Archives » June, 2006

June 16, 2006

School’s Out

If you haven’t been following my wife Viola’s blog, you need to start. She’s been consistently kicking my ass at this blogging thing, especially in terms of frequency. In fact, everyone on my blogroll has been kicking my ass. You should be reading all of them. What are you even doing here?

Today she has a fond farewell to the school she worked at for the last three years. The deaf student she works with is moving to the high school next year, and that means she’s moving too. I really think this job has been one of the best things for her. When we were first married she was kind of depressed and lifeless, and she would just sit around the house all day, bored, and the highlight of her day was to call me and tell me how bored she was. But now there’s such a change in her, over these last three years that she’s been working full time. Sure she hates her boss, and a great deal of her other superiors, and she’s always threatening to quit if she doesn’t get more respect. But you can see in her eyes how much she loves it. It’s made her younger, more energetic and full of life.

And now summer vacation starts, and she gets to be a stay-at-home-mom for a couple of months. She really does get the best of everything.

June 15, 2006

Boycott The PTC

Looks like finally the nasty tactics of the Parent’s Television Council are getting some backlash…and some negative press! The PTC is the religious organization that has proclaimed themselves to be the National Nannys, thinking they should be the final moral arbiter of what should and shouldn’t be seen on television. It’s basically just a group of churchies that don’t like the direction society is moving in, and will do anything to hold the rest of us back to fit into their perfect little moral boxes. Of course they act like they’re doing this to “protect the children”, but they conveniently forget about exciting new technologies like the V-Chip and the off button that are already out there and able to protect children, along with a little thing called responsible parenting; instead they prefer that whatever offends them would just go away all together. They particularly like attacking television programming that doesn’t meet their approval, and to achieve their means they’ve taken to wielding the Federal Communications Commission as weapon. The PTC is able to get its members to blanket the FCC with complaints about a program, in enough numbers that the FCC usually ends up issuing a fine. The only problem is, nobody outside the PTC is complaining about these programs, and in fact they’re usually some of the highest-rated shows on the tube. But the PTC is able to use their vicious tactics to force their minority opinions onto the rest of us, and the result is that television producers end up toning down their shows because they’re afraid of getting fined. The chill in the air is palpable.

Well, now a group of CBS affiliates is calling the PTC on their bullshit, and appealing the $3.3 million in fines that the FCC levied for an airing of Without A Trace. They say that because all 4,211 complaints came from form letters from the PTC (and its lapdog the American Family Association), it really amounts to one complaint, and the idea that something could be censored based on one complaint is ludicrous. This is good because it’s nice to see the victims here finally fighting back, but it’s also nice because this is making major news, and bringing the story into the national spotlight. Some of us have known about the underhanded tactics of the PTC for a long time, me personally because Jeff Jarvis has long been on their case. Over a year ago he filed a Freedom of Information request to review similar complaints for another show that was fined, and he found the same thing: all the complaints came from PTC members, and all used the same basic form letter. The PTC has been attacking television for years, and maybe now the rest of the country will wake up to what they’re doing, and we’ll start to see some backlash.

The problem is that I’m not sure what we can do about it. I know the FCC will accept complaints, but will they also accept the opposite? Can a citizen send in good words about a program, and will those good words cancel out a complaint? With the recent record numbers that turned out to vote for American Idol, maybe the FCC should follow that lead and hold phone voting whenever they get a complaint. “Should CBS be fined for airing Without A Trace? Send a text message to this number to vote!” There has to be some way for the majority to be able to drown out the noise coming from the PTC. Scum like this likes to operate in the darkness, that’s why they have their members write these complaints, and similar Letters to the Editor, instead of issuing press releases themselves. So maybe if we just keep on writing stories about them, making major news out of them and exposing that this tiny little minority is the one behind all these attacks on TV, maybe they’ll get scared and scurry under the nearest rock. I know they won’t go away for long, but if we keep doing it and make a national joke out of them, hopefully their screechy little rants will start to lose their power.

It’s a war on culture, and culture is losing. We’ve got to turn the tide before it’s too late.

Hat tips go out to TV Guide, TV Squad, and Jeff Jarvis for this one.

