Archive for television

Not with a bang, but a whimper: “Millennials” and the new world order

Posted in simple living with tags , on 04/20/2015 by Fox

There is nothing permanent except change.
~Heraclitus

Unsurprisingly, television ownership and use are falling. I’m not even surprised it’s picked up speed. As ease of streaming increases, and as television culture as we knew it decreases, the change is only going to become more rapid.

It’s like good ol’ Blockbuster. Faded away to obscurity because something better has come along. I saw the new Cosmos on Hulu. Netflix is creating their own television series. It’s happening…television has become the domain of the older generations. Television channels are becoming horrible, panicked conglomerations of whatever they think will bring in viewers. Hello, bullshit reality TV on every channel. Television companies are popping out idiocy now in hopes of prolonging their own demise. Unless they innovate, death is inevitable.

Commercials as we know them are dying as well. Hulu will prop them up for a while, but I predict we’ll see more product placement and/or companies like Netflix will continue to bankroll their own shows in order to entice viewers to continue with their service rather than switch to another. In short, we’ll see streaming channels rather than television channels.

What does surprise me is that car ownership may be in decline as well. It’s not because of the smartphone, though, as the writer suggests. Read the comments. The decline in car ownership is due to increasing urbanization, increasing costs of ownership (although the guy who said a Versa Note is “$800 a month before gasoline” is full of shit), and increasing college attendance with the student loans that accompany it.

In short, kids these days are broke-ass motherfuckers (what cursing?) that don’t need a car as badly as they once did.

That being said, cars aren’t going the way of televisions. There will always be those, like me, who choose to own a car for whatever reasons. But you can bet your ass that if this trend continues you’re going to start seeing sub-trends of more environmentally friendly vehicles and more budget sub-compact cars.

In the meantime, I’m going to bask in the slow death of the television.

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Your television is lying to you

Posted in simple living with tags , on 10/01/2011 by Fox

The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.
~Ray Bradbury,
“The Golden Apples of the Sun”

That’s right, your TV is lying to you. The news programs are lying to you. They do it subtly, of course, so you don’t realize it until someone mentions it.

For example: quotes and cutaways. In the electronic age it’s easy to manipulate a recorded interview to change the message. Cuts may be used benignly, to shorten a lengthy interview, but how can you tell? I’ve heard rumors too, that many interviews are pre-recorded snippets of dialogue from the interviewee…the interviewer’s questions are spliced in afterward. Keep an eye out for interviews where the participants don’t interact and where the interviewee doesn’t mention the interviewer’s name or particulars unique to that interview. It’s likely much easier on radio than it is on television, due to the lack of video.

And it’s not just cutting out sections during interviews. In fact, by failing to mention Ron Paul, the news media is deliberately hurting his chances of becoming the Republican presidential candidate by refusing to take his bid seriously. There is no excuse for this type of behavior among the “news” media. Unbiased my ass…these bastards have an agenda, even if they deny it.

Keep in mind, also, that the television show you’re watching, be it “news” or Doctor Who, is not the product. You are the product, and you’re being sold to advertisers. This is true of not just television, but also radio, magazines, Google, Facebook, and other social media sites. YOU are the product. YOU are what is being sold.

The more you know…

EDIT: And let’s now forget how advertising can influence television…

How to watch TV sanely

Posted in simple living with tags on 11/29/2010 by Fox

I have never seen a bad television program, because I refuse to. God gave me a mind, and a wrist that turns things off.
~Jack Paar

Most people who know me know I have a serious loathing for television. That’s not to say I don’t watch TV shows. I enjoy Doctor Who, Star Trek, Family Guy, and several other programs. But I don’t watch television.

My parents do. My father will sit down, turn on the TV, and it will remain on constantly for the rest of the day and likely the night as well. He’s not watching anything specific…he just flips around until he finds something he’s not adverse to and watches it. In order to have a conversation with him, you have to fight the TV for his attention. My mother is only slightly better. It’s ridiculous, it’s sad, and it makes me not want to spend time with them.

While I’m still an advocate for chucking the damn thing out the door completely, it is possible to watch TV and keep your sanity.

The first step is realizing that television is an addictive drug. I’m not even joking about that.

The second step is realizing that it’s preferable to not have something constantly running in the background. You don’t need TV or music going constantly. Humans were not meant to multi-task and you may concentrate better without it. Ever go into a restaurant with a TV in it and find yourself staring at it without meaning to? That’s what I’m talking about. I’ll turn music on when I cook or clean or craft, but once I’m back to a focus-driven activity, like reading or writing, the cacophony stops. If I’m watching something with friends, I’ll pause what we’re watching if there is a conversation happening. Music can be a nice background sometimes, but a lot of the time I find it a distraction.

