Why Snookie is Destroying American Politics

In my mind, it really started with Puck from MTV's "The Real World". A loud obnoxious schmuck put on TV and made famous for the very vulgarity and ignorance we cross the street to avoid in real life, and yet, were were drawn to the dysfunction. The same way we rubberneck at a car accident, we found ourselves holding a bathroom break till the commercial to avoid missing what might be the moment that no one should have missed, and here, our lust for produced reality was born.

Since then it's been stretched and satiated in every possible variation, cops taking down shirtless rednecks, "survivors" put on an island where they don't have to survive so much as screw each other over, or, eat a pig testicle and win some cash, get a bunch of alcoholic 20 somethings together and see who mates on night vision camera, and who the hell cared about the housewives of anywhere until it showed up on Bravo? However, all of this produced reality has permeated our culture to the point where it seems we don't think it's real unless a fight breaks out, or someones hair ends up in a clenched fist. We have created a false interpretation of what's real.

Since Nixon/Kennedy, the first televised debate, (and if i'm being honest i felt like i should have put a "vs" in between them instead of a slash) the American people have grown to see political discourse as a competition between orators as opposed to a competition between ideologies. It doesn't matter who has the better ideas just who can deliver their ideas with more appeal. If you can remember that debate, it didn't matter who's ideas you liked at the beginning, Kennedy was cool and composed, Nixon was sweaty and disheveled, and unless you were an ardent Nixon man, Kennedy charmed the pants off you. The fact he had good ideas closed the deal.

We have come to the dangerous conclusion of that debate. We will side with whoever charms us best, or first. If we were still swayed by simple straight forward ideas that would be a good thing, the problem is that now we are swayed/entertained by reality; the controversial, explicit, ridiculous, produced reality we have come to expect as "real life". 15 years ago an airing of the House of Representatives on CSPAN was a look into civil governmental procedure, today its a misfit island of late night quotes and talking points.

Politicians have caught wind of popular entertainment and guided their actions in step with what they think will get them the most sound bytes. The more audacious an elected officials remarks, the better chance they have of being repeated to a national audience, even if those remarks are presented with disdain, even if those remarks don't represent their true beliefs. Air time has become more important than faithfully representing their constituency. It's this kind of attention whoring, along with the introduction of millions of dollars of private money, that has led us to accept a legislative branch that is completely impotent, not just to pass meaningful legislation, but to even recognize an alternate point of view besides their own. A view dictated by the Lobbyists of corporations that are at an intersect to the people who elected them. And it all comes back to Puck.

TV has made us think that conflict and rhetoric is the natural state of reality. Politicians, being on a national media stage, have pandered to a majority demographic, thus bringing the level of political discourse down to the level of an episode of Dance Moms, with the same amount of civility and compromise that an hour of that program provides. Honestly, how could we blame them?

It's been said that a society can be judged by how it entertains itself. I hate to admit it, but our primetime speaks volumes.

Will Congress Pass Unemployment Bill Soon?

Will Congress pass the unemployment bill soon? There was finally some good news for those who have exhausted their benefits or are about to run out. It appears the bill is finally being discussed now-this after the Senate reconvened yesterday after a 10 day break. The unemployment bill, which allows the current unemployment benefits extension to continue, would aid many jobless Americans who are seeking help while they look for employment.

According to Reuters, the took up the issue today on June 8, 2010. It appears that Congress will most likely pass the unemployment bill but an answer to how long it will take is still up in the air.
What’s at stake? Many Americans are reeling from the bad job market and the unemployment rate-which is hovering near 10 percent still. That means many jobless Americans are hoping Congress will pass the unemployment bill to keep the flow of money coming to those seeking work.

According to this Reuter’s story, Senate Democratic leaders are optimistic that Congress will pass the unemployment bill. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus introduced the legislation today on June 8, 2010. Baucus has been a major positive for unemployed workers in the entire unemployment benefits extension issue.

60 votes are needed to push the unemployment bill through from the 100 member United States Senate. It seems likely that it will pass but now the clock is ticking as many have already exhausted benefits.
Congress needs to act with urgency for those unemployed workers who have abruptly lost their benefits. They can act by quickly passing the unemployment bill.

Technology Trends – Ultra High Definition Television

One example of modern technology that can be consistently counted on to change is the venerable television set. First there was original TV in all its black and white glory. Then along came color and that settled things for a while, then, seemingly out of the blue, flat screen technology arrived at the same time as a new television broadcast standard emerged: HDTV; high definition television that gave us sharper pictures than could ever have been imagined back in the early days. HDTV comes in three flavors, 1080p or i, and 720p. Here, "p" stands for progressive scan, not pixels as is commonly thought, and "i" stands for interlaced, but they all describe how many pixels are on the screen, more means smaller and smaller means a sharper image. Now, it appears, we are on the cusp of a new standard, ultra high definition television (UHDTV), though it's not yet clear what exactly that might mean; some say it will be "4K" while others insist it will be "8K".

