Friday, August 29, 2008

Fear Not, Internet Radio Listeners

Yes, Pandora is nearly likely demised, but the substitute has arrived- Slacker. Here's the high point of the PC World review:
The strongest aspect of the Slacker Portable is the associated Slacker Web music service, which you can listen to for free without the player. I suggest that you do so right away, even if you don't plan on buying the player. As with the Pandora online music service, users can enter an artist's name on the Slacker site, click Enter, and create a custom "station" consisting of free music from that artist and others similar in sound or genre. The Slacker site does a great job of matching your demonstrated tastes to other music that you might enjoy, though Slacker's artist roster and music-matching abilities don't seem quite as deep as what I've experienced with Pandora's

Here's where the Slacker Portable is unique: After entering an artist's name and creating a custom station at the site, you can sync your stations to the player, for free. As a result, you'll always have a pocket full of music that you like, plus the element of surprise as to what's coming next on your station's playlist.

I imagine Keith Newman & I will talk about this a bit, along with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Sunday night on WCSB, during my Cleveland visit.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Weekend Agenda

It's off to Cleveland for me, along with Isabel, for extended family visits. Cousins are coming in for my Uncle's 70th birthday party, and there will be general grandparent time for Isabel.

One non-family fun thing will be a trip up to ol' WCSB at Cleveland State. After being in the Rhodes Tower building for many years, the station is leaving the space it outgrew 15 years ago. This will be my last look at the place where I learned radio and management (some to greater extent than the other!), slept many nights in my old office and in the Listening Room, and otherwise have countless fond memories.

Keith Newman is good enough to suffer me the indulgence of having me up during his talk show. Check it out, Sunday at Midnight via live stream at
Libertarians Weigh In On Biden

The reaction is pretty consistent- If Barack Obama wanted to court the civil liberties-minded left libertarians that Daily Kos was speaking of as available, he blew it with the pick of Biden. Here's a couple of reactions that got my attention.

From former DNC press secretary Terry Michael, his take on Biden:
In his first test of leadership, however, Sen. Obama tapped the man whose failure of judgment as the Democratic Party's front man on foreign affairs led congressional Democrats into collusion with, rather than principled opposition to, the neoconservatives and their criminal enterprise in Iraq. That decision reveals a politician without a compass.

Know thyself is a pretty good rule of thumb for judging leadership potential. By choosing Biden, Obama tells us he doesn't have much of a clue about himself.

From Radley Balko:
But from a policy perspective, it’s a disaster. Biden has sponsored more damaging drug war legislation than any Democrat in Congress. Hate the way federal prosecutors use RICO laws to take aim at drug offenders? Thank Biden. How about the abomination that is federal asset forfeiture laws? Thank Biden. Think federal prosecutors have too much power in drug cases? Thank Biden. Think the title of a “Drug Czar” is sanctimonious and silly? Thank Biden, who helped create the position (and still considers it an accomplishment worth boasting about). Tired of the ridiculous steroids hearings in Congress? Thank Biden, who led the effort to make steroids a Schedule 3 drug, and has been among the blowhardiest of the blowhards when it comes to sports and performance enhancing drugs. Biden voted in favor of using international development aid for drug control (think plan Columbia, plan Afghanistan, and other meddling anti-drug efforts that have only fostered loathing of America, backlash, and unintended consequences). Oh, and he was also the chief sponsor of 2004’s horrendous RAVE Act.

From Tyrrany Watch:
Barack Obama may be doing the one thing that might have seemed impossible: he’s picking a running mate whose ideas about Iraq are even worse than, and stupider than, John McCain’s.

Obama, whose mushy Iraq plan excites no one, is marrying his own’s flawed ideas — which mostly revolve around beefing up US forces in Afghanistan and unilaterally attacking Pakistan — with Biden’s discredited notion of partitioning Iraq into three squabbling mini-states.

My own reactions to Biden are that I remember him standing with McCain on Iraq issues; I remember him voting for the Patriot Act, twice; and it strikes me that we're going out of the frying pan and into the fire. George Bush picked Dick Cheney to shore up perceived weakness in foreign policy. Look how that worked out. So, we're going to have a foreign policy neo-con Dem who no doubt sees an opportunity to be as responsible for foreign policy design as the previous VP was? Not good.
Here's a $100 Wager

(Fishers, IN)- Let's see if there are any takers. Both McCain and Obama apparently have failed to file necessary papers in Texas to qualify for that state's ballot. This is because the filing deadline occurs prior to either of their parties' conventions.

