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Posts tagged ‘silly’

Unequivocal Proof Auto-Tune is the Devil’s Tool …

I am an unabashed music fan. I remember discovering pop AM radio in the early 70’s and quickly graduating to FM album rock. The day I bought my first album – Queen’s “A Night At The Opera” – was a game changer.

Although I’m definitely a rocker, I’m open-minded enough to appreciate the best of all genres. After all, while trends have come and gone, good music is always good music – you can sit me down with some big speakers and a copy of “Straight Outta Compton” and I’m a happy boy.

To me, the one thing that separates good music from the rest is talent. If you have skills, whether as a singer or a player or a producer, you’ll produce good music. There’s an honest to good music that can’t be faked.

Which brings me to Auto-Tune. A software plug-in used to smooth out the rough spots in otherwise good performances, it was the music industry’s dirty little secret until it was abused on Cher’s “Believe” in 1988 and became all the rage. As producers recognized the power of the tool, they realized it could not only be used to distort a good vocal performance but also to make palatable an otherwise-unlistenable one.

There are lots of examples of Auto-Tune cleaning up the performances of attractive but untalented Pop-Tarts (see Spears, Britney or Simpson, Ashlee), but nothing comes close to this. I have no idea who Lisa Gail is, and nothing indicates that this was done as some kind of joke, so I can only assume it’s a vanity performance paid for by a loving (or henpecked) husband. Be warned … you’re gonna want to poke chopsticks in your ears before the end of the first minute …

They say guns don’t kill people; people do. In this case, though, Auto-Tune is the gun and good taste is the victim …

Nothing To See Here, or Your Tax Dollars At Work

With all the hoo-haw about body scanners and overly personal airport searches, the Transportation Security Administration has been in the news quite a bit lately. Formed knee-jerk style in the aftermath of 9-11, the TSA is responsible for maintaining security on all forms of public transit in America – although nowhere are they as visible … or reviled … as in the departure terminal at your local airport.

Frankly, I don’t understand what the big deal is – you pass through a scanner that has no camera and no way for the operator to connect the image on the screen to the person being scanned, and you get cleared with no one having to touch you. Seems like a win-win to me, but like everything in our post-9-11 world, it needs a little tweaking.

There are protests and boycotts and petitions going around in an attempt to do something … anything … to improve the system, but I prefer my favorite weapon in such times. I therefore bring you an advance look at the 2010 Girls of the TSA calendar …

I’m sure that’s got your junk tingling … either that, or you’re standing too close to the scanner again. This particular meme has been rolling around the internet in email form for the last few days, and I figured it was time it made it into the blogosphere – props to the guy … and girl … who made it happen.

Dude, You Wish You Could Go Out With This Much Style …

Those of us who travel on business understand and appreciate what a difficult, frustrating prospect it can be when you have to fly from one city to another. The post-9/11 changes to travel regulations make it hard enough, and the miserly squeeze being placed on passengers by the airlines doesn’t help. Add to that mix a couple of rude passengers who think it’s all about them, and it’s a wonder you don’t see more people going nuts on airliners.

By all accounts, yesterday’s JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to New York’s JFK Airport was your typical commuter flight – lots of folks headed to the big city, each with their own agendas and plans, wanting nothing more than to get the flight behind them. Among those charged with the passengers’ safety and service was flight attendant Steven Slater, a 20-year veteran flight attendant who had recently rejoined JetBlue after five years away. Perhaps the time off wasn’t as rewarding as he’d hoped, or perhaps wiping up after a cabinful of rude, ungrateful passengers wasn’t as exciting as he remembered. All we really know is that after getting into a disagreement with an unruly passenger, he made his last flight an a JetBlue employee memorable for all onboard.

After he was bonked in the head by a bag, Steven Slater stunned passengers by spewing profanity and ranting about quitting as the flight from Pittsburgh pulled up to the gate about noon.

“To the f—–g a–hole who told me to f–k off, it’s been a good 20 years,” Slater, 38, purred, cops said. “I’ve had it. That’s it,” he added, a passenger said.

The mad-as-hell steward grabbed a couple of brewskis and popped one open before activating the emergency exit, witnesses told airport employees.

After tossing his two carry-on bags on the slide, he followed them to the tarmac.

