Friday, September 4, 2009

Words Fail

Next Tuesday, President Obama will address the nation's school children. Well, some of them, anyway. School districts across the country are sending home permission slips that will
ask parents whether they wish for their child to view the broadcast or not. Let me say that again: School districts across the country are sending home permission slips that will ask parents whether they wish for their child to view the broadcast or not.

Now, not every school district has made these permission slips available to parents, but Blogometrics is here to help. Below is a copy of a permission slip that readers are free to print out and send along to school with their children next Tuesday:

Dear School Administrator,

I am asking that my child (select one with an 'X'):

____ Be allowed to view the president's speech, as I feel that this is a valuable opportunity for students, teachers, and parents to reflect upon and discuss the importance of education in our society. As parents, we fondly remember answering President Reagan's 'Physical Fitness Challenge' and valued the words of George H.W. Bush when he addressed the nation's students in 1991 to stress much of the same topic Obama will address today. However, we request that the viewing be stopped should President Obama begin to read from "The Pet Goat." Thank you.

____ NOT be subject to radical subversion and indoctrination into President Obama's 'cult of socialism.' Instead, please send my child to the art room, so that he/she may paint Hitler moustaches on pictures of our 'president' so that I may bring these with me to the next health care town meeting. I believe that the government should stay out of public schools, and feel that the same communist forces who seek to allow students to 'opt out' of reciting 'The Pledge of Allegiance' are again at work, this time trying to corrupt the picture of the Real America that I rightfully draw out for my child every evening.


Folks, it's one thing to disagree with the president. It's another thing entirely to indoctrinate your children into the cult of asinine, right wing, delusional and absolutely empty-minded "conservatism" running rampant in this country by excusing them from this speech, and pitting them against their classmates who - gasp - watched the president tell them to study.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Somebody's Watching...

Time to bring a new contributor into the fold here at Blogometrics - everybody, meet Sean. Sean, welcome to Blogometrics.

For Sean's maiden voyage, we'll move into uncharted waters for this site: the world of conspiracy theories. However, instead of the usual suspects, we'll try to start up a few of our own.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Alright Sean, here's the scoop: Every so often, I'm going to try to come up with a 'gentle' conspiracy theory to banter about. Essentially, just but a thought out there that stands on it's own as a contradictory idea to any certain presumption. I'm not looking to stir the pot, just looking to get people to say "hmmm" - pretty much like Arsenio Hall.

Anyhoo, here is the first one: I propose that automobile traffic - meaning: congestion - is a working model of transportation devised and supported by oil companies.

Sean: Ever since I can remember driving, there has been some kind of construction on 495 between Taunton and Natick. Even when some parts seem complete, you end up driving over a strip of old concrete. Even 128 has been in some form of construction on and off for at least a decade.

Somewhat understandably, we dig up towns' roads when the water, gas, electric, or communications needs new wires, conduit, or pipe. But highways do not have those under them - beside them under the brush, yes - so I do not understand why I see newly paved sections being re-dug.

Something else I do not understand is why - with all of the technology we have - humans have not come up with a substance that can withstand harsh winters and scorching summers (let's say -40oF - 120oF). Why are we still using ground up rock and tar?

B: All good points - but here's what I'm getting at, and it builds on your examples: If we can stand road work every year, and in some places, year round road work, what is the reason that our roads are not updated to reflect 2009 traffic volumes, instead of the 1945 to 1970 volumes they were constructed to support?

S: thought the same thing over the weekend while watching a program on the History channel called "The Crumbling of America"

The weight potential of these bridges and roads are built on much older standards like you're saying, but then they illustrated corrosion and wear which makes their weight threshold lower. I already think "what if" thoughts when going over man-made structures, and this program didn't help. Like many History channel programs, the computer-animated fill-ins were extra dramatic, adding to the what-if scenarios.

The real footage, though, was eye-opening. Somewhere in the program, they quoted $1.5 trillion as a necessary figure to make this go away. What has already been spent? Is this in addition to the Roads/Bridges/Construction stimulus already passed? The program is listed as 2009 in the IMDB, so I wonder if they've left out the stimulus money.

Either way, without saying we need more committees, where is the taxpayer oversight? ?

B: Sure, the cost is staggering - but in trying to whittle this down to a simple "hmmmm" - inducer: Think of all of the revenue that has been lost due to traffic. When some one is late to work, their employer loses money. When you miss an appointment, money is lost. When you are late getting home, advertisers have lost money because your eyes weren't focused on a tv for the full prime time block. It goes on: when you are immobilized in your vehicle by traffic, your ability as a consumer nearly disappears - you lose the ability to actively consume. Sure, you can drink that Dunkin Donuts coffee, but you can't buy another 'until this traffic lets up' - and now you won't be able to stop at the bakery before your 9 o'clock meeting, either. You can still be advertised to, if you are some one that still listens to the radio, but even that takes place in a diminished capacity, because you have no immediate ability to consume.

