December 13, 2008
So, being the parent of a 16-month old extremely active boy can be a bit difficult. I always said that I wouldn’t use TV as a babysitter, but to some extent the new shows are a lot better than the old Tom & Jerry and Mighty Mouse I grew up with. Given how much Wyatt loves us reading to him, I’m not worried about him watching a lot of TV.
The Wiggles has been a godsend. It’s musical, it’s fun, and sometimes Joanna and I find ourselves getting sucked into it. But it recently had a change. A while back, the main guy who started it, Greg Page, had health problems and had to turn over his spot to a new person. The new episodes have just started showing up on Disney. And they suck!
Not only is it so hokey that Joanna and I can’t watch it any more, Wyatt doesn’t care about it any longer. It has completely jumped the shark…
So now it’s Higglytown Heroes, Baby Einstein, etc.
And yes, for those of you who know me personally — this really is what my life has become!
June 24, 2008
As a comedy buff (my XM radio is regularly set to channel 150), yesterday’s news of George Carlin’s passing was not a happy day. Carlin had a knack for taking ordinary parts of life and simply looking from them from an outside perspective, only to show how absurd and funny we all are.
It’s only fitting, then, to post one of his later bits, about our response to the death of friends and family.
Thank you, George. You will be missed.
May 24, 2008
Just heard this on Fox News, related to the upcoming NASCAR and Indy races this weekend, regarding Del Earnhardt:
He was a legend in life, and he was a martyr in death.
I’m reminded of The Princess Bride: “I do not think that means what you think it means.”
Dale Earnhardt’s death, while tragic, was an accident. He wasn’t martyred. To suggest as such would be nearly as bad as comparing a presidential candidate to another who was assassinated in June– to score cheap points.
This is just one more reason why I’m glad I no longer watch Fox News (or any of the cable news channels) on a regular basis any more.
February 4, 2008
Well, I’m not sure that anyone is interested in this, but I got a request from a reader*, and I thought I’d pass this along. If you’re looking for a copy of the movie Faster dubbed into 6 European languages, you can find it here.
So, for the few people who still read this tiny plot on the interweb, you can now order Faster in German. Good for you!
* More accurately, someone who saw that I wrote about Faster through a google search. But she took the time to write me an email about several of my posts, so given that she took the time, I thought I could give her 5 minutes to post this.
July 22, 2007
Britney Spears has apparently joined the trend of buying Yorkshire Terriers, a trend which I* spotted years ago when I purchased mine.
Of course, in an attempt to show that she actually understands what nation these dogs are typically associated with, she named the dog “London”. I don’t know if anyone bothered to explain to her that London and Yorkshire are two completely different cities, about 200 miles apart? It’s like going to someone’s house where they want to impress you and serve steak, but give you Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese as a side dish…
Besides, I don’t think Britney’s dog could ever be as cute as Guinness anyway…
* By saying “I” spotted the trend, I’m taking credit for my wife, who actually knows and cares about trends… If it had been my choice, I’d probably have gone down to the pound and picked up a mutt…
June 9, 2007
I don’t care for Paris Hilton. In fact, whether or not she goes to jail means nothing to me. I’m not even going to use it as an excuse to argue about the validity of DUI laws or the travesties of our justice system. I wish this whole sordid detail would be relegated to the E! channel and the metro section of the paper, not CNN and the front page.
However, I am an opportunist, and I will gladly and shamelessly self-promote anything which might make me a buck. So head on over to my wife’s cafepress store and buy stuff!
The shirts (front & back, multiple shirt styles):
And in true Paris Hilton fashion, a dog shirt and trucker hat…
If you like it, give me a mention at your blog (linking specifically to here, of course)…
April 20, 2007
Last night I was listening to XM Radio online, Channel 47 (Ethel). This was while I was reading, so it was probably already well after midnight. I heard a little promo (they don’t have commercials, but they do occasionally have segues), and it took my attention away from the book.
Ethel Channel 47: Delightful tunes, even if you’re stoned.
All of a sudden the statist brainwashing I got in public schools kicked in… “Are they really allowed to say that?!” Then I realized it’s XM, but I was still surprised they had the cojones. Of course, then as I started to settle back into my lawless personality, I was pretty impressed… Even if they’re not allowed to say it, good for them! After all, when the FEC was considering regulating blogs under campaign finance rules, I pledged that regardless of what laws and regulations they imposed, I wouldn’t stop blogging. If they wanted to come after me, they could come after me.
But I thought about it a second… XM radio, along with the internet, and the rest of the “new media”, is a sign that they’re losing control. Not XM, of course, but the FCC and regulatory establishment. They can do all they want to punish Viacom for letting a breast be shown on national TV, and they can fine Howard Stern, and 15 years ago, that would have been enough to actually put a stop to a lot of that activity. But now, they’ve been outflanked, and people are getting used to having the ability to choose for themselves what to listen to and read.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a dangerous thing for the government to accept. And they’re not going to take it lying down. They’re going to try as hard as they can to get their regulatory hands into the new media. But I think the arguments they used back in the days when they were regulating TV and radio won’t work. People aren’t as willing to submit to the government as they once were. The regulators can’t claim that bandwidth is limited on the internet. And there are too many voices out here that are willing to be loud and fight.
So to answer my original question, “Did they just say that?!” Yeah they did, and what the hell are you going to do about it, bureaucrat?
April 17, 2007
Or, so the WaPo laments:
“Everyone can appreciate the business pressure that the networks are under, but when did they [start] ceding their responsibility to cover these stories?” said Tom Kunkel, the dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism school. “It does kind of make you wonder how big a blood bath there has to be warrant their attention in prime time. How bad does it have to be to supplant ‘Dancing With the Stars’?”
I actually got this story sent to my by my buddy Jim, who gave his own thoughts on it via email, with which I heartily agree.
with this. obviously it was newsworthy, it led every newscast in the country and was on the front page of every newspaper i looked at today from overseas. but how much more did we NEED to know last night? Had things changed? Were we headed to war? How would exploiting the tragic event for an extra three hours of coverage have helped fulfill the networks’ responsibilities to the nation?
Below is my response to his email…
I hear you on this one, Jim… You know what this article is lamenting? Not that the big networks didn’t cover this, but that the big networks are no longer the driver of the news cycle:
“They’d rather run reruns than preempt their regular programming,” Rosenstiel said. “It’s not a surprise, but it is unfortunate. If the networks have lost their role as arbiters of what’s significant in our culture, then they’ve been complicit in that loss.”
They’ve been outdone. They can throw up the local news at 11, but really. If you wanted coverage, where were you going to turn? CNN. Fox News. The internet.
We don’t need the big networks to be the main arbiter of how to handle the news. We’ve got much more specialized avenues of getting that information that do a much better job. Yes, that may mean that Granny Eunice, with her rabbit ears on top of her 19″ Zenith, doesn’t get the same sort of news she got back in the old days. So what? She can wait until the news at 11, or she can catch it on the Paul Harvey show on her hi-fi.
What really gets me, though, is that when you actually watch the constant coverage of cable news, you begin to see that sometimes the news cycle is faster than the actual news:
“Well, although we just talked to him 12 minutes ago, we’re going to go back on scene with John Ondaspot, who is standing outside the Virginia Tech building where this all happened. John?”
“Well, Wolf, if you can see behind me, you’ll see that one of the detectives has moved 6 feet to the left of where he was 12 minutes ago. Other than scratching his ass, he hasn’t really done a whole lot since. No new information has been released on the gunman, of course, and probably won’t for several hours. Back to you, and I’ll check in with you in another 12 minutes.”
Worthless, the whole damn lot of them. Life got much better when I sold my TV.
April 5, 2007
One of the regular readers over at The Liberty Papers is doing a college paper on the similarities between bloggers & pamphleteers. He was looking for an expert to interview, and when he couldn’t find one, he contacted me. With his permission, I’m posting his questions and my answers below the fold.
1. What do you think are the biggest similarities between bloggers today and colonial pamphleteers?
I think the biggest similarity is that it opens communication to the masses. Journalist AJ Liebling once said that freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. While the rise of pamphleteering brought the power of the press to the common man in the 1700’s, blogs have done so today. It is possible, either for free or for a small hosting fee, to provide your ideas to the world.
To understand the similarities between bloggers and pamphleteers, it is also important to understand what they are not. They are not typically authors of scholarly books. They are not typically professional journalists. They are ordinary people from all walks of life with ideas that they want to share, because they think those ideas are important.
The other important similarity is the dynamism involved. Just as it is expensive to write, print, and sell/market a book, it is very inexpensive to do any of these with pamphlets or blogs. Both cover ideas in a much more in-depth manner than a newspaper, but in a much quicker time to print than a book. While most of the mainstream world focuses on the “major” pamphlets and blogs (like Common Sense and Instapundit), though, the world of each was much wider than will remembered for posterity. One book you might want to see if your school’s library has is “Pamphlets Of The American Revolution”, by Bernard Bailyn. It’s was planned as a 4-volume set (although only one has gone to print) containing some of the most influential pamphlets of the time. But the very fact that you could fill 4 volumes simply with the influential pamphlets should clue you in to the idea that the world of pamphleteering filled a lot more space than those few pamphlets which made it into the history books. This is very similar to the world of blogs today. While there are some major blogs out there on the ‘net (a group which The Liberty Papers has unfortunately not yet cracked), there are countless multitudes below of people taking advantage of their ability to publish. Some are great, some are horrible, and most are in between, but they’re all out there in the marketplace of ideas, much like the pamphleteers were before us.
Last, it is important to point out a crucial difference between blogging and pamphleteering, which is due largely to the differences between modern and colonial times. The pamphleteers of the time were writing for readers with a much longer attention span than bloggers can get away with today. I just recently read Common Sense, and it’s a 50-page mini-book. Pamphleteers, of course, didn’t have to compete with driving kids going to soccer practice and what’s on the TV each night, and thus they could afford more room. The blogs of today are mostly short and to the point, and a treatise like Common Sense would likely go unnoticed and unread by today’s readers, much to our detriment.
2. It is said that George Washington read Paine’s “The Crisis” to American troops and it increased motivation for the cause of liberty. In your experience, have there been instances where blogging has helped to unite the American populace in such a way?
It is here that I don’t think blogs necessarily fill the same role as pamphlets. It is here, especially, where the nature of what we describe as the “blogosphere” as a collective entity becomes important. It is rare that individual bloggers write something so profound that it moves beyond a fairly small circle. However, because of the design of the blogosphere, it does have the ability to move a message around quite effectively. When the message itself is important enough, the blogosphere’s linked structure amplifies the message to the point where the American people cannot ignore it.
There have been numerous instances of the blogosphere driving the news cycle, particularly in politics. The most famous is the Dan Rather “fake, but accurate” Texas Air National Guard scandal. Before the world of blogs, such a scandal would have probably gone unnoticed until after the election, and may have even changed the outcome. Instead, a horde of bloggers pounced on the story, and Dan Rather was instantly discredited. Since then, as blogs have become even more widespread, their ability to influence the debate has become even more apparent. Blogs moved word and created debate about the Kelo decision that likely would have gotten unnoticed elsewhere. It was blogs who kept the pressure on when a local woman here in Atlanta, 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston, was killed in a drug raid. It may have been that pressure which resulted in indictments of the officers involved. The effect on politics has been even more profound, as bloggers combed over the public (and occasionally private) statements, histories, and policies of politicians in the 2006 midterm elections, and have already been pounding the pavement in the 2008 Presidential race.
There is a last point, and this is due as much to the nature of the internet in general than necessarily bloggers. The internet itself has allowed people to come together based on personal interests, based on ideology, etc. I can just as easily find fellow libertarians online as I can find fellow homebrewers. While it would be very difficult for me to find like-minded people in the offline world to debate and learn about libertarianism, it was very easy in the online world. Thus, I have access to ideas that a person of my age (28) would have taken another three decades to find without the internet. In this, I’m not alone. The internet has changed the way that information is transmitted, and the implications of that change are currently beyond our ability to foresee. Blogging itself is only 5 years old, and it’s already changing the political and social landscape. Imagine what it might do in another 5 or 10 years!
3. In what way do you think writing for The Liberty Papers and The Unrepentant Individual has made you like early American political writers?
I think the key point, as I see it, is that there are important things going on in the world, and like early American writers, I desire to be a participant in the debate, not a casual observer.
One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Founding Fathers is that they were normal men, on an uncertain course, who ended up doing quite extraordinary things. We idolize them as if they were were a picture of perfection, but when you learn about them, you see just how REAL they were. They had their petty squabbles, they had family disputes. To hear the stories of Ben Franklin’s heartbreak as he had to face the fact that he and his own son were taking different sides in the war for Independence, really hits home that these were ordinary men. Even more important, we look at history as if it were pre-ordained, as if these men knew that they would be victorious in the struggle for Independence. They knew nothing of the sort; they were taking on the world’s most powerful empire armed with nothing more than the force of their ideas and the force of their muskets. They didn’t know they would be victorious, they simply knew that the struggle was worth it either way.
Like them, I am an ordinary man. My education is not in political science or in liberal arts; I’m an engineer. I’ve got plenty of flaws, and I’m not sure whether what I’m doing is having an impact, and if I am, whether that impact will ultimately prove to be futile. There are some days when I think that America is slipping into tyranny and that there are only a tiny few of us who care, or even notice. There are other days when I think that perhaps facing the darkness will be the catalyst to turn America back towards light. I don’t know where the world will be in 5 years, 10 years, or beyond. What I know is that I will not sit idly by and let it all come to pass around me. I want to be a part of it. I may be only a small part, but I will be heard. I think that’s the same feeling those early American political writers had, and that’s what I identify with when I put myself in that place.
February 18, 2007
Britney Spears checked into a rehab facility and then abruptly checked out, a source confirms to PEOPLE. And then on Friday, she returned to Southern California â€“ and she shaved her head completely bald.
There’s something wrong in her bald little head. You stick a semi-normal little girl into the celebrity pressure cooker, and eventually it gets to be too much. If anything, I think it might be an issue that nothing in her life is really “hers” any more. No matter where she goes or what she does, she’s in the public eye. No amount of money can give you back your life, when the paparazzi and the celebrity hounds have turned that life into a product, for which their demand is insatiable.
The cult of celebrity in this country is sickening, and Britney Spears is a casualty. She just wasn’t strong enough to own her life when the “fans” (which, of course, is a word short for “fanatic”) tried to take it for themselves.
I’ve often said I want to be rich, but I NEVER want to be famous.
December 1, 2006
But if the NFL Network’s experience is any indication, the Big Ten’s new 24-hour channel might need to enlist its fans for some arm-twisting of cable companies to see games they’ve had easy access to in the past.
While the Big Ten’s best games will still be on CBS, ABC or ESPN, the rest will be televised only by the Big Ten Network. In 2007-08, that will include 35 football games and 105 men’s basketball games.
The Big Ten said it made that decision in part because, with costs rising for college sports, it will guarantee each school an extra $7.5 million annually.
But if a cable company doesn’t carry the Big Ten Network, the fan who wants to watch, say, an Indiana-Northwestern basketball game is either shut out or must switch to satellite television. That’s what is happening with the NFL Network, which is involved in a dispute with Time Warner, the nation’s second-biggest cable carrier.
When I highlighted the first news of the Big Ten Network, I was cautiously optimistic. It has the ability to be a very positive change, or it could end up making it harder for me to watch Purdue football, as the trees around my house make it impossible for me to get satellite TV.
If this network takes off, and Comcast picks it up as an affiliate, all will be well. Iâ€™ll get great Big Ten content that I donâ€™t get now. If it stays with only DirecTV, though, Iâ€™m going to be spending a lot of fall Saturdays sitting in sports bars watching Purdue. Again, being down here in SEC country, that will entail trying to convince some bartender to devote at least one little TV, maybe in the corner, to a little olâ€™ school like Purdue.
But after this year, I’m not quite as concerned about this. This year, many of Purdue’s games were televised on ESPN360 (internet), ESPN Gameplan (pay per view), ESPNU (uncommon ESPN variant) or ESPN Classic (not on basic cable). I couldn’t watch a single one of those games at home. I did watch the game televised on ESPN Gameplan at a neighbor’s house, but otherwise it was off to sports bars.
So for me, I see this as either a positive thing, if Comcast picks up the network, or neutral. In the linked story, they show that the Big Ten Network will get any game not on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2, so they won’t be competing with ESPNU for broadcast rights. Now all I need to do is start emailing Comcast every other day to make sure they’ll carry it, and all will be well in the Warbiany household!
November 30, 2006
Wow… Just……. Wow.
Submitted without comment, because… Uhh… I got nothin’.
Hat Tip: QandO
November 24, 2006
I don’t have the time to devote to this idea, so I’m throwing it out there. If anyone decides to give it a shot, please let me know…
I was thinking after last year’s stupid media frenzy over the “War On Christmas”, of creating a satire blog just to see how easy it would be to get people into a lather. So here’s what I came up with this morning. You start a blog, devoting maybe 50-70% of your posts to outrage-laden tirades about how the ACLU is trying to take God out of the public square, highlighting businesses who say “Happy Holidays”, highlighting every attempt to turn “Christmas Break” into “Winter Vacation” in schools, highlighting every attempt to take down public nativity scenes, etc.
