Archive for January 16th, 2012

Time for U.S. to celebrate: we have the 37th best health care

| January 16, 2012 | Reply
Time for U.S. to celebrate: we have the 37th best health care

Paul Hipp sings in celebration: The U.S. has ranked the 37th best health care in the world:

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“I watch whatever is on TV.”

| January 16, 2012 | Reply

I recently overhead a conversation between two women who were discussing television shows. After discussing the particular shows they watched each night of the week, one of them blurted out: “Actually, I watch whatever is on.”

This attitude concerns me because it risks handing marketers and content providers the keys to one’s brain. To the extent that we indiscriminately allow our televisions to stream programing into our homes un-self-critically, the television view of the world risks becoming our view of the world. A salient example these days is that millions of Americans believe that the United States is under constant serious attack by Middle East “terrorists” who have the capacity and desire to destroy America. A constant stream of television programming, including “news” reports, warns us of these “terrorists” without any indication of who these “terrorists” are. The end result is a national nightmare, not a reality, that massively skews our priorities and budgets.

As long as the media providers are a diverse group and as long as they vigorously question both the conventional national wisdom and our political leaders, it wouldn’t be a terrible strategy to “watch whatever is on.” That’s not the type of programming that is typically offered, however, and that is the reason for the existence of Free Press. I just happened to receive this save the date card for the next national conference for media reform (April 5-7, 2013 in Denver Colorado), and the message on the front of the card is apropos:

The above short message recognizes three critically important ideas: A) the power of the media, B) the danger of a captured media and C) the opportunity we could have if only our media seriously accepted its responsibilities, as envisioned by the founding fathers: Speaking truth to power.

It’s amazing what passes for “news” these days. There are many good reasons to make sure that our televisions are turned off unless we are consciously seeking particular programming.

For more information on the work done by Free Press, search this site for posts from prior media reform conferences, and be careful that you don’t slip into watching “whatever is on” TV.

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Conservative Fantasy Role Playing

| January 16, 2012 | 5 Replies
Conservative Fantasy Role Playing

I wonder sometimes how a modern conservative maintains.

Romney has won the New Hampshire primary.  All the buzz now is how he’s going to have a much tougher fight in South Carolina, primarily because of the religious and social conservatives who will see him as “not conservative enough.”  There is a consortium of social conservatives meeting this week in Texas to discuss ways to stop him, to elevate someone more to their liking to the nomination.  And right there I have to wonder at what it means anymore to be a conservative.

I grew up, probably as many people my age did, thinking of conservatism as essentially penurious and a bit militaristic.  Stodgy, stuffy, proper.  But mainly pennypinching.  A tendency to not do something rather than go forward with something that might not be a sure thing.

I suppose some of the social aspect was there, too, but in politics that didn’t seem important.  I came of age with an idea of fiscal conservatism as the primary trait.

That doesn’t square with the recent past.  The current GOP—say since Ronny Reagan came to power—has been anything but fiscally conservative, although what they have spent money on has lent them an aura of responsible, hardnosed governance.   Mainly the military, but also subsidies for businesses.  But something has distorted them since 1981 and has turned them into bigger government spenders than the Democrats ever were.  (This is not open to dispute, at least not when broken down by administrations.  Republican presidents have overseen massive increases in the deficit as opposed to Democratic administrations that have as often overseen sizable decreases in the deficit, even to the point of balancing the federal budget.  You may interpret or spin this any way you like, but voting trends seem to support that the choices Republican presidents have made in this regard have been supported by Republican congressmen even after said presidents have left office.)

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Faux News Report: Fanatics against Ruminant Terrorism

| January 16, 2012 | Reply
Faux News Report: Fanatics against Ruminant Terrorism

I offer this report from Missouri-Faux News:

Missouri residents outraged over recent deaths and injuries to Missouri motorists in collisions with deer have banded together to form Fanatics against Ruminant Terrorism (FART). Missouri FART Spokesman, former State Senator Chuck Purgason, had this to say: “Look, I know my only claim to fame is making fart noises during Governor Holden’s State of the State speech but, we have to stop these ruminant terrorists roaming Missouri from killing and maiming our citizens willy-nilly!”

FART was started by Purgason and other concerned fanatics to put an end to vehicle and deer collisions in Missouri. There are thousands of collisions yearly between deer and motorists and Missouri, some resulting in deaths. Nationally, there were nearly 1.1 million collisions between deer and vehicles between July 10, 2010 and June 30, 2011.  See here and here.

FART has put out a publication called FART News which details the dangers of ruminant terrorism in Missouri.

It’s mostly about sex” says FART spokesman Purgason. “In the latter parts of November, deer go into rut and forget about anything except getting laid and commit suicide by abandoning any caution in their pursuit of coitus.

FART News also details many accidents in Missouri that have resulted in death or other serious injuries involving collisions between deer and vehicles. FART also issues cautionary instructions for avoiding deer bent upon suicide attacks upon Missouri motorists.

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Tebow, schadenfreude and blasphemy

| January 16, 2012 | 1 Reply
Tebow, schadenfreude and blasphemy

I barely follow professional football these days, but I’ve heard enough about Tim Tebow to be annoyed. I’m not annoyed that he has played well this season or that he appears to be a generous and kind-hearted fellow. I’m annoyed because he insists that the alleged Creator of the Universe cares about American football. If this were at all true, what does that say about this “God,” given that He has a lot of unfinished work to do healing the sick and helping to feed starving children? How would you characterize an allegedly omnipotent and omniscient God who would choose to watch professional football while even one or two children were dying from preventable causes such as the lack of food? The word “miscreant” comes to mind, because it’s not only one or two children: More than 16,000 children starve every day. And how difficult should it be for an adult quarterback to figure out that the Creator of the Universe wouldn’t actually hover around at American sports stadiums on the third planet from the Sun on Sundays?

For the above reasons only, I was delighted to hear that Tebow and his team were thrashed by the New England Patriots yesterday. Maybe Tebow can figure out during this off-season that what he does for living is merely entertainment–it isn’t notable by any cosmic standard. Maybe he can figure out that if the Creator of the Universe has a to-do list, it doesn’t include caring about football games. Perhaps it’s not fair to pick on Tim Tebow, because he’s merely the most recent prominent athlete to assume that God cares about his performance on the field. But he has done an especially good job of bringing attention to himself based on his allegedly close relationship with “God,” so I’ll continue with this rant.

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