...busting up my brains for the words

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Blog design

Googling czar this morning I stumbled upon this site en route .

Google Blogoscoped has surveyed blog design and makes comments upon their findings.
I'd have to agree with this obvious gem;

Instead of amateurish “bad visuals”, the site (like many big sites) is just too crowded. I always wonder who reads all those links, and I’m a weekly buyer at Amazon.

And there is this rather direct appraisal of industry templates and their associations as a product;

Template-driven Blogs
I’ve got no specific URL for this, but there are many good sites which just rely on a default template provided by blogging services such as ( Bold face words and phrases are mine.-Ed.)Now there’s two major problems with that.The first problem is that blogging services never offer enough different templates. This means visitors will be confused because of similar-looking sites they run into over and over. And when you actually never saw the template before, there’s our second problem... you can’t tell how much work went into the site and how professional it is*.
*I’m not saying all badly designed sites contain low-quality content, and that all great designed sites do contain great content, but there is a significant correlation: if you spent all day tweaking your content, there’s a big chance you will at one point also put some work into your site’s layout. The least that happens then is it will turn into individualistic, original design. You usually don’t create original designs if you just want to try something out for 5 minutes.
Doing random browsing you might have found a well-looking site, started to read for some seconds, to then find there might have been an interesting paragraph somewhere but that it’s otherwise full of “does this work?!” or “I’m boooored” posts. There was a time when sites like these had the fitting Geocities layout (centered text that would scroll down forever, interwoven with animated GIFs)... and as much as we might have disliked a typical Geocities design, it was a good instant indicator we have reason to stay away from this place.
But isn’t the whole purpose of blogging that it gives web publishing power to everyone, and wouldn’t it be elitist to demand everyone create their own design? Well, I could imagine a compromise between the opposing approaches. For example, there could be a much higher variety in the templates offered, and additionally, they could be created using a wizard. Then people would have to tweak details along the way. The outcome would actually tell us something about the site in terms of what the writer is trying to express. At the moment, this expression is lost on many blogs.

Imho, redesign does not have to be very flamoyant or high-production. I don't agree with everything I'm seeing in Google Blogoscoped, but the site prompts some excellent questions. One design I very much admire is Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs. Its color code linked to an image is very powerful. Whenever I'm in there I always have an imprint of my presence at a unique site. That reminds me, there's been a lot of speculation of where Charles got that reference. It's a secret and it is well guarded, despite the fact that many have tried to crack the code.
I don't pretend to know anything inside this story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

One man circle jerk?

One of the lewd mental images of yesterday's news cycle is discussed by Rocketman. It's weird that the NYTimes has become the offensive, offbeat goofball medium while the blog maintains a dignified composure.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Vacation from politics

I'm in awe of people who eat, sleep, breathe politics and issues of social import. How do they do it? I hafta just getaway sometimes.
After reading a good political book recently, I reached for the next book I will be spending some time with. Instead of politics (anti Michael Moore book went half unread), I decided to take a break. I'm reading a schmaltzy biography of Lou Reed. This would be Peter Doggett's Growing Up In Public. This is a well enough written, competently realized bio, I suppose. This is the first bio I read about this man. I guess maybe I didn't know much about him, as I didn't know, as Doggett reports, that Lou is gay. This is entirely confusing to me in the book, as it goes on to describe Lou's relationship with a "thing" called Rachel. There are pictures of Rachel available, both in the book and on record jackets and yes, prolly the Internet, as well. And guess what my verdict is....Rachel looks like a woman. So, okay, I don't know what Rachel's private parts are. Male? Female? Both? Neither?
That's neither here, nor there. What difference does it make? People's personal sexual preference is nobody's business but their own.

But this book is causing me to revisit some Lou Reed records I haven't spun for awhile. Sally Can't Dance is one. I've had it on vinyl for years. Bought it as a cut-out. The pricetag is still affixed to its front jacket; $1.92. You know, mostly, I can remember details about purchasing a record. But not this one. I don't recall when or where or why. And I haven't played this record any more than maybe half a dozen times over the past 30 or so years since I bought it. That's 'cos it's engineered badly. Lou's voice is recorded with heavy reverb and it's bass-heavy. This reduces it to muck that's washed out by horns, guitar and maybe some cats and some dogs, too.
This record is the perfect candidate for a remix. But Lou is no big fan of clean mixes. You'd think he would have gained some respect for a clean mix when David Bowie made him a lot of money and success with his production of Transformer. But Lou is a musician who tries to see pretty things through dirty lenses.
Lou's stuff translates well with high production, as Transformer proved. The VU album also illustrated this fact. Before VU came out, all I had of Foggy Mountain Breakdown was a very scratchy, very noisy record.
Any recording artist can put out a record that becomes noisy & scratchy. To whit, I'm now playing a beatup Stonewall Jackson lp. If you heard the ear rape I'm hearing now, you'd know that Stonewall never intended it to be heard like this.
Okay, taking that off post haste, I've plopped on Hank Williams; The First Recordings. Hank's voice comes across perfectly.
Lou had/has a personal relationship with the noise in the message. He has devoted much attention to how his music is recorded. In the 1970s Lou pioneered a sound system known as SBS. It described a recording system with microphones mounted in a bust's ears. Makes sense to me. Our ears are about 6 inches apart. Why shouldn't the mics be?

