12.31.2006

A Toast to the End of 2006


Here's to the end of 2006. No cliché year end assembly here though. No. No resolutions. No best/worst lists. No top stories recap. Just this important excerpt that contains our final message of the year:

"IMAGINE"

Imagine there's no countries.
It isn't hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for/
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people/
Living life in peace.

You may say that I'm a dreamer/
But I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us/
And the world will be as one.

-- John Lennon

(Another photo masterpiece courtesy of Clara Natoli of Rome via morgueFile. For the video from John Lennon, please see below.)



(This blog will be temporarily closed for a few days as the holidays conclude. To tide you over, check out podcast #1 and podcast #2. We send a celebratory toast to all of our readers!)






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12.30.2006

iVoryTowerz Radio: Goodbye 2006

The year-ending podcast is now available, with improved Mp3 format and streaming (for both of the programs posted in 2006). Also, included is our memorial to the late great James Brown.

(This podcast is no longer available for download.)

Playlist

"Lithium" by Nirvana
"Super Bad (parts 1 & 2)" by James Brown
"Keep Your Mouth Shut & Your Eyes Open" by Koko Taylor
"Jealous Hearted Man" by Muddy Waters
Cover This: "Get Rhythm" by Little Richard
"Fire and Rain" by James Taylor
"Garden Party" by Rick Nelson
"American Pie" by Don McLean

Jeff's New Wave: "I Know What Boys Like" by The Waitresses
"I Wanna Be Sedated (live)" by The Ramones
"Don't Think You Wanna" by Sleater-Kinney
"American Idiot" by Green Day
Rick's Metal Shoppe: "Enter Sandman" (altered) by Metallica
"I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
"Crazy Bitch" by Buckcherry
"Hump de Bump" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Imagine" by John Lennon

(Mp3 Runs - 1:24:00; 77MB; program contains explicit lyrics.)

(Photo from the Seattle area's Stuart Whitmore via morgueFile.)



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12.29.2006

Newt's Wish: Reinvent America

by Jeff Siegel

Newt Gingrich, who has thankfully been absent from the public stage for most of the last decade, has returned. The New York Times reports that he has found a higher calling than running for president – he is going to save us from ourselves.

One of the first rules of political analysis is to ask why. Why is someone doing something? What’s in it for them? In Gingrich’s case, he says it’s to solve the gravest political crisis facing the U.S. since the Civil War. To do this, he says, we must enact a program that includes appointing judges who understand “the centrality of God in American history,” Social Security privatization, electoral reform, radical streamlining of government, and something he calls “patriotic education” for school children and immigrants.

In short, Gingrich wants to remake the United States into something that it never was, save for a very brief period between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Vietnam War – when, coincidentally, he grew up in rural Georgia. Why so many conservatives and members of the religious Right figure that the 230-year history of this country mirrors their childhood is one of the great mysteries of post-modern American politics.

To be fair, Gingrich probably believes all of this stuff. Otherwise, the irony would be overwhelming. This is, after all, a man who has been married three times lecturing the rest of us about the role of God in our lives, a man who grew up in the South under Jim Crow comparing what’s facing us now to the Civil War. But he is entitled to his opinions, no matter what those of us whom he blames for the country’s ills think of them. Which is the difference between Gingrich and us, and, sadly, it’s a difference he will probably never understand.

(Photo from the State of Missouri; it is in the public domain.)



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12.28.2006

iVoryTowerz Radio is On the Air!

Once upon a time – though not all that long ago, really – you could listen to the radio and not be insulted. Radio stations played music that their listeners wanted to hear, not songs that some corporate boss decided they should hear. In those days, stations like WXRT in Chicago, WNEW in New York, KGSR in Austin and KSHE in St. Louis were fun. They had rules, of course, because they had to make money to stay in business. But they also had a guiding principle, which was that their listeners weren’t stupid. This gave them the opportunity to play all sorts of songs from all sorts of bands (even some no one had ever heard of) and if some of the choices seemed slightly odd or if some of them weren’t big hits, what difference did it make? The listeners would listen, and make their own judgments. Then another day would come around, and the process would be repeated.

That’s what we’re going to do here every week. We grew up with that kind of radio (it was called progressive FM; today, what’s left of it is called adult alternative), and we miss it. Satellite stations and internet services are okay for what they are, but they aren’t radio. They play only what you want them to play, and where’s the adventure in that? The joy of real radio is being able to hear someone else’s take on what’s out there, whether it’s new or old or truly off the wall (Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Berets,” anyone?) There’s more than 50 years of rock ‘n roll to choose from, something too many people have forgotten.

Hence, in our inaugural podcast, you’ll find Aretha Franklin and the Pretenders, Soundgarden and Audioslave, and even some heavy metal. The latter is part of one of our three regular features – Rick’s Metal Shop, Jeff’s New Wave (a slice of punk and new wave), and Cover This, in which we feature an intriguing take on someone else’s original. Enjoy, and let us know what you think (even if you think we’re completely wrong). Because our guiding principle is that it’s all about the music.

(To download the debut podcast, click here.)

Playlist

"Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry
"Somedays" by Audioslave
"Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden
"Shine Down" by Godsmack
Jeff's New Wave: "Radio, Radio (live)" by Elvis Costello & the Attractions
"My Best Friend's Girl" by The Cars
"Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne
"Layla" by Derek & the Dominoes
Cover This: "Masters of War (live)" by Eddie Vedder
"(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin
"Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders
"Take It Off" by The Donnas
Rick's Metal Shoppe: "Burn it Down" by Avenged Sevenfold
"Who Were You Thinkin' Of" by The Texas Tornados
"I Love the Life I Live, I Live the Life I Love" by Willie Nelson
"Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show

(Mp3 Runs - 1:15:12; 69MB; program contains explicit lyrics.)

(Photo from James Cridland of Flickr through a Creative Commons License.)



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Rocky's Football Corner #17

by Rick Rockwell

When they hand out the trophy for Coach of the Year in the National Football League (NFL) Sean Payton of New Orleans should be the man hoisting the award.

Yes, Payton is the fan favorite. Yes, he’s the obvious choice. So what’s wrong with that?

Over at RealFootball365, Connor Byrne has made a great case for Eric Mangini (dubbed by the New York media as Man-Genius) of the Jets, the youngest coach in the league. Byrne also lists Payton and three other potential candidates.

