Whale Wars, These Eco-terrorists Should be Arrested

28 01 2009

We’ve heard of Eco-terrorists, Eco-porn, Eco-awareness, and good ol’ ecology.  What the hell are we watching on A&E?   The new series Whale Wars has reaffirmed my hatred of tree-hugging, whale-saving, environmentalist nut cases.  The shock value alone is undoubtedly why the series went to production.  The documentary film crew probably had no idea what kind of seamen they were going out with.

nutcase

nutcase

Eco-porn is the swag one receives by making monetary donations to wildlife preservation groups.  Calenders with baby pandas, big cats, and other adorable creatures are gifts one receives for financial donations made to these groups.  You can decorate your cubicle with images of cute creatures that would rip you in half in the wild, while giving your money to the “administration fees” of these non-profits.  These “Sea Shepard’s” as they call themselves, have a nice web page full of enviro propaganda that conflicts with the story you get from the TV show.

Terrorists exist on many levels.  Eco-terrorists like those who man the ship The Steve Irwin ARE fanatical terrorists.  I would never go out to sea with such a crew of noobs, there would be a good chance you won’t make it back to the harbor.   Imagine going to sea with a group of over zealous cub scouts, who have a mandate to put the lives of whales before that of their own crew.  If you need evidence of this, watch the second episode training session to learn how to launch Zodiac skiffs from the deck. The resulting ego contest ended in crew members becoming so upset over details of the procedure they went to their rooms to sulk.  Later several crew members were dumped into arctic waters when launching a skiff and almost froze to death before being fished out by the same incompetent crew that launched/sank them.  In a later episode the tiny boat was out of radio contact for hours after they attempted to chase down a Japanese whaling ship to serve one of their ridiculous cease and desist orders.  A skiff has little chance of survival alone on the open ocean.  The Steve Irwin is destined to have a real tragedy due to lack of experience of the Captain and crew.

Whale Wars is a perfect example of where donation money goes when you get that whale calender and matching tote bag.  Captain Crybaby (Paul Watson) lets his crew do as they please aboard the Steve Irwin, despite his long record of voyages on his bio sheet.  The exagerated Captain picks up the phone to manipulate the media when ever they get into an altercation with a whaling vessel.  In one show he claims to have been shot (despite no bullet wound) by a Japanese crewmember for trying to illegally board the ship, the  Japanese crew called this a complete fabrication.  Either way the lesson is don’t illegally board another ship, and don’t play on crewmembers emotions to do dangerous tasks that you yourself wouldnt do.  The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has a ernest and respectable mission statement, but these antics depicted on the television show are illegal and dangerous.  Wildlife preservation is important, and I think we should “save the whales” but in the words of an old bumper sticker: “Fuck the whales, save the humans”.  Nobody should die trying to interfere with a ligitimate fishing operation. With all the other problems the world faces, couldn’t this energy be focused on humanitarian efforts?

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

20 12 2008
cover art

cover art

Joe Trippi is the former campaign manager for Howard Dean in 2004 he is the man responsible for turning politics on its ear, with arguably the earliest implementation of the netroots movement.  The Dean campaign started with 400 odd followers with less than $100,000 in the campaign coffers.  By the Democratic primaries in 2004 he had millions of followers and over 50 million dollars in contributions.  This little known former Lt. Governor of Vermont made his name/face/scream famous by the end of 2004, and did it with the first webroots based campaign in history.

Joe Trippi’s modern approach to political stumping was recognized as THE future of politics to come.  By building a network of registered Democrats starting with addresses and phone numbers he started the first updated voter lists in a century.  The practice of studying credit card buying habits the party was able to better reach its target voters.  Campaign messages could be personalized to a slate of voters in a certain geographical region, by customizing the message you spend less campaign dollars and manpower.  The Trippi model of centralizing policy making authority while letting campaign voulenteers share open source type information do the ground work for you.

Be first, build a community, and cede control to your supporters is the new Trippi model.





Taking on the System “

20 12 2008
cover art

cover art

From the hugely popular blog Daily Kos author Markos Moulitsas brings you his second book.  Taking on the System is the follow up to his 2006 novel Crashing the Gate:the rise of netroots, grassroots, and the rise of people-powered politics.    This should be a handbook for every progressive thinker in America.  If your at your family’s holiday celebration and you have that annoying conservative uncle who LOVES Bill O’Reilly, read this for ammunition before dinner.  This is a quick read but enjoyable, better written than his first book, each chapter has a series of small stories that flow easily and are filled with interesting factoids even the most politically savvy progressives might not be aware of.  Did I mention its a quick read?  So quick in fact you could finish it in one sitting and manage to write a book report the same day for a college professor.

