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October 1st

October 1, 2011 Leave a comment

The beginning of October usually marks nothing particular. It’s just another month, with three months left in the semester. Possibly the wiccans get all excited because Halloween is approaching and they think it’s some kind of witch festival (Samhein was originally a harvest festival), but for the most part October is nothing.

For me, though, October 1st marked the end of a bet: “”As to the deal. Let’s just lay the ground floor down, I thought about it last night and realized that I don’t want any wiggle room plus there’s a little bit of unfairness in it. As I understand it the bet, or whatever, hinges on the United States going to war with Iran by the end of September. If they do, then I lost and have to admit that the President knew about and personally controlled the gun running operation known as “Fast and Furious” in Mexico. If you lose, you stop emailing me about it? No, that’s not fair, if you lose then you have to admit that you were wrong in an email to me about this whole conspiracy web that somehow links the gun operation to the president (I won’t repost the email but I will paraphrase it for my blog).”

One of the biggest problems with arguing with pseudo-science conspiracy theorists is that they are notoriously difficult to pin down. Each conspiracy theory is almost entirely unique they have a shared genera but individuals tend to spout their own specific theories. It’s really a case of “one-upmanship” they can’t tolerate being second place, so they add their own twist and then let the smugness and pretension flow from within. The other aspect of their slipperiness is that no single event ever happens on their own, it’s all interrelated. Which is evidenced by the fact that this person “Nick” seemed to somehow tie together the failed ATF operation with a looming war between the US and Iran. I had to be specific, ultra specific.

One of the defining aspects of the conspiracy set (as well as the pseudo science, and mysticism–basically anything you find in the “New Age” category at the book store) is that it’s un-recreatable. It’s an important aspect to History, Science, anything. Two people ought to be able to look at the information and draw the same conclusion. Right now several labs with the capabilities are retesting the CERN faster than light results. It’s the process that is important. Without the screaming or the rolling of the eyes, no two piles of “facts” put forth from a conspiracist generate the same conclusion. I backed “Nick” into a corner because not only did I know he was wrong, but also that he needed to see it as well. Forcing a prediction out of the supposed “facts” of his conspiracy would level the playing field. Objective evidence doesn’t work, it cannot. They simply deny it. I had an email exchange that directed me to explain the collapse of the WTC Towers without referring to the internal collapse of the floors creating a piledriving effect, more commonly known as “pancaking.” This would be like arguing with a Creationist who wants you to explain why there are no transition fossils but won’t let you present the Archaeopteryx, Velociraptor, or Homo Erectus.

If, as he claimed, I was the naive fool for not seeing it, than it ought to be predictive. It’s fact not theory (using the non-scientific uses of the words). However these facts are unique. They not only explain historical events but show that there is a guiding hand with a clear purpose. The conspiracists all claim to know the purpose so they should see what is happening next. Which is why I forced the prediction.

Thus October 1st has come and gone, no war with Iran. Not even a drone strike. Nothing. I’m still waiting for the email, but I doubt it will come.

2010 Man of the Year

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I say part 1 because usually these things seem like such a good idea when before I set out to write them and then the process usually gets bogged down with a desperate attempt to be funny, which I’m just not. I guess I can do this pseudo-award style or something…I don’t know I really just brainstorm these things as I write them, anyway…here it goes.

How about an award for increasingly irrelevant award? I think this year should be the last year for Time Magazine’s Man of the Year thing. Seriously it’s getting to the point where they are just phoning it in. Let’s look at the last ten years, skipping their obligatory nod to the President of the United States upon his inauguration (so that means years 2000 & 2008 are out) and we can see a gradual dumbening with a few anomalies. It begins with Giuliani in 2001, good choice except that they totally pussied out on their original choice of Osama Bin Laden–who totally had a bigger impact on the world than the former Mayor did.*

Then you have the whistleblowers, these are the people that blew in the corporate swindlers of Enron, Worldcom, and Martha Steward for insider trading which led to the toppling of said companies. Except that only Enron truly collapsed, Worldcom was filed for the largest bankruptcy in US history, which was then promptly (in these matters anyway) broken by Lehman Brothers and WaMu only six years later. Worldcom was then awarded in 2004 a no-bid contract to build cellular phone networks in Iraq. Martha Stewart is still Martha Stewart, although unlike current celebrities at least she did her time you’ve gotta give her that. It’s not like any laws were changed on Wall Street that could’ve at least mitigated the financial mess we are in now. 2002, brought us a group of people who, although toppling successful and illegally run companies, didn’t change anything.

