09 December 2010

Derek Jeter, quit your whinin'

From an opinion column in The Spartan Daily about baseball shortstop Derek Jeter's new contract with the New York Yankees:

The Yankees offered Jeter a 3-year, $45 million contract, which was outrageous considering Jeter is 36 years old and showing it on the field.

He just had the worst offensive season of his career, and has always been considered to be overrated due to having spent a career with the Yankees.

Yet Jeter publicly scoffed at this contract, despite it making him the highest-paid shortstop in baseball and probably twice what any rational team would pay him.

The Yankees responded by suggesting he “test the market” and drink some “reality potion.”

Harsh, considering Jeter has been the captain and face of the franchise for years now, but for once, I completely support the Yankees.

And still, just days later, the Yankees have decided to throw more money his way. According to reports, he begrudgingly accepted, angry that the Yankees disrespected him with such embarrassing amounts of money.

I don’t think the world realized how highly Jeter thought of himself.

In fact, I don’t think anyone thinks of Jeter as highly as he does himself, which I suppose just drops him right in with the majority of professional athletes.

Let’s break this down for a moment though: The best shortstop in baseball right now is probably Bay Area native Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies.

Tulowitzki just received a 7-year, $133 million contract, putting him in the same yearly salary range as mediocre-at-best Jeter.

Hey Derek: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 15.1 million unemployed Americans in November 2010 struggling to put good food on the table, and you are whining over several million dollars a year? Suck it up, you pig. And please explain why the San Francisco Giants faced the Texas Rangers, not your New York Yankees this World Series (and won!)

08 December 2010

8 December marks the death of two musical legends

Image courtesy Wikipedia

On 8 December 1980, former Beatles guitarist was shot and killed at his New York City apartment by crazed fan Mark David Chapman, who now remains imprisoned in New York and has been repeatedly denied parole. This is Lennon's 1971 hit "Imagine", from the album of the same name. That song, with its lyrics "Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do/...no religion too" remains a classic anthem for peace and unity among humankind. According to Wikipedia, "Lennon was responsible for 27 Billboard Hot 100 [the American music chart] number one singles as performer, writer or co-writer."

As for his work with the Beatles, who performed together during the 1960s, among the hits that Lennon wrote included "Hey Jude" (1968):

"Hello Goodbye" was part of the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour:

Another one of my favourite Magical Mystery songs are "Penny Lane"

This is a clip from The Beatles Anthology of the Beatles performing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1963). I guess this should be the theme song of me and other single college guys

Another relatable Beatles song, this one from 1964, "It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog..."

The other musical legend who died on this day, also from being shot to death, was "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, guitarist for the heavy metal bands Pantera and Damageplan; he died in 2004 after being shot during a Damageplan concert in Ohio. The shooter, Nathan Gale, was allegedly angry at Dimebag for breaking up Pantera. This is "Cemetery Gates" from Pantera's 1990 debut album Cowboys from Hell:

Another signature American heavy metal masterpiece, this time a lot louder and faster: "Walk" (1992):

Dimebag joined Damageplan in 2003; that band released one album, New Found Power, in 2004. This is "Breathing New Life", the lead single from the album:

For the 1999 movie Detroit Rock City, Pantera covered Ted Nugent's 1970s hit "Cat Scratch Fever":

RIP, John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell Abbott, two musical legends still revered by many today for their immense, diverse talents.

06 December 2010

Ed Schultz commentary on tax cuts

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Al Sharpton wants the FCC to clamp down on racist speech on the radio?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Now, I hate hate hate HATE Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the second biggest ignorant doofus on the radio next to Glenn Beck. I like to be informed about current events and politics and hell maybe have a bit of humour or irreverency along with it...but c'mon, Rush Limbaugh's non-stop use of racial metaphors like "reparations" to describe the Obama administration and its programmes such as settlements for black farmers accusing the US Dept of Agriculture of discrimination is just...stupid.

This video clip that I embedded is of the Rev. Al Sharpton interviewed on MSNBC's The Ed Show. Now, there's no doubt that sensible people would be offended (intellectually and sensibly) by Limbaugh's non-stop politically incorrect rhetoric. But to have the FCC police racist speech on the airwaves...I don't know if that'll ever stand First Amendment muster.

Federal law currently makes obscene speech illegal to broadcast: (emphasis mine)
Obscene speech is not protected by the First Amendment and broadcasters are prohibited, by statute and regulation, from airing obscene programming at any time. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, to be obscene, material must meet a three-prong test: (1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest (i.e., material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts); (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The Supreme Court has indicated that this test is designed to cover hard-core pornography.
So that's part of why The Howard Stern Show had to leave FM airwaves after 2005. By that time Stern had signed a contract with a satellite radio company.

The FCC's current indecency policy explains why some of your favourite songs (especially rap and rock music) need to be edited for the radio. Especially all those N-words in rap songs. Before you call Sharpton a hypocrite for targeting Rush Limbaugh instead of Lil Wayne: yes, Rev. Sharpton has spoken out against misogyny and vulgarity in hip hop multiple times...for example at a rally in 2007 after the Don Imus controversy, and in a 2002 editorial "The Hip Hop Generation" (included in Davey D's newsletter from 12 December 2002). In this case however, I don't know if Sharpton also wants urban radio stations to stop playing music that reinforces negative stereotypes about black Americans (such as illiteracy, sexuality, criminality, etc.) Examples of rap songs that create negative stereotypes of blacks:
- Sex: "Every Girl" by Young Money, "What's Your Fantasy?" by Ludacris, "Bojangles" by Pitbull, "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne, "Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, "Hot in Herre" by Nelly, ooh the list goes on and on and on!!!!
- Crime: "The Boss" by Rick Ross, "What U Gon Do" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, pretty much any song by any rapper who wears bling bling/refers to "rocks"/"blunts"/drugs/etc. and any song that promotes gang fights and stuff like that
- Illiteracy: "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy, "Country Grammar" by Nelly, and pretty much any over-popular rap song that uses overly simplistic lyrics and especially Bay Area hyphy rap with all that "go dumb" stuff

While it is noble for Rev. Sharpton and others to speak out against the hateful rhetoric of right-wing bloviators like Limbaugh, making such speech unlawful on public airwaves won't really help much. Limbaugh might as well just move to Sirius Satellite Radio or XM; in fact, disgraced radio host Laura Schlessinger plans on making a comeback on XM next year. Schlessinger, known as "Dr Laura" (even though her doctorate is in physiology she frequently gave relationship advice on her radio show), infamously repeatedly used the N-word towards a black woman caller; Dr Laura apologised and resigned. Former terrestrial radio hosts who moved to satellite, such as Howard Stern, still have substantial followings in their new mediums. Furthermore, the Internet also provides a highly accessible forum for any wannabe Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

While the Supreme Court upheld the FCC indecency policy in the much-appealed 2009 FCC v. Fox case regarding accidental obscene language in live broadcasts (but got overturned by a fed appeals court the next year), the court has ruled variously on hate speech:
- In the 1942 case Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire, the high court ruled that fighting words (this case was about a Jehovah's Witness calling a police officer a "racketeer" and "fascist") aren't protected free speech.
- The 1992 case R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul dealt with a city ordinance "punishing the placement of certain symbols that were 'likely to arouse anger, alarm, or resentment on the basis of race, religion, or gender.'" The high court overturned the conviction of Robert A. Victoria, a teenager who burned a cross on a black family's yard. Now regarding hate speech on the radio chances are the Supreme Court could use this case to defend Limbaugh and co. as it's previously found a law banning expression inciting race-based hatred unconstitutional.
- 11 years later, in Virginia v. Black, the court found that a Virginia state law banning cross-burning that had intent to intimidate was constitutional as cross-burning was a "particularly virulent form of intimidation" yet overturned the conviction of a cross-burner due to flawed jury instructions that blurred ideology and intimidation intents.

Better than a "speech code" on the radio would be expanded media presence for the left wing via the Fairness Doctrine, which seeks balance, not censorship! Broadcasters have had since 1987 to be responsible when handling controversial issues...and what do you have? In 2007, a study by the Center for American Progress found: "91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive," and "2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk." In 2010, the top conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had a weekly listenership of 15 million, about 6 times as much as the top liberal radio host (2.75 million each for Alan Colmes, Ed Schultz). Hate speech is just one of those situations in which the best solution is counter speech not a government ban. There's a reason why bloggers like PZ Myers can criticise and even denigrate religion all they want and not get arrested in the US.

24 November 2010

Hey PTC, thanks for stating the obvious

The Associated Press reports:

NEW YORK -- Mainstream online video destinations don't do enough to keep explicit content from kids, the Parents Television Council said in a report released Wednesday.

The advocacy group, which monitors decency issues, evaluated the child appropriateness of four online video portals: Hulu, Comcast's Fancast, AOL's Slashcontrol and AT&T's U-verse. None received a better grade than a D.

The study looked at home pages and 602 videos over a three-week period. The council found that standards are more lenient online than on broadcast television, that content ratings were vague and that content that may be unsuitable for children under 14 could be watched by young children.

The president of the Parents Television Council, Tim Winter, said the report proved that the four websites "are failing to protect kids on the Web."

"The content ratings and parental control devices (media corporations) tout as a solution to indecent material on television are not being applied to similarly indecent material on their websites," Winter said.

Well, one wonders...are those sites aimed towards children in the first place?

AOL disputed some of the report's findings. A spokeswoman for the company said that parental controls can be put in place for Slashcontrol and that it's a site with a primarily adult audience.

"Slashcontrol is not a kids and teens site and is not promoted to kids and teens," AOL said in a statement.

The report is called Untangling the Web of Internet Video. It's 25 pages long, and if you're really curious how much sleaze is in those TV shows that those evil, evil media conglomerates are splashing prominently online in the grand conspiracy to corrupt American children, check out the charts from page 19.

I browsed through the "Animation and Cartoons" section of Hulu and discover that programmes like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving are included alongside more adult-oriented content like Archer and Japanese anime series Naruto Shippuden. While the AP quoted AOL stating that Slashcontrol is not targeted towards children, it is possible to access Kids' WB programming through Slashcontrol; Kids WB has its own site KidsWB.com through which users can watch full episodes of WB-distributed kids shows too.

It's been common knowledge throughout the past decade at least that the Internet ain't a safe place for children to navigate unattended. PTC just enforces this message through super-detailed studies with such exposing details. I mean wow, I didn't know that a teenager could see 15 instances of partial nudity and 25 instances of erotic dancing/strip clubs watching raunchy shows on Slashcontrol (page 19)! PTC must've been hunting real hard to find 'em! Why PTC won't specify which shows contained all that sex and drugs and violence and cussing, I start questioning.

Parents, shouldn't it be very clear that a site that's displaying Glee and Jimmy Kimmel Live on its homepage (Hulu in this case, I'm looking at it right now) is not family-friendly territory?

18 November 2010

Channel 6=the only existing American analog TV channel

My dad bought a new flatscreen TV today and was tuning channels. Channel 6 displayed a fuzzy analogue picture displaying "need guidance?" and the logo of Christian contemporary music radio station K-Love.

The blog Radio Survivor reports: "Channel 6 'radio' stations could be silent by 2012":

Currently the FCC is accepting comments on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the low-power television service [PDF]. Unlike full-power TV, LPTV is still analog. Now the FCC is considering a timeline for closing that gap.

The fact that LPTV is still analog is why some stations on channel 6 have been able effectively to operate like radio stations, due to the fact that their audio program sits just left of the FM broadcast dial, receivable at 87.7 FM. It’s a little corner of radio broadcasting I’ve been covering for over a year now.

As I predicted back in March, the FCC is now set to close this loophole by requiring LPTV stations to go digital, which would make their audio channels inaccessible to FM radios. The only question is when this will happen. The Commission has suggested that the transition might be completed sometime in 2012–so, in less than 2 years. However, it is also seeking comment on how realistic it will be for stations to meet that timeframe. At the same time the Commission notes that a 2012 deadline would be three years after the full-power transition. The Commission argues that LPTV stations should be well aware that a digital transition was imminent, and also points out that Congress created a special fund to assist low-power stations convert to digital.

Interesting. I remember tuning into channel 6 in the past...despite the fact that no channel 6 TV station exists in the San Francisco Bay Area...and seeing/hearing only static with legible audio cutting in and out. Only recently did I learn that TV channel 6 equaled 87.7 FM. When I visited San Diego in 2004 for a piano convention, I could hear XETV channel 6 (then a Fox station; now a CW station since 2008) on 87.7. (The call letter begins with X as the station is based in nearby

Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico.)The K-Love website lists 3 FM frequencies that reach the city of San Jose: 91.9, KBKF-LP 87.7, and KLVS 107.3. Radio-locator identifies 91.9 as K220BV with a transmitter in the remote southern hills of Los Gatos right next to Alamaden Air Force Station. Googling KBKF led me to this page suggesting that KBKF is transmitting from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Google Maps found a transmitter at this address:
Ben Lomond, CA 95005

29 October 2010

2-0 series lead? No turning back.

Yesterday was Game 2 of the 2010 World Series in Major League Baseball. At SF's AT&T Park, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers 8-0. With a 9-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning with 2 outs and Darren O'Day pitching, San Francisco loaded the bases and eventually got 4 consecutive walks and three base hits to add six surprising runs. The Associated Press reports: "Forty of the previous 51 teams to take a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the title, including seven straight and 13 of the past 14." and "No team has overcome a 2-0 Series deficit since the 1996 New York Yankees against Atlanta. The Giants have won each time they have taken a 2-0 lead: in 1922, 1933 and 1954."

If history is any indicator, all is in favor of the Giants now. Current Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee started Game 1 last season for the Philadelphia Phillies and helped Philadelphia win over the New York Yankees, but eventually the Yankees ended up taking the Series 4 games to 2. So if the Rangers lose the Series, managers should avoid having Cliff Lee start Game 1 of the World Series. The last baseball team to win the World Series after a 2-0 lead is the Boston Red Sox, who swept Colorado Rockies in 4 games in 2007. Same happened also with the Chicago White Sox in 2005 and the Red Sox in 2004; both years had the winning teams sweep the opponents. In 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series over the Yankees 4 games to 3 following a 2-0 edge in the beginning.

27 October 2010

Rand Paul supporter stomps on liberal activist and demands that activist apologize!

The Huffington Post reports:

Tim Profitt, the Rand Paul supporter behind the white sneaker that notoriously stomped on a MoveOn activist's head in Kentucky, sought to play down the importance of the incident Tuesday, and went so far as to ask the victim for an apology.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Profitt told WKYT. "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."

While the victim, Lauren Valle, said Tuesday that she believed the campaign workers' violent reaction to her presence there was "premeditated," Profitt told WKYT that he thought Valle was following a strict protocol with the intent of creating controversy.

