Tuesday, January 18, 2011


“We're in a lot of trouble!

So, a rich little man with white hair died. What has that got to do with the price of rice, right? And why is that woe to us? Because you people, and sixty-two million other Americans, are listening to me right now. Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube! This tube is the Gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers... This tube is the most awesome force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls in to the hands of the wrong people, and that's why woe is us that a rich little man with white hair died. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what trash will be peddled for truth on this network?

So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth... Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth.

But, man, you're never going to get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We'll tell you that Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he's going to win. We'll tell you any trash you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds... We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you eventhink like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing! WE are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I'm speaking to you now! TURN THEM OFF!”

-Howard Beale

Network, 1976

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finally . . . some CALM

It looks like, at long last, the Congress has finally done something worth mention. With all the hubbub about healthcare, the economy, and a vast number of other causes that need attention, the Congress has finally passed the CALM Act, and so shines a good deed in a weary world. There is nothing more irritating than watching a Seinfeld episode at a reasonable volume only to be rudely interrupted by an obscenely loud commercial about toilet tissue paper.

All of us in the know, indeed, know that for all the work that is done in this nation's capital, little is done in the way of practical importance. Sure, there is some work to be done on the healthcare issues, tax issues, and, well, the list goes on ad infinitum. Through the darkness comes this welcome relief. This past December our present President, Mr. Obama, did something worth mention. He signed into law the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. Here is a link to the FCC's webpage on the subject and how to deal with the problem until the regulations take effect:

The White House said that the bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe a limitation to the volume of commercials transmitted by television broadcast stations, cable operators, and other multichannel video programming distributors. From what I have come to understand, this means that the commercial volumes cannot in anywise be louder than the program one is currently viewing. That is, all volume, across the board, has to be at one level. So if you, like me, happen to drift off to sleep on the couch with History playing, you will not, at least by the mere volume, of the electric abdominal cruncher, be blasted awake. Who said that the government could not accomplish anything? I, for one, have to take issue with that sentiment in light of the current progress with CALM. What was once a dream has become a reality.