Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Attytood: UPDATED: The "lone nut" theory of the American newspaper assassination

Attytood: UPDATED: The "lone nut" theory of the American newspaper assassination: "If you won't charge customers for ads, and apparently you won't, then at least start accepting those text ads, and funnel those millions of dollars into the newly formed Craig's Foundation. And what will be the main benefactor of this new foundation? A scholarship fund, to pay for the college education of the dozens of displaced journalists across America losing their jobs everyday (like here and here). And if there's any cash left, how about building a retirement home for any newspaper folks who might somehow see a diminished pension down the road?"

Progress, innovation, and economic evolution will always have a downside. It's a matter of economic Darwinism -- adapt or die. Throughout the 20th century that process has affected mostly blue collar industrial workers. But the rapid evolution of the Information Age has claimed victims in industries and careers that once seemed immune to such forces. Whether Will Bunch's comments are tongue-in-cheek or not, the point is that journalists have always been information workers, and the skills necessary for newspaper jobs can be readily applied to other jobs. This is a huge advantage over the blue collar workers who have lost their jobs first to automation and then to shifting economic forces. The white collar world didn't issue much of a protest when the factory jobs started to dry up. But when the economics of the Information Age began to take a toll on the white collar world, as is happening in the newspaper business, or among software developers, there was no shortage of angry voices.

It's all about adaptability, and about developing and maintaining skills that will remain relevant and marketable in a constantly changing world.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tucson man sued by music industry over downloaded songs | ®

Tucson man sued by music industry over downloaded songs | ®: "Jenni Engebretsen, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America, said that since 1999 overall shipments of compact discs and other recordings are down 35 percent as a result of piracy."

Um... Jenni, have you heard about iTunes or any of the other legal music download services? Have you heard that legal music downloads now surpass CD sales?

Survey: XM, Sirius Should Pay More For Music -

Survey: XM, Sirius Should Pay More For Music - "In a joint statement Thursday, XM and Sirius said: '?Consumers, artists and the recording industry all benefit from satellite radio's multi-billion dollar investment in a dynamic new promotional platform for music.

'?Together we have paid, and under our fair proposal, will continue to pay significant compensation to artists and their record companies. By contrast, our primary competition, terrestrial radio, pays nothing for the sound recordings it uses.'"

Maybe I'm missing something here, but how in hell is it fair terrestrialrial radio to pay no royalties for the music it broadcasts, while satellite radio has to pony up the bucks? Does exposure to the satellite audience cost the labels or artists anything? Puh-leeze!

And let's not forget that satellite radio offers its audience a much wider spectrum of music than is available on terrestrial radio. I reguarly and frequently buy songs from iTunes that I hear on Sirius. And the stuff I buy is stuff I will never hear on terrestrial radio.

This all smacks of yet another example that the major labels just don't have a clue. As a business move, their insistence on hanging on to the blockbuster mentality is flat-out stupid.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush says Rumsfeld is stepping down - Yahoo! News

Bush says Rumsfeld is stepping down - Yahoo! News: "And Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who had intervened in the past to shore up Rumsfeld, issued a statement saying, 'Washington must now work together in a bipartisan way — Republicans and Democrats — to outline the path to success in Iraq.'"

First things first: Good riddance Rummy.

As to Frist's comment...

OK, so NOW the strategy is bipartisan co-operation? Sheesh!

theferrett: Dear People In General

theferrett: Dear People In General: "Reach out. Part of whatever goodness we can manage to squeeze from government comes from creating bills that have to endure the give-and-take of debate, that have to acknowledge the other guy has a point, and - God forbid - even address that point sometimes. I'm not saying that you should be centrist, but rather common sensist. I think that's your only hope of retaining that precious power you've been granted, and my hope lies with you."

I wish I'd said that. I hope it will actually happen, but my breath-holding capacity is limited.

Monday, November 06, 2006

BBC NEWS | Americas | Editorial opens fire on Rumsfeld

BBC NEWS | Americas | Editorial opens fire on Rumsfeld: "In responses to the Vanity Fair article, several of those interviewed said they felt their comments were taken out of context - and had not expected them to be published until after the elections. "

Concerns over published comments taken out of context are legitimate. But the issue of the publication of the comments before the election is nothing more than another glaring example of party and ideological loyalty taking precedence over what's best for the country. And don't think for a moment that I'm so naive as to think that those on the Right are the only offenders.