Slater then walked to the AirTrain, stripped off his company tie and flung it off as bemused passengers watched.

“I wish we could all quit our jobs like that,” said passenger Phil Catelinet, 36, of Brooklyn, who was on the flight and the AirTrain.

“He seemed kind of happy about it. He was like, ‘I just quit my job.’ “

Slater calmly exited the airport and headed home, where he was taken into custody later in the day. In a court appearance this morning, he was charged with charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass, and his bail set at $2500.

Interestingly, the majority of reaction towards Slater’s actions, while not necessarily endorsing his unorthodox exit, tends to be at least supportive of his frustration. As you might expect in this day and age, there are YouTube tributes and Facebook fan pages. There’s even talk of a reality show, presuming he ever gets another job.

Look, punching out of a plane isn’t a good idea, even on the tarmac. But after twenty years of dealing with self-centered jackholes day in and day out, it’s hard to blame the guy for finally snapping.

Got a hunch we haven’t heard the last on this one … stay tuned …

Lighten Up, Francis …

We live in challenging times. From overseas wars to domestic terrorism to global warming to catastrophic environmental disasters, there’s more than enough for us to worry about. You’d think that among those who particularly have their hands full would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. But they must have everything under control, because they still have the time and resources to go after Wikipedia for using their logo without permission.

As you probably know, Wikipedia is the user-generated online encyclopedia. Like any encyclopedia, it consists of articles about various topics, in this case authored by interested parties and subject to the content rules of the Wikimedia Project that oversees the Wikipedia. One of the articles is about the FBI, and is accompanied by a copy of the FBI seal in image form. Apparently that’s an issue for the FBI, and they’re leaning on Wikipedia to remove it.

In a letter to Wikipedia dated July 22 and posted by The New York Times, the FBI demands that its official seal be removed from a Wikipedia article about the FBI because the agency had not approved use of the image.

“The FBI has not authorized use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia,” the letter said. “The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting” copying and reprinting of the FBI’s seal.

The letter goes on to threaten legal action if its demand is ignored: “Failure to comply may result in further legal action. We appreciate your timely attention to this matter.”

Blah blah blah.

The Feds are basing their legal argument on a violation of United States Code 18 USC 701, which punishes anyone who “manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof” for other than official use. Most media outlets have pointed out that Wikipedia, like most reference texts, would normally be extended certain courtesies in using such an image, as had Encyclopedia Britannica. But I noticed just now that someone went in yesterday and edited the Brittanica entry on the FBI to remove the offending image … hmm …

I appreciate the concern the FBI or any law enforcement organization might have over people forging credentials and using them to advance their nefarious purposes. But I have a difficult time believing that Wikipedia is truly a prime source for such behavior. It’s enough to make you believe that the ghost of J. Edgar is roaming the halls with his famous list … or maybe someone at FBI HQ has confused Wikipedia with Wikileaks … 😀

I’ll Tell You What’s Un-American, Pal …

Have you noticed lately how lazy politicians have gotten?

There was a time when politics was a proud service, aspired to by the best and the brightest we have to offer as a way of giving back to society. Today, however, it seems like every wannabe with a stack of money or a microphone jumps into politics as a short-cut to national recognition and the fame that can come with it. Along the way, many of the skills and talents that used to be required have slipped by the wayside.

Take the fine art of debate. Once upon a time, two groups of people, civil towards each other but on opposite sides of an issue, would debate the merit of their positions using thought-out arguments and intelligent statements. But those skills seem to have been lost by today’s politicians, who are desperate to make their political points in a world with the attention span of a 3-yr-old child. So rather than sway people with the value of their argument, they fall back on an old tool that’s new again – they brand it “un-American”.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, has taken issue with the new immigration bill passed recently in Arizona. Now, the mayor seems like a pretty smart guy, and there are certainly valid arguments to be made against the law. But rather than explain what he feels is wrong with the structure of the law, he slapped it with the “U” word:

“I add my voice in strongly opposing this unpatriotic and un-American law and I call upon our federal leaders to pass comprehensive immigration reform in its place.”