Billy West Interview

TV Squad has done a huge interview with Billy West, a voice actor who’s done voices for Futurama, Ren & Stimpy, even Howard Stern. The interview covers topics from whether Futurama is really coming back, to how he comes up with his voices, what he thinks of all the “celebrity” voices Disney and Dreamworks are using, what projects he’s working on now, and his barely-supressed hate for Ren & Stimpy creator John Krisfaluci. Give yourself some time; it’s a long one.

June 11, 2006

New Then And Now

Carson City Post Office Foundation

I’ve got a new Then And Now article posted over at Around Carson: #22 – Building A Post Office.

June 9, 2006

My Day in the Papers

The spotlight’s on me today! Or at least a tiny little beam from the spotlight, reflected off the tuba in the orchestra pit. The article that I interviewed with the RGJ for was published in today’s Calendar section, page 15. It’s a good article, at least as good as it can be considering what its subject matter is. Since I was the only person willing to give their real name, I’m they only one they used any quotes from. And by reading some of those quotes, It’s bafflling that I don’t have a red-hot career as a public speaker. I’m suprised the words “stuff” and “things” only showed up once in the article; I’m sure I used them more than that in the interview.

I think the article suffers by not having quotes from more people in there, and not just because my brain shuts down when my mouth opens. It was supposed to be about “Nevada Bloggers”, but ended up mostly just being the story of one, with a quick nod to some others at the end. Myrna the Minx got one paragraph, when she deserves half the article, at least, and Yukon Sully got two sentences. Considering they both whoop my ass daily, both in terms of quality and quantity, I think the article turned out a little lopsided. I don’t fault the reporter, because I know she tried; the RGJ must have some kind of blanket “no anonymous sources” rule, and an end result like this really shows how damaging a rule like that can be.

It was good to see, though, that the reporter did use my one good quote, the one that I blatantly stole from David Weinberger: “It used to be everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, now it’s that everyone is famous for 15 people.” I think that’s the real heart of the issue that I wanted to get across, and although the line itself can be seen as a joke and a play on words, underneath it you find the real power of blogging (and podcasting). That anyone can be a publisher, anyone can get their word out, and even if what you have to say is lame and banal and not worth wasting even one sheet of paper on, it’s still probably valuable to someone out there. Blogs enable writers to find an audience that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and enable readers to step outside the bestsellers shelf and find things they’re really interested in. It brings ideas together in a way nothing ever has before, and it makes it all as simple as clicking the “Publish” button.

That’s what I was really trying to say. It just came out as “stuff” and “things”.

June 6, 2006

Three Flags Highway Guide

A fellow named Cameron Kaiser has put together an incredibly detailed guide to Highway 395, or what used to be called the “Three Flags Highway”. The guide starts way down in San Diego, where the Hwy 395 doesn’t even exist anymore. He has to explore old surface streets to find where the old route used to run in the 1960s. Then the highway starts for real outside Victorville, in the Mojave Desert, and he follows it from there all the way up to the Canadian border. The amount of work he put into this project is insane. He split up the road up into about 30 segments, each one representing a stretch between county lines, or between two landmarks. Then he gave each segment its own page, and posted at least a dozen pictures of each stretch. Mostly they’re pictures of highway signs and mile markers, since he’s a “roadgeek”, as he calls himself, and he’s interested in things like signage and alignments and numbering. He really has a field day trying to wrap his mind around the whole US 395/I-580 thing going on with the Carson City and Reno Freeways. But he also sprinkles in historical backgrounds on each of the areas the road travels through, and gives you a sense of the scenery and sights you’re going to see along the way. I’ve been driving 395 between here and Orange County for over 20 years, and even I learned a few things flipping through this site.

Most of what he writes about is in California, Oregon and Washington, all of which are kind of outside the scope of this website. But since 395 dips into Nevada, and rolls right through downtown Minden, Carson and Reno, our area does gets its fair share of coverage. Five pages, to be exact, and since our freeway project has been going on for something like 40 years there’s plenty for him to talk about. The five segments he covers are:

If you’ve got even a little bit of roadgeek lurking inside of you, his site is worth checking out.