Thursday, December 16, 2010

As quickly as it came, "Mega" departs

Well, that didn't last long.

Apparently the 102.7 translator that, just two weeks ago, started simulcasting Mega (103.5 FM-HD2), has dropped Mega in favor of already-on-the-FM-dial KGSR 93.3.  Per, this fulfills a prior promise to boost KGSR's signal after its move from 107.1.

As for Mega listeners, depending on the part of the area in which they live, they may still be able to hear Mega on K288FJ, the translator at 105.5.  The catch:  that translator is located in Bastrop.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"Mega" returns to Austin airwaves


Mega, the dance format last seen (for those who don't have an HD radio) at 93.3 in Austin, has returned to the airwaves via the translator at 102.7 that once was used for Hill Country oldies station KITY.  Until now, Mega had only been available as the HD2 signal of KBPA 103.5 (Bob FM), or, of course, online.

Of course, Mega was not a ratings success, which is why the format of 93.3 was changed to the still-lamented Hot 93.3 (at least it appears to still be lamented, judging by the number of hits I get from the search terms "what happened to hot 93.3" or some variant).  However, with a low-power translator (which still occasionally is overridden in south Austin by Jack FM out of San Antonio), the return on investment probably doesn't need to be nearly as high, and so my guess is that we'll be seeing Mega at 102.7 for some time to come.

Update:  My guess was wrong.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Online Red Kettle, and other ways to help out this holiday season

As has been my wont for the past couple of years, I am once again hosting an Online Red Kettle for the Salvation Army, for those who have either already finished their shopping or want to plan out their donations in advance.

So, if you would like to donate through my virtual kettle, you can do so by clicking the kettle below:

(Image courtesy The Salvation Army)

A couple of other ways to help out this holiday season (and, really, any time) are as follows:

If you are in the Austin area, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, where, according to what they have said, your monetary donation can go about five times as far as a food donation, as they can buy in bulk and save money.  They do a lot of good work, and we've supported them before.

Also, my online friend (though we disagree politically) Kim Doyle Wille supports (and I believe I have as well, by participating in one of those retweet-this-hashtag-and-we'll-donate-money schemes) Feeding America, which is a more national program than our local food bank, obviously.

All of these options are well worth your support.  Regardless of your where your political and religious affiliations lie this holiday season, let's all help someone out who needs it.

"Snowed In" Nominated for Austin Blogger Award!

Wow.  Until today, I did not even realize there was such a thing as the Austin Blogger Awards.  (Yeah, it's new for 2010, created by local megablog Republic of Austin.)

And I was even more shocked to find that your humble author's blog was one of the five finalists in the category of "Best Local Politics Blog", particularly since a lot of the recent entries concern the decidedly non-local Bristol Palin (as does yet another upcoming entry, which will undoubtedly thrill "toque").  Well, there were also a few about up-and-comer and certain-to-be-2012-TX25-candidate Donna Campbell, as well as a couple of State House-related entries.  And who knows, maybe some nice readers still remember what was, at the time, a rather big scandal involving former City Council member Jennifer Kim.  (It should be noted that one of my local politics blog competitors had an assist in helping me break that one.)

But whatever the reason, I am pleasantly surprised, to say the least, to see my blog honored with four other blogs, all of which are rather well-known, at least by me.  I very much appreciate whoever nominated me.*  Thank you.

So, then, I would appreciate it if you would use the link below and vote for me by 5pm CST on Friday, December 3.

(Image courtesy Austin Blogger Awards)

*No, I didn't nominate myself, as far as I remember, and if I did, I probably would have kept my nomination to some category such as "Least Often Updated Local Blogs".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On a personal note...

Hello, "toque" of Hamilton, Ontario.  Thanks for the link.  Though I must say I feel a little like I'm being stalked here, what with you hitting my blog multiple times yesterday.

I'm sorry you think I'm an idiot for supporting the positions of a politician you don't like, and for voting, legitimately*, for her daughter on a reality show.  And I have to say, I see a little disconnect between your saying that you are a Christian and your calling us "these idiots"--in the same paragraph, no less.  I don't think you're an idiot, as I have no idea who you are.  But as you seem to know me so well, perhaps you can elaborate as to why my voting for Bristol makes me such an idiot, and why it is so much worse than, say, voting for Sanjaya.  (I'm pretty you know who Sanjaya is, given your more than eight thousand posts on a reality TV message board.)

Or are you, perhaps, one of many people blinded by hatred--yes, hatred--for Sarah Palin, to the point that you think anyone who might agree with her politically is either evil, stupid, or both?

In any case, the traffic is appreciated.  But you might remember that someone on the other side of the screen is still entitled to an opinion even if that person disagrees with you.  You're entitled to think I'm an idiot, just as I'm entitled to think you need to rethink your opinion.


* I never said everyone voting for Bristol was cheating in my last post.  I certainly am not.**  Yes, I know a few people are.  I may have to revisit the topic.

** Heck, the kid's using half the household votes for Kyle.  Stop the presses, it's a Disney Channel conspiracy!!!!11!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Politics and Prizes: Are conservatives pushing Bristol, and if so, so what?

The successful run of Bristol Palin on ABC's Dancing With the Stars has caused reactions that run the gamut from delight in her success to vitriol at those awful right-wing conspirators to total indifference.  (Strangely, one person I know spends way too much time telling people that he doesn't care about things like this, which lead me to believe that he does care about things like this...)

I've written before about the haters, but now, in addition to their constant whines of "she's not a star" and various cheap shots and simply untrue statements about her character, some people have gotten it into their heads that Ms. Palin is the object of a large-scale conspiracy to cheat the system because all these Tea Partiers (I won't use their favorite term) are voting for her.

First of all, yes, there are definitely a lot of people who want to vote for Ms. Palin.  Yes, part of that, apparently, is something called "Operation Bristol", which seems to be spearheaded by online talk show host Tammy Bruce. She explained it in a recent tweet:

And in addition to "Operation Bristol", there are, in fact, a lot of other Sarah Palin fans who want to vote for her daughter, especially after the same hatred some directed at Sarah was directed at Bristol.  For both of these women, the amount of hatred some people have dished out is way, way out of proportion with their station in life.  (And yes, that was true even when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska...some people--and I could name names, but I'm not gonna give them the attention they seem to so desperately want--threw everything in the book at her in the form of bogus ethics charges, nasty online rumors about her marriage or her fifth child, etc.  No one deserves that, even if they are a governor, or even a president.)  When I, and presumably others, see someone unfairly on the receiving end of that ugliness, we try to defend the one attacked.

Plus, Bristol is an underdog.  People love an underdog, unless they're blinded by partisan hate, and judging from the tweets every week when Bristol survives, a lot of people are so blinded. 

And, in my opinion, for what it's worth, Ms. Palin has shown a vast improvement in her dancing since this competition began.  But let's call a spade a spade.  A lot of people just like Bristol Palin, even if you don't.  (I've written about why that is the case here.)  And no amount of whiny tweets, whiny blog articles, or whatever else--such as this Tampa Tribune article linked by Free Republic (in which Bristol is unfairly characterized as having "stumbled her way through two dances" when in fact this week was her best week)--is going to keep me from voting for her.  (What will is a child wanting to vote for Kyle Massey because of having watched way too much Disney Channel.  But I digress.)

