wo people are being held hostage by an armed man at Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire, police said Friday.Hope everybody gets out ok. I also hope this doesn't start a trend; the whole Clinton name thing does seem to bring out the crazies.
The man walked into the office at about 1 p.m., Maj. Michael Hambrook of the New Hampshire State Police told CNN affiliate WMUR-TV.
Hambrook and Clinton campaign officials said two people were believed to be inside.
Shortly before 2 p.m., police officers were gathered across the street from the office, some kneeling behind police cruisers with guns drawn. VideoWatch police take up positions »
Witnesses described the man as in his 40s with salt-and-pepper hair, WMUR reported.
A woman and her baby were released by the hostage-taker, the woman told workers at a nearby business, according to the WMUR Web site.
A witness, Lettie Tzizik, told WMUR she spoke to a woman shortly after she was released from the office by the hostage-taker.
"A young woman with a 6-month or 8-month-old infant came rushing into the store just in tears, and she said, 'You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape,'" the Web site reported.
Bill Shaheen, chairman of Clinton's New Hampshire campaign, told WMUR that the people being held were volunteers.
"Hopefully, they're going to negotiate this so no one gets hurt," Shaheen said.
Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is in the Washington area.
She was scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. at a Democratic National Committee event, but canceled the talk because of the situation, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Boing Boing's a high-visibility weblog. There are a lot of sullen, disappointed right-wingers out there who miss the old days, when they had jolly times smashing the shop windows of the early liberal blogosphere. Some of them are fixated on Boing Boing as the uppity liberal enemy that must be suppressed.Fun! And true. Usenet is the best inoculation for trolling winger idiots, and it's kind of sad that it's almost completely deprecated now. Web forums and blogs are very nice, but they just aren't the same.
This is middling bizarre of them, seeing as how Boing Boing isn't primarily a political weblog. It's very effective at focusing on the political issues it does pursue, but it isn't all politics all the time. I suspect that's what actually brings in the wingnuts: unlike weblogs like Firedoglake or Hullabaloo or Daily Kos, Boing Boing's entries can be understood (more or less) by someone who isn't up on current events, and who never learned the song about how a bill becomes a law.
(I think that's why we have so much trouble with commenters who misunderstand Cory's take on the realities of copyright law. As a rule of thumb, just about everyone thinks they're an expert on art, sex, traffic laws, popular music, and copyrights, and just about everyone is mistaken. I can't vouch for their adherence to the rest of the rule, but when it comes to copyrights, these guys are definitely not an exception.)
If you want to see how much they distort the local discourse, look at the difference between a thread on global warming and one on some other complex scientific subject. These guys get their talking points dished out to them by the source feed right-wing weblogs. This means that if global warming comes up, they swarm the comment thread because they know something they can say. But if an entry's about some scientific development that isn't covered in their spoon-fed talking points, they're at a loss, and so that thread will instead be full of science buffs discussing the actual entry...
...I've done my time and then some on Usenet. If learning to moderate online forums is like studying trolls and demons, then hanging out on Usenet is like living in Sunnydale: if you survive long enough, you'll eventually come up against one of every kind of monster -- and after a while, your reaction will change to "Bored now."
One thing, though; I seem to recall the early liberal blogosphere being more inclined towards ruining the right-wingers' day, if only because they were so used to having the conversation to themselves, they were quite enraged at these tenacious little liberal bastards who Would. Not. Go. Away. I completely agree that the winger legions have never quite forgiven the liberal blogosphere for becoming bigger, better, and more vital than theirs, though.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The link is to Miyuki Jane Pinckard, one of the writers at GameGirlAdvance, who talks about a rather offensive comic that's going around portraying Jade Raymond--the (attractive and female) producer of the new high-concept Ubisoft game Assassin's Creed--as a ditzy broad who orally pleasures the fans to get them to buy her game. Not that it's unique; this whole bit about emphasizing Jade as a pretty girl (instead of a designer) has been part of the coverage of the game for ages.
