Buis’ Bits: Gonna be some changes made

Your favorite college newspaper is about to get a lot better.

No, not The State Hornet.

The Orion Online is becoming even more convenient for your online lifestyle.

There is a total redesign that’s beginning to find its legs.  We’re going to pull an Apple Computer on you though and just say it’s going to be good once it’s ready and not give away too much.

However, it is time to let loose one of our little surprises: the magic of Really Simple Syndication.

What the hell is that, you ask?  Allow me to answer.

RSS is going to help you, the reader, find out more about Chico State.

But first you need an RSS aggregator.  This program acts like a butterfly net for the news that brings the headlines to your computer, instead of you having to search for them.

While there are many aggregators on the Internet, I’m going to pull out two easy-to-use options to bring you The Orion Online, CNN and even the New York Times.

The first covers a large chunk of Mac users.  When Apple introduced its new OS 10.4 operating system a few months ago, it also introduced a new version of its browser, Safari 2.0.

In this new version, you simply need to look at the address bar for a blue RSS button.  Click on that button, title it, put it in the bookmark bar and now you have The Orion Online’s latest headlines with a little number next to it.  That’s how many new stories have been put up.

Mac OS 10.4 can be picked up at the A.S. Bookstore for $69.  If you’re not sure what version you have, go to the apple menu and choose “About This Mac.”

But what if $69 seems pricey, or you run a Windows machine?

iPodderX (www.ipodderx.com) has a basic version that costs nothing and can run on both Mac and PC.  If you want the full version, it’ll knock $30 out of the beer fund.

This program isn’t as ridiculously simple as Safari, but it’s close.  Simply click on the “New Subscription Feed” button and paste this address:

feed://www.orion-online.net/rss/feed.php

If neither of these aggregators fit your needs, go to www.versiontracker.com and search for “RSS.”

While this may seem like a useless frill to appease techies, this is actually a glance into the future of getting the news.

Print editions of newspapers are quickly being cloned and their Internet twins are helping to bring new news to people. The race for information is being led by 24-hour-news networks like the FOX News Channel and CNN, with newspapers trying to make up ground.

One strategy that many newspapers, including The Orion, have tried is e-mail updates.  While the information is sent to the readers in a somewhat timely manner, the reader still has to log in to their e-mail, open the message and read it.

By then, they’ve probably heard it from Yahoo!, one of the many news networks, or even from one of their friends.  This doesn’t even consider that urgent e-mail possibly landing in the junk mail box.

Now RSS gives a simpler option for people to get their news.

It’s just a matter of popping open the aggregator and clicking on the headlines that look interesting.  Maybe you’ll be the first to get the facts straight from The Orion instead of being the last to know.

Two other reasons why RSS will be your best friend with The Orion are its speed and accuracy.  There are many different publications with different levels of credibility and intelligibility all competing to bring the news to the readers.

The Orion strives to get it fast and accurate.

I don’t recall seeing any crime scene photos from the Chico Enterprise Record or the Chico News & Review after the shooting death of Chad Keichler.

As a matter of fact, the Enterprise Record had nothing, in terms of a story, until Tuesday–a full 16 hours after The Orion’s first story.  The News & Review had nothing until their Thursday print edition.

Our new feed will keep our readers from being the last to know.

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-gonna-be-some-changes-made-1.12724

Buis’ Bits: Feeling secure

Last week’s column seemed to generate a lot of angry e-mails (read: zero), so I felt the need to clear up a point I made about computers.

I wrote about how furious I was to see people buying cheap laptops at Wal-Mart and it needs to be stated that I love (read: hate) Wal-Mart.  I also want to make it clear that I love (see previous) Windows PCs.

But today I have a confession to make that may stun (read: not surprise at all) you, the reader.

I am a Mac user.  I have been my entire life, ever since the Performa 575 that I’m sure is still collecting dust in the back room (read: may have been scrapped for parts).

The magic of the Mac that everyone seems to use right off the bat: No successful attacks on the OSX operating system. Compare that to the amazingly secure Windows OSs (read: over 1 billion hackers served) and this is definitely a great first computer purchase.

I also host a weekly radio show at a low-power community radio station (read: good luck listening to it offline).  The Mac is great for this.  All it takes is one click and iTunes opens and then it’s time to surf through 10,000 songs and find what fits the moment.  Afterward I can convert it down to a podcast and stick it on in the same night.

