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Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore

View this clip from "Network" and respond.

The film came out in 1976, when television news was still under Presidents of news and separate from programming. Like the soothsayer in the film, the movie foresaw much about today's media and today's poltiical climate 34 years later!

Language advisory but nothing by today's standards.

Hurt Locker wows Brits with six awards

Hurt Locker Took the British "Oscars" Top Prize, six statues in all in one night.

According to "The Wrap" an American Film taking the BAFTA award is uncommon, and for Hurt Locker to accomplish what amounts to a hat trick of unrelated awards from Guilds and Academy almost ensures it will take best picture, and a quite possibly best director at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

The following is form entertainment news blog "The Wrap":

"The Hurt Locker" continued its remarkable run of awards on Sunday in London, where the Orange British Academy Film Awards named Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq-themed drama Best Film.

Bigelow herself was named Best Director for her taut low-budget film, which has become an Oscar favorite with a string of wins from the critics and the Hollywood guilds.

Although BAFTA generally spreads the wealth and often salutes British films over American ones, "The Hurt Locker" showed surprising across-the-board strength. In addition to its awards for film and director, it picked up honors for Mark Boal's screenplay and for cinematography, film editing and sound.

In the past 10 years, the BAFTA winner has been named Best Picture at the Oscars five times. With a BAFTA win on top of honors from the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, Writers Guild, American Cinema Editors and Art Directors Guild, plus numerous critics groups, "The Hurt Locker" has far outpaced any other film this awards season."

The story goes on...but cut to the list of winners:


And the winners are:
"The Hurt Locker" - Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro

"Fish Tank" - Kees Kasander, Nick Laws, Andrea Arnold

Duncan Jones Director - "Moon"

"The Hurt Locker" - Kathryn Bigelow

"The Hurt Locker" - Mark Boal

"Up In The Air" - Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

"A Prophet" - Pascal Caucheteux, Marco Cherqui, Alix Raynaud, Jacques Audiard

Up" - Pete Docter

Colin Firth - "A Single Man"

Carey Mulligan - "An Education"

Christoph Waltz - "Inglourious Basterds"

Mo'Nique - "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire"

"Up" - Michael Giacchino

"The Hurt Locker" - Barry Ackroyd

"The Hurt Locker" - Bob Murawski, Chris Innis

"Avatar" - Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair

"The Young Victoria" - Sandy Powell

"The Hurt Locker" - Ray Beckett, Paul N. J. Ottosson

"Avatar" - Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones

"The Young Victoria" - Jenny Shircore

"Mother Of Many" - Sally Arthur, Emma Lazenby

"I Do Air" - James Bolton, Martina Amati

THE ORANGE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)
Kristen Stewart

Vanessa Redgrave

Joe Dunton
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Joe Dunton

Sunday Morning News and Views

Quote of the day: 
“We got it from Wikipedia, it has to be true.”

On This Date

“Plop, plot, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!” On this date in history February 21, 1931 Miles Laboratories introduced a new antacid with aspirin, bicarbonate and citrus; Alka-Seltzer. Sir Speedy was first, then “Mama Mia, that’s a Spicy Meatball” and “I can’t believe I at that whole thing”, all the time “plop, plot, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” Today Bayer owns Alka-Seltzer and has an entire range of products to offer, including the same product without the fizz or overwhelming taste.

Television and the end of culture

Syria is becoming the new center of the Arab production world, with 80% of television dramas, soaps, situation comedies, reality shows and game shows produced in the Syrian dialect. Egypt long held the position of being the language of and production center for the region. Programming deals with politics, religion, race, sex and drugs, not as openly as in the west but with shocking plot turns and characters.

What area scholars and artists worry about is that the nature of the work is often more western than middle eastern, and that artists from writers to actors, tech crews to graphic designers, are being sucked into the filed, at the loss of traditional stage, letters and other crafts. They feel a real loss of local, national and even regional historic culture and much needed reflection on the state of society.

Of course the leadership of Iran and other conservative Middle Eastern states heavily criticizes Syrian television. The UAE, United Arab Emirates, are working hard to finance a major film and television industry for the region based in their states.

