Don’t Like: The New York Post’s Decision To Post Erin Andrews Spy Video Pictures and Including A Distasteful Cartoon As Well

July 23, 2009

(note: this is not page with the picture… I’m not going to do that)

Ragging on a rag like The New York Post (eh, get it?) seems like a waste of time. It’s a nonsense paper, with a nonsense agenda, designed to make money, and it does. Fine.

I’m also not here to get political. That would be pointless. Dismissing a sensationalist paper for it’s politics completely misses the point as they are inherently designed to piss people off or go the extra step out of bounds on a given angle (politically speaking of course). Does it potentially have a negative effect? Sure. Do I like that so many people read it? No. It’s just doesn’t make sense to rail against this because it’s an inherent reality of the mud slinging business. And most of their gossip rag stuff is completely trashy, but appropriately trashy in the larger sense. In other words it’s exactly the kind of nonsense you’d expect to find in any magazine like that.

So then The Post went along the other day and ran a story on page 1 referencing the now unfolding and infamous Erin Andrews story. If you have not heard, the ESPN sideline reporter was recently filmed with a peephole camera as she was changing in her hotel room. It is a significant offense. Highly illegal. And rotten to the core. Honestly, I did not find that it happened that surprising. Erin Andrews has a vehement, vocal, and often juvenile fan base, stemming from the fact that she is an attractive, capable woman and is a member of the sports world, particularly college sports. That lends itself to a certain kind of attention. She is also a decent sideline reporter (my qualms are more with actually sideline reporting and not her performance itself). The problem with having this kind of celebrity-like admiration is that she also a sideline reporter and NOT a giant celebrity with security and protection and all the like. Honestly, I’ve worried for her safety in a variety of situations.  Sure, she seems tough and no nonsense and all that good stuff; she’s probably perfectly capable of taking care of her self… but still. I worried about, I dunno, something like this.

Most of the major papers have and simply abstained from referencing the story all together… but The Post? They ran an article about her outrage… including a screenshot from the video (a barely censored one).

This is absolutely deplorable.

More than than that it is actually illegal. They are posting a pic which was from an illegally shot video. Admittedly, I do not know the finer points of the law concerning this issue, but I know that that kind of act is illegal and grounds for legal action. The Post have since taken it down on the website version of their paper. But probably more because people are pissed (even within their regular readers). This sentiment is also not to imply that I, or some of the people who complained, are some kind of prude or believe that sexuality has no place in modern media. Who can’t understand why a lot of people would want to see a naked video of someone famous? Particularly an attractive famous person.  It’s just that I recognize the inherent difference of a video obtained through such incredibly dishonest and violating means. Not helping matters is that some people are confusing the release of this video with the “release” of some other famous celebrity videos; they don’t understand what the big deal or difference is and why this video can’t legally be posted.

There isn’t even a comparison. Those videos were released with pre-made deals and financial compensation. It was planned. This video was not.

Which leads to something else The Post happened to do in that edition of the paper. They printed this cartoon.

07222009

There are three possible meanings you can take from this cartoon. The first is that modern corporate/celebrity culture uses sex and personal stuff to sell sell sell. Which would be valid. But that would be giving a lot of credit. See the problem is those 5 blatant ESPN signs, which means the second possible meaning and perhaps most obvious is that ESPN planned or wanted this video to come out. Or is somehow glad. Which is malicious and implies they are a morally bankrupt organization… which I find to be anything but the case for the company. It also completely discounts the fact they’ve been running around like crazy suing websites and LEGITIMATELY trying to shut it down. If anything ESPN has been the one major sports coverage unit that has really, and truly tried to abstain from sexualizing sports. They consider themselves a family network. They really do and seperates themselves from Fox Sports, which has no qualms about doing so (the great irony of this being that Fox sports is 1000 times more likely to have the kind of behavior/viewpoint shown in this cartoon). The third meaning, and most offensive, is that Erin Andrews was in on it. Which if that is the intent, is probably the most heinous, sexist, cynical, violating tone I can think of for a situation like this.

Once again… this is absolutely deplorable.

Yes the cartoon probably falls under free speech and probably has the legal standards to run… but then I have the right under free speech to say this probably should never have seen publication and if I ran a paper it wouldn’t… ever.

This sounds like I’m getting all high and mighty and holier than thou… I know… I’m sorry. True, should I expect anything less from society? Is this really THAT big a deal? I’m not sure. But sometimes I get tired of being cynical. I get tired of just ignoring shitty behavior just because humans are inclined to be shitty sometimes. But every once and awhile it’s okay to call a duck a duck. Their actions are egregious. It deserves to be called out.

In response to the whole affair, ESPN has blacklisted any Post reporters from their coverage and removed their access to any ESPN broadcast. This will have an immediate effect on their coverage and will hopefully hurt them financially.

But for Erin Andrews, in a perfect world, she would sue for posting the picture and defamation of character for the cartoon. She has a legit claim with the picture, but the cartoon claim would be thrown out under free speech. And since the post is part of the News Corp empire the history of two mega corporations suing each other tells us that it would be so bogged down in various stalls and litigation as to be a complete waste of time.

So in the end, ESPN made the right call.

For me, the whole thing has no effect, really.

I will continue to never read The Post.

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Don’t Like: John McCain’s Wonderfully Enlightened Approach To Health Care

September 22, 2008

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/mccain-on-banking-and-health/

I mean really? I don’t understand this “healthy competition” line that the repubs keep pulling out. That’s not exactly how things work out these days especially when compainies are operating on national levels and the failure of a massive corporation is anything but “healthy.” Can someone please explain this to me? How in their right minds can they keep talking like this?

Especially since a free market economy is based on the tantamount of easy entrance/easy exit, similar quality of “goods”, and no coercion. Yet Republicans treat trans-global corporations just as if they’re any other business, where their collapse is just as meaningless as the fall of the corner store (which is also important, but more culturally). Never mind, that these institutions (ESPECIALLY banking, housing, and health care) have sooooooo many people and other organizations who are directly tied into their success, that the entire system starts collapsing when one goes down. But hey, fuck it! Healthy competition!

It’s ignorance at its most staggering. I’m no market socialist by any means, but just look at all the post-war administrations and the stock market AND misery indexes ALWAYS perform better under democratic leadership. It’s an un-debatable fact.

And yet the Republicans are “good” for the economy. Nope. They’re good for the alpha wolves every ten years or so and encourage top market growth, but when it goes unchecked for 7 years it leads to utter collapse. (The same exact thing happened in Reagan’s 7th year).

It’s absurd. It’s laughable. And yet people keep perpetuating it.

Damn I’m angry right now… sorry.


Don’t Like: Using Models of Uncertainty to Produce Certainties

September 17, 2008

While it may seem obvious that doing such would be folly, it’s essentially become the very basis of our current “forecast first” economic model. A long time ago, the stock market was “reactive” and now we’re somehow both “anticipatory” and “reactive”… or maybe just reactive to our anticipations.

This guy makes it a lot more clear.

Here we are, another day, ANOTHER bailout.

Yet at the same time the whole black swan affair isn’t necessarily all that and a side salad. There’s a great mefi quote on the subject: “I’ve got this in the “broken swan is right twice a year” category. If you predict a lot of catastrophic failures, some of them will come true. That doesn’t make you good at predicting catastrophic failures.”

So what’s a national economy to do??? Oy!

Well… first we should re-establish and national infastructure and put cashmoney back into the transporation budget, just right that ship. The market woes? Sheesh. I don’t even know. There’s arguements for the bailouts, against the bailouts, for more regulation, for less regulation. It seems we really just need to find an organic way of curbing out of control prognostication… but how the hell do you do that? It’s become a facet of the system. Add to the fact that the true stability of our economy seems to have nothing to do with the DOW anymore and you got one hell of a situation.

… sigh.

I miss greenspan. He made it all so clear.

Bernake is known to lie just to “fuck with” reporters… Cause yeah, that doesn’t affect the economy or anything… ASS.


Like: Gen-u-ine Police.

June 11, 2008

This may sound inanely stupid, but I’ve actually rediscovered a sense of respect for police officers.

Many people have grown up with that sense of respect, but a good deal more fall into juvenile sentiment I Illustrated in the post below. It’s the typical suburban thing where they don’t see the actual service that Police provide the community. Kids just see annoying old jerks who are trying stop them from having fun. These kids also don’t see that they’re pretty lame… Of course, I was once one of those kids.

