George Sarant

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Archive for June 2011

A MORAL DILEMMA

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The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, and the courts have scrupulously upheld this principle. The latest incarnation is the Supreme Court ruling striking down a law banning violent video games for children. In all such matters, whether it be pornography or extreme violence, the problem is children, and how to shield them from such things.

Television in particular is a problem. Although broadcast networks currently do not televise “adult” material during the hours children may be watching, they are constantly pushing the envelope, and moves are underway to remove even these restrictions. Cable is another thing, particularly “premium” services that people incomprehensibly pay extra for. In particular Showtime and Starz distribute shows that are truly disgusting.

Starz has hit rock bottom with Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, never mind that it has nothing to do with Spartacus. In addition to the expected over-the-top blood and gore, there is constant female as well as male nudity, including fully frontal shots, and every sort of sexual activity imaginable. It is essentially an hour of gay porn. Every other word is f–k. But this is not “adult” material; it is the sort of thing that attracts impressionable thirteen year olds males since the content is too dumb for an actual adult. Anyone with children ought to cancel Starz.

Californication on Showtime, as its title implies, is totally concerned with sexual escapades. But what this show unintentionally shows is a nihilistic, amoral, hedonistic culture that is in serious decline. Unfortunately such people totally dominate the entertainment industry, but demographics are not with them. They are a diminishing population in a sea of new arrivals with different perceptions of life and family. Although it characterizes the powerful in California, it is a society on the wane, and no longer points to the future.

If you pay for these “premium” channels you are essentially supporting shows like this, and no matter what restrictions you place your kids, teens in particular, will access them. Therein lies the dilemma- how to reduce these influences without compromising freedom. Surely such material ought to be restricted, but not by the government. Freedom of expression is too important and too precious a principle to be compromised. What is needed is self-restraint on the part of producers of “entertainment.” In the past the motion picture and television industry adhered to some standards as a result of public demand. Now there are no standards, thanks to degenerate liberalism. The only way to rectify this situation is for a large number of people to express their objection to such content and apply continuous pressure. Canceling pay services for stated reasons is particularly effective. These companies must learn that they cannot continue offending a very substantial portion of the population without consequences. After all, there are more of us than there are of them.

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Written by georgesarant

June 28, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Posted in morality

LIBYA AND SYRIA

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The administration’s half-hearted policy in Libya is a no-win situation all around. Americans may be war weary, but the preservation of the NATO alliance is still in our interests as well as theirs. It is true the Libya campaign has unmasked the impotence of the Europeans in carrying out any mission without significant American support. The Europeans continue to bury their heads and avoid adequate expenditures for their own defense. However it is hardly in our interests to see this mission fail. We made a commitment to this effort and to avoid looking impotent ourselves we need to see it through. It would not take a major effort on our part to finally topple daffy Quadafi, who has American and British blood on his hands. Having come out in favor of his overthrow we should make it happen, and then leave the post-Quadafi situation to the Europeans.

The case against Quadafi is that he has murdered his own people. By that standard the Assad regime in Syria is even worse, yet we are standing by as what is clearly a popular revolt is being brutally suppressed. There is a tacit policy of supporting the status quo in Syria in the interests of “stability.” This is nonsense. The fall of this Iranian ally would clearly be in the interests of the West. Without direct engagement on the ground we have sufficient forces in the area to support the revolt, and given its resilience in the face of murderous suppression it would likely succeed.

Again Americans are war weary, but having gone this far and largely succeeded in Iraq and Afghanistan it makes no sense to precipitously withdraw, thereby vastly increasing Iranian influence. The sacrifices we have made should not be in vain. Iran is the greatest threat to world peace and “stability” at the moment, but we effectively have them encircled. Until that regime is toppled by its own people the treat remains and we ignore it at our own peril. Regime change in Syria would be a major blow to Iran, not only there by in Lebanon, given Syrian mischief in that country.

Unfortunately the administration continues to project weakness, which only emboldens our enemies. This is suicide. Neo-isolationism is a dangerous fantasy and it is disturbing to hear some Republicans taking this position. The fact of the matter is that we may not be interested in the world, but the world is interested in us, and we cannot wish away those intent on destroying us.

Written by georgesarant

June 26, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Posted in international

ENTERTAINMENT PIRACY

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Entertainment companies are constantly complaining about piracy, but meanwhile they themselves often rip off the consumers who actually pay for their products. For example, I saw 2001:A Space Odyssey when it first came out in a premium-priced Cinerama roadshow. (For those who are too young to remember these terms, Cinerama was a process that used three screens to provide a really wide image of a movie. A “roadshow” was how major movies used to premier. They would initially be booked into a high-end theater, say on Broadway, and run there for months before going into general distribution).

So I paid for that ticket. Then I bought a VHS video tape when it came out. Then I bought a very expensive laser disc version. Then I bought a DVD, and finally I bought a blu-ray DVD. It’s the same with music- buying a record, then buying the CD, and if you’re too lazy to copy your own records, an MP3. Never mind the additional “collectors edition” that inevitably comes out after you’ve paid for the regular version. That adds up to a lot of money paying for the same product several times.

If these companies had any sense they would work more like software companies do with updates. You should be able to register your purchase, and then get a discount when the “upgraded” version or technology comes out. That would be a reasonable marketing approach. They in turn would benefit from a user or database.

There is a lot of piracy, mostly outside the United States, in places like China, and companies are losing a substantial amount of money as a result. If these items were paid for our trade balance would not be so bad. As usual Americans basically foot the bill for the rest of the world, just as they do in medical research, pharmaceuticals, etc.

