Priced out of media?

A relative of mine who is involved in radio warned us several years ago that the way things are going, free radio will become a thing of the past before long. 

As for myself, I remember warning my readers about the same thing upon discovering, when U.S. television finally went digital 6 months back, that there were numerous new free channels to watch.  I just knew it wouldn’t last, and I said so.

Then Comcast bought NBC, and now the planted stories are starting to emerge about how the broadcast networks are losing money hand over fist and NBC itself may cease to exist as a broadcast network.  Mind you, all this came out AFTER Comcast bought NBC.  I’m sure the deal isn’t even final yet, but it’s already starting.

Let me tell you about myself: I rarely listen to the radio and almost never watch TV.  Many people I know are in the same category, and they can’t see the worth of paying for a service they almost never use — yet we are apparently headed in the direction of having to pay for those things.

Here’s my message to the television and radio broadcasters: the free-broadcast system worked for almost a century.  There is no reason it can’t continue to work except that you don’t want it to.

And if you don’t want it to, remember that there are lots of people who very occasionally use your product, but aren’t made out of money and/or don’t want to pay for something they rarely use.  For someone like me, paying for TV turned out to be a waste of money — so much so that I got rid of my satellite box 4 years ago and haven’t missed it. 

I won’t even consider paying for radio.

Once again, broadcasters, keep repeating to yourselves: the public is not made out of money.  The free broadcast system worked well for many many years.  And no, we will not pay for something we don’t really want or need.

Happy Yule

No use putting Christ back into Christmas, because he was never there.  Christmas is actually the Winter Solstice, known in some past civilizations as Yule.  Christmas was an invention to replace Yule.  It never had anything to do with Jesus.

After my early-childhood awe of Santa left me, I never really enjoyed the season until I found that out.  Life seemed empty after there was no more magical man appearing in the living room overnight and depositing cherished plastic toys in prettily wrapped boxes.  No, it just meant yawning through family gatherings and going to church and yawning through some idiot blathering about how sinful you were to only show up in church once a year, on Christmas.

Then I found out that the real  holiday was the winter solstice, or Yule, and that it had real meaning (the return of the sun) and much in the way of natural magic.  And now it means everything to me.  You can perhaps experience some of it in this link, if you can quiet yourself for a while.

See what I mean?  I hope so.  (If not, work at it; you’ll be happier for having done so.)

And so my advice is that if you don’t want to drag through yet another weary Christmas season feeling harried, angry, and empty…quit your whining and stop pretending Bill O’Reilly knows anything about anything.  He’s just an asshole looking for fame by rousing the rabble. 

In this case, it’s much ado about nothing.  Christmas was the birthday of a great-aunt of mine, but she died a few years back.  I know there are several thousand others who have it as a birthday now.  If you know one of them, wish them a happy birthday.

But actual Christmas falls after the Solstice, and is beside the point — and that’s just the point.  There is no point to it.  So instead, look outside your window today and ponder a bit about the natural world.  It’s truly a gift from the divine.  Honor the divine, not a fake birthday.

Happy Solstice.

Life after the $1,000,000.00 bungalow

Here’s what happens after the bubble bursts:

Financial Death Panels

And for some insight on another bubble that should burst ASAP, but probably won’t:

Republicans’ True Relationship to Healthcare Reform

Overheard at a Christmas Party

In the past year I have found that, without question, my family is chock-full of right-wing-radio-screamer worshipping teabaggers.  This knowledge has brought me grief — but not nearly as much grief as the knowledge that these are not Dominionists; in fact, they are hardly religious at all.  No, what pains me is that the sole reason for their teabaggerdom is that the President is half black. 

There is nothing else to blame it on.  George Bush could have planted land mines in their backyards and it would have been okay because he was white, but let Obama even consider trying to help save the planet and he is destroying the Constitution and all we hold dear.  Nothing that happened during the Bush administration benefitted these people, and that’s okay, but let Obama try to right even a smidgeon of the wrongs (and that’s all he seems destined to do), and he’s the Anti-Christ.  Even if you aren’t particularly Christian.

And so yesterday at a Christmas party, two of the teabaggeryist were having a toe-curling (like listening to nails on a blackboard) “political” discussion about the climate talks, and one displayed particularly alarming ignorance by asking, “how can Obama approve that without Congress?”  This ignited a very agitated, nonsensical discussion about Obama doing nefarious, unConsitutional things, (which in reality, of course, he either hasn’t or won’t — but George Bush often did).

