Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jon And Kate Really Grate

It used to be called The Learning Channel and featured educational fare. But now it’s just called TLC and it broadcasts a raft of shows primarily about giant families or little people but so far, thankfully, not both.

TLC’s current ratings leader is the show "Jon & Kate Plus Eight", an inside look at a couple raising twins and a set of sextuplets. While the show has had a solid audience for much of its run, it now outdraws many major network shows thanks to the recent breakdown of Jon and Kate’s marriage.

The latest news from last Monday’s episode is the long-anticipated divorce of the show’s stars. With promo teasers like "Jon and Kate Gosselin have an announcement", "A family in turmoil" and "A relationship at a crossroads", it was expected that more than ten million viewers would tune in to gawk at the latest development in this ongoing train wreck.

But what if the hype had been just that....hype? What if the expected announcement was not the end of the Gosselins’ fishbowl marriage? What if America’s new favorite couple had something else to announce? Something like:

* "The show’s writers (yes, we have writers) think it would be a great idea to have a whole special big family week on TLC," said Kate Gosselin. "Where we join forces with those crazy folks on ‘18 Kids and Counting’." "Yes, I’m really looking forward to it," said Jon. "What with our sardonic sniping at one another and their wacky religious nuttiness, I think the possibilities for fun times, or maybe even religious end times, are exciting."

* "We’d like to announce that we’re planning to expand our TV family next season," said Kate Gosselin. "Given all the troubles that Nadia Suleman, the Octomom, is having with her new octuplets, we thought we’d like to help out and adopt them, at least for the next season or two." "That’s right," said Jon Gosselin. "We figure we can only squeeze so many ratings points out of our marriage troubles and there’ll soon come a time when we need a new twist to keep our viewers interested. And we really like the title of the revamped show: ‘Jon & Kate Plus Eight Plus Eight’."

* "We feel we’ve done a lot for America by opening up our home to viewers from coast to coast," said Kate Gosselin. "But we’re finding that it’s just not as satisfying as it used to be." "I agree," said Jon. "And that’s why we’re planning to move the show to Israel next season. We figure that by showing everyone in the Middle East how the ten of us manage to get along we can bring some much needed peace and understanding to the region. But don’t look for us to build a settlement in the West Bank. Somehow I don’t think that would be very helpful."

* "Television history shows that one surefire way to exploit the success of a show," said Jon Gosselin. "Is to have a spinoff." "I couldn’t agree more," said Kate Gosselin. "And that’s why we’re looking at expanding the marriage breakup theme and debuting two new shows: ‘Jon Plus Four’ and ‘Kate Plus Four’. Or maybe we’ll piggyback on one of TLC’s other popular series and start our own birth control show called ‘What Not To Bear’."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Torture Or Not Torture?

In his latest effort to control the American political agenda, Dick Cheney recently announced that he’ll soon be hosting his own reality show. Tentatively titled "Torture or not torture?", the former Vice President’s TV offering is slated for a fall debut on the FOX network.

"I was getting frustrated with all the negative talk about torture," said Cheney. "So I decided that the only way to get my message across was through a prime time reality show."

Although plans have not yet been finalized, it seems that the weekly program will likely adopt a quiz show format. Contestants will be interrogated by ex-CIA members and will progress from one level to the next.

"We’re hoping to recruit contestants from Guantanamo Bay," said Mr. Cheney. And, if possible, from the Democratic caucus in the Senate. I really think those folks deserve a chance to play the game."

Leaked production notes suggest that the aim of the show will be to test contestants at various levels of interrogation to see if they will reveal a predetermined secret. And once a contestant "cracks", the home audience will be invited to vote by phone to give their opinion as to whether the revelation resulted from torture or legitimate Geneva Convention-approved methods.

"I can rant and rave all day about what’s torture and what’s not," said the former Vice President. "But it won’t mean a damn thing unless folks get a firsthand view of enhanced interrogation techniques in action."

Asked about just what kind of techniques would be used, Cheney was careful not to reveal too much. He did concede that some of the methods will include the use of water, electricity and canines but he refused to elaborate further.

"I could tell you more," joked Cheney. "But then, of course, I’d have to kill you."

Rumor has it that each round of questioning will involve increasing levels of horror-inducing interrogation and more and more frightening apparatuses. Some insiders have even suggested that Cheney wants to make use of the rack.

"That’s absolutely false," said Cheney. "The whole idea of the show is to illustrate to folks that important information can be elicited from prisoners without actually torturing them. I’m not saying we’ll never use the rack but you have my word that there will be absolutely no drawing and quartering or burying up to the neck in sand. Well, at least no drawing and quartering."

