MSN, Fox In Another Skin

February 28, 2011

I expect many of you have a Hotmail address or even two or more. And as a cheap and cheerful email service it is just satisfactory. As a source of news and opinion which is what you have to face whenever you log out of Hotmail, it is a global disaster. Closer to a convenience store check out magazine with less real news than a seed catalog the MSN page is ugly and contains, as most check out rags do; short, very short articles on weight loss, diets, fear of the next thing, and oblique slams at anything positive that any part of the Obama administration might do. Perhaps they fancy themselves as a Fox competitor? What must it be like to be a ‘reporter’ (oh please!) for this pathetic excuse for media? Every day you have ot wake up and pervert the reality to the narrow vision of Murdoch like creatures. Shame on you!

Public Broadcasting, OPB, NPR, I love you. If I had any money you could be sure it will come your way.

Just remember folks, a free service never is. There is a price to pay. And with MSN and Fox you are paying with your free will; in spades.

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R.I.P. Geraldine

February 23, 2011

Where Are The Firebrand Women of the 20th Century?

Yes, where are they when they are needed desperately to fight the present tide of right wing bumpkin religiosity begun and fed by the nastiest set of bedfellows (sic) one can imagine. Here they are. The republican party. A dinosaur relic of old men bellowing out a foul creed of hatred for working men and women; in particular women. Next up, conservative churches; who are concentrating the exact obverse of the teachings of Jesus in their daily and hourly blasts of vitriolic intolerance. And then we have trash media, whose campaign of misinformation and fear can only be described as repugnant at best. And finally I include the wonderful corporations and financial institutions of America, who’s quiet funding via lobbying and quite possibly direct financing of some if not all of these fear and greed driven agents wants nothing better than a partially educated workforce to exploit much as they did in the 19th Century, little or no corporate tax, and please, please, no Federal oversight of anything they do.

In concert and separately these groups continue and have recently reenergized a revolting campaign against women and their right to make decisions about their own lives without interference from men who would be shocked and shamed if the reverse were to happen. The blatant hypocrisy of these creatures should qualify them for nothing but an international museum of bigotry. But somehow they have
got into power by the usual mixture of lies and money.

There was a time when I could not turn on a TV set without witnessing another demonstration by women determined to make the point that if men can decide what is good for men’s bodies why is it so difficult for women to decide the fate of their own?  It is not. And yet this
freedom has come under attack yet again. So where are you? the strong women of the last century and where are your daughters? Where are your nieces, second cousins and where oh where are the men who supported you?

As a man I write this because I absolutely believe in the fundamental equality of the sexes. And further than that I know that once these foul creatures have beaten down American women their next target is me, an ordinary working man.

All of us have had the experience of a human robot interaction via the phone. You have finally gotten through to tech. or customer support after an hour only to find that you are talking to a robot. The airline moron is one of my faves.

“Say yes if this is correct”

Say YES for Correct or Your Digital Hell Awaits

“Yes”
“I did not catch that. Say yes if correct or no if not”
“Yes”
“I’m sorry I did not catch that. Say yes if correct or no if not”
“YES!”
“I’m sorry I did not catch that….”
“YES YES YES YES YES!”
“Please hold while I transfer you to a digital hell from which there is no escape!”

And so on..until you just accept the four stop flight from Portland to San Francisco via Chicago, Syracuse, Portland & Los Angeles, because you are exhausted and know that if you change your mind now you will be charged a PENALTY for it.

The airlines and other companies anxious to be rid of human employees have spent millions on developing robot voices that sound alarmingly like your sister or brother in a particularly patronizing mood. We are sadly becoming accustomed to them.

Imagine my surprise when, calling a web site hosting service,  and after the usual wait on hold listening to Bruce Springsteen, Abba, and Dolly Parton, I found myself speaking to a real human. I was thrilled,  but not before I mistook her for a robot. For her voice was so robotic I genuinely could not believe I was talking to flesh and blood. Her voice was barely inflected, but clear and emotionless. She answered my questions flawlessly and I felt myself warming to a person who perhaps had gone through some weirdly traumatic training at her company to make her original possibly pleasant voice simulate that of a million dollar robot system in an evenweirder attempt to make its customers feel comfortable.

Perhaps she herself developed this style to alleviate the dreariness of answering the same questions over and over. Or..oh no…it was a robot..but so sophisticated that it knew, it knew what I was going to say and…..then. But I still had to endure the awful muzak on hold.