Tuesday, February 20, 2007

i can swallow it down

I don't think I've ever taken the time to formally rant about the FCC on here, and since I have a paper due tomorrow that still needs to be finished, obviously now would be the ideal time to distract myself by doing so. If you were to ask me the top three things that have most bothered me during Bush's tenure in office, I can say with almost complete certainty that one of those things would be the transformation of the Federal Communications Commission into the moral Gestapo of American society. Ever since that moronic Super Bowl halftime show we've been subjected to a Puritan FCC crackdown on all the things that might possibly offend anyone.

Of course the political system is at the heart of this entire problem. Take, for instance, the recent rumor that the FCC will look into curbing violence broadcast on cable television. Ever desperate for any useless issue that might garner more votes, regardless of how many taxpayer dollars are wasted in the process, Congressional representatives are the real people behind this moral policing and giving the FCC the authority to carry out such worthless tasks:

A draft report from the Federal Communications Commission raises the possibility that the FCC may act to clamp down on violent content on prime-time television—provided it gets the green light from Congress. Currently, the FCC has the authority to regulate sexual content and profanity on television, but most of the commissioners would like to see their power extended to cover depictions of violence.

"The pressure to do something on this is building right now," Commissioner Michael Copps told the AP. "People really feel strongly about this issue all across this land. This is not a red state or a blue state issue."

The report comes in response to a request from a bipartisan congressional group and will be submitted more two years past the original deadline of January 1, 2005. In their request, the congressmen asked the FCC to determining whether it could define "exceedingly violent programming that is harmful to children" in order to regulate it.

Naturally, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is hardly satisfied with the amount of authority he already holds, and in a quest for yet more power, has argued that "(The FCC) can't just deal with the three or four broadcast channels. We have to be looking at what's on cable as well."

Once again, the whole thing boils down to the fact that certain groups in America simply cannot leave the responsibility up to the parents to raise their children (or maybe it's that many parents in America refuse to be held responsible for raising their child). Quit assuming that we're all too dumb to take care of ourselves.

That said, I actually like Martin's idea of an "a la carte" cable selection, where the household picks and chooses the individual channels they would like. I'd say I watch between 5-10% of all the channels we have at our house here, so this is really an intriguing option. Of course, there was a study that the cable providers cite as proving that an "a la carte" system would make channels cost much more than they do, but guess who funded that study: the cable providers. Gee, that doesn't exactly sound like an unbiased inquest to me.

There also may be some hope for some members of Congress, after a recent report announced an upcoming hearing with the FCC over numerous issues, including their lack of investigation of into the NSA wiretapping scandals and how the FCC plans to improve America's lousy high-speed broadband setup when compared to most developed nations. It's nice to see that some people are focusing on issues that actually matter, but we'll see if anything comes
of it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

bloated belly's still not full

So the Year Zero hype machine keeps on rolling: The first single, "Survivalism," has hit radio and the internet as of this morning. As a first impression, I'd say I feel about the same towards this song as I did towards "The Hand That Feeds." It sounds a little too much like it was made for radio. In fact, the guitar riff in the chorus sounds almost exactly like the riff from "THTF." But the good news is that of the two songs I've heard so far, the album is at least on the same level as With Teeth, maybe even a little better.

the marching of the feet

Well I ripped on the Bush administration the other day and now it's the Democrats' turn. So, Ted Strickland is refusing to allow any of the 7,000 Iraqi refugees being brought to the U.S. into Ohio. What happened to the Democrats supposedly being the party of the people? I thought they cared so much about the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, blah blah blah. Apparently when it comes to poor, noncitizen refugees (meaning they can't vote), the Democrats don't give a crap. This just shows that they really don't care about people at all. They care about votes. Why do the Democrats support raising minimum wage? Not because they actually care about people trying to live off of minimum wage. It's because that when the minimum wage is raised, labor unions, a Democratic-voting base, get a raise in their salaries or pay. Whenever Republicans counter legislation from the Democrats for raising minimum wage with their own legislation to raise the minimum wage but include provisions that prohibits the wages of union workers from increasing as well, the Democrats vote it down (sorry, I lost my source on that). Now I'm not arguing that raising the minimum wage is necessarily bad or that Republicans actually care about people. I'm saying our political system is rubbish.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

the deepest shade of mushroom blue

I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the level of tension between the White House and Iran right now. The last thing we can afford right now is to start another war, especially in the Middle East, but there's part of me that can't help but think the administration is intentionally agitating the situation. There's no doubt in my mind that the Iranian regime is up to no good, and there probably is a good chance that they're aiding insurgents in Iraq. However, we're clearly stretched thin as it is, so we can't afford to get in a spitting match with Iran. That and, considering how good our intelligence was when it came to Iraq and WMDs, maybe we should be a little careful about throwing around accusations. Obviously it would not be a good thing if Iran continues pursuing its nuclear program, but the recent success with North Korea proves that there is not any reason to go running in there guns blazing over it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

