Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Politics of 24

Well, first off let me premise this post by saying I fell a little dirty liking a show that Chaney reportedly “loves.”

I started writing a post similar to this after watching the 2nd half of the season opener of 24, but abandoned it after meandering all over the place and not really saying much. Then I came across this article and my thoughts were once again focused on this subject.

24 is really quite an interesting show. Being a film and TV nut when I first heard about a show that would take place in “real time” I was interested and after watching a few episodes I was hooked. It had a fascinating gimmick, lots of twists and turns, and loads of action. It was fun to watch. I never really thought of the show much until the who torture issue bill arose, and the fictional Television show 24 was not only used as a justification of torture, but also as in argument that Americans supported torture by watching the show. WHAT!? Then this season premier came along and within 4 hours of the show's day, middle eastern terrorist blew up a nuclear bomb in California. That's when I realized that what some are saying just might be true: 24 could well be a NeoCon's wet dream.

The show portrays America as constantly under threat from terrorist and that only the Government can protect us from those threats. Jack Bauer, the hero and only character still alive from the first season, uses any means necessary to get the info or the man he wants. In the second season of the show he kills a government witness against a bomber to reestablish the bombers trust, Jack was undercover in the bombers organization in the past, to find out if the intel was true about the bomber's plot to blow up a target in LA. In every season and just about every episode Jack resorts to torture to get his information, and not only does the torture always work (sometimes it takes longer than others), but it is correct 95% or more of the time.

I have to say that I never gave the politics of 24 much thought until the torture issue was raised at the national level. I have always and continue to view the show as purely fictional. It's an action movie made for TV, and to view it as anything else seems silly. But yet I have heard all sorts of people use the show as a justification of torture and the importance of the Federal Government becoming more and more involved in our everyday life (“We don't want something like 24 to happen.”) I'm sorry, but a show like this cannot be used as a justification for anything, like I said it's basically an action movie made for TV. I don't want to defend the politics of the show because I don't agree with what it seems to be saying, but on the other hand if this ever was meant to be some kind of propaganda, it sure isn't subtle about it, and I can't see many people being won over to their cause because of this clearly fictional TV show.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Good for Barack!

In a speech today Barack Obama not only called for universal health care, but he said it should be in place by the end of the next President's 1st term! Six year until universal health care? I hope so!

I still haven't decided who my favorite is yet, but Obama just got some points today in my book!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Daily Telegram shows it's stripes once again.

In a recent Editorial they yak about how how the Democrats in the US House locked Republicans out of debates, wouldn't allow amendments and yada, yada, yada. They repeat the exact same talking points against these bills as every other Republican shill. And come on, you have to love this last paragraph:
It’s no surprise that Michigan’s newly elected District 7 Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, has voted “No” — as have most Republicans — on the first four of these issues. (He voted “Yes” on the student loan bill.) Until Pelosi’s Democrats pay more than lip service to their pledges of reform and bipartisanship, perhaps the best thing anyone can say is “No.”
They praise Walberg for voting no on every other bill and basically blast him for voting yes on the student loan bill (in an earlier paragraph they blast the bill). Reading this article it really seems that they don't really follow the national news that they are supposedly reporting on and commenting on. If this is the way that a lot of local newspapers are run and if people actually read those newspapers, I guess it isn't any wonder why there are so many red states.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

N.A.I.A.S. and the Auto Industry

Well, the 2007 North American International Auto Show is here and along with it some insight on what the year holds for auto makers. As I said in my last post I wasn't able to go an cover the show during Press Week as I was last year, I was still able to get a press pass for the Industry days. Industry days are days were the press that couldn't make it to Press Week, or just wanted some more time with the cars, and those who work for the Auto Industry are able to get into the show before the public. The only problem is you have to deal with a few of the booths still switching over from Press Week to Public. I was actually there at the same time as The Governor, however we didn't see her anywhere at the show.

GM's booth was rearranged, and pushed back against the wall from last year. It was a nice booth, nicer than last year. I was really hoping to see the Chevy Volt, however it must have been out for a photo shoot or something because it was nowhere to be seen on the show floor. I did get a look at the new Malibu. I have to say I wasn't impressed. It looks a little better than the old one I guess, but nothing exciting. GM does seem to understand that they have to step up their designs as evident by them winning both the car of the year, Saturn Aura, and the truck of the year, the Chevy Silverado. I have to say, sitting in some of their new cars, they have stepped up their interiors on a lot of cars and trucks; one step in the right direction to better compete with Toyota and Nissan.

Ford's booth was set up much like last year's, only not as flashy. Gone are the giant video walls that surrounded the booth on the outside, replaced with two slightly smaller video screens. The Ford emblem embedded in the floor in the center of the booth is gone as well. The cars Ford was showing were I think a little more interesting however this year as opposed to last. The Ford Intercepter and Airstream were much more exciting concepts than last year's Super Chief. Of course one for Fords biggest announcements at the Auto Show was their team up with Microsoft for their Sync. Sync seems like a very interesting idea, and if they are able to make it work as well as advertised may help pull Ford out of it's slump. For those of you that don't know what Sync is, it is a package of voice commands, mp3 input and controls, wireless interfacing with bluetooth phones, and audible text messages. Sync will be available in twelve different Ford, Lincoln, Mercury models by the end of the year starting with the Ford Focus.

Chrysler's booth was almost identical to last year's in layout (well at least the parts that were completely switched from Press Week to Public while I was there). They had a few concepts there, along with the new Dodge Avenger and Dodge Challenger, both very cool, and new models of their minivans. The car that I was most interested in was the Dodge Magnum, a car I am thinking about getting. It has all the room for my video gear, and has better millage than SUVs. (I wish I didn't need a big car, but to lug around all of my video equipment for shoots I need a lot of room.) Across the hall from Chrysler the other half of Daimler-Chrysler, Mercedes booth was busy. The floor was interesting, ice. The ice has something frozen into it to give it treads while other parts of the ice were covered with carpeting. Something new NAIAS this year was a small booth across from Chrysler's, Smart. Smart is a tiny little car, made by Mercedes, due out in the US next year

Toyota and Lexus's booth were interesting. While they are poised to displace GM as the largest auto maker, their floor space at the show still isn't as large as the Big 3. Looking through their booth it is easy to see why some would buy those cars over the Big 3's, they are nice cars and fuel efficient. But it is also easy to see where GM, Ford and Chrysler can catch up in the near future (in many ways they have already started).

The rest of the show was interesting, and some of the booths showed major changes in them, while others retained the lay out of years past. The Scion booth was kinda cool as they had cars stacked on racks on their back wall. Also this year, VW went from occupying space both upstairs and downstairs to only having space upstairs and in that space had few cars.

It it interesting to look at this show and see how it relates to the industry itself. From my friends that did cover the Press Week, most said they saw quite a difference show from last year to this year. The Industry itself flies in reporters from all over to cover this show, and this year less money was spent on flying in press from outside the area. Also they said the press conferences themselves where less flashy and the giveaways to impress the press were not as plentiful this year. Their consensus from Press Week, the auto industry isn't what it once was.

The thing I came away with from the Auto Show is that the industry hasn't given up. It is still fighting and will continue to fight. As the Governor said, Michigan has the largest amount of auto research than anywhere else. Companies like Tesla Motors are coming to Michigan for engineering and are considering Michigan for manufacturing as well. The Big 3 are calling on companies and the Federal Government for research on Batteries (at least one of three main companies tapped to do the research are in Michigan) to power the next generation of Hybrids and Electric Vehicles such as the Chevy Volt.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

North American International Auto Show

Well, the Auto show is here again. I am more than a little disappointed that I am not there covering press week this year as I was last. The decline of the auto industry has caused a decline in the need for people like me (video producers) to work for the auto makers in the booths (during press week even the smallest booths there have a crane there for the automaker, and the larger automakers have cranes, steadycams, and three other cameras covering the event to show on the booths huge videos walls at the press conference) and few people are needed to cover the show. Last year the company I was covering the show for (think very big company that is one of the sponsors of the show if not the main sponsor) hired ten people to help them cover the show along with their own internal press team. This year they hired one person outside their own press team. In years past anybody who was anybody that has to do with video in Michigan would be at the Auto show either covering it, or working in one of the booths. Long story short, not so this year.

But enough bitching about about how a big chunk of money from that show won't be coming my way this year; let's look at the few things that will be happening there. GM and Ford's biggest goal this year will be to try to show the world that they are still relevant. And Chrysler will try to show it's German co-owners that they were not a bad investment. Not only that, but the Big Three will also be interested in the Chinese autos that will be on display for the second year in a row at Cobo.

GM this year is trying to show that they too can be green. They have reintroduced an electric concept car that also has a three cylinder flex fuel internal combustion engine in it to recharge the car on long trips. This is of course a great thing, however GM states that a car such as this is still years away from being in production. They announced a plug in version of their Satan Vue hybrid at the LA auto show last year, but once again stated it is a at least a year away from being in production.

Ford's big announcement will be a partnership with Microsoft to make their cars more applying to younger buys by offering MP3 integration, voice commands, text messages, and of course some flash and dash.