Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reality is Overrated in the Ratings


Remember sitcoms from the early days of television? Shows like Donna Reed and Father Knows Best and even Leave it To Beaver. Kids on those shows were respectful and quiet, they got laughs by being kids. Today's TV kids get attention by being loud, and I mean LOUD. Watch any of the teen shows on Disney and tell me if you don't find yourself hitting the mute button out of a sense of self-preservation. TV teens are bitterly sarcastic and get laughs by making fun of the adults. They are wise-cracking stand-up comedians and their parents are the focus of much of their derisive humor. The moral of the story rarely teaches any universal code of ethics, it is usually about how to get by as a teenager.

Take Hannah Montana, the pop diva who wants to live a normal life and so hides her star status from her community while attending school under her real name and without her blonde wig. On the surface, that may sound admirable, a star who doesn't want to act like a star and wants to be normal. But maybe there's a subtle lesson in the deception she practices.

For the winner of a contest for Hannah Montana concert tickets is a six-year-old girl who won by making up a life that wasn't hers. Her winning essay states "My daddy died this year in Iraq." Definitely an opening line that is guaranteed to get the attention of the judges. The only problem? It isn't true.

The girl's mother said that they did whatever they had to do to win, while admitting that the story was an utter lie. She had previously told contest officials that the girl's father had died in Iraq as a result of a roadside bomb. It wasn't until the military said that no one by that name was listed as having been a casualty in Iraq that Priscilla Ceballos came clean.

Maybe it isn't the concept of the show that prompted the deception, and one can hardly blame the poor 6 year old girl whose exhilarating win is bound to be taken away from her. For one moment, she was a star, a winner and the luckiest girl in the country. A blink of an eye later, she is a liar and a cheater. Will she take a lesson from the experience? A lot depends on what her mother tells her. It seems unlikely that Ceballos will tell her daughter "cheaters never prosper". She is more likely to engender a sense of indignation that they got caught.

Personally, I can't stand Leave it to Beaver or the kids on most of those early sitcoms. They weren't real, they were too good and too polite. They spoke in quiet monotones, I can't for the life of me think why anyone thought that Jerry Mathers could act. But in a way, I think these shows were better for society than the shows kids watch today. Perhaps the families were too happy, the plots unrealistic, the solutions to problems too simplistic and easily come by, but shouldn't icons be better than reality? Portraying life realistically is the job of the news media. Entertainment is about illusion. With all the reality TV that abounds, the television industry seems to have forgotten that. Reality TV is an oxymoron, TV isn't supposed to be real. It's supposed to be better than real. Reality is a mom signing her kid's name to a falsified story just to win a contest.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

EarthFrisk - Social Network & Search Engine


Social networking sites are growing both in number and popularity but usually fill some specific niche or serve a particular demographic. EarthFrisk.org, a new social networking hub, may change all that as it combines the best of photo, video, blogging and search engine functions to create the first Meta Social Search Engine.

Members can get results from the top search engines, upload videos as well as create their own blogs and web pages. You can link to your other social networking pages such as Facebook, to your own sites, wherever on the web you like to go or any sites you want to share. The Search & Link Station lets you quickly narrow down your search sites for specific results. Members of the community can vote on New Frisks and popular Frisks will make it to the Hot Frisk list. See what others on the net have discovered and what is the Hot Frisk of the day. EarthFrisk.Org has even developed their own page ranking system and toolbars available for IE and Firefox. EarthFrisk appears to be a bold step towards a new way of experiencing the net and breaking out of the limits of existing social networking sites to put more power over deciding what's good on the net in the hands of users instead of in the established rankings systems that control it now.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Woman Stabs Husband for Opening Christmas Present

Think Santa is only kidding with that tag that says "Don't Open Until Christmas"? Well, Santa might forgive you for being too curious, but a wife in Rock Springs, Wyoming was dead serious. In fact, when her husband tried to open his present early, she stabbed him with a kitchen knife.

