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20 April 2007

How Much Cho to Show?

Personally, I've made a conscious effort to avoid television news, and an even more concerted campaign these last few days, because it was obvious in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass shooting, that this was going to be the entire focus of the big TV media outlets. How much can be said about such a tragedy? And now, many have been vehement and vocal in their opposition to NBC, who received a multimedia packet from the killer, airing the QuickTime videos captured by the deceased perpetrator of a horrific shooting spree.

Here, however, I shall cast a lot in disagreement. Look, the networks are going to fill news program slots with post-mortem either way, and they may as well present the truth, instead of conjecture or guessing over the nature and motivation of the ghastly crime. If the choice was horrific video vs. alternate programming, then it's a no-brainer. But, killer video or no killer video, talking heads will be spouting off on the matter anyway, and will fill the story with their own speculations.

Or, perhaps, the viewing audience could be subjected to prescriptive dosage of "we've seen the videos, and you can't, but we'll tell what was in them, at least the stuff we want you to know"…

Freedom is the answer, what's the question?

14 April 2007

Have cease and desist letters also been delivered to any of the other similar sites offering automated valuations that are scattered all over the Internet?

Zillow.com is a neat tool, that allows one to punch in a home address, and get a map that shows home estimates plus flag indicators of recent sale prices. Granted, there is an algorithm employed that by no means is 100% accurate, but it's a ballpark figure that's closer to the mark than a random wild ass guest-imate would be. However some individuals are incensed over its existence and want to ban it.
An Arizona regulatory board has ordered Zillow.com to stop offering its online estimates of home values.

The Arizona Board of Appraisal has issued two cease-and-desist letters to the popular real estate Web site, claiming Zillow needs an appraiser license to offer its "zestimates" in Arizona.

"It is the board's feeling that (Zillow) is providing an appraisal," said Deborah Pearson, Board of Appraisal executive director.

Seattle-based Zillow cautions users that its information is a starting point for consumers, not a definitive value. It has been popular since its launch in February 2006. It claims 4 million users a month, including those curious about their home's value, and the value of friends' and neighbors' residences.

Let me get this straight — somebody creates an algorithm to calculate market worth for a home is an act heinous enough to be referred to the Arizona Attorney General's office for criminal violations.

As this guy puts it, this is just plain idiotic and asinine.

13 April 2007

Crude and Hateful Insults

Sadly, joining the chorus, I am offering forth a take on the Imus insult incident that led to the dismissal of Imus from his CBS radio program and nationally televised MSNBC simulcast. While I agree it is simply ridiculous that this story is presently parked at the top of news headline broadcasts, I still would like to address some comments by those who say the Imus affair is much ado about nothing more than a minor verbal guffaw from a controversial shock jock. And with a tie-in to some provocative thoughts I heard listening to the KPXQ 1360 AM Andrew Tallman show on the topic of Jesus and insults.

First, to equate the brainlessness of shrill, misanthropic microphone ranter with free speech that confronts entities of power with biting truth does a grave disservice. Talking heads on the right have been overly prompt in chiming in about a double standard and the ills of political correctness — reverse discrimination targeted against poor white men, they say, is what this represents. And what I heard on the radio from hosts and callers was indignation over how the media lords reacted to the outraged that erupted as a result of Imus’s remarks, even though they were not fans of his schtick. And plentiful asides about the C-word, censorship that is. But I don’t believe this to be a case of censorship — I mean, there is no concerted conspiracy that’s banned Imus from the airwaves forever. In fact, he’s probably earned a loyal following from a sympathetic contingent that will eagerly contribute to Imus’s bank account. Imus got run because Imus became a financial liability with all the brouhaha surrounding this latest episode of hate spewing. It’s not like there wasn’t already a history of racism with Imus. And here in the Valley, on one of the big news/talk stations, there are syndicated hosts who’ve “pushed the envelope” much like Imus. They, however, have large listening audiences that in turn, deliver great sponsor spots for media outlets to hawk.

Yea, capitalism. If it’s earning dough, you can be assured that it will stay on the air. That is, unless it speaks truth to power, or levies critical questions about ethics lapses, corporate misdeeds or other malfeasance at corporate or powerful governmental interests. Maybe it’s just some speech that some find unpleasant. Or perhaps a major sponsor is offended and there even legitimate truth telling can be suppressed, as a result. Point is, as long as revenues are streaming in, sponsors and ownership are happy, all is good. No censorship, unless it is content of an abhorrent decency level or really does speak truth to power, and challenges parties that rule. However, when the protesting mob in dissent grows large enough, ownership takes note, and will curtail the offending transmitter, lest they be engulfed in a cauldron of controversy.

Even pushing aside the notion that if somebody called your sister, your mother, or your daughter a “nappy headed ho”, you’d want to punch them in the mouth (at the very minimum), what really was the aim of Imus here? I am sure on a personal level, he wished those girls no foul, but even uttered in a “general” sense, I fail to see the humor in it. There really is no defense for it, and the cry that the same type of hate slang is used by hip-hop rappers is irrelevant.

Again, some say that this deal is all overblown and that the “Black Mafia” had done Mr. Imus in. Sorry, so wrong — it’s relevant because hip-hop artists don’t get to beam their hate stylings into American living rooms via national cable network. And while Democratic presidential candidates eschewed such hip-hop hate, present day Republican presidential candidates and legislators are unrepentant in clamoring to appear on Imus’s program.

Despite the turmoil, Arizona Sen. John McCain said he still would appear on Imus’ radio show in the wake of racially charged remarks. According to the Associated Press, McCain said he still would appear on Imus’ show, noting the radio host had apologized for negative remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. McCain has been a frequent Imus guest along with former congressman J.D. Hayworth and a number of other national politicians, media personalities and historians.

Let’s dispense with the “Black Mafia” nonsense also. Forget any dispute over whether Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are genuine leaders of their communities or not. Their presence (or if, pray tell, they were absent) in the hullabaloo doesn’t alter the pertinent truths. Black Christian leaders also publicly call out for the dismissal of Imus. Push aside, too, the canard that this is just overzealous political correctness that threatens free speech — nearly 20 years ago, sportscaster Jimmy the Greek was cast aside by CBS for comments far less offensive.

Now to segue into the discussion on Jesus and insults — I was struck silent when I heard radio host Mr. Tallman speak on how Jesus insulted the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day in his time, in rather biting fashion, and on a frequent basis. It gave me pause, because I’ve made such an effort to “taste my words” and “tame my tongue”, and strive to only emit good words from my mouth. Here, though, the host is on the mark — Jesus did pepper the Pharisees with heaping helpings of mocking and scorn, viciously deriding them, drawing public attention, even while he instructed his followers that they still should do as they say, not as they do. The difference is, dare I draw any comparison to mere mortal beings, the words of Jesus were voiced in a vein of truth and edification. The intent was to enlighten, instruct, and uplift. Not to score cheap laughs at the expense of the innocent.

Enough already on this matter, I must complete an article on another train wreck, one pertaining to the NHL hockey franchise in Phoenix…