The American Soldier in 2003. They toppled the Taliban with the efficiency that we love in America. This is more of a sappy one than anything, I’m not going to discredit their desert here, but when Time gives this to a group it just feels lazy. The worst thing about this year’s winner was that the American Soldier was in for a world of hurt for the next several years. If only there was a news magazine that could have done better digging into either the existence of WMDs, the evidence thereof, or the war plan then that would have been a real award for the American Soldier.

2004: George W. Bush, no complaint for this one. It was his year, he toppled Baghdad and won re-election. This is the anomaly.

2005: Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono. Being a fan of NPR even before everyone forgot about Juan Williams (remember him and your “outrage”) I have no complaint about the Gates being here. Someone needs to explain to me how or what it is that Bono actually does. Aside from releasing shitty albums and being a pompous jackass how is he important at all. At least Angelina Jolie actually gets kids out of impoverished countries.

2006: Me, or You depending on who is looking at the cover. It was a mirror and it was complete bullshit. Instead of talking about how we, the population changed the world, it was more of an excuse to write about web 2.0 (whatever that was) and social networking. See Myspace had been in the news again, and new site was ascending among college kids and marketing people were realizing that it was really cheap to make 1 million people aware of something by making a profile about whatever it was and then friending whoever they could. While this was socially important it wasn’t a person, it was only the illusion of a person.

2007: Putin, I’m just not seeing this. Putin has ruled Russia for over 20 decades or something, and Russia once the seat of organized crime and breadlines after the fall of Communism (and before too) was now back in the game. Economic recovery had finally turned the country around. The only trouble was that it was largely the surging price of oil that did it.

2008: Barack Obama, obligatory new president award. See 2000, 1992, 1980, 1976…with few exceptions a new US president is given the honor, usually upon election or their first year in office.

2009: Ben Bernake. He’s been overseeing our financial crises but not really doing anything to prevent it again. Thomas Jefferson once said that banks are more dangerous than a standing army but he does nothing to limit their power. I’m glad we are getting most of the money back from the Bush bailouts, but stop it again or else don’t nominate one your Wall Street buddies to be your replacement.

2010: Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook isn’t new, it’s not a new concept and it wasn’t new this year. In fact, it wasn’t new last year, it was invented in 2004, but didn’t really catch on till 2007. This was merely the year that a movie came out about it and the year your grandmother probably joined up. There will be something else to replace it just as it replaced Myspace which replaced Friendster. Way to catch up with the times, I would have suffered Steve Jobs in place of this one.

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Don’t get all uppity about it, the award isn’t supposed to the best person that year but the most influential. Hitler has it once and Stalin twice.

2014 Class

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

So this list has finally come out.

It’s weird to think of most of these things being normal for them but actually abnormal for most of the population. I remember teaching some students in the run up to the last presidential election and a good majority of them had never been alive when the United States’ president wasn’t named “Bush” or “Clinton.” The funny thing is that when I was teaching it was a good possibility at the time that this was still going to be the case with Hillary.

Of course some of the entries on the list just seem capricious. Item number 62 indicating that there have always been hundreds of channels but nothing to watch is only an extension of my generations “dozens of channels” but nothing to watch. The really odd one has to do with Ice-T because it really missed the mark. They remark about how “Cop-Killer” (#24) has never been available on recording, they should have mentioned that Ice-T has always been an actor in police television shows, the irony there being more remarkable than one of his controversial songs at a time when the entire genre of gangsta rap was controversial.

The other rap oriented one regarding how Snoop Dogg has always been rapping is strange to me. Because I have been alive for his entire career and not only is he still rapping, but he’s always been rapping with the occasional movie role. What else am I supposed to be remembering about him? His murder trial, well he was rapping when that was going on as well.

