Crime: It’s Just A Word

Posted on February 16, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

1st in the series The Manipulators

Your words for the day:

  • citizen = a legal, voting resident of the United States of America
  • non-citizen = not a citizen of the US of A
  • legal = according to law
  • illegal = NOT according to law
  • crime = violation (wittingly or unwittingly) of a law
  • The Big P = The Press (a.k.a., all media involved in the annual Pulitzer contest)

Hack!  Sputter, cough!  Hack, hack…

…stay with me a moment while I clear my craw…

  • Night court.  Traffic Court.  His honor begins his address:  “You are all here because you have committed a crime.”  Hmmm!  One guy got cited for 5-miles over the speed limit, another changed lanes safely without using the turn signal, and that lady over there was flaunting an expired inspection sticker…   you get the drift.  He said other stuff, but that bit about the “criminality” of minor traffic violations has stuck in my craw for a couple of decades.
  • A US CITIZEN single mother, with limited resources and spotty assistance from relatives, attempts to work for money to support her child and herself, can’t find a baby-sitter, so the child is left alone while she works.  She is a criminal (child abandonment, endangerment, etc., whatever the DA can tag her with) and prosecuted.  (Gotta be an item on page 1, section 1.)
  • A US CITIZEN home invader goes through your property collecting whatever he can find to improve the quality of his life.  He gets caught and is treated like a common thief.  (If not a famous invader, Press coverage somewhere in section 1.)
  • She is 17 years and 6 months old.  He is a “mature” US CITIZEN of 20 years age.  They are in love.  If you are really slow on this, he is an adult, she is a minor.  He might catch a break here if the DA is not running for re-election before she turns 18.  Just pray — if you are that “mature” US citizen — that you did not provide alcohol to an under-aged female to disable her resistance.  (Should have gotten press coverage on the first page of section 1.)
  • He is a US CITIZEN accused of sexual assault of a minor, on the run for 6 years.  He is finally apprehended and is treated like a heinous criminal, complete with public humiliation by the Press (with the big pee) and does jail time.  (Not just section 1, but headline ranking.)
  • You are a US CITIZEN, a relative of a legally entitled government benefit recipient.  The recipient dies, you keep on cashing those government checks issued in the name of the no longer responsive legal benefit recipient.  When you get caught for improving the quality of your life, think lawyer and act quickly.  Your federal government will treat you — an unquestioned US CITIZEN — like a common criminal.  (Page 1, or somewhere else in section 1, depending on what is trending.)
  • You are a US CITIZEN and you make false statements on a benefit application to get benefits you are not entitled, under U.S. laws, to receive.  Check with the preceding US citizen.  That one can recommend a good criminal lawyer for you.  (Maybe you’ll make it to section 1.)

We all live in a country with laws; that is true in whatever country on the globe you happen to live.  As a U.S. citizen visiting other countries, you can expect to be treated like a criminal if you are accused of violating local laws.  So, at home or abroad, mess with Zohan*   …uh, laws…   local laws…   your U.S. citizenship is meaningless:  you get treated like a common criminal (actually, that U.S. citizenship abroad probably adds to the severity of your sentencing).

On the flip side, you DON’T live in the United States NOR are you a citizen of said states.  You live in one of several countries south of the United States (or even Europe or Asia).  But, golly, things look pretty good up north (or, over there) in the US of A:  land of plenty, land of opportunities, land of free medical care and even free money.  Sure, they got laws and standards for immigration and the lines are long where people try to comply with U.S. law for entry.  But, you know somebody who knows somebody who can find somebody to show you the way around those checkpoints and such at the border — can you spell c-o-y-o-t-e? 

In the process of realizing your dream of being what and where you are not entitled to be, you are willing to commit crimes against the people of the United States and the government of the United States and any and all of its state governments.

But, not to worry, O Brazen Criminal.  You WILL NOT be treated as a common criminal; that is reserved for the US Citizens whose country, property, houses, and treasuries YOU WILL INVADE AND PLUNDER to improve the quality of YOUR life.

