A Pox On Both Their Houses

Keith Olbermann was a lightning rod of sorts when he hosted Countdown on MSNBC.  A judgmental liberal firebrand, Olbermann left MSNBC early last year under curious circumstances and promptly moved Countdown to Current TV, a network founded in part by former Vice President Al Gore.

Then Olbermann dropped off the face of the Earth, because no one watches Current TV.  Countdown averaged 177,000 viewers a night — a miniscule fraction of the total audience in a nation of hundreds of millions of rabid TV watchers.

It was predictable that Olbermann and Current TV would part ways, and probably not in an amicable fashion.  That has turned out to be the case.  Olbermann has sued the cable channel for millions of dollars, claiming that its production capabilities were akin to those found on local community access channels.  Current TV has counterclaimed, contending that Olbermann didn’t show up for work, promote the network, or perform other purported contractual obligations.

It’s hard to believe that anyone — even the 177,000 or so people who watched Countdown on Current TV, for reasons known only to them and their deity — care about this dispute or the fact that Olbermann is off the air.  Who needs another “point of view” cable channel or egotistical broadcaster eager to castigate those with different viewpoints?  We’ve got quite enough of both, already.

iKidney

I’ve noted before that I am a big fan of Apple products.  I love my iMac and my iPod, and I’ve grown accustomed to my iPhone.  But, you have to draw a line somewhere — and I confess that I wouldn’t sell a kidney to buy an iPad.

That distinguishes me, evidently, from a teenage boy in China who sold his kidney so he could buy an iPad and iPhone.  The teenager, who apparently was recruited into the scheme through an on-line chat room, received $3,000 for his kidney and used the money to buy the Apple products. Chinese police have arrested five people who were part of the scheme, including the surgeon who removed the kidney.  The five allegedly were paid $35,000 for the kidney.

The scheme unraveled when his mother noticed the new stuff, asked him where he got them, and he admitted to selling his kidney to fund the purchases.  (How can that be?  Was it out-patient surgery, for God’s sake?  Hard to believe that Mom wouldn’t notice her son gimping around with a huge abdominal incision.)

We often hear about how ours is a materialistic society, but apparently we’ve got nothing on the Apple-crazy Chinese.  Selling an organ to buy an iPad reaches a new, and sick, frontier in gross materialism.  And incidentally, the teenager who agreed to the deal is now reported to be suffering from renal failure.  Let’s hope he doesn’t have to trade his iPad and iPhone for dialysis treatments.

The Haircut Bell Curve

My mother says I came into this world hairless and remained so for months.

When hair first sprouted on my head, choices had to be made.  At first, they weren’t made by me.  Dad cut my hair using a home barber kit with electronic clippers.  He specialized in crew cuts that required no barbering skills.  UJ and I sat in a chair, squirming and worried about our ears getting snagged by those buzzing clippers, and all hair was taken off a quarter-inch from the scalp.

This continued until I was about 13.  It was the late ’60s, and suddenly I realized that no other boy in my grade had a crew cut.  Obviously, this meant that crew cuts weren’t very cool, and the march up the slope of the haircut bell curve began.  I first experimented with a bang cut that resembled that of Moe of the Three Stooges.  It looked ridiculous, of course, but I was intoxicated by freedom from the high and tight.

My haircuts got progressively longer and eventually became “stylings.”  By the time I graduated from high school, I had a kind of hair helmet look  that covered my ears and hung over the collar.  I reached the pinnacle of the haircut bell curve in college, when my hair was shoulder-length and constantly had to be pushed out of my eyes in front.  It also looked silly, but every young guy — except Elvis Costello and the members of Devo — had long hair.  In short, I had no choice.

After I graduated and started working, I moved onto the downward slope.  At first my haircuts got shorter because I thought it looked more professional, then I realized that I looked a little less ridiculous with shorter hair.  When my hair started to go gray, I decided I didn’t want the grizzled, kinky-hair-at-the-temples look, which meant even shorter hair was in order.

So, my haircut bell curve is coming full circle, and I’m progressively moving closer to the buzz cut from whence I started.  I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get there — but if Dad somehow reappeared with those old clippers, I promise I’d sit still this time.