If you don't like that people are voting for Bristol, talk to ABC, which allows audience voting to determine half the score, or to Fox, which started the audience-determined reality competition craze in this country with American Idol.  They know that the audience voting is what keeps people watching, and occasionally the audience isn't going to vote for the judges' favorites.  Remember Kris Allen?  Steve Wozniak?  Sanjaya?

(Aside:  Firefox's spellchecker does not flag "Wozniak".  Somehow I'm not surprised.)

Besides, do you folks think that people are just stupid? Or that Bristol is somehow undeserving of public support because--gasp--she's related to a conservative?  Do you really think that accolades aren't given to people on the other side of the political spectrum, simply because they are on the other side of the political spectrum?

Take, for example, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which has previously honored such comedy legends as Richard Pryor, Bob Newhart, and Bill Cosby.  To whom was this prestigious prize given this year?

Tina Fey.

Tina "I can see Russia from my house" Fey.


Tina Fey, while a talented writer, actor, and comedian, almost certainly got this award, along with a good portion of her name recognition, for impersonating one Sarah Palin, and for the damage that did to public perception of Governor Palin, who, as much as SNL-watchers might want to believe it, is not an idiot.  Other than that, Ms. Fey had a fairly nice career, but nothing to compare with last year's winner, Mr. Cosby.  Can you tell me that politics--specifically, left-wing politics--did not play a role in this?

Don't believe it?  The Washington Post seems to.  And so does Ms. Fey:

A lot of Sarah Palin in today's Style section. It was inevitable: First, there was Tina Fey, launched to zeitgeist heights by her Sarah Palin imitation, receiving the Mark Twain Prize, and of course it came up in her acceptance speach, as she "offered some mock hands-across-the-political-divide commentary," writes Paul Farhi.
The rise of conservative women in politics, [Fey] said pointedly, is good for all women, "unless you don't want to pay for your own rape kit . . . unless you're a lesbian who wants to get married to your partner of 20 years . . . [or] unless you believe in evolution." The lines played first to nervous laughter and then to not much laughter at all.

Or, if you like, we can go back a few years to when the Dixie Chicks won multiple Grammy Awards for their song "Not Ready to Make Nice", basically a collective thumbing of their noses at people who did not care for Natalie Maines's anti-Bush statements.  Given that the song did not receive a lot of airplay on many country stations, it certainly didn't win because of a groundswell of support from radio listeners.

And, oh yeah, how about last year's Nobel Peace Prize?  You might recall that it was awarded to President Obama, partially because, as Thorbjørn Jagland put it, "no one could deny that 'the international climate' had suddenly improved, and that Mr. Obama was the main reason."  In layman's terms, President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize because he was not George W. Bush.

These three examples are just the first ones that came to mind.  I could find more.  A lot more, I'd bet.

So, yeah, at least part of Bristol Palin's success on Dancing With the Stars is political.  But don't ever tell me that the other side doesn't do this too.  And don't complain because our side is doing it back.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The light-bulb question revisited

Rick Perry's recent visit to The Daily Show appears to have been well-received by most.  With that said, though, PolitiFact took issue with a few of the comments that he made on the show; apparently he has made the same types of comments in his book, Fed Up!  Our Fight to Save America from Washington (Disclaimer:  I get paid if you buy through this link.), and PolitiFact, styling itself as a shining beacon of truth, feels the need to revisit statements it made earlier.

One of PolitiFact's statements piqued my interest, as it was something on which I have opined before, namely, the phasing out of incandescent lamps over the next few years.

(Aside:  those not in the lighting business call them "light bulbs", but from what I have seen, those in the business call them "lamps", "luminaires", etc.  One person once told me, rather haughtily, that "bulbs" are those things you plant in the ground.)

Now, PolitiFact rated Governor Perry's statement that Washington is "even telling us what kind of light bulb we can use" as Barely True.  But is that a fair assessment?  Well, let's look at PolitiFact's assertions.

What we found: In 2007, Congress voted to improve the efficiency of light bulbs. President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act, which set energy efficiency standards for kinds of incandescent lamps (light bulbs), incandescent reflector lamps (like track lighting in your kitchen), and fluorescent lamps, according to a December 2007 summary by the Congressional Research Service.

So far, so good.  The EISA was what eventually came from Congress after some rather clunky earlier attempts

PolitiFact continues:

Our search for instances of the government directing which bulbs residents can use unearthed a June 2010 editorial in the Washington Times objecting to Federal Trade Commission-issued regulations of light-bulb labels. The editorial says the regs were ordered by Congress as part of its 2007 decision to force the more efficient, curlicue-shaped compact fluorescent light bulb "on a public that so far has refused to embrace it willingly. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, the editorial says, bureaucratic rules will phase in, and" conventional 100-watt bulbs "will be first on the contraband list."

It sure sounds as if Washington is meddling with the types of lamps one can use to light one's home, office, or wherever, doesn't it?  PolitiFact doesn't think so:

Jen Stutsman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Energy, told us that conventional incandescent bulbs are not expected to meet the efficiency standards Congress set, though the government expects manufacturers to improve incandescent technologies to meet the higher standards or consumers will move to compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED technologies or halogens. She said new standards for 100-watt bulbs take effect in January 2012. New standards for 75-watt bulbs start in 2013 and standards for 60- and 40-watt bulbs start in 2014.

Stutsman said the expected shifts aren't equivalent to the government telling Americans which light bulbs to use. "Under no circumstances does it say that a consumer must purchase a specific type of light bulb," Stutsman said.

No, but it makes it impossible for a plurality, if not a majority, of the American people to get the traditional light bulb they want.  Ms. Stutsman is being generous in saying that "conventional incandescent bulbs are not expected to meet the efficiency standards Congress set".  It is simply not possible for a traditional tungsten filament incandescent lamp to meet those standards.

And why is that?  Well, let's look at the EISA itself, specifically Section 321:

`GENERAL SERVICE INCANDESCENT LAMPS-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rated Lumen Ranges Maximum Rate Wattage Minimum Rate Lifetime Effective Date 
1490-2600                   72             1,000 hrs       1/1/2012 
1050-1489                   53             1,000 hrs       1/1/2013 
750-1049                   43             1,000 hrs       1/1/2014 
310-749                   29             1,000 hrs       1/1/2014 

On the morning of January 1, 2012, the country will wake up to discover that the 100-watt incandescent lamp (which produces about 1750 lumens and therefore falls into the first category) is no more, replaced with a 72-watt bulb with something other than a tungsten filament, since the tungsten filament is pretty much the same as it was when Edison perfected it.  (Oh, and guess what:  it'll be more expensive.)

So, in that respect, if you wanted to buy a regular old 100-watt light bulb in January 2012, the government very much would have mandated that you could not do so.  I call that a lot more than a Barely True.

(Postscript:  I know the reasoning behind these moves.  I know why some people like incandescent lamps and why others don't.  I also have already said that I believe that LED lamps will be in the mainstream within five years.   I'm not trying to debate lighting at this point.  It just serves as an example of nanny-state government on the rampage.  Rick Perry was pointing that out, and PolitiFact, I believe, had to get rather technical in an attempt to score a cheap point against him.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

As in 2008, one side won big in yesterday's elections.  This year, though, the winning side was the side that did not win in 2008.  So what happens next?  Well, as in 2008, I have a few thoughts, some of which are recycled from back then:


1. Now is the time to congratulate the Republicans who just retook the House. Pray that God blesses them, 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 the Republicans. Of course there's room for that. But there's a way to oppose a policy without tearing down a person.  Both sides are sadly experts on tearing people down.  Enough is enough.

