Tag Archives: news

RANT: You’re Stupid And We Know It, School Board

A six-year-old has been suspended for singing the words an LMFAO song: “I’m sexy and I know it.”

The school board thinks he should’ve known better.

You know what the six-year-old knows? That these people look like they’re having a LOT of fun when they’re bouncing around singing this song in the video. They’re cool, weird, neat performers with great hair, exciting lives, and they’re singing a super-catchy song that makes the six-year-old come to life when he sings the song too. And they were on top of the world because of it. That is what he knows.

Know what the adults on the schoolboard know? Better. They damned well know better than to suspend a six-year-old for mentioning the words to a ludicrous song by a campy band. And to call it sexual harrassment?

“Zero tolerance” laws are for a moronic people in a moronic world. We’re smarter than that. We know that not everything’s a crime. We know that kids tell lies, adults make mistakes, and shit happens. But we want to seem tough, strong, and like we’re in the moral right, and so we say HEY, ANY CONTRAVENTION OF THIS LAW, AND YOU’RE SCREWED, PAL.

So what happens? A kid gets suspended because he’s singing lyrics to a song he probably doesn’t even understand.

When I was a kid, I was 8 when I found an Elton John record with my brother at a yard sale. On it was “The Bitch is Back.” I didn’t understand the lyrics, but I loved the way it sounded when he sung the words, and I remember dancing around the room singing all summer long.

In grade 7, I loved the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It would be years before I’d understand it was about premature ejaculation, or even what “premature ejaculation” meant.

We can hear songs as kids and love the way they sound, but not have a clue what the premise is.

Even if the kid had any gleaning of this song’s meaning, to call it sexual harassment when he’s just emulating what’s in pop culture is a ridiculously hypocritical move.

I don’t want to live in a world where there are no shades of grey. We’re boring enough already, people.

Let’s get over ourselves and stop the stupidity. Zero tolerance makes zero sense. Look at cases on their merits, not just under the dimwitted light of asshat politicians who pass laws under the guise of looking tough on crime — because it’s we who pay the price, not actual bad guys.

The End is Nigh: What Journalism’s Selling

I graduated with a journalism degree back in the mid-90s, when this little “internet” thing was just taking off.

I don’t think any of us then could have fathomed a world where news could travel instantaneously from not just professionals, but amateurs with fancy cellphones.

Today, I wish the ethics class I had taken then was mandatory for all users of social media, and a refresher course available for all working journos. In the heat of the moment, even I can be guilty of kneejerk retweeting, because I naively believe the news sources wouldn’t DARE misinform us about something as dire as, like, nuclear meltdown.

How wrong I am.

Journalism & social media today.

Times like these, I worry it’s the blind-leading-the-blind news scenario that’s most detrimental to us.

Out there, panic. Apparently we’re all going to be stricken with radiation, then cancer and certain death as a nuclear meltdown abso-fucking-lutely will be laying waste across the world. Potassium iodide sales are skyrocketing. IN THE USA AND CANADA. Hello, there’s 7,000 kilometres minimum between our coasts, let alone travelling inland.

Get yer tinfoil hats on and stock up on duct tape, kids — North America’s in JEOPARDY!

Um, no, no meltdown, no nuclear boom. Not yet, kiddos. And, the thing is, the news is so sensationalised by just about everyone right now that I can’t even watch it. I just can’t.

Being terrified isn’t helping. And it’s insulting to the Japanese who are living with this shit within their borders.

And, furthermore, these constant death totals — the media had no business reporting deaths on day 2, 3, 4, etc. We know they’re going to escalate rapidly, and the foolishly low numbers reported early in the tragedy are just irresponsible — as if the tragedy is WORSENING because the numbers are rising.

No. It was that bad to begin with. You just had to watch it unfolding live. I’ll never forget how that felt. “Hundreds” of deaths? So naive.

I remember the low numbers reported for the first few days of the Indonesian tsunami that resulted in 230,000 deaths. I fear the numbers in Japan. I loathe the endless watch as the number creeps up with increasing speed as recovery efforts escalate. From false hope of “oh, it looked worse” to the ever-rising gloom of knowing that’s so much more than “just a number” as it gets amped up by thousands.

