Am I alone in thinking that the MetroPCS TV advertisements are somewhat racist? Two guys of Indian decent ostensibly working at a tech support desk ridicule people who don’t have MetroPCS phone service. And while they don’t necessarily do anything overtly negative, the guys are not portrayed in a very flattering way. Regardless, isn’t it racist when somebody or something reinforces a stereotype based solely on somebody’s appearance? I’m not trying to be politically correct here just for the sake of being PC but I think the burgeoning stereotype that all people of Indian decent work in tech support can be harmful and I believe MetroPCS is exploiting it for their own gain.
A few months ago, Comcast notified me that they were enhancing the basic cable to be “all digital” and how great that would be. Great, my ass. That’s code for force people to get cable boxes who don’t want them. As I wrote back in August, the net effect is that it takes away the “cable-ready” capability of TVs, VCRs, and most important to me: my precious ReplayTV DVRs. That means that whereas I used to be able to just run the Comcast feed directly into the back of ReplayTV and let ReplayTV do the tuning, I’ll need to add a cable box in the mix now and the cable box will change channels with ReplayTV always watching Channel 3. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Now granted, “cable-ready” only gets you so far. You can’t watch any of the stations that were already in the digital realm – generally the stations over channel number 100. But, if I exclude HD (since I use an HD DVR from Comcast to watch HDTV because, sadly, there is still no HD version of ReplayTV), most of the stations I watch are under 100. In addition to the broadcast networks, there are a handful of “basic cable” stations that I watch like the Food Network and Comedy Central. So I’ve had something like 200 channels available to me to watch but the channels that were digital only and not visible on the ReplayTV were not ones I cared about for the most part. But now, with this new “all digital” switchover, Comcast has moved the line in the sand beyond where it matters for me. Which means to keep using the ReplayTV DVRs, I have to hook each of them up to a stupid cable box.
To me, the debate about healthcare is simple. Call it what you like – “the ethic of reciprocity”, “the Golden Rule”, “do unto to others as you want done to you”, “there but for the grace of God go I”, etc. – ultimately, I see this as a humanitarian concern. 200 years ago, health care was a privilege because it was the equivalent to being cryogenically frozen today – an expensive oddity for the rich that is ultimately fruitless. But denying somebody medical treatment today would be inhumane. And I think everyone agrees with that.
The next logical step, then, is that preventative care should be as accessible as emergency care. After all, emergency care is more expensive than preventative care, so why not do the patients a favor and keep them healthy and do the citizenry a favor and make a wise fiscal choice. Win-win, right?
Anyone who thinks that everybody who is uninsured chooses to be uninsured both doesn’t know somebody who has lost insurance through no fault of their own and lacks the ability to comprehend how it could happen. Now you could take the stand that you like your medical care, but I suspect you don’t like how much you are paying in insurance (or if you think what you are paying is good then you don’t realize that your salary would be higher if your employer didn’t have to pay as much). But even if you like your medical care and your insurance is actually somehow not expensive to you or your employer, to take the position that you don’t want any change because you are happy is just plain selfish. If every decision in this country’s history was made for purely selfish reasons, we’d still have slavery.
If you are still with me up to here, then we’ve agreed that there are people who are uninsured through no fault of their own who need coverage that they cannot afford and that it is both financially wise and humane to make sure they get coverage. And this means that you agree that the people calling Obama a socialist and yelling at town hall meetings about how nothing should change are wrongheaded. All that remains to disagree on is the details.
Yes, the details are important and differences in opinion can be cavernously wide. For example, how will it be paid for? How would any change not upset the balance of what does work today? What about those who will try to game the system for their benefit? I don’t have the answers but as naive as this may seem, I think there are smart policy makers who can sort those issues out. People who insist that the status quo must remain because any changes will lead to certain failure underestimate their elected officials. And people who fear that those pushing for reform have a hidden agenda are as paranoid as those that created and supported McCarthyism.
Anyone concerned about becoming the next England – or worse, France! – needs to stop listening to fearmongers and pay attention to facts. First of all, the argument about not wanting a politician between patient and doctor? On matters of health, I’d take a politician over a capitalist any day. Right now, decisions about my care (and that of my children) are being made through the filter of capitalism – the drugs are only covered if the insurance company thinks that the risk of not covering would cause more people to leave them rather than whether or not the drug is actually effective. The myth about countries that offer socialized medicine having lines and lists and other nonsense is grossly exaggerated and focuses on the countries that are not doing it right rather than those that are succeeding. And the concern about the quality of US healthcare taking a dive as a result of reform ignores many factors, not least of which is that the US will do what is good for the US.