Mind you I had to shut this same teabagger out of my email inbox recently when he insisted on sending me those viral teabagger emails even after I told him not to.  Apparently he thought it was funny, but this sort never stops to consider consequences.  And so I can imagine the expression on his face when his latest teabagger missive bounced, and take solace.

And so here’s a note to my dear — unfortunately related — asshole: nobody said anything about Congress being left out of the decision-making progress.  If Limbaugh hinted that this was the case, that just intensifies the word “nobody.” 

In fact, it’s part of the “checks and balances” scheme of the Constitution that the Senate has to approve treaties.  Remember Junior-year Constitution class in high school?  Apparently not.  Well, just to remind you, we learned about that back then.  Or at least SOME of us did.

Anyway, back at the Christmas party, the blather ignited and then came the clicher: “Limbaugh already said it’s a failure.”  Okay, enough.  You’re taking your “facts” from Limbaugh?  Spare me. (Click on “spare me” to see why; fact is, Fathead never ran across a fact that he liked.)

So, much as it hurts, here goes a Stupid of the Day Award to one of my own relatives.  Merry Christmas.


Keith Olbermann says it all here and here.

Too bad the censors would have been all over him if he had used the actual language that is strong enough to be appropriate regarding this abomination of a health care “reform” bill.

As it is, though, I second Olbermann in calling Lieberman a whore.  Actually that word is too good for this asshole.  I wish Liebermann nothing but the worst.  My message to him: May you ROT, Mr. Lieberman.  I don’t even think I hated Dick Chaney as much as I hate you, and that’s a pretty hard thing to achieve.  Go to hell, Lieberman, if they will have you.

Oh, by the way I DIDN’T VOTE FOR YOU but I CAN HELP END YOUR SORRY CAREER.  I’ll join every anti-Lieberman organization I can, even give money I really can’t afford to give to those organizations in the effort to end your sorry career.  Now go away and rot. 

If nothing else, judging by his actions over the past decade, Lieberman appears to be extremely unstable, a la Sarah Palin.  That makes him unfit for office.  In that case, here’s another message: time for a rest, darling.  Or if you want, you can just crawl under a rock and rot.  Whatever you do, get the hell out of our faces.

Back to the subject of what this whore has foisted on us, I’m also with Olbermann when he says “no sale.”  As in (if you have not watched the videos yet): NO PUBLIC OPTION, NO MANDATORY HEALTH INSURANCE.  PERIOD.  Fucking PERIOD.

The bitch Karen Ignoramous and all the rest do NOT deserve our money, they do NOT deserve a permanent government bail-out, and they do NOT deserve to, in effect, levy taxation without representation on the people of the U.S.

Get it?  No Lieberman.  No Ignoramous.  NO SALE.

Just to try to calm down, here’s some humor to indulge in (click on name):


Whatever Lieberman is, I’m against it

I’m Against It
(Groucho Marx)

No surprise, the Oreo-cookie Democrat Joe Lieberman is against healthcare.  As I’ve long been thinking, it’s high time we were against Joe Lieberman. 

I’m against him on the grounds that he’s fundamentally a damn liar.  It would be okay for him to be a damn liar (politicians are generally like that) if he had any other redeeming qualities — that is, if he weren’t lying for the status quo — but he hasn’t, and he is nothing but a damn liar.  Others are against him on the grounds that he’s fundamentally a fundamentalist, but I can’t find evidence of him being fundamentally anything but a damn liar. 

I have a good one: how about being against him because he’s becoming a one-man barrier stopping U.S. citizens from achieving what most of us want, which is common-sense healthcare reform?  All I wish him is a terrifying dream, kind of like Scrooge had on Christmas Eve, with particular emphasis on the future.  If he continues to be a barrier, sooner or later he will have no political future, which seems to be his worst nightmare.  So, Ghost of Holiday Future, visit Joe Lieberman fast.

As for the Republicans’ opposition to healthcare, we all know it is bought and paid for by the healthcare industry.  But I thought I’d clarify it all by…um…re-quoting something one of them said:

Actual quote:  

“We do not believe this bill, this nearly 2,100-page monstrosity, is real health care reform,” (Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky).

My clarification:

“We haven’t read this nearly 2,100 page monstrosity because we’ve already decided there is no need for healthcare reform.  Maybe if we lose our campaign funding from the healthcare industry we’ll look at reform.  Meantime let’s put out a one-page Patients’ Bill of Rights and have a teabagger rally about government spending that started with the Obama administration even though it didn’t. ”

No big surprise, today’s Stupid of the Day award goes to the Senate Republicans, including Joe Lieberman.

As I was saying…

I haven’t been blogging much or as passionately lately; I guess it’s because, although there are subjects that I am keenly interested in, such as healthcare reform,  I’m just holding my breath.  In the case of healthcare reform, every new report on its progress seems to be countered by a conflicting report, and it’s too hard to make enough sense of anything to blog about it.  It’s almost as if you have to sort out the news filters first, and I just can’t anymore.  (For instance, last night I saw a headline announcing that the public option was dead; today I found out it is not really that dead, but just sort of, or maybe not at all.  Try to blog about that.)

And so lately, if it wasn’t about Pit Bull Barbie — always an easy target — I haven’t written much.  But today I just ran into an old subject that I used to write about, and I’m not happy to say “I told you so.”  The subject is U.S. higher education — or rather, the meaninglessness of it for U.S. citizens in today’s job market.  Read this link.  (Update: link is broken, and of course I can’t find the article.)

Okay, in spite of the lack of satisfaction, I can once again say I told you so.  Of course I tied it into the fact that U.S. corporations are overlooking qualified U.S. college and trade-school grads and importing foreign workers, and/or recruiting immigrant students from U.S. college classes rather than U.S.-born or naturalized people with the same degrees and qualifications.  Trouble is, if you notice that and remark on it these days, you’re automatically branded a racist and a teabagger.

I’m here to say that I am neither, and to point out that in this case, the facts are a bit inconvenient for the pro-mass-immigration crowd.  But they are too damaging to be ignored for much longer — particularly with the economy the way it is.  The U.S. just doesn’t have enough jobs for everybody in the world, particularly not when we’ve been so incredibly busy shipping so many jobs abroad for the past few decades.  As in healthcare, the status quo makes absolutely no sense and there’s no use defending it.

As a result of the status quo, college degrees have become largely meaningless.  When I hear crap about there being such a thing as a Ph.D. in hotel/motel management…well, there’ s my proof that this shit has gone too far.  What’s next — college degrees in crossing streets successfully on foot?  And if so, will they lead to jobs?

Fact is, college degrees don’t lead to anything anymore, particularly not when you’re in a job market filled with employers who are looking past you because you had the misfortune to be born here.  I’ve read so many articles claiming that the problem is the U.S. education system — but really, why is it that the world seems to be clamoring to get into our universities if they are so bad?  And why is it that a U.S. citizen who graduates often seems to get caught up trying to prove he or she is perfect to a potential employer who is scrambling just as hard to find a reason not to hire U.S. citizens who are grads?  Inevitably the educational system gets blamed by commentators; it’s the catch-all they use to get credit for thinking when they’re actually not.  Let’s not talk about the fact that we don’t really want to hire our fellow citizens!  We need more and better education!   Yes!  Education is the problem!  No worries that the U.S. has one of the most “educated” populations in the world, at least in terms of (very) basic literacy!  We need more education to be competitive in the global workforce, a good part of which is even less educated than we. Note the emphasis on the last phrases, and note that even with all that education, we are not competitive.  Fact is there are a lot of factors at play here, and education is only a small part of the problem (and that’s mostly the issue of resistance to education as displayed in a few communities and a lot of wingnut circles; certainly higher education itself is widely available to those who want and can afford it).

And so I ask, we need more education for what?

I used to work as a secretary.  When I started working, this was the career path for a female who never completed college (hand in air here; there was nothing in it for me and I recognized that outright).  Initially it was okay.  But then through the years, I started seeing a strange thing happening in the want ads: suddenly they were demanding that secretaries have at least two-year college degrees.

A secretary with a college degree? That makes as much sense as a Ph.D in hotel/motel management, which is to say that it’s just fucking stupid.  It devalues education and creates a needless barrier to being self-sufficient, especially since they wanted college degrees for jobs that paid just-barely living wages (and if you didn’t have a degree and got the job anyway, you got paid even less).  In a way, it is the updated continuation of the ancient problem of female college graduates being placed at typewriters, where they had to prove themselves as “girl Fridays” before they got the jobs they actually studied to do, while their male counterparts went straight from college into those jobs.  The difference is, of course, that these days female college graduates are not rare, and they have been placed into competition for the same low-paying jobs as women who do not have degrees, pushing the non-degreed women’s pay even lower.  It’s double on the “unfair” part, and not only to the non-degreed.  As an example, just under a decade ago I saw a multiple-degreed young woman get placed behind a receptionist’s desk — by a female business owner.

But that’s what’s happened in this country generally: the college degree has become so common that it has no meaning whatsoever for the majority of graduates.  In the desperate bid to link college degrees to something, anything, subjects are being studied in colleges that have no business being studied in colleges.  (Trade schools, maybe.)  And too often, there are few or no jobs for the graduates.  As for the traditional college degrees — those in liberal arts and sciences — they have been so devalued that, as the joke goes, they lead to lifelong employment at fast-food restaurants, or maybe as taxi drivers.

It may be good for a quick laugh.  But really, it isn’t a joke anymore.

Yep, she is stupid

I know you probably already know or have guessed my attitude toward Sarah Palin, but here’s justification for it.

Really, really bad holiday songs

(updated slightly on 12/24/10)

I’ve been exposed to almost nonstop holiday music for the last few weeks, and although I realize that you probably tuned into this blog for political commentary (such as it is), I’m doing music criticism today (such as it is).

Just some observations:

Holiday (i.e. Christmas) music is the only music that is universally hated by everyone listening within a half hour of beginning to listen to it.  Yes some of it is due to religious objections, but the fact is that Christmas is not actually a religious holiday.   Never was.  Some Christian sects don’t even observe it, and with good reason: the historical Jesus likely was not born in December.  The holiday Christmas was merely invented to replace the Pagan celebration of Yule, which was either a celebration of the rebirth of a dead god or of the sun, or both.  Any yammering to the contrary from anyone — pro- or anti-Christmas — serves no purpose.

Back to the subject, I think the better reason for most people can’t stand holiday music is that a lot of holiday music is just phemonenally bad.

I’m not going to bother to come up with a list of 12 worst, as so many bloggers have done.  In fact, a lot of those bloggers have erred in that they have attributed the fault not to the song, but to the singer.  While hearing the screechy Celine Dion assault “O Holy Night” leaves one wishing for the sound of fingernails scratching on blackboards, the fault is just as often with the song itself.  In a word, too many of these songs suck.  And if a song sucks, then even Jose Carreras can’t resurrect it.

Examples of songs that suck?  Too bad I don’t know a lot of the names, but the ones that I do know are plastic gems like Santa Baby (actually written in 1953), All I Want for Christmas is You, Wonderful Christmas Time (which is not only among the lamest Paul McCartney songs ever recorded, but even more horrifying, it’s being covered by other artists), any song that threatens Santa to either bring “peace on Earth” right now OR ELSE, and any song about “having Christmas all year long,” which would quickly lead to WWIII.  Any song that compels a singer to over-sing, vibrato-ing madly about “peace” and/or “brotherhood” over a heavy drumbeat  should have all evidence of its existence destroyed.  Usually equally as bad are songs about missing or having sex with your sweetie on Christmas.  That is truly is something anyone can do at any time; there is no correlation with any holiday unless one is a Pagan and celebrates Beltane.  And then, of course, there are those stone-cold techno-trash remixes which serve no purpose whatsoever except to make an already annoying song more annoying — or several such songs at once in a sort of jumbled digital music salad.  It’s even worse if they trash a good song this way.  Bing Crosby’s version of White Christmas comes to mind; yes, someone remixed this with a god-awful computer-tinny drumbeat thing.  Whoever did this, I hope they find a day job soon, somewhere far from the music industry.

Mistakes singers of holiday songs make that nearly compel me to want to end their careers violently are usually limited to having a voice that is not up to the song (see remark about Celine Dion above).  This is absolutely epidemic among holiday-song singers, especially those recording the old-standard holiday songs in the last 40 years or so.

A more recent mistake, however, is adult female singers singing in baby talk.  The whiny-snotty voice of Taylor Swift comes to mind (when is she finally going to get to the overexposure stage???); too many of them actually sing that way all the time.  But lately I’ve heard more than a few launch into holiday songs in not just baby talk, but exaggerated baby talk.  It’s as if it weren’t bad enough to begin with.

One time when some overgrown girlie singer was simpering and cutseying the already horrid “Santa Baby” to death, it got so bad that we all shouted at management to turn the bleeping radio off.  The song had only been playing about 10 seconds before we did so.  But we had to; it was survival.  Another 10 seconds and we’d all have been howling in pain; no doubt with bleeding ears.

Basically, if you’re a recording artist and are considering doing holiday/Christmas music, I have only one thing to ask: please don’t.