#74 is obsolete stating that “they’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi channel.” That no longer exists as it’s called “Sy-Fy” in an effort by the station’s management to divorce it from the Science Fiction aspect that most people associated when the station was called “Sci-Fi” (seriously*).

What interests me more than a group of high school kids now entering college are the future mind sets of people like Gwendolyn, or my new cousin Michael. In 16-18 years there is going to be an astronomical gap in their experiences versus mine.

For instance if Gwen is on a bad date, she won’t have to suffer through it any more than she will a bad television show since her phone is going to have access to all sorts of entertainment. Sure that will make her a jerk, but a more entertained jerk. When I used to date, a boring conversation was something you ground yourself through, it focused your ability to make something out of nothing, these kids nowadays won’t have to do that. That’s probably a bad thing though.

Speaking of phones, kids her age will never have to carry around quarters, pocket sized phone books, or write down a number on their hands. All of that will fit in their pocket on the very device that they will have needed the above three for to begin with. I know this is a bit detrimental, as in high school and the first couple years of college I could remember about twenty phone numbers with only a second’s thought, now I feel lucky if I can remember five…yeah, five.

Although when asked what she wants to do, Gwen will sometimes say “libwawy” [library] she won’t ever need to go. With the advent of Google Books, electronic readers, and the internet she could go to the library but that will be mostly because her dad wants to drag her there for free CDs. While in this economy libraries are receiving a great deal of new interest, some of them are starting to convert over to electronic texts which will not need a visit to an actual building. Although how you limit someone’s time using them will be interesting to see, anyone remember DivX? By that time though, CDs are likely to be a thing of the past as well, given that media companies are realizing that removable media wastes valuable money that they could be raking in not allowing you to share copies of things.

She won’t know a lack of cruise control or GPS. Battery power will be as important to her as gas is in a fuel tank. They are already talking about ways to get around “charge anxiety” in electric cars, but I’m talking more about electronic notebooks, books, and pens. The element Li (Lithium) while be a prized commodity as she will encounter that more than she will Fe (iron).

Going four years from now seems like a light move. Gwen will never know a time when the Simpsons wasn’t in reruns also I will remember a time when she was younger than Maggie…she, of course, won’t. Rap will always have had it’s own Grammy award, and at one time or another a movie starring Gene Hackman or Michael Caine will always be on is no longer a hypothesis but a proven fact. Which according to a thin majority of Americans makes a bullshit thesis from the movie PCU more scientifically accurate than Evolution. 

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*“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular…We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi.”- Tim Brooks, founder of Sci-Fi

Wonder Woman

July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

This story has been making the nerd news recently so in lieu of anything else happening that I feel can sustain an entire post (this is the third time today) I thought I would give it my interpretation. Although, as I have said on numerous occasions before I am not a fan of DC comics, never have been. I may own three of their issues, and they are the three that anyone collecting comics in the mid 90s should have, the Death of Superman, the Rebirth of Superman, and the incapacitation of Batman. I say “may” because there are probably several others but they were either gifts or I acquired them at comic shows as promotional items. Note: I don’t count Vertigo as being part of the DC universe.

Wonder Woman as a character is largely foreign to me. I’ve seen her on the old Justice League television show, caught some of the reruns from the Linda Carter live action, and the last time was when Carter donned the costume and ran out of the David Letterman show (many years ago). It’s difficult for me to really care about the character or the costume that many people are feeling amounts to the biggest treachery since a flop eared space monkey appeared in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. This is nothing of the kind.

The new costume is pretty different. That’s not unsettling though, what is is the reaction of it by people like Gloria Steinmen, “I don’t have a big issue with jeans versus skirt–though jeans gives us the idea that only pants can be powerful–tell that to Greek Warriors and Sumo Wrestlers.”

