17 June 2009

Tempe Towing Scam

Scam Alert!

Last night was Ignite Phoenix #4 which we held at the Tempe Center for the Arts and it as awesome. We had at least 500 people there and everyone was super cool. The after party was at La Bocca wine bar near 7th and Mill Ave and it was that intersection when the evening took a turn for the dreadful.

I pulled into a semi empty lot at about 10pm and parked to go to La Bocca. There were 6 other cars and a few taxis in the lot and I assumed things would be cool. Well in Tempe this is the wrong assumption. When I came out of La Bocca at 11:30 my car was gone and so were most of the other cars that were there.

A nice group of folks from Ignite Phoenix were there as well because their cars were gone as well. Jay Thompson (@phxreguy) has a good write up here.

28 May 2009

What if the human life span was extended beyond 80-100 years? How would the additional accumulated life experience factor in the arc of human development?

Let's say that medical science was successful in thwarting the aging process and consequently, humans were able to live hundreds of years, like described in biblical lore. Methuselah, for example, lived to be 969 years old. For sake of argument, contemplate that stem cell research, nanotechnology or revolutionary organ replacement techniques have extended the human life span. What sort of wisdom, above and beyond, could an individual possess, in great part, derived from a vastly larger set of acquired knowledge?

Considering my own life experience, I can testify that I knew a lot more about the world at age 40 than I did at age 30. And at 30, I was a lot more knowledgeable than the raging hormone "know-it-all" freak I was at 20. But every successive day, it seems I am confronted with another "wow, I did not know that" moment. As I read and study, it just grants me awareness of the vast domain of how much is unknown to me. I view my younger self with disdain for the haughty arrogance I once displayed.

What ramifications would be presented to such a society where this phenomenon was possible? What if it was a human mind disembodied, but kept alive by a machine? In contrast to an individual preserved at pristine peak physicality?

17 March 2009

Coyote Trails

Yet another dismal season for the Phoenix Coyotes.

For awhile, the scrappy 2008-2009 squad hung on to the middle of the NHL standings ladder, but soon, reality set in and their fortunes plunged. Now the only remaining incentive for the string of remaining scheduled games is to avoid last place in the Western Conference. And it will be another season without postseason participation.

The Coyotes, since being transplanted from Winnipeg in 1996, have yet to win an NHL playoff series. True, early on, they were competitive and posted winning records. But now it’s over a decade of failure. Not just based on performance, but the lackluster campaign mounted to win the allegiance of Arizona sports fans. Today, rumors swirl about the team’s future prospects, as the team’s financial woes continue to mount, and talk of once again, another ownership change. One that may perhaps mean a migration to another city for the old WHA Winnipeg Jets. There, playing in that league that merged with the NHL in 1979 (and can you guess which of the 4 teams that were admitted to the NHL still plays in its original city?), the Jets captured three league championships (Avco Cup) and lost in the finals on two other occasions. Maybe the Coyotes will sprint back to Manitoba.

Since their move to Phoenix, everything about how the Coyotes have been managed has been a soulless, corporate exercise. From the very beginning, I was elated about a NHL franchise in Phoenix. At the end of the 1995-1996 season, the final Winnipeg year, promos flooded the local sports television fare, mostly clips of the sensational Teemu Selanne scoring goals. But one of the first moves the new team made was to trade Selanne away for two lesser skaters. Selanne scored 76 goals in his rookie season and now, 16 years later, is still playing in the NHL, and headed for the Hall of Fame. The two players the Coyotes received never amounted to more than bit players, and ceased to skate on for an NHL team top line years ago. Crushed, I refrained from making a season ticket purchase. Even the fan contest to name the team was tainted — reportedly, management chose “Coyotes” as the result — but many believed it was a fixed affair. That the chosen name was to pay homage to the Phoenix 40, and none of the other name offerings had a chance.

But as stated, the Coyotes put together competitive teams in the early years, and treated the fans to some spectacular opening playoff series play. In their first season, Paul Kariya broke the hearts of Coyote fans, sealing a game 7 victory with a breakaway goal. A few seasons later, fans experienced a crushing overtime game 7 loss to St. Louis Blues. In 5 out their first 6 years, Phoenix qualified for postseason play. And the last time, in 2001-2002, was particularly thrilling as it was a younger club, after departures by Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. A squad that posted the best regular season mark in Phoenix’s short lived NHL history to date. That season, and the next, I was a season ticket holder. And those were the last two seasons in America West Arena (located in downtown Phoenix, in the NBA Suns home, though named USA Airways Center now). Despite to moving just down the road from me in Glendale, Arizona, I could not afford the jump in price for a pair of season tickets. Plus, a friend who I shared the cost with, no longer wished to purchase a season ticket plan either (and he lived even closer to the new arena).

