Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Out-Foxing Fox

Penn State Outfoxes Fox News
by Dick Mac

Penn State's ComRadio released an "exclusive" audio clip last night.  They were lucky enough to get a personal statement from convicted child-rapist Jerry Sandusky, on the eve of his sentencing.

This was not an interview, or any journalistic endeavor.  This was a three-minute, rambling diatribe allowing a criminal a forum to excuse himself.  He was already given this opportunity in the appropriate forum:  the courtroom.  In a legal maneuver, Sandusky refused to make any statement, and refused to take the stand, at his trial.  That is his right.

It is also ComRadio's right to air pretty much any crap they want to air.  One only need look at the example set by News Corporation's Fox News outlet to see that anyone can air any crap they want.  ComRadio has taken this paradigm to the nth degree, and given a convicted rapist a forum to accuse his victims and proclaim his innocence, unchallenged.

This is not journalism.  This is not news.

Given the criticism of Penn State's handling of, and cavalier attitude towards Sandusky's behavior and crimes, ComRadio shows that the University is still unable to accept their failure and shortcomings, and take responsibility for their role in this unfortunate series of crimes and punishment.  They still need to paint Sandusky as a guy who was just helping some underprivileged kids.  This broadcast further taints the University, and shows them as criminals continuing to cover their tracks.

To grant a convicted rapist a forum in which to claim innocence and denigrate his victims, after he refused to make those proclamations under oath, in a courtroom, is beyond the pale.

Does ComRadio plan to give each victim the right to sit at home and produce a three-minute audio tape that makes baseless and lass-than-factual claims about Sandusky, then air it unchallenged on their network?

Of course not.

By granting Sandusky this forum, ComRadio and Penn State have drawn a line in the sand.  They stand on the side of the line that supports Sandusky's claims of innocence, at the expense of his victims.  Penn State continues to spin this as if something is wrong besides this man's crimes and their complicity in covering-up those crimes.  Let's be clear:  the only wrong decisions made and the only crimes committed here were made and committed by Penn State and its employees.

This broadcast was irresponsible, at best.  That irresponsibility should be a news story, not the content of ComRadio's exclusive three-minute audiotape.

I don't think that even Fox News would stoop this low.

ComRadio audio exclusive: Jerry Sandusky statement from jail

Monday, October 08, 2012

A Ticket Costs How Much?

by Dick Mac

In 1976, I paid $7.50 for the best seats at a David Bowie concert in Boston.  It was a shocking price to pay.   No artist, except the Rolling Stones, had dared to charge such a high price for a ticket.

The annual rate of inflation between 1976 and now is 304.9%, which means that the best seat in the house for a David Bowie show today would cost $30.37 -- still totally reasonable.

Lady Gaga just announced sale of tickets to her show in Brooklyn.

The cheapest ticket, in the upper level at the Barclay's Center (3rd level, I believe) is $54.00 + $11.25 in handling fees, $65.25.

With fees, the price range for the house is $66.25 - $229.65 (for lower level seats).  Standing (general admission) is $113.75.

VIP packages are available, but prices are not even published.  If you have to ask, obviously you shouldn't be asking!

I have no problem with pop stars, musicians, singers, writers, painters, movies stars or anybody else earning a fortune.  I wish more creative people earned as much as CEOs and corporate welfare queens.

My question is NOT:  "why are tickets prices so high?"  I understand that the entire paradigm of music publishing and distribution has changed in the past 40 years.  I get it, and I accept that musicians must find a revenue source now that conglomerates own the labels and use all the money for debt maintenance and executive salaries, leaving nothing for the talent.  I know why the ticket prices are so high.

My question is:  "who can afford these tickets?"

This is not a criticism of the artists or promoters or staff, it is a question about how many people actually have $460 for a date night at the Lady Gaga show (plus parking, plus dinner and drinks)?

Perhaps I am just out of touch, but I'm still not used to this.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Genetically Modified

by Dick Mac

The fear and criticism of Monsanto crosses all political, social, economic, religious and regional lines.

