Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Wisconsin

Wisconsin's rich history of union activism provided workers across America with weekends, 40 hour weeks, 8 hour days and the right to be compensated for on the job injuries. Rachel Maddow contends the destruction of unions, particularly those of government employees, is part of a wide-ranging multi-state Republican strategy of undercutting Democratic electoral strength and prospects for future success.

Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach talks about the prospects for a resolution of the conflict Wisconsin's union-busting governor and the necessity of unions to the state and the nation at large.

Wisconsin's Other Superbowl
Audio Embed: Dave Ross, KIRO-FM/Seattle, 2/18/11.

Democratic strategist David Goodfriend offers advice to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: “Remember the Packers! When we all own the team and we all share the responsibilities, everyone wins.”

An article on Politifact disputes the numbers in this story. Unquoted fine print in the cited source report reversed the projected surplus.
"The large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
-- Tom Waits - "Step Right Up" - Small Change (1976)

Weekend Whack

Ways to Make "Jeopardy" More Exciting

Dave's Top Ten from the Late Show

Willie's Top Three from Morning Joe

Voluntary & Involuntary Mouth Closing

Lap Band For the Mouth

This Week in Unnecessary Censorship from Jimmy Kimmel Live

Osaka Hosts 1st Robot Marathon

Concept from Japan, video coverage from ITN

There's an App for Paris?

Two famous non-Italians with weird public sexual histories.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is like Charlie Sheen with diplomatic immunity.
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Did It Leak or Spill?

Coke's Top Secret Formula Revealed?

This American Life radio host Ira Glass claims he found the recipe in a 1979 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article: but is it "The Real Thing?"

Earlier this week, the Center For Science In The Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban two forms of caramel coloring, claiming that the ammonia and sulfites used in the creation of the products results in allegedly carcinogenic chemicals making their way into the resulting food and drink.

Notice the allegation said two chemical carcinogens.

The American Beverage Association, beyond complaining about an "advocacy group long-dedicated to attacking" their industry, chose to respond in regard to only one. They conceded that a chemical known as 4-methylimidazole [4-MEI] is a result of processing the caramel colorings in question, but firmly denied the CSPI's allegations about it.

The problem is both the ABA and CSPI reference the same source to to back up their claims... A National Institutes of Health's National Toxicology Program study, which reports there is "clear evidence" that both 4-MEI and 2-MEI caused lung, liver and thyroid cancer or leukemia in mice & lab rats... That doesn't support the ABA soda-makers' semi-denial argument, or feel like both sides can be right.

A comment on The Consumerist says it all:
Activist group "X chemical causes cancer."

Supplier "X does not cause cancer!."

We need us a good old fashioned impartial investigation.

Eye In The Sky

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Nano Aerial Vehicle (NAV) program; an extremely small, ultra-lightweight aerial vehicle that mimics a hummingbird's flight... It's one spooky drone.
It's a Bird! It's a Spy Plane! It's Both!
Audio Embed: CBS Radio's Osgood File 2/18/11.

Lone Justice

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Silent, But Deadly, Clarence Thomas's Financial Disclosure Controversy
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Friday, February 18, 2011

Anchor's Away

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noticed that, as he headed for Cairo to cover the Egyptian protests, Jon Stewart went on vacation.
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook
Williams is back at home base, NBC's Ron Allen remains in Cairo and chief foreign correspondent has moved on to cover unrest in Bahrain.

Budget Voodoo Screw You

Wisconsin Democrats leave state to block union-busting legislation.

Politicians' push to punish public employees is all about elections.

Witnessing A REAL Budget Cut
Audio Embed: Dave Ross, KIRO-FM/Seattle, 2/17/11.

Before Home Video

It only looks like two guys at a porn theater, Gene & Roger reviewed movies in separate newspapers, and together on TV starting in 1975.

Classic reviews from "Siskel & Ebert At The Movies" have been preserved by the Library of Congress and can now be seen online.

Detroit Wants RoboCop

Before the report, but after mayor's rejection...

I predicted... If you build it they will come.

And on February 16th slash Film blogger Russ Fischer announced:

Detroit Will Get a Robocop Statue!

Crowd-sourced fund-raising has surpassed the minimum needed to build it... Turns out if you even talk about it, they will donate.

Don't Call it a Bromance!

On the original series, it was a command structure. On the remake of Hawaii 5-0, McGarrett and Danno have a complicated relationship.

Bye Buy Books

Digital Books Pushing Print Toward the Grave

As e-readers' prices plummet, sales of digital books have taken off. Anthony Mason asks, "Is this trend the end of print publishing?"

While Amazon reported higher profits and a 36 percent increase in net sales for the fourth quarter of 2010, troubled times have hit a more traditional bookstore chain competitor hard.

The Borders bookstore chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an attempt to restructure... Minus about a third of the company's stores.
Going Bust with Bricks & Mortar
Audio Embed: Morning Edition 2/17/11,
Reporter: Lynn Neary.
Bloomberg News reported:
Borders, whose market value shrank by more than $3 billion since 1998, racked up losses by failing to adapt to shifts in how consumers shop. Its first e-commerce site debuted in 2008, more than a decade after revolutionized publishing with online sales. The world’s largest online retailer beat it again by moving into digital books with the Kindle e-reader in 2007, a market Borders entered in July (2010).
Among previous genius moves, Borders convinced stores would win, gave up on its online business and sold it all... To Amazon in 2008.

Google Digitizes Back Issues of 'Spy' Magazine

Spy magazine (1986-1998), the defunct satirical publication that launched a thousand magazine careers and dodged a thousand lawsuits, is now available digitally from Google.

Spy was a mixture of satirical reporting and edgy (targets say "vicious") humor directed toward celebrities, who were often tagged repeatedly with pejorative epithets... And sometimes "punked" by elaborate stings and hoaxes.

Although it'd have some more serious investigative journalism, Spy's popular regular features included snarky sight gags "Separated at birth?" (side-by-side photographs of two different celebrities, similar to Private Eye's "Lookalikes") and "Celebrity Math," which presented thumbnail head shots atop mathematical models of simple equations (for example: Fabio minus Catherine Deneuve equals Billy Ray Cyrus).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winner and Still Champion

Jeopardy! Victor

IBM’s Watson supercomputer defeats humans in final Jeopardy match... Human also-rans gracefully accept new computer overlord.

After trouncing "Jeopardy!'s" best and brightest, International Business Machines Corp.'s (IBM) Watson supercomputer is on to a new challenge--health-care.

IBM said it has reached a research agreement with Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN), a provider of speech-recognition technology, to "explore, develop and commercialize" the Watson computing system's advanced analytics capabilities.

Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine will be providing their medical expertise and research.
-- Wall Street Journal, 2/16/11

Honoring "The Best of Who We Are"

Bill Russell, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2/15/11).


The Egyptian military has set up an eight-person panel of legal experts to revise the country's constitution. While the group seems inclusive, the ten day process presents both dangers & opportunities for the underlying goal for more democracy in the country.
Tip My Hat to the New Constitution
Audio Embed: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway 2/16/11,
Hosts: Celeste Headlee & Todd Zwillich.

Resource Deprived

Former CNN correspondent Kelli Arena says American media “blew it” on the big Egypt story, failing to anticipate the uprising and simply following events as they happened. That they missed the story until it exploded is the product, she says, of widespread cutbacks at American networks that have left international coverage in tatters... For example, at CBS the total number of correspondents based outside of the continental U.S. is 2.

Reception Depraved

That lack of alternatives, combined with the basic grit that is present in the character of anyone willing to be a war correspondent, explains why Lara Logan went back to Egypt only days after being expelled amid accusations she and her crew were really Israeli spies.

CBS News has released a statement confirming that correspondent Lara Logan was subjected to a horrible attack amid the celebrations in Egypt February 11, the day Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

Reaction Demented

Among the other U.S. correspondents injured on the job in Cairo was Greg Palkot of Fox News, who talked to GQ about his own ordeal.

There's a saying from sales that "you never get anywhere, if you don't go anywhere." It's about the value of face to face contact. The same can be said of foreign news coverage... As Bill Lichtenstein reminds, citing the NY Times Nick Kristof, there's no substitute for being there.

Madoff: Banks 'Had to Know'

Bernie says: "But they didn't want to know."

Bernie Madoff breaks his silence on role of banks & hedge funds.

Sure Mr. Madoff's accusations sound suspiciously self-serving, but conceding that, are they also true? Circumstantial evidence points to lots of sociopathic conduct by Wall Streeters intent on maximizing their own take on dubious deals. Matt Taibbi has documented many.