The other thing is we’ve lost what it truly means to be a police officer in the myriad of bullshit cop shows where you have to be psychic, or a genius, or a complete antagonistic retard, or David Caruso. They are all fake identities that has no bearing on real life and give no insight into what it means to be a good police officer. And people look at real gen-u-ine police and see them as not measuring up.

Being a true police officer, is a dignified position if there ever was one. It’s a genuine public service and one that suburban America has completely forgotten about.

Of course, the distractions for police officers are well-documented: the shift of focus from service to stat busting, bullshit drug rips, career-first thinking, racism, etc (and that’s what they are, distractions from doing the job right). The corruption of urban police forces is indeed a reality, but one that is vastly over-represented and over-suspected within the community. A suspicion that often can overshadow and even put limits on the effectiveness of said Police. (quick note, statistically/IA, the best police officers are African-American).

But to all the Gen-u-ine POlice who protect and serve and do their jobs to the best of their abilities, I thank ya kindly.


Don’t Like: The Fucking Cops

June 11, 2008

Stupid Fuzz. Always trying to kill my buzz!

They always hassle me when me and my friends go to to the mall!

They just roam around and do nothing and mess with kids who are just hanging out and not doign anything!

Those fat donut eating jerks!

BOOOOOOO COPS!!

Oh, shit they heard me.

SULLY! HIDE IT AND RUN!


Don’t Like: Law and Order/CSI

May 15, 2008

I have a pretty low tolerance for bad writing.

Like almost all shows of this nature, the first few seasons of this episodic were reasonably decent. The problem is the success of the cop/lawyer shows are almost entirely dependent on a continuation of effort otherwise the procedural gets way too repetitive. No matter how talented a writer you may be, if you don’t strive for something with authenticity (or as a backup, originality) then you’re doomed to inevitable boredom.

And Law and Order is doomed. I caught an episode recently while I was waiting for the Celtics game to start and my god, what an awful show. The whole “generic cop talk” stuff was mind-numbing. We’ve raised a generation of writers whose entire knowledge of police come from previous police television. It really shows. But due to the high volume of cop shows (and spin-offs) that do this, the stuff actually gets a pass. It’s inexcusable. God forbid you observe reality and get at something remotely interesting. I understand you have to contribute to the drama, but when has making no sense “added to the drama”? Seriously CSI could basically patent the non-sensical double twist.

Even worse, the CSI effect has had an awful effect on juries. They now expect dna and microfiber evidence in EVERY single case. This trend is rather well documented and police/prosecutors are absolutely furious. Not only are these shows annoying to watch, they’re crippling our justice system.

Fuck you bad writers.

And fuck you producers. You green-lighted a Law and Order spin off people simply refer to as “the rape show”.

… sigh

Oh well. I always have Homicide and The Wire.


Don’t Like: Libertarianism

May 6, 2008

Here we go. Politics. Yikes.

Well let me start off by saying this argument is not with libertarians but with the philosophy itself and to my Libertarian friends you’re still swell folks and I love ya. Really I have no beef. Just with the philosophy itself.

Anycrap, onto the issue…

Libertarianism has somehow become the most subtle form of extremism you’ll ever see in the popular American voter base. In theory, it is really nothing more than a lofty philosophical theory about individual interactions. In practice, a Libertarian government would be so unfathomably disastrous for this country. The aforementioned “subtle” aspect stems from the fact that Libertarianism is rooted in a very simple and integral part of country’s origin: the rights of individual liberty. The phrase echoes a lot of important sentiment that I fundamentally believe in: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc. That core value of individual liberty affords the party a lot of leeway in its member’s initial leanings and why should it not? Come on, there’s a kind of inherent patriotism there that’s alluring.

But from that core belief, Libertarianism extrapolates a lot of dangerously outdated/wholly impractical models of thinking that would cripple our country; and what is intended as a vote for liberty becomes an inadvertent vote for anarchy.

More often then not, modern Libertarianism is rooted in issues with taxation. And come on, everybody hates taxes. I hate paying taxes. Everyone I know hates paying taxes. Anyone who doesn’t like watching their money go away hates taxes. But taxes help fund the critical institutions of our society. I like having police officers, and fire stations, and schools, and so on. It’s not like libertarians are AGAINST these institutions. They often recognize the importance and like them as well. But what they don’t recognize is the perpetual budget crisis of these institutions face. They don’t recognize how it is often a simple 1 to 1 between amount of taxes dollars and functionality of the system. It really is that simple.

