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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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Archive for October, 2014

A New Campaign Ad (that says something)

By on October 23, 2014 in See It Here

All of us have seen the TV commercials for Republican or Democratic or Independent or Libertarian candidates that tell us how their opponent is linked to big business, is hypocritical, votes for Obama programs or, here in Virginia, says being a mother isn’t  “a real job.” It’s all about the other person being no good with nothing, absolutely nothing, about what the candidate paying for the ad is going to do.

Of course, this is TV where we aren’t really paying any attention in the first place so after the 132nd time in two hours the commercial plays, we start to link Candidate A with being a clown. And we all know nobody is going to go to a website to learn what Candidate A stands for because (1) we don’t have time and (2) if that information exists, you have to download a 174MG pdf file and then sort through the pages.

So here’s my 30 second ad for any candidate that can be used up until November 4 (I mention November 4 because that’s the date of the midterm election):

Hi I’m ___candidate for (Senate/House) with a simple look at how I’m gonna operate if you give me this job:

*I’m going to meet with the other side of the aisle every day to find common ground. My time will be spent talking with people who disagree rather than talking with people who already agree.

*I don’t want a bridge, highway, tunnel, airport or post office named after me.

*If I’m assigned a committee, I will not waste the time of witnesses who have been asked to testify by reading five minutes of remarks before they say one word and, instead, ask questions in an effort to get answers. And I won’t waste anyone’s time with stupid floor speeches. 

Now, ask the other side what they’ll do?  

Graphic: Vote For __ November 4. 

Ending “Trending”

By on October 21, 2014 in See It Here

Much is made of what’s “trending” during newscasts these days. In other words, the suits in the corner office conclude that TV news stories people “click” on, indicates there’s more interest there than in other stories. Put yet another way, you, too, should join the club and “click” on these stories because everybody else is doing it and should it come up in conversation in the next few hours you will sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Are you kidding me (yes, there was an adjective that goes with this line but I want to be polite and make this a f’king teachable moment”).

This is an offshoot of a story that appears every Sunday afternoon in the news business about how many people went to the movies where we learn that Brad Pitt’s “Fury” knocked out Ben Affleck’s “Gone Girl” over the past few days. Does this mean I’m gonna go to “Fury” because I want to be in the majority? No, I don’t give a darn what a lady in Iowa City chose to see when I’m standing in front of the movie theater trying to decide which of the 27 screens gets my $20 and fake-butter-popcorn.  This is an inside story that the folks at Sony-Fox-Universal-Warner Brothers and so on pay attention to because they have to. And when I’ve been asked about using a story like this in a newscast, I’ve always said, “it has no meaning to anyone in the real world.”

The top five cars being sold is a real world story. The top five Christmas gifts is a real story. The top five Halloween costumes is a real story.  And this is because we all have the proverbial dog in the fight be it thinking about a car we can keep for ten years or sitting behind that very car in a traffic jam for twenty minutes or a gift we might be thinking of sending or maybe a clown suit we want our kids –or ourselves–to wear.  But the top five stories people are clicking on from a TV station’s website is  phony news (and a waste of time).

The beauty of social media is we have a front seat to news–in fact we can watch Congressional hearings or news conferences live should we choose to do so. We no longer need to be near a TV or radio to see and hear a newscast as it is streamed. All of this is healthy because it is one more way to obtain information. However, these inane games about who else is watching is just that: one more easy-to-do circus act parading as “news” that says “Don’t Think.”

Whining Or Winning?

By on October 9, 2014 in See It Here

If a couple of folks from Mars landed on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles today, stepped out of their spacecraft, gave a finger (or whatever they call it) to the honking horns because of blocked traffic, grabbed a Starbucks Latte and then asked a few people, “how do you like Congress?” the horns would stop honking and there’d be a chorus of “Congress sucks.” I’m told the same thing would happen if they landed in Boise, Idaho or Michigan City, Indiana or even Phoenix where people see spacemen almost every single day. By the way, they’re pissed our Mars Rover on their planet’s surface is ruining the landscape they’ve worked so hard to protect.

In just a few weeks, every seat in the House of Representatives and 36 seats in the Senate are available for someone other than the incumbent to occupy.  It’s called midterm elections, occurring on Tuesday, November 4th. This is the day people vote.

Guess what?

After all the social media bad-mouthing and the television pundits in their gray suits going on ad nauseam about Congress being a bunch of clowns who can’t agree on anything other than what days to take off, only 4 in 10 eligible voters will take the time to vote.

Anyone see a problem here?

One might conclude that in this world of so much available information just a click away or just a remote control away, that voter turnout could at least hit 50%. Nope.

Here are the favorite excuses:

I don’t have time. This is used all the time and based on the fact there is no interest in doing it. Think about this the next time someone says “I’d love to get together but (yep, fill the blank).” That’s complete nonsense. If you really wanted to, then you would,

I don’t know who’s running. You know what? Syria’s Bashar al-Assad just got re-elected last June with 90% of the vote for another 7-year term spreading peace and joy throughout his country. With no food, and lots of bombs bombs people made it to the polls. Assad even had two challengers who, last I looked, were still alive.  Now, it can be argued that Syrians went to the polls because a guy had a gun pointed at their head and I can’t dispute this but they did so and a few even voted for those whose name was not “Assad”. So let’s go to France in 2012 where there were no guns: 71.2% of the voting population went to the polls. If you’re making lists, 58 countries have a higher turnout than the United States–a place where anyone over age 18 can vote and where we beat our chests every other day about having this valuable freedom.

My vote won’t make a difference. Remember Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000? 537,000 votes separated them. That’s 10,740 people per state who didn’t vote. In 2012, Rodney Davis was elected in Illinois’s 13th Congressional District by a margin of 1,002 votes. I rest my case.

We’ve become lazy and a democracy requires participation to function. I’m trying not to lecture here because we do have the freedom also to say “F-it” and watch a rerun of CSI Miami. Only problem is we also face a rerun of the highly-esteemed and respected 2014 Congress.

Since I speak with aliens all the time, I’ve been told they want to come back in 2016 and ask the same question. On Mars, they say whining has always been the easy part.  Political pundit Larry Sabot echoes this idea: “Every election is determined by the people who show up.”

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