recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Reading his stuff on CNN can be a serious hoot. He has some lovely lines for Rush Limbaugh:

"Picking a fight with that corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right wing talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, will mobilize a bunch more on the conservative right and begin to bring those approval ratings down from 83 percent, where they were before you actually started working as the president, to a more mortal 68 percent in the Gallup Poll taken on those first three days in office."

"Fair enough -- but to come right out and say "I want him to fail," exposes Limbaugh for the petulant, shallow gasbag that he is."

And no, I really don't have time to read this while I'm doing all this work either :-)
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
"I haven't had so much fun since my last interrogation." - John McCain to Tim Russert

I think that says it all. There are so few good journalists left. There are lots of pretty boys and pretty girls who kinda sorta understand some of the news they're reading sometimes. There are lots of young kids brought up on sensationalistic television hyping everything they can in order to become part of the story they're supposed to be reporting (not selling...crucial difference). Where news has become half fashion show half parade of horrors, those few true journalists who did their homework and brought actual information to the American people are few and far between.

It is truly a great loss.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
I'm watching the DVD for the first time, and several things have struck me as significant.

1) Even in black and white, BluRay is seriously gorgeous.
2) There are damn few journalists today who would do their research, write with conviction and truth rather than sensationalism, and stick their necks out to bring truth to the American people regardless of the consequences to themselves or their careers.
3) Some of the equipment portrayed in this movie, set in the 1950s, was still in use at the TV station I worked at in 1978/79.

I was a journalism major undergrad. I went to Boston University's School of Public Communication. Our professors continually hammered us to report the truth, do not make the news, report the news. Do not judge, do not stick a camera in the face of the grieving widow, do not trespass if you've been asked to leave, use common sense, do not sensationalize, etc. Reality in the "new world" of journalism is far different than what we were taught way back in college in 1984. It's almost painful to watch what passes for journalism on television these days. It saddens me.

As for the equipment, it truly was a different world before digital. We used newsFILM (remember film?), had a processor in the garage (the studios/offices were in an old victorian house) sitting in a constant pool of green and yellow chemicals, we cut the film manually and spliced it together on a reel for each show. Breaking news really didn't exist then, since it would take at least 90 minutes to process any film. The headsets we used were the same model used in the movie. Microphones too. It was amazing to have to use those ancient mikes that were almost as big as a desk model, with a little cord tether so we could hang it around our neck. It's amazing how much it weighs after the first few minutes.

The weather map I used was originally black and white. I had to get permission for the graphic artist to paint it. It was the same map as Gus Brenier used starting in the 1950s, mounted high enough for him to be comfortable with it. He was about 6' 4". When I came along to do weather, I had to stand on wooden coke boxes to be high enough to reach it on camera. One day, a coke box collapsed while I was on the air. New England was then WAAAAAAY up there on the national map.

We had 2 inch reel to reel videotape machines. My first audition tape was shot on one. They would constantly be going on the fritz, and there was always someone shouting "H PHASE" across the studio when the horizontal phase was off. Those things were terribly twitchy. We had a film chain that sometimes ate the news reel live on the air. We had a sound board from the 1960s, referred to as "the new board." Our AP teletype machine was an ancient huge loud box located in the bathroom on the 3rd floor in the news offices. Trying to get the latest bulletin coming over when someone was busy in the bathroom was quite the trick. Running from the 3rd floor attic offices down into the basement studio with new copy built up my legs and stamina in wonderful ways.

Regardless of how much or how little equipment and technology we had, we tried to report the news as it happened, and tried to get to the truth. As journalists, we felt we owed an allegiance to the concept that our job was to present the facts and let the viewer decide. We did our best to remain journalists, and not mere entertainers under the guise of news. We tried to be like Edward R. Murrow.

I can only wish that some of the entertainers currently called television news reporters would do the same.

Daytime TV

Oct. 24th, 2007 02:07 pm
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
I try not to get hooked into daytime TV, but when I'm doing a repetitive task (like once again fixing Hendrik's, I do not take credit for the boredom originally created, but I've been trying to clean it up) I generally have the TV on in the background. I have to say that I'm ever so glad to have Mythbusters on.

I adore that show, and love watching them blow things up with Adam cackling like a madman. Watching Adam sink to the bottom of a pool wearing "ninja shoes", Jamie playing straight man, Kerri the vegetarian faced with huge hunks o pork, are all images that make me smile. Wonderful amusement, making things ever so much fun during a boring task.