That much focus will give you credibility with the idiots. But it’s what you do with the other 30-50% that is key. Throw out posts about how Christmas carols like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” are taking away from the glory of Christmas by also highlighting New Year’s. I mean, really take it over the edge. Any time something encroaches on “Christmas”, highlight it as if it’s the end of the world. Phrases like “slippery slope” will come to good use here.
And to really hammer it home, sign every post with the pen name “Jesus Claus”.
This is one of those things that could work very well, because the people who get the joke will think it’s funny as hell, and the people who don’t get the joke won’t even know it’s a joke. You can probably get the entire conservative blogosphere in line with you, and the liberal blogosphere debating you, and a nice little subset of the population can laugh at both. So if anyone is willing to give it a try, I think you’ve got one month to see where it can lead.
The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive linked with “We Need” Doesn’t Obligate The Government
The Unrepentant Individual linked with “We Need” Doesn’t Obligate The Government
Secularists Tossing Around Bad Ideas | Help Save Christmas linked with Secularists Tossing Around Bad Ideas | Help Save Christmas
November 8, 2006
Over the past few years, cable companies have been battling ESPN over the cost of carrying the ESPN channel. It’s long been part of the “standard” cable offerings, but ESPN, knowing their status as the “WorldWide Leader in Sports”, have steadily been raising their costs to the cable providers. It’s gotten to the point where cable providers have been threatening to make it a pay channel.
ESPN, though, rather than taking their foot off the throttle, have kept the pressure up. ESPN GamePlan was understandable, because they were offering pay content for games that wouldn’t normally ever be broadcast nationally. That works well for fans who have left their alma mater’s locale, like I have. For a cost of $99 per season, you can subscribe to ESPN GamePlan and get all the games you desire. But ESPN decided to take it to the next level. They created a new channel, ESPNU, which is dedicated to college sports. And they’ve used this to exert more pressure on cable providers.
You see, ESPN GamePlan games are often available through local affiliates. I have had situations where I’ve caught Purdue games on CSS (Comcast Sports South), which normally would have required a subscription to GamePlan. Those games are usually broadcast locally to the school on ESPN+ channels. But ESPNU is different. It’s a channel like ESPN or ESPN2, in that games broadcast on ESPNU are only available on ESPNU. And they want all cable providers to carry ESPNU. Many have chosen not to, at this point.
Games carried on ESPNU require me to head out to a sports bar to watch. It’s actually been a little tougher than normal, because one place I would normally go to watch games doesn’t even carry ESPNU. So it requires going to certain sports bars. Granted, since I’m a fan of Purdue, a mid-level Big Ten team, I understand that it’s going to be a little tough for me to always find my team on TV. But ESPN knows that if they really want to get cable providers signed up for ESPNU, they must piss off fans of bigger programs. So earlier this year, Ohio State played a conference game on ESPNU, much to the chagrin of Columbus residents. OSU fans seem to think it’s a god-given right to watch Buckeye football on basic cable. Last weekend, I believe (I could be mistaken) that the Michigan – Ball State game was on ESPNU. ESPN is trying very hard to use their “monopoly” power to ensure local cable providers will add ESPNU to their lineups.
I use the term “monopoly” in quotes for a reason. ESPN is the “WorldWide Leader in Sports” for a reason, and that’s because they’ve done it better and cheaper than anyone else for quite some time. But they’re not a state-enforced monopoly, they’re a natural monopoly. And they’re pissing off their customers. You know what the result of that will be? As I pointed out before the season started, the result will be the Big Ten Network. In a natural monopoly, competition will arise which forces the monopoly power to change its ways, or lose its monopoly status. The Big Ten Network is the first attempt at doing just that, offering the games not carried by ESPN, ESPN2, or a major network, and putting on its own channel that may carry less of a price tag than ESPNU.
This is a real-life example of the natural breakup of a natural monopoly. And I’m not going to guarantee it’s going to be a clean fight, and I’m not going to guarantee everything will come up roses. But I think it will work itself out, and it will do so without the power of government. Not that anyone will pick up on the lesson, but I feel like someone has to point it out.
The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive linked with ESPN Power Struggles
November 7, 2006
(which is also the title of a great song, the theme song from the Sopranos, sung by A3)
On the way to work this morning, I was listening to talk radio as usual, and they were playing some quotes about today’s election. Specifically, the quotes were from Howard Dean and Ken Mehlman.
It was funny. They were both so upbeat, so confident. Dean was popping off about America “wanting change” and talking about how great having both houses of Congress was going to be. Mehlman, was pontificating about a “shift” towards the GOP that would help the GOP retain both houses.
One name came to mind:
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