarily packaged as comedies, look at some of the more recent offerings. "American Idol" took some heat this season over how some of the obviously unqualified contestants were allowed to pass through early audition stages to be allowed to appear in front of the cameras. There's little doubt that anyone thought these people were talented, and it's pretty obvious that they were put in the spotlight for comedic value.

But when did we become a society that would sit and laugh at people like that? The "Idol" producers were obviously trying to meet a demand with their cruel presentations, and they had to get an idea somewhere along the line that there was a demand like that, right?

And browse around the websites that offer user videos. YouTube, AOL Video, all offer videos made by and selected by users, and see what's going on out there with what people consider "funny". One video that made a good illustration of the point I'm making is located here

What has happened to us that some director or producer would parody the events of 9/11/01 and think that a comedy of this sort would be something people would want to see? And would think was funny? They have to get the idea somewhere, right?

So many videos are posted where people are met with violence or injury,(I'm talking about real violence and injury, not contrived) and people think it's all very funny. Kids being humiliated by other kids now not only have to live with the original humiliation, they have to add the extra demoralization of having thousands of other people watching the videos, and laughing. And most of these sites have sections where viewers can comment and share their enjoyment with others. It's as though "America's Funniest Home Videos" has morphed into a Frankenstein monster or something.

And mean humor spills down. What kids haven't learned from the adults around them, many have no problem checking out through any of the media they seemingly have unrestricted access to. And who do kids practice this on? Other, weaker kids. And so it begins.

Lesson Learned? Disappointment

I think back about 25 years, and I remember a couple of really spoiled brats that I knew. And they haven't lost their little place in my memory, mostly because they stood out, in a small minority of the kids I hung around with and went to school with. Their behavior was really noticeable because it wasn't very common. In other words, they were the exception, rather than the rule.

I didn't grow up in a utopia by any means. Kids have misbehaved, thrown tantrums, and carried on throughout history, I'm certain. But for the most part, the really bratty ones have always seemed to belong to a very elite club. Most parents wouldn't put up with it. It was that simple. It's not so simple anymore.

Every generation has had its identity, and thus a moniker all to itself; Baby Boomers, Flower Children, Generation X, etc. I'm starting to think, however, that The Me Generation isn't going to evolve and go so quietly.

A big problem, besides the inability and unwillingness of contemporary parents to refuse to indulge their kids, is that we've seen for certain that this indulgence has created a large population of folks who don't deal well with disappointment. It doesn't always become apparent until these people age and get more involved with society. At home, they rule the roost, but once out in the world, there is a big surprise coming in the form of people who aren't so willing to give in to the demands and expectations of the spoiled lot. And since they aren't very well prepared to deal with disappointment in a civilized manner, we see a whole lot of acting out. They react with the gut instinct, which is to lash out, throw tantrums, or in some cases, inflict violence.

Think of these folks who've been videotaped acting inappropriately at children's sporting events. Think of the father who interrupted a wrestling match involving his son, or the man who ran out and tackled a small boy during a football game. Or the more extreme example, a few years back, when one father beat another to death over a kids' hockey game.

Where does that behavior come from? What could possibly motivate an adult to attack a child in an amateur sports environment?

It's a problem of a. developing unrealistic expectations and b. not being prepared to accept that those expectations will most likely not be met.

Of course, we can't forget self-control, but I think in many ways, self-control is a learned behavior as well, so who knows.

Something is lacking.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech Memorial

click arrow to start

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech Resources

I know that I am not alone in my sadness over the Virginia Tech massacre. The story gets worse every day, and I'm at a loss for words. How do you say anything remotely meaningful when something like this happens?

I've been doing some reading online, and there are a few things people can do to help out here. I'll just post some links here.

April 16th Memorial Website

Share your condolences

Transcript of Nikki Giovanni's Convocation Address

Give to the Memorial Fund  (use this link if the previous one doesn't work)

List of Victims

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In Memoriam

The sadness takes hold.

We must not allow the sadness to make us forget

the lives that were lived.

Their light has not been put out,

rather, it has been released to the heavens.

And there it will shine, for all to see,

for all to remember.

To remind those who were loved,

that they are loved.

Because love never dies.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Plan

So what's wrong with my idea?

