Get all your Bullshit Observer updates wherever you want them. Put them on your blog, on your MySpace page, your Facebook page, whatever. All you have to do is click the image and go to Widgetbox.
Get all your Bullshit Observer updates wherever you want them. Put them on your blog, on your MySpace page, your Facebook page, whatever. All you have to do is click the image and go to Widgetbox.
Posted by Todd on August 28, 2008 at 02:15 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Together with some friends, I have a new blog creation called The Conceptualist. The topic will be completely fresh ideas and it will feature the same whimsical analysis that you've come to expect from The Bullshit Observer. The idea of The Conceptualist is not just to notice new things, but to celebrate brave thinkers and to marvel at their creations.
How is this different, you ask?
Well, I think it's probably the only blog I've seen that lives entirely in the world of ideas. It's not just about highlighting bizarre new inventions like Geekology. It's not about displaying new products like bazillions of blogs out there. It's about taking the new ideas and turning them over in our minds and seeing how they got that way and what they could become. It's as much about the why as it is about the what. In short, it's about conceptualism - the act of seeing past what is there to what could be and talking about it.
Incidentally, the header image is my friend's daughter, Sophie swimming underwater.
This means, of course, that The Bullshit Observer will need to take a back seat for the time being. That means that my posts will be more sporatic. To any regular reader out there, I am sorry to interrupt your BSO experience.
Posted by Todd on June 22, 2008 at 09:18 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
It's tempting to try and put these seven years behind us. This debacle of a Presidency. To simply pretend it didn't happen or to focus instead on the new presidency and put our hopes into that administration. To hope, as Obama says, that things can be put right again. But to think this way, I think misses an important opportunity.
There are many things to be learned by looking back at the past seven years.
So I ask you, dear reader, what have you learned?
The Bullshit Observer
I started this blog back in 2005 after slogging through five long years of Bush without a place to put my discontent. A sentient being can only withstand so much crap before they either crack, explode or begin to wither. This was, and still is, my way to rage against the machine and institute a small degree of sanity over in my own little tiny nook of the virtual universe.
In short, it's therapy.
As therapy, it has been a huge success. I feel good about these 500 posts. As legitimate opposition to the enormous and omnipresent bullshit producing machines in the world, I will say that it has probably had very little impact. I've only had something like 65,000 page views. But, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse Five, "So it goes."
I am happy that it's out there and that's really all that matters. In fact, from what I've found, I would have had more media popularity if my name was something that media outlets could mention. But that's completely fine with me.
For this 500th post, I wanted to point out ten of my more meaningful (to me) posts.
The Movies Critics Are Raving About: Is about the Hollywood crap machine.
Genders: Man-tradiction?: Is about the changing roles of men today.
I'll make you famous: Is about America's fascination with fame and the industries that it has spawned.
Parents Less Upwardly Mobile These Days: Is about the challenge of a modern workplace for people who put parenting first.
America Needs More Springfields: Is about suburban sprawl and the forces that spawn it.
Advertising Needs A New Agency: Is about how the traditional agency flops around in the digital world.
Enjoy.If you want to comment, feel free. It's nice to know there are people out there sometimes. I'd be writing here either way though. As I said above, this blog is really more for my sanity than anything else.
Thanks for reading!
The Bullshit Observer
Posted by Todd on April 02, 2008 at 12:16 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
I'm teaching my five year old son about how lying is bad and I'm starting to wonder whether I should just let him do it. Society at large doesn't appear to care about that kind of thing anymore.
The Bush administration made apparently false and misleading statements in court about the White House e-mail controversy, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
The US Army confirms that thousands of soldiers are cheating on online tests for promotions.
At an PR industry event in London, in a poll of the audience of over 260 PR executives, the majority (138) voted against the motion that "PR has a duty to tell the truth."
A new scanning program has identified 76 cases of outright plagiarism among professors (not students) of biomedicine.
Top PR firm, Edelman, was recently outted as having a media training course for execs that states, ""Sometimes, you just have to stand up there and lie. Make the audience or the reporter believe that everything is ok."
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom noted that during the run up to the 2006 election, his blackberry buzzed almost daily with threat level notifications from the Department of Homeland Security. When the election was over, they stopped.
Maybe it's a result of having two equally passionate sides on both sides of the political spectrum for the past seven years. Or maybe it's because the educational system has broken down to such a degree that it's just too easy and tempting to manipulate the masses for our own gains. Whatever the reason, it seems that American culture has reached a worrying threshold where the constant whirring of our spin cycle completely drowns out the sober voices of truth.
If those voices are even speaking anymore.
