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September 13, 2011

Antenna sales booming as TV goes digital

ENTERTAINMENT/TECHNOLOGY

At the end of August digital-only broadcasts replaced analog transmissions in most parts of Canada. People with older TVs that rely on rabbit ears must either buy a digital television, or a digital-analog converter box.

That or start paying for cable TV.

But some people find the concept of paying for TV silly when they can get up to 30 Canadian/American channels for free with a good quality antenna (like the one shown here)... or simply download their favourite TV shows online through a variety of websites which offer free TV downloads. ie. CBC, CTV and numerous other Canadian / American networks already offer streamed TV shows.

But for those who go the antenna route its an one time payment and they get digital stations broadcast in wide screen high-definition quality, and in many cases, with multi-channel surround sound audio.

This has caused a huge spike in antenna sales across Canada, according to Elliott Chun, communications manager for Future Shop. "Some people simply refuse to subscribe to cable, and since the [analog] cut-off the other week, we've seen a lot of customers coming in to buy an antenna."

So much so that Future Shop and many other stores are SOLD OUT of antennas. Sales associates are referring customers to their website to order antennas.

"Everything went bananas about two weeks ago when stations switched from analog to digital and sales are just as strong," says Jeff Bayly, owner and operator of the Ottawa-based OTA Canada (OTA = "over the air") which sells mostly outdoor antennas with a stronger reception. "We recently got shipment of 50 to 60 antennas and sold out right away, both in our storefront and online, but we've since brought in more inventory."

Bayly also wrote an iPhone app, OTAMap ($1.99) that lists all the HD OTA stations available and guides users on where to point the antenna (typically south, but there are exceptions) to get the best reception.

There's also "internet cable" now too. A box you plug into your internet service and download cable. Several companies available too: Apple TV, Boxxee Box or LG Smart TV Upgrader (all between $100 and $200).

Here is a list of pros and cons to using antennas:

PROS

Over-the-air HD broadcasts are free after the initial costs of an antenna (typically $40 to $150) and perhaps $40 for a chimney mount or $10 to $30 for an antenna mast. (If you're a smart cookie you can even BUILD your own antenna.)

The video and audio quality of these "uncompressed" HD broadcasts are often better than what you'd get from cable or satellite.

Canadians will get American commercials on American channels (great for watching Super Bowl ads).

CONS

Some set-up is required, such as buying and placing an antenna to pick up a signal; a digital TV with integrated ATSC tuner is required to process the signal. Reception can be affected by obstacles (tall trees, buildings) and weather (fog, hard rain, snow), but will still be better than satellite.

Station selection is limited. You can get the major Canadian and perhaps American stations, but few specialty channels, if any. But hey, you probably should not be watching TV 24/7 anyway. If you don't live close to the American border you probably won't be able to access ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX.

SMART PHONE SOLUTION

These days you can also just download / stream TV on your computer, laptop, tablet or SmartPhone. Now granted, nobody wants to sit there and hold their phone for 45 - 50 minutes watching a TV show... your arm and hand will get sore using the same position constantly. But there is a solution for that... you can either find a way to rest your phone up against books / etc so it is upright and you can see it easily, or you can buy a special stand for your phone so you can rest it there.

In a day and age when TV is becoming obsolete technology is still providing solutions.

September 11, 2011

9/11 Foreshadowing in Art and Film

ART HISTORY / ENTERTAINMENT

There is a plethora of artworks and films out there made before September 11th 2001 which are considered to foreshadow the events of 9/11. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches this coming Sunday we would like to share some of these foreshadowed pieces.

#1. The Spiderman Film Trailer 2001.



#2. Alex Grey's painting "Gaia" from 1989.


The painting contains the WTC Twin Towers in the lower right, along with 2 planes and in the foreground are three figures resembling George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Osama bin Laden.

#3. Sculptor Michael Richards

Perhaps the most striking, tragic and bizarre example is the case of sculptor Michael Richards, the only artist with a studio in the Twin Towers that perished that day. Michael was killed in Tower 1 and his entire body of work was thought to be destroyed. One piece, discovered later at the North Carolina Museum of Art, was a self-portrait figure sculpture depicting the artist with many airplanes penetrating his body in a style similar to St. Sebastian.

Other examples abound. X-Men and Superman comic books, song lyrics by Prince, album art by bands, etc.

One might argue that there was no shortage of ideas about planes crashing into buildings that it was only a matter of time before someone used it for evil purposes.

In related news check out the videos of Barrie Zwicker, one of many filmmakers making documentaries which assert that 9/11 was an elaborate deception.

Speaking from a statistical perspective, buildings don't fall straight down. The chances of 2 buildings (3 if you count Building 7) falling straight down in the manner the WTC buildings did is highly improbable (if not impossible). (Plus in the videos you can clearly see the demolition squibs, which any demolition expert will tell you is explosions knocking out the support structures on each level on a timer. Bringing a building straight down using controlled demolition explosions requires months of planning.)

September 5, 2011

Is Pope Benedict evil?

RELIGION - Have you seen this guy?


It's Pope Benedict XVI.

Formerly known as Cardinal Ratzinger, the same guy who allowed sexually abused deaf children to continue being abused and even made efforts to cover up the scandal... the same guy who opposes condom use in AIDS stricken Africa... the same guy who described his own leadership as "a dictatorship of relativism" (pride is one of the 7 deadly sins, FYI)... the same guy who declared 'holy war' on people claiming to be suffering from stigmata or claiming to be having visions... the same guy who pardoned Holocaust deniers and brought back the Good Friday prayer which prays that Jews 'may be delivered from their darkness'... the same guy who was in the Hitler Youth during WWII.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of intolerance, deceit, and indeed sins which Pope Benedict has done. (A little research and you will uncover quite a list out there.)

But what is most obvious to the naked eye is just how evil he looks. We should never judge a book by its cover, but in this case the old belief that a person's life marks their face with their emotions stands true. A person who is happy constantly will have laugh wrinkles, a person who is sad or stressed with have obvious signs due to lack of sleep, and so forth.

Pope Benedict looks like he has lived a life in which he was constantly plotting evil, bringing to mind Emperor Palpatine (Sith Lord from Star Wars), Gargamel (the evil wizard from the Smurfs), Richard Nixon (once considered the most hated president in American history) and Adolf Hitler (the most evil man in recorded history). They all had faces which suggested a lifetime of evil thoughts and emotions and those emotions left their mark. (True, Emperor Palpatine and Gargamel are fictional characters, but the analogy is still valid.)

But is this self-described dictator "evil"? Or just misguided, proud, greedy, lustful, gluttonous, slothful, wrathful and envious? He's evidently not out there leading a holocaust, but he's not exactly doing humanity any favours when pardoning Holocaust deniers.

It all comes down to how we define evil, measure evil and balance it against acts of kindness.

If you believe in god or karma we could assume that if Pope Benedict is truly evil he will be punished later. A religious person should therefore let God decide, for who better to judge a person based on their evil deeds?

But if there is no god and no karma, what then? Well then its a matter of what evil things a person does and whether these things eventually kill Pope Benedict... you see there is a reason why they are called "The Seven Deadly Sins":

Lust will kill you when you acquire a venereal disease.
Gluttony will kill you with a heart attack, cancer or other illness.
Greed will kill you when you take too much and it ends up being your downfall.
Sloth will kill you when you neglect to do something important to your own survival.
Wrath will kill you when you pick a fight with someone with more strength or cunning than you.
Envy will kill you when you pick a fight with a rival.
Pride will kill you when you assume you are invincible.

Thus even if we don't believe in any religion we can still learn from and appreciate the wisdom that certain actions or inactions can lead to our own demise. ie. Failing to act on climate change and global warming could be a death knell for many.

In theory the Seven Deadly Sins work a bit like karma. Do enough evil acts and they come back to haunt you.

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