Best of all, O Brazen Criminal, your advocate works pro bono…   if you discount coveting the next Pulitzer award…  pro bono…  it means “free.”  Okay!  Now that is a big smile.

And your advocate-if-it-will-get-me-a-Pulitzer is…

_____________________________

*Don’t get all bent, Adam.  It’s a free plug for your movie…   which I have not seen.

_____________________________

Next up:  Meet the #@&#! press…   again.  (I’ll clean that up a little for prime time)

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Panache, Smoke, Mirrors

Posted on May 21, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Aside from adding federally approved yellowing agents, there are other tactics used by the media to stand out when competing for the same audience with the same offerings (say, like your various news/weather broadcasts):

  1. Panache (old-fashioned showmanship).  Boast that “Our pretty-boy/ -girl has a prettier smile than your pretty-girl/ -boy and can read the teleprompter better than yours.”  Tap dance like Billy Clinton explaining his latest episode of Sex and the Single Girl while juggling the meaning of the word “is.”  SMILE A LOT.  Dazzle ’em with a glitzy studio and eye-catching technology.  Tease them with pointless, but cute, anecdotes.  SMILE A LOT.  Instead of being a fashion dummy’s torso sitting behind a desk, stand up to read the teleprompter in a really cool fashion-model stance so people can tell you ARE wearing pants.  Oh…    and, SMILE A LOT.
  2. Smoke.  Announce up-coming stories with teasers that take up more time than the actual story:  Did the President really say “$#+!%*”?   Will you need your umbrella?   What toddler completed potty training 20 minutes earlier than its peers?   Stay tuned right here ’cause Gregg has your answers at 10:00 P.M.   You get a lot more promise than substance.
  3. Mirrors.  When you got a story, even though irrelevant, with hot buttons (like GAY BAR, ELECTION, BRIBE), run it a dozen times a day, but, have different teleprompter readers read it while sitting or standing in different postures.   If it’s the same schmuck at every reading, have him try to act like he’s really excited on every retelling.

The breaking news ploy.  Oh!  Yeah, there is that:   (l) Live from some helicopter hovering over some disturbance on an interstate somewhere in Timbuktu, or (2) Live from some well-known rehab center where the gardener who works for the third cousin of a big name celebrity‘s chauffeur’s mother is delivering flowers — to whom and what does it mean?  (3)  “SO STAY WITH US AND GET THE TOTAL NEWS.”   Which means that five minutes of loud, obnoxious (if not ludicrous),  paid advertising is coming to your t.v. screen —  NOW!

To their credit, the tabloid genre doesn’t waste time with such inane creativity. They cut the hype and go straight to lurid, suggestive, prurient content with real (you-can-hardly-tell-they-were-photo-shopped) pictures IN COLOR — just in case the giant, outlandish headline didn’t catch your eye — and, a sort-of-story tailored to the photo.

I cannot shake the feeling that much of what the media offers is just illusion, a sop bloated with hidden messages and agendas that I am expected to blindly fulfill.  It is not a new feeling; rather, the same old one that induced my avoidance of newspapers, news programs, et cetera, for the past decade or so.  Embarking on this blog-cruise unavoidably causes me to allow media outlets access to my thought processes.  In remorse, I am wondering…

“Is it too late to jump ship?”

Next up:  It’s not my fault!

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Does The Yellow Ever Go Away?

Posted on May 13, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Alas, Virginia, no!  And, by “no” I mean “absolutely not.”  I am afraid it’s the “pecking order” thing embedded deep in the genes of all multi-cellular life.  Oh, yeah, you got your goody 2-shoes, reformers of human nature, tolerance, Dr. Phil, Dr. Spock, Dr. Fraud…   Freud…   but, all of that is basically just spittin’ into the wind — you just can’t change a leopard’s spots.  At least, not overnight.  A million years or so of natural selection might do the trick, but, really, who has that kind of time?  Best thing to do is just go with the flow, adapt to it, resign yourself to it, etc…   There will always be a little yellow in every headline-grabbing story.  (Uhmmm, on a personal note, Virginia, you don’t still believe in Santa, do you?)

