child abuse?  


EVERY time I watch a game on Fox, my mind boggles  


Is there any way that Fox could make the green screen worse?

1) It's in the absolute worst position so that it ruins the image of the pitcher while he's delivering the pitch AND
1A)ruins the image of the (lefty) hitter while he swings.

2) It's about late 1980's in quality in terms of masking the fact that it's a green screen. The pitcher's head literally glows inside the ad.

3) As soon as they show the hitter walking around in the batter's box (which is about 90% of the pitches) they cut to an angle that shows that it's just a green screen.

Zero percent of the viewers are fooled into thinking this is a real banner. We all know it's just a computer generated banner on a horrible fake screen. So why pretend otherwise? Why not just put a huge ad right in the middle of the action. Sort of like a popup that moves while you try to close it.

It's a sad commentary on society that Fox is allowed to get away with this. It's beyond distracting.

an example of the "liberal" media  


Not quite "can you name a newspaper that you read", but still pretty tough

I don't think "news" means what you think it means  


"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Webster's dictionary defines news, just kidding. I'm tired of going to CNN and seeing a "news" story about some random person experiencing some random event. "old woman shoots herself over her mortgage"; "mother drowns kids". This is not news; these are little hits of anti-intellectual crack.

There are two key reasons why The Media lives by the mantra "If it bleeds, it leads". The first is that blood (or anything shocking) is entertaining. Most people are aware of this infotainment phenomena, so let's move on. The second reason is that The Media can waive these shiny stories in front of the sheep like dangling keys. They are very digestible...there are clearly defined roles of good and evil. While standing around the water cooler, everyone can feel comfortable agreeing that the mother (who drowned her kids) is "bad". The woman with the mortgage/foreclosure is a "sad" story, and everyone feels for her. Nice little packages of total agreement.

On the other hand, the real "news" is often complicated, controversial, and without resolution. It can't just be dangled, the news-seeker must proactively digest it. And after great struggle, the news-seeker is often left with more questions than answers.

Unfortunately, the average person doesn't have the time or the energy (never mind the intellect) to digest real news stories. And this inability, combined with the apathy, is proving deadly. Real news has a chance to directly impact the lives of people. My life will not be any different whether or not some random woman went crazy and killed her kids. I live in a world with billions of human beings. I took science and psychology classes. I'm well aware that some people are crazy and do crazy things. I will never be one of those people who clicks my tongue and says "oh my god, how could a mother kill her kids? That's so horrible!". Yes, it's horrible, but it's a natural set of outliers that exists in humanity. And it will happen again next week.

The silver lining of the the death of the newspaper industry is that they could develop the niche skill of actually reporting news. From a practical standpoint, they'll never be able to compete with the Internet or CNN in terms of delivering time-sensitive "current events" (or even the leading stories of blood). However, they could refocus their energies on reporting on real news in depth. There used to be a time where a reporter actually investigated issues. There's still a need for that in our society, and I hope and pray that we'll get back to a time where "news" means something more than a guy eating a 20 pound burger in Pennsylvania (although, did you see that story? b/c that burger was HUGE!)

If you pronounce it "moo-za-rell", please read  


I had a rant all ready to go, but the NYT covered this very topic a couple of years ago.   They hit all the major points.   So stop being fake Italian!!

Growing a Beard (really?)  


I'm fiddling around with my new beard trimmer, and there's an attachment that I'm not exactly sure how to use.   I crack open the instruction booklet, and this is what I find:

Growing a Beard

There are three key factors that will determine which beard style is best for you:

1. The shape and dimensions of your face.
2. The natural growth of your beard.
3. The thickness of your beard.   If you are unsure about the type of beard that would most suit your face, speak with a professional hair stylist or go to:  ___________

Movie Reivew: "Trade"  


Although there were times during the movie "Trade" where I got emotional, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being manipulated. I spent the majority of the movie trying to figure out if the director was trying to be sincere in his focus on the horrific subject material, or if he was taking shortcuts at making something emotional. And then, after I wrestled with that issue, I was unsure if that even "matters". If a movie is "important", does it not matter if it's "good"?

By movie standards, was the movie Trade "good"?


