Wednesday November 30, 2005
According to various news accounts, yesterday’s Senate séance on media indecency—I assume it was a séance; Jack Valenti was there—went off more or less as expected. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin cited statistics generated by his friends at the Parents Television Council while threatening to bring the content of cable and satellite broadcasts under the FCC’s watchful eye. Martin, PTC chief Brent Bozell, and others also lobbied for an à la carte programming tier for cable and satellite systems so parents can stop MTV from flowing, willy-nilly, into their children’s minds. The FCC previously rejected this idea, on economic grounds, and Bozell & Co.’s natural allies, the televangelists absolutely hate it, since nearly everyone would opt out of their sermons if given a chance. Just another day at the witch trials.
But one of the day’s more bizarre comments came from Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, who also co-chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Apparently desperate to make the proceedings fit into his area of expertise, Rockefeller outlined the worst effect yet of broadcast indecency. It causes terrorism. Oh yeah. Here’s what he said:
It’s really quite amazing the effect that American television has on jihadists, or on young people around the world, and what a violation [it is] of their view of what life is and what a clear vision they seem to get from this of the way American life is. That’s something that should worry us a great deal, because I think the creation of jihadists who eventually want us is a many-layered effort, but I think the television that we make available is certainly one of them, as is the case with some radio.
Well, at least not all radio causes terrorism.
I don’t know what it means either, Fred, but Wal-Mart shoppers can’t get enough of it. … Web 2.0 Bingo. All the kids are playing it. … “Imagine Hegel controlling the McLaughlin Group.” David Rees taunts the shit out of Christopher Hitchens.
As President Bush readies a speech in which he is expected to announce the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (see update below)—a position that the administration tarred as traitorous just weeks ago—it’s worth noting that all of this could have been avoided if only the White House had taken an attitude more like this:
Getting even was much easier said than done. These terrorist incidents were not a case of one nation starting a war against another, where you could retaliate against the country that had attacked us. The terrorists in Lebanon lived in small roving bands among the civilian population. There was no way to punish them without slaughtering innocent bystanders, which would have made us as bad as those who wronged us. Simliarly, although Iran was probably behind the Marine Corps bombing, there was no target in Iran that we could strike and know for sure that we had hit the radicals who directed the terrorists. We could obtain no direct proof linking any person or group within reach to any specific attack.
Jimmy Carter? Ted Kennedy? Nope. Former Reagan press secretary Larry Speakes—from his 1988 memoir Speaking Out—detailing the attitude of the Reagan White House following terrorist attacks on the Achille Lauro, TWA flight 847, and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. Sometimes it seems like even those on the right don’t understand how far out they’ve swung.
[Thanks to Alexandra, who’s been reading Speaking Out for reasons that weren’t at all clear until she read me this quote.]
UPDATE: Read about Bush’s “strategy for victory” here. It emphasizes empowering Iraqi security forces, but does not set a timetable for troop reductions. Slate’s Fred Kaplan, who pegged the speech as an announcement that U.S. troops would begin stepping down—as cited above—explains while this still might be the case, based on today’s NSC report. None of this undermines the point, however, that even a hawk like Reagan wouldn’t have gotten us into this mess in the first place.
Tuesday November 29, 2005
Bill Moyers, the prime target of Ken Tomlinson’s ill-fated ideological crusade at PBS, talks to Broadcasting & Cable about allegations of bias and the pressure Tomlinson applied to turn PBS to the right. “Right-wing partisans like Tomlinson have always attacked aggressive reporting as liberal,” Moyers says. “We were biased, all right—in favor of uncovering the news that powerful people wanted to keep hidden: conflicts of interest at the Department of Interior, secret meetings between Vice President Cheney and the oil industry, backdoor shenanigans by lobbyists at the FCC, corruption in Congress, neglect of wounded veterans returning from Iraq, Pentagon cost overruns, the manipulation of intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq.”
He also tells of the “excruciating pressure” applied to PBS executives based on the alleged slant of Moyers’ reporting. (Pressure that Tomlinson boasted about in a series of e-mails to Paul Gigot.) So why did Moyers leave PBS? “I needed a break, and I also sensed that we were up against serial abusers and that I could fight back more effectively if I weren’t on the air,” he says. I think that’s Bill’s way of saying, “It is on.”
