[un]necessarily angry.com

Categories: Media, Internet, Print, Sports, Baseball, Hockey, TV

June 6th, 2007

[un]apologetic

Apparently there is a furor in the "blogosphere" over comments by a guy named Andrew Keen, who founded Audiocafe.com. I'm not going to get in to exactly what he said, but I am going to sound off on a topic that is similar and has long been on my radar screen.

Keen essentially says that the web is full of amateurs who are destroying or marginalizing works by professionals. Or comes close to saying that. Click on the damn link above to find out what he said, ok? Great.

Now, who the hell this guy is, I'm not really sure. I've never heard of audiocafe, and when I tried to go there, I got a 403 Forbidden error, and i've certainly never heard of him. So, I dunno if he's some jackass trying to get his name out there a bit more as a way to generate press for his upcoming (or possibly just released) book. Quite frankly, I don't care either way.

I may not agree entirely with what he says - I don't know all of what he says, and don't plan to find out, so it's a moot point - but I do agree on the premise that amateurs are destroying the internets.

BLOG. B - L - O - G.
It's short for "WebLog" and may be the single worst word in the English language. It represents, to me, the devil incarnate. Nothing makes me angrier than blogs. [PAUSE] Once again, this is not a Blog, this is a Personal Online Ranting Space (Pors) [/PAUSE] The reason I hate blogs is that people who should not be able to influence people suddenly become able to reach millions of potential readers and influence their opinions, points of view, and lives.

There are several types of evil blogs. I will start with News Blogs. Blogs that purport to report news. [Please note, I do not mean blogs on news sites like the blog on CNN.com.] The news has been headed slowly and surely down the highway of mass consumerism. Local news no longer reports on the news, but on human interest stories. Cheap gimmicks are thrown in, product placement added. Local news has, for the most part, become so sensationalized as to no longer report anything of interest. Fortunately, the world news/nightly news shows are still, more-or-less, reporting on news and news-worthy events, but even they fall in to the human interest abyss. The news, once a dignified, believable pillar of America, has become victim to TV Ratings. They don't show what people need to know anymore, they show the kinda crap that people want to see. Water-skiing squirrels and a family that got ripped off by the gas company.

But that is not the news blog, that is the news. And it is that "news" which has forced the rise of the news blog. John Doe, sitting in his home in Minnesota, suddenly becomes a news blogger. He searches for stories that should have gotten more coverage and covers them himself. He takes a journalistic tone to his writing, trying to report just the facts of the situation. But he fails. News blogs are the worst source of information possible. They are biased. They are factually incorrect. And there is no accountability. If John Doe reports a complete falsehood on his blog, he does not get fired from the blog when it comes to light that he has lied. He does not get suspended, docked pay, fined, or punished in any way. Some readers may stop reading his blog, but will all of his readers leave? No. They won't. Because they like what John has to say and how he says it. And to me, that is the death of news, more than TV Ratings driving what stories are shown on the local news. More than anything else.

And half the time, John Doe can't even write that well. I know my limitations in my writing. There are many. My vocabulary is not as large as I'd like. So what do I do? Avoid using words that I don't know the meaning of. And my knowledge is limited. I know what I've been taught, what I've read, and what I've figured out myself. And I try to avoid topics that I don't understand fully. Would it make sense for me to sound off on a Supreme Court ruling on Patent Law when I am neither a lawyer nor patent holder? Probably not. But John Doe will sound off. He read the AP article on CNN or FoxNews and has an opinion, and he'll share it with you. He will say exactly where the ruling is correct and where it is incorrect, and I'd bet that he never even read the actual ruling. And that is another reason for me to hate blogs.

I will stop for a moment to discuss why this bothers me. I enjoy reading the news. I think it is interesting and important to know what is going on in the world at large and the world around me. Sometimes I like to find the more amusing stories from around the globe, and then I turn to Fark or something similar. And I do think that the internets have helped increase the flow of real news. It has made information much more easily accessible to anyone and everyone who can find a computer with internet access. But the downside is that uneducated, unprofessional, unknowledgable, unaccountable assholes are suddenly let loose on the world and reporting "news" to anyone who will read it. If you don't have a press pass or an editor, you are not reporting the news. If you try to weave your opinion in to a story while reporting it, you are not reporting the news. As much as Fox may strive to be "fair and balanced" and CNN may claim that the "liberal media bias" doesn't exist, both suffer from pre-existing political biases. CNN does generally report on conservative topics with slight scorn in its tone. FoxNews does the same about liberal topics. They both use quotations from the people that will help drive home their viewpoint under the guise adding first-hand knowledge to the news. And it is effective, albeit subtle.

But John Doe does not have to be subtle. He doesn't have to verify that a witness was a witness. He just writes what he wants and people read it as if it were real news. And that drives me crazy. A blog is opinionated, almost by definition. And the incredible thing is that people read other people's opinions, and assume that they are factual representations. And it is unbearable.

I read FoxNews and CNN and the NYTimes with an understanding that although they are trying to report the news as unbiased as possible, a bias may still exist. I read the information and read between the lines when I see a bias surface. Critical reading is required to get the news from the news. And people don't always apply that to the real news they read. So why would they apply it to news blogs?

The result is the dumbing down of America. The news is reporting crap, and the crap is being read as news. CNN's most popular stories on cnn.com aren't about world news or national news, they are sensationalistic crap about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, human interest stories, stories about people's responses to American Idol and the Sopranos, not news.

It comes down to: Give the people what they want or give them what they should have / what they need. And slowly but surely, real news outlets are caving to the ignorant demands of the masses and giving them what they want rather than what they should know. But, in the meantime, the internet is full of people spreading more info about what people want to hear, and spending less time focusing on things that people should be paying attention to. And that's fucked.



I can't stand blogs. I don't care if you want to become a writer one day and are trying to get noticed. I don't care if you think that the world is out to get you. I don't care if you want to make a difference or become famous or get rich quick. None of that is real. That's all bullshit.

There are some blogs out there that provide information. Mark Russinovich's blog, formerly called SysInternals, is one such site. The man is an expert on Windows, Windows Programs, Windows Processes, and in general, the backbone of your PC software. His blog is misnamed, because it is not a blog at all. It is an expert in a field providing information for everyone's use. And that is fine. I have no qualms with an expert sharing knowledge with the world.

The problem comes in when someone decides that they are an expert about something when they, in fact, are not. Or when someone who is not an expert and doesn't pretend to be one is suddenly viewed as an expert by others. And it happens way too much.

Ok, I'm starting to get repetitive, so maybe I'll cut this one off here.

02.51.49.pm, by unnecessarily angry
Categories: General, Media, TV, Internet, Print, Mini-rant, Celebrities

[un]bagged

Is that even a word? I don't think it is. But I'm too lazy to find a more appropriate title.
Today I've got a quick update for you on one of the coolest promotions I've ever stumbled across. It's called "Beer for Bags" and the way it works is that you bring them a specified amount and type of beer, and in exchange you get a specified bag. It's really fuckin simple, actually. It's run by Crumpler Bags, which I guess is a boutique-ish bag place in the city.

I'm not big on promoting other people's shit, but this happens to be a sweet-ass deal, and I'm down with that. So, yeah, get beer, bring to Crumpler, get bag. Pretty easy, pretty sweet, new bag.

Oh, and it will be running from June 9th - 17th this year, so it's coming up real soon.

12.36.58.pm, by unnecessarily angry
Categories: General, Internet, Apparel / Fashion

May 31st, 2007

[un]timely

Time Out New York has declared war on the hipster (with credit to Gawker for the link, since I don't read Time Out New York).

Man, where to start, where to start? I guess we'll start with the hilarious time line. I don't really know much about the history of hipsterdom. Truth-be-told, I don't care much about it either. But I do not like when misinformation is spread. Time Out's entry for 2007 pisses me off...

