The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

I’m rooting for… Tom Delay?

Posted by ALmod on September 28, 2009

Apparently I have an underdog complex of some sort.  I have to root for them (and Mark Dacascos).

Of course Delay isn’t as good as the other competitors on Dancing With the Stars.  Every single one of them is either a performer or a professional athelete.  Tom Delay is a 62-year-old politician.  The odds aren’t exactly in his favor.

And yet, those things considered (and if you’ll ignore the creepy camera shots of his butt and the fact that he pulls his pants up to his chin), he’s done a pretty decent job.  This week’s tango was pretty darn good.  I feel bad for him that the ending slipped.  It would have otherwise been stellar, and I have to agree with Carrie Anne Inaba that he and Cheryl make a surprisingly decent couple on the dance floor.

Maybe he’ll be back next week.  I doubt he’ll win, but he’s becomming somwhat fascinating to watch.

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Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , | Comments Off on I’m rooting for… Tom Delay?

Is This What Americans Want? Really?

Posted by ALmod on September 17, 2009

It was the acceptance speech hijack heard around the world– or at least the part of the world that watches the VMAs.  Taylor Swift won an award and started thanking everyone when Kanye West snatched her mic away and declared that Beyonce Knowles should have won.  (I might add that I gained a ton of respect for Knowles as a result of her actions upon winning an award herself.)

Everyone has been talking about it all week.  It was rude.  It was inappropriate.  And of course, President Obama was asked about it.  Here’s what he said:

That also sparked this rather funny video:

Now, I have to admit…  It’s hard to not agree with the president on that one, but then I also noticed his poll numbers for this week.  RCP shows an average of +9.5 points in the polls.  CNN and Bloomberg show gains of 18 and 19 points, respectively.  Seriously?!  That’s what it takes to get high poll numbers?!

I guess instead of having him do anything really important, like getting us out of a recession or fixing health care, we should just have him do the Cheers and Jeers section for TV Guide.

Posted in Entertainment, Laugh It Off | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Is This What Americans Want? Really?

Health Reform Opponents Adhere to Wizard’s Rules

Posted by ALmod on August 14, 2009

Brace yourselves for a long ride.

Wizard’s First Rule:

“People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”

Wizard’s Third Rule:

“Passion rules reason.”

Wizard’s Fifth Rule:

“Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.”

I’m a big fan of Terry Goodkind and his Sword of Truth series.  And yes, I’ve been watching the Sam Raimi television adaptation.   But it hit me this week just how much some of his work really applies to various things in politics– particularly the opposition to health care reform, the first rule in particular.  It’s the first rule for a reason.

It still amazes me how many people have really latched onto the falsehoods being spread by opponents.  It’s so easy to get the truth, but people refuse to believe the truth.  Why?  Well maybe the lie is more interesting.  It’s much more dramatic to think that someone is going to create “death panels”, ration health care, take your money to give care to people who don’t deserve it (That would be everyone but YOU, of course.), pay for abortions with tax dollars, and turn us into the new USSR.  That’s a rather exciting notion, and it’s one that would be GREAT for a fiction novel.  Reading any of the actual proposals (because there isn’t really a single bill to be for or against just yet) is just… well… boring.  Finding out the truth– that in reality not much is going to change for the average patient, except maybe not having to worry so much about whether or not your next surgery will cost you your home– is boring.

But these lies are just that– fiction.  And yes, they’re lies.  I’m not going to soften it. These lies are currently being spread by some of my fellow bloggers– some that I provide links to over on the right side of this page.  Some of them read this blog, and you know who you are.  If you’ve insinuated any of the ones on this Fact Check article, you’re lying.  You’re helping to spread ignorance.  You’re hurting America.  Period.  If you don’t know any better, inform yourself.  Otherwise, I’m left to reason that you’re purposely misleading the public for whatever nefarious purposes.  More on that in a little bit.

Even the people who are currently railing against reform have admitted in the past that America’s current situation is less than stellar.  So much for horror stories about government systems.  We have our own in a perfectly privatized system.  We have rationing, too, if you want something else to worry about.  Nobody is claiming that a government option or single payer system would be perfect– just better.  And there’s more than ample evidence to back that up.  On average, people who live in countries with government health care pay less, live healthier, and live longer.  That’s one fact you don’t hear opponents touch.  Rather, they tend to single out one-in-a-million horror stories while the medical malpractice lawsuits in the U.S. pile up.