Harry Reid Endorsed by Conservatives
Conservative Politics Takes Interesting Turns.  Ron Paul and Harry Reid endorsed by differing conservative groups.

At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting Ron Paul was selected as their choice for president of the United States. At the same conference Glen Beck, of Fox News, called on Americans to let big banks fail, a move that could tumble us into a depression (however Beck says it is natural evolution and plays down economic doomsday scenarios). A registered Republican, Paul’s platform, beliefs and votes are solidly along Libertarian Party lines.

Meanwhile the League of Conservative Voters Action Fund have endorsed Senator Harry Reid’s re-election bit. The Senator labeled a “liberal” by so many of his critics, says that a look at Reid’s actual voting record shows that he supports the same issues conservatives support on key conservative issues during Reid’s 24 years in the Senate and four years in the House.

"Two Reids don't make a right" bumper stickers are being sent out by political action groups located in Washington D.C. and California to influence Nevada's elections.

We are at the forefront of the type of campaiging where truth is a casulty of getting things "your" way.

Just try telling someone that Harry Reid is a moderate and will vote Conservative because he is a Nevadan, when that is the best for Nevada. 

Just try telling those slogan believing clones that Reid was born in very close to a log cabin, had no running water and grew up poor.  Try explaining how everyone was told that we had the dump at Yucca Mountain, like it or not, and how Reid refused to give up and worked through three presidencies to kill the dump, at great political and financial risk. Try explaining how he made calls to to make sure City Center opened, that Nevada did get jobs through Federal influence, that we kept our fair share of water rights and help with infrastructure during out boom years. The stone tossers, who are a part of a national and not Nevada machine bent on bringing down the Senate Majority Leader, ignore the power and influence he has as majority leader and would rather replace him with a powerless Freshman Senator.

Politics are not for the people but for personal or corporate gain, and damn the locals or little guy!

Nevada’s future

100 billion deficits for states, nearly 1 billion of that is Nevada. The state’s 900 million deficit is severe when you consider we are one of the least populated states with a much smaller infrastructure than neighboring California or former industrial giant Michigan, both leading the list of states in actual dollar debt.

Governor Gibbons, set to slash education, social services, emergency services and other programs his conservative Reagan-esque views say should be not a part of government, did not do the paperwork needed or ask on deadline for stimulus money that helped Texas and other states balance their budgets last year and this year. He blames Nevada’s three Democrats in Congress in an effort to gain ground against fellow Republicans seeking to defeat the incumbent in the primaries. Meanwhile conservatives in Congress kept the aid dollars tied to thresholds for which Nevada did not qualify, since out high mortgage value drop in their view meant that people were speculating and not truly calling Nevada home, and that we deserve our fate for being so tied to gambling revenue and “sin”.

Much of politics appears to be locked in a time warp, with very little attempt to understand just how deep the situation we were and are in is. For example, business as usual with medical costs sky rocking and employers passing the responsibility to those least able to pay for it, their employees. All governments are hog-tied in their budgets by elements outside their control, the largest of which appears to be the sky rocking cost of insurance and health care. But no health care reform from Congress…leave it to the individual, along with food, fuel, clothing and other things that are also rising in cost while incomes remain the same or go down.

Hate your brother, or at least know that they are wrong

Keith Overbite, Osama Obama and others in fun, but hateful and belittling references are common in today's discourse. Being disrespectful seems to be in and allowable. Making fun of instead of listening to the other side in order to build up your own ego and beliefs have become American pastimes.

Politics has become a polarized almost military front between competing beliefs and ideologies. What is missing is the middle ground where the answers may lay to how to stop the growth of America’s lower class and poor population, how to reverse the erosion of the middle class, how to keep wealthy investor funds in the United States, how to keep up needed social services or provide alternatives that can be used by the cash poor remaining middle class and those less fortunate, and how to keep the US dominant in the world economy without losing our soul in the process.

“Liberals” and the further left “progressives” want to solve the ills of the world by taking American money and piling it up in social programs, bailouts and infrastructure maintenance and improvement. Conservatives say not to the taxes needed to keep our infrastructure working and defend the increasingly disproportionately wealthy’s right to keep their money and spend it as they please.

