On the eve of 2014 I find myself in a somewhat reflective state. When you spend a couple hours a day commuting, you get a lot of think-time and, recently, I've been spending my think-time pondering contemporary issues which I can't seem to fully comprehend. Some of these issues I've mis-applied the "contemporary" label while other issues remain fairly current. However all of my thinkables share the same property in that they are all part of U.S. culture.
I offer this list as a random muttering simply hoping that writing about them provides some abstract form of cathartic relief. You're more than welcome to append your comments, proselytization, or rants, in the comments. I also offer my list of incomprehensible issues in no particular order.
Please be warned. I am going to trundle off a lot of the social sacred cows off to the sweet barbecue of logic and reason. Or, at least, my logic and my reason.
- DVD Region Encoding
Seriously. Who was the flat-liner that thought this was a good idea? If I spend my hard-earned dollars on a DVD, why do you care where I watch it? When I first stumbled into the problem of region encoding, I was dumbfounded over my exposure to the concept but quickly recovered to a state of pro-active hostility.
Earlier this year, I purchased a DVD player at the Wal*Mart in Rosarito, Mexico. I brought it home, integrated the player, and it's accompanying speaker system into my home-entertainment system, popped in a DVD to test my configuration skills, and was promptly greeted with a "Region" error.
Long story short - my DVD player has Region-4 (South America) restrictions while my DVD collection was all Region-1. I subsequently learned that I'm not allowed to watch Region-1 DVD's outside of Region-1 and, I assume, I am expected to replace an extensive DVD collection with those DVD's with the proper region encoding.
I'm kind of staggered by the effort that went into this strategy. Think about it. Some pinhead execs had to have endless meetings and decide which countries compose which regions and how to chip all the world's DVD players, write the software encoding and burn them into every DVD, design a log and brand every DVD letter box, such that they wouldn't play DVD's encoded outside of that player's region.
I figure it this way. I paid for the right to watch the DVD. I own the letterbox, the disc and the right to watch the content of that disk. I understand I don't own the actually movie, the intellectual property rights of the movie, or anything about the movie itself. I'm only entitled to watch the movie and gaze adoringly at the amazeballs letterbox art.
Some tool, somewhere, believes otherwise and decided to remove my ability to watch my DVD simply because of my geographical location and/or the hardware encoding in my DVD player de-jour.
Solution? The next DVD I purchased was from DVDFab and I used that to rip a copy (I can do that legally) of every DVD I own, or will own in the future, and store the electronic contents of said DVD to my local network. And, hey, if it happens to remove any copy-protection or region encoding in the process, that's cool too. Now I can view my video stream onto any device within range of my network.
2013 was filled with a couple news stories about various celebrities coming-out as gay. It's not that these people who, for some obscure and internal reason, completely unfathomable to myself, decided that today was the day to share their sexual practices with the world that I object to. I could seriously care less than zero who, or what, you want to sleep with.
What blows me away is all the media coverage said announcement garners as a result. How in all that's reasonable does this crap make it to the front page of so many web-news sites?
Is America really that obsessed with where their celebs stick parts of their bodies into other parts of other bodies?
Why? I mean, what does it matter?
This person became a public-figure because of their ability to throw or catch a ball, pretend to be someone else, sing a song, write a book, run/drive/bicycle really fast, or just basically has the talent to do something better than 99% of the rest of the planet.
So they're gay - so what? How does this even rate as news? Much less front-page news for days on-end? Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle, people. Stop clicking these articles and artificially inflating their worth and let's move on to shit that's important, ok?
Best I can figure out is that some completely normal, in every aspect, person released a sex-tape and that a ballooned into making this person, or persons as I understand we (as a planet) may be "blessed" with the existence of more than one of these, an instant celebrity. I think there's even a TV show involved, maybe? Which, over the past couple years, has continued to titillate an audience segment normally reserved for such erudite activities such as professional wrestling, spousal abuse, and monster truck rallies.
This Kardashian is bereft any natural talent that would enable them to reach celebrity status on their own merit, so they've achieve a pseudo-celebrity status through, basically, through a combination of a lack of talent coupled with poor decisions on both the choice of their sexual partners and the degree of privacy associated with said sexual liaisons.
Wasn't one of them married to a basketball player and the marriage lasted like a staggering 23 days or something? Who cares, really, outside of the immediate friends and family of these two people?
I guess the illiterate by-products of our public-school system need a hero and they've found suitable representation in the Kardashian.
- Fox News
I'm going to be blunt here.
If you watch Fox News, and you think that it's actually news, (and by news, I mean news in the classic sense: information that's factual, accurate and uncolored by opinion concerning topics and content of which you were previously unaware of or were desiring more information about), then you're probably severely limited intellectually and should click off now and go back to reading (Snort: who am I kidding here? I mean: watching) about the Kardashian being gay.
Fox News is an entertainment channel. It's also a hate-filled extravaganza of stupidity, bias, racism, and ignorance. It's the poster child for intolerance. But most importantly, what it isn't, is actual news.
When you run around in whatever social circles you frequent, and you spout sound-bytes from Fox News you are either (a) revealing yourself to be an ignorant, racist, homophobic, blathering idiot devoid and incapable of independent thought or, (b) the paragon of the whatever inconsequential and petty little sub-culture you currently and desperately wish to impress.
As an entertainment channel, which it is, Fox News (yes, it's an oxymoron) has no responsibility (or interest) in conveying factual information to you, the viewer. You might as well get your news feed from the MIghty Morphing Power Ranger Power Hour as it's quite comparable in terms of journalistic integrity and honesty.
I don't object to Facebook, per se, or it's existence. I no longer participate in Facebook because I do not want to abdicate my rights of ownership of my life-details to the Facebook marketing machine. Strictly a personal decision.
What I don't understand is why the rest of the (web-based) planet thinks I should be on Facebook.
If your website has a pop-up which breathlessly extorts me to follow you on Facebook, you're doing it wrong. If you require a Facebook account as the only means of joining your site, you're doing it wrong.
I don't mind those sites that have a Facebook login for convenience - I've written those myself. I do mind when a Facebook account the only gateway to accessing your site's content. If you choose to not allow me to access your site because I don't have a linked Facebook account, then that's fine. I've survived without being exposed to your site content to-date, and I will happily continue to do so in the future.
That you expect, nay demand, that I posses a Facebook account to access the hidden troves of treasure behind your login portal displays a level of hubris normally only found under the Microsoft brand.
Pop-ups to follow you on Facebook, in some sort of weird stalker-ish way, are just wrong. I stumbled upon your website/article as a manner of chance. Inviting me, immediately and without introduction, into the intimate details of your life via Facebook is pretty damn creepy if you think about it.
That's enough for now. Perhaps later I will post a follow-up as to my other imponderables. For now, I've got to go back to work so I thank you for reading this far. Please feel free to share your views of my imponderables and, perhaps, share yours.