At these times, your only direct action is further indebting yourself to petroleum producers. That sort of 'captive market' does not occur too often - and I wonder if it is an actively manipulated phenomenon.

S: It certainly could be. When I mentioned wondering about the non-production of a better substance for pavement given today's technology, the suppression of that technology certainly could be probable. Just like the technology for gasoline-efficient engines has existed for longer than their existence on public markets, I would not be surprised if the car producers, oil refiners, oil explorers, and logistics companies for both oil and cars would band together to prevent something that actually works.

I laugh when I see a single lane being added to a highway. A single lane? Really? Is that how to engineer for the future?

You make a really great point about the spending of money and time behind the wheel in traffic. That person is not spending money, and many hourly employees are also not making any money, either... almost like a deadlock.

Look at all the jobs created by traffic. Every station in the area has a "traffic on the [insert digit here]" report, and many stations like FOX25 put a helicopter in the air. Here is a list of more expenses brought on by constant construction:
- brakes being replaced because of constant acceleration followed by braking
- new tires for pot holes and cracks
- new windshields busted by gravel and debris (ask J.N. Phillips Auto Glass for the numbers) - shorter lives for the rest of vehicles components: spark plugs, belts, radiators, etc.

While we're on keeping people on the highway, we are certainly keeping their work days longer.

B: Great points. I think the most laughable element of this is something you bring up (and this goes a bit off topic - Blogometrics!): Traffic reports. I mean, what percentage of people who even listen to these reports actually alter their route should it be reported that 'traffic is bad'? I think most people only tune into traffic reports when they are already sitting in it (guilty), and even then it's more for the instant gratification of the ugly, frustrated person inside of a lot of us that says "there had BETTER be an accident up here!"

If you think about it, traffic reports as a whole sort of play into this whole "frozen consumer" theory - they are usually the only exclusively marketed 'news' segment. You don't hear "...and now with today's Johnson's Water Seal weather report, here's a girl who's not hot enough for tv...", but you do hear "...and now it's time for the Commerce Bank traffic report. Let's go up to Rusty McDuff in the Liberty Mutual traffic copter."

I'll say it: "hmmmmm..."

S: Hmmm.

We could have a whole blog section devoted to traffic reports - really.

B: Again, good point. Alright, hopefully enough people are saying 'hmmmm.' Now let's get them to, I don't know, chuckle.

Theory number 2: The South is actually rising again and has been fighting a proxy insurgency since at least 1945. And by 'South', I mean the Confederacy.


S: OK.

By proxy, you mean the enlisting of third parties to fight this battle or do you mean the insurgency is the third party / proxy. I'll go with the insurgency being the proxy between the North and South for now until you respond.

After 1945 the whole new world politic began - globalization continued to grow more than ever as soon as the U.S. asserted its nuclear and aeronautic superiority. Now more than ever, the direction of the U.S. citizens and their global cause had to be steered.
Disparate groups with the same goal of retaliating on the North to end the industry they had fought just a century ago were forming. Tobacco took on more fierce chemicals like DDT and gas chamber poison, whiskey prices soared, and bluegrass music along with blues migrated into rock n' roll specifically with the rising star - Elvis. The Cold War began topically, but underneath, the South was taking back their country that had once been lost to industry.

They have adopted the mid-west and corn belt - most recently making their corn stocks/stalks part of the non-oil but still fuel industry. Things like NASCAR have become household words, and every American business is on a car. This goes back to oil-run money pits. Sayings like "get her done" have made their way to the National vocabulary (even in the workplace) and look at how they have hijacked the country music genre.

B: You hit it on the head where you bring up NASCAR - that's where I was going.

So, I'm reading RollingStone's review of the new Sugar Ray album, and they make note that singer Mark McGrath might have a future in country due to his plaintive song writing ability. They mean this as a compliment. That got me thinking "Since when has 'you've got a future in Nashville' been a compliment to a pop-rock star?'" I realized, "Oh, for about a decade." (I have great conversations with myself). Then I thought, "Hmmm...Indy car racers are going from their circuit to NASCAR, too...this never would have been the case in the past. And what's up with the national reading grade level? The average American reads at a SIXTH grade level? That used to be reserved for places like Tennessee and Texas, and by the way - what's up with all the state's rights crap coming out of these 'tea parties'?"

Anyway, in the world of conspiracy theories, where there's dust, there's fire.

S: Really - leave tea parties to Boston. The state power debate goes back to a debate during the genesis of this country: more Federal power or more State? Not much of a "party" there.

B: Yeah, I'm getting more at the folks who are still flying the Confederate flag as a symbol of "states rights." That's like saying the swastika symbolizes 'good luck' - which used to be true.

I guess what I'm saying is: There's something happening here, and what it is ain't exactly clear.

