Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Monday, May 30, 2005

It’s a Quagmire and It’s Time We Pulled Out

There, I've said it. I've come to the conclusion that the nay sayers were right, and we're in an imposible situation. I hate to admit it it; I really thought we were doing the right thing, but it just isn't working out. The President had the best intentions I'm sure, but the situation was more complex than he imagined. It's time to cut our losses and bring the boys home.

The bottom line is we're not wanted there; they resent the way we're throwing our weight around; and they hate us for trying to impose our values on them.

And they've got a lot of work to do. Creating a cohesive goverment from so many different ethnic and religious groups is a monumental task, one that is probably doomed to failure anyway, but made even harder by the US presence.

The answer is simple; the US must withdraw all of its forces from Europe and let them solve their differences on their own. After all, if even the French reject the EU charter, there's really nothing more we can do for them.

Posted by Rich
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Pimp My City: More Voodoo Regulation from the Knoxville Titty Council

Well, the ordinances passed last week, and despite the upcoming legal battle the burqas have prevailed and the boobies have been caged.

Except for the ones serving on the Knoxville City Council, who, given their preoccupation with the female bosom, shall now and forevermore be known on these pages as the Titty Council. After all, by virtue of the requirement that all exotic dancers be licensed to strip, the council has taken on the onerous yet admittedly entertaining task of judging exactly which titties will be allowed to be displayed. By the way, I'd like to volunteer my time and expertise for the position of Titty Inspector. Just pay me in singles, please.

The dancers must pay a fee to the City of Knoxville in order to ply their trade. Now, what's the street name for somebody who profits off of a woman's sexuality?

Hint: It rhymes with "chimp" and is not usually an activity associated with civic virtue, but then again, the times, they are a changin, right?

Yep, our city council sure knows what's best for us. Now that they've pretty much run all those dangerous strip clubs out of town, they're continuing the battle against the demon alcohol.

A city ordinance that they passed a couple of months ago is going into effect now, one that requires everyone that buys an alcoholic beverage to show their papers, er, I mean, their ID.

Of course, the Titty Council has our best interests at heart, as they always do; they're just trying to stop underage drinking.

I just wonder how carding a 70 year old grandmother is going to stop some kid, who by law is already prevented from buying alcohol, from buying alcohol. My only guess is that the Titty Council has taken a page from Homeland Security; unfortunately, it's the page that leads to 12 year old girls getting patted down at airports on suspicion that they might be terrorists.

There's simply no reason to card anyone who is abviously over 21. Well, no legitimate reason anyway. Lest anyone be taken in by the lies of the Titty Council, this has nothing to do with keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors, and everything to do with increasing city revenues and making it harder to serve or sell alcohol. Bars, convenience stores and liquor stores are all easy targets now for fines, as it is virtually impossible to card everybody all of the time. After multiple fines, the Beer Board, which is simply the Titty Council in disguise (Hmmmm, titty inspections and beer; I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. I may have to move to Knoxville so I can run for the Council; before too long, they may be the only ones in the city that are allowed to have fun.) can revoke the permit of the establishment in question, thus removing temptation from the path of us poor lost sinners, oops, I mean, fine, upstanding citizens.

And the fine folks that run our fair city wonder why they have trouble attracting people.

Hi! Come to Knoxville! We've run every sports team that isn't irrevocably tied to the city out of town; we've passed taxes that insure that no major musical act will ever play our city again; we have no museums of any note and we've voted down every idea that might have brought some culture or entertainment to our downtown area. (Except for a new movie theater, an idea we found to be quite daring.) We're closing the titty bars, and we require that you show your papers every time you buy a drink; we're working on banning smoking in public but we don't mind if you chew, as long as you don't spit.

And our most exciting attraction is the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame!

People should be flocking to our gates!

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

To Uncle

OK, that's 3 substantative posts in less than 24 hours. Now can I get on your damn best blogs list?*grin*

Posted by Rich
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East Tennessee Taliban

Some folks just don't get it.

We travel thousands of miles around the world to try and stop religious fundamentalists from trampling all over the rights of law abiding citizens and then right here in our backyard, the zealots are hard at work pursuing the same exact agenda. They want to regulate what a woman can do and tell her what she must wear.

