Blatant False Advertising and Dereliction of Schedule

Feedback letter for Discovery Science;

I want to start this off by saying, I watch Science Channel quite a bit. I like a lot of the programming on the channel; Wormhole, Prophets, Futurescape, Firefly, How it's Made, etc. Idiot Abroad and it's spin-offs are interesting from a cultural perspective, if not actually science.

There are also several programs on the channel that I avoid like the plague; Punkin, Oddities, etc; programs that I would not qualify as Science, and if it were up to me I wouldn't be airing these programs on a channel that I owned and was identified as Science Channel.

Then there is crap like what aired Friday. Earlier this week I was enticed into setting up the recorder for a marathon of Strip the City, it was even advertised on the channel as being featured. Friday morning I tuned in for the re-airs of Prophets and noticed a quiet little banner in the corner suggesting that there was a bible marathon being featured instead of Strip the City. When I checked the schedule, Strip the City was still listed, so I did not cancel the recording.

When I got back home this evening from a rare pleasant outing with the family, what do I find? Four hours of bible myths on my recorder, mislabeled as a program that I found vaguely interesting from architectural perspective; bible myths that not only am I not even vaguely interested in, but aren't even vaguely science related.

Why is this crap on the Science Channel? Why was the schedule not updated to show that the programming had been changed? In a sales environment, this type of behavior is called a bait a switch and is illegal. Since viewing is tracked through the cable boxes, Science Channel gets to claim that everyone who tuned in to watch Strip the City were actually interested in watching 4 hours of bible myths instead.

Next time please be more conscientious about altering the guides and schedules to accurately reflect what you are airing at any given time. I will be forwarding this message to my cable provider and the FCC. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely

Much Ado About NSA

Dan Carlin chose to make his latest Common Sense episode all about the historic outrage that is the NSA spying on us, likening it to the kind of outrage that Lawrence O'Donnell pokes holes in during the attached video segment.




Approaching this idea from the perspective of 'Vampiric Memories' (memories of several centuries) as Dan does, what would be most striking was not that governments do what governments have always done; but that the people who run this government are more varied in race and sex than at any time previously in history.

Now, this observation can lead to other insights such as how white men aren't nearly as bad as we've been lead to believe since we don't run everything anymore and it all still sucks, or that inclusiveness in government hasn't gone far enough because the suckage of government hasn't been alleviated yet.

But what you cannot say is that this is an outrage as has never been seen before, and it's only our relative blindness to change (for various reasons) that allow this outrage to continue.  Should the NSA programs be brought down?  Certainly, and it appears that they will be.  But can we tone down the histrionics, please?



Edited to add the following;

Seriously Dan?  Another podcast on the same subject? Only this time to attack the false premise that NSA spying isn't a big deal?  I've been trying to tell people that privacy was dead for a decade or more.  I use my real name on the internet and yell from the rooftops repeatedly that there is no such thing on the internet as privacy, precisely because I suspected the NSA was doing exactly what it's been shown to be doing over the last year.

Just because I'm ready for a new subject to discuss, has nothing at all to do with the assumed importance of the NSA spying problem.  The real problem is, most people who object to the spying aren't willing to fight the hard fight it's going to take to get the laws changed to forbid the government from engaging in this kind of data collection; largely because most of them think like you and don't want to dirty themselves by getting into political fights, joining parties, and changing the system.

When you're ready to seriously get involved, let me know.  I have some pointers on that score.

Newtown & TOK on Facebook

The question was asked on TOK, Newtown massacre, one year later: have gun laws made us safer?