[Via Synaptic Junction Daily.]
“Cyber Monday” is big bag of BS. The Monday after Thanksgiving is only the 12th busiest online shopping day. The use of “cyber” should have tipped us off that flacks were involved. … The Simple Life, with both Paris and Nicole, lives—if you call E! living. … Gap ads are lame and ineffective.
Deputy editor Roger Hodge is to be named editor of Harper’s today, succeeding Lewis Lapham. “It will be the same magazine,” Hodge tells David Carr. “We are not going to tear up a good format that is working. I don’t have so much vanity that I think I have to walk in and put my stamp on it.”
As I said before: Bor-ing!
Monday November 28, 2005
Alexandra spotted this curious—and curiously specific—side effect in a print ad for Requip, a drug from GlaxoSmithKline that combats the dreaded Restless Legs Syndrome:
Looks like GSK is determined to give Stay Free! parody Panexa a run for its money. And speaking of money, aren’t you glad you’ll finally be able to sit still while you lose all of yours?
Wednesday November 23, 2005
Jean Baudrillard has been making the rounds this week, appearing in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. Asked about the influence of French theory in American universities, he says, “That was the gift of the French. They gave Americans a language they did not need. It was like the Statue of Liberty. Nobody needs French theory.” … Esquire makes a mistake. … Crafts can go bad. See What Not to Crochet for evidence. … That’s it for me. Back Monday.
Tuesday November 22, 2005
While Gawker’s mandate would seem to be to offer idle and uninformed speculation about absolutely everything, the team has thus far dropped the ball when it comes to handicapping the contenders for the top job at Harper’s, now that Lewis Lapham is stepping aside. Who knows why the G-Unit has failed to slap a poll up about this—too brainy for the site’s plummeting common denominator, perhaps?—but it’s kind of a big deal.
Lapham has been the editor for over two decades and has as good a claim as anyone—his grouchy, dadaist essays aside—to inventing the “front of the book.” The Harper’s Index and the upfront Readings section of primary sources set the stage for a thousand permutations that have included Spy, Maxim and everything in between. And Harper’s alums run magazines all over town. GQ’s Jim Nelson cut his teeth there, as did the New York Times Magazine’s Gerry Marzorati. So let’s have some irresponsible conjecture, dammit. I’ll start.
The ascension of Roger Hodge to deputy editor last year was interpreted by some as meaning that a line of succession was in place. At the time, Lapham insisted that he wasn’t going anywhere, but now he is, so maybe he’ll just turn the magazine over to Hodge. Bor-ing! That’s no way to get ink, although it seems somewhat plausible since Lapham is keeping his column. What outsider would want to take over if they didn’t get to pen the “Notebook” column as well?
Then there are, as I mentioned, the alums. Marzorati might be a candidate. Paul Tough, also of the Times Magazine, is likewise a contender. Named one of Ten Young Editors to Watch by CJR, Tough left Harper’s in the ’90s and has been a senior editor at This American Life. He’s also in his 30s, which might help rejuvenate the magazine and stem its circulation slide. Contributing writer Jack Hitt is another former staffer who might make a good fit. He also writes frequently for the Times Magazine and contributes to This American Life and his politics are decidedly left. Michael Pollan, meanwhile, is yet another vet who could bring some institutional continuity to the transition. Hired by Lapham in 1983, he led the development of the front of the book, including the introduction of the Index and Readings. He was executive editor when he left in ’90s and has since written several books.
And then there are my favorites: the longshots. How about Tom Frank? A frequent contributor, Frank is as close to a Little Lapham as you’ll find in these United States—both politically and stylistically—and his appointment would make pretty big news. Or how about everyone’s favorite generalist, intellectual magazine legend Kurt Andersen? This is the way publisher Rick MacArthur should go if he wants the magazine to be reinvented and revitalized, the way it was by Lapham 20 years ago. And even Gawker would have to cover that, right?
