image(Tacoma, WA)  Television is GIGO:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.

So there we found ourselves:  Napped out, Snacked out, talked out, and ready to veg  out.

Time to turn on The Tube.

Our annual travels give us a chance to see how the other 99% live:  The people with more channels than you can shake a stick at.

Back home on the ranch, where we live the Minimalist lifestyle, we have only a few sources of media:  A huge amount of computer horsepower for two people (15 screens and 11 processors, three WANs with different onramps and a copies of the software scanning software to keep up on where the herd is drifting), free-to-air television (FTA), and enough of an “antenna farm” that our radio reach is also impressive.

But we don’t have a commercial satellite or cable input, presently.

We like our hours to be 60-minutes of content, not 43 minutes and 18 minutes of commercials.  The older we get, the more important this becomes.  Living 100 percent of life is a better deal than living a 73% life.

While over at “the kid’s” place Monday, we caught about 20-seconds of a sit-com (an umpteenth rerun of Married with Children) and it reminded us of just how little we were missing.

In Napped-out, snacked-out, talked-out, and veg’ed out mode last night, we confronted with the “500-Channel Wasteland.”

OMG:  Sports was prominent in the offerings which would be fine, except for one thing.  We don’t do sports.  Oh, sure, we walk, hike, treadmill, weight-bench, and work around the ranch plenty.  But to sit around and get excited about a soccer game?  We ain’t them.  Sports is for the herd.

Sports is a way to keep people regimented and under control.  Once every five years, or is it 10?  We get out to a sporting event.  A baseball game, maybe.  In all honesty, though, that’s more for social research like what people are wearing, what they talk about when the game is not on, and for the hotdogs and beer, of course.

Beyond people-watching?  Sports is stupid, so there went 50-channels.

Next came the Kid Channels.  Another 50-channels of no interest.

One good thing we picked up from the kids:  The granddaughter unit is not allowed to watch “branded kid television.”

In a streak of genius, and without parental prompting, they decided not to allow exposure to “branded child product.”  So no Disney characters in the house or on television.

There is TV, of course:  Even  a few cartoons.  But the ‘toons are characters like Curious George (not to be confused with Grandpa George) are only those which have a mainly literary basis.  Curious George books go back to when I was a kid or even earlier.

Talking vermin from the theme park?  Not in their house.  You know, rodents with logos and flat-ass goofy dogs are not what their daughter is being brought up on.

There are two free payoffs from this. 

The first is that the granddaughter  (at just age 3, mind you) is already talking in complete sentences.  And she’s able to explain how many sides to an octagon or hexagon, and a long list of other “very advanced for a three-year-old” metrics.

The second, and equally cool thing, is that the parents are saving a ton of dough.  Next time you get around a toy store, check our the prices of “branded” versus “unbranded” products.  I hadn’t considered it before, but looking back on my own childhood, the early toys were unbranded and maybe that’s the way it should be.

Branding early is offensive.   It locks people into behaviors that they didn’t consciously make. 

But everyone does it, including me.

Back when I was in my college president role, lining up kids to fill up a vocational college, we knew that if we were not starting to brand kids by the freshman or junior year year of high school, we wouldn’t have a crop when they were ready to be “harvested” by the marketing machine we built.

As the old family saying goes, “Just because everyone does it, doesn’t make it right.”  I just don’t do it, anymore.

So back to the couch last night:

The news and finance channels consumed about 30-minutes.  Gotta keep up, even though we usually have a very good idea of where markets are going before they even open.

But 30-minutes of 4-5 news channels was enough, thank you.  The rest went on the remote trash heap.

Which got us to specialty channels.  Home and garden, cooking, car makeovers, and blah, blah, blah.

Problem is that Elaine’s already at least as good a cook as anything on television, so why?

I didn’t bring a Skil saw or welder with us on vacation, so why?

So there went another block of a hundred channels, or so.

And that brought us to about 200 movie channels.

All of them were promptly tossed:  We’re not the kind of people to watch a movie more than once.  And anything we were interested in seeing was already in the wetware locker  (brain if the coffee hasn’t kicked, yet).

About 80 percent of what was being served had some aspect of crime in it.  That’s not our lives.  So why focus on forensic bullshit? 

It’s true that the human brain becomes that which is focuses on.  Ergo, Hollywood is doing a fine job of training America for mass social violence.

Elaine can field strip an M-16, thanks to her Army days.  And I can do a passable grouping with anything, at any range.  But to watch films night-after-night with bad technique?  Uh…not us.  Guns and violence are tools when all the other items in the inventory have been exhausted.

I suppose that’s why we lean toward Suits:  It’s hard for anyone to beat a determined attorney and you don’t need a background check or a carry permit to use one.  Their aim is good, and when necessary, they can “kill” almost any problem that comes along.

Disclosure:  We carry concealed legal staff.

But all the movies last night were losers, not worth seeing a second time and maybe not the first time. 

An ideal movie to me is something that has a strong male lead, strong female lead, something about cool cars, boats, history, foreign countries, and is filmed at least partly on location.  A great movie also ought to have a shining storyline, as well.  So when a very enjoyable novel comes along (*Clive Cussler’s Sahara) and it’s made into a movie…well that one has all the elements.

Otherwise, if we really wanted to see dead bodies all over the living room, we could schedule a tour of a morgue.  That was the end of those channels.

So what did we end up watching?

The Aspen Institute interview with former President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn. As they come up on age 90, and being married 69-years, it was nice to see there are still people around who still have their arms around “The Dream” around which America was founded.

The Carters have been quietly fighting diseases, including stupidity, and building housing, advocating for the environment, and  more.  Carter’s reflections on the Iran hostage situation during his Presidency was a different view that what internet pundits publish…and it was time well-spent.

After that, a speech and Q&A by former governor Mike Huckabee in front of the National Sheriff’s Association.  Again, insight into how someone thinks which  – we hope – is an indication of how they might act if they make it to high office.

So there you have it:  How the Ure’s spent Monday night.


I’m sure we missed a few bodies and corpses. I’m sure we missed lowest-common-denominator crap that attempts to achieve comedy by exploit marketing of sexual minorities, and we damn-sure didn’t get any sports.

The next time you pick up a remote, though, repeat after me:

“My brain defines my life.

My brain is a programmable computer.

What I watch on television helps to define who I am as a person and helps define my views of life.

Does the program before me really help me succeed toward my highest goals?

Most, you will find,don’t.

The most amazing facts of all are these:

1.  Some rating services discount or don’t report not-for-profit, public-interest programs.  That’s because there’s no money on the table.

2.  Most people won’t ask the question “WIIFM?”  (What’s In It For Me?)

And that, my friend is how you lose a whole country to Barbarians from the Rec Room.

Write when you break-even


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