But let’s stay with Payton for the moment. Payton is a rookie head coach who has turned the New Orleans Saints into division winners in one year. The Saints have clinched a bye in the playoffs, something they have never done. Before the Saints, Payton was with the Dallas Cowboys as assistant head coach and helped Bill “The Tuna” Parcells revive that franchise. He was also running the offense for the New York Giants when they went to the Super Bowl during the 2000 season. Before Payton, no New Orleans Saints coach had ever won his first three games. Payton is now 10-5 and looking forward to the playoffs.

Sure, Payton got handed Reggie Bush as the overall second pick in the draft. But he had to design plays to fit Bush into an NFL offense. Just being handed talent doesn’t mean you can design an offense to use it. Look at Jim Mora’s failures in Atlanta with quarterback Michael Vick if you want an example of that. Bush has responded by rushing for 545 yards, catching 86 passes for 729 yards, and returning kicks for 216 yards; he has scored eight touchdowns. Payton’s strategy has been to primarily get Bush into the open field to use his moves there instead of tying him down as a workhorse back. He has Deuce McAllister for that and McAllister (coming off knee surgery) has responded with 1057 yards.

Payton also has Drew Brees at quarterback, a player who is having a career year after arm surgery and who many consider the league’s most valuable player. But Brees and Bush were new elements. And rookie receiver Marques Colston (70 catches for 1038 yards) was an unknown quantity. Some experts have also mentioned Colston as a rookie of the year candidate, along with Bush. Payton has pieced together a system with two great comeback players and various new talent. Also note: the entire Saints offensive line is new as starters this year.

What Payton created is a version of the University of Southern California’s offense for the NFL. This was a system where former USC star Bush could thrive. Here’s the mix: one pounded-it-out back; one speedster back; one smart quarterback with a rifle arm; a solid but mobile offensive line; and top receivers willing to go and get the ball.

Plus Payton conquered so much more this year. He helped the Saints come back from Hurricane Katrina and a year they spent mostly in exile in Texas, winning only three games. He has conquered a Saints history of mostly losing. (Sure Jim Mora – the father, not the son who is in Atlanta – and Jim Haslett also got the Saints to the playoffs, but never as the second best team in the conference.)

Give the award to Payton. He and New Orleans deserve it.

NFL Network Update: Finally, most parties have agreed to some form of accepting the NFL's free week of viewing its cable network so many fans can see the two college bowl games the league is broadcasting this year. After behaving like two-year-olds, the cable cartel and the monopoly league finally came to an adult agreement, for this week anyway.






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12.27.2006

The Office Pool: Week Seventeen


by Rick Rockwell

Here we are at the end of the regular season and this column is as beat up as any of the weak teams from the National Football Conference (NFC) headed to the playoffs. At least our record is better than the New York Giants. But like that aimless group of New York football stars, last week, we took it on the chin.

Last Week: .500
This Season: .588

Game of the Week: Giants at Washington, Saturday Night

The last few weeks, this column can't stay away from watching the Giants. No, it isn't because I like this gaggle of uncoachable egos. Tight end Jeremy Shockey just looks like a fool with all of his demonstrations when he isn't catching passes. He looks worse when he is dropping perfectly thrown balls. Even one of my favorite running backs Tiki Barber has copped an attitude this year. And will anyone admit that the Giants rushed Eli Manning into the starting quarterback job too soon three years ago? No, I like watching the Giants like some folks like watching a bad accident scene. This is the game of the week, because Washington has the best chance to derail the Giants and keep them from the playoffs. Not to curse the Giants, but I'm picking them again this week.

Dolphins at Colts

Running back Ronnie Brown of the Dolphins should be smacking his lips at the possibilities after Ron Dayne of the Texans revitalized his career against the Colts last week. Brown had 110 yards in a monsoon against the Jets. Meanwhile, the Colts are playing for a bye week in the playoffs. Miami's defense should keep this close, but not close enough. The Colts should win by less than a field goal.

Patriots at Titans

This is mostly a pride game. The Titans have a longshot chance at the playoffs, so they will be motivated. The Patriots have an outside chance at a bye in the playoffs but will likely be playing next week. Will they rest? Not likely. The philosophy of Coach Bill Belichick would seem to be to knock these guys out now because you don't want to see a dangerous team like the Titans in the playoffs. Vegas likes the Titans, but I say the Patriots win by a field goal.

Seahawks at Buccaneers

Here's another game with potential upset stamped on it. Quarterback Tim Rattay seems to have learned the Bucs' offense and can get it moving. The Seahawks put up a good fight last week but have been mostly listless. The Bucs are favored over a playoff-bound team! But that's because the Seahawks could be resting folks with no way to move up in the playoff seedings. The Seahawks should still win by a field goal.

Steelers at Bengals

The Bengals still have a tiny shot at the playoffs, and if the Jets stumble (not likely) they could be back in the hunt. So they will be playing with a desperate edge. The Steelers are pulling the curtain on a very disappointing year. These divisional rivals dislike each other, so look for a close one with the Bengals winning, but certainly by no more than a field goal.

Rams at Vikings

Believe it or not, the Rams are still technically alive in the playoff hunt. The Vikings have a tough defense against the run and that should keep this contest close. But the Rams should win to get back to 8-8.

Panthers at Saints

Incredibly, the Saints have locked up a playoff bye and have little to play for this week. The Panthers are still alive (barely) in the playoff hunt. Saints Coach Sean Payton knows he'll need to knock the Panthers out here to put them out of their misery. Vegas favors the Panthers, but even with substitutions, the Saints should win, but by less than a touchdown.

Browns at Texans

This game has no playoff implications and is truly a pride game. The Texans showed they have life though last week by upsetting the Colts. The Browns are in disarray. The Texans win.

Falcons at Eagles

The Eagles look sharp with quarterback Jeff Garcia at the helm. And the Eagles have plenty to play for here: the division championship and the chance to play the weakest of weak sister wild card teams next week instead of a rematch against Dallas. The Falcons are pointing fingers instead of gearing up for a playoff run. Vegas says the Eagles by a touchdown. That seems about right.

Jaguars at Chiefs

Both of these teams still have small possibilities at the playoffs, but likely neither will be playing next week. The Chiefs don't let many go in Arrowhead Stadium in December. Look for running back Larry Johnson to push the Chiefs to another win.

Raiders at Jets

The National Football League (NFL) may rank the Detroit Lions as worse than the Raiders, but on my board, the Raiders are the absolute worst. They quit playing hard weeks ago. The Jets need to win to get a wildcard playoff berth. Notch this one up for New York.