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the political fence, Republican and Tea Party poster boy Rand Paul has been taking heat over some of the statements he’s made regarding various issues since he won the party’s Senate primary in Kentucky.  One of the things he’s irritated about is the President’s handling of the Gulf oil spill and of BP, the company who’s crude is currently puking up beaches from Louisiana to Florida.  Paul’s position is a little different than most; he thinks Obama is being too hard on the oil company, but he had to resort to the “U” word to back up his argument:

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Paul said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

Here’s my question – what exactly does “un-American” mean, and who are they to determine what qualifies? Are they constitutional scholars who have studied the works of the founding fathers and understand the intent of the Constitution? Or are they hoping that Billy-Bob will hear that word in a sound clip, slam down his beer and yell, “frakkin’ A!”

Look, these guys aren’t stupid – they obviously understand that we live in a world where news is made in 15-second clips and 140-character tweets. They’re unwilling – or unable – to take the time needed to make a valid argument, so they just right to a word they know is a button-pusher, just like the “n” word or the “f” word before it. And, considering the visibility it gets them, it’s hard to argue with their reasoning. But it is a dangerous game to replace the logic of your argument with simplistic jingoism.

It’s worth remembering that there was once another man who chose to hide his arguments behind the word “un-American” – Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator of a half-century ago who witch-hunts were sanction under a banner of the “U” word. My advice to those in office today: take the time to make the argument – don’t try to hide behind a declaration of “un-American” …

But Would You Rather Be Felt Up?

Ever since 9/11, travel – particularly by air – hasn’t been the same. The planes are packed, the TSA changes the rules weekly, and God forbid you get caught going through Security without clean socks. But none of the changes brought about by those horrific terror attacks has folks up in the air – so to speak – so much as the new full-body scanning machines now being tested at select airports. The scanners, which make it practically impossible to hide something under your clothes, are hailed as “the solution” by security experts. But privacy advocates fear that the grainy black and white images generated by the scanners dig a little too deep, and are just a little too personal. You might think it’s not that big a deal, but for at least one security worker in Miami, his little deal is a big deal indeed

A TSA worker at Miami International Airport in Florida was arrested for allegedly assaulting a co-worker who had repeatedly teased him about the size of his genitals.

The insults stemmed from an X-ray of the accused captured during a training exercise with the airport’s full-body scanning machines, the report said.

Rolando Negrin “stated he could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind,” allegedly striking the victim with a police baton. According to the report, a witness heard Negrin say in Spanish, “get on your knees or I will kill you and you better apoligise [sic].”

I’ve seen the output of these machines, including one of a woman that left little to the imagination, and I see where there could be a potential for abuse. But at some point, you have to decide what’s important to you – letting some minimum-wage TSA hack get his jollies at your expense, or getting your ass blown out of the sky. The scanner is quick, painless, and certain – and a hell of a lot better than getting groped in a detailed patdown.

Of course, there are other solutions to the problem. Being something of an outside-of-the-box thinker myself, I have a foolproof method to insure nothing is brought onboard the planes that shouldn’t be there – fly naked. Yep, everyone not working the cockpit strips before they pass through the scanner and everything – and I mean everything – gets checked in. Want something to eat or read on the flight? Get it on the plane. Somehow, paying extra for a blanket isn’t going to seem so wrong any more …

Besides, The Truth Is So Much More Boring

I love tabloid journalism. Unlike most people in the generations behind me, I recognize that it is entertainment and not fact, and don’t use it to make life-changing decisions … like, say, moving to the Jersey Shore. But as entertainment, it can’t be beat.

Since it’s effectively the modern day equivalent of the sideshow freak display, they depend on their headlines to suck people in the way a carney might back in the day. Take this one, which I saw a little bit ago:

“Ears save boy from death as crowds watch him dangle from window”

That one would suck me in even if I didn’t come from a long line of large-eared males. Apparently, little Ming Ming was wandering around on the balcony outside his parents’ apartment in Yinchang, China, when he slipped between the bars. I’ll let the tabloid pick it up from there …

Crowds gathered after hearing his screams and rescuers moved into save the child from an eight storey drop. An onlooker said: ‘The only thing stopping him from plunging to the ground below was the fact his head was trapped between two window bars.’ Once inside the flat firefighters quickly used a hydraulic pressure expander to force the bars apart and pulled Ming Ming back into the apartment.