And, then, elsewhere in the world, Gaddhafi is effecting a brutal crackdown on his protesters, as the western leaders twiddle their thumbs. Bahrain is killing its protesting citizens, too.

CNN? Barely even knows the Arab World exists this week. And people are dying while our heads are turned away.

That is the media’s job. To prevent us from being blind to these things.

They’re failing.

They’re scaring us.

They’re reporting inside an echo chamber, putting people who don’t understand the topic in charge of educating the masses, they’re ignoring blood being shed for democracy, and none of us are the better for it.

To the few journalists who are really trying to present information without sensationalising it: Thank you.

To the rest of ’em: Get a real job.

The Blind Leading The Blind: News, Twitter Style

Days like yesterday make me realise I’ll always feel I’m a journalist. My schooling leaves me obligation-bound to the truth and facts, not conjecture.

Yesterday was a painful lesson in how very exceptional that mindset can be on the web, when it comes to researching from a fact-based place, and not just trying to find reports that match your worldview.

***

Cutting-edge graphic demonstrating how news circulates on Twitter.

Early in the day, a “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson, Arizona, left 6 people dead and 14 injured when a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon armed with an extended magazine of ammo.

For a very short time after the first word of the shooting in Arizona, all we knew was that a politician and her surrounding entourage had been fired upon in a crowd at Safeway, and the casualties seemed heavy.

Immediate reactions were: “Some Tea Party bastard did this!”

And my gut reaction was the same. Do the math, right?

Emotional reactions happen to us all, that’s humanity for you.

Then I realised: We don’t know jack. We need to wait for more. Realising that put me in a very small minority.

Probably 80% or more of the content I saw flying about on Twitter was rampant speculation about political motivation.

Now, here’s the thing: We still don’t know what happened. Anything I say about Jared Loughner, the alleged gunman, or his motivations, are speculation until his life is torn apart and we know everything.

There’s a possible second shooter/accomplice that the officials are still seeking, so we’re far from having a clue about what really happened.

Early evidence, though, suggests that Loughner is anti-government more than he is motivated by party lines. There’s also evidence that he’s usually a nice guy and a volunteer for social events, but that he has some kind of mental illness.

This is all we know, really, so far. And it can change, quickly, and so might my stance; but the EVIDENCE will dictate my reaction.

***

It’s funny, the public always says how crap the media is, so off-the-mark so often, but the public itself doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to check stories before they go retweeting “facts” or “news”. They don’t seem to even care if it’s true.

But god help the news organisations if THEY get it wrong, right?

Case in point is this particular tweet from late in the day, when reports suddenly circulated that stated Congresswoman Giffords had already magically recovered from being shot in the head and was up chatting just a matter of hours after the shooting.

Because that always happens, right? Why not just assume it’s true. Okay! Here goes.

This tweet flew fast and furiously, with these 143 retweets coming within a half-hour of the report. His profile says he’s a reporter with KTLA. Therefore, he MUST be right, right?

How did I respond?

First reaction: That’s AWESOME.

Second reaction: Okay, says who?

So, I did a Twitter search for a couple different terms: “Congresswoman” and “Giffords”. When paging through HUNDREDS of results, the ONLY report saying she was awake was coming from this guy, Reporter David Begnaud of KTLA.

Literally, no other source was claiming this on Twitter. No news organisation links were floating, nothing. Just Begnaud’s inaccurate story.

Did the rest of Twitter check this out? No, more than 140 people blindly retweeted Begnaud’s erroneous information without seeing if a source had been cited anywhere.

One great thing about Begnaud is, he retracted it as soon as he knew.

But the big problem? He had a lousy 550-600 followers at the time. The 143 retweets had spanned widely across the web, with a vast array of six-degree tweeters, and the damage was done.

As soon as he retracted it, I was the FIRST PERSON to retweet his retraction. Others followed.

Just not many others, that’s all. Lookit. Four lousy retweets.

His retraction received less than 3% of the retweeting traffic his erroneous information generated.

So, who’s at fault here? Well, both the journalist AND the public.