Marketing.  That’s what they call “yellow” these days.  Like, if it’s playoff time, they media-hype old rivalries or even print stuff that CREATES controversy just to make sales; or, if it’s election time, they play on old phobias and Elysian dreams.  The line-up to identify the current opinion hot button contains the usual suspects:  economy, jobs, taxes, global warming, integrity (we’re talking about politicians here, right?“), improper conduct, family values, lifestyles…   They parade before the editors until someone says, “There!  That one.  That’s the incumbent’s (or challenger’s) Achilles’ heel.”  Then, depending on which runner is favored by the media, the order goes out, “Minimize the importance of that” or “Play it up really big.”

And, by “minimize,” they mean, “Bury it.  The stupid masses needn’t bother themselves with such trivia.”

And, by “play it up,” they mean, “Exaggerate the crap out of it.  Shock and awe the stupid masses into our line of thinking…   and voting.”

I do not mean to imply that main stream publishers and broadcasters are subject to being biased like the rest of us.  If you are having to infer anything from my text, then I am not being so clear as I think I am.  So, just to be sure you get my drift:   ALL MEDIA ARE BIASED, PRONE TO EXAGGERATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR OFFERINGS, AND TAILOR THEIR MESSAGES TO A TARGET AUDIENCE.  Does that make it clearer?  Like Diogenes’ search for an honest man, the search for an unbiased reporter/blatherer can go into serious over-time.

Responsibility and veracity are very important in information transmission.  But, it is the individual recipient who bears full responsibility to test the veracity of information content and its sources.  You have the freedom to either be brainwashed without resistance, or, to demand to see the ingredient notice for the washing solution so you at least have some reading material during the rinse cycle.

Next up:  Panache, smoke, and mirrors

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Yellow Journalism

Posted on May 6, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Yellow journalismSensational news-reporting.  A style of journalism that makes unscrupulous use of scandalous, lurid or sensational stories to attract readers.  Media using this style, collectively, are referred to as Yellow Press

Well, the definition speaks for itself.  Out of today’s enormous field of journalistic enterprises, those dealing in “sensation” stand out like a tart at a nuns’ convention.  They are too easy to spot, but, then, it’s not like they’re really trying to hide, since being noticed is the goal.  Today we call them tabloids… celebrity updates… the evening news…

Not just fringe media.  Even the big boys of broadcast lean to the lurid, pretend “news.”  Most recently, down in a big city on the Gulf Coast, there was this hit-and-run thing;  actually, it was an alleged sideswipe of a parked car (not a collision, not a fender bender, not an injury) at low speed in a parking zone as one driver, allegedly, tried to leave a bar.  How many hundreds of those happen every month without making the local evening news? 

But the owner of the scraped car said he saw who did it, and, it was mmffmnfm lxrrmfs, a well-known conservative talk show host.  Hot dog!  NOW, we got some news.

After the story broke, by  golly, we got some bona fide video that (allegedly) places our subject at an establishment in the area.  Look, there he is,  alone, carrying a bottle (beer?) and making his way toward the exit.  That’s all that’s in the video.  Can’t tell which, or what kind of, establishment.  So, all we got so far is a scraped car and a witness who says he saw who did it, video footage apparently showing the named suspect leaving someplace (his only companion a… beer?… bottle) with the time-stamp just before the alleged time of the alleged damage.  Those are the facts, ma’am.