As y’all may or may not know, I’ve been known to patronize an “adult establishment” from time to time. Enjoying good music and the beauty of a few lovely ladies wearing big smiles and little else is certainly a pleasantly harmless way to pass a couple of hours, but now, Knoxville City Council is about to vote for the second time on a series of ordinances that will, in effect, run any adult oriented business out of the city.

Wait, scratch that. Not any adult oriented business, just those that make the Council members get that squirmy feeling in their, err, members. Pick-up bars are still OK, and so is having dancers paid to dance. That is, of course, as long as they wear enough clothing to avoid the aforementioned squirmy feeling. Burkas work wonderfully in that regard.

Look, I'm basically a libertarian; I believe that if you're going to make a law, two things have to be true. First the law has to address a situation where one group is damaging another group through their activities. Second, the damage done by limiting freedom must be smaller than the damage being corrected. These new laws regarding the licensing of adult establishments do not meet either standard because there is no definitive evidence that there is any damage associated with the presence of nekkid women.

Unless you find women to be fundamentally unclean, like the Taliban, in which case you have an entirely different set of issues.

But that doesn't stop the hypocrites from trying. According to the City Council, adult businesses bring crime into the area, nasty crimes like drug dealing, prostitution, and general lollygagging about.

And you know we can’t stand for lollygagging about, now can we?

Unfortunately for the Council members, the crime statistics don't bear out their claims. Knoxville prostitution, as well as the drug trade, is centered around the eastern side of the city, where, oddly, there are no adult establishments to draw them. Police callouts and arrests also fail to support the Council. In fact, there are more arrests for PD, DUI, and D&D coming out of Cotton Eyed Joes than out of Th' Katch, which is just across Lovell Rd.

Perhaps the Council would be better off regulating line dancing instead of worrying about exotic dancing.

Finally it would be a very simple matter to demonstrate that any establishment that serves alcohol is far more injurious to the city than an adult bookstore.

Now, to be fair, City Council does have a study that shows that there is an increased amount of crime around strip clubs, however that study was done in California, and we all know just how many similarities there are between L.A. and West Knoxville.

Like, they both have McDonald’s on the main strip. Maybe we should be regulating Big Macs.

My best guess is that the Council must believe that every time a strip club is shut down in West Knoxville, a drug dealer on Magnolia goes straight, or a prostitute in LA decides to give up the street and go into government service, where her talents will certainly come in handy during those back room bargaining sessions.

It’s legislative acupuncture; quite the provocative concept, no? And to think we came up with it here in little old Knox Vegas.

Yes, I am mocking the City Council, and justly so; after all, they're making a mockery of our city. It just seems to me that in today's world, they should have a lot more serious things to deal with; say our city’s sad educational performance?

Now, since they can show no damage from a woman letting her boobies fly free, other than a potential case of whiplash from a motorboat gone awry, let's take a look at the damage done should the Council get its way. Roughly 150 dancers will be thrown out of work, and it’s a fair guess to say that, barring a business decision to relocate to Magnolia Ave, 99% will not be able to find a job where they can make a similar amount of money. (The average dancer, working 3-4 nights per week, will take home somewhere around $45-50K per year.) Many of these women are also single mothers, further limiting their opportunities to make a similar living. What happens to them? Where will they go once their livelihood is gone?

I can hear the ladies in the back saying "Serves them right! Now they'll have to get married or earn a real living like the rest of us!"

Envy and jealousy are not good foundations for public policy, ladies. These women went out and did a job you wouldn't dare to do; therefore they earned every penny they made, regardless of how you feel about the way they made it.

And of course, this is the real nut of the issue. The puritanical streak that runs through America cannot abide the idea of somebody making money from sex.

"It degrades women." "It degrades men." "It cheapens something sacred and holy!"

Why is sex degrading? Why is nudity offensive? For centuries women have been trading sex for security; why does placing a dollar sign on it make it so much worse?

And where are the feminists on this one? Adult women are making a rational decision concerning what job they want to do and what they want to wear to do it, and the city government is gainsaying that decision. And that’s what is truly degrading. It’s not that they’re forcing these women to put on a bikini, but that the city of Knoxville is placing their own judgment ahead of that of these dancers, robbing them of their autonomy.

