Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For political bloggers who have considered e-suicide when the apathy is enough.

You have to admit that it's sort of cool (and a little clichéd) to see that the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine is crashing from overuse today, in this festive week between Xmas and New Year's Day.
You might have to wait until after the holidays to off your Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn selves.

". . . commanding his very own tank . . ."

Here are the Jefferson Airplane performing "Lather" on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS in 1968.

I guess I can blame network television in the nineteen sixties for turning me into the liberal that I am today.

Happy New Year. Feed Your Head.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Comedy Writers Take Note.

If you're looking to imitate a freelance conservative commentator on your own comedy website, you can't do better than the comedy writers behind the site that I just stumbled upon this afternoon: Here are a couple of randomly-selected run-on sentences from the center of their long Christmas Eve entry.
Don't hurt your brain trying to make logical sense of it. Simply admire the flow, the unrelenting unreadable BOLD ARIAL CAPS, the exclamation points, the creative spelling. Priceless. It's right up there with the comedy writers behind @SarahPalinUSA who celebrated Christmas Eve with the following joke posting. Note how brevity and random capitalization and punctuation can be used just as efficiently as screaming run-on caps when imitating the comic reactionary voice. A freedom from standard orthographical rules is mandatory though.

(And for those of you who may be reading this on a device that doesn't show images, the text of "Sarah Palin's" Tweet reads: "c tomrrw's Healthcare Takeover vote=the sleeping giant will awaken&action will b takn by"average"Americans as lite shines on big govt growth")

TV Free for > Six Months

The plug was pulled on my fringe-area television on June 12, 2009, so I've been living without broadcast or cable television for a little over six months now and I see these as the major effects:

1) I find myself less angry, especially on Sunday mornings with no talking heads spouting the right wing's talking point of the week and their "liberal" opponents responding weakly to that orchestrated message.
2) I find myself much less alarmed than my co-workers by the weather (ohmigod, didja hear about the nor'easter on its way?!?) or the latest health scare (ohmigod, SWINE FLU!!) or crime scare or terror alert or whatever the fuck it is that the local newscasters are using as their tease to keep us tuned in and concerned that day so that we can hear the hypochondria-inducing pharmaceutical advertisements between overhyped scare stories.
3) I have no desire to buy anything. OK, if the average boobs who are glued to their tubes did stop watching at any point, the useless-crap bubble that is our economy would definitely collapse. But there's no reason that every single one of us needs to participate in that game.

Does anyone have a good reason why I should pay to watch real-time television? Have I missed anything vital in the past 6 months? (I do watch DVDs of my choosing [from the free public library, not a store or paid online rental service], but don't tell me that I should watch network television online. I don't have a broadband connection either.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's officially the naughties.

When I first asked the question back in July 2005 about the lack of an accepted name for this decade following on the heels of the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties, I never thought that the lack of an official moniker for the naughties would still be continuing with less than a week remaining until ones replace zeroes in the third digit on our calendar headings.

The Washington Post confirms the continuing uncertainty about the name in an article today by Michael S. Rosenwald today titled "21st century's first decade is slipping away without leaving its name":
"Dictionary editors, linguists and even radio DJs say we have entered a semantic black hole in which the English language failed to produce a term for the outgoing decade in the same way it has failed to find a catchy moniker for your former in-laws. (Out-laws never stuck.) The language is stumped. The Zeroes? The Ohs? The Oh-Ohs? Help!"
So, since the mainstream media cannot decide on the name that we should be using, I'm officially making "the naughties" the name for the waning decade in the True Blue Liberal dot Org stylesheet. It's not up to "the English produce a term for the outgoing decade." It's up to us, the speakers and writers of our language.

Now, what's the name for the next decade? Should we start calling it "the teens" before 2013?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Liberal Xmas

I and all my liberal friends would like to thank our Christian neighbors for giving us a day off today.
I'm spending my lazy secular day away from work in my totally undecorated liberal hideout (unless you consider the obligatory photos of Mao and Che mere "decoration") listening to NPR, typing leftist propaganda on this computer, and taking breaks to play "Friend of the Devil" on my guitar.
Later, after downing some festive pre-Perestroika Soviet vodka, I hope to be able to finish my application form to sit on the local Obama Death Panel early in the New Year.
Happy Holidays (as we who have declared War on Christmas like to say)!

