Entries Tagged as 'rants'

the fcc – the failing communications commission


Common sense has never reigned supreme in the corridors of Washington, D.C. because playing protectionism politics is always more fun. And then there’s the option of making something out of nothing. The folks over at the Federal Communications Commission have proven themselves devoted practitioners of both games.

All because of a couple of radio networks and Janet Jackson’s boobie. Let’s just pause for a moment because I never thought I’d have to write that word (and I can only hope I spelled it right).

On February 19, 2007 satellite radio company competitors XM and Sirius announced their intention to merge. The marketplace does not need (at this juncture anyway) two services. There is barely enough audience for one to survive.

The FCC usually takes about 180 days to review such a motion and render its decision. Today, it’s rumored that a commissioner will cast the deciding yes vote to approve the merger…maybe. It’s been over a year since their review started and it’s not done. The National Association of Broadcasters are wetting their pants in fear of the merger and lobbying like heck. Senators and Congressmen who are just now discovering the FM radio band continue to offer their opinion on why it should or should not go through.

By the way, you are paying for all this grandstanding. You sitting there reading…you personally paid for all this baloney.

I’m not naïve to the fact that there are important legal issues at stake in such a merger but that’s what the six month review time is for. The FCC is teeming with lawyers who should have been able to review the pros and cons, bring it to the commissioners, let them review and vote….in the allotted time. No matter what happens with the merger (which I think should be approved) the Federal Communications Commission failed to execute its duties in a timely, professional manner.

Maybe it was a corset, a tank top or some other thing that I also don’t understand. The point is that it came off during the Super Bowl’s halftime show and was visible to one of the largest TV audiences of the year (including children) for (according to court documents) “nine-sixteenths of one second.” And as far as how close up the shot was on television, maybe 1/16 of the screen.

Now, if you are like me you probably saw the “incident” on You Tube (no I’m not giving you the link…if you need it that bad you go find it yourself) or some such thing and it seemed longer…well that’s what slo-mo instant replay on a loop can do to your memory.

Whether it was a planned mistake by the performers (asking for forgiveness instead of permission) or a performance mistake it was a mistake. I’m a pretty conservative guy on most things but to me it was much ado about nothing. It was the constant replays on the web and on news shows that made it a story and then an issue and then the FCC got involved and botched the whole thing.

Government inquires, depositions, testimony, committee meetings all to fine CBS $500,000. And a Federal Appeals Court just slapped the FCC upside the head, throwing out the fine saying the FCC didn’t follow its own rules properly so their fine was illegal.

Do you want to guess how much money was spent by you and I, our tax dollars from our earnings, on deciding on that fine and then getting it over turned? I don’t know but my low estimate is about 5x the fine amount when you work in the salaries and legal fees.

It seems the FCC is hapless and we as its bankers are helpless. I don’t like that, do you?

today is blog action day, october 15, 2007


Editor’s Note: In the daily observation of life around him, the author occasionally feels the need to point out ridiculously inane behavior and general thoughtlessness. These are called “Rants” and this is one of those times.

Today is Blog Action Day , a day when bloggers across the internet have agreed to publish a post about one topic based on the concept:

“What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.”

We found out about this project in August.

My environmental hot button has always been litter: how incredibly easy it is to contain, how unnecessarily careless people are with their minor waste and how it’s grown into such a huge problem.

I’ll let the more environmentally educated in the world tackle the statistics on garbage collected and how best to recycle, etc. I want to focus on the simple everyday problem of daily litter and stopping people from littering.

Many people of a certain generation will remember in 1971 the Keep America Beautiful campaign’s TV spot for Earth Day where the actor known as Iron Eyes Cody came upon all the litter surrounding America, which made him cry.

That was 1971.

It’s not much different in 2007.

At least twice a week as I’m driving my car, I see one of the other drivers tossing some wrapper or cigarette or other refuse out of their car on to a street or expressway. Somehow the materials that got into their car “immediately” need to be expunged from the car…for some reason, it can’t be disposed of in their home’s garbage can or in a nearby trash receptacle at their next stop (there are trash cans at public places almost everywhere these days).

