Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Sometimes, when Mrs. Còmhradh and I are sitting on the couch, I’ll start getting one of our dogs riled up. She (the dog) is pretty easy to get going, and she’ll do the whole snappy-barky “knock it off!” thing that dogs do when you’re playfully annoying them. Then, when I’ve got her really good and miffed at me, she’ll turn and nip at Mrs. Còmhradh, presumably because I’m avoiding the gnashy-toothed snapping she’s attempting to lay on me.

Stan Huskey’s latest column reminds me of that. He gets himself all in a tizzy over our Congressman, Jim Gerlach (who defended his seat by 1000 and 3000 vote margins in the last two elections and is not polling well), layers in some froth about Obama and the IRS, and then, with no apparent connection, takes a swing at teachers.

Can I say no to this bait? Of course not. Here’s my response:

You really do have it out for teachers, don’t you? Right in the middle of a mish-mashed rant about Gerlach (which I actually can’t tell if you’re criticizing or defending him), the IRS and Obama, you wander off to take a swing at your teacher piñata before heading off in yet another direction. I don’t believe that I’ve ever agreed with you, Stan, but typically I can understand what your point is. The only thing I got out of this was “teachers aren’t accountable to anyone, therefore they are probably doing a bad job!”

I know I’ve given teachers a hard time in the past, but I really have no beef with a teacher who does an outstanding job.

But we all know there are teachers, just like there are people in every profession, journalism included, who simply don’t pull their weight.

My ears always perk up at this dog-whistle language. You attempt to come across as generous to teachers, but what you’re really doing is insinuating that since there’s no review process, it’s likely that most teachers are substandard. I’m sure you’ll raise a defense against that, but you’ve been nothing but critical of uppity teachers having the gall to demand 2% raises to offset the 4% increase in cost of living, the amount of money you personally have to pay in order to support them, and the teaching profession in general, so I’m in no way inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt here. You’re insinuating that since you don’t see a review process, the chances are good that any given teacher is probably “pulling their weight.”

I’m not going to argue that there is no review process after the first three years of a teacher’s career, and I fully support one, just like the NEA and AFT do. However, studies show that if you want better education, you don’t look at the teachers – you look at the average income of the people in the school district. The more wealth in the district, the better the test scores get.

So, Stan, if you want more to show for your tax bill, the solution is simple. Stop looking out for your own economic interest, and start looking out for the economic interests of your neighbors. The more money they make, the higher NASD students will score.

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I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what’s on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.
-Laura Schlessinger

“Doctor Laura” is ending her long-running radio cesspool after repeated and pointedly repeating “nigger” on the air by way of defending the fact that she is not racist. Seriously, there wasn’t a laugh track.

When she explained why she was ending her radio show to Larry King, it wasn’t because her distributor had very nicely agreed to let her not renew her contract, it was because she wanted to regain her First Amendment rights.

I’m guessing she didn’t mean freedom of religion. She’s probably talking about freedom of speech and freedom of press. Which is really interesting, because at no point in this diatribe was she either censored or subject to any sort of criminal prosecution.

So, what she really means is “I want to be a raging bigot without ever hearing people call me a raging bigot.”

Anyone who professionally comments on politics of this nation should have, at the very least, a solid grasp of the Constitution. There may be fundamental differences in opinion, but someone who styles themselves a doctor should know that the First Amendment guarantees you the freedom to spew whatever hateful rock-dumb bigotry you choose, but it does not mean that people are then restricted from calling you a hateful rock-dumb bigot.

Freedom of Speech is not Freedom of Social Consequences of Speech. Carrie Prejean isn’t in jail for her incoherent anti-marriage verbal hemorrhage, and Laura Schlessinger isn’t going be be paying a hefty fine for being a screaming racist. Neither of these rot-brained lunatics has been denied their First Amendment rights, which is in itself ironic, considering both of them are in favor of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights being denied to other people.

Sometimes, when people scream about teachers sucking and not being good enough and whatnot, the stupid things they say almost makes their point for them.

