Friday, February 01, 2008

A Human Digital Interface

As I mentioned earlier today, I've been asked to participate in a sort of online experiment to cover the Super Tuesday primary in Tennessee (and beyond) as part of a group of bloggers and the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Key to gathering all the info and data are the folks with Publish2, and you can see the Publish2 Blog here, which includes the current group effort on Tennessee Election news on the right hand side of the page underneath the Categories. Or just click here to see the latest and complete listings via TennViews.

I like what I've been reading about Publish2 today, and thought Scott Karp's post from last August on the concepts of "Trusted Human Editors In Filtering The Web" was full of fascinating but familiar ideas which are finding new applications on the internet.

And by familiar I mean a long ongoing process where each of us learn to rate and value the information and stories we collect every day based on a complex set of qualifications. In other words, we know some people will relay to us some sound and reasoned thought and some people relay less than sound ideas. What's new is translating that concept into the uses and usage out here on the Wild, Wild Web. It's more than just adding a human editor to search engine algorithms, it's also about how we structure and understand the world around us.

Camera Obscura - Hannah Montana 3-D and Other Concert Films: The Ultimate Big Lebowski

"IDK if I'm aloud to got watch it but I love her!!!!!!"

Such text messages and internet forums are filled with the above comments, a sure sign a tween-aged girl is intent on seeing the concert movie "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Digital Disney 3-D". Clocking in at just under 74 minutes, it really isn't a movie, just a snippet of the live show of the slickly produced singer. But Hannah/Miley is a massive money machine with no signs of slowing down.

As one who was early to diss the "career" of her father Billy Ray Cyrus, I confess I had no idea he would spawn a marketing/manufacturing monster, perhaps even capable of being the first official icon of 21st century entertainment who didn't implode and shatter on the rocks of some rehab center.

I was talking with a group of kids recently who are in the very middle of the Hannah demographic, and asked them what it was they liked so much. The answer seemed to be that she was just simply "theirs" to delight in. She's their icon, and speaks/acts/sings just for them. No adults, no high schoolers, but Pure Tween manifested on the earthly plane.

For all the talk about how Hannah celebrates empowerment, she mostly seems to celebrate shopping and style. Wal-Mart and Disney are already offering 140 items in Hannah Montana shops in the Wal-Mart stores, with items ranging from apparel to decor and anything else that can sport a logo. As the press release says, "
Fans who love Hannah Montana will soon find more than they imagined at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart Stores, together with Disney Consumer Products, will bring more families more affordable access than ever before to Hannah Montana merchandise and activities in 2008."

Girl consumers seem to have an Americanized version of Japan street fashion with Hannah/Miley duality, where emulating a lifestyle means you've purchased a lot of products.

To even further signify the line between young consumers and old consumers, the old folks have their own 3-D concert film too - "U2 3D". The title of the concert film even sounds like the name of that droid you liked in "Star Wars".

Irish mega-rockers U2 offer a concert movie which clocks in at 85 minutes, and the 3D tech is truly immersive. While the band and lead singer Bono tend to generate headlines about politics and fame, their concerts are jaw-dropping good. Watching them in the Georgia Dome in the mid-90s, both the walls of sound and the stage presence of the band filled the arena from top to bottom. And when they manipulate consumer urges, it's ironic, so it's ok, right?

Carefully prepped, techno-smart concert movies, however, aren't really very meaningful as a movie experience. For my money, two other movies do far better to capture the event of a concert. That's "Woodstock" and "Monterey Pop". The music is the center of the action, but the films are also about the event itself. If you think the choices are too old-skool for you, then the Beastie Boys concert movie compiled from the videos shot by the audience, "Awesome: I F***in' Shot That!" may suit you better. Almost an anti-commercial effort, it's experimental style is quite unique.

Would you want your Tween to watch those movies? Probably not. But just how much exposure to live concerts by pop/rock stars is right for a Tween anyway?


As the Coen brothers eye Oscar gold for their film, "No Country For Old Men," their 1998 movie "The Big Lebowski" has reached a level of fame and fans normally found at a Star Trek convention (or perhaps a Hannah Montana concert??). To aid the newcomers and the diehards, a guidebook is now available.

"I'm A Lebowski, You're A Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What-Have-You" is the ultimate guide to The Dude and the movie.

