Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Monday, March 28, 2005
I had no intention of writing about the national uproar concerning Terri Shiavo and the terrible circumstances that have befallen her and her family. To be honest, I felt it was a non-story that tragically occurs every day in America -- a single occurrence that had been hijacked by various people of influence to promulgate their ideologies. Perhaps my aversion to the issue itself was responsible for my week-long draught of posts.
As I said, I had no desire or intention to chime in on what I consider to be a private family matter that has become a national spectacle, because I think the only people that should really talk about it are the people closest to and most informed of the situation. After hearing a sermon on the resurrection at Easter services, however, I decided I had to get some things off of my chest.
The sermon did not take sides on the medical diagnosis in the Shiavo case, nor did it bring up the issue of separation of powers or Federalism as outlined in our constitution. It simply noted the fact that, according to the New Testament, this mortal life was never meant to be the end of our journey. The argument of the religious right somehow neglects this concept. That Jesus died, was buried, and rose to eternal life is not only the message of Easter, but it's also the over-arching tenet of Christianity as a whole. The faith that we go to a better place upon death is the basis for Christianity, yet that very belief has been absent from the arguments of those that so vehemently claim to espouse Christian principles.
As for the secular left, they shouldn't see religious beliefs as scary or dirty. The resurrection of Christ, according to scripture, was an event difficult to believe by even some of Jesus' own followers. Faith cannot be debated, and it most certainly cannot be imposed by those in power. When matters of faith and religious belief are brought forth in such a way that those who choose not to believe are truly threatened, it is an improper application of those principles.
It's a terrible situation that this woman and her family are going through, though it is a situation that many people face every day. If their faith can help them come to terms with the inevitability of death for each of us, it is a good thing. If their belief in the resurrection and the life in the world to come helps them in this time, it is a good thing. Their faith and the faith of others should not, however, be dictated or imposed upon this nation's citizenry by law, no matter how passively.
Labels: News Commentary
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Bush Chooses Wolfowitz for World Bank
Just about a month after Bush traveled to Europe in an attempt to improve relations between the EU and the US, he seems to be actively sabotaging any goodwill created by the trip. By naming Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz as his choice to head the World Bank, Bush is asking for a public, international fight between his administration and other World Bank members.
Bush's reasons for for the selection are unclear, as Wolfowitz's extensive history with the Department of Defense doesn't seem to make him a fit for the World Bank. Then again, this is the same administration that gave the nation's highest civilian honor to former CIA Director George "Slam-dunk" Tenet, whose intelligence failures before 9/11 and running up to the Iraq War are anything but laudable.
The World Bank has enough critics in the world without one of the Bush administration's most hard-nosed hawks running the show. The Bank's past failures to consider the social and environmental factors of its actions in developing countries will certainly be noted while members consider Wolfowitz -- a man who rarely listens to alternate opinions or admits his own mistakes.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
PFA Social Security/Miller High Life Mashup
After watching too much CNN and seeing the same "Iceberg" Progress For America Social Security commercial with the same Miller High Life voice-over artist about thirty times, I decided to try and experiment. I took audio clips from several PFA ads, and several Miller High Life ads, and spliced them all together.Sometimes even I forget which clips are which. It makes perfect sense to use the same voice-over artist, since the PFA spots are probably targeting the same demographic as the Miller ads.
Listen to it!
Progress For America Voter Fund Media
Errol Morris: Commercials
Monday, March 14, 2005
Lebanon Martyrs Square Rallies (Lebanese Idol)
Well, it appears as if the future of Lebanon's government is in the hands the people. And I'm not talking about democratic elections, no no, my friend, I'm talking about American Idol-style popularity. Ryan Seacrest has expressed little interest in moderating the civil unrest, however, so the Lebanese people have had to abandon their text messaging campaigns in favor of a more traditional approach.
Since former Prime minister Hariri was killed four weeks ago there have been multiple rallies expressing either anti- or pro-Syrian sentiment. The first major rally in Martyrs Square demanded a full pull-out by the Syrian military. Another rally last week, organized by Hezbulla and much larger than the previous week's gathering, showed support for the Syrian-backed government in Lebanon. And finally, today the largest gathering to date amassed to again turn the tide of visible public opinion, demanding a full Syrian pull-out of Lebanon.
Reached for comment, Randy Jackson said of the latest demonstrators, "You know, it was hot, dog. You got shown up last week, but you really hooked it up this week."
Only time will tell if yet another, larger pro-Syrian rally will take place to sway public opinion back. Until then, it's all up to the American viewing public. The numbers to call, according to FOX, are:
Phone lines will be open after tonight's evening news broadcasts.
Reuters: Anti-Syrian Protesters Flood Lebanese Capital
Labels: News Commentary
Thursday, March 10, 2005
U.S. Congress: "All Sports All The Time!"
Look out, ESPN! House Resolution 10894 today stated that from now on the United States Congress is going to focus solely on sports and nothing but sports. In the wake of a much publicized battle over baseball steroid use, members of the House committee investigating the abuse called for widespread reform throughout all of America's major professional sports.
"Our elite athletic organizations, both professional and amateur, should establish uniform, world-class, drug-testing standards that are as consistent and robust as our criminal laws in this area [...] Nothing less should be tolerated."
Another committee spokesman chimed in:
"House rules give this committee the authority to investigate any matter at any time, and we are authorized to request or compel testimony and document production related to any investigation."
Not to be outdone, today the US Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation to establish a commission to oversee health and safety rules for boxing. Tomorrow they hope to tackle WWE wrestling, and with any luck, they will corner the market on ESPN 2's Pool and Poker tournaments.
Members of the House, intent to stick with more mainstream sports, issued a statement applauding the recent NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest as one of the best in recent years.
Several members of Congress have also raised the possibility of building luxury boxes inside the chamber of the House of Representatives to create revenue from such "hot ticket events" as the annual State of the Union address as well as any other joint-session gatherings.
By mimicking the financial success of newer sports stadiums and arenas, they believe they can chip away at the national deficit by both gearing ticket sales for more affluent clients, as well as by raising the price of hot dogs, pretzels and soda.
No word yet on when cheerleader auditions will begin for House and Senate chambers, or whether C-SPAN will begin covering the coming MLB season with its traditional "one angle" camera style.
(...It's not like they have anything more important to do on The Hill...)
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Movie Geek Quiz
Monday, March 07, 2005
Wellesley Students Go To Hospital! (And Are Lesbians!)
For those of you in the Boston area, I don't think you'll find a more fitting headline lately to show how much of a rag the Herald is.
How many college students end up in ERs across Boston every weekend? The Herald picks this particular story up for only one reason: lesbians. That's right, the "Dyke Ball", as they call it, was hosted by a lesbian, bisexual and transgender group. Let's all be shocked.
College Spain Summer Program Canceled
Tom Fuentes, former chair of Orange County's Republican Party for 20 years and currently a trustee for the South Orange County Community College District, decided to end study-abroad programs to Spain last week, citing the country's troop withdrawal from Iraq.
"Many of our students in this college, and of its sister college [...] fight on the battlefield of Iraq under the flag that is behind us. Spain has abandoned our fighting men and women, withdrawing their support. I see no reason to send the students of our colleges to Spain at this moment in history."
In addition to his demands regarding the program, which had afforded community college students the opportunity to study Spanish language and culture for fifteen summers, Fuentes also mentioned (off the record) several other activities in which the colleges should discontinue their participation: The screening of any films starring Canadian actors (as their nation didn't join the coalition), the academic study of Catholicism (due to the Pope's stance on war in general), and of course the traditional 'Belgian Waffle Fridays' in the cafeteria (because most Belgians know French).
Fuentes' actions were a boon for upstanding Americans everywhere who agree wholeheartedly that knowledge of other cultures -- specifically ones that dare to disagree with ours on occasion -- is of little importance compared to the unifying force of petty political gestures.
Fuentes did not comment on whether or not he would be changing his name to Tom Sources in the near future.
"Yes, this is Mr. 'Sources'. I'm going to need some more flags. The six up here just don't convey the amount of patriotism it requires to withhold life experience from students."
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Syria Nuke Comment a Joke
Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) stated that his comments made at a church pancake breakfast on Feb. 19th about wanting to drop a nuclear bomb on Syria were a joke. Johnson originally said:
"Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore."
But it was just a joke! Whew.
That makes it so much better. I mean, I know that at my church we always talk about dropping nukes on people -- even on entire nations -- but it's always in jest. The public needs to understand that. In actuality, it's a little-known tradition at many church pancake breakfasts to make lighthearted wisecracks about the slaughtering of millions of people. The flippancy of apocalyptic nuclear hellfire jokes, all washed down with delicious blueberry pancakes and maple syrup, well, that's my kind of fellowship.
I like my pancakes nice and hot...
Labels: News Commentary
Friday, March 04, 2005
|"It's tag-team robot wrestling, featuring the mighty robots from Battlestar Galactica vs. the gay robots from Star Wars!"|
I've posted a new review of Sci-Fi network's Battlestar Galactica on Rear Window Reviews. Cue all nerd and geek jokes now. But seriously, it's probably one of the best dramas on television, and no one really knows about it.
