Fox: Words Not Needed

I guess that the Fox News viewer has a short attention span. From the New York Times:

At 5:30 p.m. last Monday, Shepard Smith, the 40-year-old host of Fox News Channel’s “Fox Report,” was hunched over his computer in the company’s bustling Midtown headquarters, poring over the script for his evening broadcast, and searching for verbs. Mr. Smith, let it be known, does not like verbs. Whenever he finds one, he crinkles his brow in disgust like a man who has discovered a dribble of food on his tie. He taps furiously at his keyboard, moves the cursor to the offending word and deletes it, or else adds “ing,” turning the verb into a participle and his script into the strange shorthand that passes for English these days on cable news:

“Amazon.com celebrating a birthday! The Internet company 10 years old.”

“Texas! A school bus and two other vehicles colliding in Dallas. The bus rolling over on its side.”

“Outrage in the Middle East! A vow of revenge after an assassination and reportedly threatening the United States. Tonight — how real the threat?”

Shepard Smith! Explaining to a reporter, why not the verbs?

“We don’t communicate in full sentences anyway,” Mr. Smith said as he continued working through his script. “We don’t need all those words. And it allows us to go faster.”

Perhaps I should sue

Google has announced a new experiment that they’re calling “Gmail.”
I hope they have deep pockets, ‘cos I’ve been using “g-mail” for at least 5 years on my g-world website.
Only problem is I never registered the trademark.
Dammit.
Of course, if they’re really just doing this as an April Fool’s gag, then I can breathe a sigh of relief.
Right?

Radio for Kirk

You know him, you love him — prolific commenter The Amazing Kirk-a-go-go, (who is also my cousin-a-go-go) is entering the ranks of we bloggers.
Welcome him over at Radio Free Kirkopolis (www.genecowan.com/kirk, part of my rapidly growing media empire).

Radio for the rest of us


Finally… I hope they’re as vociferously insane on the left as the right-wing nut jobs are.

These are broken

While I’m on the subject of things that are broken, let me tell you about the trifecta of consumer electronics that reside in my bedroom.

First off is a Dish Network satellite receiver, model 6000. This box has two fans in it, which run continuously and very loudly, especially in an otherwise quiet bedroom. Do not buy one of these if you expect to get any sleep.
If you turn off the box using the button on the front rather than the remote, the fan goes off… for about 10 seconds, then it comes back on louder. Oddly, this box doesn’t turn off from the remote, it simply goes into “standby” mode. This is one option too many, and something it has in common with the second item, a DVD player from “RJ Tech.” This DVD player has a power button on the remote, but that only puts it in “standby.” There is a more traditional push button on the front that turns it off; but there is no difference between “standby” and “off” except for the next annoyance: the light. For some reason, when the player is on and playing, the bright LED over the power button is off. When you press “Power” on the remote (putting the player in “standby”), the power light comes ON.
This is also the case with the third item, a pricey Samsung HDTV. When the TV is OFF, a light illuminates next to the power button. When the TV is ON, the light is OFF.
Who is designing these monstrosities?

You have the right to think nothing

We all knew it was coming, what with Dubya, Cheney, Rove and Ashcroft running things, but who knew they’d be so open about it? Found at This Is Broken.

The first Monday in November

It seems like a trend may be in the offing: ever since the attack in Madrid seemingly shifted the outcome of the election, is al Queda realizing that this is the way to have an effect on world politics? Authorities have foiled an attack in the Philippines that may have been scheduled for their upcoming elections:

MANILA – A terrorist bombing on the scale of the Madrid attacks has been averted with the arrests of four Abu Sayyaf members and the confiscation of 36kg of TNT, the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Tuesday.

Mrs Arroyo, who faces a tough campaign for re-election on May 10, said the explosives were to have been used to bomb trains and shopping malls in Manila.

What happens if there is a terrorist attack here in the U.S. just before the election? To which candidate will that event push the electorate?

Oops… better control damage (again)

I think the Fark entry says it best:

Condoleezza Rice buckles to pressure: Agrees to provide meaningless, unhelpful testimony before irrelevant committee of congressional idiots

Emotionally bankrupt

There’s something a little subversive in my using “I Love You” stamps to send out bills.
I hope that Comcast doesn’t get the wrong idea.

Just a word of warning

This morning I started using a new toothpaste — Aquafresh Extreme Clean. (Consider that they also make “Mary-Kate and Ashley Brand Toothpaste” and I think you’ll understand that I could have done much worse.)
Anyway, I urge you, should you use this product, to only place a “pea-sized” amount on your brush. Otherwise, your mouth will quickly fill with foam that tastes like a mentholated cough drop. You might be mistaken for a rabid dog.
That is all.

Just Say It

My very simple take on Condoleeza Rice’s interview last night: I don’t believe her. She was, like most politicos, completely evasive. When asked a question, she not only deftly avoided an actual answer, but parsed her words with Clintonesque finesse that had “plausible deniability” written all over it. For example, when asked if she would apologize for policy failures on Sept. 11, she pulled out the old trick of apologizing for the event, not the policies.
Astonishingly, the interview with Charles Pickering which followed was quite a contrast. I had never looked into the allegations about him — that he is racist — but just shrugged off the Democratic opposition to him on the grounds that the Republicans had done the same to Clinton appointees. I was surprised to see that he not only answered all the questions put to him, but that he was quite eloquent in explaining his actions in reducing the sentence imposed on a cross-burning convict. He came across as an honest man.