My initial response was,
What gun laws? There hasn't been a single national law passed that deals with restricting gun access to people who have demonstrated proficiency and mental stability. It's too early, and the areas too limited, for there to be any demonstrable effect from the various state laws passed.
This was the only reply I received,
When guns are highly regulated it won't help. When mostly only government has guns you WILL have tyranny and dictators. And when only government and criminals have guns you have private citizens as victims (because cops can't get there til after you have been violated and sometimes the cops do the violating like you are seeing all over the news.
 Now, I don't know about you, but reading that comment made me think that someone needed a bit of counseling. I mean, open parens, no close, no sentence structure, no relation to the subject matter?
I really wish the gunnuts could stop sounding like actual nuts and present reasoned arguments for why a well-trained well-armed populace is a benefit. That would, of course, predicate the idea that training and screening would be required in order to have guns, which is probably why they don't make those kinds of arguments.  
...training and screening would exclude them. Because they are nuts.
My next comment had to defend the use of gunnuts,
Ad hominem? I call a spade a spade. Gunnuts are what you are; and there was a time when gunnuts were happy to wear that label. Now that you have real gun nuts suggesting that the unborn be issued weapons to prevent abortions, or the certifiable Wayne La Pierre insisting that the answer to gun violence is more guns (as examples) I'm sure the label does rankle. 
One solution is required training in the storage and handling of weapons, something that would have saved the children of Newtown. Registration of all weapons so that owners who do not secure their guns can be held accountable for their use in crimes, etc. These are the specific common sense kinds of measures, though, that send gunnuts through the roof. 
...So I'll counter with the equally sensible but even more drastic measure of simply re-instating the draft. Everyone will go through military training, since the Wayne La Pierre's of the world think we all need more and better guns. If you are deemed incapable of responsibly owning and using a weapon by the military, it should be a simple thing to get that exclusion represented by law on a national basis. I'm sure you gunnuts will love that proposal. 
ANYONE who thinks that a shrug of their shoulders is the appropriate response to Newtown doesn't understand the situation that lead to Newtown. There were plenty of warning signs which the mother SHOULD HAVE taken seriously. That his doctors and teachers SHOULD HAVE taken seriously. The mother should never have had guns in the house, should never have encouraged him to use firearms. The result achieved was an absolute failure of the mental health profession, teaching profession, and his parents. Shrugging and saying "he never bought a gun" is to ignore those other failures, as well as the multiple and damning incidents of other mass shootings where the shooter was mentally ill and did go out and buy guns to conduct their mass murders. Someone should be held accountable for putting weapons in those peoples hands, as well as holding the mother accountable for giving her (demonstrably) dangerous son access to weapons.
If additional sensible restrictions are not agreed to, and soon, there will be more mass shootings, which will end in even more draconian and less sensible restrictions on guns. Mark my words, this will occur.
Lost in the flood was a comment relevant to the Newtown shooter, if not where he got his guns from,
The Newtown shooter was actually diagnosed with an issue, one that clearly should have kept him from having guns. Gunnuts are convinced that no laws are needed, and yet it's perfectly clear that additional laws are needed in order to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. 
Your arguments are demonstrably fallacious. Every act that is illegal is still committed; yet we wouldn't want murder to be legal simply because murders are still committed. Weapons by definition should be restricted to the people who have demonstrated proficiency and mental stability. Anyone who argues differently simply doesn't or doesn't want to understand the problem.
I wasn't prepared to call them all ammosexuals at that point. I've since decided that ammosexual was the correct name for them. Sexually aroused by weapons and ammo. The intial commentor was joined by another, thankfully.  He blew his wad over the next few dozen replies and then satisfied with his mess he fucked-off wherever it was he really should have been in the first place.

The newcomer decided to throw facts and figures around, which required me to go in search of a few facts of my own,
You are seriously mistaken.  The number of mass shootings has been at an all-time high http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/mass-shootings-us_n_3935978.html the government was warned (more than once) that Bin Laden was planning to fly planes into government buildings http://www.cbsnews.com/news/report-warned-of-suicide-hijackings/ so your comparison of preventing 9/11 to preventing any given mass shooting falls flat.  Law enforcement would give anything to have the kind of warnings that the Bush administration ignored prior to 9/11.  Similarly, Lanza being an adult has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he should have be exposed to weapons, his mental health problems should have kept him from ever touching a firearm http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579220383570598944 reaching adulthood doesn't necessarily entitle you to access to firearms.  His mother should not have been allowed to keep firearms in the house, at all.  She should have had the sense to know this herself, since he killed her with her own weapons, and she should have known he was capable of this action.
...again.  Failing passing laws restricting access to firearms on a national level, to people demonstrating proficiency and self-control, I'm 100% in favor of reinstating the general draft for the specific purpose of determining who should and shouldn't have access to them.   I'm done (and most Americans are as well) arguing with people who simply don't want to address the subject, or accuses anyone who suggests common-sense reforms of being 'gun grabbers'.   Some people are going to loose access to weapons.  The crazier the gunnuts get, the more of them will be in that group.