Kudos to Begnaud for admitting he fucked up, big ups to him for retracting it and deleting the wrong info. But he reported without getting definitive confirmation from authorities. Journalists aren’t supposed to do that. “Be accurate, THEN fast.” Not the other way around.

Damage? Done.

And that’s how the whole OMIGOD A TEAPARTYMEMBER KILLED A MEMBEROFCONGRESS, WHATAREWEGONNADO? panic got unleashed on Twitter earlier yesterday.

Folks just ASSUMED there was a Tea Party connection. Someone remembered there’d been a clip about target practice in the opponent’s campaign, someone else remembered the Palin infamous “target” poster, and everyone just assumed they went together.

The wrong story flew and a shitstorm ensued.

But don’t just take my word for it, take a look at Craig Silverman’s excellent timeline of tweets that shows you how the Twitter Day of News progressed after the horrible shooting happened. It’s simply brilliant. The news agencies screwed the pooch six ways to Sunday yesterday.

***

But that’s traditional media. Surely social media has no such ethical obligation, right? Wrong.

If you’re a member of “social media” and you think you’re some news aggregator, and you’re sending out link after link because you’re “so on top” of all this shit, but you don’t research to make sure there’s more than one source cited, or ensure it’s not just speculation, then you have no business aggregating news.

I don’t give a shit that you don’t have a degree in journalism, you’re not paid, and you think the media’s “ethics” aren’t bound to you.

You’re “helping” people by spreading “interesting” stories?

Um, no. No, you’re not.

You have a responsibility to do your CHOSEN job well. Make sure what’s sent around the web isn’t just more of the lies and half-truths that are tearing America apart.

Waiting for the right information isn’t sexy.

Being the woman shouting “YOU’RE SPECULATING, THERE’S NO PROOF” is really hard when people accuse you of being a heartless bitch or not caring about the victims, or that you’re stupid and ignorant about the OBVIOUS political situation.

Conjecture and speculation are dangerous.

What if it took longer for the news to come in? What if enraged Democrats loaded their rifles and went out looking for retribution?

What if?

Yesterday could have been a far worse day.

We’re very lucky the misinformation and passionately partisan battles have largely subsided today, because it’s toxic and should have no place in our society.

As social media, we too have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy of what we report. We have an ethical obligation to ensure truth, not conjecture, is what we spread.

I’ve been saying for years that blogging and social media could change the news world forever, that the non-corporate “journalist” worldview could bring a more “We, The People” perspective on the news, and events could be shaped with more societal relevance than ever.

But, you know what?

Not if you don’t get your shit right. Not if you don’t stop believing that, if it’s in print, it’s true.

There are more inaccuracies on Twitter than anywhere else on the web, I feel, because of the fly-by nature of tweets and the ease in which you can delete them.

But tweeting fast-and-furiously without regard for accuracy and then just using the Cleanup-on-Aisle-7 method of delete-and-retract IS IRRESPONSIBLE. It’s dangerous.

It’s bad social media.

I don’t give a fuck if you think the Tea Party is horrible, and that violence seems to be something they espouse. You don’t take that belief and sandwich it with what APPEARS to be the situation, then call that a “news”. That’s a gossip column, at BEST.

You don’t take your politics and then analyse the situation according to your worldview then report your subjective take on it.

Who the fuck are you, Glenn Beck? Oh, you’re a liberal, so THAT makes it okay? Uh, no.

And I don’t care if you’re some guy with a Twitter account, not a “journalist” — you’re a part of the misinformation problem. Don’t be.

Sooner or later, bad things are gonna happen if people don’t start spreading information with more objectivity and research done before clicking on “update” or “tweet”.

If folks don’t like me because I call it like it is when people are injecting personal feelings into their chosen “news” tweets, or are jumping to dangerous conclusions that are inciting others, then so be it.

But I sure as hell won’t stand around when I see nothing but half-truths, inaccuracies, and preaching being sent around. I won’t stand around when partisan hate of either political affiliation is being circulated as “news”.

Because, whatever you might think of some fuckwits in the industry, I’m a journalist, I learned the ethics of news circulation, I live the ethics, and that’s not changing.

Integrity matters. Truth matters. Because that’s what the press SHOULD be guided by. That’s what social media SHOULD be guided by.