The truth is that the lower classes aren’t hurt by lack of reform.  The middle/working class is what suffers.  The poor qualify for government programs, but the middle class simply makes too much money to qualify for most.  (The rich can afford whatever they like, so it doesn’t affect them, either.)  The way the system is currently set up, one could observe that it actually ENCOURAGES people to do worse so that they can qualify for government assistance, as the chances of hitting the lottery are very low.  It encourages a greater gap between the haves and have-nots.

So if the current system is set up to work against the hard workers of America, who make up a majority, why on earth would someone want to perpetuate support for it?  The answer is simple.  There is a mindset, a cult if you will, among certain people in power that they deserve that power and are entitled to certain benefits of that power.  And the only way for them to keep that power is for them to encourage the majority of people not in the same position as they are that it is somehow in their better interests to support them.

Wizard’s Third Rule:

“Passion rules reason.”

I know.  I know.  I sound like some government conspiracy theorist who needs to get out her tin foil hat.  But I’m not talking about the government as a whole.  I’m talking about select individuals who really do believe this.  And while there may be more than a few who don’t technically believe it, those who do have a nasty habit of gaining support, and so others may perpetuate ideas favorable to them.  Think of them as “goupies.”  And groupies can be in positions of power or member of the media and will basically parrot whatever their heroes on pedistals tell them.  And when groupies speak, “minions” listen.  (Okay, so I’m making these words up, but I don’t know if there’s really a set word for it.)  It’s not exactly a new phenomenon, and it’s a common formula in corporations and churches.  The elite order the few, and the few run the masses.  It’s more complicated than that, of course, but that’s it in a nutshell.

How do you spot it?  Well, let’s look at the Wizard’s Fifth Rule:

“Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.”

So back to the privileged elite.  The deserve power.  They deserve special treatment.  They deserve entitlements.  That’s what they believe, and it’s what they want you to believe.  If you don’t believe that, then go read a right-wing blog for a week or so.  Why else would countless waves of supporters from the middle class argue against their own best interests because of a program that, they believe, will “punish the wealthy” or “punish the corporations”?  Trust me.  The wealthy and corporations have ample representation in D.C. It’s okay for you, the middle class, to stand up for YOUR rights.  Be a little bit selfish.  You’re not exactly defending the meek or the helpless, though it would be nice if you did help someone who truly met that definition.

So with all these people fighting for the rights and interests of the wealthy and overlooking the needs of the middle class, the workers, is it any wonder that those who have their minions railing against government entitlements are some of the biggest beneficiaries?  Why don’t any of those attendees of town halls held by Republican congressmen railing against government health care ask those congressmen where they get their health care?  Being on government health care must really suck for them, which is of course why they’re railing against it.  I mean, it’s not like any of them are rich enough to purchase a private plan instead.  And I know none of them would ever justify having someone else pay for their health care– like the taxpayers.  Taxpayers should not be burdened with paying for the health care of others– unless it’s someone who can already afford to purchase their own.  Yeah, that makes sense.

What is true, and what these congressmen don’t want to admit, is that the fact that they prefer the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to a private insurer is proof that the government is perfectly capable of running a quality health care option.  They just believe that they deserve it and you don’t.  I mean, just because you work for a living doesn’t mean you deserve anything.  I wouldn’t imply that.  But if you belong to an elite group that can spend billions every two years to win a glorified popularity contest– now that’s something.

The situation is reminiscent of the European caste system.  The lower classes were kept in their place by, among other things, denying them proper access to education.  Few could even read.  Nowadays, the only person keeping any American from information is themselves.  But those in power are always ready to pounce on willful ignorance– which is what brings me back to Wizard’s First Rule.

“People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”

Know your place, middle class.  You don’t deserve a health care system as good as the French or the Japanese or the British.  At least, that’s what we’re being told to think.

Posted in Entertainment, Federal Government, Health and Wellness, Legislation, Scandal | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Glenn Beck has never heard of cookies or EULA statements?

Posted by ALmod on August 8, 2009

Here’s a clip I found amusing:

The line Beck is so worked up about is basically an agreement for the owner of the program/site (in this case, that would be the U.S. government) to monitor you while you use it.  There are a number of reasons for this and a number of ways to do it, but it’s done by virtually every site out there– including this one and Fox New’s own website.

Now before you accuse me of doing something dreadfully horrible, hear me out.  Most sites install what is called a “cookie” on your system for various reasons.  Perhaps you want to stay logged into that site when you return to it the next day.  The cookie keeps that information so that it’s possible to do that.  It also helps keep track of other personalized site features.  For me and other bloggers, it gives us nonpersonal information like the amount of site traffic we’ve had and where that traffic was referred from.  I’m not exactly getting your bank account information or name or home address.  But I can tell you what Google search words sent you here.  I can also tell things like what type of browser you were using.  That helps me to improve my site and get more traffic.

