Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Island Chronicle

Hunter Bishop reports that Tiffany Edwards, formerly of West Hawaii Today, now has her own website, Big Island Chronicle.

Friday, June 22, 2007

You Make the Call

But it's the lacrosse players who look like Gregory Peck.
--Human Events columnist

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nomadic Furniture

Building your own furniture is the next DIY craze, proclaims New York magazine in its 21 May 2007 Home Design issue. A copy of this book is featured on page 83, just below a picture of a papier-mache ("the next taxidermy") antelope head by Farfelus Farfadets.

See also Swapatorium and Micasas.

Inside the Nixon Archives


Plain cardboard boxes with odds and ends from the Nixon White House, including gifts given to the president — both priceless and worthless. "The gemstones in here are pink sapphires, which are very rare," Drews, a museum specialist, told CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger. On the other hand, "this is just an ordinary beach rock that a donor found on the beach and they thought it looked like Richard Nixon." Congress ordered all this stuff held here while all sorts of legal issues were settled. More than 30 years later, almost all of it will find a permanent home at the Nixon Library.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

TV Tripe

The problem with television is that when the people on it are telling you one thing, they are not telling you a lot of other things.

Television is what I call a linear medium. It streams information at you one batch at a time. In contrast, a newspaper is a horizontal medium. It presents you with a variety of information in its daily package, spread out so you can pick and choose what you wish to read.

Last week, when television cable news was obsessing over the Paris Hilton non-story, it was, of course, depriving viewers of news about much more important topics, such as the goings-on in Congress, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the economy, the environment and the energy crisis. It's hard to think of anything that is not more important than a silly heiress doing her time for violating the terms of her probation. [See Project Censored--P.Z.]

Then, to compound their sin of shallow-minded celebrity worship, some of the cable news people tried to blame it on Miss Hilton. That is obscenely stupid. The young woman goes places, but she has no power over the media, no way to manipulate them, no way to set their agenda. No celebrity commands the thundering herd of paparazzi and certainly does not make assignments for cable news shows.

I once got so disgusted with the pseudo-news on the cable channels than I canceled the service. Alas, I missed the old movies and the baseball games, so I've had it reconnected. Cable news is now worse than it ever was. The amount of factual information you can glean from watching cable news 24 hours a day wouldn't fill a 3-by-5 card.

Most of what passes for cable news is really television talk shows. Some of them interview print journalists, a dead giveaway to the fact that they do virtually no original reporting on their own. They don't seem to have many reporters. They have on-camera talent, people who stand in front of the camera and tell you in 30 seconds something the government has said. They are mouthpieces for the government.

Watch, for example, something that happens in the morning and note how little the announcers know about it. Then watch that evening and note how little they still know about it. In other words, they do virtually no reporting.

The other sin they commit is mixing trivia with the thin gruel they serve as news. If they get video of a police chase, a random murder, a flash flood, a warehouse fire or a monkey that sleeps with a dog, it goes on the air. Clearly they believe their only duty is to amuse you. [See Neil Postman--P.Z.]

The trouble is, self-government doesn't work if the people are idiots. It doesn't work if you don't know what you need to know while your brain is cluttered up with trivia, tripe and non-sense. Unless you are a parent or a friend of a celebrity, there is zero need to know anything about the person.

Americans desperately need to read more, and to watch and listen less. The Founding Fathers played a dirty trick on people when they gave them a free society. You can coast in a dictatorship, but in a free society you have to work hard to stay informed so that you can make the right decisions at election time.

Newspapers have their faults, but if they vanish in the sea of functional illiteracy, it won't be long before the last semblance of a free society disappears along with them.

June 19, 2007
As for myself, I don't bother daily with The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, Countdown, Glenn Beck, and all the rest. I'll be posting on my media diet and how it's changed.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

World Without Oil?

asks this article from The Independent.

Scientists have criticised a major review of the world's remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.
BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough "proven" reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry.

However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.
According to "peak oil" theory our consumption of oil will catch, then outstrip our discovery of new reserves and we will begin to deplete known reserves.

Colin Campbell, the head of the depletion centre, said: "It's quite a simple theory and one that any beer drinker understands. The glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it's gone."

Dr Campbell, is a former chief geologist and vice-president at a string of oil majors including BP, Shell, Fina, Exxon and ChevronTexaco. He explains that the peak of regular oil - the cheap and easy to extract stuff - has already come and gone in 2005. Even when you factor in the more difficult to extract heavy oil, deep sea reserves, polar regions and liquid taken from gas, the peak will come as soon as 2011, he says. ...

And I just found this peak-oil blog:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Great Music Videos

        (An asterisk indicates songs without formal music videos.)

        Tuesday, June 05, 2007

        "Fact: Stacy Higa Supports Continued Marijuana Eradication!"

        "Language most shows a man; speak that I may see thee," said Jonson. With that in mind, I reproduce in full Stacy Higa's letter to the editor in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (5 June 2007, p. A4) on how he really is for marijuana eradication:

        Higa takes exception

        I felt that I would wait for your newspaper to print the "correct facts" regarding the marijuana eradication grant funds. As usual, your newspaper doesn't accurately report the news.

        Your Sunday headline states, "Green Harvest funds cut." WRONG. Fact: My vote was to remove these funds from the budget process, which we did. Green Harvest funds for county budget year 2006-07 is still in the police budget, and they will have enough money to continue their operation till the grant ends in September or October of this year. Fact: When the police department applies for next year's grant, (which should be around September), they will have to appear before the council and request that we accept or deny these funds by resolution. Fact: During this resolution process before the council, marijuana advocates will have the opportunity to present their testimony again, and so will the police.

        During my three years on the council, I have been privileged to hear the testimony from the pro-marijuana people, but I have not heard the police side of how they conduct their operations. My vote is for the "process," and I want the police to explain to the council and the public all the facts on how the operation is handled. Educating the public and informing all of us on what is taking place in and around our neighborhoods are very important.

        Fact: Stacy Higa supports continued marijuana eradication! I have heard some of the horror stories about helicopters hovering intrusively above homes, and stories of the police supposedly traumatizing children and family members. These claims have come from marijuana advocates, but I have never heard the police side of these allegations. The public needs to hear BOTH sides of what is happening.

        To my constituents and supporters who have asked the question, "Why did Stacy Higa vote against marijuana eradication?" the answer is ---that was never the question. Stacy Higa voted to change the process of how the county accepts the federal grant money.

        I think it is very sad that I have to write a letter to the editor to correct the misinformation that the newspaper prints in its headlines. Don't believe everything you read in the headlines or the newspapers, without verifying the facts.

        Councilor Stacy K. Higa
        District 4-Hilo

        Monday, June 04, 2007

        Degrassi Spoilers

        5 June update: According to this interview, Deanna Casaluce ("Alex Nunez") considers leaving the show. What's next for you in your acting career?

        Deanna: This is the very tip of the iceberg; at least I hope it is. I think after this season, season seven, I'll be leaving the show. I'm planning on moving to Los Angeles in September.
        I'm halfway done a degree in philosophy with a minor in social psychology, and I'm leaving that behind for now. I would like to finish my degree because I love learning. But I'm too busy right now.

        On Vermont's Secession Movement

        The aghast headline from The Drudge Report:

        The more sedate title of the Associated Press article which is linked at Drudge:
        In Vermont, nascent secession movement gains traction

        5 June update: VT Secession's YouTube page

        The Sopranos

        With the final episode to air next Sunday, I'll be writing about lesser-known aspects of the show, especially the Sopranos know-it-alls and A.J.'s music.