In order to push the plot along, an amazing chain of unlikely events had to occur. I could chronicle those unlikely events, but it's not important. There are about a dozen times where you sit back and go "oh come on, that's not plausible". Dove tailing from that is the ridiculous intereactions between the brother and the cop. At one point I thought I was watching a cliched buddy cop movie. They actually argued about what kind of music to listen to! If you're stealing scenes from Rush Hour, I refuse to take you seriously. Oh, and the movie ends with a huge swat team invasion.

Oh, and if you don't believe me, check out this line from Ebert:

A nasty, vile business, made more slimy because director Marco Kreuzpaintner doesn't trust the intrinsic interest of his story, and pumps it up with chase details, close calls, manufactured crises, and so many scenes of the captives being frightened and abused that they begin to seem gratuitous, even suspect.

Was I, the viewer, manipulated?


I felt like the camera lingered a little too long on crying children, or horrific scenes of abuse. You need a delicate hand to handle this type of subject material, and I don't think the director succeeded. But I'm not intelligent enough to know how or where you draw the line. A movie about the slave trade is going to have depressing scenes. The viewer is supposed to be depressed during those scenes. I would love for someone to articulate why I had a problem with the way it was done in this movie, because I'm not quite sure myself.

Is this movie important?


I guess it depends on the target audience. A big movie like Blood Diamond is important because "regular" people go and see it. I know people whose opinion on those shiny rocks has changed because of the movie. But, as best as I can tell, Trade is a smaller movie. And I really have no idea what type of person goes out of their way to see a small movie with such a sickening subject material. I fear that this movie won't have the impact that it could because of the "Rush Limbaugh effect". Rush is pretty insignificant because he only preaches to the choir. Likewise, my gut says that people who are already aware of the slave trade problem in this world (and specifically the US) are the ones going out and watching this movie. This minimizes the impact that the movie can have (especially if it's done in a mediocre way). The goal of this movie is hopefully to educate, but I wonder if it actually achieves that goal.

In the end, I suppose that, despite all of its faults, the world is a better place because this movie exists. Even if the impact isn't as maximized as it could have been, it's still a good start. And even though I was somewhat aware of the problem, it still opened my eyes a bit. As it was ending, I was bracing myself for the cliched stats that come at the end of these types of movies. But seeing 50,000 sex-slaves entering this country every year really shook me to the core. I can't even begin to understand that.

The earlier post regarding train etiquette was shooting fish in a barrel. There’s another daily event where a CotU is in their full form: the food service industry. What’s interesting in this case is that there are three distinct, yet overlapping, types of a CotU that interact with each other in this area. And when they are at their peak, it really is a site to behold.

CotU #1: The Misogynistic Server

From personal experience, it seems like the majority of food servers (whether it be deli, cafeteria, etc) seem to be male. And the majority of those male servers are misogynistic. Actually, I’m not even sure if misogynistic is the proper term. It's not a hatred of women per se (at least not on a direct level), but rather being overly infatuated with them. A guy who hits on every attractive woman he encounters isn't actually attracted to any of them. In order to be attracted to a woman you have to first acknowledge that they are a person. The type of guy who hits on every single woman he meets is actually so extreme in his objectification that he’s able to merge all women merge into a single being.

But for ease, let’s just call that objectification as misogynistic and move on. I’m not sure if the food industry has a higher percentage of this type of guy, or if the industry just provides more opportunities for them to flaunt their behavior. Whatever the case may be, these guys do not hesitate for a second to hit on every attractive girl that passes their way.

This type of server has no shame, because he’s a CotU. He can literally alternate between cold silence to faux-friendliness based on the gender of his customer. As a guy, I’m disgusted by both the objectification and the lack of subtleness involved. But more than that, I try to put myself in the mindset of a successful professional woman witnessing this while in line. I can’t imagine what it’s like to try and get through the day while being judged by these clowns. I know it’s hard to believe for these CotU’s, but maybe some women just want to get their food in a professional manner without being objectified.

It’s amazing how a person who controls food thinks they have power over someone. Moreso than any other service industry, a food server seems to be emboldened by his position of power. From the waiter who spits in food because he felt slighted, to a bartender who pays more attention to the customers who tip better, employees of the food service industry abuse their power. And for the misogynistic server, he tends to feel entitled to hit on the women without any recourse.