(OH NO -- WNYC just started playing Christmas songs, so now it's time to put some Ornette Coleman on the turntable.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The "R" on my car does not stand for "Republican"

Police in my town famously stopped Bob Dylan on the street a month ago because Bob was wandering around like the suspicious old man he is (we didn't know about his detention at the time, but we saw his outdoor concert in the rain later that night in Lakewood and he and the band did a great job), but today I heard that the police allowed Republicans -- right here in Long Branch, openly, allowed to walk, chant, and hold ridiculous signs -- to freely assemble on the street in front of Congressman Frank Pallone's office, demonstrating to maintain the wonderful status quo in American health care. And really, it is a wonderful system. What other healthcare system in the world employs millions in unnecessary jobs filling out insurance paperwork, or collecting big bonuses for denying lifesaving treatments? What other healthcare system in the world forces the rest of us to hold like grim death onto jobs that we hate in order to keep private health insurance that may or may not cover us when we really need it? Things are perfect just as they are. Or at least that's what the Repulicans who invaded Long Branch today from their strongholds in Middletown and Rumson think.
I wouldn't even have mentioned them except for the fact that I went to the library today, just a few blocks down Broadway from their demonstration, and when I came out I noticed that the OBAMA'08 bumper sticker that had been on my car since late 2007 was missing. I can't swear that it was one of them, but the sticker was definitely there just a couple of days ago. When I get my liberal self appointed to one of Obama's Death Panels, I'll be looking for the sticker thief so I can personally pull his or her plug or administer the lethal injection (the final preferred Obama Death Panel Execution Method [or ODPEM] has yet to be determined by soulless atheistic socialist government bureaucrats).

Monday, July 20, 2009

TBL's Quote of the Day for Moon Day 2009

Here's my short quote of the day for the 40th anniversary of Moon Day.
Whenever I see a picture of Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong on their 1969 trip to Tranquillity Base, this is the upbeat ditty --from 1970's "Songs of Love and Hate" -- that always buzzes through my head:
Ah, they'll never, they'll never ever reach the moon,
at least not the one that we're after;
it's floating broken on the open sea, look out there, my friends,
and it carries no survivors.
--Leonard Cohen, Sing Another Song, Boys (this one has grown old and bitter)
Happy Moon Day to you all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Two Departures

1) It seems that the death of free broadcast television was not exaggerated. On June 12 when my seven fuzzy analog signals ended and I turned on my digital converter, I did get ABC on channel 7.1, paid infomercials on 7.2, and a weather crawl on 7.3. I don't get any of them anymore, though a burst of colored pixels and the occasional sound will sometimes pop up in lieu of the "No Signal" screen for a few minutes on one of those channels. Tonight, instead of watching what Disney has cooked up for me, I'll watch one of the DVDs that I took from the Free Public Library this afternoon on my computer: It Happened One Night with Gable and Colbert (not that Colbert), Girl on the Bridge with Auteuil and Paradis, or Season Five of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Does anyone even need TV? Really, now that Walter Cronkite's dead, what's the point?
2) The domain name of is dead too. It wasn't worth paying the annual fee to keep the name alive for the WHIGGATE UPDATE blog at If Americans didn't care about the lies that led us to invade Iraq while the liars were still in power, why should they care now? And President Obama's right; it's more important for us to look at our future challenges than our past crimes and errors. So let's just ignore the members of the White House Iraq Group and thank their mythical god that they will spend the rest of their lives believing in a universe where an eternity in hell is a possibility.

The Kindle Would Be Kindling if Its Components Weren't Toxic, or It's Final: E-"Books" are NOT Books.

The e-book is dead, and killed with the ultimate ironic twist. Click here to read the article about its death on today's electronic facsimile of the New York Times.

If George Orwell had been able to imagine the future a little more clearly in 1984, there would have been no paper and ink involved at all in the attempts of Big Brother's regime to control the written word. Ideally B.B. would have provided all his subjects with an ugly little device filled with billions of words that could be changed and controlled from one central computer. George Orwell could not have imagined such a fiendishly simple system to control history and literature, but the folks at have.

According to today's article in the Times, "Digital books bought for the Kindle are sent to it over a wireless network. Amazon can also use that network to synchronize electronic books between devices — and apparently to make them vanish."

As bad as it is that some customers have had their copies of 1984 and Animal Farm deleted from their pasty-white gizmos, at least they know the books are gone. It's the other option, the ability to "synchronize electronic books between devices" which has always been scarier to me. And it's also the mutability that makes an e-"book" something other than a book. The electronic text file may have advantages in searchability and bookmarking over the physical object that it's trying to replicate, but its ability to change its words and shape makes it something which deserves another name. Its ability to have its words and shape changed (or deleted) by someone other than you without your knowledge makes it something dangerous. Calling a mutable electronic text file a "book" is a perfect example of Newspeak, but maybe the best model book for this situation isn't 1984 at all, but Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. He better realized the real danger of losing the immutable printed word to the omnipresent mutable video screens. And the real power of the immutable printed word over tyrants who would control our futures and pasts. If you have Bradbury's chef d'oeuvre on your Kindle, make sure it doesn't disappear (or self-immolate).
[And, of course, don't ever trust blog entries either.
I could change this tomorrow to make myself
look smarter -- or to please Amazon's rapacious
lawyers -- and you would never know.
I don't know about you, but I'm taking a trip to the Library this afternoon.
UPDATE 19 July 2009: Here's an example of Amazon revising a "book" file for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on a customer's Kindle to "synchronize electronic books between devices."

This ability to change an e-"book" still strikes me as much more Orwellian than the ability to delete one. Amazon sent this customer an email to advise him about the upcoming change in his electronic text file, but there is nothing to stop a central computer from keeping all electronic "books" fully "correct" and "up-to-date" without any warning (Big Brother's wet dream). All of this points to the need for a new name for these electronic text files. The real books sitting on my shelves (see illustration above) will not be revising themselves anytime soon.

I did make a trip to the Library yesterday afternoon and the dead-tree book I took out was The Great Gatsby; I felt the need to reread it after hearing this show rebroadcast on Studio 360.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What a Rush! or, the soon to be ExAKGovSarahPalin will soon be twittering without fetters!

If you can't see the image of Governor Palin's tweet from very early this morning up above, the text from @AKGovSarahPalin reads "elected is replaceable;Ak WILL progress! + side benefit=10 dys til less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside State site" It sounds to me like she wants to provide some competition for Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter when she steps down in a few days. I can't wait to see what her new Twitter handle is after the "AKGov" is removed. I vote for "@ExAKGovSarahPalin" or "@THESarahPalin," if those names are not already taken.
She must love a format like Twitter that requires neither grammar nor correct spelling. And I love the way that there is no room for vowels in her tweet, but there is room for an exclamation mark!

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Quote of the Day about the "defectively imagined future" (and a primary difference between conservatives and liberals?)

"... Sooner or later Holytail [marijuana-growing area in Vineland County] was due for the full treatment [from the federal marijuana eradicators of CAMP], from which it would emerge, like most of the old Emerald Triangle, pacified territory -- reclaimed by the enemy for a timeless, defectively imagined future of zero-tolerance drug-free Americans all pulling their weight and all locked in to the official economy, inoffensive music, endless family specials on the Tube, church all week long, and, on special days, for extra-good behavior, maybe a cookie."
--Thomas Pynchon, Vineland, pp.221-222
The passage published in 1990 up above was one of the last I read on the train from work this evening. And while I wasn't going to write at all about Sarah Palin's July 3rd resignation (feeling that commenting on Palin, Sanford, Ensign, Boehner, Cheney, and all the other Republicans right now is like piling insults on the mentally challenged), I couldn't help thinking that this paragraph pointed out a key difference between liberals and conservatives. That picture of church-going Tube-watching Stepford families is a dystopic nightmare in Pynchon's universe, and in mine, but I can't help thinking that it's Sarah Palin's and Dick Cheney's dream, and even the dream of those like Sanford and Ensign who have recently slipped from their ideal straight and narrow and are now praying to regain their footing on that correct path with the promise, after confessing their "sins" to the world, of "maybe a cookie."

These are not views of the world that are ever going to be fundamentally reconciled by political compromises (or by any political means). Like it or not, there will always be people who feel they know the one correct way for all of us to behave (even when they don't behave that way themselves).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I hope the new design attracts scores of new visitors

Well, "scores" is probably optimistic.
Maybe "dozens" is more realistic.
I'd hope for at least a dizaine of new visitors after taking the afternoon to brighten up a design that had been done all in black since it was created in the dark days of early November 2004 when we had lost all hope in the American electorate and the motto at the head of this new blog was "helping save america from the dark side, one state at a time." And what was going to save those deep red states in the thrall of torturers? Why, t-shirts of course! You laugh. But who's our President now?

Maybe the new page design will even prompt me to write here on a more regular basis. Or maybe not.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Rumors of the Death of Free TV Have Been (Slightly) Exaggerated.

The Countdown to the Death of Free TV is over and the switches have been thrown.

My television on the fringes of the New York viewing area is, surprisingly, not totally dead. With my converter box in place and with quite a bit of fiddling with the antenna, I am able to get WABC channels 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3! Or at least get them sometimes; they do tend to break up into soundless pixels from time to time. So I'll be able to watch the NBA finals tonight (maybe), but Dave Letterman and Conan O'Brien can forget about lobbying for my support, because NBC and CBS have disappeared (as have Fox, PBS, and whichever networks are associated with channels 9 and 11 -- the WB? CW?).

So last night when there was nothing on Disney's ABC except a Disney movie about Disneyworld's Haunted Mansion attraction, I had to read (finishing Rabbit Redux by Updike and starting The Women by T.C. Boyle) and listen to music (Thelonious Monk's Criss-Cross and Underground and Angela Hewitt's interpretations of Francois Couperin's keyboard music). It's hard to argue that the loss of free television isn't an overall plus.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Possible Origins of Inherent Vice , and a belated recognition of The Recognitions

Where does Inherent Vice come from?
"Well," you might answer, "if it's 'inherent,' it doesn't come from anywhere; it's just there."
But I'm not asking about the vice itself, but about the title of Thomas Pynchon's upcoming novel. The title of his last novel, Against the Day, has a full page dedicated to its possible origins and meanings on the PynchonWiki, so I thought I'd put my thoughts about the possible origins of the next novel's title on the record before I get a chance to flip open its cover for the first time. Before anyone beats me to it.

When I first heard the title, my immediate thought was that its sound and rhythm were an obvious tribute to the major work of a younger artist who wrote in Pynchon's shadow, Infinite Jest by the late David Foster Wallace. That tribute may still be part of the title's origin, but over the last month I've had the pleasure of reading a novel (that had been on my list forever) by an older writer who helped pave the way for Pynchon, The Recognitions (1955) by William Gaddis. The phrase "inherent vice" appears throughout the book (eight times on four pages: 182, 234, 355, & 949) and the arguments about inherent vice are at the heart of the book's examination of originality and forgery.
"But of course no one will insure against inherent vice." (234)
"As you've told me, one cannot insure against inherent vice." (355)
"We cannot insure against inherent vice." (949)

So, did Pynchon read, and was he influenced by, The Recognitions? Is he recognizing its importance in the title of his upcoming novel? For me, the evidence was there and indisputable as soon as I saw the poem at the heart of Gravity's Rainbow, Rilke's "The Duino Elegies", quoted directly on page 277 of The Recognitions and become an important plot point later in the book (see pages 299, 622, 746). Even this could still be simply a coincidental regard for a great poem, but there's no coincidence that could account for the fact that the first sentence of Gravity's Rainbow is a famous echo of the beginning of the Elegies and that The Recognitions ends with a paraphrase of their ending (see the last note, 956.25, on this last page of "A Reader's Guide to The Recognitions").

I may start reading Inherent Vice on the day that it comes out in August and decide that I'm full of shit about the title, but right now I'm sure of my theory of the title's origin. Maybe this little blog entry will even find itself linked to on one of the many Pynchon fan sites one day. What an ambition!

And even if I'm not sure where the title on the cover comes from, I am sure where the cover art originated: Cruiser Art in Hawai'i. But don't ask me why (yet).

(I've also become an apostle for The Recognitions. Read it! Its rewards are tremendous and it's not as hard as its reputation suggests -- especially if you're a fan of Pynchon's -- but I do suggest that you bookmark and the Reader's Guide on that site before you start reading. I didn't discover it until I was about 500 pages into the book and starting to get the vast cast of characters confused. The Guide is a great online resource, if only for its translations of the foreign passages.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 Is Going to Be a Great Year (Part Three)

Thomas Pynchon and Bob Dylan seem to be working in concert lately, and picking up speed, as they continue their creative careers. I couldn't help thinking that it seems like just yesterday that Pynchon's Against the Day and Dylan's "Modern Times" were released, and now here we are (or at least here I am) anxiously awaiting their new creations.

But their parallel paths go back much further than 2006, or even 1997. In every year that Thomas Pynchon published a novel, Bob Dylan has given us a new studio album!

2009 -- TP's Inherent Vice // BD's "Together Through Life"
2006 -- TP's Against the Day // BD's "Modern Times"
1997 -- TP's Mason & Dixon // BD's "Time Out of Mind"
1990 -- TP's Vineland // BD's "Under the Red Sky"
1973 -- TP's Gravity's Rainbow // BD's "Dylan" and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid"
1966 -- TP's The Crying of Lot 49 // BD's "Blonde on Blonde"
1963 -- TP's V. // BD's "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"

The only year that seems a little off is 1973, where even two Dylan albums weren't enough to balance the scales. The cover versions on "Dylan" and the extended single of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" that is "P.G. & B.t.K." are no match for the weight of Gravity's Rainbow (GR would have been balanced by "Blood on the Tracks" in a more perfect world), but all the other years seem to reach a sort of equilibrium. I'm surprised that I never noticed this coincidence between two of my favorite artists before, but I'm sure that someone else has.

(I had hoped that these magical creative years might give us some financial guidance as well in these turbulent economic times, but there's no such luck: 1963, 1997, and 2006 were up years for the Dow, but 1966, 1973, and 1990 saw declines.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gone but Not Forgotten

What a great Bushism I found from our ex-President in Slate today, the first one since he helicoptered out of town on January 20:

"I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened."
—On what he hopes to accomplish with his memoir, as reported by the Associated Press, Calgary, Canada, March 17, 2009 []
If they let him write those presidential memoirs without a ghost, maybe I’ll have to read it just for the comic authorial (or is that authoritarian? or authoritative? or some conscious Joycean mélange of the three?) voice. It could be another Autumn of the Patriarch if his publisher has the genius to tell him, “Editor? You don’t need no friggin’ editor! It’s perfect just as it is Mr. President.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 Is Going to Be a Great Year (Part 2)

I'll be doing my bit for the economy in 2009, giving money to Penguin for a new book in August and to Columbia for a new record on April 28th. You can check for details, read about it on here, and read an interview by Bill Flanagan with Bob Dylan talking about "Together Through Life" by clicking here.

Here's a sample:

[...]Some people preferred my first period songs. Some, the second. Some, the Christian period. Some, the post Colombian. Some, the Pre-Raphaelite. Some people prefer my songs from the nineties. I see that my audience now doesn’t particular care what period the songs are from. They feel style and substance in a more visceral way and let it go at that. Images don’t hang anybody up. Like if there’s an astrologer with a criminal record in one of my songs it’s not going to make anybody wonder if the human race is doomed. Images are taken at face value and it kind of freed me up.

And if that's not clear, Bob explains his imagism better with the follow-up question:

In what way?
Well for instance, if there are shadows and flowers and swampy ledges in a composition, that’s what they are in their essence. There’s no mystification. That’s one way I can explain it.
Like a locomotive, a pair of boots, a kiss or the rain?
Right. All those things are what they are. Or pieces of what they are. It’s the way you move them around that makes it work.

Keep those images moving Bob!

2009 has already given us President Obama, and promises to give us a new studio album from Bob Dylan and a new novel from Thomas Pynchon. Quit your fucking whining America! These are the best years of our lives!

Friday, March 06, 2009

2009 is Going to Be a Great Year

So, by this August your 13-inch rabbit-eared television will be dead, your total 401K retirement account balance will be less than your average monthly grocery bill, your house will be worth less than your 15-year-old Jetta, and the Chinese will have bought the brand names "Chevrolet" and "Cadillac" for 200 euros each, but on August 4, 2009 we will also be given the opportunity to shell out a mere $27.95 for a relatively short (416-page) new novel by Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice.
Here's the tag line from the Penguin catalog:

" Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon—private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog "
The first descriptions and excerpts in the catalog sound like a cross between Vineland and The Crying of Lot 49 with a dash of Raymond Chandler's style, but I'm sure that Tom will have some surprises in store for us that are brand new.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free Analog TV Refuses to Die!

And the countdown clock has been updated.

I was hoping that I would have more enforced reading and music time starting on February 17th, but that damn box will continue to sing its siren song until June 12, because the Republicans in Congress obviously were starting to picture senior citizens with pitchforks at the gates of their marble citadel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No need to reset the countdown clock yet, or Bye Bye Miss American Idol!

Thanks to Republicans in the House of Representatives this afternoon, it seems that the death of broadcast TV in my fringy reception area is going to continue on schedule. The Senate passed a four-month delay earlier this week, but the House has refused to give fuzzy analog reception an extended life beyond February 17th.
Now I won't have to change the settings on my Death of Free TV Countdown Clock. And, barring an appeal to the Supreme Court by Howie Mandel and the cast of The View, those of us who are too cheap to subscribe to cable, and too far from New York's transmission towers to pick up the weaker digital signals, will finally be free of the boob tube's siren song in less than three weeks!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

So, What Is Funny Now That Dubya Has Skedaddled Back to the Wasteland??

Now that both WhiteHouse.Org and Get Your War On have gone on hiatus, and the Bumbler in Chief has left us, what's left to laugh at every morning?

How about a blog where cute animals get told what's what?

The Desks Are Unoccupied Over at "Get Your War On"

Get Your War On, one of the earliest voices of reason starting right after September 11, 2001, and one of the first sites on the blogroll of this little blog, announced that its job came to an end on January 20, 2009. What began in October of 2001 with two necktied cubicle dwellers cheerleading the beginning of the Global War on Terror®, is now ending with their desks empty (obviously laid off in the most recent of Bush recessions). Buy one of David Rees' books as your souvenir of the Bush years.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What About that Other White House Website?

There were articles all over the place yesterday about the changes being made to WhiteHouse.GOV by the new Obama team that took over the White House and its electronic mirror on the world wide web, but I haven't seen any news regarding the fate of WhiteHouse.ORG (a.k.a., the "Officious Website of President George W. Bush") in this brave new world that we entered on Tuesday.

Where is the raison d'être of the website that brought us "TRANSCRIPT OF PRESIDENT'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS PROMISING GREATER FREEDOM® FOR FREEIFIED® FREEFOLK® TO FREELY® ENJOY FREETASTIC® FREEGASMS® OF FREEDOMOSITY®" and "COMPLETE TEXT OF PRESIDENT BUSH'S ORGASMIC REBEL YELL HERALDING THE LAUNCH OF OPERATION GODLESS IRAQAZOID SMACKDOWN "? Will it continue to exist as a time capsule for the reign of the President-who-shall-no-longer-be-named, or will it live on as a twisted reflection of the new White House occupant, no matter who that occupant should be?
It's a question that could be asked about all of us who started blogs and websites as responses to the Bushy Era. What the fuck do we do now?
UPDATE 26 January 2009: There is now a note online that the contents of WhiteHouse.Org have been permanently archived at WHITEHOUSE.GEORGEWBUSH.ORG.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the last thing I read on the train to work, courtesy of Roberto Bolaño

On page 226 of 2666, near the end of section 2, we get the quote of the day from Marco Antonio Guerra speaking to Amalfitano:

"And what books do you read? I used to read everything, Professor, I read all the time. Now all I read is poetry. Poetry is the one thing that isn't contaminated, the one thing that isn't part of the game. I don't know if you follow me, Professor. Only poetry -- and let me be clear, only some of it -- is good for you. Only poetry isn't shit."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reasons to be Grateful for the Death of Free TV: #1 -- Drug Ads

The current ubiquitous form of drug pushing directly to television viewers was illegal until 1997, and now we can't imagine watching the nightly news (on anything other than PBS) without an unending parade of blue, purple, yellow, pink and chartreuse pills about which we're supposed to ask our family physicians if we want to drive convertibles, ride mountain bikes, and walk through flowery meadows all day before having satisfying (VERY satisfying) sexual activity and a good night's sleep every single night. Now we're a nation of hypochondriacs, because drug advertisers (like all advertisers) know that their most effective sales weapon is fear.
The ads are so ubiquitous now (the picture above was a random sampling from tonight during the national news half-hour on NBC and ABC), that it's probably hard for most Americans to believe that only two nations, New Zealand and the United States, have decriminalized this type of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, and that the current form of advertising has only been permitted since very late in the last century.

These ads are only one reason that I'm looking forward to my analog screen going dead in just a little over a month.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Is the Death of Free TV Being Delayed?

This article in the Washington Post today is the first thing I've heard about a possible delay in the death of my rabbit-eared boob tube.

In a letter sent last night to President Bush , President-elect Barack Obama , House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the consumer advocacy group [Consumers Union] said Congress should push back the transition "until a plan is in place to minimize the number of consumers who will lose TV signals."

I've been counting on February 17th as the day that those of us in fringe areas (even with converter boxes) will experience the cliff effect and that final freedom from video mind control.
Was I just being optimistic?
update 9 January '09 at 8:30am:
This morning with the two recent FCC Chairmen, William Kennard and Michael Powell, writing a New York Times Op/Ed entitled "Don't Touch That Dial", it seems even clearer that I may need to reset the Death of Free TV Countdown Clock.

"...with 40 days to go, it is now clear that we are heading for a train wreck — unless Congress delays the transition for a few months to allow more time to prepare. "