Monday, October 27, 2008

The Biased Media

I hesitate to address this topic since some people might confuse the complaint I have with the media as a gripe against a political party. Let me start by saying I have friends with a variety of political beliefs and I try to be respectful of them all. I definitely have my opinions and values as I'm sure everyone else does. I believe it is healthy to have debate and dialogue as long as it's respectful and civil. I 've been sickened by how rude many people's comments and posts are on the internet. I think it brings out the worst in people when they don't speak face to face and have unknown identities. Anyway this topic is not about politics or candidates or who is right or wrong. It is about media bias.

I think every reporter is entitled to their opinion and political preferences. I have no problem with them expressing their views but it drives me crazy when they do so under the guise of an impartial reporter of the news. Recently my brother in law forwarded me an article written by an experienced journalist Michael Malone who was admittedly embarrassed by the media's one sided favoritism and bias towards certain candidates and issues. This was not a surprise to me. I have noticed this occurrence for years. When I was a teenager growing up I watched a lot of TV and had more liberal leanings than I do today. I'm not sure if my views were the result of my heavy media diet, but back then I gave 100% credibility to everything the media said.

The first time I started noticing this bias was in the mid 90's. I remember when Clinton was running against Dole in the 1996 Presidential race. It was obvious that Clinton was loved by the media and they seemed to forgive anything he did. If Dole would have eaten at McDonalds and not put his tray away afterwards you could expect to see an exposee on 60 Minutes the following week entitled "Blatant disregard for order, is this sort of anarchy we can expect if he is elected?" Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad but you get my point.

AOL used to be my ISP provider, but every time I logged into the home page I was welcomed with heavily biased propaganda. I don't have a problem with news updates but it always had such a heavy political spin to it that it was insulting. I noticed that every picture of Condaleeza Rice or Bush or any other conservative showed them with a furrowed brows or eyes half shut while liberal politicians had glamour shots posted alongside the stories about them. I would also see polls following news stories with leading questions such as "Is George Bush a bad president because of: 1) his incompetence or 2) his dishonesty? I got so tired of the one sided slant that I finally changed providers. Getting rid of AOL was no easy task but that's a story for a different topic someday.

It used to make me mad when I'd see such one sided reporting but now I'm just entertained by it. The fact that some people refer to themselves a journalist rather than an editorialist is amazing. Today I give the media as much credibility as I do the "referee" in a WWE match who gets distracted by a tag team partner and doesn't notice someone jump in the ring with a chair and hit the other guy over the head . They are however quick to turn around after the damage is done and apply a quick 3 count. The media is talented at looking the other way when it benefits their agenda. If my all star wrestling analogy was too low class for you to relate to then let me try another. The Truman Show.

The actors and extras in Truman's life are constantly trying to steer and manipulate Truman where they want him to go and when a camera falls from the sky they are quick to cover it up and distract him. My favorite scene in the movie is when his wife is panicking in the kitchen as he is catching on that something is wrong and she launches into a commercial to cover up. Sometimes I feel that the same thing is happening to me. You have to admit there are some similarities. When I feel manipulated by the media I can relate to Jim Carey trying to drive out of town despite all the overwhelming opposition.

I admit there is corruption and incompetence with both parties but the major media outlets choose to ignore certain facts or occurrences for one candidate while pouncing all over the other. I also acknowledge that some news sources are biased in the other direction but they are the minority. You have to tune into Fox or AM radio to find them. I'm afraid that by calling out the media I have probably jeopardized my blogging contracts with CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS, and have been blacklisted from all the major motion picture studios. Now I kind of know how Martin Luther must have felt after posting his 95 theses on the doors of the Church.

I hope you take notice the next time you see a supposed impartial journalist report on a topic with the same professional neutrality as an infomercial host. I always find it refreshing when someone in the media or a certain party calls BS on one of their own or asks questions that may be unpopular. It seldom happens but when it does it shows that there still may be a glimmer of hope that some people in the industry still have integrity. This seems kind of weird but I think I just wished for Glasnost here in the USA.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Recently several friends of mine have recommended a book called The China Study by Colin Campbell. When I found out what it was about I was a little reluctant to read it because I heard it contained tons of data showing the benefits of a vegetarian diet. During the course of my life I have wished to be many things, but one thing I have never aspired to be is a vegetarian. Some of the vegetarians I have seen over the years appear to be much thinner than the average person, but they haven't necessarily looked healthier to me. Some were gaunt and appeared undernourished. Others even looked like their eyes would roll out of their sockets if they leaned forward.

