Friday, October 14, 2005

Watch Apple...

Catching up on two days of news and stuff that's been rolling around in my head. Sorry for the lack of posts (I'm pleased to see lots of "regulars" are checking in daily, now), but coming into the mountain time zone from the west prevents you from doing a lot of things. What scenery!

One thing that's puzzled me for some time is that Apple has not yet snatched up troubled TiVo.

The biggest announcement the Wizard of Cupertino made Wednesday seems to be the one most people missed. The new iMac with Front Row sets the stage for just such a move.

And as for the portable TiVo its fans have been waiting for for a couple of years? It's here now.

Oh, yeah. That "media appliance" Bill Gates has been talking about for years now? Here it is.

Now it's the best computer you can buy, plus VOIP, plus internet radio and webcast/podcast device, plus the best digital video appliance on the market.

The Smirk Is Gone.

Anybody ever notice the little smirky head-bob Rove is often seen giving? The footage of Rove walking to his limo ride is pretty hard to get these days, I understand, and when you do see him, he's got a very serious look on his face. Wonder if that's because he knows that his 30-year career of rat-fucking is just about over?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Republican Mantra.

I've been up for hours already (which is saying something when you're on the west coast) getting ready for the final leg of a long trip, making my way back to the Prairie State. The Republican Mantra just popped into my head. I'm sure this is due to a combination of things: I'm really tired. I'm listening to the Beatles "Across the Universe" on the new Nano. And I'm still scratching my head over yesterday's Apple announcement.

It always kills me that Wall Street is way more forgiving of belweather stocks when they miss a profit or sales projection. Apple Computer posted some pretty damned impressive results yesterday, then got their ass kicked in after-hours trading (sinking 10%) because they only sold 6.5 million iPods (not the 8m analysts expected). My bet: buy Apple stock today while it's still down at the opening bell. And before the Big Announcement.*

*I am not giving stock tips. It's just what I happen to think. I can't believe how many years I slaved away on a lousy PC that kept crashing, losing files, until I finally woke up a couple years ago and bought my first Mac. Now life is good.

The long windup is worth it. Trust me.

So, the Republican Mantra has popped into my head at this early hour, from nowhere. See how close this fits your impression of what's going on today:
    Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!
That's the narrative from the most famous television ad ever aired, "1984" which Apple used to introduce the Macintosh during the 1984 Superbowl.

So how close is this?

$100 to anyone who can send me a credible sound file of a Hastert impression reading this script. Looks spot on to me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

And She's a Snappy Dresser, Too.

Did Zayre re-open their stores, and I missed it?

Two for the road: Why do the morning entertainment shows insist on asking our Lightweight of a First Lady questions that have news value?

And why doesn't she just shut the Hell up?

Great News On The Economy!

Just kidding. Unless you think the notion of a GM bankruptcy is good for anyone or anything on the planet.

I had no idea this news about GM could come so quickly after the Delphi filing. Allow me to serve you the main points of the AP analysis:
    The company asked the union for wage cuts of more than 50 percent, according to letters released by union leaders. Delphi wants to cut hourly wages from -- $27 an hour to $10 to $12 an hour and eliminate a jobs bank that gives full pay to 4,000 laid-off workers, the letters said.
    UAW officials blasted Delphi's decision to file for bankruptcy one day after sweetening the severance packages of 21 top executives to help persuade them to stay at the company.
    Delphi said it made the change after determining its severance package for top executives was not competitive.
    Delphi has 31 plants in 13 states, including Michigan, Ohio, Alabama and California. The company has 185,000 employees worldwide.
Not to give you the whole story in one bite: of the 185,000 worldwide employees, Delphi executives say they need concessions from the 24,000 represented in the UAW contract.

Too bad there isn't some government body that could maybe put together an investigative committee to at least study the impact of these business practices. If only there were legislators, elected by the people to serve their own regional constituencies...

Jesus help us.

Hastert Katrina Oversight Called "Spotty, Sporadic."

Not that we didn't see this coming, but we really didn't see this coming.

The Associated Press has actually penned a story with information that millions are spent every day on Katrina, but the record of purchases is about as good as those kept on $199 Hastert for Congress donations from foreign nationals. CREW's letter to the FEC spells it out clearly.

Accountability, anyone?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Some Hastert Highway Thoughts

I've been holding back my own reaction to the recent announcement of the three proposed "updates" on the Hastert Highway.

Since I posted the original "open letter" to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, NPR has run a nice piece by David Schaper. In the final minute, there's a great clip of Denny Hastert claiming (snorting, really) the trasportation bill was not "porked up."

What's $200 million between friends, right?