And before you ask, no, I wouldn't want my daughter to be a stripper. Then again, I wouldn't want her to be a city council member either but I'm not about to try and run them out of business.

Then again…

Posted by Rich
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Monday, May 23, 2005

Star Wars:Revenge of the Green Screens

I've figured out why Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor, two very talented actors in other projects, can suck so badly in Star Wars, and it is George Lucas's fault, just not in the way most people think.

Look back at American Grafitti. Lucas managed to take a cast of relative newcomers, and despite their lack of experience, pull performances out of them that would later make them stars.

The man has the chops.

So why did these last 3 movies suck so badly, as far as the acting is concerned?

Have you ever listened to Saturday morning cartoons done by actors who just don't get it? Don't think Robin Williams as the Genie, think Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta Jones in Sinbad, AKA "Really Bad." They are two talented screen actors who just don't get voice acting. Everything has to be bigger and broader to blend with the animation, and to counter your natural tendancy to be inhibited when your totally vamping the scene. During voice acting, often you have no clue what your surroundings are, and you have to make them up in your head which takes a ton of concentration and energy, energy that you no longer have to put into your performance.

Getting back to the prequels, most of the scenes, particularly in the last film, were shot against green screens with the entire set being built digitally in post production. Think of the strain that puts on the actors, to have to build an entire set in their minds, make it real, interact with it even though it isn't really there, and then act.

I can see where that would be difficult.

My guess is that the wooden performances were caused by this, combined with Lucas' failure to compensate for it, calling for broader, more energetic performances than he would usually.

Having said all that, the acting in this one was far superior to 2 and 1. At the beginning of the movie, I actually saw Anakin as he was supposed to be. In AOTC, he was nothing but an angry, spoiled punk, with virtually no redeeming qualities; it was like he was already 3/4 of the way down the dark path. In ROTS, I saw him as a Jedi for the first time, still impatient at times, but more mature and more centered. It made the fall that much more affecting.

Portman was given very little to do, except look tired, then frightened, then dead, all of which she accomplished.

The standout performance was Ian McDiarmid, who captured the schizoid Palpatine perfectly. SAs Palpatine, his words twisted sinuously as he lead Anakin to betraying the Jedi for love of Padme. Never raising his voice, speaking always in the quiet, rational tones of reason, he corrupted Anakin without him ever really knowing it. As Sidious, however, he could chew the scenery with the best of them.

The effects were as spectacular as we've come to expect, which is damning with faint praise, since they're no more than what we've come to expect. The movie opens with a long sequence of Anakin and Obi-Wan piloting their ships towards the main Separatist ship. The whole sequence seems to have only one purpose; for ILM to stand up and shout "Hey! Look at the neat stuff we can do now!"

The plot is actually deeper than most folks have given credit; When Palpatine accused the Jedi of becoming corrupt, he was right. In order to fight the Sith, the Jedi Council began to break their own rules, setting Anakin to spy on the Emperor, and when Mace Windu tried to kill Palpatine. It doesn't matter that Palpatine tempted him into it by feigning weakness, Windu still tried to strike down an unarmed and defeated opponent. The contamination injected into the Jedi by the Sith had to be purged and the price was blood.

Another interesting little plot point that hasn't been discussed much is Anakin's father. According to Schmee in TPM, Anakin had no father; she just became pregnant. Qui-Gonn claimed that he was the child of the Force, that the Mitochlorians were his father. During his talk with Anakin, explaining to mhim the powers of the Dark Side, Palpatine claimed that the great Sith master (who very well may have been Sidious's Master) had enough power to create life using Mitochlorians, raising the very real possibility that the Chosen One was in fact a creation of the Dark Side. If true, that would make Anakin and Palpatine, if not brothers, then certainly cousins.

This would also create another interesting parallel, where the apprentice Sidious killed his Master, and the aprrentice Vader killed his Master. It's not easy, being a Sith.

But I'm supposed to be reviewing this thing, not explaining it, so I'll say this. It's certainly better than the last two, and if not quite on a par with ESB, it comes close.