My long-time bugbear Stan Huskey, editor of the local tabloid, suggested recently that teachers should quit begging for “raises” while times are tough, because pleading for a 2% pay cut rather than a 3.5% pay cut is (and I quote) “asking for too much.”

This is a brief explanation of why you’re feeling unappreciated. Every time you go to the well for pay increases all of our property taxes go up, and yes, I know that includes yours as well. Here’s the real reason you’re not feeling the love right now; you’re asking for too much. No one wants to hear that you want to pay less for your health care. No one wants to hear that you want 4, 5 and 6 percent raises. Just be reasonable. That’s all.

Reasonable. Right. I responded with actual reason, accompanied by facts and figures:

In order to (attempt to) head off the expected “teachers have it great!” idiocy that this post is sure to generate, here’s a comparison in actual dollars:

The average Pennsylvanian with a bachelor’s degree and 14 years of experience works about 40 hours a week for 48 weeks out of the year and makes $65,000/year – at 1,920 hours per year, that’s $33.85/hour.

The average Pennsylvania teacher has a master’s degree and 14 years of experience, works about 65 hours a week for 40 weeks out of the year and makes $55,000/year – at 2,600 hours per year, that’s $21.15/hour.

Same hours, over a third less.

So, Stan, if asking for what equates to a 2% pay cut is “too much,” then what amount, exactly, is “just right?” I’m sure all the teachers out there would like to know just how much they should be begging to be gouged for.

His response was to demand that I cite my sources, because “there’s nothing worse than someone throwing numbers out without backing them up.” This is the same guy who put words in my mouth and uses arbitrary numbers with no research, but hey, I’ll bite.

Here’s my sources:

http://projects.mcall.com/teacher_pay/browse_counties/ave_salary/1/

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/State=Pennsylvania/Salary/by_Years_Experience

As for the health care, I didn’t even figure that in to cost of living adjustments. Do you think it’s fair to ask teachers to take a pay cut and then have to pay more for health care? Do you really believe that they’re asking “too much” when they ask for help to offset those costs?

Of course, he doesn’t respond to actual data, but further commenters provide a goldmine.

Riggstad slobbers all over himself for a bit, talking about how my numbers are skewed because:

The average worker with a bachelors degree and 14 years experience and whatever other numbers you threw out there….

Those average workers are contributing to revenue and profit. What they do drive a bottom line and make money for whatever companies or organizations they are working for. That might seem cruel and off tangent to what you were trying to point out, but again, what they do adds money. It’s there to be had.

They create revenue, or aid in creating that revenue for their own positions. Is it fair that the kid in sales who quit college makes $230k a year selling software as opposed to the guy in accounting who has a masters degree, CPA certification, and only makes $150k? Um, yeah. Because the kid created the revenue for the company to be able to pay him that. The CPA has to compete with someone who can do the same job as he does, and possibly for less. In fact, if it wasn’t for the kid, the CPA might not have a job.

I thought teachers took those jobs and pursued those careers in order to fulfill their own personal desires in wanting to help the children. Personal job satisfaction must be weighed when discussing salaries. You choose your profession based on what you want to do, what you can do, and how much money you want to earn. I doubt anyone ever considered money when deciding they wanted to be a teacher. I get that it’s not what we are talking about. But if you are going to compare statistics like that, you better be sure to understand what and why positions offer in terms of salaries and how they are calculated.

GRR! Numbers bad! Facts bad! Riggstad smash! Calm down, bucko, let me get this straight…

@Riggstad:

So, what you’re saying is that teachers contribute nothing society, and since they do what they do simply for the love of it, they basically don’t even deserve a paycheck?

No response to that, either.

Then came this gem, at least on topic after the thread was inexplicably hijacked into some discussion about Sarah Palin:

Why can’t I, as a tax payer- go online or to a local office, and view the resume & check out the credentials of each teacher who wants a job in the schools that I pay taxes into?

Oh… oh wow. No, really, the stupid, it truly burns. Why?