If you actually endorse training prior to allowing people to purchase guns, you are a gun-grabber according to Wayne La Pierre, Ted Nugent, and any number of other nuts out there.  That's how crazy it has gotten on the subject.
The problem that has arisen since the Newtown massacre is that there are no official statistics on gun deaths in the way that the federal government maintains statistics on every other manufactured device on the market in the US. There aren't any official statistics because the House of Representatives has specifically forbidden their collection. Consequently what happens when you start talking gun statistics you get a battle of the statistics which then proceeds to occur,
[Your] Author denies an upward trend, but if you smooth out the dataset, you still end up with more incidents recently than you had in the past; although that can be attributed to increased population as easily as anything else. What is left out of that picture is that while mass murder rates have only slightly increased, crime in general has dropped dramatically.  
Even the author, correcting Mother Jones' data set, comments that the common beliefs that mass murders are on the increase "...have encouraged healthy debate concerning causes and solutions."  
He proposes that there would be fewer mass shootings in 2013 than in 2012 based on statistical projection. He was wrong. There have been 30 shootings in 2013 by the time of this compilation http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/16/mass-killings-data-map/2820423/ and there were only 20 in 2012. So the number of shootings continues to rise. Statistically it should flatten off, but will we all wait to see if that happens? Or should we engage in what your cited author agrees is "healthy debate" about causes and solutions?
The link to the original research is broken, just FYI. That is how much veracity there was in the statics from Professor Fox. Not enough for him (or the Daily Beast) to maintain a link to them.
 The citation was for James Allan Fox, if anyone was interested. His article is at http://www.boston.com/community/blogs/crime_punishment/2013/01/mass_shootings_not_trending.html not the Daily Beast article that copied his data and left out his feelings that debate about gun policy was something we should engage in.
Oh, yeah. imagine that, the professor who took issue with the facts I cited actually thinks we need more gun laws. Go figure?
[T]he author you cite himself says that additional laws may be needed, and debate is warranted.  
FOX news is BY FAR the worst transgressor factually when it comes to reporting the news and having it be absorbed by it's viewers; http://www.mediaite.com/online/yet-another-survey-fox-news-viewers-worst-informed-npr-listeners-best-informed/ I wouldn't take anything reported by a TV news source as factual, no matter the source. ...On the same day that the Sandy Hook Massacre took place, a rampage took place in China, the assailant used only a knife; 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenpeng_Village_Primary_School_stabbing all of those children survived. Tell the grieving mothers of Sandy Hook how we are better off with easy access to guns. 
The Designated Combatant continues to prevaricate and offer defenses for why the Newtown Shooter wouldn't have been stopped by more gun laws, but frankly reinstating the draft (while draconian) would have kept him from having access to weapons since he would have been bounced out of the military or killed during training.  The last comment worth posting is this one,
You consistently make excuses for the murderer, and you consistently DO insist that no new laws are needed. You've done this repeatedly over the course of this entire thread, make excuse, backtrack, suggest that it's not weapons at fault. Make excuse, sidestep, suggest that we all need family counseling.  
...Add that to your insistence that FOX is better than NBC (which at least has a track record of owning up to errors, rather than pretending they never made them as FOX does) and I have to conclude that you are not an honest actor here. You simply post here to waste my time in endless replies to you inane assertions that what you say isn't what you said.  
Admit it. It's the guns and easy access to guns that have put weapons in the hands of killers all over the US. Now the solution is either to require licensing and training before purchasing weapons, tracking of weapons so that their owners can be held accountable for crimes committed with those weapons; or meeting resistance to these common sense approaches to the problem instating the draft I mentioned earlier in order to make sure we know who can and can't handle firearms.  
On further thought, I'll add this third option. The endless repetition of the charge "take our guns" that you echo makes me think it's actually time to embrace that position. Yes, we'll simply ban all guns unless the gunnuts come to the table and talk straight about common sense approaches to the gun problem.
I have since given up on TOK for Facebook. Too much stupid, too little time, like most of the internet. This was added to the blog archive on the date I originally wrote the comments, and the context is currently preserved at the TOK links above the comments.

My memory was primed to go looking for comments I had made at the time by Jim Wright's memorial to Newtown titled Bang Bang Crazy Part Two which he reposted to Facebook earlier in the week. I remember I had said a few things somewhere on Facebook at the time (turns out it was a year later) but I couldn't quite remember where it was. A hat/tip to Facebook's native memory app On This Day without which I would generally be clueless about "what did I do today for the last 8 years or so?"