Meet the Press!

July 21, 2010

Insert a tag line here that hooks you, makes you think that you cannot possibly go another minute without reading the below information.  A tag line that gives very little information, in fact, the information the tag line provides probably skews the truth more so than providing any.  If I had the ability to write a good tag line I may have been slightly more successful in my high school Journalism class, instead of paring down random facts into a small group that is somehow related.  I would also be the envy of the journalism community.  Maybe not today’s community.  Today’s mass of journalists seem to be quite skilled in writing tag lines, but horrible at the actual journalism.

Look at the Dwayne Wade situation from this past week.  He issued a quote, seen here.  This is what was reported by AOL’s Fanhouse.

“We’re going to be wearing a bullseye. But that’s what you play for. If we lose a couple in a row this season, it will be like the World Trade (Center) is coming down again.

Here is the actual quote for additional emphasis,

“We’re going to be wearing a bullseye. But that’s what you play for. We enjoy the bullseye. Plus, there’s going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it’s not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games.

And this is what reads at the top of the fan house article,

“Because of a transcription error, an earlier version of this story contained an incorrect quote from Dwyane Wade. The full and accurate version of the quote is contained in this story. We deeply regret the error.”

A “transcription” error.  You could take his original quote to Babblefish and translate it to Spanish, French, Russian, Korean and back again and it would be closer to the original.  Let’s check a fact.  Let’s slow down a little and see what actually happened.  And even better AOL, you don’t have to wait for the information to come over the news wire or Morse code.  You could watch the actual video and write down the quote, hit rewind and listen again.  Thankfully for Wade there were actual reporters present who speak English.

There was an ever more severe case of piss-poor journalism this week.  A USDA employee in Georgia, she actually had a pretty good position but I can’t be bothered to look it up, gave a speech a few months ago to an NAACP group. This speech what chopped up with only controversial bits left behind.  Fox News ( and I hate to jump on Fox News, I tend to think they are slightly more watchable and responsible than others, but shame on them) quickly ran a story saying that the employee was racist and should be removed from her post.  The head of the USDA quickly caught wind of the situation and cut her lose.  After watching The Celebrity Apprentice and seeing Rod Blagojevich use a computer similar to how a primate would use an abacus, I understand that not all people in government work understand computers.  But someone find the USDA guy a computer and look up YouTube.  This is obscene.

Shame on the media for not doing their research.  If I performed my job as poorly as you, Obama would have extended my benefits today.

TV Land part 1

July 8, 2010

During my sophomore year of college the school introduced a RF remote that would be registered individually to students.  The students would bring the remote to class and the professor would pose a poll questions.  Students would vote with their remote and ultimately it was a way to log attendance.  I would guess it had very little to do with the teachers’ desire to hear the students’ opinion.  This seemed like the next great thing, until everyone got tired of it.  I used mine once in three years.  But the concept was interesting, aside from being an attendance leash.  Teachers could pose a question and get instant, quantitative results.  “How many of you like chunky peanut butter?”  “Who thinks Al Gore hooked up with the masseuse?”  “Who wants me to cancel class on Friday?”  Why not bring this to the masses?  The truth is, it’s already there.

Aaron Brown said that “television is the most perfect democracy.  You sit there with your with your remote and vote.”  He’s right.  We watch, and based on the statistics the networks know what is successful and what isn’t.  This isn’t the entire story, viewership isn’t the only factor for canceling a show, think  the Jay Leno show.  But the rankings regularly dictate the longevity of a particular series.  So each season we have the option of re-electing a show.  Then let’s talk about our senior statesmen of TV land.

When you talk about current longevity, only a few shoes come to mind, Meet the Press, the Today Show, the Tonight Show.  These shows have been around for 55+ years.  But since they have changed hosts and are current event shows, we’ll say they don’t count, otherwise Larry King would be the king of TV Land.  Let’s talk about shows that we elect to watch, rather than the ones that are just on while we fix/eat dinner.  Currently American Idol takes the top 2 spots, Tuesday and Wednesday night, so Simon Cowell is our King.  He has been elected by the viewing public as our most popular television show.  As recently as 10 years ago the most popular show was “ER” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”  As an AI watcher I can’t get too down on the public, but at least ER and WWTBAM? were slightly educational.  Further back, in 1992 and 1993, the most popular show was 60 minutes.  We actually elected to watch the news over all other tv shows.  And there were solid options, “Roseanne”, “Coach“, “Seinfeld” and “Home Improvement”.  So, our elected TV Land officials have began to decline somewhat, as long as we don’t have anyone from New Jersey or E! elected anytime soon, I’m OK with that.