into fire you can send us

A very complicated viral marketing campaign for Year Zero, akin to Halo 2's I Love Bees, has been underway for a few days now. It started with people connecting randomly highlighted letters from the new tour shirts that led them to a website, which has been followed by more websites. The latest development is that one of the tracks has been leaked, allegedly acquired from a flash drive left in a bathroom at Monday's concert in Portugal. I'm not sure I believe the story, but the track is certainly NIN, and the pixelation around the song's name on the Year Zero website makes it look like it was legitimately leaked, and not stolen. the Echoing the Sound forums are following the whole thing a lot closer than anywhere else, but I don't have the time to sit and keep up with the whole thing. The whole campaign is very interesting, as NIN fan's are obsessive enough without Trent drumming up with kind of frenzy, but it has certainly hooked people.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

get behind the wheel again

It has been an exciting week in music news this week. First there was the official release date for Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero on April 17. Then today Billy Corgan announced that the Smashing Pumpkins' sixth studio album, Zeitgeist, will be released on July 7th (7-7-07). Already this year is looking like it could have some quality releases. However, my expectations for Zeitgeist are remaining very reserved, and I'm anticipating Year Zero to be about on par with With Teeth.

On the other hand, it was announced today that Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (along with Team Fortress 2 and Portal) would be delayed again(!) till Fall 2007. Now, Valve Software, correct me if I'm mistaken here, but wasn't the purpose of episodic content so that the public would not have to wait as long between releases? Still, I suppose that when you release video game sequels as frequently as the old Trent Reznor used to release Nine Inch Nails albums (Half-Life: 1998, Half-Life 2: 2004), eighteen months isn't really that bad. Valve proved with Half-Life 2 that their games will be worth the wait, and I suppose I shouldn't berate them for taking their time to perfect their product, instead of rushing a game full of bugs and flaws. I have no doubt that Episode 2 and it's accompanying games will be fantastic, polished masterpieces. I just wish I didn't have to keep waiting on them.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

last chance to lose control

Congratulations Colts! I couldn't be happier for them. I was really afraid they might choke again after that kickoff, but they ended up playing a solid game. It's so nice to see the Super Bowl won by such classy people as Manning, Dungy, Marvin Harrison, and the like. It was a fairly sloppy game but still a fun one. Congratulations to the Bears for their good season, too. I have nothing against them and they played well in the mediocre NFC. But they should be proud of their season , and Lovie Smith seems like a good man as well from what I hear.

There weren't too many memorable commercials this year. As usual a lot of companies tried too hard. I still think the Kevin Federline commercial by Nationwide was the best. The Coke spoof of Grand Theft Auto was another favorite. As usual there were some good ones by Budweiser too.

edit: Oh yeah, the one Sierra Mist commercial where Jim Gaffigan had a beard comb-over was good too. He was hilarious last month when Jess and I saw him at the Taft Theater. I never got to talk about that but here's the picture we got with him:

some kind of sign

With all that's been going on the past couple of weeks, I never get to talk about how glad I was to see the Colts make it to the Super Bowl. Plus it's always fantastic to see the Patriots lose. Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy seem like two first-class guys, and it's nice to see them finally achieve the same success in the post-season that they have for so many regular seasons. Even if the Bears end up the victors tonight, at least there's not a team I hate in the Super Bowl this year. That hasn't happened in awhile.

I did have a dream the other night that the Bears won the Super Bowl. Although, I think over the course of the dream the Bears turned into the Giants, so who knows.

UFC 67 was fairly entertaining last night. Except for when the Pay-Per-View cut out halfway through before coming back, causing us to miss an entire fight. Time "Satan-in-Cable-Company-Form" Warner can expect an angry phone call from us later this week demanding our money back. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filpovic's UFC debut was as dominant as I had hoped. I really hope they take the Anderson Silva route with him and give him a title-shot after one fight. Watching Mirko stalk Eddie Sanchez around the Octagon while systematically picking him apart was the highlight of the night, but the best overall match was probably the undercard fight between Frank Edgar and Tyson Griffin which was a back-and-forth brawl until Edgar won by decision. Quinton Jackson's debut was not nearly as impressive as Cro Cop's, although Marvin Eastman may have been a tougher opponent, but I don't see him taking down Chuck Liddell just yet.