Thursday, January 27, 2005

Media Outrage

There's a reason I don't watch a lot of TV news. Usually, it's not because I don't like seeing the bad news, but because of how it's covered.

There was a nasty train wreck in southern California yesterday that killed 11 people, and left 180 injured. It was an awful, horrible accident, but newsworthy. Reporting the fact that it happened, and the ensuing rescue effort, is important. What infuriates me (and I don't think "infuriates" is stating my feelings too strongly) is how news outlets blatantly exploit victims for financial gain.

Case in point: NBC's The Today Show opened with a news segment on the train wreck. Fine. Then, the next image I see is this poor injured woman, cuts on her face, brace on her neck, in obvious discomfort, in a studio someplace, being interviewed my Matt Lauer, who asked questions like:

"What was it like to be in that wreck?"

"What did you feel as the train was leaving the tracks and you were being brutally thrown about the inside of the speeding train?"

"What do you think of the man who left his car on the tracks that caused this horrible accident?"

The answers are simple, and anyone could give them. "Horrible", "It hurt very badly", and, "I'm angry at him for doing something stupid like that".

The next "eyewitness" was an un-injured man who was sleeping on the train when the wreck occurred.

"I woke up very frightened. There were people all around me screaming."

Really... you don't say. God help me, I think I'm gonna have a kanniption fit.

Why do new organizations stick a camera in the face of the victims, when there is absolutely NO news value involved? Why do they exploit the injured or traumatized victim? Why must they delve into the deep emotions of these poor people, in front of a national audience?

The sad truth is, I know the answer. It's the same reason "reality" programming is so popular: because people like to watch. Because it sells. And, what's sadder, when it comes to shows like The Today Show, the victim agrees to it.

Why do people feel so compelled to watch the misery and suffering of others? What is it the viewer gets out of it? Does is make us feel better about ourselves? Is it sort of a "glad it's not me" thing? Are we drawn to stories of human suffering like moths to a flame?

I'd like to think humanity had come further than to relish in the tradgedy of others, but I guess we still have a ways to go.

The old adage still holds: If crap sells, then sell crap.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Faith Based Personal Initiative

In exploring and examining my own faith, I've found, in many ways, I've come up far short of where I... well... wished I was.

Last Saturday night at church over at The Rock of Rocklin, they had a special speaker. He was a good friend of the senior pastor, someone he'd known for years. I can't think now of his name, and it really doesn't matter. What does matter is what he said. During this message he said some things that really found their mark with me. After writing about atheists a few posts back, I find the turn of the tables personally very ironic.

He talked about faith, on the theme of "Why Not Us... Why Not Now?" The crux of the message had to do with how much faith do you have in your God? Do you really, really believe that your God is able to do anything, and that God wants the very best for you? After all, that's what the Bible teaches. Romans 8:28 says "We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose ."

But so many people who claim to have faith act as if they do not. They do not truly trust God in all areas of their lives. That's a scary thing, to truly trust someone else, much less an unseen God, with guiding your life.

I was reading in the book of Hebrews and found some interesting verses.

Hebrews 11:1 says "To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see."

Hebrews 11:6 "It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him."

And the speaker spoke from this verse, Hebrews 10:38 : "Those whose faith has made them good in God's sight must live by faith, trusting him in everything. Otherwise, if they shrink back, God will have no pleasure in them."

(Or, as The Message phrases that last verse, "...anyone who is right with me (God) thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won't be very happy."

So I've been asking myself, just how much faith do I have? Just how deep is my belief in God and Jesus and all that? Do I tend to cut and run?

The speaker talked about areas of my life where God can make a real difference, if I'd just trust God. (I've actually seen my relationships with my children completly changed when I prayed and asked God for help, so I know from personal experience there's something to it.)

The speaker challenged me to re-think and examine my faith. If I claim to have faith, then I should live by that faith, truly trusting the things I say I believe in. That's a bold step. The kind of step that David took when he walked out and faced Goliath.

So I'll be examining my faith and beliefs in the coming months. Not in the sense that I think I am wrong or misguided, because I truly do believe deeply in the sacrifice of Jesus and his atonement for mankind, and that the acceptance of that sacrifice is the only way to reach God. But I'll be examining how I believe it, and examining how that belief should effect my life.

I really believe a good soul search is a positive thing, no matter if you are Christian or not. It's always good to take some time and assess your thoughts and beliefs and see if you can do things better, or find a better idea.

That to me is the essense of a spiritual journey. Formulating ideas, testing them out, discussing them, and seeing if what you believe holds up. If you think it does, then good. If it does not, then keep searching.

I believe there is only ONE truth. Whatever that truth is, someday we'll all know what it is.

(And with my luck, just as in the South Park episode where everyone winds up in Hell.... the only people that get it right will be the Mormons.) ;-)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Comcast Overcast

Comcast Cable is having issues in my area. Connectivity issues, which, considering it's the internet, is the ONLY issue of importance. For about a week now, the connection has been radomly hit and miss. I get DNS errors on pages I visit routinely. I can't even bring up Blogger! Argh!! (Obviously, I'm not doing THIS post from home.)

I talked to a Comcast rep on their "chat help" site yesterday. He wasn't very helpful, and it seemed to be mostly canned responses, but... well.. here...

Richard > Thank you for contacting Comcast, my name is Richard. How may I help you today?

Mike > Can you please check on connection issues in my zip code, 95610? I've been having issues reaching various web pages over the past week.
Mike > I was told there was a problem, but I'm curious if/when it will be resolved?

Richard > I apologize for any inconvenience you are experiencing with your connection. I would be happy to assist you with that. May I begin with your first name please?

Mike > Uhm... Mike

Richard > Thank you. Please hold while I check for outages.

Mike > thank you

(looooooong wait)

Mike > Still checking?

Richard > Yes I am. One moment please.


Richard > Thank you for holding. The outage is stil active at time.

Mike > okie... just checking.. tx

Richard > I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that causes you. We are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Mike > OK... it has been about a week, is that correct? Can you tell me what the problem is?

Richard > Unfortunately I do not have an estimated time of resolution when the problem was declared. However it is still active. The problem is something technical with the network. I'm sorry but I do not have more details on that.

Mike > okie doke... thank you for checking.... good day

The problem is, NO ONE at Comcast is able to tell me WHAT the problem is. I find that strange. Anyway, I'm gonna have to hit them up for a one or two week credit on my service.