But I can already see someone sneering as they squint through their Coke-bottle glasses and in their parents’ basement while trying to take care of the latest worm that’s flopping around on their hard drive

“Macs are for babies.  PCs and Linux are hardcore.”

I tend to prefer a working computer to an expensive paperweight, but let’s humor that idea for a moment.

Does it really make sense to make something more complicated just for the sake of bragging rights?

I use Adobe Photoshop to edit my photos.  Anyone who’s even looked at the program can tell you it’s not finger painting (read: serious business).  It’s a very complicated program that’s designed to open up possibilities to the professional designer and photographer.

Now tell me, why would you go and add to your frustrations an uncooperative operating system?

That’s like a brain surgeon walking into his tenth operation and saying, “Nurse, I’m bored.  Get me my blindfold.”  That’s like Roger Clemens standing on the pitching slab and saying, “I feel like going lefty today.”  That’s like Einstein staring down a complex equation and saying, “I’m going to cut my hair.”

Wait, that was Samson I was thinking of.

The important point though is it makes no sense to make things harder for no better reason than, “Hey, Wal-Mart has a $100 computer.  I bet it’s better than that $1,000 one.  Lower price means more power, right?”

Of course, when you’re dealing with viruses, Trojans (read: the non-prophylactic ones), spyware, adware and all the other wares to be aware of, one thing is overlooked in the computer buying process.

Security.

When you’re buying something online, your credit card is right there for the taking by a keystroke recorder Paris Hilton put on your hard drive.  Your social security number is ready to be taken by that Wal-Mart gift card you were offered.

Who am I kidding?  This is a college paper.  Those things don’t matter.  How about this?

Your porn collection and every site you visited can be splattered on the internet with that picture of you wasted on myspace next to it.

“But I have Norton Anti-Virus (read: any protection software, really), so I’m safe,” you say.

And hackers don’t have access to these same programs?  If you believe that, then it’s time to count the number of times you were dropped on your head as a child (read: I’m up to 20-ish, thanks in part to my brothers).

There’s no Trojan (read: metaphorical prophylactic) to save your computer from what’s on the Internet on a PC.  And no, putting a Trojan (read: real profal-screw it–condom) over your computer will not help (read: but I’d be impressed).

With people profiting off of suckers, do you want to leave your life hanging out there for someone to snatch and call their own?

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-feeling-secure-1.12321

Buis’ Bits: Merry (bleep)

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas.

Who gives a flying-eh, it’s not worth breaking out the profanity.

This has been a massive political debate that makes me want to vomit profusely. And when I use the word “profusely”, I really mean it.

The only reason why we’re debating this is because Tom DeLay might lose his position in Congress, President Bush’s approval rating is at an all time low and all sorts of Republicans are under investigation. It’s time to fire up the religious base that got them elected.

So let me help you get focused back on the path to real news by ending this controversy.

Why are we questioning the use of Happy Holidays this year? Of all years, this makes absolutely no sense.

First off, it’s very commonly known that this time of the year is a huge time for holiday business. I chronicled the joys of holiday shopping just two weeks ago.

Now if stores are depending on this time of the year to make their biggest profits, then why would they risk the chance of alienating any part of their customer base?

What people miss this year is that Christmas may be on the 25th, but both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa start the day after. If stores are going to close or cut hours for Christmas, then clearly people are going to be trying to do their shopping at the same time as people are shopping for Christmas.

Why would stores only pander to one religious group and leave the rest to their competitors to take, completely unchallenged? Simple: they wouldn’t.

And to be honest, Christmas isn’t exactly cemented as Dec. 25. Historians and scholars have said that the martyr of the church was likely born in September. Seems as though the stores had it right all along.

Why Dec. 25 then?

Pope Julius proclaimed in 350 B.C. that (and I’m paraphrasing) those silly goose Roman pagans needed to knock off all that pagan nonsense and, “Let’s have a totally fabulous holiday to make them forget about it.”

In other words, Christmas isn’t the only holiday sparking consumer and Julius was busy hanging the red and green curtains for his super party.

But why are people in such a fury about “Merry Christmas?” The same reason why the Church Lady would be furious about a teen in black greeting her with “Hail Satan.” It’s not what they believe in.

Is either side right? Hell, no!

