Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Books you should make your kids read...and you should too!

Recently, I was informed by my wife that she wanted to get the kids interested in reading.  I have also tried to encourage my kids to read but the two older ones haven't expressed a lot of interest and I don't want to force it because I'm sure they'll come around sooner or later.

Anyway, I figured I'd jot down a few books I considered "Classics" and must reads.  That list grew pretty quickly to over 140 books.  I've sneakily interjected some of my own personal favorites but if you give this list a quick glance, I think you'll find some of your own best beloved books from your own childhood, many deserving of a re-read.

I've left out a lot of great books such as "Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon", "Where the Wild Things Are" and the unquestionable classic "Everyone Poops" which are all aimed at a much younger crowd.  I would consider most of these suitable for 7 years old and up.  A few of these books might be considered a bit more risque and better suited for a 13 and older crowd depending on how puritianical you are.

You might find some of these books a bit hefty for younger readers.  As a child, I was a voracious reader myself.  Our local library had a lending limit which they quickly lifted for me because I was bringing back books I had just borrowed the next day.  When I was about 9, I begged my Dad to let me borrow his large, leatherbound edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare...the one without any pictures!  I actually had a reading test as a child, in which the surprised teachers informed me and my parents that I was reading at an adult level.  As a consquence of being so well-read, I also wrote at an accelerated level which for a short time caused my teachers to question some of the written work I turned in until they realized I was just a really good reader/writer.  Math...not so much though.

Many of these books are also what I would call "Gateway" books, introductory books to great writers and literary genres such as fantasy, science-fiction, horror and mystery to name a few.

Anyway, here's the list.  If you copy it, you should be able to paste it right into Excel or any other spreadsheet program as a "comma delimited file".

Aesop's Fables , Aesop
Brave New World , Aldous Huxley
The Three Musketeers , Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo , Alexandre Dumas
Black Beauty , Anna Sewell
Dragonflight , Anne McCaffrey
A Clockwork Orange , Anthony Burgess
Childhood's End , Arthur C. Clarke
2001: A Space Oddysey , Arthur C. Clarke
The Lost World , Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes Complete Works , Arthur Conan Doyle
Dracula , Bram Stoker
The Chronicles of Narnia , C.S. Lewis
Pickwick Papers , Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist , Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby , Charles Dickens
Great Expectations , Charles Dickens
David Copperfield , Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities , Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol , Charles Dickens
Tales of Mother Goose , Charles Perrault
Robinson Crusoe , Daniel Dafoe
The Divine Comedy , Dante Alighieri
The Postman , David Brin
A Voyage to Arcturus , David Lindsay
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , Douglas Adams
Charlotte's Web , E.B. White
Complete Stories and Poems , Edgar Allan Poe
Tarzan of the Apes , Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Princess of Mars , Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Worm Ouroboros , Erick Eddison
The Sun Also Rises , Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Secret Garden , Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess , Frances Hodgson Burnett
Dune , Frank Herbert
Gateway , Frederik Pohl
The Phantom of the Opera , Gaston Leroux
1984, George Orwell
Animal Farm , George Orwell
War of the Worlds , H.G. Wells
The Time Machine , H.G. Wells
Tales of H.P. Lovecraft , H.P. Lovecraft
The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales , Hans Christian Andersen
The Beast who shouted love at the top of the world , Harlan Ellison
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream , Harlan Ellison
To Kill A Mockingbird , Harper Lee
Uncle Tom's Cabin , Harriet Beecher Stowe
Walden , Henry David Thoreau
Moby Dick , Herman Melville
The Iliad and Odyssey , Homer
Foundation , Isaac Asimov
The Catcher in the Rye , J.D. Salinger
The Call of the Wild , Jack London
The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales , Jacob Grimm
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone , JK Rowling
The Forever War , Joe Haldeman
Swiss Family Robinson , Johann David Wyss
Grendel , John Gardner
Paradise Lost , John Milton
The Grapes of Wrath , John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men , John Steinbeck
East of Eden , John Steinbeck
Gulliver's Travels , Jonathan Swift
The Lord of the Rings , JRR Tolkien
The Hobbit , JRR Tolkien
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and other verses from the Red Book , JRR Tolkien
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea , Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth , Jules Verne
Around the World in Eighty Days , Jules Verne
Slaughterhouse Five , Kurt Vonnegut
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , L. Frank Baum
Ringworld , Larry Niven
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass , Lewis Carroll
Little Women , Louisa May Alcott
A Wrinkle in Time , Madeleine L'Engle
Gone with the Wind , Margaret Mitchell
Dragonlance Chronicles , Margaret Weis
The Prince & The Pauper , Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , Mark Twain
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court , Mark Twain
The Borrowers , Mary Norton
Frankenstein , Mary Shelly
The Neverending Story , Michael Ende
Don Quixote , Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Ender's Game , Orson Scott Card
The Picture of Dorian Gray , Oscar Wilde
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep , Philip K. Dick
On a Pale Horse , Piers Anthony
A spell for Chameleon , Piers Anthony
The Broken Sword , Poul Anderson
The Martian Chronicles , Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked this way comes , Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 , Ray Bradbury
Watership Down , Richard Adams
James and the Giant Peach , Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , Roald Dahl
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress , Robert Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land , Robert Heinlein
Starship Troopers , Robert Heinlein
Magic Inc. , Robert Heinlein
Glory Road , Robert Heinlein
Citizen of the Galaxy , Robert Heinlein
Conan , Robert Howard
The Wheel of Time , Robert Jordan
Treasure Island , Robert Louis Stevenson
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped , Robert Louis Stevenson
Nine Princes in Amber , Roger Zelazny
The Jungle Books , Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories , Rudyard Kipling
The Outsiders , S.E. Hinton
The Missing Piece, Shel Silverstein
Peter Pan , Sir James Matthew Barrie
The Red Badge of Courage , Stephen Crane
The Stand , Stephen King
Pet Semetary , Stephen King
Needful Things , Stephen King
The Once and Future King , T.H. White
The Wasteland and Other Poems , T.S. Eliot
The Wasteland , T.S. Eliot
The Sword of Shannara , Terry Brooks
Magic Kingdon for Sale -- SOLD! , Terry Brooks
The Colour of Magic , Terry Pratchet
The Sword in the Stone , TH White
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights , Unknown
The Earthsea Trilogy , Ursula Guin
Collection of Greek Mythology , Various
The Hunchback of Notre Dame , Victor Hugo
Les Miserables , Victor Hugo
Rob Roy , Walter Scott
Ivanhoe , Walter Scott
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow , Washington Irving
Neuromancer , William Gibson
Lord of the Flies , William Golding
The Princess Bride , William Goldman
Romeo and Juliet , William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream , William Shakespeare
The Adventures of Robin Hood,
King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cory Doctorow loves the Taliban?

