Sunday, April 29, 2007

The New Age of News

Back when there used to be 3 or 4 TV channels with news segments along with the daily newspaper, you generally had to be important to make the news. Now that there are several TV stations with 24 hour news formats, internet news sources, news magazines, and the like, news outlets are stuck looking for news and ways of differentiating themselves from the other news competitors. So what do we end up with? People that get on the news who THINK they're important. Get on the news-- you made it in life!!! Personally, I find it annoying and a drizzle sickening. To wit... Why is celebrity gossip news? Why are the results of the latest TV reality show news? Why do we need to hear from the most moronic "people on the street" about the latest inane movie? Why? Why? WHY???

It's crazy. Crazy I's tells ya.

And that's the news from this corner of the blogworld. Print it!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Joys of Music

Ever since the Great Imus Debacle of '07, there's been a question by
many white people as to why Mr. Imus should have gotten the boot while rappers can get away with using slurs, curses, and other degrading jargon. Well coincidentally or not, we're starting to see some people wake up to this reality that, yes, Imus was wrong, but rappers and radio stations do indeed need to clean up their acts. Big-name African-Americans like Russell Simmons and Michael Baisden have begun to call for an awakening in the African American community. Whether this happens or not remains to be seen, but it's honorable that at least this is a start to cleaning up the airwaves.

Meanwhile, I'd like to mention another problem on the airwaves: country music. I'm a channel flipper while in the car and I often wind up on the local country channels. I'll admit that I do enjoy some of the songs on these channels, though it's not my favorite genre. At any rate, if anybody listens to these songs for even five minutes, it's easy to hear that these country singers sure like to drink and carouse and sing endlessly about it! Hey, I'm all for a little of both, and I'll admit that country tunes make for great party music, but let's be real here... there are millions of Americans with drinking problems (and/or anger issues), and these songs go blatantly overboard at glamorizing each of these themes.

Should these types of songs be halted? Probably not, but I'm also confused as to why I don't see anybody taking notice to lyrics in
these songs. Maybe it's not as noticeable as racism, but drinking has definitely ruined the lives of many, yet many country singers are glamorizing it and could very well be influencing the minds of younger fans, much like what's going on in the rap community. I'm no sociologist or pyschologist, but hey, a message like this repeated over and over is bound to stick eventually. Perhaps we should consider if this is the message we want to linger on.

But hey, maybe I should just forget about it, kick back with my posse and have some "Whiskey for my Men and Beer for my Horses". Right Toby Keith?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Response to "Society Fails Because Families Do"

In the Sunday, April 22, 2007 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Michael Smerconish jumped on the a recent study showing that "homes
without both parents have a higher chance of being involved in
violence," in his article entitled "Society Fails Because Families Do.

While I agree with the concept that children raised in household without married parents are more likely to commit violent acts, there is a key missing ingredient that I think is even more vital to preventing violence and encouraging socially healthy living: love. Anecdotally, but quite
consistently, I find that households with loving parents produce
children that are much less likely to be violent and committing crimes. Love is an intangible yet powerful force in the lives of children and can make all the difference in the world.

Even from a media perspective, consider how many TV shows and movies portray families (based on fact or fiction), and then consider what those families are like. There are poor, urban families with only one parent who displays his or her love and raise great children. There are rich, cold suburban parents who are unloving and raise dangerous children. There are kids raised in households without any parents at all, perhaps an aunt or grandmother (Spider-Man, perhaps), but a loving figure no less, and the kids are equally as loving as their role model in life.

In short, I can certainly understand a connection between a two-parent household and the decreasing amount of violence in their children, as the study shows, but I think the more important factor here is love.

And I know it because my mom and dad taught me so.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pithy Thought of the Day: American Jobs

There's been much discussion about American jobs getting outsourced overseas. While I do feel for the people who lose their jobs here to cheaper labor in foreign countries, perhaps we should at least be flattered that the world actually wants to take our jobs, such as sitting in cubicles answering customer complaint phone calls, mining in hazardous conditions, and sewing away in sweat shops. These are jobs that we created that are not generally desirable, yet other countries actively want them. Whodathunkit!

