The delightful Sereena has her turn at the internet microphone this week with a Roundtable post that references the Doomsday Clock. Her question for us to comment on is what would you do if our planet had only seven days left? Would you be a gluttonous fool, spend time with family, make peace with God...? Head on over to her blog and let everybody know. You can also see what I would do.
Fox's American Idol is having it's season finale tonight and I am proud to say that I haven't watched a single episode of the show this season. I avoided all the hype which is hard to do. There are 77 million search results when you Google "American Idol." If you step back and think about it, American Idol is nothing more than a singing contest. I do like to hear people sing well, and there is some talent on the show, but is all the hype really justified? You just get to vote on which singers you like the most or the least after hearing comments from celebrity expert judges, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson. One is a wannabe, the other is overly emotional, and the other is just a jerk. You can figure out who is who. I don't find the show to be worthy of astronomical television ratings, especially for as many seasons as it has gone on. Why don't more people hang out at karaoke bars where there are some good local talent singers as well? Some places even have prizes for the best singer and your vote has more significance. I like to karaoke and even have a stage name, but I can hardly get friends to come out to bars on karaoke night, mostly because few of my friends sing and just watching might be boring for them. Then many of them probably go home and watch American Idol religiously. I don't get it. Maybe it all has to do with the word "Idol". People like to follow celebrities and if they have a hand in creating a celebrity, they can't get enough. Then, once they've created the celebrity, they like to have the paparazzi cling to them like saran wrap on a glass bowl.
Everybody loves comedy, and I'd say everybody loves stand-up comedians. It's hard not to like a person who makes you laugh. But as an aspiring amateur comedian who watches a lot of comedy, I've noticed some common traits amongst comedians, and some of them are annoying. Too many comedians and comediennes, (not always Canadians, although some of the best comedians are Canadian), tend to focus on being a member of a certain diversity group.
Asian comedians focus on being Asian, gay ones focus on being gay, fat ones focus on being fat, and even though they're 50% of the population, too many women comediennes focus on being female... (relationship issues with men, PMS'ing, mothers'in-law). I suppose there is pressure to make people laugh about your most obvious trait, but do they have to do it for the whole routine? Comedy about being just another human is the most universal.
The worst trait comedians have is their inabilty to be funny without swearing. With a half-drunk crowd, they use the 'F' word every other sentence to get a cheap laugh. That's not comedy. That's appealing to the lowest common denominator. Andrew Dice Clay is the most popular offender here. True comedy takes intelligence. As you can tell, I take my comedy very seriously :-).
So what characteristics of comedians do you hate? Who are some of your favorite stand-up comics? Some of my favorites are Wendy Liebman and the late Mitch Hedburg.
I had recently posted about how engineers are underrated and how they do so much for society. But there are two areas in which engineers need to get their act together. It is in the low tech area of shoe laces and buttons. We are in the 21st century and technologically we can do so much, but we still have not seen shoe laces that stay tied or buttons that with surety will stay on for the life of the garment. We have the ability to send craft to the outer planets, replace hearts, and even manipulate atoms. Is it really that hard to come up with a material that will not slide out of a knot? And why isn't anybody suing the shoe companies for trips and falls? As for buttons, they seem to have a good strategy for keeping price tags on garments with plastic fasteners, why can't they employ a similar strategy to keep buttons on? It would save the clothing companies from having to add a back-up button to the piece of clothing. Think of all the embarrassment that could be prevented in civilization if buttons never fell off.
As if the world doesn't think we're a nation of whiners already, here we are complaining about gas prices which are among the lowest in the world, particularly when compared to our incomes. According to The Economist's latest issue, the U.S. is 18th in price per gallon in a list of 28 major countries. What I find funny about the whole situation is that the Republicans who more vociferously defended our right to drive gas guzzlers and refused to increase fleet fuel economy requirements over the years are the ones who have to deal with the results of our gasoline addiction. To dramatically increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards suddenly won't help the auto industry or our dependence in the near term. We need to stop blaming the auto industry as each company has to offer what people want or lose competitiveness. We want and drive guzzlers (such as pick-ups, SUVs, sports cars, large luxury cars), and we've been driving them because we collectively don't care about the environment and we were short-sighted in thinking that gas prices would always be low, (just like people thought the stock market would go up for ever, until it crashed and people lost their retirement nest eggs). And why should it be only hybrid drivers that get tax breaks? If others drive fuel efficient vehicles that exceed the standard, we should be rewarded with tax rebates as well. If you drive a vehicle that is below the standard, you pay extra tax. It's that simple. A higher gas tax would also solve the issue, but no candidate who advocates this would ever get elected. And unfortunately, it's the poor who suffer the most with high fuel prices. Some of them have no choice but to drive old beater cars that get low miles per gallon.
Another point to consider is that the people that are probably complaining the loudest about high gas prices are the ones who bear most of the responsibility for it. People who have drive high miles or drive gas guzzling vehicles all these years have used the most, driving prices upward. Now they are being impacted the most, so they complain more. At least many of the people who want to spend extra income filling their tank won't be able to spend as much on political contributions to our nation's most anti-environmental party.
It's simple. Use less fuel and the price will go down as demand goes down. There are two ways to do this. Drive less, or drive a more fuel efficient vehicle. Walking, bicycles, and public transporation are great alternatives. And then we can save energy by not complaining.
Over at Chasing Vincenzo, RW is finally saying what needed to be said for this week's Roundtable post. He tackles a nagging scourge of society... the tassled shoe. They're outdated, ugly, get uglier with age, make people lazy, and people still wear them. I for one have more of an issue with the appearance velcro shoes, but I don't want to talk about it. Have a visit to RW's blog and give your stories of hatred towards the tassled shoe.