Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weak In Review

Cosmic Questions

I wonder if anyone ever wonders if angels wonder, too?
Do You Believe In God?

Antonio Monda, a critic for the Italian newspaper “La Republica” posed that question to 18 well-known cultural figures including Saul Bellow, Grace Paley, Elie Weisel and Jane Fonda. The answers he got appear in: “Do You Believe?: Conversations on God & Religion.”
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 4/2/10, Host: Robin Young. Photo: Readers Digest; which took a crack at Life's 25 Toughest Questions.

Do You Believe In Popes?

Christian tradition holds that, on the original Good Friday, Jesus went to his crucifixion freely and surrendered his life for something greater. Commentator James Martin, a Jesuit priest, says the day has special meaning for the modern Roman Catholic Church, as its scandal over the sexual abuse of children by priests grows.

Will the hierarchy also freely be willing to surrender to truth?

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany expressed shame at the scandal, and a hot line for victims of abuse by clergy and church employees has been set up. But victims groups continue to press for action from independent investigators and the German government, saying the church has shown itself unable to investigate its own crimes.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 4/2/10, Reporter: Eric Westervelt.

The National Catholic Reporter has aggressively covered the ongoing story of child abuse by priests in the U.S. for the past 25 years. It is now among the voices calling for Pope Benedict XVI to answer questions directly as the scandal gains force in Europe and the U.S.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 4/2/10, Reporter: David Folkenflik.

Do You Believe In Life On Other Planets?

Scientists have found hundreds of big, gassy planets that orbit close to "their" star, though solar systems with small rocky planets, like ours, have been elusive. This might be because they are hard to detect using existing techniques, but an astronomer says he's getting a bit nervous. He doesn't want to think that we are the exception rather than the rule.

Audio: NPR's Morning Edition 4/2/10, Reporter: Robert Krulwich.

Cable Connections

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Hires Erick Erickson - 4/1/10
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Liz Claman - 4/1/10
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform

Sometimes you do TV... Sometimes TV does you.

OMG, Geeks!

Dick Cheney's fave!

Wookie what I found!

Super Trooper!

Damn Cool Pics present the 50 Best Star Wars Flickr Pics.

OMG, Bombs!

There's a junior high school on the next block.

For a while on Thursday morning, you couldn't get there from here.

Crime scene tape blocked nearby intersections. A police motorcycle with lights flashing was parked outside my apartment's driveway. Its rider directed exiting traffic to turn away from the tape, and then ducked behind the edge of the adjoining building... For cover.

A loud report echoed through the surrounding neighborhood. Residents who came out to their balcony were cautioned to retreat inside by a second officer, with a handheld megaphone, stopping traffic at the opposite end of the block.

About 15 minutes later there was a second boom of equal strength. And the prairie dogs came out of their burrows once again to catch a glimpse of a firefighter crossing the street by the school and the radio-controlled robot rolling back to its transport trailer.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's incident report read 2 suspicious packages destroyed on scene by controlled detonation... No known motive, no casualties or property damage.

Lies That Won't Die

Big Ticket Tickets

Everyone's gone to the movies, except Jeff, who's pissed again.

They rip you at the box office before they rip your tickets, which have gone up in price again.

Premium pricing is being blamed on 3D blockbusters that are pricey to produce, but theater owners whose greatest profits come from selling popcorn at a 1300% markup, also pocket a percentage of the ticket prices they're pushing ever upward.

Berger & Prescott publish podcasts on Facebook. They watch their movies at home on big-screens with popcorn courtesy of Orville Redenbacher.

Talking Head

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Party On, Dudes!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
2 Girls 1 GOP
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform


Offshore Drilling

Frivolous Lawsuits

Positions change in election years. What were principled stands can become political furniture to be moved around... Or chess pieces.

Democrats were opposed to drilling. Republicans used to rail against the kind of litigation they're now filing in futile rear-guard actions.

School Is Cruel

South Hadley, Massachusetts, a small town in the Connecticut River Valley, became the latest place known for a teen who was bullied to death. The Legislature voted unanimously to enact a tougher law... But too late to help Phoebe Prince.

The local prosecutor may bring further charges against other kids, but so far not has not charged any of the school officials who knew the harassment was happening, but did nothing to halt it.