It’s not just cars though. Parks, streets, its everywhere!

I know Americans are lazier than ever, I know we’re less educated than ever and more disrespectful than ever. So all I think it takes is a quick reminder…a loud, public, always polite reminder that will attract attention from anyone within ear shot and embarrass the crap out of the litter bug.

(In an overly clear loud voice professional voice talent….but you can do it too>) “Hello, HELLO SIR!!!! I’m sure you dropped that wrapper on the sidewalk by accident so I just wanted to remind you to please, right now, pick up that wrapper and throw it in the garbage can you’re standing next to, great, thanks!”

Start politely humiliating the offenders, wherever possible. If we’re silent, litterbugs think we don’t mind. We mind and we need to let them know it.

I think one of the best ways to tackle a huge problem like protecting the earth’s environment is to start small. To a person, litter is a small thing, something that if we each just THINK about it, about what we are doing, how and where we are disposing our trash, we can make a huge impact.

I hope you’ll help by not littering and publicly (and politely) calling out anyone who does.

death is not entertaining


Editor’s Note: In the daily observation of life around him, the author occasionally feels the need to point out ridiculously inane behavior and general thoughtlessness. These are called “Rants” and this is one of those times.

She died from the recurrence of breast cancer on October 4, 2007. Lisa Moore is survived by her husband and 5 year old daughter.

She was a lawyer, a mother, a wife and a character in the comic pages of hundreds of newspapers in America. Her illness and death had been planned and drawn out by Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk, himself a cancer survivor.

As a result of this strip and Batiuk’s absolute right to tell the stories he wants to tell, much good will be done in the very worthwhile fight against cancer. University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center in Cleveland has unveiled a fund called Lisa’s Legacy Fund for Cancer Research and Education, named in honor of Batiuk’s character and her cancer storyline. The “Lisa” character will be the subject of a book, a compilation of her strips. The story line has resonated with thousands of readers, many directly or indirectly touched by cancer. This is all quite admirable that something like this can come from a comic strip.

The story line of this character’s death did not resonate, however, with this reader.

Part of my daily routine, as some of you are aware, is to head out for breakfast each day to my regular place, get my bagel and my Pepsi and read the morning paper. I will learn, during my daily reading, about the significantly troubling news of the day. Various wars, crimes against men, women and children around the world and in my back yard. Politicians will make thoughtless decisions and sports teams will often disappoint. There is usually some good news in there too but it’s usually overshadowed by the former.

My one respite in my newspaper reading had been the comic page, the “funnies”. Just a little break in the monotony of the bad news I have read or am bound to face in the day ahead. Tom Batiuk decided that his space on the comic pages must now provoke more than entertain and that a cancer story must be told in a realistic manner. He believes, according to an article in the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper, that newspaper comics don’t always have to make people laugh.

“I think that is a somewhat limited viewpoint,” Batiuk said. “It defines comic strips somewhat narrowly. I owe it to my readers to challenge myself and challenge readers’ expectations. Being on the comic page is a privilege.”

Actually, Tom, no you don’t need to challenge your readers, we’d really prefer to be entertained. Death, even in the comics, is not considered entertainment.

Many of us who have been touched by cancer in our lives have been challenged enough, thank you.

We’d been long engaged by the story lines and characters you’d developed in a setting we’d come to enjoy only to be disengaged by your previously entertaining strip which suddenly decided to kill off a character so that readers will grasp or be reminded of cancer’s severity.

So that we readers can imagine the patient’s and surviving family’s fear, pain and suffering.

So we can wallow even for a brief moment in the image of a 5 year old daughter without her Mother or of a widower.

We simple readers actually understand what is involved in horror wrought by cancer and we didn’t need to be reminded of it in your panels.

We’re each very sorry that you or anyone has to go through it. But pushing it on us in the comic pages of our newspaper is crappy.

Ultimately, it is your comic, these are your characters and you are the deity of their stories. I fully respect your right to go in any direction with them that you choose. For me, sadly, I choose to go elsewhere.

Newspaper comic strips should entertain or otherwise be banished to the editorial page. There cartoonists can publish all the real-life death, mayhem, bad news or depressing situations their minds can muster. Readers expect it, there.