Posted by Rich
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A Lesson from Life

When my kids were younger, and so was I, I taught each of them how to ride a bike. We'd go to the store, pick out a bike of the appropriate size, a helmet, some knee pads, a horn and a water bottle to clip under the ball buster. We'd bring it home, and I would spend an hour or two carefully assembling it, then storing the left over pieces in the garage for the next project.

Then I'd take my young child out into the street (we lived in a small cul de sac) and let them ride around for about an hour or so with the training wheels just to get their confidence up. Once they were comfortable with that, we'd sit on the curb together and remove the training wheels, while I told them how to ride with no training wheels.

Just to make sure they understood, I'd ride around the circle a couple of times so they could see how it was done.

Now at this point, I'd spent several hours of my time and effort teaching my children everything they needed to know about riding a bike, and it was time to go inside and watch Star Search, so I'd line 'em up in the street, and give them the hardest push I could and let go.

It was a real disappointment to me that none of them ever won the Tour d' France, but, hey, I did my part, right? If they didn't learn to ride fast enough, well, they had their shot.

Besides, think of all the money I saved on bicycles over the years!


Now that would be a pretty pathetic thing to do to a kid, wouldn't it? I mean, an approach like that is just setting him or her up for failure, not to mention helping them acquire some brutally skinned knees, and a profound mistrust of the beneficence of all adults.

Kids learn to ride a bike on their own timetable, not ours. They learn gradually; acquiring new skills like balance and co-ordination takes time and patience. It can't be rushed.

So why does the left keep pushing for a timetable in Iraq? Some ex-governor was on the radio today saying we'd already spent 200 billion and we're gonna spend another 280 billion, and we need to have an endpoint in sight, or some such drivel. Dennis Kucinich and Neil Abercrombie had a piece in the USA Today a couple of days ago saying precisely the same thing, perhaps signaling a new co-coordinated push to try and get us out of Iraq prematurely. The last thing the left needs is for US policy to continue succeeding in the Middle East; it could very well render them irrelevant for the next several decades.

So, since disaster doesn't appear to be in the cards as long as we continue to stay the course, obviously, they must begin to push as hard as they can to get us to leave before the job is done. Like the parent who would sling his kid out into the street unprepared for riding the bike, these folks want us to abandon the Iraqis before they're ready, a goal that can only result in massive bloodshed that they will then turn and blame on the Bush administration.

What a bunch of cynical bastards! Who cares how many Iraqi's die as long as there's a (D) after the next President's name!

I know, I know, I'm being awfully harsh, but damnit, it's true! Think about it; everyone knows we are in a war of attrition. The terrorists cannot win in a straight up fight against us; hell, they can't even win a straight up fight against the Iraqi Army. That's why they're taking out soft targets like restaurants, shopping centers, and the like. Their goal is to get us to leave before they're all dead, and before the Iraqi government is ready to stand on it's own.

That's the only way they can win.

So here comes some left wing lunatic saying we ought to give these guys a hard time limit; a goal for them to shoot for. It's like telling the terrorists "If you can hold out 'till next December 31 at 1201 AM, we'll be outta here and you can play "Fall of Saigon" all you want to. Hell, you can even take a few more pot shots at American helicopters as they evacuate, leaving the helpless Shiites and Kurds behind. We'll even supply the press coverage so all of the Muslim world will see the US turn tail and run."

That is precisely how a terrorist sees a hard timeline, and anybody with an ounce of intelligence knows it. Dennis Kucinich is either unbelievably stupid or undeniably rotten as he plots to profit from unequalled bloodshed, and that disgusts me.

If you simply must have a definitive timeline, if your mind is so inflexible that you cannot handle the real world adjustments that must be made in any undertaking as complex as this one, then at least make it event driven, rather than calendar driven. Set up metrics for Iraqi self rule, and as they meet those metrics, reduce the US presence. As the Iraqis continue to gain experience and knowledge, shift the load onto them, slowly but surely. Eventually, just like my kids, who by the way, all ride bikes very well thank you very much, the Iraqis will make their own transition to power.