Although it appears that it wasn't a serious wound, the husband might think twice about peeking from now on.

Monday, December 17, 2007

5th Grader Arrested for Cutting Up Her Lunch

School officials in Ocala, Florida, called police when a 5th grader began to cut up the steak she had brought for lunch. Police arrested the child and hauled her off to juvie. While no one suggests that she threatened anyone with the utensil, the school stated that its official policy required them to call police. Good thing, too. Today it's a piece of steak, soon the kid could be bringing in pot roast. The girl now faces a felony weapons charge for attempting to eat her lunch.

Okay, it's a zero tolerance policy. No kids allowed to have any sharp implements. But why stop there? Why not ban pencils and pencil sharpeners? A well-sharpened pencil has a pretty keen point. You could poke your eye out.


The point is not just that the overreaction to a 5th grader cutting up her steak has probably traumatized her for life, caused her to experience great fear and emotional damage, could seriously endanger her education and her future, it's that schools are regularly punishing, suspending and expelling students for such hardcore criminal activities as hugging one another. There is no sex fiend like a 4 year old who kisses a classmate, is there?

I am sure that school districts feel this is necessary to avoid violence and lawsuits - well, mostly lawsuits. That's why they they never admit that December 25th is Christmas, it's the winter holiday. But let's face it, all they manage to do is to taint the reputation of a young and innocent child who was simply behaving normally. It isn't the normal kids that shoot up schools. The real truth is that schools don't ever deal with the problem kids before it gets to the point of violence. Remember the stories from people who knew the Virginia Tech shooter and had even warned others that he was psychologically unstable? That's a hard problem to deal with, so it gets ignored until he kills 32 students.

So have a politically correct winter holiday of your own choosing and rest assured that the public school system is keeping the world safe from kitchen utensils, Christmas carols and children who show affection.

Ahmadinejad Blogs but Restricts Internet


Iranian police shut down 24 internet cafes in another move to keep the society "morally pure". Already, access to many websites that the state deems unislamic has been blocked. In this latest move, officials are targeting places where young people hang out - coffee shops and internet cafes. Internet cafes are often used by young men and women to socialize, since they are banned from being in the company of unrelated members of the opposite sex before marriage.

Twenty-three people were detained but no information was given on the reasons. In addition to instant messaging, they probably included wild, western hairstyles and the wearing of coats and jackets that are too short.

Interestingly, while restricting internet access for his citizens,
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has his own blog. It's a bit dry and perhaps that is his reason for wanting to control the internet - he doesn't like the competition.

The most interesting thing on Ahmadinejad's blog are the comments, which range from sycophantic admiration to downright hatred with a couple of stops at stupidity on the way. For instance, when a commenter named "John" tells the president that he is "retarted" the impact of his feelings is somewhat blunted by his spelling.

A commenter from Mexico, who first states his complete lack of faith in anything said by his government, the US government or the government of any allied nation (nor Mickey Mouse, for that matter), nevertheless is convinced of Ahmadinejad's pure motives in pursuing nuclear technology. However, he does try to instruct the Iranian president on environmental issues:

However, Mr. President, I dont agree completely with your nuclear program; I believe you wont build an atomic bomb, but nuclear energy is too dangerous, and it pollutes a lot, maybe you should consider other resources...


I am sure he'll get right on that Salvador, just as soon as he rids Iran of decadent hair styles.

Life Size Video Conferencing

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peterson Case A Police Failure


Despite the fact that Fox News still includes the address to Drew Peterson's website in every story regarding him, the site is still gone and unlikely to return. DefendDrew.com disappeared a scant 24 hours after having been established to raise money for Peterson's defense and, according to Peterson, find his missing wife. Now that information has emerged that Peterson funneled 250 thousand dollars from his own bank accounts into his son's account after his wife disappeared. So much for needing money. Speculation is that Peterson is trying to protect his assets against a wrongful death lawsuit.

