1st Saturday (in July)

So, of course, the big news is the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The first reaction was shock (Around noonish yesterday, I received an e-mail at work from a co-worker that “Sandra’s retiring” and I was like, “Sandra? Yeah, so there’s a Sandra at work, how sad she’s retiring and…” and then I check the NY Times’ website and I go: “Oh, shit, O’Connor’s going!!” and I wanted to throttle my co-worker because he meant that Sandra). (pardon the language, but that was the reaction). Shock subsided, since there was a rumor out there that O’Connor wanted to step down to focus on her ill husband and/or relax in retirement.

The next reaction was, “Damn. We’re going to have hell now, because they’re definitely going to go right of O’Connor, even if we won’t have the chaos that would have arisen with a Rehnquist retirement.”

The reaction thereafter was “Please, Rehnquist, don’t retire, because this summer would really be hell if we have to deal with two Supreme Court nominations at the same time.” The realization that Rehnquist would be too stubborn to give up was a small consolation, that and a news report that Rehnquist wouldn’t want to inflict more hassle for the Bush administration and Congress.

Then, I thought: “Oh, great, now we’re down to one woman in the Court, and we’re definitely going to have yet another man.” All the short lists are pointing to moderate conservatives (which is okay by me, so long as you’re as amazing as a Posner or other like moderate conservative/libertarian) or hard-core conservatives (so NOT appetizing for me) – and they’re all men (sorry to men out there; but I do have to support my sex).

I’m still plowing through reading the O’Connor stuff in the news media, so I’m not linking to anything more right now. But, I do think it’s unlikely that an O’Connor-esque judge will be selected (I really don’t like reading how these right wingers make her sound like a judge who didn’t go in their direction; honestly, she didn’t write those opinions to make you Right Wingers feel all nice and happy – this country isn’t just about you Right Wingers anyway). It’ll be scary to watch both sides of the political range go to the battlefront. Can we plead for civility in all this, please?

Luther Vandross passed away. Sad, considering all his health problems and lovely voice.

I hope ABC learns a lesson in its pulling “Welcome to the Neighborhood” from ever airing. Based on what I could tell of the commercials, the reality show, wherein a cul-de-sac of WASP’s evaluate a bunch of non-conforming people for owning a house in the neighborhood, bordered on violating the federal Fair Housing Act (prohibiting discrimination in the leasing, purschasing, and other terms and conditions of housing on the basis of race, national origin, religion, etc) (and, as I mentioned before, state and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation). Alessandra Stanley does her take on the ABC debacle in asking “Whatever was ABC Thinking?”:

“Welcome” creates strange bedfellows, but it does not really reveal anything about Americans we didn’t already know. (Tattoos are only skin deep.) Instead, it says a lot about the unspoken rules of seemingly lawless reality shows. Bad taste, ritual humiliation and shameless bathos are all permissible, but there is a sense of fair play; even on shows like “Wife Swap,” rich families are ridiculed just as much as poor ones – usually, in fact, a little more.

On “Welcome,” three families in the neighborhood soberly weigh the different aspirants’ appearance, values and compatibility as if the residents were genuine moral arbiters instead of privileged, blinkered contestants in a game. The home-seekers do not have a chance to turn the tables on their hosts; they are too desperate to win the big house in a safe neighborhood. Their yearning – many of the wives cry when they first tour its large kitchen and two-story living room – is too poignant and embarrassing to bear. Almost as embarrassing as the sight of Jim Stewart, the stocky, self-satisfied neighborhood leader, who complains that the obsequious flattery of a Mexican-American mother of four is “over the top.”

What was ABC thinking? It’s pretty obvious. Network executives were experimenting with recombinant reality television: grafting the heartstring tugs of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” with the Wisteria Lane intrigue of “Desperate Housewives.” The show’s creators evidently hoped that debunking stereotypes would trump the show’s political incorrectness. (The neighborhood is surprised and delighted to learn that the aspirant covered with full-body tattoos and body piercings actually voted for George W. Bush.) It doesn’t.

Social engineering on television is a dangerous contrivance, but FX does a better job on “30 Days,” a reality show created by Morgan Spurlock, the maker of “Super Size Me,” who for the premiere episode moved to Columbus, Ohio, with his fiancée to see what it was like to live for 30 days on minimum wage. (They barely survived.)

ABC was right to pull the show. There already is plenty of bigotry on reality television, let alone in real life. Nicholas (Fat Nick) Minucci, who is a family friend of the stars of the A&E show “Growing Up Gotti” and has appeared on it, was recently charged with a hate crime in Howard Beach, Queens, after he was accused of using a baseball bat to fracture the skull of a young black man who had encroached on his turf. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Well, maybe I’d be the only one watching if, say, ABC were to air how the cul-de-sac’s WASPs receive sensitivity training from a federal or state agency about how not to discriminate against others. I think that maybe a show done correctly could actually teach Americans the correct moral and legal values – and how acting incorrectly means facing consequences (like, say if the Mexican-American family were to file charges against those WASP’s for discrimination, assuming that the Mexican-American family didn’t sign off on a release of their rights – but they probably did to go through these idiotic reality shows). However, I think asking a tv network to do be instructive and effective would be too much, I guess. (Disclosure: hopefully, I won’t discuss this theme too much more, considering my line of work is related to this type of stuff; but I couldn’t ignore bringing it up on the blog since I hated those commercials for the show).

Hope you’re all enjoying the long weekend…

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