Bills at Ravens

The Bills play hard every week and will give the Ravens fits for awhile. However, Baltimore seems motivated to win because if they do they will be guaranteed a bye week in the playoffs. Look for the Ravens to blow this open in the second half.

49ers at Broncos

The Broncos must win this to get one of the two remaining American Football Conference (AFC) wildcard spots in the playoffs. Do you think they are not going to win and win big at Mile High at the end of December? Watch for quarterback Jay Cutler to light up the Niners.

Lions at Cowboys

The Cowboys are frustrated and angry. And the poor Lions really do need to lose to keep the inside track on the top draft choice. Look for the Cowboys to dismantle the Lions. Avert your eyes, as this will not be pretty.

New Years Eve Night: Packers at Bears

If the Giants continue their collapse, the unlikely Packers are standing in the wings with the best shot at an NFC wildcard spot. This is the oldest rivalry in the NFL. This could be Brett Favre's last game. And the Bears still need to work out offensive kinks, so it could be competitive and tight. No. The Bears will crush the Packers.

Cardinals at Chargers

If the Chargers win, they lock up home field advantage in the playoffs. The Cardinals may be playing to keep Coach Dennis Green's job. After an off week, look for San Diego to explode against Arizona.

Enjoy the viewing and usher out the year with a great game or two!




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12.26.2006

Five Blogs

by Rick Rockwell

First, we looked at children’s films (“Films: They Don’t Make ‘em Like These Anymore”). Then, we listed favorite songs (“Five Songs”). Last week, as a guide to gift giving, we focused on cookbooks (“Cooking up a Great Holiday Read”). And now the inevitable post that lists favorite blog spots.

If you could only read five blogs a day, what would they be? Some might caution that such a number is too limiting. Others might respond that any more than five and you are headed down the slippery slope to blog addiction. Obviously, the authors and editors of this blog have many favorites: just check out the sidebar to the right.

Today, in The Washington Post, media critic Howard Kurtz was moaning about how there seems to be too many blogs. (Yes, it is fashionable right now for newspapers to write warily about blogs.) Kurtz claims there are 13 million blogs in the U.S. Meanwhile Technorati, the blog-ranking service, implies there are 55 million globally. With that many stops on the internet, picking five seems impossible. Of course, for any five we name there are hundreds if not thousands more that are worthy.

Nevertheless, here are five on our must-read list now:

reinspire: This is -- for lack of a better term -- a hybrid blog: part information technology and new technology blog merged with great columns on NFL football. Written by Jonathan Eckmier, reinspire (yes, no capital, please) is a Canadian blog that tops our list week-in and week-out for its insights. Based in Kitchener, Ontario, Eckmier really knows football!

Gun Toting Liberal: This is the title of a political group blog written by liberal commentators who obviously don’t like the wimpy image of Democrats, and many proclaim themselves to be independents. Like any group that advocates free speech, conversation and dialogue are actually encouraged on this blog (which was a 2006 Weblog Awards Finalist in the Moderate Political Blogs category). The blog’s main editor is located in Alabama, but the writers are from a variety of other states. Of course, there’s a first-rate weekly football feature.

Pharyngula: No football here, but a great read all the same. This blog was just named the Best Science Blog in the 2006 Weblog Awards. Don’t be fooled though. This is more than a science blog and more than a blog for academics. This blog is filled with humor, philosophy, and pithy insights about a variety of topics. The author is P.Z. Myers, a tenured professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who is on a crusade against intelligent design, among other topics.

Xark!: Here’s another group blog that discusses politics, literature, culture and of course, football. Daniel Conover, a journalist in the Carolinas, appears to be the principle editor of the blog and some of the writers are based in Charleston, SC. However, the blog’s authors are an eclectic bunch from many states. You’ll find insightful commentary here and whoever is writing the blog’s football picks is on track for a year over .700, which is incredible and raises the issue of why they are not blogging from Vegas.

Squib Kick: Alright, forget everything else. This is football, pure and simple. No other topics and no other sports. At one time, this was a group blog, but now it seems to be the sole enterprise of James Edwards, a long-suffering fan of the Detroit Lions. This has the right tone for a sports column and you have to wonder why Edwards isn’t writing for one of the big newspapers. Oh, but that would be so 20th Century, right? Smartly, Edwards stopped picking football games because he says it was so difficult. Like the rest of us, maybe he should be reading Xark!?

If you haven’t heard of these blogs, check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

(Photo from Infographe_Elle of morgueFile.)





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12.23.2006

Holiday Sentiments


This blog will be closed for the seasonal holidays for the next few days. Please enjoy this special time with family and friends. We wish you all the best during this wonderful time of year. To bring you our special tidings, an excerpt from a seasonal song....

"2000 Miles"

He’s gone 2000 miles.
It’s very far.
The snow is falling down.
Gets colder day by day.
I miss you.

The children will sing/
He’ll be back at Christmastime.

In these frozen and silent nights/
Sometimes in a dream you appear.
Outside under the purple sky/
Diamonds in the snow sparkle.
Our hearts were singing/
It felt like Christmastime.

(by Chrissie Hynde)

(Photo from ladyheart of morgueFile. To see Hynde performing this song with one version of The Pretenders, check below.)

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12.22.2006

Cooking Up a Good Holiday Read

by Jeff Siegel

I have been told that I own entirely too many cookbooks. I mention this not to elicit sympathy (since I don’t believe one can own too many cookbooks), but to establish my credentials to offer the following advice to anyone who is still searching for a holiday gift for people who like to cook.

First, forget about most celebrity chef cookbooks. Almost all of them violate the first rule of recipes (which I learned from reading a cookbook review of a long forgotten celebrity chef): Never trust a recipe written by someone who no longer chops their own onions. The results are rarely worth the effort. Second, do not buy diet cookbooks. Besides the dubious contents – the only way to really lose weight is to eat less and exercise more – they date quickly. Does anyone still use their Dr. Atkins cookbook?
Hence the following, which treat cooking not as a chore or a status symbol, but as something which should be fun:

How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman: Pretentious title, terrific book by the man who writes "The Minimalist" column for The New York Times. There’s a lentil and rice recipe, with grilled onions, that must be tasted to be believed.

Joy of Cooking, 75th anniversary edition: I’m on my third version (still have the other two) of this classic, and this one makes up for the holes in the 1997 effort. Besides, where else will you find an understandable diagram about how to set the table for a dinner party?

