Life in the Slow Lane

November 10, 2009

Who are the parents who would read this book to children?

Filed under: Entertainment,Literature,News — pauljlane @ 4:18 pm

Every once in a while, I get a product pitch that defies explanation, something that’s shocking in its offensiveness, uselessness and warped agenda.


Worst ... book ... EVER!

The new book “Help! Mom! Radicals Are Ruining My Country!” fits that bill and then some.

The book is by Katharine DeBrecht, author of the kids book “Help! Mom! There are liberals under my bed!” The book tells of two boys whose lemonade stand is seized by the government. The follow that up with a swingset business, but the government forces the boys to sell swingsets to kids who can’t afford them.

I hate the idea of political parties and people who ardently defend either side, but garbage such as this makes me think I’d lean left if I had to. Why would any parent want to poison their children with this drivel? This country’s imperfections are in part due to the divisiveness that political parties create, and teaching your kids to hate someone else simply because they see the world a bit differently seems almost criminal.

I’m all for someone believing whatever they believe. But don’t let your party define who you are. Think for yourself. You can agree with the guys on the other side of the aisle every now and again. You won’t melt. I promise.

Any parent who actually thinks that this book is quality material for their children is doing irreparable damage to their kids and is ruining them.


October 26, 2009

Protest the New York state license plate fees

Filed under: Life,News — pauljlane @ 1:45 pm

New York state, in another “eff-you” to its residents, is about to charge people — twice! — for license plates next year.

As of April 1, New York wants to charge every driver $25 per vehicle to get new plates. And then if you want the same number, you have to pay another $20 for the privilege.

What an absolute joke and abomination of what public servants should be. Is anyone in Albany actually desirous to keep people here? Our leaders sure don’t seem to act that way.

Click here to sign a petition protesting the move.

October 19, 2009

There has to be life out there … doesn’t there?

Filed under: Life,News,Travel — pauljlane @ 3:37 pm

I remember doing a group exercise in college during which we discussed myth vs. reality. One of my groupmates said she believed in ghosts, and another said she thought zombies were real.

Strange, I thought, but I wasn’t there to be judgmental. When my turn came up, I said I believed that there is life somewhere, somehow that’s not on Earth.

I was laughed at so loudly the professor had to stop the exercise to shush them.

Don’t mistake my statement for a belief in little green men flying saucers in New Mexico. But with so much universe out there, there has to be other life, even if it’s life with which we’ll never make contact … I think.

That’s why announcements such as this one, that 32 more planets have been found outside our solar system, get me so excited. I would love to have new life discovered in my lifetime. It’s not just a validation thing, but it would be the finding of all-time, the greatest discovery in the history of man.

Imagine if we actually found someone (or something) else out there. Just to know that we’re not alone in the universe is a fascinating concept.

In another life – ya know, the life where I didn’t marry the love of my life, have the two best babies in the world, was good at advanced math and weighed about half of my current tally – I might have ended up an astronaut. Aside from joining one of the most elite groups every (those who have seen Earth from the outside), my childhood interest in astronomy was piqued by the desire to prove that something else is breathing somewhere.

Scientists recently discovered that there’s water on the moon, further proof that there might have, at one time, been non-Earthbound life in our solar system. No government conspiracies, no bent-on-destruction races with advanced technology, no “Star Wars” type cantinas with plenty of hostile patrons.

Just another race, like ours, that’s kinda curious about the nature of the universe.

That’s not such a laughable concept. Right?

July 30, 2009

Country music once again rules Buffalo-Niagara radio roost

Filed under: Entertainment,Music,News,Radio — pauljlane @ 11:42 am

For the first time in a year, Western New York radio listeners have made the local country music offering their No. 1 choice on the dial.

In ratings released July 30 by Arbitron for spring 2009, WYRK 106.5 FM posted a 10.3 rating, meaning that 10.3 percent of local listeners had that station on in any given 15-minute period.

That pushed WYRK ahead of news talk station WBEN 930 AM (9.6 rating), which had been atop the ratings since last summer. The station’s rating dropped from 10.3 in winter 2009.

WYRK last topped the ratings in spring 2008, when the station posted a staggering 11.8 rating. Either WYRK or WBEN has been the No. 1 station in Western New York for most of the decade.

Making a huge leap to No. 3 was top 40 station WKSE 98.5 FM, which posted a 7.3 rating in spring  – up from 5.5 in winter. Rounding out the top five were urban contemporary station WBLK 93.7 FM (6.6 rating) and classic rock station WGRF 96.9 FM.

WKSE’s ratings spike was by far the biggest for the spring quarter, with adult hits station WBUF 92.9 FM jumping 0.6 points to 4.7 (good for seventh place). Nearly every other station held steady or saw ratings decline, with WBLK (a drop of 1.3 percentage points) and adult contemporary station WJYE 96.1 FM (down from a 6.4 rating to a 5.6) among the biggest quarter-to-quarter losers.

Also losing listeners was sports talk station WGR 550 AM. Thanks in large part to another lackluster Buffalo Sabres season (the station broadcasts the hockey team’s games) that saw the team miss the playoffs, the station’s ratings dropped from 4.1 in winter to 3.3 in spring (good for 11th place). That number traditionally creeps upward in summer, when Bills training camp begins, before surging in the fall, when football, hockey and basketball kick off their seasons.

WGR has simulcasted some of its programming, such as the “Schopp and the Bulldog Show,” in Rochester since September. WGR registered a 0.4 rating in Rochester for the spring quarter. The station failed to register a rating in Rochester for winter but posted a 0.6 rating there in fall, thanks largely to the station’s extensive Bills coverage.

Lockport-based news talk station WLVL held steady with a 0.4 rating.

Here are the top five Buffalo-Niagara radio stations for the spring quarter, along with their ratings and improvement from the winter quarter:

1. WYRK, 10.3 (+0.4)
2. WBEN, 9.6 (-0.7)
3. WKSE, 7.3 (+1.8)
4. WBLK, 6.6 (-1.3)
5. WGRF, 6.1 (-0.3)

Sports commentary lacks value, sense

Filed under: Entertainment,News,Sports,Television — pauljlane @ 10:36 am

Here is a blog post written by U.S. News & World Report scribe Bonnie Erbe on the Erin Andrews scandal. She states that women should stop watching sports, that all men are bad because they watch sports and all sports are bad.

Here is the response I posted on the shrew’s blog page:

I have a daughter. I will encourage her to watch sports as much as possible as she matures (not pay attention to millionaire holdouts and steroid scandals, but watch games). She’ll learn how to win, how to lose, how to behave in a sporting manner, how to compete and how to constructively channel her daily frustration into a nightly release of taking in a game.
If you think there were absolutely zero women involved in spreading the Erin Andrews situation, you’re as naive as the sports-loving women you criticize.
Of course, there’s nothing right about what happened to Andrews, but really, what does that have to do with the games themselves? The only tie-in I can see is that Andrews does a sub-par job of sideline reporting for some games. So does that mean that all female sportscasters and reporters, who only in the last 15 years or so have made real strides in trying to level the gender gap in their chosen profession, should walk out on their career dreams?
And as for your argument about women boycotting games, get real. I enjoy watching sports with my wife, and I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to watch games with us, but a lot of men would quite frankly probably prefer to watch sports only with their guy friends. That would hardly do anything to stop men from “behaving badly,” as if my watching a Bills game means that I’m going to go loot the corner liquor store or something.
And ask Yankees fans who remember the team’s run in the 2001 playoffs – right after Sept. 11 destroyed their city and their hope – if sports culture is nothing but bad. Ask sports fans of last-place Olympic participants, who still wave their flags and cheer on their athletes as the competitors meander to the finish line because it’s the fact that you finish that really matters, if sports culture is nothing but bad. Ask father-and-son golfers whose sole connections are the rounds they shoot and watch together if sports culture is nothing but bad.
The Andrews situation was reprehensible, but the leap of logic you make to vilify the sports that are played – and the women who like them – is illogical, irrational and makes you sound incomprehensibly unintelligent. The only waste of time here is you.