Got your attention?  Does Cory Doctorow really support the Taliban?  Well, no...I don't think so.  But over at BoingBoing, (a popular news, tech & science blog) some comments I recently made critical of the Taliban seem to have hit a sore spot with BoingBoing's "Lead moderator", Antinous.

The article in question was a Tom the Dancing Bug graphic comparing the recent movie, "The Hunger Games" with recent real world happenings, including the American soldier charged with the killing of 17 men, women and children in Afghanistan.

While I agree and also stated the act was reprehensible, I couldn't help but point out that just 3 days later a Taliban roadside bomb killed 9 children and 4 women and while the slaying of the 17 was a rare and isolated incident, both discriminate and indiscriminate killings of women and children by the Taliban are commonplace on a monthly if not weekly basis.

Antinous has been critical of the U.S. in many past comments on the blog, some might even say downright anti-American in some cases but I honestly have no problem with that.  I welcome open discourse and critique on politics world-wide but after I posted my initial comment Antinous quickly deleted it.  At first I thought it was a fluke but no, when I tried to repost it that was deleted too.  I posted three more comments in an attempt to espouse my views and all were deleted.

My comments weren't inflammatory, they contained no swears or naughty words, they were not indelicate and they were not xenophobic.  I don't blame the Muslim people as a whole for the barbarous acts of the Taliban but apparently criticizing the Taliban is off-limits when Antinous is watching the BoingBoing comments with a hawk-eye.

It bothers me because BoingBoing has long been a bastion of freedom, speaking out against evil-doers and speaking up for the oppressed but apparently all it takes is one rogue moderator with a personal agenda to stir up drama.  BoingBoing is no stranger to drama either, they've had a fair share of past drama with other former moderators who also seemed to have gotten a little too "drunk with power".

But since, I can't say what I want to say on BoingBoing, I'll say it here instead and since this is my own forum I'll take a little more time to elaborate and expound on my original comments, which were only about 3 or 4 sentences.