Because, as opposed to everyone else that you vote for, teachers are required to submit to state and federal background checks and acquire a teaching certificate from the state to certify that they are qualified to be a teacher.

Because the school year starts in Late August/early September and terms last until January, therefore you’d have new teachers “taking office” in the middle of the school year.

Because the result would be highly politicized campaigns for who gets to be the next Chemistry teacher at Norristown Area High School, where the candidate with most money will get the job and retain it as long as they can continue to outspend challengers, regardless of their actual performance.

Because as soon as this system would be instituted and someone you didn’t vote for became your kid’s fifth-grade teacher, you’d be screaming that political ideology has no place in the classroom and demanding a recount.

Because when was the last time you saw an elected official fired for what the public perceived as gross incompetence? Being voted out of office doesn’t count – I’m talking removed from office. If you think unions and tenure are bad, imagine someone with political cover and the support of their state party. Good luck getting even a sexual predator removed from “office.” “These are just vicious allegations from my opponent, and I have a 1 million dollar war chest that will exonerate me!”

And, most importantly:

Because, unless you have been in the education sector long enough to be in a position to make that kind of determination, you are wholly unqualified to be making an assessment like that. The very fact that you’ve entertained such a ridiculous notion very clearly illustrates that.

That’s why.

Yahoo’s headline the day after Super Bowl XLIV was “Guys take a beating in funny Bowl ads.” Well, that’s not very accurate. Women took most of the beating, figuratively and literally.  There were a swath of commercials that either outright denigrated women or took shots at my manhood by insinuating that if I have anything to do with women other than raping and pillaging, I am not actually a man.

1 – Betty White gets pasted in a backyard football game. So does Abe Vigoda, but this commercial is probably among the least offensive one of the woman-beating pack.

2 – Tim Tebow tackles the woman who made the brave choice to bring him to term despite her doctor’s warning that the pregnancy could kill both of them. Moral? Ban abortion. And the gay.  It wasn’t really offensive, except when they flashed the Focus on the Family website. *

3 – The Dockers ads weren’t blatant on their face, unless you see the print side of this campaign. Strange, I feel more manly when I’m wearing a kilt.

4 – Teleflora promoted the notion of the bitch-in-charge and the idea that women in the workplace are constantly attempting to one-up each other.

5 – The Dodge Charger commercial that tells men everywhere that being an equal member of the household and putting up with your ridiculous woman is only a means unto an end: driving a gas-guzzling penis surrogate.

6 – Dove felt the need to chime in and tell me exactly what makes me a man, including “be good at sports, always look cool” and “find a nice girl who’ll say ‘I do’.”

7 – E*Trade tells us it’s never too young to sleep around and play the markets. (You must be 18 years of age to open an E*Trade Securities account).

8 – Budweiser told us to stop listening to that obnoxious harridan and drink some beer. Just because she found a way to survive The Island and even get your ass rescued, she needs to shut the fuck up – she’s no Matthew Fox.

9 – In the “as blatant as I wanna be” category, we have FloTV informing me that if I go lingerie shopping with my woman, she has “removed my spine.” Seriously?!

10 – And, as always, there are the increasingly offensive and ludicrous Godaddy commercials that tell us what we all want to know: women just want to tear their clothing off in the presence of Danica Patrick – and not just because they’re attracted to her, but because they want to work the domain-registration pole.

* The FotF ad was followed on the next break by this ad.  Mark Sanchez starts talking about the sound of his own heartbeat, and everyone in the room gets ready to scream or throw things at the screen thinking it’s another anti-choice ad, but it turned out to be a message about women’s heart health.  Props to CBS – of course, the Tebow ad was a shot against women’s health, an that doesn’t make you even.

Our Retarded Media

Posted: 4 February 2010 in media

Heroism. Apparently it’s only national news if your father convinced your mother to be a broodmare.

Realism v. Reality

Posted: 27 September 2009 in geekery, media

I love Fringe. It’s got a great balance of cerebral and comedic element, and is more than a worthy successor to the X-Files.  The last episode, however, smacked me upside the head with something that really irks me.

