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.