Wordsmith.org

TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: OFF

Posted By: cowcumber

TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: OFF - 04/17/06 03:53 AM

This week's theme inspired me to throw in a quick plug for my new favorite toy: http://www.tvbgone.com/

TV-B-Gone turns off all television sets. All of them. It goes on your keychain, and it looks like one of those car-door-opening-fobs. In reality, though, it's a tele-assassin, streaming deadly off-rays at any television in its generous range.

My laundromat, my supermarket, my bar, and my favourite cheap restaurant have all been made Safe For Democracy. Or, at least, the solitude needed to correctly address a good book.

Note: I'm not affiliated or acquainted with the makers of TV-B-Gone. But I wish I were
Posted By: maverick

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: OFF - 04/17/06 04:03 AM

Welcome, cowcumber, especially with such a noble ideal

Not least of the complaints about TV is the frequently complete absence of visual stimulus - many programmes impart just as little data if you only hear the soundtrack. Perhaps television should actually be parsed as 'far from visual'.
Posted By: Father Steve

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: OFF - 04/17/06 05:35 AM

Do they make one which will disable portable telephones in places like movie theatres and restaurants (and courtrooms and churches)?
Posted By: sjmaxq

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 06:33 AM

Quote:

Do they make one which will disable portable telephones in places like movie theatres and restaurants (and courtrooms and churches)?




Some cinemas do use mobile phone jammers.
Posted By: TEd Remington

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 08:19 AM

It has been rumored that some major hotel chains use the phone jammers to force you to use their landlines, which have become a major profit center.
Posted By: consuelo

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: OFF - 04/17/06 11:44 AM

Just build your church in my valley, Padre. Cell connections here are very poor
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 12:14 PM

In the US, it is currently illegal to jam cell phones.
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 02:12 PM

Quote:

In the US, it is currently illegal to jam cell phones.




Which is a real shame. I hate it when I'm sitting in a restaurant and some insensitive boob at the next table decides he/she wants to have a loud conversation over their cell phone.

It seems that all cell phone providers (or cell phones) are bad since everybody needs to yell while they're having a converstation.

It is extremely rude for the other patrons who are there to relax and enjoy a good meal, and it is the ultimate in rude for the person that is sitting in front of them.

AND, if you politely tell the person they are speaking a little too loudly and it is disturbing you, they invariable take offence and get huffy at you.

I hate cell phones.

======================================

Funny this topic...I had a problem with my computer this morning and the I.T. person at work asked my for my cell phone so he could synchronize it with my computer agenda in case the computer died while he was trying to fix it.

I told him I forgot it at home, to which he responded in exasperation, "Why the hell do you have a cell phone."

"Because you forced me to get one!!"

It drives my boss bonky because I don't answer it while I'm driving (very dangerous) and I turn it off when I reach the customer's office (a politeness issue).
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 03:03 PM

Which is a real shame.

Just for ther record; I was not defending rude cellphone usage, but just stating that using a jammer in the US is a federal crime.
Posted By: dalehileman

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 03:04 PM

Being retired, I personally am grateful for TV and I do watch it 4-5 hrs a night, much as does the average clod

Agree that much of it is worthless although there are a few good edu channels that you don't have to pay for; eg, PBS, Hist, Disc...

A few good news, pol, discuss, and opin programs; eg, Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper, Gwen Ifill, Tim Russet...

...as well as a few hilarious hybrids like the Daily Show and The Colbert Report...


...and a few good "free" entertainment programs; eg, West Wing, Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal. Very few

The CSI and L&O shows are entertaining and even somewhat edu; tho they seem to dominate the menu. There are so many that they overflow into the "free" space"
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 05:30 PM

zmjezhd, do you know why it's illegal to have a jammer, or to even mention having one?
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 05:43 PM

Dale, I'm not retired and I enjoy television too.

I've got a very high-pressure job and watching a well-written sit-com is a great way to unwind. I love laughing. It clears your head and makes the blood flow so you feel invigorated.

I love watching documentaries, or science shows. I love watching pure entertainment shows, like Boston Legal or Grey's Anatomy.

I just saw a whole series on the evolution of the Italian mafia that was extremely interesting.

I realize it is a common thing to slam television - or to slam anything that isn't educational or high-brow, but I really don't see what's wrong with the medium.

In comedies, why is the work of actors on the stage considered valuable, and not the work of actors in front of a camera? The same with a movie, why is a dramatic play acceptable, and a dramatic movie considered tripe because it isn't live.

I think it is all a matter of balance. If your whole life is spent in front of the T.V. it is unbalance. If your life is balanced, what is the problem?