In many ways, the Jobing.com Arena is a fabulous hockey venue. No obstructed seats, like America West Arena (which eliminated at least 3,000 seats on one end above the rink), and a brand spanking new facility. Still, to me, it was inferior to the old Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the IHL Roadrunners used to play. More skyboxes, neighboring commercial office buildings and other corporate tidings do not comprise a great hockey arena. Even though I live within a 10 minute drive, going to the games on my side of town still involve a longer commute as I have to wade through an outdoor mall to get to my seat.

I’ve rambled on long enough and haven’t even addressed the main cause of the Coyotes myopic misdirection in Arizona. Everything Phoenix Coyote management has done (and no matter which ownership set we are discussing, Richard Burke, Gretzky, Moyes, etc.…) seems to be lifted from a lifeless corporate playbook. Focused on short term sales, instead of planting seeds to grow hockey fandom in Arizona. It’s where they have failed ridiculously.

The desert may not seem a haven for hockey enthusiasts. Sheets of ice are completely unnatural in a land of plentiful sun. But that 300+ yearly allotment of sunny days means a virtually never ending calendar of hockey on wheels — roller blades. Within a short drive of my home, I can tally dozens of roller rinks, some outside and a few inside, where you can skate and shoot on net until your legs turn to jelly. And although it’s not as cheap to get all the required gear as say basketball, it’s a lot more affordable than ice hockey or golf. After being exposed to hockey skating, many a future fan immediately acquires an appreciation of the game’s beauty, and a lifetime fan is thus created.

What have the Coyotes done to plant those seeds to grow a future fan base? Not much at all. Other than token appearances where team stars sign a few autographs for kids and pose for some publicity photo shots. I still can’t fathom how I can write this — that this should be as obvious as can be, but such thinking eludes the Phoenix Coyote stewardship.

A few miles away from the Coyotes home rink in Glendale, an inline hockey rink is chained up, and rarely used. I played in a league there a few years back. It was only opened up for league play (which only occurred during the winter months) and if you could get hold of the individual that oversaw the league to come and unlock it. That fellow informed me that no way could they open the rink up as it would be destroyed by the public. Maybe so, but 20 miles further up the road, in that exurban hell of Anthem, an outdoor rink is available to the park visiting public at all hours (though you have to pay to get the lights turned on at night I believe). Yes, there they have somebody riding around and patrolling the premises. It would seem that the Coyotes could gain so much mindshare by contributing or investing in those facilities. To bring the joy of hockey to kids in Glendale, Arizona.

I remember the Penguins early years in Pittsburgh. Like the Coyotes, the franchise struggled on the ice. But one thing they did do was ignite interest in hockey amongst the youth. Empty basketball courts in the winter soon became flooded by kids with hockey sticks, goalie nets, and little red balls. Later, in the 1980s, the presence of Mario Lemieux inspired a generation of youngsters to take up the fabulous sport of hockey. The Coyotes might bereft of a blockbuster superstar on the roster, but their coach is the all time scoring leader and arguably the greatest (along with Bobby Orr and Lemieux and maybe Gordie Howe) hockey player of all time — Wayne Gretzky!

As a subscriber to the satellite NHL Center Ice package, I get to see hockey games in HD. But they black me out from the Coyote games — and it’s most irksome because there are a number of games for which there is no local broadcast. And if it indeed is airing on the local cable sports channel, it’s not a HD broadcast, or worse, it’s a fuzzy, compressed, substandard video feed that looks dreadful. Way to go in keeping me an excited Coyotes fan!

Plant seeds, then in a decade or two, a loyal, rabid fan base that lives and bleeds for the home team will ensure the team’s financial health. Focus on the short term and any success will be fleeting, subject to the vagaries of the team’s won-loss performance. Germinate the metropolitan area’s hockey ecosystem and expose more to the wondrous sport of hockey.

In attendance at a recent game (tickets given to me), I wondered how inept Coyote management must be, if somebody like me, a bona fide hockey nut, located a few freeway exits away, in possession of gainful employment at well above poverty wages, cannot be persuaded to plop down some coin for tickets. That is big time failure.

