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?

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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.