Next up was a debunking of alien implants. Mythbusters didn't do that one, but it was narrated by John DeLancie, whose wonderous Q'ness always makes for a fun day. Now I'm watching a really weird ghost terrifying family story while finishing up on my exercise bike and writing legal opinions.

While I could watch Mythbusters all day long, I have to wonder about those poor people who watch daytime TV day in and day out.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
It seems that with the advent of point and shoot digital cameras and cheap underwater housings, just about everyone has a camera to go diving with. This phenomenon has many pluses and minuses, but I must say that the minuses thus far, at least in my experience, seem to outweigh the pluses.

Without trying to be an elitist snob diving takes practice and skill. In order to achieve proper buoyancy, one must be comfortable in the water, and must know where all body parts and all extensions like fins are at all times in relation to the world around you. Most of the places we dive today are protected (thank goodness), meaning you are not allowed to touch the reef or the creatures living there. A careless fin, laying across coral for a photo, standing on coral, etc. can cause significant damage that takes a great deal of time to repair. I must say that I'm very lucky to have been originally introduced to ocean diving by people who took their responsibility to the environment very seriously, and taught me not to ever touch live coral or other creatures.

In order to shoot photos with most cameras (especially point and shoot digitals), you must get close to your subject. As you get close to your subject while diving, you generally must get close to the reef. As you get close to the reef, lack of buoyancy control will cause you to trash everything around you as you madly flail in order to get that picture that your family and friends just MUST have.

The more excited a photographer gets about the subject being photographed, the more he or she forgets that there are living creatures around (including fellow photographers). This week, I have watched a person lay on the reef and become incensed when the divemaster picked him off the coral and told him not to do this. I watched an excited photographer kick another photographer in the head as he cut her off for a picture of a file fish. I've seen numerous people kick over gorgonias, sponges, and soft corals while trampling each other for a photograph of a seahorse. I was personally shoved to the side by someone who wanted a picture of a frogfish I was filming (I have video of his camera cutting in front of mine), and the ruckus caused the frogfish to just give up and leave, moving to another spot. Unfortunately, that didn't stop the paparazzi, who chased him to the new spot and started all over again.

So, as a dive instructor and an underwater photographer and videographer, I have some suggestions. 1) Do not put a camera in your hands until you can demonstrate proper buoyancy AND dive without using your hands. 2) If the subject you wish to photograph is in a poor spot for you to get close enough without banging into something, come back later. It might have moved. 3) Take turns. Just like in kindergarten. Chances are, the subject won't be going far. It is not a feeding frenzy, and you'll likely stress the animal and yourself before you get a decent picture. 4) Make sure you are weighted properly for all aspects of the dive. Late in the dive with a light tank is not the time you should find out you can't hold position to shoot that squid who is coming right at you. 5) If you see ME not taunt happy fun recalcitrant videographer. I will bite, or inflate your BCD and send you to the surface.

I did laugh pretty hysterically today when the paparazzi chased a turtle around the reef. As they all clamored for position, the turtle took off and hung out with me for a good 4 minutes of video. He got so close that I had to pull back so he'd be in focus. Same thing happened with a frogfish. He wound up directly in front of me where I got some great video. Ditto with a seahorse.

So, be patient... and you may get video like this:

recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Learned something I didn't know by watching tv! Wow, is that ever rare :-). I had no idea that anyone survived the Tenerife air disaster that took over 500 lives due to an impatient Dutch KLM captain. I also had no idea that some of the crew survived on the Pan Am aircraft. Of the 16 crew on board, there were 9 fatalities, 7 survivors + 2 company employees who were sitting in the cockpit jump seats. Of the 317 passengers on board, 61 survived the accident ,but 9 died of their injuries at a later date. Nobody survived on the KLM 747. 234 passengers and 14 crew.

The KLM aircraft did not have clearance to take off and began rolling anyway. The co-pilot questioned the decision, which was quite unusual given the strict culture of authority in European cockpits. The KLM captain had been their chief pilot and flight instructor, so the very idea of questioning him was extremely unusual, and took serious guts on the part of the co-pilot.

Of course, the Pan Am aircraft was still on the runway. At Tenerife, in order to get to take off point, planes had to backtrack on the runway and exit on a taxiway to circle around back to the runway start. The Pan Am flight had been cleared to do this, and was about to exit the runway when the KLM flight was on its take off roll.