Don’t get me wrong, the episode was great, but for this one detail.

It starts off in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, which happens to be quite close to me and was, for two years, my address.  So, I know a thing or two about what Lansdale looks like.  What I was seeing on the screen was not Lansdale.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that the film crew is going to jaunt off to every small town that they reference just to get the authentic shot, but this was completely different.  This wasn’t just not-Lansdale, it was not-even-close-to-Lansdale.

Our scene starts with miles and miles of corn fields intersected by a train line.  OK, maybe I can buy that this is somewhere just north of Lansdale.  But then, a frieght train of massive proportions bearing the logo of CANADIAN NATIONAL comes barrelling down the tracks.   This should be blatantly obvious that we’re not in Pennsylvania anymore, folks.  The train itself was completely inconsequential to the story, which was even more annoying.

Then, as the episode progresses, we see more of “Lansdale.” We meet the Sherriff of Lansdale, headquartered in his country shack.  We meet some of the townsfolk, living in their remote farmhouses.  Nowhere do we see anything that resembles the real Lansdale.  Nowhere.  Not even a hint

The worst part of this is that they could have picked any of hundreds of towns in Pennsylvania, many even a quick drive from Lansdale, to use this setup without being inaccurate.  But they didn’t.  They chose to represent suburban Philadelphia as a backwater hick-burg.  What’s more disturbing is that this is a fairly regular occurence.  If one’s only exposure to addresses in Southeastern Pennsylvania was this episode of Fringe, a few episodes of X-Files (one which mangles my hometown), and the movie Signs, one would think that Philadelphia ends at the Philadelphia County line and thus begins Kentucky.

But this isn’t just me kvetching about the treatment of my area, it’s a larger complaint.  What else are they getting wrong?  When I see a show taking place in some suburb of Atlanta, am I being fed a wildly inaccurate description of that place?  And if so, what was the point of naming it in the first place?  Couldn’t we have just gone with “Southeastern Pennsylvania” and created some fictional town that represents a hodgepodge of local possibilities?  If I’d been told that we were in Denfield, PA and clued in that it was an hour or two outside of Philly, I would have been satisfied that they were where they needed to be geographically and were representing a possible PA town.  They didn’t do that.  They chose to beat up my suspension of disbelief by attempting the appearance of reality without actually getting anywhere near it.  The effect was basically the same as holding up a red pen and referring to it as blue.  Sorry, but you lost me at CANADIAN NATIONAL.

Poisoning the well

Posted: 9 September 2009 in media, obamanation, politics, republicans

Sarah Palin, that nagging cold sore that simply will not be put down by your meager lysine balm, is back with more death panel nonsense:

the fact remains that the Democrats’ proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we’ve come to expect from this administration

Well, let’s just chuck a whole gallon of cyanide down that well, shall we?  You know, the same cyanide that Hitler fed his dog?  This statement is correct, of course, if you ignore the accepted definitions of the terms “fact,” “remains,” “empower,” “decisions,” “affecting,” “life,” “death,” “health-care,” “matters,” “government,” “overreaching,” “expect,”  and “administration.”  But other than that, sure.  Right on the money.  Let’s look at that with the misused words taken out:

the that the Democrats’ proposals would still unelected bureaucrats to make or. Such is what we’ve come to from this.

This, of course, is less intelligible than

which, of course, makes more sense with one word than Sarah Palin has mustered in the collective of her remarks over the past 378 days.  She has, however, been consistent in one regard:  she can’t open her mouth without poisoning the well.  Nearly every statement that has come from her has been more falsehood than truth*, more divisive than helpful, and universally partisan in the most unhelpful of ways, not only to the debate as a whole but even to her own position.

The fact that the Wall Street Journal is providing space for her to attempt to string words together is ludicrous.  What exactly is the standard here?  I think this begs the question “whose 1,000 word verbal gonorrhea will they not print?”

* which is in itself telling, considering the best lies are those that are mostly truth.  She can’t even get that right.