Am I missing someone? Are you someone I haven’t missed and you’d like to deny, deny, deny that you’d ever edit Harper’s? Know something I don’t know? (I’m sure you do.) Leave all that in comments.
Dearest readers: I’ve been having a terrible brawl with my RSS feed, so I’m sorry if my posts have been turning up in your readers more often than you would like—which I assume would mean more than once. The worst is over, however, and I have won. If you aren’t subscribing to my feed, you can find it here. If what I’m now saying to you sounds mysterious, here’s an RSS primer. … George Parker digs up an old, yet awesome, guest’s eye view of The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. In short, the guy gets mugged. … I hate to say it, but I think potty-mouthed anti-Web 2.0 blog Go Flock Yourself is right about tag clouds, which it says are as “as useful as pissing the raw data into someone’s face.” Well, I might have put it a little bit differently, but yes. That’s how useful they are. … Losing out on a job isn’t the worst thing that might happen if you post your picture to MySpace. People might also make fun of your haircut. [Via]
Monday November 21, 2005
SBC Communications has unveiled its new take on the AT&T logo, which now has a slightly different look and comes with a more “approachable” lower-case font. Confused by the merger madness that landed us here? TechDirt explains all:
A little more than a decade ago, AT&T bought McCaw Cellular, which they renamed AT&T Wireless. In 2000, they reorganized the company, making AT&T Wireless a separate division. In 2001, they spun that company off—so that it was an entirely separate company from AT&T (which resulted in plenty of confusion). There was a licensing deal for the name and, a couple years later, when AT&T freaked out at its own lack of a wireless offering (ooops!) a partnership was built between the two companies to bundle AT&T Wireless plans with AT&T service—even though they were really separate companies. Then, along came Cingular to buy AT&T Wireless in 2004. AT&T gets back the AT&T name (earlier this year), and all the old AT&T Wireless customers are now Cingular customers. AT&T again freaks out at its lack of a wireless offering, and signs a deal with Sprint to offer AT&T Wireless branded service on Sprint in an MVNO format that will have absolutely nothing to do with the old AT&T Wireless (in fact, it will use a totally different network technology). Of course, before this has a chance to go anywhere, along comes Cingular’s 60% owner, SBC, to buy AT&T and (of course) take on the AT&T name—which, as of April of this year, includes the right to use that name for a wireless offering. So, now, it’s not at all surprising to hear that the new AT&T (which just last week was known as SBC) would like for Cingular to start offering service under the AT&T brand name again, thereby bringing back AT&T Wireless service to folks who have just gotten over the fact that they’re no longer AT&T Wireless customers.
Which obviously means that they simply had to go with Avenir. Got it?
AdPulp draws some unexpected business lessons from the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. Of a scene where Cash is pushed to be more true to himself by Sun Studios founder Sam Phillips, AP writes: “Cash came in to his audition with a sound he thought would sell. That’s what ad people do everyday. We’re conditioned to bring to the table what we think the client (not the customer) will buy. Over and over and over again, we willingly dumb ourselves down. In order to sell. Unless there’s a Sam Phillips in the room, these half-hearted efforts go forward and weak communications result.”
Finally, we have a way to understand Phillips’ cultural contribution. He was like Bill Bernbach, but with prison ballads. Um. Yeah.
Saturday November 19, 2005
Know what I love about living in New York? The choices. I mean, where else can you play Post Poker and Scratch ‘n Match Power Jackpot?
Friday November 18, 2005
Predictably, the Wall Street Journal has issued an exceptionally weaselly editorial, explaining (or, rather, attempting to explain away) a recent report detailing how former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson advised WSJ editorial page editor Paul Gigot on how to get The Journal Editorial Report on the air. The paper even produces e-mails exchanged by Tomlinson and Gigot and challenges readers, rather sarcastically, to “judge for themselves if this amounted to a nefarious cabal at work.” Surprisingly, seeing that the WSJ released them, that is pretty much what the e-mails amount to. We see Tomlinson—who is not supposed to be involved in programming or the distribution of programming—coaching Gigot on how to game PBS every step of the way. You can read the full emails here (pdf), but here are some choice quotes from Tomlinson’s end:
“I’m trying to pressure [PBS president] Pat Mitchell to produce a real conservative counterpart to Moyers.”
“I understand PBS is going to be talking to you about assuming a role that serves as a political balance to Moyers. I do not trust Pat Mitchell but I have a deal with others stipulating that you will have access to the same deal Moyers has. So do not accept if they try to toss you onto Moyers’ show as an after thought commentator.”
“The more I think about (sic) the more excited I am about a 30-minute Wall Street Journal equivalent to Moyers now airing this fall. Feel free to press Mitchell hard, and I will do everything I can from my end to make it happen.”
“… I do not turn loose of CPB’s money or let authorization go forward until you have a show that gets everything Moyers gets except for time.”
Sort of makes you wonder what the Journal’s idea of getting involved in programming would look like. The editorial even has the gall to forgive Tomlinson’s promise to put fiscal pressure on PBS by pointing out that he didn’t have the power to do so, which is kind of the point of the whole investigation, now isn’t it?
In the end, however, there is good news. The Journal isn’t renewing The Journal Editorial Report for a third season, which is apt since—as their editorial points out—the paper opposes the very concept of public broadcasting. No wonder they aren’t particularly concerned about its mismanagement. As for the piece’s parting shot, which claims Tomlinson’s only mistake was “believing that ‘public broadcasting’ is supposed to represent all of the public,” I guess we’ll never know if it does. Tomlinson ended his tally of pro-Bush and anti-Bush guests once The Journal Editorial Report became a reality. (Further evidence that Tomlinson’s interest was in leverage rather than balance.) Perhaps Moyers’ guests did represent “all of the public” by running two to one against the administration, just like the President’s approval ratings.
With yesterday’s news that commissioner Kathleen Abernathy will be leaving the FCC next month—her term was already set to expire when Congress adjourns for the year—the new composition of the FCC is starting to take shape. Although Abernathy is a Republican, critics of the commission’s crackdown on indecency will lose an ally with her departure. As I’ve mentioned before, Republican-led commissions are charged with the tricky political task of deregulating business and technology while regulating content to appease the likes of the Parents Television Council. Abernathy was on the commission to do the former.
In fact, while TV Week—which I’ve cited before—emphasizes that Abernathy’s departure leaves Chairman Kevin Martin in the minority, at least temporarily, a closer look reveals that Abernathy’s departure actually creates an anti-indecency majority on the commission, which will no doubt please Brent Bozell. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Martin’s indecency agenda hasn’t been stonewalled for the last ten months because he doesn’t have a GOP majority. Rather, the split has been between the anti-indecency crusaders, Martin and Democratic commissioner Michael Copps, on the one hand, and Abernathy and Democratic commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, on the other. In two cases last year where the commission denied indecency complaints against episodes of Keen Eddie (pdf) and Off Centre (pdf), Adelstein and Abernathy joined in statements affirming the decision while Martin and Copps both issued dissents. For now, at least, Adelstein will find himself alone.
Two new Republican commissioners are on the way, however. Deborah Taylor Tate, who was nominated by the White House last week, seems to be cut from the Abernathy mold—at least judging from her resume as a regulator and from the fact that the PTC did not throw a party (as it sometimes does) when she was nominated. It remains to be seen how she will come down on questions of indecency. Who the White House appoints to the fifth seat, then, will be crucial, and it’s a safe bet that it will be someone who will reliably vote with Martin and Copps. Then Brent Bozell will have his wish. Last year, the commission issued $7.9 million in indecency fines. This year, it hasn’t issued any at all. 2006 will be the year it catches up.
Thursday November 17, 2005
I love this story. It seems B2Day, Business 2.0’s blog, decided to use a picture from FTrain—the website of Gary Benchley, Rock Star author Paul Ford—without moving it to their own damned server. So, since yesterday, Ford has been putting a lot of fun images in its place, including a big ad for his book. 24 hours later, the Business2Bloggers don’t seem to have noticed, even though their own comments thread is filling up with talk about it. That’s so amazing, it almost seems like a setup—or maybe the house blogger called in sick today. Hope Ford gets some book sales out of it, in any case.