I will be sad when the Coyotes exit Phoenix, as without a radical departure from the course they’ve chartered, I see no rationale for hope. My non-hockey-loving friends and coworkers (I’ve converted my family, or at least some arrive at an understanding of the underlying passion) tease me about hockey being a minor, irrelevant pasttime. I always respond that hockey is the “one true sport” — as it embodies the elements of all the other sports: the skill in baseball, the precision of golf, the speed of racing, the quickness in basketball, power of football, toughness of boxing, the “anything can happen” in soccer, etc.…

23 February 2009

On Second Thought Radio

On Second Thought Radio Network - The Home of Mike Malloy, Nancy Skinner, and Dr. Mike Newcomb

It is with great excitement and optimism that I announce today the formation of a new progressive talk radio network. The On Second Thought Radio Network will continue to build upon the foundation laid by our predecessors and will work dilligently to fulfill our fiduciary responsibilities to all investors and principals involved. Equally important, we will, with the millions of faithful progressive listeners across the country, uphold our vision to promote freedom, social justice, economic justice and peace worldwide.

Nova M Radio is kaput – and so is its $2.25 million deal to buy Phoenix AM KNUV (1190)

23 January 2009

People were not watching the Reagan inauguration on the internet

Nielsen puts Reagan Above Obama

Conservatives, sour over the fact that Barack Hussien Obama is now our 44th president, trumpet this Nielsen ratings report of Reagan's superior inauguration event viewer numbers back in 1981.

Completely oblivious to the media state circa 2009, where enlightened internet folk possess other means to whet our spectatorial desire to take in an epic event.

And traffic was so great, it simply overwhelmed network capacity to grant a decent viewing experience. Inauguration day numbers shattered traffic and usage records.

Of course, many internet denizens opted to experience the event vicariously through those in attendance, who chronicled their inauguration accounts via Tumblr or Twitter.

7 January 2009

Ramos and Compean Should NOT be Pardoned

Local radio conservative talk jocks are banging the POTUS pardon drums for the two Border Control agents convicted of shooting an unarmed fleeing illegal immigrant.

But here is a convincing argument on why they should not and addresses a legitimate gripe their supporters do possess.

Once Aldrete-Davila was down from Ramos’s shot to the backside, they decided, for a second time, not to grab him so he could face justice for his crimes. As they well knew, an arrest at that point — after 15 shots at a fleeing, unarmed man who had tried to surrender — would have shone a spotlight on their performance. So instead, they exacerbated the already shameful display.

Instead of arresting the wounded smuggler, they put their guns away and left him behind. But not before trying to conceal the improper discharge of their firearms. Compean picked up and hid his shell-casings rather than leaving the scene intact for investigators. Both agents filed false reports, failing to record the firing of their weapons though they were well aware of regulations requiring that they do so. Because the “heroes” put covering their tracks ahead of doing their duty, Aldrete-Davila was eventually able to limp off to a waiting car and escape into Mexico.

Whaaaat? But I thought this “drug smuggling illegal immigrant” was a threat to national security? If the agents’ actions were justified, why would they not arrest the suspect and why would they feel the need to cover-up their actions? Were they afraid that the “overzealous” Sutton had an axe to grind against the Border Patrol?

Ramos and Compean’s supporters do have at least a couple of somewhat legitimate gripes though. One being the length of the sentences (11 and 12 years) and the other being use of testimony on the part of a criminal who has something to gain (in this case, Aldrete-Davila himself). But these complaints should not be directed at Sutton or the trial judge.

The blame for the length of the sentence belongs properly to the mandatory minimum sentencing law passed by congress which requires a ten year sentence for unlawful discharge of a firearm while committing a crime (this ten year sentence is in addition to whatever other crimes the defendant is convicted of). While I believe that the sentences are appropriate in this case, I am opposed to mandatory minimum sentencing laws on principle. Judges should have the discretion to decide the appropriate punishment not a one-size-fits-all penalty regardless of any unique circumstances in a unique event.

And allowing Aldrete-Dalvia to testify against Ramos and Compean with full immunity? This is standard operating procedure. Prosecutors use informants who have a motive to testify against defendants every day in this country. Why should we be surprised that Sutton would use Aldrete-Dalvia as his star witness? If this approach is appropriate for the average defendant then it is certainly appropriate when those sworn to serve and protect abuse the public’s trust.

But don’t expect Conservatives to start demanding a repeal of mandatory minimum sentencing laws nor expect them to consider criminal justice reform. To them this case is not about two rogue law enforcement agents but about immigration and drug policy. The facts do not matter because the guys with the badges are always the good guys and their judgment is better than due process of law.

But see, to the conservative mindset, if you're carrying a badge, that gives one the right to be judge, jury and executioner. Those stinking criminals are just all scumbags anyway, and no harm is done if uniformed officers are a bit overzealous in firing their weapons.

31 December 2008

State of Talk Radio in the Valley 2008

The time I spend listening to local broadcasts keeps diminishing to the point where this may be the final annual roundup I produce. Between podcasts and an iPhone/iPod application that allows me to tap into radio streams around the world from a pocket device, the banality of local radio shrinks in the rear view mirror.

