Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009: The Year in Preview

With a fair amount of snark and very little foresight, we present the year in preview. Let all the other media outlets cover 2008 in review; that's easy. (Heck, the Chronicle just wasted an entire issue on it. Useless as usual.)

So, without further ado:

Jan 5: Texas crushes Ohio State 30-13 in the Fiesta Bowl.

Jan 8: Oklahoma and Florida underwhelm in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game, with OU winning 9-6. Texas supporters hope for some love from the poll voters; unfortunately, both Texas and Oklahoma fans are frustrated when, due to a main BCS computer running an unprotected version of Internet Explorer, Caltech is named the national champion.

Jan 14: Brian Williams interviews wannabe New York Senator Caroline Kennedy. The hardest question asked is "How will you support President-Elect Obama's policies?"

Jan 20: President Obama is inaugurated. Time Magazine immediately names him 2009 Person of the Year. Sean Hannity broadcasts live from an undisclosed location, where, he announces, he will remain for the next four years.

Jan 21: President Obama announces that due to the BCS mess, implementing an NCAA Division I-A college playoff must be the top priority of the Congress.

Jan 22: After an attempted filibuster by Sen. John Cornyn, Congress awards the 2008 national championship to USC. C-Span and ESPN cover the event in a rare joint broadcast. C-Span's switchboards remain jammed for the next three days. Bob Stoops and Mack Brown both file to run for Congress in 2010.

Jan 25: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gives the first of what is to be many policy speeches, which are broadcast via YouTube and other video sharing sites. Today's well-spoken seven-minute speech on reconciling economic recovery with environmentally friendly projects, gains 16 YouTube comments within two minutes of being posted. Eleven of these consist entirely of "First!" while the other five all state, using the exact same wording, "Sara [sic] Plain [sic] is to [sic] stupid to be govenor [sic]!"

Jan 27: Sean Hannity, from his underground bunker, interviews Caroline Kennedy, who abruptly breaks off the interview when he asks, in quick succession, what public experience qualifies her for this job, and with what parts of the Obama Doctrine she disagrees. Media Matters goes ballistic.

Jan 28: President Obama gives his first State of the Union speech. He states that due to the recession, he will not push for an immediate end to the Bush tax cuts. In the following five minutes, Daily Kos, DU, and Burnt Orange Report servers all melt down due to overuse.

Jan 29: Time Magazine retracts its Person of the Year award from President Obama.

Feb 1: The New York Giants beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-23 to win Super Bowl XLIII, helped greatly by Eli Manning's final pass of the night, which bounces off three helmets, two feet, and the back judge before being caught for a 55 yard gain by...Eli Manning. The play is reviewed, and referee Walt Coleman announces that after further review, that play was, in fact, pretty awesome.

Feb 2: Congress immediately takes up a bill to name the Detroit Lions as Super Bowl champions.

Feb 13: President Obama announces that via executive order, he is implementing a 50 miles-per-gallon requirement for all NASCAR races.

Feb 15: The 51st Daytona 500 is run, with all remaining participants (Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and others having thrown their helmets to the ground and walked off in disgust) racing on mopeds. Jimmie Johnson wins anyway, but few people see it, as Fox had cut away six hours prior, believing they could get better ratings by burning off the remaining episodes of "Do Not Disturb".

Mar 3: Jennifer Kim announces her candidacy for Austin mayor via robocall.

Mar 9: The Employee Free Choice Act is passed. A threatened filibuster collapses when Colin Powell announces that the Republican Party should be more like the Democrats in order to succeed, and John McCain immediately votes for cloture.

Mar 10: By 9:16 am EST, all Walmart stores in the U.S. have been completely unionized. Reports of intimidation are ignored by most media outlets.

Mar 12: Andrew Sullivan writes that he believes that Piper is the true mother of Bristol Palin's baby.

Mar 17: Walmart announces a 100% price increase and the closure of 583 stores to offset the huge amount of concessions forced upon them by the union. Most local businesses raise their rates along with Walmart and then immediately complain that Walmart is still using predatory pricing to push them out of business.

Mar 23: The Federal Reserve, in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of the ongoing recession, completely loses its head and lowers interest rates to -0.5%. 45 minutes later, Ben Bernanke regains his common sense and fixes the error. However, it is estimated that approximately 133 million mortgages were refinanced during that time period.

Mar 30: Capital Metro opens the Red Line. All four morning news shows send a reporter to broadcast live from the first rail car. Unfortunately, no one else is riding, which leads to the strange sight of Quita Culpepper and Kate Weidaw interviewing each other.

Mar 31: The Austin American-Statesman announces its yearly circulation figures are up 59% from last year. As usual, these numbers are based on their March circulation numbers, which are inflated by "saturation". (That's what it's called when you get a paper in red plastic without having subscribed. If you're like most people except me, you get one every day in March.)

Apr 2: A local construction worker discovers 4,379,239 Austin American-Statesman editions in red plastic in the basement of the 360 building.

Apr 9: President Obama appears in San Francisco to sign a bill passed by a heavily divided Congress to raise excise taxes on all vehicles getting less than 100 miles per gallon by 500 percent. After acknowledging the cheers of the crowd, he gets in his 23-car motorcade for the ride back to SFO, where Air Force One and two other planes are waiting to return him to Washington.

Apr 17: Rick Wagoner appears at House of Representatives proceedings two days late, riding in on what appears to be a Schwinn with a flat tire. Congress immediately votes to give GM $23 billion.

Apr 24: The latest spring blizzard in Texas history gives Houston its second blanketing of snow this winter. Coincidentally, Al Gore appears at the Toyota Center to speak about climate change.

May 1: Multiple experts state, as usual, that 2009 will feature an "above-average Atlantic hurricane season".

May 9: Jennifer Kim is elected mayor of Austin with 67 votes after a campaign run almost entirely using automated calls telling people to "vote for Brewster McCracken on Sunday, May 10th".

May 24: Due to recent regulations, the Indianapolis 500 is run on tricycles. The race is called with no winner after 17 hours. The family of the leader at the time, 4-year-old Danny Anderson of Bucksnort, Tennessee, argues that he should be declared the winner, or at least be allowed to stay up after his bedtime to finish the race.

May 29: Judy Maggio announces her retirement from broadcast news, effective at the end of June. About 0.3 seconds later, KEYE names Michelle Valles as her replacement. (This one's probably really gonna me.)

Jun 23: Andrew Sullivan writes that Sarah Palin is not Track Palin's mother but his older sister.

Jul 7: The Austin American-Statesman, still desperate for a buyer, annouces that to conserve costs, they will no longer publish a Wednesday paper. "Nothing happens on Tuesday anyway, right?" remarked an unnamed Statesman executive.

Jul 21: The 6-Minute War begins and ends when the member nations of OPEC, still reeling from collapsing oil prices, suspend all oil production whatsoever. They quickly reconsider after no less than 42 nations declare war on them. On this news, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded spikes up to 72.9 cents per gallon.

Jul 26: Lance Armstrong wins his eighth Tour de France.

Jul 27: L'Équipe announces that Lance Armstrong must be doping because "no one's that good, right? Right?"

Aug 3: Hurricane Ana is finally spotted in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. All network news programs feature experts attributing the lack of named storms this year to irrevocable climate change.

Aug 8: A struggling NBC announces that, to save money, John Madden will be replaced as Sunday Night Football analyst by Frank Caliendo. Al Michaels resigns in protest and is replaced by NBC with...Frank Caliendo.

Aug 30: The Austin American-Statesman announces that they are laying off all paper carriers. Subscribers are now asked to come to their respective distribution center to receive their paper.

Sep 3: NBC causes a stir when they cut off a hotly-contested New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys Thursday Night Football game at 10pm EDT to go to Jay Leno. "A contract's a contract," Jeff Zucker states.

Sep 22: Two weeks after the 2009-2010 television season starts, MyNetwork TV announces that they are cancelling their entire lineup and replacing it with reruns of "Press Your Luck" and Juice Tiger infomercials. Their ratings triple overnight.

Oct 5: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her role in bringing total and unilateral disarmament to the Middle East. Meanwhile, Vice-President Joe Biden is spotted by the press at a local Burger King.

Oct 14: After hand-counting every senatorial vote in the state six times and dealing with lawsuits from both Norm Coleman and Al Franken, the state of Minnesota finally announces that both men are to be deported to Iowa, never to return. Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich contacts Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, inquiring as to whether he would be willing to appoint him senator in exchange for "certain favors".

Oct 16: The Austin American-Statesman announces that, in an attempt to save more money, they will no longer use "silent letters" in their words.

