Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Posting Issues

SO I've been writing a bunch of posts over the last several weeks that were supposed to be posted but didn't go up.

I don't know if it was my own technical illiteracy or a bug somewhere.

Pardon the in communicado.

And the glut of postings going up today...  Ooops...

Lowering the Bar so Everyone "Feeeeels" Good....

These sorts of efforts are so blatantly counterintuitive that it makes me wonder whether the glaringly obvious “unintended consequences” of actions like these aren’t “unintended” at all.  I don’t know what the upshot would be to an institution like Harvard, but when you see that a protected class isn’t making the cut, instead of finding out why and fixing the problem, you lower the bar for everyone?

Or even worse, in the case of the military and others, you make special exceptions for that class? 

So your choice is either to lower the bar for everyone and leave everyone worse off in the end, create a special exception for a certain class of individual, thereby creating the perception (rightfully so) that people in that class are less valuable to prospective employers*, or, you allow your protected class to live up to the same standards as everyone else, and succeed or fail on their own merits. 

Yet somehow, option #3 seems to be the wrong choice; the classist, racist, sexist choice, when it is most obviously the correct and most logical choice.

*What I mean by that is this – say you have a race of people, let’s call them Vulcans, who don’t have the same success rate as another race, the Sporks.  In order to fix this, you lower the success standards for Vulcans, so that they have equality in result (as opposed to equality in opportunity), and you feel as though the problem is solved.  Knowing this, what employer would hire a Vulcan over a Spork, knowing that the Vulcan was held to lower standards and likely cannot perform to the same standards as a Spork?  What employer would pay a Spork and a Vulcan the same money for the same job, knowing the the Spork is probably more qualified and can perform to a higher standard? 

What about the rare case where you actually have a Vulcan that exceeds the Spork against whom he is competing for work?  Having nothing else to go on, why would that employer risk hiring the perceived lower-performing Vulcan over the Spork? 

Do you still think that changing the standards for Vulcans is actually helping them?  Or is it just serving to make the university feel better about themselves?  

The NSA is Putting Us All At Risk


I read this thought-provoking post over at Popehat this morning.  I perused this portion:

<i>the agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures e-mails, web searches, internet chats, and phones calls…</i>

…and it got me to thinking:

The Coca-Cola recipe, for example, is a trade secret that has been jealously (and successfully) guarded for over a century now.  Does the NSA know the secret Coca-Cola formula?  What would Pepsi pay for that information?  Is every single person working for the NSA who is privy to this information capable of resisting overtures to the tune of millions of dollars for access to that information?  Remember, folks, these aren’t super-humans working at the NSA.  They’re just people.  Edward Snowden decided to defy company policy and let out sensitive information out of a sense of patriotism.  How many who currently work for the NSA would decide to defy company policy for a couple million bucks? 

They have the ability to access your bank accounts (really?  You’ve never done any online banking at all?).  They know your account balances.  They know your medical records. They say you have nothing to fear from the NSA, itself, because they aren’t after you, but what about individual NSA employees? 

What about the NSA guy who is checking out some rich dude, gets his bank account information, and steals from the rich dude?  What about the NSA guy who just steals a little bit from thousands of people?  Or the NSA guy who finds some medical dirt on a personal enemy and uses it to ruin him (why would a married guy be getting treatment for a new STD?)  Or the NSA guy who is a party hack and is helping the other party (most likely the one in power at any given time, because it only makes sense, right?) dig up dirt on the opposition?  That’s Watergate, folks.  That’s enough to start articles of Impeachment on any sitting President, and yet we’d have no way of discovering that this is happening, because this is all top secret stuff, bad enough to throw anyone contrary to it into a deep, dark hole for the rest of their natural life. 

How will an incumbent ever be unseated with access to this information?  This information aggregation is a direct threat to the very fundamentals for the operation of our republic, and we are supposed to just “trust” that the NSA has adequate oversight on the folks privy to it all. 

Just like they had adequate oversight on Edward Snowden.  Right? 

Open your mouth and shut your eyes.  Trust us.  It will be just fine. 

