Days of Change

The Pay Wall

November 30, 2014
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So, this is the point where I learn that the shows I enjoyed watching at the beginning of the season have now been canceled.  By comparison, shows on Pay TV networks like HBO and Showtime go on season after season. Even when they end, they are not summarily axed. They finish out their season. Netflix and Amazon now produce content that is instant in the sense that all episodes can be available at once.

When a TV show is canceled, it has less than a 1% chance of being renewed. There’s an even lower chance of it moving to another network or cable. It happens, sometimes. CBS got JAG from NBC and used it to spin-off into NCIS, which is a staple of the network schedule. Showtime canceled Stargate and the Scifi channel picked it up. It lasted 6 seasons on that channel and launched two spin-offs.

Now that streaming websites have started to produce professional-grade content, fans of canceled shows have been asking them to pick up failed programming. Netflix did this in the case of perennially low-rated “sitcom” Arrested Development. The chances of the average half-season failure to launch getting new life, however, is very small.

We are still approaching an interesting point in entertainment. Budgets for shows of all types now run the gamut from shoestring to Hollywood. There isn’t a barrier to production, just to the venue. The really interesting news in all this is that “the media” and “Hollywood” have lost a little more control over what we can see and hear. Not only can we choose shows that will not be canceled on a lark, but providers who will give us shows that don’t alienate or annoy us.


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Compromise Means No One WIns

November 29, 2014
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I’ve been on the Crawdad Hole blog today discussing the disruptive “protests” around the country and their difference from marches for rights in the past. If you look back at the civil rights protests of the 60’s, they were designed to show America the racism in the South. The non-violence also helped to make the police and the states look worse by showing peaceful assemblies being violently broken up and the protesters beaten and arrested.

Conservatives have often written about how these protests were more Republican than Democrats, with Democrats being the Southern governors and legislators keeping discriminatory legislation. It’s closer to the transitional period where early progressives tried to change society with popular support instead of government fiat.

Viewed against the civil rights movement, these “protests” make no sense. Their heroes are villains. Instead of showing that blacks have white support, they are trying to hide the number of white people in the protests. They protest angrily and violently and the police treat them professionally and rarely charge them.

My conclusion changed throughout the course of the discussion. The grievance industry is not going to Ferguson because of an injustice. They are in Ferguson because it is polarized. If a bad, racist cop shot an honors student in the back, everyone would be outraged. The cop would be tried and convicted. Justice would be done. If the action is self-defense by a White person against a Black person and there is a disparity between the fight, (bringing a knife to a gun fight comes to mind) that alone can be the basis of a protest against “the system.”

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been associated in the past with “shake downs.” This is where a party (like a business) would have to make financial concessions or protesters might show up to hurt business. It’s a win-win for the shake down artist. They either get some cash or they raise their profile and get back at the guy who wouldn’t pay him. That’s the key. In the progressive world of today, winning means getting what you want and the other guy losing something to get it. It reminded me of the “Victory or Death” scene from 1984’s The Last Starfighter.

Let’s look at Obama’s recent immigration actions. Republicans had tried compromise, where both sides give and take to put together something with moderate support from a large number of people. Obama instead talked about “common ground.” That sounds like a compromise, but it could just as easily mean that Obama might be willing to settle for signing the things that Republicans agree with him on instead of actually letting them get anything he doesn’t want.

I see some of the same things in these protests. They don’t want good cops in Black neighborhoods. They want scared cops who know that their lives are over if they have to take out their gun. They want police departments to know that they will be painted as trigger-happy racists unless they conform to shake downs. I don’t wonder much why progressives ignore terrorism. They are learning from it.


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The Ballad of Black Friday

November 28, 2014
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I have been called cheap by people, mostly by my mother. I know a lot about “computers,” (which is a generic description) but I don’t buy new ones for about 5 years a t a time. I bought my first TV for myself last year after buying one for the living room of the house. Actually, I did buy a B&W TV for $20 at the Dollar General once.

I don’t always make the best buying decisions, but I rarely let the stores dictate the timing. I think that the legend of Black Friday is more fiction than fact. The busiest gift buying time is still the days before Christmas, but it’s hard to funnel people into your store at that point, unless you are open into the night on Christmas Eve. It does end up being free advertising. A slow news day after Thanksgiving gave a lot of lazy reporters the idea of talking about crowds on Friday, one of the days people would have off from work and could do some early Christmas shopping.