The Way to Cook, by Julia Child: This book is her career, encapsulated in 528 pages, and those of us who grew up with Madame on public TV will hear her voice in every recipe.

Beard on Bread, by James Beard: Baking bread does not require the skills of a medieval alchemist, something that all too many bread books imply. Beard’s recipes are simple and straightforward, and produce excellent loaves, especially for the beginner.

Any of Jacques Pepin’s TV series cookbooks: There are about a half-dozen, and each is outstanding. If I had to pick, it would be Cooking with Claudine, which includes crème au chocolat, which takes chocolate pudding where it has never been before.

(Promotional image from Wiley Publishers.)




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Another View from the Tower

by Rick Rockwell

As the end of the year approaches, it seems a fitting time for milestones. This blog has passed two early and important milestones this week.

The latest milestone is the 100th post: “Rocky’s Football Corner #16,” which went up yesterday. At one time, the football posts on this blog were the most popular. The topic of that post (the controversy concerning the NFL Network) has proved to be one of the favorites for readers.

If you missed it, this blog also passed the 100 comments mark earlier in the week (see: “Centennial Commentary”). So 100 seems like the number of the week. This also points out that the average post gets about one comment and not much more.

The most popular post on the blog is “Nancy Dis-Grace,” which not only has the most comments but has also attracted the most readers.

The first editor’s column about the blog (“A View from the Tower”) recounts a number of early milestones for this blog that began this September. Fittingly, as the blog undergoes some year-end renovation, we take note of a number of these other important markers.

For those who are interested, 80 percent of this blog’s readers are based in the United States, with 40 percent of the readers from the District of Columbia. But Maryland and Virginia are not with the district at the top of the list. The second highest hit total comes from California (seven percent) and the next greatest comes from New York (five percent). Now that we have added a key writer from Dallas (Jeff Siegel premiered last week with “The Ballad of Penny Evans”) perhaps our numbers in Texas will increase. Readers from all the states except Idaho have sampled the blog.

About 20 percent of the readers originate from international locales. Canada and the United Kingdom are the leading areas with usually about three to five percent from each, depending upon the week. However, readers from 60 other countries and territories have sampled the blog so far. Our most interesting visitor so far (see: “Internet Café Shoutout #1”) has come from the Palestinian Territories.

We’ve also had visitors from both houses of Congress, various federal and state agencies, various Air Force bases (we know you folks like the football entries) and the Pentagon too. (Did someone give our URL to Robert Gates so he could get in on the football pool?)

We send a warm holiday greeting out to all of our readers and a sincere thanks for stopping by to sample our wares.

(The photo is from diciu of Bucharest from morgueFile.)




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12.21.2006

Rocky's Football Corner #16

by Rick Rockwell

There’s a good reason the National Football League (NFL) season needs to end. This dispute over the NFL Network and how it gets carried on cable television has gone on too long. Luckily, it will all be over next week, at least until next season.

Alright, if you haven’t tuned into this dispute until this week because you are frantically searching for the Rutgers game or you want to see Texas Tech, then let’s catch you up. (For all the details, check these back issues: #11, #12, #14, and #15.) The NFL acquired the rights to two bowl games (the Texas Bowl and the Insight Bowl) as a way to gain leverage in its fight to get its cable channel carried on all the major cable systems and the basic tier on those systems. The NFL doesn’t want customers paying extra for the cable channel which not only carries those two college bowls but also a package of eight NFL games set for Thursdays (Vikings at Packers, for instance, tonight) and Saturdays (Chiefs at Raiders, upcoming). The cable companies for the most part have resisted this move because the NFL is charging more for the channel, and the cable cartel, for the most part, wants the NFL Network moved to special premium tiers. Right now, only about 40 percent of the country can see the NFL Network on cable or satellite. The NFL figured cable customers would pressure the cable companies to carry the network, not just because of the NFL games but also to see those bowl games.

But the NFL miscalculated. When have cable companies ever listened to the complaints of customers?

Instead, politicians started leaning on the NFL. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) seemed to have the most impact when he chided the NFL for holding Rutgers fans hostage as a way to get the cable cartel to buckle. Also, on several occasions Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) promised to introduce legislation to repeal the NFL’s anti-trust exemption, with the last threat of this coming at the closing hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the year.

Buckling to pressure, the league sought a compromise and offered a week of its channel free to cable companies covering New Jersey and New York, to take care of those Rutgers fans. After some wrangling Time Warner Cable agreed to carry the week free on its digital cable tier. However, after some initial agreement Cablevision balked leaving its three million customers without the Rutgers game. Cablevision wanted to just show the Texas Bowl but not take the rest of the week of NFL Network free.

Meanwhile, fans in Kansas were upset that they would not be able to see Kansas State play Rutgers. The NFL had not included their state in its free offerings. Enter Sen. Pat Roberts (D-KS) who complained to the NFL. And so the league extended its offer of a free view through Time Warner in Kansas and Texas.

This really isn’t a story about football but a story about access to football. It’s a story about business greed and how consumers are just pawns for the businesses of big sports and big TV. Look for this to be cleared up by next season though because the cable cartel has new competition headed its way. In case you didn’t notice, the Federal Communication Commission (which should have intervened in this mess, but now leaves big business to duke it out at the consumer’s expense) gave the green light to let the phone companies compete in the cable market without local or state oversight. The phone companies aren’t the hero riding to save the day, but look for the NFL to use them for leverage (just as the NFL uses satellite TV) to get the cable operators to knuckle under.

But thankfully that fight will likely be held in the offseason, so we can get back to our version of the pursuit of happiness: watching some football. Oh, that is, if you can see the game.




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12.20.2006

The Office Pool: Week Sixteen

by Rick Rockwell

Right now, like the National Football Conference (NFC) teams, this column is setting lowered expectations: perhaps a return to over .600 by the end of the season. Last week, the trouble was picking too many longshots and underdogs. Have we changed our ways?

Last Week: .562
This Season: .594

Game of the Week: Saints at Giants

The Giants still have the inside track to nab a wildcard playoff spot despite their continued inconsistencies. The Giants have so much talent but apparently they often don't understand the concept of the word "team." This column keeps picking them and they keep losing! So be forewarned Giants fans, we are picking them again because the Saints, despite their incredible run this year as NFC South Champs, are showing some late season fatigue. The Saints are not playing for their survival like the Giants will be in this contest.