Some 2008 developments:

And another thing — most of these radio websites are still hideous. Worse than not having any information is to clutter the net space with blinking ads and inaccurate, conflicting data. For instance, the Nova M site(s) are awful, with popups about expired certificates, then the 1190 site not showing Newcomb’s show on the schedule. And the page that I have linked below, shows one time on the schedule, but a different time on Newcomb’s page entry (did not adjust for the DST change). Even the pages for the big time stations KFYI and KTAR are bereft of information about the various hosts. This all is reflected in search engine queries too, for it’s more difficult than it should to locate a show’s web home.

But, let’s visit the 2008 rankings.

  1. Mike Newcomb (Nova M 1190 AM, M-F 4-6 pm) - Mike Newcomb returns to the airwaves after he was uncerermoniously dumped in 2007. Newcomb takes the slot of the Jeff Farias, who lost out in an internal KPHX struggle a few months back. The time off seems to have had a positive effect on Newcomb’s manner, as his program is far and above the best in the market. I like the provocative style and the focus on the callers tackling the host’s questions. My only qualm with the show would be the repeated use of phrases like “in any case” or “let me ask you this”.

  2. Jay Lawrence (KTAR 92.3 FM, SAT-SUN 7-10 pm) — Jay was the first talk host I heard when I moved to Phoenix back in 1990. It’s nearly 20 years later and he’s still broadcasting on KTAR in the same weekend slot. While it’s relegated to weekends, Jay’s show is of quality far above the Monday through Friday fare offered up by KTAR. Where conversation is actually conducted instead of the sensationalist rubbish the rest of the week.

  3. Andrew Tallman Show (KPXQ 1360 AM, M-F 5-7 pm) — As I’ve written about previously, the Andrew Tallman Show at times, is my favorite radio program, but I have to downgrade it for the ridiculous “Wacky Wednesday” program format. Also, reading verbatim from a book (part of the “Theological Tuesday” theme) more than a few verses (even if it is the bible) is just not good radio.

  4. Barry Young (KFYI 550 AM, M-F 8-10 am) - As customary the past few years, I will outsource my report of the Barry Young show, this time to a post on radio-info.com. I caught about a minute of their election special with Barry Young and some unpleasant-sounding hag with a speech impediment who pronounced all of her s’s as sh’s. I mean, she sounded as bad as Ann Landers! It was so bad I began wondering who this Larson woman is and why, with such an obvious lack of broadcasting ability, she’s even on the air. She seemed to know a lot about Arizona politics and sounded like some old local republican operative—is she an ex politician like Hayworth and on the air for her star power or something? Or was she a good broadcaster once until something tragic happened like a stroke or west nile virus and they just keep her around out of loyalty? Basically just wondering who she is and why she’s on the radio… Well, that’s really harsh, and not really about Barry, but his bourgeois companion. I feel the same way about the sound effect, but the retirement loves them their Barry…

  5. Darrel Ankarlo (KTAR 92.3 FM, M-F 8:30-12 noon) - Ankarlo, since his arrival in Phoenix, wasted no time sucking up the Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Recently, he allied with Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas to slurp at the public money trough to promote his book.

  6. Joe Crummey (KTAR 92.3 FM, M-F 7-10 pm)KTAR Program Director lashes out at rival station for their “local” program where the host actually resides in California. Fast forward some months later, KTAR hires said fraud for the same nightly “local” talk program. Crummey blessed with a marvelous radio voice, uses it to spin RNC talking points in his own manner. And lately, he’s taken the station group dive into the “if it bleeds, it leads” mantra.

  7. Bruce Jacobs (KFYI 550 AM, 5-8 am) — Earlier this year, Bruce took some heat for his verbal attack on police officer widow Julie Erfle. Bruce strives to be “Hannity lite”, but he’d be more suited to sports talk, where he could share his informed analysis, as opposed to his ignorant, lack of historical context rantings.

  8. J.D. Hayworth (KFYI 550 AM, M-F 4-7 pm) — Hayworth has his supporters, and his self-righteous shtick strikes them well. He comes across bitter and resentful to me, however.

  9. Larry Gaydos/Mac Watson (KTAR 92.3 FM, M-F 3-7 pm) — KTAR took two annoying obnoxious shrill voiced hosts and them paired them together. Now they can blather over eachother in their ignorance. Bruce Jacobs already has the Archie Bunker bit nailed down.

If I’ve neglected to include a local show, please let me know and I’ll be happy to give a listen. I must confess that I am not paying close enough attention to local radio doings, as podcasts and net streams have largely supplanted my local radio listening.

Here are my roundups from past years: