Monday, April 28, 2008

Like a thief in the night, except it is daylight, it's stolen content time

Kudos to Clair for bringing this to my attention........


April 27, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Bowling 1, Health Care 0

Chapel Hill, N.C.

FOR the last month, news media attention was focused on Pennsylvania and its Democratic primary. Given the gargantuan effort, what did we learn?

Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates’ priorities, policies and principles — information that voters will need to choose the next president — too often did not make the cut. After having spent more than a year on the campaign trail with my husband, John Edwards, I’m not surprised.

Why? Here’s my guess: The vigorous press that was deemed an essential part of democracy at our country’s inception is now consigned to smaller venues, to the Internet and, in the mainstream media, to occasional articles. I am not suggesting that every journalist for a mainstream media outlet is neglecting his or her duties to the public. And I know that serious newspapers and magazines run analytical articles, and public television broadcasts longer, more probing segments.

But I am saying that every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.

It is not a new phenomenon. In 1954, the Army-McCarthy hearings — an important if painful part of our history — were televised, but by only one network, ABC. NBC and CBS covered a few minutes, snippets on the evening news, but continued to broadcast soap operas in order, I suspect, not to invite complaints from those whose days centered on the drama of “The Guiding Light.”

The problem today unfortunately is that voters who take their responsibility to be informed seriously enough to search out information about the candidates are finding it harder and harder to do so, particularly if they do not have access to the Internet.

Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties.

What’s more, the news media cut candidates like Joe Biden out of the process even before they got started. Just to be clear: I’m not talking about my husband. I’m referring to other worthy Democratic contenders. Few people even had the chance to find out about Joe Biden’s health care plan before he was literally forced from the race by the news blackout that depressed his poll numbers, which in turn depressed his fund-raising.

And it’s not as if people didn’t want this information. In focus groups that I attended or followed after debates, Joe Biden would regularly be the object of praise and interest: “I want to know more about Senator Biden,” participants would say.

But it was not to be. Indeed, the Biden campaign was covered more for its missteps than anything else. Chris Dodd, also a serious candidate with a distinguished record, received much the same treatment. I suspect that there was more coverage of the burglary at his campaign office in Hartford than of any other single event during his run other than his entering and leaving the campaign.

Who is responsible for the veil of silence over Senator Biden? Or Senator Dodd? Or Gov. Tom Vilsack? Or Senator Sam Brownback on the Republican side?

The decision was probably made by the same people who decided that Fred Thompson was a serious candidate. Articles purporting to be news spent thousands upon thousands of words contemplating whether he would enter the race, to the point that before he even entered, he was running second in the national polls for the Republican nomination. Second place! And he had not done or said anything that would allow anyone to conclude he was a serious candidate. A major weekly news magazine put Mr. Thompson on its cover, asking — honestly! — whether the absence of a serious campaign and commitment to raising money or getting his policies out was itself a strategy.

I’m not the only one who noticed this shallow news coverage. A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals.

Watching the campaign unfold, I saw how the press gravitated toward a narrative template for the campaign, searching out characters as if for a novel: on one side, a self-described 9/11 hero with a colorful personal life, a former senator who had played a president in the movies, a genuine war hero with a stunning wife and an intriguing temperament, and a handsome governor with a beautiful family and a high school sweetheart as his bride. And on the other side, a senator who had been first lady, a young African-American senator with an Ivy League diploma, a Hispanic governor with a self-deprecating sense of humor and even a former senator from the South standing loyally beside his ill wife. Issues that could make a difference in the lives of Americans didn’t fit into the narrative template and, therefore, took a back seat to these superficialities.

News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.

And the future of news is not bright. Indeed, we’ve heard that CBS may cut its news division, and media consolidation is leading to one-size-fits-all journalism. The state of political campaigning is no better: without a press to push them, candidates whose proposals are not workable avoid the tough questions. All of this leaves voters uncertain about what approach makes the most sense for them. Worse still, it gives us permission to ignore issues and concentrate on things that don’t matter. (Look, the press doesn’t even think there is a difference!)

I was lucky enough for a time to have a front-row seat in this campaign — to see all this, to get my information firsthand. But most Americans are not so lucky. As we move the contest to my home state, North Carolina, I want my neighbors to know as much as they possibly can about what these men and this woman would do as president.

If voters want a vibrant, vigorous press, apparently we will have to demand it. Not by screaming out our windows as in the movie “Network” but by talking calmly, repeatedly, constantly in the ears of those in whom we have entrusted this enormous responsibility. Do your job, so we can — as voters — do ours.

Elizabeth Edwards, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is the author of “Saving Graces.”

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Penguins - Rangers glog

Greetings kids, as once again it is glogging time, this particular occasion sees me glogging another hockey game, game 2 of the best of 7 series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers, where those of you following along either via the media or my video posts, know that the Penguins have a 1-0 series lead. As we get settled in, I am making some lunch, a burger and fries, a yummy combination if I do say so myself, especially when the burger is made at home as opposed to a fast food processed one. My burger will be of the just hot sauce on it variety, simply because I could eat hot sauce on just about any meat product.

I didn't get to talk much about the baseball game from the other night. I have plenty of pics to post and eventually a blog about the game will be forthcoming, but for now suffice it to say that the Pirates lost 6-5, continuing their losing ways and my hopes for another losing season. They also lost on Saturday, 8-4 even furthering my dreams of tying the record. The Pirates are now 9-15 and since they need to lose 82 games to guarantee a losing season, the proverbial magic number is down to 67.