America has enough talent, ingenuity, and resources to now focus on making the world a better place-- environmentally, socially, medically, etc.-- , rather than dwelling on mundane tasks that, while necessary in many ways to the world's economy, may just be better off being done by someone else.

So instead of striving to maintain jobs that "suck the life out of us", perhaps we can reach for the stars and create better jobs to take on challenges to improve the world-- such as improving the environment, improving the health of others, and improving job conditions in developing countries (how ironic), to name a few. Hopefully other countries will then want to copy those jobs as well...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Power of Creativity

A blurb by James Gleick from the New York Times Magazine:

The Internet has taken shape with startlingly
little planning... The most universal and independent network on the
planet somehow burgeoned without so much as a board of directors, never
mind a mergers-and-acquisitions department. There is a paradoxical
lesson here for strategists. In economic terms, the great corporations
are acting like socialist planners, while old-fashioned free-market
capitalism blossoms at their feet.

Congrats, fellow average Joe and Jane Web-sters
out there. Sometimes the best things are the result of a lack of hard-core planning. The meeting of the minds clearly does not have to occur in a lush, wood-paneled boardroom anymore. It can occur on a remote island, on the top of a mountain, or in a drafty barn. The Internet is open to all... bring your creativity with you.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

An Uplifting Note from a College Campus

In light of recent events on college campus, I'd like to turn something that's positive. In the February '07 edition of College Planning & Management (, I caught a small snippet about the College of the Atlantic in Maine. I was really impressed by what they're doing. Just
reading the College's About Us page ( is
interesting and inspiring. Follow the link to take a gander, won't you?

But anyway, going back to the article, it states that the college has been designated as a "net zero" campus for greenhouse gas emissions-- the first in the USA. Essentially, the college has pledged to "avoid, reduce, or offset all contributions to global warming that are associated with any of the college's activities,
including travel to and from campus. All of the school's annual emissions, including electricity, heating, and commuting, will be offset by funds to be invested in projects that reduce the college's greenhouse gasemissions to 'net zero.'"

This, to me, is what college is all about. Being innovative, progressive, and challenging its students and faculty to step up to the next level. It's clearly not
your typical educational institution.

I thank them for stepping up to the plate in dealing with this scary issue of global
warming, and also for educating its students in a unique and positive

This is a college scenario that I wouldn't mind seeing copycatted.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Sad 50th Post

So this blog post marks my 50th of my short career as a "blogger". Almost 5 months since I started. Ahh, the memories.

But I digress.

What I'm here to banter about are guns in this country. By now we've all heard about the despicable shooting at VTech. I for one am fed up with hearing about these shootings and seeing people killed, hurt, and suffering because of them. And I
can't help but think that guns are quite literally killing this country.

Now yes, I know that Americans have the right to bear arms. And yes I know that the vast majority of gun owners don't commit heinous crimes like this rampage. And I also realize that if somebody really wants to kill somebody, they can find a way to do it. But let's face facts here... there's a very small percentage of people who have it in them to mess things up for everybody else out there... in ANY area of life.

For example, in a game of basketball, there's always one guy who fouls
constantly while everybody else is playing a clean, competitive game. Well, if this
guy keeps fouling, he's going to foul out of games (if they're refereed), or people will stop playing basketball with him in due time. Simple solutions. In either case, this persistent fouler becomes marginalized so as not to ruin the game for everybody else.

Unfortunately, when it comes to guns, gun owners seemingly won't accept style="font-style:italic;">any solutions to make things better for the majority of people. And the rest of us have to deal with the consequences of a few lunatics who feel the urge to shoot up fellow humans for unexplained, unjustifiable reasons.

So now what? Short of getting rid of guns, which won't happen (for better or for worse... I'm not going to debate that issue one way or the other at this point), how do we marginalize people who feel the need to unleash their semi-automatics on innocent bystanders? Penalties apparently don't matter, especially when the shooter commits suicide. And it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recognize the signs of somebody who's about to spray bullets. And there is certainly no way to have security at every corner and doorway to try and prevent such incidents.

