Hi, my name is D and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit. Me? I'm not even a noun, I'm a fucking verb, dude.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

On Vaccines

Alright. This is a big topic this week.

I don't have as many readers on this blog as I used to but I still think I have some info to contribute to society at times.

In terms of popularizing rationality and science-based literacy, I think there is a great gap between the science people and the public. Maybe I can try to take some things they try and get through to the public and try to explain them in the simplest of terms. I think dealing with the public is not always easy for science-based people and in the current internet age it is common for correct expert views to be sunk in a sea of nonsense that pollutes the internet at all times.

I read a lot of science blogs like Science-Based Medicine and others who try and convey science related matters to the public .... and they make valiant attempts, especially regarding vaccine importance and safety, to inform the public about the importance of it (which is a great service) .... but I don't know if it gets absorbed into the public sphere as readily and as easily as it should be.

I wrote something very early on when I started this blog about something I noticed while reading "high end" material (I guess you'd call it), it was an essay where I wrote two-essays-in-one about the Ramones song "I donn't Wanna go Down to the Basement":


Here: Analysis of Joeseph Ramone's piece, "I donn't wanna go down to the basement" 


In that one, I tried to get the point across to academia types that if you really ever want to educate the public you have to speak their language. There's many pitfalls in the world of academia where it's easy for explanations to get distorted. I think that there's so many silly programs in academia that are not real fields with a tangible grading system, that the academic world can teach people to just butcher up language into a convoluted mess in order to appear to be smart. If you want to educate the public on matters ...  you have to present it in a way that is not butchered into silliness. That's my main point with that old Joey Ramone essay.

I write as a person would talk, and I use terms that don't make me look smart ... and I throw in some kooky or bad words sometimes to keep people interested. That's the style I'm trying to go with.

Look, I'm not suggesting real publications write the way I do ... I mean they'd look unprofessional ... but they can maybe gravitate towards this style somewhat if they want to try and get difficult subjects to the public. I don't think portions of my style are compatible with real professional publication writing but the overall idea of trying to talk to the reader, I think anyway, is actually a good writing mechanism to employ for academics who are trying to write science publications aimed at the public.

So, with that in mind let's try and do a vaccine article aimed at the public where the examples will hopefully be things people can relate too.



Autism

Touchy subject but let's get it out of the way first. Is there an "autism epidemic"??


Autism is a psychological condition and you have to understand that psychology is a very speculative field. Freud is like the king of this field and a lot of his stuff is interesting but it's not exactly stuff that you can exactly prove. Freud's stuff mostly boils down to sex-related perverted speculations and not real concrete science. Psychology has a lot of room for error, let's say.

When a real medical doctor adds a disease to the big disease book and tries to list the symptoms of a disease for future reference ... they are able to list key and identifiable physical characteristics of a disease. A doctor can describe a symptom like "ass warts" as growths that appear on the ass. You can look at it and diagnose a medical physical symptom quite easily and it is easily identifiable in future cases.

Is the same true for a mental psychological symptom? No, it isn't. It's much more difficult for a mental symptom to be defined. You can tell the doctor you're sad and fatigued and he or she can pretty much just pick a diagnosis out of the air to say you're sick with. They can say you're sad and fatigued due to "manic depression" or something even though there's no real physical signs to prove this diagnosis to be 100% correct.

When you're dealing in a field where disease is defined by symptoms which are not concrete ... there's a lot of room for interpretation.

You following so far?

Alright now, so the symptoms that are listed in psychological books for these "diseases" that they teach in schools are open to interpretation and often the definitions for these diseases can be changed by some psychologist at the drop of a hat ... these definitions for psychological diseases are in no way written in stone.

What I mean by definition is simply how you describe something. Think about it like this, let's say I give you a stat, alright, I give a statistic that there are 275,000 mail carriers who work for the US Postal Service and I'm telling you this stat under the definition that "mail carrier" refers to a person who is payed by the US Postal service to deliver mail to citizens.

Now, let's say out of the blue, the definition of "mail carrier" changes to "You are a Mail Carrier if you've ever held mail in your hands at any time."

After that definition change, how many mail carriers are in USA? It's not going to be 275,000 anymore. It will jump from 275,000 to around 300 million. After the out-of-the-blue definition change that number of people would meet the criteria of being a mail carrier.

Now one might look at this and say "wow how come there's so many more mail carriers!? Is it because so many people have joined the postal service this year!" No, obviously not, the answer is because they broadened the definition of what it takes to be called a mail carrier ... that's all.

There's still 275,000 people who are paid to deliver the mail ... but the definition of mail carrier now
includes people who have ever held a letter in their hands and thusly the number of people who could be described as being mail carriers jumped from 275,000 to 300,000,000.

In regards to autism, let's say the definition started in a psychology textbook as "child unable to read basic text and count to 50 by age 10"...ok? Not many kids meet that definition, maybe tens of thousands at the most. But, let's say one day the official definition of autism has a symptom added to it such as "doesn't speak well", alright so now more kids are defined as having autism, now let's say they add the symptom of "is shy" to the definition... now you're talking about 250 million people in the USA would fall into the definition. Public speaking is regarded as most people's biggest fear so it's not far fetched to estimate shy people being a good 250 million people in the USA.

For each symptoms you add to the definition of autism ... guess what happens? The more cases get diagnosed. The more symptoms added to the definition in the official textbook ... the more kids meet the criteria and thus more get diagnosed. It's literally that simple, we went from a few tens of thousands under "can't count by age 10" to almost literally everyone by the time "is shy" is tacked on to the definition.

There's is NO autism epidemic. There's just a more broad set of terms applied to the disease when diagnosing it. I mean, if you add ... "the child is shy" to the official symptoms list ... for sure there's gonna be an explosion of new cases.

The "Autism Epidemic" is a definition based epidemic. If they altered the definition and removed many symptoms from the official list, guess what? Fewer kids would be diagnosed with autism.

What is the official list of symptoms you ask? It varies from psychologist to psychologist (this is not a very well uniformed field of study) .....  but here's an example list of the symptoms (from WebMd):



"-Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.

 -Failure to establish friendships with children the same age. 

-Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.

-Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.

-Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.
 

-Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
 

-Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously.

-Difficulty understanding their listener's perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.

-An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.

-Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.
 

-A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.
 

-Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping."
(from WEBmd).





Okay, guys, guys, guys .... this is no longer a description of a mental condition, ok? This is just an UNENDING list of symptoms. If you keep adding symptoms to this list you know what's gonna happen one day right? If you keep piling this list with symptoms, you psychologists, you will eventually have a definition SO BROAD and wide ranging that 100% of children will be diagnosed with autism. Okay? You gotta settle down with the piling on of symptoms to this definition of Autism, alright?


Liking video games? Ok like you've now described every child in North America with that blanket statement. If liking video games is a signal a kid has the autism then EVERY SINGLE KID has autism!


Psychologists defining autism is akin to the kids from high school who liked to use a Hi-Lighter marker to highlight what they felt was important in a text book for their class. A lot of these kids ended up making every word in the entire book YELLOW! At that point ... if they were trying to highlight the key factors of the text but ended up making every word in the book yellow .... then what was the point? This is what psychologists are doing with autism ... they are gonna highlight every key factor in child behavior until they highlighted the whole damn book .... at that point what was the point of highlighting anything to begin with?


Okay now, let's re-define the term of being mentally challenged back down to reasonable levels. Can the kid count to one hundred? Yes? Ok. Can the kid read a children's book? Yes? Ok. Can the kid do simple arithmetic like 5+6? Yes? Ok. If your kid can do all that ... then he or she is not mentally handicapped, ok? He or she might not be the brightest banana in the bunch but they are not mentally challenged if they can do those things. Alright? To me, "mentally handicapped", are kids who cannot count or read or do simple reasoning or tasks by age 10. That's it.

Me? I'm not trying to sell some dopey psychology book to Harvard ... I'm not making no money ... I am allowed to keep it sane and simple when making a definition of a child being mentally challenged.

Is there an Autism Epidemic? No, there certainly 100% is NOT an Autism Epidemic.



Celebrities with Lots of Media Pull are Pointing Heavy Fingers at Vaccines

There's no autism epidemic but you would sure think there is. Psychologists all over the world are assigning fairly normal children with a scary sounding disease.

A lot of celebrities have had that term applied to their children and they are fighting back it seems and Against what?



...Childhood Vaccination.

They attributed the rise in autism not to the obvious broadening of the definition but to Vaccines.


Guys, NO.

Polio, Measles, Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Meningitis, etc., etc., etc.