This shopping day may be enough to put stores “in the black” for the year, but every little bit helps. The free advertising of media stories has concentrated the impact of Black Friday. Plus, stores want to be the first to have their doors busted by shoppers on the weekend, leading to the somewhat unpopular Thanksgiving Day openings.

Even if I don’t participate, I have to wonder about the people mocking these sales and the shoppers who rush to them. Businesses have to stay open and employees have to make a living. People may buy things they don’t need, but they generally buy things they want. That’s a sign of prosperity. Even if Christmas is designated as a gift giving season, it’s nice to have one so that peo

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One of Those Days

November 27, 2014

This was a very different Thanksgiving for me this year. The holidays are the times set aside where families usually get together. The absence of others is also felt more acutely. Life is change, and sometimes it is not for the better.

It makes me think about the growing social pressure to preserve Thanksgiving as more stores open on Thanksgiving. Some people might actually welcome the distraction of work on this day, but they are generally not the people who have to work. There is something to be said for giving family one day to be together, but we should think about every day. I may be more nostalgic on certain days, but I miss my loved ones every day.

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Stuff It

November 26, 2014
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I’m heading off for Thanksgiving tomorrow. President Obama pardoned a turkey, but did he pardon the dog?

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You Are the Resistance

November 25, 2014
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The webmaster of the mostly defunct site Hillbuzz used to write that “You Are the Resistance,” quoting a line from a Terminator movie sequel. At a certain point, so much of a certain group has been replaced by the occupying force that everyone left has to take a stand. This has unfortunately had limited success in history.

If you look at the Ferguson riots, you see that there are a lot of bad people surrounded by a lot of hopeless people. A few months ago, most of the protesters arrested were from out-of-town. The looters and robbers around last night were almost entirely local. Most people in Ferguson did not riot, but if they did nothing, it will get worse.

This country is in a state of flux where people assume we will continue more or less the same forever. Liberals do things, conservatives do things and everyone else does their own thing. Everyone should consider, however, what the people who vote and the people elected are doing. Are things really the same or are they worse?

If you don’t want free stuff from the government or if you don’t want the government to tell people how to act, you should be voting. Not voting doesn’t make you non-partisan, if makes you a non-person. The person getting what they want from the government at least has a reason to vote. The rest of us have to realize that “getting government off our backs” is not a slogan, it is something we want from the government. If we want something from government, even if it is nothing, we’d better be prepared to fight for it.

If we don’t fight at the polls, then the fight will come to us in riot form.

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The Bad Cop isn’t in Ferguson

November 24, 2014
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If anyone saw the SNL open where Obama kicked a bill off the Capitol steps so he could use an Executive Order instead, it looks the like Washington Post did not take it well. They “fact checked” a comedy bit, pointing out that Obama took “executive action” rather than using an documented EO. I’m not sure what they were going for, because that was worse than an Executive Order.

By using executive action, El Presidente basically ordered law enforcement to look the other way on law breaking, even if they were inclined to enforce the law. This is something out of “Walking Tall” or an old episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Boss Obama decided that he needed to get more illegal Mexicans for his construction company, so he told Roscoe to just let them walk through town without any licenses or insurance. The Duke boys, however, are a bunch of racist crackers and should be harassed at every opportunity.

If you get to pick and choose the laws you enforce, then laws are irrelevant.

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In Their Court

November 23, 2014
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If there was any lingering doubt that Obama will do whatever the hell he wants, flaunt it, and then dare the other side to stop him, last week’s “executive action” was it.

The ball is in the GOP’s court now. They promised not to block a budget, but then again, Obama promised not to use executive action to change immigration police. Plus, there’s that whole keeping your health care thing. The Republicans have the options they have. They can use them or Obama can be a monarch. He has no better nature to appeal to.

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The Media is the Message

November 22, 2014
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A man named Herbert Marshall McLuhan first coined the concept that the “medium is the message.” He also introduced the term “global village,” something that is used to describe the internet, which McLuhan also predicted. Many of these observations were made in the 1960’s. McLuhan died in 1980.

