The MSM has failed us

Why do people read and write blogs? It’s simple. The MSM (particularly newspapers) have failed us. I first started writing in my blog to talk about cool ideas I had and talk about my life.. but I evolved/devolved into writing about the news (particularly politics). Why? Because I couldn’t get the news from the MSM anymore. I couldn’t trust it anymore.

I stopped watching the local TV news years ago when it finally dawned on me that 90% of it was either fluff, filler, subjectivity or propaganda. I started to feel that way about the papers to a lesser extent but gave up once I started to see that most papers were politically slanted and couldn’t stay objective in their reporting.

It doesn’t help that almost all papers and all TV news is owned by huge companies. How can you feel that a) they care about your local issues and b) aren’t motivated by dollars?

So we turn to each other for the news. Sadly most bloggers don’t have the time or the resources or the access to get the news right but you know what? We give credibility to each other because we know that what we write (for the most part) is unmotivated by external factors– what we write is what we feel is the truth.. and that is pretty powerful in it’s own right.

Fall TV

Well, the first week of fall TV is almost over and I’ve seen a lot of the new shows. Let me tell you this. Of all the shows I’ve seen, there are only 2 I like and those two are simply amazing and I hope, prey that they continue for a long time. The first I’ve mentioned before and that’s “Studio 60”. I won’t talk more about it other than to tell you that it’s well written and entertaining and (important) not a serial so you don’t need to see it every week (although you’ll want to).

The second one I finally got to see last night via Tivo. It’s also on NBC and it’s called “Heros”. At first I was skeptical and thought it would be kind of lame. Let me tell you something. This show is amazing. It’s like a comic book come to life. It’s a mystery. It’s sci-fi. It’s the X files and X men all rolled together. It’s really good. I suggest you try to find a showing of the pilot (it’s on the same DVD from Netflix as the Studio 60 pilot and also shown on Sci-Fi channel and I’m sure On-Demand) and see it before Mondays second episode. This show is just cool and fun.

My girlfriend and I agree however that we may have been better off not getting hooked since we fear that it may not last on NBC. It seems to us that the more complex, non-traditional, stuff never seems to last. We’ll just have to see.

Africa

If you saw “Hotel Rwanda” and was horrified at how close to a million people were murdered in 100 days, you were probably feeling like “where was I when it was happening?” or “Why didn’t I know?”. It’s not your fault. Africa isn’t sexy at all for the MSM to cover.

But let me tell you something. Right now, right this second, there is a new Rwanda brewing. It’s happening in Darfur. Take a moment to search the recent news on the region. Here is a country ruled by an Arab that has government sponsored death squads murdering non-arab citizens. Here is a country that although the U.N. wants to put in some peacekeepers, the president won’t allow them. Read any article or editorial about the region and you will see that there is potential for mass genocide here and the only solution seems to be to march in a NATO army like we threatened in Bosnia.

We’ve got to do something there. The key at this point is to simply be more educated. Lets get this country and this continent into our consciousness so we can (and will) discuss it with friends and neighbors. Lets force our MSM to cover it and our government to do something. We can do it. It all starts with you reading up and learning a bit. As you do, you’ll see that this is supremely important.

Work

I started a new job a little more than a month ago and I wanted to update you on it and how it’s affecting my life (since it’s obviously affecting the quantity and quality of posts here). My new job is really cool. I’m challenged and I’m learning and I’m problem solving and all in all having a nice time. On the other hand, my new job has decimated life as I knew it.

See. Up until I took this job I had been working at home. Besides the usual perks (not having to get dressed up, setting my own hours, etc.) working at home meant that I had the freedom to actually enjoy my life. To me, and I’m sure to others, working is a means to an end. You work to make money to be able to enjoy your life outside of work. For most people, that concept is just a dream. They commute and they work and they end up with 2-3 hours of non-scheduled time per day. That time is used up going to the post office, the supermarket, etc. Generally people work for the weekend. Their weeddays are a wash.

When I was working at home I was super productive. I got all my work stuff done and was relaxed enough to handle the day to day (non-work) things in my life as well. I felt at peace. I felt like I was actually realizing what my life was all about. I was enjoying my job and life at the same time. They had somehow mixed in with each other.