It also helps sites that are supported through advertisements to better assess which ads to place and so forth.  Government sites want to make sure that you’re not doing anything illegal with their site– like creatively modifying it to send out a virus or datamining it for the personal information of other people who have used it.

This is nothing new.  In fact, it’s been going on for years.  If you own a computer, chances are that you’ve already agreed to these terms with Microsoft (or whoever else owns the operating system you’re using) and the owners of any other software you have.  Back when the RIAA was first freaking out about pirating, it became increasingly popular to monitor and make sure you weren’t using any stolen software.  And yes, the process would have allowed them to see other things as well.  In fact, the first thing I thought of when I saw the agreement that Beck is ranting on was the End User Liscence Agreement (EULA) that I have to agree to everytime Blizzard releases a new patch for World of Warcraft.

Check out #17, in particular:

“A. WHEN RUNNING, THE GAME MAY MONITOR YOUR COMPUTER’S RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (RAM) AND/OR CPU PROCESSES FOR UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAMS RUNNING CONCURRENTLY WITH WORLD OF WARCRAFT…

B. WHEN THE GAME IS RUNNING, BLIZZARD MAY OBTAIN CERTAIN IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR COMPUTER AND ITS OPERATING SYSTEM, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION YOUR HARD DRIVES, CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT, IP ADDRESS(ES) AND OPERATING SYSTEM(S), FOR PURPOSES OF IMPROVING THE GAME AND/OR THE SERVICE, AND TO POLICE AND ENFORCE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT AND THE EULA.

C. Blizzard may, with or without notice to you, disclose your Internet Protocol (IP) address(es), personal information, Chat logs, and other information about you and your activities: (a) in response to a request by law enforcement, a court order or other legal process; or (b) if Blizzard believes that doing so may protect your safety or the safety of others.

D. BLIZZARD MAY MONITOR, RECORD, REVIEW, MODIFY AND/OR DISCLOSE YOUR CHAT SESSIONS, WHETHER VOICE OR TEXT, WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU, AND YOU HEREBY CONSENT TO SUCH MONITORING, RECORDING, REVIEW, MODIFICATION AND/OR DISCLOSURE. Additionally, you acknowledge that Blizzard is under no obligation to monitor Chat, and you engage in Chat at your own risk.”

And be sure to check out the Fox News website’s Privacy Policy to read all about how they collect and use your Personally Identifiable Information (“PII”).  In my humble opinion, they actually do a fairly good job of clarifying and simplifying everything– much better than the website that Beck is harping on.  But it’s still pretty much the same thing.  In fact, just for fun, pull out some software manuals (if you kept any of them) and start reading the privacy policy.  Even my web browser collects a certain amount of information.

And if you use satelite or cable television?  Well, that’s being monitored, too.  For similar purposes.  Ain’t “privacy” grand?

EDIT: After taking another look at the video, I realized that the highlighted exceprt Beck is going on about is specifically targeted at hackers who might be using the site to “mine” personal data.  Considering that this is a government site that asks people to log in with personal information, it could potentially be a dream come true for those with nefarious purposes.  And so, it would make sense for them to monitor the use of the site.  If they noticed anything suspicious, they could notify a third party government authority (foreign or domestic) should they suspect an attack of that nature.  Now, being a video gamer, I probably see it a lot more than some people because it’s very prominent in the video game industry.  But the Chinese industry for this sort of thing is HUGE.

EDIT: FactCheck.org has weighed in, and they actually caught something I didn’t.  The site in question is for dealers and not every day citizens/car buyers, as Beck seems to be implying.  (And he did imply well, as I thought he was referring to a site for participating consumers and not dealers.)  Regardless, the assessment is the same — nothing nefarious or unusual is going on here, and these two are overreacting.  In fact, the EFF says pretty much the same thing I said, which is that the language is meant to alert the user that the site is working to keep personal information secure.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Entertainment, Federal Government, Laugh It Off, Mainstream Media, Republicans, Video Games | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Universal gets movie rights to a video game…

Posted by ALmod on July 3, 2009

…and it’s Asteroids.  Really?!  As in…  Asteroids?!

