Tag Archives: Current Events

Looking Forward: Politically Speaking

I have just looked at Teaching Television for the first time in a long time. A long, long time. I was shocked to see that my last post here was in May of 2011. In it was a nasty little review of a mean-spirited TV show called “Repo Games.” My feelings for the new rash of “reality” shows still hasn’t changed but I have to admit that I am currently following two new shows of this genre. They are “Face Off” from Syfy and “Ink Master” from Spike. I guess they appeal to me on a creative level. Since Syfy and Spike aren’t paying me, I honestly don’t care if you check them out or not.

Not Sure of Anything

I really don’t have plan here. Consider it an exercise in extemporaneous writing. There is one thing I am sure of..I am not sure of anything anymore.

I used to think that out government worked for all of the people. Now? I am not so sure. I have spent the last eight months watching the Republican party trot out a list of potential presidents that make a Ringling Brothers clown car look dignified. The parade has passed several of them by but the few that are left are not really any better. Rick Santorum seems to hate everyone who isn’t Rick Santorum. His ideas appear to be based on his own elitist, racist, homophobic, misogynistic ideology. One of my favorite WTF quotes from Santorum comes from his book It Takes A Family: Conservatism and The Common Good (2005).

“The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong.”

I am not really sure where this stuff comes from. He has said many times that all of our rights come from God. For that matter, all of the Republicans claim to have a hotline to the Almighty. That should be very, very troubling to Christians in this country. It is my theory that if Jesus were to come and reclaim the planet, he wouldn’t be a Republican.

What Party Would Jesus Join?

I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s beliefs. I have my own and I very rarely share them. But I don’t care if you believe in a higher power or not. The stuff that Jesus said in the bible is not a bad way to live. Do you have to be a Christian to treat all people with dignity? To offer a hand to the poor? The sick? The imprisoned? I don’t think so. But the new batch of candidates seem to collectively believe that Jesus wants them to have lots and lots of money and He also wants them to keep as much of it as possible. Sure, He once said “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required” but who cares? Right? Right? As long as the very rich remain very rich, the rest of the country should just shut up and keep on working. It seems to be the Republican way.

Treason As Policy

And speaking of the Republican way…I am of the firm belief that they are traitors to America. Harsh? Sure but I have my reasons. Number one is the Grover Norquist tax pledge. Here is a man, a private citizen, who has absolute control over the entire Republican party. 238 Representatives and 41 Senators have signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes. By signing this pledge, an entire political party has turned its collective decision-making process over to a single individual. Every time the “Super Committee” met to deal with the economy, half of them were working for Grover Norquist. The only way to save the economy is to spend less money and earn more. Cut and tax. But the Republicans have promised a billionaire that they would never do that. In spite of their oath to the people of the United States of America, they choose to serve a man named Grover.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Breaking this oath should be treason. Read it. Is promising Grover to enter into negotiations with a close-minded agenda equal to serving with true faith and allegiance? Can anyone who signed Grover’s pledge honestly pretend to take their obligations of office “freely, without any mental reservation”? And how, exactly, can a republican get away with swearing “true faith and allegiance” to Grover Norquist over the needs and interests of the people they have sworn to serve? I cannot understand how this happened and I cannot understand how it happened so universally. It is chilling and our country is facing a crisis.

It’s The Democrats Too…

I’ve been picking on the Republicans a lot but mostly because they make it so easy. But the Democrats shoulder a certain amount of the blame. When the last few real journalists point out things like the fact that insider trading is illegal for all Americans except for members of congress, there are democrats on that list. In 2001, Martha Stewart, acting on an insider tip, sold off just over 39,000 shares of stock she was holding for a company called ImClone Systems. She avoided a $49,637 loss by selling her shares before the ImClone stock prices were set to drop. Because of this, Stewart was tried and convicted on nine counts of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. She ultimately spent 5 months in jail, two years of supervised probation and 5 months worth of electronic monitoring via and ankle bracelet.