Now, I'm going to leave aside being this being personally offensive to Jade and everybody at Ubisoft. What the hell are these idiots thinking? The gaming industry has been absolutely plagued with the perception that it's nothing but escapist bullshit for teenage boys, a stigma that has affected not just those who are in the industry, but its consumers as well. It's half the reason why that "gaming is for kids" stuff and "games aren't art" endures.
Why the hell would gaming fans, and journalists, who haven't covered themselves with glory on this either, be reinforcing this? I mean, yes, Dave Cheung is an idiot whose career appears to revolve around creating second-rate webcomics and third rate wank material. It's no surprise he'd be behind the comic. But Scott Jennings did a really good job of showing exactly how crap a job the gaming media have done on this issue, especially the various gaming blogs.
(Though, these days, I suspect the only difference between your typical blogger and your typical game journalist is that one of them knows English grammar and vocabulary. Hint: it's the blogger.)
It's sad. The industry, when faced with the real possibility of respectibility, clearly can't avoid shooting itself in the foot over and over and over again. Sure, all involved have the freedom of speech, and I still know that they don't deserve to be stamped with the censor's boot.
Damned if there aren't days, though, where they're really tough to defend.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Why? Well, it's pretty simple. CD music is a digital medium. They're just a stream of zeroes and ones. Now, a LOT of things are streams of zeroes and ones these days, including these here blog post. The plastic discs aren't important, they're just a storage medium. Since the information on a CD can be reproduced and replicated anywhere, though, there's no reason to keep the plastic discs around if a better option presents itself. And, honestly, it has, in compressed music files on flash memory. (Otherwise known as an iPod.)
If you have an iPod, or indeed a computer with a decent sound setup, why keep CDs around? Why not just leave the plastic behind?
Vinyl analog records, though, is different. It's been known for a long time as having a warmer, richer sound than CDs. Even if the fidelity can be a bit of an issue and if they're harder to care for, if you want that warmer, richer sound, there's nowhere else to go: you can't reproduce the sound, because the sound is part of the medium; they're pretty much inseperable. They also tend to have better range, because you don't get the sort of space-saving range compression on records that can often ruin the sound of a CD.
They're also absolutely vital for the club scene, as you can't "scratch" a CD with anywhere near the mastery that you can a record. Yes, there are devices that mimic scratching, but it isn't remotely the same, and no self-respecting DJ would claim otherwise.
So, yeah, there will always be reasons to have vinyl records. CDs, though, became technically obsolete as soon as a better option presented itself. It did. People aren't so dumb as to not notice that. They're acting on it, and those in the music business had best start paying attention.
(Not that--at least from what I saw of the article--the RIAA is doing anything of the kind. Honestly, at this point, is there any organization that deserves to exist less than the Recording Industry of America Association?)
And, of course, if he takes Iowa, the media bump he'll get from that will instantly catapult him into contention with Hillary, and we'll likely see the poll numbers reflect that.
(Though if she takes all the other early states, that will probably mitigate things somewhat.)
Friday, November 16, 2007
He notes that Flickr ain't what it once was, either.
Me, what I've noticed is that blogging is maturing, but more importantly the idea of being able to do so has matured. The big revelation back in 2001/2002 was that you could, quite easily, put your thoughts up on the Internet for all to see, and (presumably) comment upon. Yes, people have been able to write things on the Internet since they first logged on, but blogs were unique in their ease of use and their reflection of the writer's personality. Websites (often? usually?) belonged to someone else, but a blog belonged to you, in a way far more egalitarian than you saw previously. This sparked an explosion of self-expression which mutated into flickr and Youtube and all the other things we see today.
Thing is, we're used to it. It's not new anymore. If you want to have your own "column", you can. It's presumed. And since it's not new, society as a whole is starting to suffer from Ted Barlow's disease, where the initial explosion of expression gives way to a kind of ambivalence about the whole thing. You've posted, talked, videoed, and everything else, but the magic is gone. You've let it all hang out, but what's the next step?