By their timetable; not ours.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Qurans and Commodes

We've had a couple of days to listen to the reactions to the Newsweek story, and it has been very amusing. Most of the American Left has come out in defense of Newsweek which is as expected, but the various defenses they put up are pretty funny. So far, in no particular order I've heard it's no big deal because:
  1. It wasn't Newsweek's fault because
    • The source recanted
    • The DOD didn't deny the story
    • There have been rumors about things like this for ages
    • After Abu Ghraib, there's nothing the military won't do.

    These excuses are all garbage. As far as I know, when you go with an anonymous source, as a good journalist, you're supposed to get a corroborating source. Newsweek didn't. Bias or incompetence, you be the judge. As soon as the story broke, the DOD did deny it, and has denied the allegations in the past. The rumors spring from a few sources, mostly released detainess, who cannot by any standard be called impartial. In fact, the Newsweek report was such a bombshell because it claimed that for the first time, the US government was admitting that this occurred, a fact we'll return to in a moment. Finally, it appears that those who advance the Abu Ghraib justification conveniently forget that those responsible for the abuse that took place are being punished for it. What they did was wrong, and they are paying the price. This is not an indication that outrageous acts are tolerated in the military; quite the opposite, in fact.

    What's funny is that all of these defenses boil down to "It wasn't Newsweek's fault; they're not mean, just incompetent." The differences between the tabloids and the "real" press are vanishing rapidly. Anytime your main line of defense is "We're not saying it's true, but it might be" you've leveled the playing field betweem MSM and the tabloids.

    Probably not your best line of defense.
  2. It was Muslims who rioted, not Newsweek

    According to some folks, Newsweek shouldn't be held accountable for the actions of some irrational Muslim extremists. While it is nice to hear the MSM admit that Islamic extremists are religious fanatics and can't be expected to act rationally, it certainly has been a long time in coming, and seems a bit self serving to suddenly realize it now.
  3. Rumors of desecration of the Quran were already on the streets, therefore the rioting cannot be blamed on the Newsweek story.

    In order to accept this, you have to assume that the riots occurred spontaneously and independently of the Newsweek story, and that the timing was a coincidence.
    Leaving that aside for the moment, there's a key distinction that these folks elide when making this argument; an unconfirmed rumor is one thing, an announcement in the US mainstream press, attributed to a US government official, claiming to be from an official report, admitting that the rumors are true is another thing all together. Newsweek's Periscope piece was not just repeating the rumors, it said that the US government, in an offical document, was admitting that these acts took place.

    The difference is key. The Muslim extremists erupted not because there was another rumor, but because Newsweek was reporting that the rumors were confirmed. Oddly, everyone other then Newsweek and there as yet unnamed source have been able to find no corroboration of US forces desecrating the Quran, although they have documented desecration of the Quran by Gitmo detainees themselves, who have flushed pages as a protest.
    Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that military investigators had reviewed 25,000 pages of documents and found that more than one detainee stopped up a toilet with pages from the Quran as a protest – but discovered no evidence that U.S. interrogators had done such a thing.

    Now, if you squint really hard, you can pass off the timing as a coincidence, but you would have to pluck your eyes out entirely to ignore the timing, dismiss the nature of the story, and ignore statements like:
    It is not the anti-American sentiment, it is a protest over news of the desecration of the holy Quran.
    Afghanistan President Hamid Kharzai explaining the riots that killed 16 people

    Whenever your pet theory involves the deliberate exclusion of salient facts, you're certain to be wrong.
  4. It was all a plot by Karl Rove to discredit all media (one of my personal favorites, by the way.)
    There's nothing like a good conspiracy to really warm the liberal American heart. That damn Machiavellian Karl Rove must be an absolute genius! Like Lucy Van Pelt, he keeps teeing up the football, and like Charlie Brown, the MSM along with the rest of the American Left keeps falling flat on their collective rear ends.

    And this is their best defense? "We got outsmarted by Karl Rove. Again!"

    I don't know about you, but I'd be embarrassed to admit to being that stupid.

So there you have it. Wouldn't it make more sense for the left to do exactly what Newsweek is doing? They made a mistake; they've admitted it, albeit grudgingly, and now they're trying to move on.

