Friday, February 6, 2009

The Wait is Finally Over!

I have finally surfaced! It's been a long time coming, but five months after Jeff originally introduced this wonderful blog, I'm ready to offer my contribution. I was hoping to just bury this page and chalk it up as a failure. However, I've been forced at gunpoint to write weekly entries for my news editing course using Blogger. Because I don't want to bother creating a separate account, the stigma of an unfinished project would continue to follow me, and that just won't do! So, for at least one week, here I am!

In case you lose track of me again, you can still listen to The Rumble Pack, a video game-related podcast - yes, I'm a nerd. I was also recently published for the first time in Central Illinois Business Magazine, and you can read my editing blog for some inexplicable reason.

Only one things smells like bacon... (

I really wish I had time for more of this recreational writing, but "Advanced Reporting" and "Multimedia" are substantial commitments. For the latter, I voluntarily signed up for an elderly care beat, which means I need to track down old people and make them spill their guts. Crappy health coverage, negligent doctors, abusive nursing homes - that kind of thing. The only problem is that the elderly can be elusive. None of the nursing homes in town are crazy about me hanging out and harassing their residents, so I may be reduced to alternative tactics to secure some leads. Any ideas?

A last resort.

In addition to all of my classwork, I also teach an "Introduction to Journalism" discussion section every Friday. The job pays well, and I'm sure my students will get better at reporting, but the first few classes have been very depressing at times. This morning, I passed out an extra credit quiz in which students had to sort between journalists and non-journalists. The results were depressingly abysmal. I wouldn't hold it against my students to be unaware of Woodward and Bernstein (that's a lie), but how do you not know who Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly are? Or the major network news anchors? I think I'm a bit more sympathetic than some of my fellow grad students because I admittedly didn't start routinely reading the paper until about four years ago. I have my limits though. Fear for this generation.

At least when you're spirits are down, you can turn to delicious Fruity Cheerios for a nutritious pick-me-up. In case you're unfamiliar with the world's second tastiest cereal, think Froot Loops, minus the sugar. As a poor grad student, I've essentially been living on these rainbow oats for the past month or so. With any luck, Toucan Sam's days are numbered.

I'm sure I could ramble on a bit longer - my posts are going to be a little more scatter-shot than Jeff's, for sure - but I'm just pleased that I've finally posted something. Even with the heavy work load and a screenplay for a romantic comedy starring Steve Buscemi as the lead, I plan on making this a regular exercise. Check back soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Introduction to the Un-introductionable...

Hello and welcome to Two Angry J's. I'm Jeff (the superior J). You can call me Jeff. I'm a law school student in New York and I'm here to debate my long time friend Justin (J minor). I guess my posts will be in white text and his in green, just to clearly differentiate the author.

So it's a bit difficult to explain what will become of this site. This is because, I think, neither author/blogger really knows what he even wants out of the project. I guess I envision something along the lines of an extended discussion about issues that arise from daily interactions - those things you overhear or read that make you immediately form an opinion. An opinion so temporarily strong that you have to shout it out or write it down or... mutter it quietly to yourself because you know nobody gives a crap about your fleeting ideas. Well, here, we care. Or, at least, we can pretend well enough to project some manifestations of caring. This is, I hope, a forum to discuss and debate issues from all walks of life, regardless of relevance or immediacy.

With that said, I'll also mention that I think Justin and I agree on quite a few things. Politically we both lean slightly left of center; but this is not to imply that every post (or any post, for that matter) will be political. I'm not even sure I really hold any political beliefs...except that I love to disagree with people. It's all I do, actually, which I suppose is a valued quality here at law school. Anyway, enough of this introductory and explanatory material...frankly it's quite boring. Before launching into some substantive issues, I will add a quick disclaimer: none of what I say on this blog can be fairly attributable to me. In other words, when I say something here, it is most likely for the sake of argument and conversation. So, no matter what I say, you cannot hold me responsible for it or its logical consequences. Seriously, don't even try to make value judgments about my character...because you don't know me. You don't know me!

With that said, here goes:

I know I said above that we may never cover a political subject. I'm going to go ahead and completely trivialize that prediction by starting off with a timely issue: Sarah Palin. More specifically, I had a conversation today with a friend of mine (female and conservative, if that is at all important) who spoke about the recent SNL skit in which Tina Fey played Mrs. Palin. After some light-hearted discussion, I came to realize that my friend had come away with the belief that the funniest and most politically charged message SNL made was in calling Hillary a "harpy" and referring to Palin as "beautiful." Really? I mean...really?? I find it hard to believe that anyone could disagree with the fact that the "take away" from that sketch was "I can see Russia from my house." Unless of course you'd like to argue that it was "I'm one heartbeat away from the Presidency." There's a valid argument there, somewhere. I won't come down hard on Palin because I think anyone reasonable already knows what a joke of a choice she is for VP. If I were a woman - and, in all honesty, I am not - I suppose I would be slightly (read: incredibly) offended by McCain's choice. It could not be more clear that the choice was made with the thought in mind that women will vote for a woman simply because she is a woman. The Palin choice actually panders to both women and social conservatives, since, as we all know by now, Pailn is quite the conservative Christian.

