Advice From a News Junkie

I watch CNN International often and as a viewer there are several basic presenting/reporting issues that I wish anchorpeople, reporters, guests and meteorologists of CNN and other (news) channels would be aware of, so here is my advice to people who get in front of news channel/new bulletin cameras (and in some instances the program makers):

Stop throwing the term “Breaking News” around like confetti!

Not everything that happens is so important that it warrants the use of the term Breaking News. By using the term more often than you should, it loses its meaning to your viewers.

Articulate properly.

I assume I don’t have to explain why.

Don’t suggest that the death of women and children is worse than the death of men!

Few people, young or old, male or female, want to die and nobody wants to lose a loved one, so avoid saying things like “100 people died including 30 women and children”. It’s misandric and above all it’s callous!

Don’t say uh repeatedly.

Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Michael Holmes and Amara Walker say uh very frequently. It’s not just annoying, it’s amateurish.

Don’t use (other) fillers like “you know” or “I mean”.

Guests presumably use fillers because they’re nervous, but people who are on TV regularly should know better than to use fillers.

Don’t overrate the importance of live-reporting.

Few anchor people are good at asking reporters questions live and few reporters are good at responding to questions live. If the reporting is pre-recorded then both parties have the chance to prepare better. The chance that the situation will change before the pre-recorded report is broadcasted is small enough to reserve live broadcasts for true “breaking news” situations, which occur much less frequently than news channels suggest!

Do not wear make-up, glasses, jewelry or clothes that stand(s) out so much that it distracts viewers.

Don’t gesture wildly, it’s distracting.

Don’t speak too fast.

There are a lot of people on CNN (including anchorpeople) who speak too fast. While I have no problem understanding people who speak fast, I’m certain plenty of people cannot understand fast speech properly.

Don’t overrate the importance of reporting on location.

Reporting on location means that the reporter and his or her equipment are exposed to noise from humans, airplanes, dogs or the wind and in some instances unwanted visitors (e.g. people who jump into view), while the sight of a street, a court house, the White House or another building adds nothing to the report whatsoever.

Don’t try to report while standing in front of a noisy crowd.

During events that draw (large) crowds (e.g. political rallies, sport games) reporters’ speech is often drowned out by the noise of crowds and/or music. My advice to reporters is simple: if you really want or need to report on location, then at least be so smart as to steer clear of crowds. 🙂

Don’t scream!

CNN people who tend to scream a lot include: Kate Balduoan, Michael Smerconish and Richard Quest. It’s unnecessary and annoying.

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Newspapers journalists who write their articles as if they’d rather be writing cheap detective novels. I don’t want to read a description of how the cigarette smoke encircled the head of the interviewee, I want news facts and I want them to be presented to me in an unbiased fashion.

Fonts that contain numbers that are smaller than the letters.

Manufacturers’ tendency to use as much wrapping material for their products as possible. Doesn’t the term waste reduction mean anything to them?

Nature documentaries that contain more humans than other animals. I see enough humans on TV as it is, thank you very much!

My neighbors’ tendency to slam doors. I would really appreciate it if they’d find themselves a pastime that produces fewer decibels.

The dirty looks that some strangers give me when I say hi to them. Sometimes it makes me want to scream.”No, I didn’t threaten to harm you. I was being polite and friendly. YOU should try it sometime!”

Websites that feature “infinite scrolling”. Do website designers get paid by doctors to supply them with RSI patients?

Electrical appliances that go into standby mode when I press the off button and can only by turned off by unplugging them.

Calculators that lack an off-button. I don’t want it to turn off after several minutes of inactivity, I want to be able to turn it off when the calculations are done.

Newspaper headlines that contain the personal pronoun we.
Note to headline editors who engage in this annoying habit: Don’t pretend to “speak” on behalf of readers you have never met or communicated with.

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Populists Feeding on Paranoia

I live in western Europe. When I was younger (I’m in my mid-forties now), relatively few people openly discussed their bigoted views, because they feared a backlash. They may have held crazy ideas, but they were smart enough to realize their views were controversial, and would only open up about them to people who agreed with them or who they expected to agree with them.

Things have changed since I was young. Right-wing populism has been on the rise for quite a while now and bigots are flocking behind politicians who constantly spout gross generalizations about minorities. Some of these politicians couldn’t care less about their supporters. All they care about is popularity and (political) power, and so long as right-wing views are popular they will pretend to hold these views. Others are genuine bigots. The result is the same, both types of politicians exploit fears and dissatisfaction. By scapegoating minorities they manage to distract people from the ever expanding power of big industry and the erosion of privacy rights.

I’m hoping for a huge decrease in right wing populism, but I think things will get worse before they get better.

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Hardly Heavenly

An eternity without sex may feel like Hell to many humans, so one cannot help but wonder if those who believe in Heaven believe that Heaven’s occupants are capable of engaging in sexual activities. If they’re capable of having sex, will God allow them to?
If they are allowed to do it, does it ever result in progeny or does the sex-is-supposed-to-be-for-procreation-rule no longer apply after death? If the “procreation rule” is abandoned, then why this is the case? Is Heaven at risk of becoming overpopulated?

If sex in Heaven does (at least on occasion) result in offspring, then do these children age after birth? If they don’t age, then Heaven must be full of babies who are incapably of doing anything other than lie around on their backs or bellies for eternity.

If they do age, then other problems arise. Aging results in wear and tear of the various components that make up the human body. If God is capable of preventing this type of deterioration, then Heaven is full of humans who look different than Earth-bound people. Take the facial hair of males, if a man doesn’t shave, then his facial hair will grow at a rate of about 15 centimeters (6 inches) per year. If we assume that the hair of  Heaven-born men isn’t affected by wear and tear, then they’d all be sporting incredibly long beards and mustaches. Having to drag your facial hair around is not a fun activity, so one would expect that these men want to be able trim their facial hair, but hairs that are impervious to damage, can’t be cut by knives or scissors.
One might argue that God wouldn’t allow hairs to grow so long that they’ll become a burden, but what does God consider to be the ideal hair length and why does he consider that length to be ideal? Of course, it isn’t just men’s facial hair that God would have to deal with. He’d also have to determine the maximum length of the hairs on people’s head’s and that of their nails.

If God lets Heaven-born humans age without providing them with time-proof bodies, then their bodies will eventually wear out. He could decide to stop the aging process at some point, but what would the preferred age be and why would God prefer that age?

If God let’s their bodies wear out instead, then Heaven can hardly be an ideal place for them. Will they continue to live when their bodies are longer capable of functioning properly or can they die? If they can die, then what happens next? Will their after-death-lives be similar to those of their Earth-born counterparts?

What about the circumstances that lead to the death of Heaven’s occupants (Heaven-born and Earth-born humans alike). Will the condition(s) that resulted in their deaths disappear? If not, then Heaven is full of people who are ill or injured. How does God stop them from feeling pain? If God heals their bodies, then to what extent does he heal them? Do gaping wounds close up? Do amputated limps grow back? Do cancer cells become healthy cells again. Are men who experienced erectile dysfunction able to get and sustain erections ? Does the IQ number of people with a very low IQ go up? If so, then how high does it become and why is this the ideal number?

Some people may wish to avoid this line of questioning by claiming that Heaven’s occupants do not posses a body. But how can non-corporeal entities experience sensory stimulation, which is the main source of pleasure for human and other animals.
Perhaps these believers think that God can stimulate Heaven’s occupants in a non-physical fashion. Perhaps they assume that Heaven’s residents merely “think” they’re engaging in fun activities, while in reality they’re floating around as blobs of energy or gas. They may theorize that Heaven’s occupants have no substance at all, and are akin to thoughts instead. The kind for which no neurons are required, of course. To me, such an afterlife seems anything but heavenly.