The massacre in Kandahar while reprehensible was an isolated incident and certainly not justified but consider this: In 2008 the Taliban massacred 25 people in a bus in Kandahar. In 2011 they fired a RPG at a schoolbus killing 4 children, the driver and causing horrific injuries to 14 children and 2 women.  3 days after an American soldier is charged with killing 17 Afghans, a Taliban roadside bomb killed 9 children and 6 women.

Those are just a few incidents from the last 4 years. I could give you numerous examples from the last four months. The Taliban commit these atrocities on regular basis. They don't apologize.  These barbarisms aren't retaliation for acts by American forces.  Most of the time they don't even involve American forces.  These are simply evil people who want power and they do that by controlling the Afghan people with fear.  Don't believe me?  Don't take my word for it!  Take the Taliban's word for it!  They proudly issue public statements and openly take responsibility for these acts, murdering their "own" men, women and children.

They torture, extort, spray acid on women and children for going to school and rape and murder their own people on a regular basis. Where is the outrage? Where are the protests?

So, you'll forgive me if I can't take the Taliban seriously when they issue statements decrying the killing of 17 Afghans by an American soldier while vowing to take revenge for the deaths of innocent Afghan people when the Taliban have themselves slaughtered far more innocents while maintaining a smug, callous and of course "holier than thou" attitude.  I'm not even talking about the deaths and killing of American military forces or Coalition forces.  That at least I could understand.  I'm talking about Taliban killing their own innocent Arab brothers, sisters and children plain and simple, non-combatants, most not even politically affiliated and the Taliban does it without remorse, without cause or justification and while reveling in the fact and even applauding themselves as lauding themselves as great heroes.

What saddens me is the Taliban's continued oppression and killing of their "own" people has become so commonplace that no one seems to even care anymore, much less the Afghan people themselves either through apathy or fear of reprisal.

I'm not saying the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan but let me ask you this...who is the Taliban going to blame their killing and murdering on when the U.S. isn't there anymore?  The Taliban won't have an excuse when the U.S. leaves and they don't have an excuse now.

And if you want to hear something really rich on the 13th of March, Taliban insurgents opened fire and attacked a group of senior Afghan investigators that were...(drumroll) investigating the killings the American soldier Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is charged with.  High-five Taliban!  Time to publish another glowing press release patting yourselves on the back.  I mean...honestly I couldn't make up shit that stupid.

That's all.  Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Congress has Real Life Epeen measuring contest. Winner = No one.

The last scandal involving “Weiners” I wrote about was of course about Anthony Weiner.  This time it’s the House Republicans that want to show everyone how big their weiners are.  Spoiler Alert: No one wins.

The timeline for the looming debt ceiling and impending default doesn’t bother me as much as the damage that our congressmen are doing NOW.  We’ve been told the value of the American dollar will drop *IF* we default on our debts.

Newsflash: The circus show that GOP is hosting right now in the House is already causing it to drop.
I’m not going to say, the Republicans are entirely to blame for this but given that they have majority control of the House of Representatives right now, I’d have to say that they’re mostly to blame.
The Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell has stated that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”

Republican House Speaker, John Boehner has also echoed those sentiments and in regards to Obama’s agenda said, “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”

The President has been bending over backwards on compromises to raise the debt ceiling and yet Boehner and House Republicans still continue to argue because apparently Obama isn’t touching his toes too.

These aren’t our elected leaders…these are children.  More and more, it becomes painfully apparent that the entire House is a decadent, rusted cog that doesn’t turn for the American people.  It screeches slowly forward for lobbyists and partisan posturing and when there’s actual work that needs to be done it spins backwards.

The Republicans and Democrats can squabble like children over spending cuts and tax raises any time.  Instead, the Republicans are abusing key issues like this in some illogically thought through effort to undermine Obama’s presidency.

Not only are they screwing the American people but they’re putting a knife in their own backs too.  Boehner and the gang are stonewalling the debt ceiling issue beyond reason and it’s showing.
This is the same thing Boehner put us through in April threatening not to pass a new budget, which would have seen a government shutdown and Federal workers including military not getting a paycheck.

Instead they used the threat of shutdown as a standing board for their issues with Planned Parenthood.

Now, Senator McConnell is proposing a ridiculously convoluted plan in which Obama must propose to raise the debt ceiling, then the Republicans vote it down and then Obama vetoes the votedown.
What do we pay these guys for again?

So, like I said…it all boils down to a penis measuring contest in which no one wins and the American people lose…big time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weiner remaining firm under increasing pressure

Weiner describes his...uh...nevermind. 