July 8, 2009

Canadians are far greener than us Yanks

Filed under: Life,News,Travel — pauljlane @ 5:33 pm

We went to Toronto this past weekend to spend some family time up north, and there were a couple things that struck me.
First, and this is not new there, but the food courts in the mall feature receptables for trash, paper recyclables, plastic recyclables and metal recyclables.
Second, a law apparently went into effect June 1 in Ontario that requires stores to charge at least 5 cents to customers per plastic bag they’re given. That’s meant to curb the use of plastic bags, which are generally used once and then thrown away.
I love both of these concepts. Many Americans don’t think twice about what they throw out, and I find the culture in Toronto to be much more enlightened when it comes to the environment. I am always trying to get store clerks to give me items without the bag (sometimes they just give it to me anyway, even when I only buy one thing), and it amazes me how many people insist on a bag to carry their one item from the store to the car, the car to inside and then on the kitchen counter.
My wife brought up a good point, that stores there should offer those reusable shopping bags so that customers who actually need help carrying their items can get it. But at least the new regulation is a first step.
I would love to see these concepts embraced stateside. This country often lags behind the world on such affairs, though, so I won’t hold my breath.
Thumbs up, Canada. I salute you on this one.

June 14, 2009

Palin-Letterman ‘feud’ makes Republicans look stupid

Filed under: Entertainment,News,Television — pauljlane @ 2:07 pm

OK, Republicans, enough. Drop the Palin-Letterman “feud” already. There’s nothing to feud about.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

In case you missed it, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin stirred up some controversy (in a likely attempt to stay in the public eye) last week by calling out Letterman over a joke he made on his CBS late night show. The joke revolved around Palin’s daughter, whom Letterman did not name, getting “knocked up” by Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez while attending a Yankees game.

The joke, Letterman said, was targeted at Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Briston, who is an unwed mother. Problem is, Palin’s other daughter, 14-year-old Willow, was the one who attended the game.

Letterman apologized, kind of, the day after making the joke, saying he’d “never make hjokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. I don’t think it’s funny. I would never think it’s funny.”

OK, that should be that, right? I mean, late-night hosts make jokes all the time; that’s what they do, and it’s their constitutional right to do so. She promptly showed up on NBC’s “Today” show to proclaim, “It’s no wonder girls have such low self-esteem in America when a comedian can make a remark like this.” She demanded that Letterman “apologize to young women” everywhere, saying it was “a degrading comment.”

She refused Letterman’s invitation to appear on his show and clear the air, though, instead releasing a tatement through ehr sopkeswoman, meghan Stapleton: “The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”

First of all, signing off on that final comment is in equally bad taste. Even if Letterman was guilty of bad taste (I don’t know either way), though, it’s humor. Get over it, lady. Go back to Juneau and deal with whatever issue’s bugging the polar bears this week.

Her party has also hopped on the publicity bandwagon. New York Assembly Minority leader Brian Kolb of Canandaigua wrote a letter to CBs demanding that the network to fire Letterman over the comments. “Firing Mr. letterman would send a clear message that CBS will not tolerate any of its employees – even an established media figure like Mr. Letterman – making demeaning and degrading comments about women,” he wrote.

The National Organization for Women also jumped in, placing Letterman in its “media hall of shame.” “I think what David Letterman said is terrible, is inappropriate and nobody should be making jokes about the sexual activities of teenagers, whether they are the daughters of politicians or not,” said Kim Gandy, NOW president.

Talk about hypocrisy. Where was Kolb’s outrage when NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” made fun of Gov. David Paterson – a Democrat – for being blind? Where was N.O.W. when Bill Clinton’s escapades were being made public a decade ago, or when the latest Eminem album was released? Aren’t those types of action and speech way worse?

I accuse these people of trying to grab attention. I could be wrong. I’m sure, on some level, they believe their actions are just. But even so, it was a joke. If I got so disturbed every time someone made fun of my speed on the basepaths at the company softball game, I’d be a permanent crying mess balled up in the corner saturated in self-pity. You have to see humor for what it is sometimes, and accept that especially if you’re in the public eye, you’re open to having shots taken at you from time to time.

But then again, standing up for one’s family sure looks good come presidential nomination time.

June 4, 2009

Trying to reduce pothole problem in Niagara Falls

Filed under: Life,News — pauljlane @ 11:23 am

Here is an interesting Web site – run by an insurance company – that was set up to let residents chronicle their potholes in Niagara Falls (if you live there and don’t have a pothole problem, you never leave your house).