I see this huge super-store down the highway a bit. (gives the story a rustic feel, ya know?) I go by there quite often. I receive their flyer in the mail weekly, and they have it all. You name it, they stock it. I figure, everything I need, or want is inside those four monster-sized walls.

But I don't want to pay for all that stuff, so I asked my friends.

What if I wait till the store closes. Then, when no one is watching, I could sneak in the one delivery door that no one seems to lock, or guard, and there's no security camera either. I could go in, without worrying about waiting in line with all the paying customers, don't need to be bothered with cashiers, credit cards, or any of that. I won't be greedy, I'll take just what I want and need, and maybe leave a little behind for the paying customers. I could even go into the grocery, eat what I want on-premises, go take advantage of what would be free eye-care products in the optometry section while I'm there. Why not?

And for protection purposes, I'll gather up a whole lot of other guys who feel the same way, and we'll all pile in when no one is looking. We'll try our best not to clean the place out, but no guarantees, ok? I figure it's like this: there will be so many of us, they'll figure there's no way to round us all up, so they'll just let it go. And when we all have our fill, maybe enough to take home and share with the families, we'll all split up and go back to where we came from. Think anyone will notice?

My friends looked at me like I was nuts. They couldn't believe I could cook up such an idea.

"Why?" I asked.

"It's illegal, you moron!"

Oh really?


Chosha over at "A Little East of Reality", got me thinking about something tonight. She wrote about paparazzi, and in particular, how a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon could command a healthy sum of money.

I wonder what goes on with this whole "celebrity" thing. I read a lot of blogs, and the ones that deal with celebrities muster a lot of traffic. However, when I glance over the comment sections of these blogs, celebrities sure get a lot of negative commentary. Those comments are some of the darkest, nastiest and most vicious I've read.

Yet, somehow, the "celeb market" sure is an economic force. Something has to put those publications in the position to fork over that kind of dough for photographs. It's a strange thing. So many people loathe the celebrities we read about daily, yet someone has to be buying the magazines.

I wonder this: suppose there was to be a boycott of all the celebrity gossip magazines, Star, People, US Weekly, proposed. Would you participate? If not, why not?

Or what if we only agreed to buy the magazines that didn't use "predatory" photographs? You know, only printing photos taken at events, premieres, galas? No unauthorized pics. Would you consider that? Again, if not, why not?

Just curious.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

And Justice For All.

"What surprises me, I guess, is how choosy the anti-P.C. crowd is about which hate speech it will not tolerate." Read more here

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I've always had a problem with the idea of "paid endorsements". I don't think any of us can resist being just a little skeptical of any praise heaped upon a product or service by someone who happens to be a celebrity, who happens to be receiving compensation for that praise. And I think we might all agree that making a real estate purchase based simply on the fact that Erik Estrada recommends or endorses it might not go on record as the most intelligent decision of all time.

I remember Kirstie Alley starring in a sitcom some years back. It was called "Fat Actress", and it put her back into the spotlight. The show made fun of Hollywood's body-stereotypes, and made light of the difficulties being a big woman in a Barbie world. I even remember a few interviews and television appearance where she showed that big can be beautiful.

She then changed course and decided it was time to slim down.

Alley had some major success under the guidance of the Jenny Craig weight-loss system. She unveiled the new "thinner" Kirstie amidst much fan-fare, even "unrobing" the finished product on an episode of "Oprah",

She should get credit for what she did. It's never easy to lose weight, and I don't begrudge her the position of spokesperson for Jenny Craig, because, hey it worked, and she could legitimately endorse the products. Nothing wrong with that.

But I didn't stay on that ride for long. Enter Valerie Bertinelli.

See, now Ms. Bertinelli is jumping aboard the Jenny Craig Weightloss Bandwagon. I'm not in any way criticizing her for wanting to lose weight. I'm not even sure I'm criticizing anything. I'm just saying, the whole thing lacks a little credibility for me, because Bertinelli is going to go under the microscope now, so to speak. We're going to follow along on her quest-for-less-Valerie. But she's a paid spokesperson, receiving what I would presume to be fairly decent compensation for her troubles. I think that I might have been better impressed had we treated to, another "success story made", as opposed to "compensated test-case".

Let's face it, who among us wouldn't give the weight-loss wagon a more willing test drive if there were a little cash waiting at the end of that rainbow?

