New Fall TV Line-up

Is the fall TV line-up the most eagerly anticipated event in your household every year? Ya….us too….

Remember when it actually was a bit of an event though? When the September Preview Edition  TV Guide would appear in your mailbox, twice or three times as fat as the usual TV Guides? And there would be pages and pages of write-ups and reviews of the exciting, creative new programs you could look forward to? And the new fall season would actually start right after Labour Day?

 Those were the days.

Now shows just start willy-nilly and almost none of them are exciting or creative. Fortunately, I’ve managed to pick out a few of the gems from among the various piles of programming turds. These are my recommendations:

The Omar Show:  Coming straight off his success with his “Omar” magazine (each month featuring Omar himself dressed in yet another dazzling white robe), The Omar Show is a daytime chat show like no other. Omar will grow his beard longer and longer as the days go by, taking the audience along on his beard-growing journey every step of the way. Then he will cut it short and start all over again. In between, he will share his philosophies, world views and stories about his abusive childhood in the ghettos of Kukuistan, which will be later refuted by the tabloids. Omar is mesmerizing. Everyone who watches Omar will immediately want to do his bidding. Omar is a force to be reckoned with. An explosive addition to the fall line-up.

Extreme Jeannie: This is a modern re-make of the 1960s hit comedy I Dream of Jeannie. There’ll be no scantily dressed harem girl obeying orders from her “master” in Extreme Jeannie however, because that would be sexist and not politically correct. Extreme Jeannie kicks ass in her own Bottle Factory, keeping her employee entourage of bumbling, idiotic, overweight, middle-aged men in line with her superior female intelligence and clever wit. Uma Thermos stars as Jeannie, burdened with a cast of guys who used to be the bumbling, idiotic, overweight, middle-aged guys on other sitcoms where they were married to sexy young things who kicked their ass.

The Orifice: Starring Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Whoopi Goldberg, Naomi Campbell, Kanye West, Rosie O’Donnell, John Mayer, Jesse James, Michaele Salahi and Sarah Palin with cameo appearances by a whole host of other celebrity orifices. This is a new, experimental format for TV —  filmed documentary-style and entirely without sound. The artistry lies in the back and forth panning from one soundless, gaping orifice to another. The cast’s contracts stipulate that as long as the show is on the air they are not allowed to speak publicly. This one is not to be missed. Really…or it will go off the air.

The Pervert: Combining the drug-addled charm and medical setting of House with the criminality of Dexter and the high-tech science of Bones and CSI, The Pervert is a seemingly quiet, unassuming loner who nevertheless says good morning to his coworkers every day. He works as a hospital orderly by day and volunteers at a crime lab in his spare time. Unbeknownst to everyone The Pervert never sleeps. He stays awake by consuming masses of amphetamines so he can spend his nights peering into the windows of women, sneaking into their bedrooms and stealing their soiled unmentionables, lurking in parks to watch young lovers, looking up women’s dresses with his shoe-cam and surreptitiously fondling hospital patients and nurses as he sweeps by them. He then uses his crime lab connections to plant his subjects’ DNA all over evidence so random people will get arrested for random crimes. The Pervert is a darkly disturbing drama that is sure to blow all the pretenders that went before it, right out of the water. A must-see.

Abstinence in the City: Coming to the new Holy Roller channel this fall, Abstinence in the City follows the dreary lives of a bunch of white people who never have sex, never talk about sex and never go out looking for dates. They don’t dress very well and never touch alcohol or cigarettes. Sometimes they get together for bible readings and tea or tend to each other when someone comes down with flu. We wouldn’t bother recommending this show except that the unintended double entendres and the crazy stuff they say about Obama, homosexuals, poor people and non-Caucasians will leave you rolling on the floor with laughter and despair.

So You Think You Can Drive a Bus: Season Three of this OC Transpo mega-hit kicks off in Barrhaven, where bus-driver wannabes from all walks of life try out for the country’s number one job. The auditions are grueling; forcing contestants onto old, leaky, overheated buses and making them drive around the city for an entire day (3 ½ hours), occasionally picking up some of those annoying people who hang around bus shelters. Contestants have the option of being 5-10 minutes ahead of schedule or 5-10 minutes behind schedule. Those who are punctual will be eliminated. Larry O’Brien is the season opener’s guest judge. Last year’s winner, Ellen DeRalstoness, also scheduled to be a judge this season, has decided to “pursue other opportunities”.

Hysteria Lane: Cashing in on the recent popularity of Twilight, Harry Potter, Ghost Whisperer and Desperate Housewives, this zany romp sees the “Smiths” moving onto a seemingly lovely normal middle-class suburban cul-de-sac. But the “Smiths” are no normal family. He’s a bumbling, idiotic but handsome and sparkling vampire and she’s an incredibly hot, sex-crazed, but wise, wizard. This madcap family gets crazier because they have sexy, twin teenaged daughters – one is a wizpire and one is completely mortal!! AND they have a baby boy, who maybe be a wizpire or may be mortal. No one knows — yet!!! The Smiths also have a big, lovable dog that sees ghosts. And there are a lot of ghosts, because it turns out the Hysteria Lane suburb was built on an old sit-com burial ground. This one promises to be the season’s runaway hit. How could it fail?

Lots: I’m not sure about this one because the pilot was a bit confusing. It’s about a motley crew of real estate agents who meet in a new, suburban mega-development to stage the homes and get them ready for showing. But all the houses look the same. All the streets (as yes, unsigned) look the same and they can’t find their cars, so they can’t get out. To make matters worse, the subdivision was built on a former forest so the place is fraught with danger from moose, skunks, foxes, black bears, coyotes and the occasional emu from a neighbouring farm. The real estate agents soon lose their highly-polished appearance and glib patter as they struggle to survive, discover frightening information about each other and hallucinate a little bit. I don’t know how this is all going to play out or how they’re ever going to end this one, but I predict it will have viewers glued to their TV sets each and every week, even if they go on an 8-month haitus somewhere along the line.

So, what are you looking forward to watching this season?

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The Prisoners’ Dilemma

A post by The Daily G  the other day on cooperation and competition reminded me of The Prisoners’ Dilemma.

If you aren’t familiar with this, it’s a game theory developed in 1950 by a couple of math guys working at RAND  It gives players the option of cooperation or defection.  It’s a puzzle that, 60 years later, continues to be studied by philosophers, biologists, sociologists and politics (And bloggers, of course).

Prisoners’ Dilemma models have been applied to almost every form of human and animal interaction. Well-known examples from politics include arms races, income policies, trade bargaining, pollution reduction and exploitation of natural resources.

I don’t want to get into the complexities of game theory as a whole – mainly because I don’t understand it, and probably math geeks, game theory geeks, philosophers and all sorts of other people will be rolling over in their graves and laboratories at the mess I will make in talking about this. However,  I think the Prisoners’ Dilemma is interesting to think about on its own and perhaps as a model for examples of cooperative behaviour on individual levels.

The Prisoners’ Dilemma, as formalized by Albert W. Tucker goes like this:

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated the prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies for the prosecution against the other (defects) and the other remains silent (cooperates), the defector goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?

 What would you do?

  • If you confess and your accomplice remains silent, you go free and your accomplice goes to prison for ten years.
  • If your accomplice confesses and you remain silent, you go to prison for ten years and your accomplice goes free.
  • If you both confess you will both serve five years.
  • If you both remain silent, you both go to prison for six months.

Your first reaction is probably to say that you should both just keep your mouths shut (cooperate) and serve only six months in jail — the best possible solution for everyone.

 But then you have to hope that your accomplice is thinking the same thing or you’ll end up spending 10 years in jail. Neither of you can rationally depend on the other to keep his mouth shut, so both of you have no choice but to defect/confess and go to jail for five years — even though cooperating would have been in your best interests.

You have made a decision that goes against your own best interests because it’s impossible for you to reach a rational cooperative solution.

It’s apparently almost impossible to get rational, selfish beings to cooperate for their common good.

This conclusion has astonished and dismayed social scientists because it seems to mean there is a fundamental flaw in the social fabric. People will not cooperate, even if it’s in their best interests to do so, because individual incentive trumps the collective incentive. This would sort of mean that we are hopeless as a species, wouldn’t it?

A lot has been written to refute what has been cited as the only possible solution to the Prisoners’ Dilemma. But I don’t know. Cooperation requires a great deal of knowledge of, and trust for the other person/group. And trust isn’t rational.

Anyway, I thought this would be something interesting to puzzle over and discuss during the weekend.

I wonder if we can come up with Prisoners’ Dilemma situations in our every day life that either prove or disprove the rational impossibility of cooperation?

The Skin You’re In

The French have an expression I love – bien dans sa peau.  The literal translation is “well in one’s skin”. It means to feel content, comfortable and at ease with yourself.

I love this expression because it conjures such a wonderful image of a strong, healthy, positive, happy person – a person without artifice, without self-consciousness, without acrimony.

The French seem to have a knack for it. So do some other Europeans. I haven’t seen it too much in North America. I suppose it has a lot to do different societal expectations. What is considered attractive in Europe is not the same thing as what is considered attractive here.

We seem to insist that everyone have straight, blond (unethnic) hair; an unlined, artfully made-up face; and be slim and gym-toned. In other parts of the world, different things are important.

Perhaps this makes it easier for them to be feel good about how they look, and because of how they feel, it makes it easier for them to look good. Because what is more attractive than someone who seems happy, healthy and confident?

Nothing, that’s what.

How about you? Do you feel comfortable in your skin?

It’s something to strive for, I think. And it shouldn’t matter what your shape or size is, or whether you look have the face of a model or a face that looks like a bag of hammers. If you feel strong and confident and healthy and happy you’ll feel good in your skin.

But can you still feel good about yourself if you believe others are looking at you and making judgments about you based on your wrinkles and bulges and other various and sundry flaws?

I think it gets easier as you get older to be more accepting of your body, regardless of what others might think of it. But there’s always something that causes a bit (or a lot) of discontent, isn’t there?

I usually feel pretty good about myself. I haven’t always. I was a shapeless stick until I was in my 20s. Then I developed some padding – not all of it where I wanted it, of course – but enough that people finally recognized me as female without a lot of intense scrutiny.

I don’t go in for a lot of fancy cosmetic products and like to keep my hair as natural as possible and that makes me feel good. But I have to say that I don’t feel so good if I don’t exercise regularly and eat right.  That padding I developed in my 20s seems to duplicate itself with each passing decade…. but still never where I actually want it, of course.

So, I have to be more careful about my diet every year and make sure I run regularly and make sure I get some strength and flexibility training in and just generally make sure I keep moving in between.

And when I get to where those habits become routine, I feel pretty good.  But then something interrupts that routine and I get lazy for a few weeks and then I don’t feel so good.

What do you suppose the secret is to feeling bien dans sa peau? How do those French do it? Coffee and cigarettes? Wearing black? Is it all a sham?  Do you know anyone who is truly comfortable in his/her skin? Can you ask them what their secret it, please?

My Prayer for Old Age

  1. May I keep my health and faculties to be able to enjoy a ripe old age.
  2. May I do my best to keep myself physically fit so I don’t have to spend most of my golden years in a doctor’s waiting room and/or in surgery.
  3. May I never become so enamored of my various medications and ailments that I  never do anything to help reduce my dependence on them and instead, spend most of my time listing them to anyone who will sit still long enough to listen.
  4. May I never get to the point where I believe I know everything and resist learning anything new.
  5. May I never assume everything new is bad and everything old is much, much better.
  6. May I always continue to keep up on current events, technology, trends, ideas and thoughts so I have something to discuss with others that doesn’t involve the olden days and so I know how to use my debit card before I’m standing at the check-out counter with 12 people behind me.
  7. May I continue to make it a point to spend time with younger, much younger and much, much younger people and listen to what they have to say.
  8. May I read something other than the tabloids and same five books I’ve enjoyed my whole life and may I watch a movie or TV show once in a while that isn’t like the movies or TV shows I usually watch.
  9. May I keep my mind open and accepting of things even if they initially shock me.
  10. May I continue to try new things even if they seem a bit weird at first.
  11. May I continue to challenge myself every day even if I feel more like just sitting on my sofa and watching TV.
  12. May I never, ever, EVER make “comfort” my only criteria for my choice of clothing.
  13. May I never get a “man haircut” just because it’s easier to deal with.
  14. May I never assume that just because I’m old I am automatically entitled to respect, deference, attention and discounts on everything. Instead, may I do whatever I can to earn that respect deference and attention from others, while taking full advantage of all discounts offered.
  15. May I allow my adult children and grandchildren to be adults and not constantly question, judge or render unsolicited opinions on all their choices and activities in life.
  16. May I allow my children to remember things that I, for some reason, don’t remember the same way.
  17. May I remember to have a sense of humour, even through my innate crankiness, while trying to make a distinction between being witty and just repeating the same tired, old quips that made people chuckle 30 years ago.
  18. May I not alienate friends and other people from my life because they don’t do things the way I think they should do them.
  19. May I ask for help from my family or friends if I need it and not assume they should automatically know when I’m in need and then criticize them for not being there for me.
  20. May I spend some time every month or so watching myself eat in the mirror to make sure I’m still able to do it without grossing everyone out.
  21. May I continue to make an effort to look groomed and clean and attractive and make the most of what nature and time has bestowed upon me.
  22. May I make it easy for my family to love me and want to spend time with me instead of them having to doing so out of guilt.
  23. May I move myself into a senior’s residence, or make some similar arrangement, long before my family starts to worry about me and check up on me daily.
  24. May I continue to laugh often and find enjoyment in life.
  25. May I open my windows every day to let the fresh air in and the old people smell out.

How to be a Good Customer

I’ve mentioned the lack of good customer service in this part of the world a few times on this blog. So, I thought it would be fair to discuss the lack of good customers for a change. 

I don’t know which came first – whether businesses just started cutting back salaries and hiring fewer people and less qualified people and/or providing them with less training in order to save money; or, whether customers became so rude, demanding, careless, ignorant and impossible to please that no one with any other option and/or lick of sense wanted to work in customer service anymore.

Whichever way it happened (probably a little of both), customers, and the businesses they patronize, are now almost operating as adversaries rather than as a team. Any transaction has to work out better if both parties are able to come out of the experience having gotten what they want with a minimum of bloodshed, right?

By now we’ve all heard more than enough about Steven Slater  and his dramatic resignation from JetBlue Airlines. To me, the most interesting/frightening thing about this story is how many people in the airline industry (and customer service industry in general) are applauding him as a hero.

He “did what everyone always wanted to do but never did,” says the “Free Steven Slater” Facebook page – one of his many overnight shrines.

And really, I think if you accidentally hit a flight attendant, or anyone else, in the head with your luggage, you should apologize profusely.

Other airplane etiquette would include:

  • Not ringing that damn bell the second you find your seat while other passengers are still boarding and the flight crew is busy helping people to their seats;
  • Not wandering around the aisles, especially while the flight attendants are trying to squeeze their little food carts down the same aisle;
  • Not spending the majority of the flight taking things from or putting things back into your overhead compartment;
  • Not getting drunk and obnoxious; and,
  • Not yelling for, or at, the flight attendants.

As I mentioned a while back, XUP Jr. is working this summer as a hostess in a local restaurant. Up until a couple of weeks ago she really enjoyed her job. Then one evening she was clearing a table where four “large ladies” had been dining. (Large ladies may not have been the exact term she used).

She dropped a plate from the stack she was carrying and the large ladies started laughing uproariously and calling her a “stupid bitch” and saying things like: “I can’t wait to see how she’s going to pick up the broken plate while she’s trying to hold all that other stuff.” And, “what’s wrong with this restaurant that they hire skinny twits that can’t even carry a plate”. And, “Come on, stupid, clean up this fucking mess.”

They so shocked and surprised XUP Jr. that she lost all her aplomb and ran crying to the washroom. One of the servers cleaned up the plate and went to tell the manager about the large ladies, but by the time he got out there, they were gone. The manager was very nice to XUP Jr. and told her to come straight to him if anyone ever talks to her like that again.

I’m thinking most people in the customer service industry have run into many, many large ladies during the course of their work life. On top of this, many people in the customer service industry do not have kind, understanding managers like XUP Jr.’s So, I can see why store clerks and restaurant servers and call centre employees might not always be chirping sunshine.

However, maybe there is still time to turn all this around and make shopping somewhat pleasant for everyone again? To that end, I’m starting a list of ways to be a better customer. If everyone adds something, I reckon we’ll soon have a comprehensive handbook and people will find it and use it and distribute it all over the world and then everyone will be happy and peace will rein throughout the universe and there will be no more poverty, famine, natural disasters or right-wing crazy people. 

  1. Be polite and respectful. This should go without saying, but apparently cannot go without saying.
  2. Do your research. Find out something about the product you are looking to buy so you are somewhat knowledgeable and don’t walk into the store saying “I want a computer” and when the tech-geek asks you what sort of thing you’re looking for, you won’t get mad and sarcastically say, “I don’t know, you’re the ‘expert.’”
  3. Know the store. The internet is full of information so you can become familiar with pretty much every store and restaurant before you enter the premises. Some websites will even tell you if the have certain products in stock in that particular location. This will save you getting pissed off at The Beefy Steak House for not having a wide vegetarian selection.
  4. Go shopping in the morning. People tend to be a little less short-tempered when they haven’t already dealt with 180 dolts and/or haven’t been on their feet all day.
  5. Listen to the store guy/gal when he/she tries to explain stuff to you so you don’t keep asking him/her the same damn questions over and over. And try to answer his/her questions as fully as possible so he/she can actually help you.
  6. Don’t mess up the store.
    • Don’t carrying stuff around the store and then put it back in another section because you decide you don’t want it anymore.
    • Don’t knock stuff off shelves or hangers and leave it because “they should stack things better” or because “it will give them something to do”.
    • Don’t leave your cart in the check-out line or cluttering up an aisle somewhere.
    • Don’t open packages or unwrap stuff and then leave them lying around.
  7. Don’t hold other customers up when you’re at the check-out or with a floor clerk or at customer service. Do your business and move on.
    • Don’t start engaging the clerks in long conversations about past shopping experiences.
    • Don’t complain to the cashier about all the stuff you couldn’t find or how nothing fit or how expensive everything is.
    • Don’t be surprised that there’s sales tax on stuff so you don’t have to spend a lot of time arguing about the final cost with the cashier and/or have to put stuff back because you can’t afford everything anymore.
    • You know you’re going to have to pay at the check-out so don’t start wondering where your wallet is after everything has been rung up.
  8. Keep your freakin’ kids under control. I had a youngster once, too, so I know how excited/impatient/bored they get while shopping. So, either don’t bring them, or if you have to bring them, keep them with you and try to keep them from screeching in that high-pitched wail only young children can do. And don’t let them run around playing tag or hide-and-seek or testing the tensile strength of all the toys, garments, household appliances and food packaging.

What else?????

Da Kink

In an effort to lighten things up a little around here, I think it’s important that we spend a bit of time talking about fetishes.

 Not this kind.

 But this kind.

“Fetishes” –  as in the quirky (sometimes really weird) particular sexual focus that some people have. Or maybe everyone has a fetish of some sort?

Psychologists say most fetishes are harmless as long as they’re not impairing your function in every day life and/or hurting anyone (unless someone wants to be hurt, of course).

In order for something to be a fetish it has to stick with your for at least six months —  although fetishes can disappear any time after that and still have been a legitimate fetish.

Every Sunday night, my high-school boyfriend’s parents went out for the evening so we’d get the house to ourselves. We’d order a pizza and some cokes and then watch TV until we were finished eating. Then we’d make out until his parents got home.

For most of my teen years and into my early 20s , I couldn’t really get in the mood unless I’d had pizza and coke first. Conversely, whenever I had pizza and coke ….watch out!

Eventually that wore off. Or maybe it’s because I stopped drinking coke?

Psychologists also say that fetishes develop as the result of some sort of strong emotional conditioning or imprinting experience – usually at a young age. I guess they’re right.

See if you can figure out how some of these fetishes might have developed.

Woolies –  Sort of a variation on Furries,  I reckon. Woolies have to dress head to toe in wool to get in the mood. (I wonder if Knitnut can shed any further light on this one?)

Necrophilia –  Of course that’s a hot one right now with the whole Twilight craze. Every teenage girl and sad lonely middle-aged woman wants to do the nasty with the undead.

Infantilism – And ya, they actually have to soil their diapers to really enjoy it. Sexy, eh?

Omorashi  – A Japanese fetish subculture (Ah, those wacky Japanese). It has something to do with losing bladder control or something…I don’t know…geeze…look it up.

Somewhere along the line I think I developed a bit of a hand fetish. I really notice hands. A good-looking hand can be very erotic. Of course, I suppose good-looking/sexy is as subjective when it comes to hands as it is for everything else. I just know one when I see one.

The word “fetish” came from the French fétiche, which in turn came from the Portuguese feitiço meaning “charm”. People’s psyches can turn anything into a fetish. These are the top 10 fetishes according to people who keep track of things like this.

  1. Feet
  2. High-heels and knee-high boots
  3. Piercing
  4. Silk, satin, leather or latex
  5. Hands
  6. Hair
  7. Role playing: doctor, nurse etc.
  8. Flat, tight tummies
  9. Balloons
  10. Fingernail art

 Ummm…balloons???

Oh well. So……? What’s your fetish? Maybe you’ve had one that disappeared? Maybe you’ve recently developed a new one? Enquiring minds want to know!

Charity

So, Bob is on his way to work one day when he passes a pond and sees a child drowning. He knows he can swim well enough to save the child, but he also knows the water is going to be cold and it will ruin his new suit. Should he jump in anyway and save the child?

This is an example used by Australian philosopher, Peter Singer to illustrate the moral obligation human beings have to help those less fortunate than they are.

I thought this would be an interesting question to consider on an individual level after the previous post where the comments discussed the question on a much more global level.

Singer believes that the needs of the poor are of much greater importance than any inconvenience it would cause us to provide the help. He believes not only that it’s our moral obligation to provide the help, but also that it’s immoral not to.

Do we care more about our new suit than the life of another human being? Should the money we would normally spend on luxuries like a meal in an expensive restaurant go instead to feed the poor?

According to the Jewish principle of tzedakah, people should willingly give at least 10% of their income to charity. For them it is a matter of religious duty.  

Another school of thought is that charity shouldn’t be an obligation or a duty, but something done out of a true sense of compassion. When a mother gives up the last bit of food in the house to feed her children, she is not doing it out of duty or obligation, but because she sees their welfare and her own welfare as part of a whole. In the same way we should see “the poor” as part of us – not something separate from us. Living among people in need and not helping, diminishes all of us as human beings.

And, although many people would never admit it in public, there is also a school of thought that says, “Hi, I’m Frank. I work hard for my money. I slogged through years of school. I’ve scrimped and saved and invested so that I could provide a good life for myself and my family. Why should I also be responsible for Ernie over there, who dropped out of school to hitchhike around the country, who can’t hold down a job for more than a couple of months and who can barely provide for himself and yet goes and has four kids?”

Should Frank’s kids do without a trip to Disneyland this year so that Frank can give their vacation money to Ernest instead?

Or, would we, perhaps agree with George Orwell, that all charity is evil? That it doesn’t solve any problems and only makes things worse for those living in poverty? That charity may be kind, but it isn’t practical. That government/society gives us charity as a “quack cure” for poverty and injustice.

What’s really happening is that charitable giver becomes the focus of the charity instead of the people in need. Because it makes us all feel good. It makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something worthwhile, and it diverts our attention away from the fact that what charity really does is allow government/society to abdicate its responsibilities to its citizens.

Because charity doesn’t really address the root problems of poverty, does it? But as long as we have food banks and the United Way and homeless shelters, et al, we work hard at promoting and supporting them and forget to force any real solution.

Orwell uses Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as an illustration:

…we are not aiming at the kind of world Dickens described, nor, probably, at any world he was capable of imagining. The Socialist objective is not a society where everything comes right in the end, because kind old gentlemen give away turkeys. In the end, there are not enough kind gentlemen to give away enough turkeys.

 I wonder what Orwell would have done about that child drowning in the pond?

What’s your school of thought on charity?