I can’t stand the political non-answer brigade, these people like Rice, Cheney, and even a large phalanx on the left; the people who somehow take a straightforward question then manage to respond in such a way that they don’t give an answer or create a response that is word-perfect and non-actionable. A response that gives them political and legal cover later so that they can insist that they didn’t say what you think they said.

Another thing I’ve noticed lately about the Bush administration personnel: they remind me of old Soviets. Remember way back when? When all those Soviet politburo members appeared in public wearing a somber uniform topped off with a shiny red star on their lapel?
Have you noticed that with one notable exception, each and every Bush administration member appears wearing an American flag lapel pin? I guess that’s so no one will question their patriotism.
Oh, and the notable exception?
Donald Rumsfeld never wears a pin. I can’t figure out what that signifies. It’s worth noting that he’s the only outspoken, say-what-he-thinks member of the administration. I may not ever agree with what he says, but I certainly respect the fact that he says it.

One last quickie here:

Few participants in the Clarke Wars seem inclined to look for at least some areas of common ground that might narrow the chasm.

But perhaps there are things everyone can agree on?

For example, Clarke has said that while the Bush administration didn’t ignore concerns over terrorism, he felt it didn’t consider the threat to be a matter of great urgency before Sept. 11.

And here’s President Bush, asked whether he would have ordered Osama bin Laden taken out before Sept. 11, telling The Washington Post on Dec. 20, 2001:

“There was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11th. I was not on point, but I knew he was a menace, and I knew he was a problem. I knew he was responsible, or we felt he was responsible, for the bombings that killed Americans. I was prepared to look at a plan that would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him to justice, and would have given the order to do that. I have no hesitancy about going after him. But I didn’t feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling.”

The blue house of death

The Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro — the Tech cutie — had a tour of Microsoft’s demo smart home. It sounds like a wacky sci-fi future, but is any of it really necessary… or desirable?

The basic idea behind the Microsoft Home is personalizing a dwelling so it responds to its occupants and their tastes — “making things mine,” said John O’Rourke, senior director of Microsoft’s consumer strategy division.

So when the house learns that it’s you at the door and not the FedEx guy, it knows to welcome you by opening the blinds, turning on the lights and playing the music of your choice.

Small touch-screen consoles on the walls allow fingertip control of those settings, as well as quick access to the images picked up by in-house cameras. For some reason, the clock on the first such console was an hour off.

The house also can be controlled by voice commands, but a Microsoft rep had to rephrase his command to get the blinds to open.

The family room’s plasma TV — like other sets in the house — is a monitor that allows access to all the entertainment and information on the home network, including movies, music, photos and everybody’s schedules, collected from such different sources as the computer servers at the parents’ workplaces and a kid’s Hotmail calendar.

The plasma TV also features this status report: “Grandma is having a normal day.”

How did it know that? Because it talked to her home, which — with her permission — tracks her use of the computers there to make sure she’s OK.

The microwave has a bar-code scanner, permitting it to identify the frozen foods you’re about to throw in, look up their heating directions online and execute them precisely. When it’s done, it can send a message to your phone or handheld organizer.

The fridge includes an “RFID” sensor that looks for the radio-frequency ID tags that are supposed to be included in the packaging of countless consumer items in the coming years. This way, the fridge knows what’s inside it.

… Place a bag of flour next to a food processor, and the food processor’s RFID sensor will notice the new arrival and alert the home’s computers. A voice then warbles: “Would you like some assistance?” (Yes, this reminded me of the talking paperclip in old versions of Microsoft Word.)

Say “recipes” and the system then dims the lights so it can project a list of flour-based recipes on the countertop — and remind you that you’re out of chocolate chips.

… I’m not worried that these dreams of home automation won’t come to pass — I’m worried that they will.

These networked-home systems will be reasonably priced, and they’ll work fine during the in-store demo.

It won’t be until you’ve had everything installed that you realize that the kitchen’s automated inventory management doesn’t work with the produce you buy at the farmers’ market (and besides, the technology is not appreciably easier than just looking in the pantry). Your media server computer will think you’re trying to steal a movie when you want to take a copy to a vacation house. When you add some other vendor’s hardware or software to the system, things start to break.

Demonstrations like Microsoft’s are fun and thought-provoking, but the entire computer industry needs to do a much better job of making its products painless to use before it earns the right to spread from one desk to the rest of the home.

You know, none of the things that Rob talks about in this futuristic home seem to be very useful, apart from spying on grandma. For example, I’m sure that it would be incredibly annoying to have lights light, blinds open, and whatnot when I got home. I am not an automaton, and don’t think that I want exactly the same ambiance to be established every day when I get home. I can open the blinds myself rather than have motors and circuits boards installed to do it. I certainly don’t need the refrigerator to tell me what’s in it, that’s why it has a door. I don’t quite understand what all these devices are supposed to accomplish. Haven’t we learned that technological advancements in these areas do not save time? How many of us spend hours every day dealing with that time-saving e-mail that’s flooding our desks? Or spending twice as much time typing a letter in Microsoft Word than we would have if we used a typewriter?
What happens when your house crashes? After all, it’s a Microsoft product.