Listening to a surviving Pan Am pilot, the differences in cockpit interactions was very marked. On the KLM flight, the flight engineer asked the captain whether he was sure the Pan Am plane was off the runway. The captain pretty much dismissed him. The Pan Am co-pilot keyed the mike and warned they were still on the runway. That key message was not received because the tower was also broadcasting "standby for takeoff" therefore both critical messages blocked each other out. How ironic.

Meantime, the Pan Am co-pilot noticed the KLM aircraft actually moving towards them on the runway (something pretty hard to do at the time because of the fog that had descended). Rather than refrain from questioning the captain, and putting complete faith in the chain of command, the co-pilot ordered the captain to throttle up to clear the runway. The captain, rather than argue or hesitate, firewalled the throttles, which saved some of the people on board.

So you know....the idea of questioning authority is one that should definitely be fostered rather than squelched. Of course, there are ways of doing that in a non offensive, non challenging way. It seems that our culture is moving more towards that of the KLM cockpit than the Pan Am flight deck. People are far more reluctant to question these days, possibly because the answers we are given are often pithy and useless (i.e. "for security reasons," or "for your safety" or "to prevent terrorism"). However, fear of questioning has some pretty significant ramifications. We can't let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of blindly trusting that our authority figures are looking out for our best interests and should be given unbridled leeway in making choices that affect our lives.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
I really enjoy the questions. I used to have to ask questions all the time, so now it's a lot happier to be asked them. Anyone who feels like asking me questions is encouraged to do so. It gets me thinking :-)

From dah [ profile] kelfire

her five questions )
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
On the second day of video, the gods created the time code. The time code ruled all. Without the time code, the digital editor becomes stupid and unable to parse. And it became a rule to never break time code, whether it be by use of the fast forward or by the horror of dropped frames.

Silly me had no idea that my trusty little JVC camera would be guilty of dropping frames, thus violating the ever so strict rule against messing with the time code.

The first inkling that something would go from a quick little 1/2 hour edit to a nightmare of biblical proportions (well, in my mind at least :-)) was when Final Cut Pro kept aborting during video capture. Ut oh. So in I went to the preferences and unchecked that feature, and went back to recapture. Then, during the regular editing, I found that the frame drops were numerous, causing the picture to freeze as the audio went happily on, not noticing that now it was out of sync. Anyone who has chased voice sync around knows it as an elusive creature that causes your videos to look like really bad Chinese Kung Fu movie dubs. I'm sure something lovely and comedic could be done with this, but my job was to have a somewhat readable representation of fight blocking that we could look at and say, "ok, I go over, then under, then step backwards, then pirouette on my left foot while back flipping over this other actor while yelling something incoherent."

Most of Sunday was spent attempting to complete what should have been a tiny little piece of my day, slapping a few clips together, exporting the result to MPEG-4 and uploading it to YouTube. But Nooooooo. The Gremlins of Annoyance prevailed and my OCD kicked in and I thought it just plain silly to have random freezing of action in the wrong places, and that voice thing and otherwise *ack!* So I started chopping. That messed up something else, so I'd fix that. Then something else looked ick and I fixed that. That caused the timing of the audio to be wrong, so I fixed that. Then I couldn't figure out why my ipod wouldn't accept files that AppleTV would, which started another phase of troubleshooting, until I looked up and it was getting dark outside.

Never does video rendering go so long as when one really wants to just get it over with :-). Video conversion usually takes this time to spit forth some ungodly sized file for no apparent reason (and here I thought compression was supposed to make things SMALLER). And then one just figures out that their Kung Fu is weak today, spits out something passable and goes to bed.

And then I had dreams of Tom Baker being old and senile. Noooooo! Wonder if his time code got messed up :-)
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
It's amazing how something as relatively minor as a stuffy nose can interfere with sleep to the extent that you just can't DO it. At least I think it's the stuffy nose and not the mailing list I'm on that is supposed to be "interfaith." There was a posting there today where someone held up an article and said, "See? This is why we're 'alternative.'" The article was written by a liberal Christian who said that the Divine Feminine always existed in Judaism and Christianity, and this Goddess was the one true Goddess and all others were false and should not be capitalized but it was perfectly ok to worship this purported Judeo-Christian Goddess that he had found in the old translations of the Bible.