The "K" in the upcoming standards refer to the number of pixels across one row, though not exactly evenly as the numbers imply. 4K would mean approximately 3840×2160 for a total of 8,294,400 pixels on a screen. 8K would mean 7680×4320 for a total of 33,177,600 pixels on a screen. The 4K standard appears ready for primetime, as Sony has announced a set ready for delivery by the holiday season this year, which will measure a massive 84 inches diagonally. 8K, though it's just been approved as a standard, hasn't yet matured into an actual product; some examples of what's coming could be seen at this past summer's Olympic games.

What's really important to note here is that there is a physical limit to how far high definition can progress, because of our eyes, not the technology. But then, that's assuming there will be some limit to the size of television set we want. That's because television standards apply across all sizes of TV sets. A forty inch 4K UHDTV will have the same number of dots as a 120 inch 4K UHDTV, which will mean the smaller TV will always have a sharper image than the larger TV; at least when compared at the same distances. That's where our eyes come into play. Experts tell us that if we sit far away from a giant TV, we get the same clarity we would sitting close to a smaller TV, even if the giant TV actually has the same number of pixels as the smaller one, meaning it's actually fuzzier when viewed up close. So unless we're planning to install thirty foot ceilings in our homes, 8K resolution will probably be the best we'll ever need, because we wouldn't be able to tell the difference with something sharper. This means, any future trends in television will likely involve modifying the number of colors each pixel can represent, giving us a picture that more naturally represents nature.

Breaking News: Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich Wins Court Case to Enter the Televised Nevada Debate

On Monday January 14, Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson ruled in favor of Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich to be able to enter the televised MSNBC debate, airing on Tuesday night.

Congressman Kucinich is considered to be a long shot in the debate and his name isn't even on the ballot in some states. MSNBC had initally extended an invitation to Kucinich several weeks ago to participate in the debate. However, since Kucinich is no longer a factor in the Democratic primary, MSNBC had planned on having the top 3 Democratic candidates only in the debate: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Last week MSNBC had told Kucinich that he could not participate in the debate. Kucinich responded by filing a grievance with the District Court judge in Nevada.

Judge Thompson ruled in favor of Kucinich, citing fairness as the main reason why Kucinich should be allowed to participate in the debate. Judge Thompson also stated that Kucinich's opinions could benefit voters by bringing a new prospective and different issues to the forefront during the table. While most of the would-be Democratic presidential candidates have dropped out like Chris Dodd, Joseph Biden and Bill Richardson, Kucinich has refused to drop out of the race.

Kucinich's court stunt isn't the first time he has appealed to the courts for help. After the New Hampshire primary he stated in his press conference that he wanted a recount of New Hampshire to make sure that all the votes were counted. His request was subsequently denied.

MSNBC has responded to Judge Thompson's ruling by saying that they will file an immediate appeal to prevent Kucinich from entering the debate. In Judge Thompson's ruling, he had threatened to issue an injunction against MSNBC if Kucinich was not allowed to partake in the debate.

The MSNBC debate will be hosted by Tim Russert and Brian Williams.

ABC News Poll Shows 71% Americans Find Sarah Palin Unqualified for President

An ABC News/Washington Post Poll reflecting that most Americans do not believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be president may not have been the best birthday gift for the ex-governor of Alaska but it probably was suitable from the perspective of the 71% that found her so. Luckily for Sarah Palin, the poll was taken (February 4-8) before the fallout of the hand notes mini-scandal and Retardgate, not afterward. Her unqualified numbers would undoubtedly have soared even higher.

Seriously, how do you forget the talking points that you repeat every time you're behind a podium? Sarah Palin knows how, you betcha! And how do you defend a guy (Rush Limbaugh) calling people "retards" right after you condemned another person (Rahm Emmanuel) of the opposite political party for doing the very same thing? Sarah Palin knows how to be a hypocrite as well, by golly.

Regardless, the ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed that 71% of Americans believe that Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president. Only 26% believed she is qualified. That qualified number is down from 38% from a similar poll conducted in November.

And it isn't just liberals, Democrats, and independents that are viewing the hockey mom politician in a negative light as time progresses. Her qualified numbers among conservatives alone fell 21% since November to 45%. (By the way, that number was lower than her age, which is now 46.)