These are very dangerous and have all been kept at bay and in many cases been ELIMINATED by vaccines. The only people who die from this now are in third world countries in places where they don't have access to these vaccines. Millions of children worldwide still die before the age of five due to contracting the above diseases ... but it's super rare if not impossible to get these diseases in rich countries. Why? Because we have 90% vaccination rates for children for these diseases and have successfully achieved Herd Immunity thanks to having close to 100% vaccination rates.

The people getting vaccines into third world countries and vaccinating children there are HEROES who are saving millions and millions of young children's lives every year. These people are heroes yet if you listen to celebrities you'd think these people were monsters.

Celebrities and conspiracy sites have gone absolutely off the deep end. They go on the wildest tirades against vaccines in the media and many people take them very seriously. It's gonna get to the point where Calcutta, India will have a higher vaccinated children percentage than Marin County, California .... and that's actually insane. It's literally and undeniably ludicrous for that statement to be approaching truth.


Why? Because so many people in rich countries are getting their health advice from Celebrities, "Mommy bloggers", and conspiracy-laden websites. These people have NO CREDENTIALS WHATSOEVER!!! NONE! They have never studied vaccines or have any idea of how they are created or administered. These celebrities and these websites are completely void of any understanding of any science in most cases ... spouting just outright nonsense and the most odd conspiracy theories.


There is NO conceivably viable reason why vaccination rates in some North American regions are dropping even under 80% in some cases. You're gonna get so low at some point that those regions will lose Herd Immunity.


Kennedy

My Grandfather had a framed newspaper clipping of a photo of John F. Kennedy in his living room of his apartment for as long as I can remember whilst he was alive. He was Canadian from Irish roots and Kennedy was his favorite President.

I like that family, they are wonderful, they seem like very nice people, and my Grandfather the illustrious Paw Jack that he referred to himself as, was a big big fan of President Kennedy ....

but .... I gotta really say .....

Robert F. Kennedy Jr, I think you are behaving incredibly silly. It is near shocking that you believe that trying to stop the vaccination of children is a noble goal. I really think it is near shocking.

Why is it that so many Environmental-oriented wealthy people use their law degrees to try and ban certain substances that aid humanity? It all started with a lady named Rachel Carson who penned a book called "Silent Spring" where she said that DDT was making bird shells thinner than usual ... and it was so popular that DDT was banned.

There's a great deal of people from that era, mostly the very wealthy, who became Environmental Lawyers thanks to that book and formed various organizations like Green Peace, National Resource Defense Council, and Robert Kennedy Jr.'s firm .... who think their way into the history books is getting something banned like Rachel Carson did.

Was banning DDT a good idea? Seems so, yes, .... but the counter-case that mosquito parasite-related illnesses like malaria or zika cause the deaths of 500,000 people (mostly children) worldwide and that DDT was an insecticide that worked well against removing mosquitoes from highly problem areas where they breed their larvae ... there's even a decent case that DDT could save lives in the form of removing mosquitoes and thus malaria-related deaths.

You people on missions to be remembered in history as a great Rachel Carson-esque hero for getting something banned during your lifetime really need to find something that's REALLY dangerous and with no value to get banned before you start your holy quests? Ok? Vaccines are definitely NOT something you want to go on a banning crusade over.

If you really have to find something to devote your life to banning from society before you can feel like you've accomplished something in life please try and look elsewhere than to Vaccines. Vaccines are not something you should devote your life to banning and even though your intentions seem to be noble and your hearts are in the right place ...

.... you are misguided and doing WAY MORE harm than good.


Conclusion

If you are a person who didn't or is thinking about not vaccinating your children because of statements you've heard a Hollywood Celebrity or one of the Kennedys make please try to understand that Vaccines do a lot of good in the world and that 99.99% of licensed medical doctors are for them whole-heartily (the 0.01% exception being "Dr Bob" Sears who has sold a lot of books in his lifetime by latching onto to this phenomenon of parents worried about vaccines).

Autism, and children with mental challenges in general is heart-breaking to the parents and everyone feels for you and wishes the best for you and your child ... but .... please don't go on an unending crusade against childhood vaccination in an effort to try and make a difference in the world. Your attempts may be of sound heart and noble intention but they are very very misguided. Time and funds gathered by Autism foundations should be used to promote acceptance for those who suffer from it and not used to go on smear campaigns against childhood vaccination.

Sesame Street has done great things with it's Autism Outreach lately on that show by teaching the young generation to love and respect children who are different or who have difficulties. I think that's a beneficial thing to do with money donated to Autism charities. That does make a difference and is a better investment of those funds than trying to stop children from being vaccinated against life threatening childhood diseases.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Defining "The Jazz": A Short Dissertation on the A-Team

What is the Jazz? 


Today, ladies and gentlemen, we shall be looking at a concept that seems to still be without definition. I'm speaking, of course, about ... The Jazz. I'm not talking about the musical genre known as The Jazz, though we shall dip briefly into Musical Jazz and speak of what makes Musical Jazz cool, but when we talk about the Jazz in this article we are speaking specifically about the concept known as "The Jazz" on the hit 80s television show -- The A Team --.


The A-Team


In this Short Dissertation on the concept only known as The Jazz (and not the musical genre) we shall be: Firstly (A) Quickly looking into where the word originated from which is the Musical genre known as Jazz, (B) How Characters on the A Team Program attempted to explain to the viewers at home the definition of the concept known as "The Jazz", (C) Third-most we shall be looking at how other members of modern society have tried to explain "The Jazz", and Fourthingly (D) I shall attempt to synthesize it all and offer to the reader my own personal interpretation of .... "The Jazz."


Alright, buckle your safety belts reader, and if you gotta go pee do it now .... because once you start readin' a short dissertation on "The Jazz" there's no turning back: So, Here. We GO:



The Etymological Origin of "The Jazz" within Jazz Music

Jazz Music is a free form style of music ... but don't let that fool you into thinking that anybody can just pick up an instrument and be a gifted Jazz player. No, Jazz is NOT like abstract art in the sense that anyone can do it. Good Jazz is preformed by the most talented players imaginable but they are playing what they want. It's not from a sheet with notes, it's just free form playing, listen to a sample here:


This is not Abstract Art of just throwing crap around ... these are some of the most talented artists ever yet their structure has no form ... it is free flowing .... you work with each other .... you go with what the bassist's doing and you flow with what the drummer's doing and you groove your own style with how the saxophone man is grooving his style .... and in the end it's this big Free Form Entity. It's Jazz.

It's chaotic but due to the talent and trust shared by each player for each other ... it's also very orderly. It's a perfect clash of Order and Chaos. You couldn't just have Order and get Jazz, like read notes off the sheet and play it with full stuffiness .... yet on the other hand you couldn't just have chaos as in pick up an instrument and smash it over something style ludicrous do-what-you-want Chaos ... you need the perfect congruence of Chaos and Order to achieve Jazz Music.

You can see them in the clip above, no one knows what the other is going to do and in that sense it should come out as jumbly wild nonsense ... but it isn't at all ... it's very together and concise ... they are so good at their craft and have such trust in the others abilities ... that it is so purely organized looking as a final product that you'd think they were playing off of the same music sheets.

Jazz music, I would define as, being so incredibly talented at your craft that you no longer need structure because your experience with the craft has honed your instincts to a point where your Free Form expression of said craft comes across as a final product as being more structured than the structure itself.

There's a great Free Form Freedom to Jazz. There really is.

Yet, we are not talking about Jazz music as we are trying to conceptualize a concept who's definition has plagued humanity for decades now. What is "The Jazz" referred to on the 80s smash hit television show ... The A Team? Many of you may not be familiar with the show, so, nextly we are going to present how various characters on the show attempted to explain the "Jazz."



Characters of the A-Team Various Attempts to Explain the Concept of "The Jazz" 

The first time viewers of the A Team were ever introduced to the concept of the Jazz was on the Pilot episode, where as Face Man (in the only appearence where the character is not portrayed by Dirk Benedict), asked the A-Team's Strategist Hannibal Smith why he pulled so much "Maury Wills Junk" (referring to Maury's annoyance of pitchers by taking leads off of first base before stealing second) prior to pulling a sluice gate lever, which then flooded the canal/road and in which culminated in stymieing their pursuers. Bosco B.A. Baracus interrupted Hannibal's response to Face Man's question and responded:


"You know Ol' Hannibal, he loves The Jazz man, he loves The Jazz" - B.A. Baracus


We are introduced to this concept of The Jazz yet are (purposely?) left in the dark as to what this "Jazz" is or why Hannibal loves it so much.

Nextly the Jazz is invoked when the A Team is splitting into two groups to flank an enemy and the Face Man insists he be paired with the Tough Man Baracus instead of Hannibal. Hannibal inquires as to why the Face Man would rather be paired with Baracus and Baracus explains that when Hannibal is on The Jazz ... he's crazy.