The entire point of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” aren’t to have a religious debate on the sidewalk. It’s supposed to be a token of good will. It’s meant to be a tiding of joy, if you will.

The next time someone offers you holiday joy, don’t clench your fists in rage. Just say hello and walk by.

—-

Now here’s where I bury the part of the column that you wouldn’t have read if it was at the top.

This is likely my last column for awhile. I’m going to be getting my 1,000 words out a lot easier by shooting photos for The Orion next semester. No, I didn’t drop dead or have a massive fallout with the editors or decide to become a recreation administration major.

But before I finish this, I’d like to thank a few people at The Orion.

First off, I’d like to thank our outgoing managing editor, Becky Regan. When you were a sports editor over a year ago, you got a rambling response to a top ten sports movie story and saw promise in it. These words wouldn’t be here without you.

To keep the thank you train rolling along, I want to thank the entire Fall 2004 opinion staff who helped me take my writing from rambling about the olympics to rambling about something that people would actually read.

I’d like to also thank the one member of our online staff whose name you haven’t seen attached to a story, but has made every story this semester the successes they have been. Greg Leben has put in countless nights staring at a screen, waiting for that midnight soccer story to come in or that urgent piece of breaking news and made sure they’re flawless.

Finally I’d like to thank you for at least reading this last sentence.

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-merry-bleep-1.12261

Buis’ Bits: Up shopping stamina (again) with 5 (more) laws of spending

Christmas is coming and the end of the world is near. No, it’s not war, famine, or the bird flu. It’s time to shop and jump into the magic of the holiday season and buy respect from your friends and coworkers.

There is a way to keep sane this holiday season. I’ve expanded on last years shopping laws and added five new ways to survive the twelfth month.

And now without further ado, part two of:

The Laws For a Fiscally Responsible Non-Denominational Holiday (still with the professional sounding passive tone).

1) Thou shalt enjoyeth the carnage

When it rains like it did this last weekend, it pours. The nasty looks on people’s faces normally show the pounds of turkey and cranberry sauce they stuffed down their throat the evening before and the agony of waking from a tryptophan-induced slumber earlier than they should have. However, a little rain adds to the misery, so it’s better to stay home and make sure you live to see Christmas.

So the best bet is to get out around noon-ish when the sales are actually over. Believe it or not, this is actually somewhat better. The big deals are gone, the sale prices are harder to find and even more misleading, but the entertainment is just beginning.

First there’s the walking dead. People are exhausted and trying to get out of the stores and listlessly making their way toward the exit. The fight they had over the amazingly cheap and even more amazingly scarce (insert electronic device here) is gone. The clothes that were on sale 10 minutes ago are wadded and wrinkled with the CD that migrated across the store and was left mere feet from a register and a home.

2) Thou shalt not mosey

The biggest problem I had this year had to be trying to get around in the stores. It was bad enough trying to get around long register lines and through the tattered remains of the merchandise, but for the love of god people, just walk already. Don’t stand in the middle of an aisle talking to someone. Don’t suddenly stop to look at something when you know there’s a crowd behind you. Don’t stand with a shopping cart debating what your kids can and can’t get.

Just walk.

Which reminds me…

3) Thou shalt leaveth the kids in the domicile (psst, that means home)

The great thing about shopping the day after, and the weekend after, Thanksgiving is that you can get your Christmas shopping done early. Leaving your kids at home has to be the best thing you can do. Why you ask?

• You don’t have to come back to the stores later and clog up the aisles in the mall again. Get the shopping for the kids done as well as as many people on your list as is possible. Please. I beg of you.

• I don’t have to listen to them whine like little hostages who have to go along with your every whim, or have their Christmas morning executed.

• You don’t abandon them in toys or electronics where they can play around and start an unholy riot and bang around at my knees while I shop for my own kids. OK, I don’t have kids, my brothers do, but it’s the same concept.

You are the parent (or grandparent or other relation). Please act like one. That includes Rule 4.

4) Thou shalt avoideth thy child’s whims.

I know it’s hard to earn your kids’ love and it’s so much easier to buy it, but once again, you’re the parent. I watched CNN before I hit the stores and after watching some idiot fight a security guard, I heard the worst phrase possible:

“My kids want(ed)…”

That sentence never ends well. Ever.

Parents jump on the big item of the season to be the “bestest parent ever.” This year is the short-supplied, glitch-plagued, overrated piece of digital garbage, the Xbox 360. Now people are flocking to ebay and desperately trying to find this shiny object to distract their offspring and paying two-and-three times the original price to make their kids happy.

