Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Rapacious Vulture With a Heart of Gold

The story is meant to induce a smile. A wonderful gesture to brighten your day:

“Why did I get so lucky? How did this happen to me?” said [Marge] Bishop, who lives in a brown house on a gravelly lot in a wooded area of Gloucester. Her father built the house in 1932.
“I’m just a regular person,” Bishop said. “And I’ve been given this remarkable once-in-a-lifetime gift. It’s incredible. It’s the most remarkable story.”

And what was this "remarkable" gift bestowed upon this "regular person"? Well, let's break it all down.

Mrs. Bishop has had season tickets to Boston Bruins hockey games for 40+ years. When the price of her tickets jumped from $73 to $90 in 2004, she blanched. When they went to $150 in 2006, more than doubling in the span of two years, she had had enough. Then her angel of mercy sprang into action: Charlie Jacobs, son of Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, was giving her a lifetime pass!

What a touching moment! What a great guy! As Mrs. Bishop puts it:

“It was the most unbelievable gesture,” Bishop said. “People just don’t do things like that.”


Wait a second.

This is ridiculous.

The team doubles the prices for the best seats by the ice and we are supposed to get all emotional about the two tickets they decided to give away? They literally made up the loss on that with the next two seats by the boards! EVERYTHING ELSE afterwards is pure outrageous profit.

And get a load of the profits we are talking about here:

A review of [father Jeremy] Jacobs’ track record as owner of the Bruins and the TD Garden by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting reveals:
A squeeze on average fans amid a steady expansion of costly season tickets and luxury seating, with ticket prices poised to surge again;
More than $200 million in profits from the Bruins and the garden spanning over the last decade alone, most earned before the Stanley Cup win;

Check out this not-so-moving story from one fan who doesn't feel a tingle from the mere mention of the Jacobs name:

[A] night out at the garden to watch the Bruins – more than $340 for a family of four – costs as much as an afternoon at Fenway Park, long baseball’s priciest ballpark, which weighs in at just over $339, according to Team Marketing. 
In fact, just going solo to a hockey game can be expensive, noted [fan Casey] Robichaud, decked out in a Bruins T-shirt as she watched the game at the bar. 
With an outing at the garden a sure $100-plus night, there are only so many games she can afford to attend. 
Determined to avoid paying the Garden’s concession prices, which include beer at more than $7 a pop, some fans take extreme measures. 
“It makes people think like they have to drink heavily before the game,” she said. 

Fact is, the Jacobs family is sitting on a goldmine and is determined to squeeze every last drop out of the lemons, er, fans:

Meanwhile, the garden itself has turned out to be a major profit center, with a steady stream of concerts, events and corporate sponsorship deals. 
Owned by Jacobs and Delaware North, the garden was listed as the sixth most lucrative arena in the country by Forbes in 2008, with revenue of $106 million. It had moved up to No. 3 by 2010 on the Forbes list, though revenue estimates were not included that year. 
The arena generates anywhere from $15 million to $25 million a year in profit, noted one arena expert. Taking the more conservative end of that estimate, that amounts to another $150 million in profits for Jacobs over the past 10 years. 
That’s a total of well more than $200 million from the Bruins and the Garden, from fans and concert-goers as well, over the past decade, based on Forbes annual estimates and sports business experts. 

Professional sports are all about money today and as long as the citizenry allows itself to be debased like this AND continues to clamor for entry into these corporate cathedrals of greed, things are not going to change. We know this already.

But spare us, please, the knight-in-shining-armor garbage promulgated by a corrupt and compliant mainstream media organ.

You are gouging 17,563 suckers for everything you can get out of them on a nightly basis. Cutting a break to two sheep who'd been fleeced for all they could stand is not going to change that ugly reality one bit.

Only in our decadent modern society can someone this venial and disgusting be hailed as a wonderful giver.

How much more of this are we all going to put up with?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Futility of a Worldly Life Nearing the Finish Line

The 20th century saw the overthrow of the traditional Christian view of existence in the Western World. This phenomenon was best personified in the generation known as the Baby Boomers, who embraced the materialism and selfism of their time more than any generation before or since, but can also be seen by older "children" of the 20th century, even at absurd ages of 80 and above.

It is no surprise that modern Americans are not aging gracefully. The desperation and emptiness of their worldliness comes more and more in focus with every step they take closer to the grave.

Antics such as this are as sad as they are revealing:

An 80-year-old woman on a tandem skydive slipped from her instructor’s harness then held on for life while rocketing toward Earth. An Alabama man busted his ankles trying to ride a bull. A Missouri man smashed his body – and his new motorcycle – minutes after buying the bike.
All were attempting items on their “bucket lists,” those rare experiences that people – particularly Baby Boomers (folks 49 years old and up) – ache to taste before kicking the bucket. But as injuries and close calls from these sacred agendas mount, some emergency workers want the bucket-listers to tone down their chosen adventures – or at least better prepare for such feats.

The startling lack of dignity seems to be lost on these folks, who believe experiencing perceived thrills they have "missed out on" up to this point will somehow make their lives complete:

To celebrate her 80th birthday and notch her bucket list, Laverne Everett went tandem skydivingtwo years ago above Lodi, Calif. After she paused in fear while perched in the plane’s hatch, she went airborne but partially slipped out of her partner’s harness. A fellow jumper filmed the plunge and the video went viral.
“I had watched watched people jump, and it looked like such fun, just sailing in real smooth, you know? It didn’t work out that way,” Everett, 82, said in a phone interview Thursday. “[My partner] kept telling me: ‘Hold on! Hold on!’ That’s where my mind was, just holding on. He was just holding me. I was just barely holding on with my legs.
“I couldn’t see anything. My clothes were rolled up over my face. There was pinhole of light, that’s all I had. So I didn’t know what was what. I’m very thankful I didn’t know,” added Everett, who suffered some “doozy bruises” and a scraped knee when she landed otherwise intact after their chute opened.

It's a warped sense of the purpose of living, almost as if life itself was a can of soda, something sugary and sweet to be downed with a flourish and the can crushed and thrown away. All the usual signs of our Western decline are in evidence here: self-absorption, identity tourism and a lack of consideration for how individual actions will affect others:

“A lot of people identify with the concept of: Geez, I haven’t done this in my life and I’m willing to take the risk. That’s really the guts of this thing. If you look at the movie which the term came from, it gets at: I’m close enough to the end and I’m making the active choice,” Carl Foster, director of the human performance laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse, said.
“By the same token, the people who have to take care of them, who have to bail them out of bad situations, probably wish they prepared or had thought better of it.”

Those who would see something life-affirming in reckless and inappropriate behavior such as this might not understand how such a mindset goes hand-in-hand with this:

It has long held true that elderly people have higher suicide rates than the overall population. But numbers released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a dramatic spike in suicides among middle-aged people, with the highest increases among men in their 50s, whose rate went up by nearly 50 per cent to 30 per 100,000; and women in their early 60s, whose rate rose by nearly 60 per cent (though it is still relatively low compared with men, at 7 in 100,000).

When you define your life by the fun quotient of your "experiences" you will eventually do the math and realize that your ability to have such "experiences" inevitably declines with age. So, for those no longer able to work on that "bucket list" anymore, there is only one thing left to do: kick that bucket and be done with it.

There are no large-scale studies yet fleshing out the reasons behind the increase in boomer suicides. Part of it is likely tied to the recent economic downturn — financial recessions are in general associated with an uptick in suicides.
But the trend started a decade before the 2008 recession, and psychologists and academics say it likely stems from a complex matrix of issues particular to a generation that vowed not to trust anyone older than 30 and who rocked out to lyrics such as, “I hope I die before I get old.”
“We’ve been a pretty youth-oriented generation,” said Bob Knight, professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California, who is also a baby boomer. “We haven’t idealized growing up and getting mature in the same way that other cohorts have.”

We have a significantly large generation of older Americans approaching its elderly years which has never "idealized growing up and getting mature" and the results are not going to be pretty.

But when your whole sense of personal meaning comes from the ability to engage in earthly endeavors, this type of attitude is inevitable. We have the generation that mocked traditional religious faith nearing the end and finding nothing at the finishing line. If only our aging modern Americans had not tried so hard to squeeze out all that life-defining "experience" and opened themselves up to something greater than the self-limiting pursuit of individual happiness.

For there's been far too much of this in our culture for the past 100 years or so:

Among the 65 monasteries of fellow cloistered Carmelites around the country, the Brooklyn nuns are sometimes regarded as relics or worse because of their stubborn resistance to change. While reluctant to criticize on the record, several Carmelites interviewed recently said they believed such seclusion and self-denial is unhealthy and unnecessary to keep up a life of prayer. "Some of us say that this 20th century has enough of its own kinds of hairshirts," said Mother Joseph, prioress of a convent in Terre Haute, Ind., that has a fax and a station wagon.

... and not enough of this:

But the nuns' supporters believe prayer is being forgotten in the Catholic Church, and the way to restore its importance and rejuvenate shrinking religious orders is to return to the old ways. "People give me arguments about this, say those nuns are in there wasting their time, but I say that they're in there working," said Pete Brennan, a retired banker who is part of an association of former neighborhood residents who raise money for the monastery. "Prayer is hard work."
Echoing Monsignor Guy J. Puglisi -- [the priest who visits the nuns six days a week] who is fond of saying, "People don't know how powerful a place that monastery is" -- a priest from nearby St. Teresa's Church wrote of the nuns in the summer of 1942: "That which saves society is not that which can be seen upon the surface of things. It is not the power of industry, of war, of genius, of letters or arts. It is what touches its depths in a silence called the silence of good things."

Those who were mocked for "wasting their lives" are approaching the finish line with a dignity and serenity completely lacking in those who were so busy seeking out all that "fulfillment" in their precious worldly "experiences." Perhaps a pursuit of such serenity would be the very best thing to put on a "bucket list" after all. It's never too late to search for and the personal journey one must undertake to find it can be a powerful human experience in and of itself.

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Not Cheap For Your Benefit

This is what God intended. Go with God, not Global Capitalism, Inc.

A crucial lesson lost on most Americans...

Current industrial farming practices rely heavily on grain. Under current US agriculture policy, the government provides substantial subsidies to farmers who produce grains, particularly corn and soybeans. Livestock producers often use corn and soy as a base for their animal feed because these protein-rich grains help bring animals to market weight faster, and because they are cheaper than other feed options as a result of government subsidies. It has been estimated that the operating costs of factory farms would be 7-10% higher without these subsidies. As a result, a large percentage of grains grown in the US are used in animal feed, with 47% of soy and 60% of corn produced in the US being consumed by livestock.

Government welfare? Yes. Cheaper? Yes. Better? A resounding NO:

The overreliance on grain-based animal feeds in industrial food animal production has negative consequences for animal health, the environment, and even human health. Considering the natural eating habits of livestock animals when formulating animal feeds would be beneficial to both animals and consumers, and will result in healthier herds and flocks, less reliance on antibiotics to control disease, as well as a lower chance of introducing certain pathogens into society via contaminated meat.

In short, you get what you pay for. The notion that something is cheap for the consumers' benefit is the number one thing that has to be stamped out of modern American brains. Mass-produced goods such as what passes for modern food are cheap for the benefit of massive multinational corporations. Period.

If it was more profitable for them to sell a quality product at a quality price, they would do so. It is not. In this Potemkin mirage of convenience and plenty, the money is made by selling cheap garbage at a small markup over and over and over again.

You pay $3 for a crappy gallon of filth that costs them 20 cents to produce. I pay $5 for a quality gallon of pure, nutrient-dense, real milk from healthy, pastured cows. The larger price is factored in from the cost of maintaining the land, keeping the cows healthy and happy and all the other little things that make for the superior living food product I immensely enjoy with every glorious glass of joy.

In the past I never felt the remotest need to give thanks to God for my store-bought milk. The idea seemed silly. I truly in my heart thank God for the life-giving bounty that nourishes me now.

Pay more for real food and pay less for your pointless distractions, such as the wasteland that is cable television today. You need food to live. You don't need reality television at all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Most Ridiculous Mandatory Use of a Black Guy in a Commercial

We've seen it so many times by now that we're all inured to it. The random and pointless inclusion of the black (and increasingly Asian, Mexican, etc. etc.) guy in the buddy commercial in a transparent effort to reach every target demographic possible. Of course it's more about selling stuff than pushing any kind of outright agenda and so should be seen as ridiculous by any and all races involved. It's all eerily reminiscent of this famous college ad campaign that photoshopped the black guy into the "student life" action shot.

Every now and then, though, one of these ads comes across as so foolish that it beggars belief. So as the U.S. Open prepares to tee off, let's give a White Male Punching Bag salute to soulless corporate monstrosity MasterCard for going that extra mile into outright buffoonery:

Commercial No. 2, starts at :30 mark:

OK, so it's four white professional golfers played off as "regular guys" and Ian Poulter suddenly becomes black in the transition. No big deal. But did anyone involved in the making of this commercial notice, or care, that the whole schtick involves these "regular guys" talking in a thick Chicago blue-collar white ethnic accent? So not only is Ian Poulter black, he is a black Chicago white ethnic talking in a "Da Bears" Polish accent. Think Richard Pryor playing Mike Ditka. Absolutely idiotic.

Multiculturalism is frequently mindless and silly. When it's used to sell things it is even more so. It really is an insult to you the viewer. These corporations think so little of you that they throw crap like this together and don't care a whit if there is any continuity or common sense at all. And they are confident - confident! - that you will dutifully watch and go on to buy what they have to sell.

Please stop doing so.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

On the Passing of Jean Stapleton

The death of Jean Stapleton, who played lovable dingbat housewife Edith Bunker in hardcore leftist Norman Lear's groundbreaking 1970s television stitcom "All in the Family", has led to an outpouring of doe-eyed, feel-good nostalgic mourning. Even posters on conservative-leaning websites like Free Republic express sadness and fond feelings for this seminal character in American television.

Once again, I hate to trash the recently departed, but this woman was a key part of a cast of committed liberal ideologues whose very goal was to destroy the America they lived in, a goal they have largely accomplished. Creator Norman Lear never hid from the fact that his very purpose was to use his television shows to advance an agenda:

Entertainment matters. When Edith Bunker, on Norman Lear's All in the Family, was nearly raped, and when Bea Arthur's character, on Norman's show Maude, had an abortion, Americans across the country felt enabled by fictional characters to grapple with taboo topics, in their own ways, at their own kitchen tables. In the weeks after cool bad boy Fonzie, on Garry Marshall's series Happy Days, got a library card, the number of Americans getting library cards increased by 500 percent.
Today, the makers of some movies and television shows deny that entertainment can function as the country's agenda-setter and unofficial curriculum; they see no connection between what they put on screen and plagues like smoking, body dysmorphic disorder, addiction and gun violence. They don't buy the notion that audiences significantly absorb values and attitudes from entertainment, or that people believe that the "facts" depicted in fiction are actually facts. But other writers and producers do step up to the responsibilities that come with their storytelling power. Many of them have taken advantage of a free Lear Center resource - a program called Hollywood, Health & Society - to learn what's accurate from some of the country's top medical experts, and they've been using that knowledge to make their stories realistic without compromising entertainment value.

So much for the notion that conservatives are paranoid about the propaganda they see everywhere on television. And just what did our dear Edith help popularize to the American people in the 1970s?

a. Atheism and the outright mocking of religious faith:

b. Homosexuality:

c. Transvestism:

d. Mutilation as birth control:

e. And, of course, via the "All in the Family" spinoff "Maude", child murder:

Other episodes routinely painted white men as idiots and racists and highlighted every form of racial and feminist grievance under the sun in a blatant attempt to foment discord and difference. All with the goal of destroying any semblance of a unified culture. But it is the episodes above that really show the ugliness of this "beloved" sitcom and its loathing for the traditional values of its viewing audience.

Just as the number of Americans getting library cards surged after that episode of "Happy Days", the number of Americans turning to the Culture of Sexual Death after watching a wildly popular and hence influential show like "All in the Family" was bound to increase. Jean Stapleton in the role of Edith Bunker helped make this happen. She helped shape the dismal and depressed culture we have today. Please excuse me if I don't cry along with all the other mourners because this very destructive woman has passed.