Taking on the System is similar to Crashing the Gate but the story telling aspect of it makes it much more enjoyable to read.  The author presents a clear argument for bloggers and the personal responsibility we share to look out for our fellow man’s best interest.  It is a call to action for those who wield the power of a blog, to be watchdogs that hold the mainstream media accountable for the liberty they take with stretching reality.

My guess is, there are thousands-hundreds of thousands, in fact-out there just like me. Tired of accepting a backseat. Tired of feeling powerless and voiceless. Tired of the squalid state of our public affairs. And at heart, more than ready, willing, and able to take on the system.

Markos Moulitsas

Taking On The System pg. 272

Celebra Press

The focus of the power of a gatekeeper is a big part of the first part of the book.  It uses the Heritage Foundation as an example for what a mouthpiece for a party should function like.

“Heritage computers are stocked with the names of over 3,500 journalists, organized by specialty.  Every Heritage study goes out with a synopsis to those who might be interested; every study is turned into an op-ed piece, distributed by the Heritage Features Syndicate, to newspapers that wish to publish them.  Heritage has two state-of-the-art television studios in its offices.  Its Lehrman Auditorium is equippecd with an advanced communications system for live feeds to TV and radio networks.  Heritage provides lawmakers and talk show guests with colored index cards stating conservative positions in pithy phrases on every imaginable issue.”

Markos Moulitsas

Taking On The System pg. 46

Celebra Press

Why don’t we have one of these think tanks?  A slick operation ran like a business and hires the best and brightest progressive minds.  One of the long time  Democrat curses is that they don’t pay nearly as well as the Republicans do.  The Dems will work an unpaid intern like a full time employee, with little compensation.  One of Moulitsas main points in Crashing the Gate was that the Democrats need to start paying a competitive rate to compete for talent that the republicans are trying to hire.  Perhaps George Soros would back a state-of-the-art Liberal think tank and equip everyone with Iphones and Mini Coopers to spread the Liberal gospel.

The bottom line is networking and communication is essential to dissemination of information to like minded individuals, whether your running a campaign, or only taking a stand on the issues.  Be informed, be savvy, and gather as much information as you can to make your own decisions, the intellectual is back in style.





Electronic Dependency Theory edit

20 12 2008

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This was an autonomous experience, very little guidance and a loose set of rules. Early meetings and emails arranged a work plan and set a weekly schedule. The final project resembled the original work plan but came about in a off-the-cuff method. Upon acceptance into the internship program I was given an email address to the blog owner and I sent an email to introduce myself. We met at Coffea and I got my initial marching orders. I was to post blog entries on Tuesday and Thursday, with another short entry over the weekend. Posts could be as simple as a paragraph with an embedded YouTube video, there were no minimum word counts. Write something solid once a week, and add some video content to the site. I was looking forward to live blogging the McConnell, Lunsford debate at Centre College’s Norton Center, but McConnell cancelled. I was also hoping to meet and interview Kathy Stein at a UK Democrat’s meeting, she was also a no-show.

Technical problems arose after the first week of November. YouTube changed the parameters of their embed code (the code that allows someone to re-post videos) the Soapblox architecture would not allow users to embed anything with “always” inside the codex. Red error messages prevent the entire article from posting to the site if it has video attached. This became very frustrating and Soapblox help wikis are useless. One member posted an announcement to insert “never” instead of “always” inside the embed code and the video link would work. This was buggy at best, but wasn’t always consistent. Weekly error messages still occurred when I had something important to share and wanted to attach a video but the blog architecture would not allow it. The code fix I was using inevitably quit working shortly thereafter. Video additions to blog posts became virtually impossible, if you wanted to insert any media, it had to be pictures only. Emails to the one of the site’s bloggers who can still successfully upload videos have gone unanswered. The only comparison blog format I have used is WordPress. Even though its free and is seen by some writers as “small time” technical errors are few and far between. Video uploading is slow, but consistent. The technical problems with Soapblox occur with all types of video, YouTube, Google Video, and others. I am not the only user affected by the video blackout; regular submissions from other writers don’t have the video content they once had either. Lately, video submissions on the site are an endangered species. Soapblox needs to fix their coding and script errors, and keep up with changing technologies and provide some type of tech support.

This example of video embedding error is only the tip of an iceberg of problems that bloggers face. If the architecture of the medium is frustrating or not working properly, it hinders the discourse we are trying to achieve. Most bloggers and E-journalists work at a frantic pace of “hurry up and wait”, where small technical difficulties can bring any story to a screeching halt. Net access, server overloads, and slow connections will be your problem to deal with and are out of your control. A hardware issue might be your fault if you spilled coffee into your keyboard, but if your blog site does not respond for hours there is nothing you can do about it.

Besides facing technical obstacles, most bloggers are still seen by traditional journalists as weekend warriors. As newspaper companies are filing for bankruptcy, they must realize a change in their business model is needed to keep up with the amount of news distributed by independent writers on the web.