2007
Skinny jeans, trucker hats, Costello glasses, slogan tees, PBR, Vans, All-Stars—all are declared “dead” by the media and hipsters themselves, but are still embraced by the mainstream, as well as people who look like “hipsters” but simply consider themselves cool. What’s next?"

I've worn Vans since, I dunno, 1998? 1997? Maybe 1996. I can't really remember, but I have a stock of old Vans in my closet that are all torn apart, and they're freakin old. And I drink PBR.

I wear Vans because they are comfortable and at one point in my life I wanted to skate. I was never very good with the skating thing, but the shoes are still comfortable and relatively cheap. They fit under a designation of skater, skate-punk, and general punk. When the Suicide Machines released their debut album Destruction by Definition with a song titled "The Vans Song" it was not hip. Both the song and the shoes were not hip. In fact, while I'm talking about shoes, I've never considered All-Stars to be hipster shoes either. Some hipsters may wear them, some hipsters may wear Vans, but that doesn't make them Hipster shoes and imply that anyone and everyone wearing them is a hipster. Far from it. Much like Vans, All-stars have a long-standing relationship with punk rock.

I've been drinking the PBR since my freshman year of collidge. 7 years of PBR. I don't drink PBR because it is ironic. I don't drink PBR because hipsters drink PBR. I drink PBR because it is dirt fucking cheap, but still tastes kinda good. Perhaps the prevalence of Pabst Blue Ribbon amongst hipsters and non-hipsters alike is for just those reasons. It is cheap and it tastes kinda good. At college, you could get 30 cans of PBR for 11 bux. That's not hip, that's a smart fucking consumer. Keg of PBR? $45. Again, savvy consumer.


Let me pause for a moment here, because it sounds like I am defending hipsters or hipsterdom. And to be clear, I am not. I have personally been calling for the end of hipsterdom for around 5 years. Not that it needs to end to save itself, but because hipsters are fucking douchebags, and if there are fewer of them in the world, the world will be a better place.

With that out of the way, I take major issue with the discussion that hipsterdom has co-opted every counter-culture and sub-culture before it. That's not realistic or true. According to that article, I am more-or-less a hipster or pop-hipster because I wear Vans and t-shirts and drink PBR. And that's fucking stupid.

If there is anything that I am not, it's hip. I don't like clothing, I don't think about clothing, I just put on clothing every morning and take most of it off before I go to bed at night. I don't dress to impress anyone. I own a lot of t-shirts, and I bought them because I liked them or thought they were funny. They may fall under the definition of "slogan tees," whatever the fuck that means.

My point here, and this turns out to be much less angry than I'd like, is that before you publish a diatribe calling for the end of hipsterism, you should probably learn what the fuck you're talking about. By inadvertently lumping the non-hip in with the hip, Time Out has shown that they don't have a clue what they're talking about. And if you don't have a fucking clue, even if the angle you take in your article is interesting, in the end, you just look like the fucking idiots that you are. There are few things more insulting to me than to be called a hipster. I am not one.

Time Out even offers a lovely quiz you can take to see how hip you are. Multiple choice, of course, with plenty of questions where I would not choose any of the two, three, or five options available. Come on. That's fucked. If you're gonna have me take a hipsterdom quiz, at least let me answer realistically.

04.45.34.pm, by unnecessarily angry
Categories: General, Media, Internet, Mini-rant

May 22nd, 2007

[un]thinkable

This past Saturday I'm sitting in my living room watching TV. There are 2 things on. Game 5 of the Buffalo Sabres / Ottawa Senators playoff series which started at 2:15pm on NBC. And the 2nd game of the Mets / Yankees series at Shea Stadium which started at 3:50pm on Fox.

A few things about me before I angry up the blood a bit more. First, Hockey is my favorite sport, followed closely by baseball. Second, I am a (NY) Rangers and Mets fan. Third, given an opportunity to watch playoff hockey not involving the Rangers and a Mets / Yankees game, I will be unable to choose which I want to watch.