If you have shows you want to watch, then watch them. But don’t say “I’m going to watch TV,” and then get stuck there. If you’re watching Doctor Who, watch Doctor Who and then turn the TV off. Don’t channel surf. You’re not watching TV, you’re watching Doctor Who. Once Doctor Who is done, you find another activity.

Similarly, don’t sit down and aimlessly watch whatever’s on. If you’re bored, find something else to do. Play a video game, read a book, clean or cook or take a walk. Talk to someone. Don’t veg out…stimulate your brain with an activity. Don’t fall into the trap of passive entertainment.

Better yet, get rid of the cable/satellite service and get Netflix or some other service that allows you to watch only with intention. You can’t sit down and watch whatever’s on Netflix. You have to actively select something.

To sum it up…control the television or it will control you.

Why you should get rid of your cable or satellite service right now

Posted in simple living with tags , on 08/07/2010 by Fox

And by the way, it’s not about making money, it’s about taking money. Destroying the status quo because the status is not quo. The world is a mess and I just… need to rule it.
~Dr. Horrible, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”

I got an email from the owner of my apartment complex today.

“Hi All,

I just wanted to email you to remind you to use the network responsibly.

Monday I received a notice from [internet provider] of a copyright violation for downloading an episode of Top Chefs via torrent. Relatively harmless, but illegal none the less. Today I had to permanently block access to our network by that user. It’s unfortunate, but we have zero wiggle room on this from [internet provider]. They will cancel our connection if it continues. They also have zero wiggle room as they received a notice from NBC Corporate Legal Department. So it’s top down enforcement and they take it very seriously. We need to also.

I recommend not using torrent on the network at all. If you use it, you must be sure it is not violating DMCA. More information on copyrights at http://www.respectcopyrights.org/ and http://www.dmca.com/. Also be especially aware of sharing copyrighted files.

Have a good weekend.”

So apparently NBC has nothing better to do than waste time and money on hunting down someone who got bored and couldn’t find the exact episode of Top Chef they wanted through legal means. I’m not mad at the complex or the internet provider. It wasn’t their decision to start this shit. It was NBC’s.

You know what I have to say to NBC about this?

Fuck you, NBC, and fuck this shit. It’s an outdated business model. And for good measure, here’s GSC’s awesome post on the same subject.

If you get as pissed off about this shit as I do, quit supporting these bastards. Fuck them where it hurts. Get rid of the cable, get rid of the satellite. Save yourself the fucking money. “It’s cheaper, though, if I get the internet/cable bundle!” No, it’s not. I haven’t met a service yet that offered internet and cable, or internet and phone, or cable and phone, or cable, internet, and phone, for less than I can get just internet. Don’t let them get you that way. It’s a scam.

Just kill the paid-for TV. They don’t listen to you anyway. They’re not interested in offering good, quality entertainment. They’re only interested in how much fucking money they can get from advertising. And the advertisers are only interested in how much money they can wrangle out of you.

So do yourself a favor and just ditch it. Support only the media that finds a way to work with the new era of distribution and ditches the old regime of “sue ’em and scare ’em.” And by the way, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is on YouTube. It hasn’t been taken down and somehow I don’t think it will. I highly recommend watching it and buying the DVD. One day I will own the DVD and I will watch Commentary! The Musical and it will be glorious.

Deepwater Horizon: quit freaking out already

Posted in green living with tags , , on 05/15/2010 by Fox

When I heated my home with oil, I used an average of 800 gallons a year. I have found that I can keep comfortably warm for an entire winter with slightly over half that quantity of beer.
~Dave Barry

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess it’s finally time I mention some “news” on this bitch.

Deepwater Horizon. A “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster” according to our president. Uh huh. Apparently so unprecedented that More Minimal decided to devote thirteen blog entries to it.

Even if the spill really is more like ten times what BP has said, well, it’s still not even in the top ten for accidental oil disasters:

(From the BBC via No Agenda)

Note that that chart doesn’t even include the Gulf War oil spill, which was not accidental and is considered to be the largest spill in history.

Also keep in mind the position of the spill and the relative location of the Gulf “dead zone.”

No, the spill shouldn’t have happened. It will have a negative impact on wildlife and livelihoods in the area. But it’s not an “unprecedented” disaster. Hell, the Valdez oil spill was way the fuck up there in Alaska, and I imagine help took a lot longer to get there. It was also a (so far) bigger spill in an ecosystem much less abused.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh is spouting bullshit about eco-terrorism. Whatever, Rush. There are some monkey-wrenching idiots out there, but I doubt even they’d purposefully damage a drilling rig. Could they even get access to the damn thing?

