What do you know?

Today's current events quiz is brought to you by The Week.

I scored 8 out of 10 - maybe better luck next week.

A Rant

I've been blessed with good health, support and love from friends and family, and a fullfilling and challenging career. I'm far from perfect but try to live by the Golden Rule, "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you."

But there are days when I sit back and wonder what kind of crazy world I've been dumped in.

The President of the United States (Leader of the Free World) is paid an annual salary of $200,000 and change. Kobe Bryant, professional basketball player, makes approximately $13 million a year including endorsements.

On one hand you have reporters like David Bloom, who go the extra mile to make sure the real story reaches the American public. On the other hand, you have Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Ruth Shalit, Mike Barnicle, among other plagiarizing journos who are already back to work, making up sources and amusing themselves by lifting brilliant copy and calling it their own.

The poverty rate is up with almost 33 million Americans making less than $15,000 a year; unemployment has risen to 6.1%; there's a war in Iraq - one of over two dozen hotspots around the globe - with American soldiers being shot on a daily basis for trying to bring some semblance of order to the Iraquis chaotic lives; not to mention terrorists full of hate and loathing for the western way of life who would like nothing more than to incinerate all of North America.

Meanwhile, Americans continue to sit in front of tv sets watching countless hours of "Reality Shows." Kids graduate to higher levels of wonderful games like "Grand Theft Auto" while their health goes down the toilet everytime they consume a Big Mac or pizza or gallons of soda.

Meanwhile, only 60% of US citizens vote - and that figure was from the Presidential election of 2000 (which always draws a higher turnout) and not the last election in 2002 - but everyone gets their pants in a bunch when the politicians start screwing with their lives. If you didn't vote, you have no right to criticize the job that's being done now.

I watch good people struggle to make ends meet while individuals completely void of character reap in the wealth. Sports heros and actors are held in higher regard than the public servants in office. The answer to every conflict is to grab an attorney and haul someone (anyone) into court.

It makes me sad.

This is really pissing me off

NOW, Jayson Blair is handling coveted assignments from Esquire and Jane.

Where's the irony? This in from the New York Post.......

"He'll be reviewing the new Stephen Glass movie for Esquire and writing about workplace pressures for Jane."

Why am I so offended? Why are publications employing these liars?

I'm pissed because it makes my job so much more difficult. If Joe Public starts reading everything with a grain of salt, then what's to stop a reporter from slacking off (because there's no penalty for getting the record wrong anyway)? What will happen if they stop going that extra mile to verify facts, or contact the source, or publish an accurate quote?


It's like passing out liquor at an AA meeting

Why did Rolling Stone assign Stephen Glass to write a story?

See plagiarism rants on Blair and Blair.

Amorphophallus Titanum

I'm all with James on this one. WHY would anyone in their right mind voluntarily subject themselves to something that smells like rotting flesh?

A group of my colleagues are making their way to the Botanic Garden to wait in line and experience this phenomenon. To that I say, "Better you than me."

The proliferation of plagiarism

This post brought back the vague memory of this story. Reading about Blair Hornstein's accomplishments one can't help but wonder (and hope) how much of that straight-A classwork was also borrowed from others.

I'm sitting here, getting really pissed off just reading about it.

Some would argue that she's gotten what she deserves. After all, Harvard University reportedly rescinded her acceptance as a member of the Class of 2007. I don't think it's enough taking into consideration her history.

I say make an example of her. Because, let's face it, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of high school students out there who think it's okay to cheat. There are many who borrow from obscure websites or sources thinking they'll never be found out.

This should also be a time for universities and colleges to reconsider their own excessive admissions criteria. In order to get into one of the Top 25, you not only need high SAT scores and a near perfect GPA, but must demonstrate a flair for philanthropy, leadership roles in extracurricular activities (yes, plural), and preferably letter in one or more sports. (I'm not even going to touch the letters of recommendation, the essay portion of the application or the personal interview).

It's probably because this wretched little witch reminds me of someone I once went to school with way back when, but I hope she ends up at some no-name junior college in the middle of nowhere.

(my condolences to all of the poor students who must share a campus with this person)

How do you feel about cheating? Did you ever cheat? WHY is everyone cheating - Plagiarizing - Not attributing? And why do they feel it's okay?


A bug's life

This story just killed me. The female carries the male around piggyback.

Talk about a one-sided affair.

Fact or Fiction

I first read about "Hunting for Bambi" on this blog. I guess I'm a little late finding out that it is just another elaborate hoax to get some media attention.

Well it worked.

How many people think some company will run with this concept? And what does it say about the multi-media world that we now live in that this story received so much play?


Reality TV and Dating

I believe reality television to be the bane of existence. Buzz also has a gripe with the emergence of this type of program. Technically, it isn’t even really reality and most of the cast members --- oops, I mean contestants -- have representation (aka agents).

Not that television programming ever stimulated the intellect. But now we’re left with “Reality TV”. And there is something for everyone with shows like the grand-daddy of them all MTV’s Real World and Road Rules, CBS’s Survivor, American Idol, Are You Hot?, The Restaurant, The Amazing Race, Boot Camp, Extreme Makeover, Fame, Fear Factor, Frontier House, High School Reunion, Manor House (brought to you by PBS no less!), The Miss Dog Beauty Pageant, Murder in Small Town X, The Osbornes, The Surreal Life, Trauma: Life in the ER… and let’s not forget the dating shows like Blind Date, Change of Heart, Who Wants to Marry My Dad?, The Bachelor/rette, The Last Resort, Meet My Folks, Married by America, Temptation Island, For Love or Money, Mr. Personality, and Temptation Island, among others. And people really wonder why the divorce rate is on the rise?

