Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Props to You!

To be perfectly honest, I'm not much of a football fan. Actually, I'm not much for watching a sporting event of ANY kind though I will watch baseball occasionally or the local college hoops team (since I work for them). Otherwise? meh!
While the upcoming Super Bowl will garner millions upon millions of viewers, even some just in it for the clever commercials, I will not be among those glued to the set. I'll probably be out trying to clear the remains of the upcoming winter storm from the driveway and working on the second of my winter sculptures. There IS one thing that fascinates me about the Super Bowl...really, about ANY major sporting event: the number and type of prop bets on which one can lay a wager in Vegas. 
These bets are totally unrelated to the outcome of the game and focus on the minutiae surrounding it, like, "Will the coin flip end up heads or tails?" A person who so wishes can place a bet on almost any facet of the event, and there will be a betting line in Vegas. Want proof? Here are some of the prop bets for this year's Big Game:

1. Will any player from either the Ravens or the 49ers be arrested this week? (odds are 5/1)

2. Will either of the Harbaugh parents be seen on television wearing clothing with a team logo? (bet on "no.")

3. What will be the duration of the pre-game handshake/hug between the coaching brothers? (over/under at 7.5 seconds)

4. If Ray Lewis is interviewed after the game, how many times will he use the word "God" or "Lord"?

5. Will the television ratings be higher in San Francisco or in Baltimore?

6. Who will President Obama pick? (vote for an on-the-fence-response!)

7. What will be the highest numbers of tweets in any given minute of the broadcast? (over/under is 15,000. really)

8. What color will the Gatorade be that gets splashed on the winning coach? (odds favor water, yellow, or orange. Not so good for green, red, or blue)

9. How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing the National Anthem? (over/under 2:15)  What are the odds she will omit or forget at least one word?

10 Beyonce gets the most prop bets I could find.
a. Will Jay-Z appear on stage with her at half time?
b. Will her hair be curly or straight at the beginning of her performance?
c. What color top will she be wearing at the beginning of the performance? (don't bet on green)
d. Will there be anything like a "wardrobe malfunction"?

While I think all of this is incredibly entertaining, I cannot place a bet on any of them. Employed by the athletics department of an NCAA institution, I would lose my job if discovered doing such a thing. really.
Enjoy the game, the commercials, and all the gut-bomb food you'll eat. I'll be outside and willing to read about it on Monday when everyone else skips work.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Do You Have Six Fingers on Your Right Hand?

Often times I am the one who feels like he's spent years in a cave becoming totally unaware of the twists and turns of popular culture. As it happens, I'm not the only one in this situation.
I would presume everyone has seen The Princess Bride, a semi-swashbuckling love story filmed in 1987 and constantly replayed on cable television. Most folks I know own a copy, and I watch at least part of it every time I happen to surf across it...just like I do when The Treasure of Sierra Madre comes on (for no other reason than to hear the line, "Badges? We don't have to show you any stinking badges."
A stewardess on Quantas Airlines seems to be similarly culturally deprived. Wynand Mullins was making a flight from Sydney to Auckland recently and was accosted by the stewardess and asked to remove his shirt and either replace it or turn it inside out (like we did in gym class!). His crime? Mullins was wearing a T-shirt with the photo noted above transcribed on it followed by the ever-so famous quote," Hello, my name in Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." When Mullins questioned the flight attendant why his shirt was a problem, she noted that some of the other passengers felt intimidated by the message.
Maybe there are more than just a few who haven't seen the movie, even though the passenger next to Mullins was laughing when he saw the shirt...or maybe it's just an Australian thing...or maybe those passengers possessed six fingers on their right hands and were justifiably nervous!
While one might think there is a freedom of speech issue here, there are two facts that need to be stressed:
1. Not everybody lives in America where freedom of speech is a given.
2. Airplanes are not considered to be public spaces. They are considered private spaces, and therefore, rules like dress codes may be enforced by the airline employees...which is what happened in this case. Similar incidents have occurred within the past year on domestic flights featuring both American Airlines and Delta Airlines.
Thus: one must be somewhat careful with regard to dress when considering airline travel...though the TSA didn't seem to have such restrictions when scanning us pre-flight.
...and nobody has any rules that I know about that refer to screaming babies...but they should!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adding Years to Your Life

