Saturday, February 18, 2012

Here's What's Ruining Cable TV

As this blog is essentially the repository of anything I happen to have going through my mind at any given moment, I find that I'm totally forgetting some important political topic.  So, instead (and perhaps to your relief), I'm going to write about an interesting discovery I made regarding cable television.  It seems that the corporate powers that be are not so sensitive to what we would prefer to watch, even with hundreds of channels to choose from.

It seems that corporate advertisers really love having macho-male men endorse their products.  Usually this means sports stars.  But advertisers, ever anxious to megaphone more of their propaganda into your ear at less cost to them, have turned to other "manly" men.  You might have noticed how Old Spice has been endorsed by Bear Grylls (as if you need deodorant out in the wilderness), and the spokesperson for Ford is Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs.  Had Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) not been killed, we'd be seeing him on more commercials as well.

This is part of an overall growing trend where advertisers really don't want to shell out the big bucks to sports figures anymore because their agents have priced them so high that they're almost out of the market.  So, to get the "manly" man they want to advertise their macho products, the producers of major cable programming have been strong-armed into producing shows which feature such men.

Maybe "strong-armed" isn't the right word.  After all, the History Channel is owned by a consortium of A&E Television Networks, Disney-ABC Television, and NBC Universal (which, in turn, is owned by Comcast and GE).  The ones being strong-armed are the junior producers, given a strict edict to find the manliest man shows available -- all so they don't have to pay more money to Jeremy Lin, Aaron Rogers, or Albert Pujols.

Hence, we tune in to Discovery, History, Animal Planet or The Science Channel - formerly havens where we could flee to in order to get something, anything, to feed our mind - only to find stuff non-educating and non-interesting: The Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Ice Fliers, American Chopper, American Loggers, Sons of Guns, Storm Chasers, Ax Men, Gold Rush, Full Metal Jousting, Swamp People, Hillbilly Handfishin', etc., etc.  Thank heaven for Mythbusters!

In short, this is why we find no history on the History Channel, no discovery on the Discovery Channel, fewer animals on Animal Planet and less science on the Science Channel.  Shit, next thing you know, they're going to stop showing music on MTV.

(Oh. Yeah.)

This trend was revealed to me by Steve Boettcher, the co-producer of "Pioneers of Television" which has recently aired on PBS.  He has watched this trend from the inside.  But he is part of a growing trend of independent producers and filmmakers who are trying to transform Milwaukee into the new home for independent films, which is possible because of our low production cost, close proximity to Chicago, and close ties to many in the independent film industry.

Who knows?  Maybe Milwaukee will help solve this problem by producing independent shows that feed the mind instead of advertisers' pocketbooks.  Maybe then, corporate interests will see the huge market they have unwittingly alienated.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Safe Sex, Unsafe Politics

Well, looks like voters in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado have said "not so fast" to Mitt Romney.  And Rick Santorum, campaigning on his "I'm the best of what's left" ticket, has suddenly vaulted in front.

Interesting. In a bid to find an alternative to Romney, conservatives just keep going from bad to worse.  Don't rule out a late-entry to this race right before Super Tuesday.  If they'll vote for Ol' Ass-Juice, they'll vote for anybody.

The only reason I'm writing about that stuff is to grouse about what he and Romney have decided to fight over lately, and that's the recent rules that would force all hospitals, including those run by religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, to provide workers health insurance that covers contraception, including sterilization.

Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich are all calling this a violation of religious freedom, and there I have to fight back.  Religious hospitals do not force employees to attend Mass, nor do they refuse to hire Muslim or Hindu staff members.  That's because they recognize that their hospitals are about healthcare, not religion.  By the same token, the health insurance they provide to such employees must be equally secular.

If the Catholics don't like it, they can damned well get out of the hospital business!

What cracks me up is that these birth control methods are practiced by 98% of so-called Catholics, proving once again that the Catholic Church in the U.S. really exists in name-only.  What doubly cracks me up is that anyone, anyone at all, bothers to continue identifying themselves as Catholic in light of the Church not representing one damned thing they believe in, least of all Jesus' own principals.

This is why every Catholic who does not renounce his or her religion is a hypocrite.  Oh, wait, TWO candidates are just such people!  Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich!

And Newt Gingrich feels it's okay for religions to force people to follow the religious principles he has outright rebelled against through three marriages and numerous affairs.  You just can't make this shit up.

So what's really at stake here?  Is it a violation of religious freedom to keep religions from oppressing personal liberties?  All the Republican front-runners say that it is.  They're all wrong.  But damn it all, a whole lot of people are infected with the same delusion that they are.

Gingrich did raise one legitimate point where he pointed out how secularists have been consistently restricting religious liberties over the years.  This, of course, is because religion has been left to assume unlawful favoritisms throughout most of America's past, and now such illegal perquisites are being taken away.  Well, religionists can complain all they want to about that, but it simply isn't a violation of religious freedom to take away a religion's ability to continue to steal undeserved privileges.  So there.

It seems there are political social diseases just as there are sexual ones. If we can practice safe sex, can we not also practice safe politics? Especially since so many politicians suffer from mental gonorrhea?

Let's just hope that when these guys decide to fuck us regarding contraception, they'll have the good sense to use one of the condoms they don't believe in!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

Well, it's February already, and we're a little closer to finding out who the Republican candidate for president will be, and no closer to finding out who the season-starting left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers will be. It's either Romney or Gingrich, and both of these guys have as much chance of beating Obama as Ryan Braun has of beating his failed drug test.

Meanwhile, Groundhog Day came and went; that superstitious holiday where people go and pester an overgrown rodent on the principle that it knows better than NOAA, the NWS, numerous supercomputer simulations and at least half a dozen strategically orbiting weather satellites when spring will arrive.  And these are going to be the same people that will choose the next Leader of the Free World.  Eh, who knows?  Maybe Mr. Holy Underwear has a snowball's chance in Hades after all.  However, Mitt did come out of his hole, saw Newt Gingrich's shadow, and ran back inside, which means at least six more weeks of campaigning.

Meanwhile, the cherry blossoms in D.C. are in bloom.  Yeah.  In February.  No Snowmageddon this year.  (Not yet, anyway.)  In fact, people are wondering where the heck winter went.  Oh, don't get me wrong, we'll get a cold-snap at some point.  We always get at least two each year, and we're overdue for our second.  But now Europe is getting socked in with record lows and massive amounts of snow, all because the Jet Stream has blown it over to them this time.  I seem to recall, back when WE were getting all that snow last year, and global warming deniers were guffawing, how Europe was having unseasonably mild temperatures.  Who gets the warm spell next year, northeastern Siberia?

It's not global warming, necessarily.  We won't really feel the effects of that until the North Polar Cap is almost entirely gone, and that's a little ways off, yet.  No, when that happens, we'll ALL be feeling it.

I guess my point to all this, whether it be sports, or weather, or politics, is that we ain't seen nothin' yet.  Things are just getting (pardon the over-extended metaphor) warmed up.  In politics, we're just beginning to see the contentiousness that will happen, because as the religious right begins to lose, they will get ten times more shrill. As the polar cap vanishes, global warming will very suddenly become obvious.  And sports?  Just you wait!  Steroids are going to be the least of its problems.

We're on the cusp of producing artificial hemoglobin, which could transport so much oxygen throughout our bloodstream that someone could do wind-sprints for five hours and not break a sweat.  We're close to nanobots being able to rebuild broken bones and torn muscles, and viruses being able to rewrite our DNA.  If you think steroids are contentious, wait until an athlete's DNA is rewritten to produce more testosterone naturally -- beyond any possible detection.  Wait until life-spans are extended and 50 and even 60 year-old athletes glut the market, making it all but impossible for rookies to break in.  Wait until that classmate of Ryan Braun's, who rivaled him in high school, decides to retire from that engineering job he was forced to take after he broke his leg in college, and comes back to make a pro career at age 70.

Yes, it's all possible.  Because computers can put it all within reach.  A computer that filled a room in 1960 could fit into your pocket by 1980, and the computers that could fill a room in 1980 now ride on everyone's hips as smart phones.  By 2030, those computers will fit inside a blood cell!  Don't think so?  Computers have been getting twice as powerful and half as expensive every two years, but it's not a straight curve.  It's a logarithmic one -- meaning it's speeding up.  And before most of us reach 80, I think one of our super-sophisticated computers will get creative, sentient, and be able to invent new technologies itself.  It will built a better version of itself, which will build a better version, and so forth.  We humans will never need to invent things again.  And so many life-extending technologies will emerge that it will be hard to keep track of it all.  Imagine having a brain with its own external computer-drive so that you have photographic memory of everything, and will be able to do six-figure calculus in your head!  Imagine old age being conquered and living forever!  Imagine being able to give teenagers internal contraception which they can remove when they land a steady job in their 20's?  Let's see what the Catholic Church makes of teenage pregnancy becoming a thing of the past!

Now imagine if the rich get their way, and they are able to hoard all that new tech for themselves.  If lassez-faire economics gets its way, that will happen.  Oh, don't get me wrong, capitalism is fine, but it's not an absolute!  And if some government control isn't maintained over free enterprise, then what will happen when all this cool technology arrives is that YOU, Mr. and Mrs. Public, will die, and the rich will live forever!

Don't think so?  Just you wait.  Two years ago a medical team was able to manufacture a kidney from scratch.  Yes!  An actual kidney!  It's already here.  It's arriving just around the corner.  We'll be alive long enough to see it, I think.  And if we are, we might just live long enough to live forever.

So you'll understand why I'll vote for bad Liberals over good Conservatives in the meantime.  I have no intention of being one of the 99% who are denied an indefinite life-span!  As for all of you, all I can say is, eat right, exercise, and vote Democrat.  That way maybe I can see all of you looking like you did in your 30's, eighty years from now.

Am I way off?  Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet!