What Up, Prozac Nation?

After I got the kids situated this morning, I sat down at the computer to read the New York Times. Man, that’s a bummer. I wasn’t in a good mood to begin with. The seeds of a headache germinated steadfastly in my frontal lobe.

The thing that caught my eye was an editorial piece by Thomas L. Friedman called “Dumb as We Wanna Be.” I have to agree with Friedman’s point about Hillary Clinton and John McCain wanting to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline. It is short-sighted. IfPoe on Prozac anything, we should be making gasoline more expensive, encouraging people to drive less and find alternatives to their cars. We should be investing in mass transit and renewable energy, but instead, politicians are hindering the changes this country needs to make.

My favorite point in the Friedman article:

“Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.”

Read more here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/opinion/30friedman.html?em&ex=1209700800&en=5e50edff9f212b25&ei=5087%0A

wind farmRight here, in my own state, the legislature recently put the kibosh on a plan to build a wind farm off the coast because it would be “too costly” to consumers. What they believe the price of oil and natural gas is going to be in the next few years, I have no idea, but I do think the myopia of politicians in this country is epidemic.

I think it’s very hard for most Americans to live ascetic lives when it comes to energy, but there are things that we could try to do like insulate our houses better, turn thermostats down in winter, up in summer, carpool, ride the bus when we can, etc . But I also think the government, both local and federal, should be doing more to help us, i.e. providing tax incentives for solar panels and hybrid cars, investing more in mass transit, and the like.

Toyota EstimaIn practice though, there are few options. I’m about to start shopping for a new car. With three kids, all of whom still need booster/car seats, my options are limited if I want to go hybrid. What I don’t get is that Toyota actually makes a hybrid minivan, but they don’t sell it in the US. Why is that?

Price is always a factor too. If hybrids remain so much more expensive than fuel-only cars, how are the majority of drivers going to make the switch?

In other news, there’s an article about cases of child labor discovered this week in China:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/01/world/asia/01china.html?_r=1&hp&oref=login

Oh, and there was this little tidbit:

“Even factories that supply global companies, including Wal-Mart Stores, have been accused in recent years of using child labor, and violating local labor laws.”

child laborPrice, as I said, is always a factor. Everybody’s looking for the lowest prices. No one wants to pay more, regardless of what those extra pennies or dollars get them. I know people around here love their Wal-Mart. Sure their prices are super cheap, but no one cares why they’re so.

I guess I’m just having one of those days where I’m tending to look on the dark side.

But whatever…let’s just go back to talking about a crazy preacher who’s got nothing to do with anything real…

(Hang on until the end — it’s the funniest part.)

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=167140&title=penis-theft-panic-update


Don’t Believe The Hype

Yesterday’s New York Times ran an article about how the media has been using analysts with ties to military contractors to comment on the war for the last seven years.  The result has been effective in skewing the media’s coverage of the War on Terror, and specifically the Iraq War in the administration’s favor.

This is why punditry is not news, and the American news corporations do a great disservice to the people by using pundits to fill their hours.  If you really want news in the United States, the closest thing you can get is NPR or the BBC (which I think CNN should look to as its model instead of FOX.)

 

Some highlights from the Times (underlining and bold is my emphasis):

     

“Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

“The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

“Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

“Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.”

 

You can read the whole article at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?ref=arts

 

Keep your vomit bag handy.

 

You can’t see me now, but I have to tell you that reading this article really affected my nerves.  I can feel outrage running through my veins, and I sincerely hope you do too.  It’s saddens me that more people in this country want to talk about last night’s results of American Idol than they do what’s going on with the war.

If you ask me, not that anyone will, this entire administration should go straight from office to Attica.

 


Family Hour

There’s an article in today’s New York Times about how last week’s episodes of 30 Rock and The Office pushed new boundaries of what is considered acceptable for “family hour” television. You can read the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/arts/television/14curs.html?_r=1&ref=arts&oref=slogin

The basic premise of the article is that by revolving a storyline around a fictional show called “MILF Island”, 30 Rock pushed the boundaries of vulgarity for what has been traditionally considered “family hour” kennethtelevision.  The Office did the same when it portrayed characters cursing with the word bleeped out, though the implication of what was said was clear to the viewers.

Are they kidding me?  I didn’t even realize there was an hour of television still considered to have appropriate entertainment for all members of the family.  How can 8-9 p.m. be considered family hour, when you have FriendsSeinfeld and other mature-audience sitcoms running in syndication between 7 and 8 in half the local markets in the country?  I’ve even seen edited versions of Sex and the City during “family hour” on TBS.  Yes, it’s edited, but still, it’s a show about S-E-X in the city. When I was teaching middle school, more than half the kids watched Seinfeld. They would joke about “The Contest” and mastering their domains. Sure they didn’t fully understand what it all meant in many cases, but believe me, they were on their way.

But that got me thinking — What else is being shown during “Family Hour?”  Hmm, let’s see:

Sundays, NBC is showing old episodes of MONK these days, a show that originally aired Fridays on the USA Network at 10. Saturdays, NBC has LAW & ORDER: Criminal Intent.  Wasn’t that originally a 10 p.m. show? My guess, is that unless some thug on these shows has murdered a teletubby, there’s nothing resembling appropriate viewing for children in their contents. Other nights, they’ve got reality programming, including Deal or No Deal and The Biggest Loser. Don’t even get me started on what virtues the latter has to teach America’s youth. Barney

CBS has Big Bang Theory (Hmm, wonder what the joke is about there) and How I Met Your Mother on Monday nights between 8-9. Now I love How I Met Your Mom, but I must say that many weeks I think, this show is hilariously funny, but it should be on an hour later.  Not that I’m watching it with the kids, but if I didn’t have TIVO, I wouldn’t be able to. Tuesdays they’ve got NCIS (that show is still ON???) and Wednesdays — big honkin’ no to family-appropriate here — Big Brother 9. (Are you freaking kidding me? ???…seriously – ?)  And the list goes on: Thursdays: Survivor, Fridays: Ghost Whisperer (Hey, Kaitlin, why don’t you watch this show with Mom and Dad? You’ll enjoy it almost as much as the week’s worth of night terrors that will follow!) Saturdays: Cold Case, and Sundays, because it’s the Lord’s day: another helping of Big Brother 9: Satan’s Crib.

Honestly, not a one of those would I consider “family programming.”

Do I really need to even tell you what’s on FOX? Also, ABC’s not too bad, as they are, after all, owned by Disney.

Here’s the thing though: None of this bothers me.  The real issue is that no matter what your kids watch, you should know what it is they’re watching.  Ultimately it’s not up to the networks to offer programming for kids — and hey, most of them don’t even program cartoons on Saturday mornings any more.  It’s up to parents to be the gatekeepers of what’s appropriate for their kids.  If you’re a parent, and you don’t want them exposed to “MILF Island” or its ilk, there are hundreds of other choices.  Take them over to Animal Planet, or National Geographic, Noggin, or Cartoon Disney.  The possibilities are almost limitless…assuming, of course, you are not of limited economic means and therefore confined to network programming…but that’s for another post.