Just my two pounds err, cents.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Easter


Evolution II

The Face Of Fear

Well, I'm definitely going to have bad dreams tonight. I "met" a woman today who is, to me, the ultimate male nightmare.

I randomly tuned to VH-1 today. I left it on while I did some work, and suddenly, I was very distracted from my work by that woman. The show is called "The Agency", and it's a reality show focused around the daily business of Wilhelmina Modeling Agency.

This woman's name is Becky, and she was one of the agents on the "High-End Women's Board". Apparently, the theme of this episode was the internal disagreement over a prospective woman model. Being that this is a modeling show, I fully anticipated the bickering that would take place.

I had no idea.

The crew battled back and forth, but this woman was the most difficult, unpleasant, negative person I think I have ever encountered outside a psychiatric ward. She disagreed with everyone, about everything, and that's not the worst of it.

She was foul-mouthed, (the guy on the beeper button probably needed a week off after this episode), rotten, critical and just horrible. Her favorite phrase is apparently, "I'm over it," except that every time she said it (20-30 times, while I was keeping count), she was most definitely not over it. She would say it, then launch into a new tirade every time.

There was actually some relief in the form of a surprise for me. As the episode drew to a close, her last tirade got her FIRED! I don't think I've ever clapped for a television show, but I have to admit...

But she's out there somewhere, folks. The series left her walking the streets of Manhattan, and I go there every day! I'm a-scared!

Whew. Being single does have its advantages.

Oh, and the next show up was some nonsense called, "I Love New York", and I'm not even going to get started on that funny-farm. Thank the Lord for choices.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I've stated before that I sit and watch "Real Time with Bill Maher" because I believe we should all take time to listen to the ideas of people we might not necessarily agree with, in order to fully understand those ideas before forming an opinion.

And I try to be open minded. I really do. But...

The most recent episode featured the panel of D.L. Hughley, Michael Smerconish, and Catherine Crier. While Smerconish was making a point, Maher interrupted him, asking him if he believed in the Ten Commandments. It became a sort of stand-off with Maher pressing the question, and Smerconish refusing to be dragged into a debate over the Commandments.

But I wanted it to continue so that it would better illustrate a point. According to Bill Maher, if you believe in the 10 commandments, then all you're concerned about is not swearing, not working on Sunday, and not making statues of false gods. He implies that by living that way, you are, in turn, not concerned with such things as child abuse and rape. He said that. If you believe in the Ten Commandments, according to Maher's reasoning, there simply isn't room for any other beliefs. He said that, too.

Now what kind of nonsense is that?

It's a crystal clear example of the minimalist,absolute, Left-wing thought process.

If I use that same methodology in assessing Maher's beliefs, I could easily state that because he doesn't believe in the Ten Commandments, then he believes that it's ok to kill, that adultery is perfectly fine, and that it's perfectly acceptable to steal.

Would that be logical? Would that be accurate?

Is it realistic to conclude that anyone who professes a belief in the Ten Commandments lives their lives based on only those exact ten rules? And conversely, does anyone who doesn't subscribe to such beliefs live a life of pure hatred with no rules to guide them?

Of course not. Being kind to others, caring for the poor, well they're not exactly outlined in the Ten Commandments, but it's part of the belief system of some of those who do hold true to the Ten Commandments. How would Maher explain that?

Maher stands up for Atheism, defends it. I just think it's funny that this man would condemn religious beliefs, but would fight to the death defending your right to believe in nothing.

I don't think that one set of beliefs is exclusive of any other set of guidelines.

So now, if you happen to be a Right-Winger, you might find yourself in agreement with me, particularly if you're religious in any way. And that's great. If you're a Left-Winger, you've seen how I've lumped all kinds of people together with Maher, made all kinds of statements about the "Libertarian thought process" based on a set of beliefs and statements expressed by Maher, and you've made it this far without hitting the comment button to lambaste me, you're probably pretty steamed that I could make such a generalized conclusion based on a few ideas. It's pretty unfair of me to draw these unfair conclusions about Libertarians, based solely on the fact that Maher happens to be a Libertarian.

All I can say to that then is, I've proven my point. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


"COOL" then:

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows if the stores are closed
With a word she can get what she came for

And she's buying a stairway to heaven.