It seems The Jazz is something in Hannibal that makes him reckless, unpredictable, and erratic ... yet Hannibal is the A Team's Strategist and should be the most calm and collected of the ensemble. How can their leader be so prone to reckless behavior that may endanger his team? It seems, as with an ensemble in Musical Jazz, the A Team trust Hannibal with their lives and throughout his erratic and sometimes dangerous free form plans ... this trust is still there ... they still trust him even though his actions are viewed as erratic, reckless, and without structure.

On a subsequent episode "The Jazz" is explained to the recently recruited character Amy as being that feeling when a gambler puts all his chips on the table. It's the moment as the dice rolls, or the card is pulled, or the ball lands, where the gambler doesn't know if he's gonna lose all of his money ... or make a shit load of money.

That's The Jazz. When Maury Wills dances off first base he knows the pitcher can throw over at any time and catch him dancing ... but he still does it. He still takes off from first base even though he knows he can be caught stealing. Maury Wills, like Face was implying, had The Jazz. He just got a hit or a walk and safely reached first but he tries to go double-or-nothing by either getting picked off or caught stealing .... the risk is big ... but the reward is big. That's the Jazz. Stolen Bases are Jazz.

There's a large feeling of Freedom in The Jazz. You can stay at first base if you want and play it safe. You can go to the boardwalk and catch a show in Atlantic City and play it safe. You can jump in B.A's car and rush off to safety without embarrassingly getting Colonel Lynch trapped in the canal whilst the sluice gate opens (getting him ALL WET). 

Or...

You can try and steal second base, you can go to the Tropicana Hotel and put it all on the table, you could wait until Lynch is exactly inside the canal/road before opening the sluice gate .... so he gets ALL WET!

In that time where Hannibal was waiting for the perfect Moment ... Lynch could've shot Hannibal or blew out the tires on B.A.'s truck but Hannibal needed to get that colonel All Wet and didn't care about the consequences or the risks because that man was on The Jazz!

Hannibal would endanger the lives of himself and his team .... just to get his pursuer wet. Now that's The Jazz.



What other Figures in Modern Society have said regarding "The Jazz"


Last article I mentioned a story I always found fascinating. It was the one about Telly Savalas losing all his money gambling yet for some reason "feeling clean" afterwards. That was the Jazz right there. It was the moment where it was all riding. That Living in the Moment type of moment ... that he had a chance to win it all and every moment leading up to, and after, that 5 seconds where it was all riding .... seemed to last for an eternity. The cup of coffee afterwards tasted amazing and during that cup of coffee bought with the last dollar to his name after he lost it all .... he probably realized he just spent all his money on a "Moment" and he probably didn't even regret it. That? You know what that is? That's the Jazz.

I recently read Norm MacDonald's book which is a collection of Incredibly Fascinating life stories he shares with us .... but that's just a subplot ... the main plot of the novel is Norm's journey with his trusted Sancho-Panza-esque sidekick Adam Eget to Atlantic City to carry out his "Plan" ... and the Incredibly Fascinating life stories are shared as flashbacks whilst Norm is experiencing varying forms of morphine-related psychosis during various stages of the "Plan".

Norm MacDonald's book is rife with The Jazz, I would even regard The Jazz as one of the main themes of this exceptionally crafted novel. You should read it, I won't go into it too much. It's good.

My own Synthesis of all Data Relating to said "The Jazz" and my own Personal Interpretation as such,

Now it's my turn. This is my opinion. After studying everything I could in relation to the Concept on the A-Team referred to as "The Jazz," after understanding the etymological background of it, after listening to many characters on the show's interpretation of it, and after applying those concepts to other variations I've seen in other forms of history or modern life .... it is only now that I feel confident enough to construct and be allowed to have an opinion on The Jazz. Would you like to hear it? Ok, here it goes...

The Jazz is Free Form Chaos presented in the most Organized of Manners. It is a moment in your life where all around you was complete and utter chaos yet you were calm, collected, and in total control of your own actions during that chaotic situation.  It was in this highly chaotic yet totally orderly moment in which you felt total Absolute Freedom. Even with all the chaos around you, you knew that you had a plan and even if the plan failed miserably, you were still in complete calmness whilst carrying it out. Thus The Jazz can only be described as,


Chaotic yet Organized Free Form Freedom.



Conclusion 


To me, Writing is My "The Jazz", and it will be different for everyone. Everyone has to find a fun and safe outlet to experience their version of Chaotic yet Organized Free Form Freedom. For me, my The Jazz is writing, it really is. You're probably wondering how Writing incredibly silly, overtly long, overly constructed, almost downright pointless essays on a variety of strange topics can be a "The Jazz" to someone ... but it is for me.

Any topic, at all, can be chosen and a multitude of almost infinite sentences can be constructed for that topic. It's Free Form. I can pick whatever Topic I want and smash out keys on a keyboard like a jazz pianist smashes out keys on a piano.

I set out a goal, (A), (B), (C), and (D) in the opening intro .... and I think at the start of the process.... No, there's no way this can be done, you can't write something interesting, professional, and unnecessarily long about a topic such as "The Concept of The Jazz on the A Team" because it's not possible .... and that's when the Jazz really takes over ... the second you think it can't be done ... that's when the Jazz takes hold ..... It becomes a personal mission to prove yourself wrong ... and if you impose a Time-Limit .... then things get real Jazzed Up real quick.... if you tell yourself that you got to write this incredibly strange yet professional unusually long essay but only have 2 hours to do it .... then your brain starts to really pick up the Jazz. Some of the longest and silliest things I've ever wrote were done in approximately 40 minutes .... the self-imposed time limit of getting the words down and in a way that's readable .... it's the time limit is what really sparks the Jazz up something fierce.

I wrote the intro at 1:59 and it is now 3:57 ... meaning I am 2 minutes under the 2 hour time limit.

Then, you quickly proof read it to find errors .... and while you proof read what you just wrote the whole piece kinda settles in .... and there's a feeling that comes over you. It's like Something has just Came Together ... Something that Wasn't There Before .... and all you can really do when you're satisfied with your work is sit back and say to yourself .....



That's what The Jazz is. It is Chaotic yet Organized Free Form Freedom but It's also the,

Chaotic yet Organized Free Form Freedom .... Of Accomplishment.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Re-Vistin' "Fake News"

So many people are writing 'bout "Fake News" these days. The media is talkin' 'bout it, everyone down at the driving range is talking about it, everyone down at the batting cages, even the Pope is talking about it ... blah blah blah. It's nothing new though. The Internet is full of garbage ... it always has been. It should be the Third Eternal Truth,

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. The Internet is Laden with Asinine Garbage

I did a big long article on this topic back in 2011,

This one right here: "on Deception and counter-Deception. also on Devising and/or Deciphering Informations"

Sweet Vermouth, whatta title, wow. I used to be better at this writing shit ... 2011 to 2013 is like my prime. I was drinking a lot of coffee and punching up words right fast and good back then. In that article I ended by linking people to links on how to tell if something is photoshopped and to Snopes and other things. That was 5 years ago ... the proliferation of junk on the internet has grown exponentially since then.

Alrighty, gonna do it two sections on this one. We're gonna look at the process of making "Fake News" and how easy it is and then we will play the blame game and point fingers.

The Process

Making money with crazy and alarming news stories is pretty easy. You are one 15 dollar URL, one 15 dollar web hosting fee, and one account with WordPress away from making your own Fake News site.

Okay, hold up, why call it "Fake News" for? Fake News is how Norm MacDonald used to open Weekend Update ... it's a term that shouldn't be pejorative. Fake News should be associated with humor and satire ... it's not the correct term to apply to alarming click-bating propaganda.

In the old days Newz was funny at least
The correct term to apply to this phenomenon is "Garbage" or one I like to use which is "Newz." There should be two kinds of News ... with a S and with a Z. The one with an S is where professionals do professional reporting of events and Newz with a Z is the Newz where Hillary Clinton gives birth to Big Foot's baby or Ben Carson gives birth to Big Foot's Ghost Baby.

Okay so, you right now sitting there reading this are a hop, skip, and jump ... or URL, web hosting fee, and WordPress account away from being a purveyor of Newz. Now how do you get them to go Viral? You don't ... Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and other social media will do that for you ... if you have an alarming enough title and post it to certain high traffic groups, forums, and spruce it up with a photo and some trending hashtags ... your article will be have great exposure.

Once you have hits and a fanbase ... put Google ads and Amazon ads on your site. Google will pay per 1000 visitors and a lot for people clicking on the ads. Amazon will pay you for people who bought something on their site after being referred to it from your site.