My expectation would be that if Sally Can't Dance is remixed clean, with a minimum of reverb in Lou's vocals, it would be hot stuff.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Our English friends

Custos Morum isn't dead. It just smells funny. That's a paraphrase from Frank Zappa talking about jazz.
When fellow blogger Southpaw, a member ("Nutter") of BowieNet shut down his Blogger blog for reasons political on the outskirts of London, his voice was missed in this blogger's blogroll.
So Custos Morum is a blog that is custodian of morals once more.
Morals? Perhaps we should strap Custos Morum into the interview chair and ask him how many teeth he has in his head. Or, to make things easier, we could simply visit Custos Morum and learn what his point of view is there.
It's just a click away.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Super chick blog

Several local women blog MOBsters realized that they could bring something unique to the MOB by ganging up into one wondrous babelicious superblog. They've got a temporary address, so they explain. I scrounged around in there to learn what M.A.W.B. stands for as an acronym. Couldn't find it. So I'll have to guess that it must mean Mentally Alert Wild Beotches. Of course, I could be wrong.
In any case, whatever it stands for, I've entered them into my blogroll because they are a unique amalgam of bloggers with a special mission; To bring feminine reason to a wild west blogosphere. This is a sphere in which the casual surfer might accidentally step into a puddle of blog chaw or discover cold leftover pizza still left out on the t.v. tray. The MAWBsters will no doubt clean up the mess and put this disarray to neat and tidy order so that we may find a clean pair of matching sox tomorrow morning.
On the other hand, I may be way off base.

Hey, I'm a bachelor. I have no idea what the rules are.

Bloggers 2, MSM 0

Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters blog has an article in the Daily Standard. He also has this post in his blog explaining the relevance of the failure of the Main Stream Media's "blackout" of the Eason Jordan story.
I think EasonGate has turned out to be bigger than RatherGate.
At least RatherGate was a story that the msm acknowledged and reported on. EasonGate (or Eason's Fables, as the Captain calls it) demonstrates an even more stark lesson; our television sets and newspapers have omitted parts of the real world that the media elites don't want us to know about.
The image that the msm presents to us is an illusion of their own making. If the truth is out there, we can't count of the alphabet networks or the dead tree printers to let us have a peek at it. If it doesn't fit their pre-ordained narrative, they have the ability, the will and the means to simply deny it to us.

Until now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Battle of the jug bands report

Well, I must have had a good time at this last Sunday because I just now regained consciousness. I may be exaggerating a bit.
It took me awhile to get in the mood at the Cabooze Bar. That's partly because I've been living the straight and narrow so much lately, and also because I'm kind of demanding of my jug bands. There are a lot of musicians playing this stuff who really seem to have no respect for the genre whatsoever. They see it as nothing more than an excuse to make a lot of racket, enjoy the limelight of the stage and massacre songs in a jug style. The first and second bands up that day were of that ilk. I mean, come on. Neil Diamond songs done jug? Tony Orlando and Dawn jug? A bit later, a band did a David Bowie song a la jug; The Man Who Sold The World. Now, this is a great song. But just because the band banged pots, scratched a washboard and thumped a string bass on it does not a jug song make. No. What we have hear is a failure to communicate. (Yes, I misspelled "here" and decided a corny pun is appropriate at this juncture. So I'm leaving it in.)
How do I explain jug music? I'm not sure I can. But like someone explained pornography; I know it when I see it. Or hear it, in this case.

Given the inherent playfulness of the instrumentation, jug band music was accordingly informal, spontaneous, often humorous, and rhythmically bouncy.

Bouncy. Jug music does not seek subtlety. There's a child-like quality to its rhythm.

These lame versions of camp songs from the 60s and 70s were nothing more than lame versions of camp songs played with a lot of annoying banging. That's not jug. Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling Bowie's song lame, or camp. It's just that this band failed to transform it into jug. No. I'm not calling Bowie lame. I'm calling Tony Orlando and Dawn lame.

Anyways, as the day proceeded, I managed to free up quite a bit. And then Bill Hinckley and Judy Larson's band, The Phleshtones, took the stage. They showed everybody how jug is played. Bill is a masterful jug soloist and he hasn't lost his touch despite a recent brush with health problems.

I finally reached the point of no return. It was getting late. Around 6 pm. I knew that if I had another beer I might not ever come back from wherever I was. Some crazy jugworld. But before I left, I checked in with the judges, as I happen to know one of them. I couldn't believe my ears. He and his associates were impressed with that second band. The one that did all the horrible stuff. The band that I was thankful to see leave the stage got high marks from him.

I didn't know if this was a cruel joke or if maybe I just take this jug aesthetic too seriously.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Battle of the jug bands

I'm on my way out to door to the Cabooze Bar on Minneapolis' west bank. Beginning at 1 o'clock in the afternoon today is the annual Battle of the Jug Bands. I try to attend this event every year. Jug is terrific. The strange instruments used in jug music; zither, kazoos, washboard, string bass, jugs, spoons, jews harp, along with vocals and guitars and other conventional instrumentation, make jug music sometimes almost as innovative as electronic music.
If you're looking for a bearded, fur-bearin' excuse to drink beer and rye whiskey this afternoon, listening to jug, meet me at the Cabooze.

Wither Jo's Attic?

While I was building my new blogroll I discovered that Jo's Attic claims to be "closing".

By the time I caught wind of this news, Jo had already put out notice that she's thinking of making an about face, claiming she should have checked with her brother and blog-partner, Dr. Jonz, first.

Swiftee over at Pair o' Dice seems to know that Jo has a gig with Taxpayer's League of Minnesota, prompting the fold.

But then Jo comes out with this rethink of the situation. Even after high-profile blogs have already said their fond farewells.