If we the people want the media held to a higher standard, reporting better than they have been, then it needs to start with us.

It starts with us demanding more, but also with us researching the claims we make, the links we share, and the stories we tell…

BEFORE we send the information out there.

No Meanies Allowed!

There are bad people in this world.

Really bad.

Then there are people like this, who are just demented and cruel, who enjoy inflicting emotional pain but would never have the balls to get physical about it.

Long story short?

“How it started depends on who you ask.  It escalated into frequent calls to police and personal protection orders against the Petkovs.

Besides posting disturbing photos on Facebook, the Petkov’s painted their truck with tombstones and placed a coffin in the back of the truck.  The truck was parked in front of the Rose family home.  The Petkov’s claim the truck is a decoration for Halloween.”

(From the Ron Savage  MyFoxNewsDetroit.com report that originally broke this story wide open.)

The Petkovs are the “nasty” neighbours. The Rose family includes 7-year-old Kathleen Edward, dying of Huntington Disease, daughter to the now-dead-from-Huntington’s Laura Edward (passed at age 24), and grand-daughter to Rebecca Rose, the owner of the home in question.

Now the Petkovs apologize. Sure, now. I don’t care how it started, there’s no justification for doing that to a dying seven-year-old.

That’s nature for you.

There are people like this out there. That’s reality. In the wild, mothers sometimes eat their young. It happens: Cruelty.

But it’s not the only thing that happens.

There’s more people out there who are sickened by this behaviour than those committing it, and it’s up to you to decide which group it is that gets your attention.

For every news story like this (and it IS “news” because it’s not typical, doesn’t happen often) there are dozens of stories of small but amazing acts of kindnesses that are being randomly committed upon every landscape on earth.

We are, in general, good people. We do, on average, help when help is needed. And, because we do, it’s technically not “news” often.

Sure, we fall apathetic and get distracted in our lives, but we usually jump up when the times require us to do so.

The reality out there is, violent crime is at its lowest levels in anyone’s memories.

Personal crime seems to occur less frequently, too.

Volunteerism is escalating.

Awareness on all sorts of issues has grown astronomically.

You see what you choose to see.

You’re surrounded by what you want to be surrounded by.

When you hear about stories like this, try to remember also that there are people who will go to amazing lengths to help strangers.

Every day, little kindnesses unfold, everywhere — not just the big stories, lots of little stories.

If you think the world is worse off, then what are you doing about it?

Just complaining? Feeling depressed? Giving in to your feelings?

Shut off the news. That’s your first problem. Read the news; don’t watch it.

Then, do something. Anything.

Buy someone on the street a lunch.* Every now and then I’ve got $5 I feel like spending on someone who looks legitimately hungry, and it’s the best money I spend all day when they appreciate it and genuinely smile.

But it doesn’t make the news.

When I make small talk on transit with what seems a lonely old person, their day brightens, they smile. That doesn’t make the news. When I see a parking enforcement officer down the block and some rundown car with an expired meter and I pop a quarter in to help a seemingly unwealthy person avoid a ticket, that, too, does not make the news.

They’re little things. It doesn’t take a lot to be kind in small ways.

Brightening another person’s day can often lift YOUR mood too.

There will always be people who don’t appreciate it. Sometimes the bought lunch gets scoffed at. You can’t SEE a meth or crack addiction right off, so you never know. Maybe the old person I get talking to is totally toxic and alone for good reason. It happens.

But when it works outweighs the fails.

It keeps me believing in us.

It keeps me respecting myself.

It keeps my focus on who we can be, not who some of us have devolved into.

And that’s how I prefer to think, the way I prefer to see us.

When it comes to how we are as a society, perspective is everything. Our history hasn’t been written yet, and you are not inconsequential in how it will unfold.

Good/Bad, you see what you want to see. Be the change you want. Live the cliche.

At times like these, the saying “pick your poison” has more relevance than ever. The happy “We Can Do It” juice, or are you more a “Life Sucks and Everyone’s Mean” on-the-rocks kinda person?

Choose. Then live it.

*Get high-calorie stuff.
Homeless folk generally don't have "vegan" tendancies, FYI.
Just sayin'.