There used to be a time when truth mattered to people. It wasn't simply because of the sentimental notion that truth is honerable. No, it's because truth served a function. In fact, it was one of the lynchpins of our social structure. I would argue that if our society continues to see truth as quaint, or merely preferable to lies, then it will go into decline. Some might say that it's already happening.
It's as if our society has termites. The spin masters get into everything and, with every lie they tell, slowly eat away at the structure. It's gotten to the point where these pests are everywhere we turn. Every news outlet, every politician's speech, every commercial break, every single place you rest your eyeballs there is someone telling you something that ain't exactly true. I'd call an exterminator if I thought they could actually handle a problem of this magnitude.
Furthermore, it's really starting to get in the way of our ability to make decisions and navigate the world. For example, we needed truth in order to make the right decisions about Iraq. Instead we got lies and half-truths which led us to the incorrect decision. Let's invade! Whoops. Now America and Britain are stuck in a bog. Tons of people dead.
Truth iis also vital to our well-being as individuals.
We need to know what to eat, what to drink, where to live, how to dress for the weather, and how close they are to the nearest fault line. Without truth about these matters, we might be drinking water from contaminated springs, eating beef with mad cow disease, dressing for summer on a rainy day and living in a house that's about to slide down a mountain. Wherever there's a buck to be made, it seems, there's someone willing to lie their ass off in order to make it.
My point? Well, just that we, as a people, should care more about the truth. Really really care about it. Put it up on a pedestal and worship the truth. Celebrate the truth. Write songs about the truth.
We cannot survive without it.
With that in mind, we SIMPLY MUST hold the liars accountable for their transgressions. They are assaulting our sense of reality and hindering our ability to operate. Without this accountability, we will lose our bearings as a society and as individuals.
Posted by Todd on March 08, 2008 at 10:22 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
So I thought I'd simplify the path on my typepad url. Took out a few characters. That, in turn, broke every single link on the entire Internet to my site. Thousands of links....broken. I have *sort of* fixed the domain version: www.bullshitobserver.com still works. Needless to say, I have a help ticket in. So for the 3 of you who have stumbled here from Google and are reading this, I give you the only thing that I have to give: My Prized Hot Sauce recipe. It took me months to get to this. I give it to you for nothing.
Bullshit Observer’s Official Hot Sauce Recipe
½ white onion
1 Box Chopped Pomi Tomatoes
2 Teaspoons Sugar
3 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
10 Dried Chiles – fire roasted
4 Tablespoons Toasted Pumkin Seeds
2 Cups Water
Almost ½ cup white vinegar
4 Roasted Haneneros
2 Roasted Red Jelepeno
1 Roasted Passilla Pepper
3 Teaspoons Tomato paste
1 Lime Squeezed
1 Small orange or a tangerine
Two pinches of toasted, ground cumin seeds
1 Roasted tomitillo (optional)
Blender. Let simmer in a skillet for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. For extra smoothness, blender again. Chill and serve.
Posted by Todd on September 05, 2007 at 08:54 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
I don't know about you, fellow Americans, but I'm starting to feel the eyes of the world boring holes into the back of my head. Once the pillar of democratic ideals, it seems the US is now the pillar of a shoot-first-ask-questions-later foreign policy.
What am I talking about?
The BBC conducted a poll of 26,000 people in 25 separate countries. In the 18 countries that were polled a year ago, the percentage of residents that thought the US has a positive impact in the world declined by 7 points to a paltry 29%. Over 65% of all respondants felt that US presence in the middle east CREATES more conflict than it prevents and only 17% think the US military is a stabilizing force in the region. Some of the biggest drops in many of the areas probed came from countries that normally would support us.
Global warming, Guantanamo detainees, Israel conflict...the report goes on, but it's all negative. People in the world are down on the free and the brave. If the French could take back the Statue of Liberty, they probably would. But I can hear you asking, "Why should we care?"
The answer: our brand.
For those of us who've lived and worked outside the US, we understand how a county's brand perception can have a direct impact on our well-being. Rightly or wrongly, how you are regarded within a foreign society is partly related to how your country is regarded throughout the world (particularly if you're not fluent in the language).
But the deterioration of brand America has much broader implications from an economic standpoint. A country's brand perception often influences the sale of their goods. It can play a subtle, but very real role in whether US companies get contracts in other countries - or even the proper licenses and certifications to conduct business. It can play into negotiations. Bad brand perception can be detrimental to America's standing in business communities within these other countries. It can influence whether foreign companies enter into partnerships with American companies. Our country's continued prosperity is partly tied to the health of our national brand.
Perhaps an important questions we should be asking ourselves is this: "Is the way that we're conducting this war on terror and other policies counterproductive to the wider agenda of the nation?" I'm not saying our goals are wrong. I'm not saying we should back down. But perhaps the tough-guy cowboy screw-you-all politics of the White House, is a style that is doing far more harm than good.