Obviously she does have an issue if she brought it up. The idea that replacing the flashy poodle skirt with jeans means that you have to wear pants in order to be considered strong is ridiculous. The proof of that is in her own comment, Greek Warriors didn’t wear pants and more often that not the villains that both Wonder Woman and the numerous other superheroes in all comic universes are also wearing pants as well. Redesigning the costume of Wonder Woman is much over due since unlike other DC characters she has remained largely unchanged since 1941 where her costume is essentially the American flag wrapped around her Greek body. Given the fact that any comic character in existence in the 1940s were fighting both Nazis and/or the Japanese she was another symbol of patriotism…back in 1941.

However Steinem has another issue with the pants she’s wearing, “and though in fact, they’re so tight that they’ve just painted her legs blue; hardly a cover-up.

I don’t know, but aren’t pants more concealing than a loose skirt? Millions of anime fans can’t be wrong (about this, not a great deal many other things) when they clamor for their sex kitten characters in pleated school skirts and really if she’s going to complain about the tightness of the pants she must exist in some negative zone where no other characters exist in comics. All characters are wearing clothing so tight that they have to sewn on. It makes the characters easier to draw since what you are essentially seeing is the naked figure painted.

However, some of the other complaints (also shared by Steinem) are in the changing of the origin story. No longer is there a hidden tribe of Amazons. Wonder Woman is the last, saved as an infant from the destruction of Paradise Island. Which, Steinem, complains gives her no place to form strong storylines and inspire readers. Of course, being able to flee back home when things get difficult to retrain is much much less inspiring than a lost orphan who must learn everything on her own.

I do share in the complaint that this story almost exactly the same as Superman’s, but we know the difference right? It’s not as if the character was just a female Superman to begin with, right?

Succumbing to List Fever: The end of the decade in culture.

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

 

Everyone else is doing it so I might as well too. I hereby offer not the best, as we shall see, and but certainly the most prominent of the first of the millennium. A letter signed “From Hell” read that, “truly I am the birth of the 20th century,” more than likely this was a hoax letter that was sent in during the “Jack the Ripper” murders, but what truly defined the first decade of the 21st?

 

Movies: For a decade that began with Enron, WorldCom, and Martha Stewart and ended with the global financial collapse brought on by banking institutions making money by selling fictional* “products” I think the movie of the decade has to be Ocean’s Eleven. The movie itself is about a bunch of guys, who didn’t need the money stealing from a legitimate business. It offered its own Ponzi scheme in the form of a horrid immediate sequel and third that was only tolerable because it wasn’t the second.

 

The Lord of the Rings: A movie series that trotted out a story that, even though it has a running time of over 12 hours, can still be watched back to back. This decade showed us no shortage of trilogies, finishing off the Star Wars prequels, Spiderman, the final two Matrix movies, the end of the X-Men, Pirates of the Carribean; so there was a lot of movie series to nominate. However the Lord of the Rings was unique in the fact that there isn’t one movie that isn’t any worse than the others. Randall from Clerks 2 was right, there is a lot of walking, but not only did this movie keep the readers engaged it also launched the appeal toward niche fanbase groups, mainstreaming them as they never had before. Honorable mention: The Bourne series that was unique in the fact that it retained both a coherent story arc, and top notch filmmaking over three movies two of which were unplanned.

 

Television: The rise of political commentary masquerading as news. No, this isn’t a veiled attack on Fox News, it’s an overt attack on Fox and MSNBC primarily, with CNN as intended collateral damage. Olberman, and O’Reilly don’t report the news, they report their opinion and then make you think that it is news. CNN’s constant sycophantic relationship with candidate Obama, Fox News’ love affair with Dick Cheney, and MSNBC’s uncomfortable love of President Obama as well as their hate for President Bush made searching for news a political choice. Thanks assholes, I thank you for polarizing the country in a way that hasn’t been seen since the run up to the Civil War. The BBC thanks you too, because they have one more viewer.