So, now, let's jump back to last Saturday. Unsurprisingly, come 4 o'clock, I'm torn. I decided that since the hockey game was further along, it would get more attention, so I watched mostly hockey, jumping for commercials over to the Mets / Yankees game. And now the fun starts. Buffalo ties up the score with 45 seconds left, and the game is going to OT. I hit the channel+ button and begin watching the Mets/Yankees. The inning came to an end and I flipped back to watch the intermission recap and analysis of the hockey game only to see pre-race coverage for the Preakness. WTF? Excuse me, I was watching that...

Apparently what I (and presumably many others as well) missed, was that NBC said "We're going to be moving our coverage over to Versus." So, I sat there, dumbfounded as to where the hockey went. It would not occur to me that they would simply turn off the coverage on one channel and two minutes later pick up the coverage on another channel. And, oh yes, there was a two-minute delay. But, I didn't know any of that, so I went to my computer and pulled up the box score so that at least I would know the final score. And I sat there and watched baseball. Happily, might I add, because I do love a good Mets / Yankees game.

A few commercial breaks later I'm starting to flip out there. There is overtime playoff hockey afoot, but I didn't know where it was. On a whim, I decided to turn to Versus. Maybe, I thought, they would put the game here. And sure enough, there it was. Daniel Alfredsson had his arms in the air, his teammates were mobbing him, the Ottawa Senators were going to the Stanley Cup finals, and I had not seen the goal or the overtime. And that's fucked.

But there's more to it. For, you see, the Playoff game ended at 5:14pm, and the main event at the Preakness wasn't scheduled to start until 6:09pm. So, instead of running playoff hockey overtime for 14 minutes of their Preakness coverage, they started their Preakness coverage early (at the end of the 3rd period) with barely an announcement as to where the game went. There was no reason for that. There was no reason to deprive people of watching the game. There are plenty of people around the country who don't get VS, but most of them get NBC. What were they supposed to do if they wanted to watch hockey instead of horse racing? You can't do that. It's total nonsense and unfathomable. In the spring of 1994, that wouldn't have happened. But 13 years later, the NHL is such a weak draw that things like that do happen, and that doesn't just make me angry, it makes me sad. It makes me sad to see that one of the most beautiful displays of athleticism and team work is so downtrodden now that it is broadcast on a network that no one had heard of before it picked up hockey. And, many people still have not heard of it even now that it does have hockey. I've already ranted about this, though, so I'm not going to again, but it's a fucking disgrace.

And there's still more. NBC broadcasts in HD and that HD channel is available to most viewers with HD capable cable boxes or satellites. Versus also broadcasts in HD, but I have yet to meet someone who has VS HD as a channel available to them. So, if I had figured out quickly enough where the game was, I wouldn't have been able to watch it in HD anymore. A small complaint, maybe, but hockey is a sport that is meant to be seen in HD. It looks so much better, it's mind-blowing.

The Mets beat the Yankees 10-7 that game. David Wright hit 2-run home runs in his first 2 at-bats before getting intentionally walked his next 3 times to the plate. That wasn't so bad.

03.37.24.pm, by unnecessarily angry
Categories: TV, Sports, Hockey

May 21st, 2007

[un]educationed

I don't know what's happened to this country, but I don't like it. You know who's getting arrested these days? A lot of people. You know what they're getting arrested for? A lot of things.

But, I'm gonna talk about one subset of each of those questions. You know who's getting arrested these days? High school seniors. You know what they're getting arrested for? Senior pranks.

It's that time of year again. High school seniors across the country are getting ready to don their caps and gowns and celebrate their freedom from high school. Many of them have been accepted to, and plan to attend, colleges all across the country. But they are still kids, even if they are now 17 or 18, and they lack the judgment that an older person might have. And because of this they plan "senior pranks." They're thinking "We'll go down in history for this one!" and unfortunately for them, that is true. I say unfortunately, because they didn't think that "going down in history" would pan out quite how it will.

