God or Mini Golf?

CBS’s Kid Nation is fast becoming my new favorite TV show. This surprising and delightful reality series challenges a group of 40 kids to carve out a functioning society in the New Mexico desert. The latest episode dealt with the contentious subject of religion. Like many of the issues the children deal with on Kid Nation, the subject of “going to service” was imposed upon them by the show’s producers in the form of the town journal. Each week a new chapter is read by the ruling council and they must decide if they will take the journal’s entry to heart and effect change in Bonanza City, or ignore the lessons it attempts to teach.

After reading the entry about Sunday service, the council decides to create a “catch-all” gathering for the entire town in which everyone’s religion will be represented. But when the council rings the meeting bell, no one comes running. It seems on the outset, these kids don’t love God. They are both lawless AND Godless! Oh ye of little faith. Later that evening, Morgan decides to get an impromptu prayer group together, and low and behold, many of the kids attend. As the children huddle around a burning oil barrel, prayers from various religions are shared. Some of the kids are even moved to tears by the words of their friends. Instead of religion being enforced, God is shared spontaneously, and that’s what I love most about Kid Nation – it’s never what you expect.

Given a choice between an 18 hole mini golf course, or a collection of holy books, the kids choose the books. When tensions run high in a town meeting, it’s the voice of 9 year old Alex that makes the most sense. Sophia calmly states in an interview that religion is one of the leading reasons people kill each other around the world. And some kids disturbingly emulate their parents by “drowning their sorrows” with shots of root beer in the town Saloon. No matter what pops up from week to week on this contrived, sometimes awkward TV series, through it all, the kids shine through. They constantly rise above the fake settings and the Survivor-like challenges to single-handedly put the “reality” back in reality TV, and I’m loving every minute of it.

When the hero of last week’s sheep herding challenge, Cody, decided to leave, his heartfelt goodbye really got me. Who among us hasn’t had to say goodbye to a close friend or lend moral support when a buddy is down? Kid Nation lets us re-connect with our childhood while giving us glimpses into how today’s parents are raising their kids. Michael, Zach and Anjay’s parents are doing something right because they all deserve a gold star.

The preview for next week’s episode looks great too, as the kids will have to hold an election for a new ruling council. Politics and kids usually don’t mix well, but something tells me this will be different. It’s a shame that Kid Nation got such a bad rap in the weeks leading up to its premiere. While some aspects of the show are less than perfect, on the whole, it enlightens and satisfies. Just the right blend of humor – “I got a bogey!” and insight – “Yuck stuff.” to make Kid Nation one great hour of television. Check it out.

Brooms Are Bustin’ Out All Over

Baseball fans seem to be getting their money’s worth this post season. This goes double for devotees of the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. All four teams are so far undefeated in post season play, much to the disappointment of Cubs, Phillies, Angels and Yankee fans everywhere. Of all the division playoffs so far, the most surprising has been the Yanks and Indians. I think it is safe to say that few expected the Indians to shut out the Yankees so effectively, but now the series heads back to New York for today’s 6:30pm game. If there is any team in Major League Baseball that won’t go quietly into the night, it’s those damn Yankees. I think Jeeter and company would have actually won game 2 if it hadn’t been for the spectacularly bad catching of Posada along with all those wonderful bugs. I fully expect tonight’s game to be an old fashion brawl with the Yankees emerging as victors. Back in 2001, the Yankees were down 2-0 vs. the Angles and came back to win. Of course I could be wrong. The Yankees, after all, have been known to choke before.

The Red Sox have had a relatively easy go of their division series thus far, but now they head to California. The Angels won the most home games of any team in 2007 and as such are hoping for the momentum they need to beat back Ortiz, Manny and Shilling. After Dice K’s weak performance in game 2, I was actually surprised that the Sox pulled it off, so I’m less confident about a Boston sweep than I should be. I predict the Sox will lose today, then come back in game 4 to take the division. Similarly, I think the Yanks will crush the Indians tonight, but will ultimately lose, probably in game 5 back in Cleveland.

Any way you cut it, this is a great time to be a baseball fan. We’ve seen some fantastic moments so far, and I’m sure there will be much more to come. It was sad to see Chicago get clobbered so badly, I have an understandable affinity for those cursed Cubbies. However, as we said in Boston for over 8 decades, “There’s always next year”. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get going, my floor needs sweeping.

UPDATE: Seems that the Angel’s record at home during the regular season didn’t amount to squat. The Sox sweep the Angels and head to the ALCS thanks to a ball-busting 9-1 slugfest. God, I love being wrong. Now it falls to the Indians to see if they can sweep A-Rod and Jeeter out of the post season. My gut says the Yanks will still win big tonight.

UPDATE II: The Yanks manage to hold the brooms at bay and come away with a win tonight. Despite the victory, New York was far from perfect. Clemens put in a dismal performance and was taken out in just 3 innings. Was he really worth that $15.6 million dollars? And while we’re at it, what’s up with Steinbrenner threatening Joe Torre with dismissal? Yanks get to the playoffs, but evidently that isn’t good enough. At any rate, another game tomorrow. Should be fun!

UPDATE III: Well, the Yankees avoided the sweep, but they’re still out. Nothing like beating a team in their own park. The best part about the Indians going to the ALCS is that now I don’t have to hear the phrase “Joba Rules” anymore. Thank GOD. Bring on the Tribe!

AAPL Hits $160; Keep Crying iBabies!

There seems to be a growing backlash against the popular notion that Apple royally screwed up the iPhone 1.1.1 update. Sure lots of developers are berating Apple for locking them out of the platform, and even more people seem to want to sue Apple for the smallest little thing, but in the grand scheme of things, these attitudes don’t amount to much. Apple will conduct business how it sees fit and no amount of whining, throwing fits or hiring lawyers will change that. All the while these pouty, scorned users are planning on ditching their iPhones for the latest non-wonders from Verizon, Apple is selling a ton of iPhones and the stock continues to climb.

Just nine days ago AAPL hit an all time high of $150, and now it has done it once again by passing the $160 mark. Does this sound like a company that has jumped the shark to you? The simple fact that most iPhone crybabies forget is that 99% of the gadget using public doesn’t even know how to set their VCR’s clock let alone hack their iPhone. They are content to let the iPhone be the masterful gadget it is, free from the burdens of 3rd party patches, font hacks and even awesome touch-sensitive games. Sure I’d love to be able for people to play Frenzic on the iPhone, I’ve said as much in the past. But I fully understand why Apple has had to lock down the iPhone and I actually agree with it. When they are ready for 3rd party developers to produce software for the platform, they’ll come knocking. Until then, we’re all just living in a “wouldn’t it be great!” fantasy land. Apple never promised us a developer’s rose garden, and no amount of wishful thinking or revisionist history will change that. Does it suck? Sure, but as someone from one of my favorite TV shows says, “Deal with it!”

Disclosure: Yep, you guess it, I own stock in Apple Computer.

UPDATE: In what is perhaps the worst case of iBaby whining so far, a man in California has filed suit against Apple because he cannot use the iPhone with a competing carrier. Once the 1.1.1 update was applied, his unlocked, hacked iPhone was bricked and became unusable. Forget for a second that he agreed to the terms when he activated his phone and unlocking it voided his warranty. Forget that he knew full well that he had to sign an exclusive contract with AT&T for two years. And most of all forget that he can get his iPhone working again by restoring back to the 1.0.2 firmware. Forget all of these things and what you are left with is the biggest, most disgusting pile of litigious crap I’ve ever seen. This is why the rest of us can’t have nice things.

Coulter Bends Brad & Britt Over

If you listened to Brad & Britt’s “interview” this morning of Ann Coulter, then what you heard wasn’t so much of an interview, so much as a 15 minute joke published over public airwaves. Brad & Britt evidently tried to take the “high road” and not go toe to toe with this disgusting excuse for a pundit and what we got was the usual hate spewing rhetoric that went unanswered and unchallenged while she shopped her latest book.

I called into the station to give my thoughts on the entire matter, but when I asked the producer who’s idea it was to put her on, he told me that they try to showcase both sides of the “argument” to try and be fair. I laughed so hard at the notion Ann Coulter and “fairness” used in the same sentence that I simply hung up. I’d love to know when 101.1 FM Talk has ever had anyone on Brad & Britt’s show from the left who is as extreme as Coulter. Because for the 2 years I’ve been listening, I can’t remember them interviewing anyone who called for the murder of public officials on the right, or who issues unilateral statements of hate against all Republicans. If I’m wrong, please let me know.

The worst part is that after she was off the air, the duo spent the next half our segment berating her and claiming that they needed a shower. So they’ll talk smack about her when the segment is done, but not while everyone is actually listening. Brilliant. I love Brad & Britt in the morning, but not when they do crap like this. Very disappointing.

Behold the Power of Kids!

One night when I was five years old (as the story is told to me), I sat at dinner with my parents. Aside from mom’s wonderful cooking, was the typical helping of cigarette smoke from my parents’ ash trays which were perched on the dinner table in their usual spots. That night, out of the blue, I asked mom and dad to quit smoking. I’m not sure if mom had smoked while she carried me, but both her and dad had smoked all through my first years in our home. Right up until that night at the dinner table. One simple plea from their only son did what multiple doctor visits, a modified diet and even a hypnotist could not do… change their behavior for the better. After that small request from me, they got serious, worked hard and threw away the cigarettes forever.

So when I read an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal about how kids are starting to influence their parents in matters related to the environment, I knew exactly what was going on. Our public school system has stepped up and is teaching kids beneficial practices like remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, or how to switch from wasteful incandescents to compact fluorescents to help lower carbon emissions. Children all across the country are mobilizing families to help do their part for the future. Parents now think twice about not recycling or buying that big SUV. According to the article, one boy even convinced his family not to just replace their failing roof, but to upgrade it with solar panels. I say, if it takes your kid to convince you to do the right thing when it comes to how to treat the environment, so much the better.

Parents have always wanted what’s best for their children. It’s the reason why my mom and dad quit smoking when I asked them to, and it’s the reason why so many parents are now re-insulating, recycling and reusing around the house. We want our kids to grow up in a world that is just as good, if not better than the one we got from our parents. We all want to do what’s best, not just for our children, but for our friends and neighbors as well. It makes perfect sense to plant a tree, turn off extra lights or promote alternative energy sources, but all too often things like these are overlooked. Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge from those we love to make everything crystal clear once again. Call it kid power for the 21st century, and just in time too.