A local news report including footage of the incident is here...warning: the video contains violent content, viewer discretion is advised.

This is just so fucked up I'm tempted to write this parody of OneRepublic's "Apologize" to reflect Tim Profitt's mind (this link is the Timbaland remix; original version here): (lyrics here):

I just pulled off your wig
And shoved you to the ground,
Now I'm stomping on your head
So hard you can't get out,

You tell me that you're hurting,
Then you go and call me out, but wait,
You tell me to say sorry
But I'd rather turn around, and say

I don't need to apologize, but you do!
I said I don't need to apologize, but you do!
I don't...

Democrats have no chance, they will fall,
get shot and lose
Lauren, you deserved what you got
So don't try to sue

Americans are voting red, firing all the blues
So please sa-ay...
Sorry that you came here
Tricking us into welcoming you
I hate your face!


So fuck Tim Profitt and his idiotic irresponsible ways. James O'Keefe anyone? Stay classy, Mr. Profitt!

Finally, I'd just like to say that Rand Paul is a kook. What kind of respectable politician would say that businesses have the right not to follow the Civil Rights Act?

22 October 2010

My thoughts on Tumblr

I've seen a lot of my friends using the blog site Tumblr. It's a less serious version of Blogspot, Wordpress, and other blog sites. Not only can authors publish rhetoric, they also are able to post visual media and quotations. Tumblr combines blogging and social networking: if a user sees an interesting item on another registered member's Tumblr, the user may "reblog" it (hence the "via ____" tags). Unlike on traditional blog sites where you can't instantly reblog every interesting thing you see on another blog, on blogspot you have to copy-and-paste and link everything manually.

There also seems to be much more decorative freedom on Tumblr, see Kathleen's for example. Compare that with my blog (and others hosted on the traditional hosts) and notice how more artsy and simple Tumblrs can be.

And celebrities seem to have taken on Tumblr too: for example, actress Dianna Agron, who plays Quinn Fabray on the TV show Glee. Responding to a rather risque photo shoot for GQ magazine that the Parents Television Council disliked, Agron apologised and elaborated on Tumblr.

What Tumblr can do is hardly new to the Internet: blogs have been around since the late '90s, and if you want to share videos or photos then Blogspot already has the hosting capability to do so. That's why I'll never use Tumblr. If I wanna share my thoughts or cool Web junk, I'll keep posting 'em here.

Something I'd like to say re Domestic Violence Awareness Month

More info about that month here on the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

As a college student I'd like to get something out. This is some real talk regarding college students (not all my friends or others on my campus, but some) who use sex as a status symbol or method of control.

Ladies, you don't exist solely to be sex toys, maids, or eye candy. You're human. Stop taking your freedoms for granted and find something that defines you besides partying, Thirsty Thursday, or opening your legs and mouth for every frat hunk. If your man is hurting you, leave him and seek help. Did Susan B. Anthony march on the streets only for you to be a suckup to an oppressive patriarchy? Think about it. The women's rights activists of the 19th and 20th centuries roll in their graves for every woman who perceives herself as a mere slave to her boyfriend/husband. Just like how Martin Luther King, Jr. would be disgusted if he could listen to any modern rap musician (like Waka Flocka Flame).

Gentlemen, if you've slept with the entire cheerleading squad and have given blowjobs to every bleached blonde sorority chick with breast implants but have yet to find a working job or (if you're in college for 2 years or more) a meaningful internship, then you're just plain worthless. You ain't that strong if you can hook up with everyone yet have little real characteristics like intelligence or sociability. When you're in a relationship, be respectful and have basic human dignity: do not resort to violence to get your point across or to take out your anger. Your girlfriend is a human being just like you, not a punching bag or chattel.

My good friend Rishabh has this classic Tumblr quotable:
I believe girls that tie themselves up in “drama” need to feel like their life is worth something. It’s just sad that they don’t realize that filling up their days gossiping about others doesn’t make THEIR lives any better. You just come off as a shitty person. Girls who spend their days gossiping and revolve their lives around petty bullshit are not worth knowing. Also, girls who center their lives around “Thirsty Thursdays” and partying are not worth knowing either.
That's right. If your life revolves around "scoring" every shallow one around you who looks cute or getting drunk and dancing in a club whose speakers are blasting out your eardrums, I don't desire to know you. F-word off.

Bottom line: while sex may be good, do not let it define who you are. Let your character define you. There's much much much much^(infinity) more to life than fooling around in bed and stimulating each other, so if your partner says "no", find something else to do.

15 October 2010

An interesting conversation with KOFY TV about broadcasting "widescreen standard definition" football

Tomorrow, KOFY-TV 20 in the San Francisco Bay Area will broadcast the San Jose State vs. Boise State football game. Currently, SJSU is 1-4 on the season and 0-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, while Boise State is undefeated 5-0 and 1-0 and is predicted to top Bowl Championship Series ratings. Although this is a home game, I'd like to stay home and just watch both the San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies opening game of the National League Championship Series in baseball on KTVU-TV and the SJSU game on KOFY. Given that the Boise State Broncos is the 4th ranked team that the lowly SJSU Spartans has played this season, and that SJSU fell to the national champions 48-3 and even lost to a Football Championship Subdivision (lower division than where SJSU is, the Football Bowl Subdivision) team UC Davis Aggies during the SJSU Homecoming game, 14-13 on 2 Oct., tomorrow night's score should be quite obvious.

I happened to catch the Boise State vs. Toledo football game last Saturday on KOFY, which is one of the Western Athletic Conference TV affiliates. While Boise State is undeniably a great football team, the broadcast format isn't. KOFY broadcast the match in 4:3 format as it does for all its programmes other than ABC7 News at 9. However, KOFY compressed a 16:9 picture into 4:3, thus making everything seem thinner than proportional. Thus, today I decided to ring up the KOFY switchboard over the phone, (415) 821-2020 pressing 4 for technical services, to ask the tech guy why. I left a message and promptly got a call back about 15 minutes later. The technical worker explained that Learfield distributed the football game in a widescreen standard definition picture format, and standard definition programmes must be broadcast in 4:3 format. In this case, as widescreen is the new normal format for television sets and broadcasting, the only realistic broadcasting choices that'd preserve the picture quality would either be: scrunching the picture (as I mentioned earlier) and leaving black pillars to the left and right of the screen, or letterboxing the picture within the 4:3 area and leaving the image proportional. The tech worker explained that "blowing up" the widescreen SD image just because KOFY does have widescreen capability would drastically reduce picture quality and defeat the purpose of high definition television.

So there you have it, if you're wondering why KOFY or any other WAC television affiliate is showing the football games in such a weird format. I'd suggest contacting Learfield Sports, which distributes TV/radio broadcasts of the WAC, and persuading them to start televising games in HD. I mean c'mon. If CBS could start broadcasting soap opera The Young and the Restless back in summer 2001, then why does Learfield have to broadcast football games in standard definition widescreen in 2010?


PS: At the SJSU student newspaper The Spartan Daily, one columnist opines that the Giants need a better offense to beat Philadelphia.

04 August 2010

If you disapproved of today's Prop 8 court ruling, the rest of the world awaits you!