This would all be so very confusing if it weren't for the fact that a woman is always allowed to change her mind. Excellent tactic in getting our attention, Jo. Okay. I've blogrolled you, so you can't back out now. If Jo's Attic closes, then I've got bats in my belfry.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Eason Jordan has resigned

Once again the blogosphere has taken down a main stream media giant. Captain's Quarters was one of the crucial blogs in this story.
Congratulations, Ed! And thank you for so effectively watchdogging the liberal elite media.

To my mind, Jordan's resignation from CNN is a much bigger story than the story that brought him down. As many other bloggers have noted, the Captain among them, Jordan could have avoided this whole mess by simply admitting early on that he'd made a stupid blunder, apologized for it and moved on.

I can only guess that the reasons for Jordan's mistake in avoiding that damage control are two-fold;

a) An underestimation of the importance of the Eason's Fables story.

2) An underestimation of the power of the blogosphere in sustaining that story.

Jordan had to have been impressed with the manner in which the blogosphere and talk radio took down Dan Rather over MemoGate. So why didn't he apply that lesson to his own dilemma? Because he underestimated these two factors.

This is enormously interesting. In America's pre-9/11 world, the nation grew complacent and had a false sense of security because of the oceans that we'd thought protected us from a hostile world. The evil attacks of that day changed our perception and forced us to adjust.
Years and years of main stream media dominance and power had instilled an arrogance, complacency and a false sense of security in their way of doing business. But Dan Rather's fall from grace and now Eason Jordan's defeat are sending shock waves through the main stream media. One wonders how many more such shocks they must sustain before they realize that their mindset is fatal.
Not coincidentally, Jordan had made his damning claims against the U.S. military overseas. He and CNN have recently learned that the seas do no protect their machine from blow-back in reaction to anti-military statements made across the pond.
So, if you want a distilled and unified message out of events that have been occuring in this new millenium it is this; The world is shrinking. Your enemies and your friends and neighbors are all just a shot away, they're just a kiss away.

So far as the MSM goes and their abilities to understand this, the answer has to vary with each institution. Some are getting smart quickly and some will continue in their disillusionment of arrogance. I don't see any reason to believe that we've seen the last MSM giant's toppling.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Thursday night caucus meeting

Hugh Hewitt is in my hometown of Minneapolis for the weekend. Last night he debated Peter Beinart of The New Republic in an event hosted by The Patriot am1280.

I opted to attend my local Republican meeting last night, so I missed it. Doug of Bogus Gold has the live-blog. Check out the details here.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Blogger "bug" belied

I'd like to thank redryder52 who found me in the Blogger Forum and correctly diagnosed my blogroll problem. It turns out that my code was located in the wrong place. I don't know how I made this error, as I thought I recalled the location correctly from when I wrote my first blogroll. I had mistakenly believed it to be located just below the title; "links--------------------". I was wrong.
Using Blogger Forum was a very positive experience for me. There are scores of talented techies like redryder52 who take pleasure in solving problems such as mine. It turned out to be an easily fielded one. And yet, several emails and phone calls to Blogger's techs were to no avail. None. Nada. Zilch. I'd like to encourage Blogger to recommend problems such as mine to Blogger Forum, rather than the way they answered me months ago; "Sorry. We don't field technical problems regarding customizing our templates." Blogger Forum plays on the strength of the Internet. Countless numbers of people who know things are willing to help online for free because they enjoy it.

By all means, keep them in your favorites folder.

If it weren't for Blogger Forum I would not have a blogroll. I will be blogrolling them in honor of solving my problem.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Kindred blogger spirit

This afternoon I heard on my radio that Senator Mark Dayton had announced that he would not be seeking reelection to his seat in 2006. Curious to discover what kind of buzz might be happening on the blogosphere over this issue, I Googled the senator's name.
To my surprise, a blog popped up that criticized Dayton for closing his Washington D.C. office a few months ago. We all remember Brave Sir Mark Dayton's choice to close that office.
Actually, it was the name of the blog that surprised me.

Moonage Webdream. For all you folks who aren't up on Bowie, he wrote a song called Moonage Daydream. In that song a character named pinkmonkeybird is mentioned. So, not only Bowie. Not only right-wing politics. But the same Bowie song!

It seems that there is another political blogger who is a David Bowie fan and writes from a center-right political position. I like this blog. In fact, I'm jealous. His blog is better than mine. Much better. There are several pages of interest to the blogger of Moonage Webdream. Rest assured, I have saved this blog to my Favorites folder.

I can't imagine that Moonage Daydream and I will agree completely on politics. I haven't studied his positions in detail yet. But we both hold Senator Mark Dayton in contempt.

And we are both fans of David Bowie. Too bad he's not a chick.

Blogger problem troubleshooting

I've been mindful of my previously stated problems with Blogger. If you're a regular reader you know that my blog crashed and since republishing, I am unable to publish my blogroll. I've thought about buying a subscription to another platform. But I'm resistant to that because then I'd have to change my specific URL.
BowieNet (of which I am a member) realized that this blog thing is getting big and that if they didn't get on board with the program, they'd likely lose subscribers for other new kinds of Internet communities that blogs create. Unfortunately, BowieNet's blog platform is not sophisticated enough to migrate my Blogger archives into a new BowieNet blog. So that's a non-starter.
Now I'm participating in a forum for Blogger. I am registered as pinky. Drop in and take a look at this discussion if you think you can help me, won't you?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Radio archive alternatives

The grapevine that is the blogosphere elicits this helpful posting from King Banian of SCSU Scholars in regard to the question of providing access to archives of NARN and the Hugh Hewitt Show.
King provides some background information that not surprisingly, this issue is not new and has been hashed around for some time. But King brings more information to the table (my table, anyway) regarding the legal obstacles to my called for archives.

That's an FCC rule; there is a long-standing battle over the use of the internet to broadcast things put over the air. Commercials are one thing affected by the rules. This might have been the problem for KRLA.

If there is a rule against providing archives with commercials, well, I'm dumbfounded that KRLA got away with it for so long. I suppose this rule also explains why, as I'd cited the other day, KFAI-FM Fresh Air Radio has such an impressive archive; They're public radio and have no commercials.

Delving into King's links to Steve Gigl's options, I have to say that those are not bad options. Maybe they are better options than trying to wrestle with radio stations, the FCC and trying to scare up funding to pay for extra bandwidth.
Also, James Lileks shared this with readers of The Bleat a couple of months ago.

If I were to purchase some gizmo that will do the job or, even if NARN and Hugh Hewitt wind up providing an excellent archive service, I don't imagine that I would unfailingly listen to every single show. Well, the Northern Alliance Radio Network once per week or even a few times on occasion would be worthwhile. But the Hugh Hewitt Show, while it's a top notch show, five 3-hour listenings per week is just too much talk radio for me. But sometimes a special event or topic or guest will mandate that a show must be heard.

We take our VCRs for granted. If there's something on the tube and we're busy...program the VCR. I don't see why radio should be any different. So, yes, in light of the realities I think Steve Gigl has some good alternatives.

In conclusion, I must say now that I am calling off the pressure upon the NARN and the Hugh Hewitt Show to encourage them to archive their programs and provide free and easy access to their listening audiences. My initiative failed to achieve its stated purpose. But it succeeded in bring some information forward regarding this issue. If I were a Democrat, I would continue to persue petitions and marches in the streets to get NARN and Hugh Hewitt to archive their shows. Maybe we could pass a law. The Republican way of getting things done is to do it yourself.
'Nuff said.

Archiving NARN, continued

Last Saturday I phoned in live to the Northern Alliance Radio Network, heard live most Saturdays in the Twin Cities on The Patriot 1280am. I let the boys know that I'm calling for Internet archiving of their shows.
We get NARN over the Internet in a live feed, thanks to the work of the lovely and talented David Strom of Taxpayers League of Minnesota. Thank you, David!
I once approached David about the archiving idea and he agreed that it's "a great idea". But he didn't offer any explanation to me about its feasibility. Naturally, I assumed that David would try to do something about turning a "great idea" into a great reality. And perhaps he has tried. I don't know

I do know that when I phoned in to the show last Saturday, Mitch Berg of Shot In The Dark explained that archiving is expensive because of storage and bandwidth issues. But he didn't explain why the same advertisers who bring us NARN most weekends are not interested or able to bring us the archives.
He also mentioned some kind of mysterious legal obstacles. I don't know what those are in specific.

Also, my thanks go out to R-Five of Speed Gibson for echoing the story.

In the meanwhile, I'll be listening to the Hugh Hewitt Show tonight on my sport radio at the gym. NARN is substituting for Hugh tonight. It's carried on The Patriot from 5 - 8 pm in the Twin Cities, or you can access it over the Net by clicking on the button in the upper right hand corner of Hugh's website. But you'd better have some free time to hear it live. Because if you miss it then, you're s.o.l.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

My Hello ftp function has been acting real weird since the same day that Blogger blocked my template customizations. It makes no sense to me why Hello allows me to post a picture if I keep clicking on the load button, blocking my attempts 95% of the time. Here's a long overdue picture of David Bowie in Chicago last winter during his Reality tour. I was in Chicago to see the gig at the Rosemont Theater. It was a great show, of course. Posted by Hello

Daddy's gotta new pair o' dice

Check out Tom Swift's new look at his blog Pair o' Dice. He's a Minnesota Organization Blogger and he's got a mo-mo-mo-motorbike.
Always worth a check up. Especially if you want to know what's going on in Minnesota's public school system.

Rummy bitch-slaps Russert

I try to begin my Sunday mornings in deference to this helpful reminder from NBC-TV, "If it's Sunday, it's Meet The Press." Today's guest was Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. In the past, Mister Rumsfeld has taken quite a bit of unfair attack from the MSM in general and from Russert in specific. Many pundits, myself included, have noted that Rummy has a style that has very little patience for the liberal bias spin of the MSM. He often rails at stupid questions and idiotic assumptions. If you hear Rummy say, "My goodness," you know you've hit one of his buttons.
But I noted today that Rummy's style is a bit toned down now and he seems to be free and easy with the concept of leveraging Russert secure in the knowledge that the general public knows full well that Russert's questions are spin. Now that Iraqis have achieved a first in a string of coming free elections, Russert tries to spin the view that those elections are an empty cause of celebration for American interests as the Shiites have done well in that election. He does so by citing the leading left-wing liberal biased spin rag of them all, The New York Times.

Rumsfeld managed a wry twinkle in his eye and the faintest upward curl of his lip as Russert tried to bruise the election outcome;

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: The first thing we have to begin with is that Iraq belongs to the Iraqis. And the Iraqis are going to have a solution for Iraq that's Iraqi solution. They're not going to have an American solution or an Afghan solution. And the wonderful thing that's taking place is that the great sweep of human history is for freedom. And we're seeing it in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Palestinian Liberation Authority, in the Ukraine, in Indonesia, and what's happening is healthy. It's good.
Look at our Constitution when it was first fashioned. Look what it did with respect to women not voting. Look what it did with respect to blacks and the way they were counted in the population. So you don't get from where they were to where they're going on a feather bed, as Thomas Jefferson said. You get there through tough discussion, trials, error, mistakes, good things, and they're on that path. And I think people ought to step back and say, "Isn't that amazing? Isn't that a wonderful thing for that region?"

In all fairness, Russert's job as a television "journalist" (at least, as television hacks see it) is to bring out the conflicts of ideas and politics and governmental policies. That's what oils their wheels, keeps viewers tuned in and brings home their bacon. As I see it, the point of Tim Russert's job is not so much to bring the facts and information to NBC's viewers as it is to try and cause his guests to stumble and make some sort of diplomatic blunder in their fielding of his inane line of questioning. He did the very same thing with Senator Edward Kennedy during the second half of the show. Does that mean that Meet The Press is fair and balanced? Not when you consider that the Main Stream Media as a whole follows the beck and call of the New York Times. It's all one big liberal biased umbrella (with the exception of FoxNews). And Rummy knows it and the American people know it. And Rummy is beginning to artfully play that hand. Good for him.

To whit;

MR. RUSSERT: One of the Iraqis said this--he's the head of the Constitutional Monarchy Party: "Americans are in for a shock," adding that one day they would realize, "We've got 150,000 troops here protecting a country that's extremely friendly to Iran."

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You know, I could go to the press, and I could pull out a quote on almost any side of every issue. And your question is: What do I think about that particular quote? First of all, I don't think it's representative. Second, I'm always amazed at the things that can happen in the world, and I don't doubt for a minute that there are going to be some surprises for everybody. Third, let's face it, Afghanistan has Iran as a neighbor, and they talk to each other. Most countries do talk to their neighbors. And that's a very different thing from suggesting that the model that Iran has is necessarily going to be the model for Iraq. I don't believe it is. I think the Shia in Iraq are Iraqis first and Shia second. And just as in Afghanistan, you don't see Mr. Karzai fashioning a government that's a replica of one of his neighbors. He's got an Afghan solution to his problems.

Here is an idiotic question Russert put to the Secretary that would have elicited a "My goodness" from Rummy:

MR. RUSSERT: Why not give the Iraqis benchmarks that "In six months, we're going to withdraw 50,000 troops. You better have 50,000 troops ready to replace them"?

Instead, Rummy calmly explained the obvious to any viewer or listener with half a brain on their shoulders instead of a cabbage like Russert has;

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Because we've been--our country has invested a lot of lives, a lot of heartbreak. The courage of our troops and the sacrifice of those that have fallen and were wounded is important. And the idea that you should just arbitrarily say this is going to happen on that date--think of it, the last administration did that in Bosnia. They said we'd be out by Christmas. Six, eight, 10 years later, not out. It is misleading people to think that you know something you don't know. And we know we don't know.

The show continued with this absurd line of questions that are clearly designed to make Rumsfeld squirm, but really only demonstrated how useless the MSM can be. What a waste of time Russert's questions are, when you consider how useful more intelligent questions would be concerning the methodology of training for Iraqi forces or other questions that could be put forward. Instead, Russert is obsessed with his game of "Gotcha".

Then, there is this priceless piece of challenge from Rummy to Russert's spin;

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, I understand. Some things that members of Congress has said. This is Susan Collins, a Republican--not a Democrat, Republican: "I think there are increasing concerns about [Secretary Rumsfeld's] leadership of the war, the repeated failures to predict the strengths of the insurgency, the lack of essential safety equipment for our troops, the reluctance to expand the number of troops."
I want to talk--we've talked about insurgency. I want to bring you back to the whole debate about the use of essential safety equipment for our troops and take you back to December--we haven't seen you since then--when Thomas Wilson stood up and asked you a question. I want to show you that exchange and come back and talk about it.
(Videotape, December 8, 2004):
SPC. THOMAS WILSON: Now, why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up.
(End videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Specialist Wilson did acknowledge he worked with a journalist in crafting that question.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Yeah, but wait a minute. Let me get into this a little bit.
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That was unfair and it was selectively taking out two sentences from a long exchange--there it is--that took place. And when you suggested that that's how I answered that question, that is factually wrong.
MR. RUSSERT: No, we...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That is not how I answered that question.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Secretary, it clearly represents the exchange and...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: It does not.
MR. RUSSERT: All right. What is missing?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You want to hear the exchange? There is it. It's right here. I'll read it to you.
MR. RUSSERT: I just...
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: If you're going to quote pieces of it, I'll give you the exchange. He asked that question, and I said, "I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to places where they are needed. I'm told they are being--the Army is--I think it's something like 400 a month are being done now. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It's not a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army's desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to the war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce armor necessary at a rate that they believe--it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously but a rate that they believe is the rate that can be accomplished. I can assure you that General Schumacher and the leadership of the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip.
"It's interesting. I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and the tank could still be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and the vehicle--the goal we have is to have many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that's what the Army's been working on. And, General Whitcomb, is there anything you want to add?" And then he spoke.
Now, that answer is totally different from picking out two lines. And I think it's an unfair representation and it's exactly what some of the newspapers around the country did. Now, let's go back to Susan Collins' comment, Senator Collins...

Bravo! Mister Secretary. Not once did he appear to be flustered with the idiocy of the questioning. Rummy lobbed every bomb right back at Russert and it was Russert who took the hits.

We are so very fortunate to have Donald Rumsfeld serving as Secretary of Defense in this challenging time.

NOTE: Unfortunately, Fox9 television preempted FoxNews Sunday today because of some frilly and embarrassing Superbowl Sunday extra. That's too bad, as FoxNews Sunday with Chris Wallace is an excellent program that yields plenty of useful information in an intelligent manner. I was especially keen on watching it as Wallace had indicated earlier this week that he was interested in reporting on the Eason Jordon scandal.

W's spotlight on Iran

I've finished watching the archive video of the State of the Union speech. Very moving. It reinforces my feeling that the country may have turned a corner in the debate over the liberation. As Dennis Prager said on his radio show last week, now that Iraq has held successful free elections, no true liberal can be in honest opposition to the initiative. I look forward to seeing the next batch of polls that show what kind of approval rating W now enjoys.

There were many remarkable moments in the speech. One of those that has attracted quite a bit of attention is;

"And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."

Fraters Libertas even has it prominently posted it in their masthead. Regime Change Iran blog has noticed that the speech actually puts more attention upon Syria than Iran. But with popular support in Iran for democracy and a pro-Western alignment among the student activists and Iranian bloggers, those words coming from George W. Bush on the heels of free elections in neighboring Iraq can only be highly inspiring. It must be remembered that many of the activities of this GWOT is ongoing behind veils of secrecy. Washington does not tip its hand to the enemy as to what it is doing.

Is there a covert activity on the part of the U.S. government to encourage a popular uprising against the Mullahs? We don't know. But I think it's not unsafe to say the Mullah's have got to be worried about that. They continue to clamp down on their people and prohibit any demonstrations or acts of rebellion. But a seed of optimism has been planted in the democracy advocates with these recent events in Iraq and the president's words.

State of the Union speech

As I'd posted last Wednesday night, I missed President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech because I took a class that evening. I have recently downloaded the speech from MSNBC's website and read it. I am impressed with it and applaud W for his continued strong leadership and I am enormously grateful that this singular leader continues to serve in the highest office in the land.
I'd heard mention of catcalls from the Democrats against W on certain key issues during the delivery of this speech. Of course, the written transcript has no record of those. And listening to and watching the event bring unique perspectives that a transcript cannot. Of course, the event was live-blogged by many bloggers. But there's nothing like seeing the president and hearing his words and their effect firsthand.
So I am now viewing the archived televised event via C-SPAN's website.

This is a marvelous option. And it's free to me without paying some surcharge to obtain it.

Wouldn't it be great if the Northern Alliance Radio Network and the Hugh Hewitt Show understood this?

Archiving right-wing shock jocks

The thinning and ever lighter R-Five of Speed Gibson blogs in support of archiving NARN and the Hugh Hewitt Show. R-Five demonstrates the power of the blogosphere in bringing new information to the issue. I was not aware that other shock jocks have...huh? They're not shock jocks? Okay, I'll simmer down the hyperbole a bit. As Hugh has taught and demonstrated, a little showmanship and elevated theater can go a long way toward garnering attention to a cause.
I was not aware that other center-right radio commentators had archives available on a paid subscription basis. I see that both Prager and Limbaugh offer their archives "commercial free". That's a wonderful option. Hugh Hewitt and NARN should follow suit. Of course, I would assume that the exposure of such a paid service would reach fewer listeners than a free access with commercials. If I were Dr. Greg Cynaumon or Shawn Talbott, I would be very concerned about missing out on extending my message to target audiences and would rush to offer to pay a higher fee to the broadcaster to keep my product ads in the archives.
Of course, while courting listeners to your advertised product is not always a honeymoon they would not be paying advertising dollars if they weren't attracting business.

Fresh Air Radio KFAI-FM is public radio and has no advertising. It's all paid for with tax dollars and listener contributions and generous donations from corporations that value alternative radio. This radio station has a two week window of program archives. Scroll down their Archive page and you'll see every single show.

Fresh Air Radio is a very liberal radio station. They understand that in the 21st Century listeners have busy lives and are not always near a radio with the free time available to listen during a strict window of air time. It's all available for the listener to play via stream over their computer speakers when they want to. And they have two weeks to find that time.

Are Hugh Hewitt and the Northern Alliance Radio Network going to continue to allow themselves to be outmaneuvered by Fresh Air Radio?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Chinese restaurant hell

Okay, so I stop at this little Chinese restaurant I never heard of that's on 66th Street called The Red Pepper. I decide I'd like to have a pork lomein dish and a glass of Cabernet to wash it down. But the waiter forgets to serve my wine. I got a complimentary pot of tea and a glass of ice water and my lomein. The dish was merely adequate. It had a starchy flavor to it that masked the flavors of the barbecued pork and the noodles.
I decided that I'd allow this restaurant to do me the favor of saving $6.50 from my check. I did not remind the waiter that I ordered the glass of wine until I received my check... and I was charged for it.

I'm terribly sorry, but I never got my wine. Could you please remove it from my check?

Okay, said the waiter.

He was visibly startled to learn that I was correct. He'd simply forgotten my wine. And he turned to make the adjustment at his station. Then a question occurred to him and he turned to ask, Do you still want it?

No, thank you.

Now it was time for my fortune cookie and the mysterious power of its glimpse into my unique life and it's grand design.

"You have a rare ability to treasure the simple things in life.", it said.

Yes. I do. And I intend to blog about it.