I’ll admit, a decade ago I was enthralled by the novelty of MTV’s Real World. And I was suckered into catching the last half of Survivor’s first season (my then-roommates were glued to the tv set in anticipation of who would be voted off next). But where did these other hair-brained shows come from? Who ARE these people who volunteer to be humiliated week after week – all for ten seconds in the spotlight? And more importantly, WHY do millions of people tune in week after week to watch this garbage?

I rant and rave on the absurdity of these programs (and I use the term loosely) to anyone who will listen. I try to reason and provide examples of the infinite, more meaningful ways to waste time (if that’s what you’re aiming at).

And so last night, on a dare, I watched Erin eliminate three bachelors from her pool of potential mates on NBC’s “For Love or Money”. I could only stand 5 minutes of “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” before turning the tv off. That’s 70 minutes of my life I’ll never get back again.

Beside the point that I learned absolutely nothing, I wasn’t even mildly entertained. I felt embarrassed for these people (grown men wrestling one another at 3:00 a.m. after a pajama party with Erin? Isn't that something better kept behind closed doors? I’ll bet those studs aren’t feeling so cool right now). I think I’d have more fun peeling the dead skin off my sunburn.

To protect the guilty I won’t mention names – but I’m acquainted with many seemingly normal people who look forward to and anticipate watching these shows. WHY? One of them told me that they get hooked and have a vested interest in the outcome for so and so. Another claims that the talent shows aren’t reality tv (“Not like those dating shows”) and faithfully watches American Idol, Fame, The Most Talented Kid and whatnot.

What message are we sending our kids?

I'll come back with my thoughts on dating soon....

Europe's population problem

The Economist reported on a European convention held in Brussels last week. A growing topic of interest is Europe's ageing population and the immigration issue.

Even Alan Greenspan threw his 2 cents into the debate.

Canada, Oh Canada

On the long cross-country flights to and from California, I read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. (I allowed myself to give up digesting the drivel of the Dirty Girls Social Club.) Two thumbs up for this enchanting tale based in Canada.

I've traveled to Toronto and Montreal. I long to explore New Foundland and Vancouver. But once my nationality is revealed (Gasp, she's an American), the conversation always relapses into cliche.

I went to my cousin's wedding a few years ago and made quite a few new friends during my sojourn in Ontario. In the course of conversations they wanted to know why Americans don't take more of an interest in the Canadian way of life? After all, they learn about the political system in the United States. In school, they're taught American history, and sometimes know it better than their counterparts across the border.

Americans are ignorant, self-centered oafs.

Of course, the stereotypes flow both ways. Canadians are slow, unsophisticated, American wanna-bes.

Why can't we all just get along?

Jeff Dvorkin, formerly managing editor of CBC Radio News and Information, currently with NPR has this to say about the Canadian ABC reporter who broadcast a story from Iraq that "infuriated" the Bush administration.

White House officials scrambled to find the best way to hit back, says the NPR ombudsman.

Should a reporter's nationality matter? Does it matter?


Bicentenarian potential

The World Future Society convened in San Francisco this past weekend. Scientists argued over the limit of aging, announcing that someday humans would reach an average lifespan of 120 to 180 years.

Would you really want to live that long? How would you support yourself? Does that mean normal folk wouldn't hit "retirement" until 90? Or older? And who would these people be - the ones who hit 150 or 160 years of age? Do you think the disparity in health care would widen?

How would this longer life span effect the society we live in now?

Hot and Muggy

I was welcomed at Dulles Airport by a surge of hot sticky air yesterday afternoon. You know - that moment after you step off the plane, but before you're well within the air conditioned safety of the terminal.

The weather in Monterey was an average 67 degrees most days. I stayed at the Spendrift Inn and was there for 5 days on business.

Most of the time I was in meetings at the aquarium. (very cool venue) In my spare time I brushed up on John Steinbeck and started reading Cannery Row on the beach outside my hotel window (sigh).

But now I'm back in hot, humid, DC. It's amazing how many email messages, all urgent - of course, can accrue in 5 days.

The pace of life on the west coast, or at least in Monterey, was infinitely slower than here on the east. I felt like the rude city girl, tapping my foot as the cashier slowly rang up my items on one of those antique cash registers. In between items, their heads would pop up, smiling at the customers roaming the aisles, starting up conversations about, well, just about anything and everything.

At the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop it took almost 30 minutes to order and receive my hot fudge sundae (which was decadent and not advised for anyone on a diet). That was well worth the wait though.

I would stand in line/at the counter/on the sidewalk and think to myself - "Okay slowpoke, speed it up... No, no, no don't talk to that person.... Ugh.... Any day now before the next millennia would be GREAT.... Why are these people so S-L-O-W... &*@#^&!)$^#!&)@!!!..... this isn't rocket science people, let's move things along." And so on and so forth.

How did I get so uptight?