5 minutes to french fries, which means I have time to open a Sportsline window to follow along with the game, and while I am on the Sportsline page, I can update my fantasy team, as they are the internet host of our fantasy baseball league. As things currently stand, I am in third place, 1 point behind second and just 3 behind first. Not only that but I lead the league in 4 of the 10 statistical categories, homeruns, runs batted in, runs scored and stolen bases. Speak softly and carry a big stick indeed.

Fortune time, as I am about to crack a fortune cookie. I bought some the other night when I had a Chinese delivery sent and needed a couple of bucks to pass the delivery minimum. I don't eat the cookies, just every once in a while I carck one, just to see how close it is to my fortune. "Working with children has a miraculous effect on your spirits." Well if that has anything to do with the college students that are leaving and making my part time job easier, then yes they do have an effect on my spirits, their presence tends to annoy the hell out of me and I will be more than glad to see them exit stage right.

Fries out of oven, burger in hand, glog set, sportsline window open to track the game, dare I say that I am all set for this? Knowing my luck, something stupid will happen like last night and the power will cut out. My third world electrical grid struck again last night around 2 am. I am sitting here playing baseball on the PS2, a game against Kansas City, one of the teams I trail in the chase for a wild card playoff spot and I am just kicking their ass, 9-1 in the 5th inning and Joe Random is 3-3 with a homerun, 2 singles and 3 RBIs and sure enough the power goes out and wipes the game out. Mind you it was a completely calm evening weather wise, temps in the 50s, no rain, nothing to say a storm knocked out the power or that too many air conditioners were running, just third world electrical provisions, compliments of our friends at Duquesne Light. I replayed the game, but only won 3-2 and went 1-3 with an RBI, hardly the same.

Okay, we are getting ready to drop the pcuk here in Pittsburgh, just minutes away, enough time to cram some food into my maw. I have secured some iced tea for beverage purposes and cigarettes for lung polluting purposes, so I think I am all set.

I have been trying to upload some more songs to the Coke playlist, but for whatever reason, it wasn't working last night, maybe because I was downloading windows updates or something and constantly getting that stupid request window to restart now or later and every time I would say later, the window would pop back up 10-15 minutes later. I restarted the computer prior to starting this glog, so that shouldn't be an issue during the hockey game. I grabbed a B-52s song and two by Dropkick Murphys from Pepsi that I have been trying to add to the freebie music list. I am getting close to another Coke song as well, I have found like 6 caps in the last day to add to my total.

I thought the game was to start at 2pm, that is even what they have on the Sportsline page for the starting time, yet here it is 20 minutes after and we still aren't underway. And here I rushed out of work to be home for this. Mind you, rushing out of work is always a good option anyway, but when hockey and glogging are involved, then little things I do at work on Sunday like tinkering with my launchcast station will have to wait until next Sunday, unless of course there is a game next Sunday as well.

Hey, we are underway from Pittsburgh. Woohoo.

First shot of the game goes to Pittsburgh, and Jordan Stahl, but the save is made by Lundqvist and the game is almost one minute old. Jaromir Jagr gets the first shot for the Rangers, but like his NY counterpart, Fleury makes the save on that shot.

While the game is going on I am again trying to upload the songs to Imeem. I am hoping for better luck this time. The problem is I don't know how much running a live updating window for the hockey game will slow that process down.

Penalty coming up againsty the Penguins, going to defenseman Ryan Whitney, 2 minutes for interference and we have the game's first power play. The Rangers are converting on an impressive 25% of their power plays in the playoffs.

Another penalty, this one on NY's Scott Gomez and that ends the power play for NY and the teams will skate 4-4 followed by a shortened power play for Pittsburgh. NY has the early lead in shots, 4-1.

Pittsburgh goes on the power play and almost immediately gets a goal, Lundqvist makes a great save on Marian Hossa on a breakaway. Pittsburgh is really pressing on this shortened power play, getting 5 shots off in that time span. After killing the early power play for NY, Pittsburgh has definitely turned up the offensive pressure. Sportsline says they now have an 8-4 lead in shots, I am not sure the official number will be quite that large, but it is definitely a change in momentum.

Fleury makes a great save on Chris Drury on a nice feed for a one timer by Ryan Callahan. Fleury nearly gets caught trying to play the puck behind the net about a minute later, but luckily the Penguins clear it out of the zone and allow him to get back in goal.

We are about halway through the first period, still no score and no overly stupid commercials on TV for me to comment on, which is probably a disappointment to those who have followed previous blogs waiting for another snide comment about visual marketing in America.

End to end action, including a save on Maxim Talbot by Lundqvist on a breakaway and then the action is stopped on as the Penguins commit their second penalty of the 1st period, Jarko Ruutu serves a 2 minute hooking minor.

The Penguins kill off the second power play by New York and Ruutu almost scores coming out of penalty box, but his shot goes just wide of the goal.

We have our first fight, as Pittsburgh had a 3-2 break but was offsides, yet they didn't hear the whistle and fired the puck on goal anyway, much to the annoyance of some of the Rangers. The result of the scrum is coincidental minors to Paul Mara and Kris Letang for roughing, so we again skate 4-4 for 2 minutes.

Another penalty, 2 minutes for holding on Fedor Tyutin and the Penguins have a 4-3 power play for almost 2 minutes, the last few seconds will be 5 on 4. Like the Rangers, the Penguins enter the contest converting on 25% of their power plays in the playoffs, so it would be smart on both teams parts to limit the stupid penalties.

The Rangers have killed off the second Penguins power play and once again we are skating 5 on 5,

TV timeout while we await another penalty call and perhaps two. It looked like the Penguins would get called for a roughing, but after the play, one of the Rangers seems to knock a guy to the ground so we will wait and see how the referees sort out this mess. The Penguins have a 14-7 lead in shots, but on the scoreboard it is still 0-0.