3. It is time to decide if the current policies of the Democrats--specifically, the vast expansion of the federal government and trillion-dollar deficits, which can only lead to much, much higher taxes--are reasonable and proper for this country to follow.  The voters seemingly have said that they are not.

4. And that leads to the next action item: do not let the MSM and quasi-conservative pundits tell you that the problem was that your side did not get its message out.  Trust me, you did.  It was rejected.

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.  For example, you may have noticed that you're running out of time to avoid having a nasty tax increase (about which I wrote here) hit the American people.

6. Absolutely, positively, don't be jerks about it. Yes, the voters resoundingly disagreed with you. That doesn't mean they're any less intelligent or more evil, or that they hate people. (And, as I've said before, they're overwhelmingly not racists.)  Do not sink to the level to which some on your side descended six 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.)


1. Yes, by all means celebrate this win. Realize, though, that in most instances, you did not earn it, in all seriousness.  This was a repudiation of the Democrats' policies and their absolute overreach with regard to the size and job of the federal government.

2. Remember that it is possible for people to oppose your policies, too, without being evil, stupid, or whatever.

3. There will be opportunities to work with the Dems on policies, but remember, you were elected because the majority of voters want government to change course from the direction in which it was headed, not just during the Obama Administration, but during most of the Bush Administration as well.  Don't compromise the principles the voters affirmed.

4. Can we stop the infighting, please?  I see people all over Twitter saying the Tea Party cost the Republicans the Senate (no, they didn't), and of course, the quasi-conservative pundits have taken shots at Sarah Palin since the day her VP candidacy was announced.  Stop already.

5. Again, do not be jerks about it. And don't go around telling the other side its viewpoint is invalid because our side lost this one.  I may disagree with your opinion, but that doesn't invalid it.

And for everyone: be thankful it's over, and enjoy the Christmas ads!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Donna Campbell: Fired Up

On Friday night, a debate was scheduled for the two major-party candidates for Texas's 25th Congressional District.  Unfortunately, it was well-known that one of the candidates, Democratic incumbent Lloyd Doggett, had no interest in debating or discussing his record, apparently.

KXAN covered Mr. Doggett's refusal to debate here, pointing out that Mr. Doggett, Donna Campbell, and Libertarian Jim Stutsman did all meet together at a candidate forum in Bastrop.  However, my understanding of that get-together was that Mr. Doggett placed severe restrictions on the format of the event, leading to a setup in which he was always able to have the last word, distorted or not, against anything said by Dr. Campbell.  The way it was related to me, it did not sound like a fair debate.

(And since someone will call me on this if I don't say it, I would have liked to see Rick Perry have a fair debate with Bill White as well.  With that said, I still prefer Gov. Perry's policies to Mr. White's.  But I digress.)

In any case, Dr. Campbell's invitation to debate, having not been the "gimmicky, last-minute attempt" that Mr. Doggett portrayed it to be (the invitation was made over a month ago), was pretty much blown off by Mr. Doggett, and so, as promised by the Campbell campaign, the would-be debate became a rally for Dr. Donna.

I got to be present at this rally, and I noticed a lot of people more fired up about an election in which Lloyd Doggett was on the ballot than I have seen, well, ever.  The convention wisdom, of course, says that District 25 is too blue for a conservative to overcome, but these people were excited.  Several people related stories of the responses they were getting in different areas of the district, including here in Austin.

And Dr. Donna, when she spoke, was pretty much radiating excitement (despite being hampered presently by a broken leg) about the campaign, about getting to work for the people of District 25, and about setting the record straight with regard to statements made by Mr. Doggett.

For example, she relayed a story about meeting a student at Texas State University this week who parroted the usual Doggett talking points ("she's too extreme", et al), and she got into a discussion with him in which she mentioned the Doggett Amendment, which will result in Texas losing $830 million in education funding.  The student refused to believe that Mr. Doggett was responsible for Texas losing the education funding in that way, and so Dr. Donna led him to Mr. Doggett, who happened to be on campus that day as well (he appears to be campaigning much harder this year than he usually needs to do), and she asked him whether he voted to cost Texas $830 million in education funding.  As she relayed it, Mr. Doggett's answer was first to try to duck the question entirely, and then, eventually, to turn his back on them while mumbling "it's Rick Perry's fault".  There needed to be more of an answer from Mr. Doggett to this question, which is certainly not as cut-and-dry as he would like to make it out to be.

And, of course, she talked about Mr. Doggett's other education attack, which this blog has discussed previously, that, of course, being his outrageous statement that Donna Campbell is against education funding.  PolitiFact, which has previously come under fire in this space for misrepresenting facts itself, got into the middle of this question, rating Mr. Doggett's statement "mostly true"

Whatever, PolitiFact.  Let's take a look at Dr. Donna's statement on federal funding, as presented in Mr. Doggett's ad, in answer to the question "Would you vote to end federal funding for education?"

Federal funding for education? Yes.

The clip abruptly cuts off there in Mr. Doggett's ad.  Obviously, then, Donna Campbell wants children to be uneducated!

Once again, the record must be corrected.  PolitiFact presents her answer in context:

Federal funding for education? Yes. Because ... it’s a job of the states. Choices need to be put back in the hands of the parents and state.

Dr. Campbell is not talking about shutting down funding for schools; she is talking about cutting the federal government out of the middle of it.  Her position is this:  why should we send a billion dollars to the federal government, just to get $830 million back (or not, thanks to Mr. Doggett)?  Is education for children any better because we have however many bureaucrats in Washington making rules about how our education monies should be spent, or how our children should be taught?

(And no, this is not just an Obama Administration issue...this blog has previously spoken about the travesty known as "No Child Left Behind", or, as Mrs. Snowed calls it, "Every Child Left Behind".  More federal government involvement is not a boon to education, regardless of who the president is.  Period.)

Before Dr. Campbell finished, she made a point of wanting to shake the hand of every person at the rally.  I had not met her before (although her team did give my blog its best traffic day in almost a year* by linking to this post), so I welcomed the chance to say hello to her.  She understood that my circumstances prevented my doing much more than writing a fourth-rate blog with only a few regular readers**, and so she personally asked me to write about the rally.

And in return, thank you to Dr. Donna for your energy, your stances, and your willingness to serve this district.  And best wishes for a quick recovery for the broken leg.

Please check out Dr. Donna's website here, and be sure to vote on Tuesday.

*It rather puts my political blogging in perspective when I admit that my biggest traffic day in the past year was due to a hip-hop station biting the dust.

**The author once again takes this time to say hello to his father.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Running Scared

Apparently the projected Republican landslide is affecting the campaign strategies of several Democratic incumbents from around the greater Austin area.  Some of these strategies are pretty much par for the course for some of these incumbents, but for others, they're quite new.

An example of the same-old-same-old strategies in use is District 47 incumbent Valinda Bolton, who has gone negative on Paul Workman, as she does to every challenger.  Her latest ad isn't up on YouTube yet (and it came out most likely too late to get the PolitiFact treatment it so richly deserves), but it appears to say that Paul Workman wants to impose a massive sales tax on everyone.  Haven't we heard this scare story before?