"The irony that a drama with such a surreal setting can often seem more honest than other shows about doctors and lawyers is easy to disregard. The truth, however, is that Battlestar Galactica is no longer just for the geeky. It is, in my opinion, one of the very best dramas in an otherwise mediocre television season."
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Spitzer Down on Social Security Privatization
Today, New York Attorney General (and NY Gubernatorial candidate) Eliot Spitzer came out with one of the most important criticisms of President Bush's Social Security privatization plan. Chiding the Bush administration for opposing his efforts to clean up corruption on Wall Street in the wake of a number of high-profile scandals, he cited the instability of the market and the danger such a dramatic change would cause.
"You have an administration that failed to protect investors. Failed to protect them. And yet they are the administration that is saying take the safety net that we have and invest it in a system that was fundamentally broken before others stepped in to try to save it," Spitzer said.
"On the one hand, they are saying the system does not need to be fixed, there was nothing wrong with it, they fought against the changes that we wanted, and then they say, 'Take your savings and put it into that very system.' Where would we be if those who are retiring had had their money in Enron and Worldcom?"
This, to me, is the more important point in the argument against Social Security privatization. People can haggle all year about which studies suggest what kind of timeline for what percentage of benefits decrease. The most pointed reason to avoid privatization -- aside from the enormous amount of money it would cost to enact -- is the fact that the stock market just isn't safe enough.
Social Security was created to support those whom capitalism had failed. It wasn't an attack against capitalism, it just served as a lifeboat for people that had trusted the stock market with their life savings.
Creating private accounts essentially takes that lifeboat and nails it to the larger ship that sails through icy waters. Sure, there's a good chance you'll get to your destination, but if the Titanic hits an iceberg, you're going to want those lifeboats away from the wreckage.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
22-pound Lobster Caught off Nantucket
A 22-pound lobster, affectionately known as 'Bubba' was caught off the coast of Nantucket. There was a dispute at the airport over whether Sandpiper Air or Aeromass would fly the beast to Pittsburg, but after Helen talked to Roy and smoothed things over, Brian ended up getting the job done once Lloyd fixed his plane. [Cue credits.]
(Sorry, that's pretty much the only thing I know about Nantucket...and it's not even real... I hate myself.)
|Bubba's future as the main attraction of a delicious bisque was changed to being the main attraction at a far less mouthwatering freak show.|
In reality, the huge lobster was donated to an aquarium at Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, despite pleas from PETA to release him back into the Atlantic Ocean.
Incidentally, (and I'm not making THIS part up) another group called 'People For Eating Tasty Animals' offered market-price for the animal -- at almost $15 a pound.
Estimates to the age of 'Bubba' have spanned from 50-100 years. If that's the case, it's a good thing PETA (the hungry one) didn't buy him after all. That would have been some seriously tough meat.
Incidentally, I just looked it up and Wings was actually on the air for 6 seasons! 6 seasons!? That's horrifying.
Labels: News Commentary
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
CNN Rambo 2005
Federal Cable Decency Standards?
Anyone who watched Sunday's Academy Awards could tell you that the show was...well...bland. And not just normally bland. Blander than the normal levels of Oscar blandness. The likely cause? Broadcast networks' continual fear of the FCC's wrath (strong-armed by the PTC's junta of form letter-senders).
|"That's right honey! No more Sopranos! Just Judge Judy and General Hospital all day."|
ABC forced Robin Williams to cut a song he was going to perform from the show because it made fun of Sponge-Bob Square-Pants' alleged homosexuality in the eyes of James Dobson. The song in question included lines such as "Fred Flinstone is dyslexic, Jessica Rabbit is really a man, Olive Oyl is really anorexic, and Casper is in the Ku Klux Klan."
Even Chris Rock was entirely tame (read: boring), possibly influenced by new legislation that raises fines to $500,000 and allows for performers to be fined.
But this is all at least understandable. Broadcast television is sent out over the airwaves for any and all to see. Governmental authority over the broadcast industry is as old as the industry itself. Most people don't throw their hands up that the PTC and the FCC make broadcast television more boring than watching fly paper on a hot summer's day, because, thank goodness, they have cable.
Today, however, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R), Alaska, is beginning a push to apply the same stringent standards, which render network programming so flaccid, upon cable and subscription radio and television. That means no programming TV-14 and up until "late-night" hours.
"Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area...I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air. There has to be some standard of decency."
Let's put it this way: If people who even occasionally watch television during the day (including those who work at home, ahem) are forced to watch programming akin to what the networks air before 8pm, we're not going to watch.