But what do you think?
Now that we’ve heard from the North Koreans on the subject of America (see: Fucking USA) I now present an email rant from a stranger with some very well-reasoned things to say about the current government in America. The following are the words of V. James Haydel (and edited by me).
In recent days, the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of Defense have warned that we are in a battle with "Islamic Fascism" and compared critics of the Administration's war in Iraq to those who appeased Hitler.
Does anyone else find it ironic that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are calling the drive towards Islamic theocracies "fascist"? What is developing in the Middle East bears little resemblance to the Jeffersonian democratic ideal, but it displays far fewer of the characteristics of fascism than America under the Bush Gang. To see a society moving slowly towards fascism, one need not travel to the Middle East.
"Fascism : A philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism." - The American Heritage Dictionary.
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -George W. Bush
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." -Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg trials
We're not there, but the Bush Administration has consistently taken steps that move our "Democratic Republic" towards a fascist dictatorship. I'm sure that if you asked Bush and Cheney, they would, in all sincerity, vehemently deny that that is their goal. I suspect they would say that they believe in a strong, pro-active America, a strong executive branch, minimal government regulation, low taxes and free trade. Maybe so. But their actions have produced grotesque perversions of these benign sounding principles.
The strong, pro-active America of Bush's speeches has become an arrogant, despised war-monger, whose heavy handed bullying of other countries has actually weakened America. The strong executive branch has, with the acquiescence of a supine Congress and an ideologically cooperative Judiciary, become all-powerful. Constitutional checks and balances are swept aside. If Congress or the courts occasionally stand in the way of something the President wants to do, he simply ignores them with signing statements, executive orders and recess appointments. Minimal government regulation has produced corporate looters and a poisoned environment. Low taxes has taken the form of trillions of dollars of breaks for the wealthiest Americans and minimal relief for the middle class, which is shrinking and becoming poorer. "Free trade" has become a euphemism for giving giant corporations free rein to exploit workers, send jobs overseas and corrupt the law-making process. The "Ownership Society", in Bush-Speak (aka "BS"), means "you're on your own, chump."
I've heard it said that the Bush Adminstration is incompetent; I've said it myself. But I don't think they are incompetent at all about the things that are important to them. They're only incompetent at the things they don't care about, e.g. governing and administering, protecting the health of Americans, protecting and empowering the poor and the middle class, etc. When it's something they care about, they've been extremely effective.
They wanted a war with Iraq; they got it. They wanted to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They did. They wanted to undermine the wall between church and state. They have. They wanted to reduce the role of science and increase the role of religion in the formulation of government policy. They've succeeded. The wanted to pack the courts with conservative Christians and members of the Federalist Society. They have. They wanted to weaken environmental protections and other government regulations that protect the public from corporate exploitation. They've done that. They wanted to privatize government functions. They've had some success there, e.g., our abysmal reconstruction program in Iraq, turning over IRS functions to private debt collectors (but only for small tax payers),but this is an area where the Adminstration had a major setback, viz: the failed attempt to privatize Social Security. They wanted to aggrandize power in the Presidency and emasculate Congress and the courts. They've achieved that. They wanted to intimidate and muzzle the press. They have. The wanted to win elections, even if it involved corrupting the electoral process and election fraud. With the compliance of a conservative Supreme Court and rampant election fraud in Florida and Ohio, Bush was "elected" twice.
Whether or not it is the real objective of the Bush-Cheney Gang, more and more, America is exhibiting the characteristics of a fascist regime. Those characteristics are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Expressions of Nationalism, Usually Coupled With a Suspicion of Things Foreign: Think lapel pins, freedom fries, Ann Coulter and the conservative talk radio crazies.
2. Disdain For the Importance of Human Rights: Think torture, rejection of the Geneva Convention, imprisonment without trial or counsel, secret prisons, illegal wiretaps. The White House is proposing a bill that would let Bush imprison indefinitely anyone he believes connected to terrorism. Consider the conservatives' scorn for the ACLU.
3. Identification of Enemies and Scapegoats: Think liberals, Islamic fascists (which includes everyone living in the Middle East, except Israelis) and homosexuals.
4. Avid Militarism: President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex 45 years ago. His warnings went unheeded. Our society is controlled by the military-industrial complex. A trillion dollars of our taxes is spent each year to bloat our military. Funding for domestic needs and the repair of decaying infrastructure is reduced. The Bush Doctrine, combined with the Cheney One Percent Doctrine, have made us war-mongers. Their corporate cronies have made billions off of the war.