One solution that might help: the media should be barred from showing the face or announcing the name of the killer(s). Sadly, I think many people are looking to make "a name" for themselves and becoming cult heroes by starting a massacre. Think about the "trenchcoat mafia" from Columbine, the Unabomber, Timothy McVeigh, etc. Their faces, tactics, and mental histories are bandied about in the media, making them seem larger than life. Without such notoriety, I highly doubt there would be so many copycats.

To wit, let's go back to the basketball game scenario. If you're watching an NBA game on TV and a streaker runs across the court, what happens? The cameras all turn away, the announcers give a vague update that "a senseless fan is interrupting the game", and once the culprit it nabbed, life goes on. TV viewers will never find out the guy's name, identity, or motive. And guess what? People are less likely to idolize the culprit and subsequently copycat him or her. Therefore, the few idiots out there don't continue to ruin it for others.

Well that's my take on the issue. Stick around for the next 50 posts, won't you?

Friday, April 13, 2007

What's the Deal with Training for Public Employees?

I can't help but take notice of all the politicians, public employees, and government workers getting wrapped up in corruption, wasting government money, and generally abusing power.

This leads me to the question... do these people receive training or what? And if they do... perhaps we should be looking at a better training program, because this one sure ain't doing a good job!

Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to hearing stories in the news about public employees doing wrong. Some say vote out the bad politicians. Some say these people are merely a product of our society... garbage in = garbage out. Some say that it's "the system's fault".

I find those notions to be too abstract and insufficient.

It's common knowledge that with better education comes better citizens who make better decisions and generally do a better job. Maybe these folks simply need some improved training to understand the importance of their positions serving the people of this country. Surely, the money it would cost to sponsor these programs would be well worth it in the long run.

But what do I know?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Environmental Mess: Kauai

An article from the Philly Inquirer has been bugging me since I read it on Sunday. It talks about trash on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.

Here's the meat of the article:

One unpleasant detail (on the island of Kauai) compromised the (otherwise beautiful) scene. A baffling display of ugliness sprawled along the tide line: water bottles, milk crates, fishing buoys, netting, plastic bags, a barrel-sized clump of orange plastic rope, and, scattered everywhere, a fine confetti of broken-up plastic chips.

By any standard, Kauai is remote, thousands of miles from the nearest continent in any direction. Where did this stuff come from?

The answer stunned me. It came from Mexico, the continental United States, Alaska, Taiwan, Japan and China. Some was dumped from recreational and commercial ships, but most of it came from individuals who littered, by the side of the road or on the beach. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, meaning that all the plastic ever made still exists somewhere. A lot of it is floating in the Pacific.

"We're at a juncture of convergence zones that create this massive gyre that collects trash," said Paul Tannenbaum. "Some of it ends up on our beaches."

Marine scientists refer to that gyre Tannenbaum mentioned as the "Great Eastern Garbage Patch" - an oceanic trash pile that's twice the size of Texas, and by one account contains 3 million tons of debris. Slowly circulating currents gradually draw trash dumped off the coasts toward its center.

The main Hawaiian islands and the chain of small islands to their west act like a giant comb at the fringes of the gyre, collecting bits of floating plastic from all over the world, Tannenbaum said.

A garbage patch that's twice the size of Texas? 3 million tons of debris? Those facts just boggle my mind. How sad is it that an otherwise beautiful island in the middle of nowhere serves as a landing spot for the rest of the world's refuse? It's really a sad reflection of what this world's come to.

For more information, check out:

Hawaii’s offshore goldmine? Pacific trash vortex

Giant patch of ocean debris carries ghost nets, trash onto Island shores

Now we just need to figure out how to fix this problem and prevent it from worsening...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Your Identity: Safe, for Now...

