Thursday, January 7, 2010

Volume 3, Number 32: Another Assortment of Small Stuff

(Note: I originally posted this entry to my Yahoo! GeoCities blog on November 21, 2008.)

Politics: I'm happy Barack Obama won. I look forward to seeing how he takes on the biggest mess any president has inherited since Franklin Roosevelt took over in the middle of the Great Depression. Locally, in a race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Gary Peters knocked Republican incumbent Joe Knollenberg out.

Business: Speaking of the Great Depression, there is one important parallel between the mess we have now and the mess that took root during the so-called "Roaring Twenties," and it is that for years, consumers and corporations alike tried to fool others into thinking they were doing just fine by borrowing on credit. In the '20s, ordinary consumers could get a piece of the rising stock market by buying shares "on margin," which basically meant they only had to put down a 10% down payment to claim ownership of a given stock. Over the last several years, we've had everything from people living off of credit cards to the subprime mortgage crisis. Both of these messes could have been prevented--or at least reduced--if the government had watched over Corporate America instead of being bought and paid for by it. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then a million dollars of regulation is worth a billion dollars of bailout.

Sports: The Lions are 0-10. I'm 9-2 in a two of the six fantasy football leagues I'm in, and no worse than 4-7 in the others. Therein lies the reason why I play fantasy football--I'm more likely to experience a championship by playing fantasy football than by watching the Lions. In college football, I will root for Michigan to beat Ohio State--but not for the Wolverines' sake, and certainly not for Rich Rodriguez, whose job should have been filled by ex-Minnesota assistant head coach Mitch Browning over a year ago. It's to help Michigan State, which could get a Big Ten title with a win over Penn State and a U-M victory over OSU. The Tigers raised ticket prices despite finishing last in the AL Central this past season. Joe Dumars made the "shake-up" trade everyone was waiting for--Chauncey Billups and two other players to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson. I'd like to think that Iverson's grown up since his legendary "We're talking about practice" shtick several years back, and I know he led the Pistons to victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers just the other night, but as with the new head coach (Michael Curry), I will take a "wait and see" approach.

Entertainment: I've come up with two other ideas for TV shows:
  • Clunker - In contrast to shows like Knight Rider and Viper (where already expensive cars are worked into crime-fighting machines), in this one, a government agency (or maybe a private investigation agency) has to rework a crappy old car like a Dodge Dart into such a crime-fighting machine, only to see it destroyed at the end of the episode. Kind of like "Knight Rider" meets "Pimp My Ride."
  • DIA: The Divine Intervention Agency - What happens to souls that aren't good enough to go to Heaven, but not nearly bad enough to go to Hell? St. Peter puts them to work at the Divine Intervention Agency, going after condemned souls have either escaped from or eluded going to Hell (and defending the innocent from them).
I am watching exactly two shows on a regular basis.
  • One is Life On Mars (about a cop who wakes up in 1973 after getting hit by a car; he resolves to continue solving crimes in his 1973 world but keeps coming across clues about what's happening to him in the present day). It's written far better than I expected (you should especially see the pilot episode) and I hope the writing doesn't go in a direction I don't like it going in (as Lost and Heroes did).
  • The other, of course, is Kitchen Nightmares (where Gordon Ramsay finds more failing restaurants in dire need of a turnaround--my favorite episodes so far are Fiesta Sunrise and Hannah & Mason's, both due to filthy kitchens).
There's one show in the UK that I wish would be adapted to the US: Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, a show where Brooker skewers just about everything in television, from the whole "reality TV" genre to soap operas to annoying TV commercials. He doesn't pull any punches, either--he even uses crude language, as Gordon Ramsay does when he skewers bad restaurant owners and chefs. Yes, in the US, we do have shows where C-list celebrities put in their two cents on some TV show scene (like in the 100 Greatest Celebreality Moments) or some event involving another, presumably A-list celebrity. But it's just not the same.

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