Panthers at Falcons

Both of these teams resemble hospital wards with so many injuries one can't even predict who will start at quarterback for either team. If the Giants stumble, the Falcons are right behind, still alive in the playoff race. But Atlanta's quarterback Michael Vick is limping these days. If Vick plays, the Falcons will win. So put me down for Atlanta by a point.

Thursday Night: Vikings at Packers

Believe it or not, both of these teams with losing records are still alive in the NFC playoff scramble. The Vikings just benched their starting quarterback Brad Johnson though. Look for the Packers to win on the tundra in Lambeau.

Cardinals at 49ers

Last week, the die-hard 49ers fans emerged to let us know their team is still alive too in the NFC race. Some are actually picking them to win out and win their division. Here's where that possibility gets more juice. San Francisco should edge the inept Cardinals in a close one.

Buccaneers at Browns

This is the hardest game to predict this week, because who knows what these underachieving teams will produce. The Bucs woke up in the fourth quarter last week and gave the Bears a scare. The Browns have shown signs of life too for a quarter or so. After promising he was sticking with his rookie quarterback, Tampa's Coach Jon Gruden backtracked and is now starting Tim Rattay. Rattay looked sharp against the Bears. But playing at home, the Browns will find a way to win.

Bengals at Broncos

Both of these teams have the inside track on the American Football Conference (AFC) wildcard playoff race. No matter which one loses, likely they both will be contending to the end of the season. The Bengals looked clueless on Monday night against the Colts and Mile High can be unforgiving to visiting teams at this time of year. Even with rookie Jay Cutler at the helm as quarterback, the Broncos come up winners.

Patriots at Jaguars

The Jaguars are fierce at home, but their running backs are limping. The Patriots know how to close and if they don't put the Jaguars down here they could be facing them again in January. The Patriots are still trying to find their midseason rhythm, but with some tough defense this should be a low scoring match with the Patriots winning by a touchdown.

Christmas: Eagles at Cowboys

The resurgent Eagles still have visions they can win the division championship. The Cowboys won't be so giving though on this Christmas evening. These teams have some of the best offenses in the conference, so look for both to put up points. But quarterback Tony Romo (who was just named to the Pro Bowl squad!) should hook up on enough touchdown plays to put the Eagles in their place. Dallas by a touchdown.

Christmas Night: Jets at Dolphins

Talk about inconsistency: the Dolphins can shut out the division leaders one week and then stumble to an ugly loss the next (with a quarterback who registered a zero for a quarterback rating). The Jets are playing to stay in the AFC wildcard race. In an upset, the Dolphins should end those dreams behind one of the conference's best defenses.

Ravens at Steelers

The Ravens thought they had knocked the Steelers out of the playoff hunt the last time these teams played. But the World Champs have finally found their groove. If the Ravens don't want to see the Steelers in January, they had better take care of business here. The Ravens should win in a close one.

Titans at Bills

Both of these teams have been big surprises down the stretch. Even if rookie sensation Vince Young at quarterback can't get it done, the Titans are winning with defense and strong special teams. Even in the cold, the Titans will roll.

Washington at Rams

Welcome to this week's Disappointment Bowl. Both of these teams have the talent to be in the playoffs but they have consistently proved they can't put it together at the right time. Perhaps DC's favorites have finally found their formula though, winning with tough defense and a dominating ground attack against the Saints last week. Look for Coach Joe Gibbs and his team to be smiling after this one with another late season win.

Colts at Texans

After dismantling the Bengals, the Colts seem to have their winning formula back. Here's another tune-up game, as they play for a playoff bye week.

Chargers at Seahawks

The folks in Seattle are hoping this game is a preview of a potential Super Bowl match-up. My guess is this is the only time this season these teams will meet though. The Seahawks look lost lately. After the Chargers stomp on the Seahawks this week, it will just give those 49ers fans more false hope.

Saturday Night: Chiefs at Raiders

The Raiders look like they are playing to challenge Detroit for the top college draft pick. The Raiders are having one of their worst seasons in 45 years. Meanwhile the Chiefs are frustrated after muffing a chance to stay in the playoff hunt. They should win in Oakland although it will take more than that to get them firmly back into the playoff race.

Bears at Lions

Last week the Bears found a way to make the Laugher Bowl into the only overtime game in the league. But the Lions don't want to disappoint too much: if they win, they hand Oakland the inside track for the top draft pick. The Bears need to let quarterback Rex Grossman continue to work the kinks out. This should be a runaway, but maybe these teams will make it interesting. Either way, the Bears should notch another win.

Enjoy the viewing and the holidays!




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12.19.2006

Film Review: "Charlotte's Web"

by Rick Rockwell

How can a staunch advocate for free speech become a censor? Turn that person into a parent.

At least that’s what I’ve discovered.

Parents aren’t censors? Really? They often decide which television shows are appropriate for the family living room. They screen the books and magazines of their children. Today, they even decide which DVD gets played in the family mini-van. (No mini-van here, so don’t look this way. Not yet, at least.) And of course, they pick out which films their children will see in the theater.

Society has decided such censorship is responsible and sensible. No argument on that score. But parents are censors nonetheless. One can only hope to become a benign censor when thrust into that role.

Which brings us, finally, to Charlotte’s Web.

When selecting the film for a certain three-year-old’s first theater experience, this is the film that got the nod. Thankfully, it was a great choice.

If a film can hold a three-year-old’s attention for most of 97 minutes, while both evoking laughter and thoughtful questions, then it has done its job. And it has one more task: make the experience pleasant for the parents. Charlotte’s Web performed its magic on that level too.

The computer-generated effects are a true wonderment. The world that E.B. White created in his book from the 1950s comes to life in ways that are much better than pure animation. White’s story is the bedrock and screenwriters Susannah Grant (who also penned Erin Brockovich) and Karey Kirkpatrick (James and the Giant Peach) do a good job of providing new patter for the barnyard assembly, the film’s Greek Chorus. The cows (voiced by Kathy Bates and Reba McEntire) get the best lines. Their interactions with Templeton the Rat (voiced by Steve Buscemi) provide some of the funniest moments, including a particularly odiferous joke that luckily wafted past the three-year-olds in the audience without much notice.

Buscemi seems to relish his role at Templeton, which comes through in the strongest voice-over performance in the film: the rat always seems to steal the limelight in the filmed adaptations of this story. But Cedric the Entertainer’s work (he is also known as Cedric Kyles) as Golly the Goose, and John Cleese’s performance, as Samuel the Sheep, are also notable.