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  The security footage, according to the voice-over, is said to be from a nearby bar.  Not impressed?  Get this:  it is a bar frequented by GAY persons.  Thus, the moniker “gay bar.”  Every time we (remember?… we…   the stupid masses?) were updated on the “ongoing investigation,”  we also got to hear the term GAY BAR vigorously delivered at least 5 times per update in association with the name of this alleged heinous perpetrator.  Never did  find out if the subject was:  gay, married, a father, a Catholic, agnostic, football fan, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, evolutionist, a brother, an Elk, marathon runner, vegetarian, or even if he was hungry a lot.  Any and all of those  are as relevant to the alleged property damage as the fact that there was a gay bar nearby.  Not relevant, but, by golly, loudly proclaiming GAY BAR just had to keep audiences glued to the television.  It must have been the first high for those ALLEGED reporters since they got to say “penis” over and over some years ago on the morning, afternoon , and evening news hours.

Remember cars rigged by a documentary producer to explode when impacted by another vehicle to “prove” car manufacturer negligence?  How about the super market chain selling out-of-date meats, only, it was the “reporter” who switched labels on the packaging?  [Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”   -Sir Walter Scot]

Next:  Does the yellow ever go away?

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“The People Have A Right To Know”

Posted on May 4, 2012. Filed under: Constitution, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

In the movies, the justification given by our character of sleaze as to why he/she felt compelled to publish a personally harmful/embarrassing story (usually in the tabloid venue) with no societal relevance, is:  “The people have a right to know.”  I’ll have to take the movies’ lead on this since I have never had the opportunity to confront a gossip monger and demand to know why she/he felt compelled to print such harmful material.

But, rights are spelled out in the Constitution.  Nowhere did I see an open-ended clause saying, “The People have a right to know.”  It does say the People have a right to blab what they know, but, nowhere does it command that The People be informed of anything.  Do I really have to know that Councilman Big Shot had a bed-wetting problem when he was a child…  or NOW, for that matter?  In the pursuit of my alleged “right to know,” is it right for me or anyone else to snoop around in people’s private lives looking for embarrassing anecdotes?

Would The People also have a right NOT to know?  Oh…   yeah!  You just change the channel or don’t buy the offending publication.  But, the purveyors of sleaze (a.k.a., The Press) know what The People will buy, and the popularity and profitability of their product attest to that acuity.  People like to see others as less than themselves.  By golly, we just need someone to pick on.  It is especially satisfying to see persons from a higher moral, social, or economic plane get a little mud on their halos, evening gowns, and tax returns.  And, if we join others in the ridicule of some hapless (preferably defenseless) target, we have a common bond in the cowardly persecution of another…   we belong to something bigger than ourselves.  It isn’t right (read “moral”), but, it is legal.  And, it is an indigent part of the uglier side of human nature.

Pandering to humanity’s darker side does produce larger audiences (read “big bucks”).  Going native (cheap and petty) now and then seems to bring in the customers for even the “classier” media, possibly more so for broadcast than the legitimate press.  How much mileage did media of all kind get out of flaying the psyche of that young entertainer caught in the wallow of sudden fame?  Paparazzi, tabloids, entertainment media, main stream news media, all joining to publicly ridicule a lone soul derailed by the suddenness and scope of celebrity status.  Did you people get a real thrill out of beating up on a kid?

Her every move documented, her every misstep ridiculed.  Why, you even pretended to be concerned with the “Well, she’s in rehab…   again!  (Wink)  (Wink)”  news lead-in.  As a matter of speculation, how  much did negative and malicious press contribute to her troubles?

But, all of you (and , this includes the morning DJs who feel compelled to deliver a good-morning laugh at someone else’s expense, have sure as hell made it to my piss ant list.  Which list, under MY freedom of expression, I have the right to maintain.  And, I have no legal obligation to leave you OFF the list.  To restate your own mantra, “Pandering media has the right to know that they are piss ants.”

Next up:  Yellow journalism is alive and well

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The Story is Everything

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It is a crowded world we inhabit.  Well, crowded with humans, anyway.  Clawing our way to the top of that food chain left us with very few natural predators (most notable among those remnants today are microbes and other humans).  Instead of “clawing our way…” I could have said “conquering our environment,” but, the jury is still out on whether the Natural Order of Things is pleased with our meddling in so many of nature’s balances.  If not, an inevitable “adjustment” to our achievement may balance the ledger long before a killer asteroid can do the job.  Until either occurrence, our low attrition rate reinforces our pre-eminence at the top.  Them babies just keep coming.

