Friday, March 30, 2007

Pen fetish follow up 1
Late last night, before heading off to bed, I decided to go into my home office and look at the big box of pens I described here: ["Six 'weird' things about me"]. I took a quick gander through the box, to see how many actual pens and pencils were in there, and I was astonished but what I found: 47 pencils, four with blue lead and one with red lead [I threw away three which were down to no eraser and not much lead]; 31 markers, including 20 Papermate felt tips and three thick-pointed sharpies; 12 ball points; four Uniball pens; two calligraphy pens, and two India ink Penstixs, my favorite, from Austria. Over the weekend, I will take a few minutes and find out which pens still work and throw away the rest. There was also sidewalk chalk, a container of pencil lead for a mechanical pencil which is missing, a slew of guitar picks, a 3-hold punch hand unit, 10 wrenches for a guitar I no longer own, a few fortune cookie slips, paper clips, a mile measurer, and one die.
I will follow up with more information about how many pens I have as I look about my house and find out.
In Boston, who is with whom?
The Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein asks that question this week, noting that without Sen. John Kerry in the presidential race, it is a free-for-all for Mass. support ... and cash: ["Who's with Whom?"].
Having covered and been involved in Boston and Massachusetts politics from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, I know a lot of these players. There are some interesting pairings. Take super liberal Woody Kaplan backing conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Biden and pro-development super-consultant Cheryl Cronin supporting Sen. Barack Obama, one of the more seemingly liberal candidates. Mayor Tom Menino, who can swing a lot of votes in a race like this, seems to be laying low. That is typical. He doesn't tend to get involved in non-local things ... unless he completely despises someone.
I think it is also interesting to note, as David does, that former Sen. John Edwards isn't really pulling in a lot of support down there. Or, not as much as most folks would assume he would get. He also notes that Rep. Dennis Kucinich had a lot of support in 2004 and probably will get more in 2008, although Obama seems to be sucking a lot of that air up.
The first quarter filings are due soon and the FEC site will probably crash with so many reporters and political junkies trying to get at the numbers. The media will concentrate on which candidate has the most but the larger story will be the minutiae of the state-by-state donations. Stayed tune for that one!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Big story on trade
Check out today's WSJ for a really great story on trade problems, specifically these bogus international trade deals which our country's government has entered into during the past 15 years: ["Pain From Free Trade Spurs Second Thoughts"].
It is well worth the read. As is the chart accompanying the article, showing imports and exports over the years [the interactive online version of the WSJ has other charts such as foreign investment numbers and immigration]. Lastly, check out the jobs list which Alan Blinder believes are at risk - 30 million of them - over the next 10 to 20 years: computer programmers, telemarketers, computer system analysts, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, engineers, accountants, wielders, etc.
How are those 30 million folks going to live? Pay taxes? Invest? Etc.? This is amazing. In the end, the worst thing about this piece is the fact that by the time all those jobs are gone, all those free trade cultists will say, Ah jeepers, maybe I was wrong ... and everyone will be out of luck.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Six 'weird' things about me
Alright, my good friend and former co-worker Kristina over at Wicked Words blog has posted a few weird things about herself. What I found striking about the post was how alike the two of us truly are: ["Six Weird Things About Me"].
I already kinda knew that we agreed on a lot of things since we had a very good editor/reporter relationship while working at The Winchester Star back in 2003-2004. While we didn't agree on everything, she was a tenacious reporter and we did a great job producing the paper. I didn't know, however, that she loved Brussels Sprouts!
Seriously though, in reaction to her post, I'm posting a few "weird" things about myself here, just for the fun of it. I say, "weird," in quotes, because I don't necessarily think they are all that weird - although some people might. So, here it goes.

1) While I didn't start biting my nails because a book told me not to, I did bite them when I was younger and now, as an adult, I'm obsessed with how they look. At least once a day, usually at night, I look at them for whatever reason ... to cut, to file, or figure out a way to make them look better. I don't know why I obsess about them but I do and I always have, from as long as I can remember.
As a guitar player, I have to worry a bit about my fingernails. The ones on my left hand need to be trimmed as to not get in the way of forming notes on the fretboard. On my right hand, it is alright to have them long or short, unless you are trying to finger-pick the strings. Then, they need to be long.
Playing guitar, I've always been a strummer and not much of a soloist. I like rhythms and the rhythm of strumming. When I do play leads, they are often of a rhythmic or sound-scape nature, not arpeggio wanking, for lack of a better term.
A while back, I tried to start learning to finger-pick better on the guitar. In order to do that, I had to grow out the nails on my right hand. But, after about a few millimeters of growth, they would crack or bend back which was really annoying. I couldn't get them to grow strong enough. I tried mineral supplements which said they would strengthen my nails, but didn't. I even tried wearing nail gloss - an old guitar player's trick - and that didn't work either. I guess it is a DNA thing.
After a lot of practice, more than two decades worth, I have been able to learn to pick the guitar with my finger tips. It doesn't quite sound the same as finger-picking with your nails but it comes close. Guitarists out there will understand what I'm saying even though it may seem like I'm rambling about fingernails.

2) I won't steal your pens but I think I have a pen fetish of sorts. I only realized this back in January when I had to go to Staples for some resume paper and to look at fax machines because my wife hates the one we have, which prints out the faxes on this funky ribbon ink thing which keeps jamming and is a total disaster. After looking at a bunch of stuff at the store, and checking out the new computers with Vista on them, I found myself browsing the pen aisle ... like I always do. I was walking around looking at all the pens and, for whatever reason, I kept thinking that I needed to leave the store with some new pens.
But the fact is that I don't need any new pens. I have scads of pens, probably close to 100 of them, lying around in various places in my house. I have them in my office supply box, in a box by the phone, in a box in our home office area, in a plastic tool container, in gig bags and kitchen drawers. There are pens everywhere! I don't need any new pens. So, why do I also end up in the pen aisle looking to buy pens when I don't need them? I honestly don't know.
As an aside, pencils were always my preferred writing tool until someone told me that shrinks believe that people who use pencils are afraid to write anything which is permanent. Pencil lead can be erased and pen ink can't, the thinking goes. That's an interesting perception of sorts and probably is accurate in some way, shape or form. But what does that say for people who use a delete button on a computer?