“Conservatives” seek less government, lower taxes, a business centered capitalistic democracy and states, local, and individual decisions.

But there are social conservatives, religious conservatives and economic conservatives and Libertarians. These groups, all under the conservative umbrella, have widely different views ranging by issue or belief.

The range of those who identify with their tent divides both political parties. Democrats have always has a broad but diverse, and therefore disagreeing base under their tent. Republicans have traditionally been more centralized; however going into this year’s election the factions appears as divergent as those who most identify with the Democratic Party.

Are we a two party nation with a divided senate locked in by misuse or redefinition of what is a filibuster, or are we a multi-cultural, diverse political belief nation in need of coalitions and compromise and tacit agreement to solve the problems our society faces today?

And for an added punctuation, on this date in history Karl Marx first published his Communist Manifesto.

The Root of The Problem with Congress

While the guest on “Face the Nation” today was Colin Powell, it is the newscaster commentary that warrants early airing in today’s missive. We will get to Powel later.

"When the amateurs ask me - and by amateurs I mean the good citizens outside the circle of professional politics - when they ask me why Washington doesn't seem to listen when every poll shows that people hate partisanship and want compromise, I tell them, 'The professional politicians always listen. They listen to the people who gave them the money to get to Washington.'  -Bob Schieffer

CBS Senior Correspondent Bob Schieffer ended his “Face The Nation ‘ broadcast by asking why, when the majority of Americans are fed up with the deadlock in Congress, you still see party line votes and portions of each party derailing their own party’s best laid plans for consensus. His commentary, and highlights of the Colin Power interview, can be found on the “Face the Nation” Web Site. The following is an expansion based on that commentary, put here for thought and perspective.

The 2009 presidential election cost well over 5.8 billion dollars, it took 20 million to lose a senate seat in Minnesota, and even local elections are costing six and seven figures to win.

The founding fathers were volunteers.

The intent was a citizen’s government with elected representation, to avoid the problems the colonies were having with Great Britain, it’s king and Parliament. A government for the people, by the people and of the people did not mean a professional congress surrounded by layers of professional employees, lobbyist and media.

Over time stipends were offered for time away from farms, businesses and families. That grew into salaries and volunteered service by others became paid, both government and outside the government. Increasingly large amounts were spent by business and political special interests to influence lawmakers, and the cost of simply running for office grew at a rate faster than our nation grew and expanded.

Today politicians, just to earn a seat at the table, must promise so much to so many before they get to Washington so that once they get to Washington they cannot compromise or break their promises to those that paid for the wedding. They have to say not only what they think voters want to hear, but also what those who financially support them want voters to hear.

It takes a brave man or woman, willing to commit political and possibly career suicide, to step out and compromise for the greater good, to vote for what they know must be done.

It takes a brave nation, a strong commitment, to reform our process and return it to the educated decisions by educated men and women elected and entrusted for their judgment by the voters, answerable only during the short period that was intended as the election cycle and in the end the ballots of their constituents come election day.

Is there a solution? Probably not, because our increasingly complex world makes the potential of a part time or volunteer federal government impractical if now impossible, no matter what Libertarians may think. Running the business of our everyday public safety, transportation, health, safety, national security and the myriad of services we expect form government takes manpower and full time effort.

And if you think that is not needed, why do we turn to government in times of disaster? Would there be a private sector or family based support to fall back on in our transient, international, non nuclear family universe? Could churches or charities or families provide the support needed? If so, how?

Face the Nation

This morning Colin Powel, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” responded to critics of President Barack Obama saying claims that we are less safe under Obama are unfounded, and asked “Have we do lost our faith in this country that we think one person can make that much of a difference.”

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powel was the guest this morning on Face the Nation. A registered Republican he had helps high-level positions under both Republicans and Democrats. He endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, helping Obama to take the front in the campaign. Powell says he has no regrets. At the time of the election our financial system was collapsing, we were in a deep recession; we were at war in two countries and other venues around the world. Actions by President Bush and President Obama helped keep us from a depression and have helped us to move forward on all fronts.