The backstory:

This afternoon in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Judge Vaughn Walker of the US District Court for the 9th circuit overturned Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative from 2008 that invalidated all same-sex marriages. Proposition 8 followed the California Supreme Court decision In re Marriage Cases from May 2008 that threw out Proposition 22, the 2000 state ballot initiative that restricted marriage to between a man and a woman. The state high court case from 2008 ruled that marriage is a fundamental right based on Article 1, Section 7 of the state constitution. In 1977, the state legislature (under Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who's running again for governorship this year!) amended Section 4100 of the California Civil Code to define marriage as a social contract strictly between a man and a woman; before then the law was not that specific. (Since 1992, marriage law has been in Section 300 of the state Family Code.) Originally, Proposition 22 argued that California would recognise other states' same-sex marriages given a loophole in Section 308 in the Family Code. In re Marriage Cases tossed both Proposition 22 and the 1977 amendment to the state marriage law.

After what would be a summer of joy for many Californian same-sex couples, many of whom had been waiting decades to marry, the autumn and eventually the Election Day of early November 2008 arrived. Television stations in California had been bombarded with commercials in favour of and against Proposition 8.

The first-ever ad promoting Proposition 8 excerpted a speech by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. This ad took Newsom's phrase "whether you like it or not" in Newsom's speech announcing the In re Marriage Cases case and promoted these typical anti-equality talking points: judges overruled the people's vote, everyone has to tolerate same-sex marriage, and churches might lose their freedoms.

One of the pro-8 ads was from the organization ProtectMarriage.com, which claimed that schoolchildren would have to read books that glorified same-sex relationships:

Another ad argued that public schools would begin teaching that homosexuality was OK:

Another ad regarding schools and marriage

now for some ads from the anti-8 side. This ad was from the Courage Campaign depicting Mormons as home invaders stealing a lesbian couple's wedding rings. I never saw it on TV, but I found it from a youtube search of proposition 8 ads:

Another one that I think I have seen on TV before is the ad that mocked the Apple Computer Mac vs. PC ads

This ad invoked 20th century racial discrimination

Dianne Feinstein, a US Senator of California, spoke in one advert opposing P8:

Countering the pro-8 ads about school curriculum and homosexuality, Education Superintendent Jack O'Connell starred in this ad

Then election day came. November 4, 2008. American voters elected the first-ever black president of the United States, Barack Obama. Locally, there were several other less-known propositions ranging from funding a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco (Prop 1A), authorizing parental notification for minors getting abortions (Prop 4), and helping veterans buy property (Prop 12). But then the storm came for many gay couples who had yet to be married and those already married, while the Mormons who actively campaigned for Prop 8 began cheering and partying.

California voters passed Proposition 8 by a 52%-47% margin. Notably, protests against Proposition 8 took place on November 15. P8 began attracting attention outside California; several film and TV actors participated in the satirical Proposition 8: The Musical. Perez Hilton infamously asked Miss California USA Carrie Prejean about her opinion about P8. Legal actions included a May 2009 decision by the state supreme court Strauss v. Horton that recognised P8 as a legitimate amendment to the state constitution. However, pre-P8 same-sex marriages were still valid.

In comes 2010, and oral arguments began for the federal appeal of P8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Plantiff Kristin Perry had been denied a marriage license in 2009. Neither Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) or Attorney General Jerry Brown (D; Brown also was Governor from 1975-1983) would defend P8 for the state. AG Brown believed that P8 violated the 14th Amendment, while Gov. Schwarzenegger merely stated that the lawsuit brought up several constitutional questions.

Plantiff arguments: (against P8)
  • Marriage has never explicitly, universally been defined as strictly between one man and one woman.
  • There is no evidence that denying same-sex marriage encourages heterosexual marriage and subsequent family planning.
  • Professors George Chauncey (history, Yale), Gregory Herek (psychology, UC Davis), and Gary Segura (political science, Stanford) testified that LGBT people are among the biggest targets of demonization and persecution.
  • Studies overwhelmingly show that children of gay parents turn out just as well off as children of heterosexual parents.
  • Married couples help the economy and usually are healthier.
Defendant arguments: (for P8)
  • Traditionally, marriage has been between a man and a woman; that family structure has allowed for generations procreation and child raising.
  • Apparently things got so tough for the defendants that "[d]efendant witness David Blankenhorn, under cross-examination, concurred that the well-being of children raised by same-sex couples would improve should they be allowed to marry."
  • According to Professor Kenneth Miller from Claremont McKenna College, LGBTs in California had significant political power, as every major newspaper and numerous state politicians and celebrities opposed P8.
In today's ruling, among Judge Walker's conclusions: (taken from Wikipedia's article about Perry v. Schwarzenegger):
  • Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation.
  • No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.
  • Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals.
  • Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage.
  • Proposition 8 has had a negative fiscal impact on California and local governments.
  • Gays and lesbians have been victims of a long history of discrimination.
  • Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported today
The judge ordered an injunction against enforcement of Prop. 8 but issued a temporary stay until he decides whether to suspend his ruling while it is being appealed. The stay means that same-sex couples are still prohibited from marrying.
Walker's ruling is certain to be appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 or 2012.
In response to the ruling, the anti-SSM crowd came out with the tired old line of "the people approved of it, but that evil liberal judge overrode the people's vote!" I'm sorry but basic human rights can not be decided by a majority vote! It's particularly silly to argue that the government is over-reaching its allocated powers with court cases like this. The way the real world works is that sometimes you need government to grant you your rights. Where would we be without the Bill of Rights? Or the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade, and numerous other laws passed by Congress and cases decided by the US Supreme Court that affirmed our civil rights and liberties that the Constitution grants us? Lemme invoke the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's speech "Robert Bork's America":
Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.
Yep. Conservative jurists' obsession with "original intent" sometimes is self-defeating as some important liberties are taketh away in the name of 1776.

The Los Angeles Times published a Q&A of common questions regarding today's case and SSM overall in CA.

So what now if you're still annoyed and are unconvinced?

Well of course there are gonna be some fellow Americans who do not wish to co-habit a nation with those perverted AIDS-infested gay couples who do nothing in life but to lick each other in you know where! (of course i was being sarcastic about that description, of course there are gays in America who'd like to live just like you, me, and your heterosexual family.) Pending the possible appeals that the pro-P8 apologists will file in the coming months, there still remain states in the US that deny recognition of SSM. Currently 5 states--mostly in New England--recognise SSM: MA, CT, IA, VT, and NH. Several other states (including CA and WA) allow civil unions. (I'm only talking in state context; the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act bans the federal government from recognising SSM.) And then here are the states that do not grant same-sex couples any civil union or marriage rights (most of these states vote Republican in the Electoral College): AZ, UT, ID, MT, the big ol' central section from both Dakotas to Texas, both Virginias, both Carolinas, every former Confederate state, every Great Lakes state except WI and NY, NE, KS, and MO. I'd suggest to my pro-SSM rights liberal friends (maybe some conservatives and others too) to help the stubbornly anti-gay folk find a better sanctuary where they'll be free from the evil evil gay agenda. Raise some money to get 'em a one-way plane ticket and help your fellow good ol' American work out the moving plans and possibly citizenship procedures; there still exist places outside America that make it a crime to be gay. (That idea of moving out of the country in response to dumb liberal US government laws started when the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said he'd move to Costa Rica if the US passed health care reform, unaware that Costa Rica had universal healthcare! Limbaugh clarified his remarks later.)

Speaking of which, the majority of African nations make homosexual behaviour illegal. Including the English-speaking nations of Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. As these nations are all former British colonies, English is just one language there amongst several other native languages. And Uganda once proposed a bill that punished HIV positivity or homosexual acts with the death penalty.