To make matters a bit worse, the poll indicated that 37% of Americans have a favorable view of Sarah Palin, while 55% held an unfavorable view of her.

With numbers like those, it is difficult to see someone like Sarah Palin receiving the nod from the Republican Party in 2012. And with her constant exposure as a contributor on Fox News, it is possible that those chances will become even narrower as election season approaches. Add in her declarations on her Facebook page and her unsubstantiated and factless meanderings in articles and books and those unqualified numbers will remain as high as her favorable numbers remain low.

Conservatives are practical by nature. They are also usually quite loyal. But what they generally are not is loyal to the point of ridiculousness (except in the case of those loyal to George W. Bush). As loyal as many of them are to Sarah Palin, the practical portion of the average conservative will undoubtedly win out in the end. The problem? Grudgingly admitting that they were wrong about Palin's presidential credibility and/or admitting that liberals and independents and Ed Rollins (Republican strategist) were right.

Perhaps just this one exception…

******

Source:

CNN.com

Three Dimensional Screens – the Technology Explained

When it comes to consumer electronics, there is no greater hype than 3D television. People want to watch 3D movies in their own home, now that they have seen them in cinemas. The supply of 3D technologies is growing rapidly these days. Creating a 3D image on televisions, can be done in a couple of ways. Some methods are more expensive than others. But other methods are more easily doable by manufacturers. Before a manufacturer brings 3D tv to the market, he will have to think about these trade offs. There exist three main technologies for creating 3D images on televisions.

Lenticular viewing. The Philips company came up with this one over a few years ago. This technology allows people to watch 3D without the well known 3D glasses. Most people think the glasses are either silly, cumbersome, or a combination of both. The lens used in televisions based on the lenticular viewing concept, send a different image to each eye. The left eye's image is going to differ slightly from the one that is sent to the right eye. A small viewing angle is the downside to this type of television. And they cannot be watched by multiple persons.

Passive glass systems. Currently, the Hyundai company is developing an LCD monitor which will allow for both 2D as well as 3D viewing. For viewing the 3D images that these televisions show, you must wear 3D glasses. The television will display two overlapping images. Each eye sees only one image, due to the polarized lenses in the glasses. This creates a very convincing three dimensional effect. You can already buy televisions like these today. A typical size for these screens is about 50 inches.

Active glass systems. This technology is much like the passive glass system, but not quite. The biggest difference is that the television is not responsible for most of the 3D effect. The effect is almost completely produced by the glasses. For starters, the glasses have to be synchronized with the television's refresh rate. Then, the television displays for left and right eye alternatingly. The shutter system in these glasses will make sure that the right eye only sees the images for the right eye. It goes without saying that the same happens for the left eye. This effectively halves the refresh rate of the television. It's highly recommend that you get a television with at least a 120Hz refresh rate when using active shutter glasses.

If you're in need of a bargain in 3D displays, be sure to visit Hd 3D Tv or 3D Television Future.

Congress to Look at New Union Formation Measures

NPR Radio is reporting that Congress will be looking into a bill this week that would make it easier for workers to form unions. There are many businesses that are opposing this legislation. President George Bush has stated that he would veto any bill that would make it easier for workers to form unions.

The goal of the legislation is to eliminate the pressure that many companies will give workers who are considering joining a union. There have been many reported cases of workers being intimidated or threatened by management in companies over union possibilities.

There are some companies that have threatened to cut benefits, or shut down if their workers looked into the possibility of joining a union. Many of the unions across the United States believe that this is an unfair business practice that should be eliminated.

The new proposal would make it so that workers in a company would only have to sign a form to join a union. If more then half of the workers signed the document, a union would be formed.

Currently, workers have to go about organization of a union in secret. There has to be a secret ballot that has to be passed around and signed. This is to eliminate the possibility of threats from management and ownership.

Many companies are spending money on adds in to get their point across about the legislation. These companies believe that it gives too much power to the standing unions, and leaves too much room for cheating by the supporters of a union.

Both the unions and many companies are already sure that the bill will not be made into law. The unions believe that this is the first step in ensuring that the motion does become accepted in the future.

Many unions are already gearing up for a Democrat to be in the Presidential Office in 2021. These unions believe that the next President will not worry about the issue passing through Congress. They believe that the next President will not have an issue just passing the law into effect.

This is one of the first bills of this kind that the Congress has looked at. The bill would also give stiff penalties to companies that tried to threaten workers against joining a union. There is not any official word as to what the suggested penalties are in the bill.

While this issue is a long way from passing, it does open many eyes to the future of the unions in the United States. The unions know that they have declining numbers, and that they have to do something to survive the next few decades.