The entire saga is an unending series of unbelievable stories, from the third Mrs. Peterson who accidentally drowned in an empty bathtub to Peterson's story about giving fourth wife, Stacy, a gun for a present to explain the gunshot hole in the garage, a shot Stacey told someone that Peterson had fired. Stacey Peterson was afraid of him, that much is clear from what she told friends. Peterson insists she was having an affair and left him for another man.

What isn't clear is how a coroner came to the conclusion of "accidental death" in Kathleen Savio's death or how police allowed that to be the end of their investigation, having been called numerous times to the home on domestic disturbances. Had someone investigated his third wife's death more thoroughly, perhaps this story would not be in the news right now.

Maybe the next investigation should be into the complete failure of police and the coroner's department.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Impersonated.com - Video Social Networking


Are you a dead ringer for The King? When you sing "Heartbreak Hotel" do girls swoon? Whether you do a great Elvis, belt them out like Aretha or simply love to sing, you'll be glad you checked out this new and very cool video social networking site. It's called Impersonated.com and it's a great place for the star in you to shine for all to see.

It's simple to join. Once you're a member you can upload videos of you doing your musical thing. Other members vote on your video and you can win some pretty sweet prizes: celebrity autographs and signed merchandise, iPods, camcorders, Skype/Voip phones, a host of other cool gadgets and cash prizes up to $10,000. Oh, and membership is completely free.

It's simple to record and upload your video where it will be available for others to view. You can share your video on your own website, your myspace or Facebook. Other members who like your video can even embed it on their own sites. Tell your friends and family members to join and vote for your video, too. You could become a star, at least on the web.

There's another good reason to encourage your friends to join. They have a three-tiered program that pays you on referrals to Impersonated.com and even pays you on referrals from your referrals. Tell all your friends, family, co-workers and the guy next to you in line at Starbucks to join Impersonated.com and Make FAST & EASY money with this free opportunity.




Court Upholds Net Anonymity

An appeals court in Texas today upheld the right of bloggers to blog anonymously. The court ruled that although anonymity on the Internet can be abused, that bloggers on the Internet are entitled to free speech unless real evidence exists of wrongdoing.

If bloggers and others who write on the Internet were constantly under threat of litigation it would seriously curtail the right to free speech. The Internet has its abuses and dangers, but it has made it possible for news and information to get out that might never have been seen if not for anonymous bloggers, especially those under authoritarian rule and governments that restrict civil rights and commit human rights violations against their own citizens. Much of the information we got about the recent conflicts in Myanmar came through anonymous bloggers - until the government shut down access to the Internet outside of the country.

The decision by Justice Jack Carter of the Sixth Appellate District at Texarkana is one of the most important rulings ever made regarding free speech. The freedom to express opinions and report on the net must be protected. Otherwise, the Internet ceases to be the exciting, informative, interactive medium that it has become.

Read more at Public Citizen

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Peterson's Attorney Says Website Down

Drew Peterson's attorney announced that they have closed his defense fund website as it had already achieved its short-term goals. They must have been short term, the site had only gone up on Tuesday.

What is more likely is that the traffic to the website was heavily anti-Peterson and inflammatory. The website announced:

"For the cost of a few cups of your morning coffee, you can help to ensure that Drew can afford to support his ongoing legal defense, find his missing wife and divert any remaining funds into a trust for his children


It probably will take money to find his missing wife, but the speculation is that he already knows where she is and the money spent to find her will be money spent by the state on a recovery team.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Drew Peterson's Website Disappears

Earlier today it was announced that Drew Peterson, the former cop who is a suspect in his third wife's death and the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, had set up a website to collect donations for his defense.

Peterson stated that the funds collected would be used to hire a private investigator to find Stacey (I hear OJ is still looking for Nicole's killer) and to provide for his four children. Peterson has repeatedly claimed that Stacey left him for another man and said "she's where she wants to be".

