Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clintons Join Vast Rightwing Conspiracy

The Clntons are now enjoying friendly relationships with, among others:

These make up a great chunk of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy that tried to bring down the Clintons with allegations about Vince Foster's murder, Hillary's lesbianism, Clintons' thievery, murder, drug smuggling, and illegalities and malfeasance of all sorts.

Now Hillary is in bed with all these conspirators. Since she appears to think that they are credible sources, maybe all those things are worth revisiting now?

Or, more likely, are these just the smear merchants that Hillary needs on her side when she really wants to lie about another Democrat, while telling us how great John McCain is?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Phenomenal Rockbox

I listen to MP3s a lot. Some music ripped from CDs collected over many years, but more and more I play speech. Most often it's from the BBC, especially their splendid radio comedy programs, about which I've written previously. Generally I download the Real Media files and convert them to the portable MP3 form with a free version of Switch (highly recommended for ease of use and for never choking on any of the many format-to-format conversions I've thrown at it yet).

Also, for a truly funny speech podcast that requires no conversion to put on your MP3 player, don't forget The Bugle with John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman.

For several years my player was a Mobiblu Cube, in part because it is so miniscule and cute. But I recently found a very cheap refurbished Sandisk Sansa c250 (MP3 and FM radio, with 2 gigs internal memory and a slot for SD expansion card. I've filled that with a 1 gig card, for 3 gigs total space). I've never been in cult of the Apple so I wasn't attracted to iPod, especially since I want something smaller--both the Cube and the Sansa are quite small--but with a screen, which the the small iPod shuffle didn't have.

I've owned 5-6 MP3 portables over the years, and they all have limitations that make me like one model more for some features, and another for other features. The Sandisk, while laid out well and with most of the basic features, also lacked a few things I would like. It didn't have adjustable play speed, to play files quicker--a good thing with some speech programs; didn't show enough track information; wouldn't just play in sequence through a directory on the disc (it required playlists to sequence files, and I prefer just putting files I want in a folder and playing them in sequence from that); it wouldn't allow bookmarking. And there were more annoyances. It just wasn't configurable enough.

It's a shame, because most the hardware of MP3 players should allow for a lot more features than their software ever accesses -- for instance this Sansa doesn't have a clock setting, even though it's perfectly capable of keeping time and date.

Finally last night I got frustrated and decided to try something I read about a while back: Rockbox, a free, open source software / firmware package for an array of MP3 players (including various models from iRiver, iPod, Archos, Gigabeat, iAudio, as well as Sansa).

Sansa c250 with RockBox playing an MP3 -- note that it
displays the next track to be played below info on the current track.

Rockbox is astoundingly great. It's nearly infinitely configurable: I can set playback speed, play directories, bookmark multiple files, show more track information (and can create formatting to show whatever info I want in the playback screen); it has a clock and calendar, and voice-activated recording if your player is equipped. I believe it's capable of doing everything I have liked from each of my prior players, and far more.

It even has games (up to and including a port of Doom!). It offers a few applications (like calculator, stopwatch, metronome, and text editor)--though the lack of a keyboard makes some of these "gee-whiz" gadgets though they may work in a pinch. There's a music store's worth of bells and whistles. Some of them make a functional difference: for instance, if I weren't satisfied with the quality of playback on my player, Rockbox offers some pretty sophisticated tools for tweaking the sonic characteristics of the output. Other settings are merely cool, such as the vast array of cosmetic display options.

It installed with only a couple glitches (I used the automatic installer, which is still a bit clunky but fixable). It's been a breeze to use. Some of the more abstruse configurations--which I will never actually need but may try sometime-- require editing text files and using some odd syntax, but overall it's very easy to use if one has just a little technical experience.

If there are some things you'd like your MP3 player to do, chances are good that the hardware that will handle it but the software is holding it back. With Rockbox, you're likely to get more than you ever expected out of your player. And it's totally free, so it's like getting a new fancier player for nothing!

Here is a quick summary of some of the capabilities on various players: What is Rockbox? Why should I use it?

Back to politics at some point.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tina Fey Doesn't Quite Get It

Oliver Willis points to this back-and-forth with Tina Fey that shows she doesn't quite get it.

Like Oliver, I think Fey's 30 Rock is very funny, and Mean Girls was pretty good too. But she protests too much when elevating Saturday Night Live (SNL) and bashing The Daily Show (TDS).

I posted this comment at Oliver's site but wanted to memorialize it here by pasting it below.

Wow thanks for pointing that out, Oliver. Probably wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.

With SNL rising in public consciousness recently, I’ve thought a bit about the differences between SNL and TDS. (And merlallen, above, is right — SNL is rarely funny anymore and I’m not sure anyone really watches it out of anything other than habit.)

SNL, after a few lunatic first few seasons when it seemed they would try nearly anything, has retreated to standard lame sketches. Many are parodies of television shows, and many try to create a character and dessicate it into a catch phrase so that people are meant to assume it’s funny through sheer repetition.

In the Weekend Update segment on SNL, one gets the feeling that if they could make fat jokes, dick jokes, and jokes about the most superficial aspects of political figures, they would be fine with that.

TDS doesn’t deal so much with political figures as with a lampooning of the media. The absurdity usually springs from the disconnect between the issues being covered and the way our braindead media brings them to us. Also, a lot of TDS comedy relies on a fairly sophisticated understanding of what is going on with actual issues, whether in Congress, on the campaign trail, etc.