I need less bad news and fewer surprises in my life, not Moore.

sacred ground

World Trade Center Cross

Editor’s Note: In the daily observation of life around him, the author occasionally feels the need to point out ridiculously inane behavior and general thoughtlessness. These are called “Rants” and this is one of those times.

Today on the sixth anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, according to Fox News, “Construction equipment now fills the vast city block where the World Trade Center once stood. The work under way for four new towers forced the (September 11, 2001 memorial) ceremony’s move away from the twin towers’ footprints and into a nearby park for the first time.”

There are a lot of opinions on the war on terror and a lot of political grand standing about what I believe is a no win situation brought about by a cowardly attack on America six years ago. I don’t want to sound at all like the idiot pundits and politicians we hear on TV all the time who offer stupid sound bites on the anniversary of 9/11. And personally, I am the furthest thing from political on any topic.

For what little it is worth, I knew the United States of America had to respond to the attacks on 9/11 but unlike so many pundits and politicians, I had no idea what the perfect response was…didn’t think there was one. I felt it was and continues to be a lose-lose situation. I am also grateful for the sacrifice our American troops have made and continue to make and I mourn the loss of their lives and the lives of any innocent civilians caught in the war’s crossfire…most especially the children.

But I do have one solution for one result of the attack that I will openly share with you because it seems so completely obvious, even I get it.

The land upon which the World Trade Center’s twin towers were built, and felled by the 9/11 attack, is sacred ground. Thousands of innocent American citizens died there. Their deaths begat a war which continues to kill and maim thousands more United States’ citizens within our military.

The footprint of the World Trade Center’s twin towers is not for development (the branded “Rebirth of Ground Zero in New York City”) other than to create the most amazing park memorial that any united group of artists (can there be such a thing?) can conceive. There should be no new super towers, no super structures construction to show the world “we can rebuild” thus flashing a pointless steel constructed “middle finger” to terrorists anywhere.

Building anything on that ground other than a full scale memorial is to me, if you’ll “excuse my French”, total bullshit! That just stinks of developers and politicians trying to recoup or even cash in on highly profitable construction while egregiously ignoring what I believe (and think most people would agree) to be “the right thing to do”. Obviously, enough of “the right people” (not a political term in this use) disagreed with me but they’re still not right.

Buildings can’t send nearly as strong a message as people can and do. Shame on us for not doing even the simplest thing right.

May God Bless that sacred ground anyway as well as the souls of the just* taken into heaven from our country on and because of September 11, 2001.

* “The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no torment shall touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they appear to be dead;
their departure was reckoned as defeat, and their going from us as disaster.
But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may be punished,
they have a sure hope of immortality.”

Wisdom 3:1-4

some notes flying back from iowa


Editor’s Note: In the daily observation of life around him, the author occasionally feels the need to point out ridiculously inane behavior and general thoughtlessness. These are called “Rants” and this is one of those times.

Some thoughts while flying in one of these crazy small Embraer Regional Jets over the Great Lakes on my way home.

• Iowa has very, very nice people. I’d never been before and while I don’t know that I’d want to live there (or that they’d want me to) people are real salt of the earth folks. That is a tremendous asset to any city and lacking in many cities.

• The downtown Marriott in Des Moines is very customer friendly. All Marriotts are not this way (they’re not awful mind you just sometimes not outgoing) and the Des Moines team was great.

• Tall people are really treated unfairly on regional jets. I’m short so I do fine but if you’re like 5’ 10″ or taller, you are uncomfortable from the minute you get on the plane until you get off. Somebody needs to be more equitable in their plane designs.

• This does NOT mean I want the prop planes back. I’ve been told the only reason those planes still fly commercially is to protect the pilots who only have prop plane certification. If this is true, that’s dumb. Whether or not it’s true, just get rid of the props and buy some regional jets with better head room.

• Men should not wear sandals in airports or on planes. Feet on anyone are not their most attractive body part but on men, as I’ve come to unwittingly notice, feet are especially unattractive and sandals only exacerbate the problem, not improve it. Toe nail control for men seems to be impossible and the unfortunate among us that are seated near you are disgusted. Cover your feet with sneakers or dress shoes when you fly.