Despite what tobacco manufacturers since the time of Sir Walter Raleigh may suggest, smoking will kill people. In addition to the various types of cancer, it can severely limit circulation and create embolism problems. Just ask my parents...oh no, you cannot since smoking killed both of them in their early to mid-70s. My dad once said that he'd rather die do something that gave him pleasure rather than live and be miserable. I have no idea whether or not he was happy at the end...he didn't LOOK happy.
Of course, the dangers have been long recognized, but now there is some definitive numbers attached to living longer without smoking. In an article in the most recent New England Journal of Medicine, researchers expounded on an experiment involving 200,000 Americans between 1997 and 2004 in hopes of determining how much longer one might live without smoking. The answer, of course, is "longer." Obviously. Some data from the study:

1. Non-smokers are more than twice as likely to live into their 80s as are smokers. Remember, 80 isn't all that old anymore!

2. While the number of smokers has declined by slightly more than 19%, there are still 45.3 million smokers in this country.

3. In 1960, the chance of a woman dying of lung cancer was a shade over two percent. Now? the chance has skyrocketed to over 25%. Men suffered a corresponding increase though the numbers were slightly different.

4. If a smoker quits in his or her mid-30s, life expectancy increases by 10 years.

5. A smoker who quits in the mid-40s gets an extra 8 years.

6. a smoker who quits in the mid-60s can look forward to an additional 4 years longer than if he or she had not quit.

Sobering facts, to be sure, especially given that we generally will live longer, healthier in general than our forebears did.
I want every second I can get, but since I don't smoke, I guess I'll have to keep going to the gym and stop eating chips!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You Say, "Tomato..."

People love gadgets, innovation, technology...anything that presents the possibility of getting more for less. Weight loss, online bidding sites, and "zero percent interest" all gain our immediate attention. sometimes, these novelties wear off, but sometimes, they become part of accepted culture. Among the fitness/training community, the latest technical brainstorm has to do with what one wears while running.
The problem with running is that leg and back injuries from overuse tend to be common. Add to that the fact that running just isn't high on the "fun meter," and you have an activity that has constantly searched for ways to make the experience more rewarding. Heart rate monitors, "track  my run" technology, flashy colors for shoes and events like color runs or mud runs have all had their moments...but going relatively shoeless has become, over the past couple of years, a panacea for runners' injury issues, and people are flocking to the trend like pre-teens to a Justin Bieber concert.
The idea gained significant momentum in 2010 when Kevin Hatala, a grad student in evolutionary anthropology at Harvard, presented a study he and others had conducted among the Kalenjin tribe in Kenya: a group noted for running long distances without shoes. As reported in the journal Nature, these people ran almost exclusively by landing first on the balls of their feet. This, of course, was revolutionary news since running shoes had long sought to cushion the heel of running shoes with air or gel since most people were shown to land there first...and a potential cause for all the joint injuries was hinted.
Adherents by the thousands joined the minimalist revolution, and claims of lessened knee and back pain abounded as "shoe" prices soared. Soon, every manufacturers was promoting this type of footwear (just as they had promoted the rounded heel for walking shoes some time earlier!). Not everyone was totally convinced of course, and now comes evidence that the naysayers might have a point.
Published recently in PLoS One, was a more recent study done on the Daasanach tribe of Northern Kenya. This group has no history of competitive running, and no history of wearing shoes so it seemed like a good measure.
Researchers found that when the Daasanach people ran at an 8-minute per mile pace, 72% of them landed first on their heels, 24% of them landed in the midfoot area, and only 4% of the runners landed first on the balls of their feet...results that would seem to confound the earlier report. Even when they were asked to run faster to simulate sprinting, 45% STILL landed first on their heels, further muddying the water of research analysis.
The bottom line is, apparently, that the evidence remains inconclusive, much as researchers at UW-LaCrosse found in their study of the shoe/minimalist controversy when half of their respondents suffered increased joint pain over a two-week period.
Me? I'll stick to not running. After all, seven knee operations as the result of running have convinced me that nothing will help at this point other than a different form of exercise.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Eyes May (or May Not) Have It.