 

Reality shows: I was going to try and boil it down to one series but it’s impossible. Lost is a good candidate, but then again so is 24 (even though I am not a fan). That being said, the decade began with the rise of “Reality” television which sought to make celebrities out of anyone vain enough to be on the show in the first place. For every Desperate Housewives there are three “Real housewives of…” as if people were that curious about the Teri Hatcher vehicle that they needed to know what Wisperia lane really was like. For all the time that is put into a Dr. Who episode, they can crank out six of Survivor for half the cost. This of course is understandable because it doesn’t cost anything but time and tape (later memory). This again is another symptom of the greed of the decade: producing nothing and then getting a whole bunch of people to  buy into it. It appealed to the little person in all of us that wants to be famous but doesn’t actually want to do any work for it.

 

Sports: You can gripe, argue, and fight all you want about how this was the decade of the New York Yankees, or of New England dominance in other sports. For me the defining sports event of the decade was the Detroit Pistons of 2004. A team with almost no superstars, upsets and sweeps the highest paid team in the NBA Finals, the L.A. Lakers. The Lakers had all of the press because Kobe had the whole rape trial going on, there was the Shaq/Kobe friction on the team and this underdog shut them down. In America we like our underdogs almost as much as we like our winners (when the two are exclusive categories), and the Pistons showed us that stars don’t mean anything if they aren’t going to play the game. That money doesn’t buy a ring, and confirms what Napoleon once observed about how spirit is worth twice of material.

 

Politics:

 

People: President Bush, his detractors hate him so much they still laugh when someone makes a joke at his expense, his supporters still defend his actions. But who can really deny that this decade was his? The liberals call him the worst president in the history of the United States, and that is so patently false that it makes me laugh every time I hear it (it’s a tie between Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce). He certainly wasn’t the worst, and he wasn’t the best either but I think we can accurately place him above average. He was predictable in the sense that you knew what he was going to do. He wanted war in Iraq, we got war, he wanted Social Security Reform and the ball started rolling on that too, this is the President who did more for AIDs in Africa than any other but all of that gets glossed over because his detractors won’t stop talking about 2000. Which brings us to…

 

Events: (Non-violent): The 2000 Presidential Election: Don’t even consider 2004, Kerry was never going to win that election. The 2000 election not only elected President Bush to office, but it gave conspiracy theorists so much ground to run with that they seemed to overlook how the electoral process actually works (hint: like it did). They ignored the fact that popular vote lost the presidency three previous times in American history, and ignored the fact that Al Gore couldn’t even carry his home state of Tennessee. They made it seem as though the system failed when people couldn’t read their ballot correctly and thus gave them an excuse when their candidate lost in 2004. This election finally returned to the forefront a serious conversation about how American politics works, and whether we need the electoral college.

 

Events (Violent): 9/11 and if I have to explain why…

 

Music

 

The whole slew of pop music for the last ten years can get this nomination. Music is not my strong point in writing, in fact it is harder than even the sports post so this is difficult. When I mean pop music, I don’t mean new music, or even good music. I mean the likes of N*SYNC, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, etc. You showed us that pop music is pop music, it’s not supposed to be deep or profound it’s supposed to be fun. Even if I don’t like it, I can appreciate the fact that others do and as artistically bereft though it may be it’s will pass on like all other fads in the past from the tri-chord (once condemned as the devil’s music), the lounge crooner, the British Invasion, and the synthesizer we may want talent now but we don’t need it.

IPOD: It’s impact on the music world was two-fold. On the one hand it allows you to carry your music library in your pocket, a feat that would normally take a person a suitcase (or in my case a medium size backpack). It eliminated the need for actual hard copies of media and even though MP3 players existed before the IPOD no one really had them. My cell phone has all the albums that I own, some that I borrowed from the library, and some that…well, you know. On the other hand, people do blame it for the lack of quality in recent albums. Since you can buy albums without needing a CD, people could just pick one or two songs and buy those. Music critics (re: pretentious music snobs) think this is what caused the death of the album. No, my young friends it is not. The single has been around for a long time, it is used to make people want to buy an album from being aired on the radio, to clubs, to anywhere it’s a marketing ploy. Often times people aren’t buying the single, just one or two songs they really like. Seriously the best song on “The Warrior’s Code” by the Dropkick Murphys isn’t the one you heard in the Departed.