5. A Controlled Mass Media: Giant media conglomerates, owned or run by conservatives, control most of the newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and movies in America. They refuse to accept political ads favoring Democratic candidates, but have no problem airing Swift Boat attacks. Because they depend on government favors re regulation, they mute criticism of the Adminstration. Reporters who ask impertinent questions or write critical articles are frozen out and denied access. Reporters are threatened with prosecution for treason for disclosing the Administration's illegal activities.
6. Obsession With National Security: We are obsessed, but the vast quantities of money spent on 'national security' aren't making us more secure. They are, however, making the Halliburtons and Lockheed-Martins very rich. The cost of our arms programs has nearly doubled to more than $1 trillion.
7. Power of Corporations Protected: Regulation and tax audits of corporations have disappeared under Bush.
8. Religion and Ruling Elite Tied Together: The evidence is too voluminous to cite.
9. Power of Labor Suppressed Or Eliminated: The percentage of our GDP attributable to wages and salaries has dropped steadily under Bush.
10. Disdain and Suppression of Intellectuals and the Arts: This describes Bush to a tee - - except recently, when "The Decider" became "The Reader". After Rick Scarborough (a conservative former Republican congressman) had a piece on his show entitled: "Is Bush An Idiot?" (conclusion? he is) Bush announced that he had read 60 books this year, including "The Stranger" (about a guy who kills an Arab for no reason) and some Shakespeare. Of course this is bullshit. Bush sleeps nine hours a night and works out two hours a day. He hasn't read 60 books - total - since Biz School. This effort to distract from a discussion of whether he is an idiot is like an "Orange Alert" in response to some bad political news.
11. Obsession With Crime and Punishment: Does Alberto Gonzales creep you out as much as he does me?
12. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: The money stolen from the taxpayers by the Bush Crime Gang is mind-boggling. Whether it's no-bid contracts to Halliburton, bridges to nowhere, or simply out-and-out theft, tens of billions of dollars have been siphoned out of the U.S. Treasury to Bush's conservative cronies and and to corporations that contribute to his regime.
13. Fraudulent Elections: Hardly anyone doubts that the 2000 election was stolen. Some very persuasive studies of the 2004 election suggest that it, too, was stolen.
Whether you're holed up in a isolated mountain cave or kicking it in an underground bunker these are dangerous time for those of you who've chosen the life of an evildoer or evil-overlord. Please consider the following tips to help ease your suffering:
Several days ago President George W. Bush (w stands for What-Am-I-Doing) declared that he wants to close Guantanamo Bay soon, but he's waiting for a ruling from the Supreme Court. Yesterday the court ruled against the administration with respect to how the prisoners are to be prosecuted.
This prompted a stupefying exchange yesterday between a press gaggle reporter and Mr. Snow regarding the disparity between the President's words, intentions, and actions in re: Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. What it appears to highlight is that the President doesn't know what to do about the mess he has created in Guantanamo Bay, what yesterday's Supreme Court ruling truly means, or exactly how to pull his head out of his arse.
In short, he still wants to close it, but it's not about to close. That, as you can imagine, puts ol' T. Snow in a bit of a pickle.
The abbreviated to-and-fro goes a little something like this:
Q: The President said before that he was waiting for the Supreme Court ruling before he would make any comments about it, but he also said that he really wanted to close it soon. So where do we stand with that?
MR. SNOW: Correct, and the ruling -- the President never said he wanted to -- he said he wants to close Guantanamo. He didn't say he wanted to close it quickly, because there are some practical considerations. There are approximately...well...as quickly as possible...I believe. (huh?) There's a difference, because you have a whole series of considerations. There's nothing in this opinion that dictates closing down Guantanamo. We're studying very carefully what other implications there may be.
Q Forgive me, Jim. The President has said, I want to close Guantanamo --
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q -- I'm waiting for this decision. You're just now saying, this doesn't mean we close Guantanamo. Isn't that --
MR. SNOW: No, because he wanted to see the decision, and I think what the decision has done...for instance, in the case of Mr. Hamdan...is it's now reverting it back to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Q For the record, the President still stands by the idea that he wants to close Guantanamo Bay.
MR. SNOW: Absolutely. Yes, that hasn't changed.
Q Then as far as the congressional authorization, could you just flesh out for me-
MR. SNOW: I wish I could. I think what it means is that they want to make sure that Congress authorizes, pursuant to Congress' obligations when it comes to declaring war and laying conditions for a war, it wants Congress to authorize the way to proceed forward in terms of bringing to justice those who have been brought in from the battlefield.
The practical considerations to which Mr. Snow alludes pertain specifically to how we've fucked these guys up mentally over the past four years. Where they were once kinda dangerous, now they are truly deranged and quite, er, agitated with the US. The administration claims that many of their home countries have called "No backsies" and refuse to take them back (or will take them back and whack their heads off.)
Clearly the administration is operating on a moment-to-moment basis.