Oh, but Ms. Bolton's story takes the FairTax idea (which no one is actually proposing but some people like) to a new level:  Mr. Workman wants large corporations to escape paying property taxes!  Yeah, that is how a FairTax works.  And guess who else would no longer be paying thousands a year in property taxes:  you, Ms. Homeowner, and you, Mr. Renter.  (Again, see here if you believe renters aren't affected by property taxes.)

At this point, this author expects little else from Valinda Bolton, so let's move on.

Here's something no one would have expected to see two years ago:  Lloyd Doggett has a serious opponent in TX-25!  How serious is this race for Mr. Doggett?  Well, in over ten years in Austin, I have never seen a Doggett television commercial until this year.

The first Doggett commercial seemed a bit like Patrick Rose's first ad as well in that it presents Mr. Doggett as a friend of business:

(Incidentally, this video is unlisted for some reason...I wonder why.)

A couple of things jumped out for me:  first, "I said no to these big bank bailouts."  Well, yes, Mr. Doggett did vote against TARP.  That, at least, was good.  What wasn't so great were his votes later for things like the Porkulus bill and lots of other giveaways of our money.

And this leads to the second thing that I noticed:  "I can actually run a small business. I can create jobs because of Lloyd Doggett."  This was a statement by Michael Kuhn of ImagineSolar, which describes itself as "a world-class solar intelligence company and provider of solar training".  Well, that sounds good, right?

Well, things are not exactly as they appear.  Someone named Facetwitch, who sometimes blogs at RedState, did the digging on this one, and look at this press release they found:

AUSTIN – Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced nearly $100 million in green jobs training grants, as authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The Austin Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (AEJATC), in partnership with Workforce Solutions–Capital Area and ImagineSolar, received $4,842,424 as one of 25 projects selected nationally – and one of only three in the State of Texas.

For those who've forgotten, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was the original stimulus, or Porkulus, which Mr. Doggett voted to support.  That does rather answer why Mr. Kuhn was so eager to appear in a commercial for Mr. Doggett.  (As Facetwitch points out, there is nothing illegal about any of this, but disclosure would have been nice.)

But apparently things are still not going as well as Mr. Doggett would like in this campaign, and so, again for the first time that I can remember, he has gone negative on his opponent, Dr. Donna Campbell.  See for yourself:

Now I think I understand why his campaign ads are unlisted:  to make them difficult to find for bloggers who want to embed them on their sites.

This ad completely misrepresents the opinion of Dr. Campbell about education funding.  Yeah, let's cut those darned schools off entirely!  Come on.  There is a world of difference between cutting the federal government out of the middle of school funding (thus eliminating a lot of bureaucracy) and not funding schools at all, but Mr. Doggett hopes that you don't notice it.

And while we're discussing silly attack tactics, how about Patrick Rose lookalike Mark Strama in District 50?  Of all the things to say about his opponent, Patrick McGuinness, Mr. Strama says he blogs under "a fake name" (as if this is a very shady thing to do...insert your favorite insinuation about me here).  From there, Mr. Strama pulls items from his blog (The Travis Monitor) way out of context in an attempt to paint him as wild-eyed and hyperpartisan.  Mr. McGuiness, of course, had a very easy response, which I like to call "context":

My opponents [sic] is painting a false picture of where I stand on the basis of a few snippets, but the internet has the best memory and you can be the judge of where I really stand and what I really said. I have put links below of the items he went to.

It's worth a full read.

This season has seen lots of Democrats wondering if their seats are still safe and turning out lots of attack ads, lots of scare tactics...basically, a lot of junk.  Is it any wonder that I am ready for Christmas commercials after a season full of stuff like this?

Update:  Thanks for the link, Dr. Donna!

Is public broadcasting still viable?

From the "this story will eventually be given the attention it deserves" file:

Longtime Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET has announced that it is giving up its PBS affiliation at the end of 2010.  Apparently the dues that PBS requires from KCET have become a bit too cumbersome:

Last year, the dues totaled nearly $7 million, or almost one-fifth of the station's $37-million net operating revenue. Station officials say that amount is far too high. PBS, fearing that a reduction in the sum could lead to demands for similar discounts from other member stations, refused to budge.

The back-and-forth between the two parties appears a little bit like a circular firing squad.

So where does this leave KCET?  They are losing the ever-popular Sesame Street (the last PBS program in production that actually predates PBS itself) and whatever other kids' programming they have now (and I've written recently about the popularity of at least one of those programs), as well as the PBS NewsHour, Nova, Masterpiece, Nature, and so on.  With that said, this doesn't leave KCET with no programming whatsoever, of course.  Per Al Jerome, president/CEO of KCET:

"As an independent public television station, KCET will be committed to investing in Southern California by developing, acquiring, producing and distributing content across all media platforms," he added. "We will continue to offer the KCET audience programming from leading national and international sources. Some of these series are currently on our air."

And, of course, there are many programs aired on public television that do not come from PBS, including a lot of British shows, most notably longtime favorites such as Doctor Who.  There is also a fairly large public television syndicator, American Public Television, which offers programs in just about all genres.

Suffice it to say, then, that KCET will not be at a loss for programming.  But will its members (and the literally millions of people in the LA area who are not members) be happy about these changes?  The response has been mixed, as per these two comments at the LA Times blog:

Al Jerome is a smart guy. I've known him for years. He once headed up the NBC stations. He's right on target for making this decision. PBS charges way too much for its programming--considering there are multiple PBS stations in the LA area carrying the same thing. KCET now has an opportunity to reinvent itself. They can still get many of the series that PBS carries directly from the program suppliers--who will do great deals because they want their programming seen in LA on the major (once) PBS outlet. 

Bad move. They've lost me as a loyal viewer and annual contributor.

PBS, meanwhile, is not without an outlet in the LA area, as they have multiple stations available there.  Orange County station KOCE is poised to become the primary affiliate in the area.  (KOCE's statement about the matter may be found here.)

But this situation leads to the question about whether the departure of such a cornerstone affiliate from PBS is an aberration or the beginning of something larger.  Public television has survived, thus far, in an era in which myriad viewing options offering similar programming to PBS are available to the viewer, but this seems unlikely to continue indefinitely.  The question has been raised, and is being raised more often now, whether PBS needs to be funded at all.  Would Sesame Street be different if it were on another channel, for example?  (And the answer to that, for several years, was no, Sesame Street was no different when it aired on Noggin.)

Another part of the equation, from my observation, is this:  pledges aren't going as far as they once did.  The PBS affiliate where I grew up had one pledge drive a year (Festival, they called it then, and for all I know they still do) in March, and then there were no more annoying interruptions for the rest of the year.  I know that there are now more pledge drives now in the area where I grew up, just as there are probably multiple pledge drives a year for most PBS stations.  This may relate to the previous example I gave; why give to PBS when the kids can watch Nick Jr, or whatever?  And why bother with my local station at all when I can watch just about all PBS shows online?  (This is where I think we're headed:  entertainment and/or instructive programming entirely on demand.)