“No” is a powerful word. Try it out once in awhile.

5) Thou shalt shun shoddy electronics

Insignia. Olevia. ilo. These are all cheap, flat panel TVs waiting to be picked up by an eager shopper as if they were “lead-in” to buy them, and then picked up a few other deals they saw. Nobody ever asks if they’ve seen these brands before or if they’re what they need. It’s cheap and it makes them feel richer and more powerful than they actually are.

The worst part of this is when I here people say they’re buying laptops at Wal-Mart for Christmas because they’re cheap. With viruses, spyware, malware, phishers, spoofers, etc. running rampant around the Internet ready to destroy your investment or to take your credit card information and your identity, it’s not a great idea to be cheap.

Also, if these people are getting their first computer on the cheap, it’s like tossing out the chum in shark-infested waters and taking a swim. Even if you survive, your life will be destroyed beyond repair.

That’s the second tablet beautifully reconstructed and ready to be taught in every elementary school alongside evolution.

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-up-shopping-stamina-again-with-5-more-laws-of-spending-1.12373

Buis’ Bits: Terminated

If I had $50 million, I wouldn’t use it to make millions of people tell me I’m wrong.

Our wonderful governor, however, just wrote himself into a blockbuster hole.

The script called for him to jump into California and tear the dirty hippies out here a new one. He was supposed to make the unions bow to his every desire. He was supposed to break the liberal stranglehold.

It almost looked like he could do it. Around 9 p.m. Tuesday night, he managed to lead in three of the eight propositions, including his union buster, Proposition 75.

That was the high point of the night. Every time I’d refresh the screen and the votes would be updated, another .1 percent of support would drop across the board, like a knife slowly being driven between the ribs of Ah-nold’s grand scheme.

Two hours later, none of the blade was showing.

Nearly the entire ballot ballot was on life support by 11 p.m., with only a chance of the union masher being able to squeak through with a slim majority. A few minutes into the hour though, the dream was over.

It was quiet enough outside that I could hear a governor’s bulging biceps clenching in rage and his skin turning green, saying, “You won’t like me when I’m mad.”

Wait, that’s Lou Ferrigno’s bit. They were both in “Pumping Iron,”so it’s only natural to get them confused. The important part though is the Governator had to not be a happy camper.

A few of his handlers probably told him it’d be a great idea to get his issues out in the open and finally make the reform he promised for Cully-fornia a reality. He made one big mistake.

He went after the wrong unions.

Teamsters are a toss-up as are many other unions that are easy targets. That would make Prop. 75 an easier victory and may have given the “Last Action Hero” a chance to overcome his opponents.

But no, the nurses, teachers and firefighters drew his wrath and made him look more like Conan the Barbarian.

Apparently the Kindergarten Cop has been in a self-absorbed coma the last four-plus years and missed the whole Sept. 11-heroic-firefighter-sacrifice thing in New York. People still respect the magic public workers do every day.

We haven’t knocked the debt that can’t be repaid into the annals of history like Arnold Strong is trying to do with his father’s high rank in the Nazi party. Lest we never forget.

It’s going to be difficult to forget this kind of blunder when the elections come up next year. It’s not just because of the attacks on unions and education. When a person blows $50 million on a failed political makeover, it’s not too easy to sweep under the rug.

Any good fiscal conservative must be ready to vomit when thoughts of 2006 enter their minds. Just like the rest of the nation, California is mired in debt and the situation isn’t getting better, despite all the money being thrown at it.

This last election was like a shoulder rocket to Dutch’s shoulder from a predator he couldn’ t see coming. Now there’s only one thing he can say to the rest of the Republican party before they’re lost too.

“Get to da choppah!”

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-terminated-1.12433

Buis’ Bits: Quit playin’ games with my court

President Bush picked his new nominee for the Supreme Court last Monday.

Before I even get to his name, I might as well mention that I’m insulted by Bush’s choice. I’m not just talking about the nominee, I’m talking more about the timing.

This choice came the Monday after Vice President Dick Cheney’s assistant, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, had been indicted for playing a role in the leak of a CIA operative’s name. This operative’s husband happened to mention that pre-Iraq war claims were trumped up and even wrong.