Let's open this up to commenters and see how crazy we are.

Hey Paul, Let's Get Rid of Clarence

As always, I'm looking for ways to improve Blogometrics, and make it more entertaining and interactive for you, the reader. Who better to turn to for help with this than old friend and fellow blogger "Smack"?

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: I had a thought about the whole 'main page commenting' mechanism. It would be rad (yeah, said it) if that tool could be used as a sort of community twitter - where anyone can come on and "tweet." It can be interactive or linear, sort of like a twitter community - but where chat rooms have the drawback of being in real time (one of the only times that 'real time' is a draw back, unless you're George W. Bush), this is more like a message board open to any visitor. I know there are message boards, but I don't know that they've been properly marketed, or anywhere that they're totally free-form.


Smack: I think it’s a good idea. Not exactly the same concept as Twitter but I know what you mean. It’s better than having people write comments on posts asking for other topics to be discussed. I like the recent comments feature even more. You just need more people posting comments.

B: Right - not twitter, but kind of. More like "open twitter", where instead of having only certain followers, or only following certain feeds, this would be open to anyone - so that person 'x' can do the whole "I'm watching ESPN, and what the heck is the story with Colleen Dominguez' hair?" - and then anyone can either reply, post their own - whatever.
How do we get this going? What are some buzz words we can put on this site to get more hits, without stooping to x-rated levels?

S: Google indexes a lot of stuff on its own. Like if someone Googles that British PSA, your site might come up somewhere down the list. I think a good way to generate traffic would be to start commenting on other popular blogs. Post as yourself, and write things that will make people click on your name and check you out. They’ll see your blog and probably go read it. Or maybe you need to make a viral video.

B: Viral video! I knew there was a good reason I just bought an HD camcorder, besides my newborn son, that is.

Alright - you're in on this. We need a premise. Maybe we could revisit our Australian movie idea, but that might get pricey...

S: Do you have any direction? I feel like most viral videos are bloopers or funny injuries. Or people who are so terrible at something that it’s hilarious…

B: Hmmm. Maybe something spoofing PSAs, like the "Just Say No" spot I jokingly came up with the other day. Or a "Don't Gamble" PSA featured a homeless dude who lost it all, getting beaten up by the stars of our "Just Say No" PSA in a cross promotional piece. "If You Can't Say No to Gambling, At Least Say No to Drugs."

S: Not bad.

B: Yeah, too bad these guys already stole most of my good ideas...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Learned It By Watching You...Die

Even the mundane conversations with "Smack" can go Blogometric. Today, a simple "Hi, how's it going" took a wrong turn and will have me driving at 32 miles per hour for the foreseeable future.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: So, for dinner last night I had about 3 pounds of boneless ribs. Nothing else. Just 3 lbs of meat, sauce and seasoning. Then I watched Chad Vader.

Clint is a fool.

Smack: That is also funny. I was telling someone about Chad Vader this past weekend.
On another, unfunny note, have you heard about this British texting while driving PSA? Most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a while. Makes me wonder when the elderly driver PSA is going to debut.

B: Whoa. Wow.

That Were the sound effects necessary? I mean, we still want people drive, right? Man. You know what's crazy about that? It will be shown during some movie like The Bourne Supremacy, or Pulp Fiction, which will have been edited for TV to remove graphic violent content. I'm still floored by the sound effects. I mean, really? It had me expecting the two girls to awaken from the dead and start devouring the girl who survived, and then dash off into the woods. Then we would call it 28d L8TR.

You know what's scarier than that (and this is true)? Last night I walked down to the video store after dark, and on my way home I passed a young boy - well, maybe 10-12 - riding his bike in the road - and this is Route 106 (not the busiest street, but I wouldn't ride it after dark) - no hands on the bars and, you guessed it, texting.

S: I know. A car accident is a traumatic thing, nevermind a 3 vehicle multi-fatality wreck with a dead baby and a little girl with dead parents. That’s a situation that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone, so why is that something that everyone watching TV should be subjected to? The visuals and sound effects are enough to leave viewers with nightmares. It’s totally over the top, tasteless, etc, etc. Almost unbelievably so.

B: Seriously. I can't even think of an equivalent PSA - save for a similar one for cell phone driving, drunk driving...maybe a "Just Say No to Drugs" spot that starts with a kid taking a hit on a joint, follows him through addiction to meth, and ends with his house being broken into by Afghan heroin dealers who shoot his mother and throw his kid sister into the fireplace - all because little Johnny forgot to pay the vig.

S: Thanks for weighing in and as always feel free to leave a comment!

B: I'm reminded of a certain saying about flattery...

S: “Flattery is a counterfeit money which, but for vanity, would have no circulation.”It’s a good one. Write that one down.

B: Will do, but I was thinking of "Flattery is alright so long as you don't inhale."