¿Se habla espaƱol? Then every country in Central America doesn't recognize SSM yet! (but as I said Costa Rica has...oh the horrors socialised medicine!) Regarding Mexico, only Mexico City recognises SSM, and only the state of Coahuila (which borders Texas along the Rio Grande) allows same-sex civil unions. In South America, aim for Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, or that Hugo Chavez-led dictatorship Venezuela. Both Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, the Communist state Cuba and democracy Dominican Republic, don't have SSM, although Cuba is proposing it. (I was about to mention the American territory of Puerto Rico, but I'm not sure if the US Supreme Court decision would extend to territories.)

But if you're down for some paradise and can't speak a word of Spanish, feel free to head on over to the Atlantic island nation of Bermuda just 1000 miles east of Florida (the English dialect of Bermuda has a foreign accent like in the Caribbean). Speaking of the Carribean, try the SSM-free lands of the Bahamas or Virgin Islands, or if you'd like a place where gays get sent to prison how about Antigua & Barbada, Barbados, Jamaica, or Trinidad & Tobago?

At this time, no Asian nation recognises any same-sex relationship legally. Israel does recognise foreign same-sex couples and "unregistered cohabitation" for domestic same-sex couples. Islamic nations (like Iran, Afghanistan, and Kuwait) put the book down so hard on those homos...I mean really, those nations use Sharia to legislate harsh punishments (such as flogging or death) for people suspected of being gay or convicted of gay acts.

Now on to Europe. Nowhere in Eastern Europe, y'know the ex-Soviet nations, will you find a legal same-sex union. In the South, to avoid seeing gay couples everywhere avoid Spain, Portugal, and Andorra. In the West (the origin of white people LOL) you're out of luck unless you can find a house in the Channel Islands off France.

Alright that'll be all my research for now. Think about it: do you find that any of the nations I mentioned have as much freedom as America (or other countries that have civil unions or SSM) has granted you? Think about it. But have fun if you want to. Thank you Judge Walker, and I shall follow any appeals of this decision as they come.

21 July 2010

Shuffle sessions, 21 July

Shuffle #1 (11AM) 5 songs that pretty much reveal the diversity of my playlist.
- Hall & Oates: "Kiss on My List" (Voices, 1980) *1980s, pop, East Coast (Philadelphia)
- Fleetwood Mac: "Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac, 1975) *1970s, acoustic, rock, UK
- The Notorious B.I.G.: "Me & My Bitch" (Ready to Die, 1994) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Alice in Chains: "No Excuses" (Jar of Flies, 1994) *1990s, alt/indie, grunge, West Coast (Seattle)
- The Black Dahlia Murder: "When the Last Grave Has Emptied" (Unhallowed, 2005) *2000s, death metal, Midwest (Waterford/Detroit, MI)

Shuffle #2 (1PM) organized by genre and (!) ethnicity (3 straight songs from African-American artists; then 3 straight rock songs). Two British songs.
- Pink Floyd: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Pts. 6-11" (Wish You Were Here, 1975) *1970s, progressive rock, UK
- Ray Charles: "What'd I Say" (What'd I Say, 1959) *1950s, jazz, soul, rock, African-American, South (Leesburg, GA)
- Jimi Hendrix: "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (Electric Ladyland, 1968) *1960s, rock, psychadelic, African-American, UK
- Lil Wayne: "A Milli" (Tha Carter III, 2008) *2000s, hip hop, South (New Orleans), African-American
- She & Him: "I Was Made for You" (Volume One, 2008) *2000s, alt/indie, West Coast (Portland, OR)
- Staind: "Just Go" (Dysfunction, 1999) *1990s, post-grunge, alt metal, East Coast (Springfield, MA)
- Maroon 5: "Makes Me Wonder" (It Won't Be Soon Before Long, 2007) *2000s, rock, West Coast (Los Angeles)

Shuffle #3 (4PM) all but 1 were hip hop, and mostly from the 90s
- Public Enemy: "911 Is a Joke" (Fear of a Black Planet, 1990) *1990s, hip hop, political, East Coast (Philadelphia)
- Steve Miller Band: "Baby's House" (Your Saving Grace, 1969) *1960s, rock, West Coast (San Francisco)
- Public Enemy: "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (Fear of a Black Planet, 1990) *1990s, hip hop, political, East Coast (Philadelphia)
- Kid Cudi featuring Kanye West and Common: "Make Her Say" (Man in the Moon: The End of Day, 2009) *2000s, hip hop, Midwest (Cleveland; Chicago)
- Nas featuring Dr. Dre: "Nas Is Coming" (It Was Written, 1996) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), West Coast (LA)

Shuffle #4 (5PM) Now all but 1 were metal (from outside US)
- Lacuna Coil: "Our Truth" (Karmacode, 2006) *2000s, goth metal, Italy
- Soulfly: "Back to the Primitive" (Primitive, 2000) *2000s, alt metal, Brazil
- A Tribe Called Quest: "Buggin' Out" (The Low End Theory, 1991) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Kataklysm: "Cripped & Broken" (In the Arms of Devestation, 2006) *2000s, death metal, Canada

20 July 2010

More adventures in shuffling

Shuffle #1 (around 11AM): bounced between the '90s and '00s and all from the Eastern or Southern US
- Death: "Symbolic" (Symbolic, 1995) *1990s, death metal, South (Orlando)
- Anti-Flag: "The Project for a New American Century" (For Blood and Empire, 2006) *2000s, punk, East Coast (Pittsburgh)
- The Notorious B.I.G.: "Unbelievable" (Ready to Die, 1994) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Shadows Fall: "Destroyer of Senses" (The Art of Balance, 2002) *2000s, thrash metal, East Coast (Springfield, MA)
- Eminem featuring Dr. Dre and 50 Cent: "Encore" (Encore, 2004) *2000s, hip hop, Midwest (Detroit), East Coast (NYC), West Coast (LA)
- Wale featuring Weensey and Gucci Mane: "Pretty Girls" (Attention Deficit, 2009) *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (DC), South (Atlanta)

Shuffle #2 (lunchtime): majority being 2000s; bounced between rock and hip hop for a while; all from West Coast/East Coast/Midwest
- Game featuring Bilal: "Cali Sunshine" (LAX, 2008) *2000s, hip hop, West Coast (Los Angeles)
- Bruce Springsteen: "Devils and Dust" (Devils and Dust, 2005) *2000s, rock, acoustic, East Coast (New Jersey near NYC)
- Jay-Z featuring Drake and Timbaland: "Off That" (The Blueprint 3, 2009) *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), Canada
- System of a Down: "Prison Song" (Toxicity, 2001) *2000s, alt metal, West Coast (LA), political
- Alice in Chains: "Rooster" (Dirt, 1992) *1990s, grunge, West Coast (Seattle), political
- Nas: "Sly Fox" (Untitled, 2008) *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), political
- Nine Inch Nails: "Survivalism" (Year Zero, 2007) *2000s, alt metal, Midwest (Cleveland), political
- Santana: "Black Magic Woman" (Abraxas, 1970) *1970s, rock, psychadelic, West Coast (San Francisco)
- Smashing Pumpkins: "Cherub Rock" (Siamese Dream, 1993) *1990s, alt/indie, grunge, Midwest (Chicago)