3) Some of my life experiences could easily be adapted to long-form television or feature films but probably never will. And frankly, that's OK. The last thing I want to be is the subject of some cheesy Movie of the Week or something like that. Although, I wouldn't mind the payday of a screenplay concept or two. But publishing? Well, that's a different story. And after 28 months in radio, I do miss the publishing side of the media business in so many ways I can't even begin to explain.
However, publishing - books, newspapers, and magazines - is getting hammered these days. In some ways, they are becoming so lost in the wake of technology. Everyone should truly fear for the future, especially since so much important information is transferred to the public via these formats. But who has the time anymore to read? I surely don't and I love books, newspapers, and magazines.
I've pretty much completely stopped all book purchases in the last nine months or so. I did buy one - the 2007 edition of Censored which I buy every year to, a) see what stories they have in it and b) to support this really important project. But that's it. Before that, I started limiting my book purchases to paperbacks because I'm running out of space. I just don't have room for anymore hardcovers. Since I buy mostly non-fiction books, the paperbacks are often updated with new information which was not included in first edition hardcover versions. They are also less expensive to purchase which means I can buy more of them.
I do still subscribe to a bunch of magazines but I do so mostly for professional reasons, not leisure reasons. I currently get the following:
Vanity Fair, Columbia Journalism Review, Consumer Reports, and PC World, all of which are excellent reads;
New Hampshire Magazine, which is pretty good and I know and like the editor [Disclaimer: I also blog sometimes for NH Mag's Area603];
The Progressive and Mother Jones, which I bought on a beg whim and have good journalism in them but will let lapse when renewal comes since I don't take the time to read them;
Campaigns & Elections, a political business trade publication which I continue to subscribe to because I never know when I will have to go back to working on a campaign. Media work is so spotty and fickle these days, it's always best to try and have something as a backup.
There are truly too many stories to tell out there and it is a shame that none of them will be told. As I move on into the later stages of life, I may tell some more stories and may even try to sell them. I've told a bunch of them here already. But there is always room for more.

4) If I'm not exhausted, I can wake up on time without an alarm clock and often end up waking up before the alarm is set to go off. It's pretty strange thing to need to wake up at a certain time and then, poof, it happens. I'm often amazed about it actually. In September, I needed to wake up very early, around 3:30 a.m., to prepare for a flight to Texas. I was up two minutes before the alarm went off and was shocked that I was able to wake up! Since starting to workout regularly last October, I fall asleep earlier and get up earlier and tend to sleep longer, which is a good thing. And even though I have the alarm set most days to get up in time to get a good workout in, I wake up before the alarm goes off.

5) I live my life by mottos taken from two Frank Capra movies and I'm not ashamed to admit this even though it may sound corny. "The only causes worth fighting for are the lost causes," stated Sen. Jefferson Smith, from the Senate floor during the filibuster scene in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. If you haven't seen the movie, you should, it is worth the time. I slightly alter the quote when sharing it with people, usually saying, "Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for." It's a tad shorter but says the same thing. I'm also not ashamed to admit that I cry at the end of It's A Wonderful Life ... every time. After I watch it, I also tell myself that not matter how bad things may be at any given time, it's great to be alive. "Remember no man is a failure who has friends," is the line which the angel Clarence writes to George Bailey at the end. Interestingly, Jimmy Stewart played the leads in both movies. Other sappy mottos to live by? No one is a failure if they try. Another? "The only vote wasted is the vote not cast." Sorry, took that one from Ralph Nader.

6) I too love Brussels Sprouts. In fact, the more boiled and mushy they are, the better! I love almost all vegetables and try to find new ways of preparing veggies in order to keep them interesting. Of late, food has become very boring to me. It is even more boring as the daily meal has become more mundane - steak, hamburger, chicken, pasta, pork, steak, chicken, pasta, hamburger, pizza, etc. Boring. The key is time. Do you have the ability to try and make the bland and ordinary interesting and and worthwhile? Since we live by food, it might be worth the time. So, my main goal for the future is to try and cook new things and make food less boring, truly a worthy goal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Edwards: Noon announcement
Speculation on the Web is high about a noon announcement quickly thrown together by the John Edwards campaign in response to a health check up on his wife, Elizabeth. It is easy to surmise that it probably isn't good new or there would be no need for a press conference. Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer late in the 2004 campaign but recovered from it. Cancer is a terrible thing for a family to go through ... I just can't imagine what a second bout would be like, if that is the situation. Here's hoping that everything works out for them.