On the other hand, there are quite a few holiday songs I can actually stand:

Almost everything Vince Guaraldi wrote or interpreted for A Charlie Brown Christmas.  He even came up with a magical intrepretation of the notoriously lame “Little Drummer Boy.”

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams (this is from his heyday and highlights his beautiful, soaring tenor; there have been other good recordings of this, but no one’s quite matches Andy’s).

“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” by Nat King Cole (gentle and classy).

“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives (if Santa Claus were real and could sing, he would sound like this: fat and merry and slightly sloshed).

“The Chipmunk Song” by somebody on helium (it’s so bad it’s good, which is more than anyone can say for “Santa Baby”).

“Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee (yes, her voice can be irritating — but it fits here).

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms (actually one of the best early rock songs there is, and this is the best recording).

“Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (tough stuff).

“Sleigh Ride” — (any instrumental version.  I hate it when someone tries to sing this, unless it’s the Ronettes).

“Happy Xmas/War is Over” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono (the one “peace on earth” holiday song that actually seems heartfelt and appropriate rather than just plain old overwrought).

“Another Auld Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg (Fogelberg evoked a vividly bittersweet scene that one can only fully understand when one is well past the age of 30 — odd in a way, since Fogelberg apparently wrote it while in his late 20’s; it’s probably the sole modern holiday song about lost love that actually works.  I’m not surprised that it’s no longer heard very often — it can be very hard to take — but it is great).

“Snowfall” by Dan Fogelberg (brilliant instrumental that sounds good all winter long; for other good “winter” music, listen to “Yule Dance” and “Feast of Fools” by the same artist).

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby (no other singer needs to go anywhere near this song).

“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra (every word in this song seems to me truer to most adults’ experiences of Christmas — wistful, somewhat sad, certainly loaded with bittersweet nostalgia — than all of that hyper-righteous “peace on Earth” drivel lumped together into one steaming pile of reindeer droppings.  And Sinatra sings this song just right, with a worldly weariness).

“I Wonder as I Wander” (a stark beauty that’s nearly forgotten — probably because it’s so frickin’ hard to sing — and it’s a shame).

“What Child is This” a.k.a. “Greensleeves”.

“Coventry Carol”

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” (sung properly — that is to say as a carol, not a pop song; or else, if you need a laugh, “I Came Upon a Road-Kill Deer”).

“Deck the Halls” (or its modern version, “Wreck the Malls”).

“God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” (or better yet, “The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen”).

“The Nutcracker” (all of the music).

“Carol of the Bells” (sung as a carol, not a pop song)

“O Come Emanuel”

“The Wassail Song”

“A’ Soalin”

“Christmas Canon”

I’ll be adding more as I remember them.  Right now I’m having too much trouble getting the memory of…was it Madonna?…forcing “Santa Baby’ out of her nostrils one time too many, which is to say ONCE.

Salahis, Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Okay, I admit that “Bears” only got in there because the Bears have once again disgusted me.  They have been doing this most of the time since the clock ran out at the end of the 1985 Superbowl.  I thought I’d finally pay my disgust some lip service; after all, nearly a quarter of a century is much too long to suffer in silence.

The rest of it is recent.

I honestly wasn’t going to say one word about those party-crashing would-be socialites, the Salahis.  When I first saw a photo of them, all I could think was that this was some California-dwelling slimy creep and his trophy California-dyed-extra-blond wife.  They didn’t look like socialites to me.  And I was right, except about the California part.  The only other thing I’m going to say is that if they were ever truly a part of high society, they surely are “not our kind, dear” now.  The rest of their days will be spent on the D list, scrambling for attention along with all the other bottom dwellers.  End of story.

As for Tiger Woods…I don’t care.  I hate golf.  The only time I watch it is in February and March, and usually only at just the point when winter seems like it will never end and the golfers are playing a in tournament in Hawaii where something aside from plastic is green and sunshine actually gives off heat.

Yeah, yeah, yeah but what about his PERSONAL LIFE?  I don’t care about that either.

On the short list of other things I don’t care about are runaway hot-air balloons with no one aboard, Levi’s johnson, Sarah…anything about Sarah, etc.

Yes, there is real life out there and yes, there is real life even though it isn’t deadly serious.  But I’m getting a little tired of reading almost exclusively about things that aren’t serious, when there are so many things that are.  I know that’s hard to follow, but when you think about it, it really isn’t. 

Let’s make it easy: I’m getting sick and tired of hearing about the D list.