Thursday, August 20, 2009

More from Jason Whitlock.....

Here's another recent article from my favorite sports columnist Jason Whitlock. Not sure it is relevant to anything in particular....just an interesting take on how sports and the media-infused celebrity driven hysteria inherent in our wider culture blend together and cross-detonate each other.

It won't be long before the paparazzi photograph a panty-less Brett Favre exiting a luxury vehicle, exposing the Hall of Famer's full monty for the enjoyment of TMZ gawkers.
"Britney Favre" — a nickname coined by Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski — is just the latest example of pro sports' joyous descent into the reality-TV show abyss.
Commissioner Roger Goodell can rename the 2009 NFL season "The Flavor of Favre."
ESPN has run the pilot episode on a constant loop since Favre's last fake retirement in February. Chris Mortensen, Ed Werder and Peter King were the potential brides eventually stiffed by Favre and his handlers, who surprisingly flirted with Jay Glazer in the Episode 1 cliffhanger.
The World Wide Leader and Sirius NFL Radio quickly booked confessional-style interviews with Fran Tarkenton to talk about Favre's season-opening shocker — his decision to join the Vikings at the conclusion of training camp.
"I really think the whole Brett Favre saga of retiring, unretiring," Tarkenton said on NFL Radio, "it's a circus. It's an absolute circus, and it takes away from all the other things that are going on with the Vikings, with the NFL. We're getting ready for football season and this is a circus and I just have no interest in it."
Take those words and whiny attitude for exactly what they are — the ramblings of a 69-year-old man who is loathe to come to grips with what television and money have done to professional sports.
It's not Favre's fault. Television and money corrode values and ethics. Sportsmanship, individual sacrifice for the benefit of team and integrity had no chance of survival once television and money took over professional sports.
I don't want to make too much of this, but everything you see playing out in the world of American sports is also playing out in our society at large. America has become one massive reality-TV show and all its citizens are vying to be contestants.
No one is satisfied being part of a team. We all want to be the star of our own show, free to create the rules as we go.
We're not mad at Brett Favre. We're jealous.
He skipped the offseason conditioning program and training camp and still signed for $12.5 million, the starting position and the opportunity to embarrass Packers general manager Ted Thompson.
Hell hath no fury like a scorned diva quarterback. Favre is spoiled, petulant, narcissistic and irresponsible. He's no different from Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. Wealth and fame ruined Favre at a young age, and now we're fascinated by the flaws they created.
We complain that we're tired of hearing about Britney Favre. But we google him and tweet about him incessantly. We click on the stories with his name in the headline. We anxiously anticipate Peter King's next ode to John Madden's favorite quarterback.
And when we're not watching "Flavor of Favre," we're a couple of channels over being captivated by (Michael) Vick Doggy Dogg's performance in "I Love Philadelphia." Or maybe we tune in to Plaxico Burress' latest in "Countdown to Lockdown."
Seriously, what's happening on the field doesn't matter all that much anymore. It's the story behind the story, the story away from the field or court that captures our imagination. And it's the story the athletes want to tell.
Shaq has a reality show on ABC. Terrell Owens is on VH-1. The Bengals are on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Warren Sapp, Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice danced with the stars on ABC.
When an athlete can't get a network to pick him up, he takes his reality skills to the Web. Stephon Marbury live streams his life and credibility away. Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett held the black-on-black racist "Black Olympics" on MartyBTV.
The NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball all have their own networks. They're foolishly missing the boat. Why are they allowing the other networks to cash in on the athletes they turned into stars?
The networks owned by the leagues need original programming. Maybe if Chad Johnson was provided the opportunity to bojangle for dollars on a reality show, he wouldn't find it necessary to bojangle on Sundays.
You think people wouldn't watch Roger Goodell's version of "The Apprentice" or "CourtTV?" His sit-down meetings with Pacman Jones would be must-see TV. John Madden could break out his telestrator and diagram Pacman's make-it-rain technique.
How about Josh Hamilton as the star of "MLB Rehab?" Darryl Strawberry could co-star as his accountability partner.
Come on, let's quit the charade. Pro sports jumped the shark more than a decade ago. The circus Tarkenton is crying about has been in town for a long, long time.

The games are an afterthought. They're vehicles to promote fame and the leverage to negotiate a contract for more money and less responsibility.
You blame the players and their agents. I blame the rules makers, the owners, the grown men with billions who should've seen this coming and implemented rules to safeguard the integrity of their games.
Too much of the money in pro sports is tied to individual fame, and not nearly enough cash is tied to the win-loss record. When fans care more about winning and losing than the players in the locker room do, it's impossible to deny the foundation of the games have been damaged.
The LeBron James reality show will focus all next season on whether he'll dash for New York cash rather than will the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. We've all been a witness to money and fame's transformation of King James into Drama Queen James, the sore loser, the dunk-video thief.
Brett Favre used to be king of the NFL, known for his childlike passion for the game. Now he's Britney Favre. And oops, he's unretired again.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Home Gardens and Farmers Connected

Many of us have at least an initial interest in growing our own food. This article in the NY Times talks about the connections that Home Gardeners and Farmers share, by way of the Tomato Blight, in the Northeast U.S. Here is an excerpt acknowledging the need for diversity among and within the species of plants we grow:

Healthy, natural systems abhor uniformity — just as a healthy society does. We need, then, to look to a system of food and agriculture that values and mimics natural diversity. The five-acre monoculture of tomato plants next door might be local, but it’s really no different from the 200-acre one across the country: both have sacrificed the ecological insurance that comes with biodiversity.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Craigslist encourages human trafficking

I found this article at There is a petition that you can sign to encourage Craigslist to STOP advertising services that can lend towards human trafficking. If you're interested, here's the article:

Does Craistlist Think We're Stupid?
by Amanda Kloer

These days, Craigslist is looking more and more like a naughty child who keeps getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. That is, if the cookie jar were illegal prostitution and pimping of children. It's time for real change.
Amid increasing pressure (some of it from you, dear readers) two months ago, Craigslist agreed to replace their "Erotic Services" section with the more euphemistically-named "Adult Services" section, as if it now offers mostly wine classes and tax preparation. However, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart who sued Craigslist last year claims that prostitution is still thriving in the Adult Services section under a thin veneer.
According to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the rampant prostitution ads on Craigslist are
" thinly disguised, the real question is how they are permitted to be there if, in fact, the site is doing the screening and policing that they said they will do."
The pressure on Craigslist to remove their "Erotic Services" section stemmed from several cases of minor and adult human trafficking victims being sold via Craigslist. Craigslist claims the new section has strict qualifications to help avoid the exploitation of minors, but they have not yet released what those qualifications are.
I thought, perhaps, as Craigslist claims, all these sheriffs and attorney generals are only attacking the company for personal or political reasons. So I hopped onto Craigslist to see what I could find. Here are a few of the ad titles:
-Bodywork By Black Stunning Transsexual Beauty

-$100- Super Hot Grad student for massage


-Young sweet Asian girl massage

-Sexy Sexy Sexy Sexy Sexy Sexy

In most of the ads I looked at, the massage skills of the "masseuse" were not mentioned at all, whereas their supposed ages, physical attributes, and prices were described in detail. Sometime, obvious euphemisms like "100 roses per half hour" or "200 diamonds" are used in place of dollar signs.
Unlike Craigslist, I don't think you're stupid. I think you can look at the ads in Craigslist's Adult Services section and tell if they look like ads for legitimate massages, Or if they look like the same escort and prostitution businesses, some of which were pimping minors, that have been on advertised on Craigslist since its inception. Congress has already called Craigslist on their lack of real change. Now you can tell Craigslist you see through their game too, and you're not stupid.