On the surface, this looks like an attempt to brush the indictment under the rug and away from the 24-hour news cycle. If that’s the case, then I am appalled.

First off, this was a smack to Rosa Parks. She had just laid in state at the U.S. Capitol for six hours and there was a large service being scheduled in Washington D.C. that Tuesday. Sure, it’s important for this country to keep on moving along, especially with issues like the SCOTUS.

However, the fact that something as pivotal as a nominee for a lifetime position on the highest court in the nation happened as a woman who helped turn the tide on legalized bigotry was being honored after her death was a smack on everything she had done.

As if upstaging the mother of the civil rights movement wasn’t bad enough, he nominated a man to the court. This man will replace Sandra Day O’Connor, leaving only one woman on the Supreme Court.

This wouldn’t be nearly that offensive if Harriet Miers hadn’t been thrown up as a half-assed attempt to look like there was actually going to be a woman replacing a woman on the Supreme Court.

After all, a tough job like deciding pivotal cases from all across the country is a man’s job. At least that’s what Miers’ nomination looked like to me.

Why else would you nominate someone with no judicial experience, with no paper trail to give an idea of where this person would vote on key issues and who happens to be a lifetime crony for the president?

As if I wasn’t insulted enough by the fact the president wanted to nominate someone at the time a civil rights icon was being honored and after a lame attempt to look like he wanted a woman on the supreme court, the name finally came down.

Samuel Alito. I had no idea who this man was, so I had to do some digging as to what other people were saying about his positions.

Televangelist Pat Robertson declared Alito’s nomination “a grand-slam home run.” First off, a grand slam is a home run. What he said is just like saying “a home run home run.”

Second, this rave review is coming from the same man who offered this prayer about the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez:

“”We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability…I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

In other words, he’s a burger, fries and a small drink short of a Happy Meal.

Eventually, once Bill “Semi-Blind Trust” Frist and company stopped talking about college yearbooks, Alito’s previous decisions jumped to the forefront and people had a chance just to see where this man sat on the political spectrum.

The big find was Alito’s dissenting opinion in a Pennsylvania case in which he stated that a spouse needed to be notified of an abortion.

It’s a sad day when the idea of a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy is the main qualification for a justice on the Supreme Court, especially when so much effort is put into revoking that right and not enough is put into preventing the pregnancies in the first place.

Sex makes babies, not the stork.

In the case of Marbury v. Madison, the duty of the Supreme Court was established:

“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

In other words, the Supreme Court isn’t a place to hold ideological wars. Its nominees and justices are not political tools. Their nominations should not be used as political bishops in the partisan game of chess.

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-quit-playin-games-with-my-court-1.12491

Buis’ Bits: Thanks for the material

Last year I thought long and hard about what I was most thankful for in my life and what Thanksgiving was to me. If you’re looking for that kind of column, I’ll put the link at the bottom of the story.

This year, I realized I’m also thankful for something else. Good ol’ politics.

I agree that a lot of politics is childish and full of rhetoric and people trying to act civil when they really are supposed to hate each other, yet they still have that tinge in their heart for someone else.

Some people have “Days of our Lives.” I have “As the White House Turns:”

Narrator: Previously on “AtWHT.”

The White House is in shambles. G.W. is still trying to piece together what happened in the nearly three years his brain was lost in the vast lands of Crawford. All he knows is there is a war against the bad man who tried to assassinate his father, even with the bad man under lock and key and ready to stand trial.

G.W.: Dick, what’s goin on?

Dick: Everything is fine. We will win the war and we will change minds around the world. It’ll all be OK. Now finish your juice and you can run around the Oval Office as many times as you want.

G.W.: Oh OK… (G.W. finishes downs his tippy cup and runs off)

Dick: Finally. I thought he’d never leave. Rummy, get in here.

Rummy: How can you keep up that load of crap you give to him?

Dick: (holds of bottle of Jack Daniels) What’d you think was in that cup anyway? The guy got busted for drunk driving in the ’70s in Texas. That’s dedication to the liquor industry.

Rummy: I see. Man we’re in it deep right now. The press is waking up all those people that voted in the election. They’re asking about what happened leading up to us getting into Iraq. We’re losing that blurry line with terrorism.

Dick: What do you mean blurry line? The link between Saddam and 9/11 is obvious. Plus, we’ve got all those religious nut jobs thinking we’re going to fight gay people and stop abortion. They’ll follow us no matter what. We even tried to put a horribly underqualified woman up for a seat on the Supreme Court.