That's all well and good but that's not how you really make any money. You need to gimmick the ads up quite a bit. You need to place the ads in places where people scroll on their phones so they accidentally hit the ad. So you put the ads in the middle of a post so they hit it while scrolling with their finger. Stuff like that.

To gimmick up Amazon you write about products ... like say you have a Nostalgia Blog about the nineties you can make a post about some retro thing that has been re-made and is being sold ... link to it on Amazon and you get referral money for people who bought the chachkie or widget or whatever it was. That what it's meant for but Newz people go a whole other route with this ....

The worst Newz gimmick is to sell products from Amazon or their own distributors and write crazy pieces of Newz to make it seem like you need this product. The Naturo/Organic sect does this ... they will make a Newz story like "Chemicalz found in your Soup!" and do 400 words on how some scary chemical was found in something you use often .... and they will retail on their website some version of this that is "safe" for you. So if soup has chemicalz in the example ... they have "Organic Raw Canadian Alps of Sweden Vegan Chem-Free Soup" cans for sale at the bottom of the article. This one is particularly dangerous because these people tend to risk public health in many cases where they go as far to say that the soup or whatever can cure aids/cancer/etc and readers buy it and really believe that it can.

Newz is not a hard shtick... but it's the dark side. If you want to do it, fine, but it's not right. As stated above, 2011-2013, was my prime and this site was getting a pretty decent amount of hits ... but even then when some articles were being read like crazy ... I didn't put ads on here. Why? I don't know ... I probably should have .... but these writings are a hobby for me that I actually like doing and I don't want to gimmick it up and make it stupid. I like doing this.

The Legend, Bubba.
I heard a story once that Telly Savalas used to go gambling all night long ... lose all of his money .... and then with his last dollar bill ... he'd go buy a cup of coffee. He'd take his time and drink the coffee real slow, look at it and smell it, and really savor the dollar he spent on it ... because after an all night gambling escapade it was his last dollar to his name that he bought that cup of coffee with ... and when the coffee was finished ... he'd dispose of it the garbage can ... look up at the sky and proclaim .... "NOW I FEEL CLEAN!"

When he had no money to his name is the only moment he felt "clean."

I think that's what this outlet is for me ... it's Clean. There's no money involved in writing these for me and I don't make any money doing this. It's just a Clean unpolluted outlet for me to express my thoughts and opinions and shit. After finishing one of these I can look up and say ... "I FEEL CLEAN!"

If I put ads on this it would change the content ... it would very quickly become a writing formula of ...

1. Look what's globally trending on Twitter and Facebook and pick a topic.
2. Take 5 minutes and write an Asininely Alarming and Ridiculous 250 word piece of absolute Trash.
3. Spend the next 2 hours putting links to it on every social media and high traffic forum on the internet.

That's not a fun hobby. I do this because I like doing it and I wouldn't like doing that. Promotion is boring. When I first started this blog I linked to it on media/forums maybe 5 times in total .... that was already 6 years ago now. I have never promoted this outlet ... at all in 6 years. If you're seriously interested in doing Newz you gotta focus on promotion and not content. You have to get the link to the article on as many high traffic areas as possible ... you need about 5 minutes to produce the content and then spend 10x amount of time on linking to it.

Another gimmick they are using, and this one is pretty bad, is to label the Newz website with something very similar to a News website. So the person will call their outlet URL "MSNBC-7WORLD.com" or "CBS-CHANNEL8.com" and then when you see the link on facebook or twitter the reader thinks they are reading something from MSNBC or CBS if you just click on it read it and go.



Blame Game

You can't really blame the people making money with this. I mean, it works and there's nothing necessarily illegal about it.

The people running them are not rich people. It's poor kids with shitty computers in Macedonia, and street urchins from Russia, and people from South America. One that I found funny was Ron Paul's dopey Re-Love-Ution website was ran by a person from like Chile in South America. People thought it was his actual website but it was just aggregated newz and ads ran by someone out of South America. These people aren't exactly bad people ... their mostly poor people from poor countries who run these sites.

If you wanna point a finger at someone point it at fucking Facebook, man.

The new Facebook algorithm gets "featured content" into the news feed even if the person has an ad-blocker. So now you have no choice but to be exposed to Newz on social media ... and the "featured content" ratio in the facebook news feed is RIDICULOUS! It's like 1/5 ... like 4 actual posts from people/groups/news you have in the feed and then 1 from something someone paid for users to see. That's a pretty silly ratio ... like one out of every five things in Facebook now is a paid-content headline in the form of "8 Things that You have to See about _______."

It's garbage ad-nauseum. In an election cycle what are those blanks in those garbage lists? It's articles of "10 things you didn't know about this party" .... "5 things that will shock you about this person who is running" ..... and what are the most shared ones by users? The more alarming or shocking ones are the most shared by users to their friends. So in an election cycle the most shared articles are ones like "Can You Believe what Clinton just did!?" or "Can You Believe the Latest thing Trump just Said?"  and it matters to no one who is sharing them if they are true or totally 100% outright fabrications.

In my opinion, for what it's worth, Ad Blockers should not be illegal or banned or worked-around on Social Media ... AD BLOCKERS SHOULD BE 100% LEGAL! Ad Blocking apps on browsers are one of the crowning achievements of the last decade .... they should be celebrated and not frowned upon. The guy who invented Ad Blockers on the internet should be given The Key to the City (the Internet City).


Conclusion

There was a time where maybe people could keep up somewhat on what was true and what wasn't on the stupid idiotic internet but the exponential rate of Newz exploding on the internet is to a degree where no one can keep up with all the crap and investigate all the nonsense that's out there. The bottom line seems to be that people will believe what they want and not-believe what they don't want to believe and I guess that makes them happy ... and that's the root of the problem.

It is no longer possible to get a handle on the situation of the erratic nature of information on the internet. The world is like 90% literate now and everyone is getting internet and wanting to contribute their 2 cents to it ... and they have the right to do that. There will always be a multitude of information on the internet and the VAST MAJORITY OF IT will be absolute nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

The answer as I've seen promoted by other people over the years is to teach Critical Thinking as a course in grade schools and high schools. We no longer live in an era of Small Information this is the era of Big Info ... almost limitless accounts from unlimited sources. The thing to do is not to try and censor or limit access to information but to instill at a young age the Art and Science of Analyzing Informations and how to think critically about incoming data. It's not about acquiring information anymore as you can read just about anything ever ... it's how to qualify information.

Children can be taught to read a language as early as 3 years old in many cases ... but children are never formally taught how to decipher what's important from what's not. Fallacies in logic should be taught to children as early as Grade 6, scientific method should be given at Grade 6. The kids all know HOW to read by that age but they don't know how to critically assess incoming information at that age and the earlier it's taught the better.

Sources from where data comes from must be taught in school. Kids understanding of "sources" at that age is something along the lines of "my parents said so .... so it must be true" ...  and this is carried over in the real world as "oh that person said it so it must be true" ... they should be taught that some sources of information are more trustworthy than others and that all sources can be questioned and held to standards.

In this era of Endless Information available on the Internet it's not enough to just teach the younger generation how to decipher a written language ... you must also teach how to critically and scientifically make an assessment of the written data.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Rock the Hall: The Final Essay


I don't know if I have any regular readers or repeat readers here ... but if by chance I do, you might know that every single year at the year's end I do a "Tim Raines for Hall of Fame" article.

Previous Ones:

2011: http://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2011/12/baseball-hall-of-fame-is-incomplete.html

2012: http://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2012/12/last-year-prior-to-hall-of-fame-voting.html

2013: http://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2013/11/rock-hall-3.html

2014: http://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2014/10/the-greatest-lead-off-guys-evar.html
(this one I wrote whilst watching the world series and went on really looong and I wroted A LOT).

2015: https://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2015/12/rock-for-hall-of-fame-for-umpteenth-time.html



Alright, so ... this year is of course the last chance at getting the Rock into the Hall of Fame. I think this year I'm gonna go on a "...But, Don't Take My Word For it - Listen to These Testimonials!" info-mercial sort of gimmick. I mean why should people take my word for it? I'm not anything wicked-great or nothing.

This year we shall look at two celebrities who have been championing the Rock's cause. Jonah Keri and ...

... The Icon.

But first a quick mentioning of why this means something to me.



Why I Care about This

There's 3 things from my youthful halcyon days that just bestow upon me an Unusual Amount of Happiness.

These things are:

1. Montreal Expos Baseball
2. Video Games
3. WWF Wrestling

South Park has a thing on the show this year called "'Member Berries" that are these grapes (grapes aren't berries ... you know that right guys?) that are these cute little talking berries that just shout out things you liked from the past and every adult on the show is getting addicted to them (it has a deeper meaning and message in the show but I'm not invoking that here just the fact they yell out things from the past you liked).