So, while SNL will have people impersonating actual media personalities (politicians like HRC and BHO, newspeople like Russert and Brian Williams), and generally doesn’t do delve much deeper than “See, he sounds like Russert! Funny, right?” TDL puts the media stereotypes (Generic Expert on Everything; reporter-who-is-parachuted-in, etc) to satirize the broader media culture. We swim in an entirely different media culture from the one that spawned SNL (3 broadcast channels PBS), but SNL seems to have the same take on comedy that settled in decades ago.

I’m sure TDL will wear thin someday, and sooner if they don’t adapt their take to new situations. But SNL already has worn thin and they’ve taken their comedy right back to the sad SNL years of the early eighties but refuse to die.

The main SNL political comedy writer, Jim Downey, is 55 years old. He’s been writing similar stuff for SNL, on-and-off, for 25-30 years. I doubt if he’s capable of developing a new approach to his material.

Also, Downey is conservative and a republican, but if he were funny that could be forgiven I guess.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

One Feminist who Doesn't Like Hillary

Aussie feminist Greer brands Hillary 'cold, bossy'

"I don't like Hillary because she's so bossy and cold and manipulative and stuff, and I don't think having her in power is going to make any difference, basically, because she will have the same set of advisers," Greer said.

"I can't see that Hillary would appeal to feminists because, why is she there? She is there because she is Bill's wife, and it's a bit useless to pretend, 'Oh, it's because of her wonderful job as a senator,'" she told Australia's Nine Network late Monday.

"I just don't think it's true. When she had a big job in government, she blew it," said the British-based Greer, referring to Hillary Clinton's work on health issues during her husband's administration.

I really don't care that much what celebrities think of candidates, though I've enjoyed some of Germaine Greer's shenanigans over the years. Some of the above is merely her opinion and it's no more valid than anyone else's. But some of it is pretty indisputable ("...why is she there? She is there because she is Bill's wife...").

I'm pretty damned tired of Hillary explicitly saying that her years as First Lady are somehow indisputably foreign policy experience that makes her fit to be Commander-in-Chief, for instance.

But I did want to note that a prominent person who identifies as a feminist is having none of Hillary's bullshit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hillary: Dancing on the Embers

It's looking more and more like Hillary's wins in Texas and maybe Ohio, and much of her vote in Mississippi, was in part due to votes for her from Republicans who hate her and hate the Democrats. The hardcore Republicans want her to be the nominee in the belief she'll be the easier candidate for McCain to defeat.

In fact, considering that Bill Clinton Was On Rush Limbaugh’s Show The Day Before (or maybe the day of) the TX Primaries, such "vote for the hateful woman, Republicans" tactic may be an explicit plan of the HRC campaign.

It also appears that Bill and Rush colluded so they didn't have to be on The Rush Limbaugh Show together: Rush hinted he was getting ill the day before, then had a substitute on Bill Clinton day, then returned to crow about his success in helping Hillary win.

Lest we forget, some choice quotes from Rush Limbaugh.

.. there’s a Washington consulting firm that has scheduled the release of a report that will appear, it will be published, that claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton, and the body was then taken to Fort Marcy Park."

The feminist movement was created to allow ugly women access to the mainstream of society

I prefer to call the most obnoxious feminists what they really are: feminazis. The term describes any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism. I often use it to describe women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day holocaust: abortion.

Have you ever noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

The NAACP should have riot rehearsals

And, on his television show, he aired a picture of 13-year-old Chelsea--Bill's daughter, of course- and announced it was a photograph of “the White House dog.”

Bill Clinton colluding with Limbaugh, then appearing on his show, is repulsive: Limbaugh's main purpose is tearing down Democrats.

That, along with Hillary not even asking Geraldine Ferraro to stop spewing her racial ignorance, demonstrates to me that Hillary's campaign is fully willing to burn down the Democratic Party, provided she can have control over the rubble.

There's a huge difference between Obama seeking independent and Republicans to vote for him in the Primary and in the General election, versus Hillary seeking the votes of Republicans who explicitly want to vote against her or any Democrat in November. After all, in Mississippi "A full 15% of voters who said they will be unsatisfied if she gets the nomination voted for Hillary Clinton. In contrast, only 4% of Obama voters say the same about their candidate."

Remember, Pennsylvania is often called "Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with Alabama (with fewer blacks) in between." So she's running the Southern Strategy -- in a Democratic Primary!--and combining it with a "If you hate me, Limbaugh listeners, vote for me in the primary" ploy.

Either one alone would be bad for Democrats. Together they are poison.

Superdelegates, please put an end to this.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Barack Seen From London

Obama topic introduced a few seconds in to this approx. 8 min clip.

From Dateline London, a BBC News 24 program featuring foreign correspondents discussing current affairs.

This is the full segment focusing on Obama from the 25 February 2008 program. It's about a 9-minute excerpt of a half hour program.

In general, I don't think the attitudes of others, even our allies, should have too much bearing on US elections. But since the US is at such a low ebb in worldwide opinion, it's a bit more important now. Here are four London-based journalists, from four different countries, discussing Barack Obama and his candidacy.

The host is Gavin Esler. The panelists are:

It's amazing how much information these folks in the UK have about the US elections--far more than I do about any British election.
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