CULTURAL BRIEFING
Don't Touch That Dial

Apr. 25 - Today is the start of something called TV-Turnoff Week 2005, the eleventh annual event of its kind since 1995. If you haven't heard of it, that's probably just because you haven't seen their ads on tv.

The movement has spread from the United States to ten other countries. Denmark isn't one of them.

According to the website's "TV Facts & Figures" page, Frank Lloyd Wright once observed that "Television is a chewing gum for the eyes." That's a disturbing metaphor to visualize, which is the only reason I mention it.

On their "Quotes" page, which is apparently doing double duty as their "Irony Page," we find Ted Koppel saying, "We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel, and it is a television antenna: a thousand voices producing a daily parody of democracy, in which everyone's opinion is afforded equal weight regardless of substance or merit." And directly below that, Ted Turner is cited as having said that "TV is the single most significant factor contributing to violence in America."

By all means, everyone take a week off from television this week, if only for the sake of your eyes (and the Vanity of the Teds).

But let's stop demonizing the tube. There's a lot of good stuff on television, and it's not the act of watching television itself that's causing so many of the social problems enumerated by the organizers of TV-Turnoff Week. If I read three (good) books a week, did a strenuous two-hour workout every other morning, ate a healthy diet, and drank only in moderation, what would be wrong with watching as much television as I wanted?

You want to know why the good people of western civ are getting fat? Because they can.

Our bodies are designed to hold on to as much fat as they possibly can, because for all of human history up until very, very recently, our problem has been having too little food at our disposal. Eating as much as we could whenever we could wasn't gluttony, it was a requirement for survival. Now, for the first time ever, we have more than we need, and we're only doing what comes naturally: we're eating every goddam thing we can. At the same time, for most of human history we've had to break our fricking backs just to get through a single day. Nowadays anyone who can operate a cellphone and a remote could conceivably get through a whole day without anything more strenuous than a trip or two to the bathroom (and to open the door for the delivery guy). This means our incredible capacity for storing fat is being put to optimal use.

More television, less television, who cares? If you want to be healthy, just eat better and get more exercise. Watch back-to-back episodes of The Nanny, if you want—on the TV at the gym. Because as crazy as it sounds, you actually burn the same number of calories whether or not you watch television while you exercise!

If you want to be smarter, just watch more intelligent programming and supplement your television intake with some quality reading and old-fashioned conversation. But remember: sitting around on your ass reading Dostoyevsky and Dickens, or lounging around a cafe with a bunch of Mensa members over buffalo wings and beer, isn't any better for your health than watching "World's Most Amazing Paper Route Disasters."

If you want to be more active, do more stuff! It's that easy.

Turning off your television for a week isn't a bad idea, but it's a pretty lame response to the problems the TV-Turnoff people seem to want to address.

* * *

Molli's been cutting her first tooth for the past couple of days. It hasn't been pleasant. From the stories I've heard from other parents, she's actually not doing too badly—no high fever, to middle-of-the-night screaming or crying fits, and only minor crankiness. But we've become so accustomed to our daughter's sweet disposition and sunny outlook that her sudden bouts of suffering are just gut-wrenching.

We're trying to help her through this thing with analgesics and a prescription gum gel. They seem to be making things a little more bearable for her, but she's still much more high-maintenance than she's ever been. So, yet again, I'm not anticipating a lot of free time in the coming week.

(Plus there's a lot of TV I want to watch.)

Once again I must therefore refer you to what's rapidly becoming Denmark's premiere English-language murder blog, which I can dribble out in fits and starts (and justify as a valuable exercise of my Danish), until things clear up for poor Molli.

Regular Almanackal Stuff

On April 25, 1876, the Chicago Cubs played their first National League game. Twenty-five years later, New York became the first state to require license plates. Forty-nine years after that, Chuck Cooper became the first black man to play in the NBA. Forty years after that, the Hubble space telescope was put into orbit by the space shuttle Discovery. That was over a decade ago. The Cubs still havenít won a world series.

(But the Red Sox have!)

* * *

April 25 is ANZAC Day in Australia, New Zealand, and Tonga. It's Sinai Liberation Day in Egypt, Flag Day in Denmark's Faroe Islands, Liberation Day in Italy, Revolution Day in Portugal, and Flag Day in Swaziland.

Today is the birthday of Renee Zellweger (1969), Talia Shire (1946), Bjorn Ulvaeus (1945), Al Pacino (1940), Meadowlark Lemon (1932), Paul Mazursky (1930), Ella Fitzgerald (1918), and Edward R. Murrow (1908)

Happy Monday!

© 2005, The Moron's Almanac™

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