10*10*10*10*10*10*10*10*10=1 billion

Yes, 10 to the 9th power is equal to one billion, or the number of Social Security Numbers that are available in the U.S. (nine digits with 10 possible numbers in each spot equals one billion possible combinations).

With a population of about 300 million people living today, and a total of 450 million social security numbers given out in America's history, we have a long time until these numbers will need to be recycled... meaning you will die with your SSN, and it will never be used again. Or will it?

According to, this country's population grows by 2.5 million people per year. Since there are 550 million SSN combinations yet to be used, this leaves approximately 220 years until we reach 1 billion, assuming the rate of 2.5 million new SSN's per year. Then what!? Will your identity be safe in the year 2227? Or will you, Joe or Jane Blogreader, be victimized by somebody else having the same number as you currently have? Are we looking at identity theft of the six-foot-under population in the next couple of centuries? Many questions remain...

Consider yourself warned!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Philly's Sweat Suits: Fit, Fashion, or Fun?

I got a kick out of Daniel Rubin's article about the prevalence of sweat suits in Philly. The sum of the story is that a visiting friend of his noticed that so many people in Philadelphia wear sweat pants and tops, and Rubin confirmed it by discovering that "people bought more sweats last year in (the Philadelphia) metropolitan area, per capita, than in any other place in the country." There's a quirky party conversation for you!

At any rate, this brings up the question: Why is Philly the sweat suit capital of the country (and possibly the world)? There are several possible answers to this quandary:

1. Philadelphians are a low-key, casual bunch that aren't about to spend a small fortune on hoity-toity clothes like our neighbors to the north in New York. "Keep it simple, stupid."

2. Philadelphians are physically active. Having one of the largest park systems in the world and a very walkable Center City, people are out and about, getting, well, sweaty.

3. Philadelphians like to have fun and don't want to mess up their "good clothes".

4. Philadelphians have hit on a new fashion... sweat suit suave. Perhaps it's the next in thing that the rest of the country hasn't caught on to yet.

5. Philadelphians just don't give a flying frock. You know what I'm sayin.

Whatever the reason, sweats in Philly are always in season...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

This Column is Free for All to View; No Paying Customers Permitted

I know I rant and reflect about money every so often, but lately I've gotten really annoyed with the fact that people have to pay for literally everything anymore. Of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, but I find it distressing that we now find ourselves having to pay for things that we never would have before. For instance...

-Kids don't play baseball in an empty lot anymore. They have to pay for Little League. Granted I loved my Little League days, but I NEVER see a game of sandlot baseball. It's free! Go play!
-Listening to the radio has become an expense. With XM and Sirius now in the mix, people are opting to pay monthly subscription fees to avoid commercials. I haven't gotten to this point yet, but I can understand why people don't mind coughing up some dollar bills for these services. The radio is really brutal sometimes, playing the same songs repeatedly, not much variety, and running terrible commercials. Isn't there a way we can have more tolerable commercials AND better music?
-Cable TV has made a killing on monthly payments, and yet still offers lame programming. I just read somewhere that the number of channels people watch is declining while the number of channels people receive is increasing, along with monthly bills. Talk about inefficiency there.
-Financial matters are now a pay to play ballgame. Used to be that people worked hard and loyally for companies and received a comfortable pension to support them in the Golden Years. Now mostly everybody is on their own fending for themselves to pay for mutual fund costs, trading commissions, hourly rates from financial planners, and so on. I feel bad for the people who can't afford to pay for figuring out how to make and save money for retirement.
-Exercise is no longer free. Used to be that people took a walk around the block or got a pickup game of basketball every week for exercise. Now, we feel obligated to pay to join a gym and use the facilities less than we hope to when we sign up.
-Want a higher paying job? Time to go into major debt by going back to school for a degree. Granted, I enjoy learning very much, but I think we're starting to suffer by not having as much on-the-job training. Compared to gaining experience by performing hands-on applications, burying your nose in a book is a much less straightforward and powerful way of learning, in my eyes.

I could go on, but I think you get my point. And you can thank me later for not charging you to read this post! ;-)