The genetic altering of our food supply is disturbing.

We have been altering crops for over a century.  Historically, crop alteration was done with cross-breeding, nurturing hybrids, which is an organic process.  There is no genetic mutation involved.

Monsanto has not embarked on genetic modification of crops for noble reasons, it is done only for profit and market control.  There is nothing wrong with profits, but there is something wrong with market control.  And there is something eerie about genetically mutating the food supply.

No food products are marketed by Monsanto.  Monsanto sells the seeds that the "farmers" use to create crops.  Those crops are then harvested and processed for sale to food manufacturers and animal breeders.

There is debate about the health risks associated with genetically altered food, and I believe there is probably little danger to us individually.  Genetically modified crops are bad for the food supply, because they interfere with the natural course of growth and harvesting.

We've had the experiment, Monsanto has succeeded at perfecting the genetic modification process, and we know that huge profits can be generated.

There have been reports over the years, of farms using genetically modified seeds contaminating neighboring farms when simple pollination takes place, when the wind blows, and when animals pass through one field to another.

There is no way to prevent genetically modified crops from becoming mixed with non-genetically modified crops.

At one point, Monsanto sued a farmer whose farm neighbored a corporate farm using Monsanto modified seeds.  The modification created a genetic marker that could prove if someone was using Monsanto seeds without paying the associated royalties.  Well, the farmer had not used any Monsanto seeds, and was indignant about the case and the accusation because the modified crops blew onto his land and contaminated his crops.  Monsanto quietly slinked away and has never addressed the concerns that their modified crops easily contaminate neighboring farms.

If Monsanto makes a bad choice about which modifications to test in the market, and those modifications have detrimental effects on our ability to grow crops, then the entire food chain could be affected.

Nobody wants to deny Monsanto their right to make money.  People just want Monsanto to act responsibly.

Now that our government no longer regulates industry in any meaningful way, there is nobody paying close attention to Monsanto's actions.

Since our government is unable and unwilling to monitor and regulate genetic modification of crops, there is only way to stop it:  refuse to purchase the products.

Because Monsanto's name appears on no retail food products, and no food manufacturer want to advertise they are using genetically modified ingredients, none of them print the source of their grains on their packaging.

There is now a list of Monsanto's clients.  It is not known if the following companies are using genetically-modified ingredients, but they are purchasing Monsanto seeds or crops to create their products.  If you want to help stop Monsanto, then you must contact those with whom you are doing business: the food manufacturers that sell the food products you purchase.

This is the list:

Aunt Jemima
Aurora Foods
Best foods
Betty Crocker
Chef Boyardee
Coca Cola
Delicious brand cookies
Duncan Hines
Famous Amos
General Mills
Green Giant
Healthy Choice
Hungry Jack
Interstate bakeries
KC Masterpiece
Keebler/Flowers Industries
Kid Cuisine
Kraft/Phillip Morris
Lean Cuisine
Loma Linda
Marie Callenders
Minute Made
Ms. Butterworths
Nature Valley
Nestle Carnation
Ocean Spray
Orville Redenbacher
Pepperidge Farms
Pop Secret
Post cereals
Power Bar Brand
Prego Pasta Sauce
Procter and Gamble
Ragu Sauce
Smart Ones
Tombstone Pizza
Uncle Ben's

It is no surprise that some of those companies are on the list; we have always known that their products are crap.  There are others that surprise me.

If you care about Monsanto's control of the food chain, then take action.  Choose one of the companies on the list that you patronize, stop purchasing their products, and let them know you will no longer purchase their products until they break their connection to Monsanto, specifically, and genetically-modified crops, in general.

Follow-up reads worth your time:

California Files Legal Brief Opposing Monsanto in US Supreme Court
‘Monsanto Protection Act’ to grant biotech industry total immunity over GM crops?
Monsanto Launches Massive Campaign to Stop GMO Labeling
Indian Government Files Biopiracy Lawsuit Against Monsanto
Monsanto is the Devil