And the last part, as evidenced by the recent firing of Juan Williams from NPR, is, of course, that public broadcasting has long been seen as partisan and liberal.  Already many (including one Sarah Palin) have called for federal funding for NPR to be killed, and some, such as Senator Jim DeMint, have included PBS in the defunding call for perceived (by many, including me) liberal bias.  (You wouldn't want to give federal funding to Fox News, now, would you?  Neither would I.)

So what is the answer?  Is public broadcasting going to survive?  I say least not in its present form.

And KCET and PBS's lose-lose situation is just going to accelerate the decline.

Austin Energy GreenChoice customers: your fuel rates may go up in March

If, like me, you got in very early on Austin Energy's GreenChoice program, you have received the benefit of a fuel price less than half of the present standard rate (1.7 cents per KWH vs. 3.65 cents), and as a result of this, you probably pay quite a bit less than your non-GreenChoice neighbors.

For some of us, that ends in March 2011.

You see, the "batches", or subscriptions, for wind energy in Austin come with expiration dates.  Batches 1 and 2 (the fuel price for Batch 2 is 2.85 cents) expire March 1, 2011, as Austin Energy released recently.  This leaves customers with a choice:  do you let your fuel charge return to the "standard", or non-green, rate of 3.65 cents, or do you sign up for Batch 6, which carries a fuel charge of 5.7 cents?

It's not as obvious as a choice as one might think, unless one is a militant environmentalist.  But even if you don't happen to make Mother Earth paramount in your life, Batch 6 might be a good investment for you.  With each batch, subscribers have started out paying more per KWH than the standard charge, and so far, the trend has been for the standard charge to continue to increase until it passes the GreenChoice fuel price.  As Austin Energy put it:

A batch 1 customer paying 1.7 cents per kWh and averaging 1,000 kWh per month will have saved about $1,300 when their subscription ends March 1.

Batch 1 and 2 subscribers may sign up for Batch 6 starting on January 3, 2011.  Based on the history so far (with the caveat that past performance is no guarantee of future results), it seems like a good move.

Friday, October 22, 2010

John Mellencamp: "Impressed" by Sarah Palin

In the past two years, there has been so much hatred directed toward Sarah Palin from the left (and some from the right as well) that it is a true surprise to find someone on the left who has respect for Governor Palin at all.  I particularly wouldn't have expected that person to be known liberal and rocker John "Don't Call Me Cougar" Mellencamp.

From the Washington Post via PalinTV:

The legendary rocker says that while he doesn't support her positions, he is impressed by the mark she's made on the country since the 2008 election.

Mellencamp says people get the wrong idea about her intellect "just because she says things and winks."

He says she "knows exactly what's she doing" and "she wouldn't be where she is today if she didn't."

Mellencamp gives Palin credit for handling the rough world of politics. He says "she's pushing the right buttons" and "you can't be stupid and do that."

Kudos to Mr. Mellencamp for distinguishing the person from the policy.  More of that is needed on both sides.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

HD-45: A Rose by any other name is still a Democrat

If you've watched local Austin commercial television in the past three weeks, you probably couldn't help but see one of several commercials from current Texas state representative Patrick Rose, who is running for reelection in District 45. What you might not have noticed from his ads is that Rep. Rose is a Democrat.  The reason for this confusion is fairly obvious to those of you who have actually watched the campaign ads this season (and for those who have, I feel for you):  he presents himself as more of a conservative than his opponent, Jason Isaac.

Let's take a look at Rep. Rose's conservative bona fides for a moment.  The first ad of the season that I saw from Mr. Rose shows that he is against taxes.  That sounds good, right?

Now, wait a minute:  why did Mr. Rose start his ad by raising the specter of "raising the sales tax on hard-working families, seniors, and small businesses"?  No one's proposing this right now, are they?  Of course no one is, but Mr. Rose would have you believe that Jason Isaac is such a tax fetishist.  See for yourself:

Now, is it just me, or does this ad come close to having every stupid political-commercial cliche in the book?  Let's take a grainy black-and-white video of your opponent, include an ominous sounding announcer telling you why your opponent is the spawn of Satan, and use rejected music from a very special episode of The Facts of Life, and voila!  Instant victory, right?

Well, not so fast, Mr. Rose.  Things aren't quite so black-and-white.  (SWIDT?)  Jason Isaac is not proposing in any way to raise the sales tax to 14.5%.  (He's also not the spawn of Satan, and that music sounded more like it belonged in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.)  Mr. Isaac's website puts Rep. Rose's out-of-context claim back into the context in which it belongs:

ISAAC FULL QUOTE: Jason Isaac believes that a consumption-based model is one possible solution, but there are limitations.  “If you just eliminated property taxes and if you wanted to make it a pure consumption-based tax, you increased the sales tax to 14.5% and you’ve got a wash.  It balances out.  You could eliminate all your property taxes, but everything you buy, you pay 14.5% tax on.  My thought process is if you get above 9.5% and you’re going to start driving people to the black market, out of state, they’re going to order everything off and I think you wind up losing state revenue.” (Texas Sons of Liberty Riders Radio Show, 8/17/2010)

Mr. Rose:  where, amidst the quasi-ominous/Western music and deep-voiced announcer statements about Mr. Isaac would I find the part about the replacement of the property tax, which is paid by everyone, whether they know it or not?  (Seriously, you who think you don't pay property taxes because you're renting, do you really think your landlord is eating those costs?  Of course not:  those costs are passed right on to you in the form of higher rent.)

But Snowed, I hear you cry, didn't Jason Isaac also distort a claim about Patrick Rose?  Well, according to the fact-checkers at KVUE, yes, he did.  To wit:

"(Rose) backed the largest tax increase in Texas history,” claims an Isaac ad.

The Isaac campaign is referring to House Bill 3 in the 79th legislative session.

It re-worked the state's franchise tax, a tax paid by businesses, and Rose did vote for it.

According to state estimates, that business tax collected about $3 billion in new tax revenue. That is about $1.2 billion less, than the tax bill passed in 1987, when the legislature crafted a tax package which yielded $4.2 billion in new revenue. To find a larger single tax increase you need only look to that 1987 tax increase signed into law 23 years ago by then-governor Bill Clements.

Somehow, stating that 3 billion is less than 4.2 billion (when both are admittedly rather large tax increases) doesn't seem to be as bad as taking a statement completely out of context and basing an entire negative campaign on it.  (It doesn't excuse Mr. Isaac's misstatement, though.)

So, where are we at this point in HD-45?  Well, both candidates have been called on the carpet for false claims.   A more recent Patrick Rose ad even cites KVUE as it saying Jason Isaac is lying about him.  (Paging one deep-voiced announcer...)  Of course, that ad goes right on to repeating the same claim about Jason Isaac and his eeeeevil intent to raise your sales taxes through the roof...yes, the same claim debunked by KVUE in the same article Rep. Rose cites.  (Rep. Rose's recent ads do not seem to be up on YouTube yet.  I wonder why.)

But the truth here is that both candidates are trying to position themselves as being the anti-tax, pro-business candidate.  Based on the traditional behavior of the two major parties, that would mean both are trying to appear to be Republicans.  The problem is that one of them isn't one.

Patrick Rose, no number of Jason-Isaac-is-evil commercials will change the fact that you are a Democrat.  Perhaps one of your ads should admit that.