I don’t think they’re after me.  I don’t live under any paranoid delusion that I’ll ever be interesting to the Federal Government in any way – I’m too boring.  I’m perfectly safe from the prying eyes of the NSA, as an agency (this isn’t written as an approval of what they’re doing, just as a truth).  No black helicopters or SWAT teams in the night for Goober, because I’m not really doing anything wrong.

But who saves me from the individual NSA employee that gets a little too cavalier with this information?  The Edward Snowden that isn’t a patriot, but a self-serving imbecile consumed by greed?  The NSA does not have enough oversight over a program like this for the information to be safe.  Proof of that fact is in living embodiment in Mr. Snowden – thank goodness his intentions appear to be honorable, at least on their face.  The NSA never will be able to secure this information, because they can’t.  This information is too valuable.  Bad people will find ways to get their hands on it, one way or the other.  As long as this database exists, we are all at risk from it.  

Supremacy? Or Just a Failure at English?

Judgy Bitch lays bare the problem with creating a list that says “such and such is BEST” or “better” or whatever.  I’ve tried to explain to many different folks that by saying something is “best” or that something is “better,” that by the definition of those words, you are saying that something else is not – that the things you are referring to as “best” and “better” are superior to something else. 

Because of this, one must be careful not to inadvertently insult someone or something by using those terms, because both terms, by their definition, require there to be some other item to which the proposed superlative item is being compared.  Say something like “women are best” and you say something about men in the process.  Tell your group of friends that you think Billy’s truck is best, and you say something about everyone else’s truck. 

Usually, that’s okay.  But there are times when saying these things is fraught with peril, such as Judgy Bitch's apt example about talking about how white people are best. 

As an aside, this is why the Diet Dr. Pepper commercials drive me crazy – “DIET DR. PEPPER TASTES MORE LIKE REGULAR DR. PEPPER”

Than what?  The phrasing of that sentence requires a comparison, and without it, the sentence becomes meaningless. 

I’m sure it does taste more like regular Dr. Pepper than a whole host of things – it is probably closer in taste to Dr. Pepper than, say, a steaming pile of horseshit, or axle grease.  It likely tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper than corn on the cob, or a can of regular coke would.  “Best,” “Better,” “More like” etc are all comparison words and require a comparison, and it behooves any person using them to clarify to what they intend to compare their subject. 

“Reasons why Women Are Better?” 

Than what?  A swift kick in the vagina?  A fork in your left eye?  A flying, skittle-shitting, rainbow farting unicorn?  Freezing to death?

Or did you mean “better than men?”  Because you did not specify.  I’m hoping it’s one of the above, because the last option there sort of smacks of supremacy and that really isn’t cool.    


I loved the XKCD “what if” last week.  It reinforced something that I’ve been trying to explain to city-dwellers for a lot of years, and it goes a little something like this:

We are not overpopulating the Earth.  There really aren’t that many of us, and despite the fact that you’ve lived on a 2 x 13 mile concrete island your entire life, and struggle to gain a concept of this, there are a metric shit-ton of places on Earth where the touch of human endeavor doesn’t exist at all, or is so light that you’d never notice it.  More of the worlds surface than not, in fact.  In the XKCD hypothetical, if you were to randomly teleport to coordinates on the Earth, what sign of humanity would you be able to see?

The surface of the Earth is about 70% water, so you'll usually plop down into the ocean.”

I would think it safe to assume that the vast majority of the time you plopped into the ocean you’d see no sign of man, at all.  If you did, it’s be fleeting and all about luck – a tanker or ocean vessel of some sort, or plopping down in sight of a settlement on land.  But that’s unfair, because we’re talking about overpopulation, and at least right now, mankind only lives on the surface of the Earth, so let’s narrow it down to land, only:

“Most of the points were over open ocean, out of sight of any land. Once you get away from the major ports, the odds of having a ship in view are not that good, so I continued sampling until I had 50 land coordinates.”

Fair enough?  Let’s see what he found out with his sampling of 50 random land-based coordinates:

“Based on Google Earth imagery… …would definitely see clear signs of human activity in about 10 of those 50 points.”