Again I am looking at the Imeem downloads and I am having the same problem, I am not getting the finish upload option. Damn and double damn.

The Rangers get a power play, Jarko Ruutu is back in the box 2 minutes and the call was high sticking.

I can tell I am going to be spending a decent portion of the first intermission fixing typos, as I know of quite a few that are back upscreen from what I am typing right now.

The Penguins kill off the third power play of the first period and we remain scoreless though the Rangers did add to their shot total and only trail in that category 14-10 and the first period has officially come to a close here in Pittsburgh. Time for some spell checking.

Okay, I did a quick proofread of the first period, I think most of it is now in order, though I am sure I will go back later and see another dozen or so mistakes that I made.

Okay, we will retry the Imeem crap again, this time by doing it just one song at a time. I am not sure why it will not give me the finish upload option, but to say I am irked is to put it mildly.

Second period is about to get underway, after these words from our sponsors. Thankfully the most annoying spot I have run into so far was a commercial for the new season of American Gladiators, a show that brings utter shame to American's use of the English language. Mind you, I get their are regional dialects and what not, but grunting is not speech, yet everytime that show is on, giving a microphone to a Gladiator usually involves a speech pattern that inolves some sort of guttoral noise instead of actual language.

I will say this, the Pittsburgh crowd is really quiet for some reason, no reason to be mind you, they aren't losing and the action has been well paced, yet about the only time they are heard from right now is when Jaromir Jagr, the former Penguin and current Ranger, touches the puck, then the boo birds come out, but beyond that, it is quiet for a playoff game.

The second period is 5 minutes old, still no score, though more hitting is taking place than what one might expect from these teams, with 19 hits combined so far in this contest. No penalties yet in the second period either, just scoreless hockey.

Okay, we just had our firts stupid commercial. It is a person with a bottle of heineken, and they walk to another setting and give the beer to someone else, then that person takes the beer, walks to another setting and does the same thing, which to me just means that nobody wants to drink that beer, hardly a selling point.

The Penguins go on a sustained attack in the Rangers zone and for the first time in a long time the crowd actually makes some noise.

Fleury just makes a great save on Jaromir Jagr who was late into the play to make it a 4 on 2 rush, where he held the puck and tried to pick his spot but still couldn't beat the goaltender.

We are closing in on the halfway point of the 2nd period, the Penguins have a 19-13 lead in shots, but superior goaltending by both teams has kept this game scoreless.

Still no luck with Imeem, I am just uploading one song and I still can't get the finish option. I am wondering if the problem is on my end or theirs at this point. I know they were down for maintainence the other day, but I wasn't aware of any problems they had. Mind you, I don't exactly follow every single problem on that site, I just dump audio there and move on.

The first penalty of the second period, almost 12 and half minutes in, and it will go against the Rangers, 2 minutes on Chris Drury for hooking and the Penguins will get their third power play of the game in a game that has yet to see a goal scored

After a ridiculous number of saves by Lundqvist, Jordan Stahl gets the power play goal and we have the games first score, its Penguins 1 Rangers 0. Assists to Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Whitney on the goal.

It looks like New York will get another chance with the man advantage, as Marian Hossa will serve 2 minutes for hooking.

A commercial for Speed Racer. Okay, do kids actually watch that anymore? The reason I ask is that it would seem to be based on a cartoon that might appeal to older adults, but the special effects look so bad that they almost make it look too cartoonish to be appealing to the people that would remember it even semi fondly.

The Rangers power play goes to work and a loose puck is caught in a scrum in front of the net before finally being under control and drawing a whistle for a stoppage of play.

The Penguins kill off another power play, but the Rangers had a decent amout of pressure that time, just nothing to show for it. The second period comes to a close and the Penguins, with a 23-17 lead in shots, also lead on the scoreboard 1-0.

I really am almost not looking forward to the end of the game, because I have to do laundry tonight, and it is something I am really not looking forward to. Just checked, a full 20 minute period and one song couldn't upload to Imem in that time. I guess it is time for me to check and see if I got the audio okay from Amazon, make sure the files themselves are okay and that the problem is in the uploading and not the audio.

More bad news, the Pirates won today. Damn it, I want my losing season.

Okay, all three songs seem to play in real player, so the downloads don't seem to be the problem. I think I may make one of them my new opening page theme if I ever get them to upload. That right now is a big if I might add.

Well, they just posted the second period stats, no wonder there has been less scoring than game one, a 5-4 Penguins win, there have been 41 hits so far, 21 for Pittsburgh, 20 for New York. There is something to be said for a clean, physical game of hockey and this pretty much has been that, there hasn't been any cheap shots and most of the penalties have been more of the incidental variety rather than anything cheap.

Third period underway and I am trying to reestablish my connection to Sportsline that I closed off during the second intermission.

Great, my DSL is deciding that slow is the way to go, at a most inopportune time I might add, just as Pittsburgh goes on another power play early in the third period. Well, I guess this will give me a chance to move the rabbit ears around and get a clearer picture on the TV.

The Rangers kill off the penalty, we are back to 5 on 5 hockey, though the shots just aren't there for either team to this point. The question is will the Penguins try to collapse into a defensive shell to protect the one goal lead, or will they continue to try to press for a second goal.

Blair Betts slashes Jarko Ruutu and the Penguins get another power play here in the third period. Even if the Penguins don't score here, they have a chance to at least take two more minutes off of the clock, with just 14 minutes remaining.

Crosby misses a backhand shot and the Penguins are definitely pushing for a second goal here. Another crossing pass just goes wide, Lundqvist is singlehandedly keeping the Rangers in this game.

The Rangers kill the penalty and proceed to dominate play for the next minute or so, but again nothing to show for it, as the score remains 1-0.

Still under technical difficulties here, I just tried rebooting the modem, as my connection was running extremely slow. Damn I hate technology sometimes.

Meanwhile less than 10 minutes remain in today's contest and to the Penguin's credit, they haven't fallen into a defensive shell, they are still playing the third period much as they did the first two.

Commercial break and we will again see if we can fix our modem problems here, though I am thinking I will have to reboot the computer completely. That can't be done till after the game ends.

Ryan Callahan gets a shot on Fleury, one of just a few shots by the Rangers this period, but again Fleury turns the puck away. and the Rangers are looking to go on another power play here, as Petr Sykora is guilty of a high stick. With less than 6 minutes left, this may be the best chance the Rangers get to tie this game.

The Rangers poke the goal into the net, but the whistle blows saying the goaltender had control or the referee lost sight of it and the goal is waved off. Wow, that is a bad call, it didn't look like Fleury ever had that puck under control, it looked like a quick whistle to the detriment of the Rangers.

The result is the score remains 1-0 and the Rangers power play is officlally over, another penalty kill for the Penguins.

Another penalty on the Penguins, with just 2:22 remaining, Hal Gill will go to the box for two minutes. provided the Rangers don't score early here, look for them to pull the goaltender and try to go 6 on 4 against the Penguins. The question is how soon will they pull Lundqvist here.

The Penguins clear the puck down ice and 2 minutes are left.

Another clear and there is less that 1:30 left here and off comes Lundqvist.

The Penguis kill the penalty and skate 6 on 5 and then register the empty net goal. A fluke empty netter as the puck comes of the glass on the side board and goes the length of the ice and just rolls into the empty net. Adam Hall looks like he will get credit for the goal.


It's a final, but we have a huge scrum at the end of the game. Hal Gill goes after Sean Avery for some stick work Avery did to the back of Fleury's legs in the closing seconds and after a few minutes cooler heads prevail and the final from Pittsburgh is Penguins 2 Rangers 0 and the Penguins lead the series 2-0. Fleury picks up his second shutout of the post season and so far in 6 playoff games, Fleury has given up just 9 goals.

Well, that is a wrap from Pittsburgh. Time to reboot this monstrosity and see if I can't get it functional again.

Okay, an update, I manged to reboot said computer and get Imeem to work. As a result, we have updated the Coke Rewards song list from a couple of blogs back (it should update on that page automatically, so I will not repost it here) and I changed the music on the homepage as well. Now time for a spell check and a post and we are done here.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I guess this is what they would call a pregame show. I haven't left for the baseball game yet, so there are no results to report or pics to add to the page, just little ole me rambling, as I sometimes do.

I am on a bit of a hot streak since I started playing my baseball game again. I have hit a homerun now in 4 straight games (5 in all) and my Joe Random character is now in first p[lace in the Rookie of the Year voting. I even have the Devil Rays back to .500 at 50-50 after 100 games played. With 62 games left in the year, they trail the Toronto Blue Jays by 10 games, but they are only 5 games back in the wild card chase. Mind you, some of my success has come in the fact I have been playing Seattle, which is one of the worst teams this particular season, but I also have been playing well against teams with winning records, so maybe I am getting the hang of the game after all.

I did crack the $35 barrier in the change meter. 15 more cents and the new total is $35.13. Woohoo!!!!!

I am getting happier by the day here, the weather has turned quite nice and the college students take their finals next week, which means soon I get peace and quiet in my neighborhood for a few months, and my part time job becomes much easier. Actually, I noticed something by washing dishes, Pittsburghers eat everything with cheese. I don't know how many times I scrape off melted shredded cheese off of plates in any given evening. I know, you probably think I am overstating the case, but imagine this, we have an item on the menu called Cardiac Sticks. What it is is provolone sticks, with hot sauce, bacon and melted cheese. Yes that is right, we served melted cheese on cheese. Even as I type this, I imagine somewhere in Pittsburgh there is a couple, getting ready to have one of those intimate moments , and as she unzips his pants and looks at his throbbing member she utters the simple words, "Can I get that with cheese on it?"

While I am on stupid thoughts of food, Monday morning while getting the radio show ready I realized something. I am anti-free range chicken. Think about it, it really is the only humane position to take for those of us that consume chicken. How cruel is it to take a chicken that is walking around all free and just scoop him up and execute him? At least if he is in a cage, you can break his morale knowing that the end will soon be coming, barring a last minute pardon from Colonel Sanders or something. We don't let death row inmates walk around freely and then just scoop them up one day and execute them, we should at least be as considerate of our chickens.

I will say that while the Asshat hasn't been determined yet, there are no shortage of potential nominees this week. It is almost like Lays Potato Chips, in that I might not be able to pick just one.

I saw the Pogo badges for this week. The Word Whomp was easy, I got it in about 3-4 games, and I hate Sudoku so it may be the first badge this year I pass on doing. Besides, I am liking the Gold Solitaire alot right now. It looks like it will take forever to go up in rank, but at least the winnings are good per game. I haven't even thought about a personal challenge, I will save that for Saturday when I have more free time.

By the way, thank you Jean for the Coke codes. Muchas gracias even. I don't know if anyone ever claimed the download I gave away in the blog a while back. I suppose I could check, but then if no one did, I would end up claiming it when I checked, so it is just better that I don't know and I assume someone did take it. As for the tag, I don't think there are 10 odd things about me, at least i don't consider myself all that odd, to me I am perfectly normal. Now if anyone wants to know specifics, within reason, I will answer questions. There are some things that are off limits, not many, but some. But for me to come up with just odd stuff, odd is subjective and to me I am just not that odd.

Well, I have to grab a bus schedule and my camera and the baseball tickets and make myself scarcer than a Mike Gravel supporter, so toodles.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where I will be Friday night

Pirates vs Phillies @ PNC Park, complete with a view from my seat.  Don't worry, I'll take the camera to get more pics than just this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Getting caught up, Asshat style

I have little time here, but enough that I can at least get the Asshat award up to date.  A quick reminder about the rules of the Asshat, the winner has to come from the previous 7 days, starting Monday and ending Sunday, so anything that happens after Sunday has to wait to the following week to actually qualify.  I believe I have stuck to this guideline, even while getting behind in posting the award winners, making sure I only grab one winner per week.  That being said, last I checked I was almost completely caught up, save for last week's winner, a distinction that has to be awarded posthumously to Willie Lee Thomas III.

I can't speak to how Willie Lee Thomas version 1.0 and 2.0 met their demise, but I can't think it would be in such a stupid fashion as version 3.0, whose claim to fame and reason for winning this week's award comes from the fact that he stole a U Haul truck.  Now stealing something isn't necessarily Asshat worthy in and of itself, it is just a crime, much like a number of other crimes out there.  What makes Willie Lee Thomas version 3.0 unique however is that in his attempt to flee from the police who were pursuing him during his criminal enterprise, he opted to leap from his stolen truck, and in an effort that wouldn't get him the bronze in even the Special Olympics, managed to transverse enough distance that he ran himself over with the very truck he leapt from.  Now that is Asshat worthy and that catches us up.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We now resume regularly scheduled blogging

And so it begins, another blog to throw on the fire. Actually finding a good point to begin is the first of my many concerns here this evening. I certainly have enough in me jumbled cranium to pass for blogging content, but they are all topics of a disjointed lot, nothing running into the next topic.

Let's begin with the illness that seems to be no more. I think I finally kicked this damn thing sometime Saturday, running my days under the weather to a full 18. At least it wasn't the knock me on my ass type of illness where I couldn't do anything, I just couldn't do all of the things I am used to. All told, I only missed one shift at work, that my part time gig, and one week of volleyball, though I also missed this past week because of work at the radio station. So far since I have started going 4 weeks ago, I have missed two weeks, not that it matters all that much, it isn't a league or anything, it is just whoever shows up plays. We don't even pick teams, you just show up, take a spot on the floor (after some warming up and stretching) and that is your team. I banged myself up the first week I played (my groin is still sore from when I pulled it chasing a ball) but my second venture over there, I thought I played slightly better, even if my team was worse overall. It is just a matter of getting the movement down and cutting down on my miss hits and I should be fine. I actually blew three serves the last time I played, which I almost never do, though two of them were long rather than into the net, so I was just serving too deep to the back line, something that will be fixed with repetition. I don't do anything crazy with the serve, no jump serves or anything like that, just a knuckleball I was taught back in high school. The trick is that before you serve, make sure the air hole for the ball is pointing directly away from you. That one spot on the ball has a different weight that the rest of the ball, so if you can serve the ball without spinning it, the weight distribution actually causes the ball to "dance" in the air rather than move in a straight line.

I am thinking of donating part of my blog space to what I am watching on the web these days. I say that because I am getting way to addicted to Surf The Channel, opting for it instead of regular TV most nights. Recently I have been watching episodes of Newsradio, Family Guy, The Office and Deadliest Catch on there. Deadliest Catch may turn out to be my favorite reality show, either that or Ice Road Truckers, both shows are far better than the horrid reality show offerings on TV most nights. Last night as I was sitting down, I did click on the TV and what should appear but Decision House, a show where a divorce court judge has a couple that is thinking about getting a divorce shack up for three days on location while being poked and prodded by her inane questions, as well as questions from a marriage counselor, someone with a lie detector, and a psychologist. After three days of this, the couple is supposed to decide what they want to do,stay together or get a divorce. I know what I would do after three days of that crap, kill the people involved with the show, but that is just me and another fine reason why I should remain single. Instead I opted for PS2 this weekend when the TV was on. And yes, I did break out the baseball game which means it is time for the Joe Random update.....

For those unfamiliar, a while back my cousin Melanie bought me MLB 2K6 The Show for the PS2. Given she works at the Gamestop offices in Dallas, she will sometimes pick things up, though I don't know if she gets a discount on it or not. Sometimes it will just be promotional stuff, like mousepads or shirts or what not, other times she will grab actual games. As it turns out, she picked this particular game out for me a while back and I have been tinkering with the create a player option. The goal is to start with a player and have them work their way to the major leagues, and possibly the Hall of Fame, though I will just be happy to have a decent career. Anyway, the game allows you to create someone who starts in the minor leagues, either the AA or AAA level and through gameplay you work your way up to the major league level. Because you are a player in this mode, you don't make any management decisions, so you can't say when you will and won't play, that is up to the manager, nor can you control getting injured, that is just randomly determined in the game itself. Thankfully the game has a Simulate to Next Appearance option, so you can fast forward through games you aren't going to play in, which has helped me get to season 4 already rather than playing the normal 162 game schedule each season. Anyway, my first season was pretty uneventful, I spent most of the year in AAA ball, playing only two games in the majors, and my second year was the same, again getting only two games at the major league level. Season 3 had me get all of 19 games in at the major league level, but now that I am on season 4, I am finally getting some serious playing time. I originally started as a first baseman in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays system, but as a secondary position I opted for utility infielder, a decision that has proven very wise, as the normal third baseman of the Devil Rays was put on the 60 day DL list with a torn hamstring, so they called me up to play third base, where so far I have logged 49 games this season, and the numbers are fairly respectable, a .407 average, 24 runs, 17 doubles, 1 triple, 6 homeruns, and 37 RBIs to this point. I am even third in the voting for rookie of the year and I have the Devil Rays (normally a doormat for the rest of the league) competitive, in third place with a 46-49 record, and 9.5 games out of first in the American League East.

