What magic does Glenn Beck have?

Tomorrow is August 28th.   A red letter date, because in 1994, Japan held its first Gay Pride Parade!  And also it is the anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. 

Tomorrow, Glenn Beck is holding a Rally at the Lincoln Memorial titled, “Restoring Honor.” 

Ok, that’s about all I know.  I can’t find ANY information about it, except for a brief descriptive paragraph and an entire liteny of how to get there and what to and to not bring (http://www.glennbeck.com/828/restoringhonorqanda.pdf).  So what does everyone else know about this thing tomorrow that I don’t? 

Tomorrow is not Martin Luther King Day, but Al Sharpton is PISSED about Beck’s rally!  He’s having a “Reclaim the Dream” march on the same day now (http://www.afro.com/sections/opinion/story.htm?storyid=2328).

An online petition has been issued to protest Glenn Beck’s rally (to be fair, when I googled Glenn Beck petition, there are like 10 different petitions about other ways Glenn Beck is aweful out there)  http://glennbeckisnotmartinlutherkingjr.com/

John Stewart railed against Glenn Beck last night, dedicating a full 10 minutes to a pretty decent “Michael Moore style” chop piece on him and the rally (DISTURBINGLY funny image at 00:49 in). http://www.thedailyshow.com/

But all this makes me think of every time the ridiculous right Christians come out to protest a movie or show that hasn’t come out yet, because they heard it might not be biblically accurate.  What does everyone KNOW that they are able to so confidently jump to these conclusions?  Is all this blah blah based in ANY fact at all, or is it just typical American kavetching based in assumption and other propoganda and agendas? 

Or is it just Glenn Beck’s special magic?  Please… anyone?


I’m Jim Clark, and I Approve This Message

They all say it at the end of their television ads, and we all know what the tagline means when we hear it.  “I approve this message,” means that the politician not being bashed is good with the commercial that just aired.  Good with what the message conveyed, how it was made, and how it was brought to air.  The closer we come to an election, the more we exclusively see such commercials, and the less we see messages from Sid’s Vacuum Repair and Gloria Shultz’s Realty.  Just try spotting a local air condition repair company’s ad in the local news one week before an election. 

Now you may agree with what was said in the ad, or you may not.  That will depend on the letter that is printed on your voter’s registration card.  There is one thing that is not contingent on party affiliation, however.  The guy who paid to put that ad in front of you can not be trusted.  That person is reckless, arrogant, dangerously egocentric, and the proof of this is stacked up right there in the broadcast of the ad itself.

But first, a little TV Ratings 101:

TV’s current system of measurement is the Nielsen Ratings.  It tracks television viewing habits by monitoring actual TV watched weekly, monthly, daily and hourly in homes from across the country.  The way they rate the popularity of a show is based on how many people just watched it.  The viewership level of the show is expressed in ratings points, and a rating of a 1.0 means that approximately 1% of the viewing area was measured viewing a particular show. 

Advertisers place a dollar value on a ratings point, but what they will pay per point, is based on which viewing population is being purchased.  In other words, they aren’t going to pay as much for 1% of Gainesville, FL as they will for 1% of NYC.  Once a ratings value has been assessed, it is declared to the TV station.

“We are willing to pay $200 per point in your market for prime programming (M-Sun, 8-11P), and we would like to buy that show you have on at 8PM on Wednesdays that gets a 3.0 rating, so here is $600.”

                                                            3.0 Rating x $200 = $600

There you go.  Now you can buy or sell TV advertising anywhere, and make a pretty good living because this is pretty much how the business is conducted 24/7 all year, every year… except in an election year.  Since local network stations are all regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, effective laws allow a buying environment where politicians may dominate all commercial breaks with dollars. 

Now, make no mistake, money talks in media’s world of advertising, and if Sid’s Vacuum is paying $100 for a commercial and Gloria Shultz’ realty agrees to pay $200 for the same sold out show, it’s bye-bye Sid.  That is the trade of TV. 

By the time an election season hits around twenty road signs per intersection, however, the politicians that you can’t get away from are shelling out $600 for the same ad that Sid paid $50 for.  Bye-bye Sid again.  And that $600 ad that Gloria bought in her favorite show, “So You Think You Can Dance” was just blown out by the campaign for “Gigantic Ego for Governor.”  Cost per point be damned. 

And just to throw a little salt in the wound, the FCC mandates that if $600 was the ceiling cost for “So You Think You Can Dance,” set by the TV station, “Gigantic Ego for Governor” only has to match Gloria’s $600 price to kick her butt to the curb. 