Hah, now that I’m looking at it, even Wikipedia is trying to proclaim it “one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.” Of course, that claim is based off a single NPR article, which just goes to show you why you should be skeptical of any claims Wikipedia makes. It may be one of the worst, sure, but let’s not blow this shit out of proportion, and frankly, I’d call manifest destiny the worst environmental disaster in US history. But that’s just personal opinion.

In the meantime, I’m wondering why this guy hasn’t given himself a heart attack or just hung himself yet. Note the lack of anything backing up his figures and the claim that “one quart of motor oil make[s] 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife.” I would imagine that quarts of motor oil make it into the damn ocean all the time. The oceans are not exactly pristine, people. Especially on the Louisiana coast. How many people change their car’s oil and don’t dispose of it properly, and how much of that ends up running off into the oh-so-conveniently-placed Gulf?

In the meantime, please consider the fact that the oil companies will likely use this to their advantage (discussed at 79:50).

My point is that yes, it’s a terrible disaster. I’m not arguing against that. But let’s not run around like chickens with our heads cut off and proclaim bullshit for the sake of a media soundbite. Instead, why don’t we all focus our attention on fixing the problem. Hyping this up is only going to hurt in the long run.

This is another reason why I don’t follow the news very much. Everything gets misquoted or blown out of proportion for the sake of attention.

EDIT: A quick Google search turns up the source of that “one quart” figure. It says that five quarts of motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water. This is a far cry from rendering thousands of gallons of saltwater toxic. The ultimate source is given as a 1983 edition of NRC’s “Oil in the Sea.” I searched the 2003 edition and couldn’t find the figure, but it’s a 200+ page document, I may have missed it. However, it did mention this:

“As a result of high volume of tanker traffic, large number of oil and gas platforms, heavy input from the Mississippi River, and occurrence of natural oil seeps, the northwestern Gulf of Mexico experiences some of the largest average, annual inputs of petroleum to North American marine waters.”

“Dan Rather Criticizes News Media Ethics”

Posted in simple living with tags , on 05/04/2010 by Fox

I thought I’d make this a formal post…GSC posted this in the comments section of “News” and it deserves watching. Dan Rather tops today’s “List of Cool People.”

What happened to the news?

Posted in simple living with tags on 05/03/2010 by Fox

But we are at war, and we here at THE DAILY SHOW will do our best to keep you informed of any late-breaking…humor we can find. Of course, our show is obviously at a disadvantage compared to the many news sources that we’re competing with… at a disadvantage in several respects. For one thing, we are fake. They are not. So in terms of credibility we are, well, oddly enough, actually about even.
~Jon Stewart

I’m one of those crazy people who doesn’t regularly keep up with news. I occasionally glance at the paper at work when I’m bored and taking a minute or two break from rolling burritos, and only give the briefest of looks at the “news” items that pop up when I log into my email. I figure if it’s important someone will inform me of it, usually via Livejournal (sad as that fact is).

It really turns me off when I see a celebrity’s latest drunken scandal presented as “news.”

News is the earthquake that struck Haiti.
News is the bill that was recently signed into law in Arizona.
News is the death of Michael Jackson or some other notable person.

News is NOT gossip or scandal or “O HAY LUK DRAGON IS #1 AT THE BOX OFFICE AGAIN!” That’s not fucking news.

Yes, there are people who are interested in celebrity scandal or box office hits. But this is news for supermarket tabloids and entertainment sections, respectively. This shit does not need to be on the front page of my email service. It is not news.

I don’t watch news anymore because every other item is something idiotic. There is a world of politics and items of import out there and the newscasters are constantly going “Oh! Look what so-and-so wore last night!” or “Here is a human interest story about a small child!”

And that’s not even getting into the bullshit that is the news stations themselves. “Fair and balanced” my ass. Even science has a hard time remaining objective, I certainly don’t expect that a news station has it figured out nice and pat. GSC already touched on this particular subject so I won’t go into more detail.

I also have to agree with the Unitarian Jihad that instead of going for people who have actually thought about the issues and genuinely want to discuss them, news agencies attempt to find the most wacko nutjobs they possibly can and have them fight. It’s a high-class Jerry Springer. Is the news supposed to be informative or entertaining? Please pick one, stick with it, and quit lying to us. If I want to be entertained while I watch the news, I’ll put on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not. In fact, those are the only shows I watch when I actively seek out news. Comedy Central does a better job of newscasting than any other television station I’ve run across. And that’s fucking sad.