(un) Reality Shows

One of the big things in the last few years in TV land has been the advent of “reality” shows.  These shows seem to have gained a lot of popularity, which is great for the production studios, mainly because they are cheap to make.

There seem to be a couple of types of reality shows.  The “original” type is shot on location, with little or no script, capturing people doing something interesting or risky.  Examples would be “Dirty Jobs”, “Extreme home makeover”, “The Dog Whisperer”, “Salon Takeover”, “Dog the Bounty Hunter”, “The Apprentice”, or “Property Virgins”.

Here’s a dirty little secret about these shows, for those of you who aren’t already aware: They are fake.  Yes! It’s true! I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  I didn’t just read this somewhere, I was involved in the shooting of one of these for Animal Planet.  The scenario was manufactured, the scenes were set up minutes before shooting them, and there was precious little “reality” going on.

Another type is what I call the “staged” reality shows where it’s set in a studio of some type and they have “regular folk” appearing to provide the reality part.  Examples would be “Dancing With The Stars”, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”, and “American Icon”.  If you think about it, “game shows” dating back to the ‘60s fit into this category.  So really, these are not “reality shows”, but just modern “game shows”.

Actual movies, or shows with a plot and card-carrying actors/actresses are a lot more time and trouble (and money) to make.  Personally, I think it’s worth the effort.  I find them much more entertaining.  I’m quite bored with the whole “reality” genre.

I frequently wonder when these boring reality shows will fall out of favor.  I mean, the networks usually cancel any decent series, so why not cancel a few of these duds?  For example, “Firefly” was a really unique show.  It had great writing, and a large, vocal, well organized viewer base who made it known to the studio how much they enjoyed the show and so forth.  Did it run for years then? Nope, it got cancelled after one season.  This seems to happen quite often, with shows running for multiple seasons and you are left scratching  your head and wondering “why would they keep THAT one?”


Raw Onions – in Salad?

I don’t get it – who on earth decided it was a yummy thing to put great huge chunks of raw onions in an otherwise delicious salad?  Years ago, if any of the onion family were found on a salad, it would be finely diced spring onions (scallions).  These days, more and more I’m seeing big old red onions (not even sweet Myans) sliced up and thrown into the mix.

Of course, all you can taste in the resulting gourmet delight is onions.  And all you can taste for the next several hours is onions.  Personally, I’d rather taste a few of the other ingredients too, but maybe that’s a bit much to ask.

Cooked onions (especially caramelized) I really love, but please if you aren’t going to cook them, don’t bother including them.

True Fully!

Here’s the latest written gaff I just saw: “True fully, I think Rick should answer that question”. Wow.  I keep saying this, but people really should read more.  No spelling check program is ever going to look at that and substitute “truthfully” for you.

.NET Micro Framework – for small devices

This is some exciting stuff (well, if you are a geek like me, anyway):


This is Microsoft’s new .NET Micro framework.  This is designed for small devices such as phones, remote controls, toasters, or whatever, which have a processor and can benefit from communications infrastructure (to talk to other appliances or whatever).  Home automation and energy control are big applications for this.

The cool part is, you can write in C# or VB, using Visual Studio, and there really isn’t much to learn to start developing small device applications!

TSA – idiots in our midst? Or is it us? Just say “NO”


This is yet another example of idiotic security screening processes brought to us by our friends at the TSA.  If you haven’t clicked on the video yet, the TSA agents made a disabled 4 year old boy remove his leg braces and walk through the checkpoint by himself.

Now most people hearing of this seem to have the same response “Those guys are idiots” and disgust runs rampant.  I’d like to turn the tables a little.  Who are the real idiots? I say: US!  We are allowing the TSA to exist, we are allowing ridiculous security screening systems, we are allowing backscatter x-ray devices, and we are griping merrily as we move like sheep through the processes they institute.  Like the war on drugs says, we need to “Just say NO”.

The only reason this kind of thing exists is because people allow it.  If every passenger said “No thank you” and walked on through the checkpoint, it would be impossible for the TSA people to do anything about it.  Because we’re sheep and nobody will do that, they are able to herd the masses and impose their ridiculous procedures.

Let’s take a page from Israel’s book.  They are probably the largest terrorism target in the world, and yet they don’t have ridiculous security and inspection procedures in their airports.  Why is this?  Because they are not waving flags and trying to look like they are preventing terrorism, they are DOING it.  They racially profile (oh no!), they know what they are looking for and they effectively prevent any issues.  They don’t waste their time being stupid.

wikileaks – good or bad?

I was going to blather on about my personal opinions on wikileaks and the US Goverment documents which have been (and are being) leaked.  I ran across this response to an MSN.COM article which I think is most excellent, and hopefully the author (Remberasha) won’t mind me re-posting it here:

Wow — so many people here willing to give up their freedoms?

Julian has done the USA citizens a great service, yet the herd has fallen victim to the "Oppression" wolves.

It is the RIGHT of the people to know what their government is doing in their name. Secrets are the tools of Tyrants.!


The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
(Patrick Henry)

"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." –Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804. ME 11:33

"We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution." (Abraham Lincoln)

That if all Printers were determin’d not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed. (Benjamin Franklin)

Justice Hugo L. Black, quotes about Press:
The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people.

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed. Abraham Lincoln

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform them." (Thomas Jefferson)

One of the responders to the article actually said “You can not run a country and tell all the people everything. Some things need to be kept secret even if you don’t like it”.  Wow! So there must be an Elite who will guide and direct the rest of us, as we are clearly incapable of directing ourselves? This is quite offensive to me.  I’m not ready to hand the reins of my life over to anybody, for any reason.

Honesty and straightforward dealings seem to be left behind these days.  Everybody always has a “really good reason” for secrecy (and of course it has nothing to do with getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar, right?), spins, and dishonesty.  Here’s an interesting experiment: Go ahead and tell the people what is really happening, and then perhaps our Votes would be more informed and useful, rather than relying mainly on campaign glitz.

California High Speed Rail

Here’s a neat project, but unfortunately we have to wait until 2020 for service to be available.  This will start with Los Angeles to San Francisco in under 2 hours 40 minutes.  They are talking about very frequent trains (every 5 minutes during peak times), and they ought to be useful for shorter hops too.  Barbara Boxer sent around an email about how she’s working on getting California additional federal funding as other states apparently aren’t ready to start such a project.