If I had 'member berries in real life they'd be saying things like this to me:


"Hey, 'memba Tim Raines!?"


YA!

"'Memba Mega Man 2!?"

YES!

"Ohhh.... 'memba Twin Towers? Boss Man and Akeem the African Dream accompanied by their manager the Slicksta who never does nuthin' but tell da truth !?"

YEAH I DO!

"Hey .... you 'memba Andres Galarraga, Tim Wallach, n' Junior Noboa!?" 

YEEEEES!

"What about River City Ransom?"

I love River City Ransom!!!!

"I bet you 'memba Men on A Mission ... Moe n' Mable!? Memba the Bush Whackers!?"

 Oh yes. Oh yes I most certainly do!

"Super Mario World!"
"Hubie Brooks! Tim Burke!"
"Ax and Smash of Demolition!!! Koko B. Ware !!! Earthquake and Typhoon The Natural Disasters!!"

YEAH!


Okay. Enough memba berryin' for a moment we have an article to punch up here. That's why I care about this because Montreal Expos Baseball is my number ONE by far memba berry datum .... and Tim Raines is the MOST BESTEST EXPO!


Two Famous People Championing his Case

Look, we all know the Common Man's opinion is worth the opinion of One Man. Yet what about experts or celebrity opinions? They are by default worth probably like the opinion of ten regular men's opinions ... and that's a fact jack.

Me? I'm just a common man, I work hard with my hands, I work hard for the man, I use up quite a bit of soul. Who me? Hey, I use up a lotta soul but I gotta a goal ... I know my Goal ... it's The American Dream ... but still, I'm just a common man ... and that's all I'll ever be ... a common man.

And thus, my opinion is worth only one iota, and although that's all I'll ever need in this world, it's difficult for one common man's opinion to ever be heard over the loud incessant noise of this to-and-fro world.

Know what I mean?

Thankfully, two much more famous people have been championing the Rock's Hall of Fame case in the last while: Jonah Keri and The Icon. 



1. Jonah Keri

Keri is a baseball analyst and author who has been extremely vocal about Tim Raines and his Hall of Fame candidacy over the last decade.

He is of the sabermetric analytic school of pouring over and obsessing about Baseball Stats. He's written books on that subject as well as a book about the History of the Montreal Expos.

He's a famed author and baseball stats guy and thus his expert opinion is of high regard.

I saw him on the Seth Meyers show, talking about Expos and Rock's hall of fame candidacy a few years back. In the whole history of the Montreal Expos when they existed, I never saw them get exposure like that. National Late Night airwaves exposure? Expos Exposure like that? It never happened in the 36 years they existed. With this guy's book and him talking about Montreal Expos on national airwaves like he has ... the Expos have had more National Exposure now than in the entire history of their existance.


To explain this further, Tim Raines was telling All-Star and Gold-Glover Harold Reynolds the other day on MLB Network that only ONE regular season Expos game in the HISTORY of the Expos was broadcast on National Airwaves ... ONE. It's the one where he hits the grand slam off of Orosco and Vin Scully and Garagiola (I think it's Garagiola I have to re-check) start freaking out.

Throw it ova da plate there Jesse!

 That's the only National Airwaves game the Expos ever had. Now with Keri talking about them and writing books about them ... they are getting more press Nationally now then when they actually existed. MLB even made a William Shatner narrated documentary abut Expos last year, more people know about Montreal Baseball nationally now than ever before. So think about that when you think about Raines's hall of fame candidacy too ... he got no exposure to the American public and baseball writers during his tenure as being one of the most electrifying men in sports.

Jonah Keri's championing of Rock's Hall of Fame case has been monumental in getting him from the 20 percentage line to the 70 percentage line. Rock only needs 5% percent in his final year to cross the threshold into immortality.




2. The Icon

There's only a handful of broadcasters who can walk amongst us and be openly regarded by this honorific title. This man has had candid conversations with the best of the best and the most controversial of the controversial ... he's interviewed the elite winers and diners ... the kings and queens ... and interviewed those who get along on pork n' beans.

He's even on MULTIPLE OCCASIONS interviewed Liberace. I'm talking of course about Broadcast Icon ...

... Larry King.

Larry King has been vocal in the twitter sphere that he simply cannot believe the Rock is not in the Hall of Fame yet. He simply and literally cannot believe it.

The Broadcast Icon was recently in Montreal, where he unveiled the contract Jackie Robinson signed with the Montreal Royals for the public to come see. The historic document that meant for the first time a black man was going to be signed to a pro baseball contract since the league banned them.

(see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/jackie-robinson-contracts-royals-dodgers-montreal-1.3646848)

Afterwards he made his rounds on various radio programs in the metropolis and made it clear to everyone in ear shot of his Montreal area broadcasts on local radio that ...

... Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame.

In Montreal do you know what all who were in ear shot did? We all nodded in agreement. We all nodded in agreement that Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Do you know why? Because here, we all know that statement is truth ... but it seems much of what happened here in Baseball is not known on the National scene.

Larry King is the greatest celebrity interviewer of all time. No one even comes close. He has done it all in the broadcast field. He is truly an Icon ... and the weight of his opinions?

They are worth their weight in Gold ... and he believes Tim Raines is a Hall of Famer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When Popularity Contests Go Awry

Holy shit.

First the god damned Chicago Cubs win the God Damned World Series .... for the First Time in 108 years. Which you know is completely one of those "When Pigs Fly" kinda scenarios? You know?

(I was even mentioned in the Wall Street Journal for something I wrote about the Cubs last season:  

http://www.wsj.com/articles/holy-cow-the-chicago-cubs-are-the-official-baseball-team-of-jewsalso-christians-buddhists-and-muslims-1477059952)

Yes, yes .... The Chicago Cubs have conquered suffering as I was alluding to in this post:
(https://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2015/10/chicago-cubshave-they-conquered.html)

They melded with suffering and achieved Nirvana and yada yada yada.... and they did it by winning  probably the most exciting baseball game I ever seen with these two old eyes o' mine (bypassing the previous game of the 1993 "Curtis Pride" game that I saw LIVE and almost flew through the roof of the Big O because I got so pumped) ....

.... but we have to move on from that exceedingly rare Moment in Human History, not that I want to, I still want to focus on the Cubs World Series Championship ... but alas we cannot ... because ....

... Well, you know what just happened and that something is probably even RARER than the Cubs winning a World Series.

Yes. Ladies. And Gentlemens ....

....

**** A Celebrity Has Become President ****

 (I wish HTML still let you use the BLINK tag. That text should be blinkin' !)


Now, I know you're saying that Trump is not the first and that Ronald Reagan made movies about letting monkeys know it's their bed time .... but wait ... Ronald Reagan was also in the military and was commended for his service as well as being the governor of California (the largest state in the Union) for close to a decade.

Reagan had military and political experience prior to becoming the President. Donald Trump doesn't have this ... in fact he's not even really an A-List Celebrity he's probably more B-List.

And Thus, it has been decreed as of right friggin' now ... that The United States of America has its first B-List Celebrity President. That's pretty monumental to be precise and candid.

Why? Because it opens the door for other celebrities who as they start to age, get washed-up, and need a new venue to get attention from ... to achieve the highest office of honor in the Nation ... I've seen on twitter Kanye (oh lord, NO don't run. Please!), Will Smith, and Roseanne Barr state they one day intend to run for the office of the President.

Before Trump's win, many celebrities thought to themselves before committing to actually running thoughts like: 


"Do I know a lick 'bout politics, even?"

"Is it hard or anything to actually literally be the President of a big big country?"

"Am I really the type of person who should represent my Nation in Global Affairs and act as the Figure Head which basically represents every human being in my country?"


What's great is, now, celebrities don't need to ask these questions to themselves any longer ... they are finally free to run for the President for a major political party as often and as feverishly as they want to.

This is my prognosticated short-list of which B-list (and even D-List celebs) who may/will assume the Highest Post in the Nation in the next few decades:

2020s: a Fresh outta the Slammer O.J. Simpson complete with running mate Kato Kaelin!

2030s: Jose Canseco!

2040s: the one and only A.J. MacLean of the Backstreet Boys!

2050s: Demi Lovato (wow the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT!)



Alright Enough of That. Movin' Along.

Anyways. Look let's be serious now, I bet a lot of people are probably like scared right now ... I mean
a lot of the rhetoric was about building large fortifications to keep Mexican rapists away, and deporting or barring entry of any Muslim from the continent.

Look, there's a lot of people who are literally and genuinely scared that this rhetoric that won him the election is going to get out of hand. Their fears are 100% warranted but there's some hope still.