Plus, as the pseudonymity that was ubiquitous in the 'net's older days started to decline, and people started assuming that you had to express using your real name, people started realizing exactly what they were doing: publishing. It's quite likely that what you write isn't going to go anywhere, and many of those who had the potential to make interesting and unique insights--in a unique voice--are moving away from it, because they're concerned about what it would mean for their social life and career.
Those that are left are those who can already write their thoughts with impunity: academics, opinion journalists, some authors, and others along that line. Yes, what they have to say is interesting, but by and large we've already read it. I don't want to read what Whatzisname has to say so much as I want to read what the other guy without the column has to say, but he's not going to say a damned thing to anybody but the same-old same-old journalists that we already know and are entirely sick of. The "let it all hang out" ethos isn't surviving the cold light of day, but things like Facebook are too entrenched in popular culture for the Internet to easily move back to the culture of (ideally) respectful pseudonymity that it once embraced.
(Or, of course, they'll end up in walled gardens, like mailing lists or exclusive webforums.)
In any case, it does raise the question of what will replace the current Facebook-dominated paradigm. I'd say, but if I knew, I'd be too busy trying to make money off it.
(This is something I don't get, by the by. Why is it that heterodox economists have so much trouble getting heard when they seem to be--almost uniformly--better writers? The only orthodox economist that's anywhere near as good a read as Daniel is maybe Krugman, and he's only one man. Maybe it's because orthodox economics tends to attract people more comfortable with percentages than participles?)
Anyway, Dan's written a good review of what he calls a very subversive work of economic writing, so go read it. Then go read Halting State, because books written in the second person are indeed awesome.
Edit: I should add that this was within the context of a broader discussion on CT of said book on economics.
I know the Dems are friendly with the MPAA and RIAA, but this ain't the way to get around the Republican blockade, guys.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thus, you find yourself in familiar, but unsettlingly different territory.
And feel the need to blog about it.
You'll write more once you've read more. Perhaps, even, in the second person.
(With any luck, sometime in the next six years he'll have comments, too.)
That said, and now that I can actually LINK to things this will be easier, he's right about the Canadian Liberals needing a better "war room". Or, er, a War Room in the first place.
Then again, it's not like the Dems have been outstanding in that respect either. Letting Mukasey in without a fight is a goddamned disaster, making the Dems look exactly as weak and ineffectual as the Republicans are always calling them. What the hell is Dick Durban THERE for, exactly?
Pretty much everybody over at Kos is pissed. Really pissed. Methinks that getting campaign cash online is going to be one HELL of a lot harder, come 2008, unless the Dems get a win soon.
From the looks of it, a win isn't likely.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
In Britain, the Thames River and Dartford Creek barriers are being shut as waters are forecast to surge 1.5 metres (5 feet) above normal sea levels.Stay safe, lads.
UK government warned large areas of Norfolk and Kent coasts were at risk of severe flooding and the Met Office warned of gusts of up to 145km/h (90mph) for the Orkney and Shetland islands in Scotland.
The storm surge is expected to peak around dawn on Friday, and several hundred people have left their homes near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.
Severe gale warnings were issued in Germany and Denmark, with wind gusts of up to 125km/h (80mph) expected.
In Germany, regions around the Elbe and Elm rivers were under flood warnings.
(Und Freunden, at that.)
"These are economists who believe [the Canadian Goods and Services Tax] is a good tax; which of course comes from the school of economics that believes there's such a thing as good taxes.This is from Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, trained economist....
...And, apparently, anarchist.
After all, the only kind of person who would say that taxes are an unquestionable evil--which is what Mr. Harper said, if not in so many words--is the kind of person who believes that the services that taxes pay for are of no worth whatsoever.
And that, my friends, is an anarchist. I doubt even his good buddy John Howard would go THAT far. But, apparently, he did.
I look forward to the black flag being hoisted over Canada's Parliament.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
(Language is a bit salty for the oh-my-stars-and-garters crowd.)
(FYI, to set the scene, the tone of Micah’s intro is in response to another WA poster unhappy with our leadership).Not much to add to that. It kind of makes me rethink my attitude towards animation, though. It's also a reminder that with all the anti-union rhetoric you hear in the media, there is a real reason to organize, and it isn't because you're the stereotype of a lazy teamster or some such thing. Yes, unions still matter.
