Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Hillary Clinton: Serial Egotism

Maybe Huckabee isn't the only one who receives phone calls from God.

The first time Hillary Clinton said something very similar to this, it seemed accidental, attributable to fatigue, but nevertheless odd. It was also a little more general, and could--if one is very generous-- be taken to mean that high turnout indicates healthy democracy, not that her personal victory is necessary for "America to be back." That was just over a month ago. Now she is quoted as having said of her primary election victories in Ohio and Texas:
"This nation is coming back and so is this campaign," she said.
She might mean "This nation is coming back in support of my candidacy," but then "and so is this campaign" wouldn't make sense ("and this campaign is coming back in support of my candidacy, too"?). It seems, therefore, that she must mean that support of her candidacy is necessary for the nation's success: "This nation comes back when it gives me victory."

I'm sure that a very determined and ambitious mindset is required to be a successful candidate. She has to believe that she should win, not just that she might win and could do the job if elected. But these statements suggest that she believes that, of all the candidates, only she could do the job; that only she should win, and that the nation fails when it doesn't support her. Perhaps they all think this way, and only she lets it show.

Whether only she has trouble distinguishing between her personal interest and the national interest, or only she can't conceal this confusion, it seems to me this indicates a handicap other candidates don't have (although they may have worse faults).

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Monday, March 03, 2008


Gil Scott-Heron, Joan Baez and Earl Scruggs

Artificially (or algorithmically) intelligent free association led me from Lenny Bruce to Gil Scott-Heron.

It was not my "free association", it was YouTube's "free association" intuited for me.
YouTube suggestions are right up there with Google page ranks for vacillation between "but of course" and "what the f*?" (did it take my recent visit to Joan Baez singing and playing and Earl Scruggs playing Bob Dylan as a "given"?)

Whatever. I'm glad, because Gil Scott-Heron is perhaps one of the most under-known, over-forgotten poets of my lifetime, as far as I can judge. I just spectated
and soon, when I feel worthy, I'll spectate some more. I should show him my appreciation. If I buy a record, will he receive anything?

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Sunday, March 02, 2008


One-letter Four-letter Words

By "One-letter Four-letter Words" I mean, of course, "four letter words that aren't permitted" in FCC-regulated media, and even in the press are often only "identified" by one (first) letter: the f word, the s word, and whatever others there may be.

Why has the FCC suddenly become so zealous? Hope that if they do a super job policing media that are in decline (those carried over the "public" airwaves--traditional radio and TV), they'll be asked to police media with a future? Isn't the NSA already doing that? Ah, yes, with the rise of mobile media (selfphones, WiFi media devices) content is once again using the "public" space, so that should be covered by the FCC's charter. (Incidentally, why isn't satellite radio in their portfolio of governed media?)

These thoughts were triggered by a third event in a relatively short timespan, the article "Supreme Court may rethink broadcast indecency" in the Los Angeles Times.
The issue before the court now is delicately described as the problem of "fleeting expletives" in over-the-air broadcasts, which are still regulated. TV viewers who watch the entertainment industry's awards shows may be familiar with the phenomenon.

I remember "issue" this from the WYBC vs FCC (or was it the other way around?) case stemming from the live, unexpurgated coverage of news events during the demonstrations in New Haven, CT, in 1970: some of the leaders speaking to the demonstraters said an F-word, and WYBC was covering live, no seven-second delay to allow an on-line editor to bleep "when appropriate". WYBC won, as I recall. A thought: oughtn't the media remove the sounds of rockets and gunfire whenever they occur? I think they are at least as obscene as words: "sticks and stones (and bullets, mortar shells, rockets, grenades, land mines) may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The article tends to confirm my memory:
News programs and movies such as "Saving Private Ryan" have been given exemptions. Including profanity from soldiers on the D-day beaches was not intended to shock or titillate, the FCC said, but help "convey the horrors of war."
Evidently, awards shows are not considered "news" by the FCC, but entertainment. Right. Who writes the scripts?

C-word: The second event (penultimate trigger) was the news (on Valentine's Day) that Jane Fonda, in relating how she became involved in the "V-word monologues" -- s-word! that doesn't work! the v-word has more than four letters! -- used "the c word" live on the Today show. Honestly, how many people watching that show at that hour are so unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or both with that word to be offended? How many didn't even recognize the word, and so couldn't be offended? For my part, I didn't see the show (but there are several videos uploaded to the web now), just read about it. And I wondered, THE c word? Rooster and Thinkpad button are okay, there is A c-word and they are not It? One learns something every day. And what of the three-letter c-word that was the subject of one of Lenny Bruce's monologues: how should one refer to such a three-letter word?

L-word: Today I watched a video of a TV panel discussion, in which someone said "if you got married to get laid...": is that an "L-word" or is it admissible? Is there another L word?

D-Word: In the 1970's, buttons and bumper-stickers said "Dick Nixon before he dicks you". Is that the "D-word"? I guess not, VP Cheney was allowed to campaign, and he d-worded us in more orifices than we knew we had.

The first event was news relayed to me by someone else shocked by this idiocy:

The half a hundred ABC affiliates hit with indecency fines over a February 2003 episode of NYPD Blue have filed an appeal with the FCC, telling it why it should rescind the fines, no buts about it.

According to a copy of the filing obtained by B&C, the stations argue that the bare female behind that prompted those fines--which totalled about $1.4 million--was a ³simple depiction of non-sexual nudity,² and that mere nudity is not indecent either as a matter of law or as a matter of community standards.

In the Jan. 25 order, the FCC had said ABC had not argued convincingly or sited any authorities for why the buttocks was not a sexual or excretory organ, saying ³that runs counter to both case law and common sense. "

And mouths, tongues, hands are still proper to show? Skin, for that matter, is an excretory organ: perspiration, etc. How would I argue convincingly or find authorities to site [sic: should have been "cite", as in "citation", not "sitation"] for why my eyes (which excrete tears) are not a sexual or excretory organ? Perhaps I should shop for a burka for men before I next enter the U.S.A., just in case.

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Climate Change: Not so fast!

This is the kind of writing/research/proof-reading/fact-checking failure that delights climate-change deniers:

The Met Office, Britain's weather agency, says that by 2030, Mediterranean rainfall is expected to be down by 25% and annual average air temperatures in Europe are likely to be up by as much as 42 degrees by 2080. In France, truffle stock is shriveling - Los Angeles Times By Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press
March 2, 2008

We aren't informed whether the "42 degrees" are C or F, but the statement that average annual temperatures would rise by that much is absurd even if the said rise is in degrees F (equivalent to "only" about 23 degrees C). For perspective, the average annual temperature in the continental U.S. in 2006
Based on preliminary data, the 2006 annual average temperature was 55 degrees F—2.2 degrees F (1.2 degrees C) above the 20th Century mean and 0.07 degrees F (0.04 degrees C) warmer than 1998. NOAA originally estimated in mid-December that the 2006 annual average temperature for the contiguous United States would likely be 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above the 20th Century mean, which would have made 2006 the third warmest year on record, slightly cooler than 1998 and 1934, according to preliminary data. Further analysis of annual temperatures and an unusually warm December caused the change in records.NOAA REPORTS 2006 WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD FOR U.S.

So, if the temperature rose as much in the contiguous states as claimed it will in Europe, the average annual temperature would rise from 55° F to 97° F by 2030. I'm not sure where I would situate my personal threshold for credible temperature changes, but I am sure that that is well outside the range I consider credible.

This does not make me a global warming and climate change denier.
2007 Was Tied As Earth's Second Warmest Year
"As we predicted last year, 2007 was warmer than 2006, continuing the strong warming trend of the past 30 years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases," said James Hansen, director of NASA GISS.
Please have a look at the graph GISS prepared of global annual surface temperatures (1880-2007) relative to 1951-1980 mean temperatures.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (2008, January 17). 2007 Was Tied As Earth's Second Warmest Year. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2008, from­ /releases/2008/01/080116114150.htm

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