Yet, many Libertarians think that government funding of these institutions is a waste of their money on a bloated purpose. At least both Republicans and Democrats alike recognize this and the public need for it; even though they might have differing ideas on how they should be run but both understand they do NEED to be run in the first place. Many Libertarians think that all of these institutions should be handled on the state or the local level but that’s impossible. Most of a school’s revenue is local anyway and poor communities have a hell of a time funding schools. Urban school systems are on the verge of collapse. Localization would just add to the dangerous stratification and hurt many, many American Citizens. Like I said, both Democrats and Republicans recognize this and while the disagree on how to fix it, they both recognize the inherent problem of poor-functioning educational, law enforcement, or safety institutions.

The other solution Libertarians offer for not paying taxes is the wholesale privatization of these service institutions. This would be even more disastrous than localizing them. History has proven you can communize private business and economy. It’s fundamentally wrong and just plain doesn’t work. Any communist just needs to take a look at what’s happened in global history to see that it doesn’t work. And just like that we’ve learned you can’t privatize the basic service institutions of any nation. It simply doesn’t work and fails the community. We inherently need a strong central government to run these institutions on the larger non-local level. No matter how often I try to convince Libertarians of this they just don’t believe me.

This brings us to Libertarians as individuals. Analysis shows that most Libertarians are single men, logic-based intelligent, who don’t live in cities (but will sometimes work in them). The more extreme ends of libertarians tend to live in rural areas (and often pro-militia) and are very far away from the systems their taxes pay for. In that regard I can completely understand why they don’t want to pay taxes because it is something that is not a part of their lives. But like I said this is an argument with the philosophy, not the people. While the philosophy might work for these individuals it does not work for the system as a whole. Not by a long shot. Institutions fail miserably under this kind of direction and unchecked privatization is disastrous for the average American (it’s not like the health care industry is a bloated mess… oh wait, it is!). Yet libertarianism argues it is the EXACT OPPOSITE and that their system is better for the whole. And that is my real problem here. Worst of all, the only justification Libertarianism really uses is to inaccurately cite the philosophical rhetoric of personal freedoms our country was founded on.

There’s a philosophy that’s tied up with the taxation issue, and that is the idea of “limited government.” Way back at our inception, the United States was formed on certain ideals that were made to protect from the kind of British authoritarianism they found objectionable (being a colonial enterprise and all). They rejected that kind of dominating central power and in the post-revolution era, our government defined the nation by the “Articles of Confederation.” The articles were really nothing more than a lose affiliation of states rights… and a complete, unmitigated disaster. We were a large country (even then) and therefore had a lot of different regional needs, but a central system is so incredibly necessary. Since we floundered economically, socially, and politically under the articles we reformed the government with a stronger central base under “The Constitution”. It was a significant milestone and inherently responsible for our rise to prominence and eventual realization as an economic power.

Yes, the world today is much different place, but the need for a stable central government is even more critical in our age of Globalization (I’m not talking about military isolationism or “world policing” because that’s a separate issue that deals more with ethics or personal ideals). Libertarianism believes that an unregulated “free” economy is best for the system. BUT SO MANY companies operate on the national and global level that a centralized U.S. government is actually necessary for them to run both effectively and ethically. Haven’t we proven unchecked private business runs contrary to the effectiveness of the system? The entire last century has taught us that corporations cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interest of the collective. Their priority is making money and that’s more than fair. They should be allowed to make plenty of money, ungodly amounts of money even and I believe 100% in a free market economy. But a free market economy doesn’t mean “no rules”. I mean even with our current “regulated economy” corporations can pretty much afford to dump toxic chemicals and stall out the lawsuits for years so it is more cost effective. This is wrong right? I’m not a crazy person but isn’t Libertarianism woefully ignorant of this systemic reality? We need a responsible central government (no matter if it’s liberal or conservative) to enforce the national and international laws already in place. The problem is that enforcing these laws creates red tape. And yes, red tape sucks. Just like taxes suck. NO ONE likes going through red tape, especially small business that are more highly affected in time management. But it is there to help keep in check Big Business? There’s a level of hypocrisy to this too, in that Libertarianism desperately wants a free un-regulated economy, but there is nothing more detrimental to the economic freedoms of the individual than a huge, unwieldy corporation?