10 out of 50.  1/5th.  20%.  If you randomly teleport to anywhere on the land portion of Earth (which, I remind you, is only 30% of the surface!), you only have a 1 in 5 chance of seeing any sign that humans exist. 

Not feeling particularly overpopulatey, anymore, are we?  But it continues:

“that artifact (of humanity) will usually be either a field of crops or a dirt road.”

So we’re not exactly talking houses, domiciles, or even structures at all.  We’re talking dirt pathways and cropland.  So what are your chances of seeing actual structures and development?  Considerably less than 1 in 5, I can tell you that.  I’ve been in places in Kansas where all you can see are crops, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington where all you can see is forest, and the XKCD author discusses one site where he randomly landed in Louisiana that fit the bill, also.  So we aren’t even talking about Antarctica and Siberia, here.  There are a huge amount of places inside the most advanced and developed nation on Earth where you could land and see no sign at all, or the only sign being a crop or a dusty road. 

Our world is one of wilderness with interconnected nodes of civilization.  Because most of you never leave those nodes of civilization, you don’t quite understand what all is out there beyond the ‘burbs.  Yeah, it might feel a bit crowded in Seattle, but inside of a 2 hour drive from downtown, you can find yourself in a place that feels pretty goddamned lonely.  

Mike Rowe is A Really Solid Dude

Here is Mike Rowe's Response to a man writing about how "bad jobs" (as if there is such a thing) are bad for our economy, bad for the workers, and just, well, BAD.  It is so telling of the attitude of so many folks when it comes to work - "I would love to find a job, but I just can't find one" translates to "I can't find one that I don't condsider to be beneath me."  

There is no such thing as a job that is beneath anyone, if that person needs work.  Mike pretty much flays the guy:

Mike Rowe here, Dirty Jobs. Thanks to the necromancers over at Google, I’ve been alerted to your most recent Question of the Day: Are Bad Jobs Good for the Economy and the People Who Work Them? Immediately under your headline I noticed a photo of me, taken on the Mackinac Bridge while filming a segment on Dirty Jobs.
Given the juxtaposition of my face with your headline, a reasonable person might conclude that a “Dirty Job” and “Bad Job” are one and the same. This sentiment is not only inconsistent with my own view of hard work, it’s completely at odds with the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct, a collection of life lessons painstakingly compiled from the men and women I’ve met on Dirty Jobs.
Over the years, the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct has kept me from saying stupid things in the press. Today, it’s used primarily to assist writers like you with the approved use of my name and likeness. Obviously, you have never seen or heard of the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct, since most of your article violates every clause and restriction therein. I must therefore take a moment to assure your readers that the appearance of my face in such close proximity to your headline is in no way a personal affirmation that certain types of jobs are in fact “bad.”
Here, then, are a few basic guidelines on the proper use of my name and likeness, pulled directly from the most current version of the DJCC. Since your Question of the Day is clearly not rhetorical, I’ll attempt to answer it here, with a level of detail that could only occur on a cross-country flight with no movie, no crossword, and a dead Kindle.
(I have no expectation that anyone with an actual job will have the time to read much further than this.)
Steve Kloosterman, MUSKEGON, MI – Most of us can tell a story about a job from hell somewhere in our past. There’s the first job, the one we took because our parents said, “You can’t hang around the house all summer long.” Maybe it was at a fast food place or in a retail outlet.
Mike Rowe – First of all, Steve, the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct contains a Damnation Clause that clearly and unequivocally states that my photo “can not be used in conjunction with any satanic reference, including but not limited to Lucifer, Hades, Old Scratch, Hell, Perdition, Beelzebub or Honey Boo Boo.”
Secondly, jobs don’t come from hell. They come from people with money who are willing to pay other people to work for them.
Thirdly, I have worked in both fast food and retail and neither one reminded me of the Netherworld. (Although the Taco Bell drive-through at 2 a.m. does smell vaguely of brimstone and sulphur.)
SK – None of us expected these jobs to lead to a career, but we did them anyway because we wanted spending money, needed to build a work history, or just plain needed something to do.
MR – Jobs are different than careers, but when you suggest that one is subordinate to the other, you diminish the value of ordinary work. According to the Work Is Not the Enemy Clause in the DJCC, my image may not be used in conjunction with “any statement or action that disparages the value of hard work, regardless of nature of the job or the amount of compensation involved.”
SK – There’s the desperate job, the one we had to take because the price of gas shot up, or we bought a new car and had to make payments on it, or needed to pay college tuition. Maybe it was a second job, or something informal on the side, like fixing up and selling cars.
MR – You make the option of working a second job sound like the problem, not the solution. Under the Personal Responsibility Clause of the DJCC, my image “must not be used in association with any language or expression that attempts to portray hard-working people as helpless victims.” The DJCC maintains that meeting one’s financial obligations is an act of responsibility, not an act of “desperation.”
SK- And then there’s the kind of job we wouldn’t take again under any conditions, no matter how desperate or bored we were. The conditions were unpleasant if not dangerous, and the pay didn’t make up for it.
MR – I understand that some jobs are beneath you. Specifically, those jobs that you find to be “unpleasant” and “low-paying.” Unfortunately, under the Hubris Clause of the DJCC, I am forbidden from endorsing “any third-party comments that could be interpreted as elitist, judgmental, haughty or condescending.”
SK – We can all agree that jobs falling into this last category aren’t worth having.
MR – This one, I’m afraid, is in direct conflict with the Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot Clause of the DJCC. You see, Steve, when your air conditioner breaks, or your toilet explodes, or termites set up shop in your home, the solution to your problem will almost certainly require people who are willing to do something … “unpleasant.” (When you find yourself in need of these people, you’d better hope they haven’t read your column.)
SK – But let’s talk about the first two categories of jobs.
MR – OK. Fast-food workers, retail clerks, auto mechanics, car salesman and part-timers. The “jobs from hell.” Let’s talk.
SK – Are they good for the people who work them?
MR – Of course they are.
SK – Are they good for the economy?
MR – Of course they are.
SK – Tell us what you think in the poll and comments below.
MR – I did. I voted and then I checked the results. Then I threw up in my mouth. Apparently, most of the respondents see no value in the kind of work you’ve described. That’s a seriously bleak outcome, and a blatant violation of all the aforementioned clauses, including the Glass Half-Empty Restriction of the DJCC, which forbids me from lending my name and likeness to anything “heartbreaking, dismal, grim, pessimistic, soul-deadening or just plain depressing.”
SK – The Muskegon Chronicle and Mlive just finished the second segment in a months-long series of articles about jobs in the Muskegon area. In the most recent segment, we wrote about low-paying jobs, and the “shadow” economy of people who hack out a living by mowing lawns, scrounging odd jobs, and anything else that comes their way.
MR – I read it. Nowhere does the writer congratulate anyone for their resourcefulness or self-reliance. Instead, you wrote that “desperate times call for desperate measures,” a clear infraction of the Hyperbole Restriction. According to the DJCC, desperation means selling a kidney to ransom your wife and kids. Desperation is not a $10 an hour construction job with no benefits, as you suggest. That’s just work.
SK – Not all, but some, employers of low-wage workers give their employees opportunity to advance, we wrote.
MR – I have never seen a job that didn’t come with the opportunity for advancement. Union, non-union, high pay, low pay, part-time, full-time, freelance or salaried. Any worker who consistently shows up an hour early and stays late will quickly become indispensable on any job site. That’s still a great truth in the wide world of work. Unfortunately, you didn’t mention that. Instead, you implied that a worker’s only hope of advancement lies with the employer, another screaming inconsistency with the Personal Responsibility Clause.