First of all, the USA is the best country on earth because their founders made a iron-cast series of great great laws that aimed to limit the power of future politicians in the Nation. So, unlike other countries (my country Canada doesn't even have term limits for example) ... the power of the United States President is unable to reach dictator level power due to said laws implemented by said founders. The President has veto power and executive push-through power for bills and that's his/her main tenet of power. There is a great many a barrier set up in USA laws to prevent individuals from achieving dictator-level influence.

Second, the congress is split ... there's about 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans ... and I don't think those 50 Democrats are too crazy about building large coast-to-coast defensive fortifications (what is this the battle of Ticon-der-fucking-roga or whatnot!? Are the red-shirts coming? Are we in one of those civil war re-enactment thingies?) , or voting for mass deportations, or suing every news media outlet that has ever said anything non-positive about the POTUS. I don't think congress is gonna jump onto these issues with much enthusiasm. So, I'm not sure Trump is going to get most or even any of the more kookier things he proposed passed ... and I doubt he'll be able to acquire dictator-esque powers and I genuinely and honestly hope he doesn't ever somehow achieve that.

The other thing that could be surprising about this guy is that .... he's not really a Republican if you categorize him from the crap he states .... and his own party doesn't really even like him. This is the type of guy who might pull some serious 180 degree heel-turns on his own party at the drop-of-a-darned-dime ... so who knows .... he might even pass bills that democrats want for all we know ... if there's one word that categorizes him it's Unpredictable.


Conclusion

Okay, so, for people who are very sad that Trump actually won ... let's try to find some semblance of silver linings okay?

What did we think of up there in that text ..... Let's see:


1. This opens the door and removes the glass ceiling for B-List Celebs to become President. So we are one step closer to my personal dream of one day being able to utter the words ....

.... Head Whack Packer and President of the United States of America ..... Beetlejuice! (Who me!?)

2. The great laws set up by the founders of the USA made sure to include provisions to limit the power of the most powerful office in the land and thus il Duce Trump is a probably not going to evolve out of this presidency (or let's hope not at least).

Those are okay, what else.

3. Comedians and the Late Night people will have a lot of material for the next 4-ish years.

4. Trump could actually be a Trojan Horse who's not actually the fire-brand Wally George he claimed to be ... and his actual goal is a noble one of uniting all of America's politicians by mediating and coming to well thought out conclusions to many-most-or-all of the nation's quandaries and problems. (Ya, okay, this silver lining is pretty far-fetched ... I'll admit ... buy hey, you never know ... I mean the Cubs did just win the World God Damn Series....).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Acetaminophen

Drugs!
Now that Bayer bought Monsanto, I think the whole "Monsanto is the face of all that is evil" shtick is going to shift to Bayer.

Again, I don't like big corporations either, but I think a lot of the hate on them isn't from an economic perspective but from a science perspective and a lot of the hate on these corps isn't really deserved from a science perspective.

The conspiracy theories about Monsanto reached a level of beyond asinine, and I'm sure it's Bayer's turn to be the face of all that is evil.

Already a multitude of hit-pieces on acetaminophen which is found in most headache/migraine relief tablets is hitting the news pretty hard.

Personally, I don't really believe Tylenol is the silent killer waiting in the shadows to murder us all. I wrote an article a long time ago called "Sociological Horror Movies" or something like that:

Here: https://writtting-d.blogspot.ca/2014/10/a-new-genre-of-horror-movie-is-sweepin.html


I think the renewal of these headache-pill hit-pieces is part of that genre of Sociological Horror Movie. In that article, it was mainly about a Sugar Movie that came out that purported that sugar was the most dangerous substance known to humanity, and like that movie ... I think the headache pills scare-fest is a little over-blown.

It is true that people can die from tylenol or bayer migraine formula but everyone kind of already knows that, no? You're not supposed to take like 10 extra strength versions of these pills in a sitting ... you're supposed to follow the recommended dosage that's listed on the container and not go over that.

Almost 90% of cases of acetaminophen over-doses are non-accidental ... meaning the person was intending to kill themselves by swallowing like 2 cans of tylenols. The other 10% are accidental and mainly from people who drink too much or already have liver disease whilst taking tylenol.

Sales reports tend to show that about 60 million Americans buy tablets containing acetaminophen each week .... probably right now there's millions of people, at this very second, who have tylenols dissolving in their stomachs ... so ... honestly, I'm having trouble believing it's the Deadliest Silent Killer that it's being made out to be. Like anything else you're not supposed to abuse these things. Taking more than the recommended dose is dangerous ... and just about everyone knows that.

Everything on earth can be over done. Eat one hamburger ... not 50 per day. Take a tylenol or whatever if you have a headache ... don't swallow 10 of them just because you're bored. You know?

Personally, I take these pills very rarely ... very rarely. But I do feel when I have a bad headache that they help. Unless the headache is like insanely pounding ... I won't take them ... but there are times that I do. I'm not at all scared of headache pills.


Media

I've seen various hit pieces over the last number of years, they seem to be back in the news cycle full force lately ... I think it probably has to do with Bayer (mostly known for headache pills) buying Monsanto (a favorite go-to target for the conspiracy people).


The CBC in Canada had a story the other day where the headline was "It is the most common cause of liver injury. Period. Full stop" ... almost click-bait in nature as you were forced out of curiosity to find out what the answer to this scary question was.

I think I remember where this all started and why it's so blown out of proportion. It started with that Ira Glass character with the funny glasses.


He did a show once where ... it was click baity too .... where he interviewed this nurse .... and it's told like a fucking horror story that acetaminophen will kill you so hard until you're dead. It's an episode called "Use Only as Directed" on the American Life podcast back in 2013.

Glass claims to be a expert story-teller (also a semiotian ... whatever the fuck that is), and it's dangerous when you apply story telling methods to journalism. The "Use as Directed" podcast is set-up like a story with an intro, narration, and pacing .... and that's not the way to do journalism. Journalism is not story telling. Journalism is more of a science ... it's figuring out with the data available to us what the truth is in a situation.

He basically interviewed this nurse but in post-editing he re-structures the interview so it comes off like he's telling a story to you that is interjected by statements from his interviewee. I'm sure this is very compelling to listeners ... but to real science-oriented people or real journalists who hear this ... it's just nerve racking. In the text transcript on the podcast's website, he even has it segmented with headlines like "Act 1" and "Act 2" ... as if he's writing a play ... a play about acetaminophen. It's borderline ridiculous what this person does.


This is not the correct way to do respected journalism, it's not. It's not supposed to be Shakespeare in the Park. Science reporting is not supposed to be Allen Ginsburg shit ... It's not ... and all these acetaminophen hit-pieces in the news cycle lately are from young people who listen to this show. I'm sure of it. They all grew up listening to Ira Glass and think this is the correct way to do journalism ... and it's not. Not at all.

Caitie Kuric and that Sugar lady who made that dumb Sugar Movie are getting into trouble too lately with their new movie about Guns ... because someone found raw footage of people they interviewed for the new gun movie ... and the raw footage compared to the final cut is not even close to what these people said. You're trying to tell a story and it's backfiring .... when you do this you do a disservice to the topic you're covering when you go into full blown compelling story-telling mode.



Conclusion

A lot of the acetaminophen stuff that's coming back again is important but it should be presented more professionally.

The fact that 60 million people per week in the USA can safely use acetaminophen for minor pain relief suggests that it's not the most dangerous substance out there. Should people, and I'm pretty sure like 99% of people know you can take too much headache pills, be warned that you can take too many of these pills? Yes, and it's done very clearly on the container and is sold with a child-proof cover.

I think my main point is .... if you are an aspiring journalist ... maybe people like Ira Glass shouldn't be your inspiration or role model. If you wanna be a play-write or a Semiotitian (whatever the fuck that is) then he's a great role model for you ... he's a great story teller ... but when it comes to journalism, especially science journalism, it is not story-telling or play-writing. It's just not. They are not in the same vein.

That "Use as Directed" piece by Ira Glass should be taught in schools as what NOT TO DO in the field of science journalism.




Friday, September 16, 2016

Best One-Shot Character Spin-Off Films Of All Time....


I like some of those old early 90s Saturday Night Live One-Shot Character Full Length Spin off Films. I didn't drink coffee this morning ... but when I got home I drank coffee ... so now I am all ready to do something ... so I'm gonna write down words.


Pre Face

Alright, so what I'm setting out to do here is find what was the best Saturday Night Live spinoff film, but this genre is somewhat more complex than it seems.

Anyone who knows what I'm talking about knows a great deal of these films are not very good ... but we're not gonna be rating them on a standard scale of how you'd rate films. This genre being as unique as it is ... we shall apply a specific ranking system to achieve analysis on the quality of the films.

My system is basically a raw score (based on how you'd rate any movie) but then a series of BONUS points shall be added based on how the film makers overcame obstacles inherent to the making of these films.

