I've already written two segments of this post so far today, and I'm realizing
that much of this post might be sub-titled 'Why I Can't Stand CNN (or Any
of the Network News).' A few years back, they seemed like a real alternative
to the rest. At the time, I didn't realize how complicit they were in selling
the first Iraq war to the American public. Now, they're just watered-down drivel
like most. Their music themes rival the sound tracks of Top Gun and 24. The
graphics are completely over the top. Are they really the most trusted name
in news? And even if they are, how much trust are they afforded? They certainly
don't deserve much.
Save the Cheerleader...
Yeah, I'm hooked on the slowly uncoiling suspense of Heroes on NBC. It amazes
me, the way the show is developing. As an added touch, it was fun to see
George 'Sulu' Takei playing the part of Hiro's father, speaking the entire
role in Japanese. Nice touch. The question is, did you catch the nod to his
famous role? As he and Hiro's sister depart, the camera follows her around
the back of the car...
Denise pointed out at the end of the last episode, that several episodes ago, Nathan Petrelli told
his brother to forget about the cheerleader. Apparently,
he has no idea that said cheerleader is his own daughter. Her adoptive daddy
seems to think he's M.I.B., and Mr. Mind Meld's work seems a bit more disruptive
than Tommy Lee Jones' neuralyzer. Another question: did mom's own hot little
hands start the fire she thought killed her daughter?
Grammy & Art
Somebody from Entertainment Weekly was on CNN this morning, handicapping the
Grammy Awards on Sunday. One of the American Idol winners is nominated for a
New Artist award, and the prognosticator said that the thing that made her stand
out from all the other Idol winners was sales. She also said that the Dixie Chicks
might not win one of the awards they were nominated for, because they're hated
for their politics in Nashville.
All the award shows have always had an aspect of marketing and promotion about
them, but there was a time where artistic merit held a lot more sway, and they
seemed much more divorced from politics. After all, the Grammy is called the
Golden Gramophone, an allusion to the technical achievements of Edison and
others at the beginning of recording, and it's given out by the Recording Academy,
which I think was originally called the National Association of Recording
Arts and Sciences.
The GRAMMYs are the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement,
technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without
regard to album sales or chart position.
– Official Grammy web site
I remember when Miles Davis won for Bitches'
The first time I listened to it, I couldn't make sense out of what I was hearing,
but I knew it was something extraordinary. There are no such innovators in
the lineup of nominees this year. Instead, we have The Police getting back
together — likely their only
appearance together before they head off in separate directions once more.
I hope they fare better than Simon & Garfunkel on the 2003 Grammy show.
Their performance of The Sound of Silence came off well, but when
it came time for Dustin Hoffman — star of The Graduate, the
film that put all three of them on the map — to introduce them, he couldn't
get their names right.
As much as I love music, and perhaps because it's been such a big thing in
my life, I haven't paid much attention to the Grammy Awards for some time.
It always shocked me that the live performances are often loose, and for years
the Grammy award show has been the one that has suffered the most glaring audio
problems. I might TIVO the show, just to see the Police, but the rest? Ehhhh...
is, I don't expect much from Sting and the boys, either.
I don't plan to use Safari much any more. When it first hit the scene, it was
a breath of fresh air — it was much faster than IE, and had even
better CSS support. As time has gone by, it's become a bit more unstable
than its first releases, and Firefox has emerged as the new standard in W3C
compliance. That and the web developer tools in Firefox are all nice touches,
but the thing that broke it for me was Simpleviewer.
I've visited a lot of photographers' web sites over the last year or so, and
a significant number of them present their images through older versions
of Simpleviewer, which had a nasty code flaw: Under Safari, their sniffer script
thinks that Flash is not installed, and redirects to a 'Get Flash' page. There's
no way to get past the script to the content, so Safari users are locked out
of those sites. I know people that have reinstalled Flash repeatedly, not
understanding that Get Flash is a spurious error message.
When I hit one of those sites last night, I knew I had Flash 8 installed,
switched over to Firefox, and had no problem viewing the site. What's more,
I upgraded to FF2, which addressed the main quibble I had with earlier versions
of Firefox: The default skin has been upgraded, and it no longer has that clunky,
I'm also very interested in some of the developer tools, which look as though
my site-building process might be getting a little easier.
Barely Cold, Instant Pretext
...for crap. Spammers' command of the English language always impresses me.
I wonder what the strange text strings at the bottom of these messages are
for, and why they used my e-mail address, but some bizarre alias name in the
To field. The only thing I can guess is that it helps them subvert some form
of anti-spam measure.
As I started writing this, the autopsy wasn't even done yet. An army of cameras
and reporters was camped in the parking lot of the coroner's office. Then,
there was the press conference, where we heard it will be another three to
five weeks before there is an official determination. It doesn't sound like
a suicide by overdose, and she wasn't shot, stabbed, or beaten to death.
The search for the cause from here on out will primarily involve microscopic
pathogens or neurological causes.
The lawyers for Anna Nicole and her deceased
husband are still at work on her $x-billion inheritance case, and two other
legal teams are working on the tug-of-war over who gets to raise Anna's baby.
Sheesh! What a mess!
Strange that just ten days ago, CNN did a story about Tyra Banks' reaction
to the rags that have been running pieces about her weight, suggesting that
she's too fat. A bubbly talking head said 'good for her!' The resounding tone
of the piece was that Tyra does not have a weight problem... They segued into
a piece on Anna Nicole Smith, and her battles with weight.
This was what the home page of the Trimspa web site looked like today:
The text at the bottom of the page reads as follows. There is a link to a
separate page that has a small number of wishes from Trimspa customers.
Whippany, NJ, February 8, 2007 – Today, Anna Nicole Smith’s
grief stricken and tumultuous personal life came to an end. Anna came to
our Company as a customer, but she departs it as a friend. While life for
Anna Nicole was not easy these past few months, she held dear her husband,
Howard K. Stern, her daughter, Dannielynn Hope, her most cherished friends,
beloved dogs, and finally, her work with TRIMSPA.
Anna knew both the joy of giving life, and the heartache of losing a child.
We pray that she is granted the peace that eluded her more recent days on earth,
and that she find comfort in the presence of her son, Daniel.
-- Alex Goen, CEO and Founder, TRIMSPA
And Legal Fights
As of January 20, James Brown's body still wasn't buried, and it was moved
to some undisclosed (and hopefully climate-controlled) location. His family
is fighting over his estate, and there's discussion of turning his Beech
Island, SC home into a kind of Graceland that includes a mausoleum. When
last seen, his body was still in the gold-plated bronze coffin used for his
December 30 funeral in Augusta, GA.
To make matters more interesting, the woman whom Brown had married in 2001
is not his legal wife. In 2003, James found out that she had never annulled
her marriage to another man. That was never handled, and she wasn't included
in James' will. She's suing for half his estate [surprise!], but lawyers are
saying that even if the court determined that she is his spouse, reversing
an earlier ruling, she's entitled to no more than one third...
James may be resting in peace, but it seems no one in his closest circles
are. Good thing he doesn't need that body any more. James had a will, but it
seems there were a lot of loose ends. In an interview shortly before he died,
Helmut Newton said he didn't want to waste time thinking [or talking] about
his death. He said that either way, it would come too soon or too late. He
and James Brown may have had that in common — James had shows scheduled
through the holiday season and early this year — but I have the impression
that there wasn't much confusion over where or how to bury Helmut.
Florida, the Most Trusted Name, and
CNN must be loving the Sunshine State this week. We start the week with the strange,
sordid, slightly kinky tale of the astronaut gone bonkers, and finish with
the mysterious death of the 21st Century Marilyn Monroe. I was tempted to keep
a count of the number of times the talking heads mentioned Nowak's wearing
diapers during her 600 mile drive. Clearly, that was the media's obsession
on day one. On day two, they started to bring in the psychological experts
to speculate at more than arms' length on Lisa Nowak's mental state — had the
pressure of being an astronaut driven her crazy?
The thing that amazes
and somewhat disgusts me about the 24-hour news cycle, is that CNN et al break
stories before they have any substantial information to convey. They manage
to find numerous ways of saying 'we don't have any information for you' while
still filling a 2-minute segment, and repeat those uninformed segments for
hours. Worse, they tend to move on to the next hot story about the time that
they get any substantial information on a particular story.
The other thing that bothers me about CNN is sloppiness. In a post-Super
Bowl story, CNN reported about the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
taking issue with a stupid Snickers candy bar ad that ran during the broadcast.
Aside from insipid questions from the talking head, which seemed to assert
that the ad was just meant to be funny, the graphics person couldn't get the
acronym right: the screen read 'GLADD' instead of 'GLAAD' throughout the segment.
they covered the story of Lisa Nowak, announcers had a habit of dropping the
word 'attempted' when referring to the charges brought against her. I guess
it sounds sexier to say she's facing murder charges, even if it doesn't
tell the whole story. They could afford the milliseconds it takes to say that
extra word, and I really think they massaged the language to hype the drama.
The other annoying thing about the coverage, is that CNN seems to simply parrot
the claims of the prosecution. A hunting knife is a potentially deadly weapon,
but a BB-gun? At least Toobin had the sense to say that the charge of attempted
murder seemed to be a failed negotiation on the part of the prosecution to
keep Nowak locked up.
CNN's point of view on the whole story seems to rely heavily upon (and tacitly
reinforce) two tropes: 'The Right Stuff' and 'One Bad Apple.' No one at CNN
will enquire into whether the Astronaut as Super Hero might be mythology, proposing
instead that this sad public debacle was simply the product of a breakdown
in NASA's near-perfect mental health screening...
A BBC News story suggests
instead that astronauts
are in fact human, and that NASA's real specialty is in keeping bad behavior
out of the spotlight. Much of that story is a condensation of an entry called
to Earth' on the blog of Dr. Pat Santy. Her most intriguing
Why bother to go to the trouble of choosing "the right stuff" in
the first place when the superstar culture of the astronauts only encourages
the worst sort of narcissism and sociopathy? Even if an astronaut didn't
have an iota of such psychopathology before they their selection as an astronaut,
they are at extremely high risk in the toxic NASA culture of developing it.
If you read The Right Stuff, or even saw the movie, you'd know that
Tom Wolfe exposes some of this myth-making, and reveals some of the bad behavior.
It's interesting that the phrase 'The Right Stuff' does not elicit any of
those negative connotations.
Santy's suggestion has the ring of truth, but I don't think she'll be my go-to
person for a psychological take on current events. She distills some Bush haters
down to the following:
The psychology of some of the Bush Haters is pretty cut and dried. They
hate Bush because he stands between them and the implementation of their
collectivist "utopian" vision.
I have no time to waste on them, except to note that their intentions are
deliberately and decidedly malevolent toward this country. They want it to
fail at anything and everything it does and they openly cheer for the barbarians
at the gate.
Through her entire assessment, it seems she's unwilling to say explicitly
that she's a Bush supporter. As for the rest of the Bush haters, she seems
to corral them into a broad category of people who are using displacement to
cope with threats (like terrorism) that they can't do anything about. But,
hey, it's a blog — no one expects her to be rigorous.
An Unscientific Survey
On February 2, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
issued what it called 'a comprehensive and rigorous picture of the global present
state of knowledge of climate change [i.e. global warming].' This
is some pretty heavy stuff, worthy of substantial coverage by the media.
happened to have ABC's AM news show on, and wondered why their weather guy
was giving his report from Paris. He blathered on about the gardens and the
Peace monument behind him, and in the space of about 15 minutes, he gave two
standard weather reports, never mentioning that he was in Paris to cover this
Next up on ABC was a minutes-long segment on a fake 'bridezilla' segment that
is posted on YouTube. It's a successful publicity stunt by several aspiring
actresses and a filmmaker. For some reason, the filmmaker didn't appear on
air, though he at least got a mention. I flipped over to BBC news, when I saw
that Laura Bush was going to be the next guest — she was there to promote
people wearing red to raise awareness of heart disease. I don't know when ABC
finally covered the IPCC story. I have the impression that it was a very light
piece, considering the hard news guy they'd sent to cover it.
On BBC, I saw at least three different segments in 15 minutes, including an
in-studio interview with an IPCC spokesman, and a field report from Beijing
on China's reliance on old-style dirty coal for home heating.
I'd call that anecdotal evidence of a very different set of priorities driving
what each of these news organizations deems as news-worthy.
finally shipped. Bill Gates was on CNN and even on The Daily Show. He's clearly
no Steve Jobs, who is said to exude a 'reality distortion field.' When Gates
talks, he barely seems excited. His smiles seem rehearsed.
And now, this OS
release. Bill almost winced when the interviewer suggested that Vista looks
a lot like OS X and asked whether they were going after a particular look...
Gates went on to say that there were places where Vista was ahead, saying something
about it being easier to burn a DVD, browse photos, integrate with the living
room TV, and institute parental controls. These seem like mild enhancements,
not innovations. Interestingly, he said absolutely nothing about enhanced security.
I think it's particularly telling, that the segment began with an accounting
of how many $billions were spent and how many millions of lines of code were
written. Less than a week later, a report ran about how Vista's voice recognition
could be exploited to breach its security. While plausible, I doubt that anyone
will ever capitalize on this particular hole. I just wonder how long it will
be before we hear the first reports of worms and viruses successfully targeting
Vista. Apple's ad about the warning dialogs in Vista is pretty funny.
Recent news reports suggest that few people are running out to buy Vista and
install it on their existing machines. OS upgrades can be painful on any platform,
and I think a collective memory of negative experiences upgrading Windows
before means that there isn't likely to be a big wave of upgrading. Instead,
it seems people held off on buying new machines until they could get them with
Vista pre-installed. In the last week or so, there's been something like a
200% jump in PC sales. The question: is that a spike, a surge, or an escalation?
In other words, how long will Vista be a boost to PC sales?
There is an infrastructure question about Vista's release that may also be
salient: what is Vista's potential as an application development platform?
Microsoft released the ASX streaming format a few years ago, never bothering
to create a Mac-compatible client for it. More recently, they dropped development
and support for Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer on Mac.
come across the occasional web site that has features that don't work with
Mac at all, or only support IE or Netscape. Do you suppose
there might be some developer hooks in Vista that will eventually emerge as
web-based services available only to Windows users? Time will tell.