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Outnumbered by Fakers

The Internet is awash with articles that state that most women who get noisy during sex get noisy purposefully (e.g. the 2012 article Why some make so much noise during sex – By Ian Kerner). According to these articles these women vocalize because they want to speed things up, fake an orgasm, relieve boredom, etc. Thanks to these articles, some people might assume that every woman who vocalizes during sex does so intentionally, but some women produce involuntary vocalizations during sex with a lover and/or during masturbation. Apparently this “phenomenon” is less controversial (and therefor less interesting) to write about than fake(d) moans and grunts. I hope that the (selectively written) articles about sexual sounds that don’t come naturally don’t lead to natural “noise-makers” being falsely accused of faking orgasms.


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In my previous blog entry Labels, I tried to explain why I disagree with people who feel  the term bisexuality should be abandoned in favor of labels like pansexual or queer. I feel I may have explained it rather clumsily,  so I’ll give it a 2nd try. I’m not sure Il’l do a better job this time, but Il’l definitely try .  😉

When people start to give their own meaning to words, communicational chaos ensues. This however, doesn’t stop people from expanding the meaning of words; e.g. there are people who call themselves vegetarian even though they eat the meat of fish and/or poultry and some people call themselves actors although they’ve never acted in front of an audience or camera. To use an example that is a little more on-topic: quite a few people identify as heterosexual or homosexual despite being attracted to (and in many cases engaging in sex with) men and women. They stretch the meaning of the words heterosexual and homosexual* instead of calling themselves bi, but I respect their decision to do so.
(* = I find this such a strange phenomenon that I decided to mention it again. 🙂  I first mentioned it in the 3rd paragraph of another blog entry called Anti-Bisexuality Sentiment and Bi Erasure.)

The prefix bi means two, and in the case of the word bisexual it refers to two genders: male and female. Considering that I think its a bad idea to mess with the meaning of words too much, it may seem weird to claim that people who don’t identify as male or female are  covered by the concept of bisexuality (and I neither expect nor advocate for others to view the term bisexuality like I do), but I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’m merely trying to emphasize that the word bisexual does not have to be considered AGI-exclusive. The term bisexual wasn’t coined to exclude anyone; it’s simply meant to indicate a person who isn’t monosexual  (I doubt that the person who used the word bisexual first knew there are people who don’t identify as male or female).

I assume that most people, including people with an with an atypical gender identity (AGI) don’t consider the word bisexual to be anti-AGI. I have no idea how many AGI-persons** are lobbying to stop bisexuals from calling themselves bisexuals, but I suspect there may be more pansexuals who are lobbying for the abolishment of the term bisexuality than AGI-persons.  🙂
(** = Despite having read a few articles about gender identity, I’m not sure if  AGI-person is the right term to use.)

I have never met anyone who didn’t identify as either male or female. Until I do,  an expansion of a dictionary definition of bisexual will feel like little more than a cosmetic expansion, but in case I ever do meet someone with an atypical gender identity and end up feeling attracted to the person in question, then I’ll be ready for it label-wise 😉

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The day before Celebrate Bisexuality Day (AKA Bi Visibility Day, Bi Pride Day, Bi Awareness Day and Bi Visibility Day), which falls on 23 September, I decided to write a blog entry about bisexuality. I was rather tired, and right before I started to write I was (once again) confronted with a bunch of nasty comments written by gay people in response to an article about bisexuality, so my blog entry became a bit of a rant and I forgot to state that I assume that the majority of people who are gay aren’t negative toward bisexuality.

Tonight, I learned that the National LGBTQ Task Force, an American organization removed an article published on their Website on Bi Visibility Day because several people complained about its content. In the article, programs director Evangeline Weiss, explained she wishes to say bye-bye to the word bisexuality and hopes others will follow her example. I haven’t read Ms. Weiss article, but I have read elsewhere that her dislike for the word bisexual stems from the belief that the word bisexual reinforced a binary concept of gender. While it is Ms. Weiss prerogative to dislike the term bisexual, my definition of bisexuality includes a possible attraction to cis-gender as well as transgender men and women, intersex individuals, etc.. I realize that I could use the label pansexual in order to avoid confusion, and I even considered doing so very, very briefly when I first learned about the existence of the term pansexuality, but since to me, the concept of bisexuality already encompassed various types of gender-identity, I decided there’s no need to adopt a new sexual orientation label.

Another term which I won’t be using to describe myself is the term queer; the negative connotations of the original definition stop me from embracing it.

NOTE: In this blog entry I’ve tried to explain why I disagree with people who feel the term bisexuality should be abandoned in favor of labels like pansexual or queer. I’ve given it a 2nd try in another blog entry.

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Anti-Bisexuality Sentiment and Bi Erasure

Occasionally, I will read an Online article about bisexuality of which the comment section is filled with comments in which gay men and/or lesbian women (I rely on the way people identify themselves in these comments.) declare that  a bisexual lover cheated on them, and that this made them decide to never again become involved with someone who is bisexual. I have yet to see a comment in which a gay man declares he no longer wishes to date gay men, because a gay man cheated on him, or a comment in which a lesbian woman states she no longer dates lesbian women, because a lesbian lover was unfaithful to her, so these I-distrust-all-bisexual-people-because-one-bisexual-person-has-hurt-me-statements seem very hypocritical to me.

Before I got an Internet subscription (in 1995) I had little access to the opinions of gay men and lesbian women, and I naively assumed (despite knowing that those who are discriminated against sometimes discriminate others) that people who identify as homosexual would be more likely to understand the problems faced by people who identify as bisexual than those who identify as heterosexual, and thus be less likely to discriminate against bisexual people. Therefor,  I was surprised to discovered a high prevalence of bi-hatred in comments made by gay men and lesbian women. The bigotry isn’t limited to the distrust of all bisexual people because of the actions of one or just a few bisexuals, it also concerns the refusal to accept the self-identification of bisexuals; the claim that people who identify as bisexual will inevitably come out as homosexual later is quite popular. While some people who first identified as bisexual chose to identify as homosexual later, I have seen no evidence that suggests this is extremely common. Even if this were the case, then it would still be wrong to disbelieve the self-identification of individuals.

I know people who identify as homosexual despite having one or more other-sex lover(s). I don’t know whether they’ve decided not to identify as bisexual because they incorrectly assume that bisexuals are equally attracted to men and women, or if they have another reason for not considering themselves to be bisexual, but whatever the reason(s) may be, I find it important to respect the way people label themselves, so I will consider them to be gay or lesbian regardless of the gender of their lovers. Peoples’ behavior isn’t a good benchmark of peoples feelings anyway, since people cannot or will not (always) act upon feelings of attraction.

Being a bit of loner, I haven’t been in many relationships, but I noticed that most people who didn’t know about my bisexuality assumed I was straight whenever I was involved with a man and lesbian when I was involved with a woman. A disbelief in the existence of bisexuality isn’t uncommon among either heterosexual or homosexual people, but I assume that most people who made incorrect assumptions about my sexual orientation simply didn’t consider bisexuality to be an option. For some reason people tend to divide humanity into just two groups when it comes to sexual orientations: a heterosexual group and a homosexual one.

In most articles about LGBT or LGB issues the word bisexual is used only once, namely in the explanation of the abbreviation(s), while the words gay, lesbian or homosexual are likely to be mentioned several times. While the writers of these articles may at least acknowledge the existence of bisexuality in this way, I find it annoying that they ignore bisexuality in the rest of the article.

I wish that people working in the media would stop calling same-sex marriage gay marriage, since doing so wrongly implies that only gay and lesbian people marry people of the same sex/gender. Perhaps, same-sex marriage will eventually become so non-controversial that few people will feel the need to emphasize the sex/gender of the people involved, but until then it would be wise for journalists and reporters to acknowledge that bisexuals and others who do not identify as homosexual may also be married to, or wish to marry, a person of the same sex/gender.

Since my sexual orientation is not something which I control, I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it, but in response to bisexual erasure and common misconceptions regarding bisexuality I have created a few basic bi pride graphics and put them Online, including a few Celebrate Bisexuality Day (AKA Bi Visibility Day) images.

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