These bonus points are going to be based on the following ... How difficult was it for the people involved in this film to take this content (one-shot character) and create a 1.5 hour full length content film based around them. So, with this metric involved even some horrible ones will be getting decent scores because we have to put ourselves into the people involved in these films shoes and realize what a herculean task it must have in some cases to work with the content they had to work with.

Take, It's Pat, which is a real film that I am not just making up and pretending it does exist ... it exists in actual human reality .... it really truly was made and I saw it in the era it was made in the early 90s. Now, if you're not familiar with Pat ... the joke on SNL was that no one knew if the human was male or female and situational comedy would (sort of) be created with that premise. If I was a writer or director and somehow got tied up with this vehicle .... I wouldn't have any idea how to create a full length "It's Pat" movie .... that's beyond a herculean task ... it's genuinely insane to ask people to work with that content and make it work.

You starting to understand why the rating system will have difficulty modifying bonus points? If you still don't... here.... just try and pretend you are exiting your body and are now being Quantum Leaped into the early nineties into the body of a writer or director ... and you've signed on to do some SNL movie ... and a lady walks in and tells you ...

.... "Okay, We're gonna make It's Pat ... The Movie! "

Where the hell would you even start? Like, it's insane that anyone was ever put into a situation where they were asked to take "It's Pat" and make a full length motion picture ... it's crazy.

Anyways, you get the rating system now so on with the show...


(Note: This is only for spin-offs of characters on SNL ... movies like Austin Powers aren't in here ... it's only characters from the show that were made into full length films.)




1. Blues Brothers

Year: 1980
Content they had to Work with:
Two men dress up in suits, sun glasses, and hats ... and sing Blues music.

That's not that difficult to work with because these characters were just a Look and had nothing really fleshed out yet for them which gives the writers and creators lots of room to work with.

There's so many ways they could have went and the way they chose made sense. They were these two guys who don't speak much, one recently released from prison, and all they want to do is re-unite their former band and sing Blues music again. It's a simple premise ... and simple premises usually tend to work ..... and this movie did.

It was a full length variety show, really. With all the celebrity musical guests (including JAMES BROWN) it basically went like 25 minutes of movie ... musical number ... 25 minutes ... musical number ... 25 minutes ... car chase .... musical interlude .... car chase .... Ending. Great progression, beautiful use of time and segmentation.

For villains they threw in some crazy ex-wives and some Nazis (Illinois Nazis) to round it out. All in all it's a great film.

As far as bonus points for difficulty goes, none will be awarded because all these characters came with was a Cool Look and a Cool Look is not hard to work with ... there wasn't really any other datum hinged on these characters other than that they looked pretty cool and liked Blues music.

I'm not gonna get into Blues Brothers 2000, that kind of felt like a sort of tribute film to the first one.

Raw Score: 89
Difficulty Modifier Bonus: 0
Total Score: 89



2. Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2
 
Year: 1992-93
Content they had to Work with:
Two dudes do a cable access show out of their basement and love heavy cock rock music.

Not much to go on but it was something that could easily be made into a buddy comedy and that's what they did with it. This came out when MTV was really starting to hit its stride with the cock rock videos.

Kids now a days know MTV as the place to watch reality shows but in the 90s it was a place to see Music Videos and the early 90s is when MTV really took off.

In the 80s there weren't that many music videos to show. The Residents were making videos for their "songs" and they were probably the only ones. In the late 80s Mojo Nixon invaded MTV and started making videos. Eventually every band started doing this and by like 1991 MTV was a behemoth of Rock and Roll vignettes.

Wayne's World hit at the best possible time. The rock and roll persona for these two dudes fit with the times and what the young people wanted. Growing up in this era, I can assure you that Wayne's World was HUGE ... I even played the adventure video game of Wayne's World where you throw this Pizza-Thon to save your cable access show ... that game was cool.

Being a young kid in this era this film will always be fondly remembered ... and with all honesty I liked the sequel even better than the first one which never happens in movies. I loved Wayne's World 2 ... I even used to do the whole "we beat him to death with his own shoes" story word-for-word on command at school.

I won't be giving it d-mod points though either because to have MTV oriented characters release a film aimed at MTV audience during the meteoric rise of MTV wasn't really difficult at all to work with.

Raw Score: 91
Difficulty Modifier Bonus: 0
Total Score: 91



3. Cone Heads
 
Year: 1993
Content they had to Work with:
A family of Aliens with cone-shapes heads.

Okay ... now after the commercial success of Wayne's World I think the people behind these SNL spinoff movies were ready to start churning these out like butter.

But why Coneheads? It's not even characters from the 90s era when this film was made. These characters were from the 70s era of SNL. It seems like a strange set of characters to try and make a full length movie with.

I bet this was always being pitched as a movie or show since the 70s and most people said no to it. The 1996 show Third Rock from the Sun was likely born as a Coneheads show (Jane Curtin being in the cast of Third Rock seems to make that more plausible too). I think why it took 20+ years to make a movie version of Coneheads was probably because those people saying no for 20+ years were probably right.

Okay so they are Aliens with cone-shaped heads, that's great, how is this gonna become a 2 hour feature?

I don't really remember much from this film even though I know I've seen it probably more than once. I remember they get into "fish-out-of-water" style situations often and don't understand earth customs. Fish out of Water can be funny but I prefer it with weird foreigner characters (like Borat or Balky) .... but with Cone Headed Aliens, of course they're weird and will find mundane things difficult to understand and people will find them weird, it's a given. With foreigner-buffoon characters like Borat doing Fish-out-of-Water the comedy is more subtle and works better. Watching Balky Bartokomus or Borat not understand normal situations is funnier than forcing the bit so much by giving the Fish outta Waters cones for fucking heads.

I remember Akroyd has to go back to his planet and fight a beast unleashed upon him by Doug McKenzie in some ritual Star Trek jive kind of thing near the end. I'm not gonna re-watch it to remember it ... it's not worth it. Cone Heads is not a good movie.

They only place they could go was Fish-out-of-Water with it and that's where they did go ... I guess they ran out of bits eventually and flew him off to space to fight monsters. I dunno why they even bothered making a god damned Coneheads movie for, it gets difficulty points for sure but even then this is not a well made film.

Raw Score: 29
Difficulty Modifier Bonus:15
Total Score: 44



4. It's Pat 


Year: 1994
Content they had to Work with: A human is not known to other people who come in contact with it whether it is a Male Human or a Female Human.

I was talking about this one in the intro and setting up why I needed to put a D-Mod bonus. This is beyond a head scratcher ... maybe it's in some SNL actors contracts that they are guaranteed a feature film or something of that nature.

Why make an It's Pat movie for? I mean, the joke of that people don't know if it's a girl or a boy lasts for what like 5 seconds? How are you gonna make a 2 hour movie about this?

I saw this when it came out and even as a youngster I wondered how the people involved in making this managed to squeeze a movie out of this content. This is another one I wouldn't re-watch to refresh my memory... the whole movie has to do with people not knowing whether Pat is a girl or a boy and it's not helped by Pat having a romantic partner played by Dave Foley who's always very androgynous.

I think at some point the writers just gave the fuck up ... I remember a scene where a black street gang demands AT KNIFE POINT whether Pat is a "Brothah" or a "Sistah" but Pat still does not divulge his/her gender specification. Near the end, a man Pat knows loses his mind over not knowing Pat's gender, kidnaps him/her, and forcefully tries to determine the sex of the creature but to no avail.

My Gosh .... this has a rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm gonna give it 0 too but I'm gonna heap on so many D-Mod points here because to even make a movie and get it released on video based on the one-shot character of Pat deserves some kind of medal or general merit badge of some manner.


Raw Score: 0
Difficulty Modifier Bonus: 65
Total Score: 65



5. Stuart Saves his Family

Year: 1995
Content they had to Work with: A non-licensed group therapist with a lisp hosts a self-help-book style cable access program.

This one is probably hated by most people but I will say right outta the gate that I liked this movie. The behind the scenes people had a little more experience, I'd say, than other SNL one-shot spin-offs ... it was directed by Harold Ramis (rest in peace Egon) and written and starred in by Al Franken who did more writing on SNL than bitting whilst on that show.

I remember this bit, I thought the one with Michael Jordan wearing a sweater and self-affirming his low esteem with Stuart Smalley was fucking funny ... but a full length movie? How's it gonna work?

With Ramis and Franken, I think you got a lot more out of the character you would have if other people made the film. This could have easily been another "It's Pat" but it wasn't. Where they took this highly emotional character worked (I think anyway). It's very early in the film that you start to be endeared to Smalley and start to root for him.

