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Archive for May, 2012

5 Activities for the Summer

Posted in Links, Personal Essays on May 29th, 2012

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of Summer, and the preferred time of year to take off some days for vacation, either for travel or just relaxation.

Now, of course, if you’re like me, the recession really has not “ended” for you, and you’re broke. Maybe you’re not broke, but just hate extravagance. If you’re not broke, and love extravagance, you’re probably a GOP bundler, and are confused as to why this site discusses OWS without links to McDonald’s applications. Just type “World News Daily” in your little search engine box and you should be fine.

So, let’s list some cheap things to do this summer.

1. Visit The Library. When I was a boy, my Mother would drop me off at the library most days of the week during the summer, and it was the best thing she could have done for me. It’s a place full of books and magazines with air conditioning. All it’s missing is a well-stocked bar.

2. Visit your nearest national park, and enjoy our national heritage before the Koch brothers buy it all up. .

3. Campaign for your Congressional candidate. It’s an election year, remember? Walking is great exercise, just be sure you have a sturdy pair of shoes. You can even canvass in a Tri-Corn hat, if you have one.

4. Visit a local museum. Just like your local library, no matter how bored you are, you cannot deny it… you love climate control. I live in New York State, and in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters are free, with merely a “recommended donation”.

5. Go see The Avengers. I know that costs money. I don’t care.

(Edited to make more sense, links are included in comment below because I am bad at the computing -Justin)

A Curmudgeon Complains About the Tee Vee

Posted in Editorials on May 24th, 2012

Have you noticed the poor quality of some news channels?

Have you noticed how some news channels seem to be little more than partisan propaganda?

Have you noticed that “If it bleeds, it leads” is only the tip of the iceberg?

I won’t name names since you can find it across the political spectrum and I’m not in the mood to argue which channel does it the most, but you know what I’m talking about. Nigh-Pornographic coverage of famous people, interminable coverage of relatively frivolous things, like awards shows and athletic events, , selective reporting to fulfill an agenda… it goes on and on and on.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, of course, but surely one of the reasons the USA is going to the dogs (hey, I told you I was being a curmudgeon, I’ll use that turn of phrase and you’ll like it!) is that we are told what to think by irresponsible journalists and pseudo-journalists who serve some ulterior agenda that has very little to do with keeping people informed, and more to do with keeping the population amused and docile.

That’s why 24 Hour “News” Networks spend so much time covering people that are famous but in truth have no effect on how we live our lives, rather than public servants, or the people who labor in obscurity but have great power over the nation and the world.

But these news channels insist they’ve been responsible and kept you informed, after all, there’s all those little news tickers at the bottom of the screen… that are hard to read, and far less interesting than the physically perfect face of the newscaster.

As Captain Beatty said in Fahrenheit 451, “…chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving.” And so it goes, but we’re not better off for it.

I think we need to come up with a new rule for watching Televised news:

The trustworthiness of a news program is inversely related to its use of visual stimuli.

In short, the more flashy it is, the more bullshit is shoveled. Does this rule already exist? If not, it needs a name. The Law of Info-Tainment, perhaps?

Again, without naming names… Think about the most actually informative news program you’ve watched. Did they have a scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen, or did they have a newscaster pretty much at the front and center of the action with no distracting text or graphics?


The only useful thing we can do is refuse to watch flashy “News” Networks, and watch more serious reporters, and even (gasp) spend more time reading. We deserve better than to be treated like idiots.

Letter Writing: Investigate Claims of Sexual Assault By NYPD Against OWS Protesters

Posted in Editorials on May 5th, 2012

On Friday’s Majority Report, Sam Seder interviewed show regular Jeff Smith of Occupy Wall Street. They spoke of an article by David Graeber, detailing accusations of systemic sexual assault against women OWS protesters by the NYPD. They speculated that this is being done to provoke a reaction from other peaceful protesters, especially men.

This is outrageous and must be investigated. I sent the following email to my City Councilman, Mayor Bloomberg, State Assemblyman, State Senator, Governor Cuomo, Congressman and Senators Gillibrand and Schumer.

Today I read a very disturbing blog post by David Graeber describing what appears to be a systemic use of sexual assault against female Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City:


These allegations are shocking and outrageous. I urge you to please look into them, and if they are valid, please take action to protect the rights of all New Yorkers. I feel strongly that First Amendment Rights must be protected. As a woman, I have the right to peacefully protest without fear of sexual assault from the NYPD.

I also contacted the New York Times Ombudsman, and I encourage you to do the same.

Contact your NYC city council person.

Contact Mayor Bloomberg.

Contact your New York State Assembly Member

Contact your New York State Senator.

Contact Governor Cuomo.

Contact your Congressional Representatives.

Contact your Senators.

Chelsea Handler: Sexism is Bullshit

Posted in Podcast Reviews on May 4th, 2012

Monday’s episode of Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast featured Chelsea Handler. It was pretty much what I expected, but what stood out to me was the way she handled Maron’s questions about sexism.

They were discussing Handler’s relationship with a producer at the E! television network, which began after her show premiered, yet still led to speculation that she only had a television show because she was dating/having sex with him.

MARON:It’s like fundamental sexism to…Obviously the show is a success, and you’ve written these books and you do standup but people are like..
HANDLER: I know, I mean, it’s like come on. Thanks a lot for all the credit!
MARON: Do you think that’s sexist? That attitude towards you?
HANDLER: No I don’t. Sexism is bullshit to me. I don’t even buy into that anymore. I mean men and women are equal. And that’s that in my mind.

Later in the interview, Maron asked again:

MARON: So you don’t even engage in the dialogue, that people are harder on you because you are a woman?
HANDLER: No. I don’t really care about that. No! I mean that, I feel like talking about that makes it real, it’s like, for me, that’s never been an issue. It’s like, I’m not I mean who cares? It’s not a sex issue. There’s funny women. There’s funny men.

At first I thought that this is an example of the accomplishments of feminism – powerful women feel like sexism is not an issue in their lives. It’s disappointing that she doesn’t think about why that might be so, or that it might not be true for other women, however.

Then I looked at the comments on the WTF website. Now, I have once commented online to Marc Maron that he should ask Carlos Mencia why he’s a no talent hack with a minstrel show. So I am not above writing mean things about celebrities on the internet. But looking through the comments about this episode, I lost track of the number of times Handler was called a bitch, someone insinuated that any women who don’t like her are, “insecure ladywhales” and a moderator posted that he had to delete many comments calling her a cunt:

Come on, people. You are free to dislike and debate the relative merits of anyone who is on the show, but in the end these people are still our guests. Let’s lay off the personal attacks and liberal use of the c-word. If you notice a previous comment of yours missing, it’s because I deleted anything with the c-word. Zero tolerance on that one until things get a little less prickly in here.

Good for Marc and Brendan PW McDonald for not tolerating that shit.

So Ms Handler, I can respect your discomfort in talking about the sexism, even if it indicates you really don’t believe that it no longer exists. One look at those comments disproves that idea. I understand that if you were to tackle the sexism of some of your critics either through humor or direct statements, you might not have a television show anymore or financial security for your family. But I wish you would acknowledge the absurd irony of a rich, white, traditionally attractive woman who denies sexism exists being called a cunt because she is otherwise extremely confident in who she is and what she wants.