Thursday, April 27, 2006

If I Didn't Have A Mind Like A Sieve

I read a story today about a woman in California going by the name "AJ" who remembers EVERYTHING.

She has scientists totally baffled at her ability to remember things that happened on any date in any year and every detail in between. They would throw a date at her and she could tell you what happened on that day whether it was in the news or in her life.

Imagine having that kind of super power? I wish I did! I mean, you could do a lot of damage and use it to blackmail your enemies. Maybe you'd be able to remember your password on the computer at work! I'm always forgetting that one because they make us change it every 6 weeks.

It won't be long before the US military starts using her for espionage missions. They could send her to Iraq and remember every detail about insurgent activity. They wouldn't even suspect. They could send her to top secret meetings and use her like a tape recorder.

She would make a bundle! Maybe NBC could use her for a game show. Stump the human encyclopedia! They're hurtin' for ratings.

I think her weakness is she's American. Many Americans don't know what's going on outside their own borders. So I think she only remembers American things. Ask her what happened in Europe on any date, and you'd probably stump her.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Complaints About Irresponsible Media

I wondered how long it would take from the day I got back from Italy for me to start complaining about things again. Often when I return from a change of scenery, vacation or not, I tend to have a more positive attitude and stupid shit doesn't bother me much. Well, it takes 7 weeks. That's the official number. My other blog entries so far have been about crap that's happened to me. This time I wanted to complain about something which the intent for this blog is in the first place. Now stay tuned for some complainage.

Keep in mind these are my own opinions and don't reflect those of my employer. Please don't fire me.

The past couple weeks in Vancouver the big news story has been the kidnapping and eventual rescue of Graham McMynn. The 23 year-old son of a Vancouver millionaire was kidnapped at gunpoint while leaving his fancy house with his girlfriend in southwest Vancouver April 4th. For 8 days there was no sign of him and no contact with the kidnappers. But for that entire 8 days, intense media coverage Canada-wide. Even more intense in the Vancouver area. The days after he was rescued it was ridiculous.

Honestly, I don't think this story would have been covered if it had been anyone but the son of a millionaire. (Would it have been insensitive to say "rich, spoiled son of a millionaire?") People go missing in Vancouver's Downtown East Side (Canada's poorest neighbourhood) everyday and you rarely hear about it until their remains have been discovered on a pig farm.

For over a week, TV and newspaper photographers camped out on the sidewalk in front of the McMynn mansion with their lenses zoomed into the windows of the house. This is justified legally by saying they're on a public street. But the lens is still zoomed in to the private residence of a citizen. Still a lack privacy for the family, really.

What makes matters worse is that the media (and our station was not alone here) went digging for a motive and started broadcasting whatever personal financial details on the McMynn's they could get. All newspapers, TV stations and radio stations were saying he was in debt and had legal problems in the bus companies that Robert McMynn (the father) owned. Luckily the kidnappers were a bunch of bumbling idiots or else Graham McMynn would probably be dead. How would you like the media to broadcast your personal financial information?

April 12, 2006 was the day Graham McMynn was rescued during a raid on a house in Surrey (a Vancouver suburb). Every station went live with the "Breaking News." Then at 10:30am the following day, every media outlet in Canada went live to the press conference with the victim himself. I happened to work the live coverage on our station. That went to about 11:00am. By the time 5pm rolled around, for some reason, our news desk and that of many others in the city proclaimed that 'this is the only story today.' The first 14 minutes of our 5 o'clock news was basically running long chunks of the press conference! They could have basically re-run the entire 30 minute press conference. What a waste of time!

Honestly, there are more important things going on in the world to cover than to hear EVERY WORD said by the 23 year-old son of a millionaire. We went to international news and came back with MORE from the press conference. It was total overkill in my opinion. Sure if you're going to cover that story so intensely you have to wrap it up with some words from the victim. But to spend THAT much time was too much. Complete tunnel vision on the part of our newsroom as far as I'm concerned.

The problem with media today, especially that of private outlets, is that there is only the drive of trying to out-do your competition without getting left behind. These days, responsibility seems to get thrown out the window because editors, producers, journalists/reporters and news directors are completely clouded by the narrow-minded pursuit of the eyes and ears of the general public. Just because your competition does it a certain way doesn't mean you HAVE to do it just like them.

Are people honestly interested in this? I suppose stories have always been about someone else's struggles. For many millennia humans have been entertained by hearing about the plight of someone other than themselves. We are sick we humans are.

I suppose this is why I am not a journalist and merely a button-pushing-monkey-peon who just does what he is told.

(p.s. Please don't fire me!)

Monday, April 10, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

As I drove across the bridge, I could see the bright yellow sign growing larger in the distance. On closer inspection, the large, angled black lettering could be read as "Best Buy." After weaving in and out of traffic, at Cambie Street and 6th Avenue I turned left and pulled into the parkade (for my American friends "parking garage").

As I paid $2 for my 1 hour of parking (which was actually only $1/hour and I was a moron and selected 1 hour put plunked in the only change I had, a $2 coin), I was highly anticipating the treasures I would find at the top of the escalator (that was more like an escalator to heaven for a tech nerd like me).

With my Best Buy flyer clutched tightly in one hand and the worn rubber of the escalator rail in the other, I sauntered into the store and headed immediately for the "TV and Video" department.

I was greeted by rows and rows of new television sets. CRT, LCD, Plasma, DLP, projection, HDTV, EDTV, Sony, Toshiba, Sharp, JVC...I can honestly tell you, in a free market, there's too much selection. But I was more interested in a deal that I saw in the flyers. Buy a Sharp 37" LCD and get a free 20" Sharp LCD free!

Normally when I enter an electronics store, I try to escape before: a) I've attempted to buy something or b) a sales person tries to get me to buy something. In most cases, I'm just looking but sales people are all over me like a fat kid on a Smartie (chocolate candy). But when you're legitimately going to buy something, they're nowhere to be found.

Short attention span moment: I recall a story from my friend David. He went to spend up to $10,000 in "Wow," a Las Vegas electronics store. No one came to help him so he went to another store and spent $7,000 in new toys. He then took the receipt back to the original store, asked for a manager and showed him the receipt saying "I could have spent this $7,000 in your store, but when I came in, no one helped me."

This wasn't the case. Someone came up to me within 2 minutes of entering the store. He asked me if there was anything I was looking for. I told him that I was interested in LCD TVs 32" to 40" But I was more leaning towards the 37" Sharp TV special. We quickly determined that 37" was in fact too BIG for my apartment. Considering the TV is 6 to 8 feet from my sofa, 37" was just a tad too big. My old TV was a 24" Sony Wega and an equal size HDTV is 30" (because the aspect ratio of NTSC TV is 4 x 3 and HDTV is 16 x 9).

We then walked over to the aisle with the 32" LCD TVs. There was a good looking Sony model there, but I have been turned off by Sony since I had some hassles from them trying to get some warranty work done and they were out of stock. There were other some other ones, but the one I ended up liking the most out of all of them was a Toshiba model.

Okay...to make this long story shorter...I dropped almost $3,000 on a new TV set, HD PVR for my satellite dish and an upconverting DVD player. Just when I was proud for not watching as much TV, I spent an entire weekend watching TV feeling guilty for spending too much money!!!

But hey, I actually saved $1,000 buying the Toshiba TV (instead of the Sharp special) and with that bought the PVR and upconverting DVD player.

Feeling guilty but my High Definition picture is much clearer now!