Oct 26: Andrew Sullivan writes that he is a better woman than Sarah Palin is. Right-wing blogs explode, all coming to the consensus that maybe Andrew Sullivan is a better woman than Helen Thomas, at least.

Nov 1, 8, 15, and 22: Congress is deadlocked trying to determine the NCAA Division I-A weekly rankings. C-Span gets its highest ratings ever.

Nov 3: Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns from the U.S. Senate to prepare for her 2010 gubernatorial run. Governor Rick Perry's office is instructed to refuse all calls coming from the 217 area code. Unfortunately, no one else in Austin is aware of any of this, as it occurs on a Tuesday.

Nov 14: John Kerry resigns from the U.S. Senate, announcing that he has sold his seat to Rod Blagojevich.

Nov 22: Chris Matthews comes under intense scrutiny for continuing to deny he is a candidate for Pennsylvania's Senate seat while going out of his way to talk down all announced candidates.

Dec 12: The Austin American-Statesman announces that for its next "saturation" period, non-subscribers are also expected to come to the distribution center for their papers.

Dec 16: Due to sagging ratings, NBC restructures its weeknight lineup to include only showings of "It's a Wonderful Life" and Jay Leno.

Dec 17: Time Magazine names Andrew Sullivan as its Person of the Year 2009.

Dec 29: Cox Newspapers finally announces a buyer for the Austin American-Statesman. Readers are excited about the possible change, until the buyer is determined to be the Austin Chronicle.

Dec 30: After achieving an overnight rating of 0.9 and finishing behind "Press Your Luck" the night before, NBC replaces the nightly airings of "It's a Wonderful Life" with a nightly "Countdown to Vancouver" Olympics news show, to air from 8pm EST to 10pm EST (with Jay still at 10:00). They go on to achieve a 0.8 rating the next night, finishing behind not only the Juice Tiger infomercial but also that channel on the cable system in Plano, Texas
that shows the fish swimming around to music.

Dec 31: The Austin Chronicle rolls out its new replacement for itself and the American-Statesman: the biweekly 16-page Austin Chronicle-Reporter-American-Pioneer, which will be sold to subscribers for $4 per week. Several nearby plastics companies report large orders for red bags.

Time Warner: Not Again!

Once again, Time Warner is about to have some channels disappear because of difficult contract negotiations. This time Time Warner (nationally, not just in Austin) is dealing with demands for a lot more money from Viacom/MTV Networks. (Details here.)

In this case, I tend to agree with Time Warner's position that the MTV Networks channels are not collectively worth a whole lot at this point. They're certainly not worth "nearly triple the rate of increase under [their] current agreement". Nick@Nite plays mostly junk that has been plastered all over in reruns for the last ten years anyway, and does MTV even play videos anymore? Maybe they should start. With this one. Perhaps Time Warner would be well served to place the customer service phone number for Viacom on their explanation page, so that a little pressure can be brought to bear on Viacom.

But, it really doesn't matter to me. I only have basic and therefore get none of the channels affected. Plus, I still don't really like Time Warner anyway.

Update: Hi Viacom! What, do you just monitor blogs for these kinds of posts? This thing's been up 2½ hours and here you are!

Update 2: Resolved. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Mr. President: You're Getting Pettiness for Christmas! (8th straight year)

Gee, I can't imagine why President Bush would be ready to retire to Texas when a die-hard group of people in this country, based on this site, wouldn't know respect if it hit them in the face.

Anyone want to chip in for some Odor-Eaters®?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 12 Days of Global Warming

Some guys up in Minnesota put it better than I could. Enjoy!

Time's Person of the Year Is...

This just in: Time Magazine has named Barack Obama as Person of the Year 2008.

In other similarly late-breaking news: the sun came up today, and the Pope is still Catholic.

(In case there was any question: this person was my choice.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Maybe this has only occurred to me...

Am I the only one checking places like Facebook to see if there are groups popping up with names like "My dog is more qualified to be senator than Caroline Kennedy"?

Or does that argument not work if you have a "D" after your name?

Follow the Link, Leave a Comment, She'll Donate $1

Hey, check out this link and leave a comment before the 19th at 8pm CST. For every comment left there, $1 will be donated to a food bank. Please go check it out!

And if, while you're at it, you would like to donate something, feel free to leave a couple of bucks in my online Salvation Army red kettle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Valles to KEYE

I certainly didn't see this one coming: Michelle Valles will be sitting next to Fred Cantu on weekday mornings, starting Wednesday. Congrats to Ms. Valles on her new gig.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Might the O-Deal Bring Austin?

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, apparently not wanting to miss out on whatever monies could possibly be thrown to their respective cities by an Obama administration as part of its new New Deal (or, as I've decided to call it, the O-Deal), has hastily thrown together an incredible list of thousands of projects which are "Ready to Go", with info on funding requirements and jobs created by each project. (See the 4MB PDF file for more information.)

Austin, of course, is right in the thick of this group of cities with their hands out, having listed 160 projects awaiting funding. I'm not going to say that these projects aren't going to be helpful (some will), but I have noticed that some of these projects have been languishing for years because the city hasn't given them priority. Why, then, should the feds pay for it, if we won't?

Some highlights from Austin's wish list:
  • Upgrade existing MetroRail commuter rail line: $80,000,000/400 jobs. Shouldn't we, you know, wait for it to actually open and see if it gets the ridership Cap Metro hopes it'll get, before we throw even more money at it?
  • Expansion of MetroRail Red Line: $80,000,000/3,760 jobs. Yes, these are two different items. No, I don't think this one's worth it, either.
  • Relocation of 6000 LF of 16" waterline on FM 2304 - Ravenscroft to FM 1625 (sic) to accommodate State Highway Improvement project by Texas Department of Transportation: $2,200,000/7 jobs. Translation: they're finally going to widen the south part of Manchaca. Good.
  • Brodie Lane Sidewalk Project - Sidewalk on both sides of Brodie Ln. from Travis County line north to Slaughter: $1,500,000/40 jobs. Sidewalks are generally a good thing, particularly on a road such as Brodie, which is too narrow for the traffic flow it has, and which will never be widened. (Now, let's just finish Texas 45, so we can all bypass Brodie and make everyone happy!) By the way, this is listed as a water project, as are many others...I'm not sure if the city checked the wrong box on a lot of projects, or what.
  • Westgate Blvd from Cameron Loop to Cohoba Dr.: $2,000,000/65 jobs. Yes, please, finish West Gate, and as soon as possible!
  • The Waller Creek Tunnel (WCT) Project: $127,500,000/1,836 jobs. How long ago was this supposed to have been finished?
(Hat tip: Batesline, which clued me in to this whole report.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let's Solve Two Detroit Problems At Once!

I say let Rick Wagoner (CEO, GM) and Rod Marinelli (head coach, Detroit Lions) switch jobs.

Heck, it's not as if they could do any worse than they've done in their present positions.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Online Red Kettle Redux

I'm feeling in the holiday spirit, so I'm announcing that I will match all contributions to my online red kettle, up to a total of $250, made before December 13. Thanks, and Merry Christmas to all.

The latest from our friends at Time Warner

A quick rundown of what's going on with Time Warner Cable:

Time Warner continues to alienate their analog customers. If you don't believe me, go check out Diane Holloway's 30-Oct blog entry on the KLRU2 debacle, where people are still complaining as recently as this week. Time Warner has put up the lame defense that most subscribers aren't affected. (And the rest of us apparently have no standing.) Also, I had forgotten (since I only have basic and didn't have these channels to begin with) that Time Warner has also bumped the weather radar (channel 44) and the National Geographic Channel (channel 51) to their digital tiers as well. Some people haven't, though, as the comments at Ms. Holloway's blog entry reflect.

Also per those comments, apparently some Time Warner representatives are telling people who call to complain about the KLRU2 move that KLRU itself requested this change. Ms. Holloway states flatly that they did not request the change, which is also what KLRU told me.

(Of course, to hear this misstatement, you have to get to a phone rep, and Time Warner has no "push 0 for an operator" or "for all other requests" options on their automated menu. I almost feel as if they don't want to talk to me when I call them.)

In the meantime, I promised an update on the free converter box statement still available at this page. Per a phone rep at Time Warner (which means the reader may want to take everything following this with a grain of salt, or five), yes, basic/standard (analog) customers can get a free converter box (with no $7 per-month charge, either). However, they must request the box by telephone and hook it up themselves, as having a TWC service call to install a box is about $42.