The show is slated to debut on September 11th and will run until America is once again finally safe from terrorism.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Apocryphal Briefings

It turns out that top-secret intelligence briefings prepared by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld around the time of the March 20, 2003 U. S. invasion of Iraq had cover sheets with inspirational pro-war Bible quotes presumably designed to appeal to George W. Bush’s born-again Christian faith. What hasn’t been revealed until now, however, is that there were alternate briefings that didn’t get sent, briefings with potentially more useful quotes from the Bible and from some long-lost books of the Apocrypha.

February 6, 2003
"The one called Kolin shall gather all the nations and falsely urge their armies to join together and make war against Babylon." - Letter to the Grecians 8:4-5

February 20, 2003
"And the burning bush signified to them that a connection must be found between the evil one and the more evil one though they be mortal enemies." - 1 Esoch 16:7

March 10, 2003
"Be not afraid for the Sumerians possess weapons but not in mass numbers nor capable of great destruction." - The Book of Lot 3:21

March 13, 2003
"And they celebrated throughout the night with wine and mead and cakes of all description although none of the cakes glowed of yellow." - 2 Esoch 5:15

March 20, 2003
"The sky will rain down flaming weapons and the whole land will be a burning waste of oil and sulfur. The people will empty the cities and towns and museums of all their treasures." - The Book of Sarah 6:21-22

May 1, 2003
"The Lord spoke and said unto them: ‘Be merciful and show kindness to your enemies. Do not disarm them. And do not shame them with banners above your sailing ships proclaiming victory." - The Gospel according to Michael 3:8-9

November 30, 2005
"The time will surely come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord." - 2 Kings 20:16-17

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On Beyond Inflation

For years, the only thing consumers had to worry about was a little bit of inflation. But now all that has changed. As world economies rapidly decline, experts warn of stagflation (high inflation in the midst of sluggish growth and high unemployment) and even deflation (a decrease in prices and overall economic activity). But apparently that’s just the beginning as economists scramble to devise new economic terms to deal with ever-evolving modern financial complexities:

The economic rule in place 20,000 years ago. No one cared or even knew about inflation since the primary concern was basic food and shelter.

Autoflation occurs when the repeated buying, selling and transferring of personal investment holdings results in ever-increasing losses. The term can also be applied to any attempts by car company executives to extract money from government.

Unlike deflation where prices go down, antiflation combines the worst of all economic worlds. Prices go down but costs go up and growth remains stagnant.

The vast majority of economists are either proponents of inflation or deflation. Some, however, choose to swing both ways and are said to be biflationary.

In today’s global economy, transflation (see below) can travel from one country to another at great speeds. Circumflation is the tendency for an inflationary trend to circle the globe.

Conflation comprises the inflationary pressures suffered due to the illegal activity of unindicted bank executives. Ironically, rather than receiving prison time, the perpetrators of this phenomenon instead receive seven or eight-figure salaries.

Politicians, especially those in power, have a tendency to minimize or discount economic downturns. Some go so far as to deny the existence of inflation. This pollyannaish, glass-half-full view of dire times is called disflation.

Used to describe the dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where no one cares about inflation. When all commerce is barter, the economy is said to be exflationary. Similar to anteflation.

A vague term used by economists to describe any anomalous financial glitch yet to be experienced. For example, if an economy simultaneously experiences inflation, deflation and stagflation, it’s easier to just call it neoflation.

Most economists believe in one inflation at a time. But a few prefer to be wedded to multiple economic inflationary trends. These scholars are called polyflationists and are most commonly found among the business school faculty of Brigham Young University.

Most economists are extremely cautious about inflation. A few, however, actively support all inflationary trends. These academic renegades are known as proflationists.

Reflation is a personal financial indicator. It’s the increase in value of individual investment holdings that occurs immediately after they’ve been sold following years of losses.

Certain segments of society remain unaffected by everyday economic fluctuations. Instead, they suffer from something called subflation or the complete absence of goods and services. These people are sometimes also identified as the poor and the homeless.

Hyperflation is a very high level of inflation such as that experienced in Germany in the 1920s or in Zimbabwe today. Superflation is a very high level of hyperflation and is marked by the use of paper currency for wallpaper, memo pads and toilet tissue.

Just like viral illnesses, inflation can be transmitted from country to country. Transflation. occurs when a national inflationary cycle jumps to a neighboring country thereby pushing its inflation rate even higher.

This is the decidedly unsettling state where nothing moves. No increases, no decreases, no ups, no downs and no excitement. Unflation is economic anomie.