So, does anyone want to take my bet that the law will be overlooked to accommodate McCain and Obama?

As we saw here recently in Marion County, when the slightest error is found on a form submitted by a Libertarian candidate the bi-partisan, ie: Republican and Democratic colluded Elections Board votes to strenuously uphold the letter of the law. As we see across the USA, those same bi-partisan Boards tend to wink at the law when it involves their own candidates.

For now, Bob Barr is on the Texas ballot. It would be pretty cool for Barr to scoop up all 34 of Texas' electoral votes. I think on this basis alone, Barr should now be brought into the debates... if the allegedly non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates would hear of it.

(h/t Advance Indiana)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Left Talk Radio

(Woodstock, IL)- Being on the road today throughout the Chicagoland area, I've had the radio pegged to 820-AM, WCPT. It bills itself as Chicago's "progressive talk station". It's kind of novel to hear, what with the general absence of liberal talk radio in Central Indiana. A few observations:

It sounds just like conservative talk radio. Being at the Democratic convention yields a cast of hundreds to interview, from Dennis Kucinich onward. The hosts are utterly non-critical of their guests.

The hosts are full of rah-rah for the speakers thus far, but the callers haven't been. They wanted Hilary Clinton to attack John McCain and throw herself at the feet of Obama.

There are some of the same ads ("Facing foreclosure?" and "Credit card debt out of control?") but many others that are rather tailored for a liberal audience. The Teamsters had an ad, and there were ads from left interest non-profits. Conservative radio seems to lack this.

Same general result, though. I can listen for ten minutes before it gets tiresome, and the music is turned on. I repeated the process about 10 times throughout the day. All the same, I wish there was a liberal talk station in Indy. When it comes to dialogue, the more the merrier.
Update: So, I was driving home from Woodstock, and I turned to WCPT again for their coverage. Bill Clinton was giving his speech, when suddenly, at 8:15 local time, the station cut the former President off and announced that their broadcast day was over! With no further ado, they played the national anthem, gave the station's legal ID, and then there was static. I couldn't believe it.
The Blast of the Horn

(Valparaiso, IN)- My friend Greg put me up for the night in his home and treated me to the bounty of his garden- homemade pizza, complete with homemade sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes and other garden veggies piled high atop. The night was made complete with the blast of the horn every half-hour, thanks to three railroad mainlines to Chicago. Some people hate the sound, calling it "noise". I love it, and slept very well with the window thrown wide open.

At long last, some folks along the Nickel Plate corridor are weighing in with their concerns about railroad noise, plus pollution, declining property values, and eyesores in general that would inevitably come along with a light rail passenger service on the tracks between Noblesville and Indianapolis. 

An Indy Star report covers the concerns. Those who read regularly know that I've been advocating for a Nickel Plate greenway and trail for the last five years, on the basis that it would be the best overall use for the corridor. 

With a greenway and trail, property values go up. Look how the area around the Monon has become so vibrant. Pollution goes down. Tree lined corridor? Hello? And, it promotes healthy living besides, as locals flock to the trail to walk, jog, bike, or blade.

The public hearings are coming soon. Now, I believe these will largely be dog & pony shows, where disinterested public officials suffer through the hearing out of the NIMBYs. they've already made up their minds that this is going to happen. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing people come out to speak against this. Who knows, maybe it could make a difference.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wither Gridlock?

Gridlock is my best hope for our federal elections- President of one party, Congress of another, they fight like cats and dogs and actually ponder some of the legislation before it sails through, jacking up our deficit. I don't think it's going to work out that way. I think that while both Obama and McCain are weak candidates, the Republican brand is so damaged by self-inflicted wounds that a can of Alpo could defeat McCain.

So, we're going to have one-party rule. As we saw recently with the Republicans, one-party rule is expensive and damaging. President Bush vetoed nothing his party in Congress presented him. Spending and deficits soared. Is there any reason to think that things will be different under a President Obama? Would he veto anything his party in Congress brings him?

What should give anyone pause is the evidence we can see with regards to one-party, Democratic Party rule. We have it in many major American cities. Washington DC, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland- these are all examples of cities with Democratic Mayors and Democratic Councils. They have all had such majorities for at least 15 years (Cleveland) or much longer even. Democrats are supposed to be strong on their domestic agenda, addressing poverty and unemployment with their social programs.

So, why do these cities still have crushing poverty and high unemployment? Shouldn't these long-entrenched Democratic policies have reversed these problems by now? If 15 years isn't enough, what length of time is required?