But now, and before I was working at home, there is no ‘me-time’, everything is about work from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I get home. Interestingly I’m feeling depressed while at the same time quite happy with my work. I don’t know what to say or do about this other than to wait it out and see what happens. But for now, the blog.. I’m sorry, it’s low on my list sometimes.

T.O. Suicide attempt

http://www.deadspin.com/sports/nfl/to-tried-to-kill-himself-203550.php  .  How would you feel if an entire city hated you? Can you imagine that?  This guy has been getting a totall bum rap by us here in Philly and I could cry when I think about how he might feel. Here is a guy who is all about playing football and he does it incredibly well.. but he isn’t great at dealing with the media.

First of all, think about what happened. We all say he was pigheaded to ask for a raise. Was he? Have you ever asked your boss for a raise? He had a contract? How many NFL contracts are fair to the player and the team? Most of them allow the team to fire you at will.. so you can’t ask for a raise? The Eagles should ahve given it to him. He certainly deserved it.. look at his play in the superbowl! A game that they would not have been in w/o him. Some say a raise would have made other players want one. How hard would it be to tell Rod Hood “yea.. play like T.O. and then come back and we’ll talk”? T.O. was a superstar and within the team he should have been treated like one.

And the TO/Donovan deal.. that stuff 10 years ago was always settled in the locker room and kept there. It was Donavan and the teams fault that it all got out into the media.

Fact is, this guy is an amazing football player and we should jude him on that and that alone.

Where To Start

The current leadership in Washington is an embarrassing failure.  Whether its failed policies are due to simple incompetence or the result of serial lies told to support ideologically failed principles, the net result is the same.  America is headed in the wrong direction.

It’s not enough to simply point to where we are, blame the incumbents and believe that getting rid of them will make everything better.  It won’t.  Wake up America.  The remote control (instant gratification) crowd will go right back to feeding their faces and thumping their chest about how great we are the minute Iraq is off the front page win, lose or draw.

There are a number of things that this country needs to correct before we regain our pre-eminence in the world.  In order to provide a starting point I’d like to offer a few FIRST THINGS FIRST that need to be dealt with that can provide a path to the kind of TRUE REFORM that we need as a nation.

LOBBYING REFORM – Until the current system changes no other meaningful changes will happen in the way the government in Washington functions.  Somehow, the concept of free speech has been extended to corporations giving them the ability to legally shower contributions and other financial support (spouses, family and friends who are directors/consultants, etc.) to members of Congress.  I have heard the arguments pro and con and to me the pro arguments simply sound like free speech rationalizations for continuing the corrupt system that has developed.  People have free speech rights and businesses and industries should also have the ability to put forth their points of view.  Everyone should have access to Congress to provide information and help to develop different agendas.  But today tens of billions of dollars are earmarked to sweetheart programs to perpetuate a legal system of payoffs and cronyism.  I don’t know how to fight that.

Congress is loath to cut off their own feeding trough and any true reformer in the White House would incur the wrath of both parties wanting to keep the party going.  Even the current scandals are fading into memory with only a token change in practice taking the place of any real improvement.   It’s shameful.  Perhaps the many billions of cost involved in the public financing of congressional elections would be cheaper than the cost of the rampant corruption in Washington.   The self-perpetuating formula for corruption is Money = Influence = Power = Money.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – A distorted foreign policy will continue as long as we continue down the current energy path.  Continuing to rely on large amounts of imported oil is another short term, feel good path of least resistance that Americans like to take.  We should be taking a longer view of where current energy policy is taking us and plan for what comes next.

At some point oil will not be used as a fuel source.  Whether for reasons of scarcity or the realization that it is contributing to environmental depredation on a global scale, there will be a next fuel.  Our long term interests as a country (and perhaps as a world if the Inconvenient Truths are true) are best served by getting to that next fuel source sooner rather than later.  How about a Manhattan Project to solve this crying need?