The supporting cast’s moments shine through because the headliners underplay and let the story work. Dakota Fanning stars as Fern, the little girl who is the first to promise to save Wilbur the Pig. There’s no need for her to display her complex acting chops in this simple story (and act rings around her co-stars like she did to Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds). And if Julia Roberts sounds a bit bored as Charlotte, she at least knows she needs to get out of the way of the special effects.

The film has gathered mix reviews elsewhere (some apparently prefer the schmaltzy Hanna-Barbera version from 1973) and pulled in more than $11 million at the U.S. box office, placing it third last weekend.

For parents looking for an ideal children’s film though, you can’t do much better. Here’s a G-rated film that discusses loyalty, friendship, and the importance of keeping a promise. Finally, there’s another one of White’s themes that shines through: with the right words you can save the world. Indeed.

(Promotional poster from Paramount Pictures. See below for the film's trailer.)



For other posts on children's media, please see:
Films: They Don't Make 'em Like These Anymore;
The New TV Landscape; and
Generation HP.





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12.18.2006

Centennial Commentary

by Rick Rockwell

Over the weekend, this blog reached its second major milestone: 100 comments.

So thanks to all who have added their thoughts to these electronic pages.

Too bad that this milestone did not come with our original core of writers, but it is interesting that this comes as the staff is shifting here. Perhaps that means there will be more discussion here in the future.

As noted in “A View From the Tower,” it seems as if this blog has lagged behind a bit in the commentary department. So that makes each comment that is here all that much more valuable.

Some bloggers, such as Darren Rowse discuss the role of commentary often on their blogs and say it is an essential element of this new medium. One blogger, Jakob Nielsen, has noted that the rate of commentary on a typical blog comes from about nine percent of the audience, although the core commentators are really only .1 percent of the audience.

As a comparison, only about .2 percent of this blog’s audience has left a comment. But after observing a number of blogs, I think that’s rather typical.

One might argue we are just talking to ourselves because the authors of this blog (who are also part of the audience, albeit an insider bunch) have left 57 percent of the comments. Of course, when you have a writing group of more than 20 authors, that is bound to happen. As these pages revamp a bit, perhaps the amount of outside comments will also increase.

The 100th comment was left by an anonymous commentator on the post “Nancy Dis-Grace.” That’s rather fitting, because that’s the post with the most comments on this blog.

Only 14 percent of the comments are left by folks who list themselves as anonymous. Actually, that number is higher because some folks use hard-to-trace handles instead of names. Such is life on the internet.

We send out special thanks to the most prolific outside commentator: News Media Studier. Please check out her blog, “News to Me.”

And feel free to comment on the action as we tinker under the hood a bit with this blog.

(Photo courtesy of melodi2 from morgueFile.)



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12.15.2006

"The Ballad of Penny Evans"

by Jeff Siegel

Somewhere, if the story is true, there is a middle-aged woman living in the Northeast, maybe in Boston, with two grown daughters and maybe even some grandchildren. And, if she is lucky, none of them are boys.

The woman is Penny Evans, who supposedly met a songwriter named Steve Goodman in a Rochester pizza joint 35 years ago, and told him about her husband, who had been killed in Vietnam. The result was Goodman’s astonishing "The Ballad of Penny Evans," and if there is a more powerful protest song in the history of protest songs, I’ve yet to hear it. In 3 minutes and 40 seconds, singing a cappella in a voice with more than a bit of a Midwestern nasal twang to it, Goodman puts all war, every war, into perspective. Sometimes, maybe, we do have to kill other people to make the world a better place. But there had better be a damned good reason, because even in the most just of wars, there are too many Penny Evans, “just turned 21, a widow of the war that was fought in Vietnam.” And when was the last time we fought a just war?

The song is so moving that even a cranky ex-newspaperman like me, who believes in very little anymore, cries whenever I hear it (and I’ve been listening to it for almost 30 years). Goodman, who died in 1984 after a career that endeared him to folkies, Chicagoans, Cubs fans and too few others, always wondered if the woman was telling the truth. The song, he has told interviewers, is pretty much as Evans told her story, but it works so well, is so painful and so honest and, in its own way, even patriotic, that it seems almost too much to believe.

Which, of course, is what makes it as brilliant as it is. I was in a fast food place in Texas near Fort Hood, shortly after the Iraq War started, and seated at a table across from me were a soldier dressed in fatigues and a woman who looked to be his wife, both of them in their early 20s. Maybe I read too much into the scene, and maybe I hate this stupid war so much that my imagination got the better of me, but the first thing I thought of was Penny Evans, because “They can keep their bloody money, it won't bring my Billy back.”

(Publicity photo of Steve Goodman from Red Pajamas & Oh Boy Records. To see a live rendition of "The Ballad of Penny Evans" from the Guthrie Family archives, please check below.)







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12.14.2006

Rocky's Football Corner #15

by Rick Rockwell

After a few political shoves, the National Football League (NFL) decided this week to play Santa instead of Scrooge when it comes to college football.

To the uninitiated, the NFL has more than a draft day stake in college athletics and this year that expanded when the league’s cable network obtained the rights to two college bowl games. NFL Network executives have admitted this was all to get more cable television carriage of the network. Currently, only about 40 percent of homes in the country can see the league’s network.

What was at stake was whether viewers in New Jersey and New York could see Rutgers play in the Texas Bowl, against Kansas State. (The other bowl game is the Insight Bowl between Texas Tech and Minnesota.) As footnoted last week, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and other politicians have asked the NFL not to disenfranchise Rutgers’ fans as a way to gain advantage in the league’s disputes with cable television.

As this column has discussed, (see #11 and #12) the monopoly of professional football is colliding with the cartel of cable operators over how the league’s network should be displayed. The league wants all cable viewers to see the network. The cable cartel wants to impose extra costs on viewers because the NFL is charging more for the channel, due to its exclusive rights to Thursday and Saturday NFL games. The fans/consumers are the victim in this power struggle of corporate titans. The NFL is producing an exclusive product and making billions from it in television rights, and thus the games it now reserves for its own cable channel have growing value. Meanwhile, the cable cartel resents being leveraged for more cash by the league. The NFL says don’t charge fans more for this, so the cable operators should swallow all of the expense for additional rights. The cable operators say that isn’t the corporate way and someone needs to pay. In this case, in their view, maybe only sports fans who want the games should pay for the NFL as a premium channel.

