Private MacKay

On the next episode of the new CBC series Make the Politician Work, Defense Minister Peter “Spuds” Mackay gets sent to boot camp. Looks like it might be quite fun to watch. Although really, for the sake of verisimilitude (and morbid hilarity), he should have been thrown into the front lines of battle in Afghanistan… Come to think of it, I’d like to see every politician that voted in support of that asinine, multi-billion dollar misadventure to be drummed into service and marched into the line of fire.

But seriously [cough]… does anyone have helpful suggestions for the CBC producers as to what kind of work Michael Ignatieff or Stephen Harper might appropriately be made to do, should they ever choose to participate? Presumably something more humiliating and/or grueling than Jack Layton’s stint the other night, ineffectually shadowing an ER team in a Toronto hospital.

HIGNFY: Presenters

A DVD extra… Have I Got News For You regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton chat about various panelists and hosts that have appeared on the show over the years.

Probably just for fans. Of which I’m one.


Sarah Palin’s response the SOTU was bizarre, to say the least, particularly when it came to discussing the “Sputnik moment” — a tiresome analogy borrowed from Thomas Friedman — that was advanced by President Obama as an inspirational, Kennedyesque national project to spur innovation and revive the American economy by making various “investments” in science, education, and high-speed access to Internet porn. (Okay, he didn’t say that last bit, but come on…)

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite has perfectly detailed the travesty and quite helpfully included this supposition as to how, of all things, Spudnuts weirdly entered the discussion, suggesting that the equation went like this: “Sputnik moment” + “Something that sounds like Sputnik but isn’t”=WIN!”

By the way, the article linked to above provides a fascinating potted history of the rise and fall of the Spudnuts empire, which on close examination seems like a pretty dodgy business model to emulate.

Finally, am I the only one who got the impression that this entire interview with Greta Van Susteren was scripted in advance?

Posh & Posher

Andrew Neill “gets under the skin of the new political ruling class” of Britain in this investigative report on the increasingly narrow (or should that be “shallow”?) social pool from which the UK’s governing elites are drawn.

In future reports, Neill may perhaps be expected to reveal shocking new facts showing that the rich are getting ever more fabulously rich all the time, kittens are still adorable, and the sky is blue (except when it’s not).

p.s. I wanted to post the whole program, and had the links for it, but unfortunately, the user was forced to pull it down by the Beeb. Not that you missed much.

Drug Trebuchets!

What a delightfully anachronistic throwback to medieval times that Mexican drug lords are now using trebuchets to fling their narcotics over top of the crude fences and walls erected by the DHS at parts of the border between the USA and Mexico. How soon will it be, I wonder, before illegal immigrants are hurled over the border in a similar manner… perhaps catapulted to a minimum wage landscaping job in some kind of impact-resistant bubble?

Okay, I’ll admit that I played far too much Age of Kings in the MSN Gaming Zone back in the day, but still… working trebs! How freakin’ cool is that?

Bonus points for anyone that can guess my old screen name on MSNGZ.


How TV Ruined Your Life

Here’s the first installment of Charlie Brooker’s new six-part BBC2 series that explores different universal themes in an attempt to explain the gaping chasm between television and real life.

From the vantage of a darkened, chaotically jumbled viewing room, perched on his now familiar leather couch, a disheveled Brooker cynically examines a bizarre archive of petrifying PSAs (or PIFs as they’re called in Britain) that have over the years appeared on the “warning box” attempting to scare the piss out of people, ostensibly for reasons of public safety.

Other fear-inducing aspects of television’s perilous world are also touched on as Brooker grimly hopscotches through subjects as diverse as creepy children’s programming from the 70s and the proliferation of dismal shows based on apocalyptic nuclear scenarios that enjoyed a strangely popular fascination in the 80s.

Along the way, Brooker dismissively slaps around hysterical, crime and terror obsessed TV news coverage, as well as all manner of frightening programs designed to alert an increasingly anxious viewing audience to the dangers of new potential threats; from the mundane to the improbably hypothetical. Or, in the case of the satirical sketch “If Pens Got Hot…” a brilliant combination of both.

p.s. More information about theory mentioned in the program which asserts that TV viewing “cultivates” distorted perceptions of the real world can be found here. In fairness, it should also be mentioned that other sociologists have subsequently disputed the findings of Gerbner et al., contending the “cultivation” hypothesis lacks empirical support or any scientific basis in fact.

H/T: Thanks once again to Shiner in the comments for alerting me to this wonderful new series and to lemonandjack for posting it on YouTube so quickly.

SOTU: Crazy Eyes Edition!

If there’s one good thing that can be said about Rep. Michele Bachmann’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, it’s that it was… umm… Err… Well, it… Oh, bugger.

Here – you watch and meanwhile, I’ll go think of something.

Got it! It was under seven minutes! Phew.

And it had charts.