SK – People working odd jobs or doing day labor for money under the table sometimes do so because it’s the only option they have, we wrote.
MR – Agreed. But nowhere do you suggest that having one option is better than having no option. Certainly, these people are struggling, but they have not given up. They have not become wards of the state. They are looking for and in many cases finding a way to get by in a brutal economy. Certainly not ideal, but the Glass-Half Empty Restriction and the Context Clause of the DJCC both prohibit my endorsement of all “one-sided comparisons that fail to illustrate how things could always be much, much worse.”
SK – Some people might take an optimistic view of these jobs.
MR – Of course. Some people still see hard work as something to be respected in all its forms. The point is, fewer people share that view than ever before. The majority of people in your poll voted “no” to every question. They believe that whole categories of jobs are “bad” for the worker and “bad” for society at large. That’s a clear infraction of the Work Is Not the Enemy Clause of the DJCC, and a radical departure of the attitude I encountered in my previous visits to the great state of Michigan.
SK – Some people might say the work needs to be done and the workers are filling that need.
MR – I would hope so. Your own paper reported that 2 trillion dollars is being generated by this “shadow economy.” That’s 8% of our GDP. I’m no economist, but I’d wager an 8% drop in the GDP would start the next Great Depression. And while the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct doesn’t address it directly, I’d prefer that my name and likeness avoid any direct association with the any type of economic collapse.
SK – Some will say that nobody forced people to take these jobs. That these jobs enable these people to earn money and pay for things that matter to them. These jobs may mean that individuals are able to rely more on their own earnings, and less on taxpayer-funded assistance programs.
MR – Now those people sound more like the Michiganders I remember! The Soo Lock workers in Sault Ste. Marie, the log cabin builders in the U.P., the mobile butchers in Holland, the Bone Black workers in Melvindale, the many good folks on Mackinac Island (in those “hellish” retail and food service positions), the craftsmen at Novadai Furniture right there in Muskegon, and of course the maintenance workers on The Mighty Mac. Those people would never look down their noses at an honest day’s work. No way.
SK – Others might take a more negative view. Advocates of living-wage policy might say that low-wage jobs are hurtful to the people working them.
MR – The world is full of well-intended people who believe that prices, wages and rents should should have nothing to do with pesky things like supply and demand. While I applaud their intentions, I’m afraid the Common Sense Clause of the DJCC does not allow my name or likeness to be associated with any views or expressions that could be interpreted as “unrealistic or childlike.”
SK – Some might say that people working in a “shadow economy” are part of the symptoms of an economic system breaking down.
MR - I have no idea if the economy is breaking down or just evolving, but regardless, low-paying, part-time and off-the-grid jobs are here to stay. We can either talk about these jobs with a measure of dignity and respect, or we can adapt your labeling system of “Bad, Unpleasant, Dangerous, Not-Worth-Having, and Hellish.” Honestly, I don’t see the point of attacking honest work under any circumstances (although the Futility Clause of the DJCC prohibits me from expecting a cogent reply from those who do.)
SK – A few might even quote the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”
MR – That’s very sweet. Unfortunately, the Delusional Thinking Restriction of the DJCC is very clear on this: “under no circumstances will artist’s name and likeness be used to declare or proclaim anything that might suggest the endorsement of a utopian or fairy-tale state.”
Too bad, really. If it weren’t for the Delusional Thinking Restriction, I might very well petition the UN to declare and demand “protection from the ever-widening skills gap.” According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 3.7 million jobs are currently available that companies can’t seem to fill … 600,000 positions in manufacturing alone.
All of these jobs pay more than the “living wage.” Many provide free training and benefits. None of them are “off the grid.” They’re available right now to anyone willing to learn a new skill. Unfortunately, no one seems to want them.
SK – What do you think?
MR – Well, Steve, I’m no expert (and the Hubris Clause of the DJCC forbids me from pretending to be one), but after a lot of careful reflection, I think we might have our head up our ass.
There’s a trillion dollars of college debt on the books, and we’re still pushing a four-year degree like it’s some sort of golden ticket. Dozens of states are facing massive shortages in the skilled trades, but we still talk about trade schools as “alternatives for the academically challenged.” And now, with record high unemployment and Detroit flat broke, you want to focus on the problem of …“bad jobs?” Can you imagine our grandparents bemoaning the existence of “unpleasant” work? Can you imagine the greatest generation agreeing that some jobs were just “not worth having”?
Look, I don’t want to sound like the cranky neighbor on the front porch, screaming at the kids to get off his lawn. (And yes, the Cranky Neighbor Clause of theDJCC expressly forbids this.) But come on — 12 million people are looking for work and 3 million jobs can’t be filled? How come nobody is asking questions about that? Why is no one taking a poll on whether our expectations have replaced our common sense? Why do we talk only of “job-creation,” when we can’t even fill the jobs we have?
On Dirty Jobs, I met hundreds of men and women who found success and happiness by doing the “unpleasant” thing. I remember a guy in Washington whose first job was cleaning the grease trap in a Mexican restaurant. He moved on to washing dishes and then waiting tables. Today, he owns the restaurant, and six more just like it. I’d like to read more stories about people like that, and I bet I’m not alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I care about the people you write about. For what it’s worth, I run a modest foundation that’s focused on scholarships for those who are willing to learn a useful skill. But let’s not forget about the people who did it the hard way. People who took the jobs you dismissed as “not worth having” and then prospered. People who didn’t shy away from the “bad jobs,” and ultimately learned to love them. If you ever write a story about them, please feel free to use my image. According to the spirit of the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct, that’s what it’s there for.
In the meantime, give my regards to the maintenance men next time you drive over The Mighty Mac. And if the bridge is still standing, tell them I said thanks!