New Election Coverage Project

I've been asked to join a group blog effort to cover the Super Tuesday primary and the elections in Tennessee by Jack Lail with the Knoxville News Sentinel. The project allows for combined effort from some bloggers here in Tennessee and the reporting of the Knox News folks to create a page that's chock full of sites and stories.

Michael Silence has more info on the project here, and others participating include TN bloggers participating:
Newscoma, R. Neal, Russ McBee, Ben Cunningham, Bob Krumm, Les Jones, and Jack Lail .

I see this morning that R. Neal at TennViews already has a nifty sidebar on his site which shows some of the stories and web sites already tagged. He's way techno-smarter than I am. But as soon as I get the details on adding the aggregated links here on this humble but lovable blog, I'll add it in later today, so be sure and check back.

I'll also be adding some of my own thoughts on the election in general, but up next today will be my regular Friday movie news and reviews.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

TN Senate Again Targets Abortion

Though the state's Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that our own Constitution takes priority over the federal one regarding a woman's choice when it comes to issues related to pregnancy, the state's Senate has (again, making it the 4th time) approved a plan to amend the Constitution to remove legal rights status on such issues:

"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

The vote breaks down as follows:

Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Burchett, Burks, Crowe, Finney L, Finney R, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Ketron, Kilby, McNally, Norris, Southerland, Stanley, Tracy, Watson, Wilder, Williams, Woodson, Mr. Speaker Ramsey -- (23).

Senators voting no were: Berke, Harper, Haynes, Herron, Kurita, Kyle, Marrero, Roller, Tate -- (9.)

It's strange to me to see the GOP in the state focus on this issue, when Tennessee has much to improve on in the arena of providing for mothers, fathers and children. Some just provided info on the "Best Cities to Have A Baby" ranks Nashville 33rd, and offers some other facts to boot:

•Compared to other states, Tennessee has among the least generous family-leave and disability laws in our survey.

•According to data from the CDC, maternal mortality in Tennessee is especially high.

•12 percent of pregnant women here receive late or inadequate prenatal care. That's the 4th worst score in our survey, compared to an average of 5 percent.

•32 percent of babies in Tennessee are born via Cesarean section, among the highest in our survey. The average is 27 percent.

•State laws do not require health insurance companies to provide or offer any fertility-related services.

•Nashville-Davidson has only 3 licensed home day cares for every 1,000 children under 4 years, the 3rd lowest in our survey. The average city in our survey has 13.

Debating Politics

I tuned in for the Republican debate last night and noted some curious things -

It's odd to me the most prominent thing in the Reagan Library is an airplane. I understand wanting to include the airplane, but maybe they should have called the facility the Reagan Memorial and Museum.

Though there were four candidates at the debate, the media only gave attention to two of them. Perhaps Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee should consider hiring Britney Spears or Paris Hilton to their campaign staff in order to get some media attention. (Maybe the TV news folk could gather all the celebrities for the candidates and we could have a Battle of the Stars team competition to determine who gets the nominations.)

I continue to hear and read a lot of complaints that GOP Senator John McCain is not a Republican. But Republican voters seem to think he's jes' fine. Does that mean the real complaint is that a majority of Republican voters aren't really Republicans?

For more debate thoughts, Volunteer Voters has a selection from Tennessee bloggers. And a fresh new GOP in Tennessee poll says McCain has the edge to win.

Also much unhappiness yesterday, via this collection at TennViews, that John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race. From what I've read, Edwards would have done quite well in Tennessee, though I doubt he could have done better than tie for second place.

I've been trying to get a handle on various issues which the candidates are stumping about as we get closer to the massive primaries next Tuesday and will be blogging often about it and sharing links with you.

The Super Tuesday effect is hitting the media as well, as the recent Pew study notes:

The presidential campaign continued to dominate national news coverage last week, and the public remained highly engaged in the ongoing contest. Nearly 40% of the national newshole was devoted to the campaign, and 36% of the public listed the campaign as the single news story they were following more closely than any other.

Democratic frontrunners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the most prominent figures in the news last week. When asked to name the person they had heard the most about in the news lately, 24% of the public named Obama and 23% named Clinton. In a week when he proposed a major economic stimulus plan, just 5% of Americans named George Bush as the person they had heard the most about. About twice as many (11%) named Hollywood actor Heath Ledger, who died last week."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Presidential Linkage

Some presidential campaign link love for your Tuesday:

-- Alice gives out the skinny on working to assist the John Edwards presidential campaign.