Mitchell Broulliard is a parent whose daughter was bullied by some of the same students charged in the death of Phoebe Prince.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 3/30/10, Host: Robin Young.

There's Talk On The Street

A Hotel California (1976) classic from the Long Road out of Eden tour (2008 - 2009), with lead guitar by Steuart Smith (Don Felder's replacement since 2001). The Eagles will be on tour again throughout North America starting April 16, 2010 at the Hollywood Bowl.

There's Talk On The Air

Ed's stats from 2007 are obsolete. It's even more lopsided now.

Air America was a radio network specializing in liberal or progressive political talk programming for a little less than six years, from March 2004 to January 2010, when it went off the air. The AM dial was a lonely place to be a liberal. Companies featuring conservative talkers dominate the dial. And like attracts like, in both listeners and the sponsors heard along side the hosts who set the tone.

Phil Hendrie is the overnight personality on TRN, the Talk Radio Network, which syndicates conservatives Laura Ingraham, Dr. Laura (Schlessinger), former actor Jerry Doyle and Michael Savage (Weiner).

Most of the time his show is satire. He does all the voices of "guests" who present such crazy outrageously ignorant positions that listeners are compelled to call in protest. But sometimes Phil gets serious... Like with this story from the Kansas City Star.

Although it's not uncommon to hear a talk show host demonize a target, it is very rare to hear an attack on someone who so obviously deserves it.

The ads are not a send-up. They are for a real write-in candidate to replace retiring Republican Senator Kit Bond.

Altered State of California

They're one toke over the line from... I forget.
Audio: Berger & Prescott publish podcasts on Facebook. They miss Peter Tosh singing "Legalize It" while using the cover for some illicit purpose, i.e. rolling.

Bill's On Board

The Word: Pedophile

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Forgive and Forget - 3/30/10
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform

Spring In The Air

Bohemian Waxwings in Arizona from the Desert Colors blog.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm Against It

Being the "party of no" wasn't a new, or original, idea.

Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff articulated the concept to a faculty assembly at Huxley College nearly 80 years ago.

Apparently President Obama saw the classic Marx Brothers movie Horse Feathers before being labeled a (non-Groucho) Marxist.


We're On Our Way Back

We're Getting Laid Back

Forget It, No Way Back

One logo with Photoshop reactions from California & Georgia, although you probably could already tell were they were coming from.

Christian Soldiers?

God Squad... Loon Platoon... or WTF Troop.

It All Started With A Big Bang

CERN's Super Collider works! No black holes, so far...

IGN 2010

Virtuoso guitarists from Germany, Israel & America talk about their different approaches and instruments for International Guitar Night.
Audio: John Diliberto from Echoes, an ambient music program on public radio with an extensive archive of audio for download via subscription.
See the players in action at the International Guitar Night site.
Photo: 7th fret up on a Martin DM by Evan Agee (2006).


I'm pretty good at recognizing voices. Answering the phone as a kid I could respond to any of my Mom's friends by name within a few syllables. I can still pick out friends and former associates on radio and TV... And every once in a while I hear a voice I don't know at all, but wish I did.

For example, Kate Hodge, the actress whose smoky barefoot breathiness can be experienced on Citracal commercials.

She reminds me of a similar sounding caller to my radio station in Seattle more than 15 years ago. I never learned her name, but the very sound of her burned into my brain as I asked if she was deliberately trying to melt my shorts. She might have moved north to Bellingham, because I could swear I heard her call the Car Talk guys from there.

Back on Cape Cod, I wasn't home when my Mom answered a call from a woman I'd known briefly as a teenager. Mom said she sounded nice, and I wasn't surprised because that's how I remembered her, and why I wanted to reconnect after living away from home for many years.

But it wasn't until recently that I finally heard her as an adult and realized Mom could very well have thought she sounded nice because, once my friend reached adulthood, they sounded very much alike!

Eargasms are a funny thing... Very personal and not necessarily limited to one particular sound. I don't really have a type, but sometimes I just have a visceral reaction. And every so often I find myself wishing that someone sounding sweet would tell me my car was ready... Or someone sultry would alter my bone density.

Shame on You

Usually companies cop a plea... With one important difference from individual people; when they agree to consent decrees, they don't have to admit guilt for the charges they're paying to settle... Except in Massachusetts, where a new type of court-ordered corporate confession is appearing in newspaper ads.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday 3/7/10, Reporter: Tovia Smith.

Greeting Card Emergency

David Ellis Dickerson has an obsession with words, puns, and humor. It's a living... And a gift.

Dave's work used to be mass produced, but is now customized. He specializes in greeting cards for difficult situations... Something that can get past the awkwardness, and get the message, and correct sentiment, through. He knows his craft and can rise to a challenge.

Dickerson's memoir, House of Cards, chronicles how he learned to love, thrive, and feel comfortable in his own skin inside the belly of the “social expression” industry.
Audio: PRI & WNYC's program Studio 360 3/27/10, Reporter: Sarah Lilley,
Guest Host: Alec Baldwin. Dickerson's YouTube channel is "Greeting Card Boy."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Did He Know?

What Did He Do?

Two legitimate questions about the current Pope by & for Catholics.

John Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, on the scandal's impact as Christians prepared for Holy Week.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 3/26/10, Host: Jane Clayson


A priest and a rabbi were sitting next to each other on an airplane. After a while, the priest turned to the rabbi and asked,"Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?"

The rabbi responded, "Yes, that is still one of our laws."

The priest then asked, "Have you ever eaten pork?"

To which the rabbi replied, "Yes, on one occasion I did succumb to temptation and tasted a ham sandwich."

The priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading.

A while later, the rabbi spoke up and asked the priest, "Father, is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?"

The priest replied, "Yes, very much so."

The rabbi asked, "Have you ever fallen to temptations of the flesh?"

The priest replied, "Yes, I was also weak and once broke my vow."

The rabbi nodded understandingly and remained silent, thinking, for a moment. Finally he said, "Beats a ham sandwich, doesn't it?"


They lived communally as a family... Calling each other brother and sister. But there was no blood connection between them, and would never be. They are seemingly anachronistic unrelated celibate converts, devotees of the United Society of Believers, commonly called Shakers because of their worship's ecstatic movement.

In 2006, when Boston Globe reporter Stacey Chase went to visit their last remaining village in New Gloucester, Maine, she found only four of them left. She brought back the story of the Sabbathday Lake community, a national historic landmark... And one of the members as her husband.

Some day soon, the sect will disappear and their heritage of music, art, crafts and simple functional furniture will be all that remains.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 3/29/10, Host: Robin Young.

And Then There Were 3

Grand Old (B & D) Party?

In the early years of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln freed slaves from bondage.... In February, a consultant to the Republican National Committee spent $2000 of campaign contributions on entertainment in a Los Angeles lesbian bondage themed strip club.

Republican Party Animals

moose & squirrel

This illustration of moose and mistress appeared on with Gary Kamiya’s September 2008 article, "The Dominatrix."

Kamiya’s premise: Sarah Palin was trying to seduce independent voters, but came across like a whip-wielding mistress who wants to discipline a naughty America... Namely blue state liberals and places like San Francisco, where Salon is published, and viewed in some circles as Satan's second home.

The great irony is that the original article would have disappeared from consciousness very quickly except for the echo effect of the blogosphere... Some outraged at perceived anti-Palin sexism, others laughing at the metaphor.

But not everyone gets that metaphors shouldn't be taken literally... And that's a problem.


Dissecting the message and meaning of Sarah's desert dust-up.

From Dog Days (1975)... Same as it ever was.

Spokes Women

Bad news, Sandra Bullock... Motorcycle mamas are multiplying!

Rita Braver on CBS Sunday Morning, 3/28/10.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Political Hatchet Jobs

Hardball's Chris Matthews says politics is "perpetual skirmishing."

Mark Felt, the real life "Deep Throat" from All the President's Men, said "follow the money."

In contemporary political skirmishing, buying TV commercial time is the biggest drain on campaign money... So many video attack ad skirmishes have migrated to the Internet, where it's the same old crap, but the shots are literally cheaper to spread around.

Don't believe me. Ask the demon sheep.

Jobs are Job One

The outlook's great as long as you don't need to eat... For 8 years.
Audio: CBS Radio's Osgood File, 3/22/10.

Not My Job: Michael Lewis

He may be the most famous non-fiction author of modern times. His insights into how Wall Street really works, or doesn't work, are legendary... So who better to quiz about lasers?

Audio: Wait Wait Don't Tell Me 3/27/10, Host: Peter Sagal.
Photo: Tabitha Soren, ex-MTV, currently Michael Lewis' wife.

Not My Bag

Geek Style

Old School

Stopped at Security

Via Just Whatever

Not Just Black & White

They couldn't check human... It's a species, not a race.

Tonight I'm Going To...

Break Away

Sunday, March 28, 2010

There's No There, There

The 2000 Census tally put the population of Searchlight NV at 576... A total that had probably doubled long before dawn, even before demonstrators arrived, based on the numbers of technicians who descended on a newly bulldozed empty lot to set up gear for an appearance by Sarah Palin and the national media dispatched to cover the launch of a 44 stop TEA Party Express drive toward DC.

Although Searchlight residents were inconvenienced by the traffic, they were happy to sell stuff to whomever showed up. The AP said:
Reid supporters set up a hospitality tent Saturday in the parking lot of a Searchlight casino, about a mile from the tea party rally. The Senate leader planned to spend part of the day at a new shooting range in Las Vegas with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

Luis Salvador, 55, an unemployed fire sprinkler fitter, drove down from Las Vegas to support Reid, who he said has done a lot for the state and doesn't deserve the protest brought to his hometown.

"You don't come to a man's house and start creating a ruckus," said Salvador, a registered independent. He and several others taped signs saying "Nevada Needs Harry Reid" to the side of a truck near the highway that runs through town.

Another Reid supporter, Judy Hill, 62, said she doesn't understand the hatred of Reid. The longtime Democrat from Searchlight, said she thinks people just don't know the man she calls a friend.

"They listen to the rhetoric. I think he's very misunderstood and under-appreciated," she said.
Video of the event on various networks showed Confederate state flags from Texas and Alabama being waved behind Palin as she spoke... And there is a certain neoconfederate separatist streak running through their rhetoric.

Tea partiers often complain that media outlets (other than Fox News) either ignore them or portray them as a bunch of crazies. The Washington Independent's (soon to be Washington Post's) David Weigel, who's been covering the tea party movement since it began, offers his take.
Audio: WNYC's On The Media Host: Bob Garfield.

It's not uncommon for media types to minimize some of the extremes of what they cover, in part because not everything done for shock value should be taken seriously as representative of core beliefs... But was Weigel's dismissal of CNN's Susan Roesgen's confrontation with a poster carrying Obama/Hitler demonstrator as "over the top" a fair characterization?

Strictly on substance, I'm with Susan.

The "because he is" rationalization of the protestor isn't proof that the President is a fascist, no matter how many times, or how loudly, it's repeated... It remains merely a defamatory and unsubstantiated allegation. Asking questions repeatedly, and instantly, in order to get to the truth of the matter (and motives) may offend the demonstrators or some viewers' expectations of gentility, but tough questioning is completely consistent with good journalism.

While this clip survives, others were removed & Roesgen dismissed.

Anything to look forward to after the shouting? More shouting!

Cry Of The Deaf

And Deaf To The Cries

Ill equipped to cope with criminal conduct & criticism, the Vatican lashes back in PR counter-attack.

The New York Times reported this week that top Vatican officials, including the future Pope, did not expel an American priest who had sexually abused as many as 200 boys at a Milwaukee school for the deaf. Arthur Budzinski is one of the deaf victims named in the abuse case and he tells how the experience changed his life with help from his daughter, Gigi, who interprets on the air, and shares the intergenerational impact.

Briefly, NY Times correspondent Rachel Donadio reports from Rome.

Audio: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway 3/26/10,
Host: John Hockenberry.
Read excerpts as the New York Times website displays The Document Trail: The Predator Priest Who Got Away.

Musical Feast

The Piano Table by Georg Bohle is a space-saving electric piano integrated into a dining room table, photographed by Joost van Brug.

Of course it could be a lot more space-saving if they'd built it into a smaller dining room table.

Via Behance Network.

Recipes For Writing

Scott Simon visited the Tucson Festival of Books and spoke with Elmore Leonard and his sons about growing up with one of America's best crime novelists and the craft of writing.
Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, 3/27/10.

Let's Get High

See 17 other creative balloon designs.

White Room

In May 2005, Cream proved that although they hadn't played the Royal Albert Hall since November 1968, they still knew how.