So this week, the NFL announced that some of the cable companies in New York and New Jersey that weren’t carrying the network could have it for free during Christmas week. What a nice gift, right?

Well, the cable cartel sees this gift as a Trojan horse. Once the NFL Network is on, consumers/fans will want it all the time.

One of the cable operators, Cablevision, has agreed to take the free programming, but Time Warner Cable, which has led the fight against the league, may only take the programming with conditions. One of those conditions was just programming the Rutgers bowl appearance and not showing the rest of the league’s programming.

It isn’t like the league’s gift doesn’t come with strings too: although the league will allow the cable operators to have the college games and other programming for free, the league’s games set for the network that week still won’t be available until a final deal is worked out with the cable operators. So one might say Time Warner’s response is appropriate.

No, it is just more corporate greed. One of Time Warner’s other proposals was to take the free NFL programming and make that available on a premium channel. So let me get this straight: the cable company gets something free for a week and then it turns around and decides to charge consumers/fans extra for the programming these corporate pirates are getting for nothing. How fair is that?

Some may think that while the wily NFL looks like Santa in this public relations battle, the cable cartel ends up looking like the Grinch. The NFL’s motives are certainly motivated by money too, but the league continues to outmaneuver the cable cartel in the court of public opinion.

For example, some consumers have gone beyond mere complaints and are now distributing an internet petition to get Time Warner and other firms to negotiate a deal and stop depriving fans.

One can only hope they will resolve this issue soon so all NFL fans can see all the games. Maybe if we are lucky, that’ll happen by Christmas, but don’t count on it.




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12.13.2006

The Office Pool: Week Fifteen


by Rick Rockwell

This column barely hung in there last week, with upsets galore jumbling the playoff and league picture. Your bruised prognosticator was lucky to just come up even. Some bloggers are writing about how gamblers have bailed on the National Football League (NFL) season until the playoffs and how random picks are as good or better than picks with some reasoning. So are we masochistic? Or just determined?

Last Week: .500
This Season: .596

Game of the Week: Eagles at Giants

Last week, that sniping bunch of football players who call themselves the Giants somehow pulled it together and hit the Panthers with a knockout blow. There was running back Tiki Barber mugging and smiling with Coach Tom Coughlin at the end. Maybe that's because Tiki got the coaches to get smart and start calling his number again. Both the Giants and Eagles have the inside track on wildcard playoff spots in the National Football Conference (NFC). So this will be a war. The Giants will escape with a win, but it will be very close.

Rams at Raiders

The Raiders can't make the playoffs and the Rams are done too for all intents and purposes. But this looks like a great scrap. The Raiders defense has improved steadily all season and Rams quarterback Mark Bulger can still sling the ball around. The Raiders will manage a win on their home turf.

Lions at Packers

Here's another game with little on the line besides pride. But these teams match up well and it is an divisional game for the poor NFC North. Matt Millen, the Lions' inept general manager may be gone by kickoff, but that won't matter. His legacy will take years to forget: sort of like a nuclear accident, lots of radiation will remain after he's gone. The Packers aren't too great at home this season, but this week they get that turned around and win.

Sunday Night: Chiefs at Chargers

This game is worth watching just to see two of the best running backs in the game: the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chiefs' Larry Johnson. Tomlinson just set the new touchdown mark for a season. The Chiefs are playing to stay in the playoff hunt, while the Chargers are playing for home field advantage. Here's where the Chargers get a chance to knock out a potential opponent. The Chargers have lacked that killer instinct in the past, but not this year. San Diego wins in a close contest.

Steelers at Panthers

Talk about knockout blows, the World Champs get a chance to put the Panthers out of their misery and they should do that, no matter who is playing quarterback for Carolina: Jake Delhomme or Chris Weinke. Although the Steelers are talking like they can sneak back into the playoff hunt, and that's unrealistic, they would love to take out their frustrations on the struggling Panthers.

Jets at Vikings

Both of these teams also have unrealistic expectations for the post-season. So this will be a battle and stay close, mainly because both teams have respectable defenses. The Jets should win, but by less than a touchdown.

Jaguars at Titans

With Vince Young turning the corner at quarterback, the Titans have wrecked havoc in the past month. The Jaguars play great at home, but are inconsistent on the road. And that spells upset. The Titans will win another last minute thriller.

Monday Night: Bengals at Colts

Although the team has its woes with the law, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis seems to have fixed the on-field problems in the past month. Meanwhile, the Colts are working through a slump. Yet Vegas has the Colts as the favorites by a field goal. Not with the Bengals' offense firing on all cylinders. The Bengals should win by a touchdown in a track meet sprint.

Washington at Saints

Don't you love how week-to-week the football pundits anoint one team as unbeatable only to be shown otherwise later? Well, the Saints are that team right now. Except the pundits may be right for the moment. The Bears defense could probably handle them. But Joe Gibbs and his bunch aren't the Bears. New Orleans should notch another win this week.

Thursday Night: 49ers at Seahawks

The Seahawks need to wrap up the division lead, and the 49ers behind the running of Frank Gore have been an unexpected surprise this year. Here's where Seattle shows them why they will be in the playoffs and San Francisco will be sitting again in January.

Dolphins at Bills

Usually, Miami has a tough time in Buffalo this late in the season. But the Dolphins are depending on their defense to ignite wins. The Bills have shown life by knocking the Jets out last week. This week though, the Dolphins have the edge.

Saturday Night: Cowboys at Falcons

The Cowboys should be steaming after being thrashed by the Saints last week. Quarterback Tony Romo showed he is human although he continues to play at a high level. The Falcons always play better in games like this and they must win, or they can forget the playoffs. Here's where Coach Bill "The Tuna" Parcells gets his team to stop a potential playoff opponent.

Broncos at Cardinals

Broncos players are already whining about a lost season (well, maybe benched quarterback Jake Plummer isn't whining since he was the scapegoat and results have proved otherwise). The Broncos no longer have an inside track to the playoffs. Meanwhile, Cardinals Coach Dennis Green has his team playing at high upset level. This is a battle of the rookie quarterbacks: the Cardinals Matt Leinart against the Broncos' Jay Cutler. Leinart and the Cards will get the win.

Texans at Patriots

For at least the second time this season the Patriots are regrouping. The Texans can be tough at home, but not on the road. The Patriots should roll after a close first half.