Finally, anyone who comes up with entirely fabricated concepts (i.e. “Death Panels”) in an effort to derail the reform is either reflexively fighting for the status quo, intentionally trying to make reform fail to take down those who support it, or directly in the pocket of insurance companies who like the status quo very much, thank you. I have no use for any of them and neither should you!
Like many people, I don’t have a set top box (“STB” or “cable box”) for every TV in my house. I despise the things. They complicate matters. Why include an STB in the loop when I can connect my cable wire directly to my “cable-ready” TV? Or better yet, connect it to my “cable-ready” ReplayTV DVR? It gives me the power of one remote without needing to worry about ridiculous remote repeater to change the channel on a cable box. Sure, it limits me to the stations under channel 100, but that’s okay since they are the channels we watch most. We’ve got an STB/DVR on the HDTV and that’s where we record stuff that is above channel 100 – primarily the high-def stuff that Comcast puts on the channels in the 800-900 range. It’s been working okay for us. I am still a little annoyed that I need an STB for the high-def channels that are broadcast channels and I’m still very annoyed that ReplayTV is defunct. But we’re making do in with this setup.
I got a letter from Comcast. It says that they are removing all but the broadcast stations from analog feed in January. That means the only stations that I’d be able to get on a “cable-ready” TV are the ones that are available over the air. To put it another way, Comcast is removing the “cable-ready” from my TV. I find that rather rude.
Now to make up for this change, Comcast is going to offer a “digital adapter” to me “at no cost”. It’s good that it is free, but it is still an STB. If I want to receive anything more than what I get over the air, I need an STB of some sort now. It’s Comcast’s way of infiltrating every TV location in my house. Evil. And that means you change channels on the STB instead of on the device doing the recording (or the watching) and that means multiple remotes, IR repeaters and the whole bucket of nonsense.
As usual, the alternatives suck. I could ditch cable and go with satellite which would require an STB for each outlet anyway. Hardly an improvement. I could suck it up and go with only Comcast STB/DVRs but that means mothballing the ReplayTVs which are still doing their commercial skip just fine, thank you. In the end, when Comcast does follow through on their evil plan in January, I’ll probably begrudgingly move the effected ReplayTV recordings to the Comcast DVR. But in the long run, a cable-card ready HD DVR that has sharing and commercial skip capabilities like my precious ReplayTVs is the only way to go – now if I only such a thing existed!
Lost is still compelling TV. You can’t help but get pulled in to its vortex of creative storytelling. But I remain a non-fan of the time travel component. Sure, it’s fun to see the Dharma people in full effect and it’s rewarding to get some Dharma backstory. And I suppose it would have been less fun to have the Dharma story told with solely new-to-us characters. But as clever a storytelling device as that is, I still say once you start time traveling, anything is possible and therefore everything is less interesting.
The Indiana Jones-ish exploration of the Temple of possible doom is intriguing but I hope it remains a diversion. The other Egyptian connections, such as the nature of that big statue are some of my favorite parts of the show now. Why does the statue have four toes and what became of the rest of the statue that we briefly saw in a time flash clip? Entertainment Weekly’s Doc Jensen’s weekly Lost column has some interesting theories and useful intel on the Egyptian issues. Oh, and I happen to have come up with the same theory as he did about what becomes of the greater statue – I suspect statue meets Jughead and boom.
One interesting corollary is that while my interest has waned, Tracy’s has waxed. She says that the show is no longer shocking which means she isn’t as tense watching. Of course, I enjoyed being on the edge of my seat. Still, now it’s a show we watch together which is nice.
The show that has been really a joy to watch weekly is Chuck. The Sarah character is still the weak part but everything else about the show is strong. How can you not laugh every time John Casey growls? Or when Jeffster perform Kilroy Was Here? Chuck also has some geeky tech that’s fun to watch and some decent action for today’s TV. But what really sets the show apart from others is its heart. You really feel for Chuck. He wants to do right by his country but he wants to live his own life again.