“No great strategist or battle plan survives first contact with an enemy…President Obama has survived the changes from the political realty of Washington.

Powell says that Obama underestimated the opposition in Washington. We are a patrician nation, with strong resistance from the Republican Party on every front. There are serious differences between the two sides of the political spectrum, which have made progress difficult, and consensus impossible.

Powel says the system is not broken, but it is in trouble. Sooner or later you have got to compromise to allow a consensus to move the country forward. The government is functioning and doing what it needs to do, but not well enough. The tea party movement, cable television, bloggers and slogans are heightening tensions and making it harder and harder for representatives in congress of both parties to make the compromises they need to make to govern.

When they were writing the Constitution they decided the main attack had to be to create a country not solve the problems with slavery. Compromise was needed to move forward or we would not have a country.

If all we see are attempts to bring him down then there will be no progress and we will see a defeat of what needs to be done.

“Have we so lost our faith in this country that one man can be held accountable for changing or not changing the country…Barack Obama is not a socialist, he is the president.”?

On national security and former Vice President Chaney’s recent charges that Obama has made this country less safe Colin Powel says, “the programs set up by President Bush are still in place and working under President Obama. We have gone after the enemy with 50,000 more troops, we have continued the policies President Bush put in place in Iraq and around the world.” Water boarding was done away with under Bush and put into policy by Obama.

On tribunals, giving them to the military will not give people what they want “because military tribunals have to follow the constitution and by nature are more defense oriented than many civilian courts.”

“I think Guantanamo has cost us a lot in our standing in the world around the world. Guantanamo once had 700 people, it is down to 192…the 500 were reduced under both the Bush and Obama administrations…we have 300 terrorist in jail in the US put there by the regular law enforcement system…we need to show the world what we are about, as a democracy and with our commitment to justice.”

Was Iraq worth what it costs? “We got rid of a terrible dictator, we gave the Iraqi’s people a democratic government…and put their own destiny in their own hands.” Powel does say that in the end we did not plan well for after the invasion or for what would happen in an area where we should have known better.

“Right now I have doubts about the capability of the Afghans to do what they need to do…over time they may prove they can do what is needed.”

On Iran and nuclear capability Colin Powel says the US needs to know that the Iranians are clearly determined to have a nuclear program. We need to try to stop it at this point with sanctions and discussion, but if they ever do cross the line there is no prejudging what the Israeli government may ask for or what the US Government may say or do. “Deterrent works, so it would be suicidal for them to use such a weapon if they ever did get one.”

On former Secretary of State General Alexander Haig, who passed away this week, Powel says “he did a great service for the nation during the last days of the Nixon Administration and deserves respect for that.”


After weeks of being surprised by the answers her guests have given her, Maria Barioromo stacked her guest this week with those she knew would agree with her and please her corporate boss Rupert Murdock.

Blackstone Advisory Services CEO Byron Wien told Wall Street Journal Report that interests rates; both the Federal Funds Rate and the Discount Rate will rise this year and go up at a steady but maintainable price. He feels the stock market will not make progress, but he believes the economy will have real growth of five percent and employment will grow as a result. He sees as shift to the emerging markets, investment in commodities and both investment overseas and foreign investment in the US. He says that you have to raise the social security retirement age, cut into benefits of Medicare and Medicaid, and recognize that the country is no longer in the place it was when these were nurtured and grow. He believes in social services and entitlement programs, but says that if we do not drastically cut these programs we will end up in another deep recession and a poor investment from a business stand point.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani critiqued the economy and the performance of the Obama Administration. He says Republicans are armatures at spending money and do not know how to stop the bleeding, while Democrats are professionals at it but do not know when to stop. He says you cannot cut non-discretionary funding without reducing entitlements. We have to have the courage to deal with the spending and cut it. We don’t have room for tax increases because we will ruin the recovery of the country, even when increases may be justifiable in other times. He likes Scott Brown for being a fiscal conservative and feels he will be a good US Senator who both parties will find reasons not to agree with, but both will personally like.