And once they get this wonderful converter box, analog customers can get the soon-to-go-digital-only channel 19 (the ACC channel, which I watch often for about 0.3 seconds at a time, when I'm flipping between C-Span and WGN) back. So, that means analog customers will also get KLRU2 back, right? Wrong. The converter box allows analog customers to get one more channel than they would with a cable running right from the wall to the TV. Big deal.

Reminder: the last paragraph-and-a-half (with the exception of "big deal") were all courtesy a Time Warner telephone rep, so the veracity thereof may be in question, depending on what you think of Time Warner phone reps.

Off-topic reminder: Please donate to my online Salvation Army kettle!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

2008 Christmas List

As 2008 draws to a close, I have started to think about what I would like to get for people for Christmas. (Actually, Mrs. Snowed does most of this, which is a good thing, seeing as I'm only just starting to think about it.)

This year, I want to give the following:
  • For the Austin American-Statesman (heretofore known on this blog as the "unwanted daily"): relevance
  • For the Austin Chronicle (heretofore known on this blog as the "worthless weekly"): objectivity (perhaps you can also share it with a few other organizations)
  • For Barack Obama: best wishes and a hope that he will govern from the center, and a promise from me not to contract Obama Derangement Syndrome
  • For Bob FM: an expanded library
  • For Bush Derangement Syndrome/Palin Derangement Syndrome sufferers: a life! (That especially means you, Andrew Sullivan. No, I'm not giving you a link.)
  • For Capital Metro: some knowledge regarding just how far south Austin really extends
  • For the Dallas Cowboys: a playoff win already! I'll take one in early 2009. I'd prefer four.
  • For everyone currently "underwater" with their mortgages: Financial Peace University
  • For GM: Chapter 11 bankruptcy and an accelerated schedule for the 2010 Chevy Volt
  • For Ignite Consulting: just go away!
  • For Jammin' 105.9: flip the format already and put it out of our misery!
  • For Jennifer Kim: decency in campaigning
  • For KVUE: an end to those annoying "we've won the Edward R. Murrow award for overall excellence x years in a row" spots, which always make me laugh when they air right after some technical (or other) difficulty (and it happens way too often)
  • For KXAN/LIN TV: lousy ratings (Granted, NBC's helping to grant this one for me.)
  • For MSNBC, particularly Keith Olbermann and Chris "Snugglebuggle Kissyface" Matthews: Valium
  • For Sarah Palin: better handlers, better interviews, and a Reagan-like rebound paralleling his rise from the 1976 ashes
  • For the staffers who slammed Sarah Palin: obscurity
  • For Time Warner Cable: a little respect for your customers, maybe?
  • For the United Auto Workers: an immediate and permanent end to the Jobs Bank, some severely restructured contracts, and a dose of humility
Unfortunately, I cannot personally deliver on most of my list this year, so I hope that this will prove an adequate gift for now.

Have a Merry Christmas season. Love you lots!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Online Red Kettle

The Salvation Army now allows virtual red kettles to be set up for easy donation. Feel free to check out the one I just set up here, and feel free to make a donation there.

A Tale of Two Turkeys

Warning: the following entry may cause apoplexy for those not secure in the knowledge of where the meat they eat comes from.

(2nd Warning: the preceding warning may cause apoplexy for those inclined to virulently hate all grammatical errors. But so would this one.)

Thanksgiving morning brought a very chipper 5-year-old into our room at way too early a time. Said 5-year-old was very excited about eating turkey. A very tired Snowed (who has a somewhat questionable memory about things that early in the morning) joked about having a turkey running around the house, or something like that. The 5-year-old very adamantly told us that she did not want a live turkey; she wanted "a dead turkey without a head". We all had a good laugh, and we did proceed, later in the day, to have such a turkey, and we even managed to finish in time for the Cowboys game.

With all that said, I find it interesting that my 5-year-old seemingly has less of a problem with the origination of her Thanksgiving turkey than the on-air talent at MSNBC.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Isn't it ironic, dontcha think? You betcha!

Bad examples of irony:
  • Rain on your wedding day
  • A free ride when you've already paid
  • Some good advice that you just can't take
Good example of irony:
  • The following comment by "Tom in Pleasanton, USA", courtesy this page. All spelling and grammatical errors left untouched.
    At least [Arianna Huffington] came around and saw the light, meanwhile Sarah Palin is still living in the dark ages. And it took her 6 different colleges to finish her degree by the way. Genuis she is not, even if she can gut a moose.
(Yes, I borrowed the label "Palination" from Jim Treacher. What can I say; it's a good label.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hey, look! Time Warner's doing it AGAIN.

Is Time Warner Cable's ultimate aim to make everyone get a converter to watch anything on cable television? Well, it certainly seems so. Just months after removing channel 77 (in October) and 20 (in November), they've now set their sights on channel 19. Sure, it's only ACC programming, but who's to say next time it won't be something you actually watch?

However, Time Warner appears to be willing to work with its customers. (Maybe it has something to do with the fallout they got after the KXAN thing.) Per the same page, Time Warner will provide one converter box per household free of charge. Hopefully that means not just free pickup but also no monthly $7 charge. If so, viewers who lost the other aforementioned channels could conceivably get them back. (The return of 20 would be great for the 5-year-old, since KLRU2 is not available on other providers in my area.)

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Facts? What Facts? So Say Misinformed Voters

Apparently only some of the messages about the candidates in the recent election got through to a lot of the voters. As this video will show, at least some Obama voters are severely misinformed with regard to questions such as which party currently controls Congress, who said they could see Russia from their house (um, that wasn't Sarah Palin, people, it was Tina Fey!), etc. Watch the whole thing. Just don't click through to the comments, which are not part of a healthy discourse.

Lest one think that these interviewees were cherry-picked, a Zogby poll of 512 Obama voters was commissioned, and the results pretty much matched up with this video. Go to to see for yourself.

I believe a lot of this comes down to what the MSM is saying. Many, many "news" outlets were falling over themselves in genuflection toward Barack Obama, to the point that Chris "Snugglebuggle Kissyface" Matthews now believes that his job is "to make this presidency work". It's unfortunate that he didn't feel the same way toward the current (yes, flawed) administration.

So, why pay attention to what people like Mr. Matthews, or their outlets in general, are saying, especially given the wealth of information available that isn't filtered by said outlets? Truly, I don't know anymore.

(Hat tip: Meet the Real Sarah Palin)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bar-ry! Bar-ry! Bar-ry!

Feel free to check out "your weekly address", courtesy the Office of the President-Elect. That is, if you can get past the fact that the Official Cameraman of the President-Elect doesn't know how to center his shot. Or her shot. Whatever.

The one thing that really jumped out at me (besides the general talking down of the economy) was the line "where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder, and look after not only ourselves, but each other". It reminded me a bit of this guy:

So, good night, and until next time, take care of yourself, and each other.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Unfairly Forgotten Songs #3: I Can't Wait by Deniece Williams

In 1988, Deniece Williams made a final trip to the Hot 100 (#66) and the R&B top 10 (#8) with "I Can't Wait". I truly don't know why this wasn't a bigger hit. I know there were stations playing this at the time because I have an aircheck of Power 106 in LA playing it. Of course, you'd never, ever hear this on good old Bob FM (slogan: "we play anything"). I suppose Jammin 105.9 might be the likeliest candidate to play it, but since they seem to be transitioning to a hip-hop format, I guess that ship's sailed as well.

Whatever. Enjoy.

Edit June 2010:  The imeem widget with this song has disappeared (thanks a bunch, MySpace), but I did find the song on YouTube.   (She's lip-syncing here...this is the studio version.)  Check out the cool 1988 fashions!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time Warner: Pay More, Get Less

As promised, Time Warner pulled KLRU2 from channel 20, two days after it was scheduled. (Thanks for the false hope, guys.) And sure enough, it changed to the test pattern, instead of, y'know, either putting up information about the change or replacing it with another channel.

Interestingly enough, Time Warner's "programming changes" page now has links to notifications placed in the newspaper (deep in the classifieds, where few people would see it) and sent to the city. This may have to do with the FCC's current investigation into cable companies' bad habit of moving channels from an analog tier to digital-only. (A sample letter sent to another cable company may be found here.) In the past couple of years, Time Warner has done this at least four times.

As an aside: in the past couple of years, Time Warner has doubled basic cable rates. This is not an exaggeration.

As another aside: per the article linked above, Time Warner made better than expected profits last quarter. Somehow, raising rates now strikes me as biting the hand that feeds you.

