Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 28th, 1:13 am

Currently, on, the most popular search is for "Homemade Halloween Costumes."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The sheer connivance perpetrated by the lending industry has been this: to turn blame away from the industry itself and offer up borrowers as a kind of financial aggressor or predator.

There are needs I require fulfilling. Housing and comprehensive medical coverage, particularly in an emergency, are two needs. The medical aspect is a topic to avoid for now. It is, after all, the "mortgage" crisis which is blamed for the problems we're now facing.

If I need shelter, housing, a roof, then what I'm going to do is accept the first offer to help, especially in an economic system such as ours, the best offer wins out. If I were to lend money to friends who I knew were unable to pay me back--because I have access to their banking and credit history--then my ruin is whose fault? Had lending companies bridled their greed, had they shoved their fists in their mouths instead of wadding cash in it, then solicitation of near-bankrupt and poverty-stricken debtors might not have been on the menu.

I fail to see how predatory and poor lending choices should be brought to bear on borrowers. I fail to see how my need to extra funds indicts my need for extra funds and for not being able to pay those funds back. If I could pay them back, I would not need them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Pause

My "much awaited" second post on Bill O'Reilly is owed, and is forthcoming. However, I feel the demands of teaching three levels of Eng Comp + additional job search are a priority. And so, I'll promise a Talking Points Memo breakdown weekly, but certainly not daily. Lo siento mucho!

In the meantime, YIKES!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NPR (ethnocentrism) Watch, Part II

When NPR’s chief reporter on this “case, Daniel Zwerdling, goes out to investigate, first we hear what appears to be a car alarm, then birds chirping. Then--and this might work on television, but it's more confusing here-- he asks a man if he's one of the mechanics. The man responds, "Ehhhhh," showing that he doesn't speak English. Zwerdling asks him: "Do you speak English?" And the conversation is quickly cut.

The problem when reporting employs tactics that rely heavily on geographic- and language-based stereotypes has nothing to do with the article's aim. It's obviously worthwhile and super-virtuous to find out whether or not the mechanics in these outsourced countries are competent and capable of doing just as good a job as any mechanic anywhere else. The problem is that we don't know if the man Zwerdling "accosts" outdoors near the airport in this opening segment is a mechanic or not. And this crucial information of who we're listening to is kept from us. "Ehhhh" isn't given time nor a translator; he's not allowed to answer. Instead, the cut is made back to the real reporting, the non-English speaking "Ehhhhh" guy is dropped, and we're left thinking: Geez, this mechanic can't fix shit. How can he read how to fix things if he can't speak English (This might not have much to do with competency handling complex avionics equipment, but readers are left to believe that it most certainly does.) And that's the problem I have; why El Salvador? Why not Britain, France or other nations in Europe where these pieces are also repaired? It's plain to see on the map that US airline companies use numerous locations around the world, so why does NPR devote two out of three segments to the tiny nation of El Salvador?

Add to this the trade and commerce complications a foreign corporation such as Aeroman would risk were it to constantly turn out faulty repairs and this argument—that this small Salvadoran factory’s lack of competence is systematic and highly regular—just doesn't make sense. Why not, as the article clearly states, figure out what FAA Regulators have been doing, if they haven't been making the rounds at these factories? Where's the story there? (This is glossed over, when Zwerdling so clearly states that a Government Investigation has found that Federal Investigators haven't been to these factories in years. Italics are mine.) So instead of blaming the Salvadorans, we should be asking in unison with them: Where are our fucking Federal Regulators?

NPR Watch

Note: The below is a response to the audio portion of the linked article.]

“When you fly, who do you think has been taking care of your airplace. Mechanics in Chicago, San Francisco perhaps?”

Right from the intro, the reporting overwhelmingly appeals to an “us vs. them” mentality. "Aren't you comfortable that your airline is undergoing repairs in a US city?" This isn’t said, but it doesn’t need to be. Nor is the thrust of the article to engender compassion toward the US worker. What is achieved is the more sensationalistic belief that “we” can’t trust “them” to do what we used to do and that in outsourcing, we’re sacrificing safety (but not jobs…that goes unreported). I’m sure the tale will be ramped up, that of the poor failing industry versus the haughty demands of union members. [Plus hefty retirement packages, health insurance demands from people who want a better life, largely because that’s what they were told their country stood for.]

After the introduction, Daniel Zwerdling begins his “investigation” and the cue music is probably some stock sound file of guitar/gauchesque ridiculousness. Were this TV, we’d probably see a run-down pig ranch and semi-nude children running under clotheslines. Then listeners are battered with salsa and shouting, presumably either from inside the factory or a marketplace, we’re not told. “Those damn Latinos,” they might as well be saying, “always with their loud voices and their music. No wonder they can’t fix stuff good [sic].”