These kids pull off a prank. It's rarely that creative, more often slightly destructive, and always disruptive. But that is the point of a senior prank. And in days past (and occasionally still now), the school would laugh and everyone would have a good time with it and see it in the light that it should be cast.

But now there is a problem with the senior prank.

And it's not the kids, it's the adults and how they overreact to everything. Not that these kids are innocent -- they're fucking idiots. Not that the idea behind a senior prank is stupid, nor that getting caught doing so is stupid, although it's not smart, but the kids are idiots because they should see the climate around them and that most schools now will not react how they should and used to, but will react swiftly, mercilessly, and utterly irresponsibly. Seriously, it's just meant to be a prank. Clean it up, and charge the kids the cleanup costs, but it's ridiculous to bring in law enforcement and to possibly not let these kids graduate. They're just trying to have fun and celebrate their graduation. It is an error in judgment or a lack of judgment, but it is hardly a crime.

The crime, if anything, is that it used to be a standard thing, senior pranks, and now a "prank" will quickly escalate in to an arrest. It's irresponsible of the schools, the administrators, the teachers, and maybe even the police to let that happen. Their job is to teach these kids, prepare them for life, and set them on the right path. By putting them in jail for a prank or having the prank appear on their permanent record, they're putting them on the wrong path. Make them pay for the damages, that's fine, but let them graduate and go on with their lives rather than having to deal with legal bullshit which will destroy them.

It's sickening and stupid that these places that are supposed to help kids are letting them get arrested and then pressing charges against them for, what, a few hundred, maybe a couple thousand dollars? These schools and administrators and teachers, people whose job it is to help students are suddenly shirking their responsibilities and are turning against those that have been put in their charge. And that's fucked. The prank is a school-related happening. If you want to give them an in-school suspension, do it. If you want to fine them, do it. If you want to disallow them from walking during graduation, I think that is heartless and cold, but it's still fine. But to have them arrested or to expel them when they are hours away from graduating, is beyond unfair. It is completely [un]reasonable.




As if to illustrate my point further, here's another prime example.

05.22.34.pm, by unnecessarily angry
Categories: General, Internet, Mini-rant, School Administrators and Teachers

May 17th, 2007

[un]der appreciated / [un]der water

The NY Mets organization is trying to fuck with me. They've tested my patience, tested my faith, and then rewarded me for my pains.

As I posted yesterday, the Mets got beat up 10-1 on Tuesday night. I was unfortunate enough to be in the crowd for the game. At least, part of the game. I broke a time-honored tradition of mine, which is to never leave a game early. It was a combination of factors. The 6-run 6th inning, the lack of run production by the Mets, the generally poor pitching by the Mets, and some back spasms that I'd been having all day. It was enough. I left after the bottom of the 6th, which I never do. I don't believe in leaving early from a game, because I think that if you've paid for it, you should sit through it, and that you should never give up on the team you've paid to support. But sometimes it's more than I can handle, I guess.

So, as a show of good faith, I decided to go to Wednesday night's game. I had several friends who were going to come, but one by one they checked the forecast and decided that they changed their minds. No matter, I have one die-hard friend who I knew would come, and so we went to Shea. It was raining when I got there around 6:30, and I saw that they were offering Picnic Area seats for the same price as Upper Deck seats. We always sit Upper Deck, but Picnic Area was too good to pass up, so we bought a pair of tickets. My friend got there around 7:10, which would've been the game start time, but already, the game was delayed because of rain. No problem, I thought, it seemed to be letting up, and we'd get the game started soon enough. The forecast called for the rain to be letting up around 8pm anyway.

My willful ignorance here was foolish. My friend's was as well. The rain did not let up, but got progressively heavier. We sat underneath the bleachers and watched the rain steadily get heavier and heavier as the time ticked by. We grabbed a beer each, started drinking them, turned around, and they had already closed the bar under the bleachers.
At this point, it was about 7:45. We should have left. But the Mets should've announced what the hell was going on.