Sorry, had to step away from the computer and do some PS2 and some shopping. I played another game of baseball, making the stats above obsolete, as I ended up hitting 2 more homeruns and collecting 6 RBIs in one game (go me!!) and then ran out to buy some laundry detergent from CVS. I had one of those $4 off coupons for an order of $20 or more, and I needed detergent as well as some printer paper and cigarettes, so I was close enough to the $20 mark that I just threw in some blank Cd's to complete the order. I started using some of my pepsi points today, I have enough for 12 songs, I bought three, and I cashed in some coke points for a song on rhapsody as well. At some point I will update the Imeem free music list and repost it in the blog.

This has been another of those almost free weekends. I stopped by the bar Friday after another fine week of radio, and through the course of having a few beers I dropped $15 dollars in the poker machine and took out $90. Saturday I stopped by to watch some of the hockey game, as they had the Flyers - Capitals game on and I dropped another $25 in and took $70 back, making it well worth my effort. As a result, I got to order out on Friday night and made a grocery store run today after work, bought some comic books and added a couple of bucks to my pre paid credit card, since it was starting to run low on cash. Speaking of hockey, the Penguins have finished their first round matchup, yet when they will play again still isn't determined, because while the Penguins were able to sweep Ottawa in 4 games, two of the four series in the Eastern Conference are still going on. I will try to explain the possibilities as best I can.....

#1 Montreal Canadiens vs #8 Boston Bruins (series tied 3-3) - Should Boston win, the Penguins will play Boston inn the next round, should Montreal win then we go to the next series to determine the next opponent...

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 Philadelphia Flyers (Phi leads series 3-2) - Should Washington win, the Penguins would then play Washington in the next round, should Philadelphia win, the Penguins would play the #5 seed New York Rangers who knocked off New Jersey in the first round.

Confusing enough? I thought so. Until the next opponent is determined, there is no telling when the next playoff game will be so there are no plans for a glog in the near future.

I have been working on the Pogo badges this weekend as well. I think I can speak for thousands of Pogo-ers when I say that Phlinx sucks. That badge is taking me forever, and leave it on a week where they make a long ass badge like that to offer up three personal challenges. Mind you I tacked on a premium challenge as well, simply because I had already purchased it and I could work on it while I did another badge. The premium badge was in Canasta and it was to meld out before your opponent 25 times in two weeks, given one of the challenges was to meld out before your opponent 15 times, it seemed a no brainer to work on both at the same time. I got the Pogo challenge done, and have 4 more left on the premium, and for my three challenges, I took Hangman Hijinks (solve 20 puzzles), Free Cell Solitaire (win two games in 150 moves or less) and Poppa Zoppa (make 15 chains of 15 or more). Still that damn Phlinx badge is a pain in ye olde backside, with just a couple of days left, I still need over 1400 matches.

Excellent, I did the first of the Pepsi point songs into Imeem and no problems, unlike the stuff from Rhapsody, I didn't have to burn it to cd first, I was able to download the songs right to my computer as mp3s and then upload the mp3s to imeem. Rhapsody has some songs as protected files, so they have to be burnt to cd first as converted over to mp3 files for uploading, thankfully Amazon isn't quite that much of a pain in the ass. Maybe I will go purchase some more songs now.

By the way, the Asshat goes to Dr Phil. Mind you I am a week behind, so I still have to pull one for the last 7 days, but since I am a week back I figured I better get at least one of them out of the way. As for the Asshat of the last 7 days, well, that is a work in progress simply because last week was a target rich environment and I am unsure who was the worst, if that is at all possible. As for what Dr. Phil did, or what he claims his staff did without his knowledge, rather than have me explain it, I will just link to the appropriate story right about here.

And while typing that, I snagged two more songs, this collecting of points thing is working out better than the change meter. Not that the change meter is bad mind you, I get to add another .37 to it today, so we get to go to the big board and find that the new total is $34.98, a mere two cents from cracking the $35 dollar plateau.

Well, it is getting late and I do have some comic books to read, and I will be adding to the neverending blog as well this week, as while I still haven't finished the Friends of Liberty book yet, I have just about finished another one, I have three books going currently, something I am not used to, usually I just read them one at a time, and I am finding being stuck in three different books isn't all that appealing so as soon as I drag myself out of this quandary, I have no intention of jumping back in that pool again any time soon. Anyway, I said I would post the new music list when I got a chance, now is a good a chance as any, mind you, some of the music you have already seen on here, but since I did add 5 songs, it seemed worthy of reposting. Nite everyone.



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And sometimes I post it for Lee, lol

fighting words

Cardinals' Law

Two questions for the pope.

By Christopher Hitchens

The visit of his holiness the pope to the United States this week will be an occasion for all kinds of manifestation of deference and servility from politicians and from the press. There will also be the usual speculation about the growth of a specifically or distinctively "American" Catholicism: a Catholicism that, for instance, this week sent me a heavy envelope of material titled Catholics for Choice, arguing against the church's dogma on abortion. The phenomenon of "cafeteria Catholicism," by which the faithful pick and choose among the doctrines that do and do not appeal to them, has long been understood. It was Joseph Ratzinger's role, when he was the right-hand man and enforcer of the last pope, to recall the flock to a more traditional and orthodox version of the faith. The chief interest of this trip, at least for Roman Catholics, will be to see how explicitly he addresses himself to a flock that is too used to making up its own a la carte rules.

Meanwhile, all this piety and ceremony is a bit of a bore and a waste of media space for the large majority of us who are still not Roman Catholics. How should we get through the week? I have two suggestions.

As well as being the head of his church, the Roman pope differs from the other Christian popes in being the head of a foreign state with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations. Small as the papal state may be, the implications of its foreign policy are sometimes of interest. It signed important concordats with the fascist powers in the 1920s and '30s, for example. In the 1990s, it was the only state to recognize the government established by military putschists after the overthrow of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. During the period when sanctions and diplomatic isolation were aiming to keep Saddam Hussein in his "box," the only fully accredited ambassador from Baghdad anywhere in Western Europe was in the Holy See. In the recent past, and in response to protests at his remarks on Islam, the pope has agreed to receive more than 20 ambassadors, from nations defining themselves as Muslim, at his residence at Castel Gandolfo. This seems to many of us to be licensing the right of foreign states to interfere, on matters such as the Danish cartoon furor, in the internal life of secular Europe.

So journalists and reporters who can manage to get off their knees might want to ask the pope if he is conducting his own foreign policy and, if so, in consultation with whom? Then there is another question, which also raises a matter of diplomatic propriety: Why is the Vatican continuing to shelter Cardinal Bernard Law?

It will be remembered that Law resigned his position as head of the Archdiocese of Boston in late 2002. He had little alternative. A series of lawsuits and depositions and disclosures had established beyond doubt that, as my Slate colleague Dahlia Lithwick phrased it, "Law was not only aware of egregious sexual misconduct among his subordinates but was apparently engaged in elaborate efforts to cover up incident after incident of child rape." (I pause to praise her for employing that latter term instead of the grubby all-purpose euphemism abuse.) To be specific, the cardinal admitted in a deposition that he knew that the Rev. John Geoghan had raped at least seven boys in 1984 before he approved Geoghan's transfer to another parish where other boys were at risk. Further disclosures revealed that the Rev. Paul Shanley, who at one point was facing trial for 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery, had been moved from ministry to ministry in what amounted to an attempt to protect him. Law himself lied to a West Coast bishop about Shanley's history and certified in writing that another rapist priest, the Rev. Redmond Raux, had "nothing in his background" to make him "unsuitable to work with children."

A vast majority of Americans told the polls at that stage that they favored prosecution of any clerics who had knowingly failed to act on the exposure of child rape in the church. In certain jurisdictions it nearly did come to that, but in Massachusetts, as Lithwick dryly pointed out, there was no mandatory reporting law. In other words, a person with information about child rape was not obliged to come forward with the facts. Or that, at least, was the shame-faced excuse of the Massachusetts district attorney. However, suppressing information about a crime can also be a crime in itself, and Cardinal Law and seven of his bishops were at one stage subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury.

The whole question became moot after his resignation because Law thereupon abruptly moved to Rome and took up a series of positions in the Vatican. He resigned only as head of the Boston archdiocese he had so gravely outraged and was allowed to retain his cardinal's hat. He was appointed as archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and made a member of the congregations of Oriental Churches, Clergy, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Evangelization of Peoples, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Catholic Education, and Bishops, as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family! He took a full part in the conclave that selected Ratzinger as the successor to John Paul II.

So, I think that we are entitled to hear, as the vicar of Christ and holder of the Keys of Peter favors us with his presence, whether he regards his brother Bernard Law as an honored guest in the holy city or as someone who has been given asylum. And even if we cannot get a satisfactory answer, it is essential that we hear the question. Will the press do its job, and will our elected representatives remember their responsibilities to so many thousands of tortured and exploited children? Some of us will be watching and keeping an account.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Sometimes I post stuff just for me

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Back again

Greetings kids!!! Long time no see, as I am sure you are most aware. I'd like to say that real life was so exciting that couldn't pull myself away from it to be bothered with blogging, but it is more like, being hampered with illness is so exciting that I can't be bothered with blogging.

As I write this I am working on my second consecutive week of being ill, in all I have been sick for about the last 12 days now. What started as achy, flu like symptoms, switched to chest congestion, to a sore throat and a lack of voice, which is a big plus when working in talk radio I might add. In any event, I have been getting by on a diet of cold medicines and cough drops, which from a lazy man perspective, is at least a meal that I don't have to cook. I have managed to keep my social calendar semi intact, missing only one work shift and one week of volleyball, though if I had taken more time off, maybe I would feel better at this point. I tend to go through different phases of how I should treat this, some days I feel like maybe a day under blankets will be the best cure, other days I feel I need to just get up and sweat the disease out of me.

This week doesn't look to be one from which I can expect much recovery time either, I have to do overnights at the radio station starting this evening, which is where I am right now. On the bright side, I should be able to sneak a nap in here, and I did grab some lunch to snack on to the tune of egg salad sandwiches and oreo cookies (I still have my cough syrup should I get a craving) and I have some hockey on TV to keep me occupied. It's not the Pittsburgh Penguins mind you, but it is hockey, which is better than what usually passes for TV these days which is Couples Fat Camp, I'm sorry, I guess they call it Biggest Loser Couples, but really it is the same thing, Fat Camp for adults.

Other than hockey recently, my TV viewing is all but nonexistent. I have just been watching what I like on the web instead, so it is episodes of The Office, Family Guy, Newsradio, West Wing and most recently, Mythbusters, whenever I can fit them into my schedule and not be bed ridden with this illness.

I will add another .15 to the change meter, so as to get it back up to date. The new total is $34.61. There, that is one thing out of the way, too bad I have lots others and I haven't even started here yet today.

I posted the Pens Youtube video from their first playoff game, I will continue to post the Pens videos as the NHL makes them available. technically the Penguins lead the series now 2-0 after beating Ottawa 5-3 on Friday night, but at last check, that highlight video wasn't available. When they post it, I will go ahead and do the import thing.

I should do an update on my fantasy hockey team, since the season is now officially over. For the record, I finished in 4th place in the 12 team league, I had a shot at third place, with just two days remaining I was leading slightly 5-4-1, but my opponent got a shutout from Manny Legace, which cost me three categories I was leading in (wins, goals against average, save percentage) and one I was tied in (shutouts) and took that slight lead and turned it into a resounding 2-7-1 defeat. I am now relegated to fantasy baseball, where I am in second place right now, but we are very early in the season there. Certainly nothing to get too excited about just yet.

I believe I am once again a couple of Asshats behind, though I am wondering how cool or not cool that feature is, as no one seems to miss it when I don't pop it in ye olde blog. In any event, the first of our two Asshat winners goes to the fine students at the University of Texas - San Antonio who were ascribed the project of coming up with the school's honor code regarding plagarism. Those who understand the ways of the Asshat know exactly where this is going, the students came up with a code by, you guessed it, plagarizing it.

That takes care of one, but what about the other? Enter Max Mosley. For those uninformed, Mosley is the president of the international body that governs Formula One auto racing. As a side note of particular interest, he is also the son of Oswald Mosley, the founder of the pro Nazi British Union of Fascists of the 1930s. Still just being the son of a pro Nazi guy isn't enough to get you into the list of Asshats, unless of course you act on it. Enter Max's 5 hour bondage orgy with 5 women where it is argued they acted out Nazi death camp fetishes, including speaking in German and wearing German uniforms, forced shaving of body hair, head lice inspections,and references on the tape (yes it is on tape kids) to inmates being housed in "facilities". Hey, I have done some freaky stuff, perhaps we all have, but the Sieg Heil orgy is a little over the top and certainly worthy of an Asshat award.

Well, while putting together this blog entry and putzing around with some other stuff, I managed to get three of my commercial feeds done for this week, and one of the radio shows in for next Sunday. I would like to get more done on next Sunday's programming, but the new shows I need haven't been posted on the web as of yet. I would go home and relax and come back into work later, but there is really no point in it, I would either no more than get home than have to turn around and come right back, or I could wait and come in later, but because the buses are on a Sunday schedule, I would have to walk up Greentree Hill, and that is something I have no desire to do, so I will just hang out here in the studios instead. I have plenty of things I can do, catch up on podcasts, I brought my taxes I can finish, a DVD to watch, and of course, I can always eat. Plus, I am about two weeks behind in getting caught up in blogs. I will never understand how people can do it with a couple hundred friends on their list, my list is small by comparison and I can barely manage it.

Well, I am getting another project done while I work on this blog entry, I am running Adaware on the production room computer. I try to do this every Sunday if I get a chance, usually I empty out all of the excess stuff in my file on the production computer, then I empty the trash bin and run Adaware. Right now I am reading 27 critical elements, most of which I am sure are tracking cookies from people surfing the web on it. The problem is that when there is too much junk on it, playing back audio can result in slight catches, which would mean nothing if I were just listening to something at home, but when it comes to recording stuff for broadcast, those glitches stick out like a sore thumb.

Since I have some time here while I blog, don't mind me if I work on my launchcast station while I type. I am just a mere 19 ratings form getting to 7000, another meaningless milestone I know, but one of those things I actually like working on. Right now I have "Town Called Malice" playing by The Jam, which I have already rated but I like it, so I am going to leave it play. Often I will just come in here and forward through a bunch of songs, do a quick rating if I haven't already rated the song and go to the next one. A couple of songs later (compliments of the fast forward option) and we are up to "Queer" by Garbage, which I think I can sit through and just 17 ratings to go to the dreaded 7000. Actually they were pretty easy ones, a Stevie Wonder song and one by DJ Kool, neither of which I liked so I just selected the "Never Play Again" option. It is harder when I sort of like a song or artist, but not enough to want to hear every single time I am on here.

I should be getting back into the Joe Random updates in the near future, I just broke my baseball game back out this past week, it was one of the things I could do while having a blanket around my shoulders drinking cough syrup.

I have to stop fast forwarding my music again, "Strawberry Letter #23" came on, and that is just the coolest song ever. Okay, one of the coolest songs ever, but I'd rather listen to a song like that versus the crap that is out there now and really, there is just no comparison that song writing was so much better back in the day. Sure there are some exceptions to the rule, but they are so few and far between anymore that I have all but given up hope on most modern music. Now it is just someone sampling someone else's music, or rhyming lyrics with one syllable words, which is the equivalent of a musical Dr. Suess. Usually what I look for in a song are a few simple things, first the music should sound decent, not some ripped off sample of a Lionel Ritchie tune that wasn't all that cool when it was popular, second the lyrics have to tell a good story, lyrics that make no sense or have the educational equivalent of finding a bunch of words that rhyme with "you" passing as good song writing need not apply. As far as I am concerned, I would rather have the lyrics not rhyme if the song is well written than to dumb down the song with simple words that are "catchy". And lastly, I don't want to hear it on the radio every 5 minutes, nothing kills a song like overkill, and given how little I listen to the actual radio, that would seem to be an almost impossible task, yet it still occurs far to often for my tastes.

Oh well, enough of me griping for one day, I think I will go make a sandwich or two and watch some TV then get about podcasting.

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Something to occupy your time till I get up to blogging again



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