I read tremendously; I've always got a few books and magazines going at once because I read what I'm in the mood for at that time. It's the same with television. I look at a whole variety of things, depending upon my mood.

I really believe that television is getting a bum rap and that it has become a type of self-righteous snobishness to frown upon those who watch television.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 06:03 PM

I watch very little television. that being said, I think it is an amazing medium, one that has really been little explored.

I hate laugh tracks, and I would like to see more live tv.

there is just so much dreck on, that it can be hard to find the good stuff.
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 06:04 PM

belMarduk-- Nope. I see the Act being involved is the Wireless Act of 1934 (as amended; see 47 U.S.C. Sections 301, 302a, 333; this was the act that created the FCC in the US). It might have had something to do with radio stations trying to jam one another in certain markets. And, probably, telecom companies have lots of lobbyists working in their interests. Maybe the Padre knows better.
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 08:43 PM

Ugh, I'm sure the polite folks in 1934 would cringe at how the act is being interpreted now. I can understand about the radio stations though, it is to avoid unfair advantages and monopolies.

Dunno, maybe not everybody feels the same way I do. I guess cell phones are a pet peeve of mine. I realize that some people are on call, and they need to carry the phone around with them. I'm more than fine with that; it's their livelyhood. It's the overwhelming amount of people that are inconsiderate of the people around them that burn my butt.
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 08:50 PM

I have not problem with cell phones per se, but rude people are another thing, and they come without cell phones, too. My least favorite cell phone abusage is people using them in movie theatres (usually talking to somebody else in the same theatre).
Posted By: Faldage

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/17/06 09:58 PM

Quote:

zmjezhd, do you know why it's illegal to have a jammer, or to even mention having one?




Dunno if this is the reason behind the legislation but consider the trade off:

On the one hand you have the irritation of someone talking loudly in public.

On the other hand you have the life-saving act of contacting emergency services in a timely manner.
Posted By: inselpeter

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/18/06 01:20 AM

And the one necessitates the other.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/18/06 01:26 AM

heh
Posted By: TEd Remington

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/18/06 09:14 AM

Quote:

And the one necessitates the other.




Not here in North Carolina. There's a legal defense we use here called He Needed Killin'.
Posted By: inselpeter

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/18/06 11:05 AM

You *do* come from NC, don't you: I think, by 'life-saving emergency services', fong was referring to EMS not Polizei
Posted By: dalehileman

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/18/06 04:11 PM

bel: Thank you, can always use a little suport

But in order to placate my conscience I nonetheless crack a book during the commercial

eta: I hate the laugh tracks too, even when they're live
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/18/06 11:36 PM

Oooo, ya, laugh tracks. I think they've been using the same one since 1967. Ugh.


Hmmmm, that reminds me...didn't somebody once mention here that there was a specific yell that was used by movie-makers over and over again - as a tribute to the original person who created them. I think the the Lord of the Ring series was mentioned at the time.


I have to admit that I generally always have a book open while listening to T.V. Drives Hubby coo-coo puffs (allo ASp ) since something will come on and I'll say, "nope, this is a rerun" and he always wonders how I could possibly remember since I was reading or doing a crossword puzzle at the time. [shrugging-shoulders-e]
Posted By: inselpeter

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/19/06 12:53 AM

I don't like TV. I don't think it's an exciting medium. I don't think the way it is used is good for political or other discourse. I don't find it entertaining or relaxing. I find it depressing and torporfying. It's okay with me if other people like it. But I wish it wasn't foisted on me in every conceivable public place. And I don't think that makes me a snob.
Posted By: dalehileman

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/19/06 02:01 PM

insel: I feel that way about elevator and the telephone music on hold, not to mention your neighbors' relentless boom-box

Also the Christian religion, pushed at you implacably from all quarters and every direction
Posted By: of troy

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/19/06 03:16 PM

re: Also the Christian religion, pushed at you implacably from all quarters and every direction

Oh say a little prayer--of thanks!-- its not just christians who prostalitize.. I hate any who go about telling me their religious beliefs are the ones i need to save myself.
(christians are not the only ones who do it--perhaps in your neighborhood, they are, but not mine!)
Posted By: dalehileman

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/22/06 10:02 PM

Helen: Of course; but Christian promoters seem to predominate
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/23/06 12:07 AM

I wasnít calling you a snob Insel. I hope you did not think so, and do apologize if I made you feel that.