The basic concept of the medium as message is that the way one gets their information affects the way a person retains it, interprets it and disseminates it. The game of “Telephone” is an example of how oral tradition can work (or not) as a story is passed on by speaking it, hearing it, trying to remember it, and retelling it in your own words. The printed word is different. As books became more common, people didn’t have to remember every word they saw. They had to process more words by looking at them, but had the original source available to them.

Movies and television made media more entertainment than information. radio is often fractured into both. Stations are either music or talk, with little crossover. Now, we’ve had almost a generation on the Internet. It has absorbed every type of media that came before it. Websites are read, podcasts are listed to. Every type of media can be experienced or obtained through the global network. The ownership of individual media (books, movies) is becoming a thing of the past. Even information is something to be extracted, not learned.

Much was made of the Obama campaign’s presence in new media. The story was that his people were young and hip. They knew how to use blogs and social media. They sent alerts by e-mail and clogged up e-mails with spam. That was the story, but the true exploitation of new media was in the way traditional media was bought and controlled by those who wanted to create their own political outcome.

Even before McLuhan, George Orwell was writing about people in the future who would rewrite history as the leadership demanded. The Internet is the medium that makes this most possible. Except for a few screen grabs, everything online is in a state of flux. If a media organisation wants to change or “clarify” their content, most people won’t have any idea what changed.

The old media has shown themselves to be partners to Obama. NBC has massive financial connections with GE tax breaks. ABC had a reporter, Jay Carney, who covered the 2008 campaign and then start working for the White House after the election. His wife still works in news. CBS did not treat Obama the way they treated Bush (the National Guard Memo vs. Obama’s dubious Selective Service non-compliance) and went on to shaft Sharyl Attkisson when she tried to actually report the news.

This may be their last chance at a power grab. With near constant access to the Internet with smart phones and other devices, we will all be the next medium. The social network at large will inform us. We will learn to separate good information from bad, the way we should have decades ago from the dinosaur media. Until then, the media sends a message by cutting the telephone wires as well as using them.

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Adapt and Die

November 21, 2014

If you look at Western civilization, which is the forerunner of all civilization, popular rule and democracy has been a long but steady road over centuries. Self-determination is one of the last steps to human fulfillment, after survival, security and the chance for social advancement. In essence, people got tired of one person telling them what to do.

People crave a voice under a particular set of circumstances. They need to be relatively secure, but face hardships that center on one unreasonable person in power. Add some leadership and you have a revolution on your hands. Those revolutions have often been long and bloody, but the modern world was left with governments where citizens choose the lawmakers and the “leader” can be simply voted out of their position.

The last century or so has seen much of the world in a post-democracy phase. People can choose the ones in charge, but their choices and votes have been influenced more and more by those with a hand in the government coffers. Simple graft, however, is easy to catch. Now, we face the fact that more and more money is going to pay off constituencies and the real profit comes to those who know how to distribute money to interest groups.

America is in pretty good shape. We have a good economy. People have jobs and places to live. The government has been growing its influence over decades and the people have learned to adapt. We accept the fact that our income is taxed before we get our paycheck. Often, what we buy with that paycheck is also taxed and the price of everything has some tax attached to it.

The government is also telling us what kind of insurance to have, what our kids can eat in school, how they can learn math and who gets to walk across the border into the country without consequences. It seems that we plan to adapt to these things as well.

This creeping social engineering, or socialism if you prefer, presents a new crisis where we can choose 1 out of 2 people and both of them will end up in a similar place. American democracy has been resistant to kind of rigged federal system, but the states now have less power than ever. Republicans will run one branch of the federal government and most of the states. One man at the top made it know ahead of time that all of that will have little effect.

While I would like to say that “vote Republican” is the solution, it is a stop-gap measure at best. Lawmakers find that consolidating power just makes things easier. Voters find that consolidated power eases the decision process. “Why vote if both candidates are the same? It’s not like they will take my right to vote away.”

We are at the point where your vote has almost no effect. Turning the other way on immigration will lead to work permits, which will lead to temporary status which will lead to citizenship. There will be a group of people who won’t vote much, but will be on call when the forces of consolidated government need to win an election. When will people stop adapting and revolt?

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