I have recently learned, in my research, that while several alternate providers are not available in my area, I can get a substantially better package than Time Warner's basic package for about $5 more per month. We're very tempted at this point.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, our side lost in most of the big elections around here, with the exception of Sen. Cornyn. There is certainly room for disappointment, with (for starters) the results of these elections, with a Republican Party that has seemingly forgotten what its main tenets are, with a mainstream media that absolutely didn't do its job (to say nothing of the outright campaigning by such esteemed publications as the worthless weekly...stay classy, guys), with a lot of so-called conservatives jumping ship for reasons of political expediency, and with the Kossacks and others who took great pleasure in trying to destroy the lives of people who got in the way of their candidate.

With that said, what comes next? Here's my proposed list of things to do:


1. Now is the time to congratulate President-Elect Obama. Pray that God blesses him, and all our country's, and our world's, leaders with much-needed wisdom.

2. That doesn't mean that there is not room to oppose the policies and programs desired by an Obama administration. Of course there's room for that. But there's a way to oppose a policy without tearing down a person. Our party absolutely lost that way with President Clinton, and the other side threw it back at President Bush fourfold.

3. As several people have said, it is time to figure out what this party is going to stand for. The Contract with America was a concise message that resonated with voters in 1994. There was no message this time, and I would argue that what resonated with the base of the party this cycle was Sarah Palin.

4. And that leads to the next action item: do not let the MSM and quasi-conservative pundits tell you that the road to redemption starts with throwing Governor Palin under the bus. This is also not the time for finger-pointing; it is the time for action.

5. Like it or not, the other side holds a better hand at this time. There will be opportunities to work with them on items that are important to both sides. Don't capitulate on your basic beliefs, but work with Democrats to help this nation, 'cos things won't be any rosier on 20 January than they are now.

6. Absolutely, positively, don't be jerks about it. Yes, half the country disagrees with you. That doesn't mean they're any less intelligent or more evil, or that they hate this country. Do not sink to the level to which the other side descended four years ago. Remember the disparaging cries of "Jesusland"? The contempt directed toward middle America? Jim Treacher will remind you, if you really want to revisit that era. (Some of his examples of that behavior are NSFW/language.)

7. Are you still relying on the MSM for news? If so, why? Seriously. There are few reasons left to continue to take a daily paper, or at least the one we have here. Channels such as MSNBC have given us the likes of Chris "thrill up my leg" Matthews and Keith "get a shovel" Olbermann. Why watch them? Stay informed, of course, but understand that there are many sources of information other than the usual suspects. Check out, for example, a list of post-election questions and reasons why this is not the end of the world (NSFW/language).

8. Hey, 2012 candidates? Don't take public financing!


1. Yes, by all means celebrate this win. You earned it, in all seriousness.

2. Remember that it is possible for people to oppose your policies without being evil capitalistic pigs. And while you're remembering that, phase out the use of the oh-so-original "rethuglicans", "republiKKKans", and the like. Now, please.

3. Please stop telling our party what positions and candidates we should support. (For example, I don't know how many times I heard some of you saying McCain should dump Palin because I lost count.) I mean, come on. I haven't seen any of our party telling you that you should run Dennis Kucinich and Michael Moore.

4. I know this will come as a surprise to the MSM, but bipartisanship does, in fact, include taking some ideas from Republicans. It's not a one-way street.

But Snowed, your side didn't do that! Please. If it wasn't NCLB (or, as Mrs. Snowed calls it, Every Child Left Behind) or the Medicare prescription program, it was a $700B bailout.

5. Again, do not be jerks about it (again, that includes you, Kossacks). And don't go around telling us our viewpoint is invalid because our side lost this one.

And for everyone: be thankful it's over!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Head Games, That's All I Get From You...

Dear Mainstream Media:

Just shut up. Really.

Dear McCain-Palin supporters:

This election is not sewn up, despite what ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and others have said. The media is not acting as a nonpartisan observer. And the folks at Hillbuzz explain very nicely how the media is trying to keep you at home, so that you don't cast that vote for Senator McCain. ("It's over anyway, so what's the point?")

Here are the three things you have already seen and will continue to see until November 4 at about 10pm:
(1) Calls for McCain to just give up and quit, because the race is over.

(2) Wild claims of Obama winning states that shock and surprise you.

(3) Repeated insistence that blacks and young people will decide this election, and they are all going to vote in record numbers for Obama.

Hillbuzz knows all about this, because the same thing happened to Hillary voters earlier this year. Don't listen to what the media is telling. Make your own decision, and get out there and vote.

Seriously: go read this story. And really, don't believe the hype. Actually, I advise the following for the next few days:

  • Don't watch the news. Not ABC, not CBS, not NBC, not Fox, not CNN, nothing. (Especially not KXAN, if you happen to be here in Austin. Let 'em tank in the November sweeps ratings.)
  • Don't read the newspapers. Not the unwanted daily, not the worthless weekly, and absolutely not the New York Times.
  • Don't read the comments on a lot of the media's political blogs. Or if you do, do your research on astroturfing. (What about comments on your blog, Snowed? C'mon, I don't get those types of comments. Heck, I usually don't get any comments, period.)
  • If you must watch or read, take all these stories with a grain of salt.
  • Tell your fellow McCain voters that they also should take these stories with a grain of salt.
  • Get out there and vote!
(Hat tip: Jim Treacher)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

KLRU2 To Be Removed From Channel 20 November 4th

It is now official: Time Warner Cable is moving KLRU2 to be a digital-tier-only channel on November 4. (That's Tuesday, for the calendar-challenged. There's some sort of important thing going on that Time Warner hoping that with everything happening, we won't notice the change?)

And, unlike the recent KXAN situation, I do not expect that KLRU2 will be replaced with a fairly good family movie channel. Instead, I expect channel 20 will look a lot like the test pattern currently appearing on channel 77 for basic/standard customers (or, as the 23-month-old calls it, "rainbow").

I'm running out of reasons to stay with Time Warner.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

KXAN Returns

While most Austinites slept last night, KXAN/LIN-TV reached a deal with Time Warner Cable, and KXAN has returned to channel 4. This appears (per KXAN's site) to be a permanent deal, and just in time for sweeps to begin.

Mrs. Snowed found the return of KXAN to be "very disappointing". Mrs. Snowed was enjoying Starz quite a bit more than NBC.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beyonce's New Album, Jay-Z's New Smear

This just in: Beyonce would like to be known as "Sasha Fierce". (Per Yahoo! Music)

But, at this point, I think I'll just think of her as someone married to a severe misogynist. Is this really someone Senator Obama wants associated with his campaign?

(Note: "Misogynist" was by far the nicest term I could come up with to describe him.)

Vote Smart!

Haven't seen this posted anywhere yet, so as a true public service, let me remind everyone that the League of Women Voters Austin Area website has lots of good information for the would-be informed voter, including a voter's guide and sample ballots (with all races listed by precinct). Please check it out, and do your homework before you vote.

What Would an Obama Presidency Really Mean for America?

Set aside some time in the next few days and look through a couple of items that show just how important your vote for President will be.

First, Fred Thompson describes what a President Obama and a heavily Democratic Congress would do:

Then, check out The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama.

Look into what these people are saying. They're not smearing anyone; they're laying out facts. Check the facts and decide for yourself.

Don't just vote, vote smart!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Day, Another Palin Hit Piece

The good folks at ABC's Nightline seem to be continuing the newfound tradition of throwing everything they can at Sarah Palin. Take, for example, the report they produced for the October 22, 2008 episode. Titled "The Palin Problem", it is currently at the top of the Nightline page. But, in an attempt to be helpful, I'll do my best to reproduce what I heard last night using my admittedly faulty memory. That way, you don't have to bother to watch.

MARTIN BASHIR: And now, here's Terry Moran to smear Sarah Palin some more.

TERRY MORAN: Sarah Palin can sure excite a crowd. But actually, she's a real drag on the ticket. I mean, really, she spent just barely more on clothes that she's going to donate to charity after the election is over than Barack Obama spent on styrofoam faux-Greek columns that were tossed in the trash (along with the American flags) after the Democratic National Convention.

Look, Joy Behar has another obnoxious comment about Ms. Palin. And everyone agrees with Joy, right? Right?

Look, a lot of people view her negatively now. I wonder if it's because of non-stop slanted media coverage?

Look, a retired general and former Secretary of State has slammed her when it was politically expedient to do so, so obviously his opinion is more important than those tens of thousands of people who go to her rallies.

Now, to present a semblance of balance, I'll interview a local yokel who thinks she's a good choice, but I'll question his judgment to his face. Are you sure she's a good choice? Really? No, come on.

