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.

18 July 2008

Holy Fist Bump, Batman

Also published at AZspot.net

This is a stroke of genius by the New Yorker. The magazine has recently been treated to a colossal frenzy of free marketing for a picture that screams for added words. It’s spawned a stream of editorial cartoons in response, many (this one is my favorite) of which, unlike the Muslim garbed, 1960s black militant Obama and Michelle glossy front cover, hold more truth essence.

This afternoon, I listened to a conservative talk radio host on a local Christian radio program (is there any other kind of Christian radio than hard core conservative?, a true barometer of how extremists hold control over mainstream media outlets, and resemble a contrived reality), and he was slamming Obama for his reaction to the cartoon, saying that it showed Obama, unlike McCain, had no sense of humor. While I know an Obama campaign spokesman declared it to be “tasteless and offensive”, Obama himself did not appear to be upset over it.

OBAMA: Well, I know it was the “New Yorker’s” attempt at satire. I don’t think they were entirely successful with it. But you know what, it’s a cartoon, Larry, and that’s why we’ve got the First Amendment. And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what’s happening with the banking system and the housing market, and what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it.

KING: But didn’t it personally sting you?

OBAMA: No. You know, we’ve — one of the things, when you’re running for president for almost two years, is you get a pretty thick skin. And, you know, I’ve seen and heard worse.

I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment. And, as I said, ultimately, it’s a cartoon, it’s not where the American people are spending a lot of their time thinking about.

McCain (er, his campaign spokespeople), for the record, agreed that it was “tasteless and offensive” also.

While I enjoy satirical drawings of this sort, I have to state that from the perspective of Obama and his family, I can see where they would be not pleased at the comic portrayal. How would you like it if someone painted a poster of you and your mate, depicting you as a couple of child molesters or other variant perverted deviant, and splashed it across everybody’s television set and computer monitor? And I think the aforementioned radio talker makes a gross generalization about Obama’s sense (lack) of humor. Of course, Obama doesn’t have the reputation and extensive history for anger outbursts like McCain either. And Obama doesn’t seem the type to call his wife a nasty word, in public, that rhymes with “punt” like McCain did on one occasion. Many high level military officers find McCain’s temper to be worrisome.

But back to the Barry Blitt drawing — a couple of other quick thoughts:

  • Sophisticated sorts acquainted with the New Yorker fare seemingly should “get it”, but even many of those were offended about it. Disparaging Obama for their reaction is silly. Now some of my conservative brethren will chime in that liberals are guilty of precisely the same thing when they point out how all the bigots, homophobes and racists flock to the GOP. But they are different affairs — a substantive smacking of Republican election strategy has been subtle pandering to these groups, and even Republican insiders have confessed this dirty truth.

  • If not familiar with the New Yorker periodical, the initial image presentation, without proper context, no doubt could inflame a casual viewers getting a glimpse, especially if they weren’t attentive to the words being broadcast.

  • While the cartoon is panning those troglodytes that continue to peddle inane, preposterous conspiracy emails about Obama, the picture resonates stronger than the theme. It’s like “Don’t Think of an elephant” or Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” admonition.

On the last thought point, this is something that Republicans have used much more effectively than Democrats to win elections. Liberals naively believe that the “power of ideas” will eventually hold sway, conservatives have been much masterful at framing the political dialog — conjuring effective euphemisms and twisting the frame to suit their argument. They’ve poured money into conservative think tanks and formulated a strategic fortress over legislative deeds. Meanwhile, the monied champions for liberal causes are either single issue centered or foolishly attempt to wage rhetorical battle with their own inferior selves instead of financing more abled champions. The evolution of the internet is evening the political stakes, but never discount the power of images. Words may convince another of a valid argument, but images tap into emotion, a much mightier power, operating at a higher acceptance probability, even if the persuasion is at a subconscious level. The techniques are not new — advertising and marketing have made fortunes refining these techniques.

Which brings me back, again, to Mr. Conservative Talk Host. He was presenting his audience with a frame that since Obama fails to “take a joke”, it means he’s a condescending elitist that believes he’s smarter than most everyone else who are too stupid to figure out Obama’s not actually the Muslim Antichrist abomination foretold in the Book of Revelation as parodied in a funny drawing. Whoa, that’s a whopping leap of logic. All the while the host engages in this thought thread, he peppers it with side notes on how he really “likes” smart Obama the person, even if he disagrees 100% with his policy stances. This line of reasoning is particularly galling to me:

  1. If one examines Obama’s public record, it’s quite clear he’s no elitist. Raised by a single mother, and blessed with none of the advantages most political elites enjoy, he bootstrapped himself to career success. Disagree with his politics you may, but he made arduous strides in realms of community service, law and political service.

  2. McCain, while honorably serving the U.S. in the Vietnam War, is a child of privilege. His father was Navy admiral (who was involved in the USS Liberty coverup). His father’s father was a Navy admiral. He married into success, engaging in an extramarital affair with before divorcing his first wife, who he disdained after she suffered a horrible accident and became disfigured. Cindy McCain is an beer baron heiress whose worth exceeds $100 million.

  3. One candidate has a base that is predominately comprised of small grassroots donors, most empowered by internet access. The other is enveloped with lobbyists, who all hold key staff slots in his campaign. Granted, Obama is not free from the sphere of lobbyist influence, and McCain certainly has some individual donors in his allegiance. But again, comparatively speaking, Obama is the working people’s candiate, McCain is the elitist lobbyist candidate.

  4. The radio host seems to be following the conservative ideologue talking point handbook that worked against John Kerry in 2004. Then, a chickenhawk who had his daddy arrange a cushy National Guard (back in the 1970s, Guard duty did not involve transport to active war zones like it does in today’s Iraq occupation) where he skipped out of his obligation was held up as the patriotic hero. His election rival, who answered the call and honorably served his nation, rewarded with medals for his battlefield service, was slandered as unpatriotic.

Meanwhile, an illegal immoral invasion is bankrupting the nation, the President has declared himself (along with Congress acquiescence) impervious to the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution is being shredded, transportation costs are skyrocketing, the bottom is falling out of big banking houses, economic malaise continues to permeate, etc.…

22 August 2007

Links that go nowhere

Memo to Arizona Republic web site minder, or web master, or whatever such individual title assignment is apropos: your web site is a mess. At least when it comes to finding content that's of the user interaction, or to apply a cliche moniker, social networking feature set. It looks like blogs and reader feedback forums are being rearranged, but there are links galore to Arizona Republic bloggers that result in empty pages. Or just as bad, present older content from months ago as fresh stuff. For example, clicking on any of the "blogs" links on your news section, displays an empty "members" page. Perhaps all blog discourse is to be routed through your aztalk section, but even there, strewn about dead end links inhabit the page. And there's no consistency, as your pages are literally crammed with redundant links and annoying advertising.

No doubt the aversion to simplicity is shooing viewers away. A shame because there are so many eyeballs that could be captured and monetized to help pay for the cost of creating content for viewers.

23 May 2007

White supremacists infiltrating law enforcement?

A breaking local story, Yavapai Deputy arrested on drug charges, omits much meatier detail.
Justin Dwyer, 39, a former leader in the neo-Nazi organization Aryan Nations

Followed by some even juicier revelations:

The Sheriff’s Office was aware at the time of Dwyer’s hiring of his former status with Aryan Nations.

And why haven't these questions been directed at the Yavapai County Sheriff's office:

Can anyone explain to me what the hell a sheriff -- particularly one with a jurisdiction, such as any in Arizona, where deputies will be in frequent contact with racial minorities -- is doing hiring a neo-Nazi goon (which is precisely what Justin Dwyer is)?

I mean, at a bare minimum, it displays incredibly poor judgment hiring a person of Dwyer's known character -- which has played out in fairly predictable fashion -- for a sensitive position of authority like sheriff's deputy.

But what kind of message is this sheriff sending to the minority communities in his jurisdiction, hiring known racist thugs?

Proof again, that racism is still prevalent in America.

Worse, why are the local news outlets not covering this aspect of this case, deliberately removing those pertinent details?

20 April 2007

How Much Cho to Show?

Personally, I've made a conscious effort to avoid television news, and an even more concerted campaign these last few days, because it was obvious in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass shooting, that this was going to be the entire focus of the big TV media outlets. How much can be said about such a tragedy? And now, many have been vehement and vocal in their opposition to NBC, who received a multimedia packet from the killer, airing the QuickTime videos captured by the deceased perpetrator of a horrific shooting spree.

Here, however, I shall cast a lot in disagreement. Look, the networks are going to fill news program slots with post-mortem either way, and they may as well present the truth, instead of conjecture or guessing over the nature and motivation of the ghastly crime. If the choice was horrific video vs. alternate programming, then it's a no-brainer. But, killer video or no killer video, talking heads will be spouting off on the matter anyway, and will fill the story with their own speculations.

Or, perhaps, the viewing audience could be subjected to prescriptive dosage of "we've seen the videos, and you can't, but we'll tell what was in them, at least the stuff we want you to know"…

Freedom is the answer, what's the question?

13 April 2007

Crude and Hateful Insults

Sadly, joining the chorus, I am offering forth a take on the Imus insult incident that led to the dismissal of Imus from his CBS radio program and nationally televised MSNBC simulcast. While I agree it is simply ridiculous that this story is presently parked at the top of news headline broadcasts, I still would like to address some comments by those who say the Imus affair is much ado about nothing more than a minor verbal guffaw from a controversial shock jock. And with a tie-in to some provocative thoughts I heard listening to the KPXQ 1360 AM Andrew Tallman show on the topic of Jesus and insults.