Update: Elizabeth has cancer but her husband isn't suspending his campaign, despite press reports claiming that he would. I wonder if those reports were accurate or not. There is a good chance that the Edwards changed their minds late in the process.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Webcasting problems
I'm in the process of putting together my first Podcast from home. It will happen sometime late this week. I have most of the basic gear I need to produce them and I'm truly excited about giving it a run through.
I don't know yet when - or where - I will be posting it. Blogger doesn't offer audio options on its service. If it did, it would get so bogged down. Imagine, millions of bloggers posting millions of gigs of audio. It would crash the world! Anyhoo, when I find a service that will allow me to post the audio in an inexpensive manner, I will start doing it.
Ideally, the Podcasts will be a slight extension of the blog. I'm going to read some stuff, talk a bit, and play DJ too. I'm shooting for them to be produced in one-hour segments so that I actually do them more than sporadically and so they aren't too big to download or listen to.
Please feel free to forward any tips if you know of any.
In thinking about my future Podcasts, the issue of changes in Internet broadcasting has come to mind, specifically a couple of issues which have been raised by small broadcasters and have made their way into, of all places, the Wall Street Journal: ["Royalty-Rate Hike Alarms Web Broadcasters"] and ["Can an Ohio Radio Station Reinvent Itself Yet Again?"]. Bob Bittner, of Cambridge's WJIB, who has also gotten some publicity about the issue, talks about it here: ["WJIB Announcement"]. Thanks to Bob Nelson for posting this on the Boston Radio Archive List.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

UL: Gravel not excluded
Two different sources within the New Hampshire Union Leader say that former Alaskan Sen. Mike Gravel, a Democrat running for president, has not been banned from an upcoming debate sponsored by the paper, WMUR-TV, and CNN.
Gravel sent out a press release earlier this week saying he was being kept out of the debate. The press release was posted on the Drudge Report and made the national wire services, meaning that his protest has received a lot more play than his actual campaign, unfortunately.
In this morning's Sunday Monitor [Concord], the Capital Beat column had a bit on the press release, quoting Charlie Perkins, the executive editor of the UL: ["Left out?"].
I also inquired to another staffer I know at the UL requesting confirmation on this issue with an offer to make the case, in writing, in column space, or whatever, for
Gravel's appearance in the debate. While I haven't received clearance to quote the email, this person stated that Gravel had not been banned from the debate.
As my regular readers can probably tell, I'm still undecided in the 2008 race. But I do believe Gravel brings a lot to the table, including the best resume on energy policy of all the candidates and a strong anti-war position. He is also the only one talking about scrapping the tax code and replacing it with a national sales tax. In the past, I supported the flat tax forwarded by Jerry Brown. I'm also intrigued by a national sales tax although I don't know if I support one or not. I do, however, feel Gravel should be included and I do think that independents, progressives, and Democrats, should hear about these issues.
Here's hoping that everything works out and that Gravel will get a chance to be on the podium along with clearly less-qualified candidates like Sen. Barack Obama and Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Another thing getting national play is this hilarious Internet ad nailing Hillary and promoting the Obama campaign: ["Vote Different"].

April Noise Top 30 Chart
Stations reporting: WAAF, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. The Snowleopards – Debut
2. Piebald – Accidental Gentlemen
3. The Winterpills – The Light Divides
4. Bang Camaro – Bang Camaro
5. The Glass Set – Something Unknown
The Charms – Strange Magic
7. Kristin Hersh – Learn to Sing like a Star
8. Hooray for Earth – Hooray for Earth
9. Apple Betty – Let’s Play

10. The Blizzard of 78 – Where All Life Hangs
11. The Larkin Brigade – Paddy Keys for Mayor
12. The Luxury – This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
13. Emily Grogan – At Sea
14. Big D & The Kids Table – Noise Complaint EP
15. The Gobshites – Another Round
16. Don Lennon – “Gay Fun!”
17. Medicated Kisses – Medicated Kisses EP
18. Pernice Brothers – Live a Little
19. The Prime Movers – Back in Line
20. The Appreciation Post – Brighter Sides
Various Artist – Ace of Hearts: 12 Classic 45s
22. Hanneke Cassel – Silver
23. Christians and Lions – More Songs for the Dreamsleepers and the Very Awake
24. Hot Chip – Remixes and Rarities
25. Monique Ortiz – Reclining Female
The Slip – Eisenhower
27. Frank Smith – Red on White
28. Barnicle – Take Me to Your Room
29. Girls Guns & Glory – Pretty Little Wrecking Ball
30. Ray Mason – A Man and His Silvertone

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gravel banned from debate
This is a disaster. If they can allow Dennis Kucinich and some of the lower tier candidates, like Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, they should allow Gravel in.

From Drudge:


March 15, 2007 - Washington, D.C. – CNN, the Manchester Union Leader and the Hearst-owned WMUR-TV have formally decided to exclude Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel from the debates they will be sponsoring in New Hampshire.

This decision calls into question media censorship and goes against a fundamental American belief in “Fairness,” which is especially critical in the political process.

The Senator said, “By denying me the same opportunity afforded to other presidential candidates to discuss in public debate the major issues that confront our nation, the sponsoring media outlets––CNN, The Manchester Union Leader and the Hearst-owned WMUR-TV––are exercising censorship, unbecoming in a free society. They are dictating whose political voice they will permit New Hampshire and American citizens to hear.”

“These media outlets are depriving the people the right to hear a voice they may very well want to hear, and in my case, a voice with some new and different ideas not expressed by other candidates––not ‘politics as usual.’ This amounts to denying the people the right to an informed choice from among all the declared and legitimate candidates, not just those deemed worthy by a few media organizations.”

The Senator continued, “It is not CNN’s, the Manchester Union Leader’s or Hearst’s WMUR-TV’s place to decide whose voice should and should not be heard in a debate between legitimate and qualified presidential candidates for the nomination of their political parties. When my staff inquired as to why I was being barred from participating in the debate, they received the Orwellian response that my candidacy did not meet certain criteria––a criteria that the media organizations refused to divulge when asked.”

A poll of political scientists and speech specialists in Nevada rated Senator Gravel the third most effective presenter at the debate/forum sponsored by ABC, AFSCME, and the Nevada Democratic party in Carson City last month.

The Senator concluded, “In short, this action is an insidious form of censorship that injures the American people and its political process, already compromised by the corrupting and excessive influence of money, while seriously eroding the concept of fairness so central to the American ethos and culture.

The actions of CNN, The Manchester Union Leader and Hearst’s WMUR-TV set a dangerous precedent and are more akin to totalitarian tyrannies than the world’s greatest democracy, particularly in a state with the motto: “Live Free of Die.” We can only wonder what is behind such inappropriate intervention in our political process that does not let the people decide.”

Mike Gravel, a resident of Virginia, is a former two-term Senator from Alaska with a distinguished record that includes successfully ending the military draft with a five-month filibuster, releasing the Pentagon Papers risking both prosecution and jail, playing the leading role in making the Alaska pipeline a reality, and ending nuclear testing in Alaska. He is the driving force and author of the National Initiative for Democracy, a proposal to bring the ballot initiative lawmaking process––already proven in many states as an effective and necessary check on unresponsive representative government––to the Federal level.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Political Roundup: Fox Debate Issue
Here are some of the political stories circulating.

The Politico is this new blog and occasional publication put out by political writers and it is pretty good. It has a lot of good gossip and other stuff. Here is a post about all these Senators trying to run for president: ["The Senatorial Curse"]. The odds, indeed, are against them. Here is another good post by the blog, stating that Air America is thinking about inviting all the GOP presidential candidates to a debate: ["Air America's Invitation"]. I haven't really commented on the whole FoxNews/Nevada Dem debate thing because I don't really know where I stand. I congratulate the liberals and bloggers who were able to get the thing canceled. But at the same time, I don't think FoxNews is really that bad. Sure, O'Reilly and Hannity are so insane at this point, I agree. But they aren't on the questioning panel. And, why shouldn't these candidates get the chance to talk to the viewers of FoxNews? It is clear, from a number of studies, that many viewers of FoxNews believe things which are factually incorrect. But, that doesn't mean they shouldn't get the chance to see a debate. I guess they will just have to go to C-SPAN like everyone else.

Nebraska's Sen. Chuck Hagel continues to stall: ["Hagel: 'Leaving my options open'"]. Mr. ES&S may be smart to take his time. With the way he's been talking about the administration, I'm surprised no one has bumped him off yet.

Here is the coverage of Rep. Tom Tancredo at a local high school: ["Candidate gives lessons in politics"]. I was personally invited to the Tancredo office opening down in Manch on Monday but I was late getting out of the house and couldn't make it. I like the fact that he is the only one talking about dealing with the illegal alien problem in a consistent and thorough manner.

This Buddhist writer has a very long piece on Sen. Barrack Obama: ["Can Barrack Obama Become President?"]. I like AlterNet. I wish I had more time to read all of the stuff out there.

Last, but not least, here is a guy in Oregon running for president. His goal? Ten percent in the Oregon primary, so he can send a few delegates to the convention: ["Corvallis man makes presidential bid in 2008"]. Well, it's always best to start small. In addition, it might be a brokered convention. And those two or three delegates could mean a lot.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sappy PBS oldies specials
OK, as we all know, PBS stations, it seems, are constantly begging for money. I think sometimes they run out of ideas of how to beg for money because every time I turn the station on, in this case, WGBH Channel 2, they are hawking some DVD with some really old, old guys playing their one-hit wonders. In tonight's case, it was "The British Beat," old Brit-pop before it was called Brit pop. And get these prices: $150 for a four CD set or $120 for a two DVD thing [$250 for both], along with a WGBH membership. Wow, is that a rip-off or what? And who would pay this kinda money for songs you've heard a billion times? At least with the auctions, you can get some bargains or at least pay the same price you would normally pay for the product.
During the show, they had this old footage of Eric Burdon & the Animals doing "We Gotta Get Out of this Place" and I got to thinking: What was the name of that punk band that did a blistering version of this song? Fear. Oh my gosh, it was Fear. I almost forgot about them! I wonder if they have an mp3 of that song? I thought.
Well, sure enough, there was a live version of it at this obscure site along with a bunch of other live stuff. The site also had a copy of their version of "Hoochie-Coochie Man" from the film, "Get Crazy." Oh what fun!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

R.I.P.: Brad Delp
Brad Delp, lead singer of the rock group Boston and The Beatles cover band, Beatlejuice, passed away last night. He was 55. What a tragedy: ["'Nice guy' rocker dies at 55"].
I'd always heard Delp was a nice guy and everyone raved about how good Beatlejuice was. I never met the man but it sounds as if very approachable, not unlike others in the business. Boston rockers like Peter Wolf, lead singer of the J.Geils Band, would almost always talk to anyone he ran into [Wolf even did a stint on WMFO's "On the Town" show for kicks]. Gary Cherone of Extreme, at the top of his game, was still working out and playing basketball at the Y in Malden, as another example.
I was never a big fan of Boston but I never shut it off when it was on the radio either. Just thinking about the band brings back a flood of memories. Boston were always on the radio after 1976. That first album was so huge back when records sold respectively and didn't really sell like they do today. It is estimated that the debut album sold 16 million copies in the United States alone. That is quite amazing when you think about it.
I was young when that record came out - maybe 10 or 11 - but I was old enough to know what rock 'n' roll was. This is mostly because my parents listened to all kinds of music and it trickled down, even if I was more into the early 1960s Beach Boys or Sly & the Family Stone than Boston or Aerosmith. I didn't quite understand everything I was listening to at the time. But in later life, I learned to appreciate some of that music more than I did when I was younger. Not so much Aerosmith, although I laugh at "Big 10 Inch Record," and still play the old version of "Walk this Way" and "Back in the Saddle" on my mp3 player, but the serious, more arty rock bands.
At the time, Aerosmith were a big deal. They were kids who hung out at Lake Sunapee, just up the road, during the summer when they were just starting out and poof, they get a record deal. Later, parental influence would lead me to the Moody Blues, the Doors, and Isaac Hayes. I think about that sometimes now with my own child. Will he be influenced by the fact that his dad listens to the Flaming Lips in the car the same way I was influenced by hearing Grand Funk Railroad? I still listen to "We're an American Band" for kicks, again, on mp3 [although, their version of "Loco-motion" has the most amazing guitar solo on it]. I understand now what the rock 'n' roll lifestyle was about having lived in on a mini-scale back in the mid-to-late 1980s. I've actually seen "sweet, sweet Connie," the groupie, on TV, and understand what she was doing with Grand Funk and other bands, and, allegedly, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. I wonder if my son will still be listening to "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" or something else when he is 40-plus dragging his kids around wherever.