Okay, we get it.  Enough already.  I’m already over-quota for dick jokes well into 2012.

Here we go anyway.  See how much blatant sexual innuendo you can find in this article.
The news media has been all over Weiner for the last week since this whole Weiner thing exploded in the news.

Fellow Democrats are calling for Weiner to come down but Weiner appears to be remaining firm despite the increasing pressure.

Of course Donald Trump felt he had to get on top of this Weiner thing too.  Anyone who wasn’t an idiot could see there was something up with Weiner.  But thanks anyway for your incredible insight Donald and coming from someone of your moral caliber that means a lot.

The Clintons have already said they are unhappy about Weiner but so far the White House has been avoiding Weiner altogether.

The news media has been hammering Weiner for the last week.  Honestly, I don’t see how they have been pulling it off with a straight face.

Weiner has been on the lips of network reporters all week and they have repeatedly used words like “pressure” and “firm” and describe Weiner as being Jewish.  Their continued use of poorly worded phrases makes me think that even Wolf Blitzer must be in on the jokes.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot…PENIS.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why won’t Obama show us his driver’s license?

President Obama,

I’m calling you out.  Why won’t you show us your driver’s license?
Sure according to the DMV, they claim to have a valid license for him on record but that leads to the inevitable question…why hasn’t Obama made it public yet?

A recent article on CNN highlighted a new book by Jerome Corsi titled, “Where’s the Birth Certificate” and apparently it’s currently number six on the New York Time’s Best Seller List.

Author Jerome Corsi...didn't get the memo. 
The book was released May 17th by World Net Daily (WND) Books, irreverently referred to by many as “World Nut Daily”.  Corsi and WND were apparently undeterred by the fact that Pres. Obama made his long form birth certificate public on April 27th.

According to polls by CNN, currently 17 percent of Americans think the President wasn’t born in the U.S.  In March, those numbers were 25 percent.  17 percent is roughly 1 in 6.  I don’t know about you but I find that sadly disturbing.

Corsi has a number of amusing conspiracy theories about how Pres. Obama made his way into the Oval Office.  Imagine if you will, an American government largely composed of white Christian males all conspiring together to get a black Muslim born in Kenya into the White House. 

If you think that’s a little far-fetched then congratulations…you’re not part of that diseased 17 percent.

Corsi has also thrown his hat in with the folks who claim 9/11 was an inside job.
Corsi likes to tout his Ph.D in Polysci on the cover of his books.  Apparently Harvard will give anyone a Ph.D in Polysci these days.

Corsi himself has more than a dubious past.  In 1995, Corsi with the help of some business partners started a mutual fund to invest in post Soviet Union Poland.  They ended up losing investors 1.2 million dollars.  Two investors won judgements against Corsi and his partners but weren’t able to get anything from Corsi. 

According to the investors’ claims he moved all his money into his wife’s name where it was untouchable.  An FBI investigation revealed no wrong-doing by Corsi.  Er…

To be honest though, it’s best to let Corsi speak for himself.  Most of these quotes are from an online forum called FreeRepublic, a website that claims to be “America’s exclusive site for God, Family, Country, Life & Liberty constitutional conservative activists!” where Corsi has admitted to posting under the user name “jrlc”. 

You can read more of his posts here. Comments and Posts like Corsi’s are extremely standard fare for FreeRepublic.  “Conservative”, indeed.

Corsi on Catholicism: “Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn’t reported by the liberal press”
Corsi on Muslims: “RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters — it all goes together”
Corsi on “John F*ing Commie Kerry”: “After he married TerRAHsa, didn’t John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?”
Corsi on Senator “FAT HOG” Clinton: “Anybody ask why HELLary couldn’t keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?”

So…yeah.  There you have it.  Corsi in his own words, a rambling sexist bigot trolling internet forums.  Those are just a few excerpts.  There are loads more of sub-moronic rants by Corsi in both his books and online musings.  Again, it makes me wonder just how hard it is to get a doctorate in Polysci.

WND and Corsi took the news of Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate without flinching and are boldly calling it an elaborate forgery.

Here is a prime example of leading a horse to water and not being able to make it drink.  It’s funny because in 2009 the “Birthers” latched on to an obvious forged birth certificate showing that Obama was born in Kenya.  It was soon revealed the certificate was a fake made by an online blogger to poke fun at how gullible the Birther crowd is.  They’ll believe anything…except an actual official birth certificate in both short and long form.

I would nominate Corsi for my “Golden Soup Fork” award if not for the fact he’s already received numerous informal awards related to his obvious stupidity and general jack-assery.

If Cat playing video games can teach us anything…

Soup and Fork isn’t just a blog with long-winded rants about politics and current events…it’s about other stuff too!  Technology and games is also a big passion of mine.
Ever since I was a kid, beaming over my brand new Commodore 64 I’ve been hooked on the world of computers and gaming.  Yes, many mindless hours were spent with Mr. Do, Mr. Robot and a whole slew of other formally named video game characters.
And if Cat playing video games can teach us anything it’s that it never hurts to kick back, unwind a little and release some pent up stress.  Here are some upcoming games that I’m personally anticipating for 2011 and 2012.

EA’s highly anticipated Battlefield 3 has a brand new game engine and graphics so good you’ll propose marriage.  The gameplay looks to be solid, accompanied by an engaging story as well.  As a bonus, it’s not made by Activision.  (Yes, that’s a dig on you, Call of Duty players)
As a sidenote, Activision is apparently going to be releasing a subscription based service called “Call of Duty Elite” which will offer players stuff like, get this…stat-tracking.  Amazing, right?  Anyway, I’m not sure how great that will go over the CoD community.
There have been rumors of a BF3 release in mid-July but according to EA the game is slated for a Fall release and I suspect it will probably compete with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′s release date.  Pre-orders are available now.
Ghost Recon Online:
I know I was just gushing about BF3 but lemme tell you EA is firing duds in the free-to-play market.  Words fail to properly describe how bad Battlefield: Free2Play is.  Most free-to-play FPS games are full of fail and hackers but I’ve got a feeling Ubisoft is gonna do us right with GRO, a free-to-play persistent version of the most awesome Ghost Recon series.
Closed Beta this summer, you can sign up now.

Guild Wars 2:
Guild Wars is a B2P (buy-to-play) mmorpg without subscription fees.  NCPlay’s GW1 had what I thought was a pretty hollow PVE questline and focused mostly on competitive PVP.  I found it kinda disappointing to be honest but still it was pretty cool.  I’m hoping for much better things from GW2 and a lot of other gamers are anticipating this release as well.
Release date: Nov. 2011

Marvel Universe Online:
Marvel is planning on releasing a free-to-play MMORPG based on the Marvel IP, where you’ll play as actual Marvel Superheroes.  Development of the game was cancelled in 2008 but as of now it’s back on like Donkey Kong.
There’s no current projected release date but you can find out a little more about it here:

Halo is a personal favorite of mine.  I’ve been hooked on the saga of Masterchief since it’s release in November 2001.  343 Studios is working on a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved rolling out new HD graphics, cooperative online play and hopefully some kicking competitive multiplayer.
Of course, this is only for the Xbox 360 crowd.  Release is rumored to be December 2011.
Bungie has announced they aren’t going to be developing Halo anymore and 343 Studios is taking over the Halo franchise.  There’s also talk of 343 making a new Halo.  From what I’ve heard after Halo: (re-)CE they’ll be moving the Halo franchise forward, i.e. no prequels, side-stories and stuff so we can expect a sequel to Halo: Reach.  I’m hoping they do Halo right.  It couldn’t be worse than Halo 3: ODST, and Bungie made that garbage.
With a somewhat ambiguous ending to Halo 3, i.e. “Wake me when you need me…” a lot of gamers are hoping Masterchief will make a triumphant return and make everyone soil their pants.

Star Wars: The Old Republic
Developer BioWare is building off their success on previous Star Wars titles and set to release a new MMORPG based on the Star Wars franchise.  EA and BioWare look to indeed be strong with the force with this upcoming release.  It’s currently slated for late 2011.  If it stays on schedule I suspect it will drop around November or December.
Word is that BioWare has put some serious time into voicing NPCs and characters for the game giving it an incredibly immersive feel.  Playing different classes or alignments is supposed to yield a vastly different game experience for both.
Normally, I’m a casual gamer and dislike paying subscription fees for games but it’s rumored that SW:TOR will have a cash/item shop.  This has caused many people to theorize that they may use a free-to-play subscription style or a combination of monthly subscription/F2P, similar to Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.
Regardless of cost, expect to see players disgruntled with how bad Star Trek Online is jumping ship when this releases.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just the facts? (Finding the truth in news)

"All we want are the facts." -Jack Webb as Joe Friday

Remember, the famous hard-boiled detective Joe Friday from Dragnet played by actor Jack Webb?
Joe Friday was interested in one thing and one thing only…the facts.  Modern news media could take a page or two out of Friday’s fictitious notebook.

