Archive for the 'Enertainment' Category

29
Aug
11

Hail Sagan!

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24
Jun
11

Is This What They’re Teaching Them Over in the Journalism School?

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken pot shots at the poor old Oregon Daily Emerald. Hell, it’s been awhile since I’ve even bothered to pick up an issue. Sitting in the storied old Cafe Siena this afternoon, however, I made the mistake of taking a glance at the “opinion” page for this week’s issue.

Now, it’s no secret that the quality of the ODE’s opinion writers, never stellar to begin with, has witnessed in the last half-decade or so a steady decline into what can only be called “pedestrian sub-mediocrity.” Each year, one subjects oneself to another round of banal “first post!” essays by the new pack of commentators in the vain hope that — just maybe! — one of them will claw their way out of the scum and the muck, take a few gasping breaths, and say something moderately interesting. Or at least hilariously stupid. Each year, alas, one is inevitably disappointed.

So it was today, reading Ian McKivor’s “inaugural column” — a rather lofty way of referring to what is is essence a fairly uninteresting blog post, which is ironic, since the gist of his piece is that blogs are like… bad, and stuff. And not just bad, but dangerous. No, really:

People are idiots, and people who read blogs and take their word for it are dangerous idiots. They aren’t just a danger to themselves, but to those around them and society at large. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that they are a major source of societal regression.

“Societal regression.” Got that?

Unfortunately, after dropping that bombshell on his readers, the esteemed author has nowhere left to go but straight back to 1995, making the staggeringly fresh case that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet:

Any schmuck with an opinion can get on the web, set up a WordPress account and go to town spewing out whatever vapid crap happens to get into his head. [“Vapid crap” you say? Perish the thought. -ed] A blogger doesn’t have to have any experience in the field in which they write, nor do they have to adhere to the most basic tenants [sic] of journalistic professionalism or integrity.

So, in effect, they can pass off filth as fact while remaining anonymous. And oh, by the way, people will believe them en masse for the same reasons people believe everything they see on TV. Brilliant.

“Brilliant.” Took the words right out of my mouth, he did. Ahem.

McKivor then launches into a clumsy philippic against Tom Macmaster, the cybernetic crossdresser who got his thrills masquerading as a Syrian lesbian on websites before it came out (no pun intended) that he was neither Syrian nor a woman, to say nothing of a lesbian. While it’s hard to take issue with the spirit of his condemnation of Macmaster, McKivor’s amateurish prose effectively blunts whatever power the one and only example backing up his thesis might’ve had. Example:

MacMaster never had to face the looming threat of imprisonment, intense torture and eventual death at the hands of some demented regime. He was safe in Scotland, probably writing at a Starbucks with an Exxon Valdez-sized Latte [sic] in hand without even contemplating the harm he was doing.

“Probably writing at a Starbucks with an Exxon Valdez-sized latte?” From whence does our intrepid reporter come by these details? Or maybe he’s just engaging in a sly performative joke intended to illustrate why we can’t believe everything we read. Yeah… maybe that’s it.

One could go on, of course — the expected, sneering reference to “blind sheep” (what, no “sheeple?”) comes in toward the end, as does an unintentionally funny suggestion to go watch a documentary called “Talhotblond” if you’re not already convinced by McKivor’s dazzling  rhetoric about how dangerous online anonymity can be. Finally, we’re assured that we can trust the things we read in the mainstream media — because it’s fact checked, you see.

The problem is that, as monumentally hollow and paralyzingly routine as McKivor’s piece is, it nevertheless serves as a powerful example of how far standards have fallen. Is the sort of err.. “incisive criticism” and “sterling prose” — to say nothing of the lunk-headed Luddism — that they’re peddling over in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism these days? Why would anyone pay for such a self-evidently worthless degree? And is this drooling scribbler really the best the Emerald  could dredge up for next year?

Alas, McKivor himself gives away the answer in his very first sentence:

Because this is my inaugural column for the Oregon Daily Emerald, I feel I should start things off by making my stance clear, just so all of you know what to expect from my weekly opinion column.

Ah. So puerile rubbish, then. Wonderful.

Glad I won’t be around to read it.

08
Mar
11

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ve been bored. So I made a few cartoons. You can watch all three of the current episodes here. I probably be adding more of these over time, whenever I feel inspired (or bored enough) to spend the time.

Enjoy!

07
Mar
11

A Fitting Tribute

As the Space Shuttle Discovery left the International Space Station for the last time today, the crew and the ship received a tribute from William Shatner:

“Space, the final frontier,” Shatner said in a prerecorded message. “These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: to seek out new science, to build new outposts, to bring nations together on the final frontier, to boldly go and do what no spacecraft has done before.”

Damn right.

25
Feb
11

I Am the Koch Brothers!

A little light comedy for a quiet Friday afternoon:

Keith Schneider and Kerry Sipe (letters, 2/3) invite us to think better of the Tea Party since it’s really about Ron Paul’s ideas, not Glen Beck’s bigotry. OK, but that doesn’t help much. Paul is a libertarian ideologue, and his views accordingly suffer from the foolishness inherent in libertarianism. Please consult Wikipedia on the periodic financial panics of the 19th century, and then explain to us how unregulated markets serve our common interests effectively (hint: they don’t).

Libertarianism is a nonsensical theory of governance. It endorses abandonment of social responsibility by appealing to a juvenile notion of absolute freedom. All due respect to Ron Paul, but his political ideas are stupid and immoral. He may be more polite than Glenn Beck, but he’s no less fatuous.

Speaking of fools, the original Tea Party was not an act of popular tax resistance. It was gang vandalism organized by Boston businessmen wanting to keep the price of tea high, aggressively protecting their own profits. In that sense, our contemporary Tea Party is like the first one: It’s acting on behalf of our corporate masters, advocating policies that harm the working class and society in general. No Nazis here; just misinformed and manipulated morons.

Ken Kirby, Junction City

I was going to try to come up with some witty riposte to the above, but frankly, it’s already kind of its own punchline, don’t you think?

09
Feb
11

In Praise of Whomever Writes BBC Headlines

A few random selections from my RSS feed. I especially love the placement of the quotation marks:

Giffords ‘speaks, asks for toast’

Met finds phone hacking ‘victims’

‘Serious’ cases hit by rights ruling

Butt investigated before spot-fixing affair

Howell ‘dropped cable’ into bath

Bangladesh girl ‘bled to death’

Cancer deaths in Europe ‘to fall’

Level crossing ‘madness’ warning

Jail for E. coli takeaway manager

‘Super head’ Dame honour revoked

Woman quizzed on ‘buttocks’ death

British comedy at its best.

20
Jan
11

Are You… What? I Mean… Err… Huh? Does Not Compute.

Steampunk Sarah Palin comic book. Featuring “Robama” and John McCain with a cyborg arm.

I’m going to go huddle in a corner in the foetal position for a few hours and try to puzzle this one out.