 

Video Game: If any one thing redefined an entire industry it would have to be Grand Theft Auto III. The third (actually the fourth) in a series where you play the criminal, GTA III redefined what is known as the Sandbox game. Instead of a world like Zelda where you could go wherever you please but still were constricted by the needs of the plot, GTA III gave us a real world. The star of the game was the living breathing Liberty City. This was a world where NPCs didn’t wait around to tell you where the next castle was, the people on the street had places to go and things to do. Getting hit by a car on a street wasn’t necessarily a plot point in the game, it could have just been one of those things that happen. The real radio stations added a new immersive character to the game as well as providing a biting satire on the pre-9/11 world. Copies of the game were perpetually sold out and the imitators came almost immediately but none can hold a candle to it or its sequels.

 

Tomorrow a special thanks to all of my favorite people from the last ten years (yeah it’s an extended rant).   

 

*Fictional in the sense that they are only real in the fact that they are constructs of words and not actually real in the sense that the computer you are reading this on is real.

Prologue: The Twilight Walkthrough

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Nothing of note caught my eye today so I decided to just start the series and see if I can get some traction out of this.

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die–though I’d had reason enough in the last few months–but even If I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”

I have mixed feelings about beginning a story like this. In one way it sets up a dramatic scene full of suspense right off the bat. It also sets the tone for the story that follows. I can think of a few movies that did this really well. The first is American Beauty in which Kevin Spacey laments: “Remember those posters that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”? Well, that’s true of every day but one – the day you die.” That quote set the stage for a movie in which nothing is given away, except the almost calm serenity that Spacey’s character has about it. You just know that until that point he viewed his life as a living hell.

The second movie that the opening line makes me think of is a much overlooked but awesome movie starring Denzel Washington called “Fallen.” “I wanna tell you about the time I almost died…” It was a cop movie so you know the mystery is already going to be there. The thing about the movie is that it did something very few movies with prologues actually do, it made you forget about the prologue. It used the star power of Washington and a very interesting and twisted story to make the prologue so integral to the plot that it gives a ‘holy shit’ moment rarely seen in cinema.

Done well, beginning at the end can be very satisfying. Done anything short of that: and its like the trailer to a romantic comedy that gives away the end before you’ve even considered waiting for the movie to show up on TBS in between reruns of Seinfeld.

The real problem with this prologue isn’t the fact that it sets us up for a main character in intense danger. It’s this segment, “though I’d had reason enough in the last few months.” This removes any sort of tension from any of the dangers that our (so far) nameless main character will encounter. We now know two things: that she is going to be in grave danger a couple of times in the novel and that each time she’s going to get out of it to face this oncoming danger.*

More interestingly is that we have to remember something about the author’s Mormonism, a distinct sect of Christianity that some Christians don’t even regard as being a part of the same religion, and opening the entire book as a preface before the prologue is Genesis 2:17 which reads, “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; though shall not eat of it, for in the day that thou shall eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Coupling that with a quote from the prologue, “I knew that if I’d never gone to Forks, I wouldn’t be facing death right now. But, terrified as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to regret that decision.

This is a pre-Christian, almost pagan worldview. Not because it welcomes death but because it welcomes death without the thought of afterlife. It is welcoming the end to a life that has been lived accepting of the good decisions along with the bad. I could write 3000 words on this concept alone tying in Roman/Greek/Norse religious views and the Existential problem of the eternal recurrence. Which is basically that if you were told that you were going to have to live your life over and over again to infinity would you lament or celebrate? Our main character seems to pick the latter which Nietzsche would think impossible from someone beholden to the slave morality of Christianity. Even I have some surprise.

The Norse often come to mind in this attitude not because of the recurrence, but because all of their gods die in the great battle. The mindset of the Vikings to worship their gods, to sacrifice for them, to sing their songs even though at the end of it all those receivers of worship, sacrifice, and praise would die themselves is what gave them the lust for life that lacks from the modern religions where this life is merely a rest stop before the eternal one. I commend our author on this point at least: she has my interest.

