RIP Mike Ashe

Channel 101 logoFor nearly as long as I have been writing about online digital media and especially independent and amateur productions, a constant source of great content and consistent laughs has been Channel 101. You know when you observe strangers obviously passionate about something and you wish you had somehow been with them from the start pursing the same passion because they seem like they are having so much damn fun? That is how I feel about all those people who submit content to Channel 101 (and Channel 101: NY).

These short 5-minute series compete against each other each month in local viewing venues to become one of five online “Prime Time Shows.” They are sometimes crude, sometimes rude, and almost always laugh-your-ass-off funny. There are some stinkers that become “Failed Pilots” or don’t last long before being “Cancelled This Month.” There are others that have become classics of the form. “Groove Fighters,” “Yacht Rock,” “Stop It,” and “Cautionary Tales of Swords” are a few of my favorites. That last one featured Michael Ashe, a somewhat older actor than the usual Channel 101 participants. For whatever reason, when an older actor uses explicit language it can be hysterical. When Ashe threw himself into the role of Trip Fisk, it was art.

Michael Ashe as Trip FiskIt is hard for me to explain why learning of the actor’s recent death was so unexpectedly difficult. Vanity Fair has an article that offers some explanation: “Requiem for a Micro-celebrity.” There is a lot that is touching about this story, and contrasting that with the silly vulgarity results in that feeling where you want to cry and laugh at the same time. And then you do. The “Mike Ashe Memorial Video” also invokes that feeling, in spades.

Knowing more about Ashe really deepens my appreciation of him and digital media. I feel the need to thank him, if posthumously, and thank everyone at Channel 101, Channel 101: NY, and those who create content for them (except “2 Girls, 1 Cup: The Show.” I mean, honestly.)

Thank you!

Top Killers Identified By World Health Organization

Cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases and cancer remain the world’s top killers of humans according to the latest “The Global Burden of Disease” report from the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on statistics from 2004, cardiovascular diseases were responsible for 29 percent of 58.8 millions deaths in 2004. Cardiovascular diseases along with infectious diseases and cancer were responsible for 57.8 percent of the deaths in 2004.

Diseases remain by far the top killer of humans. Violent deaths due to murder, conflict, and suicide resulted in 2.8 percent of the deaths in 2004, less than the 6.6 percent for accidental injuries and drownings.

From 2004 through 2030 WHO expects deaths from communicable diseases to fall while deaths from noncommunicable diseases rise as the population ages.

More Information


[Commentary] To my fellow Americans, this is that rare post in which I get political. Skip the rest, but know that there are few things more important to do next Tuesday than to vote. Whether you agree with what I state below or not, a vote is the best method that day by which you will let your voice be heard.

The presidential election is somewhat a choice between religion and socialism, two evils that people like me deplore. One of these, however, is the obvious worst evil. As Dr. Leonard Peikoff, the objectivist founder of the Ayn Rand Institute, suggested in 2006:

Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer [socialism], and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer [religion], it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”

Candidates from other parties and independents offer nothing to balance not supporting Barack Obama for president. You find various degrees of spirituality and religion among them, or little understanding of science and technology trends and therefore poor long-term thinking. Obama remains the best of all choices because he is not the religious choice, in spite of his aspirations for spirituality. Separately, he is the symbolic choice, a person of mixed heritage that has made it this far in the race, despite race. Just because of this latter choice there is a sense of hope that we have put not only the worst of racial discrimination behind us but some of the more subtle discrimination as well.

Perhaps most important to me at this stage: choosing Obama means we do not choose Sarah Palin.

The Dogma Momma has utter contempt for science, a characteristic I consider evil. According to Slate, she mocked research using fruit flies, apparently unaware, or not caring, that the fruit fly continues to play a central role in scientific breakthroughs that have and will continue to lead to better understanding of autism, disabilities, and the requirements of those with special needs. This is only the latest demonstration of how ignorant the GOP ticket is of science and technology, building on the ignorance of the current administration. In their soundbites science is viewed only as a playground for scientists who prefer to spend taxpayer money to play with fruit flies and overhead projectors in planetariums than do anything useful. Add to these her creationist aspirations, minimal sexuality tolerances, and statements about global warming, and any person of any moral scientific convictions whatsoever must be taking uncomfortable pause.

While many people fret about the economy, terrorists, and other concerns of the day, the rapid progress in science and technology requires talents no candidate demonstrates well, but some demonstrate worse than others. I will vote for Obama because his socialism-lite is not exactly the socialism we most fear, and it is most certainly not the dogma and religion of Palin, and therefore McCain. If socialism is a paintball about to cause some discomfort to our body, religion is a bullet aimed directly at our heads.