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An Open Letter to Rick Sanchez October 6, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in media, society, sports, television.
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Rick,

Can I call you Rick? You don’t know me from Adam and I don’t know you from Jonathan Leibowitz. I’ve never watched Rick’s List and I guess I never will now. Actually, I don’t watch any CNN. Not even 360 despite the fact that Anderson Cooper is a fellow Bull. I don’t even know where CNN is down here in the 20816. Not that I watch Comedy Central either. I get my television news from MSNBC, Joe in the morn—sadly I have to leave before Chuck and Savannah come on—Ed or Rachel or Matthews or O’Donnell in the eve. You see, I like my news with a heavy liberal slant but only 40% sarcasm, not 98%.

Rick, you got on my radar last week when CNN fired you for calling Jonathan Leibovitz a bigot and claiming that Jews are not a true minority a la Hispanics. You weren’t even on CNN at the time, you were a guest on a radio show. A sattelite radio show fagadsakes! The same radio service that broadcasts Howard Stern! No matter. You were out on the street the next day. That was wrong, Rick. Not what you said. Although that was also wrong. And ignorant. But firing you for it was wrong too. And vindictive. And petty. A reprimand, a public apology, and a week off the air would have sufficed. You are not the first member of the national media to make an inappropriate remark and you won’t be the last. CNN was wrong to make an example of you. It was a bully move. Bush league.

Rick, your parents fled Cuba when you were two years old. They came to America to give you a better life. In Cuba, you can’t look sideways at a picture of Fidel Castro without getting thrown in the slammer. Or worse. In America, we have the First Amendment! Here, you can say whatever you want! You can say that Michael J Fox is faking Parkinson’s. You can say that a presidential candidate attended a madrassa. You can shout “baby killer” during a congressional debate. You can say that former presidents committed war crimes when they ordered nuclear attacks on Japan. You can even say that another country has WMD’s as pretext for attacking them, kill thousands of American soldiers and foreign civilians, and plunge the country into debt we may never recover from—hypothetically, of course, no one would ever really do such a thing. In America, Rick, you can say whatever you want …

… except you can’t make fun of minorities. Even ones that aren’t disadvantaged. It’s not nice. It’s not politically correct. You can get sued. You can’t insult hispanics—although you can deport them! God help you if you mock blacks—see Imus, Don—and no it doesn’t matter that we have a black president. And, whatever you do, under no circumstances are you to defame, denigrate, or otherwise dis Jews! I mean, Jews control the banks, the media, and White House staff in this country! If you go after one of them, you are going down! You send one of theirs to the hospital, they send you to the morgue! That’s the Chicago way!

So, I’m sorry Rick. I myself am Jewish and I wasn’t offended by what you said about my people. I actually thought it was kind of funny. And really, something can’t be funny if it’s not also true. But funny has nothing to do with it. Sarcasm is for the news. Not for candid interviews on pay radio. You crossed the unspoken line and you got whacked. But don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get picked up by FOX “news” in a few days.

Sincerely,

-Amir

P.S. Perhaps CNN firing you was karmic payback for the hit-and-run in 1990. How did you get away with that anyways? I know you were driving back from a football game, but were you actually playing in it?

P.P.S. Rick, the following P.S.’s are not directed to you, but rather to my six loyal readers. And to whoever Googles Rick Sanchez and scrolls to the 20th page of hits.

P.S. Red October 2.0 started in Phine Phashion with Roy Hallady no-hitting the Cincinnatti Reds! It can only go down from here! There is much to like about Roy. He’s a non-complainer—10 years and 280+ starts in Toronto with not a sniff of the postseason and not a single complaint. He’s a throwback horse—more complete games than any other National League team. And he possesses a filthy arsenal—then again, as far as I can tell, the 80 mph batting cage pitching machine does too—the second pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same season. But he has a bad nickname—Doc. Presumably after Wyatt Earp sidekick John “Doc” Holliday. Don’t get me wrong, Doc works. Halladay isn’t spelled quite right—perhaps Matt Holliday should sue Roy for the rights to Doc—but most baseball fans can’t spell anyways. And it gives us “re DOC tober.” Alas, it’s already taken. By Dwight Gooden. Who legally changed his name to Doc by the way. And you just can’t recycle bigtime nicknames, no matter how well they fit. It’s wrong. There is only one Babe, one Wizard, one Sandman, one Rocket, one Kid, one A-Rod, one Hebrew Hammer, two Pudge’s and two Whitey’s. And only one Doc. Roy needs a new nickname! Maybe a play on another famous Holliday—Billie? Matt? Jrue? Perhaps a play on the word holiday—Happy Halladay? High Halladay? Federal Halladay? Or maybe a play on Doc—most doctors are specialists today—the cardiologist? the podiatrist? the proctologist? the gynecologist? I got it—”the dentist!” After all, that’s how John Holliday became “Doc.” Red entistober everyone!

P.P.S. The Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb/Kevin Kolb/Michael Vick tetrahedron spins on! Week 4: Washington at Philly. The hype. The drama. The anticipation. The clock mismanagement! Michael Vick is out with torn rib cartilage—I broke a rib snow-boarding two years ago and couldn’t sleep for six weeks much less play professional football, of course I couldn’t really play professional football even when perfectly healthy but that’s besides the point—and castoff 2.0 Kevin Kolb is back in! Andy Reid immediately announces that Vick will start as soon as he is healthy—because of course you can’t lose your job to injury—unless of course, Mike Kafka looks really good running the scout team this week! Anyways, Donovan McNabb exacts sweet revenge on the Eagles by being the worst quarterback on the field but leading the Redskins to an upset by “establishing the running game,” “throwing only one interception,” “trusting his defense,” and “using Jedi mind tricks to coax another all-time brain-fart from Andy.” Actually, you don’t need any Jedi mind tricks for that.

LeBlog is LeBack July 9, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in business, drama, society, sports, television.
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I realize I have not posted in a little while. I was going to write an entry about Jaron Lanier’s book “You Are Not A Gadget,” but then about 40 pages from the end I misplaced that book. And then I started another book. Then the air conditioning in my house died—on a 102 degree day no less. And I hurt my finger which makes it hard to type. And the neighbor’s dog—I don’t have a dog—ate my laptop’s power cord. And. And. And. Speaking of and, here is a nice quote from Martin Gardner courtesy of little brother Bluejay.

“Wouldn’t the sentence ‘I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my Fish-And-Chips sign’ have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips?”

Not having posted in over two weeks, there’s lots to talk about. But the thing I wanted to weigh in on today is last night’s climax of the year-long LeBron James circus. In case you are either from another planet, comatose, or simply one of those people who cares more about the World Cup than you do about the NBA, you know what I am talking about. LeBron James, arguably the most coveted free agent in NBA history, is leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, where he will team up with fellow superstar Dwyane “Dwayne” Wade, superstar-wannabe Chris Bosh, and nine guys from the Boca JCC to form an NBA juggernaut. LeBron announced his decision in a one hour ESPN special called “The Decision.” It was the highest rated show in its slot—network or pay. I watched it. You watched it. Not you, mom. But everyone else!

What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? By LeBron’s former owner, Dan “I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned down to the GROUND!” Gilbert. By Orlando Magic general manager Otis “My Man” Smith. By Bill “The Book of Basketball” Simmons and his readers. By less-interwebs-savvy Cavaliers fans. By Daily Rundown. By All Things Considered. By Marketplace—that’s right, back-to-back NPR shows had LeBron segments. Probably nothing. But let me rehash the tripe anyways.

Point one. LeBron made a bad basketball move. It makes no sense on any level. There was a better surrounding team in Chicago. A bigger challenge in New York. More money and more honor in Cleveland. Now? He joins Dwyane Wade’s team. The same team that just four years ago won a championship without him. LeBron could win the next six championships in a row. Wade will always have one more. And each of Wade’s will always be worth more. Teaming up with Wade is the weakest move LeBron could have made. The only weaker move would have been to join Kobe and the Lakers—not that Kobe would ever sign off on such a move. Can’t beat ’em? Stop trying and join ’em. By switching teams to join another superstar player who already has a ring, LeBron has effectively admitted that he doesn’t have what it takes to lead a winner. That he doesn’t have the drive and killer instinct to be an all-time great. You could tell during the show. He looked like he was going to throw up. Because individual play affects the outcomes of basketball games more than it does in other team sports, NBA greatness is measured by championships. The NBA’s inner circle is reserved for playoff killers. Bill Russell. Larry Bird. Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. LeBron has voluntarily taken himself out of the conversation to join that inner circle. When he came into the league, his ceiling was Michael Jordan. Actually, he had no ceiling. Even Jordan wasn’t that good that young. Now? His ceiling is Wilt Chamberlain—an athletic freak who couldn’t win if he was the best player on his own team and didn’t really care that this was the case. A prediction? LeBron’s professional arc will start to go down. Oh well.

Point two. LeBron obviously doesn’t care about being great. He also obviously doesn’t care about his “brand.” There is no other explanation for “Decision 2010.” Thinking that his decision warrants a one hour prime time special made him look narcissistic. Dumping his hometown team on national television made him look loutish. Pretending that he had made the decision that morning rather than months ago made him look disingenuous. And saying that “true fans” will understand made him look clueless. In between, he made third-person self-references—Bluejay would never stoop to such depths—talked about “his talents” and “everything he had done for the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers franchise,” and threw up in his own mouth about twelve times. Not the most likable NBA star to begin with—he’s not a misanthrope but he’s not Magic or Barkley or Shaq either—LeBron is now seriously unlikable. Another prediction? LeBron’s marketing arc will go down as well. No tears here.