The 107th Annual Toy Fair is in New York, under unsure economic times Toy Industry Association spokespeople Adiene Appell and Carter Keithley were on Wall Street Journal Report to preview next Christmas’s offerings.  In the last quarter of 2009 the toy industry had a much better year than expected, leaving retail shelves empty.

Interactive, video and value are in. Video Girl Barbie has an operational video camera allowing children to see through Barbie’s videographer eyes. New Anchor Barbie does not have a working camera, but has Barbie as a news reporter or anchor.

What I found objectionable is how both spokespersons and Maria were focused on teaching kids to “be better corporate citizens.

Some of the other toys include; The Fisher Price IXL is a portable computer similar to a smart phone that allows 3 to 7 year olds to learn letters, sounds, numbers and other lessons in an interactive manner. The spy video tracker is the first toy ever for kids to create applications for, allowing the little vehicle to be driven through the house to “spy” or “share” the events in your house.

Role of Journalism

"I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!"

There are a few top schools to study journalism, and which study and keep tabs on the profession. All have internationally rated and recognized masters and PhD programs, plus post-doctorate studies and a mission to preserve the truth and expand the horizons of human knowledge. Pretty high standards for journalist, but achievable, according to those at the forefront of academia.

Among these schools is USC.

The University of California Southern California’s prestigious Annenberg School of Communication this week officially changed its name to the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. The change was made to focus on the importance of journalism in its key roles in society.

I had a professor in college who predicted unless journalist voluntarily banded into a true career, with required continued studies, self policing (as attorneys and doctors do), standards and clear missions, the field would degenerate into what we have today; talking heads, pundits, feature dominated, opinion over fact checked accuracy and control from marketing and account based department heads and corporate president instead of the ability to truly pursue a craft.

The late Walter Cronkite spoke at my school, those eons ago, he spoke of how the great age of American journalism lasted about twenty years, as radio and then television began to compete with newspapers and the mission was to report the news accurately, with a social conscience (which came along late in the process), and for the good of the public, more specifically he electorate. He was not pleased with what took over in the 1970’s and grew into today’s shrinking newspapers, non-trained eye witness interpretations of the news, having to jump to conclusions and blow small, often inaccurate, details out of proportion and if there is nothing happening, to invent or manufacture it for ratings points and advertising dollars.

The film "Network" foresaw a world where television news would be pure entertainment, including soothsayers (can you say pendants), game show like smiles and energy and even a studio audience. While it has no gone that far, the prediction that news would go from independent divisions with their own presidents’ to answerable to programming and ratings has become the bitter reality of today.

Another reason for the shift of name at USC and the need to focus on what is journalism comes from reporting becoming an increasingly dangerous profession. To some extent he lack of professionalism and shrinking of the budgets of the news organizations contribute as less trained, or some would say more daring, young reporters take risks their predecessors would have thought better of. But even seasoned reporters like the Wall Journal’s Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded on Arab television early on in the “war on terror” are paying the ultimate price for keeping the public informed.

At the same time the public’s view of journalism and journalist is slipping to an all time low. Who can blame them? With opinions and ratings mattering more on networks such as FOX and MSNBC, CNN Shifting its American home service to compete directly with FOX, network news decreasing news content and increasing sports and other features, and unethical practitioners making up stories, slanting reporting or seeking personal glamour over the truth and professional integrity.


Pilipino troops have killed a top al-Qaida militant commander in their country, and five extremists, in the ongoing war little reported in the US. The Philippines is supported by US Marines a Special Forces in their ongoing war against al-Qaida and communist militants. The Abu Sayyaf are a militant group believed to be involved in the kidnappings of US and other foreign citizens, attacks on religious and military facilities and loosely affiliated with larger military forces entrenched a few localized areas of the Pilipino Islands. They are on the US terrorist list.

Controversy on the BBC over an alleged Israeli hit squad that assassinated leading Haamas commander Mahmound al-Mabhouth. At least 11 suspects used forged British, French, Irish and German passport to gain entry to the UAE. However experts on the BBC say that if it were the Israeli’s, or any other state, including the US, the operation would have been far more professional and the trail far less easy to follow. Passports were poorly forged, with at least one lacking any cereal number.