Browns at Ravens

The Ravens need this game to clinch the American Football Conference (AFC) North, while the Browns will be starting a backup quarterback. Remember those hits the Ravens delivered against the Steelers a few weeks ago. Look for more of those in a bruising battle. Baltimore comes out on top.

Buccaneers at Bears

The Bucs are truly inept but the Bears have locked up everything in the NFC for the playoffs. What do they have to play for then? Well, the Bears offense needs fine tuning, so look for them to iron out more kinks. Even if the Bears defense gets some rest, the Bucs can't seem to find the end zone. This is the laugher of the week.

With some luck, maybe we'll be back over .600 this week. Enjoy the viewing!




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12.12.2006

Stern Wants to Rule the (Satellite) Universe!

by Rick Rockwell

Can we stop Howard Stern and his patron/boss Mel Karmazin from ruining radio all over again? One can only hope that’s possible.

Some of you may have missed it, but Howard Stern and his brand of so-called shock radio migrated off of the terrestrial radio airwaves this year. Now, you can only find new Stern on Sirius Satellite Radio. When this happened, I said, “good riddance.” I have never understood the appeal of Stern, or Don Imus, or any of their talk radio brethren who masquerade as disc jockeys with something important to say or supposedly something funny for the audience. For my money and time, I’m interested in music and those folks are responsible for chasing music out of drive-time radio.

The so-called defenders of free speech have made Stern and his ilk into icons: the supposedly hip, who go on the radio to fight the dreaded Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Do the defenders of the media ever really listen to Stern’s shows? Those shows are no more than the rants of arrested development; the conversations of someone who never advanced beyond certain teen-aged obsessions, spurred on by a crowd of sycophants.

If you want to pay for that, go ahead. I’m just glad it is no longer polluting the free airwaves.

And if you really want to listen to funny discussions that bend the rules of what is permissible, then please listen to a real comedian, like George Carlin. Not Stern. And not any of the various copycats who have sprung up trying to imitate Stern.

Folks need to remember, there’s about eighty years of law that establishes the radio airwaves as public space. Not private space. First Amendment arguments to defend Stern don’t apply because the airwaves are not there for his private communication pleasure. They belong to everyone. So there need to be standards of what can and can’t be discussed because we all share those airwaves. Because Stern wanted to continue to attempt to shock us with his language (which is an obvious economic ploy based on seizing ratings through sensationalism: the term shock radio is just a way to brand and market that sensation) he was forced to go elsewhere.

That brings us to satellite radio.

So far, the law says satellite radio is private space to be programmed by whatever network sets up the proper technology. (Let’s not get into the science and technology, because satellite radio actually is a mixed system: it also uses ground repeaters which do use public airwaves not always direct satellite signals.)

This year, Sirius Satellite Radio banked on Stern and Karmazin, an executive who also ran interference for Stern when they both worked for Viacom. Stern became the poster boy for Sirius: he was going to sell enough radio subscriptions to make the corporation profitable. Except that didn’t happen. The company keeps adjusting its projections for subscribers. It seems only six million folks are willing to pay for Stern and all the other attractions on Sirius. Not enough yet to make Sirius profitable.

The solution: merge with the competition, XM Satellite Radio. Karmazin has been angling for a merger almost since he became CEO of Sirius, although he officially denies this. Quoted by The Washington Post, in a speech, Karmazin recently said, “consolidation brings value….”

Well, of course it does. What he means by consolidation is actually another term: monopoly. Merge Sirius and XM and that’s what you get. Corporations love to be monopolies because eliminating competition guarantees profit. Or they love the world of limited competition and oligopoly, one that Karmazin understands well from his turn at Viacom. Notice what Viacom (through Infinity Radio) and Clear Channel have done to the commercial radio dial in the past decade? If you don’t listen to radio now, what those corporate forces have done could be the reason.

Three things stand in the way of Karmazin and his merger dreams: the Justice Department, Congress, and the FCC. Is it any wonder that Stern is an attack dog against these forces?

Wake up and see Stern for what he really is folks: a shill for corporate control of communication and less diversity of opinions on the radio. That’s the real reason to tune him out.

(Rick Rockwell served as an advisor on telecommunications policy on Capitol Hill in 2003 and 2004.)

(Photo by Bialy-Fox of Flickr, used with a Creative Commons license.)






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Internet Café Shoutout #1

During our first several months on the ‘net, visitors from all over the world have found their way to our secluded tower. Visitors from 49 states, and from 58 countries and territories have found their way to this spot. We are overdue to acknowledge them and to send a “thanks for visiting” message back their way.

Probably the most interesting locale so far to find us: the Horeyah Internet Café in Gaza in the Palestinian Territories.

The post they wanted to see: “Al Jazeera: Ideology or Profit?”

We’ll be acknowledging other interesting visitors as they come our way. Thanks again.

(Photo by Clara Natoli of Rome, Italy from morgueFile.)






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12.11.2006

"Apricots Died Young"

(Today, a reprinted poem for your consideration.)

by Chiao Meng

Don't fondle these pearls.

O hands of ice,

Fondle pearls and they're quick to fly.

And don't cut spring short, sudden frost.

Cut spring short and that blaze of beauty's lost.

Still nipples, tiny blossoms fall in tatters,

Tinged pure as a child's robes long ago.

I gather them, never filling my hands,

And at dusk, grief empty, return home.

(Translation by David Hinton.)

(Photo from recursion_see_recursion of the UK from Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)




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12.09.2006

¡Hasta la Vista!


Our intreprid group of writers is about to head out on hiatus. Thanks for your interest over the past few months. Thanks for leaving your comments and opinions. We appreciate all of them. (Well, most of them.)

Not to worry though. This blog will soon reconstitute itself with a new group of writers. And a few of us will carry on in the interim. This is just our way of saying a little good-bye until all the changes are over.

(Most of the original iVoryTowerz writing group, from left to right: Hilary Crowe, Alyssa Geisler, Jack Douglass, Caitlin Servilio (partially obscured), McKayle Davison, Laura Snedeker, Stephen Tringali, Nick Pitas, Alexa Atonuk, Sara Rigdon, Kate McCoy, Allison Dunatchik (in back mostly obscured), Martha Hanna (in front), Adrienne Lee (partially obscured), Allie Feras, Tate Strickland (partially obscured), Molly Kenney, Allison Doolittle (obscured), Mick Lenszer, and Rick Rockwell.)



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