Thursday, May 12, 2005

April Showers Bring May Showers

As of May 11th, the National Weather Service shows Sacramento precipitation since July 1st as 122% of normal (23.61", vs. normal 19.31".) More rain on Tuesday of next week is currently being forecast. Drought conditions prevail in the Pacific Northwest. And Los Angeles is just an inch or so shy of having the rainiest water year ever!
Still, the total precipitation for that day (May 5, 2005) was only a little more than a tenth of an inch, leaving Los Angeles still some 1.12 inches short of the wettest rainy season since 1884.
New Specs

Elton John, I'm not, but I've graduated to the age when I need either bifocals, or two new sets of glasses, to cope with the full range of vision. I got the latter today, plus contact lenses. Just 500 outrageous pairs more, and I'll be like Sir Elton!

The 'near' pair seems OK, but the 'far' pair is a bit strange - the peripheral vision in the left eye is a bit blurry, and the depth of focus is strange - but at least I'll be able to read traffic signs again!
Mommy and Daddy

Interesting interview with Kittymalicious, whose blog I've been reading (and really like) for the last two years, and who is touring large swaths of the country.
Every Performer's Worst Nightmare

This happens to me fairly regularly at DMTC. It's harder, of course, when you're the focus of attention. Fatigue is often the culprit.

I remember when this happened to one of the DMTC Young Performer Theater regulars last year during the "Bye, Bye Birdie" Summer Workshop performance (the Summer Workshop gets less rehearsal time than usual for YPT, because of the heavy participation, compressed schedule, and double-casting). She came on for a 30-second solo. Her eyes bugged out and she sang "la, la, la," for what must have felt like an eternity. Carried it off well!

Kylie Minogue was left red-faced onstage last night when she forgot the words to ‘I Should Be So Lucky’. The audience at Kylie’s London show were amazed she suddenly stopped in the middle of what is arguably one of her most famous hits. An eye-witness says, "She was half-way through the song and then she stopped. She looked a bit embarrassed and asked the audience to help out."
The Real Conservative Voice

Amplifying on George Bush's Yalta insinuations, Pat Buchanan denounces American involvement in World War II.
So Much to Blog About

And so little time:
  • Dick Cheney getting his wish about keeping those Energy bill consultations secret. I always thought the Energy bill was just a stalking horse for much more serious secret shenanigans elsewhere, but good luck finding out what those shenanigans might be all about!
  • Those infamous pre-2004-Election terror alerts being revealed by Tom Ridge as so many exaggerated lies, employed to manipulate the electorate into voting for George Bush. Does the Bush Administration know no shame?
  • United Airlines dumping responsibility for their underfunded pension plans onto the taxpayers. Most employee wrath seems to be falling on overpaid, inept, untrustworthy management, and maybe they are right.
I Like Ike

Great quote, from David Sirota:
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What a Be-a-tch!

Dave Chapelle? In South Africa?
Comedy Central star Dave Chappelle has checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa, the magazine Entertainment Weekly reported on Wednesday.

The comedian's whereabouts and condition have been unknown since Comedy Central abruptly announced last week that the planned May 31 launch of the third season of "Chappelle's Show" had been postponed and production halted.

Chappelle flew from Newark, N.J., to South Africa on April 28 for treatment, said the magazine, quoting a source close to the show it would not identify. Entertainment Weekly said it had corroborating sources for its story.
WDA Rehearsal

Two rehearsals down at Pioneer High School. Tonight, Kelly Challender appeared, and it was nice seeing her again.

Last night, one of the 6-year-olds tried to guess my age:

Her: 25!
Me: Nope!
Her: 35!
Me: Nope!
Her: 46!
Me: 48!
Her: I almost got it right!
Tonight, another girl tried to guess my age. Her first guess was 38. She asked for a hint, and I said it started with a "4." She ran through almost the entire forties in her effort to guess my age. These girls are so cute! Anything older than 15 might as well be ancient, as far as they are concerned!

Last night, there was a battle of wills between a mom and her young daughter that was interesting to watch: the daughter won, despite any number of disadvantages of age and size. Her willful manipulativeness might push her far, if tapped correctly: maybe Woodland's answer to Madonna?
Crying Wolf!

False alarm in Washington, D.C.!
Primitive Fears

I was dreaming about stuff like this last night:
A SNAKE expert is reported to have been crushed to death by his giant pet python.

Swede Erik Attmarsson, 28, was found dead in a house in Australia with the monster snake right beside him.

It is feared the 17ft long beast suffocated him in a horrific attack.

The Adelaide Advertiser reported that the victim's body had injuries consistent with being crushed to death by a snake.