Our membership has grown by a few more authors but few are submitting video. I was told by the site owner that Soapblox did not change their software to accommodate YouTube’s new look. Videos embedded from YouTube now have a slide show attached, and this might be part of the reason embedding problems started. Something noteworthy is that bloggers depend on YouTube to help provide content for their posts, If YouTube or other popular video sites change their architecture that impedes a blogger’s ability to do his job and both suffer. This “electronic dependency theory” is not limited to the proliferation of web content, but the actual publication of the content itself. As a blogger I link to various websites that add emphasis to the article I’m writing. These sites receive hits from the incoming links that I publish, if they were to prohibit me from linking to them, or embedding their content, the result would be a decline in readership for both. Bloggers depend on other websites for background information, research, and outgoing links. It’s not uncommon to see a single blog story with ten or more external links. Bloggers depend on the content from other websites and fellow bloggers alike. Many websites depend on this user generated content to flourish and develop.





Christmas Card Controversy?

11 12 2008

The war on Christmas comes to the Bluegrass state, well, sort of.  The 2008 Governor’s holiday cards were recently mailed out, and apparently somebody somebody got bumped off the mailing list.  The republican party chairman Steve Robertson is looking into the matter that the Beshear’s family cards might have been paid for by the KDP.  The Registry of Election Finance claims that no holiday cards can’t be paid for using parties funds if the picture on the card only has that parties members.  In other words, If the Governor’s cards of him and Ernie Fletcher holder hands in front of the Christmas tree, that would be OK to pay for that using KDP funds.  We will have to wait and see how far Mr. Scrooge, er, Mr. Robertson and the Sith will be willing to drag this one out.

The Governor has a press conference scheduled for tomorrow at 10am to explain to everyone how broke the Commonwealth is, and that a 4% spending cut in the budget is going to happen.  I doubt he addresses the Christmas card issue, but we shall see.  Check the card out here:





The Falls Fountain and Derby Clock never became a world attraction

8 12 2008

The Falls Fountain, The Louisville Clock and other fails.

I was watching the KET Ky channel today which aired an old documentary by Morgan Atkinson about the Falls Fountain.  Not long after I started watching I had a flashback to the hype the fountain generated back in the 80’s.  I was probably 9 or 10 when it was unveiled to the public who lined the bridges and waterfront to watch it start spraying.  The ceremony was also broadcast live on WHAS TV to viewers that didn’t make the trek to Louisville.    The Falls Fountain was supposed to be our attempt to attract tourists to Louisville as a world class city.  Supporters of the fountain said it would rival the Eiffel Tower, and the St. Louis arch.  It was located out in the middle of the brown water of the Ohio River, and shot a stream of river water higher than the Humana building (the one to the right).

The fountain was a huge metal box rising several feet out of the water and painted a greenish/primer color, similar to the Statue of Liberty.  It had a 530 sq. ft. pump house inside the floating metal hulk that was the size of a small apartment.  The pumps and equipment were plagued from the start by the amount of debris floating in the river.  Breakdowns were frequent and it seemed it was  down for repair, more often than it was working.  The fountain got a new camo paint job in 1992 and was finally taken out of commission once it became too expensive to maintain.  It was sold for scrap to a private owner in 1998  for $15,000.  The LeoWeekly had an excellent article about the great fountain.

The PR blitz ahead of the fountain’s launch was so overwrought, the fountain couldn’t have lived up to expectations even if it sprayed free Makers into to-go cups on the Belvedere.

I remember my 6th grade class going to the Belvedere  and the natural science museum, the fountain was in the background.  I have been to Louisville several times in recent years and didn’t realize the fountain was gone until I caught the documentary.  It never became a St. Louis arch, but it made Louisville logos and news intros for years.  The moral of the story is that spending money on a mechanical gimmick to attract tourism = fail.  Searching the system of tubes reveals limited information on the fountain project, and even fewer pictures.  Some blogs and websites compare the fountain failure to that of the Louisville Clock, aka: Kentucky Derby Clock, which was a complicated mechanical clock complete with a horse race at certain times of the day.  It was built in the early 70’s and modeled after a toy music box, with a horse racing theme.

racetrack around the Derby Clock

racetrack around the Derby Clock

I had forgotten seeing this clock as a kid, it was easily more forgettable than the Falls Fountain.  This was on a different trip to Louisville.  I think my parents walked by it and mumbled something under their breath about a total waste of money and ushered us kids on to the next attraction.  Its was impressive, but not as impressive as the Eiffel Tower.  The track featured caricatures of Daniel Boone, Thomas Jefferson, Zachary Taylor, and others racing around the track and musicians in the bandstand.  This Rube Goldberg type machine was built in the 70’s to be displayed inside the River Falls Mall which became the Galleria Mall, which became 4th Street Live.   It never really worked, in part due to the 100 foot long belts inside the racetrack that sends the metal horses around the track.