Mike Rowe

Another Interesting "What IF"

XKCD’s “What If” broaches an interesting subject this week.  It talks about the difference between going to space, and going into orbit, which are two different things.  Actually getting to space just means that you need to have enough power to fly 100 kilometers up.  The common misconception is that when you are in space, in Orbit around the Earth, you haven’t managed to break free of Earth’s gravitational pull – it’s still there, just about as strong as it is when you’re on the surface of Earth, itself.  You can fly straight up into space until your rocket runs out of fuel, and then you’ll just fall back down to Earth via gravity.  The trick to staying in space is achieving a speed fast enough to gain orbit.  This is where the common misconception about space comes from – objects in Earth’s orbit have not transcended Earth’s gravitational pull.  Like anything else on Earth that is suspended in air with forward momentum, objects in orbit are moving in what is called a ballistic trajectory, which is the same path as a bullet or a thrown baseball.  Neither of these are defying gravity, either.  A ball or bullet thrown or fired parallel to the Earth’s surface will fall to Earth just as fast as a ball or bullet dropped from the same height, it’s just a matter of how far, laterally, each travels due to their velocity, before they hit the ground.  The trick is that the object in orbit is moving so goddamned fast;  In pretty simplistic terms, you’re falling back to Earth while in orbit, just like the aforementioned bullet or ball, but at the same time, you’re moving so fast that you miss Earth entirely and just keep falling around it. 

And when I say fast, I mean FAST.

In fact, in order for the ISS to be going the same speed as a bullet fired out of a high powered rifle, the ISS would have to slow down to 1/10th its current speed!

That is why space craft heat up during re-entry – it isn’t some intrinsic quality of space travel, it’s just that the craft is moving balls-out fast as hell, and as it descends into the Earth’s atmosphere at such dazzling speeds, the friction of the air moving past the craft, and being compressed in front of the craft, is such that it creates a lot of heat.  If you were to fly straight up into space and not achieve orbit, and then just fall back to Earth, you would not experience such dramatic heating (I’m relatively certain that at first, you’d fall pretty fast without air resistance to slow you down, so you would probably experience SOME heating, but not of the likes to melt your craft into plasma like you get on orbital re-entry).  

Megalodon - The Stupidity Revealed...

I’ve decided that, like Animal Planet (a Discovery subsidiary) the Discovery Channel should not be airing “found footage” documentaries.  The Mermaid thing, and now this new one about Megalodon, are just the cheapest, stupidest programming that I’ve seen in quite some time, and quite frankly the entire premise is offensive. 

Do they really think that we’re all so dumb that we need lies, instead of reality, to keep us interested in Discovery Channel’s programming? 