Doctors have often recommended taking an aspirin every day for many patients with heart issues. My cardiologist opted for that route as opposed to another round of shock "therapy" followed by expensive meds for my atrial fibrillation. He noted that my chances of avoiding a stroke  were only slightly worse if I accepted the regimen of one aspirin a day than with the more expensive route...not to mention inconvenient...checking blood sugars and itching where the hair on my chest was growing back...
Anyway, now word comes out that he might have sentenced me to early onset of macular degeneration if a recent study has any credence.
In research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers in Sydney, Australia, studied 2,3,89 people over 5, 10, and 15-year periods to determine the effects of an aspiring regimen on eyesight. The subjects were in their mid-60s and took one aspirin a week. Over the longest period of time, 9.3% of those taking the aspirin suffered from macular degeneration: damage to the "sweet spot" of the retina. It is to be noted that during the same period, 3.7% of those in the group who did NOT take the aspirin also developed degeneration of the cornea.
The researchers were quick to point out that this was not nearly enough evidence to convince doctors to prohibit prescribing aspirin, especially given the evidence that an aspirin regimen has shown that it can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and, possibly, some forms of cancer.
The only unnerving aspect is that I am taking seven aspirin a week (unless I forget a day) instead of a single dose as the experimental group was taking.
It's always something.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fat is Better...In This Case

Once again, I've stumbled on something almost everyone else knows about. I'm not ashamed to admit it since it obviously happens frequently. This, however, intrigues me more than most "new" facts.
Awhile ago, I wrote about a cardboard bike designed and produced by a person in Israel. I learned about it from my son who hinted that he might try to get me one since he had business contacts in that country. Alas, it didn't happen, but it was a fascinating possibility. Such is the case with the "fat bike" that is all the rage in particularly snowy climes.
Since Wisconsin is what I might consider "snowy," I found this invention thought-provoking. It is extremely popular in alaska and other northern snow packs, and, naturally, there are races every winter among contestants riding them. In fact, the North American Birkebeiner, held every year in Hayward, Wisconsin, is opening its race trail for one day only this year in order to capitalize on the newest competitive fashion: fat bike racing.
Weighing in at a hefty 35  (or so) pounds, these behemoths are designed to plow through snow of up to eight inches or so without bogging down. They supposedly work well in sand as well. The tires are sometimes four inches wide, double the width of a standard mountain bike tire, and the tire pressure can be as low as 15 psi; this naturally makes for a "squishy" ride, but one that will move the rider through the most unsettled terrain that would conquer a standard off-road bike. In addition, the bike features extra wide rims (of course) and odd frame configurations.
Referred to as "pedal-powered monster trucks," these bikes are not cheap: prices start at around $1500. However, in the snow country, they are incredibly popular and have generated a buzz in the cycling world as the next "big" thing.
Since I try to ride to work every day in the winter and the plows don't often get to our neighborhood quickly, this might seem to be the perfect mode of transportation for me. However, the snow gets packed and turns icy...making any form of riding an adventure.
I'm heading to the bike shop this week to check it out, though.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Goodness Snakes Alive!

It's time to follow up on something reported earlier here: the Great Python Challenge in Florida's Everglades.To recap: Burmese pythons, a non-native species (probably native to, say, Myanmar and other SE Asian climes) has overrun the Everglades, eating just about every mammal in sight including deer and alligators in addition to all of the smaller morsels like bobcats and assorted birds.
In an attempt to limit the scope of this behemoth (hundreds of pounds and 20 ft. long), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is sponsoring a snake hunt this month and the first couple of weeks in February. The hunter who bags the most pythons gets $1500.00, and the one who snares the longest specimen gets an additional $1,000.00. The contest has reeled in more than 800 adventurers from 30 states and garnered almost as much news media attention as Manti Te'o.
Hunters who capture and kill pythons are required to provide, in addition to the carcass, GPS coordinates detailing where the snake was found in hopes of gaining a stronger foothold in the battle against these predatory snakes.
After two weeks of the hunt, a grand total of 21 snakes have been captured...leaving literally thousands, there's time for you to get down there and try your luck. Too busy? Florida State Senator Bill Nelson found time to join the hunt, and if senators can afford to take the time off, you can, too.
These snakes are huge, though, so you'd better take the assault rifle and 50-round magazine clip with you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Defying Belief