Rummy: They’re getting really demanding though. We haven’t fixed either of those things yet. Plus we have the head nut job praying for the almighty to assassinate the head of Venezuela.

Dick: He hasn’t talked to me-

Rummy: Huh?

Dick: Nothing. I’m assuming you meant that God fellow Karl said we should push. It got us votes and the whole morality thing, but he could be a big problem in the long run. This guy thinks he can make hurricanes move at the bowing of his head.

Narrator: Suddenly the door flies open. Lewis “Scooter” Libby stumbles in to the office with just enough breath to say:

Scooter: I’ve been-indicted.

Narrator: And he fell over dead.

Rummy: Oh my God, not Scooter. He was such an important aid to you.

Dick: He was a fine scapegoat. Eh, plenty of fish in the sea.

Rummy: What are you saying?

Dick: Oh my heart!

Narrator: Dick clutches his chest and falls to the floor.

Rummy: Oh no. Dick are you OK? I didn’t mean it

Narrator: Rummy drops to the floor to help Dick. As Rummy gets closer, suddenly Dick‘s eyes spring open and his mouth opens, jaw unhinged, swallowing him whole. Within moments, Rummy‘s pleas for mercy are no longer audible.G.W., hearing Rummy‘s squealing down Dick‘s esophagus, enters the room.

G.W.: What was all that noise?

Dick: Nothing, go run around in circles some more.

G.W.: OK

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-thanks-for-the-material-1.12374

Buis’ Bits: No News

“This just might do nobody any good.

“At the end of this discourse, a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous thoughts…

“It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television.”

These words from Edward R. Murrow’s 1958 speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association were about the rabid Sen. Joseph McCarthy–Wisconsin’s flaming bag of dog poop on America’s doorstep.

The problem is, 47 years later, we’re still stuck in a mire of journalistic slop.

Murrow declared in that speech the importance of journalists to be able to do their job and do it well, and without the influence of the almighty advertising dollar.

Here we are though in 2005 where when a hurricane bears down over 2000 miles away, there is no other news. Cable news latches onto a series of shots with trees blowing, signs coming off, Anderson Cooper barely able to keep his skinny self on two feet.

Why? Ratings.

That may have sounded like the biggest “duh” statement of all-time. If that’s the case, then why did O.J. Simpson signing autographs at a horror convention get so much coverage? Why is Natalie Holloway still getting significant coverage?

Two words: train-wreck journalism.

A train derails or there’s a car accident on the way to class. It’s horrible–people could be dead. But what happens every time?

Your neck snaps toward it and your eyes can’t pull away. Twenty-four-hour news networks need something to keep people glued to their televisions, and nothing does it better than a good disaster.

The blame for the sorry state of journalism can be tossed around for days. CNN and FOX News killed network news, network news killed newspapers, newspapers killed the town crier, video killed the radio star.

It’d be too easy for you, the reader, to say that it’s some large beast in New York that you can’t affect in any way shape or form. I would have fallen for that same trap about a week ago.

However, I had the good fortune to wander into a message-board topic about President Bush’s impromptu scripted speech a week or so ago. The first reply was a passive “Bush isn’t the only one who does that.”

I guess that means we ignore the fact that this was a rehearsed dialogue between the leader of the free world and the people who are fighting his battle.

It doesn’t matter that this event was sold as an authentic talk with a few lucky soldiers, and the fact that it was scripted was intentionally withheld and only discovered because someone screwed up and rehearsed with cameras set up in the room.

Everybody does it.

That works perfectly in Magicfunhappyland where gumdrops and marshmallows fall from the sky, where rainbows and sunshine blow out of your assets and into every part of the world to make it a better place.

Unfortunately, in the real world, we have to realize that ignorance may be bliss, but life doesn’t stop moving because you’re not paying attention.

One of the major problems in journalism is the lack of a proper check to balance it. The main goal of a journalist is to keep the public informed and to keep their noses in as many places as the public needs.

However, if the public doesn’t show a need for their noses to be buried in the big stories of the day, it just won’t be covered. It just won’t sell ad space. That’s how we get shafted with hurricane weekend or a leadless search for a blond high school student in another country.

The Orion has two different ways for you to get involved and tell us what you think is news.