Iran is becoming a military dictatorship and is not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Commission, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who found her words fall on close to deaf ears in Saudi Arabia this week. The Saudi’s are more concerned about conflicts between Israel and Palestine, then Iran or any other Middle Eastern State. Despite the Saudi’s, most international scholars agree with the US evaluation of the power of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and the pro-atomic military view there.

Floods and mudslides have claimed at least 50 lives on a scenic Portuguese Island.  Madeira gets hit with storm of the magnitude that caused the damage every decade or two, the last time being in 1993.

A Lost World

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, penned “The Lost World” (published in 1912). The book was first made into a state of the art silent movie right here in Nevada in 1925 (on land that is now deep below Lake Mead, using color stained frames and stop motion animation). In penning the original “Lost World” Doyle was captivated by the legendary Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett, who is also represented by the antagonist in the Pixar animated movie “Up”.

Brad Pitt’s production company has purchased the rights to Col Harrison Fawcett’s story, with Pitt set to star as the adventurer.


A crowded pace in a life that demands more and more of us has but one end result: we can always do it later.

Employers are adding work to their employees while not allowing overtime, at the same time as downsizing employees and counting on technology to do more than it was meant to do. This was happening long before the recession, but with the recession as an excuse, it is rapidly becoming the rule. That means that other tasks, which may also be important or which may be needed to keep us sane, must be put off…procrastinated.

Have you run for a bus or subway or hit the gas a bit to much as you rush to make up time and catch up?

Vacations and time with family seem to be put off, or procrastinated, with the feeling that there will be time later and if we do not do what we are expected to do or what we set for ourselves the world will end!

Advice from experts is to set one goal that you can meet each day. Set steps in a larger task that can be done and make you feel as if you are making progress. If you feel rushed and cannot get things done, try finding an unrelated task and just doing it to find some relief from the deadline or self imposed rush schedule.

CBS Sunday Morning ended their version of this story with the animated Disney version of “Alice In Wonderlands” March Hair’s “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date…no time to wait…no time…”

Not to put it off, but are there Digital Books in your future?

I have been putting writing this off, as I read more and more on-line and find myself jumping between topics and publications amidst my very busy lifestyle finding ways to not complete my PhD dissertation.

Competition and non-coordinated development may hinder the growth of the digital publishing industry. While the New York Public Library and many other institutions are compatible with all formats, most libraries, including the Clark County Library, UNLV and CSN are not. Kindle works with both Mac and PC, but both need special formatting and not all books will be readable. The appearance of documents may also be distorted. The most common on-line formats are not compatible with Kindle and may have problems with other readers. No all e-formats work with Barnes and Nobel’s Nook or the Sony Reader, but many do. For online books to work with iPods or iPhones they must be formatted for PC, and coordinated with a home PC, not a Mac. And even then not all formats are readable.

While the impact of the iPad is expected to be large, competitors are liable to make sure their programs do not work on the new Mac tablet device. The emergence of the Mac store for books and on-line documents may have the impact of forcing compatibility, but then again the marketplace could do a different direction.

Three programs used by the Clark County Library District do not work with Mac or Kindle and require a learning curve. You must load all three into a DOS Microsoft PC to have any cross-content access. These are Adobe Digital Edition, MobiPocket Reader and OverDrive Media Explorer.  Free editions are available for all three, but there are reasons to pay for upgrades on two of them.

As with digital music and films, a standard format will have to be agreed to, or decided on by user demand, for on-line and portable reader books to come into everyday use.

Of course the price tag for the readers also remains steep, and reading on a computer screen can be taxing on the eyes.

Pirate Sentenced to Two Years

Online Theft: Good News, Bad News

A court in Missouri has given a two year federal prison sentence to a guy who took a camcorder into a theater and pirated “The Dark Knight” by selling counterfeit DVDs. Despite that and despite the court ruling last year that supposedly was going to shut down sites like Pirate Bay, an online search shows DVD quality downloads of the feature are still widely and easily available to anyone with a broadband connection.