More people means a larger consumer base for everything from basic survival needs to an increased demand for, and variety of, information.  This is where the media comes in, and the PAU obligingly keeps turning out hordes of journalists eager to find an audience ripe for their pronouncements…   and, even more ripe for being parted from their money.  (No carping, here.  Somebody has to pay for all that advertising.)

The Story is eternal.  From time immemorial, from that first ancestor’s telling of  a wondrous chunk of rotten meat (or, if you prefer, a nice berry patch) just over the hill, our kind has depended on The Story for survival.  Every instance of information sharing is a story, including technical manuals and associated schematics, if you understand that language.  Social information transmits the story of who is at the top of the power pole, who is in the middle, who is at the bottom.  The pecking order in a flock of chickens is information-sharing relative to the power hierarchy.  Tribal history and knowledge, before writing, was passed on verbally; this lore was vital to locations of tribal resources, enemy territory, who got to eat first and who got to eat last, who was welcome in the group, who was outcast.  The Story has been life to humankind.  Just because we have reduced the number of entities who want to include us in their dinner plans does not mean our need for The Story has been excised.  The Story is the embodiment of information technology, and that is mankind’s first great invention — not fire and not the wheel.  The IT department predates it all.

The world is over-run with humans.  Humans seem over-run with media looking for a place — any place — in social awareness.  We need The Story like a strung-out addict needs a fix.  No matter who you are, or what your preferences, there is a surfeit of suppliers:  news stands with a boggling amount of printed material, on-line sites with e-offerings equally intimidating, and libraries containing centuries worth of out-of-print material.  For amusement, you can even tune in your favorite teleprompter-reader (a.k.a., news anchor) and watch him/her dazzle you with flashy form devoid of solid substance.  Instant gratification at its finest.

Today, profit is the motive and The Story is the game.  If you have something to tell, you have to get an audience’s attention to get them to buy the publication and buy into the story, and, you have to do it regularly.  Out-hustling the competition to meet publishing deadlines plays its part in mediocre offerings leaning more to the lurid than the pertinent.  But, hey!  It’s freedom of the press.  You gotta love it!

Next up:  Come to Papa, razzi

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Agenda: 50-50 Foresight

Posted on March 17, 2012. Filed under: Humor, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Procrastination.  That’s a word.  It means, “Not now.  Maybe later.”  But, you already knew that.

It also means I should have started working on this post 3 hours ago, but, I got side-tracked surfing for a white wolf sculpture;  no luck yet.  So, I guess I had better hop to it if I don’t want to delay this next post yet another day.

My itches are many.  While it’s true that I’m crabby, it’s not crabs causing that chronic itch; it’s those obnoxious pismires.  Those things are everywhere, in horde-like numbers.  And, socially, they smell bad.  Possibly, it is mainstream media that has caused the harshest rashes I’ve had to endure (heretofore) meekly over the years, so guess who gets to go first in my commentaries?  Whoa!  You came up with that real quick.  And, they (the media) said you were slow and couldn’t even think for yourself.

Anticipated direction of my scratching is thus:  Media, experts, litigators (yeah, lawyers yucca-pa-tooie)…   Beyond that, it’ll be itches of opportunity.  All of it, you understand, out of a sense of community service and not out of festering spite, resentment, or any #%*@! thing like that.

On the light side, is a container — at 50% capacity —  half empty or half full?  What is the sound of one hand clapping?  If a tree falls in the forest…  SID (Ship’s Inane Digresser) said he has a few thoughts along those lines.

And, since I will have more than a few of them, I should include a page devoted to acronyms and abbreviations.  I’ll work on that.

That RSS feed thingy.  Yeah, IWOT.

New Year’s Resolution:  Figure out how to respond to comments.  It seems impolite not to.

Next up:  Bookends

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