Meanwhile, members of congress have been allowed to serve on committees that oversee such issues as the economy, debit card fees, and healthcare and then use that information to purchase stocks in the very same industries they are tasked with overseeing. In our world, that is called insider trading and it is a crime. In congress, it’s called a perk. That is why the average US Senator’s stock portfolio beats the market average by 12%. That number is higher than corporate insiders and way better than “average US households.”

Now Where?

Some thing has to change. “We the people…” no longer has any meaning to the members of the Senate or Congress. I am not sure how it can be fixed or if it can be fixed but one thing we need to do is stop vetting our candidates based on their views on abortion, their religious beliefs or how many bad things they say about the other candidate. Like it or hate it, abortion is the law of the land. George W. Bush was president for 8 years and never even pretended to tackle the issue. The next president won’t either. A candidate’s religious upbringing should have no bearing either. If the candidate is the right candidate, their faith is not our business. Period. We are divided in this nation and it is why we are falling.

When I started this, I honestly had no idea where it was going to end up. J.R.R. Tolkien once said of Lord of the Rings that it was a tale that “grew in the telling” because when he started it, he had no idea where it would end up. Sort of like this post. Except that The Lord of the Rings was a little better. OK…a lot better. But I still have no idea where to go from here. Throughout my four years writing Teaching Television, I have bounced from mission to mission, voice to voice and outlook to outlook. I started out as a cut-and-dry technical blog on bringing the media into the classroom. That didn’t last very long. I dabbled in current events and political commentary and even design. I have no idea what is going to happen next. But I am pretty sure it won’t be another 8 months before the next post.


And Now This Word From Ronald Reagan

I believe a case can be made that the decline in the quality of public school eduction began when Federal aid to education became Federal interference in education.

~Ronald Reagan


Journalism? Conservative Cannibalism Keeps Fake Scandals Alive

Yes. The country has been taken back. Back to a time when gentility and civility did not exist. Back to a time when divisiveness was de rigueur. Back to a time when disrespect was common, racism was fun and facts never got in the way of a good story. The so-called Tea Party Movement was able to shift this country even further towards the right with a simple grass-roots movement which, in turn, was backed by a simple corporate news conglomerate and some billionaires who want to keep the conservative agenda alive. The best way to do that is, of course, to keep the huddled masses huddling.

Facts?

Facts just get in the way of a good story. Why bother with finding out of a story is true when it plays so well on the radio and TV? Point in case? The President’s trip to India. Earlier in the week, an unnamed source from an unnamed agency stated that President Obama was on his way to India and that the trip was going to cost $200 million dollars a day and that there were to be 34 warships and an aircraft carrier going as well. Once the story hit the Internet it was picked up by the conservative news services. Suddenly Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity even the freshly elected Michele Bachmann were all harping on the President’s big, extravagant, luxury ridden trip to India. Never mind the fact that the Pentagon laughed at the notion of committing 10% of the US Navy on a peacetime visit. Never mind the fact that Factcheck.org did the math and pointed out that $200 million a day is more than the Iraq war cost. Never mind the fact that no one in the White House ever said anything. That the Secret Service doesn’t release this sort of information to anyone. Ever. And why shouldn’t we mind the facts? Because they just get in the way of a good story.

When pressed by Anderson Cooper for some additional information about the numbers, Michele Bachmann stated, “Well these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press…” Well of course they are. And that leads us back to Beck and Limbaugh and Hannity and Fox News and every other member of the corporate conservative news machine. They have stopped reporting the facts and started reporting what each other reports about the facts. To say, “It’s in the press” is tantamount to saying “Fox News is reporting that Fox News has said (insert fake scandal here)…” Fox News is now a self-perpetuating, fake-scandal reporting, fact-ignoring juggernaut. It exists by feeding off of itself to the extent of hiring the very same people they pretend to report on.