Of course, Sarah Palin ignores her critics, such as, for example, certain people at ABC News, but we hope you don't. You don't really think this election's a toss-up, do you? Really?

Well, it looks as if Caribou Barbie is gonna be around for a while, much to my chagrin. Excuse me while I purge.

MARTIN BASHIR: Thanks, Terry. Coming up on Nightline, we'll have an actual balanced story about airlines, and then we'll go after McCain.

BARACK OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message.

(endless commercials for people not in my district)

I didn't stick around to see what they said about McCain.

Like I said, this may not be an exact reproduction of yesterday's Nightline, but it pretty well sums it up for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

HD-47: Commercials in Review

Valinda Bolton and Donna Keel have released their first television ads of the season, and as a public service, both are presented right here for your convenience.

Valinda Bolton (D, incumbent):

Donna Keel (R):

A constant among Rep. Bolton's ads appears to be the placing of blame for everything on Republicans. This time, she blames the Republicans for cutting CHIP. Let's see...CHIP's funding wasn't cut in the last legislature, it was increased to allow 127,000 more children to be enrolled. Would someone please remind me which party was in control of both the Legislature and the Governor's Office? Ah, yes, the evil Republicans. How dare they do this to...oh, wait, this was good for CHIP. Never mind...

Both candidates mention education. Good so far. Telling, though, is the manner in which they mention it. Ms. Keel wants more education funding to go directly to the classrooms, whereas Ms. Bolton just wants more education funding, period. Given that there are some districts in Central Texas which spend less than 45% of their revenue in the classroom, I would venture that something more than the amount of funding for education needs to change to improve schools.

One more thing: Ms. Bolton discussed acting like a grown-up. Unfortunately, she wasn't thinking that way when she assisted in delaying the consideration of all bills during the last legislative session (out of an apparent desire to embarrass Tom Craddick), thus destroying any semblance of efficiency and causing a time crunch at the end of the session. (To be sure, Mr. Craddick didn't help things either, but a vote seemingly designed entirely to embarrass someone is rather childish.)

My call on the two commercials: Both mention general policy desires. But Valinda Bolton's continued playing of the blame game makes for an inferior ad, in my opinion. Winner: Donna Keel.

Morons on Both Sides

Apparently the modern way to handle political disagreements in Austin is to damage the other party's vehicle. And it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican. And no, no one gets to claim the moral high ground on this one. Both sides have their share of idiots who need to grow up (yes, and be prosecuted). And kudos to them for taking the level of discourse right down the tubes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

KLRU2/Time Warner Update

Well, as was obvious to anyone with basic cable who checked, October 15 came and went without Time Warner's following through on their threat to remove KLRU2 from channel 20, leaving it only on channel 255. However, I have been told now that this will still happen, probably sometime around November 14.

Time Warner's given rationale for this decision is that they need more bandwidth for their HD channels. But I'm sure it has nothing to do with the hope that their basic cable is becoming so lame, for so high a cost per month, that people are sure to upgrade to standard or, more likely, digital, probably out of frustration if nothing else.

Keep up the good work, Time Warner. You'll have a dish on my house by Christmas at the rate you're going.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Avoiding Lines in Austin

If anyone ever wondered what Saturday was the best in Austin for car repairs, oil changes, or visiting fast food restaurants with play areas for small children, I can't think of a better one than the second Saturday in October. There was virtually no wait for the repairs or the oil change, and I don't think I've ever seen a Chick-Fil-A as empty as I saw today. (For some reason, most sit-down restaurants and sports bars were quite full, however...)

(Yes, I watched it. The fourth quarter, that is. I guess that's fitting, since only a fourth of the family was interested.)

Time Warner Squanders Good Will

Is it just me, or is the Time Warner vs. LIN TV (KXAN) debate one in which most observers want to see both sides lose? Like I said, I think LIN has the worse hand right now, but either way, I figure this'll be over right around October 29. See, November sweeps start October 30, and as I understand it, they will affect advertising rates for six months, not three, since the normal February sweeps are being affected by the digital switchover.

At this point, I'm fine not having KXAN. (I'm also not watching a lot of KNVA, given that that station is bombarding viewers with annoying announcements about KXAN as well.)

With that said, Time Warner's continual lousy service and channel changes may drive me to another provider anyway. Sure, they've added Starz Kidz & Family on channel 4 as a stopgap while we're without an NBC affiliate, but what else have they done? Well, if you have basic or standard cable, here are the main highlights for October (courtesy their own site):

  • Moved channel 77 to digital only (as of October 1). If you enjoyed watching Rangers or Astros games on Time Warner Cable, I hope you also enjoy paying $6.99 a month for each converter box.
  • They are preparing to move KLRU2 (channel 20) to digital only (where it is already on channel 255) on October 15. According to Maria Rodriguez, PD of KLRU, they are trying to meet with Time Warner to discuss why this change is taking place. As for Time Warner, they are being rather tight-lipped about their reasons, though it certainly appears to be all about getting more people to switch to digital.
  • Raised the price of basic cable to $19.95 a month. Effectively, the cost of basic cable has doubled in thirteen months in Austin. There's not a lot of price difference now between basic cable and a much, much better package via satellite.
So, thanks for nothing, Time Warner. Hope you and KXAN enjoy the doghouse.

Oh, and I did say I expected Michelle Valles to be on KVUE soon. Almost as soon as I said it, KVUE and KXAN both announced their new anchors. I'll admit when I was wrong. Best wishes to Ms. Valles.

Friday, October 03, 2008

KXAN Overplays Its Hand

As they've been warning for days, KXAN has disappeared from Time Warner Cable in Austin, just as it did from Suddenlink early this year. KXAN has for days been repeatedly showing dire warnings about Time Warner pulling KXAN's signal. Quite honestly, it was incredibly annoying after a while. ("You'll never see Wheel of Fortune again! The horror!" [this may be a paraphrase])

The truth is, KXAN is well within its rights to demand that Time Warner carry their signal. It's called the must-carry regulation. But, stations don't have to use the must-carry clause if they want to negotiate a retransmission agreement, wherein a station is paid in cash or other consideration by the cable provider to carry the signal.

Dish Network, DirecTV, and Grande all have a retransmission agreement with KXAN, as KXAN is all too eager to point out*. Why? Because most people in Austin have Time Warner. Would you switch to another provider if a major network wasn't available? Neither would I.

So, having been successful in rattling their saber with Suddenlink, KXAN apparently figured the same tactic would work with Time Warner. But, particularly for those of us who have downgraded all the way to basic cable, there is no other provider in town who touches the price we pay for the channels we get.** KXAN is shooting itself in the foot in this so-called negotiating tactic. As a reminder: November sweeps are coming soon--the period stations use to set advertising rates. KXAN needs Time Warner to be retransmitting them by then, so my guess is they'll cave in about three weeks.

*Well, they were eager to point this out until they pulled their signal. Now their website doesn't even mention Time Warner.

**This does not, of course, excuse the rather lousy service Time Warner provides as well, and it especially does not excuse the fact that Time Warner is raising basic cable rates another $5 within a couple of months. That'll make it more palatable for people to look into other providers, you guys...

Update: As mentioned in the comments, the real culprit here is KXAN's owner, LIN TV. Apparently only the bottom line matters to LIN TV, instead of, you know, providing a quality product. (This appears to be the same reasoning they used in lowballing Michelle Valles. She wasn't perfect, but she deserved better than she got. I wouldn't be surprised to see her sitting beside Tyler Sieswerda in about six months.)

Update 2: Hi KXAN! How's it working out for you so far?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seriously, stop. You're embarrassing yourselves.

Come on, people. Try being civil.

Unfortunately, a lot of people can't. Like astroturfers "keenan" and "Aloha62" in this thread discussing Barack Obama's latest misstatement:
"The Jerry Springer/Povich group will love this type of fight and will go for the person they can most identify with....Piggy Palin...Now that you have an idiot, trailer park, barefooted Hillary wanna-be running..."

"We all know that Obama was not referring to Caribou Barbie. Frankly, if he had been, I would have been furious, and all pigs would have been outraged too."
Or there is Michael King's rather petty statement made as part of a column in the free (and worth every penny) local alternative weekly:
"The flummoxed GOP strategists are also trying to figure out how to market their very peculiar vice presidential nominee, who would make a more likely candidate for an oil-field sitcom – Married (in Alaska) With Children."