CotU #2: The “Customer is Always Right” Consumer

Mel Brooks once said "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." A CotU focus on their costs and benefits and discount those of their fellow man. Some consumers think that their dollar entitles them to the burger king experience; they want it “their way.” They incorrectly think that the fact that they are on the demand side of the equation gives them carte blanche to affect the supply side. They are wrong.

The classic example is a crowded bar. In theory, as a patron, you are entitled to order any drink on the menu. However, common decency (something a CotU doesn’t possess) dictates that you don’t want to make a bartender suffer needlessly. If you order a round of drinks, and four of your buddies want a miller light, don’t be the guy that makes the fifth a bud light. Of course, CotU’s go above and beyond that, and usually require a drink that contains three alcohols and two mixers, and specify the number of ice cubes to boot. And when you question them on their order, they’ll usually reply with “that’s their job!” or “I’m the customer, and I get to order what I want.”

For the record, bartenders don’t usually own the bar. They aren’t reaping any profits on the transaction (other than the tip). And food servers are even less invested in the profit end of the business. It’s completely unfair to make their job any harder than it has to be. If breakfast ends at 10:30, don’t try and talk them into making you something at 10:45.

The most egregious thing I’ve ever witnessed involves chicken wings. When they are on the menu, they are always in high demand and because they are cooked in front of you, the lines tend to build up. I once had the displeasure of being behind someone who wanted her wings cooked in a specific way. Instead of the usual pan fried process, she requested that they “lightly” be cooked that way, and then taken to the back to be cooked in the oven. Something about the crispiness (or lack there of) of the chicken, I’m not exactly sure.

What I am sure of is that she said no less than THREE times “don’t worry, they’ll (the people in the back) know who it’s for. So, not only was this a regular request, but this woman actually took pride in having a personal order. This poor man had to stop his regular routine of pan frying, and hand off the wings to the back of the cafeteria. And eventually, when the wings came back out, she repeated her “did you know who they were for?” question TWICE, only to finally grin “yeah, I knew you’d know they were for me.”

Well congratulations CotU, you’ve managed to usurp some extra advantage of the process. Once again you prove the thesis that the squeaky wheel get the oil. It must make you feel really important to be able to get such personal service. Of course, any jerk could make a request. The only problem is that if everyone did it, the servers would be overwhelmed and be unable to perform their job.

And that’s why the “well I’m PAYING for this” defense doesn’t work. Because the price of the wings is based on how much it costs to make them in a normal process. The manpower to make them costs a certain amount of dollars. If you start making those employees work harder, and take more time, eventually you’re going to need to increase your staff. And eventually, the prices of the wings go up.

Sure, maybe those wings taste slightly better than the normal process. But as a consumer, you have to accept that you are not in fact the center of the universe and that the food industry is a business that survives on multiple sales. If you want a higher quality product, you don’t have the right to ask for better service …go find a higher end restaurant (which will charge more).

CotU #3: The Hybrid Consumer

When you combine a misogynistic server with a “customer is always right” consumer, chaos ensues. First, a disclaimer: I’m fully aware that I have received countless benefits being a white male in this racist/sexist society. It would be impossible for me to separate, or even recognize, all of those benefits. And of course, its males who are 99% to blame for this sexist society we live in. So, for me to sit here in judgment of women who reap the micro benefits of misogynic males (while ignoring the macro harm it causes our society) teeters on the edge of hypocrisy. But all that being said, just because I’m not the best voice to discuss the issue, it doesn’t mean the argument isn’t valid.

The misogynistic server wants to flirt with the female customer. And the female customer wants special treatment when it comes to their food. So they use each other all under the false pretense of being “friendly.” Some women might actually trick themselves into thinking the server is “just being nice”, but that has to be willful ignorance. Again, how could the server be nice one minute to them, but then cold and dispondant to the male customer. Furthermore, the server isn’t actually being “generous” by giving away his boss’ food. It’s not costing him anything, and borders on stealing.

The cafeteria at lawschool was the worst. The guy at the register openly joked to the women that they paid less money for the same items. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the women were literally reaping a financial benefit through their sexuality. What’s the word for that again?

The woman justifies the discount by saying “if he wants to give it to me cheaper, why should I refuse? That doesn’t benefit anyone.” But just because the costs and benefits are miniscule on a global scale does not mean that they are non existent. By accepting that benefit you are in essence telling the server “yes, objectify me”. When an attractive woman gets that benefit, she undoubtedly has a less attractive counterpart who is NOT getting that discount.