Itís perfectly fine to dislike television, just like it is fine to dislike elevator music or rap or butterscotch pudding or tap dancing or, anything, really. And most people accept the fact that somebody else may not like butterscotch pudding or tap or rap or the Girl from Ipanima, but for some reason, it is all too common that those who do not like television, look down on those who do.
Posted By: maverick

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/23/06 12:20 AM

nuh~uh, on two counts bel. First, I despise the medium of television - I don't presume to offer an opinion on the tastes of those who think otherwise, but I reserve the right to give a clearly argued account of why I think it has low cultural value. Second, your argument is only really convincing if you are prepared to argue that there is no difference in value between any two cultural artefacts - "rap is as good as Mozart"; this is a deconstructionist post-modern doctrine that personally I find both laghable and logically self-defeating.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: TV turnoff week and a one-button univ. remote: - 04/23/06 12:26 AM

likes and quality are two very different animals. I'm with mav.
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: muting Mozart - 04/23/06 12:32 AM

When we like something, we tend to jump to the conclusion that it's an objective judgment of some of that thing's natural qualities. Sorry; don't think so.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: muting Mozart - 04/23/06 12:33 AM

well said.

so is there quality anywhere?
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: muting Mozart - 04/23/06 01:36 AM

Yes sir.

I have no problem comparing a well-written article in National Geographic about the building of the pyramids and a well-written documentary about the same.

Though the written version may be able to present more facts, the television version is able to present more visual aspects you do not get in the written article. There was a kick-ass one this month on the Discovery channel in which I learned more than I had in a long time.


The power of a well-written humourous book lifts the spirits just as spirits are lifted with a well-written television comedy where the visual aspects of the humour are part of the whole gestalt.



===========================



MAV:

Personally, I really hate rap, but Iím sure that those who do could come up with arguments to the effect that it is as good a Mozart. I donít think so, but thatís also only my opinion. I donít believe I am the holder of the ultimate truth.

You have every right argue that television has low cultural value. But it is an opinion. Just because you strongly believe it is so, doesnít make it the ultimate truth either.

I believe we should be allowed to voice our opinions, but I also believe it is boorish and rude to "look down" on people who do not believe what we do.

The television issue amazes me. Why is it o.k. that people emanate a feeling of superiority about not watching television Ė like not watching television makes them better people; yet they donít look down on people who donít share their opinion on other things (like the rap or elevator music).

Not watching television doesnít make you a better person, it just makes you a person with different tastes and different opinions.

It is that self-righteous superiority that annoys me, not the fact that people believe different things than I do.
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: double-muting Moe's Art Deco Bar - 04/23/06 01:47 AM

Well, I was talking about qualities as in properties of objects and not quality as in something good. So, I suppose if you're talking about the inherent characteristics of something then hiphop and Mozart have a lot of similarities, but if we're talking about how hiphop is better than Mozart or vice versa then that's another kettle of fish. Aesthetic qualities, like semantics, reside in the human interpreter and not in the music / message.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: double-muting Moe's Art Deco Bar - 04/23/06 01:57 AM

yeah, I realized that, but it made me tie into what mav was saying about quality. and got me wondering.
Posted By: Father Steve

Possible New Emmy Award Category - 04/23/06 01:59 AM

There was a kick-ass one this month on the Discovery channel

PRESENTER: And the winner, for the most kick-ass documentary programme, is ...
Posted By: of troy

Re: Possible New Emmy Award Category - 04/23/06 02:23 AM

my daughter holds that watching television doesn't make you stupid, (but it doesn't do much to make you any smarter)
watching television makes you normal. television is an artifact of our society.
not watching (and for a short while i didn't have a TV, and for a much longer while (years!) my son and family didn't have a TV)--DD worried his kids wouldn't be normal.

DD is proud owner of a 32 inch screen tv, and regrets now she didn't buy a thin screen--she doesn't schedule her life round the TV, but she is aware of its cultural 'value'.

TV shows serve as common denominators--they give you something to talk about at work, (sex, religion and politics are not acceptable!) and its cheaper, and easier than drinking yourself into oblivion.

there isn't much much value to many TV shows, but a good deal of live theater is silly (disney!) musicals, and really how much social value is there in that sort of theater?(yes, there is theater that has social value, but beauty and beast ain't it!)

an opera's today require some effort, but when italians were watching italian opera, well the stories are no better than soap operas--albeit they are shorter.

yet so many hold theater (in general) and opera (in general) to be 'superior' arts than anything available on television.
Yes, TV is a vast wasteland --with only a few redeeming shows--but well, so is a good deal of theater!

there is good stuff out there, and i love live theater, but i think i agree with Bel, many people have a sort of moral superiority about not watching TV. (and their smugness is annoying.