So that is a brief look at what we elect for ourselves, AI isn’t the worst option, but we have done better in the past (I would argue that a show that provides some sort of educational value trumps all others).  But let’s see what we are electing for our kids.  “Sesame Street” has been on television since the beginning of time.  In fact, when the first television was invented and turned on Big Bird was there explaining that he was yellow and Oscar was green.  They had not even invented video cameras yet, it was just there.  Beyond that, we  force (force isn’t really the right word here, but we don’t exactly make every option available) children to watch shows like “Dora the Explorer”, “Blues Clues” and something called “Yo, Gabba, Gabba“.  These shows all try and provide some sort of education to our kids.  Either, Spanish, math, analytical thinking or something else altogether.

So we have shown as a society that we understand the value of programming that provides vital information, we have just changed how we absorb it.  As kids we watched “Sesame Street”, “Legends of the Hidden Temple”, “Ghost Writer” and “Carmen San Diego” and continue to have our kids watch similar programing.  We continue to watch the news, just not as rigorously, and we prefer to have our medical jargon presented by a smug, sarcastic, drug addict rather than George Clooney and Maura Tierney.

Lock your doors, close the blinds, grab your shotgun and head for the tub Danny Glover style à la Lethal Weapon 2 (as fast as you can).  America is under attack.  Oil?  Disease? World Cup fever(click that link if you can only click one)? Socialism?  Nope.  Zombies!  They are everywhere.  Your first encounter was probably on MTV, back when they played music videos instead of bad lifestyle choices.  Then zombies invaded the  movie theatre, classic literature, commercials and video games.  Now they have invaded National Security Theory.  Is nothing sacred anymore?

We can’t say we didn’t see it coming.  Last year a few teens gave us ample warning in the form of a traffic sign.  But now a professor has harnessed the power of the undead for thinking about the defense of our nation.  The work is titled Theories of International Politics and Zombies (As a brief aside, I was reminded by a reader that titles are supposed to be underlined, please remind me of the rules about punctuation and parentheses, I’m learning).  The concept is brilliant.  Zombies constitute non-state actors of any sort that cannot be threatened by use of force or other means.  They can only be stopped through directed and not insignificant response.  This does not account for all forms of attack, for instance computer virus, but it does prepare for the enemy.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this book is the comparison of 3 succinct schools of political thought, neo-conservatism, liberalism and realism.  These are 3 ends of the political spectrum but your views should be found somewhere in between.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Zombies approach, in full force, from graves across America.  They are slowly forcing their will on the people.  We respond with Military force.  First for major city centers, then for sub-urban and rural areas.  This is where the schools of thought would begin to differ.

Let’s first look at the liberalists.  After a moderate military response with some success alternative methods become necessary.  Social programs win the day and housing, medical coverage and unemployment benefits are extended to the brain-hungry invaders.  Will this be enough?  Can zombies adjust to social society? Or will they simply take advantage of the programs?

Next, the neo-conservatives.  War is waged on the undead.  Daily briefings are provided to the press to show progress.  Containment looks plausible, but inevitably it cannot be achieved.  Will we be able to train zombies in the ways of democracy?  Can we show them the light of the Western World?

Finally a look at the Realpolitik.  All out war consumes the zombie force.  Standard issue firearms are not enough and a significant part of the budget is diverted to research and development for a new weapon.  Now armed with the “President of the future’s last name”-rifle our military forces dictate the battle lines.  Walls are built to protect Americas largest cities and places of National interest.  Will we be able to protect our rural neighbors before the zombies feast? Or will they be considered an acceptable loss in the Global War on Zombies? Will zombie fences and walls litter the American countryside forever?

I have not read the book.  I have not been given any of the scenarios that are included in this book.  I will have to wait until later this year just like everyone else.  In the mean time, while zombies invade every aspect of our consumer life, we can hope that this book will provide guidance, in case Zombies invade our lives for real.