Well this is ONE angry Horad that’s confused about your stance. The AMPTP clearly never intends to pay us one single cent for internet delivery. The music business model clearly indicates that internet delivery for most, if not all content is the future. What then were we supposed to do when faced with rollbacks and refusals to bargain in good faith? Pray? Or just swallow the bullshit they were trying to shove down our throats, and forget about not only what we’re making, but also what every person who ever follows us into this union will ever make?
People like you keep bitching about the DVD negotiating point, and yeah, you’re right: DVD was lost 20 years ago, but there’s no magic rule which says we can’t reopen that topic. More importantly, though, DVD didn’t take off for almost a decade after the ‘88 strike… the Internet is here NOW, and it’s here FOREVER, and if we give in and allow them to pay us ZERO on Internet delivery, we can just kiss the idea of ever getting paid residuals goodbye forever.
It’s not self-righteousness which is driving this negotiation… it’s quite simply the greed of the AMPTP, which clearly sees this as the year in which they intend to break the WGA on the rack once and for all. But you don’t see that… you seem unable to get it through your head that the AMPTP doesn’t want to ever pay us anything. If you think these people are so reasonable and that they deal in good faith, then try talking to writers who work in Animation and Reality… THAT is the future that the AMPTP has in store for EVERY WRITER IN THE WGA. Because if they don’t have to pay residuals to the woman who wrote The Lion King, then why should they ever have to pay one to YOU? Or anyone else?
Oh, and before you give me some fucking sob story about the disastrous strike of 1988, let me bring you up to date with a more RECENT story: mine.
I came to this guild having had a “successful” career writing Animation for $1400/week for five years. During that time, I wrote on several of Nickelodeon’s highest-rated shows. My writing partner wrote and directed 1/4 of the episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants” and I was responsible for 1/5 of the episodes of “The Angry Beavers.” The current value that those shows have generated for Viacom? $12 Billion dollars. My writing partner topped out at $2100/week. In the year 2001, tired of not receiving residuals for my endlessly- repeating work (even though the actors and composers for my episodes do), I joined with 28 other writers and we signed our WGA cards.
So, Nickelodeon quickly filed suit against our petition for an election, and set about trying to ferret out who the “ringleaders” were. In the meantime, they canceled the show that I had created 4 episodes into an order of 26. Then they fired the 3 writers who’d been working on my show. Then they fired 20 more of my fellow writers and shut down three more shows, kicking almost their entire primetime lineup for 2002 to the curb, and laying off 250 artists.
Then, once the WGA’s petition for election was tied up in court over our illegal firings, Nickelodeon called in the IATSE Local 839 “Cartoonists Guild” — a racket union which exists only the screw the WGA and its own members — and they signed a deal which forever locks the WGA out of Nickelodeon, even though we were there first. Neato!
Then Nickelodeon’s brass decided —out of thin fucking air— that myself and two other writers had been “the ringleaders” of this organizing effort, so they called around to Warner Bros. Animation, the Cartoon Network, Disney Animation, and Fox Kids, effectively blacklisting the three of us out of animation permanently.
And why did Nickelodeon do this? Why were they so eager to decimate their own 2002 schedule, fire 24 writers, break multiple federal labor laws, sign a union deal, and to even bring back the fucking blacklist? They did all of that to prevent us from getting the same whopping $5 residual that the actors & composers of our shows get.
For five lousy fucking bucks, they destroyed three people’s careers and put 250 artists out of work and fucked up their own channel for a year.
Ahh, but my episodes run about 400 times a year worldwide, though, so obviously Sumner Redstone (Salary in 2001: $65 million dollars) and Tom Freston (2001 salary: $55 million) were right to do what they did… myself and those other 23 writers might have broken the bank, what with each of us going to cost them another TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS each! OH NO! That… that’s… FORTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!