(i don't think any one here has been smug, or smarmy about tv watching or not watching tv)
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: Possible New Emmy Award Category - 04/23/06 11:23 AM

(i don't think any one here has been smug, or smarmy about tv watching or not watching tv)

Oh! Me either! I did re-read my posts, just in case, because I know I was very fervent in my responses. I don't think I was insulting anyone, but you know how it is with this type of written Board - the tone of your argument doesn't always come out the way you want it.

I do hope that no-one took it that way.
Posted By: themilum

Re: double-muting Moe's Art Deco Bar - 04/23/06 04:41 PM

Quote:

...Aesthetic qualities, like semantics, reside in the human interpreter and not in the music / message.



Speaking of semantics, zmjezhd; what's zat you say above?

Given that all "meanings" reside in human interpertation, what is it in your meaning that requires a distinction between "aesthetic qualities" and things non-aesthetic?
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/23/06 05:13 PM

Given that all "meanings" reside in human interpertation, what is it in your meaning that requires a distinction between "aesthetic qualities" and things non-aesthetic?

I was just saying that quality, like many words, is polysemous. And that eta seemed to be taking it one way, while I meant another. The speaker interprets, too. Since our vocabularies are so far apart, I have my doubts that we two can communicate in good faith, but I'm willing to give it a try ...
Posted By: Alex Williams

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 01:16 AM

I watch far too much TV myself.

I think the worst thing about TV is that it is passive and often solitary. You may correctly argue that other forms of theatre are often as shallow in their content, but the medium itself can have good and bad points.

The act of going to the theatre to see live actors is not only a communal experience like going to the movies, but also a special one in that this performance will be unique in some way. The actors might recite the same lines or sing the same songs at tomorrow night's performance, but certain aspects will be unique, whether it is the nuances of the performance or the audience's response to it, or what have you. There is also a certain electricity when live performers are on stage that I cannot describe in words. And to an extent, for live theatre the audience must still rely on their imagination. Even the most realistic sets and costumes do not compare to the hyper-realism of most films. Instead of being spoon-fed, the audience must fill in the gaps, and in doing so each spectator experiences a unique version of the performance. I think live theatre in this respect is a healthy activity for the brain, whereas television is about as healthy usually as eating a whole bag of potato chips in one sitting.
Posted By: themilum

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 04:26 AM

Quote:

I watch far too much TV myself.


Feel qulity, now do you, Alex?


I think the worst thing about TV is that it is passive and often solitary. You may correctly argue that other forms of theatre are often as shallow in their content, but the medium itself can have good and bad points.


No offense, Alex, but I think that Bullwinkle at one time said the same thing to Rocky the Squirrel.


The act of going to the theatre to see live actors is not only a communal experience like going to the movies, but also a special one in that this performance will be unique in some way. The actors might recite the same lines or sing the same songs at tomorrow night's performance, but certain aspects will be unique, whether it is the nuances of the performance or the audience's response to it, or what have you. There is also a certain electricity when live performers are on stage that I cannot describe in words.



Well if you can't, Alex, I can. The pleasure that you feel in hard wired into the human psyche. We are preprogramed to be in social accord with others of our kind so as to march together with a common goal.



And to an extent, for live theatre the audience must still rely on their imagination. Even the most realistic sets and costumes do not compare to the hyper-realism of most films. Instead of being spoon-fed, the audience must fill in the gaps, and in doing so each spectator experiences a unique version of the performance. I think live theatre in this respect is a healthy activity for the brain, whereas television is about as healthy usually as eating a whole bag of potato chips in one sitting.


I think that you exaggerate...but I think that you are mostly right.


Posted By: Alex Williams

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 11:50 AM

Quote:

No offense, Alex, but I think that Bullwinkle at one time said the same thing to Rocky the Squirrel.




Man, it's so embarassing when I get caught plagiarizing Rocky and Bullwinkle like that.
Posted By: Father Steve

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 12:08 PM

it's so embarassing when I get caught plagiarizing Rocky and Bullwinkle

Best to describe it as an "homage."
Posted By: Alex Williams

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 12:24 PM

All kidding aside, I should clarify my point by saying that sitting around flipping channels on the tv when there's nothing good on is the mental equivalent of eating greasy potato chips. There are a lot of great programs of course.

Now if only they'd make some new episodes of "Foyle's War"...
Posted By: clockworkchaos

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 01:34 PM

Do you have tivo? I must confess, I love watching tv, but I feel that I do it extremely efficiently and with purpose. I do not flip channels or watch most commercials. I record programs and watch at will. I can't say enough good things about tivo.

And as far as your opening remarks on the subject of tv vs. theatre, I wonder what consumption you compare to reading, after all, a book is the same when I read it as it is when you read it and it is even more solitary than watching tv. Still an individual indulgence and often delicious, no?

