21 January 2011

It was illegal to produce Skins with teenage cast members?

At least the Parents Television Council thinks so. (via Drudge Retort and The Washington Post) Press release: "PTC Calls on Feds to Investigate “Skins” on MTV for Child Pornography and Exploitation":
LOS ANGELES (January 20, 2011) – The Parents Television Council ™ today called on the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the Department of Justice to immediately open an investigation regarding child pornography and exploitation on MTV’s “Skins.” The New York Times reported today that the network itself is concerned about violating child pornography laws. In addition to the sexual content on the show involving cast members as young as 15, PTC counted 42 depictions and references to drugs and alcohol in the premiere episode. The run-time was only 41 minutes excluding commercial breaks.


“However, many of the actors appearing in the show are below the age of 18. It is clear that Viacom has knowingly produced material that may well be in violation of any or all of the following federal statutes:

“18 U.S.C. § 1466A (2008) Obscene Visual Representations of the Sexual Abuse of Children

18 U.S.C. § 2251 (2008) Sexual Exploitation of Children

18 U.S.C. § 2252 (2008) Relating to Material Involving the Sexual Exploitation of Minors

18 U.S.C. § 2252A (2008) Relating to Material Constituting or Containing Child Pornography

“Since it is not necessary for Viacom or MTV to distribute the material in order to be in violation of the law, we call upon your committees to immediately investigate Viacom and MTV for the production of this material. Furthermore, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to compel the Attorney General to mount an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the production of ‘Skins’ has violated federal law meant to protect minors from exploitation.
Yowza. Of all the PTC's complaints about TV including those artifically inflated FCC complaints and that TV is conspiring to turn all our girls into professional prostitutes who first become pregnant at age 15, I've never seen the PTC directly accuse the production of a television program of being illegal! And you thought that it was bad enough that American corporations were exporting work to Chinese sweatshops!

In an era of 9.4% unemployment in America (in my home state California being 12.4%) and with the newly Republican-dominant House of Representatives having pointlessly passed a bill repealing the 2010 health care reform bill and now targeting abortion, and all layers of government (federal, state, and city) running deficits and cutting everything to the marrow, is it really worth it for the government to investigate whether a new MTV show violated the law?

And I wonder why despite the influence of orgs like PTC, the American Family Association, the Parents Music Resource Center (now defunct though), and other orgs standing on moral pedestals holding the feet of the entertainment industry to the fire, the conditions that perpetrate all that immoral sleaze still persist in America?

Oh, PTC also disliked the fact that a teenager was cast as Jake Harper in Two and a Half Men. But they couldn't find a legal ground to get the feds to tear down the set, seize Jones, and send show creator Chuck Lorre to jail.

In October, the PTC complained about a GQ magazine photoshoot where cast members of Glee portrayed their high school aged characters in sexually suggestive manners. PTC said that the photoshoot bordered on pedophilia but stopped short of demanding that Congress grill GQ editors in lengthy hearings.

PTC must be getting desperate following that New York Times report suggesting that the PTC has been getting irrelevant for the past several years.

18 January 2011

PTC, oh how I've missed you

British TV drama Skins was remade for the American market and debuted on MTV on Monday. America's organization of moral prudes known as the Parents Television Council was none too pleased: they are so frightened that they label their "Action Alert" regarding the program the org's "most urgent alert the PTC has ever sent to parents." Wow, they even bolded the "most urgent alert" part! The show includes "depictions of teens drinking, smoking marijuana, and using massive quantities of drugs, engaging in violent acts, and having irresponsible sex with each other, with their schoolteachers, and with other adults." Furthermore: "Internet sites like Teen.com have carried dozens of promos and stories about the new show. Many of the Internet ad campaigns have shown how Skins blatantly urges children to lie to and defy their parents, and engage in risky and dangerous behavior." Hmm, so an ad for a TV show is in the position to teach moral values? Then the failure falls on the parents.

Furthermore, MTV is showing Skins only between 10PM-6AM hours Eastern time, according to my check of Zap2It, and yes if you live in the West Coast it may be earlier depending on your provider. And it's rated TV-MA too. That's what parental controls are for. As for Teen.com promoting the show: I went over to that site and feel more offended by that site promoting Justin Bieber. Yes, they do have an interview with the Skins cast, but keep in mind that this site is probably doing it to reach out to its target audience given that MTV has always had teenage audience despite the PTC's decade-long mission against it.

Maybe if the PTC focused on tackling the root of the cause of these "dangerous TV shows" to begin with they wouldn't have to be sending out these sensationalized Action Alerts. Canceling shows like Skins won't get rid of the drugs/alcohol/sex issues surrounding American teens today. PTC is entitled to its own opinion of TV content and can even be so prudish as to freak out over simple "Elvis shaking his hips" moments - my godless socially liberal soul would not care a damn bit.

If PTC wants to find some quality programming on MTV, try Made or Silent Library. Both those shows are rated TV-PG.

Skins creator was interviewed by the LA Times and said his show is "definitely not the most dangerous program ever on television."

13 January 2011

On the road, SJSU wins first conference game ever

Today in a close road game in Ruston, La., the San Jose State Spartans men's basketball team beat the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 79-74. SJSU led as many as ten points early in the game, but an 11-0 run by LT gave the home team a 39-38 halftime lead. SJSU fought back from behind to secure a four-point lead as the second half wrapped up, and LT missed a potentially tying three-pointer with just 2 seconds left, and SJSU made two subsequent free throws to seal the win. More at ESPN and Spartan Hoops. As SJSU is now 9-7 overall and 1-4 in the WAC, LT is 9-9 overall and 0-4 in the WAC.

Adrian Oliver sat out today due to concussion-like symptoms.

SJSU vs. LT last year
SJSU: 14-17 (6-10 WAC); first round WAC tournament
LT: 24-11 (9-7 WAC); second round WAC tournament and second round of CollegeInsider.com tournament

LT at SJSU, Jan. 21, 2010: SJSU 87, LT 76. That game, Oliver scored a career-high 39 points.
SJSU at LT, Feb. 4, 2010: LT 71, SJSU 64.

Next game: at New Mexico State
The defending WAC champion New Mexico State Aggies are recovering from a shaky pre-conference 6-8 start with a 3-1 WAC record (and are now overall 9-9 like LT). This game is the last of a three-game home stand for NMSU, which has won the first two games vs. Fresno State (80-68 last Saturday) and Hawaii (82-64 today). NMSU's one WAC loss was on New Year's Eve at Boise State, 81-78.

Although SJSU made a comeback home victory vs. NMSU on January 23, 2010, as part of a slump as the season ended included a loss in New Mexico State two weeks later.

Local media in Las Cruces, N.M. was cautiously optimistic: Las Cruces Sun-News sports writer Jason Groves previewed today's game with this headline "Aggies can't afford to let down." Yet he asserted: "New Mexico State has proven it can play with the top teams in the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies knocked off Fresno State last weekend when the Bulldogs were unbeaten. They suffered a three-point loss at first-place Boise State on opening weekend." SJSU's challenge to NMSU is "the No. 3 scorer in the country in senior guard Adrian Oliver, who is averaging 24.2 points per game."


"Coach told us to stay focused and don't follow our record," Aggies sophomore wing Tyrone Watson said. "They are not the teams that their record is. They have had to travel and go through the process of not having legs. They are very capable. We have seen them on film and we know them from last year and San Jose beat us last year once. We are not taking anything for granted."

The SJSU/NMSU game will be on Saturday at 6PM Pacific time and broadcast live on KSJS-FM 90.5 for SJSU fans but not on any regional radio in New Mexico and on ESPN3.com.

Still one team with a perfect WAC record
Utah State beat Boise State on the road 68-59 and remains the only WAC team without a conference loss, having now a record of 15-2 overall and 4-0 in conference. Boise State is now 4-1 in WAC and 11-6 overall.

12 January 2011

Once again, the Heisman Trophy predicts the BCS champ

In 2009, Alabama quarterback Mark Ingram, Jr. won the Heisman Trophy, and the #1-ranked Alabama beat #2 Texas in the BCS National Championship Game to close out the season. The next season, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won the Heisman, and on the BCS game on Monday evening #1 Auburn won the game in the final seconds with a field goal that broke a 19-19 tie to beat #2 Oregon, 22-19. I was personally rooting for Oregon, so it was disappointing seeing such a subpar Oregon performance on Monday.

Backstory of Auburn and Oregon
Auburn's last national championship was in 1957 season. Its last undefeated season was in 2004, when Auburn also won the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech 16-13. Both Auburn and Oregon have been bowl regulars in the 2000s, and Oregon last won a bowl in 2008 (Holiday Bowl over #13 Oklahoma State, 42-31.)

Heismans vs. BCS
Before 2009, the last time the Heisman winner's team won the national championship was in 2004: USC quarterback Matt Leinart (now with the NFL Houston Texans team) won the trophy, and #1 USC beat #2 Oklahoma, 55-19 in the Orange Bowl (2005 season and before, BCS picked specific bowl games to be the championship game, and since 2006 BCS championship has had its own game). However, in the wake of the USC scandal in 2010, USC vacated its 2004 championship pending appeal. The next two years though was the opposite. The 2005 Heisman winner was Reggie Bush, running back for USC (although he later forfeited it after NCAA ruled he received improper benefits while in college), but #1 USC lost the Rose Bowl to #2 Texas, 41-38. Bush went to the New Orleans Saints of the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the Saints after the 2009 season, but sadly the Saints got eliminated from the Wild Card by the Seattle Seahawks 41-36, coached by Bush's former college coach Pete Carroll in his first year with Seattle.

The 2006 postseason bowl game began a 5-season streak of SEC championships. Although Ohio State and now San Francisco 49ers QB Troy Smith won the 2006 Heisman, his top-ranked team ended up losing the BCS to #2 Florida, 38-24. The following champs? #2 teams Louisiana State (2007) and Florida (2008). Even though Florida QB (now in the Denver Broncos) Tim Tebow won the 2007 Heisman, Florida won the BCS next season (when Oklahoma's Sam Bradford won).

Questionable calls sunk Oregon
Regarding the game, there were some questionable reviewed calls that screwed Oregon. First there was an intercepted out-of-bounds catch by Oregon that was upheld as incomplete Auburn pass because the Oregon player didn't have both feet inbounds. Then at the way end of the game, with the score 19-19 and around a minute or two left, Michael Dyer almost got tackled in his own team territory but not quite (his run started at the Auburn 40):
Dyer, who chose jersey No. 5 because that's how old his brother was when their father died in a car accident nearly two decades ago, took the handoff from Newton and ran off right tackle for what looked like a 6- or 7-yard gain. Nothing routine about this one, though. He wasn't sure his knee hit the ground, so, urged by his coaches on the sideline, he popped up and kept going. Almost everyone on the field had stopped playing, but the referee never blew the play dead. Dyer made it to the Oregon 23. An official's review ensued and the replay showed that, indeed, his knee had never touched the turf.
Wow, Oregon, way to forget the rules. I was watching it on ESPN3.com and noticed how Dyer just rolled over the defender and no one approached him assuming that the play was called dead. Eventually Auburn ran for a touchdown, but that call was reversed because Dyer was down at the 1-yard line instead of end zone. Thus Auburn ended up running down the clock for Wes Byrum to kick a 19-yard field goal for the win with 2 seconds and counting.

Both teams missed 4th & goal opportunities from 1 yard out of the end zone. First Auburn, trailing Oregon 11-7 in the 2nd quarter, decided to go for it on 4th & goal at the Oregon 1. A Cam Newton incomplete pass gave Oregon the ball on downs, but Auburn got the ball back after tackling LaMichael James in the end zone for a safety (2 more points). Then late in the 3rd quarter, with Auburn leading 19-11, Oregon was 4th & goal from Auburn's 1, having made a 4-yard gain on 3rd down. Kenjon Barner was stopped for no gain.

I've got to give credit to Oregon for making both 2-point conversions following both of their touchdowns, though.

Recruiting controversy looms over Auburn
The New York Times sports section reports: "For Auburn, Grimaces May Still Replace Smiles":
...Auburn cannot lock the crystal championship trophy in a case until the N.C.A.A. finishes the Newton investigation. The N.C.A.A. enforcement staff has been looking into Newton’s recruitment for at least four months. If it finds that he or his family committed violations, he could be ruled ineligible retroactively and Auburn could be forced to vacate its title.

In the aftermath of the N.C.A.A. ruling that Reggie Bush and his family received improper benefits from Southern California, the Trojans are expected to lose their 2004 title. The university is appealing the decision.


The actions of Cecil Newton put Auburn under the N.C.A.A. microscope. The N.C.A.A. and Auburn agree that he attempted to shop his son to Mississippi State for $180,000 in a pay-for-play scheme brokered by a middleman. The Mississippi secretary of state is looking into the case because of the involvement of the middleman, Kenny Rogers, who has financial ties to the N.F.L. agent Ian Greengross.
Ouch. I guess this might appease some Oregon fans. Note that the Kenny Rogers here is not the singer but is rather a former Mississippi State football player. This season, #21 Mississippi State beat Michigan in the Gator Bowl, 52-14.

My friend Alejandro Madrid, who attends USC and is very steaming mad over the idiotic, arbitrary rules, sharply criticizes the rules: "Commentary: NCAA Rules Need to Go", "Todd McNair Railroaded by NCAA, Again", and "Good News for USC: NCAA Makes Inconsistent Ruling, Again". This third mentioned post regards the NCAA decision to suspend five Ohio State players (including star QB Terrelle Pryor) for the first five 2011 season games but not for the Sugar Bowl - and guess what? #6 Ohio State ended up beating #8 Arkansas 31-26. The suspensions were for "selling some awards and exchanging autographs for tattoos". Alejandro comments:

The NCAA hoped to make USC an example and show it wasn’t messing around, but it has undone the message sent by its harsh punishments by creating loopholes in its own rulings. Does the punishment against Ohio State seem rather harsh? Yes. But the severity isn’t the issue. The fact that the NCAA is cherry-picking which games the players can miss doesn’t make sense.

To have the sanctions reduced, USC must prove the NCAA made procedural errors. The Ohio State case gives the Trojans ammunition because of the inconsistencies between the rulings. Proceed with cautious optimism. Today’s findings certainly appear to help USC, but when the NCAA is the appellate judge, the jury, the prosecutor, it is impossible to predict what they will do with the appeal.

He also told me recently that if the NCAA lets Auburn off the hook, USC gets even more ammo in its appeal.

Why show the BCS only on cable?
BeyondChron called the decision to show this season's BCS only on the cable network ESPN "disturbing":
This past New Year's Day many sports fans without cable or satellite TV were shocked to discover that unlike past years when New Year Day football games were on their local TV stations from early morning until late evening, only one game, the Outback Bowl featuring Penn State vs Florida, was on the local ABC affiliates. The five other bowl games on New Year's Day; the Capitol One Bowl, Gator Bowl, Rose Bowl, Ticket One Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl were all on ESPN. Thousands of non-cable subscribers expecting to watch the Rose Bowl and other New Year Day bowl games were sent into a state of panic as they contemplated options of visiting the local bar or dropping in on friends or relatives with cable. The games could be watched for free on ESPN's internet site, but fans who didn't have a broadband internet connection, or didn't realize the game was on the internet had to do without.
Last season, ABC showed the BCS. Thus I ended up watching the game on ESPN3.com, and that stream isn't always perfectly reliable as its resolution degrades at times and sometimes the stream freezes. This cable-only contract stretches until the 2014 game. By then, will more people be aware of different outside-of-television methods of watching the BCS? I wonder. But how could it be that such a notable sports championship game could be NOT shown on broadcast network?

Overall this year's BCS was a nailbiter throughout and amazing to watch, and I hope that Oregon can draw upon this to improve their game for 2011.

07 January 2011

OUCH! San Jose State basketball loses by 1 point after..FOUR overtime periods!

I was quite surprised to learn that last night's Boise State at San Jose State basketball game actually made it to overtime given that at one point i checked SJSU was trailing BSU by around 10 or so points during the 2nd half. The final score ended up being Boise 102, San Jose 101 in 4 OT's. The last SJSU game that made it to 4 OT's was the January 10, 1985 home game vs. Cal State Fullerton, where SJSU won 97-92 (box score stats not available; I just heard that on radio and looked it up online, that's my best guess). Listening to the game on KSJS-FM 90.5, the SJSU student-run radio station, was a big thrill as SJSU Spartans continued fighting back against Boise State Broncos' non-stop offense with last-possession three-pointers from guard Calvin Douglas (a bencher, not starter). SJSU got lucky at the end of the third overtime, as a replay review found that Boise State guard La'Shard Anderson committed a shot-clock violation by shooting a three-pointer (that went in) after the shot clock buzzer went off (with the shot clock trailing the game clock by 0.9 seconds). By the end of the third OT, the score was a 98-98 tie. Yes, the fourth OT score was BSU 4, SJSU 3, as although SJSU played for the final possession, in the final seconds BSU stole the ball to seal the game. This is SJSU's first overtime loss since the January 28, 2006 home game vs. New Mexico State, an 81-75 loss.

According to the ESPN.com boxscore, the Broncos outscored the Spartans in: field goals made (Boise 43.1% vs. San Jose 37.6%), three-pointers made (37.5% vs. 31.3%), and especially offensive rebounds (18 vs. 9) and steals (10 vs. 3). In overall rebounds though, SJSU had 50 vs. Boise's 40 and made 77.1% of their free throws compared to Boise making 68.9%. With these statistics, it's no wonder how SJSU's shot-clock stalling in the fourth overtime failed them as they couldn't manage to return offensive results from defensive plays (something that happened throughout the game as they kept allowing Boise to make three-point shots while missing their own shots).

The blog Spartan Hoops has a fuller recap of yesterday's heartbreaking game; as announcer Mike Chisholm said on KSJS, given how long the game was running either team would be very disappointed if losing. Spartan Hoops previews Saturday's SJSU home game vs. the University of Idaho Vandals better than I can do.

As of today, the SJSU Spartans are 8-6 overall and 0-3 in Western Athletic Conference play. A sign of doom? Depends on whether the team can get their act together and make a huge comeback this season. And how do the first three games predict the rest of the season?
Appears to be a mixed bag: Fresno State and Nevada had similar records by the third WAC game yet their paths diverged as the season progressed. SJSU's current record nearly mirrors those of Boise State and Idaho by their third WAC games of 2009-2010, and all three teams finished the season with nearly similar records. And although both Lousiana Tech and Fresno State had 3-0 WAC starts, Louisiana Tech had a stronger pre-conference record than Fresno's that helped them make the postseason.

Adrian Oliver, the star senior SJSU guard who transferred from the University of Washington, has said that his goal this year is to take SJSU to the NCAA tournament. By the way, in yesterday's game, Oliver fouled out before overtime began. It's gonna be a long way to go, realistically:
  • The last time SJSU made the NCAA tournament was in 1996 (at the time SJSU were Big West Conference champions but got eliminated in the first round by eventual national champions Kentucky, 110-76).
  • The last time SJSU finished a season above .500 was 2000-2001.
  • The last time SJSU made it to the second round of their conference tournament (having been WAC members since the '96-'97 season) was in 2008 (a much-improved season from last, at 13-19 overall, 4-12 WAC, compared to the 2006-2007 lowly 5-25 and 4-12 WAC).
Last season, even at home Boise State and Idaho were tough: SJSU beat both teams albeit both times 3 or fewer points: vs. Idaho 78-75 on January 4, 2010 and vs. Boise State 76-74 on January 14, 2010. To even make the CollegeInvitational.com (or CBI), SJSU would at least need to be 9-4 in the rest of WAC play (which would lead to an 18-10 season finish, including a non-conference game vs. Montana State on February 15) and make at least the second round of WAC tournament (which would lead to...20 wins!). I predict that SJSU could win over Idaho if the Spartans play hard enough.

The rest of the month's schedule: SJSU visits Louisiana Tech on the 13th...and gosh, Louisiana Tech is off to a bad start right now (9-8 and 0-3, including a home loss yesterday to Fresno State). Saturday the 15th, SJSU visits defending champion New Mexico State; last January 23, SJSU made a comeback victory over NMSU at home, 93-84. Man! What happened to those Aggies? As of today NMSU is 7-9 overall and 1-1 in WAC (including a road loss in Boise State 81-78 on New Year's Eve). The Spartans get 8 days off before visiting Hawaii, which finished disgracefully bad last year and doesn't look so good right now (9-5 and 0-2). SJSU faces WAC runner-up Utah State once again in San Jose on the 27th...having lost to the Aggies in Utah 80-71 on New Year's Eve. The following Saturday, state rival Fresno State comes to San Jose.

Sure, Spartan seniors Adrian Oliver and Justin Graham are great scorers, as are Will Carter, freshman Keith Shamburger, and even rising benchers Calvin Douglas and Chris Jones. But given their shaky WAC start it's time for SJSU to start strategizing on defense: better guarding, maybe some steals now and then, and offensive rebounds too, to get second chances on missed shots. Otherwise, Oliver's dream won't come true, and it'll be yet another disappointing mediocre season for sixth-year coach George Nessman.