An open, rational discussion about the difference between ideological loyalty and patriotism is long overdue.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fungus causes pumpkins to develop mold - Yahoo! News

Fungus causes pumpkins to develop mold - Yahoo! News: "Shoppers should look for bright orange pumpkins with strong, green stems, which indicate the fruit was picked recently while the vine was healthy, Egel said. Consumers should also check for moldy areas or soft spots, especially on the bottom of the pumpkins, he said. Pumpkins should be stored in dry, shady areas until carving"

This story showed up at the top of list of the Yahoo News Most Emailed Stories feed.

Why? Are we that bored? Do we really need tips for pumpkin shopping?

Of course, better this than another story about a school shooting...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - Life At The Drive In That Refuses To Die - Life At The Drive In That Refuses To Die: "It’s about two hours before show time on a perfect summer Friday evening. In Judy Kissel’s office in a corner of the squat concrete block building that houses the drive-in’s concession stand, the phone rings every twenty seconds. The stream of people flowing through the cramped space -- young women preparing the concession stand, young guys picking up their reflective vests and two-way radios for security detail -- brings to mind an anthill. They all have questions for Judy, and she has the answers – she’s the general manager. Most of the time she’s deftly handling three conversations at once, with the ease and efficiency of an air traffic controller. On a typical night it takes a staff of thirty people to make it all work, and on this night there are moments when it seems that they’re all in Judy’s office. But the lady is in her element, and the Memphis Drive-in is in her genes."

If the news that the Memphis Drive-in is biting the dust isn't the right moment tor resurrect this column I did for Cool Cleveland, what is?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Alcohol use helps boost income: study - Yahoo! News

Alcohol use helps boost income: study - Yahoo! News: "The study published in the Journal of Labor Research Thursday concluded that drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more than teetotalers, and that men who drink socially bring home an additional seven percent in pay."

The secret is out...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Campbell Brothers Sacred Steel Guitars

Spent the weekend in Bowling Green, Ohio, for the Black Swamp Arts and Music Festival. The weather was less cooperative than it has been in the past, but, as is typical for this event, I learned of a yet another jaw-droppingly great band: Campbell Brothers Sacred Steel Guitars.

More on the festival -- including photos -- coming soon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Gore isn't quite as green as he's led the world to believe - Yahoo! News

Gore isn't quite as green as he's led the world to believe - Yahoo! News: "Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself."

Peter Schweizer's USA Today column isn't without merit, but to characterize the lifestyle changes Gore proposes as "extreme personal sacrifice" is a gross exaggeration.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Ry Cooder - Let's Have A Ball (Santa Cruz 1987)

Another Ry Cooder video! Thank god for YouTube!
Ry Cooder - Crossroads

A Ry Cooder video is a rare and wonderful thing, even it this one was created to promote a sub-par movie.
Buffalo Springfield - Mr Soul

How old am I? Old enough to remember Hollywood Palace, and great bands lip-synching to great songs.

This clip is just sooo weird.

I stumbled onto after Googling "ken blackwell jesus."

Fair and balanced? Certainly not. Funny? Believe it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mark Jenkins: Street Installations

These photos from Mark Jenkins: Street Installations are genuinely funny.

» Publicly selected and funded investigative reporting: Can it work? | Between the Lines |

» Publicly selected and funded investigative reporting: Can it work? | Between the Lines | "Today, Rosen announced an experiment he is calling NewAssignment.Net. Although the domain is not yet active, the basic idea behind NewAssignment.Net is for the public to not only play assignment editor by collaboratively deciding what stories require the devoted attention of an investigative reporter, but also to help furnish that reporter with whatever information, facts, evidence, funding, and other resources that may be necessary to tell a complete and truthful story."

A fascinating idea. Will it work?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Giant Girl Doll

Whenever I think the human race is genetically predisposed to destroy itself, something like this comes along to restore my faith. If people can put this much effort into something this strange and wonderful, there is hope for us yet.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Elderly Brothers @ Bloggapalooza

Me and the boys having fun at the Towne Fryer. Early reports indicate that despite the rainy afternoon, Bloggapalooza was a success.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Jon Judy

Jon Judy: "The lumberjack match is an old-school stipulation, one that’s been around for so long that now it’s passé and hard to get excited over. The idea is that after a long, drawn-out feud in which the heel routinely escapes the righteous wrath of the face by hightailing it back to the lockers and losing by countout, the fans will be hungry to see a blowoff match, one in which the feud finally ends and there is no way for the heel to abandon the fight."

Jon Judy is a professional educator who moonlights as a ring announcer for local semi-pro wrestling matches in Canton. He's also a very good writer, and his insight into the business and the sub-culture is fascinating.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The CzagaCycle

Like flies
Originally uploaded by Bob Rhubart.
Moments after the low-speed chase.

Brewed Fresh Daily » Blog Archive » goes off the air

Brewed Fresh Daily » Blog Archive » goes off the air: "Tim Russo pulls the plug on his blog..."

It is naive of anyone in the blogging community, especially political bloggers, to think that the smear tactics that are the defining characteristic of modern American politics would not eventually be directed at the most passionate and effective voices in the blogoshpere. But what has happened to Tim Russo is also a testament to the realization among those in the political establishment, and those in MSM, that blogs have changed the rules of the game. The ugliness will continue, to be sure, but real Democracy has always been a street fight.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Diet Coke and Mentos -

Leading the world in science...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Seed: Why We Haven't Met Any Aliens

Seed: Why We Haven't Met Any Aliens: "[A]liens don't blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they're too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don't need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today."

Geoffrey Miller's article in the current issue of Seed is one of the most interesting (if bleak) articles I've read in long time. Thought-provoking stuff.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bob and Kathy Rhubart - 1972

Bob and Kathy Rhubart 1972
Originally uploaded by Bob Rhubart.
This photo was taken about a year before Kathy and I were married -- three apartments, two houses, four mortgages, two kids, two grandchildren, eight or more cars, three dogs, several gerbils, one bird, one rabbit, several jobs, seven presidents, three wars, and thirty-three amazing, humbling, absolutely priceless years ago.

And the adventure continues...

Zoho Writer

I've been playing around with Zoho Planner, trying to figure out how to use it, when I discovered Zoho Writer, the companion word processor. Very impressive, kind of a combination of a full-feature word processor and a wiki.

I can use Zoho to compose blog posts and then publish them directly to any of my Blogger blogs, as I have done with this post.


Friday, May 12, 2006

It's the Public Opinion Limbo!

Bush job approval falls to 29 pct in new poll - Yahoo! News: "The poll of 1,003 U.S. adults said 71 percent of Americans said Bush was doing an 'only fair or poor job,' up from 63 percent in April. It said the survey was conducted May 5-8 and had a 3 percent margin of error."

How low can he go?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

InternetWeek | News | Piracy Cost Movie Industry $6.1 Billion

InternetWeek | News | Piracy Cost Movie Industry $6.1 Billion: "The study, conducted by LEK Consulting, estimates losses from Internet piracy at $2.3 billion, about $2.4 billion to bootlegging, and $1.4 to illegal copying. The MPAA commissioned the study 18 months ago to quantify the scope of the movie theft in the digital age and to provide ammunition to nudge governments in the United States and internationally to take action."

It's not that I don't think piracy happens, and it's not that I don't think that the practice costs the industry a lot of money. But do these numbers assume that every pirated copy of a movie represents a lost sale? If so, I suspect that these numbers are way off. I think very few people who snag a bootleg copy of a movie do so in lieu of buying a legal one.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Election disaster was not 1st time

Election disaster was not 1st time: "Election Day glitches and even meltdowns are nothing new to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections."

In a brief discussion of the primary during my Tri-C political science class last night, the gentleman who teaches the course mentioned that he worked at one of the polling stations, where problems with the machines delayed the start of voting at that location. He added that for quite a while only a couple of the machines were working properly.

A woman in the class mentioned that she was supposed to be on the ballot for a precicnt captain seat, but through some snafu, the poll workers were given the wrong cards to activate the machines (someone had inadvertently swapped card with another district), so her name didn't appear on the ballot until the mistake was corrected -- after 5:00pm.

On another note, the class intstructor mentioned that he had to explain to far too many voters that in a primary election asking a voter to identify a party selection is part of the process. He said several people refused, while others seemed embarrassed to request a ballot for either party, whispering the party name, and looking around to see if anyone was within earshot.

Democracy in action, baby!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Soaring Pollen Counts Spur Worst Allergy Season in Years - Yahoo! News

Soaring Pollen Counts Spur Worst Allergy Season in Years - Yahoo! News: "Experts across the country say they are recording the highest pollen counts they've seen in a decade. And while the Southeast usually gets slammed the hardest when it comes to airborne allergens, this season it may be Yankees who are suffering the most."

Which explains why this Yankee can't stop the maddening itching in his eyes, and why it feels as though someone has shoved wine corks into his sinuses.

I like, spring, but COME ON!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

YouTube -

Showbiz Tonight interview with Neil Young: YouTube -

And the Emmy for Outstanding Cluelessness in a Newsbabe goes to...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

KPIG.COM - Freedom, CA

A few years back I discovered the streaming feed KPIG.COM, in my opinion the best radio station in the nation. But after a few months, under pressure over the Internet music rights issue, the station took the live feed down, making available only to RealPass subscribers.

I've been listening to Sirius of late, mostly the Outlaw Country and Sirius Disorder channels, but on a whim checked out the KPIG site and was very happy to see that the free live feed is again available.

If you enjoy Americana, presented by DJs reminiscent of those from the golden age of FM in the late 60s-early 70s, give KPIG a listen.

128k mp3 Feed

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

St. Stupid's Day Parade

St. Stupid's Day Parade
Originally uploaded by Laughing Squid.
I ran across a reference to San Francisco's St. Stupid's Day Parade in a magazine someone left in the men's room. (Not THAT kind of magazine!) St. Stupid is, according to the magazine, the patron saint of parking meters.

We need to do something like this in Cleveland, maybe a Full Cleveland Parade, something that will demonstrate that we're not a bunch of bleak, humorless dolts. Imagine a precision bowling team, or a giant perogie float. The possibilities are unlimited.

Let's face it, if you want to improve the town's image, why not start by demonstrating that we're not ashamed of the town's heritage and that we have a sense of humor about its history, burning river and all.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Lost in Translation, yet again

One of the more glaring (and hilarious) examples of bad translation, as posted on

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Geologists Find Ancient Worm Feces - Yahoo! News

Geologists Find Ancient Worm Feces - Yahoo! News: "Swedish geologists have found fossilized feces from a worm that lived some 500 million years ago, media reports said Wednesday."

File this under, "If it poops, it leads."

Thursday, March 30, 2006 | News | Mr. Big

It was strange and depressing to read Michael Roberts' piece about Ron Watt in the Scene ( | News | Mr. Big).

I met Ron Watt in the early 90s, while I was working at a local fiddle factory and trying to get a writing career off the ground. I had sent writing samples to every ad agency in town, to no avail. But when my samples made their way to Ron Watt, he got in touch and invited me to visit him in his office at Watt, Roop.

For nearly an hour Watt talked to me about writing, about what he liked about my samples, and about building a career in advertising. With his sponsorship, I got a student membership in the Cleveland Advertising Club. (I was around 40 at the time, so a student membership in anything felt a little weird...)

While a career in advertising never materialized for me, Watt's encouragmemt and praise were a welcome shot of validation for a blue collar guy who was too easily intimidated by the white collar world. I kept plugging away, made a few bucks selling freelance humor, built up a respectable portfolio, and ultimately landed a job in 1997 as an editor at the late, lamented, right here in downtown Cleveland. Nearly a decade later I still make a living as a writer and editor.

Things worked out for me, and I hope the work out for Ron Watt as well.

IEEE Spectrum: Unsafe At Any Airspeed?

IEEE Spectrum: Unsafe At Any Airspeed?: "In one telling incident, a flight crew stated that a 30-degree navigation error was immediately corrected after a passenger turned off a DVD player and that the error reoccurred when the curious crew asked the passenger to switch the player on again. Game electronics and laptops were the culprits in other reports in which the crew verified in the same way that a particular PED caused erratic navigation indications."

It's merely annoying when someone's cell phone goes off in a theater or a classroom. But any numbskull who ignores the warnings of flight attendants ought to have his/her thumbs broken with a hammer.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cleveland, Ohio (44114) Conditions & Forecast : Weather Underground

For the first time in months, the little solar-powered Ferris wheel on the windowsill in my office is turning.

Spring is here!

Realistically, winter won't really be over until sometime around Tax Day, but I'm already thinking about spending evenings on my patio, with vodka-and-tonics and an occasional cigar.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

BRAVO > Inside the Actors Studio > Featured Guests > Dave Chappelle > Video

I just watched the Dave Chappelle's interview on BRAVO >Inside the Actors Studio, and I can't remember any such interview having quite the same effect. Chappelle's warmth, honesty, intelligence, and humility are beyond impressive. His comments on the nature of celebrity were genuinely human, especially his advice to the young audience to strive to be on the right side of history.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Paul Hackett on the Daily Show

The Daily Show's recent bit on Paul Hackett is yet another glowing example of that show's amazing ability to seamlessly blend real news and stinging satire. And Paul Hackett was great -- funny and a good sport.

Friday, March 17, 2006

'South Park'-Scientology Battle Rages On - Yahoo! News

'South Park'-Scientology Battle Rages On - Yahoo! News: "'So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!' the 'South Park' creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. 'Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies... You have obsructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!'"

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster shower his blessings on Matt Stone and Trey Parker in their righteous battle.

I just don't think I can live in a world in which Tom Cruise is a cultural force.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Has Stern Lost His Touch?: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

In his Motely Fool commentary about Howard Stern's Sirius programming (Has Stern Lost His Touch?), Rick Munarriz observes:

The problem is that pulling back the curtain -- and offering 24/7 newsy dissections -- does the flagship show no favors.

Stern is a guilty pleasure for me, and as a Sirius subscriber I've had more than a few good laughs on the way to work in the morning since his Sirius debut in January. (I will admit that on at least two recent occasions I was so completely grossed out that I had to switch channels. I will not describe the content.)

But what Stern needs to learn in a hurry is that his fans want to hear his show, not a lot of shows about his show. The Howard 100 news is -- no surprise -- a complete waste of time, as are the other spin-offs, including the wrap-up show mentioned in the quote above.

Stern has mentioned a few ideas for other programs that have some promise: a crack-whore satire of The View for one, and another he mentioned a couple of weeks ago that would bring Iraq War vets on for an uncensored discussion of their experiences (as close to a serious news program as Stern is likely to get).

But for now the filler programming on the two Stern Sirius channels, including the thoroughly repugnant Bubba the Love Sponge, is not going to help me cash in on my Sirius stock.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

In Space, No One Can Hear You Snore

We’ve been conditioned by books, movies, and television to have certain expectations regarding alien beings. Whether they fall into the cute and friendly category, like ET, or the bizarre and menacing catergory, like the critters from the ALIEN series or those from WAR OF THE WORLDS (the Martians, not Tom Cruise), we have it in our heads that visitors from beyond Earth will be, at minimum, interesting.

But what will you do when your close encounter finally happens and you discover that your guests are neither cuddly, benevolent star-voyagers, nor well-armed space calamari intent on turning major cities into dirty ashtrays? What if they are completely, unendurably boring?

There you are, sitting on your patio, when suddenly something large drops out of the sky onto the lawn. But instead of a dazzlingly illuminated UFO, it turns out to look more like a poorly maintained recreational vehicle, with a couple of battered satellite dishes, and an Area 51 parking pass.

Then a hatch creaks open, and just as you position your fingers in that live-long-and-prosper Vulcan greeting, one of those tiny, gray-green guys with a big head and no mouth pops out and says to you through telepathy, "We heard there was a real good outlet mall around here." And instead of fastening himself to your face and turning you into a breeding pod, or letting you goof around with his light saber, he flops down on your couch spends the next six hours watching QVC.

Finally, before he can say, "ET phone Home Shopping Club," you make your move. "Well, tomorrow’s a long day," you say, "Thanks for coming by." And you shove him out the door.

How are we to avoid any such encounters with Dearth Vacuous? Simple. What do you normally do when you want to dodge any contact with the tedious beings in your life?

You screen your calls.

We must immediately advise the people at SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence project, to wire all those antenna arrays up to a voice mail system so they can screen any interplanetary messages they might receive. That way we can get some idea of what we are dealing with before we invite anybody to beam down for coffee and donuts.

All it takes is a polite message: "We’re sorry, we can't respond your long string of binary code right now. Please leave a brief description of your culture and intentions at the beep and we'll get back to you just as soon as we can."

Then all we have to do is listen to the messages. If we find out that the hyper-intelligent crew of a sparkling star cruiser wants to teach us how to end poverty, disease, and war, and show us a simple way to fill out IRS forms, we can tell them, "C’mon down! We’re buying!"

If, on the other hand, the translated data turns out to be a request for Kenny G tickets and a DVD collection of the first season of "Joannie Loves Chachi," we know that we need to issue a global alert that for the next few days everyone should turn out the lights and pretend not to be home.

Of course, aliens have probably been watching us for some time, scanning our TV broadcasts and so on. We may have to face up to the idea that once they analyzed their data, they sent an urgent message back to their home planet to activate the voice mail and draw the curtains.

Could it be that Earth is the Planet of the Dweebs?


Friday, February 03, 2006

Lessig: Free Culture

Many thanks to Charles Stack (whom I would describe as the smartest man I know even if he wasn't my boss) for recommending this wonderful Flash version of a lecture on free culture by Creative Commons chairman Lawrence Lessig.