That said, we must all watch our intellectual love handles.
Posted By: of troy

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 02:02 PM

tivo--you pay money to a company, in order for it to collect data on your tv watching habit, it order to better 'satisfy' your need to watch tv in the future?

i watch TV.. i have at times, (weeks, not months!) been with out a TV, but it gets replace.

but i see no need for cable, and less need to tape (or Tivo tv shows.. they are all repeated (ad nausium) anyway.
Posted By: zmjezhd

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 02:08 PM

There are spec for open source digital video recorders freely available online.
Posted By: clockworkchaos

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/24/06 02:51 PM

Actually, I paid a couple of hundred dollars approx 3 years ago to be tivo serviced for the life of my dvr. Money well spent, in my opinion. I probably watch far less tv than most people who claim they watch very little, but I'm not a slave to scheduling, which can be an issue even with repeats. Also, sometimes I'm into ad nausium. For example, I have an Austin City Limits folder that collects new episodes. Those, I will watch repeatedly or even listen only while preparing dinner.

I'm not afraid of "the man" collecting data on my tv watching habits. Actually, I embrace the idea that my interests receive as much or more value as other tv watchers. I feel I watch smart programs that stretch my brain farther and that come off as more original than many best-selling novels turned overly hyped movies. I keep reading them, hoping...
Posted By: Alex Williams

preaching to the choir - 04/24/06 04:12 PM

Quote:

I wonder what consumption you compare to reading, after all, a book is the same when I read it as it is when you read it and it is even more solitary than watching tv. Still an individual indulgence and often delicious, no?





Though reading may be solitary, it is exceptionally stimulating to the mind. That is why I try to read a book at least once or twice a year. :|
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: preaching to the choir - 04/24/06 11:22 PM

>>>>I'm not afraid of "the man" collecting data on my tv watching habits.

Do they really check what you are recording on tivo (Illico in Quťbec)?

Sheesh, they must think Hubby and I have the most disparate tastes.

O.T. I really enjoy having Illico. I love documentaries but they don't always play when I feel like watching. Being able to record them means I can watch them any time I want.
Posted By: clockworkchaos

Stimulating to the mind/Preaching to the choir - 04/25/06 12:38 PM

I am, of course, preaching to the choir regarding books. I dare say the monthly, if not weekly, consumption of books by awad fans could fill large libraries. I just wish intelligent people weren't so down on tv. You can actively watch tv. TV doesn't just happen. Clever formulas are used, obscure references made(even on the WB!). Now, how can fans of Holmes not enjoy a little House every now and then? And then there are poorly written shows (Prison Break) with a million plot holes I personally enjoy catching. That's not even diving into cable or the brainier channels.

Just sayin'.
Posted By: belligerentyouth

Re: Stimulating to the mind/Preaching to the choir - 04/25/06 02:32 PM

...
The nearest analogy to the addictive power of television and the transformation of values that is wrought in the life of the heavy user is probably heroin. Heroin flattens the image; with heroin, things are neither hot nor cold; the junkie looks out at the world certain that what ever it is, it does not matter. The illusion of knowing and of control that heroin engenders is analogous to the unconscious assumption of the television consumer that what is seen is 'real' somewhere in the world. In fact, what are seen are the cosmetically enhanced surfaces of products. Television, while chemically non-invasive, nevertheless is every bit as addicting and physiologically damaging as any other drug...

Most unsettling of all is this: the content of television is not a vision but a manufactured data stream that can be sanitised to 'protect' or impose cultural values. Thus we are confronted with an addictive drug that delivers an experience whose message is whatever those who deal the drug wish it to be. Could anything provide a more fertile ground for fostering fascism and totalitarianism?...

Television induces a trance state in the viewer that is the necessary precondition for brainwashing. As with all other drugs and technologies, television's basic character cannot be changed...

[p.p. 218-220, T. McKenna, Bantam, 1992. ISBN 0-553-37130-4]
Posted By: clockworkchaos

Re: Stimulating to the mind/Preaching to the choir - 04/25/06 05:03 PM

I personally find music to be the food of the gods. A good rock star has way more influence over me than a tv show.

I often don't agree with the political/secular undertones of tv, so I believe I'm maybe more alert than other viewers who might feel validated by what they are watching. It's more fun for me to say, for example, "ooh, did you see the way the writer just completely misrepresented the Patriot Act?"
Posted By: maverick

Re: there can be mindless stimulation too - 04/25/06 11:16 PM

Great quote, by.

In case anyone imagines this is a cross-pond issue it ain't - some of my entertainment highlights in the last year or so have included smart shows from the USA like '6 Feet Under' and Serenity.

