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3rd-Mar-2005 05:01 pm - All hail the death of radio
Slammy evil
-- Clear Channel suffers and rock radio is gasping its last and, more importantly, does anyone care?

Thx to breezyg for passing on Mark Morford's analysis of the passing of terrestrial radio. Morford is appropriately brutal:
Corporate radio sucketh, whole and large and true.

We know this. Everyone knows this. There is not a single person out there right now who is listening to any of the one zillion lifeless Clear Channel or Infinity-owned rock stations anywhere in the nation who is saying to themselves, gosh this KLOG station is just exceptionally good and clever and smart and plays amazingly fresh music and makes me want to listen all the time and oh my God I am so going to pick up the phone right now and try to be the 157th caller so I can win tickets to go see Dave Matthews live in Portland! Woo!

OK, maybe there's a few. But you probably don't want to know them, because they're the type who never slam ice-cold shots of vodka or have never heard of Rocco Siffredi and they wear pink capri pants or backward baseball hats and drive Ford Escorts with weird stuffed animals in the windows. Mostly.

This is the problem with rock radio. It has become the last option, the thing you listen to only when all other options fail, when you're too tired to pop in a CD or too lazy to reach for the iPod or just a little too buzzed on premium tequila and postcoital nirvana to care about searching your glove box for that old AC/DC tape. In short, rock radio is for people who buy their Matchbox 20 CDs from Target.
Morford hopes, as do I, that blogs, podcasts, CD burning, iPod playlists and live Net streams will add up to a Next Big Thing for music, but for the moment, can we just get the bloated carcass that is FM radio in the ground before it starts attracting buzzards?

:xpost:
3rd-Mar-2005 11:18 am - Rich on the rampage
Slammy evil
Frank Rich's take this morning on the appalling state of The News oughta be mandatory reading:
What's missing from News is the news. On ABC, Peter Jennings devotes two hours of prime time to playing peek-a-boo with U.F.O. fanatics, a whorish stunt crafted to deliver ratings, not information. On NBC, Brian Williams is busy as all get-out, as every promo reminds us, "Reporting America's Story." That story just happens to be the relentless branding of Brian Williams as America's anchorman - a guy just too in love with Folks Like Us to waste his time looking closely at, say, anything happening in Washington.
Rich offers a sober view of the industry, but what he doesn't do is explain how the death of News evenutally translates into the death of Democracy. As I've noted before, the reason we have a free press is so society has a reliable, independent watchdog to protect it from the inevitable kleptocracy and powermongering of the power elite.

If the press doesn't do its job, we're fucked. And these days, between:
  • corporatization of the media,
  • PR's near-total seduction of the press function, and
  • the administration's repeated attempts to buy journalists and insinuate party hacks in the press corps,
not only is the henhouse not being responsibly guarded, the task of watching the chickens has been outsourced to Fox and Egg-Sucking Weasel Security, Inc.

Representative democracy, as envisioned by the framers, works pretty well so long as you have an educated, self-interested public that can be counted on to inform itself regarding the issues facing society. Maybe it never occurred to folks like Jefferson and Madison and Franklin that people wouldn't behave that way. From their perspective, it was perhaps inconceivable that voters would pursue ignorance with as much gusto as we do in 21st Century America.

What we do know is that a system where the representatives are whores and the represented are stupid doesn't work so well. And in such an environment, we ought to be especially distressed to look over and see our own watchdogs getting treats and belly-scritches from the thugs who have come to rob us blind.

[Thx to the pit's institutional journalism correspondent, Pat Vecchio, for passing this on.]

:xpost:
28th-Feb-2005 10:36 am - For a good time, call Vivienne*
Slammy evil
[Thx to ultimate_seeker for passing this item on.]

Cell companies ready to roll out new virtual girlfriend on 3G networks
Men, are you tired of the time, trouble and expense of having a girlfriend? Irritated by the difficulty of finding a new one?

Eberhard Schöneburg, the chief executive of the software maker Artificial Life Inc. of Hong Kong, may have found the answer: a virtual girlfriend named Vivienne who goes wherever you go.

[snip]

She may sound like a mixed blessing, decidedly high maintenance and perhaps the last resort of losers. But she is nonetheless a concept that cellphone system operators and handset manufacturers are starting to embrace.

Vivienne, the product of computerized voice synthesis, streaming video and text messages, is meant not only to bring business to Artificial Life (she will be available for a monthly fee of $6, not including the airtime costs paid to cellphone operators or the price of virtual chocolates and flowers). But she is also meant to be a lure for the new, higher-tech, third generation, or 3G, cellphones.
It's times like this I really sympathize with sf writers, because let's face it, folks, our science has outrun our fiction.....

:xpost:
Slammy evil
I heard the news today, oh boy...
One of the brightest lights in the American firmament blinked out Sunday. Word of Hunter Thompson’s death arrived at our house via the crawl on the network happy news this morning , and there’s irony enough in that fact alone.

I barely know where to start. Most of us don’t get a lot of practice eulogizing our heroes, and even if we did, Thompson wasn’t the sort whose passing fits into any kind of usable template. So I guess I’m going to have to wing it, huh?

Hunter Stockton Thompson, the Good Doctor, is most remembered for his over-the-top tours des excèsFear & Loathing in Las Vegas being the most famous – pieces where he was writing under the influence of enough narcotics and Wild Turkey to buckle the knees of a moderately sized Central American nation. And why not – Hunter was fun. He was outrageous. He was the sort of balls-to-the-wall, larger-than-life, fuck-all-authority rebel a lot of us probably fantasize about being. He lived life on his own terms, and if he was tortured by demons, they were by god his own demons. Even as I admit that’s probably not the life I’d choose for myself if I had a magic wand, it’s hard not to respect such a fierce refusal to compromise.

It’s not the gonzo high spots I’ll remember him for, though. What has gotten so lost in the legend that Thompson became (and the self-parody he sometimes lapsed into later in his career) is that he was a damned fine reporter. Forget gonzo for a second. Before HST became an icon of the New Journalism he was an exceptional practitioner of a more conventional journalism, something that’s evident to anybody who’s read the early works collected in The Great Shark Hunt: Gonzo Papers, Volume 1.

Read more...Collapse )

:xpost:
17th-Feb-2005 02:01 pm - ChoicePoint debacle
Slammy evil
ChoicePoint Inc., a national provider of identification and credential verification services, says it will send an additional 110,000 statements to people informing them of possible identity theft after a group of well-organized criminals was able to obtain personal information on almost 140,000 consumers through the company.

According to a statement on the ChoicePoint Web site, the incident was not the result of its systems being hacked but rather caused by criminals posing as legitimate businesses seeking to gain access to personal information. Read story...
Well, the whole world of data mining is a mixed bag, I suppose - I mean, I certainly appreciate that they've apparently "helped find 822 missing children."

But with that kind of access and the power it entails comes an equally ferocious responsibility to the security of that data, and the idea that ChoicePoint could be tricked tells me all I need to know to shut them down. I don't care how clever the criminals are - you know they're coming for you, as surely as you would if you had gold bullion hidden in your basement, and there is simply no excuse, ever, for getting punked. Period.

I'm glad they're helping in the fight against terrorists. I'm glad they're helping in the hunt for serial killers. But if it turns out that their malfeasance results in my identify being stolen, I assure you I'll be talking to the meanest lawyer I can find.
15th-Feb-2005 10:10 am - Spinny Things
Flower vase
So I went to a Valentine's Day party last night, it was me and 3 other girls who are a little older than me (but still 80s babies.) And while we were making Valentines for each other (we're all single...no boyfriends to get Valentines from...), we talked about a lot of things, one of them being some toys we had as kids. We talked about Big Wheels and Easy Bake Ovens, and those round things you sat on and you would like, pull yourself around, and this thing would spin you. I know that's a lousy description, but does anyone remember what the name of those things were?
23rd-Jan-2005 02:14 pm - RIP JOHNNY CARSON
Flower vase
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Johnny Carson,
Oct. 23rd, 1925 -- January 23rd, 2005
14th-Jan-2005 04:14 pm - WWW's greatest hits
Slammy evil
I've been working on this for awhile, and thanks to others who chipped in ideas.
Through the years the Web has unleashed a seemingly endless spew of heretofore untapped stupidity in humankind. We have discovered, as a happy side effect, that humankind also possesses previously unrecognized reservoirs of laziness and an untamed goof-off spirit that has cost the world’s employers (at least those dumb enough to allow Net access into their workplaces) countless billions of dollars in lost productivity.

So I decided to try and pull together a “greatest hits” list that would honor recognize some of the greatest most ridiculous moments in Web history. My criteria are “fluid,” at best, and this list is in no way scientific. Mainly, I just asked a bunch of people for suggestions and then ranked them according to what I like to call “enlightened whim.” In general, though, these sites are about silliness and people with wayyyy too much time on their hands. Some have unintended educational value, I suppose, and others are less about whimsy than out-and-out, near-pathological, knee-buckling weirdness.

Enjoy.
A hint - Hampton the Hamster checks in at #1...

The List

:x-post fortysomething:
9th-Jan-2005 02:28 pm - Things you learn
man dog hard cider
Reading a book I bought yesterday, "The Birth of the Beat Generation", I was surprised to learn the term "beat" was not truly represented by some image of a Maynard G. Krebs character popping his fingers to some musical beat while saying "I'm hip to your jive, daddy-o". Beat came from "beaten down" or "exhausted", looking at everything from the perspective of someone who was at the bottom of society. In the drug world "beat" meant robbed or cheated. Reading the early life biographies of the founders of "beat", it is interesting to learn about their intellectual beginnings and how they formed a "movement".
4th-Jan-2005 09:44 am - RIP Kelly Freas
Slammy evil
Kelly Freas, an illustrator who produced sleek, stirring images for science fiction and fantasy books and helped shape the image of Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Newman, died Sunday. He was 82.
My first acquaintance with Freas was, oddly enough, the 1977 Queen album News of the World, which featured a modified version of his famous painting, The Gulf Between.

The world of sf/fantasy has a history of producing art that's more given to flamboyance than nuance, but the soulfulness of the robot in that painting was pure genius, speaking to our culture's growing unease with the "Frankenstein Complex" - a creeping technophobic anxiety over technology that was seemingly developing an autonomy of its own. Regardless of the genre, great art finds a way of articulating things that lie just beyond the power of mere words, and this was Freas' gift, I suppose.

Freas may be gone, but it will be some time before his influence dies out....

:x-post _transhumanism_ | schism_matrix | fortysomething:
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