And here's where the annoyance begin. We're getting somewhat soaked; we're sheltered, but restless; we want to watch a ball game from our bleacher seats, which we are not even allowed to sit on while it is raining. The Mets should have announced something. "We will wait as long as necessary to get this game under way" would've been nice. It was certainly true. But the Mets and Shea Stadium hung us all out to dry... They simply let us sit there. Because they made no announcement, there was no guarantee that we would get refunds for our tickets. If they play the game, chances are we don't get our money back. That's aggravating. Time ticks by and we wander around the stadium to the gate nearest the subway. It is now 8:30, the game has been delayed an hour 20 minutes. That's manageable and the rain seems to be letting up. We look in to the outfield and they have let some fans on to the bleachers to sit and wait. We debate "should we leave, or stay?" "We came to watch a game, let's stay."

So we wander back to the bleachers, load up on more snacks and beers, and sit down. The grounds crew is standing around the tarp, things are looking good for a 9:15 or so start. But the grounds crew doesn't remove the tarp. They just stand there. For 20 minutes, they stand there. Then they leave the field. At this point, it's 9:15. We could've left 45 minutes earlier. But, no, maybe just a quick delay, final instructions. Then it starts to pour again. They clear the bleachers, and we give up. We know they're going to play this game, but we can't wait any more. As we're walking out of the stadium at 9:25 they announce over the loud speaker that the game is expected to start at 10:15. FUCK THAT. We hopped the subway and went home.

But that is not the whole story. The story here is the Mets, the Cubs, Shea Stadium, and the MLB scheduling office conspiring, in a way, to fuck the fans. The story goes like this:
- The Mets and Cubs had one more game scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 1pm. Then the Cubs were to travel home to Chicago where they would open a series Friday afternoon against the White Sox. And that's where the problems start. Cubs vs. White Sox is nearly as meaningful as Mets vs. Yankees. Thus, there is no way in hell that the Cubs will reschedule the Friday game, even just to push it back to Friday night.
- The Cubs set Thursday afternoon as their "travel day" and more or less refused to compromise. If they had simply run a straight double-header, maybe even push the start time of the first game to noon, they could've been out by 6, maybe 7 o'clock. But they didn't want to compromise their travel time, so that was out of the question. That left the Cubs and Mets and Shea and MLB executives sitting inside, sheltered, deciding that the fans could wait, because if the game is played, fuck the fans, they don't get their money back, and we don't have a scheduling problem. So they rain delayed the start of the game 3 hours and 7 minutes. The first pitch came at 10:17 to the few remaining fans. By the time the Mets had put away the Cubs in convincing fashion, 8-1, it was Thursday, and the teams had barely 12 hours to sleep, and get back to the ballpark for the opening pitch.

And what do the Mets offer to those ticket holders who gave up? and even to those who stayed? We can mail them our ticket stubs and get comparable tickets to the Twins series in June? FUCK YOU. That's a fucking insult. Not that I could make it to a game if they had rescheduled it for this evening, but they're not even trying to be fair to the fans here, and it was clear from the start. An announcement early on could've saved me several hours of sitting and waiting to find out I wouldn't get my money back or get to watch the game. And that's fucked. That's not customer service, that's customer disservice.

So, what do they do, after 2 days of pissing me off? They hold a "2nd Chance" ticket lottery for the Mets/Yankees series this weekend, and I win the chance to buy tickets. Suddenly I've got 3 tickets to the Mets/Yankees game on Friday, and another three for the game on Sunday. Is that fair? How can I stay angry when I've got the most coveted tickets a Mets fan can get during the regular season. They're just fucking with me for the fun of it. Let's Go Mets!

05.43.17.pm, by unnecessarily angry
Categories: Mini-rant, Sports, Baseball

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