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When I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas as a child, the cartoon was already 20 years old, but the primary sponsor was usually McDonalds pushing Happy Meals to children. Now, 20 years later, most commercials that aired on ABC's seasonal broadcast were pitching cars to adults. I'm not sure what exactly that means or how significant it is, but I don't think I like it. (That's the safe position for me, because I don't like much of anything.)

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Over on today, they are running one story about how poorly people manage risk assessment in the modern world and another story on the fate of a missing woman who was found dead, trapped behind a bookshelf in her own house. Personally, I was amused by the irony. I think it's particularly comical that CNN, which like every other television news show thrives on fear mongering, would promote an argument from sister publication Time Magazine about how fearing the wrong things is a pointless endeavor that steals people's happiness and longevity. I guess we can only fear things so long as CNN (or it's parent, Time Warner) tells us it's ok.

Just yesterday I was reading a story about the death of a girl in a Porsche on a California highway. That story was accompanied by pictures of the crash. You might think that to make the decision to try to swerve past another car while traveling at over 100 mph through a tollbooth that the girl must have lost their head. Turns out that she did. (Though it's hard to tell if that happened before or after the crash.) One of the posters on the message board pointed out that at the age of 18, the driver of the Porsche was unable to ascertain that her actions behind the wheel were likely to result in her demise. Isn't that what why we were shown Red Asphalt in high school?

Meanwhile, while the net is abuzz about the Russian spy who died from rare Polonium-210 radiation poisoning in London, traditional American news media (tv and newsprint) seem much more concerned about the fate of celebrity Michael Richards in the wake of his tirade against hecklers. I mean, who cares what happens to a spy (unless, of course, it's the latest James Bond)? Now that the hecklers are demanding an apology live on CNN talk shows (which were on at Moe's the other night while I was trying to eat "The Full Monty"), I think that everything has gone a little bit far. Especially when every news service seems willing to reproduce the cell phone video of the rant, but only after editing out the offending words. When mainstream America decides that it is more dangerous for a comedian to say the word "nigger" to a heckler than to be concerned about, well, anything else, that's probably indicative of our poor choice of acceptable risks.

And that's not to mention the war in Iraq (with potentially a new impending draft), federal budget deficits (with no social security guarantees), or Wal-Mart's report of its first sales decline in a decade (with other signs that America's retail giant may be floundering).

All in all, I probably shouldn't be too surprised about this failure to recognize and respond to risk in America. When the highest rated show on television is Dancing with the Stars while two-thirds of Americans are obese, it pretty much proves that no one is tuning in to watch the dancing.

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Georgia beat Georgia Tech for the 6th year in a row today. My father, a Tech graduate, was very irritable in the stands after Georgia scored the go-ahead points in the final 2 minutes. But even he still had a good time. I suspect that we'll be playing in the Dec. 30 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, but I'll be damned if I know what ACC team we'll play against.

Tech 12, UGA 15

It's been a long, puzzling season for the Bulldogs. Frankly, I'm a little surprised that we finished with a respectable 8-4 record. After the Homecoming loss to Vanderbilt, I figured we had no chance against Auburn or Georgia Tech. I guess that goes to show what I know.

Looking back at the season, I remember the hecklers during the Tennessee game, the buffalo on the sideline at the Colorado game, and the UGA tailgaters offering the Vanderbilt faithful barbecue after their victory. Yes, it's been a pretty good year, all things considered. And there are only 280 days to go until our September 1, 2007 kickoff against Oklahoma State. Go Dawgs!

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In the Star Trek episode "Operation: Annihilate!", Mr. Spock is infected with a mind-controlling parasite. As an experiment to remove the parasite, Spock is exposed to the full spectrum of light at high intensity. However, when Spock is blinded by the experiment and lab reports show that the parasite is vulnerable to spectra of light invisible to humans, Kirk blames McCoy for blinding Spock. Note the following:

  • Captain Kirk rejects the "logical" proposal by Mr. Spock that the infected inhabitants of Denev be destroyed to prevent the spread of the parasite. Apparently concerned about his legacy, Captain Kirk refuses to be the man who killed a million people to save a billion.
  • The "expose the space aliens to light" plan was based on Captain Kirk's own suggestion that the parasite may be vulnerable to light. None of the science or medical officers on board the Enterprise's "best in the galaxy" labs have come up with or endorsed this apparently desperate plan of action.
  • The experiment was rushed on the orders of an emotional Captain Kirk so that he may save his nephew, who has also been infected. Kirk's earlier plan of interrogating his sister-in-law for information about the parasite and its weaknesses resulted in her death.
  • Captain Kirk orders Mr. Spock to participate despite Dr. McCoy's objections. Though Spock is willing to participate (as the logical participant), McCoy is concerned that Spock should have eye protection, a concern that Kirk immediately and unreasonably overrides.

The moral to this story: If you're going to be a dick, be a Captain.

On a side note, immediately after ridding the planet Denev of the parasitic invaders, Captain Kirk orders the Enterprise out of orbit. This is despite the fact that he has just left his only nephew, Peter, an orphan on the planet's surface. Nice show of compassion, Captain Dick.

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Back on October 24, I blogged about my affinity for Atlanta radio station 96 Rock, which has been on the air in the Atlanta area for my entire life. Apparently, Clear Channel Communications was listening. And 96 Rock is no more, out with not quite so much as a whimper.

As of November 17, 96 Rock has been replaced with Project 9-6-1, moving their focus from "classic rock" to "active rock." Frankly, I don't know what's so active about their rock, since their website advertises that they play songs from "Metallica, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, RHCP, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Ozzy, Nirvana, and Korn," 11 bands who have combined to release 4 albums in the past 3 years. Four of these bands haven't released an album in a decade!

Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article on the changeover that was published this weekend. It includes the following great quote:

John Dickey, an executive vice president for Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, said he hopes this move will benefit his station, the struggling alternative rock station 99X. "I'm surprised they dropped the name 96rock," Dickey said. "It's like blowing up the Varsity and renaming it Project Fast Food."

I suppose that there is a lesson to be learned here. Since Aesop would say that I usually learn the wrong thing, I don't think I'll dwell on this one for too long.

So long, 96 Rock. Thanks for the good times.

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I just returned from Philadelphia, where my brother and I watched the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Miami Dolphins. Despite the scattered rain, bitter cold, and Dolphins' tenth loss of the season (0 for 10: we're still prefect!), I had a great time.

Philadelphia in November is Cold.

Philadelphia fans have a reputation as real assholes. And I can now tell you first hand that everything that you hear about them is all true. Though most of the fans were good natured before and during the game (a father pointed me out to his toddler as "the enemy," the security guard frisking me upon entering harassed me for wearing Dolphins' gear to the game, and the attendant who announced the discontinuation of alcohol service at halftime urged the crowd to yell at me instead of her), by the fourth quarter, with the Eagles' firmly in control of the game, the fans had worked up enough courage to devolve into a surly bunch of jerks. One fellow continued to taunt me until the final second ticked off the clock for supporting a "bunch of losers," and another that I encountered in line for the bathroom told me that "the Dolphins' fucking suck" and he hoped that I personally would die a slow and painful death.

My brother repeatedly pointed out that insulting me for being a Dolphins' fan during this winless season was the equivalent of abusing a helpless puppy. Well, now I know how Philadelphians treat puppies: they must be Michael Vick fans.

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As you may have heard, Georgia is in the midst of a drought. Yesterday, our Governor, Sonny Perdue, led a public prayer for rain on the grounds of the state capital. Amusingly enough, the prayer was protested.

Sure, I might have problems with state sponsored prayer. But I've really got better things to do than to protest against people praying for rain. I mean, where's the up side in that protest? If you're right, and faith shouldn't be invoked to solve the drought, how do you propose that we force the atmosphere to deliver us precipitation? If you're wrong, and appeasing a higher power is what is required to make it rain, you've doomed us all. In either case, by raining on this parade, you're not helping to make it any more wet around here.

Now that it's raining a day later, clearly proving that prayer works (sorry all you people who lost loved ones to disease, God doesn't love you as much as he loves Sonny Perdue), those same protesters are no doubt worried that solutions to other local problems will be sought with prayer instead of legislation. Maybe God can prevent a recurrence of the perfect storm that led to Genarlow Wilson becoming national news at Georgia's expense. Or maybe God can decide what to do about the pesky problems with Atlanta traffic jams. Or potential construction costs and controversial plans for the Hartsfield-Jackson airport expansion. Or what to do about putting too much salt on a police officer's complementary hamburger. (Or even police officers who arrest people for putting too much salt on their complementary hamburgers.)

Hell, why don't we just go ahead and put God to the ultimate test: see if he can make the Atlanta Falcons football team have two consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. (That's asking for just 18 wins over two seasons.) Or what if we pray that the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team wins a game in the playoffs? (They were the best team in the regular season last year. How hard can it be to win one post season game?) Or, if we're looking for a real challenge, how about giving the Atlanta Hawks basketball team a .500 or better season. (Not only hasn't this happened this century, the Hawks' playoff record makes the Thrashers appear to be over-achievers.)

I'm not asking for miracles here. I'm just looking for Atlanta professional sports to not suck. That doesn't seem nearly as hard as making it rain, does it?

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To be continued...