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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fork! Me Can't Eat Soup!

Can you eat soup with a fork? Sure, you can! But, it’s soup. You’re missing the point.