-- Undecided voters in the latest poll on candidate preference in Tennessee will be the deciders. (via Silence Isn't Golden)

-- Neo-con ET blogger David Oatney eyes the primary battle in Florida today and says Romney is the man and fears the liberalness of McCain.

-- Still others say the problem with McCain is that he's too much like President Bush.

-- An overview of the candidates and the primaries in the South.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thoughts on an Odd Case of Alleged Teen Terror

An arrest last week in Nashville of a 16 year old boy from California has left me pondering many questions. Headlines and TV reports across the country said the teen, flying on Southwest Airlines, was "foiled" in a "botched hijacking" attempt of the airline. Some seriously mistaken reports claimed the teen was going to make the plane crash into a Hannah Montana concert - even though the teen was flying on a Tuesday and the concert in Louisiana was on Saturday. So short of some astonishing time-travel, Hannah was never in danger.

The press reported the teen was in possession of three items, none banned on planes, to effect the "hijack" - a pair of handcuffs, some duct tape and some yarn. The yarn was first reported to be rope, but it was just yarn. Also curious were claims the teen had a "mock cockpit" in his home in California, but no, it was "a photograph of the inside of a small airplane" according to Nashville prosecutor Jon Seaborg.

On Friday, a Nashville judge charged the teen with "juvenile misconduct' and he was sent home - and home is apparently in a small suburb of San Francisco, called Novato.

The Novato Advance reported:

It could have been interpreted as harmless or a joke, but it still (is) something we have to take seriously. Whether anything could realistically be carried out is irrelevant," Seaborg said in a prepared statement Friday afternoon."

(Perhaps I should ask for some follow-up on this story from Brittney Gilbert, who is now working as a blogger for KPIX in San Fran.)

Anyway, the reports all sort of indicated that the FBI and the TSA had varying accounts of the incident. And let's say the teen did have some actual plan involving handcuffs, yarn and tape. But he apparently took no overt action, so it's pretty tough to imagine how he might have sought to use the items. I was glad to read the judge in Nashville drop charges significantly and send the boy home.

The reporting sure seems a bit hysterical but it does indicate something afoot in the minds of law enforcement - that something you might be thinking about could be a cause for arrest. And that idea has been bugging me since I read about it.

When discussing the incident with some friends, we decided that it takes very little to cause massive leaps in logic to label actions as a threat of terrorism or some other nefarious act of mass destruction. It's as if there is a persistent belief that any one among us could be mere moments away for an act of horrifying destruction.

It's the all or nothing days, as if we live in the most fragile realities and the stakes are higher than a world series of Texas Hold 'Em.

Many times in recent weeks and months, I've read local online news accounts of a wide range of alleged criminal acts and it seems the comments on such reports from the general public take about a nanosecond to decide that the suspect involved should be publicly tortured or maybe just given a hanging or other types of fierce punishments. The thought I am left with most after encountering such items is that the dubiously empowered "court of public opinion" has much in common with the ignorant and superstitious purges of a medieval-era of madness.

Our ready-made suspicions make it difficult to identify all the things that are right with the world, and focus instead on nameless dreads and invisible enemies. Blame for every evil is pointed at The Republicans, The Democrats, at Hispanics, at children, at music, at TV and movies, at Anything Even The Tiniest Amount Not-Me.

I'm more than ready to move away from the Monsters On Maple Street neighborhood and return to less fearful times.

How about you?

The Slipper Tongue

A mini-tempest appeared last week with talk about how President Bush has utterly misunderstood a painting of a cowboy a'ridin' up a hill, and that his skewed view of the painting tells us all much about our president.

The painting is by one W.H. D. Koerner, and while governor in Texas, Bush referred to it by the title "A Charge to Keep", even using that phrase as title of his own biography. Bush said the painting was of a Methodist minister a'ridin' hard and fast up a treacherous hill, intent on spreading his religion to all, no matter the odds. "
What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves" wrote Bush.

But according to a new book, and as reported too by Sydney Blumenthal in 2007, the interpretation was not exactly the intent of the artist. The painting originated as a depiction of a horse thief trying to escape from a posse. (see the painting in the link)

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

Now as part of this tempest has been the incredulous shock of some, who say "look at how Bush's mistaken interpretation of a work of art tells us so much about him!"