It’s On The Internet

Eric Bolling from Fox Business News might actually deserve the credit for getting this ball rolling on his Fox program, “Follow the Money.” He ran a package with numbers quoted from an Indian website. Numbers that were not substantiated, verified or accredited. But hey, it’s just the news…right? And to absolutely prove he was right, Bolling added this little gem:

“I will tell you unequivocably, I am not making this up, this has been reported, go to the Internet, go take a look.”

Go to the Internet and take a look. Does that mean that if it’s on the Internet it’s true? Good. What else is true then? Let’s start with one I found on Drudge. “REPORT: US Military to build kilometer-long bomb-proof tunnel – so Obama can go to the Ghandi Museum…” Really? I thought that I should read the article before commenting on it. Or linking to it on my blog. Drudge should try that once in a while. The article starts out by condemning the American mind-set. The author, Pandurang Mhaske, writes, “It could give a sense of superior American organization, or be an indicator of a deep-set persecution complex. It could also be a manifestation of Uncle Sam’s penchant for a show of strength.” Deeper into the article, Mhaske describes the tunnel. “The tunnel would be a kilometer long and measure 12ft by 12ft — enough to let Obama’s cavalcade pass through. The tunnel would be centrally air-conditioned, fitted with close-circuit television cameras, and will be heavily guarded at every point, including, of course, its entry and exit.” Sweet. But wait! There’s more!

Mhaske wrote, just before describing the tunnel that it would be built by American military engineers IN JUST ONE HOUR! “They came up with a quick solution which left the Indians accompanying them amazed: A bomb-proof over-ground tunnel — to be installed by US military engineers in just an hour.” Amazed indeed. The only amazing part will be if any of this is even remotely true.

Other “True” reports on the internet include:

  • The Pentagon was not hit by a jet liner on September 11, 2001. BUT…
  • The Pentagon was built on occult symbols that can only be seen from the air but that are hidden and “barely discernible albeit almost complete.” It was done for undisclosed reasons by undisclosed people.
  • The moon landings were hoaxed.
  • UFOs have been visiting earth for centuries and much of what we are, we owe to our alien pals.
  • Atlantis existed.
  • George W. Bush was a Mass Murderer.

All on the Internet so, according to Fox News, all true.


And Now This Important Message…

Spencer Tracy recited these lines in the 1960 movie Inherit The Wind.

Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!

Of course he was talking about evolution in a movie loosely based on the so called Scopes Monkey Trial but he could have been talking about the current state of politics in America. The favored hark and cry of the Tea Party supporters is some variation on “We want to take America back.”

Back To Where?

“We want to take America back.” Back to where? Or is it back from where? Who has it that shouldn’t? Or is it the whole progress thing? Listening to the candidates, it seems that the new conservative movement wants to take us back to a time where women and minorities knew their place. Back to a time where only land owners could vote. Back to a time where the poor were left to die and only the wealthy had health care. Back to a time “when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind.”

VOTE!

The madness has to stop. Where are we in this country when followers of a candidate are wearing uniforms? When private security guards are arresting reporters? Where political candidates are discussing revolution as a viable option. Armed insurrection against the government of the United States of America as a political option? And why? Because they lost an election two years ago?

Please get out and vote. I really don’t care if you vote Democrat or Republican. Just don’t vote for the lunatic fringe. And don’t vote for anyone these people represent.


Fixing Education: Part 2

Of course the education system is not easy to fix. Of course simple solutions can’t possibly work. Of course because the world is a modern, technologically driven, globalized community, nothing is simple anymore. But that won’t stop me from offering a simple solution. Now…where was I?

Step One: Write Off The High Schools…For Now.

In certain circles, I can offer this bit of advice and people will look at me like I have grown a second, evil head. I am proposing that any plan that seeks to “fix” the educational system of the United States of America should leave out our high schools. Is it harsh to say that by a time a young person has reached his or her teens, the damage is done? And, for that matter, do they require “fixing”? I would have to say no and yes.