Now to be fair, it looks to me like it’s actually his head that kept him from falling to his death, but who am I to stand between a headline and the truth. And, frankly, I’m happy he was saved, because there’s not nearly the same tabloid value in “Boy Plummets To Death” … :-O

Need To Send The Mother-In-Law Back To Her Home Planet?

Then have I got just the thing for you. Courtesy of Craigslist comes a little peace of mind – not to mention silence – in the form of your own personal spaceship!

This space ship is in excellent condition! Only 300 million Intergalactic miles, 4 passenger, no meteor dents, possibly needs reactor seals and recharged flux capacitor, 1 owner. Still have the original owners manual.

OK, so maybe the listing was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but for $3500 it’s still a cool little find. Just imagine this baby in the back yard as a playset for the kids, or with a kegerator as a mini-man cave, or wired as the ultimate personal office. The possibilities are as vast as the galaxy itself.

Act now, before this one hyperdrive’s out of here … 😀

Wasn’t It Just Summer?

With all due apologies to my friends in the Pacific Northwest and on the East Coast, who will no doubt laugh at my whining … I’m getting pretty tired of rain. This is the Sunshine State, but we’re not used to liquid sunshine.  Just yesterday, it was somewhere in the mid-80’s and summertime was taking hold.  Now, look – it’s another storm rolling in tonight! Someone go fire up StormWatch …

Now, for most of us the rain is little more than a nuisance. It interferes with my riding schedule and makes my backyard look more like a mudbog than turf, but it’s pretty hard to really complain. The folks with the biggest issues – and, apparently, the loudest voices – are the people living in the canyon areas that burned last summer.

The amazing thing is that we haven’t even reached what would normally be considered the “rainy” season here in SoCal, and we’ve already gotten 11 inches of rain. Compare that to the normal yearly average of 14, and perhaps you can understand everyone’s consternation – and the concern of the folks in the hills.

Normally, I’d make some pithy comments about how those folks should have known what they were getting into living up in the canyons, and how tiring it is to hear them complain about the authorities forcing them to evacuate for their own safety – and then complaining even more if they don’t – but I think I’ll let them slide for now … 😉

But Does It Come With A Purse?

I think I’m pretty typical for someone my age in that I feel my generation was totally screwed when it comes to cars.  Our parents got all the cool ’60s muscle cars, but by the time we got our license all those things were long gone – we got the Pinto and the Vega.  It’s not surprise, therefore, that I was pretty pumped when Ford rolled out their retro-Mustang a couple of years back – all the cool of the original with modern touches like airbags and disc brakes.  It didn’t take long for the other manufacturers to follow the leader, and soon we had a brand new Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger.  But while everyone’s dipping into the ’60s well for inspiration, some ideas are clearly more inspired than others.

Dodge was a little late to the table rolling out their modern muscle car, and 2010 is the second model year for the Challenger.  One could say they were a bit preoccupied trying to stay corporately afloat, but it seems they used the extra time to learn the mistakes made by Ford and Chevrolet with their earlier introductions.  Most people agree the Challenger is the throwback that is the “truest” to the original design – right down to the colors.  Like the original, you can get your Challenger in classic colors Detonator Yellow, TorRed or Blue Pearl – heck, they even brought back Plum Crazy.  But to celebrate what would represent 40 years of the Challenger – had they stuck around – they’re rolling out a version in … wait for it … Furious Fuschia.

Now, I should point out here that I’m a Ford guy, so there’s really only two acceptable colors to me – white with two Ford Blue stripes or Ford Blue with two white stripes.  I’m willing to tip my hat to the Mopar Gang for showing a little flair in their colors, but dude – that’s a pink car.  There’s just no other way to look at it.  I guess maybe if your girlfriend is into hot cars and you’re trying to impress her with a muscle car for her birthday or something, but I think for the rest of us this is just not going to work. Maybe they could have called this one “Failed Fuschia” …

Oh, and memo to the folks at the Three-Point Star’s Five-Point division:  If you’re gonna celebrate an award, make sure it’s something legitimate.  We all know that JD Power will give an award to anything from cars to toilet paper, but you guys are celebrating the Challenger being named “Most Appealing Midsize Sporty Car” – I mean, what the hell is that?  Probably exactly what you’d expect someone driving a pink car to celebrate, I guess …