Point three. Is it really possible that professional sports matter this much? Is it really possible that 25-year old professional athletes matter this much? Is it really possible for NPR to run LeBron-themed segments in consecutive shows? Is it really possible that the Cleveland economy will suffer significantly because of this? Have we lost all perspective? The fall of the Roman empire comes to mind.

Point four. Dan, I feel for you. I think Coughlin said it best: “Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.”

P.S. It’s only fitting that “The Decision” would be spun as a charity event and held at the Boys-and-Girls club of Greenwich, CT—the US town that least needs a B&G.

P.P.S. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry died last year when we was thrown off the back of a moving pickup truck driven by his girlfriend. Autopsy on his brain shows that he wouldn’t exactly have had a healthy and happy life going forward even had he lived.

P.P.S. On a somewhat happier note, here is a CNN article about Gordon Murray’s T.25—a 4′ wide car that gets 0.013 gpm (74 mpg). Almost as innovative as the T.25 is the method used to manufacture it.

P.P.P.S. This actually happened a few weeks ago, but I did finally finish the 5,000 piece puzzle of Breugel’s (the elder) “Tower of Babel.” It took over two months. I have so much free time now, I hardly know what to do with it!

P.P.P.P.S. Want to regain some perspective? Here.

The Effects and After Effects of “24” May 26, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in society, television, Uncategorized.
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A few days ago, I heard an NPR interview with Kiefer Sutherland. The topic was the upcoming nine-season—eight television seasons plus one season when the show had to be suspended because Kiefer was in the pen—finale of “24.” One of the people interviewer Robert Segal quoted—I forget who this was—called “24” the “signature show of the Bush administration” and the “single most significant factor in the American public’s relatively new acceptance of torture as a military and counter-terrorism tool.” For the last nine years, 24 times a year, the American public sees Jack Bauer save the United States from immediate ruin using information obtained by what would surely be classified as torture. The American public, perhaps believing that “24” is a TLC reality show in the style of “Little People/Big World” or “Jon and Kate plus Jon’s 19-year old Girlfriend minus Kate,” come away believing that the CIA or FBI or Homeland Security—or whichever federal agency or sub-agency CTU is supposed to represent—routinely tortures people and routinely obtains reliable relevant information as a result. Or perhaps it’s nothing that sophisticated. Perhaps just regularly seeing torture on prime time network television—for whatever reason—desensitizes one to about torture, suppressing the gag reflex, and deprecating torture from something which is unspeakable to something which is both speakable and watchable on prime time television. Of course, Sutherland’s answer was expected. He essentially said that “24” was more a reflection of the post 9/11 world than a driver of it and that if it took several elements to the extreme, it was justified in doing so because everyone understands that “it’s just a television show” and “violence equals ratings” and “come on, it’s just a television show.”

Yes, we get it. “24” is (was) “just a television show.” And it wasn’t a very good show, either. I admit I used to love it. I have only enough attention to watch one show per season and for a few seasons—4 and 5?—”24″ was it. I watched the first two seasons on DVD also. In parallel with season 5 I think. But when the show took a year off, I switched over to “Fringe”, itself not the best of shows with no less tiresome acting, but with a more interesting plot than “24” at least. I mean, how many separate times can someone’s daughter be kidnapped in one 24 hour period?

Yes, “24” was not the best show. And it glorified torture and violence a little too much. But the twisted glorification of violence and torture was full on even outside “24.” Witness the whole “torture porn” film genre exemplified by the Saw series. As well as the GPU-enabled increasingly graphic nature of video games. “24”‘s bigger problems, in my opinion, were a cast of characters that changed by the minute as seemingly central players kept getting killed off—other than Jack you couldn’t get attached to anyone, not that you really wanted to get attached to Chloe—blatant abuse of techno-babble—really? it’s possible to download sattelite photos to a PDA over a secure link in under a second?—and its depiction of US President Charles Logan as an outright criminal. On second though, maybe “24” was the signature show of the Bush administration.

I will say this for “24” though. In addition to desensitizing America to torture, it also desensitized to the notion of having an African American president. I really believe that without “24” Barack Obama would not be president today. The country had to see it on television first.

P.S. Gregg Easterbrook has something to say about “24” also.

P.P.S. As if I didn’t like LEGO® enough already. Now I find out that they are manufactured to a tolerance of 2µm so that they can snap together tightly but still be pulled apart without excessive violence or torture. 2µm! The Intel 486, shipped in 1989, used transistors with a 1µm channel length. LEGOs are manufactured to roughly four times the tolerance of circa 1990 microprocessors! You can probably run Windows 3.1 on LEGOs!