The season finale may have been the series finale. Too bad. It’s only the second season and Chuck had the writers’ strike to hose its first year. From what I understand, Chuck did reasonably well ratings-wise, but these days reasonably well isn’t good enough for any network. And NBC is the worse place to have a show these days because remember NBC is ditching 5 of its hours a week this fall. And it won’t just be the 10:00pm shows that are sacrificed to the altar of Leno and low-production-cost television; certainly some of the 10:00pm shows will move to 9:00pm and the 9:00pm shows will move to 8:00pm. In the end, NBC is going to go on a chopping spree and it just might be Chuck that gets the axe. There’s a Save Chuck petition. I don’t know how realistic it is these days to think that the desires of loyal fans could have an influence over GE-owned NBC. When the final ratings numbers are in, hopefully Chuck will indeed be saved.
And finally, while on the topic of NBC, I do need to briefly mention My Name Is Earl. The first season was brilliant but the tone changed a little in the second season and since then the show has been a little too mean and/or gross at times. Still, it was worth tuning in for the overall story. Now in it’s fourth season, it is struggling a little to find stories – making Randy and Joy childhood sweethearts was cheap and contrived. But I do have to say that the guest actors they’ve been getting have been wonderful. The big body builder guy and the minister who was a recovering thug were brilliant. And the show frequently seems like it is getting itself into a story pickle, like having Darnell say the only solution was to kill Catalina, only to have the story neatly resolve in a way I wished I had thought of.
I know I shouldn’t be paying attention to a ridiculous feud between a beauty-pageant contestant and a blogger who chose to name himself after one of the biggest celebritards ever, but I can’t help it – the Miss California vs. Perez (real name: Mario Lavandeira) debate got me thinking. How ironic is that?
Miss California says that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman and even though she doesn’t want anyone to take offense, it’s what her god tells her. The more I thought about it, the more absurd that seemed to me. No, it isn’t that a good god is supposed to love people for who they are, even if their union won’t (on its own) produce more god-fearing people. And it isn’t even that it’s ridiculous that Miss California is concerned about what other people do in the privacy of their own home. What’s truly absurd is that she doesn’t want gay people to share in the same civil benefits that are afforded to straight couples.
The thing is that the gay people that want to marry in California don’t want to get married in Miss California’s church. They want to be able to tick the box on the tax return that says they are married. They don’t want to ruin Miss California’s family. They just want to be able to say that they are officially a family of their own. We humans tend to like to pair off. And there’s no reason why the governmental and societal benefits to making a union of two people official should not apply to all humans, regardless of gender preference.
If Miss California believes that her god says its wrong and she believes that it should therefore be against the law, then she is either under the mistaken impression that the State of California is a theocracy or that the State has the power to do her god’s will – that the State of California can create the same holy union she can get in her church. And surely her religion would frown on her allocating almighty powers on any other entity other than the church’s one god (in particular, an entity who has as its leader Arnold Schwarzenegger).
As anyone who as gotten married in a church knows, there are two sets of papers to fill out – one is the set for the church and the other is the set for the government. That means that if you get a church wedding, you get a de-facto union by the state too. It’s a nice bonus that you don’t have to do two ceremonies and that the state lets the clergy count the religious ceremony as a legit state procedure.
Which means it must all come down to one word: marriage. Is “marriage” a term owned by the church? After all, it was the religious institutions that originally created the concept of marriage. Or does the term belong to the government? Who, of course, is responsible for certifying all marriages today, whether they originate in a church or not. Clearly a divorce of the two meanings of marriage would solve the vocabulary problem. But since that would mean one side would end up with a “lesser” word to describe their institution, that seems unlikely. How about prefixes of “civil” and “holy”? People would still get “civil marriages” from the government or they could still go to church and have their clergy perform a “holy marriage” with a “civil marriage” happening underneath the vestments.
Oh, and just to be complete, I should address the issue that gay marriage should be against the law because it is better for the children. First of all, that’s bullshit and everyone knows it. (When he makes that claim, even Mitt Romney looks more disingenuous than he usually does.) No solid scientific data exists to support this claim and people that hide behind it are manufacturing a politically-correct facade to prop in front of their true but politically-incorrect beliefs. Secondly, the state of the vocabulary and the recognition by the state isn’t going to have an effect on gay people choosing to have children or not – they do that today, regardless of whether their state allows them to marry. The only thing allowing gay marriage would do to that union’s children is provide them a officially recognized union for their parents – which can hardly be seen as a bad thing.