I'm not sure which I find more difficult to believe: that Lance Armstrong actually DID dope his way to fame and riches or that Manti Te'o truly believes he was deceived by a girl online...then perpetuated the great hoax about her dying of leukemia and its help in preparing him to be a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Actually, I am generally cynical to feel no surprise by either of those facts. Too many inconsistencies in both men's stories cast the pall of suspicion not easily lifted, no matter how many tearful remonstrations one hears.
What DOES surprise me somewhat, though, is the willingness of people...professional journalists among them...who fall hook, line, and sinker (catfishing?) for these stories, report them as truth, and the rest of us are so willing to lap up these "truths" as if Moses or Rush Limbaugh had delivered them personally!
In Armstrong's case, he would have us believe that in a sport rampant with drug use, he was able to defeat all the dopers for seven triumphs just because he was that good? That would mean that all the PEDs the other guys were taking just weren't working. We believed because we wanted to believe and because those nasty French guys were just jealous that an American had dominated the signature event of their country! The feel good aspect had a great allure to it, and it was easy for us to believe Armstrong.
The Te'o/Notre Dame story was equally compelling: a dying grandmother AND girlfriend propelling Notre Dame's biggest star to the pinnacle of college football acclaim (not to mention an undefeated season: something ND fans needed to reestablish some sort of elitism). In this age of internet savvy on the part of most young people, how is it that this young man got duped? How does a woman he says he never met (though his dad tells a different story) become a "girlfriend" even though she doesn't show up for two scheduled meetings? Hello!
Admittedly, this story will be old news in a couple of weeks when we've all gotten tired of the Te'o memes we're doing now...after all, the Super Bowl is coming up, and the Final Four and Spring Training. Oh, look! There's a rabbit...our ADD for news will take us in another direction, and as long as we hear it on TV or read it online, it HAS to be real, right?
P.T. Barnum was right.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Last Great Adventure?

I'm not gifted with a great imagination, so there are definitely possibilities I've overlooked, but I don't think there are many ultimate adventures left out there. The world has been, largely, discovered, man has walked on the moon and dropped for miles in a free fall from space; we've climbed all the peaks and endured all the valleys the earth has to offer. We've gone practically to the bottom of the sea and hazarded pitfalls both manmade and natural throughout the world. I know the common cold has yet to be cured, and solving the mysteries of AIDS/HIV still elude us in terms of curing people, but for adrenalin-pulsing survival options, I just cannot think of anything other-worldly. Fortunately, there are people like Paul Salopek left.
Salopek, a journalist, has taken it upon himself to compress thousands of years of history into a seven-year span. He intends to walk the 21,000 miles he figures it took for civilization to creep from its origins (possibly in Ethiopia) to the furthermost point on Tiera del Fuego to prove that civilization as we know it, could have, and probably did, make that journey.
Salopek, 50, figures it will take him seven years to complete the hike through the 30 borders and countless cultures as he recreates the trip made by ancient people. National Geographic, a sponsor for the trip, calls it the "Out of Eden" tour, and it promises updates with some regularity.
The trip has already begun: Salopek stepped out of Herto Bouri, a village in Ethiopia, on January 10th, equipped with a GPS, space age communications equipment, and a small laptop. His only hike interruption will occur as a ship takes him from Russia to Alaska, the land bridge across the Bering Strait having been lost some time ago.
This promises to be an amazing adventure; if he completes the trip, book royalties and speaking engagements will probably make him among the most famous people of the time...the last modern adventurer.
Of course, by then, we'll have space tourism as a regularity, and folks will be in line for the shuttle to..."Infinity and beyond!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cough, Cough, Hack, Wheeze

The cold, flu and coughing, sneezing, sniffling season is well underway. Reports are that this year's flu  is affecting far more people than previous years' versions. I got my flu shot, so I'm not worried...but there is a little nagging cough out there as well.
Coughing is a sign of potential issues, among them bronchitis, and that should be of concern for people, especially since many of us tend to look toward antibiotics for relief from suspected cases: erroneously, as it turns out.
All of this medical information comes from Dr. Mark Evell of the University of Georgia who surveyed 500 people with regard to their perception of the duration of coughing issues. Most felt that a cough should be on its way out after 7-9 days: if not, they would get a perscription for an antibiotic. It turns out, however, that they are wrong in their duration assumption. Coughs from bronchitis hang around almost twice as long as folks think: an average of 18 days, according to Evell and his research team.
So, why doe people expect a week to be an average length? It seems that many of the illnesses we get, like the common cold, tend to see diminishing symptoms in a week's, we naturally assume a cough should be gone in that time as well. When it doesn't we turn to antibiotics...which seldom help at all since they are attuned to bacteria and not viruses. Even worse, we can build up an immunity to antibiotics through constant use.
Perhaps we'll have an early spring!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to Learn Effectively