I guess whoever said this election wasn't about issues was right, because all these people attack about Sarah Palin are her family and lifestyle. Actually, that's not entirely true, but whenever actual issues are brought up, Ms. Palin's viewpoints are exaggerated to the point of absurdity. But then, absurdity seems to be the main content of most of the rantings I've seen about her.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

No He Didn't!

Wow. I have respect for Barack Obama, though I disagree with him on virtually everything. But I have no idea what he was thinking saying something this insensitive:
"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig."
Yeah, way to show respect for your opponent. No, strike that, for your opponent's running mate. Wow, that's low.

I really hope this turns out just to be a nasty rumor (you know, like all the ones Kos likes to make up regarding Sarah Palin). Given that Drudge has linked it, though, I'm guessing it isn't.

Update: It isn't.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Debunking Sarah Palin Rumors

So, apparently we've learned this week that to the mainstream media, vetting an unknown (to them) VP candidate such as Sarah Palin involves printing every salacious rumor as fact, along with more than a few digs at John McCain's judgment. And that doesn't even begin to cover the hateful blog comments, which are usually justified with the "someone did it to our guy, so it's okay" argument. Whatever. (I have more of them to post...really, the other side is making itself look incredibly shallow.)

Anyway, someone at least knows how to do their own research and determine actual facts, and so he has created a site debunking pretty much every Sarah Palin rumor that exists. Go check it out.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More anti-Palin absurdity

Wow, some people are really gnashing their teeth over Sarah Palin. You don't have to go far on the net to find someone frothing at the mouth about how bad a choice they think this was. Of course, these people were never going to vote for McCain anyway, but they'll sound off on his choice anyway. My personal favorites are the ones who say they always voted Republican until now, but after Palin was picked, they are instantly going to switch to Obama. Yeah, sure you were.

Today's entry comes from "overgold", commenting at the unwanted daily:
What a joke,senator Magoo just picked THE least qualified person available.Do you Rush clones really honestly believe that the twenty month governor of the 17th most populous state is qualified to be one frail heartbeat away from being president?What about Kay Bailey,Condi Rice,or Elizabeth Dole?
I smell flop sweat.

Actually, I believe the least qualified person in this race is running on the other ticket. And by continuing to point the finger at Ms. Palin, you're pointing three more back at your own guy. And as for the other choices mentioned: no, no, and no thanks. Ms. Palin energizes the base in a way none of the other options mentioned do.

And if you're smelling flop sweat, it must be coming from your own party, given the nastiness directed toward Ms. Palin in the comments I've seen.

Friday, August 29, 2008

By far the dumbest anti-Palin comment I've seen

First of all, congrats to Governor Palin. I think she'll be an excellent VP.

Now then...

They say there aren't any stupid questions, but good grief, are there ever stupid blog comments.

(Like yours, Snowed? No, my comments are always extremely well thought-out. So there. :P)

Anyway, are they ever in abundance today with regards to Sarah Palin. The worst offender so far has to be Jean, comment #106 in this thread:

When John McCain dies before he finishes a term…

Great, we’ve got Miss Almost Alaska and she’s Assembly of God. She’ll probably round up Mitt and the rest of the Mormons for a little stay at Gitmo until they admit they belong to a cult.
Theocracy Accomplished.

Wow. Yeah, Jean, you found us out. We're out to round up all those pesky Mormons. That's the main plank in our platform, you know. You'll be able to hear all about it during the convention next week, but only if you're wearing your tin foil hat whenever Ms. Palin mentions "fighting corruption". That's really a code, of course. Don't want to tip our hand too much.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

KEYE Lays Off Talent

KEYE, in a continual attempt to improve its news ratings, probably isn't going to help itself by unceremoniously letting several people go, including Byron Webre and Elizabeth Dannheim. I don't believe Mr. Webre is still on the air this week (yeah, I wasn't watching KEYE either), but I felt bad for Ms. Dannheim, as she had to go on the air this morning knowing that she was being forced out. And she remained chipper as ever.

KEYE, with this cost-cutting move, is showing itself to be not much better than pretty much every station in Dallas. Sure, they have the right, but they also need to consider their viewers.

Update: Mrs. Snowed reports that Byron Webre did appear on KEYE Thursday evening. He, however, did not look very chipper.

Capital Metro's Continuing Letdowns

This story (courtesy Keath Milligan) should come as a surprise to no one: Capital Metro's much-ballyhooed commuter rail line is behind schedule. It seems that two of the nine stations along the route are not finished yet. One hasn't even been started yet.

Here's a thought: let's delay the approved/scheduled fare hikes for just as long as the commuter rail opening is delayed!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HD-47: Candidate Q&A

Once again, the best election information for my local area has been found in the Community Impact Newspaper (SW Austin edition), which offers what appeared to me to be a non-partisan Q&A with the two candidates for HD-47, Donna Keel and Valinda Bolton. (It's this kind of thing that could possibly help right the sinking ship known as the Statesman...) I will fault the paper for promising extended interviews at their website; the interviews appeared to be exactly the same as the print edition.

I was impressed with Ms. Keel's answers; she clearly expressed the concepts she would address as representative (specifically, introducing a foreign concept known as "efficiency" into the state's budget and voter rolls, making health care costs more transparent, reducing state insurance mandates, etc.).

Ms. Bolton seemed to dance her way around several of the questions (particularly the toll road one, for which she spent ten sentences saying absolutely nothing), and I don't know what she was thinking when she said, regarding CHIP, "we have the highest percentage of uninsured children in the country in Texas because we have such a large population of children" [emphasis mine]. The logical leap in that sentence astounds me...we have more children; therefore, a higher percentage are uninsured? A higher number, probably, but in saying a higher percentage, Ms. Bolton is demonstrating a misunderstanding of 6th grade math. Yikes.

And, of course, she had to mention that she was named Freshman of the Year by the Legislative Study Group. Per the Travis Monitor, this is an overwhelmingly Democratic group of legislators, and this is basically an award for wasting taxpayers' money. The Travis Monitor was not aware of any accomplishments of Ms. Bolton other than that, but I seem to recall that she did manage to help bring a lot of inefficiency to the 80th Legislature.

So there you have it: apparently the race boils down to inefficiency versus efficiency. Ms. Bolton said in 2006, "we can do better". At this point, we can't do much worse.

Update: As promised in the comments, the extended interviews are now on the Community Impact website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Statesman Owners Give Up

Cox Enterprises, owners of the American-Statesman and a bunch of other media outlets, has apparently given up on the failing daily.

I personally like this gem of a quote, from their article about themselves:
"The decision was made as part of an ongoing strategic review of our portfolio and enables us to maintain our strong and stable financial performance by further paying down debt," Cox chairman and chief executive Jim Kennedy said.
Roughly translated, this appears to mean: the papers we're unloading are hemorrhaging money like there's no tomorrow, and we're going to squeeze what little value is left out of them by dumping them ASAP.

Well, gee, I don't see why the Statesman hasn't been more successful in recent years. Let's see, just this year they've tried reducing the amount of features (to the annoyance of many), and when that didn't help revenues enough, they went ahead and raised the daily price 50%. And, surprisingly, that seemingly didn't help them to get more subscribers either.

Here's hoping the new owner figures out how to produce a quality newspaper that people still want to read. Cox apparently has forgotten this.

Update: Hello! Really, I bear you no ill will, but you gotta admit, you're right up there in the bad-PR department with Capital Metro these days...

Update 2: Story's been pulled from This is a hunch, but it may have been due to the not-so-civil discussion that erupted in the comments.

And comments I've seen in two places now have expressed the hope that McClatchy will buy the paper. Is McClatchy better than Cox? Or are newspapers a dying breed regardless of who owns them at this point?

Update 3: Story has reappeared.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Overly Mandated Green Building

Let's see, we have a heavy-handed decision by the city council to mandate solar panels not just for new homes but on any home getting a roof repair, renovation, or new heating system, and we have an equally heavy-handed fine to enforce it. Sounds like something Austin would do, doesn't it?

Well, it's not...this time. But give Austin a couple of years...

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, there were two major parties in the US government. The government had a crisis to address, and the leaders of those two parties had different ideas of how to address it. The House of Representatives was controlled by one party, while the President belonged to the other.

Because the two parties had different ideas, they were not able to agree, and therefore not able to accomplish anything to address the crisis at hand. And so the House session ended. "[One party] seemed eager to use the [other party's] leadership's effort to let lawmakers leave town to characterize [the other party] as indifferent", one newspaper stated. And so that party did; its members stayed in the House chamber and continued to give speeches, with the cameras off, demanding that the majority party do right by the American people.