Here's the weird thing...I thought I'd like the Palin choice. Politicians, by their nature, are evil. That includes Obama. They say whatever they can to make sure they garner enough votes to get's that simple. There's nothing special about any of them. My thought process always was that bringing in some new blood - someone who couldn't fairly be called a "politician" - would be the best possible direction for our country. Palin is not a politician - not by any definition of the term. So I should like her! My logic seemed to conclude that she would, by her very nature, catalyze change from the inside. But wow...this is not what I had mind. Considering especially that John McCain is on the brink of death, it's actually fairly scary to think that Palin could be our President. Somehow McCain managed to choose somebody with even less political experience than Obama. We don't know much about her. She originally endorsed a bridge to nowhere but then shot it down. She is against abortions. Her daughter is pregnant. Honestly, that's all we know. I can't even begin to describe every problem I have with McCain's choice. But a little thought experiment might help to illuminate my thoughts. Imagine President Palin. Ok, well done. Now imagine President Palin hanging out with President Washington, President Jefferson, President Adams and President Lincoln.'s like that. Now I realize that's not the fairest way to treat Mrs. Palin. I mean, seriously, compare any modern President to the great leaders of our past and none of them can be viewed favorably. But, I think, that only highlights the trend that we seem to be slowly sinking into; namely, we're choosing weaker and weaker leaders. This is a scary proposition because any history major worth his salt will tell you that every major empire has fallen to ruin because of a succession of weak and incapable leaders. If not "because of," than at least "during." So, apparently, my point is that if McCain is elected, he will, inevitably, die in office (probably on the first day) and America will fall from its status as world leader. All because of Sarah Palin.

A couple quick hitters:

1) Alright so, is Burger King ever going to stop using "the King" ad campaign? Have we had enough of this creepy figure-head yet? In the latest commercial, he is accused of "reverse pickpocketing," chased down the street by police and finally, and fantastically, hit by a car. I wondered if this was the end of the King. Unfortunately, he got up, put money in someone's pocket and ran away. Does this mean there's more of him to come? Is this selling more hamburgers!? Honestly the dude freaks me out - especially those early commercials where he hid in closets and behind doors and snuck up on people to give them a burger. Perhaps the King should fight the Caveman from Geico in a death match where the winner kills the loser. Then we subsequently kill the winner.

2) Is it my imagination or is all this stock market/housing market crisis stuff happening simply and solely because people borrow more money than they can ever hope to pay back? Well, really, there are two irresponsible parties: the borrower who makes 30k a year and takes out a 600k loan and the lender who approves this transaction! Honestly, there are stories about ridiculous "acceleration clauses" in these contracts that provide that if the borrower misses ONE payment, every future payment is due immediately and sometimes the interest rate can quadruple (I heard one story where the interest rate on a loan was 400%). So, because of "keeping up with the Joneses" and greedy corporations looking to profit off of lower income families, our entire financial sector is throw into chaos and we have to deal with what might be a very deep, very concerning depression. I guess I can take some satisfaction in the news that many of these lenders are going bankrupt.

3) Lindsey Lohan is a lesbian. Not that that is particularly new or exciting news...but it was Yahoo's lead story on the same day that the Pakistanis ousted their former President. This type of garbage not only passes for news but actually supplants important and pressing global issues as the headline of many cable news websites. Is this informative of how bad the news media is or how the media thinks of its audience? Maybe Lohan being gay is actually more interesting to the Yahoo News audience than the fall of a major American ally...but if so, how sad is that?

4) Russia...come on. Stop it.

Finally, one more pseudo-political note. How is it that Stewart, Colbert and SNL can pick apart the GOP so amazingly well, yet the Democratic Party can only respond to the McCain/Palin ticket with "he voted with Bush 90% of the time?" That has literally been their retort to every GOP attack thus far in the campaign - other than Obama calling Palin a pig, which was entirely uncalled for. If we're willing to assert that the Daily Show staff is actually better at political research than Democratic strategists, couldn't they at least watch the show, steal some themes and run with them? The younger audience of the Daily Show is actually more well informed about the double-standards of BOTH candidates than anyone who watches cable news. This time, it's not cable news' fault. Those stations constantly invite strategists from both camps to spew partisan spin...yet neither side even comes close to the Daily Show's level of debate. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not arguing that the Daily Show or the Colbert Report are the only worthy news outlets. My point is simply that their staff of writers does a better job of pointing out political double-speak than any other facet of the news media. And that, I think, is a shame. The entire country should be privy to the sometimes comic, yet often times outrageous, flip-flopping that every candidate/politician engages in.

I look forward, Justin, to your responses. I hope our readers, should we have any (and it is optimistic to speak in the plural, I think), feel free to comment on anything they so desire...especially if it is to point out the inanity of (m)any of our statements. Just know that whatever I say is typically quite if you do find fault with something I've said, it's probably sisyphusean to attempt to argue against me.