Every generation has its “These kids today” moments. When my parents were young, they couldn’t watch Elvis from the waist down. The holders of morality for that generation were afraid that Rock-and-Roll would destroy a generation. Post Elvis, there was the Beatles and their “long” hair. Along the years we experienced the Rolling Stones, Blondie, Grandmaster Flash, Devo, and about a thousand others. “These kids today” of every generation survived the onslaught of Jazz, Rock-and-Roll, Rhythm and Blues,  New Wave, Hair Bands, Grunge, Alternative, Hip Hop, Rap and everything in between. They survived the movies, television shows, comic books, concerts and Playboy and emerged on the other side as fully formed adults who broke the sound barrier, flew to the moon, and invented everything from microchips to Velcro. They became artists and doctors and rebels and politicians as well as plumbers and masons and electricians. They raised families and watched their kids do better than they did.  And we look at today’s “These kids today” (TKT) and weep for the future. Why? What has changed?

The Blame Game

It is easy to blame the media but it is unfair to blame any one medium for the ruination of this year’s graduating class. But when a child is walking, talking, media showcase, how can his teachers compete for his attention? I have six students in here with me now. They have an assignment and they know what to do and when the deadline is. All six are either on a computer or sharing one. From here I can see two screens are on Facebook and the other two are playing games. (Might sound like bad classroom management but part of the assignment is to meet deadlines and then, if the deadlines aren’t met, to analyze and problem solve the breakdown of the group dynamic.) I see two cell phones out and texting and I can hear another one vibrating in a pocket. All six kids have headphones on and are listening to their MP3 players. It’s not one medium that is making it hard, it’s all of them.

Yes. I understand that my kids are breaking the rules and wasting their time. Yes. I know that I should march up and down and gently reinforce the importance of education and cajole them into getting back on task. I should know each and every one of them by name, understand their home situation, know what each one wants to be when grown and make damned sure they have the tools they need to get there. But I’m tired. I am tired because I know that after the bell rings and I return from a half-hour of bus duty, I have another hour’s worth of work to do, a long commute home, a family of my own to engage, dogs to walk, papers to grade, lesson plans to rework, bills to pay and errands to run. I can’t get my own kid to decide what she wants to be when she grows up and she is already in her first year of college. College that she is only able to attend because of scholarships and grants. All of this and I am still expected to care more about the education of these six kids than they do or their parents do.

But I can’t compete with iPods and TV shows and Facebook and Video Games, all of which are now available in portable form. When I was one of “these kids today”, my music was on 12″ vinyl records or eight-tracks that required a player the size of a cinder block. My phone was attached to the wall with a 12 foot cord. The school’s computer required punch cards and Video Games were as exciting as…uhm…Pong. But they did require more of a commitment because I had to drive to the mall to play them, a quarter at a time.

But I Digress

I am not suggesting that we actually write these kids off. They are, for the most part, good kids who did not get our best collective effort. There were too many boutique math options, too many feel-good moments and too many politicians involved in their education along the way. All of these chefs worked this stew and no one ever questioned if they knew how to cook.  The result is a generation of kids who were sent mixed signals, alternating curricula and tested to the brink of distraction. They were told to succeed by people who no idea what success should look like. They have been trained to memorize but not to think and, as a result, they require their education to come in concise, easy to memorize facts and figures and they become flustered and uncomfortable when asked to reason or infer. It’s not their fault but we have to help them graduate the very best that they can, fill out their FAFSA Scholarship forms and hope that their colleges and universities and employers can sort things out.

But in my solution, the fix begins in Kindergarten. Not high school.


The Internet Sucks And It Is Ruining America…Part Two

How To Write A Stupid Comment Without Looking Completely Stupid

I am not an English teacher. I do not write in a technically proficient way. I don’t like to grade papers on anything but content because I write as I think…sort of. I qualify that statement so that I can separate myself from the great sodden masses of Internet Commentators.

