Very few people now watch the news.  Why? Several reasons I suspect but a few of them bother me.  Why is it that people adored and respected Walter Kronkite and Charles Kuralt?  When they spoke, America listened.  They weren’t that much better were they?  Voices more velvety, faces more symmetrical, punctuation more emphasized, diction more neutral? I know, I do, I do.  You know as well.  Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.

Toyota has recently come under fire, you may have heard.  It turns out that you can’t make perfect cars forever.  I’m not saying they make incredibly good-looking cars, *cough* Prelude *cough* but they make incredibly reliable cars.  They are allowed an issue or two.  In fact they aren’t the first with sudden acceleration issues.  Audi remembers.  Why is no one bringing that up?  Why hasn’t Toyota hired a washed-up football star with a bad haircut to talk about how bad Audi is?

I’ll digress again.  My dad is a history teacher, specifically North Carolina history.  Growing up, dad used to flash tidbits of information from time to time.  We drove across the state going on vacation or going to see family and he would mention a battle site or General’s name.  More importantly he would explain why it was important and how it changed things.  The year wasn’t terribly important, maybe to his class, but not to us.  He would explain what came from that particular moment in history.  This was perfect, not just spouting information but giving me the bits that would make me interested.

Once again, I digress.  The University of Leeds has done a scientific study.  I’ll skip the worthless crap and jump to the conclusion.  If you walk on the breezy side of the street, there is less air pollution.  Even more, if you walk on a street that doesn’t have a lot of traffic,  fewer still.  AMAZING.  In breaking news, if I hit my hand with a hammer it will hurt, and gravity only works in one direction.

Finally, President Obama, or one of his people, recently tweeted that he was disappointed in Republicans for not allowing a vote on Wall St. reform.  Why? They weren’t included in the discussions.  I wouldn’t want to vote on something that I knew nothing about and had no input in.  But Obama left that out, maybe because he was limited to 140 characters.  He should come up with legislation for twitter.

What does any of this have to do with news anchors?  Everything. 1) News isn’t about one sided presentations that only provide half of the facts.  Toyota is better than Chevy. Period.  Go home Howie Long. 2) News isn’t about just the reporting of facts.  I want to know how it affects me and what I can do with the information.  3) Stop telling me what everyone already knows.  It is mind numbing to listen to cheesy broadcasts talking about how the rain made road conditions wet.  4) Give me both sides of the information.  Not Glenn Beck’s reality or Keith Olberman’s spin.   And stop recruiting anchors from hair ads, I don’t care what the anchors look like, that’s why you hire hot weather girls anyway.

New programs are crap because the anchors aren’t credible.  Present information in a manner that gives some sort of opportunity to form an opinion.  Then we can start to listen again.  If that doesn’t work, broadcast it on the sidebars on Facebook.

Brake Lights

April 24, 2010

California seems to be the capital of poor traffic.  Not just poor traffic but abhorrent, impassable, set up lawn chairs on your car traffic.  However from time to time you may find a window and be able to travel the speed limit, which really means, ten miles above the speed limit.  This is something that I think most people are used to.  As long as you are only ten MPH over the posted speed limit no cop will waste their time, they can’t pull over everyone right?  But for those who travel just a bit faster you have other options not to be pulled over.  You can buy a radar detector for one.  These seem pretty popular, but expensive.  A cheaper option, which is almost equally reliable, are brake lights.  Traffic is flowing along and the in front of you there is a sea of red brake lights the spreads like ripples on water.  This is the universal signal to those behind you, not to slow down, but to slow down for a cop.  I do this all of the time.  In fact recently I was driving and saw a highway patrolman and instinctively went for the brakes.  When I checked my speed I was actually traveling at the exact speed limit.  I was somewhat embarrassed.  Let me explain.

A few years ago in my hometown of Asheboro, North Carolina I was in Wal-Mart not just any Wal-Mart but the Mall of America equivalent.  As I was walking in, a local police officer was a few feet in front of me.  As we both walked toward the aisles I heard a mother exclaim to her animal cracker eating child, “he’s gonna get you.” I shrugged it off not really thinking anything about it.  But it started to bother me.  Why was he going to get her child?  Was he a part-time meth cooker? Did he have a gun? Did he set up a Ponzi scheme for animal cracker trading? This was a far cry from the image of Officer Friendly that was portrayed years ago.  Sometimes we forget the police officers are there to help us.  They are members of our community just like us who are tasked with protecting us, not “getting us”.

This brings me back to the brake lights thing.  I have conditioned myself to stop what I am doing when I see a cop.  Am I really breaking the law so frequently that I need to self assess every time I see some form of law enforcement.  This brings me to the debate in Arizona over immigration.  While the Arizona senate voted on a bill mandating police challenge people who may not be citizens, there were huge crowds standing outside protesting.  I would suggest that the police challenge those people first, in fact they have saved you a lot of trouble and all gathered in one place.  If you are a citizen, and more importantly, someone who has earned citizenship, why would you not support this law.  You don’t allow people to jump in front of you in line?  They have to go through the same process as everyone else.  I am forced to assume that the only people who protest this law, are the ones braking it.

So to learned from my freeway mistakes, if I stop speeding I don’t have to rely on the break lights in front of me, and I don’t have to worry about being pulled over.  That seems logical.  Officers aren’t here to pick on anyone, though there are exceptions, they are here to enforce laws that keep us safe and protect the freedoms of everyone.  So to those who oppose this law, why?  If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

Mercantilism

April 20, 2010

Obama spoke recently about his desire to double our current amount of exports by 2015.  This is a pretty lofty goal.  This would require the US to grow at a rate faster than any other time in the last 30 years.  Think about that for a second.  We used to export Furbee and Tickle Me Elmo, to double that would be significant.  But it basically boils down to mercantilism. It means to sell more than you buy, kind of.  Not to be confused with meerkatilism which means forage for food daily and look cute in big groups(Pretty sure I am the first to use the word Meerkatilism, so if you are from Webster, give me a call, I want the credit). Back to mercantilism, sell more than you buy, this is possibly the most elementary definition for a term you may never have heard.  Why do we need a word to describe something so basic, well, it’s not really all that basic, but it’s a straight forward principle.  But it’s like “juxtapose”, when do you need to say juxtapose instead of beside or alike? The use of words like that is fine, but not entirely necessary.

Like I said earlier, mercantilism is a little more than export more, import less.  It’s almost a model of complete efficiency.  No wasted space, effort, resources.  That means no arts, no cultural things, none of that stuff.  If all resources are used on creating exports there is no room for other stuff.  This is however, when art seems to thrive.  Arts must be cheap because in times great strife, great art has prevailed.  The renaissance came right after the plague (yersinia pestus shout out).  After the initial mercantile state came the Victorian era.  I am not sure if it’s because people are inspired by strife or that paint is really cheap. Either way it seems to work out.

So I’m all about making more stuff and China playing fair with their monetary regulations.  I am not sure how we can peddle more American things to foreign countries but apparently we will.  Some of this is opening the door to small business to gain ground in the international game, but it looks like not only will foreign kids be given “Butler 2010 National Championship” t-shirts, they will also be able to buy the correct counterpart.  More importantly afterwards there may be actual art.

Modern art sucks.  There is some good stuff out there, but most of it blows something aweful.  It’s like the emperor’s new clothes.  Some one screwed up but then convinced us all it was supposed to look that way.  Well I’m the little kid that doesn’t get all the sensation.  A BBC show called “Top Gear” recently took all of the art out of a museum and replaced it with car stuff.  Some of it was part splatter from an exhaust pipe, some was cheesy stuff that you could find made miniature and minted onto a commemorative coin.  The point was that using mediocre car art they were able to draw more people in one week than the crappy regular stuff ever had.

I am inclined to agree with Obama, ashamedly.  Let’s improve the economy, let’s sell stuff to other countries and help small businesses.  But more importantly let’s usher in some new art that doesn’t look like a crayola sneeze or a piece of furniture stacked upside down.