• The above is not an endorsement of wearing socks with sandals (no matter how old you are). It is, to be clear, an indictment of any man wearing sandals anywhere but at a beach or pool and, depending on toe nail control, possibly not even then.

• Staying with the feet topic, when gentlemen you do act egregiously enough to wear sandals on a plane that does not give you the right to in any way remove your sandals to let your feet “breath“. Nor to rest any part of your bare, smelly, gnarly toed feet on the arm rest of the passenger in front of you (Mr. disgusting sonavafabitch in 12A).

• The above also is directed at Mr. No Socks Loafer wearer. Once uncovered, your feet are equally repugnant even though you had sense enough to wear a normal shoe

• An individual bag of cashews does not cost $3.00 anywhere but at 33,000 feet altitude. This asinine pricing is not to cover the rising cost of fuel (which is very inexpensive in Iowa, by the way) nor is it to cover the crazy high union employee wages. It IS so that the airlines can make a $2.75 profit. You and your cashews can blow it out your fuselage.

• And stop bitching about my portable electronic devices. If a laptop, a cell phone or an i-pod can bring down your plane, then you’ve built a crappy plane. Start again cause I’ve got work to do and you’re keeping me from it.

• I’ve been flying commercially since I was about 7 years old and flying used to be special. My parents would put us in jacket and tie. No one looked like they just rolled outta bed. While not advocating formality when flying today, can we at least create a rule about showering? Please?!

Happy trails!

voice 123 and their disclaimer


Editor’s Note: In the daily observation of life around him, the author occasionally feels the need to point out ridiculously inane behavior and general thoughtlessness. These are called “Rants” and this is one of those times.

As it’s kind of a quiet Saturday afternoon with folks sleeping or running errands from the house, I took the opportunity to visit Voice 123 and submit some auditions.  As I’ve mentioned before here, my bookings, auditions from agents and production schedule offer me less and less time to fiddle with the cattle call that Voice 123 has really become. But I still have months left on my paid subscription so I figured I better get to it. 

It has been awhile since I sent in some auditions.  I threw out the ones I didn’t think I’d be the right voice for and the ever present low ball audition (especially those folks requesting custom auditions for message on hold…who are they kidding?)  I was reading one audition that had a low price for the amount of work required and the usage of the voice and was about to delete it when I read down a little further and notice an addition to the usually inane Voice 123 disclaimer on price which read: 

“Voice123 Team Note: We recognize that this project may be below Voice123 pricing recommendations. We have become more flexible with budgets as it was brought to our attention that we could be violating United States federal anti-trust laws by limiting the participation of voice seekers in our marketplace when they don’t met our budget recommendations. It seems that, legally speaking, it is up to the providers (the talents and voice producers) and not the marketplace (Voice123) to determine to exclude the voice seekers they don’t want to work with.

Right after the release of the new Voice123, we will be working on several improvements that will help talents and voice producers filter the types of projects they want and better match projects with talent and voice producers depending on the budget and experience of the talent. On (sic) the meantime we are trying to be flexible to keep everybody happy.”

 “It seems that, legally speaking,…” Wow, what impressive attorney filed that hard hitting legal brief? 

As you might guess, I find this disclaimer highly suspect.  But I am also not an attorney. I am however a big David Letterman fan (not the stalking kind, I just like the show) and I thought of a Dave quote when he interviewed Bill O’Reilly from Fox News as I read the Voice 123 disclaimer. To paraphrase, it went along the lines of “I’m probably not as smart as you are but my gut tells me 60% of what comes out of your mouth is crap.” 

If Voice 123 is going to be “filtering” projects and pricing in their “next” version (which it seems they’ve been working on since 1950 and which might be ready by 2010) why can’t they filter now? Likely, they can.  In my opinion, the real answer is Voice 123 will take any voice job that comes through, slap it up on the board and let all the $50 announcers quote that price on a $2000 job just so Voice 123 can jack up the number of leads they provide VO subscribers and thereby justify the company’s existence.  

As always….I could be wrong.