Let me rephrase that. Not Internet Commentators. Internet Commentors. A commentator is generally a person who is seen as an expert in aCourtesy of The Internet certain subject like politics or sports or video games or something. A commentor is just that. A person who posts a thought (I use the word “thought” in the loosest possible connotation) at the end of some story or blog entry they read on the Internet. And that is the biggest problem with the Internet. Everyone gets a turn. There are no signs that say, “Your IQ must be this high to ride.” That is why we get gems like this:

How many more must we loose…

And this:

We should just nuke aghgan y not it doesn’t seem like they wanna change,so what the hell get ride

And let’s not forget this gem…

Im sure there were not to many mexicans hurt in mexico, their all here..
They have a big skimmer to pick up oil, do they one for Mexicans?

So what can we learn from these posts? Racism is fun again, people REALLY don’t like Mexicans and there just might be a correlation between hatred and education. More hate equals more dumb.

A Guide To Posting Stupid

Anyone can post anything and I am not a thought cop. And I also know that some people simply post horrible thoughts on the Internet for kicks or to compensate for virginity. But some of what I am reading these days is SO poorly written, it’s laughable. I mean who can really take the poorly scribed rantings of a semi-literate Internet troll seriously? But what if the same rants were written in actual English?

Im sure there were not to many mexicans hurt in mexico, their all here..

becomes…

I am certain that there were not too many Mexicans hurt in Mexico…They’re all here..

Literate hatred is, somehow, far more frightening than illiterate hatred. So how do I rant like a frightened child without sounding like I never finished the sixth grade? It’s all in the vocabulary. Get control of the most basic parts of English and the silly troll becomes…uhmmm…I don’t know…Glenn Beck? The biggest problem stems not from the ignorance of the Commentors but, rather, from the unbridled pride taken in such ignorance. As I wrote earlier, racism is fun again. Xenophobia is all the rage and the have-nots now look at middle-class with disdain, as if a lifetime of fiscal management and pension plans now makes them a bunch of socialist slaves sucking at the teat of the mainstream media. And we know this because guys like Beck tell them so.

So here is my short but sweet guide to posting stupid stuff while not looking like a stupid person.

  • Loose doesn’t equal lose.
  • Then doesn’t equal than.
  • There doesn’t equal their which doesn’t equal they’re.
  • Are doesn’t equal our.
  • To doesn’t equal too.
  • Punctuation matters. Always has, always will.
  • Text Speak makes you look 13 years old.
  • Typing in all caps makes people angry and the writer look crazy. Crazy people are easily dismissed.
  • Spell check. That red squiggly line under your word means you can’t spell. Right click and fix it.

It really is easy. Just a nip there and a tuck here and you go from raving, backwoods lunatic to a literate person with an actual idea. And an actual person with an idea like,

“Most of these racist comments are not from Americans. There is a company in Asia that hires people to make these comments. I followed the money trail and it came back to a company in Florida. This company is owned by Rush Limbaugh.”

becomes just a little bit scarier.

Next: Dumbing Down America One TV Show at a Time.


The Internet Sucks And It Is Ruining America…Part One

I found this comment on ABC News Dot Com:

We have long been fed the line that teachers and police are underpaid and work incredibly hard for little reward. Yet these are people who could find no other way to make a living and only went into their so-called profession by default. If they weren’t doing what they do, what else would be available to them? Perhaps the Postal Service or garbage collection, but these jobs actually require real labor. As teachers and police they are fantastically overpaid when benefits are figured into their share of the public dole. The propaganda continues to be fed to us by unions that dedication to the welfare of the public drives these individuals in what we laughingly refer to as their “work”, when it is the security, easy money, and lack of qualifications that actually attracts them to jobs where they can enjoy an inflated sense of self-important authority as a side benefit. Their pay could be cut by 80% and there would still be plenty of teachers and police because some people are unqualified for anything else and have a pathological attraction to power, however pathetically limited it may be.
Posted by:
phdinresidence Aug-1

It was in response to an article entitled, Civil Servants find themselves Cast in Unlikely Roles: Fat Cats. Hear that Mom and Dad? I’m a Fat Cat! Never mind the fact that just four days later, ABC News ran a story that listed teachers as one of the lowest paid positions that require a college degree. Never mind the fact that the gist of the story is that the government is offering some cash to keep teachers at work. Never mind the fact that most of the commentators never actually read the article and were, in fact, simply commenting on the comments of others. No…the thing to pay attention to is the tone of the comments.