And to the folks at Business 2.0: Do me. Do me next!
UPDATE: They just figured it out (11:11 p.m. EST). The comments are gone, an apology has appeared, but Ford’s ad remains (for now).
UPDATE: All gone. (3:51 a.m. EST). Like it never happened.
Lost Remote thinks AD should seek new life online. I would also like request that this involve some sort of Ajax thingy—a Photoshop-style slider perhaps—that allows me to turn occurences of Buster way up and appearances by Charlize Theron way down. In related news, Tony Hale, who plays Buster, can’t get arrested—figuratively, of course—at the Fox Studio Store. PLUS: David Cross blames marketing.
Tuesday November 15, 2005
Here’s a follow-up to the Ken Tomlinson news, now that I’ve digested the whole report. Tomlinson, as you would expect, is following the GOP script and accusing the CPB Inspector General of opting for “politics over good judgment” and insisting on his own “lawful and sincere” objective of bringing “balance and objectivity to public broadcasting.” He also bashes the IG for employing “New Age rhetoric and 1960’s-era encounter group idealogy,” which certainly sounds like a euphemism for something.
Mostly, the report is a big bore, detailing how Tomlinson engineered the launch of The Journal Editorial Report with Paul Gigot (CPB isn’t supposed to be involved in programming decisions) and packed the corporation with cronies while sidestepping HR protocol. But here is the smoking gun that gives the lie to Tomlinson’s “sincere” quest for balance and objectivity. In evaluating NOW with Bill Moyers:
The former Chairman [Tomlinson] asked the consultant to record the topics covered and characterize the guests’ points of view. The consultant confirmed this and explained that he was also asked to see whether the guest’s comments supported the host’s views or presented contrary views. He was also asked to characterize the views as either conservative or liberal. Depending upon a show’s topic, the consultant also characterized the guest’s views as pro-administration versus anti-administration, pro-Bush versus anti-Bush, or pro-DeLay versus anti-DeLay.
Now, why would someone seeking balance writ large evaluate guests in this manner? Why not pro-Democrat, anti-Democrat? Pro-Hillary or anti-Hillary? Because in the world Tomlinson inhabits—along with the White House and Fox News—it’s us against them, and balance just means balance for the home team. Let the other guys get balanced treatment on their own watch.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has released the results of its internal investigation into the meddling of former chairman Ken Tomlinson. The verdict? Conservative hack. The L.A. Times has the story. CPB has the full text of the report (pdf). From the executive summary:
We found evidence that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) former Chairman violated statutory provisions and the Director’s Code of Ethics by dealing directly with one of the creators of a new public affairs program during negotiations with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the CPB over creating the show. Our review also found evidence that suggests “political tests” were a major criteria used by the former Chairman in recruiting a President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CPB, which violated statutory prohibitions against such practices.
I’ve been obsessed with numbers lately, so I was curious to figure out what it means to say, as this study does, that 4.8 million people downloaded at least one podcast in 2005. I’m a geek and I don’t think I know anyone who has ever listened to more than one podcast, so I’ve been skeptical.
On its face, the 4.8 million number doesn’t sound so great. That’s about 480 users per podcast, judging from the number of selections available at PodcastAlley, and remember, the 4.8M number represents the number of people who have ever downloaded a single podcast. Only 20 percent of the sample regularly listened to podcasts, and they only reported listening to them for four hours per month. So this means that the most dedicated users spent just 58 million hours listening to podcasts this year, which works out to about 1 percent of the time people spent reading blogs, which are themselves only a nascent ad medium.
So how many is 4.8 million? Well, it’s fewer than the number of visitors Gawker had last month and fewer than the number of people who watched the season premiere of Stacked last week. It’s also fewer than the number of riders who rode Cleveland’s light rail system in 2004 (Cleveland has a light rail system?) and fewer than the number of people who bought plasma TVs this year. And plasma TVs—unlike podcasts—aren’t free. Podcast advertising hype is so ahead of the numbers—we’ve already got ad networks?!?—it’s hard to imagine how this can end well.
Monday November 14, 2005
Arrested Development is on the rocks again, probably for good. After drawing just 4 million viewers last week, Fox has pulled it from the rest of November sweeps—starting tonight, when the network will air a double shot of Prison Break. Fox has also cut its order to 13 episodes, which means there are 10 left.
But to give you an idea of just how profoundly unsuccessful AD has been, here are five stink bombs that drew more viewers last week. As you can see, the list—compiled from data reported by The Programming Insider—includes Pam Anderson/bookstore mashup Stacked, Martha Stewart’s rendition of The Apprentice, and Rodney. I don’t even know what Rodney is.
|According to Jim||7.80M|
|The Apprentice: Martha Stewart||6.51M|
Saturday November 12, 2005
I contributed a few items to Creativity’s “New Directors” issue, which is out now. (It’s also online, but only available to subscribers.) In particular, I spoke with Danish director Joachim Back—who directed some Canadian Viagra spots that could never be aired south of the border (click around here to find them)—and Czech director Jakub Kohák, who has directed some beautiful, cinematic stuff in Europe. The best quote comes from Kohák, however, who had the advantage of email. “A commercial should get your attention and wrap around you like the cigarette smoke does after you walk in a smoky bar,” he says. Better not use that in the States, Jakub. Pretty soon, young creatives won’t remember what you’re talking about.
Confirming my decision to abandon my graduate studies in philosophy (lo, those many years ago), M. Garrett Bauman, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, describes some of the uncomfortable on-campus interviews he has witnessed. His favorite, and mine:
My favorite self-destructive candidate was a young philosophy graduate who delivered his opening-day introduction to the course. Several rivals had handed out syllabi and lectured on course rules. Yawn. But he began, “I am … ” — then clenched his face and grimaced while uttering his name. “And this is … ” —he sighed as if about to reveal the Ark of the Covenant— “Philosophy 101.”
But for the grace of god.
Friday November 11, 2005
A new study finds that the amount of sex on television has soared since 1998. (Which is, of course, why people are watching it again.) Meanwhile, the Senate is planning a public forum on indecency. I’d santize my hard drive—and my mid-season replacements—if I were you. … Hey ladies. Don’t miss the Advertising Club’s first annual holiday party, where you can bid on a chance to have Donny Deutsch hit on you. On a TV set, no less. … Ex-Lowe CD Gary Goldsmith enters the bowels of Y&R in search of ex-BBDO CD Michael Patti. Neither man is likely to be heard from again. The horror!
Thursday November 10, 2005
The Bush administration finally got around to nominating some FCC commissioners yesterday. The White House proposed extending the tenure of Democrat Michael Copps and appointing Deborah Taylor Tate to the vacant Republican seat. Tate, from the looks of it, is a regulatory wonk whose major statements about communications policy have been about VoIP. But even if she were confirmed today, the commission would still be deadlocked, 2 to 2, since Republican Kathleen Abernathy’s tenure has expired and she will leave the agency when Congress adjourns. And if Tate is not confirmed during this session, chairman Kevin Martin—who has been outspoken about his anti-indecency agenda—may find himself in an unusual situation. As TV Week (reg. required) reports:
That could leave Mr. Martin with a 1-2 agency—one Republican against two Democrats—giving the Democrats effective control. Without any vote to count on but his own, Mr. Martin won’t be able to move significant FCC initiatives that the agency’s two Democrats—FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein—don’t support.
Whoops. And that means Martin, who hasn’t levied a single fine since becoming chairman, won’t be able to start anytime soon. One other note: Observers had expected yesterday’s announcement to include a nomination for Richard Russell, associate director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since that didn’t come through, we’ll have to see what the White House has in mind. While chatter suggests the nomination might go to an aide for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Lisa Sutherland, perhaps Bush has a surprise appointment in mind. Harriet Miers maybe?
Wednesday November 09, 2005
Last night, as I was stumbling from Micro Persuasion to the Church of the Customer, I was reminded of this classic, advertiser-driven call to consumer empowerment from the Brand Names Foundation. The ad instructs the lady of the house on “How to get rid of an inferiority complex in a single day!” In part, the copy reads:
Then say out loud: “I’m the boss! If a brand becomes famous, it’s because of me! If I and people like me stop buying a particular brand, that company goes out of business! I make the wheels go ‘round in America. I am the American consumer!”
Right. And the only people exploited at topless clubs are the patrons. Between consumer empowerment and product placement, we really are returning to the ’50s.
[Thanks, Pat, for clipping this years ago.]
Tuesday November 08, 2005
This blog tracks the use and abuse of the word “literally.” It, um, actually does. … Coke to become cooler. Jack White to become less so. … Things get even worse for smokers as smoking bans take it outside. … Is Charlize Theron just about done ruining Arrested Development? Everything hokey about this season leads to her character. This week? 4 million viewers.
Monday November 07, 2005
Lots of people have been picking up on this study, which supposedly demonstrates that there is a link between viewing images of alcohol and aggression. But does the study support the headlines? Of course not.
In one part of the study, respondents judged other people to be more aggressive after viewing booze ads. And in another test:
121 people were briefly shown alcohol-related images, such as a beer bottle, as well as images of weapons and “neutral” images such as a plant. They were then shown words that were either aggression related or neutral or a meaningless string of letters. People were quicker to identify the aggression-related words after being shown alcohol or images of weapons than after neutral images.
Ah yes. Who among us is unfamiliar with the exhilirating rise in reading comprehension that precedes the administration of a gin-fueled beat down?
Friday November 04, 2005
It appears Kenneth Tomlinson, the controversial former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, doesn’t like the looks of a soon-to-be-released report on his crusade to root out alleged liberal bias at CPB. He resigned from the corporation’s board yesterday.
While fans of the administration are quick to point out that Tomlinson was, in fact, a Clinton appointee, that’s beside the point. As with the FCC, the party composition of the CPB board is constrained by statute (Michael Powell was a Clinton appointee, too), and Tomlinson has done nothing but carry water for the Bush White House. He helped install former RNC co-chair Patricia Harrison as CPB’s president; he let an administration staffer draft guidelines for the corporation’s ombudsmen; and he hired a conservative consultant to monitor the content of NOW with Bill Moyers. Unfortunately, his departure may do little stop the rightward tide. GOP fundraisers Cheryl Halpern and Gay Hart Gaines were elected as the CPB’s chair and vice chair, respectively, in September.
CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz began investigating Tomlinson’s policies in May at the request of Hill Democrats. The report, which is sure to make good reading, has not yet been made public. For now, Tomlinson remains chairman of of the Broadcasting Board of Governors—a post to which he was appointed by Bush—the body that oversees Voice of America and other international broadcasts.
Thursday November 03, 2005
♦ SBC has said it will keep the AT&T name after it acquires the latter company later this year, but it plans to retire the company’s famous “Death Star” logo. Apparently kids just don’t flock to “death” and “stars” the way they used to. [Via AdFreak.]
♦ Silicon Graphics Inc., the company that pioneered UNIX-based motion graphics—and counted George Lucas’ ILM among its early, and most ardent, adopters—is about to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. After trading at $50/share in 1995, SGI’s shares have been trading for less than $1 for six months. Somewhat poetically, SGI’s former headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., have been occupied since 2003 by—you guessed it—Google. [Via Techdirt.]
Wednesday November 02, 2005
Anyway, it’s been almost three months since our shared 36th birthday, so who’s having the better year so far? Well, true, I did not have my groping charge dropped, but I also have not fallen off of Paris Hilton’s roof—or anybody’s roof for that matter. Call it a draw. Meanwhile, fellow 8/18/69er Edward Norton seems to have disappeared from the planet.
Good for him.
(Calm down, Sean, I know Norton’s probably just making a brilliant movie somewhere. Sheesh.)
Tuesday November 01, 2005
Judy Miller turns to The Ethicist for help. … Receiving e-mail is more distracting than being stoned, and it doesn’t make you hungry. (It’s also still legal—for now.) … Q: Who’s watching video on their mobile phones like you see in all those commercials? A: Nobody. … I’m going to see Gwen Stefani tonight at the Garden. Don’t hate.