Every now and then, it's nice to have beliefs justified, corroborated. Of course, there's always the possibility that such corroboration merely means one person agrees with me, but still...
I have the duty to guide college students in the direction of learning...students who may not be the most motivated at the outset. Regularly, I hear them tell me that they highlight, reread chapters and rewrite their notes in an attempt to infuse the information into somewhat-long term memory. I try to convince them there are better ways...based on research that I have done (reading other researchers' work, that is). And John Dunlosty, a professor at Kent State University, has reaffirmed what I have generally said about studying to learn: there are better ways, and there are worse ways.
His study, reported in the journal for the Association of Psychological Science, reviewed ten methods commonly used by students in an attempt to learn material. We are all familiar with most of them, but here are the highlights and lowlights:

NOT EFFECTIVE: Common study tips like reading/rereading a chapter, summarizing the information, and highlighting sections have all proven to be only marginally effective. Highlighting, in particular, comes in for criticism because it focuses only on main facts and not on making connections and drawing inferences. Cramming for a test, of course, was the least effective study method.

HIGHLY EFFECTIVE: Distributed practice in which a student focuses on shorter, more numerous study sessions instead of trying to do the marathon study thing (no surprise there) was deemed one of the best methods. Equally effective at achieving results was the practice of testing one's self on the material. While there are various methods for this, we are all familiar with the use of flash cards...deemed effective. One can use sites like Quizlet, Study Blue and Flash Card Machine to help formulate such test possibilities. In addition, I have students make up multiple choice questions for each other since the tests are mostly made up of such a question type.
So, it's nice to see my methods once again found effective.
Now, if I could get professors to make up tests that don't require short term memory retention!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

...and I Have Too Much Time On My Hands?

My dearest made the comment about my having too much time on my hands today when she arrived home from work to find that I'd covered an enormous pile of snow with assorted tarps and shower curtains to forestall damage from impending rain...after piling it for two weeks in preparation for this year's neighborhood favorite: a giant snow sculpture. I simply could NOT let the rain destroy it yet.
But, if you think I have too much time on my hands, how about all the folks who have left comments on the "Save Your Token" Facebook page in an attempt to stop Hasbro from replacing one of the game pieces with something that "is more representative of today's monopoly player," according to Eric Nyman, Senior vice President of Gaming at Hasbro.
Yes, it seems that the company will be retiring one of the fabled game pieces...whichever one gets the least number of votes in a poll. Of course, the top hat, shoe, wheelbarrow, clothes iron, battleship, race car, thimble and Scottie dog are definitely emblems of a long gone America. I mean, who could even tell what a thimble IS, let alone has or uses one (besides me)? Top hats? Really? They cannot be worn with the brim in the back so they are totally useless today; at a jaunty angle? perhaps, but who could define "jaunty" anymore? Battleships are mothballed for drones, and Scottie dogs have been replaced by...cats. If the shoe isn't an Air Jordan, most kids wouldn't recognize it as something one might wear, and how many besides me) continue to use a clothes iron?
And it's not like the retiring piece will be the first game token to be sent directly to jail without collecting $200. Long gone are the lantern, the cannon, and the rocking horse.
Truth is, the game itself might be something of an anachronism...a memory from childhood...that time where memories get magnified into having greater significance than the reality of it.
Parker Brothers sought to alleviate some of the despondency of the Great Depression in 1935 when it introduced this game to the American people. Dreams of amassing great fortunes like the robber barons of the early century must have inspired a great number of people because the game is now printed in 43 languages and appears in 111 countries around the world, according to Hasbro, the new "owner" of the Reading Railroad.
If you are among those affected dramatically by the decision to replace on game piece in mid-2013, there's still time to voice your opinion.
That is, if you have too much time on your hands.
I'm busy with shoveling snow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Heads of Hydra

I like the challenge of "projects" whether it involves a struggling student, the time investing moving snow so I can have another creation for the neighbors to enjoy (and compliment!), and home improvement tasks. The problem with any of the challenges is that they are never as simple as one might think at the outset.
I recently went to attach a cabinet to a wall in one of the kids' apartment that had fallen August. It was obvious that the cabinet would sit on the floor until, well, forever, so I decided that the semester break was a good time to accept the challenge while the family was gone so I could work in peace. Armed with a stud finder (since the original construction merely screwed the cabinet into the wallboard) and a piece of precut 1/4 inch plywood for a new backing, I was armed for a two-hour task before calling it a day.
Like the mythical hydra, however, that grew two heads for every one that a valiant warrior chopped off, this seemingly simple task grew into a morass of issues, not the least of which was the fact that the stud finder didn't work as advertised (though it did when I tried it at home). Punching nail holes in the wall hoping that the standard 16-inch separation between studs would be enough proved to be time consuming enough, punctuated by mild swearing, of course.  Next, it turned out that the measurements given to me for the precut backing were off by half an inch...and I had brought only a small hacksaw for an emergency (more swearing). Compounding that was the fact that the quarter-inch piece of plywood was too thick because the original backing slid into a slot in front of the supporting braces...uncontrolled swearing now.
Having completed the reconstruction of the cabinet, placing it on the wall was the next frustration. I had bolted a supporting one-by-two in order to take the weight while preparing to bolt into the studs through the holes I had precut into the cabinet support frame...except the darn thing was awfully heavy to hold against the wall while fumbling with a drill and attaching bolt (as the door swung open and caught my forehead).
Then, to my dismay, the drill left for me to use was weak in terms of both power and battery life so there was a holding pattern while the battery recharged and I stanched the blood flowing from my forehead...surprisingly, swearing didn't help at all.
Undaunted, I tackled the challenge renewed in spirit and in battery life and power...managing over the courser of seven hours to complete the erstwhile simple task of replacing the cabinet on the wall.
Like life itself, such projects are never what they seem to be initially.
But we persevere.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Count A Simple Blessing

Since I have a month or so between semesters, there's always the temptation to sit comfortably on the couch with fifteen good books and while away the time reading, eating junk and drinking things unhealthy. Of course, guilt always gets the better of me, and so I go out and shovel another couple of hours to build the base for this year's snow sculpture; in more ambitious moments, I head to the gym to actually work out, as I did today.
Always, thirsty after sweating so much, I stopped at the water fountain (or "bubbler" if you"re from
Wisconsin) and was mildly irritated that I had to wait for the water to get cold enough before quenching my thirst; then, it hit me: literally millions of people would give ANYTHING to have that water I just let run down the drain because it wasn't the right temperature.
The story repeated itself in the shower...I waited for a few seconds until it was warm enough to step under before using gallon upon gallon the get clean: again, something millions of people worldwide would love to have.
I have generally taken water for granted, despite seeing Avatar. I presume it will always be there and in a ready supply. Logic tells me that such a thought is inaccurate as long as we continue to use it like, well, it was water.
According to the World Health Organization, diarrhea is the leading cause of death for children under five globally. Most of that is the result of inadequate drinking water...not water to shower with, water to drink! More than 800,000 children die every year, and in low income countries, only 44% of children suffering from what is a mild irritation to us get the recommended treatment.
All for lack of clean water to drink; not water for golf courses or amusement parks; not water to keep the lawn nice and green. Water to sustain life.
I will not take it for granted...but I will continue to wait a few seconds to avoid stepping into a chilly shower.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

"Some Folks in West Virginia Wear Shoes"

If you thought saner heads had prevailed with the elimination of Jersey Shore, recently, you are sadly mistaken. No sooner has the last episode of the head-shakingly moronic reality program aired than the producers at MTV (whatever happened to the MUSIC part of that?) are foisting another sure-to-be-a-hit-like-watching-a-train-wreck thing on us called Buckwild. And, by no sooner than, I mean tomorrow night already! The fiscal cliff has been temporarily avoided, but I almost wish there were something cliff-like to jump from.
In this latest Apocalyptic sign, teenagers from a small town in WEst Virginia are filmed having a good time as they are wont to do. This, of course, means fighting, swearing, careening through the mud with ATVs at dangerous speeds and girls wallowing in mud while scantily clothed...naturally. As planned, the show got immediate negative response from almost everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to State Senator Joe Manchin III who opined," This is an ugly, inaccurate stereotyping of people in West Virginia."
Not that Jersey Shore wasn't an ugly stereotyping of Italian-American teens living in New Jersey, mind you. It was. It sold big. This will, too.
I can only imagine what people around the world think about our lack of culture. But then, they can see Moonshiners, Hillbilly Hand Fishing, and Honey Boo Boo  (on The Learning Channel, no less) already.
This doesn't raise the bar. There is no culture bar anymore.
I will definitely not watch this train wreck. I have books to read.