The premise breaks away early on from the cable access show as he loses it within like the first scene .... after he calls his boss a VAGINA and quits .... then this character has to go home to attend a funeral and we're introduced to his family (the one in the title we learned he has to save) ... and the film becomes a dysfunctional family vehicle that about 99.9% of people can relate to.

His dad is the judge guy from Ghostbusters 2 who gets pissed and who's anger awakens the Scolari Brothers!

This movie flopped, probably because many people made the sane judgement before seeing it of "How the fuck and why is there a damned Stuart Smalley movie!?" ... but if you give this little film a chance you'd see it's not as horrible as it could have been, and in the end it's ...

... Good Enough, Smart Enough and Dog-gone-it People like it.


Raw Score: 55
Difficulty Modifier Bonus:25
Total Score: 80




6. A Night at the Roxbury

Year: 1998
Content they had to Work with: Two Italianized fellows enjoy going to dance clubs, making exaggerated movements with their necks, and hitting on chicks.

Look before I say that I don't like this movie let me just set up first....

When you're like 9-15 years old SNL is like the holy grail. Staying up until 11:30 at night for a 9-15 year old is like seeing the pacific ocean for the first time for a sea-faring adventurer. Having a friend sleep over and stay up, drinkin' sprites n' 7-ups, until SNL comes on was like the greatest moment in a kids life at that age.

After 15, you've been there and done that ... and by the time you're 18 ... only losers/dorks/turds/nerds are home on a Saturday night at 11:30 pm ... 18+ year olds are in their party years by that time.

My 9-15 SNL holy grail period was from the years 1991 to 1998 ... so those SNL years for me is when it meant something to me. I was a kid, drinking 7-ups n' stayin' up super late ... but by 1998 I didn't give 10 shits about SNL anymore.

It's not only an age-wise thing, but also because, the show sucked ass in 1998! The main bits were two cheerleaders (THAT THEY DID EVERY FUCKING NIGHT!) and Kattan would come on and look annoying. If I was home on a Saturday in 1998 and after ... I wouldn't even tune in. The Fox affiliate came out with two new shows to compete with SNL in the late 90s ... MadTv and the Fox affiliate in my region bought the Howard Stern E! Show to air opposite SNL.

I would watch either SNL or MADTV (whichever didn't suck as much as the other), until the Weekend Update ... then I'd watch the news with Norm MacDonald then after him the Stern E! Show would come on and I'd get to see that good show. So basically I just watched Weekend Update in that era if I was home.

I was not a fan of SNL in this era and it was mainly just an age thing ... I grew out of it. So these characters don't have the same fondness in my memories as say a Wayne, a Garth, or a Stuart Smalley have but I'm sure for people 5-10 years younger than me these characters are their Holy Grail characters.

Will Ferrel has come a long way since this bomb came out. Elf is one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made ... he should be very proud of his comedy record.

Chris Kattan? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

If you have nothing nice to say about someone's comedic prowess than maybe you should just say nothing at all ... and I will say nothing about Chris Kattan.


Raw Score: 10

Difficulty Modifier Bonus: 35
Total Score: 45



7. Superstar


Year: 1999
Content they had to Work with: A mentally retarded girl smells her fingers after putting them under her armpits (ad nauseam).

I watched this because Harland Williams plays a Fonzie character and I wanted to see that ... and Kid in the Hall Bruce McCulloch directed it who is fucking funny .... but I didn't make it to the end of this movie. I mean, sure I wanted to see if there were a couple more Harland as Fonzie scenes, but, I couldn't handle it.

Taking a one-shot who smells her armpits and turning that into 2 hours of film ... ya, good look with that guys. I'm sure it wasn't a walk in the ol' park this one. I commend your efforts Mr. Bruce ... but this was not a winning battle to engage in. There were not many scenarios of possibility where this was going to be a great movie.


Raw Score: 7
Difficulty Modifier Bonus:50
Total Score: 57




8. Ladies Man


Year: 2000
Content they had to Work with: A man who claims to have an above-averaged sized "wang" hosts a cable access show where he helps callers with their relationship issues.

Ok, so .... Tim Meadows lives in a boat .... he bangs that Baywatch chick when she was still hot ... um, he wrestles Will Ferrell in a mansion ... and uhhh ... that's all my brain is picking up when trying to recall this film.

You know how if you work at the same company for like 50 years the company gives a nice watch? I think this movie was Tim Meadow's nice watch. Lorne Michaels came to him one day and was like,

"Mmmm-kay, Tim, yes, you've worked here at SNL now for 50 years and your devotion as token black guy on this program hasn't gone un-noticed ... so we shall now award you with a gift certificate for Olive Garden and a full length feature film, mmmmmmmm-kay?"

Meadows was on that show forever and there's only 2 bits I can remember him doing. He would dress up as Ike Turner and beat up Kevin Nealon ... and there was one where he was a piano lounge singer and he sang that fun song about that one Chinese kid who was no dope.

He paid his dues, he got his 2 hour feature vignette. I'm gonna add a special bonus point category for Tim.



Raw Score: 8.5
Difficulty Modifier Bonus: 30
Tim Meadow's Retirement Present - Commemorative Gold Watch: 20.5
Total Score: 59



SNL Feature Vignette Leader Board

1. Wayne's World! - 91
2. Blues Brothers - 89
3. Stuart Saves his Family - 80
4. It's Pat - 60
5. Ladies Man - 59
6. Superstar - 57
7. Night at the Roxbury - 45
8. Coneheads - 44



Bonus: Figurative Theoretical Ones


Gonna do some theoretical ones too, while we're here. Gonna include some MadTV one-offs too ... I mean this section is speculative of what might have been so it doesn't have to be iron-cast in human reality ... so including MadTv one-offs isn't illegal in this topic.

Here's some more possible 90s one-off films that would have sucked or even might have been good.


1. Ms. Swan

Content they had to Work with: An Asian woman walks around and describes people as "looking like a man".

I didn't understand this bit. At all. You do it once, "he-a luk-a like-a ... man." Okay, couple laughs, good job ... the throw away line worked okay, good for you ... but they proceeded to do this bit EVERY SHOW for YEARS! How can you do this? Even Ray-Jay fucking Johnson threw a couple curve-balls at David Steinberg now and then. Mrs. Swan comes out ... she says the line .... and that's it.

Sometimes I wish there was a Comedy Prison and Comedy Police to enforce Comedy Laws. Mrs. Swan should be in Comedy Prison ... a lot of MadTV people should be there. The tall guy that did the young character with ugly make-up on his face? That guy does not deserve to walk amongst the land of the living and do bits ... he belongs in comedy prison. Chris Kattan would have probably benefited from a few stints in the Comedy Big House as well.

The Mrs. Swan movie would have been a crime drama where she witnesses a crime and has to testify against the killer ... and the killer wants to kill her so she can't testify .... and a cop is ordered to protect Mrs. Swan from the killer .... and they get into hyjinx ... and every 5 fucking seconds she has to claim someone looks like a man. The end. 0/10.


2. Church Lady


Content they had to Work with: A homely and wry woman hosts a religious themed cable access show.

This one would've worked. Dana when he's on can bring shit to life (except in that one where he wears like a turtle costume and shit).

I would've went full fantasy with this one and loaded it with CG. Like, Satan invades a small town and this one Yenta (the only lady in town who still believes in the god n' the jesus) is the only thing in Satan's way from world domination.

Satan's CG graphics are fire-oriented shit and Church Lady's CG gimmick is like Holy/Light (or "Pearl" oriented if you're Ted Woolsey) CG graphics ... and like at the end she battles Satan with the glorious power of prayer and it's very very epic. 7/10.


3. That's My White Mama

Content they had to Work with: a slightly over-weight white man hits an old black lady with his car yet in a miraculous twist the spirit of the dying black woman leaves her corporeal body and enters into the man who hit her with the car ... she then proceeds home and resumes raising her children.

Haha, this bit is fucking funny. It's like that great show "My Mother the Car" except it's like a black lady's ghost is in a white dudes body.


The bit is based on that incredible (and I personally can't believe actually existed) premise that Dick Van Dyke's brother's mother's spirit inhabited a car and moved in with him. My White Momma in turn starred Artie Lange as the "White Momma" ....


As a movie? It would have worked on sooo many levels. The two characters sharing the body would start fighting over it and race relations in America would have been explained, understood and solved by a white man and black woman learning to share the same body. I would have formulated the movie like this:

My Mother the Car + The Water Melon Man  + The Thing with Two Heads

Just mix those all up and make like the best movie.

Watermelon Man is about this white guy who goes to bed and wakes up black and those elements would have served well in a movie like this. The Things with Two Heads is about this white man who puts his head on Rosey Grier's body (it's even STRANGER than it sounds).

This movie would have worked. 110%.
10/10.