Thursday, June 14, 2007

F*** the FCC

Court ruling bitch!

That's what I thought when I heard about the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejection of the FCC's policy of penalizing incidental (or 'fleeting') expletives aired on live television broadcasts was 'arbitrary and capricious' and possibly unconstitutional.

Fucking 1st Amendment bitch!

While the ruling is not outlawing the FCC's policy, it is taking the power back after the FCC instituted the policy after Bono's 2003 Golden Globe f-bomb made its past NBC's filters and into the homes of millions of Americans who had presumably never heard such a foul, stinking word and need our government to protect us from the nasty, 'inherent sexual connotation' of the word. Curiously, 'shit' was also verboten in a some baby/bathwater slight of hand for the same(?) reasons. But let's keep the ability to think critically (or control ourselves) out of our own hands and keep it where it belongs - with bureaucrats, our best and brightest.

Anyway, fair and balanced Fox of all entities went to the mats on this one and came up big for not only their own prospects of advancing sensationalism on network tv, but each and every one of us to broadcast our foul-mouthed thoughts off the cuff whenever we please with no fear of rebuke. Wait, we've go the internet for that, but hey, a victory for free speech is a victory for me and for you!

The FCC, is 'disappointed' and worried about the children, whom they permit to watch homicides a plenty in prime time, but fear will now be washed into a corrupt sea of indecency by the flood of gratuitous sex talk they anticipate to start flowing form the networks.

Fascists have always made sore losers, but ok. Maybe. But what's wrong with a little amusing cussing from America's next generation? I mean it's kind of cute when kids talk like grownups. Right? Will Farrell and Pearl certainly had us thinking so last week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Big 3 Backing the Environment?

It seemed like a hopeful pledge for an environmentally-friendly future as well as statement of faith in the ability of good, old-fashioned American know-how when the Senate Commerce Committee passed a Democratic energy bill that would require automakers to average 35 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks combined by 2020, with 4 percent annual increases though 2030.

Nice going legislative branch, uniting environmental and political mandate with populist-consumer protections. Read: I like the bill because it appeals to my self-image as environmentally aware, leery of prolonged engagement in middle-eastern oil wars, and conscious of the fact that inefficient cars also directly cost me more money to own and operate every day.

In the most baby-soft, naive and ideal places in my brain, I held out slim hope that this kind of legislation would motivate the Big 3 American auto-makers to rise to the occasion, dust off their thinking caps and do something they haven't done in an awful long time (possibly since they largely, originally invented good old American know-how way back when, got rich, fat and lazy and started surrendering on all fronts to European and Asian car companies): INNOVATE!

Which is to say I still have faith that the industry that invented all industry still has a shot at returning to its former capitalist glory - leading the global automotive industry while also doing something good for the people, the plants, the animals, the planet.

Instead, led by Ford (possibly the worst of them, if you can ignore GM’s horrendous co-option of folk singer, John Cougar Mellencamp), they whined to their big friends in Washington to protect them from these crazy new fuel economy standards, saying they threaten business.

Where the hell are they coming from? The path to ‘winning’ here seems to me 180 degrees from the direction Ford, GM and Chevrolet were advocating with this misguided plea for corporate protectionism. Maybe the hope for short-term gains lies in the path of hiding from emissions standards, refusing to go green, and letting other people like Toyota and Honda invest in the technology, but I just can’t see that being the path to long term viability.

Earth to Ford. What you’re doing is no longer working.

Fortunately the out-sized backlash may be having the intended effect that many of us American consumers seem to be crying for. (I'd love to buy an American hybrid if I thought it would be better than a Prius.)

The CEOs of Ford, General Motors Corp. and the Chrysler Group have now decided they need to support an alternative if they have any hope of beating back the Democratic bill. Enter another great American tradition – compromise.

An early draft of Michigan Democrat Sen. Carl Levin’s bill would give automakers longer to comply and require a smaller overall increase -- 36 mpg for passenger cars by 2022 and 30 mpg for light trucks by 2025. Not bad, and the United Auto-Workers union seems to think the Big 3 will endorse the bill.

Cool, environmentally-friendly American cars may be right around the corner.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

House M.D. is Donuts For Your Brain (Really Good Donuts)

The wonders of Netflix, plus the 12-15 hours/week I spend on a bus training my ass to memorize the delightful contours of Highway 101, have given me an unexpected opportunity to catch up on lots of the tv I've been missing. This is either a good or bad thing, TBD, but the 1 year plan is mapping out bus-bound viewing periods ('seasons' if you will) for other of these popular tv series I've been missing: 24, Lost, The Office, etc.

I don't know why I chose House before all of these, and preceded only by Arrested Development, but I did and I'm sticking to it at least until I finish the first season.

I like the show, a lot, but one does have to be suspicious of anything so consumable, discretely enjoyable and unwoven. If tv shows were nutritious foods (or not), I'd equate House to a donut, each one is more or less the same and while everything in the immediacy of the experience cries out that it is indeed good, you know that it is actually quite bad - in the seductive, creeping, sinister sense of the word. There's a formula to donuts: sugar + fat = delicious. I suspect House is made with the intellectual equivalents, whatever they may be, but the point is that the means don't justify the ends since they're actually dangerous and while sugar and fat might make you diabetic and fat, House might just make you stupid while tricking you into thinking that you're smart.

And much like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin didn't invent the formula, they are mere iterations with different marketing details, House is not the first in this line of tv shows made of this gray-matter kryptonite - Law and Order, any of the CSI family of series and the West Wing come to mind.

I suppose 24 and Lost, at least, will turn out to be different donut varieties that could fit easily in this baker's dozen, maybe with sprinkles or maple-frosting, nothing too challenging. But comfortable, familiar, with good mouth feel and a satisfying finish.

The formula endures (for now at least) and that is the genius of this tv - not the original storytelling - but the business process behind it. Throw enough experts of details at an idea and anything can be good.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ruing the Day

An observation veiled in a question came up over drinks in NYC the other day - how many times have you rued the day? As with so many other male introspections it came up over a baseball game, Barry Zito's (and the San Francisco Giant's) 3-0 blanking of the Mets to be specific, and in direct response to the statement that George Steinbrenner might be ruing the day he passed on Carlos Beltran.

(Immediately after this, I was threatened for the first time in my life for hating the Yankees, which admittedly I've done for a long time, but in no way to the serious or even active extent that I thought it might become someone's particular conflict with me. In sum, I hate the Yankees in the general, lazy way someone might hate France for being France, or the US for being Awesome!)

So, to all the Mr. Steinbrenners out there, are you ruing any particular days in your life?

It was more of a general question.

Cody said it wasn't so much one single day or single moment he's ruing, so much as a generalized rue, more like ruing whole periods of his life - like certain semesters in college (perhaps college as a liminal phase itself) or phases spent with a certain, ill-chosen significant other. Maybe you're ruing the person - a real mean bitch or some fucking asshole who dragged you down for as long as you were foolish enough to be wasting your time with them.

Rue isn't something you waste on a small decision, usually the kind of decision that exceeds the scope of a single day, usually the kind of decision that is actually a whole sump of decisions like the choices so small we don't even see them as choices so much as the way we choose to live our lives in the day to day. That's the thing we might come to rue.