Shuffle #3 (afternoon ride home):
- Jay-Z featuring UGK: "Big Pimpin'" (Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter, 1999) *1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC), South (Houston)
- Chops featuring Raekwon: "What's Fuckin' Wit' Us" (Virtuosity, 2004): *2000s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Snoop Dogg featuring B-Real: "Vato" (Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, 2006): *2000s, hip hop, West Coast (LA)
- The Beatles: "Yesterday" (Help!, 1965): 1960s, rock, acoustic, UK
- The Black Dahlia Murder: "A Vulgar Picture" (Miasma, 2005): 2000s, death metal, Midwest (Waterford/Detroit, MI)
- Foxy Brown featuring Jay-Z: "I'll Be" (Ill Na Na, 1996): 1990s, hip hop, East Coast (NYC)
- Hall & Oates: "Kiss on My List" (Voices, 1980): 1980s, pop, East Coast (Philadelphia)

14 July 2010

More broad-brush sweeping by the PTC

I have pointed out in previous posts that the Parents Television Council, an organization that advocates cable channel choice, has based its campaign on broad-brush generalizations of cable channels simply because the channel has one offensive show (usually on a late 10PM or later slot):
- In 2008, the PTC recommended "every parent who receives BBC America to look into blocking the channel" because BBC America showed the British drama Skins, which was rated TV-MA and shown at 9PM or later slots generally. However, PTC never addressed other program[me]s on the BBC America network (of course these all being UK-produced shows) that would not be seen as corrupting to youth such as Top Gear, Cash in the Attic, and World News America.
- PTC is no fan of FX's original late primetime shows. Go do a Google search for the following shows: Nip/Tuck, The Shield, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me, or Louie on the PTC website parentstv.org by adding "site:parentstv.org" (sans the quotations) on a search engine. PTC has plenty of bad things to say about those shows with its usual "your subscription to basic cable helps pay for these smutty shows" line. However, in 2008 and this year FX showed the 2006 film Invincible during primetime...and PTC turned a blind eye (I don't know if it's on purpose in an anti-FX agenda or something) despite having awarded Invincible with its Seal of Approval when the film originally was released to theatres. In 2008 the day before Invincible, FX showed Radio during primetime; PTC awarded that film with the Seal of Approval but never pointed out that FX broadcast Radio.
- This year, PTC seems to be hoping that TBS sinks down under, as it warned families that they would soon be subsidizing Conan O'Brien's next show on TBS with their basic cable subscriptions and named the new TBS animated sitcom Neighbors from Hell the worst cable content of the week last month. I have seen instances where PTC has listed TBS reruns of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond in Email alerts. But things change, and so do attitudes.

Now, PTC founder Brent Bozell's latest column "Art in America" provides a sneak peek of the PTC's next "Worst Cable Content" column.

The Bravo cable network has a new reality show called “Work of Art,” a competition dedicated to finding the next great American artist.

The half-dozen contestants, 20-something aspiring artists all, enter the famous Phillips de Pury art auction house. Mr. de Pury himself ushers them into the special room where they are presented with a collection of paintings by Andres Serrano, the man who came to fame in 1989 with the ghastly photograph, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts, depicting a crucifix dunked in a jar of urine. They are hugely impressed. The final painting they are shown is just that — the original "Piss Christ." They are in awe, quietly expressing their amazement at the talent. And then the door opens and in steps the master. The students freeze, eyes bright, mouths agape. The curator announces, "the great, great Serrano!" One girl instinctively bows reverently.


And now the contestants are given their assignment: Create a body of art as shocking as that of Serrano. The judges will select the four contestants who will proceed to the next round. More giggles and laughter. Each artist is given a $100 voucher with which to buy supplies.


...a girl, handsomely endowed, takes a batch of pictures of herself wearing only panties. "High art" is how she describes her product. The curator examines her semi-naked pictures, with emphasis on her naked breasts, and deems the display to be "gorgeous." But what the judges would later describe as "brilliant" is her special touch: setting these pictures next to a black felt-tip pen so the gallery audience could scrawl on them whatever graffiti or obscenities they inspire.


There is no outcry because our popular culture is thoroughly rotten.

Wow. Way to provide a generalized bad first impression. Because I can't exactly trust Bozell's opinion column as an unbiased reliable source. The Wikipedia article of the show summarizes other episodes. Three episodes aired before the one that Bozell decries as reflecting America's rotten pop culture:

Episode 1: Self-Reflexive

Air date: June 9, 2010

* Challenge: Create a portrait of one of your fellow artists.

Episode 2: The Shape of Things to Come

Air date: June 16, 2010

* Challenge: Create a sculptural piece from items selected from an electronics graveyard.

Episode 3: Judging a Book By Its Cover

Air date: June 23, 2010

* Challenge: Design a book cover for one of six classic novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Dracula, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Time Machine.

So I guess a competition to design book covers for classic novels and create a sculpture from electronic waste threaten traditional values as much as the smutty fourth episode titled "A Shock to the System" (from June 30) that Bozell overanalyzed for all his readers to see. The challenged in the episode that aired the week after that one, "Art That Moves You", is summarized as "[c]reate a work of art based on your Audi experience". By the way, if you still need proof beyond the open-editing Wikipedia, here's the official Bravo show site.

In its "About Us" page Bravo describes itself as "the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980". During the '80s and '90s, Bravo used to have classic films, jazz music, and stage plays as its main lineup of programs. That was before NBC Universal bought the channel in 2002 and converted it to the fashion/hip/urban/reality show channel it is today. IMHO I see Work of Art as a small attempt for Bravo to return to its roots, but apparently what one man calls art is another's garbage, and just one risque episode gives Bravo a bad name once again.

13 July 2010

Shuffle degrees of separation

On my way home today on the bus I was listening to my Sansa e250 MP3 player on shuffle. These songs all have some sort of genre/generational organisation. Tags for categories follow titles.

- Snoop Dogg featuring Dr. Dre and D'Angelo: "Imagine" (Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, 2006) *2000s
- In Flames: "Leeches" (Come Clarity, 2006) *2000s, international (Sweden)
- The Beatles: "The Fool on the Hill" (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967) *1960s, oldies, international (UK)
- The Doors: "Touch Me" (The Soft Parade, 1969) *1960s, oldies, West Coast
- Game featuring 50 Cent: "Westside Story" (The Documentary, 2005) *2000s hip hop
- Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys: "Empire State of Mind" (The Blueprint 3, 2009) *2000s hip hop
- Rage Against the Machine: "Freedom" (Rage Against the Machine, 1992) *1990s alternative rock, hip hop, West Coast
- Alice in Chains: "Heaven Beside You" (MTV Unplugged, 1996; originally from Alice in Chains, 1995) *1990s alternative rock, West Coast
- Pink Floyd: "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" (Wish You Were Here, 1975) *rock
- Fat Joe: "Success (DJ Premier remix)" (Jealous One's Envy, 1995) *1990s hip hop, East Coast
- The Notorious B.I.G.: "Big Poppa" (Ready to Die, 1994) *1990s hip hop, East Coast
- She & Him: "Change Is Hard" (Volume One, 2008) *2000s, alt/indie, female vocalist
- Duffy: "Mercy" (Rockferry, 2008) *2000s, alt/indie, female vocalist, international (UK)
- The Guess Who: "No Time" (American Woman, 1970) *oldies, international (Canada)
- The Beatles: "Penny Lane" (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967) *oldies, international (UK)
- Death Cab for Cutie: "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" (Plans, 2005) *alt/indie
- Rage Against the Machine: "Know Your Enemy" (Rage Against the Machine, 1992) *alt/indie
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience: "All Along the Watchtower" (Electric Ladyland, 1968) *oldies
- Mos Def: "Beef" (Rawkus Records: Best of Decade I 1995-2005, 2005) *2000s, hip hop
- Lamb of God: "Laid to Rest" (Ashes in the Wake, 2003) *2000s, metal