The White House Chief of Staff chastised the majority party for its antics. "
This is not a time to leave...this is not a time to cut out of this town when we are trying to resolve a very real crisis in
this country. There are a lot of people being impacted..."
the Chief of Staff remarked.

Eventually, of course, the crisis was solved. The American people, however, had a long memory, and remembered the majority party's part in needlessly prolonging a crisis that could have, and should have, been averted much more quickly.

The year...was 1995. The current majority party apparently hopes you don't remember.

(Hat tip: Tulsa World and its free archives...maybe the increasingly expensive Statesman could learn from them)

Monday, July 21, 2008

When "Green" Equals Annoying

KXAN's 6:00 news highlighted Office Depot's new location at 2620 W. Anderson Ln. for what seems to be a rather annoying way to be environmentally friendly. There wasn't a printed story I could find on the station's website, but the video is at, where you can see that this new location, in an effort to be more green, reserved several spaces near the entrance for low-emission or fuel-efficient vehicles.

Look, I'm all for more low-emission or fuel-efficient vehicles for those who want them (I'm driving my paid-for beater into the ground, thanks), but this is ridiculous. It's also a misinterpretation of the LEED standard (which, conveniently, is online). LEED, as you may or may not care, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. On the whole, it's a great idea. Unfortunately, its implementation is not always smooth, often due to points of compliance which are vague and difficult to understand.

For example: it was stated in the news story that setting aside parking in this manner was to obtain LEED certification. That's all well and good; there is, in fact, an optional credit (4.3) in the standard that mentions providing preferred parking spaces for alternative fuel vehicles. Unfortunately, this credit also requires that the facility provide alternative fuel vehicles for 3% of the building occupants. I sincerely doubt whether Office Depot went out and bought a hybrid vehicle for anyone.

In its story, KXAN spotlighted a mother driving several children in a van who was none too happy to have to walk further because she was driving a minivan. And, really, she shouldn't have to be penalized in this way...a van with four occupants gets more passenger miles per gallon than one person driving in a hybrid. And, guess 4.4, which Office Depot apparently did not pursue, involves providing preferred parking for carpools or vanpools, into which category the miffed mom in question would have fallen. (To be fair, the credit also requires that no more than the minimum number of parking spaces be provided, and I don't know if Office Depot had total control of that, given that they are, if I'm not mistaken, sharing that parking lot with a lot of other facilities.) As it was, the mom stated that she felt unwanted at that particular location.

Of course, there is always another option for those who don't qualify for the golden parking spots near the door: the OfficeMax at Gateway Plaza is less than 2½ miles away.

And by the way, KXAN...if I'm watching online news video at your website, is it really necessary to force me to sit through a 15-second ad for the site I'm already visiting?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unfairly Forgotten Song #2: Get Used to It by Roger Voudouris

Right around the same time as Randy Bachman and Ironhorse were hitting the charts with "Sweet Lui-Louise", Roger Voudouris saw his biggest hit, "Get Used to It", climb the charts as well, eventually peaking at #21.

There used to be an imeem widget here.  It's gone now.

Once again, Bob FM hasn't even heard of the artist, and even worse, if you find this on a compilation album, there's a good chance it's a re-recording (as is the case on the YouTube video I found).

Edit June 2010:   The imeem widget with this song has disappeared (thanks a bunch, MySpace), but I did find the original (not re-recorded) song on YouTube.  Apparently this song did quite well in Australia, hitting the Top 5 there.  And I so like the way they apparently brought a wind machine into the studio where he recorded this little clip. 

Small, but Occasionally Effective, Ways to Get Free Stuff

In all this so-called financial mess, at least there are some things that you can do if you want free stuff. There are also some things that say you can earn rewards with them, but really, your return for the time spent makes a lot of these programs not worth it. So, let's discuss the good and the bad:

Bad: Pay to Read e-mail programs

There was a time, say, around 2000, when you could get paid just to have a bar of advertisements running at the bottom of your screen. I myself made a fair amount of money doing it. Around that time (and even a little before, in some cases), programs started to pop up promising to pay money for every e-mail they sent in which you, the recipient, clicked a link. And many programs did, in fact, pay. So far, so good. Unfortunately, most mainstream advertisers realized that they were getting a raw deal, and for the most part, the programs which paid the most have dried up. Now the only programs left pay virtually nothing per e-mail, so if you want to get paid, you have to sit at your computer all day, clicking e-mails. This is not my idea of a good time.

With that said, there may still be a silver lining to this rather large cloud. Hopefully I'll be able to revisit this shortly.

Potentially Good: Pay to Search

Along with the get-paid-to-surf and get-paid-to-read-email programs in the early 2000s, there were also a few get-paid-to-search programs. And, like the others, these didn't work, and most are gone and forgotten. (The ones that are remembered are not remembered for good reasons.)

With that said, there are a couple of choices available if you want to give this type of program another shot. A new site called MySearchBonus gives a point for each valid search (with certain time limits and per-day limits) and offers for redemption, once you have enough points, items ranging from gasoline cards all the way to LCD HDTVs. The issue I have with them is the quality of their search results. They used to use Google to route their searches; I believe they now use Alexa. As far as I can tell, this has led to a marked dropoff in their results. They also don't recognize quotes in search terms; this isn't great if you are searching for a phrase.

The other option these days is Microsoft's Live Search cashback, which offers users the chance to find great deals on online items for sale. If you buy something through a qualifying deal (marked with a special icon), money is added to your cashback account.

Live Search cashback, I suppose, could be a good thing for people who buy a lot online; however, I'm not a big fan of the spend-money-to-get-money paradigm, so I'll stick with MySearchBonus.

Good: Free Music

I think I'm the last person left who hasn't subscribed to Napster or Rhapsody or any of the other sites that offer unlimited MP3 listening for a monthly fee. But just in case I'm not the only one, I have found a site called MPFree that, for things as easy as entering your e-mail address or zip code, will give you free music. (Obviously, I recommend a throwaway Gmail-type address for this type of program.)

Now, this site isn't perfect. They're not always good at crediting songs earned, and the songs credited are redeemable not as MP3 files but as DRM-infected WMA files from (There are ways around this, of course, not that I'd know anything about them.) But, I have earned 66 free songs so far, so I'm not going to complain about that.

This site has sister sites that offer chances to get more music or even iPods through sweepstakes or through earning enough points, but you can get MPFree credits by signing up for those programs, so there are some free songs for you already.

Of course, with all these programs, your mileage may vary, but these are ones that have worked well for me.

GMA's Lousy Financial Advice

ABC's Good Morning America has made a point in recent weeks of emphasizing just how bad things are financially. Whether or not you agree with that point, following some of the advice they give is not only unhelpful but potentially quite harmful. For example, consider comments made this morning by financial contributor Mellody Hobson in a segment called, somewhat inauspiciously, "Borrowing 101". Now, some of the worst ideas somehow didn't make it into the article, but you can always watch the video, which is also available on the GMA site.

Now, with a title like that, they weren't exactly singing my tune anyway, but things went from bad to worse when Ms. Hobson said that people having difficulty getting an auto loan should consider a lease. Sure, that's a great idea if you want to spend even more money for the car, and don't forget you either lose the car after three years or have a balloon payment. Hey, how about driving the old car a few more years!

But Snowed, I get 4 miles per gallon, and gas is expensive!

Okay, and how much extra will you be spending if you add a big new car payment, even with the lower fill-up costs?

Here's another phenomenally bad idea (as a "worst resort", according to Ms. Hobson): ask a friend to cosign a loan for you! That's a great idea if you want to lose a friend, but not a smart idea otherwise.

And this idea, in the same vein, did make it to the article:
It may sound crazy, but now may be good time to entertain a loan from friends or family. That's an option you should leave on the table. If you do that, it's extraordinarily important to document it, because that protects both parties and helps preserve the relationship in the event of a problem.
Yes, Ms. Hobson said this should only be done "in a pinch", but even with everything documented, you have the loan hanging over your head. It will change your family dynamic, and not in a good way.

Hey Snowed, you sound like
Dave Ramsey!

Fine by me...he says this stuff better than I do.

(By the way, the segment just before on the same show was entitled "How to Keep Your Money Safe". Here's my advice: don't watch "Good Morning America".)

EDIT: That didn't take long...they changed the title to "Panicking? See How to Protect Your Money". Well, for starters, stop borrowing it from other people!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Return of Ignite Consulting

Now that the run-off has arrived (early voting is already in progress and, I would imagine, will draw out at least one or two hundred voters!), the election calls have returned. So far, Cid Galindo's campaign has called twice, both times with a live caller. Laura Morrison's campaign has robocalled once, with a recorded message calling Mr. Galindo a liar regarding his comments on her stance on a proposed home energy efficiency ordinance (because, you know, Ms. Morrison's campaign has certainly not engaged in any lying themselves).

But more interesting, in my opinion, is from where the call originated. A quick glance at my caller ID records shows that it came from 800-441-0704. Hmmm, that number sounds familiar...

I guess this means Ignite Consulting's application for robocalling in Texas was approved. Regardless, I find it interesting that a firm owned by Jennifer Kim's campaign manager, Elliot McFadden (not to mention a firm which has knowingly violated PUC regulations), is who Ms. Morrison wants to represent her.

Oh, by the way, I know I'm getting hits from people looking up that 800 number. That application to which I linked above shows the office numbers of Ignite Consulting. Just FYI.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's Come to This (Part 3)

Wow, the robocall story went a lot further than I thought it would...let's see, the Burnt Orange Report picked up the story, followed a day later by News 8 Austin, at which point Jennifer Kim finally admitted her campaign was behind the calls. Then, the floodgates opened, and everyone was dumping on Ms. Kim, from Randi Shade to the police and fire organizations, and it became the first question in KXAN's debate.

Did all that make any difference? According to KVUE, the early voting and the election-day voting went pretty much the same way (though, to be fair, early voting was still in progress when the robocall story broke). So, maybe a didn't make much difference in the voting. However, according to the Chronicle, it also appears that Ignite Consulting (owned by Kim consultant Elliott McFadden) never had a permit for robocalling and didn't even apply for one until after the "Lisa" call went out. So, if nothing else, that should serve as a warning to someone.

It can also serve as a warning to you: the application (available through the KVUE link above) also absolutely confirms the use of the phone number 800-441-0704 as its method of communication. (Cue all my readers, who currently number well into the single digits, to block that number from calling them.)

But forget all that: Lisa has been found! As it turns out, Lisa is a friend of a friend. Apparently she was concerned that she might face some of the fallout from the call. Thankfully, Ignite is the party possibly facing some serious penalties, not her. But I hear she'll be a little more careful accepting her scripts in the future.

Oh, and congratulations to Ms. Shade on winning the Place 3 seat, and best wishes in the coming three years.

The Spurs Should Drop Out (for the good of the division)

The San Antonio Spurs, facing a deficit from which it appears likely that they cannot recover, should drop out of the NBA playoffs. Sure, there are people who feel that their opponent, the New Orleans Hornets, could still fall victim to a collapse, but let's face it: the best solution is for the Spurs to rally around the Hornets now as they prepare to face their likely opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, for the Western Conference championship.

Really, what can be accomplished by the Spurs' continuing to drag this out? Surely all that can come of this is for the Spurs to expose more of the Hornets' weaknesses, thus assisting the Lakers that much more in their assumed upcoming series. It would also further divide all the constituents of the Southwest Division at a time when all need to be united against their common foe.

Now, last night the Spurs had a fairly decisive victory. This, obviously, is the perfect time for the Spurs to make a graceful exit, thus ensuring that they can go out on a positive note. Otherwise, they will continue to divide the division by dragging this series out to its inevitable conclusion.

For the good of the Southwest Division, it is time for the Spurs to go.

Friday, May 02, 2008

It's Come to This (Part 2)

Wells Dunbar wants confirmation of the "greasy" anti-Shade robocall? I've got confirmation.

(Oh, and nice term. "Greasy" describes this perfectly.)

UPDATE: My final wrap-up may be found here.

Unfairly Forgotten Song

Wow, my site meter is going crazy. See, yesterday was the first time I had posted since I added the thing. Until now, most of my hits have been coming from people looking for information about Jennifer Kim (who does rather figure into one or two entries here), Chris Matthews (no, I don't know how much he makes, but it's probably too much), or Scarlett Johansson (and I'd rather not go into that again). But, see, now I've posted something to my blog, and people are actually showing up. Crazy! I guess people are actually interested in seeing relevant, topical discussions.

(So when are you ever gonna post something like that, Snowed? Shut up.)

Anyway, I figured I'd try this posting thing again and see how it works out. A topic that is dear to me (and maybe just me) is music, specifically, music that you will never hear on the tightly-controlled playlists of Austin radio. Not even Bob, with its "we'll-play-anything" format, would touch this one (I checked).

After BTO, Randy Bachman moved on to a band called Ironhorse, which cracked the Top 40 in spring 1979 with "Sweet Lui-Louise". For some reason, I find it very catchy.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

It's Come to This: Cowardly Anonymous Phone Calls

Anyone following the Austin Place 3 race might be interested in this gem of a voicemail I received today, which I will transcribe in its entirety:
"Why is Randi Shade trying to break the bank? Hi, this is your neighbor Lisa, calling to let you know City Council candidate Randi Shade has made budget promises that could mean cuts in city services and higher taxes for you. In seeking the endorsement of police and firefighters, Shade agreed to increase funding for management positions without having seen a budget, which is now in the red. With the highest-paid public safety workers in the state, can we afford Randi Shade's promises? It's not different, and it's not Austin."
Notwithstanding that 1) I don't have a neighbor Lisa; and 2) one councilmember can't do anything alone (and thus the crux of the call is rendered sadly inert), I suppose "different" and "Austin" are truly exemplified by anonymous attack ads, right, Jennifer Kim?

UPDATE: As most everyone in Austin knows by now, this story developed further.

Laura Morrison's Fear-Mongering Ad

In case you're an Austin resident who hasn't had to sit through Laura Morrison's one and only commercial at least twice on every newscast, you can now find it here.

Now that you've seen it, did you notice that this ad is flat-out lying? Oh, yeah, they're gonna build three 700-foot towers where the Green Water Treatment Plant is right now. (Specifically, per the aforementioned commercial, apparently they're gonna build three 360 Condominiums buildings on the site, but they're going to lop the top off of them. And apparently at least one of them is going to lean slightly. Seriously, learn Photoshop...) Unless plans for that site have changed quite a bit from my understanding, nothing on that scale is planned.

So, why would Ms. Morrison want you, the informed Austin voter, to think that this will happen if she isn't elected to Place 4? Because she wants you scared, that's why. Ooh, the scary developers are going to ruin our city unless I am elected! Whatever.

Oh, by the way, don't expect to see any negative comments about the ad on YouTube. Mine has been awaiting approval for at least ten hours now, and I'm not expecting to see it show up until probably, oh, say, May 11.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The American-Statesman Becomes Even More Irrelevant

It's fairly well known that newspaper readership is declining. So, if you are the Austin American-Statesman, what do you do? Apparently, you remove one of the last reasons to subscribe. Though their website has no mention of it (that I could find), Sunday's issue of Show World (their TV section) was its last.

Honestly, Show World was one of the last things the Statesman had going for it, as it was by far the most convenient way to get program listings for those of us without an interactive program guide. TV Guide was no competition, what with its having discarded local listings a few years ago.

The announcement that Show World was going away offered several "convenient" other options to get TV listings, which I will list in the order of helpfulness, from most to least:
  • "Evening listings will be available every day in Life & Arts." Great. What if I want to know what's on at 5:00?
  • Online: You can customize your listings at That would be convenient if my computer were anywhere near my television. But it's not. (Sure, you can print them out, but now they've shifted the cost of printing the listings to you.)
  • E-Mail: They'll send you a link to the listings. See previous item.
  • Phone: Like I'm going to call the Inside Line and listen for four minutes just to find out Fox 7 is showing American Idol again.
  • Fax: Yes, you can have listings faxed to you. Like all your junk faxes don't use up your ribbon fast enough. No thanks.
With the departure of Show World, I can now get pretty much everything the Statesman offers elsewhere:
  • Comics: here or here (with the bonus of old Bloom County strips)
  • Sports: virtually anywhere
  • Recipes: not that I'm looking, but lots of places
  • Voter's Guides: picked one up at the library Saturday.
  • Coupons: I might miss a few, I suppose, but most of what is in the Sunday inserts is for products we don't use anyway.
  • Way-too-politically-slanted cartoons: the Austin Chronicle, of course.
  • Way-too-politically-slanted opinions: again, the Chronicle, most notably Louis Black's regularly-appearing column, "All Republicans Are Evil and Want to Eat Your Children".
So, I'm really not sure what the point is of continuing to subscribe to the Statesman. And, as an added bonus, maybe I'll watch less TV.

Update 2/25/09: Oh, look, the Statesman brought it back. Kinda.