First, you can drop a line to the writer of the story by clicking on their e-mail address at the bottom of the story. Remember, everything you see in the print edition is here online too.

(debating about providing links to section editors e-mails here…)

Second, if you look just below the e-mail, you can get near-instant gratification with The Orion Online’s feedback feature. Your words can be there for people to see–a message board for each story.

When I say, “Get involved,” though, I’m not talking about screaming bloody murder at the liberal media or the vast Orion conspiracy against the Greeks. Sometimes you have to take off the beer goggles and see the world as it is–not how you want to see it.

These are your chances for you, the reader, to start having an impact on the news you pick up in print every Wednesday or hop on the Internet for daily.

To paraphrase Edward R Murrow, unless we recognize that media in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then the media and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

Bringing the news to the masses can’t be done without the masses.

http://www.theorion.com/2.725/buis-bits-no-news-1.12613

Buis’ Bits: Where have all the good games gone?

Video games suck. And there’s little hope of them getting better.

The next wave of the video game console wars is locked into graphics quality. Everyone wants stunning graphics, pretty colors and fantasy worlds that look real.

All of these shiny objects coming out act as a distraction for a real issue nowadays. To alter a successful ad campaign–where’s the game?

This holiday season, Microsoft is rolling out the Xbox 360 to kick off a new generation of video game consoles. For those of you who missed the special on its release last May, I’ll sum it up very simply.

The machine debuted on MTV–the channel with music in its name, not its schedule. It doesn’t bode well for the gaming experience, other than that there will be pretty graphics.

Sony is ready to unleash its PlayStation 3. It has pretty graphics too. The main difference between it and the Xbox 360 is the incredible boomerang controller, which will come back to you after throwing it in frustration every time the hard drive glitches.

I’ve been testing out a game on a soon-to-be-obsolete console called “Army Men: Sarge’s War.” If you’re not familiar with the game or the series, you take the little green army men that come in the big plastic tubs and make them fight the tan army men, with very real weapons.

At one point, I was in the sandbox when I was ambushed by at least ten tan army guys that started firing away. I ducked behind a letter block, switched from my carbine to my assault rifle and jumped out, tapping the “L” button to choose my targets and firing away with the “A” button until they were nothing but a pile of tan goo. One of them got off a good shot and left a massive hole in my chest, but a health pack fixed that.

Most people would read that description and wonder how on earth they could make such a terrible game that would allow people to commit such terrible acts of violence. Don’t plastic people have feelings too?

The only thing that worried me the most was that stupid “L” button. All I had to do was hold that down long enough to get a shot off and keep going until I blew them all away. Where’s the strategy in that?

I grew up in an era when games like this were actually challenging. They required actual skill and didn’t let you get away with rushing the enemy.

The original “Contra” is much better than anything put out nowadays. You had three lives and if you were shot just once, you’d lose one. It was almost impossible to beat without a continue or the code to get 30 lives you could enter before the title screen appeared.

Games that difficult just don’t exist anymore. The strategy and tactics are set aside as the games get easier. Why is this?

One word–graphics.

In the pursuit for the prettiest picture ever perceived, the game industry has effectively sold their soul. (Note: This doesn’t apply to Microsoft, however, as it did not have one in the first place.) Sure, you have to push a few extra buttons from time to time, but that’s all it becomes–complicated button-mashing.

The only ray of light in the next-gen gaming market is the Nintendo console code named “Revolution.”

Very few details have been released about it, but, according to officials with Nintendo, the company is foregoing high-definition compatibility–pretty colors and graphics–for a simpler console that focuses more on the games than the manual.

Part of this work can be seen with the latest installment of the “Legend of Zelda” series, “Twilight Princess.” Nintendo recently announced it will delay the launch of the game beyond the holiday season.

Why?

Nintendo is adding more dungeons to it and is actually making the game’s plot intriguing and interesting. Add in the fact that it will use orchestrated music for the first time, instead of the computer-synthesized stuff, and you realize that Nintendo is showing that it actually cares about the experience after you buy the game.

So for now, even with the vacuum of details Nintendo has provided, the Revolution, or whatever it ends up calling the new system, will have my support.

If I wanted pretty colors, I’d stare at the sun for a while.

Kyle Buis can be reached at
kbuis@orion-online.net

Brief word on Katrina

The relief efforts in Louisiana and across the Southeast will take a great deal of support and funding. Most of this will come from the generous financial support of people across the country.

Unfortunately these tragedies also bring out the worst in people. They pose as charities and try to get in touch with people or stop them on the street. This money never comes close to the people who need it.

If you feel compelled to donate, use the link at the bottom of this page. It will provide you with a way to donate directly to the American Red Cross.

Buis’ Bits: Have you seen my childhood?

Peter Gammons wants to kill my childhood.

The ESPN baseball analyst is trying to erase some of the best memories of my life. He wants to prove once and for all that everything I know is wrong and he is right.

He wants to kill baseball. And he’s not alone.

In the past seven years, home run records have been blown away by the likes of Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. Greats like Roger Maris, Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson are taking a back seat, and older sports historians don’t want their memories to fade away.

That only leaves one option–a smear campaign.

Players start looking bigger and hitting the ball harder, so they must be spoiling the purity of the game.

For those who don’t follow the game, purity in the record books is incredibly important. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Ted Williams’ .406 batting average, Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs–these numbers are holy testaments to hard work and dedication. They should never be tarnished.

In other words, when new hitters approach these milestones, it becomes time for the purists to defend the fortress and keep them from entering.

For those of you who think this idea is ridiculous, please feast on two ways that Babe Ruth’s records were defended:

• Roger Maris broke Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961, a 162-game season. Ruth had only a 154-game season in 1927. Baseball writers fumed that Maris had an unfair advantage with those eight extra games. Commissioner Ford Frick had an asterisk placed next to Maris’ 61 home runs to denote this.

• In 1974, Henry “Hank” Aaron stirred up controversy as he approached Ruth’s all-time record of 714 home runs. The fact that such a hallowed record was about to fall was bad enough, but the fact it was a black player seemed to enrage the purists more than usual. Letters would come, echoing those sentiments: “How about some sickle cell anemia, Hank?” and, “My gun is watching your every black move.” Even the commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, declined to attend.

A huge debate has started in the wake of the hearings in Congress and the recent positive steroid tests by major leaguers. At the center is who deserves to be in Cooperstown, site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

This massive concoction of “who did what, when and where” is literally McCarthyism on steroids. Between congressional hearings and Jose Canseco writing books about how he’s stabbed every teammate of his in the butt with steroids, it’s turning into a bigger mess everyday.

If a hitter has a hot streak, then our wonderful purists think their hall of fame resume should be smacked with a massive “Denied” stamp. This would also apply to players who were rumored to have taken steroids, but never tested positive.

The latest victim of the “Denied” stamp is Rafael Palmeiro. The announcement of his positive test came after he got his 3,000th career hit and became one of a handful of players with that many hits as well as 500 home runs.

First off, let me simply say that if this wasn’t an accident that what showed up in his drug test got into his body, then he’s an idiot for even thinking of injecting himself at a time like this. It’s like Osama bin Laden walking into John F. Kennedy International Airport–someone’s going to snipe you out and be the hero to your goat.

With that said, there’s no honor in sniping. If you do your job well, you’ve killed someone (or their reputation in this case) without having the guts to look your victim in the eye.

It also doesn’t help if you sniped a guy that wasn’t guilty. Clearly Palmeiro broke the rules if this was no accident. However, it happened this year and had a positive drug test to back it up. What about the players rumored to have taken them before, yet there’s no cement proof? Or if the drug of choice wasn’t banned at the time?

Mark McGwire’s issues with androsterone, a drug not banned in 1998, raise an important question: What do you do with the people who came before the rules changed?

The obvious answer is to ban them from existence in every way shape or form. With McGwire we know he took it at least one time because he admitted it. What about the ones who don’t ‘fess up?

Before anyone proposes a blanket ban based on guilt by association without any proof for anyone who hit 50 or more home runs, realize who else we’d have to ban.

Ted Williams was caught with a corked bat, explicitly illegal in baseball’s rule book. Would we ban him and his frozen head?

Nolan Ryan and Gaylord Perry are two pitchers who had great careers and are widely associated with tainting the baseball with every known substance to make it move every which way it could. This is also banned by baseball. Would we throw out 638 career wins and over 9,000 strikeouts?

According to Gammons, those offenses of the past pale in comparison to the alleged injustices today.

Joseph McCarthy has become a footnote and a poor example for people to follow. Hopefully the same fate does not bely Peter Gammons.