No-one can doubt there are good, sometimes superb TV programmes made. Conversely, no-one in full command of their powers of observation and independant reasoning can doubt this fact: that the overwhelming tidal wave of TV output is mind-sapping drivel delivered to the lowest common denominator of commercial expediency.

> can actively watch tv. TV doesn't just happen.

Very true, and I'm sympathetic to your approach. Trouble is, I don't think you are adequately conveying the addictive power of the medium. After all, if this was not true how do you think the advertising industry would have grown so fat on the endless 'profits of doom'? I know I have frequently started out 'in full control' to watch Programme A and ended up surfing to Programme Z. In belli's context, this boast of being in control of the box can sound uncomfortably reminiscent of any other substance abuser, don't you think?
Posted By: inselpeter

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/26/06 02:48 AM

Quote:

after all, a book is the same when I read it as it is when you read it and it is even more solitary than watching tv.




A book is not even the same when I read it and when I read it.

***

Mozart/Rap. I guess I fundamentally don't understand the comparison: I don't know how you would say one was better, worse or equal. I prefer tomatoes to post hole diggers, except when I'm building fences.

**

Great passage, reb.

**

In truth, I lean toward Mav's position on television.

But I don't think much of Six Feet Under.

And I don't think (TV) *can* be anything much different than what it already is, but worse.

And that is a statement about television, not about people who watch television.

***

I can't recommend enough Richard Pryor's comeback movie, the routine about his relationship with his crack pipe.
Posted By: Alex Williams

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/26/06 12:08 PM

Even the most educational programming in terms of content is delivered via a medium that affects the brain adversely. A highly informative show on the history of Henry VIII, for example, might have frequent "cuts" where the camera changes angles. This conditions the brain to nearly constant visual stimulation unlike reading, which relies on constant mental stimulation to make the reader produce the images in their own head. So you could learn something about Henry VIII, but your brain would be conditioned just a little bit for the worse, making your faculties less sharp than the scholars whose work originally provided the material for the program. Of course a single hour doesn't do grave harm, especially not if you're motivated to turn off the tv and read more about Henry VIII in this case. But when I fall into the lazy habit of vegging out to the History Channel all Sunday afternoon, I'm not doing my brain much good, although perhaps it has value merely as a relaxation technique.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: humpty dumpty hermeneutics - 04/26/06 12:09 PM

> cuts

how about a museum?
Posted By: clockworkchaos

Points well taken - 04/26/06 12:27 PM

I see your points. Merely trying to provide possible solutions to channel flipping and got soap box, side-tracked.
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: Points well taken - 04/26/06 12:49 PM

Even the most educational programming in terms of content is delivered via a medium that affects the brain adversely. A highly informative show on the history of Henry VIII, for example, might have frequent "cuts" where the camera changes angles. This conditions the brain to nearly constant visual stimulation unlike reading, which relies on constant mental stimulation to make the reader produce the images in their own head.

I don't know about that point - it doesn't seem right to me. If you slam television because of the constant visual stimulation, then you'd have to slam every play that involves a lot of action.

For example, I've seen plays where people are coming in from all angles, things are dropping from the sky, loud banging and sounds are also being blasted from different places. LOTS of visual stimulation there.

And why is a lot of visual stimulation bad for you? Why is it bad for your brain?
Posted By: Jackie

Re: Points well taken - 04/26/06 03:53 PM

I'll take a couple of guesses, not intending to try and step in for Alex, because a.) it wouldn't be right, and b.) I'm not a doctor.

I think the important word in his post was conditioned . No one watches plays for several hours a day, seven days a week, but lots of people do watch television that much. There is some connection between visual stimulation and the brain, I do know. There is a therapy that I can't remember the name of for the life of me (EMD,EMR?) , but it involves moving your eyes side-to-side from one point to another while thinking certain thoughts (say, to stop smoking), so that after a while when you move your eyes that way at any time, that thought pops into your consciousness.

A major concern I have about kids' shows--Sesame Street in particular; that's one I'm familiar with--is this conditioning. Never mind that it's set up to help them learn things; I can't help but wonder how it affects their ability to learn from other sources, say minor ones like school, and books. If they have been condtioned by three years of watching Sesame Street daily, how difficult will it be for them to focus on any lesson in kindergarten (and later) that lasts longer than 15 seconds? I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on that.
Posted By: clockworkchaos

Freakonomics - 04/26/06 05:27 PM

A study was done to see what factors correlated with standardized test scores and number of tv watching hours appeared to not be a factor. Not an attention-span study, but interesting. It also found that those who have lots of books in their homes (not necessarily being read by or to them) have a positive correlation to high test scores.
Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: Freakonomics - 04/26/06 05:33 PM

not to mention the study of music.
Posted By: Alex Williams

Re: Freakonomics - 04/26/06 06:13 PM

No matter how frenzied the action onstage, for live theatre one generally sits in a seat and has the same point of view through the performance. When the play's over you exit the theater.