Shock jock treachery

I'm pig-biting mad at right-wing shock jocks like Hugh Hewitt and the Northern Alliance Radio Network. They are actively barring information from the public. I've fired off an email to Hugh Hewitt identifying the problem;

Dear Hugh.
I was a frequent user of KRLAs online access to the HH Show when it was available. It was a wonderful service. Here in Minneapolis, I would often get home at 8:30 pm weekdays and I could simply click on the picture of your toothy portrait in KRLAs website and listen to an archived file of that day's most recent installment of the HH Show. Tragically, that option is now removed from KRLAs site. Searching the Internet, it appears that no radio outlet provides any such service anymore.
None. Nada. Zilch.
Oh sure, there are plenty of buttons to listen to the HH Show "live". But if I had the opportunity to listen to it "live" I would use my radio for that. We need to use the power of the Internet to its full capacity and allow listening to archived programs. Preferably, there should be access to every show that was ever aired. We have the technology, so why not utilize it?
Your fan, pinkmonkeybird.

I've also put the NARN on notice, asking right-wing shock jock "Peeps" for help in gaining access to their recent substitute gig on the Hugh Hewitt Show Thursday, last.

I will not tolerate this wanton crushing of the dissemination of information. The blogosphere has effectively brought pressure to bear upon the MSM for accountability in reporting the truth. Eason Jordan, Dan Rather and Howell Raines are not the only persons to feel the wrath of the blogosphere. The blogosphere can also bring such pressure upon right-wing shock jocks such as Hugh Hewitt and the NARN to allow crucial information and top-notch radio shows such theirs through Internet archives. At the very least, we should have such access for a 24 hour period.

Therefore, I am calling all bloggers to join this cause by increasing the chatter. If you have a blog, please write about this issue. Alternative media must not be squelched. Let's rattle the cage until KRLA, The Patriot, Salem Radio Network and other affiliates offer this much-needed service.
As Newman of the Seinfeld show once said, paraphrasing his exact words:

Newman: (Sinister) All right, all right. All right you go ahead. You go ahead and keep it secret. But you remember this. When you control the [Internet radio], you control... information.

Cognitive dissonance

Prowling the blogosphere during the wee hours, I stumbled across this nice little summation , from Right Wing News, of the faulty anti-war hard lefties and the dilemma they find themselves in now that Iraq has successfully held free democratic elections.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cab ride to hell

Last night I thought I was going to spend just another evening at the gym lifting weights, swimming, walking and stretching. But all I got done was the swimming. When I got out of the showers after my swim, I returned to my locker to get dressed for the land-lubber segment of my exercise, when I noticed a piece of torn off edge from my Excel spreadsheet class schedule.

O yeah! That's right. I am taking a few classes in Excel this current month of February. I wonder when the first class is.

Looking inside, I learn that my fargin' class is today! At 6:30. OMG, I missed it. Or did I? So I check out the big Westclock on the wall and discover that I have a half hour to get to class on time. It's just past 6 pm. Let's go. I can make it if I take a taxi-cab. It's not far.

Immediately, I got dressed and walked through the skyway to 7th Street, where all the taxis queue up. The first cab in line was a Green & White cab. I'm not entirely particular which cab company I hire. But Green & White is not among my first choices. Nevermind that I knew a cab driver who swore that Green & White is mafia controlled. I have no idea if that's true. It's just that I prefer Red or Yellow or Blue. Anything but Green for a cab. I should have trusted my instincts, for I was about to put my trust into a cab company that has no idea where my destination is, doubts it exists and has trouble speaking English. Those are all deficits in running a cab company in Minneapolis.

Ok. First things, first. The address. Yes. I am going to 256 Upton Avenue, South. It's a public school called Anwatin. I don't know where it is. Immediately, the driver makes a phone call on his cell. A bad sign, I know. He has no idea where this place is and is phoning in to his dispatcher to get some help. Sensing that I need more resources I pull out my class schedule for more information. I find a map of the metro that shows Anwatin as a big red dot near the intersection of Glenwood and Penn. Before long I am invited to speak to the dispatcher on the cell phone.

What is the address?

256 Upton Avenue, South.

2056 Upton Avenue, South?

No. 2.5.6. Upton Avenue, South.

I really think your address has to be wrong. There is no such number.

No. I have a correct address.

This line of discussion went on for a few minutes, during which, I maintained perhaps 4 more times that the address was 256 only and not 2056 or 2560 or some other such permutation. Unfortunately, the combination of the tiny speaker on the phone and the thick accent of the dispatcher inhibited my understanding of what he said much of the time. I had to tell him that I couldn't understand what he was saying. That didn't help matters much.

Clearly, this cab was headed straight to hell.

We climbed a hill on Glenwood Avenue that I know quite well. On top of that hill is Harrison public school. I pointed out to the driver that this was Harrison and that I didn't know where Anwatin was. Apparently he was thinking of something else and not listening to me, as 4 minutes or so later, he was doubling back to Harrison because he said he'd noticed we passed a school and that must be it.

At least twice, the driver turned about, 180 degrees, proclaiming that we'd passed the school by. This prompted me to ask him if he was able to read the cross street signs. We were looking for Upton. Was he sure we hadn't passed Upton? I don't think he was. But I'll never know.

The dispatcher kept rattling on about driving closer to the freeway, which made no sense to me, as I knew we were too close to the school to get on the freeway and the freeway bends and curves quite a bit at that part of town so what's the point? A dispatcher presumably has a computer and plugs into map quest, in which case he would be able to see this.
In which case he should be able to tell the driver to turn south on Penn Avenue and then right on Cedar Lake Road and then immediately right at the Y intersection and then go straight a few blocks until we run smack dab into Anwatin public school. Instead he babbled incessantly about driving to the freeway until I had to put the phone down. I felt like tossing it out the window.
Just then, at Penn Avenue, where I was pretty sure we wanted to turn south, the driver suggested that I get out of the car and ask directions at a convenience mart.

Once I was in the store and announced my query, not only did the man behind the service counter want to tell me where Anwatin school was, but two customers also wanted to help. A young woman, upon hearing the name of Anwatin, wanted to know if I was going to the basketball game.
No. I'm going to a class.
Presumably, her directions hinged upon knowing if I needed to find the gymnasium or stadium. She told me to go that way. And she gestured with her arm in a broad stroke that was over there to her left. And I wasn't sure what she was trying to convey. So I pointed out that Glenwood is an East-West street and was she saying I should go west on Glenwood. At this point the service counter man corrected the young woman to point out that I was not going down Glenwood at all, but rather I was to turn left out of the parking lot onto Penn Avenue. Anyways, she and the other customer and the service counter fellow, all of them got so excited about telling me where to find my destination, they all spoke at once and I could not understand anything anybody was saying for all the chatter. So I singled out the service counter man and asked him to tell me.

We established that I was to turn left out of the parking lot onto Penn Avenue. I should drive down straight to the first traffic light. There, we were to turn right and then take the right turn and then go straight about 4 blocks until we would run directly into Anwatin public school.

These people must not know what a "Y" intersection is. For, if they did, it would have made their directions more clear. But when you're lost, you try not to act too uppity. Yes. Right, and then the right, not the left. Okay.

Anyways, my tour through hell was near its end. We had no need for the useless rambling of the dispatcher. We had real people who actually knew how to navigate through the city streets, tell us how to get to Anwatin public school. The car pulled up under the glaring lights of the lot. Above the doorway was a stark, official signage that read, ANWATIN.

What's the fare?, I asked.
The driver was deflated. The meter read $17.60 for what should have been a $7 ride.
Whatever you think is fair, Sir. The poor fellow was almost despondent. I gave him a ten spot. He was very grateful and we agreed that he had learned something tonight that he hadn't known before.

He learned how to get to 256 Upton Avenue, South.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

No posting tonight

I'm taking a class in spreadsheets this evening and so I missed the State of the Union speech and most of the reactions to it.
From what I've heard, the speech had a positive reaction. I'm wondering if we may have turned the corner concerning the debate over the war. Increasingly, it may seem apparent at large that those who opposed the war just did so for partisan political reasons or they simply did not understand the realities of the post 9/11/01 world.

Speaking of spreadsheets, now I think I'll spread beneath the sheets on my bed and get some sleep before I begin another workday tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

SD63 chili party

I was raised in Senate District 63 back in the 1950s & 1960s. So going to this party for the Richfield caucus was a bit like going back home. I wish my Mom made chili this good. Don't get me wrong. My mother is a terrific cook. It's just that she's a pure Minnesotan and chili was never a strong suit for a German-American girl growing up in the Minnesota River valley. In fact, I jokingly refer to Mom's chili as hamburger soup.
This party was so successful many of the chili offerings were already gone when I got there. And I still got some great tasting chili con carne. The count was somewhere close to 150 people (or personas, as the Mexicans call them). Many of these people were new friends I had made on the campaign trail in exactly the same way I'd described for SD59s party only last Saturday. Not surprisingly there is a lot of crossover at these affairs. One of the speakers was the same, Governor Pawlenty's Chief of Staff, Dan McElroy. He's getting out the Governor's message, building support for the recently revealed budget.
The first speaker was Hennepin County Sheriff Patrick McGowan. He laid out in very engaging terms how important it is to remember that terrorist attacks must continue to be taken seriously and defended against, and prepared for. I dare say that every eye and ear in the church basement was alert to the Sheriff's message. And what can we citizens do? We can be the eyes and ears of first responders to attack. We can notice odd smells, strange goings-on or sights and then dutifully report them.
Patrick Kirby and Amy Vrudny, Republican Candidates for this district's House seats also gave assessments of their campaigns and their thoughts on the district. Mrs. Vrudny gave a most spirited account of her experience at the polling place when she was sick with pregnancy. I couldn't help but smile at the charms of true grassroots politics.
Oh yes, and it was my honor to receive an award from Rob Hewitt, the district Chair, for my volunteer work this past season. Thank you, SD63! Fortunately I have enough wall to put yet another framed piece up for display in my home.
There's another blogger in the neighborhood. I didn't get a chance to say hello to Jerome who writes in his blog SD63: red life in a district of blue. If Jerome is reading this, I'd like to say that I've saved SD63:rliadob to my Favorites folder. Unfortunately Blogger will not allow me to have a blogroll.

This evening was full of wild adventure. Some friends from my own district were kind enough to give me a ride home in their Bonneville. Unfortunately, we got a flat tire and had to change it at a gas station. I offered a theory that the Democrats must have been behind this. Ha! Just kidding. And if I get heartburn from the chili I expect the blame for that will have to rest squarely with my Republican friends as well.

A fine evening. Welcome to pinkmonkeybird all you SD63 personas.

The Captain gets it

Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters has this beam of light for the Star Tribune to ponder. It should help them understand why they never supported the liberation of Iraq and how the loss of American lives in that liberation were honorable and worthwhile in the forward posture of defending America from Islamo-fascist attack.