Taking the Kids to the Texas Book Festival: The Good and The Bad

Last year, you may recall, I tried taking one of the kids to a political rally and ended up with some interesting observations.  This year, in possibly an attempt to do better, I took two kids to the Texas Book Festival.  Local PBS station KLRU had been announcing to anyone who was listening that popular Dr. Seuss character (when he isn't being played by Mike Myers) the Cat in the Hat* would be making an appearance, and so my mind was almost made up for me.

And so we found ourselves heading toward downtown, with the younger of the two children asking where the Cat was.  (The younger one needs a few lessons in patience.)  The festival's website very helpfully pointed out four parking garages that would be free for the weekend.  Since only one of them was on the west side of the Capitol, near the Children's Activity Tent in which the Cat would appear, deciding where to park was a fairly easy thing to do.  Unfortunately, a lot of other people apparently thought the same way that we did, and so we ended up on the seventh level, after lucking into a parking spot that had just been emptied.  And that was when we discovered that the elevator wasn't working that day.  Or, rather, it was working; it just hadn't been turned on, so that we all got to walk down six flights of stairs.

Having survived that, we crossed Lavaca and walked into the first tent we found, which turned out to have a good selection of adult's and children's books.  While I wasn't really looking for myself (this trip was for the kids), I looked around for a short while while the kids each picked up a book and started reading right there.  We tried to purchase a couple of books for the kids (one for each), but I discovered very quickly that only cash and checks were accepted.  (I probably should have realized that going in, but oh well.)  I was helpfully told that there were a couple of ATMs around that I could track down, but it was getting close to the time for the Cat to appear.  The promise of the Cat served as a good distraction to the children (though I did explain to them that we did not have the money to pay for the books right then).

From there, we walked up Colorado and through several tents.  The kids were distracted by the snow cones near the HEB booth, and thanks to the generosity of one of the workers who heard me say that we still did not have the money to buy one (three bucks...I had two**) and gave us one for what I had.

While the kids were working on a rather large strawberry snow cone (in a large cup), I was given a flyer urging me to vote for Proposition 1.  Really, the election is everywhere right now (including in several upcoming posts on this blog***)...can't we get a break?

Finally, it was almost time for the Cat in the Hat to appear.  We had already moved into the Children's Activity Tent in hopes of getting somewhat close to the activities, but, once again, everyone else apparently had exactly the same idea, resulting in a tent which, if it had been a bar on Sixth at 1 am, would have been closed in a heartbeat by a fire marshal for severe overcrowding.

Then the hour came, and the Cat was not there.  No, we found out, first all the approximately 12,000 children in the tent (give or take a few) would design their own "Cat" hat.  This resulted in pure pandemonium as they all scrambled for space on the five tables in the tent and grasped for red crayons, which, thankfully, were plentiful.  What wasn't plentiful were workers who held the cut-out paper plates that were to serve as brims for the hats being colored.  Somehow--and I really don't know how everyone managed it--most of the kids in the tent had a hat.  Some were even colored properly.

And so, armed with hats that might or might not look like the hat of the Cat in the Hat, the throng of children tried to fill in a 20'x20' space, where they were to sit when the Cat showed up.  And show up he did; there was much rejoicing by the children, and a fair amount by the parents, many of whom were crammed together near the edges of the tent and were ready to enjoy fresh air again.  But before they could, one of the workers, who, I presume, was from KLRU, sat down with the Cat and read a wonderful book to the children:  Atlas Shrugged.

No, he actually read The Cat in the Hat.  All the children did their best to sit still for the story and enjoy it, though some had their issues with doing that.  (One of them was mine.)  And then it was over, and parents were invited to take pictures of their children with the Cat.  Since I had not bothered to bring a camera (a good choice, I believe in retrospect), we moved back out of the tent, so that the kids could finish their snow cone. 

And, once the snow cone was almost gone, both of the children were ready to head home, satisfied with their experience at the festival.  Or at least they were, until we all were reminded that we had to climb those same six flights of stairs to get back to the car.  But we did all make it up (the younger child tried to count all the steps as we climbed, and while the child lost count, I determined that we climbed 96 steps), and we made our way back out of the garage and back home, having had (all in all) a good day.

But I did learn a few things, which I hope others will learn as well:

  • Garages that are indicated as free parking for large festivals would do well to make sure the elevator is actually running on the days of the event.
  • If you are actually planning to buy a book at the Book Festival, bring cash.
  • If you are planning a children's activity at a festival, and there is a famous TV character scheduled to appear, plan ahead and give yourself about three times the space next time.
Since the Texas Book Festival is over now, these will have to be lessons for next year.  I think we'll plan to go back.

* Warning: the link to The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, like all PBS Kids show links, has lots of audio.

** Hey, I wasn't expecting to buy a lot.  Sue me.

*** I hope.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Green Initiative We Can All Support

Obviously, there have been many ideas thrown out about how we can do our part to use less, waste less, and so forth.  These ideas have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (let's use just one sheet of toilet paper--yeah!).  Some ideas are reasonable, others, not so much.

But I like this one quite a bit:

The Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association is the trade association of yellow-page makers. They actually run a little known web site called Launched in 2009, you just plug in your zip code and find the opt-out pages for your local phone book providers. I did it here in DC, and was able to opt out, online from both of the big yellow book providers in just minutes.

Seems legit enough.  I very quickly got myself off the Yellow Book list, although I did stay on the AT&T Yellow Pages list for now, as we do actually use that one.  (I always thought anything that wasn't the "Real" Yellow Pages was rather useless, which speaks to the effectiveness of AT&T's marketing over the years...)

In any case, it's worth a look.  The site, again, is  Check it out!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Oh, look, it's time for another Sarah Palin rumor!

You've gotta be kidding me.  The new rumor apparently is that Sarah Palin is actively trying to follow the successful appearance of her daughter Bristol on Dancing With the Stars by competing on the show herself?

Give.  Me.  A.  Break.

Courtesy someone named Rob Shuler at some site called Popeater:

"Sarah was overwhelmed with what a great time she had at the show," an insider who was at the show tells me. "In fact she enjoyed herself so much that she mentioned to producers who greeted her that she would be open to competing herself next season."

 (Picture courtesy, used under "Fair Use" doctrine)

Something tells me that this insider is somewhat distorting the actual truth of the conversation.  (No, I wasn't there either, but come on.)  Perhaps this is one of the same "insiders" who had solid proof that the DWTS audience booed Governor Palin Monday night.

Seriously, gentle readers:  do you think that Sarah Palin is going to be stepping away from the 24-hour world of politics to devote multiple hours per day to dancing, particularly in the coming spring, which is traditionally (these days, at least) the time for presidential contenders (no, I don't know whether she'll run) to be throwing their hats into the ring?

This is what passes for news these days.

(Then why are you posting it, Snowed?  Because someone has to rebut these stories before they become truth in people's minds, that's why.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

American Idol, you are dead to me

I'll admit it:  I've watched American Idol more than a few times in the past several years.  I particularly have enjoyed the auditions, to be sure, as they have provided lots of opportunities for the judges to give some fairly entertaining feedback.

One of the things I've liked about American Idol was the way in which it could appeal to everyone, regardless of creed, color, politics, or whatever.

Until now.

When the revolving door of AI judges stopped this time around--in case you've been living under a rock or truly don't care about pop culture, or both--three of last season's judges were gone and two new judges were ready to take their places alongside the only remaining original judge, Randy Jackson.  And those two new judges seemed to be people who would have the same universal appeal:  Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.