The most immediate way to reduce our reliance on world oil is conservation.  It is the single most promising short term measure that we could do to help ourselves while a long term policy is developed to free us from this dependence.  But that would require sacrifice and I don’t see a lot of political will to upset anyone by pushing higher fuel efficiency standards or higher fuel taxes to fund research, reduce consumption and encourage efficiency.  Demagoguing the issue won’t solve this problem; action will.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – There truly “Ain’t no free lunch” in world economics.  The United States’ pre-eminent position in the world extended to making the U.S. dollar the safe haven investment in international finance.  But there are signs that is changing.

The combined trade and current fiscal deficits now exceeding a TRILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR are not going un-noticed in world markets.  Ironically, the Chinese and Arab countries that hold more than a Trillion Dollars in U.S. securities can now control the fate of the dollar in world markets and thus the direction of interest rates in this country and the amount of U.S. exports in the world markets.  Fortunately, for self-serving reasons up to now the Chinese and Arabs haven’t abandoned the dollar (their remaining investments would be affected by higher U.S. rates and their markets depend on our consuming habits).  It’s all very complicated due to the inter-relationships but suffice it to say that with the risk factors that we have built up, some major event could bring this issue to a head in a hurry with possibly disastrous results for our economy.  One possibility – the Arabs get pissed at us such as they did in the early 70s over our support for some Israeli action and OPEC decides to stop denominating oil purchases in dollars.  A huge market for dollars will disappear overnight.

Doomsday scenarios can be avoided but action needs to be taken.  The basic thrust of the Republican program of cutting spending in the 90s which resulted in the Graham-Rudman (balanced budget) Act and the practice of automatically impounding funds where spending limits were exceeded or revenue goals weren’t met was a good plan.  Too bad the political will to control spending and balance the budget went away on January 20, 2001.  Based on bad (or fabricated?) projections of huge future surpluses, the current administration put through huge tax cuts and, even in the face of all facts to the contrary since then, still clamors for more.

At some point the actual credit worthiness of the U.S. government could come into question and to protect principal a run on the dollar could result.  Perhaps the best deterrent to this is to convince world markets that the dollar and therefore the U.S. economy will remain strong and competitive.  That won’t happen by simply printing more dollars.  Only acts of real fiscal responsibility will convince world markets that we can control the dual deficits that we now seem to be ignoring.

PEACE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS – Our un-wavering support of Israel is one of those things that people hate to talk about at least in the public realm.  Standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel is the only acceptable posture for a politician to adopt if he doesn’t want to piss off every Jewish voter or appear weak or even anti-Semitic.  Our commitment to the state of Israel goes back a long way and is based on the best thinking and intentions of the world’s powers after World War II.  And we have to follow through on this commitment but not by blindly stumbling through Mid East politics with a one message non-starter.  “Surrender and then we’ll negotiate.”

There is no question that the enmity that is heaped at America in that part of the world had its start in our support of Israel.  They don’t simply hate us for our freedom and democracy.  They aren’t attacking Sweden and Denmark.  Our War on Terror will not end before there is peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  The Palestinians will resist the current situation forever.  And this resistance provides the fuel for Radical Islam.  If for no other reason, our support of Israel makes us obvious targets for the fundamentalists while there is no peace in the Mid East.

I don’t know the right path to solving the problems in the Middle East but is seems that a two state solution must be at the end of that path.  With the issue of Jerusalem seemingly the final link in the chain some novel way of sharing control and de-militarizing the religious areas might be part of a final solution.  Better minds than mine have struggled and failed to find the right formula at the right time to achieve peace in that part of the world.  But aggressively pursuing a Mid East peace is of paramount importance to us if we are to ever see an end to our War on Terror.  Then we can get on to dealing with the most immediate threat to our security – not Iran, but North Korea with its proven nuclear capability and developing delivery system.  I wonder how different our posture toward N. Korea might be if they also had oil.

The current administration is wrong on all these issues and hopefully the next Congress will be of a mind to change its direction.  It would be better yet if Bush were to resign now before the wheels fall off.  But whether it is now or in two years the path to regaining our position in the world should start with a commitment to address the things such as outlined above.

So where should we start?

PS1 and the Flaming Lips

Yesterday I was in New York to see “The Flaming Lips”. The concert was amazing (as I had expected a lips show to be) but what made it even better was that they gave every attendee a laser pointer. You can imagine the insanity that ensued. At one point Wayne Coyne held up a mirror and had everyone point to it. That was cool, but not as cool as when he had them turn off all the lights and everyone shined thier lasers (all 2500 of them) onto a huge balloon that was bouncing around in the audience.. It was pretty spectacular. All in all an amazing experience. The Flaming Lips are now (in my book) officially amazing in concert. (here is a link to some videos from the show and here is an example of the laser pointer anarchy)

But that’s not why I’m writing today. As I sit here at work I am having flashbacks to an incredible experience I had earlier in the day yesterday. A friend had taken me to a Moma gallery in Queens called PS1. I’ve been to a number of galleries in my life but nothing compared to this one. First off, it’s an old school building that has been converted into a gallery. The building is beautiful and on it’s upper floors the rooms (classroom sized) are doled out one to an artist so you walk the halls and go into one room and get amazed and then in another room there is something completely different. I’m not doing this concept any justice.. It’s more amazing than it sounds.

The thing that really has my head still spinning was the show that was on the first floor and basement called “Into me/Out of Me” which I believe closes today. I was at first excited when I saw a sign in the hallway warning me about the graphic content I was going to be exposed to since I generally love crazy stuff. I was in some ways surprised and amazingly for me uncomfortable. This stuff was totally hardcore. There was sex, there was blood, there waspregnancy, there was vomit, there was everyhing.. There were video installations, photographs, paintings sculptures.. it’s a rather amazing collection of stuff from the 60’s till today. I saw a ton of famous artist works. As an example, in the basement, way back in a corner of this dark cavelike room that held the boilers for the school was a full sized bronse sculpture of a woman peeing. As you walked in you could hear the trickle.. bizarre, but simply amazing in some strange way. There were Maplethorp photos, videos of strange germans from the 60’s, I can’t even begin to describe it all.

The thing to take from all of this is that PS1 is a bad ass gallery that has some serious clout so there you will most likely see very high quality art but art that you won’t see everywhere.. I don’t know what the next show they have will hold but I do know it will be amazing.

No Internet

Sorry to have been so distant, but alas my net connection is again down and has been for 3 days now (thanks Comcast!). But I do have a couple film reviews for you. Since I had no net yesterday I had time to watch tv. Saw 2 films. First was “Born into Brothels” and it was pretty good. Not amazing, but still interesting. If you ahven’t seen it, it’s about a group of children from the Red Light area in Calcutta (India). It’s sad in a lot of ways that these kids are essentially fucked from day one and also amazing that they show these talents that make you think: “shit, they don’t deserve this life they are in”.. I guess in some ways thats the story of a lot of us.. in civilized society and otherwise.

The other film.. yea.. almost didn’t watch it but it was reccomended by someone so I had to.. I’d been putting it off for a long time since the star (Vin Diesel) was someone that I hardly respected in any way, but it was directed and co-written by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network, etc) so it had some credibility. The film was called “Find me Guilty” and it’s a courtroom drama that pretty closely follows the true story of a RICO trial in New York in the 80’s. Most of the courtroom dialog is straight from the public record of the trial.
I have to say that the film was quite good actually with Diesel the biggest surprise. I totally reccomend it if you want to see a cool mafia courtroom drama.

PA is becomming a green state

You know.. Usually when I think of politics I get depressed. There’s almost never any good news. I can say, however that Pennsylvania (my home state) seems to be getting greener faster than most others. There was the Peco Wind program that I talked about a while back, there is the solar panels on the roof of the governers mansion, and now there is this really cool new set of emission standards that will make PA one of the few states in the nation with standards as high as California. I’m impressed and I have to say: Good job PA!

I’ve another thing to say for the local media who haven’t covered this story at all for some reason. If you look at the phily.com link I included, you’ll see it came from the AP wire and not a local reporter.. For that I have to say : Bad job local media!