We have long been fed the line that teachers and police are underpaid and work incredibly hard for little reward. Yet these are people who could find no other way to make a living and only went into their so-called profession by default. If they weren’t doing what they do, what else would be available to them?

Have we sunk so low as to start hating teachers and cops for how much money they make? And, “If they weren’t doing what they do, what else would be available to them?” Are people predestined to become  “Fat Cat” cops or teachers? Are they all failed astronauts or Formula 1 drivers? Or does a person wake up one day and just say, “I am not cut out for the life of a fry cook. I guess I’ll just have to become a teacher.” And who says “Fat Cat” anymore?

It is a brand new class war that is sparked by a brand new movement and fueled by an aging technology. But this time the class war has a bit of a twist. The “Haves” are not looking down at the “Have-Nots” anymore. The “Have-Nots” are looking down at the “Haves”. There is a growing sense in America that the once admirable middle class is somehow the enemy with their hoity-toity savings accounts and their in-your-face retirement plans. Mr. or Ms. phdinresidence seems to think that the only thing lower in life than a teacher or a cop would be a Postal Worker or a “garbage man.” Take that Mr. Postman.

It gets worse folks. The Internet is making us dumb as hell. It is giving a forum to anyone who wants it and many who simply don’t deserve it. The most frightening example of the dumbing down of America is the comment section of any story on Yahoo News. It is easy to surmise that there are people out there who have a Yahoo home page and can merely click on the links. Any advanced web navigation would require WAY too much thought. Seeing is believing…

From Yahoo Comments:

  1. Does level the playing field mean whitie works while blackie collects welfare?
  2. The Tea Party is gonna spank that liberal democratic a$$.
  3. con bush and his republicon party allowed 911 to happen even when they knew these saudis terrorist could not land a plane. 911 happened on the republicons watch and allowed to happen. hence wmd lies, iraq invasion, and trillions of american dollars wasted on republicon lies and misinformation. dump con republicons for a change. [sic][Honestly..I couldn’t make this stuff up]
  4. In other news, Barack Obama shot a course record 66 at Agusta, and Michelle ate two racks of baby back ribs.
  5. how do you not see a big @#$% trian comming at you!!!? or hear it for that matter!! there should be a mass murder of all stupid people in the world!. and show it on pay per view lol[Also sic]
  6. There may be a war abroad but there is one here too…AMERICANS vs liberal americans who just don’t get it! {sic but I actually worry about this kind of stuff…]
  7. And here we see the liberals for what they truly are. Social anarchists without a moral compass. Remember that come November.

Can you match this brilliant comments to their headlines?

  • A – Glen Beck’s Speech
  • B – NJ schools chief fired after Race to the Top Gaffe
  • C – Political Ads Surpass Levels as Attacks Mount
  • D – Ground Zero Mosque Boundaries
  • E – S. African girl Survives Attack and Dies in Crash
  • F – 2 Cars Explode in Mexico Where 72 Bodies Found
  • G – Bikini Clad Strippers Protest Church

I’ll add the answers at the bottom of the page.

The lunacy continues and we all have a front row seat. Everyone who has ever hated anyone now has a way to shout it at the top of their lungs and no one seems to notice that our country isn’t really sliding right or left. It is circling the drain. We are becoming dumber and as we are becoming dumber we are becoming more and more proud of that fact. Blame the Internet. Or Glenn Beck. Or Fox News. Or American Idol, The Real World, Trading Spouses or any silly, pointless “reality show.” Blame whoever you want but just stop it. You’re ruining America.

Next Time: How to post an idiotic comment without looking like an idiot.

Answers: 1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-F, 5-E, 6-A, 7-G.


%d bloggers like this: