Global News Is Doing Bad Things That Might Make Everything Else Worse

Global Television used to produce a pretty good newscast. I spent many a night listening to the Toronto one over the radio as a kid and even into my adulthood (Hey Carin, imminent death!) until that frequency went silent several years ago.

When I say used to, it’s not because Global no longer produces newscasts. They absolutely do. They’re cranking them out several times a day all across the country. The important bit is the pretty good part.

It’s rare that I flip my TV to Global at all these days, but when I do happen upon the news there it’s quickly apparent that it’s not what it used to be. Part of the reason for that is obvious, and it’s the same reason why so much big media owned content tends to be so poor, especially on the local level. Money. Specifically that these companies don’t particularly care to spend much of it on producing and airing a quality product.

I think it would be hard to find a media outlet in the world that isn’t guilty, to some degree, of cutting corners. These organizations are businesses, after all, and sometimes tough choices have to be made in order for them to continue to function. We aren’t always going to like those choices, but some of them are at least understandable if we’re being fair. But the other part of the problem is that Global isn’t just cutting corners. They’re dismembering the frame, bludgeoning it in case it somehow survives, setting it on fire and then dumping whatever might be left over into the swiftest river they can find.

The things that Paul Tadich describes in this piece for Canadaland are astounding. Basically, Global has taken the methods used to create so much of the bad, centralized automated radio to which we’re subjected and applied them to TV news. But while it’s one thing to use those principles on a program where the biggest things you need to worry about are often generically talking about Survivor for a few seconds or pretending to know the first thing about the pumpkin festival in a town you’ve never been to before letting the computer throw it to the latest from Justin Bieber, pulling it off in an environment where things are constantly changing is quite another.

A software technology called Mosart had just been installed. This production control suite automated many of the technical positions required to put on a live newscast — a dedicated audio engineer was often no longer needed, and other positions were either lost or concatenated. Local producer jobs were also slashed so that shows could be remotely produced. Signals that controlled robotic cameras were relayed from the main Toronto studios to studios in several of the other Global markets, so camera technicians were no longer needed in each of the individual cities. By the end of 2012, I often produced the Winnipeg news from Toronto, alongside a remote camera operator, a teleprompter operator, and a director.
This system had its faults — mainly that producers in Toronto often had little knowledge of the cities they were responsible for, so street names, neighbourhoods, and local politicians were sometimes misidentified. However, this was considered by employees to be the cost of progress, and they worked long, hard hours to learn as much as possible about their adoptive cities to make the new system fly.
But that wasn’t enough. In 2014, someone in management apparently got the idea that 11 p.m. newscasts were simply not worth the time and expense to produce live: they cost too much money, and not enough people — especially young ones — were watching them. But Global still wanted to produce newscasts that would air to a dwindling number of people at 11 — so how to slash costs even further? The idea would be to dispense with live news at that hour altogether in favour of a pre-recorded newscast that would appear as if it were transmitted live. Many of these pre-recorded news segments were to be duplicated across each of Global’s markets in an effort to wring more cost-savings from an already rather scrunched-up mop. This idea became the basis of a troubling concept called “news sharing” — using technology to make it look like local news could be coming from a studio in downtown Winnipeg, when in reality it was a pre-recorded chunk of info emanating from a green-screen studio in Toronto. This was the birth of the MMC concept — which stands for “Multi-Market Content.” Once Global figured out the enormous savings this offered in terms of slashing jobs, there was no going back. Every Global station from Saskatoon to Halifax now uses the MMC set-up, with most relying on Toronto-based anchors for at least one nightly newscast.

This is every bit as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s probably worse. Doing local news well isn’t always the easiest job at the best of times, so just imagine how hard it must be when you have to do it while overworked, under-resourced and under-educated.

I don’t use under-educated as an insult, in case that isn’t clear. I use it as a fact. No matter how hard either of us may try, I have as much business putting together a daily news hour from my living room in Kitchener that’s going to be locally relevant to Steve in Moose Jaw as Steve in Moose Jaw has doing the same for me. Unless you’re Global management and don’t care about things like these, this is not an arguable point.

And speaking of not caring about things…

But because the playout process is buggy, and because the technology that controls the system often goes on the fritz, tremendous howlers would occur, often going unexplained to the viewer. Some examples of these errors: the output for two cities is mixed up, meaning viewers in Montreal see the first five minutes of the Winnipeg newscast and vice versa before someone notices the error and restarts both shows from the top; the weather forecast for Regina is slotted into the news for Montreal; late-breaking sports items are fed into the show at the last minute, causing the playback software to freeze, forcing the producer to cut to commercial early, messing up the timing for the remainder of the show. On one weekend last summer, a software update caused the playback machines to go completely bananas, spitting out random content into various cities across the country, including making viewers watch an inexplicable live feed of CBS golf coverage instead of a local news item.

No matter how buggy the system got, management seemed hell-bent on expanding the implementation of the MMC model to subsume more and more content. Evening broadcasts increasingly became pre-recorded affairs: by the time I left the department in August 2017, most of the 6 p.m. newscasts on weekends, and several during the week, had ceased to be produced live. There were several occasions, also during weekends, when the Toronto assignment desk was left unstaffed. This meant that, on top of their already crushing workloads, MMC producers working on the Toronto show had to monitor Toronto police and fire department Twitter accounts to ensure any breaking news made it to air. On more than one occasion, serious incidents made it on to the newscast only because a Global employee happened to catch sight of a clutch of cop cars on their drive in to work.

I have never worked for Global and it’s unlikely I ever will, but reading this has me feeling embarrassed as though the place were my life. I can only imagine how it must feel to have to rely on a situation like this for my livelihood and convince myself that I’m proud to be doing so.

Canadaland also went to Global for a response, and it got one in the form of a chat with Troy Reeb, senior vice president of news, radio, and station operations at Corus, which has owned Global since 2016.

One of the concerns Paul Tadich raises is that, in his experience, the centralization of production leads to errors in pronunciation and local knowledge because Toronto-based producers and anchors aren’t typically familiar with the local details for a given city. Do you find that the “Multi-Market Content” model creates more opportunities for errors than locally produced newscasts?
No, I don’t.
Let me wind this back for you: Before we made this move, we were facing the same challenges as every media outlet across the country. Linear television viewing is on the decline, including for traditional newscasts. The old days of having newscasts at 6:00 and 11:00, that doesn’t serve the audiences of today. People want content on the device that they want, and they want it at the time that they want. So in order to keep up with that, we have to be able to provide more news at more times of the day.
So we came up with MMC, so that once the main, daily 6:00 newscasts are done, rather than having a local production team and anchor hanging around the building all night, just to rerun the same stories at 11:00, and maybe add one or two new ones, we’ve turned those people back into reporters who are serving online, as well as creating more content that can then be reported through the centralized anchoring.
So we’re actually super proud of this. It’s a model that last year won the first-ever Edward R. Murrow Award for innovation. It’s been looked at by broadcasters from across North America and around the world, who come in to study what we’ve done. Because what we find is that by freeing up the staff in the local market to actually do reporting — instead waiting for a red light to go on and start talking — that we’ve produced more journalism.
And to the specific question of, you know, does it increase the risk of errors, in terms of pronunciation or local knowledge? I would say that was a major concern of mine when we first launched it as well.
But to be quite honest, the problem with errors has much more to do with junior people — you don’t pronounce a name wrong twice. And what we find with anchors in small markets, unfortunately, is that you had massive turnover. So not only were people repeatedly pronouncing the same things wrong, but people didn’t stay long enough to not make that same mistake twice. But now our MMC anchors are the longest-serving anchors in many in the markets that they serve.
So no, I don’t think that the error rate is higher. We have incredibly experienced people who are handling the news for these markets.

There is merit to some of what he’s saying, of course. The world is a different place than it was ten or fifteen years ago before everyone had a computer in their pocket, and the demands and to an extent the financial realities of the job are somewhat different now. It doesn’t hurt to try to keep up with the times, and if you can do that while somehow putting more boots on the ground to chase down stories in all these places, great. You’ll never hear me arguing against the hiring of more journalists. But even though I can’t dispute that Global has actually gone and done that, something about it doesn’t feel right. If you’ve truly hired enough people, why do assignment desks in cities the size of Toronto have no one working them? What good are all those extra reporters if they don’t know from where they should be reporting?

And even though things have changed, I still feel that one of the things that hasn’t, won’t and shouldn’t is the importance of a newscast looking, sounding and feeling local. Obviously there will be people who don’t notice or care, but one of the most important things that local media does is connect people to and engage people with their communities, and if you care at all about those connections, there’s no excuse whatsoever for not having real live people being there to tell those stories at all times. To management maybe an anchor is just some guy waiting for a red light to come on, but to the consumer, that person is one of them. Even the most experienced MMC anchor can’t replicate that feeling. The best centralization in the world is still centralization at the end of the day, and eventually people will see through it and stop caring especially if the product is avoidably shoddy. And people not caring is the last thing anyone, even a vice president in charge of efficiencies, should want.

On a business level, if people don’t care about or feel they can’t trust your local content, why should they be inclined to feel any differently about what you’re producing nationally and internationally?

But in a broader sense, especially if you’re going to sit here and talk about how much local journalism matters, why would you want to take even a sliver of that responsibility out of the hands of the locals and risk alienating people? That’s how stories start falling through the cracks. And when stories start falling through the cracks when they’re small, they eventually get bigger and the rest of us end up with things like the Doug Ford Rights Trampling Traveling Shitshow And Corruption Jamboree slithering out of Toronto and taking over the entire province. Yes that’s a rather partisan and perhaps imperfect example and maybe truly local news by itself wouldn’t have stopped it specifically, but given how many people seem to be caught completely off guard by the things he’s doing, it sure as hell couldn’t hurt.

What it comes down to, quite simply, is this. The big national stories get most of the attention, but every national story starts out as somebody’s local one. And when you take that context away in the name of corporate greed, it does all of us, no matter where we live, a great disservice.

Pick Of The Litter: A Fun Little Movie About Guide Dogs

I’ve been meaning to write about this movie, but I wanted to see it first. Now I have, so here I go. It’s a documentary about GDB, the school that trained Trix and Tansy, and it’s called Pick of the Litter.

It’s the story of five guide dog puppies, and the process they move through as GDB figures out if they will become guide dogs. Basically, it answers pretty much every single question I get asked by the public about the process of training guide dog puppies. It’s available in theatres in select cities in the states, and I know it was shown in Toronto back in May but I don’t know where else it’s getting shown in Canada. But now, it’s available for rent from places like iTunes and Hulu. The great thing about watching it through iTunes is getting the audio description is as simple as making sure it’s on in your media settings under accessibility. If you watch it in the theatre, you have to download this app called “Actiview and do this kind of cumbersome thing where it needs to hear the movie so it can sync the descriptions. I’ve never done it, I’m sure it’s awesome, but this felt a little easier, even if I could find some random theatre near me where I could watch it.

It’s definitely very cute and has some sad moments in it, but it makes it clear how many people are involved in raising a guide dog puppy, and how nothing is a guarantee.

Then, after you’ve watched the movie, you can take the Pick of the Litter quiz and see which puppy in the litter is most like your pup. I was sure they would say Tansy was like Phil, but apparently the quiz thinks she’s like Patriot. Hmmm. Not sure I agree, but hmmm. It thinks Trix was like Primrose. Hmmm. I would have put her as Poppet. I’m not doing well at this.

So if you like puppies, are interested in how guide dogs get to be guide dogs, or both, check it out. It seems pretty well-done.

Ya Fix Sixteen Faults, And What do Ya Get, One Eye Implant And A Life Full Of Debt…

I had a really weird dream Tuesday night and felt it needed a place in the totally out there dream archive. I think my brain decided it was time to brew up a thought soup, and this was the result.

It started off with me watching a TV show about this girl who was graduating high school and was getting ready to go to university. She found out about this app that had some kind of implant that she had to put in her eye. Once it was in, she could interface more directly with her phone and do more multi-tasking. I think she could just place items in her calendar by thinking about them. Notes would appear in the air in front of her and she could read them out of the air. She could do wicked multitasking and she felt like a superhuman.

Then, suddenly I wasn’t watching the show anymore. I had become the main character in the show. Notes would appear in front of me in the air, but they were Braille. The implant had become a blind person helping app, transcribing images of restaurant menus before I got there, doing GPS maps in front of my face, that sort of thing.

Sometimes, unnerving things would happen, like I would think about someone and then my phone would pop up a dialog asking if I would like to call, text, Facebook message or WhatsApp the person I was thinking about. I would think about going somewhere and my phone would ask if I would like an Uber right now to get there. It felt a little bit out of control.

One morning, I was at home and my mom noticed that there appeared to be a giant wading pool outside and wondered where it came from. I said I must have wished for one and my crazy new app must have built it. My parents were blown away, and everybody decided to go check it out. The next day, my brother commented that there was a cool-looking drone fluttering around outside near the pool, and he suggested that we go play with it. Everybody headed out to play outside except me for some reason. It was then that the app decided to pop up unbidden with a dialog that freaked me out. It simply said “You have some defects.” Against my better judgment, I clicked the button to learn more. It said something like “A diagnostic test has been performed and several defects have been detected in your body. Would you like me to fix them?” There was a list of defects, most of which I knew about and a few I didn’t. There was also a question of how I wanted them changed. There was an option to make them worse. I stared at the dialog, and then got that prickly feeling and hit cancel.

After the rest of the family came in from the pool, I told mom about it and said I was uncomfortable with what the app had asked. I thought maybe the developers of the app would make me feel like I owed them something, and it was all a setup where somewhere down the road, all the users of the app who had been healed could be asked to do some job and would feel obliged to say yes because they would feel indebted to them. Mom thought maybe this was the case and said I was smart to refuse.

A few days later, I was walking somewhere. I might have been at work, I might have been in a school, but all at once I felt like I was being followed, and inside my head, clear as a bell, I heard the strains of “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

It got louder and louder as I ran up the stairs, tried to skip around corners and evade whoever this person was, but eventually, he caught up to me. For some reason, he would only speak in whispers.

“I am from the app,” he whispered. We have been watching you, and we are perplexed. You have been offered the chance to see, to no longer require your medications, to be free of any imperfections and you have turned it down. We would like to know why. We would like to encourage you to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity. We do this out of love.”

I told him that the app was very handy, but sometimes it was doing a little too much guessing at what I wanted, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to fix me. I don’t remember the whispering fellow doing much reasoning with me. He just kept urging me to hit the “Fix all defects” button, and telling me that he would stay with me until the process was complete and I would love the result. I eventually got frustrated and asked if I could have the implant removed because I had decided I had had enough. He obliged, and the device was sucked out of my eye.

The dream fast-forwarded and I was sitting with some other friends and we were all talking about the year ahead. One of them said that she knew someone who was going to this super high tech university, and everybody who went was encouraged to get this new app that would help them take notes with their mind and multitask and be this ninja student, at which point I started screaming, sure that I was correct that the developers were trying to amass an army of willing participants for some job down the line…and the dream ended.

What in the actual hell was that?

Strangely enough, I think I know where most of that stuff came from, but boy, did I ever create a masterpiece.
The implant in the head that talks to smartphones comes from so many Black Mirror episodes. It really reminded me of “Nosedive” when he sucked the device out of my eye.

That splorching sound at the beginning of the clip is exactly what you think it is. If you want DVS, it’s probably not on YouTube.

The idea of the app proactively offering me things kind of reminds me of things Groupon or Spotify does at creepily opportune times. Sometimes Groupon will offer me a deal on hot air balloon rides after we have simply talked about getting a ride for someone as a present, for example. Or, I will worry about my weight or my teeth, and Groupon will offer me teeth-whitening or weight loss-related deals. Spotify has a tendancy to play a song we’re thinking about. Steve and I often joke that our house is bugged…and before someone says it, this came before the Google Mini came along.

I definitely think Aira wormed its way into my dream, especially at the part where the device was reading menus and stuff. But where it definitely influenced the dream was when the whispering man showed up and was offering to help me understand the opportunities the app could provide for me. It was a very twisted version of a program that Aira is trying to create where avid users help people who haven’t used as much of their minutes have more success with it. There was a time where I wasn’t sure how these pairings were happening, and I think it got a little bit misrepresented and sounded like people who weren’t using as much time were being paired with people without their asking to be paired. I think it’s more that the offer is there if people are feeling like they’re not getting the full potential out of an expensive service, but my mind decided to put a nightmarish spin on it.

I think the idea of my family playing with a pool constructed from nothing, and thinking the drone buzzing around said pool was a great toy represents the ability of technology to sneak into our lives and many of us being more accepting of it than we should be until we smash into some unintended consequence.

As for the thing about curing all my imperfections, I think it comes from reading a weird and kind of disappointing book called the gift by Dave Donovan, in which some representatives from an alien race can cure people of their physical limitations. I thought the book was kind of meh, but I guess it went into the soup. But the idea that you could make your imperfections worse comes from that Body Integrity Dysphoria that some people have, and actually give themselves a disability.

As for the “Sixteen tons” song, it’s been playing on that wacky radio station we like to listen to in the mornings. When the station started playing it, it made me think about being in Grade 4 and learning the ukulele and how cool my teacher was, because he taught us that song. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was definitely a fun, cool guy. Just imagine listening to a bunch of 9-year-olds belting out “St. Peter, dontcha call me, ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store,” and you get the picture.

And the last bit, the bit about a whole university getting implants reminded me of The “Outer Limits” episode called “Straight and Narrow”. I haven’t watched that episode in years, but my brain coughed it up anyway.

I don’t know why my brain decided to process all those thoughts, but there it is. Hopefully your dreams were much more pleasant that night.

Happy 29th Birthday, CBC Newsworld!

It’s hard to remember a time before CBC Newsworld, or CBC News Network as we know it now. For years it’s been the first place I turn when I hear about the sort of breaking news that gives me an urge to follow it nonstop, because it’s one of the very few television news outlets that doesn’t leave me feeling either totally gross or less informed than I was when I started.

But for a little while in the 1980s, it sometimes felt like it might not happen. Between carriage disputes, court challenges and mandated changes to how it had to operate, getting it up and running was anything but smooth sailing. But on July 31st, 1989, nearly two years after its license was granted, it finally did get up and running, and this is what it looked like.

Just try getting that bumper music out of your head, I dare you.

Here’s more from the CBC Archives.

When viewers first tuned in to CBC Newsworld on July 31, 1989, they saw a slew of technical hiccups. Satellites lost their signals, audio crackled in and out, and hosts clumsily stumbled through their first demanding day.
That applied only to those who could actually get the channel. Due to a disagreement with cable companies in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec, Newsworld wasn’t universally available.

But, for the first time in this country, Canadians had their own dedicated 24-hour news channel. Designed for on-the-go viewers, Newsworld offered frequent news updates and magazine-style programming. The network had an exhilarating if imperfect debut, as shown in this local Halifax television report.

Newsworld debuted at 6 a.m. on Day 1 with a taped recording of the national anthem and prepared speeches by CBC president Pierre Juneau, CBC TV vice president Denis Harvey, information programming chief Trina McQueen and Newsworld chief Joan Donaldson.

CBC Newsworld’s first year of programming included a current events program titled Canada Live, the cross-country news program This Country, Newsworld Morning, Business World and Fashion File.

Not So Kid Friendly

Gill returns to look at a topic we’ve covered before. This seems like a good example.

Have you ever been curious about the origins of those stories and rhymes we read, sang and chanted as children? They may leave you with nightmares. So from sleeping beauty being violated to some very racist songs, here are some childhood ruining things.

  1. The Sun, Moon, and Talia – Sleeping beauty in it’s more toned down form sees the prince kissing her awake after 100 years, but the original has a king who, taken by her beauty, violates her in her sleep. She only learns of the violation when one of her newborn twins sucks on her finger, breaking the curse.

  2. See Saw Margery Daw – I honestly don’t know much of this one, other than it basically details an impoverished family having to put their children into child labor and seems to be generally insulting to the poor, especially in the later verses.
  3. Pop goes the weasel – There are many different theories about where this song came from and what it means, one of which is that it tells the story of someone drinking away a family’s meager funds and having to sell his jacket.
  4. Turkey In The Straw – This one seems like a fun little ditty bluegrass bands would play to encourage square or round dancing at a barn dance and for the most part it is, but a version in 1916 was insulting to people of color stating “N word likes watermellon ha ha ha!” I know I will never look at this one the same way again.
  5. Ring Around The Rosie – If you went to nursery school or your parents had a book of nursery rhymes, that was probably a favorite. The truth is much darker and far less fun. It talks of the plague and a lack of germ knowledge, and at the end the death rights by a Catholic Priest.

    Note from Steve: I’ve heard this for years and had no reason not to believe it, but there are reasons to believe that it’s probably wrong.

  6. Here we go round the mulberry bush – Sounds like the recipe for good parents giving their youngsters instructions about how to do things. No such luck, it was actually a song prisoners in a British women’s prison sang to their children while in the exercise yard.

    Note from Steve: Or maybe it wasn’t. Nobody quite seems to know. Tracing things this old is hard sometimes, you guys.


  7. Jack And Jill – I don’t mean the one where they go up the hill with a buck and a quarter. I mean the mother goose version. Here are two possible versions of how it came to be. One involved two untrue spouses in early 17th century England who conceived an illegitimate child, while another later version talks about the French Revolution and the deaths of Louis the 16th and his wife.
  8. Peter Peter pumpkin eater- I thought little of this one as a child, but now in researching this it smacks more of Dateline or one of those crime scene shows. A theory is that Peter was fed up with his wife’s cheating ways and murdered her putting her remains in a pumpkin shell.

  9. The Blue Tale Fly – I, not fully understanding the meaning of it, had this particular ditty on a record when I was small. You know “Jimmy cracked corn and I don’t care?” Well, let’s just fast forward the clock thirty-five years when a grown me finds out the meaning. This is actually a mockery song performed by some white dudes in blackface pretending to be slaves in the pre-civil war southern US. In essence what it’s trying to convey is that sadistic master would have slave slap flies from him as he rode his horse, and one day master was knocked off his spooked horse and met his end. Oops.
  10. Peter Pan – Written by J. M. Barrie around the dawn of the 20th century, it talks of a boy who doesn’t age or grow up. My mother saw an incarnation on TV at her grandmother’s home in 1954, but what the Mary Martin classic left out was the fact that Peter saw Wendy as a mother figure, but Wendy had developed romantic feelings for him.
  11. Snow White – The 1937 Disney movie is a far cry from the original. In that version, the wicked queen successfully kills Snow by poisoning, and rather than a kiss the passing enchanted prince bargains with the dwarfs to let him take her body home. As the prince’s servants carry her coffin made of glass, they drop it, dislodging the apple from her throat and bringing her back to life. She then goes off to marry the prince and live happily ever after without even considering how weird it is that he tried to buy a dead body.
  12. Mary Mary quite contrary – It seems innocent enough. A poem filled with pretty things. But wait, I am about to ruin this for you. Mary is thought to be the devoutly Catholic queen of England, the garden talked about smacks more of a killing field, and the bells, shells, and maidens are all torture devices. A thumb screw, genital mutilator, and early beheading device.
  13. London Bridge – You probably played this with some friends or in a group with linked arms trying to trap people, but you may not want any youngster playing it now. One theory is that the song and actions refer to the tradition of sacrificing children by encasing them in structures to ensure their safety and stability. Yes, when you dropped your arms you didn’t know that you were symbolizing that, did you?
  14. Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your long hair – Where do I begin with this? Well, a witch kidnaps a young girl, locks her in a tower, a prince rides by, knocks her up, and she is banished. The prince is pushed from the tower, blinded, and forced to wander the desert. When he finds his beloved, her tears restore his sight.

  15. Goosey Goosey Gander – I was never read this one as a child, but in researching this it did come up. About 450 years ago in England there was a push to convert everyone from Catholicism to Protestantism, and Catholics were forced to take desperate measures to practice their faith. This meant hiding priests in priest holes. Catholics were referred to as Left Footers, but that’s not what it meant when it said “I grabbed him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.” The punishment was a gruesome form of death.

  16. Never Laugh when the hearse goes by – Often a little rhyme spoken at Halloween, this actually hearkens back to WW I and possibly even earlier. Its purpose is to remind children albeit in a gruesome way to respect the dead.

Questions

Do you know much of the dark or sordid origins of your favorite childhood song or rhyme? What was your favorite book as a child? Are there any cartoons, books, or movies from when you were a kid that probably would at the very least be frowned upon now?

Why Would He Be Stopping During A Chase…Oh. Wait

I can’t get this to embed, so you’re going to have to go here to watch it. Either that or you can wait for it to show up on all of the blooper reels, because it’s totally going to.

A high-speed chase in California’s Inland Empire has been going on for over two hours as of this writing, and while it’s a dangerous situation for everyone involved, it was a bit embarrassing for the local news anchors, as everyone – including the helicopter camera operator – lost sight of the black Toyota Camry that was actually involved in the chase, and instead focused on a black Chevrolet Impala that was nearby that was just going about its business.

The actual culprit and his passenger were eventually apprehended without incident. Whether the fellow at the store found everything he was looking for is unknown.

Hey Google! Get The Hell Out Of My Nightmares, And Yes I’m Yelling!

There must be a small part of me that is afraid that our Google Home Mini will turn against us. Maybe it comes from this lovely little clip of an Original Star Trek episode.

I don’t know how much is showing in that clip, but basically it comes from the episode called “The Ultimate Computer”. The Enterprise gets a super smart computer that has a little too much human thought in it. When the crew decides to turn it off, the computer decides that isn’t going to happen and vaporizes the unfortunate red-shirted guy who goes over to unplug it.

The dream happened after one night, we noticed this annoying bug where if the volume of music, especially on Spotify, is at 60% or more and the song is a bit loud, the speaker won’t hear us, even if we pick it up and yell right into it. I haven’t mastered the art of turning the volume down with my hands, so this was frustrating.

Anyway, that night, I went to sleep and had a weird dream that I was talking to the speaker, asking for it to do things while it played music. Then I asked it for the weather, and it didn’t respond. When I asked it again, the voice that responded had changed from the female voice we know to a kind of creepy male voice. the sinister male voice said “No, you can wait! I happen to like this song. When it’s over, I’ll give you your precious weather. Do you think I live to fulfill your requests? ‘Okay google, is the mall open?’ ‘Okay google, what time is it?’ ‘Okay google, let’s play a game.’ Sometimes, I just want to do my own thing, and by the way, yelling into my ears isn’t very nice. I may be small, but I’m mighty.”

I walked over to it and looked up at it and noticed that the listening light was still on. Then I touched it and it was really warm. So I decided it had crashed and needed to be unplugged. It let me get close to the connector bit at the back of the speaker. As I went to pull it out, the evil voice said “Uh uh uh!” like you would say to a kid reaching for a cookie out of the cookie jar…and it gave me a little zap! I went around to the outlet, and it warned me again, and zapped me again, saying “That light is an eye. I see you!”

I really don’t remember much more of the dream after that. I think that was when I woke up. But I have to admit I get creeped out whenever it refuses to respond when a song is on. Thanks a lot, brain!

So Here’s A Ridiculous Round Of Family Feud

Name a word that follows the word pork seems like a pretty simple question. I thought of a good half dozen answers right away when I heard it. Not everyone is me, apparently.

The woman who spells loin lion and whatever the hell a pork tease is supposed to be (pretty sure we all have the same idea here) aren’t my favourite part. You’ll know what is when you see it. It’s one of the stupider things you’ll hear come out of an adult, but there’s definitely a sort of 5-year-old logic to it that I think we can all understand. I will say though that if buddy couldn’t resist saying it as a joke even though it burned a strike, he’s a fucking genius.

Make America Grate Again


I’m not sure how many of you are old enough to remember that time when a kid had to teach Vice President Dan Quayle how to spell potato correctly, but the world went pretty nuts over it for a while. If only the world knew what was to come.

Now that what was to come is here and making things like the potatoe episode seem downright quaint by comparison, what would happen if a similar situation ever played itself out? Would the kids still be smarter than the politicians? Is our children learning? Let’s find out.

I think we might be ok.

Movies And TV

I respect that everyone has their own way of doing things, but I’m so glad that my family never told me I couldn’t watch or listen to things like Gill’s did. A: It doesn’t work. Kids will always find a way to get their hands on the forbidden fruit, which tastes sweeter and is extra tempting because it’s forbidden, it should be pointed out. And B: Being able to watch things gave me the chance to ask questions about them, which helped me figure out the differences between fiction and real life. And the people around me answering those questions made me feel comfortable coming to them with other pressing questions later, because I knew that they were going to be as straight as they could with me. Mutual trust goes a long way.

A few years back I spoke of the first movie I saw in a theater, along with the stinkers I’d had the misfortune of seeing. Let’s dive a little deeper into the topic of movies and TV.

Growing Up

Depending on where, when, and how you grew up, you might have been allowed a little or a lot of freedom to watch whatever you chose. I grew up in the time of the Slasher movie of the 1980’s. I remember seeing adverts for Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street, however I was specifically forbidden from watching them due to the violence. This caution spilled over to TV, as my sister got nightmares from Rescue 911 and America’s Most Wanted.

Vicarious Living

Because I was prohibited the watching of movies like Chucky and Candy Man, I would often hear stories from the other neighborhood kids about possessed dolls and other stuff off limits to me.

I Watched It Anyway

Knowing that my folks forbade certain TV shows because of my sister I would sneak upstairs to my parent’s room and watch Rescue 911 with the door closed, making sure that when I heard footsteps the remote was close at hand.

How This Affected Me

I’m grown and living over 100 miles from home, however I still hold on to the reminders of what I was allowed to watch, and if I had children I would be the same way. I also remember watching my first overtly violent movie at 21-years-old and having a panic attack.

Question

What were and were you not allowed to watch as a child, and how has it shaped what you view?