Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hulu

The idea behind Hulu is either brilliant or stupid. I'm not sure which, yet.

But you can embed videos.

See? Here's an episode of "The Bob Newhart Show."



You couldn't do that with iTunes.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

What Am I?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ha Ha!

Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Climate Work

OSLO, Oct. 12 — The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Al Gore, the former vice president, and to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for its work to alert the world to the threat of global warming.

The bat-shit crazy right-wing America haters can be duly expected to hit the airwaves today and denounce this one right quick. Because Al Gore? He craaazy! Just ask Charles Krauthammer! Besides, global warming is just God's way of giving us all a nice tropical vacation before the rapture. Or so my literal reading of synopses of "Left Behind" tell me.

I guess Mr. Gore will just have to take solace in his loving family, his piles of money, his Oscar, his Emmy, and now his Nobel frickin' Peace Prize.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Screw 'Em All

Unbelievable.

Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 — Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency.

...

Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence.


The Democrats won the midterms last year because people are tired of this president and they are tired of his wars. They don't feel safer; they don't like the erosion of their civil rights; and no one likes the idea of the government sniffing into every phone call, every email, and every envelope that comes into or goes out of their home.

And yet, they don't get that. They're more concerned with how the Republican America-haters see them than anything else. So they sell us out, in the hopes that an unpopular president and unpopular members of Congress of an unpopular party with unpopular ideas will say nice things about them.

As we head into the next presidential election, I've noticed a lot more chatter that sounds like a replay of the 2000 race: That you can't tell the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, with "Democrats" calling talk radio to say that if Hillary gets the nomination, why they can't see how voting for a Republican could be any different, so they might just vote for the GOP next time around. It's something that seemed to have been designed to shore up the chances of the Republicans back then, when the choices were between an effective extension of a popular presidency and the functionally retarded offspring of an unpopular one. I think it's serving a similar purpose this time, when none of the Republicans are an appealing counter-representation of the party, which comes across as rich old white men who want to stay in power and for you to stay frightened. But right now, when the Democrats are caving in on every important issue, I'm starting to feel the same way, like there's not a damn bit of difference among any of them.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Real Reason Most Newspapers Lock Up Their Archives

I've been picking around the New York Times' newly liberated archives, and it's interesting what one comes across.

I did a search of "Haymarket" and "Chicago," with a date limit of 1886 to see how the Haymarket Square Riot was covered in real time. The first was this:
CHICAGO, May 7.--The war is over, unless indications are out of joint. The Anarchist has sought his hole and is burrowing as deeply as fear and the police will allow him. His braggadocio is a thing of the past, and when he comes within sight of a blue coat he no longer looks ferocious and shakes his fist; he has an attack of ague and slinks out of sight like a whipped hound. The police enjoy the situation. They feel the public is on their side, and handle their clubs with a vim they lacked a week ago. Woe to the Anarchist who forms the nucleus of a crowd. He is shown no mercy.

Sounds familiar. Anarchists, communists, terrorists ... there's always a boogeyman lurking under our beds, isn't there?

But I really liked this one, "The Plot of the Anarchists":
CHICAGO, May 22. --Police Captain Schaack, who has made himself rather ridiculous in the eyes of most people by the profound mystery with which he has surrounded his investigations into the bomb throwing on the night of May 4, has told to the Grand Jury a story which, if true, justifies his course and will cover him with glory.

The obsequious press is nothing new. I mean, they stop just short of calling the man incompetent, but if his latest tall-tale proves true, then he'll be a genius! Why shouldn't we trust him this time?
He says he can prove that a plot had been perfected which was spoiled by the premature explosion of the bomb, having in view destruction such as has not even been suggested. It was planned that on the night of May 4 a number of large fires should be started in the northwestern part of the city, and so thoroughly should the work be done that the presence of a large body of police would be required in that quarter. Then when attention was concentrated on the fires, men detailed for that purpose should visit each station house and throw bombs into each building. At the same time a concerted attack would be made on the police at the Haymarket meeting. The plot was frustrated by the explosion of the bomb before the appointed time.

Why, those wacky terrorists. Er, I mean, anarchists. They come up with huge, elaborate plans that require a clockwork precision to pull off, which is supposed to scare the bejeesus out of us, because it proves how crafty they are, but they always turn into the gang who couldn't shoot straight at a crucial moment, which is okay because the police/FBI/CIA knew about them all along and would never let anything happen to us. Except when they do. Which wasn't their fault, and besides nobody could have seen THAT coming...

But this was the part that made me feel a kind of inverse nostalgia (what DO you call it when you read something written in the past and feel an immediate connection to something in the present?):
He also says that the man who actually threw the bomb is not in custody, but that he could connect every man now under arrest in the county jail with the plot.

And because of that, nothing bad ever happened again in the city of Chicago.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shuffling the Deck Chairs

So Alberto Gonzales has resigned? OK, but I remember once thinking that it wouldn't be possible to find a worse Attorney General than John Ashcroft, so pardon me while I hold off from performing the Dance of Joy for a little while.

Talking Points Memo says his replacement will be Michael Chertoff. Perhaps to pave the way for this?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Trying Something

Update: Didn't seem to work. It's supposed to be an embedded video from the Internet Archive.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Boris, 1993-2007


Boris was one of the sweetest, gentlest souls that you'd ever meet, and he just happened to come in the form of a cat.

His kidneys started to give him trouble a while back, and they weren't helped by that damned tainted cat food four months ago. But we took him home and made him comfortable, hoping for a little more time with him and told to only expect a couple of days. Eighteen weeks later, he'd withstood all that he could. In those eighteen weeks, though, he proved that in addition to being sweet and gentle, he was tough and stubborn, too. Kidneys? Who needed them? Pfftt. That's what the doctors wanted you to think.

Goodnight, Bo. Say "Hi" to Tashi for us.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Further Adventures of Turd Blossom

"Karl Rove, Top Strategist, Is Leaving the White House"

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 — Karl Rove, the political adviser who masterminded President George W. Bush’s two winning presidential campaigns and secured his own place in history as a political strategist with extraordinary influence within the White House, is resigning, the White House confirmed today.

In an interview published this morning in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Rove said, “I just think it’s time,” adding, “There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family.”


While it would be fun to speculate on some nefarious wrong-doing that is just about to catch up with Mr. Rove and forcing him back to Texas only a scant few steps ahead of the law, the real reason is probably much more prosaic: It's election season. Dubya isn't running for anything, Darth Cheney isn't running for anything, so it's time for Turd Blossom to hang a shingle and pimp himself out (to mix a metaphor). I'm sure every GOP candidate running for president right now will stop to chat in the coming months and, if they can't convince him to work for a campaign, try to wrestle some pearls of wisdom from his demented mind.

As an interesting side note, some have noted that the exclusive interview that made the announcement was given to the Wall Street Journal -- soon to be Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. Begun, it has, this media synergy.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I've Missed A. Whitney Brown



I know I had his book at one time, and hope I didn't give it away when I moved. I suspect it's like that "thirtysomething" dialogue I posted last week, just as relevant 16 years later as it was when first written.

(Video via Dennis Perrin.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"I thought you knew"

I've been looking for this for a long time.

In May 1991, an episode of "thirtysomething" aired that featured an exchange between the characters Michael Steadman and Miles Drentell that I've always felt neatly summed up the true nature of advertising and, by extension, media and politics. I think I wrote it down at the time, but long ago lost it. I've finally found it again, thanks to the internet.

The writer of the episode, Joseph Dougherty, has a blog/podcast called "Handwritten Theatre," and last year he posted a clip of the audio from that exchange. Until "thirtysomething" is released on DVD, it'll have to do.

Here's his setup:
In an episode I called A Stop at Willoughby, in an unsubtle tribute to Rod Serling, Michael Steadman is at odds with agency head Miles Drentell over a client's demand to fire an actor from an endorsement contract because of his temerity to appear at an anti-war rally. It was a way for me to articulate the very queasy feeling I was getting about the right-wing shift the country was experiencing. At the time, we thought it couldn't get any worse. Yikes.

I'd like to say the episode now feels like a quaint artifact of another period in American history, something we've all gotten over. But I realize this scene is more relevant now than it was when it was first broadcast on May 14, 1991. It sounds like I wrote it yesterday.

In the scene, Michael and two associates are pitching an alternative commercial to save the contract of the actor, Randy Towers, who has offended the patriarch of Durstin Ale.

Listen to the MP3 linked to above for the performances by Ken Olin and David Clennon, which are quite good. But the words are what hold the power for me:

MICHAEL STEADMAN
So, we're still at the picnic, but almost right away we realize that these are the people that came back from the war. And how its "Job well done," and now its time for America to get back to work solving the problems here, because look at us: We can do anything we set our minds to. And then, uh, maybe we change the slogan to: "Peace. Who deserves it more?"

MILES DRENTELL
Michael, the measure of success in this field is the Clio, not the Nobel Prize.

MICHAEL
I'm not trying to win anything here, Miles.

MILES
You actually expect us to do a commercial specifically referring to the war?

MICHAEL
Didn't your original concept refer to the war?

MILES
No, mine was about patriotism. The viewer connects it with the war. I have nothing to do with it.

MICHAEL
Wait a- No no no, Miles, of course we're connecting it to the war! We're selling the war!

MILES
Oh no. We're using the war to sell.

MARK HARRITON
You can't be serious?

MILES
When have you known me not to be serious?

ANGEL WASSERMAN
Remind me of this conversation next time I think I'm being paranoid.

MILES
I think the two of you might want to step outside for a moment.


MARK and ANGEL leave the office.

MILES
Sit down, Michael. You don't look at all well.

I'm curious to know, Michael, just what you think this company does? On a very basic level, you seem ignorant of what you and I do for a living. Have you been sleepwalking all this time? In a trance? I don't know how else to explain your coming in here with that "I'd like to buy the world a Durstin" concept.

