October 17, 2008

The Pop in Pop Culture

Oprah Winfrey recently hosted the 60th Primetime Emmy's show. Ze Frank excerpted her introduction and asked for responses.

Here's the edited version of my response:

TV news: producers decide what to produce. editors decide what to show. networks decide when to show it. news personalities bloat until the medium (talking heads) truly does become the message.

TV entertainment: lame, mostly. (I lie. There's plenty I like to watch.)

Yet for 50 years TV was the great agent of homogenization in America. Think Seth Godin's "TV-Industrial Complex."

Re-runs of Get Smart Wild Wild West Little Joe and Hoss Looney Tunes Hogan's Heroes Speed Racer greeted my brothers and me after school. I loved Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom every Sunday night. All in the Family was strangely dangerous Electric Company caused some adults around me to complain about the Cos here's a story of a lovely lady and come everybody there's a song that we're singing and sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip.

Okay, okay. I watched the Donnie & Marie Show if I was home on a Friday night my junior year of high school.

Well, yeah, what I'm saying here is that I have warm fuzzies about TV -- I'm part of the pop in pop-culture.

Nonetheless, my children are better informed, more curious, have greater intellectual independence and are just plain better off than I was by their living in a cable-less, dish-less, very nearly TV-less home.

Exception: we put the rabbit ears on the old TV Set so we could pick up the debates on broadcast TV -- and left them on for Homer Simpson.

Another exception: we have a nicer TV Set and a DVD player and we love movies and yes we do watch DVD's of TV shows that originally aired on broadcast TV. Doh!

Okay, another exception: the girls internet stream Grey's Anatomy more than I even know.

Forgive me, Father Charles, for I have sinned.

Still, my children are better off collecting the news they want to collect, going to sources of their own choosing; they are just as inclined to make their own entertainment as they are to consume entertainment; creativity is not reserved for only those in the rarefied wonderful world of Disney, Warner animation, Twilight Zone writers, network directors and I think you know what I'm saying.

As for Oprah's introduction: it was an homage to her TV kin and an homage to herself. It had no meaning for me. Yet I resist snarkiness.

Afterall, the Emmys are a closed system. Oprah, despite her XM channel and her O magazine, lives in the eternal braid of television purveyors and consumers... she herself is both.

When Oprah looks into the camera she is looking into a mirror. When her audience looks into television sets they are looking into a mirror. These loops braid together. Hofstader and Goedel, Escher and Bach would revel in the recursion.

October 10, 2008

Home Land Acquisitions, LLC

Help Wanted:: Start Immediately

Personal Assistant to the Office of the Exchequer *

Duties include writing checks to free market companies sending their fat-cat chief officers and profligate executives, and the companions of both sets of these tired and overworked citizens, to swanky 5-star resorts & spas, from whence they are authorizing billions – that’s right, ~illions with a ‘b’ – of dollars in bonus payments to key employees, during the very weeks of their own corporate bankruptcy filings and / or the receipt and deposit of their corporate welfare checks.

*The Office of the Exchequer is an expense center of Home Land Acquisitions, LLC, hereinafter referred to as “HLA,” a socialized privatized desensitized limited liability company (and we mean limited liability) formed under the Home Land Acquisitions Act of 2008.

Disclosure: HLA is owned in equal membership interests by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve, which are Protectorates of the Peoples Republic of China.

Full Disclosure: Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway owns a controlling interest in China, Bill Gates owns 100% of Warren Buffett and this help wanted ad has been prepared using Microsoft Word 2007.

The Whole Ball of Cheese: HLA is the largest minority shareholder of Microsoft common stock.


Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft, and other ERP Software – none of these programs are facile enough for the species of on-the-fly check writing needed by the Office of the Exchequer, such as when government officials and members of the house, senate or administration are “fact-finding” at aforementioned 5-star venues with said business leaders and, while on the 9th fairway with a dog leg left, promise more bail-out money in return for favorable mortgage interest rates for their children, stylists and paramours.

Moreover, those software packages create immutable accounting records, which is contrary to the best interest of the American people. HLA must have the freedom to act quickly and without an audit trail. (See Opacity, under Qualifications, below.)

The initial funding level of the Office of the Exchequer is $700,000,000,000,000.00. However, it is anticipated there is much more where that came from under the Bailout Protection Act of 2008 as amended (“BPA”).


Excellent Penmanship

The Incumbent will possess beautiful handwriting and be able to elegantly line up 7, 8 or more zeros to the left of the decimal point in that little rectangle box on the checks. The Incumbent must also be able to legibly spell out those long numbers on that short “in the amount of” line.


Additionally, Incumbent will be responsible for NOT keeping track of any disbursements, including, but limited to, NOT entering checks amounts in any double entry accounting system or 10-column ledger, NOT maintaining a check registry, NOT writing checks on a wooden surface that may become engraved with incriminating etchings of very long numbers, NOT remembering payees, dates or dollar amounts, thereby retaining a permanent state of plausible deniability, and so forth. Or, NOT so forth. Or is it, So NOT forth? Whatever.


Preference will be given to individuals who can demonstrate ennui toward this new form of Redistribution of Wealth, plus the capacity to repress any errant thoughts and have no compunction about using tax dollars of widowed mothers of three young children waiting tables and doing maid service to make ends meet and other hard working decent members of the so-called middle class which ain’t really in the middle any more is it [sound of taking a deep breath] to preserve the incomes of multi-millionaire executives, investment titans and whining managers of institutional funds.


GED or combination of experience and high-level contacts and connections. Certificate from an accredited beauty school for hair, eyelashes and nails may be substituted for GED.


Ability to Travel

Some travel may be required to clandestine locales to pick up the next batch of blank checks and undisclosed sums of cash sown into the inseam of pants or waists of skirts.

Access to a Physical Address

Must have access to a rotating number of physical addresses, such as neighbors' mail boxes. While checks will be written in the modified privacy of the Incumbent’s residence, Incumbent or Incumbent’s children or Guatemalan domestic help, will dispose of written checks under the newly adopted “½ x Netflix” protocol, whereby outbound-only red envelopes (with red ink) will be picked up from Incumbent’s neighbors' mailboxes every two to three hours seven days a week by FedUPS (formerly FedExUPS).*

* FedUPS is a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation of HLA.

Writing Hand Free of Injury or Disease

No incident of surgery or therapy for, or symptoms of, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, polyneuropathy or tennis elbow within the previous 12 years in either the left or right appendages.



Annual salary will be commensurate with flexibility of thinking and the degree to which scruples do not adversley affect behavior. Salary will be paid in the form of cash to Incumbent and cash "loans" to several layers of corporations that will in turn pay consulting fees to Incumbent. Incumbent has right to use pre-tax dollars in the cash accounts of these several corporations for "business purposes."

Insurance Benefits

The Office of the Exchequer pays 100% of all premiums and deductibles for medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, chiropractic, life, short-term disability, long-term disability, senior care, pet, homeowners, automobile, recreational vehicle, watercraft, rental property, and vacation home insurance, all of which is underwritten by AIG-TGIF, a wholly owned subsidiary of HLA.

BlackBerry Storm

Despite vehement protest by Parlement du Canada, HLA’s recent takeover of Canadian company Research in Motion, the makers of the BlackBerry, has provided unforeseen perquisites for HLA employees. Incumbent and each of his or her family members receives a Storm in his or her choice of color. International service and unlimited minutes, texting, email and internet access are included.

2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid

HLA is Green. HLA cares about the environment. HLA is Drug Free, Tobacco Free, Duty Free, Hormone Free and Guilt Free. Its dining facility serves only free-range meat and poultry. HLA uses only 100% recycled paper (that’s why its documents smell a little fishy). HLA has industry-leading day care for employees as well as for employees' children. While it is true HLA is the only entity in its unique industry, it nonetheless deserves recognition for its family-friendly policies.

American Express Card

The General Accounting Office, the Internal Revenue Service, and State Franchise Tax Boards have no power to audit Incumbent’s financial affairs; HLA and its operatives have been granted, under the BPA, exemption from any form of accountability; no one will know where the Card is used and for how much; besides, the Incumbent will pay the monthly AmEx payments with cashier’s checks purchased with cash provided for that purpose. (See Ability to Travel, under Requirements, above.)

Unlimited Supply of Pens

HLA's standard pen is the Waterman Expert II Rollerball, Black Lacquer Barrel (Item# WAT40021W), only $90 each. At that price Incumbent has wide latitude on how many Waterman's to stash in inventory.

Mortgage Forgiveness

One of HLA's mortgage banks -- it owns them all in the U.S. -- will forgive Incumbent's home mortgage. Did you expect anything less?

Global Immunity In Perpetuity

Essentially an unlimited supply of get out of jail free cards valid in G7 countries and certain totalitarian dictatorships put into power by the CIA.

Multiple Passports and Identities

Just in case future administrations start pointing fingers.... HLA recognizes it’s the little people who take the fall.

Numbered Bank Account

A numbered bank account in one of three safe havens of Incumbent’s choosing in the event HLA fails in its mission to preserve and protect the lifestyle of the rich and richer.

Scratch that. The administration already has authority to take money from any person or sovereignty for any reason any time any place any how.


For purposes of National Security, until further notice, Home Land Acquisitions, LLC, its owners, its subsidiaries, and its employees, are exempt from anything the EEOC might try to pull, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as Amended, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act (Newborns' Act), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, officially named the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, and every single one of the Bill of Rights.

(c) 2008 Dennis Freire