Archive | January, 2007

Thanks for everything, Molly

31 Jan

One of the greatest political writers of our time, Molly Ivins, died today. She fought breast cancer for the last seven years. Her writings were witty beyond belief. She loved to tackle the Texas Legislature for some of their foolishness. She once observed that more people died from guns in Texas than on the freeways, but that the Lege (as she called it) was more likely to raise the speed limit so there would be more deaths on the freeways than it was likely to enact some modest form of gun control. When asked about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (when he was a mere Congressman), she said, “You mean the dope-smoking deadbeat dad who divorced his dying wife?” She didn’t pull punches, but always got a laugh.

I’m lucky enough to have a book inscribed by her. I’ll have to read it again soon.

Thanks for your work, Molly. You were a beacon of hope in the Republican wasteland for many years.

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Screw the working poor

26 Jan

That’s the message from 28, count ’em 28, Republican Senators this week who voted for a measure that would have eliminated the federal minimum wage. Had it passed, the good folks in red-state Kansas would have seen their minimum wage drop to $2.65/hour.

Be sure to study that list carefully.  You might see your own Senator’s name on it, and there’s a couple of guys who are really hoping you’ll vote for them for President.

If you’re really outraged at how your Senator voted, why not tell him about it? (No sexism here–it appears that all of these guys are men. Even conservative women knew this dumb idea would hurt families.)

Big Brother is watching us

19 Jan

It really is scary how easily we are tracked.

The attack machine cranks up already

18 Jan

For the love of all that is holy and good, can’t the right-wing attack machine wait just a damn minute? Barack Obama announces that he’s forming an exploratory committee to look at running for president in 2008. It’s news, but hardly earth-shattering. Evan Bayh formed such a committee and decided not to run.

But the vultures on the right can’t wait to start attacking someone who might actually bring some good ideas to the table. Fox News is no big surprise, but ABC is starting to become a Fox News clone. There’s more here and here.

Of course, the right-wing hacks have to do this. When you have no ideas of your own, or your ideas are not as good as your opponents, you have to resort to mud-slinging. And when they do, that’s how the target knows he’s won the argument.

Makes me want to go give money to Obama’s committee, just to piss off the right wingers.

What would Walt do?

13 Jan

People who know me know I’m a huge fan of things Disney. But today I’m really soured on the Mouse.

ABC, which is owned by Disney, has a radio station in San Francisco that features on-air personalities who advocate violence against Americans, Muslims, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with the extreme right. In one instance, the on-air “talent” demanded that a caller prove he is not a Muslim by saying “Allah is a whore.”

Disgusting.

So, when a web site begins tracking this kind of hate speech and points it out to advertisers, what does the radio station do?

Get the web site shut down.

That’s right. Rather than say to the on-air people “tone it down,” they go on the attack against the whistleblower.

This is crap. And I wish I knew what to do about it. I think the only thing that can be done is to go above ABC and start hitting its parent company, Disney.

So here’s what I’m asking you to do:

First, go to Media Matters to get the details on what has happened.

Second, send an email to TWDC.CorpCommunications@disney.com to express your disappointment with these talking points:

  • Disney has always been the standard for excellence in decency.
  • Disney stands for family-fun entertainment, and shouldn’t have hate speech on its networks.
  • You can’t imagine that Walt Disney would have tolerated such material being associated with his company.
  • You are inclined to spend your vacation dollars elsewhere this year rather than at a Disney resort if Disney is going to tolerate this type of behavior.

Here’s the email I sent to them today:

Good morning:

It was with great concern that I learned about the on-air radio personalities at ABC Radio’s KSFO and the comments they have made on air. One radio personality said that they had a large bullseye on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Another incident occurred when a personality challenged to prove that he was not a Muslim by saying the words “Allah is a whore.”

I am a Disney shareholder, member of the Disney Vacation Club, and have been a longtime consumer of Disney’s offerings. To me, Disney has always stood for decency and healthy entertainment that would bring joy to people, not promote hate or violence. Yet with KSFO’s content, the Disney brand is being tarnished.

When an online blogger began to track the comments of the radio personalities, it appears that ABC Radio sought to shut the web site down rather than address the problems.

Frankly, I’m disappointed. I cannot believe for a moment that the Disney board of directors wants to see the company associated with this kind of behavior. And it is beyond dispute that Walt Disney would not have tolerated this.

Each year, my wife and I visit a Disney resort at least once. This year, I am highly inclined to skip our annual Disney trip and spend our vacation dollars elsewhere. I see no reason to have my dollars promote hate speech on the radio. Healthy political debate is good for the nation, but attacking people and advocating violence is unacceptable in a civilized society.

I hope that you will pass on my comments to the appropriate parties so this ugly situation can be addressed.

Sincerely yours,

William L. Wilson

Fortunately, the web site is back up so you can see it for yourself. Please do.

More on the iPhone

11 Jan

After watching the Steve Jobs keynote speach online, I’m really enthused now about the iPhone. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware that does a lot of things far better than any lousy cell phone I’ve ever used.

But as I sit here today, I won’t order one when they are released in June. There are a couple of flaws that concern me. One, the battery isn’t accessible. That’s got to be a problem in search of a solution. Now, my wife will tell you I rarely use the cell phone I have now, so maybe my battery will live longer than most others. Maybe that’s not a big deal.

But what is a big deal to me is the Cingular network known as EDGE, which is what the iPhone uses for Internet access when it’s not around a Wi-Fi network. EDGE is slow, according to its fans. And, as I understand it, Cingular is working toward upgrading its wireless data network, so the iPhone is already using technology that will soon be replaced.

So, as much as I want an iPhone in June, I think I’ll wait for the second generation so the bugs can get worked out. Or maybe my heart will overrule my brain and I’ll be ordering one the minute they are available. 🙂

Kind of a mixed reaction here

9 Jan

I don’t blog about technology often, even though I kind of like the stuff. I’m a big Mac user (our household has three active Macs, plus a few sitting in the “museum” in the basement), and I think the iPod and podcasting are great additions to life.

So I was pretty geared up today when Steve Jobs took the stage at the annual Macworld conference to deliver his keynote address. For the Mac faithful, this is as close to a religious experience as it gets. Those great moments when Jobs introduced the new, groundbreaking hardware are memorable.

Today’s event is no less memorable. Apple has created and introduced the iPhone. This is not merely a cellular phone. It has a built-in video iPod and runs a version of Mac OS X so that you can surf the internet, email people, and even get Google maps to help you find your way around. The iPhone uses nothing more than your finger to do everything, and you really need to check out the iPhone pages to see the demos to appreciate this quantum leap forward in the user interface. I have few doubts that this device will be as revolutionary as the iPod.

But I’m also a bit disappointed. I was hoping for more. New Mac hardware, for example. The iPhone would have made a great “one more thing” that Jobs is known for in his keynotes, but this one left me feeling empty. I guess it’s because I didn’t see anything new that I see myself using in the future. As my wife knows, I rarely carry my cell phone around. I am trying to get into the habit of just having it near my car keys so I can take it with me to have in the car in case of emergency, but I’m just not a cell phone power user. (I should probably switch to a Cingular Go Phone or whatever they call it and save some money each month.)

I love the cool technology in the iPhone, but I don’t see myself spending $500 on it, plus the monthly service cost.

Apple could have given us something small, like an update to iWorks or iLife. Yeah, the addition of Paramount Pictures movies to the iTunes Store is a nice move, but I’m not one who downloads movies to my computer. I kind of like DVDs and the TV over my iPod’s video display. And, no, the Apple TV doesn’t get me excited. I don’t need a device to hook my computer up to my TV.

Maybe I’m turning into a Luddite, I don’t know. I love the ideas of new technology, but I also want to see how I can use them in my life. I don’t want to have to change over from DVD technology to Apple TV technology just to watch a movie.

Or maybe I’m just grumpy today. Either way, kudos to Apple, Inc. (they dropped the “computer” from the official company name) for another landmark in the technological race forward. I may buy an iPhone some day after I have the chance to see one in person. (I was among the first to buy Apple’s Newton when it first came out, so there is some precedent for my acquiring new technology before it hits the mainstream.) Or perhaps I won’t. I just know that as a Mac enthusiast, today’s keynote was somewhat of a letdown. Perhaps I’ll feel differently after I watch the web cast.