Sounds good so far, right?  I mean, Steven Tyler fronted Aerosmith for what, as long as I've been alive, at least, and J-Lo is, well, J-Lo.

But something nagged at me.  And I've finally remembered what it was.

J-Lo, on national television, called Sarah Palin a bitch.

See for yourself, if you can stand watching her:

And since, as people have implied to me before, it's not a long road from thinking little of Governor Palin to thinking similarly of people who happen to agree with Governor Palin's politics, who's to say that J-Lo doesn't think similarly of me, as well as many, many other conservatives and/or Tea Partiers?

And before it's asked:  no, I don't think that everyone in the public eye has to shut up about their opinions.  But there is a respectful way to air one's opinions, and Ms. Lopez severely missed the mark.

So, then, is Jenny from the Block someone who deserves to be on my television, as she put it, "discovering and nurturing that spirit [of success]?  Is this someone that I want to present to my children as an example of someone worth my respect?  Not even close.  No, Ms. Lopez, you are definitely a useless celebrity.

American Idol/Fox/whoever is calling the shots, you blew it on this one.  And I'm done watching AI.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The well-deserved appeal of Bristol Palin

Last week, I wrote about the all-too-predictable onslaught of nasty comments from people with nothing better to do than to snipe at Bristol Palin.  While that has continued this week in many places (including Ms. Palin's brand-new Facebook page), there has been a very nice outpouring of support for Ms. Palin and her Dancing With the Stars partner, Mark Ballas.

(Picture courtesy Team Ballin' page at, used under "Fair Use" doctrine)

In the past week, Ms. Palin's Facebook page has garnered almost 4000 fans with little fanfare since its creation last Tuesday.  Sure, a lot of that has to do with many people's support of Sarah Palin, but Bristol has earned that support with her character and her actions.  She has had to deal with situations including the announcement of her pregnancy to the entire world as well as the continued idiotic rantings of people who believe that she is the mother of her little brother, Trig.  (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Andrew Sullivan, and as far as I'm concerned, that is the only time I ever want to mention you in this blog.)  She's also had to deal with a true publicity hound in the person of her ex, who has sold out her family more times than I can remember.  And in all this, she has maintained a positive attitude in the face of trials.

And to me, that's what makes Bristol Palin worth my support.  While some of the things that have happened in her life are of her own doing (and she has owned up to those), many things have been thrown at her unfairly just because of who she is and because of who her mother is, and through all that nastiness, she has handled herself with grace and poise (and also the occasional bout of nerves, as DWTS viewers saw in her first dance).  She has stood up for what she believes in speaking out about pregnancy prevention and the value of life.

So states Missy Stewart:

The mainstream media has not always been kind to Bristol offering much harsh and undue criticism of her decision to keep her baby while remaining a single parent.  Not one to cower in the face of adversity, Bristol used the media spotlight to bring awareness to the consequences of teen pregnancy.  She was appointed as a teen ambassador for the Candie's Foundation, an organization that works to shape the way American teens think about teen pregnancy and parenthood.  In a May 2009 interview with "Good Morning America", Bristol explained that, "Regardless of what I did personally, I just think that abstinence is the only ... 100 percent foolproof way to prevent pregnancy."

Bristol Palin is using the events of her life, good, bad, or whatever, to advocate for good choices.  And that is what makes her worth supporting, both in her Dancing With the Stars endeavor (that number, for those so inclined, is 1-800-868-3407), and in her public life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time Warner, KVUE reach an agreement

As of this evening at about 7:00pm, KVUE and Time Warner Cable of Central Texas have come to terms, thus avoiding the worst-case scenario of KVUE disappearing at midnight tomorrow.

Per Patti Smith, general manager of KVUE:

Dear valued KVUE viewer,

I am pleased to tell you that KVUE and Time Warner have reached a tentative agreement that will allow the cable company to continue to carry the station's broadcast signal in Central Texas.

This means that we do not anticipate a disruption in service for viewers who watch KVUE on the Time Warner Cable system.

I would like to thank our viewers for their patience during this process. We are grateful to those who called and/or wrote the station over the past few weeks. We received interesting and thoughtful comments, and appreciate that viewers would take the time to share them with us.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us at the station by calling 512-459-6521or e-mailing


Patti C. Smith
KVUE President and General Manager

No other comment is necessary except I told you so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bristol brings out the haters

Wow, some people hate Sarah Palin so much that they are taking their hatred out on Bristol, just for having the audacity to appear on Dancing With the Stars.  Good grief, y'all, they asked her if she wanted to do it; it isn't as if she went begging for them to let her on the show.  (No, the publicity hound most closely associated with this family is someone this blog no longer wants to mention.  So I won't.)  But because she is Sarah's daughter, the hate drips from them.

For example, film critic Richard Roeper brings the class with these two tweets:

Bristol Palin is dancing to "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"??? Good God.

Guess there's not a song called, "Got Knocked Up by a Mope, Now What?"

Sigh.  Let's move on.  

And other non-celebrity types have added their two cents on Twitter as well, going so far as to wish Bristol a broken leg

And, if you can stomach it, you can check out the comments at E! Online's recent article, "Will Sarah Palin Steal Bristol's DWTS Spotlight?"  Here's a sampling.  You've been warned.

Yeah E...continue to make a superstar out of a teenage whore and her flaky, right-wing, nut-job of a mother. ABC is a horrible network. Attempting to put lipstick on Alaskan trailer trash pigs isn't going to change the fact they are still going to be Alaskan Trailer trash pigs. Caribou Barbie SUCKS!!! DEFEAT THE TEABAGGER LOONIES!!! Obama should enact a law require all white trash like this to sit in the back of the bus. Just a joke people. Lighten up and stop being so politicall [sic] correct. HA! 

Due to this show's track record, expect Bristol to have her leg snap in half and/or be pregnant with her dancing partner's baby. I think Brick, Rock, or Cement would be an appropriate name for baby #2.

Ding Ding Ding!!! We have a winner for the Trashiest Family in America 

Hopefully those that didn't vote for Palin in the election won't be voting for her hoebag daughter on DWTS. I'm hoping either her or the situation are the first to go. A double eliminiation [sic] would be priceless **

And yet somehow it's Sarah Palin who is seen as a hate-spreading idiot.  I don't get it; do you?

In the meantime, if you do happen to support Bristol Palin's foray into dancing, Rachelle Friberg gives the info on how to do that:

VOTE FOR BRISTOL AND MARK- TEAM BALLIN!!! The number to call to vote for Team Ballin is 1-800-868-3407.

Time Warner Cable finds new ways to irritate its customers

I've laid off Time Warner Cable for a couple of months, but somehow they manage to do something to tick people off enough that I feel a need to write.  ("Time Warner" is still one of the most popular search terms leading to this blog, just behind "92.5 Austin" and "is Scarlett Johansson a slut".  Yes, I'm serious.)

So, what's the latest with our friends over at Time Warner?  Well, Time Warner has lots of things going on at the moment, none of them great.