What a concept, eh?

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, May 15, 2005

This is Why We Won’t Shut Up and Go Away

You know, there's been a long line of Old Media types who preach about the superiority of journalism to blogging.

"We fact check. We have editors. We report the news, not personal opinions. You know who we are and you can trust us. Bloggers could be anybody, some fruitcake living in their parent's basement, writing anything they want with no responsibility whatsoever. They're dangerous, a menace to true journalists."

Well, they got the last part right anyway; we are a threat to old journalism, but for exactly opposite reasons.

We DO fact check, not just pretend to. Jayson Blair wouldn't last 5 minutes as a blogger.
We edit each other. Mistakes are corrected within hours and with a prominence undreamed of by old media. When was the last time you saw a correction box on the front page of the New York Times?
We link to the facts, allowing our readers to go to the source and make up their own minds.
You really know us, not some managed media version of us. Anyone who reads this blog knows exactly what my views are, how I came by them, and how I justify them. And if they don't, they are free to leave a comment and ask and I will answer. Can you say the same for Brokaw or Jennings?

Newsweek ran a story a few days ago claiming that US interrogators at Gitmo desecrated copies of the Quran in an attempt to get information from the detainees there. Naturally, the Islamic world reacted strongly to this news, and there were riots, demands for retaliation, calls for Jihad, and at least 12 deaths.

Call me crazy, but last time I checked, there were no deaths directly attributable to a blog post.

Like other old school media debacles recently, this is another story that simple common sense calls into question. For example, just how does inflaming the passions of a captive by desecrating an object he holds as sacred lead him to co-operating with you? Wouldn't that actually make them less likely to co-operate?

Funny that the editors of Newsweek failed to catch this contradiction. Maybe they were too busy checking for spelling errors.

Now, Newsweek is issuing a retraction, sort of. Apparently their "credible source" now says he didn't read about it in an investigative report. In fact, he can't remember where he read that interrogators flushed copies of the Quran. Earlier, he was sure it came from a military report, now he can't quite remember. Maybe he read it one one of those damned blogs.

Anyway, Newsweek has apoligized for the error, which I'm sure comes as great confort for the families of the 12 dead people and everyone else who's lives are just a bit more dangerous that they were 5 days ago. Interestingly though, while Newsweek apologized for the error, they didn't quite retract it.

We're not saying it absolutely happened but we can't say that it absolutely didn't happen either.

Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker

Isn't that neat? They retract the story because their source no longer backs it up, but don't retract the essential facts.

"Hey, it still might have happened. We just don't know!"

This is journalism?

Does this remind anybody else of the CBS non-retraction retraction of the forged memos back during the campaign? Where's the high standards we keep getting lectured about? Where's the fact checking and the editors, the unbiased and accountable journalists? Speaking of accountability, Newsweek has already said that they will not discipline any staff members for the "error."

Now, exactly how is old school journalism better than bloggers again?

Posted by Rich
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Friday, May 13, 2005

The Latest Offering from PHD Press

Folks, I'm pretty excited about this one. If you look over to the left, you'll notice a new book has been added to the catalog.
Vienna Days by Kim du Toit (yes, that Kim du Toit) is a story about Art, Love, and the search for truth set in 19th century Vienna.

Not only can he pick the eyes off a fly at 100 yards with a slingshot, he slings a pretty mean typewriter as well.

People, I have to tell you that this feels pretty damned good. It's what I started this business for in the first place. This book is good, and I'm not just saying that because I want you to buy it, although I do. But finding a publisher for historical fiction that doesn't have Fabio and a half naked lady on the front cover is extremely difficult; the market is too small for a major publisher to service.

That's where I come in.

I can serve those markets economically. I'm like the golf channel; I'll never put ESPN out of business, but I'll find an audience.


Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Slightly Less Amazing Race

Ok, I admit it; I don't really like reality TV. I watched Tina Wesson win her million, but only watched Survivor sporadically after that. American Idol does not interest me any more than the Star Search revival, or America's Top Model, or Super Nanny or Let's Trade Wives or the latest Fox excursion into low class and high ratings.