The entertainment companies would benefit if they looked at their products more like software and treated fans of a title better. Then they might get more sympathy.

Written by georgesarant

June 16, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

FACEBOOK GOING DOWN THE TUBES?

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I think Facebook is going to wind up being an ephemeral phenomenon just like many other “hot” things that have been part of the Internet. There was old AOL that actually did it all better with a minimum of hassle in its time, then MySpace, and then… -you get the idea. They appear to be changing processes and rules only to make it worse. For example, I used to get a lot more feedback on blog posts there, but then it mysteriously tapered off.

It turns out that your posts are no longer being seen by many, if not most of your friends. Due to some sort of formula they are now only visible to people who you have recently interacted with. So unless you spend all your time on Facebook “interacting” with particular individuals they don’t see your posts. This means they are following everything you do to get this information for their algorithm. This also means your friends are not seeing your posts either unless they tweak a setting on Facebook. This is ridiculous and defeats the whole point of the network.

There is a fix for this as explained here. I urge everyone reading this to follow the instructions to adjust their accounts so that we can continue to communicate. The more rules they throw on here the more irritating they become and the more they are going to alienate people.

Forward this to your friends to correct this nonsense.

Written by georgesarant

June 15, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

CHARACTER

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It seems that Anthony Weiner will be seeking “therapy” for his transgressions. This will presumably wean him off of his sexual deviancy. This is the typical secular-liberal approach, which is to pathologize immoral conduct. To attribute this to a disease of some sort is a travesty, and trivializes real mental illness, which is largely physiological and best treated pharmacologically.

This is what we get from people who do not believe there are any standards, that individuals are not ultimately responsible for their own behavior, that we must be “nonjudgemental,” that there is no objective truth, and ultimately that there is no such thing as evil.

But even if we were to accept this nonsense, when someone presumes to hold public office they should in fact be held to a higher standard. The Internet is fertile ground for sexual escapades that anyone might conceivably succumb to. But the thing that guides us and prevents us from yielding to temptation is character. Character is what restrains us from doing stupid things if it is sufficiently developed. Without it we are left with nothing but impulses, and the desire to satisfy them no matter what the consequences. When one seeks public office it is a public trust, that one will do the right thing. But if one cannot make proper judgements in their private affairs how can they be trusted with public power? In the past people understood this, and character was of primary importance before the arrival of our “modern” sensibilities. But in the end there is no surer measure of who a person is and what they will do. Character matters.

Written by georgesarant

June 13, 2011 at 4:10 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

WEENING THE GOVERNMENT

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Anthony Weiner is a man without honor, prudence, decency, or shame. Anyone with a sense of propriety would have resigned after the revelation that he had exposed himself online. But the standards of rectitude seem to apply only to Republicans, who consistently step down when a misdeed is uncovered. Weiner, a liberal hypocrite, was promoting himself to be the next Mayor of New York City before these revelations, and he still intends to hold onto his congressional seat. More mind-boggling is the fact that a majority of the voters in his district believe he should stay in office. What kind of people are they?

This country has the misfortune to have its major institutions dominated by a rotten elite- people without standards, who are contemptuous of the traditional values of the mass of the people. They control the media, the education system, the entertainment industry, and virtually all forms of communication. It is not so much that they are “liberal,” as that they are nihilists. They don’t believe in anything and ridicule anyone who does. But a person who believes in nothing will believe or fall for anything. Thus we find them forever attracted to radical propositions designed to upend society in order to “improve” it, and especially stand firm against “intolerance.” So apparently, due to the moral and intellectual failings of some people, we must tolerate Anthony Weiner and his ilk.

Given the myopia of his constituents, and the unlikelihood that he will be ejected from congress, the only way to get rid of Weiner is to eliminate his district in redistricting. New York is losing two congressional seats as it continues to hemorrhage people, so one of them might as well be his.

The other unpleasant thought is that people like this actually have power in this country. Do we really want to be ruled by such unprincipled scoundrels? The only way to protect ourselves and our children is with less government. The framers designed the constitution along these very lines, which have largely been abrogated, wherever possible, by the “liberals.” We need to return to basic constitutional principles that devolve the concentration of power in the federal government and restore decision-making to the lowest possible level; that is to say the community or the individual. We should be jealous of ceding control over our lives to government, given the imperfections of man, ideally to the point where government doesn’t matter.

Written by georgesarant

June 11, 2011 at 4:09 PM

AVOID QUIBIDS!

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I did something stupid. I signed up for QuiBids thinking it was an auction site something like Ebay, which I use frequently. It’s not. Before you can even bid on anything you have to shell out $60 for 100 bids, which sounds like a lot, until you start using them. Each bid cost you 60 cents. There are enticing items, like Macbooks, LED TVs, appliances, etc. but there are mostly gift cards and credits for more bids. This works in such a way that you wind up using your bids awfully fast, coming away with nothing because of the way the “auction” is structured. Each bid raises the price by a penny, but costs someone 60 cents. The kicker is that if anyone else bids in the last 20 seconds the clock is reset to twenty. As a result you are stuck in a game of chicken with whoever else is bidding until you run out of points. It is true that at some point somebody wins, and may even get a Macbook for $10, but meanwhile an awful lot of money has been wasted by people losing the auction. That’s how they can afford to offer a few prizes that could go for pennies on the dollar. It depends on hundreds or thousands of other idiots spending the $60 and getting nothing. When something looks too good to be true it usually is. Avoid getting conned. Stay away from lthis one like the plague.

Written by georgesarant

June 11, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Posted in Uncategorized