Sorry to get local on you non-Boston readers, but the situation at the Boston Globe is really infuriating. To catch people up, The Boston Globe was an independent paper until 1993 when it was acquired by the New York Times Company for $1.1 Billion (with a “B”). And since then, a series of poor choices and external conditions have dropped circulation and revenues to the point where the Times Co is considering shutting down the paper if the unions don’t reach enormous concessions. Where things went wrong and what could have been done differently have been the subject of much debate in the last two weeks. If the fact that the Globe is considering closing weren’t maddening enough, it’s still remarkable how wrong the prevailing hindsight is.
The Globe itself has had a number of articles detailing their own plight. Very meta. But they have done what they usually do and reported accurately on a story. One article discussed the sale of the paper to the Times Co and the subsequent ouster of the controlling family. Another article discussed the Globe having passed on a stake in Monster early on seeing it as cannibalizing their own interests. And how the Globe had started their own “Electronic Publishing” (“BGEP”) division to get content online.
As much as the facts in these articles may be accurate, the conclusions drawn from them are not. Yes, the Globe started publishing on boston.com early on. But the site was initially poor technically and has always been poorly organized. It suffers from bloat and busyness. The fact that it is 8th most read newspaper online says more about the strong content of articles and the tech-savvy reader population than the experience people have in using the site.
The site should have been designed from the beginning as a platform for the online content rather than attempting to be a home page for everything you could want on the Internet. The approach that the BGEP took was to try and create a a destination for Bostonians, a “portal”, when they should have been trying to bolster their newspaper’s readership. The Globe lost focus by trying to create a portal, at which they failed, rather than push their strength: their articles.
There’s also the question as to whether the site should have charged for access and if that would have changed the readers’ expectations from the beginning. It’s clear that any site that charged for content in 1995 would have alienated people. The Internet was attractive because content was free. And because it was free, people didn’t mind waiting at their web browser for a page to load over their dialup connection. But as dialup gave way to broadband, the Globe should have started moving to paid content slowly. Initially, a switch of part of the content to subscription where the subscription was maybe $5 for a year would have helped transition people into the thinking of paying for online newspapers. By now, the Globe would have been up to something like $12 annually for access to most of the content and the subscriptions would have been providing substantial revenue. If that meant fewer print customers, so be it – it’s cheaper to publish online, anyway.
There are other forces at work, of course. Craig’s List drained classified revenue and the merger of fierce rivals Filene’s and Macy’s evaporated much of the advertising revenue. The globalization provided by the Internet means that the audience the Globe used to have as nearly captive (excluding the Boston Herald, which largely appeals to a different audience) is now free to read the Washington Post, the Hong Kong Economic Times, or Cairo’s Al-Ahram. On the other hand, it also means more potential readers from outside the area too and the way to court them is not by creating a portal for Boston but by serving up killer content in an easy to search and navigate site.
And there are also the legitimately poor business decisions, like reportedly giving certain union members jobs for life. The only thing that seems more financially reckless than that is heating the printing press plant with a furnace that literally burns money as a fuel.
I think what makes this story so compelling is how solid the Globe once seemed and how much a sense of Boston is built on their existence. Even non-subscribers benefit from the Globe’s in-depth reporting into Big Dig malfeasance and the criminal acts of Catholic Priests. This member of the fourth estate is important and worth saving. But those who don’t understand where things went wrong are doomed to repeat it and if would be a tragic irony if the newspaper renowned for its reporting can’t learn enough about it’s past to save itself.
As the episodes have been winding down, I’ve been enjoying the small revelations. But each episode I watch adds to my sense of dread that all of my questions will not be answered. I stated a while back that I didn’t expect the nature of Starbuck’s demise and/or resurrection would be explained and I’m okay with that. But there do seem to be other mysteries that were introduced that will not be resolved in the final 2 hours of TV this coming Friday.
I’m sure there are other mysteries I’m not thinking of now. And perhaps some of the above has been answered and I missed it. Please add to the comments section below to include your thoughts – additional mysteries or mysteries solved that I missed.
Oh, and did you notice that the little vignettes back on Caprica, before the holocaust, seemed to have very little to do with anything? Maybe there’s a subtext or a thread that ties those scenes in, but I believe that those scenes were intended to whet our appetite for the prequel Battlestar TV movie – introduce new questions that would only be answered by that movie.