Source:

NPR Radio, For an Internet telecast: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11350931

Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC): Congressman's Camera Gaffe

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States allows its citizens freedom of speech and expression. Without this freedom, people's thoughts, ideas, and opinions could be censored, and those people could be prosecuted. However, I wonder, when the Founding Fathers were writing out these amendments, if they meant that reporters, photographers, and other types of press should follow celebrities and other public figures to personal and private functions, such as funerals? Should freedom of speech and expression come at the cost of public figures losing their privacy?

I think, as Americans, we have a right to know what our congressmen, presidents, and other state representatives are doing in regard to laws, bills, amendments, and other work-related areas. The same goes for celebrities and professional sports players. I want to know about their movies and acting credentials and skills on the court, not what they do in their backyard from a high-powered telephoto lens, and certainly not how they are grieving at a loved one's funeral.

Congressman Bob Etheridge has already apologized for his irrational behavior, according to Alexander Mooney and Lisa Desjardins's article "Congressman apologizes for on-camera confrontation" for CNN . The video shows him repeatedly asking for the young men to state who they are. Is that an unreasonable question? No. Do the "students" ever declare who they are? No. Why not? The Congressman has a right to know whom he is speaking with or, rather, being hounded by on the street. Just as the "students" have a right to ask him questions on where he stands on certain issues. After all, freedom of speech is protected in the United States of America.

Sean Penn has been caught on camera several times in altercations with photographers, just like Congressman Bob Etheridge. The difference in the situations is significant. While Congressman Bob Etheridge was just questioned on issues pertaining to his job, Sean Penn was being photographed at his brother's funeral, according to musicrooms.net. Why was the photographer even at this extremely private family function to begin with? Because Sean Penn is an actor is not a good enough answer.

Dennis Rodman, in 1997, was suspended by the NBA and fined $25,000 for kicking a courtside television photographer, according to Jason Diamos's article "League takes notice of Rodman's Kick" for the New York Times. Rodman claims that he was not aiming for the cameraman but the camera after twisting his ankle while falling into the row of photographers. Dennis Rodman might have been in pain, and might have been angry at the situation, but this in no way gives him the right to strike out and kick someone. The same goes for Congressman Bob Etheridge. According to CNN the Congressman said, "The truth is I had a long day, it was the end of the day, almost sunset."

Dennis Rodman and the Congressman should take a moment and think about the proper way to react in situations where they may not be at their best. Perhaps Rodman could ask the league to move the photographers farther back to make more room for the basketball players hurtling through the air for the ball, and the Congressman could have continued on his way with just a simple, "No comment."

Alexander Mooney & Lisa Desjardins, "Congressman apologizes for on-camera confrontation" CNN

"Sean Penn Ordered to Undertake Anger Management" Musicrooms.net

Jason Diamos "League Takes Notice of Rodman's Kick" New York Times

History of Technology – Ancient Inventions You Probably Used Today

Enjoying our iPhones, , and high-definition flat screen televisions, we generally think we live in a technologically advanced world. But we still use technologies that people used thousands of years ago.

Meet Lindsay. She’s a modern, stylish woman. Lindsay has a date tonight, so she soaks in a soapy bath with scented candles, applies her Chanel makeup, dons this year’s most stylish Versace skirt, and accessorizes with her finest gold jewelry. Lindsay feels modern, but she doesn’t realize that women have been using each of these technologies for over two thousand years.

Using the first ancient invention, Lindsay bathes with luxurious soaps from Bath & Body Works. According to ancient Roman legend, soap invented itself spontaneously at Mt. Sapo. During ancient animal sacrifices, goat fat dripped through fires and bonded to lye from the ashes, which flowed down the mountain and collected on clay. Women used this clay to scrub laundry, inadvertently aided by soap. Who knew sacrifice could be so clean? Soap gets its name from the Mt. Sapo legend. The legend is interesting, but soap actually existed before the Romans. In 2,200 BC, ancient Babylonians wrote instructions to create soap on clay tablets. Babylonians may have used soap as early as 2,800 BC. Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of Lindsay’s bar of soap.

Lindsay adds ambiance and scent to her bath with candles, which were invented by the Egyptians in 3,000 BC. The Egyptians dipped pith, the spongy center of a plant stem, into melted animal fat. These ancient candles looked more like torches than today’s candles, but they served the same function. Later, the Romans rolled up papyrus that they repeatedly dipped in melted tallow or beeswax, creating the wicked candle. In the 1850’s, chemists developed paraffin, the wax used in today’s candles. In 5,000 years, we’ve essentially only added a wick to the ancient candle. Because we now use electricity for functional lighting, modern candles have become more of a quaint luxury. We don’t have much need for improved candles, so we will probably continue to use Ancient Egyptian candle technology into the future.