The Adam Matthews Foundation is working to restore the Derby Clock and get it repaired for all the public to enjoy.  They are taking donations and volunteers to help with wiring and other restoration tasks, and more information is available on their website.  The clock is at Bowman field undergoing repairs and the site claims it will not have a permanent home until it can run on its own without mechanical breakdowns.  Remember the ruckus the Floral Clock in Frankfort caused?  Governor Burt Combs’ pet project that drew fire as a waste of money in the 60’s, is actually a state attraction that worked.  The floral clock is still sitting on its 100 ton pedestal and maintained by the Garden Club of Kentucky.  If this clock was part of the motivation for the Derby Clock, its no wonder the designers thought it would draw a crowd.

The next gimmick we have in the works to draw a world-class crowd is the World Equestrian Games.  Lexington has bent over for this one, throwing money and resources into the Centrepoint building development.  In doing so, it leveled one of the historic city blocks and took away 5 or 6 authentic bars to build a hotel to house all the VIP’s that are supposidly coming to Lexington for the games.  I love highrise buildings, but if Kentucky history tells us anything about the hollow promises of building things in hopes of drawing a crowd, maybe we should look at the Falls Fountain and the Derby Clock for insparation before we get too involved financially.  Sometimes even if you build it, they don’t come.





The implosion of the Big 3

5 12 2008

The begging on the Hill resumed in earnest today.  The CEO’s describing how they drove from Detroit to Washington in their own vehicles.  Watching them beg reminds me of the many times I have seen  customers in a dealership attempting to buy a new car and getting completely hosed in the process.  Most of my frustration is aimed at GM.  I have been a GM person for years, but have been won over by Toyota/Lexus and the bar they seem to raise every year.

Car dealerships are usually owned by individuals, they are an autonomous entity.  They buy their new vehicles the regional distribution center, usually located in a shipping port.  Some dealerships are factory owned stores, which means they follow they plan-o-gram dealership design.  Factory stores are the manufactures idea of setting an example that their indy dealerships should want to look like.  In either type dealership there is NO communication between the people that sell and repair the vehicles and the board members in Detroit.  GM is the worst offender by far.  They build one unibody vehicle and tweak the exterior and sell it under at least 3 brand names.  Buick should have been canceled ten years ago when execs made the decision to mercy-kill the Oldsmobile line.  Nobody wanted faux wood grained station wagons since Chrysler introduced minivans in 1984.  If a particular model sold poorly they would change some exterior pieces and keep trying to push something nobody wanted to buy.  Model designs don’t change frequently enough, a 1999 model X looks just like the 2003 model X.  If you don’t create social desire to get the latest modern design, people will keep driving their old car.  The import guys change the looks of their models much more frequently than the domestic builders do, they actually create instead of rehash the old.

I understand that worldwide infrastructure of parts manufacturing will slow to a stop if production runs don’t return.  If there is no bailout money then thousands of jobs will be gone overnight.  If the taxpayers don’t bail these guys out then everybody goes broke, or thats the story they tell.  I don’t have a solution to the mess, but everyone knows the big 3 brought this on themselves.  The domestic auto industry lives on a paycheck to paycheck basis, cars must move monthly.  If there is a few bad months in a row, operating capital is gone and layoffs follow.  The disappearance of consumer credit played a large part in this, preceded by inflated oil prices that tightened wallets.

Here’s why the domestic builders brought this on themselves:

Too many dealerships in close proximity to one another.

Too many identical models underneath different brand names (GM).

Technology that is perpetually 3-5 years behind Japan, they claim the reason is the delay from idea conception to production.

Too much R&D emphasis placed on focus group reviews instead of feedback from showroom/service departments.

The employee price sale was a terrible idea.  It moved stagnate models, but people were waiting another year for the next sale to save money.

Building ugly, inefficient,and outdated models named after a first generation muscle car, that has nothing in common but the name.

Finance departments that got greedy upselling things like useless paint protection that costs nothing and does nothing for $999.  They had to make this money on the back end of the deal because of the race to zero between local dealers that was initiated by the corporate offices.  After people noticed they were getting robed in the finance department on extras custoemrs started buying from Carmax, the arguable inventor of the no-haggle price guarantee.  Even Carmax laid off 20% of its workforce in the 2nd quarter of 2008, if nobody can get financing, even the discount dealers cant move inventory.  If we bail out Detroit it will give them a licesnse to keep sucking on the lollypop of mediocrity for the next 3-5 years instead of actually working to improve their product lines.  I want to believe if credit lines were freed up again and people could actually afford to pay back borrowed money, a ridiculus sum of tax dollars could be saved from a bailout.  The American buisness model has always been about the risk vs. the payout.  If we take away the risk and provide a tax dollar safety net what would be the incentive for companies to improve?