Now don't get me wrong; I do have a trashy side, and sometimes I enjoy a guilty pleasure, like Blind Date or the occasional episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, but most reality TV seems to focus on bringing out the worst in people. Hell, that's all that Survivor is about anymore. It's not how strong or skilled you are at surviving under harsh consitions; it's all about who is the best at back stabbing.

If I wanted to see that, I'd just go to a Hailey Family Reunion.

But there was one show that was above all that, at least for the most part. The Amazing Race was more about people working together as a team under trying circumstances. It was about perserverance, overcoming obstacles, all the things that we talk about in sports. There was an aura of good sportsmanship that went along with the show.

Sure, there was bickering between team members from time to time, but that wasn't the focus of the show. At least, not until recently.

I noticed last season that it seemed like the producers were playing up the friction between team members, and between the teams, working to ratchet up the tension. Then this season, they went a step further, and brought in a couple of Survivor vets to play. Not just any Survivor vets, but Rob and Amber, possibly the most annoying couple in Television history.

They brought a Survivor style approach to the game, following a "win at any cost" approach that really changed the dynamic of the show. Now instead of sportsmanship, it was every man for himself.

It killed the show for me. Unfortunately, ratings went up dramatically, so I'm sure Mark Burnett will continue to make the show more ruthless and mean spirited until it's just as bad as a Jerry Springer episode.

Or Survivor.

The only upside to the season as far as I'm concerned is that they lost out to one of the more decent teams.

Posted by Rich
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Company’s Coming; I’d Better Spruce the Place Up a Bit.

What do Adam Groves, South Knox Bubba, Say Uncle, and I all have in common?

We were all mentioned as prominent Tennessee bloggers by the Blogfather himself on the radio this morning.

OK, enough of the self-aggrandizing crap. Back to the usual crap.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Greatest Investigative Journalist of Our Time!

Folks, he's simply the best in the business. His ability to cut through complex issues to the very simple heart of the matter, combined with his unerring instinct for finding inpeccable sources and getting the goods is unparalleled in the history of broadcast journalism. He has single handedly proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the election of 2004 was fixed by Karl Rove, and that John Kerry won.

Yes, the talented Jim Lampley is being wasted as a sports broadcaster.

Via Say Uncle, I found The Huffington Post, a collection of articles and quasi-bloggish entries by celebrities. I checked out a few of the articles and folks, this is one of the funniest blogs on the web, bar none. I haven't had this much fun since reading the pretentious crap collected by anti-Hollywood sites like Celiberal during the campaign. And now Ms. Huffington has saved the righties the work of collecting all those juicy tidbits by doing the work herself.

Actually, I'm sure she's hired a staff to do the actual typing and stuff.

Anyway, as I was wandering through the entries, including a very interesting one by John Cusack, who memorializes Hunter Thompson by quoting everyone except Hunter Thompson, I stumbled across the one true diamond in a this mountain of coal: Jim Lampley.
At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

The brilliance is breathtaking, is it not? Forget the pundits; all we had to do was ask the bookies. They never get it wrong, right?

Longshots never win.

And to think that a man this brilliant is wasting away televising grown men trying to beat each other up for money. It's a national disgrace, that's what it is.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Cats and Dogs Living Together…

Folks, it really must be the end times.

Today I find myself supporting Sheila Jackson Lee over President Bush.

(I'll pause for a moment to let skb clean the coffee off his monitor.)

Here's the thing: President Bush signed a law in Texas that alows hospitals to remove life support from terminal patients even if their legal guardian objects!

The law has been used twice now, and was about to be used in a third case, but the baby concerned died before the hospital could kill it.

Shiela Jackson Lee has promised to write federal legislation that would prevent hospitals from removing life support against the wishes of the legal guardians.

It's a measure of how far we've come that doctors have to be legally restrained from killing their patients.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Well, that was a long month!

One entry for April? Whew! I knew I was busy, but where did the time go?