The best comment on this came from Woody over at GU Comics:

“Set in the deepest reaches of space, you are the pilot of a sophisticated starship beset by alien vessels and massive rock structures. Your only saving grave is a high tech phaser array. Okay, enough of that snarky bullshit. There was no backstory. There was not plot at all. You were a triangle, shooting dots at jagged, roughly circular polygons that would break up into smaller, jagged, roughly circular polygons.

“I don’t know what shocks me more. The fact that Universal would buy the movie rights to Asteroids or the fact that they had to beat out 3 other studios to get them.”

I think this is how you know that the Hollywood trend of making movies from video games has probably gotten a little out of hand.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Entertainment, Laugh It Off, Video Games | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Universal gets movie rights to a video game…

What a week!

Posted by ALmod on June 29, 2009

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays.

Most people remember Ed McMahon from the Tonight Show where he served as Johnny Carson’s “toadie.”  I wasn’t a late night viewer, though I did catch Carson’s last show, and I did watch Jay Leno regularly later on.  (I haven’t seen Conan O’Brian’s version yet, but I have seen his work on Late Night.)  The thing I remember most was his work with Dick Clark on TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes.  I also remember him from his days as the spokesman for American Family Publishers and Star Search.  He’s another one of those faces from my childhood that I’m going to miss.

I never watched the original Charlie’s Angels.  I watched the movies with Cameron Diaz, and I hated the second one.  But I did catch Farrah in several movies, and the memory of seeing her caught in the middle of an all out war between Johnathan Taylor Thomas and Chevy Chase still makes me smile.

Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan when it came to Jackson’s behavior, but I did find myself looking over his videos and performances.  Despite that very strange and controversial personal life, you have to admit he was something special when it came to his work.  He could move like nobody else, and he could sing like nobody else.  It makes me chuckle a little bit because I remember saying something similar about Frank Sinatra after he died.  Like him or not, Frank was a legend on the stage.

I remember getting to watch Thriller for the first time and what a big deal it was.  I remember the Wierd Al parodies.  I remember watching Captain EO at Disney World.  I remember seeing him on stage with N’Sync at the MTV Awards.  I remember seeing him dance with Usher.  Those were some amazing performances, and while it’s nice to have those things to look back on, it’s also sad to know that there will never be any new ones.  He was something special.  There will never be another Michael Jackson.

Billy Mays introduced me to Oxy Clean.  There’s not much else I can say about the guy.  He wasn’t really an entertainer, and I never watched his show on the Discovery Channel.  But I will miss the amusing conversation with my friends whenever we saw him on television pitching something new.  (“Billy Mays is selling insurance, now!”)  Like Ron Popeil, he’s an infomercial face that we recognize.  I’ll miss him.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on What a week!

WTB Our Sense of Humor Back

Posted by ALmod on April 14, 2009

I couldn’t help but comment regarding the outrage over a recent Burger King ad.  Seriously?  We are that well off that we have nothing better to gripe about?  Here’s the ad:

I laughed.  I’m sure that was Burger King’s intention.

Before we go off on the appropriateness of children’s programming, let’s talk about the cartoons that I watched as a child.  I don’t know how many more like me watched Looney Tunes, but the number of cross-dressing male toons was substantial.  And don’t get me started on He-Man and the Smurfs.  Remember Wonder Woman’s costume?  And violence?  I’m sure that Wile E. Coyote had good intentions toward Road Runner.  Pete wasn’t exactly a cuddly character when it came to Mickey Mouse, and let’s talk about swinging cats by their tails for a bit.  I’m sure PETA would have a field day.

Those never seemed to be a real issue then or now.  I grew up without any major psychological setbacks.  I have no idea why anyone would take issue to Sponge Bob’s childishness.  It’s just childish, guilty fun– the way a cartoon is supposed to be.  Not everything that’s entertaining has to be a model for behavior.

As for commercials…  I’m more concerned that my daughter might start parroting the genital herpes commercials.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Entertainment, Laugh It Off, Public Outrage | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on WTB Our Sense of Humor Back

Fox: Layoffs = Entertainment

Posted by ALmod on April 8, 2009

As if we didn’t already know that reality television was out of control…  As if we needed yet another example…  Along comes Fox with their newest idea–  a show in which we watch someone get axed.

Really?  Is this what we need right now?  Personally, I watch television as an escape from all the madness that goes on in real life.  That’s probably why I can’t stomach most reality shows.  (I do enjoy Dancing With the Stars, but I don’t rank it as a true reality show.  I consider it to be more of a game show, and I do fast forward through the training session scenes so that I can get to the dances themselves.)

And what kind of nutjob business owner (or employee) would in their right might sign off on a release for this show?!  Apparently, someone did, because it’s already in production.