It troubles me when people judge an action on the surface without trying to figure out the motive behind it. A lot of behavior that is labeled as “nice” really isn’t. It’s usually manipulative and insincere. And by accepting the benefits, the behavior is ultimately encouraged. When a guy offers an attractive woman a seat on a bus, it’s up to that woman to realize that she, and her less attractive counterpart, is being objectified.

But getting back to food…People in line notice the dance that goes on between the server and consumer. And in the end, everyone involved looks bad. The server is exposed for the misogynist that he is. And the woman’s self centeredness is equally exposed as she chooses an extra scoop of mac and cheese over the satisfaction in refusing to be an active participant in the sexism that plagues our society.

The easy answer to all of this is to just stop judging and ignore this stuff when it goes on. Everyone has their faults, and it’s unfair for me to notice these, but ignore my own shortcomings. But it’s really hard to turn these observations off, to take the blue pill if you will. Once you start getting into the mindset of understanding WHY people act the way they do, it’s hard to go back. Watching how people interact in the food industry is a depressing endeavor. If people can be this self centered and egotistical in this minor interaction, one can only imagine how deep those characteristics run.

CotU and Train Etiquette  


If you slow down and take the time to actually observe humanity,you're going to be really disappointed.  From the time I leave my apartment, all the way until I walk back in at night, I'm forced to interact with dozens of people, and observe countless more.   And the numbers aren't pretty.   In the vast majority of instances, people are driven to act by their insecurity, egoism, and down right selfishness.  

Let's just mention this for the hundredth time:  let people off the train before you get on.   There are two main reasons for this, each independently significant enough to warrant the rule:


1) Even if the order of entry/exist was arbitrary, it still makes sense to follow (example:  driving on the right side of the road) and

2) A train has finite space, while the train platform has (relatively speaking) infinite space.   If people got on the train first, it would be overcrowded and thus be difficult for the second wave of people exiting.


Thus this is a simple and effective rule.   But people choose to ignore it.   And the reason they ignore it is because they want a seat.   See, people who think they are the "Center of the Universe" (CotU),
it's vitally important that they, themselves, be able to sit down. They are the only ones in said universe who experience fatigue.   While the regular rule of "out first, then in" is good in theory, they feel the need to make an exception for themselves.


Every time I hear the conductor announce this on the loudspeaker only to have people ignore him, i cringe. 

There are two other mini areas of annoyance involving train etiquette that I'd like to address.  First, when you're waiting for a train, there are usually two options:  sit all the way back on the benches or stand in the front where the train is going to eventually be.   It SHOULD be a
question of "comfort now, or comfort later" in that suffering through the standing process should provide you first access to the opening doors.   However, in these selfish times, CotUs often choose the "comfort now AND comfort later".  They'll sit on the benches until they hear the train, at which point they'll push their way through the crowd of standing people in order to be the first ones
through the doors.   It's selfish and unacceptable, and it makes me weep for humanity.

In the opposite scenario, a train about to make its final stop, we have yet another example of selfish behavior.  Even though the distribution of bodies is comfortably spread out throughout the train, as it approaches the final stop CotUs start getting up and crowding the door.   The process actually begins at the second to last stop, so those last few minutes become painfully uncomfortable as it's artificially crowded.   CotUs are so mind-blowingly
selfish that they would rather make everyone uncomfortable just to get a few seconds of a head start on their next leg of the commute.   It's a mad dash to the escalator to shave off a little time.  I suppose these people think they are the only ones who have to be somewhere at 9 in the morning.

My letter to TBS baseball  


The contrast in quality between your broadcast and Fox's is staggering.  Your presentation is vastly superior in all areas:  pregame analysis, camera angles, in game graphics, etc. etc. etc.   The fundamental difference is that it's obvious that your company respects the game.  Imagine my shock when I realized that you guys actually show the game instead of just treating it as an excuse to "entertain" casual observers.   The lack of extreme close-ups (in an attempt to provide faux-drama), I can't even begin to provide examples of why your broadcast is 100x better.

All I can say is THANK YOU!

[oh, my one critique is that you shouldn't update the diamond on the score line while a play is happening. When a guy gets a hit, I'll quickly look up at that box to be reminded of how many are on updating too quickly, I can get confused.  It shouldn't change until the play is over.]