The Republican brand is about to be soundly rejected upon the strong evidence provided- as it should be. But, with such large cities offering compelling evidence simultaneously, why should the Democratic brand not also be rejected? Is it merely the least offensive in the moment?

(h/t Melyssa Donaghey, for her comments at Indiana Barrister)

Monday, August 25, 2008

This Is A Warrantee?

I've learned some valuable lessons on data preservation and external hard drives.

I bought a Western Digital external hard drive, so that I could free up my computer hard drive. I would store three things on my external: Hockey video clips, digital photos, and music files. It gave me 500 gig of storage, which seemed like it should last me a while.

A few months ago, the external hard drive died. It was less than a year old, so it was under warrantee. I called WD and arranged not only for the replacement of my drive, but for the recovery of my data. It was a little complicated, but we made the arrangements. I shipped my stuff, they shipped theirs.

The data recovery company called a few weeks later to advise that everything was lost. All data completely gone. I almost threw up. The poor lady on the other end, from some call center, going on with the expected, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" futility that comes at the end of all of these calls.

So, time passes. I still haven't even used the new drive, because I'm not ready to use it unless and until I get a backup drive for it. Lesson learned.

Well, today I got my Visa bill, and there was a charge from Western Digital in the amount of $340.00. If my hands weren't such a mess, I'd go do 15 minutes on the heavy bag. (It's awful, not ever being able to really vent intense anger in satisfying ways, leaving it just to burn a hole in the gut instead, heh, or blogging.) So, I fumed until I calmed down and found my paperwork for the device, all meticulously saved.

I got on the line to India and the Western Digital call center. The man explained to me that I never sent the original, worthless, defective hunk of crap back to them, so they charged me full price, $340, for a new one.

Well, what the fuck kind of warrantee is that? I sent the defective thing to their preferred Data Recovery outfit, who issued a nice report saying how utterly ruined the goddamned thing was. Ain't that enough? I'm not scamming for a hard drive. The old one is W-O-R-T-H-L-E-S-S. Into the trash!

Honestly, the thing was deemed worthless by all involved, so I threw it in the trash.

Of course, this makes the warrantee null and void. It never even occurred to me that people might make bogus warrantee claims, so distraught was I over the loss of 5 years worth of irreplaceable digital pictures (Isabel's birth, trips to Europe to visit Alex, etc, &c). In retrospect, it makes sense, but how was I to divine this instruction? Might a nice piece of paper or an email telling me what to do next have been too much to ask?

So, the valuable lesson here really is to back everything up copiously and obsessively. I'll be buying a second hard drive soon- to back up the other hard drive- and put it in another place, in case there is damage to our home. What a pain in the ass.

The next drive is sure as fuck not going to be a Western Digital. Lesson learned there, too. A company that can't be bothered to make a product that lasts even nine months can go pound sand. And a scam of a warrantee like this cannot be rewarded.

Damn these fragile hands!
The Great Football Swindle

Oh, thanks, Indy Star. Way to be there for the citizens, telling them about the horse that has left the barn a couple of years ago. The Star published an in-depth story yesterday about where all the money generated at the new stadium will go. Mainly, it goes into Jim Irsay's pockets. This would have been information easy enough to suss out before the deal was done- you know, at a time important enough for the citizens to make it useful, before the votes.

But no. The Star prints it now. In all likelihood, the Star kept their mouths shut until after the raping, er, deal was long complete, so as not to have their football writers at risk for losing access to the team they cover.

It's infuriating to read about how the city of Indianapolis, which shouldn't be in the business of socialized sports anyhow, not merely helped build a palace for one man and his football team, but then gave this man the lion's share of the revenues. The man would have made out well if he built the stadium with his own money. Save me the boo-hoo-hoo for Jim Irsay. The guy inherited a football team.

I never really wonder at a man asking for the moon, stars, and sun, but I do wonder at a government that says, "Okay- no problem! You know what? Don't even bother giving us any Vaseline, either."

Fred Glass should go to jail. The Capital Improvement Board should be dissolved. It obviously has too much authority available, and clearly has no sense of priorties.

And the citizens! Where are Indiana's liberals who think inheritence taxes should strip away assets at death? Why weren't they at the fore of attacking this corporate welfare? I haven't heard them issue a peep about Jim Irsay and the Colts. Where are Indiana's conservatives, who are allegedly anti-tax? And, smaller government?

Socialized football... bread and circuses...