Friday, June 26, 2009

Twitter Tracker

This is my third consecutive post about Twitter. And I say I don't like Twitter. Am I protesting too much? Eh, not really protesting at all.

But guess who's on top now? Iran still? No! Michael Jackson! Ha, Iranians, nice try, but we were always in love with the process story and not your substance. Good luck with your quest for democracy and legitimate elections. We wish you the best, really. But we need to grieve for a talented yet kind of distasteful performer we haven't heard on the radio in years (but haven't heard anything-but in the last 24 hours). No, no, you don't understand, I really, really grew up with him. So many memories.

(I've just offended people deeply, I'm sure. I'm sorry. I don't want to. But I don't want to keep seeing people weeping and lighting candles for Michael Jackson when I started the week by watching a video of a woman bleed to death out of her nose and mouth because she got out of her car in the wrong country at the wrong time. At least if we borrow her pain, it's for a more noble cause. Sometimes.)

Anyway - we'll discuss this article tomorrow. Or sometime soon anyway.

Bet you didn't wish to hear "the revolution will be blogged" again, did you? But now you should because apparently the alternative gives you just 140 characters of information. Not enough, y'all. Not enough.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More On The Actual Twitter-Power

As I was thinking - though we may never see it reported as such here, it's most likely that Twitter isn't the agent of change but the broadcaster of wishes for change to the West.

And I still think it would behoove us, as a country, to pay more attention to the message than the medium and the people rather than the process.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tweeting Revolutionaries

It's probably fair to say that, as of now, more Americans are aware of Twitter's role in recent Iranian election protests than they are the underlying complaint of many Iranians (btw: that's distrust in the results of their recent election that confirmed the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when many believed his opponent Mousavi would win).

Surfing between radio stations on my ride home, I counted no fewer than five stories about Twitter and other social networking sites and their role in the protests a half a world away.

But what does it all mean? And - can Twitter possibly mean the same thing to and for Americans that we claim it means to and for the Iranians?

What seems to get lost in this story is the story itself. The meta-story - the story of how we get the story is all over the place. Twitter allows Iranians to circumvent government blocked media, getting information out to the world's mainstream media. Mainstream media, left without any other channels, embraces tweets and the like - taking advantage of millions of modern day stringers, all of them freelance and few of them verified.

That's not to say the Iranian tweets are incredible - taken together, they likely paint a mostly accurate picture of the tumult facing the people. But recall for a moment that a few weeks ago, tweets help spread swine flu panic like, well, the flu.

Is it a question of context? Do Iranian tweets mean more because the situation is more important? Do we judge television's potential and power based on its first broadcasts or its best? Or maybe just its current content? I've long said that when discussion the power of blogs, one should simply replace the world blog with the word pencil because a blog is just another writing instrument: the power isn't in the medium, it's in the message conveyed.

Again, however, to compare blogs and tweets: blogs rise to prominence via the mainstream media. More people are drawn to them because of mainstream media, not in spite of it. There's a high percentage of the country that - despite watching the 24-hour cable networks, don't understand Twitter, won't log on to find out what it is, and probably lack internet access anyway. That population will continue to rely on the mainstream media to provide it with information on what is going in Iran (or with swine flu or Ashton Kucher's marital status or how far along in line Miley Cyrus is at Starbucks).

Blog is to pencil as Twitter is to . . . telephone? Maybe that is the best comparison. We're back to party lines and everything old is new again. The largest, operator-free phone line is at the disposal of any movement with the presence of mind to access it. Yesterday, Kucher, today, Iranian's hungry for electoral integrity. I'd give Twitter less credit and Iranian's more. Information wants to be free and will find a way out (uh, except in the DPRK, but there's always an exception).

Had Iran held this election a year ago, it would've been Facebooked; two years, MySpaced; six months from now, it will be broadcast via something only your still-inventing it former roommate and beta-testing-it neighborgeeky teen know about. The revolution will be something-ed from now on, that much is guaranteed.

In the meantime, however, I'd like to know more about what is going on in Iran than how we're coming to know about it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Amusing Content, Amusing Presentation

I've always loved Joel Stein, even as the poor guy gets booted from one major publication to another. In fact, I once actually exchanged emails with him, and considered it a highlight of my technological life.

I like his take here on Cali's stupid love affair with voting. We do it all the time. We vote to screw things up. Or we vote and screw things up - your call.

The amusing presentation comes when you note the idiotic extra links Time Magazine throws in after random paragraphs proving that computer generated linkage yields uniformly funny results.

I take exception to giving some dude in LA credit for establishing a "Vote No on Everything" campaign. I've been doing that - and saying that - for years. LA Doctor: you don't have the corner on reasonable government views!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Was That Really Necessary?

So, what's worse? The thing in the box that plays on the commonly misunderstood technical meaning of "pandemic" or THE THING IN THE BOX THAT SAYS WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

I would say neither story is cause for concern at this point. It may be cause to appropriate more money to NASA, however. (btw: I thought 5 billion years was about the point the sun was supposed to supernova and swallow us before shrinking to a cold white dwarf anyway. So, shrug.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

OMG I Want To See This Show

I love theater, I do theater (kinda), but I don't know that much about theater - especially when it comes to plays. Watching the Tony Awards last night, however, I found out that I need to see this play immediately while the Brits I love are still in it (Jessica Hynes! Swoon!)

A day spent watching all three related plays will set me back $255. (Swoon! In a bad way). Oh, not including air fare. Grrr.

'Why Health Advice on 'Oprah' Could Make You Sick'

Oh Oprah, why do you hate the science and why do you give Jenny McCarthy a platform?

Think of the good - the sweeping, sea-change good - you could do if your championed increased girl-interest in the hard sciences? By hard sciences I mean: more Chem, Phys, and Bio majors at college - and not ones that add to it a side of Tarot card reading or Feng Shui for the Soul, etc etc. What if you told girls to major in math? What if you told them to aim for first place in the science fair? What if you urged them to follow the scientific method and not just the call of their hearts?

Think of what we could do . . . . Then there might be real attention paid to women's health. And not just the kind of attention you emphasize: the kind that stregnthens the stereotypes that girls want cutesy and touchy feely and have to get all mystical on a problem.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Journalists Sentenced To 12 Years Of 'Reform Through Labor'

I hope one expert is right when he says:
By sentencing them to prison, North Korea has "paved the way for a political pardon and a diplomatic solution," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

He noted that a pardon can only be issued after a conviction and that the regime's courts were not about to find the reporters innocent, which would imply they were wrongly arrested.
Thoughts and prayers with their families . . . .

Friday, June 05, 2009

This Is Going To Seriously Mess With Some Mantras

Namely: turbulence has never brought down a plane. Nor lightening. That is all. Moving on . . . .

This Week On Real Housewives Of The Chicanes

You don't get much Formula One news over here. There's this brief note today about possible breakaway series for next year. And a somewhat amusing threat to suspend Force India for already lodging it's 2010 entry. Because things could get worse for that team? Poor Force India. (Note: the bitchy teams seem to be the ones that should be good because of their engines and sponsors but seem to have been sucking wind for most of the season. I suppose if I were Ferrari I wouldn't be taking the season gracefully either. I imagine I'd say something like, "I'm flippin' Ferrari, don't you see my red car? Get the hell out of my way," except in Italian, delivered with a smoldering look and immediately followed with the emotive swigging of a fine lambrusco and the smashing of glasses.)

p.s. If you look, there's more. In the NYT of course. Because NYT readers are rich elitists who prefer schmancy euro racing to vulgar American Nascar crap. (j/k) And there's a more in-depth analysis of the current poo-storm here. Also, is paracarro an insult? I shouldn't have quit taking Italian class. Renault is kinda coming off like an a-hole here:
“Our drivers are, or have been, world champions, and then you have a driver who was almost retired, and another who is a ‘paracarro,’ fighting for the championship,” Flavio Briatore told the Gazzetta dello Sport, referring to one of the winning team’s drivers, the veteran Rubens Barrichello, as “almost retired” and using the Italian word for curbstone to describe the other, the championship leader, Jenson Button. “I don’t know how we can say we have credibility.”
I suppose if I didn't have a diffuser and all the teams with diffusers were winning . . . . Also, some argue that F1's squabbles are great for the sport:
Jane Nottage, editor of Paddock, a motor-sport business and lifestyle magazine, said the scandals induced fans to follow the sport between races:
“The intrigue and the fights and the battles on and off the track is something that people like,” she said. “Whereas with Nascar they’ve only created race-by-race interest — the race finishes and there’s no real incentive to follow it. You want to know who’s going to win, but here there’s more bite and intrigue and gossip to it.”
So F1 is . . . going all The Hills on us?

And also, F1 thinks your Nascar is lame:
“There are more scandals in Formula One because the media makes more scandals,” Bourdais said, noting that no other racing series is covered as intensively by the media. “But if you look at what happens in the United States, for example, with Nascar or other series, with yellow caution flags that come out when a guy has more than five seconds lead or is about to lap everyone, no, I don’t think there is more injustice here.”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reasons To Feel Old This Week: The DVR Recap

1.) A week or so old episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

- Brian Williams: is a freakin' brilliant man. He is funny as hell. He and Jon Stewart are two sides of the same coin. Williams is serious at work, but buoyed by humor in life. Stewart is humorous at work but driven by the seriousness of the times. I adore them both.

- Tori Amos: Appears to have botoxed her face. My youth has official died. Of botulism.

2.) So You Think You Can Dance: I still love you, yet you are kind of being a bitch. Cut it out.

3.) The NBC News Special: More Brian Williams with the Obamas and even the dog. Stewart has a good take on this. I'm only 30 minutes into the program. But 30 minutes in the White House complete with a quick reference to The West Wing was pretty much all it took to make me feel . . . so . . . no longer an intern walking through the halls of the Cannon HOB thinking, holy shit, I'm walking through the halls of the Cannon HOB and meeting Rich for lunch (turkey pastrami) and cooing over our ID badges and saying "holy shit we're having lunch and we have ID badges" and my god where have the past ten years gone and have I lived up to my potential or am I already a retired greyhound on the couch - go with it - and f*ck why are we navel-gazing we really need to stop saying we and stay off Facebook and can I be an intern again I want a do-ver.

4.) Did I mention that Tori Amos is 45 years old and her forehead no longer moves? Oh, these little earthquakes.

5.) The commercial for Away We Go: Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, re: a stroller, says, "I love my babies, why would I want to push them away from me?" Jacqui: this is you.

6.) We couldn't have Evan and Ryan? I bet we could have. Or how about Natalie, Nigel (you arse).

7.) You emo kids who are becoming something else, you twee kids, you kids wanting flannel after seeing Miss Deeley rock some retrogrunge this evening - you don't know boo about emo. 90s kids? Realtime Kurt Cobain? Tori Amos. We know from moody introspective alt.folk piano rock. You know nothing. But now we're botoxed. Someday, you'll be too.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

No comment

I won't comment substantively. Not really google search-able if I don't comment on this article. Which I won't. So, no comments. But it's a weird expression of faith in the ability of another country when it comes to this particular issue, right? Or even just generally? No presidential aspirations make this sort of statement kosher?

Immi Law And Equal Marriage: Family Based Processes Suck For All!

Same-sex couples fight for immigration rights, notes a profile at

The article is both accurate and inaccurate. It also fills me with a sense of hopelessness on behalf of same-sex couples separated by citizenship. I don't see that changing anytime soon at all. Talk about a giant Federalism cluster. Even if the feds allowed some sort of modified K1 for same-sex couples, well, to which states? Those with full marriage rights? Those with domestic partnership statutes? But stuff doesn't necessarily cross state lines anyway? And all this works now because? Right, it doesn't. Anyway.

(I'm sure a certain percentage of my support for full marriage rights stems from my husband's and my brief and thankfully fixable struggles to be together. It wasn't brief at the time, but whatever. Our culture celebrates the hell out of the "love conquers all" notion, but public policy doesn't always back that up. It's a heartbreaking inequity. Anyway . . . .)

The one bit I'll take exception to, however, is the UCSF employee whose employer sponsored him for a green card. Dude says he sees inequality when a female coworker can marry a foreign man and sponsor him and that they represent "one more person who has jumped ahead of me in a line I should be in."

Uh, no no no no no, deary. The EMPLOYMENT series of visas can pay their way to better priority in line. You can fast track that shit. Family based visas - like the K series? You wait your turn. Not as long as less-related sibling, parent, etc, series either. Someone who has sponsorship and is legally present with their loved one? You don't get too much empathy from me. I know how it is for the K couples and the wait can be horrendous and of unknown length.

So, total empathy for couples with no legal relief in sight. Not so much empathy if you have your green card and you're still hating on the K-sters.

This Guy Is Twee-ing His Definition Of Twee

Which I don't even think is historically accurate, is it? He's adopting the urban dictionary, alt.definition of twee, compared to what I'd always understood it to be. Twee is lots of flowers and lace and precious things and cutesy and busy and, again, floral. I've not heard twee used on the kind of thing described here: the calculated indie cues that say "this movie is DEEP, so get ready." For a time, the mere presence of Zach Braff could indicate such, bless him. But lord knows I hate the hipper-than-thou image that so many people spend hours of their day to create. American Apparel shoppers, I'm lookin' at you.

My mom's used the term twee - so that kills the usage here. Only other person I've heard use it lately - a Brit friend. Because they are just better with language. Precise. Nearly German, but using a typically-English restrained and minimal vocabulary.

If this new notion of twee takes over, it will itself be the twee-ing of twee and therefore something I'll have to hate.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's Not Always About You, America(n)

So Michael Savage thinks HE'S responsible for the resignation of British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith? I'll check with my hubby abroad to see if that's how the headlines over there read, but my guess (fervent hope?) is hell-to-the-no. It was more likely that taxpayer funded porn rental thing (still stupid, but whatever).

A related aside: a hold-over from the Bush years is the notion that "everyone else hates us!" because we're bad Americans who invade other countries and twice elected (or once) an idiot. Even during Bush's presidency, however, I was never taken to task for my country of origin by Europeans. Initial questions to my husband, however, were frequently along the lines of "so, do you guys, like, totally hate Americans?" The rest of the world doesn't sit around thinking about YOU all the time, America. Sure, in a certain context or conversation, a non-American may express frustration or disagreement with, or even dislike of America. But mostly, what they notice is our undying need to make everything about us. How much do you hate us? No really, c'mon, you do, right? No, they don't. They just don't concern themselves over us. And really, why should they? They've got their own government and culture to worry about . . . .

Is It Because When You're Rich Enough, Government Doesn't Really Matter?

I know, I know: I usually rail against people who are anti-rich for the sake of being anti-rich. But this Chron piece highlights the failure of many high-profile, big money types to engage fully in basic democratic processes, uh, like voting:

But a Business Week investigation of 100 top executives in 2000 found that "precious few" of the business elite cast ballots in often-critical state and local elections dating back as far as the 1980s. As CEO of Halliburton Co. in the late 1990s, Dick Cheney - who was elected vice president in 2000 - skipped 14 of 16 state and local elections. Oracle's Larry Ellison was registered but didn't vote during the period reviewed, the magazine said.

Meg Whitman, the 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate who was CEO of eBay at the time of the magazine's study, was cited in the report as representative of an exclusive executive group with "worse than spotty" voting records. The magazine could not find a voter registration for Whitman, who didn't register even after being notified by the magazine, the report said.

The Chronicle reported last year that Whitman, an Atherton resident, registered in San Mateo County in 2002 as a decline-to-state voter and registered as a Republican in 2007. The billionaire businesswoman did not vote in more than half the federal, state and local elections after she registered to vote in the county, records show.

Al Checchi, the unsuccessful California Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1998 and former Northwest Airlines executive, was also hurt by admitting to failing to cast ballots in four of the six California elections before his run, missing critical primary and general election ballots.

Whitman and Checchi said they regretted not voting, adding that they were busy or traveling on business. Such excuses don't play well with voters, O'Connor said.
The article is primarily about Carly Fiorina, which is odd because Whitman has set her sights on higher office, but whatever.

I've missed at most two elections since I turned 18 - I recall one municipal election for sure and I think there may be another in there. I am ashamed at both lapses. And for many years while I was in college or law school, I was voting absentee. I managed to find the time and I don't have a flock of staff around to keep me informed of deadlines, etc.

So the question is this: should we penalize those who many have come to be engaged in democracy and our state/country later in life or their careers, or welcome anyone with an interest? And does the answer to that question depend on the person? I know I opened this post with a cheeky anti-rich slam (and in many ways, I do believe that if you can amass the right level of wealth, you can live fairly insulated from public policy), but if you run a large corporation, you're going to interact frequently with all levels of government - so you should know you have an interest in the goings on. And your company is going to make contributions.

Like I say in my Prop 8 related posts: all the money or persuasion in the world only counts if people turn up to vote. So shouldn't you follow up on your donations by casting your ballot?