However - none of us need rely on Bush's views on art to "tell us" about the man and the president.

We have nearly 8 years of his interpretation of the Constitution, the rule of law, the balance of governmental powers, his choices for governmental appointments, and so many more of his actions tell us all about the man and the president.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekly Best of Tennessee Blogs

Covering a world of topics, from the primary campaigns, to health care, the following is provided courtesy of R. Neal at TennViews:

• 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera: SC exit poll results here and here

• 55-40 Memphis (a new addition to the blogroll and roundup): Dilemma: So, short of something drastic happening to make me wrong, I predict it's going to be a long, painful slog to November -- and (at best) a nailbiter election night.

• Andy Axel (at TennViews): America 2001-2008: Enter The Bush Leagues: Not even the Reagan Revolution or the Contract On America was as successful at creating so much ruin in such little time:

• Aunt B. (another new addition to the blogroll and roundup): Who Owns Tennessee’s Women?: Do we have the right to decide for ourselves what happens to our bodies or are we just walking condos, with the State acting as mostly-absentee landlords.

• BlountViews: Blount GOP to back Ron Paul?: What's not to like?

• The Crone Speaks: Are TN’eans/All Progressives Falling for the Symbolic Vote, or Do They Want a Real Leader?: The current state of our union does not afford voters the luxury for a symbolic vote. Voters should be considering the state our country is in, and which candidate has the most progressive platform to lead us out of the dire straights the previous administrations have placed us.

• Cup of Joe Powell: TV News Covers 'Baloney' In Campaign For President: Does the news matter to anyone anymore?, and Your Communication Is Not Yours Anyway: The argument that only the guilty need be concerned about this type of constant surveillance is an argument which has neither merit nor logic., and A Vast Database of Deception: And sadly, the general response to the report is a rather exhausted yawn. "It doesn't even matter anymore," said a friend of mine.

• The Donkey's Mouth: The $9 Trillion Bear in the Room: The fact of the matter is, however, that were it not for Democrats at the table there would not be a stimulus package.

• Enclave: Infrastructure? Who Needs Infrastructure?: Cost to fix these hazards: $1.6 trillion., and Bredesen's TDOT Welcomes Bush Transportation Chief in Support of Toll Roads: The traveling medicine show designed to pull public funds to private coffers (George W. Bush's prime directive) has come to Tennessee, and our so-called Democratic administration is embracing it with open arms., also Bubba's Brutality and Obama's Egotism

• Fletch: The Sand Man, and Afternoon Walk

• KnoxViews: Milestones unnoticed... (on KnoxViews anniversary), and a funny flashback from a reader (and RoaneViews co-conspirator), plus mark your calendars, Seymour Hersh Speaking at UT, Feb 6th

• Lean Left: Lean Left: The question now is where are the front runners? Why are they not in DC, right now, holding a press conference where they clearly state that they will be supporting the filibuster of this cowardly provision., and They're just politicians: They aren’t going to save us all with a well timed legislative victory and a cheery wave to the camera. Every single one of them will, at one point or another, betray something you consider vitally important to get something else, usually something you think is ridiculously over-valued. (as they say, read the whole thing...)

• Left of the Dial: Maybe in South Carolina...: But something tells me that unless Oprah campaigns in Tennessee and starts giving out new cars, he won’t see the same numbers here., and an Information Highway Road Trip

• Left Wing Cracker: THIS is why I'm for John Edwards , and in case you missed it at TennViews, A tale of two legislators

• Liberadio (another new addition to the blogroll and roundup): We use these too: If "ES&S iVotronic" and "paperless touchscreen voting machines" sound familiar to some of you it’s because 17 out of 95 counties in Tennessee use these machines and, if things don’t go well next week, we’ll be using them again in the November election., plus Our Money’s Already Spent

• Loose TN Canon: The albatross of Iraq around McCain's neck: John McCain is a hypocrite. During Clinton's presidency, he argued vehemently to bring the troops home from Haiti and Somalia - regardless of the consequences.

• NewsComa: Anthem Of Change: It backfired. The whole Hillary/Bill wrassling tag team blew up in their faces yesterday when Barack Obama beat the tar out of the two. , and I Have Some Time To Figure Super Tuesday Out: I only have one vote. And it’s mine.