The day after the NPR story aired, there was some grandstanding by IDOT in one of Hastert's "hometowns," but not enough has come out of that announcement to really expand for folks here. A third, sort of, Route 47 expansion project, was also mentioned.

While I stilll believe that Route 47 improvement is a simple solution to the entire issue -- and I would publicly question Hastert on his long-held belief that another route would be a better idea -- last week's announcement was rather lackluster. It's almost as if IDOT (which has not yet posted the information on their website) would rather spin its wheels (and spend tax money "studying" the routes) until the political cover is created, or until the area is further developed to the point where nothing will quickly relieve the traffic pressures.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of a case originally filed in 2002 by 56 of some 190 possibly-impacted landowners. has a great collection of news clips here.

I doubt that the Court will side with the landowners. That's all I'll say. But I'm on the side of those who oppose this reckless abuse of personal property. It's obvious that expansion of existing roadways has been held up while the Hastert project has been under study. There's no need to continue that trend.

Hastert Friends: Democrats to Blame
for Harriet Miers Nomination.

As much as I didn't expect to see much reportage on the insurance topic, I actually did expect to see this any day.

Nice work by Jan Crawford Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune. I sure wish Tribune headline writers should stop using the word "cowed," though. It's a really tired old Bush saw that I could never really stand.

That's some strategy: blame Democrats for anything! So where's Ari Fleischer to blame this one on Bill Clinton?

Denny Hastert's America:
"Free-Market" Health Insurance

(Links go the, which requires a free subscription. Go for it. It's one of the best-done newspaper sites you'll find. Period.)

On the left rail of Sunday's page one is probably one of the most-overlooked stories out there. It deals with the shocking, skyrocketing rise in the cost of healthcare, and how insurers are either cutting coverage or raising deductibles in an effort to remain "competitive" among employers.

Keep in mind that while this is going on, the House of Representatives, led by Denny "J. Dennis" Hastert is hard at work doing nothing to keep this from contributing to a huge, looming economic crisis for families. Nice family values, eh?

No, no. This is all about that "competitive free market economy" that Republicans like Hastert are always using to defend their Hooverian economic and social principles. Add this on to the cost of gasoline, the crushing increase in natural gas prices expected in the midwest this winter, and the diesel fuel crisis now beginning to snowball in the supply chain, and you're looking at one Hell of a recession in 2006.

Good job, Denny. That's leadership.

Sunday Papers: Catchup Day.

Sunday travel is usually the most unproductive time I spend. This time around, I'm armed with (literally, which is always a bitch hauling through the security screening) the Sunday Chicago Tribune and NYT. I'm always amazed at the stellar quality and depth of the NYT Sunday Magazine product and the advertising they continue to beat over the heads of Chicago Tribune.

On the front page of yesterday's Chicago Tribune (which didn't seem to get the attention of many IL bloggers... hellooo?) were three articles of great importance to all those walking upright and still taking nourishment. Nice job, Tribune.

I'll get to the stories next, because they each deserve their own post. One shocking thing that stands out is that the Kohl's flyer is now pretty consistently larger than the Chicago Tribune Magazine. Many changes have taken place in its format and design over the years, but the advertising manager for the product doesn't seem to know how to sell it.

The "Fall Men's Style Issue" (any style issue of either magazine is generally enough to invoke open laughter from some of the daring stuff inside) is about one-third of the 36 pages in this week's edition (a couple years ago, it would have been a supplement). And the content is very thin -- nothing short of anemic. There's a great pasta recipe, but the rest is tree-kill. The 80-page NYT Sunday Magazine, on the other hand is full of ads of all stripes and color (for the second week in row, they have a pull-out ad section), and the content is simpy superlative.

One change to the Tribune's product in recent years was to make it the same size as the NYT magazine, presumably to create additional advertising sales?

I also noticed on one of my stops that today's Tribune stock price continues to drop. This is all probably indicative of some institutional changes that need to be made. While its editorial page is always reflexively Republican, the content is pretty damn solid. Let's hope for the best for the "World's Greatest Newspaper."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Can't Wait: Good Night, and Good Luck.

I know I can't be the only one getting excited about the release of the Warner Independent film "Good Night, and Good Luck." From the screening I've just seen, I can say that it is wonderfully cast and acted. I've heard a number of people whine already, though, that this is another Liberal George Clooney thing. Nothing could be further from reality.

The accurate reporting of the basic facts -- and freedom of the press -- impact every person on the planet. Murrow's story is not a Liberal hero's story. His reportage and dogged pursuit of the truth in the McCarthy hearings resulted in an historic victory for television news, but also lionized and broke him at the same time.

A good reading of Murrow's biography is in order for anyone who wants to see the movie.