09 July 2010

Parents Television Council and "after hours" cable programs

I've noticed something about the Parents Television Council's ongoing "Worst Cable Content of the Week" column. Since the May 28 edition (The Dudesons in America, MTV, Thursday 10PM) it's been squarely fixated on shows that are broadcast on the cable channels only after 10PM (note: these times I list below are Eastern/Pacific, of course being an hour earlier in the Central, Mountain, Alaska, and Hawaii time zones), which in American broadcast TV terms is the watershed time in which FCC indecency regulations do not apply. (10PM means 10PM in any time zone in terms of FCC) I'll run down the list for those who don't want to access the PTC and get a headache:
Notice something? All these shows are first-run after 10PM. And reruns take place usually even later (during overnight hours). But PTC argues for each and every time the same old line it's been pushing the past 5 years or so in its campaign for cable choice: "pay hundreds of dollars a year for dozens of channels they don’t watch, don’t want, and...may even find offensive" and in the specific case of Louie, "dump[ing] unbelievable levels of profanity and horrifically graphic sex talk into the home of every cable and satellite subscriber in America while forcing them to pay for it."

OK, first of all, this show is shown late in the night specifically because it's rated TV-MA and as a convenience so that children cannot watch it! And if you live in the Western US and have satellite, just use the V-Chip to block Louie if you have children at home.

And need I not mention that the PTC published its review of Louie the very day that FX showed the sports drama films Invincible--which earned the PTC Seal of Approval--and Miracle--which earned a positive review (no seal though) from PTC? I pointed out back in October 2008 that FX showed Invincible...but the PTC never published anything on its website promoting that. (By the way, FX will show Miracle and Invincible tomorrow at 8:30AM and 11AM respectively.) And on Saturday, July 17, FX will show Alvin & the Chipmunks, which is 1,000,000% more family friendly than those FX original shows that PTC hates so much, at 8PM.

I won't deny that most families with young children in the home or with generally socially conservative values will find channels like Comedy Central, MTV, and Spike offensive...those channels aren't even meant for a "family audience" (at least how groups like PTC define family) in the first place. But c'mon, why is the PTC branding more generally-oriented channels FX and TBS with the same hot iron branding? Does it not occur to PTC that FX reaches out to audiences besides those allegedly drunk depraved morons who laugh at Louie by showing Alvin and the Chipmunks during primetime? Additionally, Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show reruns are shown during the daytime; PTC doesn't have much issue with those shows but do with other shows syndicated by FX: The Practice, Spin City, and That '70s Show. Sure, TBS may show Neighbors from Hell and Family Guy, but realize that TBS also shows baseball games, Saved by the Bell, Home Improvement, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The King of Queens, all shows that PTC would find to be fairly decent. That's how TV programming works: you can't just cater to the people with the "I get offended at anything over a PG rating" mentality of the PTC, you have to include a lineup of programs that will reach the biggest audience possible. Those sitcoms that I mentioned before like King of Queens and Raymond are sandwiched alongside other shows that PTC has had issues with, like Married...with Children (a PTC Worst Show of the Season in 1997), Just Shoot Me, and Friends.

In the case of programs in development, PTC seems really sensitive to cable subscribers having to subsidize the production of late-night shows, such as Conan O'Brien's new TBS show, and Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis's upcoming reality show The Search for the Hottest Girl in America on HDNet; the New York Daily News reports that Francis's show will contain uncensored nudity and will be shown at midnight. The report quotes Dan Isett of PTC: "[Girls Gone Wild] has built its brand on the exploitation of intoxicated women, that’s just what they are and for them to pretend to be anything but that is quite frankly, sickening. This [new show] further demonstrates the need for people to have cable choice." Uh huh, other HDNet quality shows like Dan Rather Reports and HDNet Concert Series and World Report are so sleazy that they prove need for cable choice too. (Oh wait, is the PTC founder Brent Bozell still mad at Dan Rather? Just asking.)

And now my personal takes on the shows that PTC's been condemning this summer. (All these based on what I read on their website.) I wouldn't watch Berger or Brawlers, and from what I read in a review in my college's newspaper Neighbors from Hell is pretty much plagiarism of South Park and Family Guy, which are much funnier (and much more offensive to the PTC). Warren the Ape is a spin-off of the single-season 2002 Fox sitcom Greg the Bunny, which I watched back in its original run (I was just 11 and committed the sin of watching a TV-14 rated show but hey I didn't get scarred for life contrary to what the PTC is so concerned about). I think I'll watch Warren online once my personal schedule lets me. Finally, I first heard about Louie through a preview of NPR's Fresh Air but only got to read a summary of the interview today.

Bottom line is: don't trust the PTC with its tunnel vision of cable TV. Read the TV listings and content ratings too. Be open-minded. Monitor your kids' TV viewing. If a show is offensive, don't watch it (but what's stopping you from criticizing it?)

Sports notes

  • The San Francisco Giants had a 7-game losing streak from June 26 to July 2 (including a sweep by rival Los Angeles Dodgers) then beat the Colorado Rockies on July 3. Then swept the Milwaukee Brewers on the road yesterday but lost to the Washington Nationals today (although the Nationals=currently last in NL East, their new pitcher Stephen Strasburg was just too powerful). Just 2 days ago, the Giants beat Milwaukee 15-2. Rookie Buster Posey hit a grand slam and home run to contribute to the Giants' 15 runs.
  • Yesterday on an ESPN special, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that as a free agent he will sign to the Miami Heat. That's already angered plenty ranging from the Cavaliers' owner to the Cavs fans, but down in Florida people are excited. It seems that LeBron was just so full of himself to announce on national TV that he's jumping ship to pursue a ring in another team. James last appeared in the NBA Finals with Cleveland in 2007, when the Cavs lost to the San Antonio Spurs. This year, the Boston Celtics beat Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Early in June, the NCAA banned USC football from bowl games in 2010 and 2011 seasons, revoked 20 scholarships, and vacated earlier victories. These were over allegations that former USC football player Reggie Bush's "mother, brother and stepfather had lived in a San Diego-area home that was owned by a would-be marketer who planned to be part of a group that represented Bush when he turned pro." The troubles just keep stacking up: USC has been banned from the AP coach poll and lost the commitment of would-be player Seantrel Henderson. More at the blog Reignoftroy.com, in which one of the authors is my old friend from high school Alejandro Madrid.

Obligatory "I'm back" post

What blocked me from blogging was: Twitter, too much Facebook, a clogged DVR, school, and concerns about way too much other stuff besides this website.