...Attmarsson worked for a firm in Tanunda where he was involved in milking hundreds of venomous snakes for the production of anti-venom.
Border Contradictions

Clinical madness! Schizophrenia! I was dumbfounded last night, listening to conservative AM talk radio 1530 KFBK's Mark Williams entertain a caller who ran a small construction firm and who had hired two illegal aliens. Finally, I thought, here was a sympathetic conservative caller who would inform the audience about some of the grittier realities of illegal immigration and the American workplace, and he did not disappoint entirely, with his talk of how hard the illegals work.

Nevertheless, despite all that we spend on the Border Patrol, both Williams and the caller decided to blame the federal government for supposedly making it easier to be an illegal migrant rather than a law-abiding migrant. No blame for employers! Nosirreebob!

So the inevitable conclusion is that legal migration must be made easier, which means - many more migrants! So the nativist Minutemen are fighting to flood the country with foreigners! I thought they were fighting for the opposite!

Life along the border is difficult - a hard economy - plus there are hazards from having so many potentially-dangerous strangers cutting across your land. I would be sympathetic if the people living there were the ones organizing patrols. For the most part, though, the Minutemen are wannabe warriors who live elsewhere. All they are doing is endangering the people who actually live there.

Here is some interesting reading from Salon:
In Palominas, I talk to an 18-year-old girl named Ashley Miller, who is pregnant and whose 3-year-old stepson plays in the dust. Miller has lived on the border all her life and watched migrants cross her land without trouble. She is not happy with the Minutemen, nor is her family, who grow hay in irrigated fields nearby.

"These people come here for a minute and they think they're men," Miller says. "They don't live on the border, they don't know the border, they know hearsay, what they've read. They'll get some ego boost from saying they've defended the border." Then, she says, they will depart, and nothing will change, except that migrants crossing her land will now expect her father and uncle and grandfather to be armed and hostile. "These Minutemen are putting the children, the people waiting at a bus stop, the people in their homes in danger," she says....

...Beyond that, the park ranger says he is frustrated because he can do nothing about an American economy that demands workers like Perez. "We can't go in and take 10,000 aliens from the tomato harvest because of the huge economic impact," he says. "We would cause a political uprising. People want their cheap lettuce, man."

Today, immigration observers point out that more than a billion dollars a year is sunk in keeping illegals out, and once they're in, billions of dollars depend on them staying. Without illegals, a great many industries -- agriculture, meat-packing, restaurants, hospitals, construction, landscaping -- would be thrown into chaos. It is no stretch to say that the hand of the Mexican migrant feeds the United States. He picks the food in the fields, stocks it on the shelves in the supermarkets, cooks it in the restaurants, and cleans the dishes afterward.

"Our economy depends on a robust influx of immigrant labor," says immigration scholar and author Jacoby. "Our workforce is more and more educated and middle-class. People don't want to work outside in the fields. So we have whole industries that rely on international smuggling cartels to get their workers." However, Jacoby says, "Illegal immigrants are not stealing jobs from American workers. They're doing jobs most Americans don't want to do."

In the meantime, "interior enforcement" -- raids on farms and construction sites that employ migrants -- has declined by 80 percent since 1998. In 1992, the Immigration and Naturalization Service fined 1,063 employers for illegal labor violations. By 2001, that number had plummeted to a piddling 78. A senior agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, who spoke honestly and therefore anonymously, tells me, "Well, why not hire the illegal? He works just as hard, if not harder, than an American, and for half the money. That's the big magnet. If you're ever gonna stop this, you gotta start fining employers. You gotta demagnetize the job pull." ...

...For his part, Simcox endorses a guest worker program, but in a manner so demanding and far-reaching that it could never be implemented. "It would have to be all employer-paid," he says. "The employer pays for medical checkup and care, immunization, safe transport into the country -- so the worker can enter this country with dignity -- insurance, proper I.D., and a safe workplace. Anything that an American worker would have. All of a sudden employers are right back to paying $21 an hour. That's good capitalism."

I tell him this seems to refute his avowed distaste for government regulation and his self-styled image as a frontiersman. I point out, too, that millions of legal American workers do not have healthcare, safe transport, insurance or a safe workplace. But Simcox is not tripped up by his own contradictions. "No, it'll stop people from being exploited," he says. "It'll make employers think about hiring Americans again because they're gonna have to pay Mexicans the same goddamn wages." This is the zealot's brand of twisted progressivism. You have to wonder whether Simcox even wants it to succeed...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Garrison Keillor

And his take on radio today:
The deregulation of radio was tough on good-neighbor radio because Clear Channel and other conglomerates were anxious to vacuum up every station in sight for fabulous sums of cash and turn them into robot repeaters. I dropped in to a broadcasting school last fall and saw kids being trained for radio careers as if radio were a branch of computer processing. They had no conception of the possibility of talking into a microphone to an audience that wants to hear what you have to say. I tried to suggest what a cheat this was, but the instructor was standing next to me. Clear Channel's brand of robotics is not the future of broadcasting. With a whole generation turning to iPod and another generation discovering satellite radio and Internet radio, the robotic formatted-music station looks like a very marginal operation indeed. Training kids to do that is like teaching typewriter repair.