Mibu Roshi (a Livejournal/actual friend) explained that the mysterious apple on the front cover of the book is representative of the forbidden fruit of the tree in Eden. What, however does it represent in light of the new context: does it represent the forbidden love between human and undead as her link to wikipedia indicates? Or does it represent the forbidden knowledge of good/evil or life/death that the character must now face? The first question is probably the more likely but the second is possible and what be much more interesting to me since it is less cliche. Maybe though it is neither and just a provocative cover.

Putting aside the theological and philosophical thinking the author has set a high bar for herself. She now must spend the rest of the book either tying in the tone of the prologue ala American Beauty or writing into the plot ala Fallen. Those are the only two good options left to her. No matter what, though the first actual chapter is going to be a let down as it necessarily must be a break in tension.

*Which then we know she will get out of because the book is part of a series. 

Right to Privacy

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

For around 99% of us a car accident is just a car accident. Hopefully we survive, and hopefully we can recover financially. However there is the remaining 1% of us that do not have this “luxury.” Tiger Woods is in this minority. I’m not going to rehash the specifics of the case because a person would have to purposefully avoid hearing about it (which then would subsequently mean that they knew something about it) to know nothing. According to the news there are two odd things regarding the event.*

The first is a lack of details concerning the accident. All that seems to be known is that Woods hit a tree and then a fire hydrant in his SUV (or vice versa), that his wife hit the car with a golf club (perhaps a future commercial in store?), and that Woods has claimed that he has been taken prescription pain killers. Regarding the last claim, I do believe that he did suffer some sort of injury in the past year so all of these facts should be taken at face value. Other than that, the circumstances that were requiring him to drive the car that early in the morning are absent as well as a police statement that expands upon the otherwise alluded to facts of the case. Are these things odd, in and of themselves? Not really. If I did the same thing I doubt anyone would miss the fact that there was no police statement or even press conference.

It seems that Woods has the desire to keep the whole incident to himself and his family. Yet the more the cry for privacy erupts the more speculation has driven the press, who claim that it was a domestic dispute arising from an affair. At last count I believe there have been two accusations of sexual impropriety.

I don’t wish to partake in the speculation other than to make the observation that it does exist. What I care to partake in is the question of whether or not Woods has the same right to privacy that the rest of us enjoy. The simple fact of the matter is that Woods does not. Being a Professional Golfer would put him into the realm of having less privacy, and being a golfer of his stature lessens that even further. Especially when you consider that the bulk of his money did not come from winning tournaments but from endorsement deals and advertisements, that (this is important now) put him on television and other media on a regular basis.

From his website today, “But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.

The view here seems to be that the curiosity of public figures is ok as long as it is revealing of some aspect of their lives that they approve. When it turns sour as it did, that is when we have to back off and respect their privacy. This comes after the money the public shells out to see them at tournaments, in movies, on television, purchasing whatever products they want to sell. I remember Britney Spears asking for the same treatment around six years ago.

Guess what? It doesn’t work like that. If you don’t want to be in the public’s eye don’t put yourself out there. All I ever ask for among those in the media is some level of consistency and in order to have that they must take the bitter with the batter. The right to privacy for the “common celebrity” extends to their personal life, for sure, but when there is something like a car accident on a public road it no longer becomes just an internal family squabble. I’m sure this problem extends a little further back than last week and no one but the most astute readers of the National Enquirer (an ironic phrase to be sure) had any idea.

Furthermore there should have been a modicum of common sense in dealing with the press’s insistence on an explanation. It would have dictated that something be released that downplayed the whole affair. Silence in an event like this dealing with a celebrity is louder than any press release. It fuels the speculation that prompted his response. His other choice would be to never relent on the issue always maintaining that silence until people just simply gave up, no matter how long it would have taken. A celebrity is not a private individual, they don’t have and can’t expect the same level that we, actual private individuals do. We know their names and their faces.

No matter how absurd I think celebrity worship is, no matter how dumbfoundingly obsessed some people are; that’s why you are celebrities. It’s the bad side of being such a public figure they just have to deal with it. 

*And let me add that it is quite sad that a minor car accident in which no one was injured in any serious manner gets more press play than four police officers getting murdered in Washington.