I'm not saying that watching a single television program will make your brain melt and run out your ears, but ultimately it is luxury that, like alcohol, should be used in moderation if at all rather than a staple that should make up a large part of the mental diet. I attended college with a couple of brilliant twins who grew up rich in books but with no television in the home at all. Academically, they blazed through college like a couple of comets. One was later a Fulbright Scholar in fact. Of course they had intelligence and academic motivation anyway, but I'm convinced that their lack of television gave them great stamina as readers. They could read large volumes of academic material with as much ease and gusto as I can muster for a gripping work of genre fiction.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

television in moderation. - 04/27/06 01:14 PM


There is a running argument I have with my wife. The disagreement has become severe on some occasions. Frankly, I want her to 1. leave the kids alone and 2. quit passing on unsupported opinion as absolute fact.

Let me explain:
She has a really bad habit of saying something to the kids and - because she said it - it must, of course, be absolutely true. She'll tell them things like "If you bite your nails, your fingers will fall off." or "If you sit cross-legged, your hips will grow wider and no man will want you." Those are two exact examples, but the list of things she says like this is really very large.

Part of my problem is that she mixes in things that have a very large chance of being true (or at least correct within some limit) and things that are ludicrous.

One large peeve of hers is the "too much TV" thing which in recent years has grown into a "too much video game" or "too much computer game" thing. Every single time she sees the kids relaxing in front of the tv playing halo or playing scrabble online or what have you - she launches into a tirade. Additionally, she's taken to cutting out every article she can find that shows the dangers of video games and forces the kids to read them.

If there were any hint of a problem, I would be the first to say we have to do something - but everything with the kids is going wonderfully. In my wildest dreams I never thought I'd be this lucky. There's a lot of things I could say, but I'll leave it at this: my youngest daughter (age 13) is depressed because she got her first B+ ever. This is pretty typical of the kind of problem we have to deal with. It's not just academics. They're both pretty good swimmers - are actively involved with 2-3 teams throughout the year, and are involved with other activities as well. They're REALLY busy. My oldest (16) has been tutoring a girl a few hours a week and has just gotten her first job as a cashier at a local food store. My youngest is practicing violin and reading all the time. If they get a few hours free here or there and want to spend it playing video games - what's the big deal? They both spend a lot of time reading. The youngest is about half way through DaVinci Code right now. (Not a great book, but it's a pretty good choice for a 13 yo.)

I know the kids are not perfect. It could be they would benefit from other experiences. But we DO go to museums, zoos, aquariums. We DO talk to each other a lot. We DO read together and share experiences and articles. But I just can't stomach nagging them when they get a few minutes free.

That said, I can imagine that there are families where tv is a problem, maybe even a serious problem. In fact, I don't have to imagine - I *KNOW* families where this is a problem. But the problem in each of those cases - at least from from my pov - is not the tv, per se, but the lack of parental involvement. Using the tv as a baby sitter or a proxy parent is destined to cause issues down the road. I don't have a problem with parents who limit their kids' tv time or video game time. In fact, I applaud the fact that they're paying attention. But I don't think that the right answer is that alone. Nothing effectively replaces contact with the kids.
Posted By: belMarduk

Re: Freakonomics - 04/27/06 01:16 PM

>>>> I'm not saying that watching a single television program will make your brain melt and run out your ears,


>>>>but ultimately it is luxury that, like alcohol, should be used in moderation if at all rather than a staple that should make up a large part of the mental diet.

Aye, that I agree with. Life is all about balance. Television, books, plays, games, sports, activities...they should all be used to expand your mental and physical horizons, not limit them.

When something starts to limit you, it is time to take a good look at what your are doing. That is for everything, not just television.

I'll give you an example. We all know we should exercise every day, however, a coworker of mine has had to cut down on her physical exercise because it was keeping her from getting pregnant. She did Iron-Man triathelons on a regular basis and was exercising too much.

A child or adult that is constantly plopped down in front of the television is not balancing his life with other physical, mental, and social activities. It is limiting the individual.

The same can be said about a child or adult that is constantly hiding behind a book. A shy person will justify limiting his social interactions because he is "busy" reading. Reading is a good thing, but in that case it is unhealthy for the development of the individual.

Life is balance.