In brief:
  • I finished my 2nd semester at SJSU with yet another great GPA (3.686) and average 3.867.
  • A couple weeks ago, I enrolled in all but one of my classes for the fall semester. Right now I'm taking Physics 4A (Mechanics) at San Jose City College so that I can take PHYS 51 (Electricity & Magnetism) next semester. Problem is? All sections at SJSU for that class are full and so I'm waitlisted there right now and might take that class at junior college (in which case it's called Phys 4B).
  • I just began watching That '70s Show again thanks to KICU. Apparently the last season's opening titles used a "circle" format rather than the car.
  • The Steve Wilkos Show has new episodes this week after a monthlong (?) hiatus.
  • President Obama just nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court, and the Senate held confirmation hearings on the last week of June. Obama's second nominee to Supreme Court, and second woman overall. Kagan has no judicial experience but as Solicitor General has argued many cases to Supreme Court on behalf of the US government.
  • A jury in Los Angeles found former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter in his fatal shooting of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland. Although involuntary manslaughter carries just a 2-4 year sentence to state prison, because the jury found that Mehserle personally used a gun to kill Grant, that adds 3-10 years, and thus up to 14 years behind bars. The community in Oakland has believed that Mehserle should've been convicted of 2nd degree murder (15 to life), and thus there was a lot of disappointment.
  • I still haven't found a job since November besides one day working at a polling place during the June 8 primary election. Oh well, I think a lot of people have it worse.
  • Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. Just 11 days before the 1st anniversary of Jackson's death, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled that Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who prescribed drugs to Jackson days before he died, may keep his medical license! Grr!

26 January 2010

Oddities of the day

- Today was the first day of my second semester of college, but during the one class I had--Chemistry 1A lab--the instructor just took attendance and let us go. So I stayed on campus just to inquire about fraternities and eat lunch.
- On the bus on the way home, a man slipped and fell hard on the floor as he was finding a seat while the bus was moving. It had been raining today, and consequentially the floor was wet. He was carrying some drink he bought from Target, and it spilled and added more wetness to the floor. The man said he didn't feel hurt, but the driver stopped to report the incident as mandated. Driver and passenger exchange words a bit, then the driver dismisses all passengers. I left the scene via another route, but a friend of mine who stayed said that the fire department/paramedics came and took the man to the hospital. Of my experience riding VTA to and from San Jose State, this is the most unusual moment ever.
- PS: Last week, the San Jose State men's basketball team defeated two top-ranked Western Athletic Conference teams: Louisiana Tech (the best of the league!) and New Mexico State.

16 January 2010

Causes: Relief for the Haiti earthquake, Keep Conan O'Brien on the Tonight Show

Haiti earthquake

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Death tolls are estimated between 45,000-50,000 by the American Red Cross; the Haitian government estimates it even higher, at around 200,000. Because Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, even government buildings and local United Nations headquarters have suffered significant damage, and the head of the Haiti UN headquarters has died in the rubble. Hospitals are so overwhelmed that they can't tend to everyone who's been hurt. Already, the US government has issued temporary asylum for illegal Haitian immigrants currently living in the US. And many countries worldwide have sent aid.

MTV Networks has organized a telethon, Hope for Haiti. Commercial-free, it'll be shown on Friday, Jan. 22 at 8PM on: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, BET, the CW, HBO, MTV, VH1 and CMT. It'll be hosted by Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean (from New York City), actor George Clooney (from Los Angeles), and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (from Port-au-Prince). Well, fans of the (now-cancelled) show Dollhouse: at least you'll have another week until your beloved show ends.

One way to donate to the Haiti relief effort is to text the word "HAITI" to 90999; as a donation to Haiti $10.00 will be charged to your cell phone bill. If you don't use texting or don't know how, then check out the American Red Cross website for information about donating the old-fashioned way (y'know, writing checks). My condolences go to all who've lost loved ones to this earthquake.

Sadly, there are those who chose to ignore or mock this tragedy. For example, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has remarked: "We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax." And, he said that President Obama was giving aid to Haiti to gain credibility from the "light-skinned and dark-skinned black community" in the US. Regarding Limbaugh's "income tax" remark, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and even MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough (a former Republican congressional representative) condemned Limbaugh.

Evangelical Christian and host of The 700 Club Pat Robertson also had this to say about Haiti:
The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "
Not really surprising since back in 2001, Robertson agreed with Jerry Falwell that liberals, homosexuals, and atheists were to blame for the September 11 attacks and said that God used Hurricane Katrina to punish America.

A study by the progressive media research organization Media Matters for America found that MSNBC's primetime commentary shows (Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Rachel Maddow Show) devoted far much more coverage than Fox News's competing shows (The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, Glenn Beck). While the Haiti earthquake got brief mentions on the Fox shows (think about the "headlines" segment on Good Morning America) the MSNBC shows dedicated much deeper coverage (even interviews with politicians and others associated with Haiti). MSNBC's morning show Morning Joe had several segments about the earthquake (and I again stress that Scarborough has conservative leanings), so it surely reflects on what Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck feel are priorities for their audiences and how those hosts react to tragedy.

Host of The Tonight Show

This week, NBC announced that it would remove The Jay Leno Show from its primetime lineup because affiliates complained that it decreased their 11PM newscasts' ratings. NBC experimented with its primetime schedule in the fall by giving Jay Leno a daily 10PM show on weeknights while replacing him with Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jimmy Fallon succeeded O'Brien on NBC's other late night show, Late Night. To keep Leno on the network, there are now two choices:
- Leno's show moves to 11:35PM (current Tonight Show timeslot) but is reduced to a half-hour length. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon follow.
- O'Brien leaves and gives The Tonight Show back to Leno.

O'Brien has stated that he refuses to host Tonight should the first option take effect:
I believe that delaying The Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.
I agree fully with Conan...in Internet meme-speak: I'M WITH COCO!!!!!! Leno's had his turn on Tonight, and it'd be a shame to see the brilliant O'Brien (who's written for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons) leave after only just over half a year on The Tonight Show. Although I still watch The Jay Leno Show every once in a while (mainly for the guests), I'm personally against Leno returning to The Tonight Show. There've been many Twitter posts and Facebook groups rallying behind O'Brien. Also, according to Wikipedia's article "The Tonight Show host and timeslot conflict":
Dozens of celebrities expressed support for O'Brien, including Roger Ebert, Rosie O'Donnell, Jim Gaffigan, Paul F. Tompkins, Doug Benson, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Alyssa Milano, Chris Parnell, Jimmy Kimmel, Marlee Matlin, Ben Stiller, Ice-T, Matthew Perry, Howard Stern, and Ricky Gervais. Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt has expressly backed O'Brien, saying, "Comedians who don't like Jay Leno now, and I'm one of them, we're not like, 'Jay Leno sucks;' it's that we're so hurt and disappointed that one of the best comedians of our generation... willfully has shut the switch off."

While support for O'Brien has been overwhelming, Leno became the target for heated criticism and increasing negative publicity in his role in the timeslot conflict. Fellow late night hosts David Letterman of The Late Show and Jimmy Kimmel of Jimmy Kimmel Live! were quick to publicly blast NBC and Leno in their monologues. Kimmel went so far as to perform an entire episode of his program dressed in character as Leno, mocking his voice, jokes, mannerisms, band, and popular segments (such as "Headlines"). Shortly after, he was invited onto The Jay Leno Show to participate in its "Ten at Ten" segment, during which he sharply criticized Leno several times. Jimmy Fallon, who hosts the program immediately following The Tonight Show, refused to take sides, calling O'Brien and Leno "two of my heroes and two of my friends."

And now rumor has it that NBC is paying O'Brien $30 million to leave, but NBC denies it. ABC News called it "a PR disaster for all".

If we really want to support O'Brien, we should contact NBC in addition to howling on social networking sites.

On NBC's contact page, select "Tonight Show Conan" from the pulldown menu. Write a message expressing your support for Conan O'Brien staying on the Tonight Show as long as his contract states (right now O'Brien has about 2.5 years left on it). Other forms of communication that are more likely to be taken seriously:

Postal mail
Jeffrey Zucker
c/o NBC Entertainment
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

212-664-2333 (New York City)
818-840-4444 (Burbank)