So don’t come crying to those of us who have EXPERIENCED what the AMPTP plans for all of the rest of you, that people who are deciding to stand up to bully-boy tactics like that are the crazy bunch of “horads” lustily marching “throught” the streets searching for blood. The AMPTP are the barbarians sacking Rome in this scenario.
The AMPTP and their glittering-eyed weasel lawyers are a bunch of lying, blacklisting, law-breaking scumbags, and the fact that they haven’t budged off of ANY of their proposals in the last three months proves that what they have in store for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU is exactly what they did to us at Nickelodeon, and what they can do any day of the week in daytime animation. Or reality.
Strike or no strike. That’s their plan: to winnow down your membership, to snip away at your MBA, to chew away at your health & pension plans until there’s just nothing left of the WGA. Why? Because they’ve had a good strong drink of how much money they make off of animation when they don’t have to cut the creators in for any of the cash, and now they want to extend that free ride to all of live action as well. THAT is why they have pushed for this strike at every step, with their insulting press releases, with their refusals to negotiate, etc. — because they’re HOPING we go on strike, and that enough cowards and Quislings come crawling out of the woodwork after six weeks that they can force us to accept the same deal that Reality TV show writers have.
If you doubt me, go read their contract proposals again… there’s not ONE of them which isn’t an insult and a deal-breaking non-starter.
So can we PLEASE stop hearing about how it’s the current WGA management which is the fucking problem here? Because, frankly, that canard is getting a little stale.
Or perhaps you prefer presidents like the President of the Guild back in 2001 who just threw up her hands when we were fired and blacklisted out of our careers and said, and I quote, “oh well, it was a good try”?
So there you have it. The all too real behind the scenes antics of several of your cartoon favorites. And folks think cartoons are always so cute.
Monday, November 05, 2007
But check out this lede in the Stephen Green bit about it:
My grandfather would start it, every time. Discussing the news, he’d eventually get so frustrated that he’d mutter, “The only good Democrat…” and my Dad would chime in and finish, “…is a dead Democrat.” My other grandfather served as state chairman of the Republican Party, and his vanity license plates read “GOP-1.” Previously, he’d been a state senator. Republican, of course. And that’s how it was: We were Republicans. Midwestern Republicans — quiet but firm.Quiet, firm... and firmly in favour of fixing the country, one dead Dem at a time.
I don't know if any of my stuff qualifies. Probably not, though it'd be nice to think that something would at least hit the top twenty or so. What I can say, though, is what I said over at Henry's place: that the best blog post ever was on the Rittenhouse Review, and it was Jim Capozzola's "AL GORE AND THE ALPHA GIRLS: The Enduring Power of Cliques in a Post-High-School World".
You know that whole thing that liberal bloggers do? Where they discuss the media as a bunch of teenage girls who are obsessed with popularity and hanging out with the popular people? Where they talk about how Al Gore got a bad break because he was seen as too smart for the people reporting on him, whereas Bush was someone they were more comfortable with? That whole thing that Atrios bangs on pretty much every time he discusses the media?
Yeah. THAT'S ALL JIM.
He's the one who came up with the analogy for the media that we use to this day: that it's split up into the same cliques of alpha, beta, and gamma girls that infest your typical high school. That reporters behave pretty much like these cliques: constantly concerned about either maintaining or gaining popularity, and seriously threatened by those who (like, say, Paul Krugman) don't care about the game. That being popular is far more important than being right, as long as you're popular with the "right people".
Here's the man himself:
It's lengthy, it's brilliant, it's funny, it's well sourced, it drew on the whole "mean girls" thing before the movie hit, it's relevant to this day, and having it nominated would be a fine testament to a man whose untimely passing was a function of the system he savaged so well.
Talbot did not examine or expound upon the social stratification typical of high school boys, this out of a belief that the mechanics of friendship and popularity among boys are far less complex and far less worthy of an anthropological investigation than those of girls. Although high school boys are not blameless in this regard, something of which I’m certain Talbot is aware, I believe her differentiation among the genders is valid. This certainly has been my experience, and, based upon what I have learned from family and friends with children of teen age, I have no reason to believe things have changed much in the last 20 years.