Fox News Channel has been dominating the ratings for news shows for quite some time with CNN and MSNBC duking it out for the title of runner-up.

Fox has been raking in the ratings with shows like Glenn Beck, The O’Reilly Factor and On the Record with Greta VanSusteren.

Shows like these are primarily vessels for political commentary with a dash of topical news.   They contain little if no actual facts and yet people mindlessly tune into such shows and accept everything these pundits pitch without question.

Beck’s increasingly sensationalist conspiracy theories and rhetoric have been touted by many as the reason his show has rapidly sunk in the ratings during the past year and also as the reason why he’s getting the pink slip from Fox.  In 2009 Beck was even punked by an 80 year old Barbara Walters who called him out on The View with Beck admitting he doesn’t check facts.  Beck himself has also been quoted as saying that he is an “entertainer” and doesn’t give a “flying crap about the political process.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It’s not just Fox and their “Pundit Posse” that’s guilty of this but Fox does it so often and so outlandishly that they’ve earned themselves the tongue-in-cheek nickname “Faux News”.  They could be forgiven perhaps if the commentary was limited to shows like Beck, Greta and O’Reilly but the commentary constantly spills over from the talk shows and gets regurgitated by their actual reporters and news anchors.

I don’t watch the news because I want to hear about the reporter’s personal opinions and political leanings, regardless of which way they go.  As a reader or viewer, I want the option of making my own informed opinion but alas, they don’t make it easy these days.  The downward spiral of news devolving from hardline reporting into entertainment news and eventually just entertainment could be marked by the rise of the internet.

With news now a click away these days and anyone able to report it, traditional news media have turned to tabloid-esque tactics to keep people’s attention and advertiser’s dollars.  You can’t blame the news media entirely though.  If the ratings are any indicator they’re giving the people what they want.  However, this errant disregard for fact-checking is becoming all too common inside and outside the world of news media.

In April, Republican Senator Jon Kyl in a battle to reduce federal funding for Planned Parenthood, took the Senate floor and claimed that abortion services are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

This fact was quickly disputed and according to Planned Parenthood abortion related services only accounted for 3% of their yearly total services provided with 90% of their services being preventative in nature.

Once this was pointed out a spokesperson for Sen. Kyl quickly released a statement that the Senator’s remarks were “not intended to be a factual statement” which was quickly ridiculed by news pundits like Stephen Colbert.

I want to reiterate that it’s not just Republicans or the so-called right wing media that are guilty of fudging the facts or in some cases making them up altogether.  It’s across the political spectrum.  Democrats are certainly guilty of it too.  However, it may be noted that websites like Politifact.org dedicated to objective, non-biased fact-checking have consistently seen higher numbers of falsehoods and outright lies coming from the Republican Party.

Regardless of the numbers though, the point is the lies are coming at us from every side, angle and direction.

Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels was famously quoted as saying,
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
It seems disturbing that a quote from a Nazi would ring so true even today.

At least in America we can count ourselves lucky that we still enjoy freedom of the press.  In many other countries people are cut-off from the non-filtered news that the rest of us enjoy.  In places like Iran, people risk imprisonment or worse just by attempting to bypass their government’s strictly enforced internet firewalls.

Back in the “good ole’ days” if the weatherman said the sun was shining you didn’t open the curtains to check if it was true.  Nowadays, filtering the truth out of news requires opening the curtains.  Not only do you have to open your curtains but if you want the whole story you have to open your neighbor’s curtains too.

Jumping from one news site to the next, one might yield stories on President Obama receiving accolades for a job well done and on the other you might find scathing claims calling for his impeachment.  Both stories might contain questionable facts, bias or even worse…be editorials pretending to be real news.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s reporters who editorialize or editorialists who think they’re reporters.

Now, all of this isn’t really anything new really but it’s growing worse and the line between fact and fiction is getting thinner.

If you’ve actually gotten this far in the article without disregarding it as “liberal” propaganda you’re probably fairly objective yourself.  It’s getting the “masses” to realize the need for more objectivity in not only news reporting but news viewing  as well that’s the problem.

You could easily write a thesis on the degeneration of American news media and journalistic ethics.  Heck, you could write a book.  I think this is a good start though.  My point is simple.  If you accept everything you hear on “the news” at face-value you’re stocking up on snake oil.

Check the facts…just the facts!  If you have to do a little personal research to get to the truth of an issue, it’s worth it.  Don’t rely on someone else to make up your mind for you.