I don't have a problem with vegetarians unless they get too extreme and push it on you. Some vegans can get militant about what they eat and what they think others should not. These are the people who say you "shouldn't eat anything with a face" and are known for joining PETA, protesting, throwing paint on furs, etc. In fact over time the word vegan has conjured up an unsavory connotation in my mind to the point that if I were a stand up comedian one of my lines would be "So do we have any vegans in the audience"? Two people raise their hands. I'd then say "Dang, well never mind then".

I've never had a problem with eating animals or animal products. I think they were intended to be used for that purpose. Until we live in a perfect world where sharks no longer attack people I will continue to claim my spot atop the food chain. However; I am not one who advocates cruelty to animals either. I don't hunt and have never killed an animal (unless you claim that my willingness to eat meat produces an increased demand by society which causes the killing of many animals). I don't have a problem with those who do hunt if they use what they kill.

So if I finish this book and finally accept it's suggestions how can I make the change? I am never going to go all out and stop eating animal products completely. Fortunately I know there are many levels or degrees of vegetarians. The most extreme is the Vegan which has the commitment level of a Jedi Knight. A regular vegetarian is more like a 3rd degree black belt. Others adhere to a semi-vegetarian diet. This is more like Fonzie. I will shoot for a flexitarian diet which puts an emphasis on plant based foods but still allows eating animal products but just less frequently. Unfortunately this only has the commitment level of Homer Simpson. At least this way I can still go to barbecues, pizza parties, etc. without having to take a celery stalk and soy shake so I can prove to others how much fun I'm having by depriving myself of all the bad food everyone else is enjoying.

I can appreciate people trying to eat healthier but it seems to be an uphill battle in today's society. I've noticed that unhealthy food is much more affordable and plentiful than healthy alternatives. The few times I have been to health food stores I always get a kick out of the organic produce section. I once saw produce that was labeled as oranges. They were small, shrivelled, and hard. They had a brownish orange color to them and only cost twice as much as the regular gigantic juicy oranges that got that way from "the man" using evil chemicals and pesticides.

Most Americans are overweight and are plagued with cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and other diseases and are on many medications. Nutrition obviously plays a large role in their health. I admit that as a nation we eat too much processed food and empty calories and I think everyone would benefit from eating more whole and natural foods (especially plant based foods). I encourage you to join with me by trying to eat healthier. I am willing to step up to the plate (no put intended) and give it my best shot. At least until someone offers me something unhealthy that I totally feel like eating.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Movie Quiz

I thought I might be fun to test your movie trivia skills with a quiz. To show you how it works I will give you a very easy example. What do Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale have in common? Yes they all make more money than us but I was looking for the fact that they have all played the role of Batman. See how you do on the rest of the questions. Answers are listed below. Sorry I couldn't figure out how to write them upside down so try not to cheat.

1. What do Kenneth Branagh, Mel Gibson, Ethan Hawke, and Laurance Olivier have in common?
2. What Does The Fellowship of the Ring, Back to the Future, The Matrix, and the God Father have in common?
3. What do Gary Oldman, Klaus Kinsky, Wesley Snipes, and George Hamilton, have in common?
4. What do Jackie Chan, John Wayne, and Buster Keaton have in common?
5. What does Stand by Me, My Giant, Saving Private Ryan, Supersize Me, and the Sandlot have in common?
6. What do Alec Baldwin, Harison Ford, and Ben Aflec have in common?
7. What does Star Wars, Police Academy, Harry Potter, and Rocky Have in common?
8. What do Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, Adam Sandler, Robert Redford, and Clint Eastwood have in common?
9. What do Al Pacino, John Malkovich, and Mark Rufallo, Ben Affleck have in common?
10. What to Rosamund Pike, Famke Janssen, Sophie Marceau, Jill St. John, and Jane Seymour have in common?
11. What do Paul Giamatti, Mel Gibson, Mark Whalberg, Bryce Dallas Howard,and Bruce Willis have in common?
12. What do Patriot Games, National Treasure, Lorna Doone, and Goldeneye have in common?

If I would have had questions like this in school then I could have been a Sterling Scholar. Instead my parents were stuck with a bumper sticker that says "Proud parent of a movie trivia geek" . Feel free to post your scores.

Answers: 1) They all played the character of Hamlet 2) All are the first movie of Trilogies 3)They all acted roles as vampires 4) They did their own stunts 5) They all feature throw up scenes 6) They each played the role of Jack Ryan 7) They all have 4 + movies in the series 8) They have all been prisoners in movies 9) They all played blind characters 10) They are all Bond girls 11)They were the lead actors in M. Night Shayamalan movies. 12) Sean Bean was the villain in each.