For starters, Time Warner is, once again, in the midst of a staring contest with a local station about retransmission fees.  This time, as you may have seen, given that it's the highest-rated channel in town, the station is KVUE.  (You can see what has happened up to this point over at Austin360.)  KVUE, of course, has a webpage up giving their side of the story, and Time Warner, of course, has updated their perpetual website,, with the latest info giving their side.  (I've spoken previously about the push-polling that Time Warner does to get people to tell them to "get tough" with these awful, awful channels wanting to be compensated for retransmission.)

The deadline for these negotiations is September 25, but I do not see Time Warner dropping KVUE.  They didn't drop KTBC last year, possibly (my conjecture) because they knew they would face a lot of angry customers wanting to see a Dallas Cowboys team in the midst of a playoff run (and playing a whole lot better than they are this year, but I digress), and similarly, I doubt they'll want to upset a lot of people who will want to watch UT playing Oklahoma in a couple of weeks.  Yes, they dropped KXAN two years ago, but KXAN wasn't showing any football games of local interest.  And yes, I do think football is the main consideration for a lot of local viewers.  As Time Warner has said before, most network shows can be streamed online at this point, but for people who want to watch their football games live and uninterrupted, they need these channels on their cable system.

After that, the other things going on at Time Warner seem rather boring, I suppose, but I'll cover them anyway.  First of all, I reported two months ago that Time Warner was moving all the access channels to digital-only (and was slightly corrected in my interpretation), so that people like me who haven't shelled out several hundred dollars for a digital set (it's below the line right now) will no longer be able to see them without a converter box.  Well, that is supposed to happen on October 1, but I hear that Time Warner will, for those customers who have only basic cable but can't live without their city council meetings (and I suppose there are some like that) can get one free converter box from Time Warner.  The catch:  you have to go to one of their locations and pick it up; if you have them come to install it, they'll charge you.  Luckily, the converter boxes are not difficult to install.  But I still don't want one.

And you may have noticed, if you are a Time Warner Cable customer, that in the past few evenings, especially last Friday and Saturday, that some channels had a nasty tendency to pixelate or go completely black.  Jim McNabb expressed his annoyance with the situation and Time Warner's seeming lack of concern about it.  But I noticed one strange thing about the problems I saw while I was watching KVUE Saturday night:  while there were problems multiple times during the pre-game show, there were no problems at all during the Texas-Texas Tech game.  The problems magically disappeared once the game started.  I'm sure that's a coincidence.

Update:  KVUE, as predicted here, will not be dropped.  More information may be found here.

The River gets Spirit

Listeners to 105.9 the River in Austin may notice a change in their favorite station starting today.

As conjectured in this space a few months ago, 105.9 KFMK was sold.  Specifically, the station went to a company called Crista Broadcasting, a company known for operating several Christian radio stations in the Pacific Northwest.  The sale is to receive final approval today, September 20, according to All Access

(Link courtesy All Access)

So what does this mean for The River?  Well, it means that the gradual trending toward adult contemporary music (with some Christian music intermingled) is going to come to an abrupt end.  The format of KFMK, now dubbed "Spirit 105.9", will return to contemporary Christian.

Crista VP/GM Stan Mak, for one, is excited about this change to Austin's radio landscape:

SPIRIT 105.9 is here because of the overwhelming support for this format that we heard time and time again in our conversations with AUSTIN listeners. SPIRIT 105.9 is going to provide uplifting music and message to the great people of AUSTIN.

The new general manager of the station, Tim McCoy says that they "have done extensive research to ensure [they] are programming the type of local station that ‘Austinites’ have been asking for."  Whether that will translate into ratings success is left to be seen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bristol to go Dancing with the Stars

Courtesy that bastion of hard news, E! Online, via the reliable breakingTVnews:

We can report to you exclusively that Sarah Palin's 19-year-old daughter Bristol Palin has been cast on the 11th season of DWTS, set to premiere Sept. 20.

For those who care, and I occasionally do, the casting is set to be announced this coming Monday during some ABC show that I will never, ever watch, but this seems to be set.

Already the comments on the article are slamming Bristol Palin (along with, of course, a few shots at Sarah Palin for, from what I can tell, existing) for doing a reality show when everyone was badmouthing ex-fiancé Levi Johnston's forays in reality television (when he wasn't forming half of a creepy couple with noted Palin-hater Kathy Griffin or making really awkward passes at Sandra Bullock*).  
But in my mind, these are two different things.  Levi Johnston (and I know I'm violating my own previously stated hopes of never again having to write about him for at least the second time) sold out the Palin family for the hopes of fame and fortune.  He has bad-mouthed Sarah Palin whenever possible in the hopes that liberal Hollywood would love him, and some did, I suppose.  His celebrity was based entirely on antipathy toward someone else.  And, given his current run for mayor of Wasilla, I suppose it still is, though at this point I'd just call it a shtick.

What Bristol Palin is doing is far different.  She's not selling anyone out in taking this gig.  It may be that this will allow her to spread the message of abstinence, about which she has been speaking for some time.  But even if that doesn't happen, it's still a way to support the son she had with Mr. Johnston.

Oh, and I know some people are saying "she's not a celebrity!!!1!"  Ask yourself this:  who makes a better celebrity:  a 19-year-old woman who has owned up to her behavior and is raising the child who came from this behavior, or, say, a 24-year-old woman who has spiraled out of control for years, culminating in a hearing in which she ought to have been charged with contempt of court?  Me, I'll be happy to watch Bristol dancing.

And I hope she wins.  You betcha.

*It should be noted that this blog is not above dropping names to get hits.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sarah smacks down the Ewoks

Apparently the Emily's List video about which I blogged earlier today got the attention of its target, one Sarah Palin.  I think she was amused more than anything else by the ad.  And wasn't that the point of the Ewoks:  to be cute and amusing, and to worship C-3PO?  The Ewoks certainly cared little about political statements.  They were much more into the basics, such as defending their homeland (they might be 2nd Amendment fans--who knew?) and eating Luke and Han.  But I digress.

No, Governor Palin, in the midst of a Facebook post celebrating the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (giving the right to vote to women, for those of you who haven't read the Constitution recently), had a little bit of advice for the Ewoks:

On this anniversary of women’s suffrage, let’s take a moment to be grateful for the diversity of the debate. Women don’t walk in lockstep with each other in politics, any more than men do. We should be proud of our ability to engage in a civil discussion and healthy debate. I know I am. Unfortunately, I’ve recently come under attack for speaking up for sisters who seek to serve in public office. The sad part is that the attack comes from other sisters who happen to be on the other side of an issue that has been of great importance to American women from the time of our feminist foremothers, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, down to today. I’m speaking of the issue of life. I feel compelled to offer some advice to our sisters who like to throw stones at those of us who respectfully disagree with them on this issue (and they sometimes refuse to even countenance the fact that some of us can call ourselves feminists and disagree with those who claim the mantle of “real feminists”). First, ladies, it’s hard to take a critic seriously when they lecture you wearing a bear suit. So, it’s difficult for me to drum up much outrage at this latest ad. But, really, lying about a sister while wearing an Ewok outfit is no way to honor our foremothers on the eve of the 90th anniversary of their victory. But, that aside, I’d love to know where you got those get-ups. Halloween is just around the corner, and Piper and Trig would look adorable as little grizzly bears.

Governor, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for either a good-natured reply or a shopping tip. But in offering a dialogue where the other side has offered none, you have shown yourself to be on the classy side of this debate.