Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Continuing my rant on the media

Continuing my rant on the media, I will admit to not watching Live! with Dan Abrams, but I do, from time to time, click over to his show during the commercials of another. The thing I noticed last night was that Dan both opened his show and closed his show with Brittney Spears. The opening segment went on for at least 10 minutes at which time I gave up flipping over to that channel disgusted that so much air time had been given over to Brittney.

When you think of how much time these so-called news outlets spend on crap, is it really any wonder why Americans are so ill informed of world happenings? Now the suits will say the reason they cover crap like Anna Nicole, Brittney, and OJ is because that's what people want. And to that I say Bull Shit! The real reason is the same reason we don't have any real reporting on any of the Presidential candidates, reporting isn't easy; reporting costs money. It is so much easier to just pick up a tabloid or go to a website and see what the latest exploits of the rich and famous than it is to do an critical look at why there have been so many food recalls lately.

There is so much news out there that isn't being reported, and so much more news just waiting to be dug up. It's a pretty said statement, but they only TV coverage I saw of the falling dollar was on the Colbert Report. While there was all sorts of coverage of the failing housing market and the “sub-prime meltdown” there has been no coverage of why this has happened, the only discussion on the causes of this problem I've heard was on the Thom Hartmann show. What we get instead is the same news stories told over and over, and to break it up a bit we get hours of celebrity crap. Lou Dobbs gets an hour every day to blame every bad thing that happens in the US on illegal immigrants, yet they don't have enough time to cover all the other times Blackwater went cowboy and killed civilians.

While MSNBC runs their annoying “Doc Block” about life in jail, they leave the actual news aspect of what they are covering to the Discovery Channel. Koppel on Discovery will actually cover the part of the story that is important, the fact that we are running out of room in our jails and prisons.

Monday, October 01, 2007

MSM Hearts Hillary

You gotta love the MSM. According to them there is no way for anybody to win the the Democratic nomination except Hillary Clinton. Wow, it's amazing how their time machine works now, but didn't work in the build up to war. If you listen to the media, if Edwards wins in Iowa it kills Obama everywhere else and Edwards won't be able to win anywhere else (Hillary wins). At the same time the media also says if Obama wins Iowa it doesn't matter because Bill Clinton sat out Iowa and Edwards will never get the nomination without the first big win in Iowa (Hillary wins again). The only other option, according to the media is for Hillary to win in Iowa which means she will win everywhere else. So what is the fascination the MSM has with Hillary? Is it just a matter of the MSM willing Hillary to become the nominee? I would have to guess that if Hillary does indeed become the nominee, the very media that is in love with her now will be on the attack in the general.

When it comes to debates the talking heads all say as long as Hillary doesn't lose she wins. What the hell does that mean? In every post debate wrap-up I have seen (to be fair I haven't seen them all), there is at least one person saying Hillary won. In fact, only the last debate on MSNBC that I've seen has the number of people saying Hillary won been so low; Pat Buchanan was the only one stating that Hillary won the debate this time, but the others were quick to point out she didn't lose (however that seems to kick dirt in the face of all of their past post-debate analysis when they declared Hillary the defacto winner by “not losing”). In the pre-debate coverage it is all about how do the other candidates make themselves stand out from Hillary.

When covering the other candidates it seems to always be from the angle of how do they catch up with Hillary Clinton. When you listen to some of the people in the media they state that every Democratic candidate BUT Hillary is too far left to win. While few in the media actually come out and say that, t's implied by saying things like “John Edwards is courting the far left side of the party,” and “Hillary is a candidate that even some Republicans are looking at and saying they could live with her policies.”

Really though, this is a rant about the Media- not Hillary Clinton. I welcome reporting on Hillary along with all the other candidates as long as it is about something. Right now all anybody in in the MSM is doing is reporting on the reporting. I don't think I buy the case some are trying to make that Hillary is the least threating Democratic candidate to the Corporate overlords that control the media (at least not yet, we'll see where this Dan Rather stuff goes) and that is the reason they are so addicted to her. I think it is much simpler than that: lazy reporting (if one can even call it that). There is no journalism going on, these media outlets commission a poll and then yammer on and on about it. There's no digging around, there's no critical looks at her positions, there isn't really any arguments for or against what she is saying. It's not even just picking the low hanging fruit, it's buying the fruit that has all ready been picked, cleaned, and dyed to appeal to the eye regardless of the actual substance that fruit contains.