Uh, this isn't "alternative." This is liberal Judeo-Christianity. The idea of excluding a huge portion of the world's citizens who happen to worship other Deities besides those of the Abrahamic religions by, for example, calling Hindu Goddesses "false" is not "alternative." It's reworking something you're comfortable and familiar with to include elements that at best aren't accepted by the mainstream of your religion, or are at worst blasphemy. To me, the term "alternative" doesn't just mean recasting the mainstream until you like it. "I'm a liberal Christian" is not alternative except perhaps in the deepest part of the Bible Belt where you would be labeled a dangerous heretic. Alternative would mean something different enough to be meaningful. In the United States, "I am a Buddhist" is far more alternative than being a liberal Christian.

I still also find it amazing that on an "interfaith" list, people assume that the only religions represented are the various forms of Christianity. Please, guys....there are many followers of non Abrahamic religions who exist. It really is past the time when one can assume that none of "them" are hanging out on "our" lists or in "our" neighborhoods, or have kids who go to "our" schools.

Well, even though I typed out that early morning rant, I'm still no closer to sleep, which makes me put my money back on the stuffy nose rather than the religious tripe. Perhaps a few more games of solitaire will help.....
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
In this world of lawyer jokes and sometimes deserved disdain of attorneys (have YOU been injured in an accident?), it is rare that something new and different appears to cause one to think about one's profession. However, [ profile] badmagic managed to come up with an utterly unique comparison between lawyers and pillbugs (or hedgehogs). It got me to thinking....

I can't stand the constant barrage of ridiculous ads on TV for lawyers. Does your child have birth defects? Do you have [fill in disease here]. Were you in an accident? Did you stub your toe on your landlord's steps? Did a passer-by dis your dog? Are you a tax cheat? Are you a deadbeat who wants more disability? We can help! In this "something for nothing" society, responsibility seems to always lay elsewhere for anything that might possibly happen, and generally exists wherever someone has more money than you do. Ridiculous settlement reports that seem highly inflated for the type of injury fuel this "lust to litigate." And with law schools churning out thousands upon thousands of graduates, there isn't a shortage of people out to make a name for themselves by being the "next McDonalds burn victim lawyer."

The whole ideas of fairness and justice are quickly fading away, and people are just as quick to blame the lawyers. Of course some attorneys are dweebing little bottom feeding scum who don't deserve to have legs. That much is clear. But behind every bottom feeder there's a greedy client. And in front of every bottom feeder is a judge who refuses to sanction them for frivolous suits (yeah, there are state and federal rules that call for sanctioning the lawyer for bringing ridiculous claims. That would be money out of the lawyer or law firm's pocket, not the client's since the client isn't supposed to know better.) Most judges used to be lawyers. Perhaps that should change.

So, what do I think about people who ask me for free legal advice? (Since that was the gist of [ profile] badmagic's posting). In general, I don't mind too much, unless it is someone who feels some type of entitlement to my brain. They also have to understand that many lawyers are specialists. I limit my practice to trademarks, copyrights, computer and Internet issues, licenses, contracts, corporate stuff, and a smattering of other stuff. Attorneys are actually prohibited from giving advice in areas they aren't up to speed in. If someone asks me about their divorce, their wills, their speeding tickets, their car accidents, their boat sunk in international waters, their lying politicians, or their daughter the drug dealer, I can only advise them to find a lawyer who covers those areas of the law. If they have all of those problems at once, I'd go to the Wills and Estates lawyer first. If you need brain surgery, would you go to the ob/gyn? Some of you might, but it is not generally recommended.

Anyway, there are times when I actually will kinda hide or curl up in a ball or scamper away from the free legal advice issue. Being as I wasn't dressed for a scamper, I actually did hide when I heard "the lawyer from Black Rose is doing yoga on my floor" because the mindset was just not quite right for serious questions at that particular moment. Of that, I refuse to provide more comment other than the fact that none of my then current thoughts were on legal issues.

So ask all you want...I might give you a useful answer if I'm not otherwise occupied. And keep throwing rotten vegetables at the tv when you see those stupid commercials. As for comparing me with insects....I will leave that to your discretion.


Feb. 16th, 2007 02:08 pm
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
As I was flipping through the channels this afternoon, I had to laugh hysterically when I saw that the "Lifetime Network" (almost as sappy as the Hallmark Network, but not quite) was running "Heathers", that wonderful film about the insanities of high school as a satirical microcausm of society. As a bloody Christian Slater blew himself up, lighting Winonna Ryder's cigarette, I realized that this fine movie should be in the collection of every geek or geek wannabe, and should be mandatory reading for all clique joining high school students.

I also realized how truly insane I must have become, even considering deep thoughts in the same sentence as "Heathers."

Somebody lock me up, quick!


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