Aye, and speaking of balance...I better get back to work if'n I want to get paid and balance my checkbook.
Posted By: Kelly123

Re: television in moderation. - 04/27/06 01:32 PM

Quote:

I *KNOW* families where this is a problem. But the problem in each of those cases - at least from from my pov - is not the tv, per se, but the lack of parental involvement. Using the tv as a baby sitter or a proxy parent is destined to cause issues down the road.




As I see it, this seems to be the crux of the issue; parental involvement. It seems that too often there is so little investment in children's lives. Having a 3 year old, I haven't had as much experience in this area yet, but we want to be as "intentional" about our parenting as possible. It sounds like you (TFF) have struck a good balance with your wife and hopefully, you both see the benefits.
Posted By: Marianna

Re: television in moderation. - 04/27/06 02:20 PM

I was once told something that completely changed my outlook on the purpose of TV. Somebody who worked in the industry said to me: "You know, the product of the television industry is not programmes. The actual product of television is viewers, and this is what is being sold to advertisers".

I don't watch much TV anyway, but even when I do, the idea that somebody is selling my attention for their own benefit is disagreeable.
Posted By: Jackie

Re: television in moderation. - 04/27/06 04:33 PM

FF, I had the same thing with my mother, re: my kids (when they were little) and fast food. She would launch into lectures if I'd mention taking them to McDonald's. BUT--looking at the overall picture, they got pretty much the nutritional requirements and balance every day; they were in good health. I saw and still see no problem with having taken them there once a month or so: possibly because I felt so "different" as a child, I place(d) a high importance on letting them be part of the same culture* their friends were in.

*Up to a point: they did have outside activities (youth baseball team at the Y, swimming, music lessons, etc.), but only one activity at a time, because I think it is also important for children to have time to just "be"--to be able to relax, think, and use their imaginations. My husband would occasionally say that they ought to do their homework as soon as they come in the door, whereupon I would remind him that adults wouldn't want to come home from a full day's work and immediately do another couple of hours of it, and that I thought the kids needed a bit of "down time" after a full day of school, as well.

It IS a matter of balance, and that does require parental involvement. They were in high school before I quit reading every single book they checked out of the library--which is how I came to know and hate both The Polar Express and The Velveteen Rabbit.
Posted By: of troy

Re: television in moderation. - 04/27/06 06:01 PM

Re:They were in high school before I quit reading every single book they checked out of the library--which is how I came to know and hate both The Polar Express and The Velveteen Rabbit.

Ha! when i was 13 or so, i read Pearl Buck's The Good Earth--and thought it was the raciest book i had ever read--(yeah, i grew in in NYC, but my parents did their best to protect me from many thing)

the book was filled with strange and sexy ideas --concubines (i looked that word up--i though i knew what it meant from context, but NO way would my mother smile at me reading books about people who had concubines! and opium.. people in the book took opium! (and there there was the passage after Onan has twin sons, and her husband gives her twin pearls (which she keeps--rather than wears) nestled between her twin swollen breast! wow did i think that was sexy!

a year or two later, i was reading the microbe hunters (a book she didn't approve of!) and i was reading about STD, but not about the sex part--more about the disease part, (as i recall, the transmittal part was covered by a simple sentence "caught by having (sexual) intercourse with an infected partner" nothing erotic there... but the science--that was riviting!

(the general policy was "no censorship"-- we were free to read anything we wanted.. but somehow, the microbe hunters kept getting helpfully returned to the library--it was years before i realize this was her way to discourage this book (i don't think she ever read it, but she might have looked at the chapter heading and say something about the fight against syphilis)

i know she hadn't read (and didn't read) most of the books we read --(she did actually read A Catcher in Rye--and couldn't see what the problem was.. (when i was a teen, it was banned in several school districts.) She counted on the nuns--if they didn't disapprove, she didn't. at some point, one of the parish priest must have told her the Microbe hunters was OK, and i finally finished reading the book.
Posted By: maverick

Re: McBrainburgers - 04/27/06 10:51 PM

Yep, I think everyone has contributed some good points here. It's about balance, parental involvement and so on ~ or to suggest a more fundamental outlook, it's perhaps about taking active decisions? I have never had a problem with my kids playing a range of computer games; otoh, they do not have 3 different kinds of consoles like some of their compadres. I still thank my parents for influencing my attitude to being harvested by the TV industry: when I was 8 they finally acceded to us kids demanding to be (like Jackie's) part of our peer group, but they demanded that we actively schedule our viewing, booking a maximum number of hours a week.

The figures came out for the UK today; everyone living in Scotland and the North East average 28 hours' television per week.

And it ain't mind-broadening documentaries they're watching, bel. Their brains are being sucked out and replaced with advertising.
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