When someone tries to do a halfway thoughtful analysis of some of the claims the media is making, the discussion is steered right back to where it began. If someone tries to put some of these polling numbers into context, they are told how wrong they are and that the only context the poll numbers need are the polls themselves. Their argument is that the poll numbers are in line with the other polls, and since those numbers have always been in one candidates favor, they will always be in that candidates favor. But when reality is pointed out that in the past this is rarely the case, the media is quick to say this time is different. The past cannot be a predictor of what's to come this time they state because: Currently we have a very unpopular president, there is a woman candidate, there is an African American candidate, Democrats just want someone who can win, the campaign season started earlier this time, every single national poll has Hillary in the lead, one of the candidates is a former first lady, Republicans don't have a clear front runner, or any number of other nonsense they can come up with.

I have no problem with Hillary being the nominee (I do happen to think there are better candidates though), but can the media at least pretend that we still live in some sort of democracy? If we are to believe the media, all the other candidates should just drop out right now and we shouldn't even have a primary process. In fact we don't even need an election in 2008, Hillary won. I guess I really shouldn't expect anything more from an industry that punishes those who accurately report the news, and dare to ask a couple of difficult questions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Mad Money take on the UAW strike

So I was watching Hardball yesterday, and they had the Mad Money guy on there to talk about the UAW/GM strike. He said this is all about union busting, and I have to think that this was being thought about at GM. However, what he said next was, that the only way to save GM was for GM to win the labor negotiations and break the union. Mr. Mad Money said the only way for the union to get the job security it wants is for the union to be destroyed because no American Business can operate with a union as strong as the UAW. And this time you have to give some credit where credit is due to Chris Mathews when he asked Crammer how an ex-CEO of GM can say "what is good for GM is good for America," when you are taking all of the jobs out of America.

Crammer's argument is all about the shareholders as evident for this comment:
"If GM is successful and they bust the union, I'm tellin' you you're going to have a five fold increase in this stock. And in the end, this is America and that's what we care about... Well, I think if you root for UAW, than you should just let GM go away.”
He seems to be saying in his rant that if you want to keep manufacturing in America, it must be non-union and you must allow these companies to move these non-union jobs to other counties. It seems to me what he is trying to say is that if a manufacturing company is based in the US even if everything it manufactures is done so in other counties than that company is still manufacturing in the US.

The thing is, if GM were to bust the union, do you really think Ford and Chrysler wouldn't try and do the same exact thing? Next would come the suppliers, and then the steel workers, and then every other union in America and I'm sorry but that's not ok. We don't make the US more competitive on the world market by knocking it down. It seems like a lot of these people would love it if workers in the US would work for the same amount as they do in China and live in Company owned slums connected to the factory. But these people forget that if people don't make money, how can they be expected to spend money. If people only made $5/hr in this country do they really think people would still buy cars, or DVDs, or Toys, or anything else? If these companies actually got what they wanted and only paid people minimum wage and no benefits then there would be thousands of companies failing by the end of the quarter and thousand more by the end of the year. The entire economy would be in ruins in the blink of an eye.

At least Crammer did concede that some kind of Government run health care would help to save American jobs, but he is dead wrong about busting all unions.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I know a lot of my posts have been about education, but I feel that it is an important subject. The reason is, the quality of education in this country is something that affects every single person living in this country, even if they themselves aren't in school or don't have children in schools. The students in school today are the future doctors, inventors, lawyers, and yes even future Presidents. Every single person has a personal stake in the quality of education. The people in school right now are my future co-workers or employees. They are the people that are going to build my house, grow my food, and save my life. Just because people don't see how education impacts their lives doesn't mean that impact isn't there. We need to make people realize that improving education, improves their lives.

The cold hard truth is that right now in Michigan schools are endangered. Republicans won't let anything through the Senate that doesn't include massive cuts to much needed services and therefore are causing schools to gasp for air.

The sad part is that schools aren't going to get any help to improve themselves anytime soon. Schools have to try to tackle large issues on their own, all while giving students a quality education. If education is continually over looked, things will never get better in Michigan. You think it's bad now, keep cutting spending for education and see how bad things get.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Technology in Schools

So the iPod idea was a little blown out of proportion by the MSM (big surprise), but I hope that it opens a discussion of the role of technology in education, or really the lack thereof right now. As I've stated in my iPod post, industry is using technology for many different things, including using mp3 players as training tools, so if schools are supposed to ready students for the “real world” why isn't technology playing a larger role in education?

Even stocking shelves at the local supermarket requires you to scan bar codes and it is only going to get more technology dependent. If you walk into many class rooms around the country though you'll be lucky to find one computer in a class room of thirty. Right now if you enter the workforce and you don't know Ctrl+Alt+Delete you are screwed. Technology is supposed to be the future of Michigan's economy, and if that is true why aren't we preparing our students for that?