RANT: God’s Asked Me to Whale On Yo Ass, MoFo!

There’s a lot of attention being paid to polygamy and bigamy at the present, thanks to the arrest of that uberFucker, Warren Steed Jeffs. I know there are a lot of polyamorists in my audience, so I’m going avoid starting a war of words just because I disagree with the lifestyle.

(Disagreement does not equal judgment, so spare me the sanctimony, thanks! Do what thou wilt; just don’t invite me to the party.)

I want to say one thing, and one thing only.

CNN’s been showing these slighted polygamists who feel the world is up against them. (I may not agree with it, but I don’t think it should be outright outlawed, but that’s another argument for another time.) Naturally, the butthead I saw was excusing or justifying his lifestyle because he believes he lives that lifestyle in praise of God or as a means of being closer to God, or even because God wills it as such. Insert the justification you like best.

I am sick and fucking tired of everyone justifying their actions because it’s “God’s will.” No, people, it’s not God’s will. If you are religious, then you understand the simple premise of the belief that God gave free will to man so that man may choose and thus ultimately secure his own fate. You have chosen your lifestyle — whether it be that of a polygamist or that of a bake-sale/PTA mom. Don’t fucking tell me you’re doing it for God. Do it because you choose to, and have the balls to own up to choice, public opinion be damned.

I could turn around tomorrow and buy stakes in the best Belgian chocolate company in this city and scarf cocoa up my fucking wazoo, turning myself into some 400-lb ball of flab and say, “But God made the beautiful cocoa bean and I am simply choosing to respect the beauty of his creation by indulging in it! I’m doing it for God! My rolls of fat are a testimony to his greatness!”

Nuh-uh, sweetums. I’m doing it ‘cos it tastes so fucking good and I’m not getting laid so if that means I indulge, then I indulge. But it’s my choice, and that’s enough justification. “Because I want to!”

I’m really goddamned tired of people not taking responsibility for their actions. You’ve chosen. You live it. Be proud of it. Don’t tell me it’s for a God you’ve never had the privilege of sharing a beer with. You don’t fucking know what He wants, if in fact He even exists, so don’t presume to excuse your actions through Him.

A nation of pansies, that’s what this is. Fuck, man. God wills it, therefore it must be so. If that’s the case, then know this: God gave you a spine, but you CHOOSE not to use it, you fucking amoebas. Get with the program or check the fuck out, but spare me more of this bullshit.

(This goes for anyone on any side of the “God wants it” argument, whether Poly or PTA or Pro-Life or whatever. I’m just sick of the argument. Personal responsibility’s like some distant figment of the land over yonder or something. I, for one, think it’s time we remember what the hell it once meant.)

Sex Bites

Here’s an assortment of “quickie” pieces.

__________________

A sex theme park is set to open later on this year. “Amora: The Academy of Sex and Relationships” will contain exhibits that focus on improving sexual relationships and enhance people’s loving abilities.

There’ll be life-sized silicone models on which visitors can examine erogenous zones, and more.

Beats the shit out of Madame Tussaud’s, huh?

__________________

Thank god for equality. We’ve all heard of “sex tourists,” be they the pedophiles touring Cambodia for underaged girls, or college students trolling Thailand for Mai-Tais and anonymous sex. Now there’s a destination for women who want to find good, sexy young black men for their fuck-fests.

Dial up your travel agents, ladies. Gambia’s open for business.

Let’s just say that when you’re traveling there, pack some condoms, and make sure you grab a couple boxes of the Trojan XXLs.

__________________

I’m somewhat torn on the subject of prostitution. I fucking hate the duality of public perception on the subject, that’s for sure. Here in Vancouver, the lower-class prostitutes who work the street are still reeling from a campaign of terror that lasted years and years, in which more than five dozen hookers went missing off the streets. Some 27 deaths have been charged to one man, Robert “Willy” Pickton, who owned a rural pig farm and would lure the women out for promises of parties and copious drugs. The women’s corpses were fed to the pigs, and the search for evidence on that farm has been the largest ever crime scene in Canada. (It’s suspected that Pickton was responsible for all the deaths, but finding DNA evidence of crimes to charge the man with is almost laughable, considering the very needle-in-a-haystack odds of finding a tooth or a bone or something on acres and acres of farmland.)