“What will it take to run?” is what is asked.  “How much do I have to pay to be in that show?”  “What’s the highest rate?” 

5x, 8x, 12x what any sensible advertiser will or can pay for the same show, it simply doesn’t matter, because the politician’s election into office is what is at stake.  The excessive buying pattern on TV comes across looking somewhat similar to the man leaning over a gas station newspaper box, scratching the fifty lottery tickets he bought to increase his odds of winning. 

Pay the most money, buy more ads, get elected, win the prize.  

But don’t worry, the election is over, and you’re guy is in.  Thank God!  That other guy was a crook, right?  He would have ruined the county, the state, the whole country.  It was a good thing your guy did all that advertising. 

Now, it’s onto all those great ideas.  He’s got things to prove, and there is nothing more important post election, than getting all those policies passed, those bills voted in, his agendas validated. 

Spend the money!  Price be damned!  

  • (Florida candidate for Governor) Rick Scott’s campaign bought $2 million worth of TV advertising Wednesday, busting the gubernatorial campaign’s $24.9 million spending cap — despite previous pledges to stay within the limits. — St Petersburg Times
  • Democrat Barack Obama, who rewrote the book on presidential campaign fundraising, amassed more than $745 million during his marathon race, more than twice the amount obtained by his rival, Republican John McCain.   — MSNBC.com
  • George W. Bush and John Kerry pulled in a total of $653 million in the 2004 primary and general election campaigns, including federal public financing money. — MSNBC.com

Do you wake up buzzed?


There are only two types of people, those who seek alarm clocks that are too annoying to sleep through, and those who hope to find one that will bring a soothing start to their day.

Within the first extreme, there are alarms that buzz, ones that honk, ones that flash, and even ones that roll off your nightstand, banging around the room till u catch it and kill it.  These are designed to be awful, but for heavy sleepers, they fill a need.

On the other side, there are ones that play music, ones that subtley crescendo their volume, and ones that play natural sounds of the beach and birds.  I prefer these kinds.  I am not a light sleeper, but these relaxing tones tend to wake me without trouble.

What I have come to realize, though, is that those of us in Category 2, who seek a soothing start to our morning, are merely migrating slowly into Category 1.  My wife has always been in Category 1, and she is now constantly setting her phone to new and horrible alarm sounds for waking.   Before the sun rises, the thing erupts into violent vibration while bells clang and some off-key tune bursts into the quiet.  Meanwhile I searched for a peaceful alarm sound, settling on one that plays the soothing call of loons. 

Now, I hated my wife’s alarm from the very first time I heard it.  God awful way to wake up!  I actually began setting mine earlier so I could try to be out of the room before it goes off.   The trouble is, after months of waking to the peaceful loons, I hate those fucking things!  If I were on Golden Pond today and heard one, I might have to shoot me a loon as well as any old lady who happens to be trying to mimic their call. 

Take this advice, any of you in Category 2.  Vary your alarm sounds.  Have a rotation of at least thirty so you never have to hear the same one twice.  And if you love the sound of the beach at night, DO NOT make it your alarm sound.  If you cherish a certain Brahms sonata, never ever use it to wake up.

I’m glad I realized this lesson with the loons, before I followed through with my “world’s most perfect alarm” idea.  I was going to record my sweet little five-year old daughter whispering softly, “Wake up daddy.  I love you.”  A very bad idea.

Just Say No

Through most of the 1980s, First Lady, Nancy Reagan made it sound so easy, “Just say no.”  Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent that decade on this slogan, the result of which seemed to cause a decrease in illegal drug use in the “under 25” age groups through out the 80s and early 90s.  Then just ten quick years later, the Executive National Office of Drug Control reported numbers had risen back to similar percentages as that of 1979.  Drug use steadily climbed anyway, demonstrating that no matter how easy and trendy you initially try to make it seem, American’s just aren’t comfortable saying no.

Nancy Reagan wasn’t first to realize this, though.  For generations, sales people have also had the most ridiculous problems with this culture of the U.S.  people hating to say “no.”  And when a salesman doesn’t hear “No,” he simply hears whatever it is that has been said instead: “I don’t know,” “Not right now,” “Probably not,” or worst of all, “Call back later,” which causes both parties to become irritated when he does exactly that.  It’s all because we’re just so afraid of  “no.”  So much so, that the Federal government felt it had to step in again in 2003, spending even more millions of dollars to create an entire bureau dedicated to protecting its citizenry from having to say “no” to phone salesmen.

Why does this country have such a hard time saying yes to no?  It certainly would be better for us is we could pull it off more often.  We would be less fat, we would have more money, we would transmit less AIDS, we would have more time, we would have less anxiety because we would be more confident, and we would have more room because we would have less stuff.

Other cultures seem to have no problem saying no.  Buddhist cultures seem to be able to do it.  They’ll say no to second helpings, no to their own anger, some even say no to an orgasm when the moment arrives.  And have you ever tried to offer something to a Chinese person who speaks little English?  They’re saying no before they even realize they don’t know what you’re trying to say.

Moslem cultures say no.  No to pork, no to multiple partners, no to Britney Spears.  Based on these expamples, it would seem a natural leap to suggest that perhaps it’s a flaw with our own Christian heritage.  Since Jesus is said to have thrown out the stricter Old Testament laws, it could be theorized that the very lack of religious pressure to say “no” creates less of a conflicted decision to say “yes.” 

But, that ointment’s only fly is this:  Other religions that have been fully Americanized have a hard time saying no too.  In this country, Jews eat pork, Moslem women wear T-shirts, and Buddhists get fat.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of “no” going on there. 

So, perhaps there is something to the United States’ culture that is still independent of its Christian background.  After all, the original Pilgrims and all cultures mentioned above, have something very much in common.  They have gone from a heavily dictated life of bring repressed of their choices, to a country where anything goes. 

The words, “I would feel bad” are often spoken when someone doesn’t put their foot down with a good firm “no.”  This could be the tell.  We say that we think we would feel bad for the person we are saying “no” to, but maybe it’s just that we would feel bad because we’re a country whose earned the right to not be told “no” in the first place.  So while we might be telling someone else no, at the same time, we’re also telling it to ourselves by denying the offer, which feels like a step backward from our well earned freedom. 

If we as a U.S. citizenry would just lay ourselves down on a therapist’s couch together, perhaps we would find that after generations of living in this blessing of freedom, we would have an epiphany that the ability to say “YES” to just about everything, has in the long term, contradicted our own desire to choose for ourselves, and ultimately become the very thing that makes it almost impossible for us to say “no” to anything. 

How Long Till Cyborg?

Do you know what you never see in bars anymore?  A loud, long and hysterical conversation about a movie title or what actor played a certain character.   No one is sitting together humming the words of a song out loud till they remember what lyric comes next, or the name of the artist who sang it. 

That is because as soon as we encounter the moment of “I can’t remember,” someone inevitably pulls out their phone, producing the answer inside of the first minute.  The topic changes, and thought is immediately eradicated.  

If you have ever seen, “The Terminator,” “Robocop,” and most any of the “Star Trek” series, you know that when a part man/part machine needs to know or remember something, he calls up a screen, and cross references data.  In “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” when the android, Data was at a loss for meaning, someone would offer him a word or phrase of reference, at which point he quietly cocked his head to the side, and then immediately understood.  Conversation foregone

Of course, minor improvements facilitated through technology is an addiction we have had looming around for a very long time.  Simple medicines are taken to keep us from having to experience our more extreme emotions; staples are put in our stomachs to remove our monitoring systems of self-indulgence; now lasers are shined in our eyes to counter poor vision; magic bracelets are worn to improve balance and reduce pain; and who doesn’t drink coffee to get going in the morning?  They’re all just minor improvements to make us better than we naturally are.

But what happens if after a lifetime of dependence, the medicine runs out, the staple pops off, the magic bracelet snaps, or the signal bars go away?  How easy is it to get back an instinct that has lain dormant for so long? 

In the PIXAR movie “Wall-e,” a futuristic vision of mankind is portrayed when muscles have completely atrophied due to generations of relying on Hoverounds instead of legs.  It is a humorous portrayal, but the science is sound. 

Charles Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands that the native cormorant’s wings had ceased to function for flight, suggesting an evolution due to lack of use.  If evolution can occur in such a physical fashion, could we also evolve our brain to such a state where it requires medicinal inhibitors, implants, updates and apps from day one? 

Such a culture could be devoid of emotion and conversation since a single word or two would suffice for full discussions. 

            Frank says,  “Movie – Airplane; reference – surely.”

            Joe says, “Processing… Reference found.  Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah.”

Later that same night:

            Wife says, “How is Frank?”

            Frank says, “Data synch-up available.”

            Wife says, “Processing…  Surely.  Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah.  He’s so funny.  

It is really too silly to consider, just like the overweight cartoon people in “Wall-e” buzzing around on wheels from birth.  But when you look at your child from across the room tonight, wearing his polarized glasses, in his Heelys, dosed on Ritalin, while Googling and spell checking instead of thinking, will you, just for a second, wonder how many small improvements is enough?  And how many we are away from developing atrophy?

Global Warming: R U a Believer or Denier?

A SCIENTIST: examines all information, especially that which seeks to suggest that his/her theory may be flawed or wrong.

A RELIGIOUS ZEALOT: disregards all information that may offer doubt to what they know to be true, only examining the information that supports their belief.

So, are you a scientist or a religious zealot? Do you examine both sides, or do you take the first side that makes sense and become a believer? If you want to think like a scientist, here is a fast 2-10 minute look at both sides (depending on whether you click the links and read or just read my headlines) of the Global Warming debate. It’s all real information every scientific mind should have, but if you want to be a believer, you already know where to look for the information you agree with.

— “The debate is over.” Stated Al Gore in June 2006 —

— Today, over 31,000 scientists petition that this is not the case. —

— In 2006, Inconvenient Truth was released, and everyone believed. —

— After the scientific community had a chance to look at the data, many offered a different view. —

(First 4-mins from Inconvenient Truth / Last 4-from BBC)

Global Warming theorists used core samples to show temperature variances, “proving” man was causing global warming.

The Space and Science Research Center, out of Orlando, has taken those same core samples and suggests the sun not only cycles hot and cold (approx every 200 years), but has just finished it’s warm cycle and is now cooling down.

Not new news, though since in 2007 National Geographic reported this same theory pointing out that Mars’ polar ice caps are melting at the same pace as Earth’s.

How to Stop Brain Freeze

“If they don’t keep on exercising their lips,” he thought, “their brains start working.”

 —- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galax, Douglas Adams

It was such a clever theory on human behavior by one of the main characters, an alien named Ford Prefect.  The statement was written in the 1970s when people, as the book states, “Still thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea.”  Douglas Adams died in the year 2001, just as the mobile telephone industry was experiencing its “Big Bang.”  The author would never realize how very prophetic his words would become. 

Sociologists describe humans as social animals, meaning we’ve adapted to prefer the company of others.  But the time we have to ourselves, the quiet times, are when we create and figure things out.  Those are the times we can mentally heal.  There is a common advice that says; just stop thinking about it and the answer will come to you.  But now with a cell phone in every pocket and tucked over every ear, we are delving even deeper into our social nature, at the expense of these times alone with our thoughts. 

It would be frightening to speculate where we would be as far as innovation, if we had developed cell phones before we did.  Would Albert Einstein have thought up “E=mc2” if he was constantly chatting back to Germany on his rollover minutes?  Would Ben Franklin have thought up bifocals if he never stopped to look up from texting with Thomas Pain?  Would Alexander Graham Bell have invented… ok, that one doesn’t work, but the point has been made.   

The quiet is where our brains keep the answers, but what kind of future society is currently in development, when we go there less and less to seek them.  In “The Time Machine,” H.G. Wells wrote of a human society, far in the future, consisting of two races, one called the Eloi and the other, the Morlocks.  In this future, the Eloi will live above ground in a mentally oblivious state while being herded and eaten by the Morlocks, who will live underground surrounded by ancient technologies.

Could our culture of constant connection create such an evolution?  If the time machine had stopped 2,000 years prior, might we have caught a glimpse of that branch of humanity who becomes the Eloi, wandering around in a daze of idle chatter and texting?  We also might have seen the segment that becomes the Morlocks realizing the dangerous puddle of atrophy they had created for their own minds, retreating underground, away from the reception of cell phone towers and forever fearing the dawn of newer technologies.    

It is ironic that we are currently developing a generation who is likely reading exponentially more than the ones prior, but have put down the texts of Douglas Adams and H.G. Wells, in favor of “ROTFL!!” and “C U SOON!!!!!”   ELOI may just be a popular acronym of the future, Ejaculating Language Over the Internets. 

Taking a little guidance from the Morlocks, could actually be a good move for us and our future.  Remember to go underground once in a while and listen to the things we’re too loud to hear ourselves say.  Find occasional shelter away from the distractions of this immediate lifestyle we are mired in.  Shut up, before our brains stop working.