Imagine if we operated under local, de-centralized government what laws apply to global corporation like MacDonald’s who have restaurants in every single state? They already take advantage of different local tax laws, but their profits are funneled into a federal designation. Libertarianism argues that most taxes should be de-federalized, and thus depending on where McDonald’s put their “headquarters” they could pay entirely different taxes according to said state. And would all the tax money from that global corporation go just to the said local arena? Of course not. Most Libertarians even say that. But they also don’t offer the solution to that because Libertarianism has no answer for that… at all. Global corporations already take advantage of these kinds of international loopholes, but wildly varying tax codes among states would be disastrous and throw much of it into turmoil.

Yet, libertarians believe our government is a bloated, meaningless, and controlling mess. By “interfering” with American lives they’re ruining the country as it was intended. It’s like Libertarianism is trying to use the patriotic (and purposefully vague) language of The Constitution as a justification for bringing us back to the non-functional level of the Articles of Confederation. It’s insane.

My friend made a perfect point just the other night about the problem with Libertarianism. He stated that many libertarians seem to believe that the world exists only on a simple 1 to 1 interaction level where logic and ethics are completely discernible. It’s a view that’s completely ignorant of history, culture, and systemic reality. It looks only at the “personal freedoms” of an individual and whether the micro-decision is allowable under broad personal freedom. It pays absolutely no attention to the end result, nor any attention to the fact that most things operate outside of the 1:1. A small decision by a man running a company inadvertently affects thousands. It may be within the “right of the individual” but it completely runs detriment to livelihood of thousands of “individuals”. That’s the real crux of this whole thing. Sometimes you really do have to see the system itself as a complete culture.

There is really the key word in all of this: individual. No matter how Libertarianism argues it, it comes down to the advantages of individuals and those individuals are often single men, who don’t like paying taxes, and have absolutely no stake in public institutions, and don’t seem to care about whether or not firefighters get paid/or remain ignorant of it. Libertarians have told me they don’t want to give “half their paycheck to Uncle Sam.” I just smile and nod. They just don’t want to pay taxes and for some reason the removal of these federal institutions will mean that everything will be in a benevolent state of nature and it will just all work out… Right. This isn’t a lefty, knee-jerk reaction on behalf of my party, this is basic analysis of a fatally flawed political philosophy. And the biggest problem with it is that I don’t think Libertarians see the completely dysfunctional side of the equation. They don’t see the inevitable results, just what is in front of them.

Thus, all of this has a purpose. Right now, I’m really asking for a kind of honesty of Libertarianism: that it is really just Objectivism (with an ending result in muted Anarchy). I want Libertarians to admit that they’re voting just for what’s best for them and not spin me some yarn about the rights of individual, the foundations of this country, and how it’s in the best interest of the people. It’s not. It’s your best interests.

And guess what? That’s fine. Really, that’s more than fine. Just be honest about it. There’s a reason we all get a vote and they all count the same. Your vote counts just as much as mine and I’m proud of country for that… But just realize there’s also a reason Libertarians only get 4% of conservative vote at most. Most people in this country are Democrats and Republicans because we use institutions or we recognize their value.

I’m amazed how many young people are becoming attracted to Libertarianism and in particular Ron Paul. He pushed his lower-tax platform and had the allure of being a conservative against the war (when really he just has a history of being a whack-job and sees nothing wrong with bringing guns on airplanes). Or maybe young people liked the idea of lower taxes and not getting hassled by the man for having weed. Maybe they just wanted an alternative, and Libertarianism isn’t that super-hippy liberal stuff and it’s not uptight square-ism and military bent like the Republicans. Those observations may be true folks… but so is this one: Libertarianism is a political disaster, and any government that has ever behaved as such has failed miserably. I would love to show people the kind of anarchy our country would be in with all Libertarian government.

I am a Liberal. I acknowledge the inherent bloat of a Democratic system. I acknowledge the hypocrisy of many democrats being “of the people” when most politicians are rich and self-serving, or “elitist”. I acknowledge the contribution of the democrats to the annoying “thought police state” and their awful infighting is crippling their party.

But I also acknowledge the final results of the system. And that’s what matters… because whether we like it or not, we are the new British empire.