There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
And you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook there's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven

"COOL" now:

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)


A Mini Stupid-Quiz

There's an instance in our lives when the following could be correct:

4 can equal 20
60 can equal 1
but while 24 can equal 86,400, 12 only equals .5

what would I be able to figure out using the above?

I Searched It On Google

I remember a made-for-tv movie that aired a few years ago, dramatizing the events surrounding the hysteria cause by a radio broadcast of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds", a novel written some years earlier by H.G. Wells.

I know that there was a sort of mass-hysteria caused during this broadcast, and the movie showed some instances of the hysteria, including one where a father was preparing to kill his family to spare them any harm at the hands of the alien invaders.

The events demonstrated the power of radio as a medium, and made the point that one should always pay attention to all the details of dissemintated information, and that only getting half the story can have far-reaching consequences.

In our day and age, information is thrown at us by a lot more sources. For many, the main center of info is the Internet. "Googling" is a major pasttime for a lot of people, and sites such as WebMD have put a lot of information at our fingertips.

Now while there has been little in the way of mass-hysteria caused by anything brought to us by the Internet, we're never outside the realm of that possibility. The most obvious example is the "Urban Legends" that circulate regularly. Who hasn't seen at least one example of the promises of "riches" bestowed upon anyone who is simply willing to forward an email. I do know of a few instances where people heard a crazy story and made it their own, citing how something happened to "a good friend" or a "brother's uncle's co-worker's niece". I remember one local incident, where a popular household brand of air freshener was said to be harming animals, and in our case, a cat had toppled a shelf in a laundry room, and had it's eye injured by a falling bottle of Febreze. (The spray nozzle caught the cat's eyelid)

And who doesn't know at least one person who self-diagnoses an illness, because they pulled up the symptoms on WebMD? I had a friend who suffered for about 6 months with what she self-diagnosed as a "migraine". When she was finally forced to seek medical assistance, the actual doctor diagnosed and treated her for a severe sinus infection.

Touchy stuff. I read the blog of a woman who announced to the world that a needle EMG had given her the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, although a manufacturer of needle EMG equipment stated on its website that the EMG was not a tool used in the evaluation of MS. To quote:"MS cannot be evaluated by EMG because MS is caused by a demeyelination at the Central Nervous System level which is not investigated by EMG"

But that's just an example.

Some people have taken to "Googling" to validate nearly any argument they can come up with. What is lost on those folks is that Google simply brings results that are present on the Web. If the search matches your search criteria, back it comes! Google doesn't verify or validate the veracity of such information, just simply that it exists on a server somewhere in the Internet. Yet so many people seem content to accept something as fact, or present it as "evidence" because they found something through Google.

Of course, in my case, what came to mind was Rosie O'Donnell's recent rant about the whole "9/11 Conspiracy", and how she tried to enforce her theories by saying "USE GOOGLE". I, being of a different mindset, found just as many sources of information arguing against the idea of an American Conspiracy as she found in support of such an idea. So, now what? I need to mention that some of my "sources" were not qualified experts, or people that could truly back up the information they presented, they simply wrote about the topic, so up they came when I Googled the right search terms.

Let's face it folks, if we Google in "bears" we're likely to find such results as a Chicago football team, or Winnie The Pooh, lined up on the same page as grizzly bears or polar bears. Which returns would you likely consult if you were trying to write a 10-page report on the lifestyle of a wild bear?

The information is there, folks. Doesn't mean it's valid.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Something I'm Grateful For...

I know that we all either have, or are looking for, the "love of our life". It's obviously part of our nature to crave it and want it in our lives.

I think what we all should have, as well, is that one "friend". That person who helps us be a little happier, who gives us someone to tell our secrets to, when we can't tell anyone else. The person who never seems to pass judgement, who just 100% accepts us for who we are. Sure, we can disagree, even outright fight with them now and then, but it's never hard to get past it, even laugh about it.

This person can help us not be scared. They'll tell us that it will be ok, even if they're not so sure themselves at the moment. Sometimes, they don't even realize how powerful their effect on our lives is. But on the other hand, they do know exactly when to get in touch, to say hello, or I love you.

I don't think any life is really complete without one of those people in it. I'm lucky, cause I have one.

Just one of my "philosophical moments" here tonight.