Education has a lot of problems, and it seems clear that it requires new ways of thinking in order to truly improve education.

Monday, April 09, 2007

iPods & Schools

The iPod idea is already starting to make some waves, but this idea though isn't one that should be discarded right away however. Let's not forget where the idea came from, Duke University (and I'm sure there were others but I not sure who they were) began giving iPods to every incoming freshmen.

Right now I am helping a company develop a new training system to get it's new employees up to speed faster and more efficiently. Right now this company gives an mp3 player to all of the new associates for the first few months to help train them, along with what are basically podcasts on their private website that also contain training material in both audio and video formats. These combined resources have helped this expanding company train people quicker, cheaper, better, and the associates come away with a better understanding of the material.

Of course the success of something like this would all depend on how it is implemented. If used correctly it could indeed be a powerful tool to help educate students. The hardest part would be training educators on how to best use the technology and developing lessons to be used on the iPods.

Both MIT and Stanford have their own Podcast on iTunes that contain prominent lectures from some of their classes. Other universities have entire recording available for free download on their websites.

If you buy into the idea that this could have a potential pay-off to our educational system, the question becomes is now the right time to invest in this? The idea arose in a discussion over how to fix the states budget problems, and therefore was immediately under attack since it meant making an investment rather than making a cut. The implementation of this idea of course will not yield results for sometime, and the short term impact to the budget will be the cost of implementing the program. There is no doubt that a program such as this would be a hard sell the the general public. How does one justify the cost of giving students a high tech device that little in the public will see the educational value of during such hard economic times?

I have long thought that education has always been a little behind the times. Schools have always been on the back end of adopting technology, and it would be nice to see schools embrace technology for once; not to mention adopting to the way students intake information now days. It truly is time to schools to evolve beyond text books and chalk boards. I would like to see more computers and technology in the classroom (many classrooms only have one computer in them).

I'm not sure if this is the right idea right now but I'm certainly not opposed to it, nor do I think it is a silly idea. I am actually very encouraged by this idea! This shows that the Democrats are willing to think out side the box, are willing to make long term investments rather than the quick fixes proposed by the Republicans, and that they realize it takes more than mandating higher tests scores to fix education. It's important to remember that without long term investment, any budget “fix” will be only short term.

Quick idea, maybe the idea would be received better if iPods were switched to PDAs. Most PDAs can do just about everything an iPod can (short of sycning with iTunes).

As far as the Detroit News Editoral goes, This is all you need to remember from it:
Democrats are either entirely indifferent to the idea that extreme hard times demand extreme belt tightening, or they are bone stupid. We lean toward the latter.
Stop the stupidity. Michigan can't tax or spend its way out of this economic catastrophe.

Ah, yes. Gotta love that liberal media.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The War On Education Vol 2

The war on education wages on. Everybody and their brother knows about Michigan's budget problems by now, and most people realize what is at stake. Schools have kept an keen eye on this issue, while all along assuming the worst. Yes most schools are pretty pessimistic right now, most are looking for ways to stretch this year's budget, and cut next year's. Some schools have already started handing out pink slips, others are talking about cutting back busing routes or eliminating busing altogether. A lot of schools have gone to pay-to-play sports, and the ones that haven't yet are fighting not to have to. Times are tough for schools right now, and all indications are that it's going to get worst before it gets better.

To a certain extent, I get it. Public schools are easy targets. For one thing they are public, they don't operate behind close doors; when public schools have the slightest mishap the whole community knows about it. All you have to do is look at this teacher not wearing his name tag in Clinton to see this principle at work. This was all over the area papers for weeks, with more than half of the articles making the school district out to be a boogie man (that was a large reason I sided with the school over the teacher was the way he handled the situation and dragged the school down in the process). Every one has had a bad teacher, or a teacher they didn't like and it's always those teacher the stick out in people's minds once they are out of school for a few years. And of course, there is the crowd that thinks that any one can be a teacher (oddly enough it is usually that same crowd that thinks that most teacher's aren't any good). Which brings us the the group that views schools as free daycare.

These views stem largely from the fact that most people have no idea what it takes to run a school, have no idea what goes into being a good teacher, and don't realize the potential pay off of giving students a quality education to the general public. Most people have no idea how much it actaully costs to run a school. The truth is that the public and politicians need to be educated about education. Students don't have lobbyist.

Politicians will always talk about making education better, but their idea of making education better is mandating more tests, and if you'er a Republican, cutting school funding, taking money away from public schools and giving it to private schools in the form of a voucher, and creating a nation wide program that your brother Neil will make huge profits from. Sigh