First, to equate the brainlessness of shrill, misanthropic microphone ranter with free speech that confronts entities of power with biting truth does a grave disservice. Talking heads on the right have been overly prompt in chiming in about a double standard and the ills of political correctness — reverse discrimination targeted against poor white men, they say, is what this represents. And what I heard on the radio from hosts and callers was indignation over how the media lords reacted to the outraged that erupted as a result of Imus’s remarks, even though they were not fans of his schtick. And plentiful asides about the C-word, censorship that is. But I don’t believe this to be a case of censorship — I mean, there is no concerted conspiracy that’s banned Imus from the airwaves forever. In fact, he’s probably earned a loyal following from a sympathetic contingent that will eagerly contribute to Imus’s bank account. Imus got run because Imus became a financial liability with all the brouhaha surrounding this latest episode of hate spewing. It’s not like there wasn’t already a history of racism with Imus. And here in the Valley, on one of the big news/talk stations, there are syndicated hosts who’ve “pushed the envelope” much like Imus. They, however, have large listening audiences that in turn, deliver great sponsor spots for media outlets to hawk.

Yea, capitalism. If it’s earning dough, you can be assured that it will stay on the air. That is, unless it speaks truth to power, or levies critical questions about ethics lapses, corporate misdeeds or other malfeasance at corporate or powerful governmental interests. Maybe it’s just some speech that some find unpleasant. Or perhaps a major sponsor is offended and there even legitimate truth telling can be suppressed, as a result. Point is, as long as revenues are streaming in, sponsors and ownership are happy, all is good. No censorship, unless it is content of an abhorrent decency level or really does speak truth to power, and challenges parties that rule. However, when the protesting mob in dissent grows large enough, ownership takes note, and will curtail the offending transmitter, lest they be engulfed in a cauldron of controversy.

Even pushing aside the notion that if somebody called your sister, your mother, or your daughter a “nappy headed ho”, you’d want to punch them in the mouth (at the very minimum), what really was the aim of Imus here? I am sure on a personal level, he wished those girls no foul, but even uttered in a “general” sense, I fail to see the humor in it. There really is no defense for it, and the cry that the same type of hate slang is used by hip-hop rappers is irrelevant.

Again, some say that this deal is all overblown and that the “Black Mafia” had done Mr. Imus in. Sorry, so wrong — it’s relevant because hip-hop artists don’t get to beam their hate stylings into American living rooms via national cable network. And while Democratic presidential candidates eschewed such hip-hop hate, present day Republican presidential candidates and legislators are unrepentant in clamoring to appear on Imus’s program.

Despite the turmoil, Arizona Sen. John McCain said he still would appear on Imus’ radio show in the wake of racially charged remarks. According to the Associated Press, McCain said he still would appear on Imus’ show, noting the radio host had apologized for negative remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. McCain has been a frequent Imus guest along with former congressman J.D. Hayworth and a number of other national politicians, media personalities and historians.

Let’s dispense with the “Black Mafia” nonsense also. Forget any dispute over whether Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are genuine leaders of their communities or not. Their presence (or if, pray tell, they were absent) in the hullabaloo doesn’t alter the pertinent truths. Black Christian leaders also publicly call out for the dismissal of Imus. Push aside, too, the canard that this is just overzealous political correctness that threatens free speech — nearly 20 years ago, sportscaster Jimmy the Greek was cast aside by CBS for comments far less offensive.

Now to segue into the discussion on Jesus and insults — I was struck silent when I heard radio host Mr. Tallman speak on how Jesus insulted the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day in his time, in rather biting fashion, and on a frequent basis. It gave me pause, because I’ve made such an effort to “taste my words” and “tame my tongue”, and strive to only emit good words from my mouth. Here, though, the host is on the mark — Jesus did pepper the Pharisees with heaping helpings of mocking and scorn, viciously deriding them, drawing public attention, even while he instructed his followers that they still should do as they say, not as they do. The difference is, dare I draw any comparison to mere mortal beings, the words of Jesus were voiced in a vein of truth and edification. The intent was to enlighten, instruct, and uplift. Not to score cheap laughs at the expense of the innocent.

Enough already on this matter, I must complete an article on another train wreck, one pertaining to the NHL hockey franchise in Phoenix…

27 March 2007

In the reorganization of The Arizona Republic, some jobs got axed, and Plugged In was one of them

The Arizona Republic pulls the plug on it's Plugged In blogger section. I'm a tad bit confused if it's the "Plugged In" blog that's getting axed, or all blogs under the "Plugged In" banner. I assume that it means the whole feature set is getting killed.

Way to go, Gannett Co., by cutting one of the most prominent features that permits readers to connect with you and foster an online community. Especially, in wake of another recent decision to reduce content in the hardcopy newspaper, slimming it down for busy readers.

I have much more to write on newspapers in the 21st century. Stay tuned to this AZplace channel…