After the iPod takes half the radio audience and satellite radio subtracts half of the remainder and Internet radio gets a third of the rest and Clear Channel has to start cutting its losses and selling off frequencies, good-neighbor radio will come back. People do enjoy being spoken to by other people who are alive and who live within a few miles of you.
Marketers to Boomers: Drop Dead!

About time the Boomers were pushed out of the spotlight!

And no Gabe, I don't consider myself a Boomer....just ever-so-slightly post-Boomer - is it really so hard to tell?

Several weeks ago, PBS featured a golden-oldie gala of disco star has-beens, and I wondered who all the ruined old fat people dancing around under the mirrored ball might be, and then I realized - these folks are EXACTLY my age! I would fit right in with them!:
Catering almost exclusively to the young might seem counterproductive. More than half the nation's wealth is in the hands of people over 50, who spend an estimated $2 trillion a year on products and services.

..."If you target young, you're going to get younger viewers and keep your older ones," said Jon Nesvig, Fox Broadcasting's advertising president. "But if you target old, that's what you're going to get — older viewers."

...How does that make people over 50 feel? To paraphrase the famous line from the movie "Network," they're mad as hell and they wish they didn't have to take it anymore.

Last year, AARP tried to draw attention to the issue in an ad campaign built around a photo of a morgue, complete with toe-tagged cadavers. The slogan: "When you turn 50, doctors don't pronounce you dead — marketers do."
New Orleans Hospitality

I went to eat lunch this afternoon, and I was happy to see one of the old gang. I hadn't seen the fellow in a number of months, and I wondered what he had been doing lately. Turns out he had moved to New Orleans, but things didn't work out so good for him there. He was sitting on his porch one evening, when he was shot four times: head, leg, chest, abdomen. All unprovoked. Lasting debilities. It's a wonder he's still alive! While he was still in the ICU, his mother and grandmother flew down, packed all his stuff, and moved him back.

Makes me nervous about ever visiting the "Big Easy!"
"Annie" National Tour

I've heard tell that Kaylynn Rothleder, who played Annie for DMTC in March, has had unusual good fortune in New York City auditioning for the lead role of Annie, for the forthcoming "Annie" National Tour. Starting from a pool of 500, after 5 callbacks, she has passed into the Top 30. With such fierce competition, and the inevitable hard knocks, who can say, but nevertheless I hope she manages to win out!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Google, and Political Ads

A friend took note of some news on Fox:
On Wednesday, "Washington Grapevine" on FoxNews reported that some conservatives tried to buy an ad on Google criticizing Nancy Pelosi's ethical behavior, and that Google rejected the ad because they "don't accept ads criticizing individuals". Problem was that the submitted anti-Pelosi ad was verbatim the same as an anti-DeLay ad already posted on Google, with only the name Pelosi switched for DeLay! If Fox's reporting was correct, Google actively suppresses public access to the media, based on political viewpoint.
So, my friend asked Google to comment, and this is what they said:
We have rejected both anti-Pelosi and anti-DeLay ads due to ad policy violations. Ads may run a short time before they are reviewed. Our editorial staff reviews all ads to make sure that they are appropriate for our site. Since we show ads immediately, there is often a short period of time when the ad is running before being reviewed and approved by Google AdWords Specialists. Please note that we try to keep this lag as short as possible. In this instance, we did show both ads when they were submitted, and they were subsequently disapproved per our policy.

Ad text advocating against any organization or person (public, private, or protected) is not permitted. We apply our policies equally, regardless of the political views represented by the ads submitted to Google. We welcome political ads and run many. We allow ads that urge voting against a particular politician, for example, but are likely to reject ads that allege someone is unethical.
I remember reading somewhere recently that Google and Yahoo are following much different advertising strategies (it wasn't this article, but at least here's a little background.)

The Google approach, where one can quickly bootstrap a simple ad campaign based on one's own initiative, is unusually vulnerable to political gaming. It wouldn't surprise me if both political parties have boilerroom operations to assemble quick-hitting - practically occult - ad campaigns using Google, and directed at the other party. Who knows how effective these campaigns might be?

What is strange to me is why Fox would bring the battle into public view. After all, I would think the appropriate approach would be to exploit the vulnerability, rather than to make a fuss. The only thing I can think of is base support: conservatives prefer to feel embattled, even when they're not. By calling Google's attention to the battle, the battle will surely be quelled. Maybe it's a reasonable sacrifice - buck up conservative morale nationwide, at the expense of degrading a potentially-effective advertising tool.