Back in the 1970s, I remember one time complaining to the bus driver about the music he was playing. At the time, kids in Warner had this extremely long bus ride to the New London Middle School. We would get picked up at the beginning of the bus ride, near Exit 8, only to be schlepped around the entire community of Warner and then back to town center, traveling along every bumpy dirt road you could find. We would then all wait at Simonds Elementary for all the buses to get together and switch high school and middle school students. And then, finally, the middle school students would get shipped off on the long haul to New London. It was all so hideous and dreadful and bet the Warner kids still have to endure it.
Any-hoo, the bus driver suggested I bring some music in and he would play. The next morning, I put the few cassettes I had in a paper bag and brought them on the bus. The bus driver pulled them out and looked at me strangely: What are these? You don't have 8-tracks? Well, no, I didn't have 8-tracks, I had cassettes. My parents were semi-audiophiles. They had the latest in sound technology whether it was reel-to-reels in the 1960s or cassettes in the 1970s, which was the superior format. So the bus driver couldn't play any of the music which I had and we kept listening to the radio or his 8-tracks. Even at 11, I was a music critic and didn't even know it. Cassettes and 8-tracks have gone the way of the DoDo bird. Reels are still used in some analog recording studios. But it is amusing to think about this all now.
Radio was a big deal because it was the only form of communication in which you could hear music. Now we have all these other things like streaming audio or mp3 players. Back then, DJs were cool; now they are somewhat annoying. You never met the DJ - because they were in far away places like Boston. But you heard their voices and got to know them. Now, you can't wait for them to shut the hell up and play some more music, if you even listen to the radio at all.
One of the stations we listened to as kids was WCOZ. The FM rocker actually had a radio contest to give away a kilo. The connotation was that they were going to give away a kilo of marijuana at the end of the summer even though it probably never happened. I don't remember. I just remember hearing that "giving away a kilo" thing over and over again. Oh, have times have changed though: You can't even smoke a cigarette on television, never mind a joint, and WCOZ is now this hideous rap station, WJMN.
And radio itself has changed and not for the better in many ways. So obsessed is everyone with the commercial and revenue component, we have all now forgotten about the joys of doing and listening radio. One of the reasons I participate and subscribe to some of the radio chat boards is to be around other people who miss the old days of radio when it wasn't programmed on a computer and when it was about hearing something new which challenged you as a listener. Some of the smaller stations, like college stations, still do that. But if you live in the woods - or semi-woods - it is difficult to hear those kinds of stations.
I guess everything must change. Generations before me have been saying the same thing. But you would think that we would be able to hold to just a few things which are precious. In some ways, I can. It's called programming your CD player or mp3 player and having complete control over what you hear. But it would be great if there was one place where you could go back and have it be the way it was, even for just a few hours a week.

Friday, March 9, 2007

On the Draft Al Gore Movement
Guest Perspective/Ralph Lopez
Let's just hold our horses on Al Gore being drafted for president and all that, now I'm seeing the ads on DailyKos. I have all the respect for what he has spent the last few years doing, but he has a lot to atone for. The Clinton administration was not exactly green, and it cut deals with big timber, big cattle and big mining. Gore personally undermined the 1998 Kyoto talks by insisting on only 5 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (to 1990 levels) rather than the full 15 percent the Europeans were ready to sign. Time Magazine's Tony Karon wrote in his 2000 article "Why America's Close Election Is Bad News for a Warm Planet":
"...the Clinton administration's approach to the Kyoto climate change treaty has been, from the outset, to dilute and evade it as far as possible. Gore's negotiating team at the 1998 Kyoto talks managed to haggle the Europeans down from requiring a 15 percent reduction from 1990 emission levels to 5 percent. Then, when it came to negotiating how to implement the treaty, one of Washington's pet mechanisms was the trading of pollution rights...Al Gore wasn't about to become the candidate urging Americans to trade in their SUVs for battery-powered cars...",8816,89135,00.html,8816,89135,00.html

Whatever you think of him, Americans got exactly what they bargained for by not voting for only honest man, Ralph Nader. I did not support Nader in 2004 but I did in 2000. At that time there really wasn't much difference between Dem. and Repug, and no one including Nader knew what a psycho Bush would turn out to be.
I'm not saying this should disqualify Gore from running for president. He has obviously taken something to heart. But I'd like an apology or explanation for his administration's actions at Kyoto, when it was still early enough on global warming that it might have made a difference. Also, his championing of NAFTA in the Gore-Ross Perot debates has not exactly been good for the environment along the Mexican border. Sorry to rain on the parade...

Ralph Lopez blogs at

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Firefighters Scorch Giuliani
This is huge! Read this letter: ["Firefighters Union Letter On Rudy Giuliani"].
First, the simple stuff: IAFF's bipartisan forum looks pretty cool. Both party's candidates are going to be allowed to talk to firefighters. Too bad it is just a forum and not a full-fledged debate. Let them go at it now! I hope that they allow C-SPAN to broadcast it so the rest of us can see it.
Giuliani won't be seeing it though. He isn't invited.
Second, this letter is too amazing. It goes beyond not inviting Giuliani. The union explains that they aren't inviting Giuliani because of his actions during the recovery operations after the attacks of 9/11.
This passage is devastating:
Giuliani argued that the change was for our own safety, but his argument was empty and without substance. Fire fighters had been on that pile since minutes after the twin towers fell — why all of a sudden, after nearly two months working on the pile, was Giuliani concerned about fire fighter safety.
In our view, he wasn't really concerned. The fact is that the Mayor's switch to a scoop-and-dump coincided with the final removal of tens of millions of dollars of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that were buried beneath what was once the towers. Once the money was out, Giuliani sided with the developers that opposed a lengthy recovery effort, and ordered the scoop-and-dump operation so they could proceed with redevelopment.
In the first few days immediately after the disaster, Giuliani had said he was committed to the recovery of those lost "right down to the last brick." We believed him at the time. But, what he proved with his actions is that he really meant the "last gold brick."
Now, the IAFF is a powerful union. They helped pull off big wins for John Kerry in 2004. This is going to be so bad for Giuliani it isn't even funny. Combine this with some of the other developer dealings Giuliani is alleged to have been involved in and this isn't good. It's sad actually.

Some other stuff
Here is some other stuff which has come across my computer in the past couple of days.

First, when does the idea primary start: ["When's The Idea Primary?"].
Yeah, Jesus would be appalled: ["Edwards: Jesus Would Be 'Appalled'"].
With all the talk about Ann Coulter calling Edwards a "faggot," this probably should have gotten a bit more play: ["Ann Coulter's Bodyguard Harass Conservative"].
Southwest has a blog: ["Blog Southwest"].
Fangoria TV!
This is cool:
Fangoria Magazine, the horror world's #1 fan magazine is kick-starting FANGORIA.TV (, a 24/7 online broadband network featuring the best in horror-genre movies, news and reviews, original TV series, specials and more, with a nationwide radio promotion. As the "official" Fangoria.TV radio outlet, your station will have access to interviews with Fangoria's know-it-all horror film reviewers as well as Tony Timpone, renowned editor of Fangoria magazine and spokesperson for the horror industry, beginning March 15.
The ultimate online destination for the discriminating horror buff, FANGORIA.TV, offers such classic films as "Night of the Living Dead," "House on Haunted Hill," "Dementia 13" and "The Terror," and a lineup of original Fangoria-produced interview-based and news television programming, including the award-winning Screamography series. In addition the website features a wide array of major studios' film clip exclusives and trailers. Most importantly, FANGORIA.TV will also serve as a major showcase for independent horror films from prolific independent studios such as Tempe Films, Central Park Media, Synapse, Pop Cinema and Brain Damage Films.
Come aboard and join the Fangoria Radio Promotional Network as the exclusive radio station in your market. Participating stations will receive 25 T-shirts and 25 caps, in addition to interviews with editor, Tony Timpone and Fangoria's film reviewers.
In addition to being longtime editor of both Fangoria magazine and, Timpone's illustrious career also includes producer credits for home video and television programming. In 2004, Timpone served as producer on Bravo's five hour documentary series The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. He is an associate producer on the televised Fuse Fangoria Chainsaw Awards and a consulting producer/recurring anchor on Fangoria Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 102. Timpone is also an author and penned, Men, Makeup and Monsters and edited Fangoria Vampires, Fangoria Masters of the Dark: Stephen King and Clive Barker; Fangoria's 100 Best Horror Films You've Never Seen and Fangoria's Best Horror Films.
To sign up as the Fangoria radio station in your market and book an interview with Tony Timpone, please contact Eva Marie Damore at (626) 799-2026 or
WSJ Update
Well, over the last two days, I've received not one, but two editions [!] of the Wall Street Journal - one in the newspaper box and one slipped between the storm and front door of my house. I guess they are trying to get it together after all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Obama pays Cambridge parking tickets
According to the Somerville News, presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has finally coughed up hundreds of dollars in overdue parking tickets ... dating back to 1988: ["Obama finally pays local parking tickets"]. BTW, a nice catch here by the scrappy online news service/monthly. :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Catching up on the WSJ
Since subscribing to the Wall Street Journal back in early October, two things have occurred regularly: 1) I haven't received a full week's delivery since starting the subscription; and 2) I don't always have time to read the entire newspaper on the day I receive it, when I actually do get it.
I will get to the second part later in this post. But first, the delivery problems.
I sense that there are delivery problems in suburban and rural areas with the more specialty papers like the WSJ but hopefully, they will figure it all out. The people who manage the delivery folks feel my pain, if you will, when I call them to complain. They have been very sympathetic to me and I can hear the frustration in the voices. But the problem remains unsolved.
For example, during the morning of the last three snowstorms, I received no newspaper. There wasn't a lot of snow on the ground Friday when the paper should have been dropped off, maybe four inches. The roads were plowed. The Concord Monitor was delivered and even bagged to keep from getting wet. But the WSJ? Nada. I guess my delivery person takes snow days off. I don't know. The guy doesn't even deliver the paper late the next day or anything. I mean, what happened to the extra newspaper? Did it get thrown away? Is it in the back of his car? At least have the courtesy to deliver it the next day.
Another example? Well, I didn't get a newspaper on Monday and I didn't get one this morning either. No snow, no visible problems, no nothing. Well, OK, it was a bit cold outside today. But is the new policy ... that the newspaper doesn't get delivered when it snows or when it is cold? Come on.
For about two months after I started the subscription, I wasn't even receiving the Saturday edition, which I paid for. It was only after a clerk realized that I wasn't getting it that it started getting delivered.
As I've explained - or complained - to the people who manage the delivery people, I don't understand why my newspaper isn't delivered. You either do the job or you don't.
In addition, I live about a half a mile north of the most affluent neighborhood in the city. I'm sure that there are a ton of people who get the WSJ delivered down there and they probably have the same delivery driver. I seriously doubt they have delivery problems. If they do, they are probably complaining too, which means something needs to be done about the situation.
The worst part about all of this is that I paid ahead for the subscription, for a year. Yeah, I got a special rate [Maybe that's why I'm not getting it every day, I joked to a clerk]. But that shouldn't mean I shouldn't get it. If I paid on a monthly basis, I could deduct the missed papers and maybe that would get the point across. I don't know.

I know newspaper delivery people are a unique breed. Who wants to get up at 4 a.m. to deliver newspapers? I know that both the Monitor and the New Hampshire Union Leader have problems keeping people in these positions because they are constantly running help wanted ads for delivery people in their classified sections. From what I've heard, most are 1099 employees and since it is only two hours work in the morning, they should be independent contractors. The Monitor has a cute spin with their ads - make money on your morning walk. The ads are clearly targeted towards adults and not the kids who have historically done the job.
I also know a bit about the newspaper delivery business because I was one of those kids who "peddled" the Monitor when it was an afternoon newspaper. We used to say "peddle the newspaper" because many of us rode our bikes for most of the year. Back then, in the mid-to-late 1970s, the newspapers were huge ... or seemed huge, compared to the size they are now. Wednesdays were the dreaded circular and store flyer days. On that day, the papers weighed a ton! Back then, the Monitor was a weekday afternoon paper with a morning edition delivered on Saturdays.
I had a route on the west side of Concord, around White Park, down Centre Street, to the area around North Spring and Union streets, then back up Washington. It was altered here and there as paperboys came and went. My friend Leo - who is still my friend to this day - had the area behind mine, near Rumford and Franklin, if I remember correctly.
After our routes, we would meet at this small neighborhood market on Rumford Street - I think it was called Quality Cash or something - for some snacks which spoiled our dinner appetites. The market had three stools so there was always time for Leo and me to shoot the sh*t there before going home. I went through a phase of having Cokes and Ring Dings until I started getting a bit chubby and replaced them with V-8s and Fig Newtons. I was a carb addict even back then I just didn't know it. Leo could eat anything and still stay as thin as a rail. Of course, he isn't Irish and Italian either so ...

I learned a lot from those years delivering newspapers and it gave me a lot of real-life experience at an early age. Most importantly, I learned to love newspapers and the news. I learned so much from reading the newspaper.
It also was the first time in my life when I started to understand about class/caste systems. Even though I had experienced some of those things while living in Warner and being schlepped off to New London Middle School, I really didn't understand what I was experiencing until later on in life.
Interestingly, the less-affluent subscribers to the newspaper were always the best tippers. The paper was $1.15 per week and I made $22 plus tips every two weeks which was pretty big money at the time. One working-class mom, who lived on White Street, used to pay the subscription by giving me a dollar bill and then grabbing whatever loose change she had and giving it to me. It would often end up being a pretty big tip. However, the snooty wife of the insurance executive who lived three doors down from us on Essex Street, would hand you a dollar bill and then count out 15 pennies, never giving out a tip or even smiling. The subscribers who were "office" accounts, meaning they would send a check into the Monitor directly, never tipped at all. It's probably why they paid that way. Today, there is a gratuity check-off on all the bills so you can add a small tip if you like, which I always do. I hope the delivery folks are actually getting the money.
To this day, I often think about Tyler's mom, the one who would just hand over a ton of change to me each Friday night. I wonder what she is doing now. She clearly understood what hard work it was to deliver the newspapers each day. But that is kinda what happens when you have walked in someone else's shoes.

Back to the second point and the whole purpose of this post: Catching up on old newspapers. I do actually try and read the paper every day. If I get up earlier than usual for my morning workout, I'm able to get through the entire thing during a weekday morning, over coffee before everyone else gets up. But that always isn't the case. But if I can't, I will catch up with them on Saturday and Sunday mornings, when I have a bit more time to take in some of the stories. More often than not, the articles take a bit more time to take in. Like I said in a previous post, reading the redesigned WSJ these days is like reading the NYT: It isn't all numbers and statistics but a lot more in-depth reporting about business, trends, and marketing. It is a great read, to say the least, and I have learned so much about business and life by reading the Journal ... which makes it all the more frustrating when I don't get the damn thing.
Now, I can access it online if I want. But for us newspaper people, we like to physically have the paper in our hands ... to look at the pictures ... to smell the ink - which is getting harder and harder to do as the business moves to non-petroleum-based inks ... to do more than just skim - to actually take the newspaper in.
Over the past few weeks, the WSJs have been piling up. I just haven't had a chance to read them all. However, late this week, I made a concerted effort to attempt to get through the pile. And, I'm glad I did. Here are some of the articles which have been featured this week:

First, this pretty big story: ["Federal Aid Does Little For Free Trade's Losers"]. So not only are these programs not working, most folks who lose their jobs aren't able to afford the partial payment on the aid. They also have to jump through all kinds of hoops to even get the aid. Lastly, if you are with the service sector and you lose your job, it is extremely difficult to prove you were a victim of the free trade fraud. This is going on while Bush and the Democrats are talking more trade deals with Columbia, Peru, Panama, South Korea, Malaysia, and the DOHA Round with the WTO. What a disaster!

In the same edition, there is this about how Apple is changing their hilarious ad campaign to fit overseas markets: ["Mac and PC's Overseas Adventures"]. No pun intended, probably. Hah. If you haven't seen the ad campaign by Apple, you are probably living in a cave. It starts out with a kinda cool geek introducing himself as a Mac and a middle-age fuddy-duddy saying, "I'm a PC." The old fuddy-duddy has all these problems while the cool guy doesn't. There was a great bit where the PC has a guy duct-taping a Webcam on his head while the Mac says, I have one built in. Totally hilarious. Having toyed around with the new Vista program on the new PCs, Windows is becoming increasingly Apple-like. I only know this because the wife uses Macs - and loves them. I use PCs - and love them. I haven't taken the dive into Vista just yet but it looks like a very impressive operating system.

Here is an interview with the new CEO of Catepillar, which posted $41.5B in revenue last year: ["Global Trade Galvanizes Caterpillar"]. Congratulations to them. But Jim Owens foolishly goes on and on about the supposedly great free trade system the world has. It's amazing how clueless some of these people can be. Here is a nice slice of the silly logic:
"It's [free trade] a very difficult sell. It's like the guy who's making horse carriages when the car comes along. How do you make the case to him that the car's going to make the world a better place?"
Why do these guys keep using these fake, non-existent comparisons? This is the phony Chuck Adler argument: 'We can't protect the buggy whip industry!' Cars, tractors, computers, and other items are not buggy whips and horse carriages! And the high-tech, futuristic jobs which were supposed to replace all the jobs sent overseas are also being sent overseas. Good grief.

More on advertising here: ["Impotence Ads Draw Fire-Just Like Old Ones"]. This one is kinda funny. I mean, you can make the case that these ads should be on later in the evening. But shouldn't kids get a bit of reality? The couple is clearly married and the wife motions to the husband that he should shut off the game and go have some fun. That's what being married is supposed to be about, right?

Lastly, also in the Feb. 16 edition, there was a full-page ad by Chevron, noting that of the 193 countries in the world, none of them are energy independent. The ad points to a Web site about what the company is doing to diversify energy resources: [Will You Join Us?]. Now, of course, this is a PR campaign to make up for bad publicity from global warming, Liberia, gas prices, who knows what. But at least, it would seem, like they are trying to help.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

March Noise Chart


1. Piebald – Accidental Gentlemen
2. The Campaign for Real-Time – Let It Rise
3. Pernice Brothers – Live a Little
4. Kristin Hersh – Learn to Sing Like a Star
5. Mademoiselle – Mademoiselle EP
6. Mission of Burma – The Obliterati
7. Eloe Omoe – Marauders
8. The Atlantics – The Atlantics
9. Christians & Lions – More Songs for Dreamsleepers and the Very Awake
10. Duresse – Elate
11. External World – II and III: Random Flicker/Spider Box/External World
12. The Snowleopards – Debut
13. The Artificial Hearts – Heavy Rock
14. The Glass Set – Something Unknown
15. Ketman – Esperanto
16. The Luxury – The Luxury
17. Lenny & the Piss Poor Boys – Lenny & the Piss Poor Boys
18. Appletown Gun Shop – “The Future Is a Dirty Word”
19. Big D & the Kids Table -
20. Francine – Airshow
21. The Gothic Archies – The Tragic Treasury
22. L.E.O. – Alpacas Orgling
23. Neptune – Patterns
24. Monique Ortiz – Reclining Female
25. The Vinyl Skyway – From Telegraph Hill
26. Hallelujah the Hills – "Hallelujah the Hills"
27. Baby Ray – Low Rises
28. Emily Grogan – At Sea
29. Jabe – Where are we going & when do we get there
30. The Shrinking Islands – In the Black Carpet

Saturn ... wow

This is a picture from the Cassini probe released earlier this week.
Mitt stuffs ballot box
Word from the CPAC is that Mitt Romney has pulled out a big win with 21 percent of attendees. Rudi Giuliani received 17 percent. Sam Brownback received 15. Newt Gingrich got 14 and John McCain, who blew off the event, received 12. After his disastrous fifth place finish in South Carolina last night, this is welcome news. But, in actuality, it doesn't mean much, since Guy Smiley had folks bussed in to the convention!: ["Romney Focuses on Conservative Straw Poll"].

Friday, March 2, 2007

McCain wins straw poll
John McCain won tonight's Spartanburg, South Carolina straw poll in a squeaker: McCain 164, Giuliani 162, Duncan Hunter 158, Sam Brownback 85, Mitt Romney 80, Newt Gingrich 33 [via write-in, according to CNN], Mike Huckabee 21, Tom Tancredo 10, John Cox and Ron Paul received 4, Condi Rice 2 [via write-in, according to CNN]. Jim Gilmore and Tommy Thompson with 1, and some other guy, identified only as "Sanders," also received 1.
The big story here is, of course, Rep. Duncan Hunter's surprising third place showing, especially against better positioned - and funded - candidates like Brownback and Romney. Hunter is going to turn some heads in this race because he is a trade hawk. He could position himself as the Pat Buchanan of 2008. The top tier candidates, except maybe Giuliani, have clear free trade positions. Hunter is the only one who has voted against NAFTA and GATT/WTO. Conservative working class folks and Reagan Democrats in South Carolina, who are getting hammered by cheap imports from China, are going to remember this come Election Day.

Speaking of Buchanan, here is a recent column he released about NAFTA: ["Free Trade and Funny Math"].
Economic nationalism is the policy of rising powers, free trade the policy of declining powers. For great powers have ever regarded trade as an arena of struggle in the clash of nations. It is no accident all four presidents who made it to Mount Rushmore were protectionists.
This should be a lesson to all presidential candidates but it will be lost on most of them.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

This is a bombshell, no pun intended
["Affidavit: McVeigh had high level help"]. Interesting that the major media has been ignoring all of this activity. I've been wondering about this for a long time. I don't know if it is true and I don't know if Terry Nichols can be trusted on anything. But it is easy to prove any of this stuff. Simply look at the records. Did he really write John Ashcroft offering to help? I've always believed that neither of these guys had the expertise to build the type of bomb which went off at the Murrah Building. So, some of his comments match my suspicions too.