MICHAEL
All right, Miles, we'll give Durstin his patriotism. Full tilt, Yankee Doodle, everybody is going to feel safe and united and secure, and God Bless America, man!

MILES
From sea to shining sea.

MICHAEL
Which is great, because I do believe God does bless this country, but he blesses all the rest of them, too, doesn't he?

MILES
The conversation is approaching an end.

MICHAEL
You know, all Randy Towers did is ask a question, Miles. Just because we won the war doesn't mean we can't ask any more questions, does it?

MILES
The thing that most appalls me is your hypocrisy.

MICHAEL
MY hypocrisy?

MILES
Do you actually imagine there's some difference between this campaign and everything else we do?

MICHAEL
It is different, Miles.

MILES
No, it is not.

MICHAEL
It is. It has to be.

MILES
Or what?

Do you know what I love about this country? Its amazingly short memory. We're a nation of amnesiacs. We forget everything. Where we came from, what we did to get here. History is last week's People magazine, Michael. So don't pretend to cry for Randy Towers. No one really cares.

MICHAEL
All he did was express an opinion.

MILES
He expressed an unpopular opinion. No one wants to be unpopular. That's why we're here. That's the dance of advertising. We help people become popular. Through popularity comes acceptance. Acceptance leads to assimilation. Assimilation leads to bliss. We calm and reassure. We embrace people with the message that we're all in it together, that our leaders are infallible, and that there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- wrong. That is what we do. It's what we we've always done. And, under your gifted stewardship, what we will continue to do. Onward toward the millennium. In return for our humanitarian service, we are made rich. I'm sorry if you misunderstood the nature of this covenant, but you've done so well up until now, I thought you knew.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back to Court



You really do almost have to feel sorry for her. Paris now finds herself caught in the middle of a battle that has raged for a very long time in Los Angeles, where money and fame has led to lopsided treatment -- in both directions -- in many a courtroom.

Reading the details in the Los Angeles Times this morning, I have to say that I understand the reasons for letting her go early, but I think that it was foolish to think that letting her go home because of an "undisclosed medical condition" wouldn't ignite a firestorm of curiosity and speculation. I usually abhor this cesspool of celebrity gossip masquerading as news, but even I want to know what the condition is.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nicely Put

There's a thing going around right now linking to "15 Reasons Why Mr. Rogers Was The Best Neighbor Ever" that popped up (as these things usually do) on MetaFilter. This is a post that appeared pretty well down the thread, but I think it says something very well.

You know, it's quite a strange thing. The single most common adjective applied to Mister Rogers in this and other thread is the word 'creepy'?

I think I know why he strikes people as creepy. It's because his isn't at all 'cool'. There is no cynicism, no irony, no condescension in him at all. He is not simply unhip, he is ahip. And this is what people calling him creepy are picking up on.

We are conditioned to traffic in cool. You have to look cool, not look nice or distinguished or presentable, but cool. But it's all so generic. Everyone seems to have the same new haircut that no one 5 years ago had. We all have the same cynical politics.

Something about the counterculture from the 60's is still with us but it has been co-opted into a form of synchronized periodic obsolescence and mockery of that which came before. There is something fundamentally anti-intellectual about this, but I can't quite articulate it. There some element of arrogance there. Like everyone is perpetually 18.

Cool is America's code, and I really do think this is an American problem, because cool is propagated mainly though mass media, and there is no greater media saturated culture on earth than America's. Will I look cool wearing this? Will I sound cool saying this, or reading this or doing this. We're committing mass murder in other parts of the world because somebody figured out how to make violence cool and tough-talk politics cool, and then they combined the too. Swagger is cool. Cowboys and fighter jets and JDAMs and war porn are cool. So that's what we have. We are the Kingdom of Whatever.

Of course he hated ad-libbing on camera, because ad-libbing on camera is inexcusably lazy. It's what you do so you don't have to write or rehearse. Actors and comedians and musicians improvise as a way of living within a moment that is in some way artificial. A method actor may improvise because he is trying to become the character, but he isn't the character to begin with. A Jazz musician improvises because while the structure and the changes are the same, and the audience is familiar with them, the particular moment of performance is not, and that has it's own emotional context.

Mister Rogers was the same guy, so why improvise? The show wasn't about his character, it was about the kids, os you have to work out ahead of time how best to communicate with the child viewers. Everything was planned.

He talks slowly not because kids are dumb but because as studies have shown, children's brains are considerably more active than adults', and they need time to return to the original thought communicated to them after branching off in multitudinous directions.

The puppets? Puppets are good because they are considerably smaller than the human actors around them, and thus kids perceive them as safe. They look like toys. Contrast this with a giant seven foot all yellow bird, and ask yourself which inspired more nightmares.

The show is glacially paced and had the same structure with the same things happening in the same order because children respond to structure and routine is a source of comfort, particularly in children whose lives were anything but predictable.

Maybe that's what cool is - withdrawing from the context of one's life into an artificial one, in which the cool perceives itself to be somehow outside of reality, looking in and commenting on it. But this isn't insight, it's not reflecting on the world. It's standing at the edge of the world sniping into it.

Mister Rogers isn't creepy. CSI with is gruesome bloody corpses every Thursday at promptly 9:14 EST is creepy. Thirty million people looking at that and snaking on chips while they watch is creepy.

Listening to some rapper sing about his genitals and sexual conquests is creepy. Approach crowds of people and talk to them about the aroused state of your genitals, and watch how quickly you end up in a squad car. But somehow it's ok on TV because...why exactly?

Watching a war unfold on television in near real time is beyond creepy. It is obscene. You watch people screaming over their dead loved ones, and then you turn it off and go have dinner, or go to bed? No empathy, no revulsion. What the hell kind of civilization is this?

You know, I watched some 9-11 footage on youtube the other day (because I'm a masochist, apparently), and it occured to me that in the 6 years since it happened, I've never once heard anyone say "I'm sorry for those people who are so consumed by hate for people they've never met and places they've never been. What can we do to lift that burden from them?"

Because that isn't cool. That's being a pussy (or a fag if you are on FreeRepublic). There's no posture to be struck there, no pose. It's something that has to be done in earnest, and that's what's been lacking in the American culture.

Think about the Pope, entering the cell to confront his assassin. He forgave him, we all know that. But can you imagine the conversation? Can you imagine either someone being so perceptive that they can reach into a perfect stranger and expose their soul, or someone whose personality is so shallow that their emotions or ideologies are so shallow that any attempt to probe their depth displaces them entirely?

Mr. Rogers may have been the last earnest man.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:00 PM on June 1 [220 favorites]

It makes me want to put on a cardigan and some Keds and not give a damn what people think or say. Which isn't, strictly speaking, what Mr. Rogers did. What he did was so frustratingly simple that it seems impossible: He treated everyone with respect, dignity, and kindness. And in doing so, that is how he was treated in return. That's just such an enormous leap of faith, to believe that you won't be hurt by doing that, but it's another indication of what a good man Fred Rogers was that it didn't seem to matter to him whether he'd be hurt or not, just that he treated people well.

Like a lot of people on MetaFilter said, I miss Mr. Rogers.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Even A Broken Clock...

Drunken sod Christopher Hitchens offers up his thoughts about Jerry Falwell:



Just because I happen to agree with much of what he says doesn't mean I have to start liking him.

This Is A Republican?



Found via Dennis Perrin

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bye-bye, You Fat Fuck

Jerry Falwell, Leading Religious Conservative, Dies at 73

The lights in hell burn a little bit brighter this afternoon.

Why? Where did you think he would end up?

Do you know what comes to mind when I think of Jerry Falwell? A great big fat tub of hate, greed, and avarice.

There I go again, being negative.

But behind the controversies was a shrewd, savvy operator with an original vision for affecting political and moral change. He rallied religious conservatives to the political arena at a time when most fundamentalists and other conservative religious leaders were inclined to stay away, and helped pulled off what once seemed the impossible task of uniting religious conservatives from many faiths and doctrines over what they had in common, rather than focusing on the differences that kept them apart.

They were then able to focus on the differences of everyone outside of their new faith-based circle and demonize them all.

[H]e was a lightning rod for controversy and caricature. He apologized, for example, after televised remarks suggesting that the 9/11 terrorist attacks reflected God’s judgment on a nation spiritually weakened by the American Civil Liberties Union, providers of abortion and supporters of gay rights, and after he called Muhammad a terrorist.

Yeah. Like that.

And that little bit of conversation that Falwell shared with fellow radical cleric Pat Robertson showed me what camp that he was in, had been in, and would forever be in: The one that believed that the 9/11 hijackers had done God's work. Think about it, if the attacks were God's judgment, then the attackers were agents of God's will, especially since they had their own fucked up notions of acting on behalf of God. Like it says above, he was adept at "the impossible task of uniting religious conservatives from many faiths and doctrines over what they had in common," and I'm sure that it was simply instinctive to ally himself with a group of people as intent upon destroying an enlightened liberal democracy as he himself had been his entire life.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I Can't Help Myself

After my last post, I had to put up another example of a real-life person with a sitcom doppelgänger...

John Edwards



and Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock":

Saturday, May 12, 2007

This Doesn't Make Me Feel Any Better

Colleagues Cite Partisan Focus by Justice Official

It's another scary rundown of how an inexperienced and incompetent Regent University grad actively worked to ruin the United States in the name of God and the Republican party. But what I noticed was the photo of Monica Goodling:



She reminded me of somebody, but who? Ah, yes:



Angela from "The Office".

[Dunder Mifflin party planning committee meets in conference room to discuss holiday party festivities for the office]
Angela: Phyllis, I need you to pick up green streamers at lunch.
Phyllis: I thought you said that green was whorish.
Angela: No, orange is whorish.
[Camera pulls back to show Phyllis wearing an orange blouse]
Karen: Uh, so I had a couple ideas to make the Stamford branch feel more at home. Each year we have a Christmas raffle.
Angela: It would never work here.
Karen: OK. Um, another idea is karaoke.
Angela: No.
Karen: A Christmas drinking game?
Meredith: Yes!
Angela: God help you.
Karen: What?
Angela: These are all terrible ideas and none of them are on the theme of "A Nutcracker Christmas". I think you should leave.
Karen: [Laughs nervously, unsure what to do] You are kidding.
Angela: You tried this out and it's clearly not for you. You need to leave. Now.

Yeah. I think that's it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Another Quiz!

You can take a quiz at the site for "The Golden Compass" and find out what your dæmon is. Mine is an osprey named Theonilla.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hmm...

I don't know how long it will stay there, but someone posted "Pirates of Silicon Valley" in its entirety to Google Video:

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"The Lawyer She Just Hired...Went to a Real Law School"

Bill Maher on Monica Goodling, Pat Robertson, Regent Law School, and the US Attorney scandal.

Case Study in Self-Delusion

I saw this on Digby last week; a snippet from a piece in Rolling Stone by Jeff Sharlet called "Teenage Holy War":
"The week I'm at the Academy, the guest speaker is Rebecca Contreras, a pretty 35-year-old professional evangelist in blue jeans who was a former Special Assistant to the President in Bush II's first term, responsible for 1,200 presidential appointments. She tells us about one of her first days in Washington. "The vice president is sitting there, and the president is sitting in his chair," she said. "There I was, little Latina Rebecca from the inner city." Contreras had not gone to college. She felt overwhelmed by all the advanced degrees in the room -- Cheney, with his almost-Ph.D (he's a drop-out), Bush, with his Harvard MBA. "The Devil began to say, `Look at you, you don't belong here. You're not credentialed.' Then I heard the voice of the Lord say, `Put you're eyes on me!'" Contreras raises her finger in imitation of God. " `I CREDENTIALED YOU! I HAVE PLACED YOU HERE!' " The moral of the story, she says, is that obedience to God matters more than education."

Isn't it nice when the voices in your head tell you that they agree with you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Is Dead at 84; Caught Imagination of His Age
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

Aaaawwww...crap.

Monday, April 09, 2007

*Sigh*

Andy Barker, PI: Cancelled

I'm glad I downloaded them from iTunes. (I watched them when they aired, too. Not that it made any difference; we're not a Nielsen family.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sound It Out



So, I'm watching TV with my wife when a commercial comes on for the Olay Eye Derma Pod.

I wasn't really watching the commercial, which is probably why the voice over caught my ear.

Eye Derma Pod.

Eye ... Pod.

I ... Pod.

iPod.

I can only assume that a lawyer for Apple is presently drafting a cease and desist letter. Although I don't imagine that there's a whole lot of confusion in the minds of most consumers between the two products.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Too Little, Too Late

Matthew Dowd, political strategist for George W. Bush in his 2000 and 2004 campaigns, gives an interview with the New York Times in which he, um, "express[es] disappointment" with the president's leadership.

"He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides."

Really? It took him seven years to come to this realization?

“I think we should design campaigns that appeal not to 51 percent of the people,” he said, “but bring the country together as a whole.”

Well, Matty, you had two more opportunities than most people ever will to orchestrate those kinds of campaigns. What did you do?

Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime...

Oh yeah, that...

...said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Well, it's a good thing you kept the irresponsible, crazy, lying flip-flopper out of office, isn't it?

In television interviews in 2004, Mr. Dowd said that Mr. Kerry’s campaign was proposing “a weak defense,” and that the voters “trust this president more than they trust Senator Kerry on Iraq.”

But he was starting to have his own doubts by then, he said.

Shit, man, why let your doubts get the best of you?

He describes as further cause for doubt two events in the summer of 2005: the administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and the president’s refusal, around the same time that he was entertaining the bicyclist Lance Armstrong at his Crawford ranch, to meet with the war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq.

“I had finally come to the conclusion that maybe all these things along do add up,” he said. “That it’s not the same, it’s not the person I thought.”

He never was.

He added, “I do feel a calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.”

Better hope it's not too late, asshole.

By the way, what's spurring this introspection, this dark night of the soul?

In the last several years, as he has gradually broken his ties with the Bush camp, one of Mr. Dowd’s premature twin daughters died, he was divorced, and he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq as an Army intelligence specialist fluent in Arabic. Mr. Dowd said he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for the president had kept him from joining protests whose anti-Bush fervor is so central.

I'm sorry that his marriage ended; I'm really, truly sorry that his daughter died; and I hope that his son returns from Iraq healthy and whole. But with that said, this smacks of a case of "I-Never-Thought-It-Would-Happen-To-Me" syndrome. It's the sort of thing that strikes people of a certain stature who think that poor people are poor because they don't work hard enough, marriages end because couples don't really understand what commitment is, children get sick or die because their parents are irresponsible or negligent, and only other people's children get sent halfway around the world to get shot at and potentially blown up. They lack the imagination or the empathy to put themselves in other people's shoes and to conceive of a world in which luck didn't favor them. In fact, luck is a foreign concept, as everything that happens is due to astute planning and diligent hard work. No breaks, no fortunes, all them.

And then, one by one, some misfortunes befall them, and suddenly a realization of the fragility of everyone's lives starts to dawn on them. Bad things happen because they happen, not necessarily because God is meting out judgment. Marriages can end, even if you love each other. Children can get sick, even if you do everything right. And if bad things can happen and not be punishment, then maybe the good things weren't rewards. Maybe they were luck. Maybe they were breaks. Maybe somebody knew somebody who owed a favor.

If Dowd has really learned something, if he feels that maybe he should atone for his sins, real or imagined, then he should really do something. He says about the 2008 presidential campaigns, "“I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work," instead of working for any of the candidates. That's all well and good, but you cannot easily turn your back on a system that you helped to create, and walking around on another continent can be just a way of avoiding the consequences of your actions. I'm glad that he's sorry, but doing "something...like mission work" is a little flip-floppy, a little evasive, a little like "I was for this president before I was against him," and it isn't going to fix anything.

Playing With the Sidebar

I just added some fine podcasts off to the side there (scroll around and see if you can find them). They're all iTunes links, because I am lazy. If you listen to any podcasts, there's nothing there that you've never heard of before, either.

That is all.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Somebody Adjust the "Vert. Hld."

Interesting that one of the more insightful and farsighted things I've read about the future of online entertainment comes from someone pretending to be Steve Jobs:
The Internet is a transport mechanism. Simple as that. Its real power involves its ability to let you choose from millions of pieces of content in a non-linear format, the idea that you can see whatever programs you want to watch, however and whenever you want to watch them. The real power of the Internet is going to be when the big media companies, with all their great content, figure out how to aggregate that content into huge archives in the cloud and put some kind of interface in front of the archive that lets you search and choose content; and when they find a way to make you pay for it. That's when things are going to get amazing. That's how the Internet will change the media business -- not by creating new content that looks like a Special Olympics version of real TV, but by finding new ways for you to consume the shows you already like. It's a new distribution deal. That's all.

What we're doing today with things like Apple TV or TiVo is just applying Band-Aids to patch up a frigtarded system (linear TV programming) that made sense in the 1950s when bandwidth was limited. Our Apple TV only sidesteps the problem. It still forces you to download to your computer, then beam through a router to our TV box and then up into your TV. So great. Now you've got more pipes coming into your TV but this new pipe is kind of unreliable (wifi routers) and slow and clumsy.

The real fix is gonna happen when someone figures out the back end, aggregating good content (ie Seinfeld and I Love Lucy rather than Ask a Ninja) and then finds a way to get that straight into your TV without all these clumsy connections and multiple hops. But it's a battle. The linear model, as stupid as it is, still clings to life. Inertia is a powerful thing. But ultimately we'll win. Give us ten years. And yeah, this is why Apple is presenting itself to the Hollywood studios as a friend and ally, not a competitor. It's also why we didn't buy YouTube.

I have lots of notes that I've written to myself in the last year about the future of media and the frustratingly wrong-headed predictions that some people have made, and I will sit down one day and make them more coherent in order to post them here. But when I read this, I have to admit that I was pleased with the elegance with which he made his point, and I agree with a great deal of it. "YouTube will change TV -- we will all generate our own content and watch each others' videos!" rings false as a prediction when you consider how much of YouTube is made up of clips from TV shows, from the very medium it will supposedly replace.

Access is what it's all about. Everything being available in different media. Pushing things out on the internet is still broadcasting, it's just using different equipment. Imagine being able to pull and old episode of "Seinfeld" or "M*A*S*H" or "I Married Joan" down whenever you wanted it, rather than waiting for someone to air one over a transmitter at 3:30 in the morning. There are going to be shifts in power -- some will adapt, some won't; some new blood will rise, some old guards will fall -- but the spoils will still go to whoever can be depended upon to produce good, entertaining programming and get it to viewers in an easy and reliable way.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and watch the episodes of "Andy Barker, P.I." that I just downloaded. Maybe later, if I still can't fall asleep, I might click on that episode of "The Incredible Hulk" that I got for the sake of nostalgia.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Last Lazy Afternoon For A While

I've been on vacation this week. Can you tell? Be prepared for the number of posts I put up to drop quite a bit once I go back to work on Monday.

Anyway, I went to Descanso Gardens today, taking advantage of a bright, beautiful afternoon

Here are some pictures:
Descanso Gardens


I tweaked some in iPhoto, like this one:



I hope it doesn't come across as overprocessed on anyone's monitor.

Picture Pages

Hm. It seems that the little elves at Google have been tying things together, linking Picasa and Blogger and making things easy to use. I've long heard that Picasa is a nice little photo management application, but it's been available for PCs only. Turns out that there are some tools that lets Mac users running iPhoto easily export to Picasa online. The storage has been bumped up to 1GB, and it's easy to link albums to blogs, like so:

Chicago 2004

If that worked correctly, there should be a link up above to an album of some pictures I took in Chicago a few years ago.

I know that a lot of people swear by Flickr, but I'm sometimes less than enthused by it. I'm not sure why. I guess there's some powerful mojo behind the scenes that let you do things with those pictures in other applications across the web, but I've never been that interested in learning the whats or hows. As a web album for photos, it's just kind of ... there. On the other hand, it did set a lot of what are now considered standards for letting people share photos in a relatively pain-free fashion, giving a cheap-to-free way of hosting those pictures.

I ramble. The point of this post was to see if I could get the album to link to the entry. That is all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weird Stuff In The Feed

I've been cleaning some stuff up in some old posts -- fixing permalinks and the like -- and I don't know of any way to do that without the update going out over the RSS feed as a new post. Apologies if anything shows up that seems woefully out of date.

"Why?", you might ask. Don't know. It's just the compulsive side of me that wants the outdated links to point to the things that they were supposed to.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Her Again?

I'm not linking to it, since you can find it for yourself if you want it (and I couldn't bring myself to read the whole thing, anyway), but this first sentence in Ann Coulter's latest column is precious:

Lewis Libby has now been found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice for lies that had absolutely no legal consequence.


Really? 'Cuz I thought the same thing about President Clinton's impeachment, and you sure seemed to think that was important.

So, let's recap former Law Review editor Ann's view on the pressing legal crises of the last decade: Purposely deceiving federal investigators about your roll in publicly disclosing the identity of an undercover1 CIA agent? No biggie. Purposely deceiving federal investigators about getting a blow job from an intern? A threat to the moral fiber of the republic and an impeachable offense.

Dumbass.

If she really believed that lying was the worst of all possible crimes, then she'd have the guts to stick by that, regardless of the circumstances. All this proves -- like it needed to be proved -- is that it isn't about the law, it isn't about morality, it's about politics. Not politics in the noble "art of the possible sense," but just naked grabs at power and, pathetically, grabs at being close to power.

And I really hate myself for even posting this, because its exactly the sort of attention that someone like her doesn't deserve. It's the reason she called John Edwards a "faggot" (by saying that she couldn't call him one -- there's that fine legal training at work), a deep desire to have people look at her, for any damn reason at all. As she gets older and more haggard, though, no one's really looking as much as they used to.

Say something stupid and everyone spins around to look at the freak.

Update: I was poking around in my archives and found this. The link to the story doesn't work anymore, so you can't read the fucktarded defense of Linda Tripp as the moral equivalent of Deep Throat, but I did like my own line:
If you can't tell the difference between a subversion of the constitution and a blowjob, you aren't doing either one right.

I think that's still true.
____________________

1- Before anyone gets in a twist by trying to suggest that Valerie Plame was not undercover -- however broadly it might be defined -- and therefore could not have been "outed," please remember that the CIA complained to the Department of Justice that her identity had been made public. If the CIA believed that her identity was worthy of being kept secret, it was not the purview of anyone at the White House -- by way of the DC cocktail party chattering class -- to decide otherwise.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cheap Music - An Update

A few months ago, I wrote about trying out eMusic, a subscription-based music site that allowed downloads of MP3s free from any DRM or restrictions from use, other than a sort of honor system. The files are easy to burn to CDs, and are playable in iTunes and on iPods without any problems (at least in my experience). The drawback is that none of the major labels use the service, so you've got to either like music from independent music labels, or be willing to learn to like it.

So, how have things been going?

Surprisingly well. I've either learned to like some indie music, or I've discovered that I liked it all along. Of course, as you can see below, I'm not exactly pushing the boundaries of musical taste.

The thing about this subscription service model is that I get 40 tracks a month1 that must be downloaded. If I don't use them all, they go away -- no rollovers2. Keeping that in mind, though, it isn't very difficult to budget and prioritize what tracks and albums I want. In a couple of cases, I've downloaded the first few tracks from an album, waited a couple of days until my downloads refreshed, and then got the rest. It's a little unusual, but there's no savings in downloading a whole album versus individual tracks, like with iTunes, so it all works out in the end.

Here's a sampling of what I've downloaded since September 2006:

Anonymous 4 -- On Yoolis Night
Arcade Fire -- Funeral
Beirut -- Gulag Orkestar
Blonde Redhead -- Misery Is A Butterfly
The Decemberists -- Castaways And Cutouts
The Decemberists -- Picaresque
Eddie Izzard -- Glorious
El Perro Del Mar -- El Perro Del Mar
El Ten Eleven -- El Ten Eleven
Explosions In The Sky -- How Strange, Innocence
Explosions In The Sky -- The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
George Carlin -- You Are All Diseased
Kaki King -- ...Until We Felt Red
Kaki King -- Everybody Loves You
Lenny Bruce -- Live In San Francisco
Lionel Hampton -- Jazz In Paris: Lionel Hampton and His French New Sound, Vol. 1
Lionel Hampton -- Jazz In Paris: Lionel Hampton and His French New Sound, Vol. 2
Lionel Hampton -- Jazz in Paris: Mai 1956
London Symphony Orchestra -- Beethoven: The Nine Symphonies -- Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
The New Pornographers -- Twin Cinema
Red Letter Agent -- Burn The Good Ones Down
Spoon -- Gimme Fiction
The White Stripes -- Get Behind Me Satan
Yo La Tengo -- I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

Not bad, and new downloads seem to lead to new discoveries. Having to download all 40 tracks each month means that I'm much more motivated to try things out that I might otherwise have been hesitant to sample. ("I don't want to waste the downloads!" "If you don't download anything, you'll lose them anyway. Why not get something out of the waste, at least." Or so goes the dialogue in my head.)

There are some snags, though. The Decemberists, for example, signed with a major label, Capitol Records, so their last album, The Crane Wife, is not available. The White Stripes, I have heard, are signing with Warner Bros., meaning presumably that their new albums will not be available, either. (Nor, I assume, will Jack White's other band, The Raconteurs.)

On the whole, though, I'm enjoying the experience. Explosions In The Sky and Arcade Fire are bands that I might never have given a chance if I didn't feel like I had nothing to lose. Anonymous 4's On Yoolis Night is a Christmas album (of sorts) that I heard in a Blockbuster Music (remember them?) years ago and could never quite justify paying full price for, but couldn't find at any discount over the years. El Perro Del Mar wasn't such a great choice, but break it down and I'm only out $2.50, so lesson learned.
___________


1 - Basic membership has been reduced to 30 downloads per month. However, those who signed up at 40 per month still get that number, and eMusic did send out several emails to forewarn members and offer opportunities to upgrade to other plans before they were also reduced. So it kind of stinks, but they didn't really screw anyone out of what they'd signed up for, and they didn't spring it on anyone with absolutely no warning.

2 - Also available for purchase are Booster Packs, extra downloads available in quantities of 10, 20, or 30, that are good for up to one year and can extend the number of downloads available in a month. So if you want just one more album, but need a couple of tracks more than you have left, having some of these on hand might prove useful. I haven't bought any myself, but I might.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Follow Up

Last year, I wrote about this. This weekend, the LA Times has more about Cory Kennedy.
Put it this way: By the time Cory Kennedy's mother realized that her child had become, in the words of Gawker.com, an "Internet It Girl," the Web was riddled with photos of Cory posing, eating, dancing, shopping, romping at the beach, looking pensive and French-kissing one of the (adult) members of the rock band the Kings of Leon. She had European fan sites. She had thousands of people signing on to her MySpace pages. She had fashion bloggers dissecting her wardrobe ("a cross between the Little Match Girl and the quintessence of heroin chic," one wag called her taste in fashion). She had people watchers from the Netherlands to Japan speculating about her life story. (Was she a junkie? A refugee from Hyannis Port?) She had designers begging her to wear their clothes and deejays offering her money to show up at their nightclubs. She had invitations to party with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

She was living, in short, a teenager's dream and a parent's version of "Fear Factor." And the obvious questions—at least for her mother—were, "What happened? And how?"

[snip]

"I didn't connect the dots," she says, sighing. "But I'm real connected now."

It's hard to overstate the speed with which the Internet can now make someone a cultural icon. A YouTube video, a flub on "American Idol," a stupid pet trick—virtually anything can become a fast track to celebrity. What that means is still working itself out; all that's clear is that it's become unbelievably easy to get and leverage attention. A nobody can become a somebody at a moment's notice, just because everybody is always watching everything.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Geeky Squeals of Delight

Occassionally, BoingBoing is good for something.

If you don't want to go the long way, let me say that Mark Frauenfelder has pointed to a wealth of geeky British TV goodness at Google Video in the form of "The Secret Life of Machines".

I remember spending a whole afternoon watching these on the Discovery Channel one weekend about 10 years ago. Good times. For some reason, I remember the one about the fax machine best of all:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reading the Tea Leaves



So, there's a lot of speculation in some quarters about the above image as it is found on the front page of Apple's website. It seems to imply something, while further consideration shows that it does nothing other than state one fact and offer one salutation.

This is due in part to Macworld San Francisco opening next week, with a keynote address by Steve Jobs scheduled for Tuesday morning, and the many prognostications and predictions that will be made between now and then. And this is why it is time to revisit The Apple Product Cycle, first posted back in July of 2004.

My prediction? That most of the people making predictions are going to be veeerrry disappointed next week. And that will be very quickly followed by anger that they didn't get what they foolishly speculated that they were going to get.

Monday, January 01, 2007

First Post!

Woot! First post of 2007! I --

Oh wait...

...nevermind.

(Although, apropos of nothing, I was looking at my blog stats over on the right-hand side and noticed that I posted only 34 times in 2006! Compare that to the 143 posts in 2004. Still pathetic, I know, when you compare it to the big guns, but it does add up to almost three times a week.

When-oh-when is Blogger going to devleop the technology that will write all of the posts that I meant to do in the last year? All of the great ideas that I decided that I had to do things like research before I went flying off the handle, so I set them aside. Such a waste. I guess I need to resolve to think less and write more in 2007.)