But just a few hours after the media carried the story of Peterson's defense fund website, the site is gone and the account suspended by Host Monster. No reason is given.

Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead in an empty bathtub, her body showed signs of bruising. The death was inexplicably ruled an accidental drowning, although the tub contained no water. Since the disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacey, the Savio case has been re-examined.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ultimate Paintball

Paintball is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in America. Although opponents cite the military-style strategics and possible injuries as reasons for disliking paintball, the truth is that it is less violent than many video games and one of the safest sports there is - causing fewer injuries than tennis. It can be played indoors but it started as an outdoor sport and for some guys that's one of paintball's best attributes. The game requires intelligence, speed, strategic planning and skill.

The game also requires certain equipment for safety and enjoyable play. If you are an avid paintball player or just know one, you know how important it is to get the right equipment. To protect the most vulnerable spots of the body, players need to wear an approved paintball mask that covers the eyes and ears. Because the masks protect these areas, there are many fewer eye injuries in paintball than in other sports.

Players are eliminated from the game when they are hit with a paintball fired by an opposing player. There are various makes of paintball guns, all having to meet strict standards.

If you already love paintball or if you are thinking of trying it, then a great place to find paintball supplies and gear is Ultimate Paintball. They carry the top brands like Spyder, Tippmann, DYE, Draxxus, Empire, JT USA, Smart Parts, Ariakon, Halo, and GXG. They even have a starter kit with everything you need and live support online to help you out. So whether you're a veteran paintballer or a noob, you can outfit yourself with the best gear at Ultimate Paintball.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why Teddy Bears are Dangerous

It appears now that the British teacher who faced imprisonation and possible corporal punishment in Sudan, will be released sometime this weekend, although she will be deported. She has already been moved to a secret location for her safety, as angry crowds take to the street, chanting and calling for her death.


Gillian Gibbons was accused of insulting the religion of Islam by naming a Teddy bear Mohammed. Despite the fact that none of the students nor their parents were concerned or complained, charges were brought that could have earned her 40 lashes. Instead she was sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

The Teddy bear was a project for the class. They were to take the bear home, chronicle what they did with the bear and how they cared for it. One little boy spoke up for his teacher, explaining that she meant no harm and that he had suggested the name Mohamed because it was his own name.

Millions of parents name their sons Mohammed after the prophet of Islam and it is considered respectful to do so. Why is it considered so heinous a crime to have allowed the children to call the stuffed toy by a name so familiar to them?

Well, perhaps sentiment runs so high because a Teddy bear is so symbolic of western society. The Teddy bear is named after a famous American president, Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt was an early advocate of women's rights, something that is anathema to Islamic teaching. Consider also, this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

"...the victories of Moslem over Christian have always proved a curse in the end. "

Although Roosevelt is known to have staunchly supported the doctrine of "manifest destiny" in believing that the European settlers had every right to take the land from the Native Americans, his views on race relations were much more progressive than many of his time. He supported the desegregation of schools in New York and did not consider race to be as important as qualifications when appointing people to positions. When objections were raised after he appointed an African-American, Dr. William D. Crum, to the position of Collector of the Port of Charleston, answered critics by stating "I cannot consent to take the position that the doorway of hope - the door of opportunity - is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to my contentions, be fundamentally wrong."

Perhaps it is more anti-western sentiment that causes this outrage from the Sudanese against a gentle woman whose only crime was kindness to their children and innovative teaching methods. Perhaps the assignment to care for the Teddy bear is at the heart of it. Could it be that the anger stems from teaching children to nurture anything other than a grudge?

Let's hope and pray that more teachers like Gillian Gibbons touch the hearts of children everywhere in the world, teaching kindness and charity towards others. For it is the children who will one day decide the fate of the world. Let's pray that they may be taught the truth, that our true enemies are tyranny, hatred and injustice.


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