Paying for sex has been something we’ve had institutionalized in society for as long as mankind has walked the earth. From sex slaves in Ancient Rome and Egypt to hookers trolling the streets in England, pussy and cock have always been for sale, and always will be.

I’d like to see prostitution legalized simply because many of the streetwalkers are women with no other options open to them. For one reason or another, they’ve fallen into that life. Arresting them and imprisoning them is simply a means of perpetuating that cycle of need and abuse. Take a woman in that situation and give her a record? Yeah, that’ll solve the problem.

Yet there are high-class “escorts” (let’s call a spade a fucking spade, all right?) who seem to buck the system, who get away with fucking advertising in papers for their services, and yet nothing happens to them. Why does money and class dictate legality? Such hypocrisy.

A whore’s a whore, and that’s the way it goes. If money is exchanged for sexual services, then that constitutes ‘whoring,’ whether you want to get all pedantic and argue the negatives of the word or not, it’s what whoring is. And don’t give me shit if you don’t like the word “whore,” because semantics isn’t an argument I’m willing to engage in. Use a dictionary, people. Why is one type of sex-for-sale ignored, and one victimized? It’s unfair.

Legalize it all, I say. Let’s get off our fucking high-horses and accept that sex will always be bought and sold, and it’s up to us to decide if women deserve to do it in safety. Considering AIDS and other medical threats, I’d say it’s about time we open our eyes to logic.

__________________

Stay the hell out of Philadelphia, men. The city of brotherly love ain’t getting much assistance from the sisters, man.

First, Loreena Bobbit. Now, Monica Randolph. This woman pounced on her husband in the dead of night, and using no weapons, dug her fingernails into his gonad and tried to rip his balls off with her own hands.

Howard Randolph said his wife tore “everything out of the sac and all the skin away.”

Just the thought triggers most men to hunch over and wince, but Randolph said he felt “fine” yesterday thanks to the morphine that doctors administered.

Monica Randolph told arresting officers that she had attacked her husband because he was cheating on her. But her husband denied having any affairs. He remains mystified as to his wife’s motive and demanded that she receive a stiff punishment.

He didn’t see the attack coming. He said he went to bed about 8 p.m. and hadn’t argued with his wife.

“She’ll probably blame her mental illness,” he said. “She’s bipolar, and she doesn’t take her meds.”

What else do I have to say? Poor son of a bitch. She’s been charged with aggravated assault, needless to say.

Chicks like this make chicks like me disgusted. Jesus Christ. I hate loopy women. One of these days, I’m gonna write me a rant on some women, actually. I’m a total feminist, but some of this crap that some of these ass-backwards chicks seem to justify really, really pisses me off. This is totally insane. Wow. (Oh, and naturally there are dickhead men, too, but that’s stating the obvious, and whenever a guy writes a rant about nutbag chicks, he’s slagged as a sexist, so I figure I ought to step up to the plate, y’know?)

I think they’re putting something in that Philadelphia water, people. Yeesh.

Oh, but get this:

Meanwhile, neighbors were left to speculate on explanations for the attack.

“She got to be crazy,” said Dionne Martin, 18, who basked in the spring sunshine on friend Rochelle Odd’s porch steps.

Odd, 21, agreed: “That woman was crazy, but I’m on her side. I don’t think no guy deserves to have his balls ripped off. But she’s got to be deep in love – that’s what would make a woman do this. If they was together all those years and he cheated on her, she wanted him to feel what she was feeling. There’s a lesson to be learned here: Don’t cheat on your woman.”

“Odd” supports the nutsack-attack, it seems. C’mon! “Deep in love?” Deep insane, is what I think. Nothing justifies violence. Nada, nyet, zip, zilch, zero. Get counselling. Get a divorce. Sue ’em for all they’re worth. Don’t attack people, because then you’re just going to pay a price for something you were already victimized for before the fact — vengeance is a good way to find yourself behind bars. How dumb can people get? Jesus.

The guy’s probably a complete prick and deserved something happening, considering how calm and cool he’s pretending to be about all this, but I think his wife has screws loose and could’ve handled things far better, to say the least.