After her candlelit bath, Lindsay applies her Chanel eyeliner. Again, so did the Egyptians! Archaeologists have discovered cosmetics dating back to 4000 BC. Lindsay’s date probably won’t wear eyeliner, but both men and women in Ancient Egypt used eyeliner to make their eyes look larger. Eyeliner also protected against the evil eye, a curse Egyptians believed they received from envious glances. Today, women who wear too much eyeliner still may receive an evil eye, but not necessarily from envy.

The ancients may have worn cosmetics, but surely Lindsay’s $600 Versace skirt must be modern. Actually, skirts are older than candles and cosmetics combined. However, Lindsay can rest easily knowing that the ancients didn’t pay Versace prices.

The skirt is one of the longest continuing clothing trends in the world, going back 8,000 years. Archaeologists have found small figurines from Neolithic Europe depicting women wearing Ancient skirts. These skirts were more risqué than today’s skirts, looking more like belts with pieces of fringe hanging down. Like modern skirts, ancient skirts were not especially functional, but they communicated information about a woman’s social and marital status. The skirt has sent different messages at different times in history, but Lindsay’s skirt still communicates a message, depending on the type of skirt she chooses to wear. In her expensive designer skirt, Lindsay communicates that she is proud of her status and her appearance.

To finish her ensemble, Lindsay accessorizes with her favorite jewelry. Jewelry dates back 100,000 years, when ancients in Israel and Algeria wore pea-sized shells that scientists believe were probably strung together into necklaces or bracelets. Between 3,000 and 1,000 BC, the Egyptians used precious metals in jewelry. Wealthy Egyptians preferred the most valuable precious metal, gold, and took their jewelry to the grave so they could take it into the afterlife. However, grave robbers often decided they needed the valuable jewelry for the earthly life.

In the past, jewelry was used to store wealth. If currency can lose its value, one might as well spend the money on jewelry that can retain value. With gold jewelry, people essentially wore their money on their bodies. Today, gold jewelry is more of a luxury than a store of value. Even though people can safely store their money in banks, both men and women continue to wear their gold jewelry. It has a mystique that will keep people wearing jewelry for years to come, just like the ancients did 100,000 years ago.

Lindsay is ready to leave her trendy loft, which is full of ancient technology, but she will continue to rely on ancient inventions for the rest of the evening.

First Lindsay locks her door, again mimicking the Ancient Egyptians. Locks in 2,000 BC worked like modern locks but were made out of wood. The ancient locks contained movable tumbler pins. A wooden key had pegs, like the grooves in modern keys, that pushed the tumbler pins to the correct height, which opened a cross bar that released the lock. We have advanced to stronger metal locks, but modern locks work the same way.

Thieves today can pick locks by pushing the tumbler pins to the correct height. Since Ancient Egyptians lost their jewelry to grave robbers, we might be wise to stop relying on 4,000-year-old technology. We have added the deadbolt to supplement locks, but deadbolts only help when we’re inside our home. We’ve also modernized locks with electronic devices, which replace keys with punch codes or swipe cards. The most advanced locks even use biometric “keys” like fingerprints, retinal scans, and voice recognizers. Unfortunately, these advanced locks tend to be expensive. Most modern homes will continue to use their 4,000-year-old locks until the new technology becomes more affordable.

After she secures her apartment with one ancient lock, Lindsay uses another ancient lock to gain access to her car – a 2008 hybrid-electric Prius. The modern car relies heavily on a 6,000-year-old invention-the wheel. The first wheels were pottery wheels, which helped ancient Mesopotamians make ceramics. In 2,000 BC, Mesopotamians used wheeled chariots for transportation. The wheel is amazingly simple, but the invention ingeniously reduces friction. Modern cars have replaced animal-drawn chariots, but both use the same technology to reduce friction between the vehicle and the ground. Since the wheel is so effective, it is almost irreplaceable. Until we improve hovercraft technology, we will stick with the 4,000-year-old technology.

After Lindsay rides her 4,000-year-old wheels and uses her 4,000-year-old key to lock her car, she meets her date at the city’s finest steakhouse. Her $100 Kobe steak is the finest available, but the steak would taste like rubber without the oldest invention you probably used today: fire. Fire was invented somewhere between 1 and 1.8 million years ago. We do not know much else about the invention of fire, but ancients have been using fire to heat and soften their dinners for millions of years. We have made cooking more efficient with microwaves and convection ovens, but for the finest steaks, you still can’t beat an open-flame grill.

Lindsay used nine ancient inventions. How many have you used today?