• Pesky Fly: Clinton Destroying the Party: If our three Democratic candidate were steaks, they would be ribeye, t-bone, and porterhouse. Saying one cut of meat from the same cow will destroy the party is - there's no gentle way to say this - f***ing nuts., also Lost in the Funhouse: Obama's been misrepresented. ... And I really don't care much about this beyond the fact that I worry how, should they reach the general, the whiners will deal with an attack machine that took down John McCain for a lack of patriotism.

• Progressive Nashville: The right time for health care reform?: It's easy for the rich and powerful to ignore the problems of the poor, but now health care costs are tapping into profits and that means everyone's well-being is at stake., and Who will speak for the poor?: So divided has the Democratic Party become from wedge issues generated by the GOP, that its vision of prosperity for all has been all but abandoned.

• Resonance: Potpourri: I report, you decide., plus an interesting survey at TennViews: How much do political TV or radio ads affect your voting decisions?

• RoaneViews: Connected Tennessee: On the home page there is a place where you can check your Internet connection speed. There are also maps of the state by county that show that counties connectivity., and Green Development Conference

• Russ McBee: Congressional Dems cave to Bush twice in one day: The Democrats were not handed control of Congress last year just for the purpose of caving to every whim of the most unpopular president in recent history., plus: The clueless Michael Chertoff speaks: Showing your papers, removing your shoes in airports, and that Real ID nonsense do not foster security; they merely provide what Bruce Schneier calls "security theater:" the illusion of security, intended to foster a feeling of well-being, whether deserved or not.

• Sean Braisted: "You People": I knew the Clintons would attempt to dismiss the results in South Carolina as a hollow victory because South Carolina had a high black population; I didn't see Obama do the same thing because New Hampshire is one of the whitest states in the union., also: The Challenge: list 10 things I like about Hillary...I'll start, and perhaps get to ten.

• Sharon Cobb: Subdued Republican Debate Allows Romney To Perform Well.: By his looks and family, Mitt Romney is straight out of central casting for the role of President. However, his acting skills have been less than up to par. ... Then there was the obligatory Hillary bashing. I guess a bunch of old, conservative white guys can't conceive that their opponent in the general election might be a black man.

• Silence Isn't Golden: South Carolina Results Live-Blog: No word yet on whether or not she'll address the loss, although she already released a statement mentioning the Super Tuesday states, and also Florida. Unsurprising, since she's already indicated that she will undermine the DNC and Howard Dean by pushing for Florida and Michigan delegates to count., also in case you missed it at TennViews, GoldnI's analysis of the WSMV Tennessee presidential primary poll.

• Southern Beale: Fred Watch: Democratic voters don’t tend to blame their candidates when they don’t win primaries; at least, I don’t hear anyone blaming Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards for underperforming this primary season. , also Not That There's Anything Wong With That: Obama's not Muslim, people.

• Tennessee Guerilla Women: Media Bias Against Clintons Borders on Mental Illness: I don't recall ever seeing so much overt and shameless media bias in any previous election. I may as well be watching Fox News., also Everybody But Obama Knew About Rezko, and Nashville: Hillary Congratulates Obama & Says 'We Have Only Just Begun'

• TennViews TN GOP coming unhinged on abortion amendment: The bottom line is that this is a pathetically transparent political stunt to get yet another wedge issue on the ballot for the 2010 gubernatorial election in an effort to get right-wing extremists out to the polls. Tennessee deserves better leadership than this., also Sasser: As iron sharpens iron

• Vibinc: Real life intervenes, blogging will resume shortly...

• Whites Creek Journal: Who do I vote for? (a celebrity endorsement roundup): So ultimately, the burning question of the day boils down to , "Can that fat oatmeal guy beat both fake blondes, Rick Flair and Anne Coulter?", and Oh, Great! (on not being stimulated by the stimulus package): Republicans repeatedly demonstrate that they are ethically unequipped to do anything except serve rich people, and our Democratic Congressional leadership repeatedly proves that they are ill equipped to do anything except let them and whine about it.

• Women's Health News: Best Cities to Have a Baby: This year’s winner was Portland, followed by Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. My own city ranked 33rd, just below D.C. Among the factors weighing Nashville down...