The site encourages residents to post pics and stories, and it has links for claim forms against the city for damage done to cars from potholes and numbers to call to complain about the matter.

The site isn’t much (or anything really) at this point, but it’s a good idea to give people a common ground from which to launch their complaints. Not that fixing the potholes will solve the city’s woes, but as a city resident I don’t like the fact that the potholes have made Niagara Falls a punchline. The roads would probably be in better shape if they’d never paved over the brick roads of a century ago.  They make residents regret choosing to live there (as if residents needed more reasons to resent the city).

Act. Speak out. Complain. At the very least, it will be therapeutic. And check out the site, because sharing the pain always helps.

January 5, 2009

Color me disappointed …

Filed under: Life,News — pauljlane @ 12:58 pm

… that the New York Times – the pinnacle of American print journalism – has been forced to sell front-page advertisements.

Sure, papers such as mine that are small have done so for some time. But the Times selling space on the front – once considered ground more sacred than Mecca, where only the NEWS that was fit to print was printed – is a sure sign that this industry is nearing death.

The reaction here in the newsroom is the same for everyone – “WOW!” followed by a sigh of disappointment, then the gravity of the situation setting in. If the Times has to sell front-page ads to survive, how long will it be until the newspaper as a whole is dead?

This is a sad day for anyone who still reads or appreciates newspapers, which offer the only true journalism out there, unlike the TV newscasts that rehash the headlines they read in yesterday’s paper or the radio shows that then recycle the TV “news.” Biased? Yes, but an appreciation for actual news-gathering is why I gave up a broadcasting to go into a then-uncertain print career to begin with.



For its part, here’s what CBS had to say on the matter:

“This high impact placement represents an exciting new opportunity for our advertisers to reach our educated, affluent and influential readers across the country,” said Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer for The New York Times Media Group.  “With a weekday readership of 2.8 million and a Sunday readership of 4.2 million, The New York Times is the largest seven-day newspaper in the United States.”

“It’s exciting that CBS is kicking off The New York Times’s inaugural front page ad,” said George Schweitzer, President, CBS Marketing Group.  “America’s most watched network will clearly have one of the most read ads — and we value this new means of prominently showcasing our valuable media properties.”

December 15, 2008

Buffalo sports talk hosts prefer inanity to insight

Filed under: Entertainment,News,Sports — pauljlane @ 12:30 pm

Even though I often disagree with their viewpoints and on-air tactics, I admit that I still listen to Schopp and the Bulldog on WGR 550 at times on my drive home from work. They (well, mostly the Bulldog) offer intelligent opinions, but the way they (well, mostly Schopp) treats anyone with a dissenting opinion is ridiculous; you’ll either be told that you’re wrong, hung up on and ridiculed, or just hung up on and ridiculed.

That does at times make for entertaining radio, and they seemed objective enough to warrant not completely tuning the show out.

That all changed Sunday.

While listening to their postgame show Sunday after the Bills fumbled away a victory and dropped a 31-27 decision to the Jets, Schopp and the Bulldog spent their show defending the Bills’ decision to run a pass play with 2:06 left in the game, which J.P. Losman fumbled and the Jets returned for the winning score.

The same guys who have spent weeks calling for Losman and coach Dick Jauron to be fired spent Sunday evening saying the play wasn’t that bad a call (despite the Bills’ having run all over the Jets all day) and that it was justified.

That convinced me that the duo is only out to stir the pot. How hypocritical do you have to be to sit there and all week – especially when outspoken Buffalo news columnist Jerry Sullivan is on the show and shouting out the same sentiment, and they have to appear chummy with him – call for Jauron’s head, then defend his play-calling on the worst call he’s made all season?

These are the same two men who earlier in the week almost ran ESPN football writer John Clayton off the air for saying Jauron migh be justified in working in Buffalo next season. There’s no possible reason for reversing course so quickly except that the men only want to get people worked up.

The duo spent the evening hanging up on callers who disagreed with them and defending their incomprehensibly reached conclusion. Even if they’re the only game in town for sports talk, I don’t think Schopp and the Bulldog have an ounce of credibility left, and I think I’m tuning out for good. Considering the lack of respect they (again, mostly Schopp) show the general public, everyone else should do the same thing.

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