Pardon me while I clear some of the cobwebs away and dust off the furniture. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable; I can talk while I clean. Here's a few things I've been thinking about over the last few weeks while I've been writing for money. (That's way cool, by the way, even if it is technical writing. And to make things even better, PHD has a new book coming out very shortly, which is also very cool.)
  • About 3 years ago, a local 15 year old girl named Jessica Crank died of cancer. Her legal guardian had refused treatment for her based on their shared religious beliefs. The State of Tennessee recognized that right and did not intevene, although after Jessica died, there was an effort to charge the mother with child abuse. Interestingly, some of the same voices who railed at the stupidity of the State allowing Jessica to die were the loudest critics of State intervention in the Schiavo case. In one case, they wanted the state to come between a legal guardian and their ward to prevent a death and in the other, they criticized the state for trying to intervene.

    It seems that the operative factor for these folks was not ethics, the law, or morality, but repugnance for Schiavo's circumstances.

  • In 1803, the Supreme Court raised itself above the other branches of our government by claiming the right to be sole arbiter of the Constitution in Marbury v Madison. In 1973, it raised itself above the Constitution by finding "implied rights" in the Roe v Wade decision. Now in 2005, the Supreme Court has freed itself from that pesky document altogether by claiming that foreign law can be a valid precedent for interpreting/making US Law.

    What was it the man said about absolute power?
  • Citadel communications has finished the job. After buying 100.3 and decimating the staff and programming, they've shunted it off to 98.7, a much lower powered station, and moved their NewsTalk programming to 100.3FM. The River's new tagline is "Restrictor Plate Radio", while Hallerin Hill can now be heard over 5 states.

    And there was much rejoicing. (Yea!)
  • The football Vols are ranked number one for offseason surgeries, number two for offseason arrests and number three in number of players playing for penal institutions.

    But we did win the Peach Bowl.
  • North Korea launches a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead; Iraq elects it's first democratic government in decades; Iran is vowing to restart it's uranium enrichment program; China is moving aggressively against Taiwan; so what's the top news story? Some chick who freaked out and ran away from her wedding. I saw CNN last night interviewing 4 lawyers from 3 states about whether or not she should go to jail.

    Is it any wonder that folks view reporters as slightly below used car salesmen in reliability?
  • We have a new pope, Pope Benedict XVI. The college of Cardinals held their Conclave and deliberated for three days to select Joseph Ratzinger, a 78 year old German man.

    Sounds like we'll be doing this again very soon.
  • The News Sentinel reports that UT professors at the doctoral level make less than their counterparts at other public universities. The study was flawed however because the value of the profesor's free football tickets were not included in the calculation.
  • Lynndie England is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, the Iraqi freedom fighters who have gleefully beheaded captured soldiers and civilians are still running free.

    Just in case you believed the tripe that there's no real difference between us and them.
  • The only imperialist country on the planet, the US, is showing our expansionist aggression by closing 35% of our foreign bases and bringing home 70,000 troops over the next 10 years.

    It's a trick, I tell 'ya!
  • The Minutemen patrolled a 20 mile stretch of the border for a month. They prevented over 300 illegal crossings. There were no arrests of Minutemen, and no shootings of people trying to enter the country illegally. Despite all predictions to the contrary, these citizens did exactly what they said they would do and nothing more. The sad thing is that they've been called everything from vigilantes to racists for simply doing thier part to enforce the law of the land.

    Sorta makes you wonder about the name callers, doesn't it?
  • The Democrats have taught us that it's OK to have sex with your subordinates as long as you aren't mean to them in a hallway. It's also OK to fire subordinates to hire your own cronies, but not to transfer them if they're incompetent.

    Explains a lot about our bureaucracy, doesn't it?
  • After hearing for years that being fat was the worst thing in the world for you, not only does the CDC rank obesity as the 7th leading preventable cause of death behind car crashes and guns, they also discover that being moderately overweight is actually healthier than being normal. Instead of excess weight causing 400,000 deaths per year, as they said in January, they now put the number at 25,814.

    But there was nothing political about the first number; they were just off target a bit.

    But here's the really cool part. Instead of going with the numbers from their own study that they published in the JAMA, they're going to continue scaring the crap out of people who carry a few extra pounds because, well, because that's what they do. It's hard to control people who aren't scared. Plus all the drug companies and diet companies would go broke, and we can't have that.

    Just in case anybody thought this was about science and not power.

It's nice to be back.

Posted by Rich
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