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Monthly Archives: August 2006

when no one cares

While the entertainment world was riveted on the Tom Cruise being canned story, there was a very interesting TV announcement made by CBS. They announced that the upcoming season of their long running reality show ‘Survivor’ will feature four different teams. The big twist is that the four teams will be divided by race. There will be a team of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.

Coming off the lowest rated season in it’s 12-season run, CBS apparently felt the need to shake things up. So the obvious solution? Controversy. And what better controversial topic than race relations? I can’t think of any. I talked to a number of people about this today, none of whom actually watch the show (I admittedly caught every episode of Season 1, but literally have not watched any since then), and almost everyone sounded like they might be interested in watching it given this new format. I guess it’s like the car wreck that everyone slows down to see, even though they know they shouldn’t.

I for one will not be watching the show, as per usual. I will admit being momentarily interested, until I realized how wrong and manipulative it is. It’s a free country, and they can do whatever they want. But it just doesn’t sit well with me.

One person that is excited about the show is conservative talk radio loud mouth Rush Limbaugh, whose comments regarding the show only further stuffed his fat foot in his oversized mouth. He stated on the air that the black team would be at a disadvantage because they are not good swimmers. He also called the Asian team the “brainiacs”, said the Hispanics would “do things other people won’t do” and said the white team might win if they allow “cheating” and “oppression”. Very nice. Way not to hide your true conservative values. Too bad no one with half a brain listens to you anymore and could call you out on your extremely blatant racist remarks.


when the going gets tough

Most political pundits across the country have their eye on Ohio as the key battleground in the upcoming elections. But besides being annoyed by seeing attack ads every commercial break on TV, I don’t think most people in Ohio really care at the moment. And who can blame them? Our current Governor, one of the most crooked politicians ever to hold office, recently received a 17% approval rating, by far the lowest of any governor in the country. With people like that in office, it’s hard to get excited about politics.

I for one though am pretty excited, or at least interested in the outcome. I’m not a huge fan of the Democratic candidate for Governor, Ted Strickland. But when faced with the alternative, it’s hard not to rally behind the guy. His opposition is current Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell. Blackwell, with the loyal support of all the right wing religious extremists in the state, is trying to ride a wave of intolerance and hate into office. But thankfully, recent polls are showing that he’s got an uphill climb, to the tune of 20%.

So what does Blackwell do? Just ratchet up the hate. In a recent speech, he called homosexuality a “transgression against God’s law” that can be cured, and compared gays to arsonists and kleptomaniacs in that they can all be cured. How very tolerant. I guess that’s what he reads in that Bible he is never seen without, and is a preview of what we can expect from the “government centered on God” that he hopes to put into place.

If you are interested in reading more about how religious extremists are influencing Ohio public policy, check out the new blog Happy Agenda, which is all about that very subject. Despite how Ohio turned out in the 2004 elections, it looks like the religious right isn’t going to get it’s way with politics in 2006. Thank God!

as days grow shorter

The last few weeks have been a blur. It seemed like every day and every night there was something going on. Concerts, weddings, dinner plans, gatherings, etc. Now as summer is starting to wind down, things seem to be getting back to a more normal (and manageable) pace.

After not going to many concerts this year, all of a sudden I found myself attending three in just over a week. First was the Black Crowes show at Tower City Ampitheater, which I hit up with my friend who is a huge fan. The show was alright. I hadn’t listened to them in about 10 years, so I only recognized the songs from back in the day, which were still good. After that was the big Kuyahoga Festival at Blossom. Despite a lengthy downpour (which is not fun if you’re cheap and sit on the lawn), I had a good time with the highlight being seeing the Flaming Lips for the 4th time (and they were better than ever). Then a few days later, I joined a friend for the sold-out Raconteurs show at the House of Blues, that blew away my expectations. That Jack White can play seem mean guitar.

Besides that, I’ve been out and about seeing a lot of people (which is atypical for me, the recluse). Went to an awesome wedding this weekend of two high school friends. It’s very refreshing to go to a wedding that does nothing by the book. I can only hope that if that day comes for me that I can have something that other people can enjoy as much as I enjoyed this one.

Still doing the running thing. Last week I passed the 500 mile mark for the year. While I’m well behind pace for the 1,000 miles I had hoped to achieve this year, I’m happy with where I’m at. I’ve also back into following the Cleveland Indians. While it’s disappointing that they had to unload a bunch of talented players, it is kind of exciting and refreshing to see the younger guys out there playing their hearts out. Went to the game last Thursday with a big group, sat in the bleachers, and had a great time. I’m going to try to hit up a few more before the season is over.

Thieves all around us

I ran across an interesting news story today regarding a video spoof of Al Gore on the popular video sharing site YouTube. The video entitled “Al Gore’s Penguin Army” was seemingly a simple spoof by some bored 29-year-old guy who didn’t share Gore’s opinion about global warming in his new movie “An Inconvenient Truth” (which I saw a month ago, and despite what you might believe, it is an excellent movie that stays very non-political while discussing the crisis we are facing due to global warming). But after a little digging by the Wall Street Journal, it was found that the movie was actually produced by a very well-funded Republican public relations firm, DCI, which also does a lot of work for oil giant Exxon (story here).

So this is yet another example of how major corporations are manipulating the internet into just another mass marketing machine. And in instances like this, it is very successful because most people are not aware that they are watching something put together by people with a lot of money for the sole purpose of shaping their opinion. Instead, they think the average viewer thinks they’re just watching some funny video an average guy just like them put together in their basement. I don’t know about you, but I get very upset when corporations, political parties, or anything other group with a ton of money, try to use this sort of guerilla marketing to try to shape my opinions without being upfront about it.

Another group that is infiltrating the web is the military. As if requiring schools to allow them to show up and harass their students into joining was not enough, the various branches of the military are now crawling all over MySpace, trying to by your “friend” and ultimately get you to join in on their fun (story here). There have also been rumors around for a while about record labels starting up their own blogs under the guise of normal music fans to stealthily promote their own bands.

So the bottom line is, as if you needed to be told, don’t trust what you read/see/hear on the internet. That diary you’ve been reading might actually be funded by a huge corporation like Johnson & Johnson to try and sell you a certain kind of soap that the author might conveniently mention here and there.

Book Review – "The Brief History of the Dead"

One of my new year’s resolutions was to read 12 books this year, one for each month. Well, here we are at the start of August, and I just now finished my first of the year. Better late than never I suppose.

The book that got me back into reading was “The Brief History of the Dead” by Kevin Brockmeier. I happened to stumble across this recommendation on NPR which led to me picking it up at the library. I made it through to the end, but it got to be some tough sleding near the end.

The premise of the book is that when a person dies, they go to this sort-of parallel world, which is pretty much like the “living” world, and a person remains there as long as someone in the living world remembers them. So it’s like a temporary afterlife. But once the last living person who remembers them dies, they disappear from this parallel world. Sort of sounds science-fictiony, but it’s really not.

So the book alternates chapters between the “real world” and this other world. In the real world, there is a plague that is wiping out the population. So in turn, the parallel world is shrinking drastically as well and the people there are trying to figure out what is going on. A fairly interesting concept that kept my interest for about 2/3 of the book. Unfortunately, after that, things sort of slowed to a snails pace and the book just dragged along. It’s a fairly short read (around 250 pages), but I almost didn’t make it through because it got to be so dull. But ultimately I wanted to see what happens at the end.

The book was ranked three stars out of five on Amazon, which seems about right to me. It showed a lot of promise in the beginning, but it really dragged on at the end as if the author wasn’t quite sure where to take things and how to wrap them up.

putting the days to bed

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, been a bit busy. I’m sure you, my small handful of readers, have been hanging on edge to see how the move went. Well, I’m happy to say things have gone pretty well. Ask me that the day or two following the move, and I would have had a different answer for you. But this week was good.

The highlights of the move:

– Rain and humid weather during most of the truck packing
– Being unable to get a large computer desk out the door and not having the tools to take it apart.
– Driving the U-Haul truck literally .2 miles, filling it up, only to find the truck would not start. After two jump starts, we managed to get it rolling (adding onto the 171,000+ miles already put on the truck)
– Waiting nearly an hour and a half for a pizza delivery

And the following days only got worse as we realized we had more stuff than space. Also, a number of pieces of furniture ended up breaking and having to be thrown out and subsequently replaced. Also, mail is apparently still being delivered to the old address despite a call to the post office where they acknowledged having received the change of address notification two months ago but could not explain how it was not being enacted.

But all is not bad. The cats seem to get together OK. They chase after each other a lot and roll around fighting, but it seems to be more playful than hateful (which is always good). We have managed to maximize our storage spaces and things are quietly disappearing from sight. We’re still getting used to everything, but it seems like things will be alright in the end. We are planning to have people over next weekend, so the last things will most likely get picked up, organized and put away this weekend. Then hopefully things will get back to normal.