Weeper of the House

MAD Magazine

"Boehner crying was the most disturbing thing I've ever seen on 60 Minutes... With the exception of Andy Rooney."
-- MAD Magazine Executive Editor John Ficarra

MSNBC's Maddow

A dry-eyed look at John Boehner's record indicates he's not very good at his job of orchestrating the U.S. House of Representatives.

Let's All Follow Finland

In 2009, France became one of the few countries to make Internet access a human right. Then Finland kicked it up a notch, making 1-megabit broadband Web access a legal right, and promising to work toward universal 100Mb broadband connections by the end of 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't specify bandwidth but seems to agree with the spirit of a freely connected world of ideas.
Internet Access as Human Right
Audio Embed: CBS Radio's Osgood File 2/16/11.

Big Oil over Big Bird?

There's something screwy in claims about hard budget choices.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cable News

Jimmy Kimmel's watching nobody listening.

Ex-Fox News guy, current National Journal Hill correspondent Major Garrett on the departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC, his arrival at Current TV, and chances of success there:

The problem for current TV is a lot like what UHF & FM stations went through technically: Not everybody will be able to get them on their sets without an expensive upgrade. Some cable systems don't carry the station at all, or it's in a expanded digital service tier which needs an external converter box... As an independent channel, they lack the bargaining power for placement within two digit analog basic cable.

What's On, Watson?

Dave suspects the ultimate battle of man & machine isn't on TV.
Artificial Intelligence Yields New Questions Presented As Answers
Audio Embed: Dave Ross, KIRO-FM/Seattle, 2/15/11.

IBM's Watson wound up in a tie on Monday, as the first round of what would normally be only a half show was stretched with promotional videos touting its real language artificial intelligence capabilities.

On Tuesday, Watson's dollar total dwarfed the human competitors, but it got the night's Final Jeopardy geography question wrong.

The man with the longest running win streak on "Jeopardy!," Ken Jennings, talked about battling fellow human Brad Rutter & Watson.

The match concludes Wednesday night. Andy is still employed.

Videos: MSNBC, Slate & TBS.

Encountering Kryptonite

Chuck & Beans

By the Pocketful

Spin Doctors - "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" (1993)

dot Anything

Your Domain Name's About To Get Less Plain
Go Daddy dot Hamsters
Audio Embed: APM's Marketplace Tech Report 2/14/11,
Host: John Moe.

One Tope Over The Line

Report Finds Troubling Rise In Teen Uranium Enrichment

She Beat The Bieber

And Not Just In The Hair Dept

26-year-old Esperanza Spalding was at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, and took the prize many thought destined for teen phenom Justin Bieber or hip-hop artist Drake.
Best New Artist on Walking Bass
Audio Embed: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 2/15/11,
Host: Robin Young.

Bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding conceived of her ensemble "Chamber Music Society" as an intimate experience, a close musical exchange between a small group of friends. If it was intimacy she wanted, she got her wish: Performing a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Swimsuit Issue

Keep Your Eyes On #6

As last year's cover model moves on to the movies, Russian Irina Shayk (sometimes spelled like an Arab sheik, born Sheikhlislamova) is now Sports Illustrated's official 2011 between seasons eye candy.

Like her predecessor, Brooklyn Decker (wife of tennis star Andy Roddick), Irina has paired off with another world class athlete: soccer/football/futbol superstar Cristiano Ronaldo... But her game seems to be playing off the Anna Chapman sexy spy mystique.

Scooped On Twitter

The grand TV announcement was scooped by midtown Manhattan office worker Rana Wardlaw, who happened to look out her window and snap a shot of the massive billboard being quickly uncovered as a test for Monday's Letterman segment.


NYC Drugstores Sell Do-It-Yourself Paternity Tests

Mediaite suggested this might not end well. They didn't specify whether they meant for the families, or the Maury Povich show.

Leader of the Pack

At Least the CPAC

For the second year in a row, 11 term Texas Congressman Ron Paul emerged as the winner of the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. It's good for bragging rights, but Paul's libertarian positions often run afoul of the authoritarian militaristic & intrusive social conservative factions within post-Reagan Republicanism.

The result in 2008: his Presidential bid didn't win any primaries.

Of the more conventional candidates only Mitt Romney scored in double digits... But as governor in Massachusetts, his Romney-care health plan included the individual mandate the Tea Party hates, and numerous Republican controlled states have challenged in court... Not to mention, that as a Mormon, evangelicals question his Christianity as often as they do Obama's.

The rest of the field was in single digits. What's up with that?

NJ Governor Chris Christie isn't even planning a 2012 nomination run. He firmly says he's not ready, and yet he beat most of the candidates toying with a run. That reveals another rift... The party splits again over those elements with over-enthusiastic promotion of the new and unproven, while a majority historically settles on the next in line.

CPAC is a farce; an exercise in futility with mandatory attendance.

Surface Appearances

In 2002, he was the highest paid part-time government employee in the notoriously tight-fisted state of Nevada. And his $590,000 public paycheck was less than half his overall income that year... Whoa!

Bill made the lead of a 2003 Las Vegas Review Journal story about how the number of government employees earning more than $100,000 a year had quadrupled in the previous five years.

It's the kind of thing that pisses off radio talk show callers and those who write equally angry & ignorant invectives in letters to their local papers... This year the outrage has turned toward Las Vegas area firefighters who are alleged to manipulate scheduling sick days to pad their paychecks. That investigation has sparked talk of criminal conspiracy indictments and now involves the Feds. Too early to call.

But they aren't the focus here... Let's get back to Bill.

Dr. William A. Zamboni is Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, and a Professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He is also the Director of the Microsurgery and Hyperbaric Research Laboratory at the school of medicine. He is a fellow in the American College of Surgeons, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the past President of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery.

And with that level of expertise, his base classroom academic salary seems like a steal... The fact that it nearly quadruples with on-the-job training of young surgeons seems reasonable... And when you see the facilities listed at his hospital and realize they treat treat burn victims, repair cleft palates and try to clean up the most visible wounds wheeled into the Trauma Center, his part is priceless.

So what if he makes the rest of his income on tummy tucks, face lifts, botox, boobs and butts. Dr. Bill is also among the biggest donors to his perennially cash-strapped public university medical school.

"My cosmetic practice helps us survive as a department of surgery," Zamboni said. "The state funding for departments is insufficient."

No kidding. It's a 2003 quote, before Nevada's current depression... Whatever is wrong with where you live is probably much worse here.

When I saw the doctor advertising facial resurfacing on local TV, I thought it was hilarious that his last name, Zamboni, was shared by the iconic & ingenious machines that resurfaced ice hockey rinks.

It's an odd coincidence, but I'm not aggravating my laugh lines now.

A Valentine from Hosni

Former Egyptian says so long & thanks for the fortune.

The Weight Of War

Under Heavy Fire

Being bulked up beyond safe limits has heavy consequences for GI's.

Trade off: Protection Vs. Mobility
Audio Embed: Puget Sound Public Radio 2/14/11,
Reporter: Patricia Murphy.

The Band & the Staples Singers - "The Weight" - from The Last Waltz

Monday, February 14, 2011

Think Fast!

Tonight's the night IBM pits it's latest "A.I." super computer against prior human champions playing Jeopardy on TV. Technology writer Clive Thompson visited "Watson" and its inventors to find out just how they got a machine to provide answers in the form of a question.
Artificial Intelligence Test
Audio Embed: Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen 2/12/11.
Photo: Jeopardy host Alex Trebek with contestants Ken Jennings, Watson, and Brad Rutter (Courtesy of Jeopardy)

Remember Slowly

He had a list, but wasn't sure what to call it anymore...
Wasn't too sure about what anyone who made the cut would feel about being on it either.

Colleen, Ann Marie, Stephanie, Jeanette, Betsy, Brenda, Terri, Joyce, Lonna, Deirdre, Rene, Ellen, Shannon, Nancy, Kelly, Kitty, Holly, Susan, Judy, Valerie, Cindy, Ann, Tracy, Toni, Rebecca, Laura, Emily, Nikki, Nancy, Lisa, Angela, Dee, Sally and Vicki.

Only a few knew each other. Fewer still knew about each other, or ever heard someone else's name in a way that suggested "another."

He was private. Compartmentalized. Never felt for anyone else while involved. No affairs, or infidelity from his serial whatever it was...
He wouldn't describe it as casual, because it was damn intense while happening... But never got to a point where he thought "this is it."

That started early. Colleen moved away the same weekend they first kissed; playing spin the bottle at Michelle's basement birthday party... He learned to totally immerse in now, and not to believe in forever.

And one day a year he gets reminded of the damage, by everything.

Aimee Mann - "Save Me" - Magnolia (1999)

Legends of Jazz

Legends of Jazz was a 13 week flight of American public TV programs in 2006 presented by composer/pianist Ramsey Lewis. Each themed episode featured intimate conversations and original performances... American trumpeter Chris Botti was on one called "Golden Horns."


"Minotaur" from Sean Macfarlane’s illustration portfolio.

That was Sean Macfarlane... Not to be confused with "Family Guy" & "American Dad" creator, man of 1,000 voices Seth Macfarlane.

Help Me I Think I'm Falling

And perfectly reflected by Joni Mitchell.

Eat, Pray, Love, Marry

Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love about her globe-hopping, soul-searching journey after a divorce, followed that book up with a memoir, "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage".

She has reservations about selling film rights, even if Julia Roberts plays her again, making out with Javier Bardem this time.
Write Something Else Very Personal
Audio Embed: Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen 2/12/11.

Keith Urban - Once In A Lifetime

From the Album Love, Pain & the whole crazy thing (2006)

Eveybody Must Get Stoned

Annual Valentine's Day Stoning Of Happy Couple Held

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bieber Fever Stoked

Whoever thought this would be the right time to release "Gnomeo and Juliet" and "Just Go With It" may already be looking for another job... Or career. Because anyone who says "Keep your eyes on the haircut," isn't talking about "the Rachel" from the year when Bieber was born.

The Timing

It's no accident that Justin Bieber hit the big screen with the 3-D concert film, "Never Say Never" on the same weekend as the 2011 Grammy Awards, for which he received several nominations.

In music & movie industries (manufacturing/assembly line imagery fits) it's all about the money and marketing... But in a blitz of pre-release publicity appearances all over American TV, he looks like a fashion that can become more than just another flavor of the month.

The Trailer

Justin Bieber, on the cusp of something. (movie promo photo)

Targeting The Tweens

More than 50% of this year's Grammy award nominations went to independent label artists... But it's the marketing machine of major labels (in this case the Universal Music Group) orchestrating the build-up. Between the Grammys & his 3D concert movie, the next phase of the teen star's career starts now, with a younger than indie crowd.
"Beliebers" Fuel The Fire
Audio Embed: All Things Considered 2/12/11,
Host: Guy Raz.

Bieber Fever Chilled

Experience the Grammy Guy with No Adrenaline

Justin Bieber - U Smile processed through the program "PaulStretch."


Some People Just Can't Handle Snow

Passing Plow Buries Man Alive

Wisconsin man slips on ice on way to mailbox, buried for 4 hours.

Frozen Ground Ices Funeral Plans

Nobody else gets buried until spring thaws out Derry, New Hampshire.

Headfirst Dive Into Snow Stunt

Does it make the gratuitous people falling down video Hall of Shame?

Others Do Pretty Well

Snowblower Puts Out House Fire

Quick-thinking man's seasonal solution saves neighbor's house.

Revenge is Best Served Cold & Snowy

Surveillance captures retaliation against shovel thief's dug out car.

Barstool Ski-Racing Hits Minnesota

Downhill fun doubles as fundraising for a local snowmobile club.


In a film career spanning the best part of five decades, this director, writer and actor survived his friendship with Burt Reynolds and even having my office just down the hall from his own in the early 80's.

But Hal Needham's main claim to fame was as Hollywood's highest paid stuntman. And to be #1 he had to break the land speed record, and 56 bones... Fortunately not all at the same time.

Read all about it in "Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life."
Lights, Camera, Action, Splat!
Audio Embed: WBUR & NPR's Only A Game 2/12/11,
Host: Bill Littlefield. Read an excerpt.

British comedian Marty Feldman's version

Barack on Bone

Leave it to a professional trombone player to notice a Presidential front-page frown looked a lot like the embouchure of someone absorbed in reading a musical score... And paired with a baritone trombone, a "bari," it fit a guy who used to be called "Barry," too.

Desperation Day

Barney declares February 13th "Desperation Day"... A holiday for desperate women who will spend Valentines Day, like many other Mondays, at home watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother.

The Graphic Truth


A Twitter hashtag compilation from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.