It’s odd that the last statement accuses workers in the El Salvadoran factory, Aeroman, of being those who improperly installed the door latch (upside down). First off: mistakes happen everywhere. To use this example as a conclusion that work done there is subpar is insulting to listeners and obscures the truth this article attempts to address in favor of a more inflammatory message (again, see aforesaid message of attempting to foster an us v. them (read, high v. low quality). The juxtaposition of the statement about the flange or thingamajig being backwards and that it happened in that factory implies that there’s a language or intelligence barrier—that something about an overseas factory is shoddy. Mind you, we’re not told they lack oversight, just that inspectors (FAA) haven’t “been there” in years. The reporting suggests that this is not just a simple laborer’s error.

Did this simple error cause panic and dismay and a near crash scenario? Yes. Was it a serious error and probably avoidable? Certainly. But it’s also certain that this example is not emblematic of greater problems at some of these factories. That this doesn’t occur more or why airline companies have resorted to outsourcing is, sadly due to the faulty reportage here, something we don’t ever find out. (Perhaps in the upcoming segments?)
Second, it seems odd that while the FAA doesn’t require airlines to report where they outservice their repairs to that this particular airline in the above example would be able to place blame on one particular factory. How can we know where this piece was mis-installed if the FAA doesn’t?

Factual problems:

If you look at the map provided on the page, there are thousands of factories all over the world. It’s worth noting that many of these factories exist in Europe, where salaries are equal or higher in most cases; it’s odd that the union argument would even be used in light of this information.
I’d like to know where they get their averages for airline mechanic pay. Doing a bit of quick research online puts the average pay per hour around $20-25 dollars, not the kingly $100 as cited by NPR. [It’s odd that this would even be an hourly position, since I’m sure the hours worked are inconsistent. Not that there’s no demand, just that it’s probably on-again, off-again.] The Bureau of Labor Statistics further states that some Avionics Mechanics (AM) are union members, but that these only represent about 30% of all AMs. Such a percentage wouldn’t mean that Airlines would ship costs overseas to save money, but instead simply opt to utilize some 70% of the remaining non-union workforce.

This is backed up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To wit:
Median hourly earnings of aircraft mechanics and service technicians were about $22.95 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $18.96 and $28.12. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $14.94, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.51. (

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bill O'Reilly - Day 1

[Note: Below notes were taken during my viewing of a 2:30 minute segment of Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo (10/15) commentary on Rush Limbaugh’s ejection from NFL. This is a mere sampling of some of the logical and language-based problems on the show. Ideally, each day I will write up a response to his “Talking points memo.” Alternately, I plan on deconstructing the content of Shepard Smith’s reporting as well, though it seems important to note that Smith’s reporting is more tempered and less controversial.]

I. Opening Quote:

"Some people said Limbaugh made a series of racial comments and therefore does not deserve to be part of the NFL."

Topically, of course, Limbaugh isn’t part of the NFL. This is weird phrasing. But I digress… The primary problem here is that "Some people" is vague. I always stress this point to my students. Who are these people? (If it's just Al Sharpton, why not mention him singly?) How many said this? When did they say it?” What were Limbaugh’s comments? O’Reilly cites only Al Sharpton, which is basically doublespeak for "the crazy black man who protests everything." And this seems to suggest that Sharpton is the voice that represents a large community of outraged individuals, an assertion which is entirely false.

But back to vagueness…

The reason why ideas are intended to be vague usually is either 1) lack of real evidence/sources or 2) an attempt to manipulate conversation to one’s own ends. Both of the above "some people" and "comments" are kept vague to blur the reasons and what Limbaugh actually said to either warrant/not warrant his being kicked off the show. In addition, viewers aren’t told exactly who kicked Limbaugh off the show. If viewers don’t know what Limbaugh said, the assumption is that it probably isn’t much worth mentioning. (Although, to use the famous line that "actors should mix with politics," a line usually used in the context of Tim Robbins or Sean Penn.) Limbaugh’s sports announcing shouldn’t be peppered with controversial statements. In his role as a sportscaster, his job is to sportscast, not to offend viewers.

Furthermore, to use the term "witch hunt" is a historically charged and hypocritical exaggeration. The implication that Limbaugh is being hunted by a group of people whose moral compass is guided by fear (as in Salem), and who have no evidence of his wrongdoing, is patently false. There is no “group” hunting him and certainly the decision to fire him was motivated more by capital than by any ideological fright. [In fact, the one person responsible for Limbaugh’s firing is Dave Checkett’s, a Mormon business man, NOT a member of what most would associate with "the liberal elite."] The labeling of an executive's attempt to silence Limbaugh as a witch hunt while actively engaging in an attempt to root out "anti-Americanism" (O'Reilly's attempts to silence dissent go back to just after 9/11) is simple hypocrisy. Apparently, it's acceptable to ruin the lives of everyday Americans who happen to criticize the actions of their government but not to fire a celebrity who makes millions a year. This attempt to silence dissent from the ground-up while defending the right of privilege to make divisive comments about trivial sporting events should be frightening to those who claim O'Reilly represents the "little guy."

Example of Limbaugh’s comments?

"Look, let me put it to you this way: The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."
[What seems interesting here is the supposed burden Limbaugh seems to suggest is being lifted from his conscience after he says this with his foot-stomping "There, I said it".]

Checketts can obviously be faulted for being obtuse— anyone who doesn’t understand what Limbaugh does is either lacking proper decision-making skills or living somewhere very remote.

Even O’Reilly’s word choice here is ridiculously hyperbolic: "That race theme quickly became used as a hammer against Limbaugh." A hammer? Really? To "break" him? So the fact that public outrage surrounds these statements is more of an inconvenience to Limbaugh's "right" to utterance than it is representative of a history of divisive commentary? There seems to be little objectivity here, but again, one could argue that most journalism is based on objectivity as a goal, not always as a result. However, my goal here is to show that O’Reilly’s lack of objectivity starts at the level of language and spreads into every aspect of his show.

O’Reilly insists that allegations against Limbaugh suggest that he (Limbaugh) is a supposed "race baiter." O’Reilly does not define what he means by this. Does he mean that Limbaugh baits other races by saying things that he knows to be offensive and then hides behind some vague notion of Freedom of Speech when he’s penalized for his statements? Or does this mean that Limbaugh uses the topic of race to stir controversy. If the former is true, said Amendment doesn’t cover speech meant to incite panic or fear and hatred against a group of people; if the latter is true, then controversy is what he got, and there’s no case here.

At this point in the Memo, O’Reilly recycles old statements that Limbaugh supposedly made about James Earl Ray. (This is of course used as information that can be clearly disproved and thus, by O'Reilly's logic, disproving all further allegations of bigoted comments.) Adding to the suspicion that Limbaugh can't be innocent of all comments due to the origin of some comments, this information is specious and outdated. It had already been reported Limbaugh didn’t make that statement (see, But this is not important to O’Reilly, who rightly assumes that his main audience doesn't Google much. His main concern is to lump the James Earl Ray incident (which started with one person, an anonymous blogger named Cobra) in with any other instance of Limbaugh's proclivity to make racially-divisive comments. There’s a logical problem here, and this is that just because Limbaugh didn’t make one comment doesn’t mean he didn’t make any comments about race. In fact, Limbaugh is known for making comments that are racially controversial, which you can see in the above-linked quote, and all it takes is a quick Google search to see well-documented examples of comments he’s made regarding the topic of race. But O’Reilly doesn’t mention these comments. Instead, he uses comments made from "the far left" (I’m sure the "far left," whoever they may be, has more important things to worry about than taking down Rush.) With these digressions from his own lead story, O’Reilly clouds the waters by offering—without citation—an example of his own persecution which, according to his telling of it, seems like a fairly innocuous story that took place in Sylvia’s Restaurant here in Harlem. By virtue of its very innocuousness, this anecdote is meant to refute all arguments against Rush Limbaugh and to introduce a logical parallel between O'Reilly and Limbaugh: if I am not guilty, he is not guilty. We are one no slant, no spin, fair and balanced blob.


"Fair Americans know that playing the race card is easy and hateful."

Who are these "fair" Americans? Does he mean "fair" as in "just"? If there is truly a "witch hunt" currently happening in America, where are these legions of "fair Americans"? Does O'Reilly mean to refer to those Americans who know the sense of right and wrong? How many are there? Did he survey all of the Americans he considers "fair" to see what they think? Have these Keepers of Fairdom been allowed to weigh in on the matter? The insistence on using terms like this is, once again, vague and extremely groupthink-esque. Instead of even using an actual survey or *gasp* research, it posits that there is a group of "common sense" holders out there who are constantly stormed and attacked by "wackos" of all stripes, who, in contrast with the "Fair Americans," don't use common sense. That some people have more common sense seems a fair assessment. But however true this may be, if we were to research what criteria make for common sense and "fair," there is certainly no evidence 1) that this group knows what O'Reilly claims they know or that they agree with him 2) of their numbers, and 3) whether this really has anything to do with race-baiting or the previously-mentioned Limbaugh case.

This statement's real purpose is to flatter viewers—I’m fair, they’re not—while united them as one group. Any angst-ridden and alienated viewer looking for a sense of belonging just found it. O’Reilly seems more interested in simultaneously flattering viewers while insulting their intelligence. Mix the "You viewers are lovely" with "I will always be more informed than you but use my cat-like agility and salty intellect to inform you of what others hide" together and voila! You’ve got the recipe for a successful show.

I'm not saying that O'Reilly's show isn't entertaining, which it certainly is, especially viewed ironically as one work in the larger oeuvre of his terribly written books imbued with his trademark pedantic and cringe-worthy tone. His charm of late seems to stem from the toning down of his more divisive rhetoric and ire, probably due to some late administrative decision to make room for Beck's more vitriolic delivery style. But the problems of this show are numerous: the catering to sensationalistic and vague reporting, the logic jumps and mis-connections O'Reilly practically elicits between "facts," the general non sequitor/short attention span reporting style which doesn't inform as much as it confuses viewers, and the veiled subjectivity and opinions of one man which masquerade as objective and to-the-minute breaking journalism.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Brother's Sequential Anatomy and Microsoft WORD

This, from my brother, Patrick Daley:

I was writing a paper on Plato's view of women for a Humanities class when I noticed a cool feature on Word. If you type in a word in the Thesaurus, a bunch of words with the same first couple letters show up. I started messing around and came up with this weird poem. I also made up a rule for which it was meant to be organized. The word count of each sentence must be in consecutive order (I noted the word count next to each sentence). The poem turned out to be pretty funny and thought I would send it to you. I made it into an anatomy lesson. Enjoy!

Sequential Anatomy

14. The penis penetrates peninsulas whose penitence is a pen name for penniless pen pals.

15. The septum separates the septic tank from the separatists whose sepulchers are sequenced in September.

16. The vagina gives vaccinations through a vacuum to vagrants whose vague vanity is a vacillating valediction.

17. The shin shifts from a shimmering shingle to a shiny shelter where shenanigans are shielded from shepherding.

Good poetry does not include politics

1. Tone:

If you say a statement with genuine meaning in your tone, you possibly get aggressive behavior in children. This is because children are tuning in more than ever to what adults say. They thirst for adult messages in music, art and lesser known influences like television. The secret to convey these messages is by seclusion. No one would want to destroy the vegetables if they had been chopped so fine they were mixed in and invisible.

2. Recipes

Children sense what recipes we’re dreaming up, having read large letters about them. Children are small prophets. I don’t know why we haven’t shown them menus for each meal. Easy-to-read menus threaten most youngsters tiny eardrums and light receptors, and politically-minded children are offended by insults delivered by these menus to their sophistication.

3. What to wear and do with your mouth while getting political

So an outfit backfires. This has been foreseen. If you don’t want people to hate what you’re wearing, don’t say, “This outfit sucks, huh” as a statement.

Who wouldn’t negatively react to an author who is nothing but kind words.

Political disagreement flavored with cherry tip. Slowly place the political instrument on your lips before deciding whether its taste isn’t for you.

Expecting this medical issue to present itself in polite civic discourse is intellectualizing a simplistic fallacy of being required to grow yourself a pair in order to win at board games.

But what about revolution? A poem about revolution shouldn’t say “revolution poem” or “revolution trade center.” If you want your favorite TV star assassinated you shouldn’t shout, “Assassinate whomever I like!”

A poem cannot take politics upstairs and bicker behind walls. We do not see what happens upstairs in amicable revolution. In a sense, a revolution is history gone badly.

Parents modeling for children’s clothes, fighting in front of kids.

We see the lack of physical interference–both hands solitary and on hips—this means that either companion could get political at uncomfortable objects.

These justices are hoping to overturn their courtroom anger. Laws are made by figureheads who see disillusion in fighting.

Opponents of the poem see practiced daily usage as a threat to linear conversation derivative of political logic.

Heated and worked out in front of children, poems should be about really anything but politics.

Politics has words that interfere with beautiful concepts.

Childish secret concepts are like bellybuttons: we all want to deny they come from god.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Surprisingly I haven’t felt myself since I ate that chipotle

Believe it, food travels
A long way

Later when it rests
In a throat full
Of soda

You can think
It’s going to be going down
But actually, this food
Had other plans