And yet our punditburo, dominated, and heavily so, by men -- I guess because we talk louder, are more interruptive, and are less likely to hear the words coming out of others’ mouths, thus making us more “opinionated” and “provocative” -- shares many of the attributes, features, and pathologies of girls’ high school cliques we learned from Talbot. The media has its Alphas, its Betas, and its Gammas, but the members of those castes are neither uniformly nor even predominantly female. There are in the American media female and male Alphas, female and male Betas, and female and male Gammas, and the hierarchical relationships among them are remarkably similar to the society Talbot described.
Starting from “the bottom” and working upward, it’s sadly obvious that despite the “Most Likely to Succeed” label, Gammas, male or female, do not fare well in the media’s highest echelons. To obtain one’s own column in a major or even mid-level American newspaper, or to win one’s own program on a major broadcast network or somewhere in the upper reaches of cable television’s double-digit land, requires something more than the affable, consensus-oriented, respected-but-not-feared personality that typifies the Gamma. I suspect this will never change.
In the American media, the Betas are legion. It is not without reason that Andrew Sullivan, himself one of the media’s most brazen self-propelled climbers and perhaps the industry’s most desperately scheming and self-promoting parvenu, maintains a “suck-up watch” for his would-be colleagues. Nor is it a coincidence that Sullivan in his insecurity casts “suck-up” aspersions on journalists far more talented than he.
Moreover, the prevalence of Betas, shackled by their Alpha aspirations and their fear of alienating their would be peers, has done considerable damage to the media and its transmission of timely, reliable, and accurate information to its readers and viewers.
Not long ago a newly found colleague, if I may call him that, lamented the harsh tone adopted by many webloggers. (He did not put this comment directly to me, but we both knew he well could have.) My response was that webloggers, some of whom I find smarter, more eloquent, and more perceptive than a sizable portion of their professional counterparts, do not share the punditburo’s status anxiety and do not join with the punditboro in enthusiastically casting aside whatever principles they might have in a craven effort to curry favor with their colleagues.
The media’s Betas, in their quest for higher professional status and a more public personal profile, fear nothing more than alienating the industry’s powerful Alphas. And for this reason, Betas hold back, mute their voices, temper their criticisms. Regularly. Consistently. Shamelessly. The Betas know who the gatekeepers are. They know that arguing too strongly against eliminating the estate tax would hurt their chances of appearing in The Wall Street Journal. They know that any hint of recognition that the Palestinians are human beings and not animals will result in their being permanently blackballed by the New Republic. And they know that expressing opposition to school vouchers or the privatization of Social Security will keep them from securing a plumb appointment in the Bush administration. The media consumer is poorly served by this rampant but well hidden journalistic deceit.
Billmon is great, digby is great, Matt is great, D-squared is amazing, and I'm really proud of some of the stuff I've put out over the years. But none of us, NONE of us, have exceeded Jim. I fear we never will.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Yes, Musharraf doesn't like his Supreme Court any more than the Republicans do theirs, so he has decided to get rid of the problem by tossing them over the side by coalescing his power in another "state of emergency".
And, yes, this will almost certainly be a huge problem. Musharraf can enact laws that "[ban] publication of news about terrorist bombings and material that disrespects the head of state" all he likes, it isn't going to DO anything about them. His own intelligence service is riddled with islamists, and the military he leads isn't that much better. There will still be protests, and there will still be bombings, and some of them might even be by people in his payroll.
It doesn't help that (former PM) Bhutto is going to be tearing this up on a daily basis, and that there's little he can do about it, especially with her practically sainted status following all those suicide bomber attacks.
I can understand the need for security, and I'm really skeptical that Pakistan would remain at all stable without Musharraf. I think he was right in saying in the English part of his address that "Pakistan is on the verge of destabilization, if not arrested in time." There are a LOT of extremists in the country, and they're arguably more integrated into its state than anywhere else.
But coups never last, and things tend to end up even worse than when the whole thing started.