Ballghazi, Biggest Loser, and the Saudis

A few weeks ago I was speaking with another person in the advertising business, and he lamented the schedule: it seems like we work 20 hours per week for six weeks or so, then three or four weeks at 90 hours, and then right back down to nothing. We've tried to avoid that level of bust, but the booms happen as well, and the past two weeks have been case in point. Ten pitches in 7 days has been great for business, but leaves me finally posting links about eight hours later than I'd like!

Here's a quick list of things to get you through the weekend without football.

Still no respect for the right to privacy
I have no comments on the State of the Union this week; it felt like more empty rhetoric and a lack of decorum or class from both parties. The news earlier in the week that was swept away by the speech was Obama's stated belief that encrypted messaging services need a backdoor for government agencies. I'm opposed to this since I think it's a violation of the protections we have in the constitution, but it becomes even more ridiculous in light of Microsoft's revelation about how quickly they turn around data to the government. The president's stance on this matter is more important, more damaging and has more impact on ordinary Americans than anything he discussed on Tuesday evening.

The brutality of reality TV
Yes, I am linking to an article from the New York Post. And no, I never thought this day would come, either. The Biggest Loser always seemed like an uncomfortable sort of spectacle to watch, but it only becomes more disturbing in light of these behind the scenes stories from  a former contestant. I don't believe in the concept of "fat shaming" (as in, I believe it's okay to evaluate someone on their weight as you would cleanliness or any other factor in their control), but it's unreal how the people who sign away themselves for this show are treated in pursuit of vanity.

Why the Saudis still have public beheadings
I picked this up before the death of King Abdullah later in the week, but this is even more timely in light of the leadership change in Saudi Arabia. Vox has a great look at the relationship between the Saudi monarchy and the country's clerical establishment, and why many things we rush to condemn (like their treatment of women) root back to a long, tenuous alliance between the factions inside the kingdom.

Relax about Ballghazi
Or Deflategate. Or whatever you want to call it. Deadspin has done the best job of any news outlet I've seen summarizing what the story is here: it sounds like doctoring the footballs is something every quarterback does to personal preference, and that it's no big deal. Many QB's are on record about their preferences, and coaches off the record have expressed surprise at how big this has become. My suspicion is that this has more to do with driving traffic to websites on an off-week than the story itself; CBS has a great takedown of the lazy, dishonest reporting Sports Illustrated, for example, has had on this issue.