I like something scripted that helps me forget for 30 minutes to an hour (or longer) just how scummy human beings can be.  That keeps me sane.  Yet, networks seem to be less and less interested in scripted shows with actors.  Give me Peter and Walter Bishop over Donald Trump any day.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Economy, Entertainment, Mainstream Media | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Fox: Layoffs = Entertainment

Blame Canada!

Posted by ALmod on March 24, 2009

All this talk of Fox News and the incident at Red Eye got me to thinking about some of the better segments from The Daily Show regarding Canada.  They usually feature (Canadian couple) Samantha Bee and/or Jason Jones.

So here we go with a segment from back in December:

Part 1

Part 2

And poking fun of Obama’s visit in February (and his Iowa/Ottawa slip-up):

There are two distinct differences between these segments and what appeared on Fox News.  First and foremost, there are no smarmy jabs at the Canadian military and/or their service. Second, this is not a program that could ever be mistaken as a news show.  Beyond that, there are a few other things.  It pokes fun at our own country in addition to Canada (and India and the UK).  The jabs are rather light-hearted and do not negatively portray Canada.  There is not a general “we’re better than you” attitude.  Stewart, Bee, Mandvi, and Oliver all actually know about Canadian culture and don’t rely solely on stereotypes for humor.  Rather, they seem to focus on differences in culture between the two.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and poke fun at a guildie for buying bags of milk while he pokes fun at me for being a barefoot redneck.

Posted in Entertainment, Laugh It Off, Mainstream Media, Public Outrage | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cramer v. Stewart: Redux

Posted by ALmod on March 13, 2009

First, watch this.  This link contains the unedited interview from last night.  Being unedited, it does contain strong language, to it’s probably not safe for work.

Now, I shall comment.

To begin with, this isn’t about Jim Cramer.  It’s a much larger issue, as Stewart points out, that covers news networks and reporting in general.  The question he poses is whether or not these institutions have any responsibility to the American people in keeping them properly informed as opposed to being focused on entertainment.  Should networks such as CNBC have actually engaged in some genuine investigative recording rather than taking executives at their word?  And if they advertise themselves as a financial information source– or as the source– should their feet be held to the fire when they fail in giving good information?

I agree with Stewart in saying that, to a point, they should.  The American public has lost faith in its MSM for a reason.  It’s more about entertainment and ratings these days than about keeping us informed.  That’s why bias is so popular.  It provides entertainment value and keeps viewers glued when they hear what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.

In my humble opinion, that’s what makes The Daily Show so popular these days as a source for news rather than comedy.  They are not advertised as unbiased news.  In fact, they’re very upfront about being biased and heavily edited and putting entertainment first.  So when you watch, you know they’re making fun of the news, but you’re actually willing to listen about news for a laugh.  You watch it with the knowledge that it’s wrong to a point so that you don’t take it seriously.  And when you hear about a story that interests you, you Google it and read up on it further to get the full story.

The sad part is that the interview linked above was one of the most hard-hitting and thorough pieces that I’ve seen in a very long time– from a comedian, not a news reporter.  It wasn’t an entertaining interview, in my opinion, which is somewhat disappointing because I watch The Daily Show to be entertained.  It was hard for me to watch.  Cramer was squirming in his chair, and his voice was cracking.  Meanwhile, Stewart looked like a parent scolding his teenage son after he’d been caught stashing pot under his mattress.

The telling portion of this interview is when Cramer was confronted with the clip that I posted on this site earlier this week.  As Stewart points out, it’s hard for those at CNBC to pretend to be “dewy-eyed innocents” when they have shown that they know exactly the sort of thing that goes on behind the scenes. Cramer stated in the interview that he was shocked that a CEO (or four) lied to him about the state of his company; however, Cramer admits in the clip he is shown that those behind the scenes put out false information on CNBC and other news networks.  It only allows for two possibilities.  Either Cramer is incredibly stupid and naiive in thinking that they’d miraculously change their practices now that he’s on CNBC, or he knows he’s being fed false information and is allowing it.

It’s the same situation that caused us to approach Richard Scrushy with the same skepticism.  Either Scrushy knew what was going on and he was allowing it, or he was horrible at his job and should have been fired.

Just on a side note…  As I look at the market ticker now, Bank of America is up 90% in five days.  Cramer was recommending against that earlier this week and instead was recommending JP Morgan.

Posted in Economy, Entertainment, Scandal | Comments Off on Cramer v. Stewart: Redux