It seems like I say this every year, but really, the Oscar’s show could be so much better. Hugh Jackman provided some needed lift to the evening. The show felt tedious whenever he wasn’t on screen, except for the nominated song performances. The live performances for the nominated songs this year were very cool because they livened things up. And oh, that fawning for every acting nominee by previous winners was ridiculous. Look, these people are actors, not nobel prize candidates. Enough of the deification.
Again, it’s simple. Keep up the good work with host selection and musical performance. Everything else has to go. People that watch the Oscars like movies, so show clips of every nominated performance or work. It’s that simple. Clips of movies, actresses in pretty dresses, 60-second acceptance speeches, a couple of songs. Boom, there’s your show. 2 hours, 30 minutes, tops but maybe even as short as 2 hours? .
(Note that the Grammy’s get this principle. They know that people watching the show like music, so they give them a whole lot of music. Entertaining show this year.)
It’s great to finally have both Battlestar Galactica and Lost back on the air. Fans of each show have been waiting for the stories to resume for an eternity (6 months). But…
Lost is going to rely too heavily on time travel to fill in their story. As you watch a show like Lost, you find yourself saying to yourself “wow, how could this story possibly resolve?”. And now on it’s 5th year Lost continually makes me think that. I find myself thinking that there is no way out of the corner they’ve written themselves into only to have them find a way out that makes perfect sense after it is revealed. But I feel like time travel is the Lifeline that writers use when they wrote themselves into a corner and could not find their own way out. Just like time travel can instantly transport characters to strange places, it can also transport the story out of a prose pickle to something that suddenly makes sense, inasmuch as time travel ever makes sense. But the fact that time travel is a wildcard solution makes it a poor choice for a show that has succeeded in being sufficiently clever without such nonsense previously. For example, it seemed like there was some mystical creature that could pull people into the ground but we saw Ben come up from underground dirty from an apparent tunnel scurry that presumably involved some manner of monster manipulation. Since the introduction the character of Richard Alpert as a guy who doesn’t age, I feared we would end up with a time travel scenario and the fear culminated with the disappearance of the island at the end of last season. We’ll have to see if the Lost time travel issue turns out to be a writer’s easy out or maybe it will end up with some bite after all.
(For the record, I don’t dislike all time travel stories. Those that make time travel the center focus up front can be very good. The classic novel “A Wrinkle In Time”, the movie “Back To The Future”, and the TV show “Doctor Who” all use it to great effect and successfully manage the paradox of time travel.)
Battlestar Galactica is entering it’s final (half) season stronger than Lost. The storytelling in BSG hasn’t been as even as it has been in Lost and that’s still true when looking at the first and second episodes. The first is emotionally powerful and revelatory in its story. After watching that episode, I felt a punch to the gut over the sad state of “humanity” & the death of a major character and my jaw hung open in awe when the final cylon was revealed (not that it was that shocking who it was, but just what that meant to the BSG universe). The second episode, however, was comparatively weak and felt manipulative. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t remember Felix being that hard on Starbuck before nor does he seem the type to co-conspire on mutiny. Sometimes it feels like the BSG writers don’t want to introduce somebody new so they recycle an existing character and sort of make them over.
You could also argue that the writers finally dealt with the issue of Tyrol’s kid by copping out and making him Hot Dog’s kid instead. The problem didn’t exist before we knew that Tyrol was a cylon but after he was revealed to be one, that meant his kid was half cylon which had previously been stated to be a big deal. But I kind of like that resolution and am glad the writers went to a character who hasn’t had much screen time (despite being portrayed by Edward James Olmos’s own son!).
I’ve read that the Starbuck story line won’t be completely resolved at the end of the season and I don’t see how they could after all the mystical mumbo jumbo that has been at the center of her character’s existence since her immaculate return. And therefore, I just don’t see how I can expend much mental energy wondering what will become of her. It’s not that I’ll fast forward over her scenes because I am still interested – it’s just that I won’t bother wondering what will happen next to Kara Thrace. (Though it was cool that the previously unspookable frequently-killed Leoben turned tail and ran when he found the original Starbuck’s corpse.)
There are only 8 episodes left in BSG and I expect they will go quickly – lots is going to happen and it will feel like it is over too soon.
I suspect Lost is going to drag a bit more – we already have a new introduction of yet another group of well-armed wackos who think the island is theirs. So, more questions introduced as some are answered. Despite the time travel issue, I am looking forward to finding out what Daniel can learn and looking forward to finding out why the woman who gave Desmond Penny’s ring turns out to be a priestess working in a lab in collusion with Ben.