If I could send a message to the Discovery Channel, it would be that the actual, real world, right here in front of us, is absolutely fascinating without needing to embellish it with bullshit.

A show on Megalodon would have been awesome, because Megalodon was fucking awesome.  It is offensive that without some sort of dire, human soap-opera drama involved, that Discovery Channel thinks we can’t be interested in such a fantastic animal.  It doesn’t need to be alive and cruising the oceans right now for it to be an amazing creature, and extinct or not, this critter would make for a really interesting documentary.

I think this is programming down to the lowest common denominator.  Discovery has decided that we’re all morons, with the attention span of a goldfish, and that they can’t make money off of Shark Week anymore without giving us big, shiny lies to hold our attention (until the final 5 seconds when they flash a disclaimer insanely fast across the screen telling us that it was all fake).  Would an actual documentary on an extinct superpredator have done as well as the crock of shit that they presented?  I’d like to think it would have.  Discovery, on the other hand, seems relatively convinced that they need to lie to us, feed us crap about government conspiracies and giant sharks still being alive, and then spill the beans about their lies in the most un-noticeable way possible.  Shark week is awesome, and I tune in every year, despite the fact that a lot of it is getting pretty old and recycled at this point (I’m glad they did away with the “Air Jaws” series, by the way.  Not that it wasn’t cool, but it was being presented as a shiny, attention-getting penny instead of being actually content driven). 

The show was deceptive, poorly acted and was transparently fake to me, but was it to everyone that watched?  I hate to speak for others, but I can imagine that many people were taken in by this, and possibly many more still believe it was actually real, since the disclaimer was flashed by so fast that no one could possibly have ever read it.  I consider myself pretty cynical, and I look at everything that I’m told with a pretty jaundiced eye – I’ve been caught believing people who are totally wrong far too many times, and I’ve been lied to just as many.  So as I watched this thing, and my first questions were:

1.      While his boat is sinking in a dark ocean, after being attacked by some massive superpredator big enough to bite holes in it, why would the camera man have the presence of mind to hold his subjects in center frame? 
2.      How the hell did film footage survive sinking in saltwater?
3.      Why is this marine biologist so photogenic, and why is he so uncomfortable in front of the camera that it looks like he’s acting instead of presenting?
4.      As with all of these ground-breaking “discoveries” you see in these found footage documentaries that are spun as being real, why wouldn’t this have made the news?  And I’m talking every news channel, every station, every hour of every day for quite some time.  Remember the news coverage of “the summer of the shark” where there was a rash of shark attacks along the eastern seaboard in 2005?  Remember how that is all you heard about?  Remember how that was literally only two shark attacks and we heard about it for months and months?  How ape-shit do you think the news media would be going if a 70 foot supershark were found to be still alive and had eaten an entire goddamned boat full of people? 

There was also the incredulity that I had surrounding the whole idea of Megalodon still being around.  Even if the documentary was real, and these really were marine biologists looking for Megalodon, I’d have been smirking my way through the entire show, for the following reasons:

1.      Megalodon fed mainly on whales, which are air-breathing mammals that must come to the surface to breathe. They are also are the centerpiece of a very popular human activity called “whale watching” in which hundreds of thousands of people get on boats every year, chasing pods of whales to, well, watch them.  You’d think that even if whales are very infrequently preyed upon nowadays by extremely rare Megalodons, that we’d have at least a report or two of whales getting bitten in half by a 70 foot long fucking shark, considering that we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of whale watchers every year. 
2.      We find fossilized whale bones with megalodon teeth marks in them all the time.  What we don’t find are any fresh whale remains with the same, and we find whale remains all the time.
3.      We find sharks teeth all the time, including great white sharks.  The most recent megalodon tooth ever found was 10,000 years old, and many folks contest that the carbon dating on that tooth was in error, and that the tooth is, in fact, much older than that. 

Megalodon is extinct.  The idea that it may still be around without us knowing about it is ludicrous on its face.  The fact that Discovery tried to foist on us this lie isn’t ludicrous, its just kind of sad.  I’m very disappointed in you right now, Discovery Channel.