Say Goodnight Frudy

Despite what some local Greensboro blowhards would have liked for us to believe, Rudy Giuliani was never considered by any on the left to be “unbeatable”. From the moment he announced his candidacy it was doomed, and with good reason. The man stood on the backs of the heroic victims of September 11th, 2001 like some deranged kid playing king of the hill. He used fear as a weapon to glean votes and did so while having a very public affair with his wife. He used taxpayer money and the services of the NYPD to escort his mistress around New York, and was in bed with Bernie Kerik, one of the slimiest goons this side of the Sopranos. He spent more time at Yankees games than at Ground Zero and insisted on putting the Anti-terrorism command center in the one building where it didn’t belong.

His utter defeat in the one state he concentrated his pathetic campaign, namely Florida, is laid bare as a thorough rebuke of Giuliani the man. The more they saw of this moral waif, the less they liked. About the only thing that feels better than Rudy being literally shoved out of the race, is knowing that it all happened despite FOX News and Roger Ailes’ best efforts. “America’s Mayor” received more free air time on FOX than any other GOP runner, and was openly endorsed by Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes himself. How very frustrating it must be for them to see the one man they were trying to usher into the Oval Office, humiliated and rejected by the very same seniors that make their top ratings earner, Bill O’Reilly, such a star. Fancy that.

And so, we bid a fond farewell to the less-respected half of the “Frudy” team once and for all. Neither Fred Thompson nor Rudy Giuliani ever had a prayer, but it was still fun watching all those right-wingers boast and flap about for them for the better part of a year. I think I’ll miss that part the most. Good times.

Obama’s No Fluke

Barack Obama’s win in South Carolina has confirmed that his candidacy is not a flash in the pan. The man inspires where ever he goes and I believe he has the momentum needed to take the nomination. He speaks to the best parts of us and gives young people a reason to get motivated in the process of democracy.

He’s even swaying hearts and minds of those on the right side of the isle with the possibility of what might be. He still has a long journey ahead of him and a great deal of experience to learn, but of anyone running this season, he fills me with the most hope for a better America. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here. Lord bless him and keep him safe. We need this man.

Brad & Britt Defend the Indefensible

Another journey into the land of hypocrisy (on both sides of the issue) this morning on the Brad & Britt show on FM Talk 101.1. You see, some people have had enough of the hate-spewing rhetoric of Michael Savage and have decided to contact his advertisers to try and get them to yank support of his show. The plan seems to be working and Savage has lost at least 4 major sponsors to date.

Into the fold, once again, comes our local radio talk radio hosts, Brad Kranz & Britt Whitmire who did a segment on Savage this morning. Unsurprisingly both hosts take the position that while some of the things Savage broadcasts to millions of people each day are offensive, and even in some cases as Britt said “indefensible”, if people don’t like it, they can turn the dial and simply not listen.

It’s interesting because I actually do turn the dial as soon as Alan Handleman goes off the air. I’ve tried to listen to Savage several times, but find myself becoming nauseous very quickly. I agree he does make some interesting points from time to time on issues of the day. But then he goes and says stuff like this:

“90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation.” – 12/12/07

Madeline Albright is “a traitor. In my opinion, she should be tried for treason, and when she’s found guilty, she should be hung.” – 10/9/06

“Liberalism is, in essence, the HIV virus, and it weakens the defense cells of a nation.” – 7/6/06

and the one that got him rightfully fired from MSNBC:

“Oh, you’re one of the sodomites,” Savage said. “You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How’s that? Why don’t you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it.”

Being the “liberal” that I am, I fully support free speech and the First Amendment. I have a problem however when someone’s rhetoric goes from being simply one of opinion (no matter how difficult that opinion might be to take) to one of hate. Michael Savage is a purveyor of hate, pure and simple. Britt would tell you that’s all “part of his act”. As if that makes everything he says acceptable somehow. I find it interesting how they’ll spend 2 or 3 minutes berating Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, but Neal Boortz and Michael Savage, for some reason, get treated a little differently.

So my questions to Brad & Britt are these: Is there anything a radio talk show host (particularly one on your own station) could say that you think would merit them being either fired or boycotted? Why is it unacceptable for groups of citizens to try and get a person who fills our airwaves with hate, fear and intolerance, off the air? And finally, are we all just expected to let talk radio hosts say whatever they want, no matter how hurtful and offensive it is, all the time?

George W. Bush’s Legacy

Of all the facts on display in this chart from the Democratic Caucus regarding the quality of life for Americans now compared to when Bill Clinton left office, the most damming is the percentage of foreign oil the U.S. now imports. Bush could have used his presidency to call for increased research in renewable fuels, but instead we now import 60.38% of our oil from other nations compared to 52.75% in 2001.

Legacy of George W. Bush

Despite Bush’s war of choice in Iraq, this single fact, has decreased the national security of the United States considerably in the last six years. Threats to our economy and stability would have been significantly reduced if we had started to ween ourselves from foreign oil when he took office. Instead, our dependency on oil has grown, as has our national deficit, health care costs & the price of gas.

Bush likes to think that history will eventually judge him and his record favorably once the seeds of his policies have had time to germinate. Given the facts presented here, it seems the only thing sprouting during his time in office were weeds.

Digg It!

She’s So Vibrant!

So I surfed to CNN.com today to find an absolutely horrendous photo of Barack Obama staring back at me. I’m sure CNN will tell you that it’s Getty Images’ fault, but really, is there any excuse for Obama’s case of super jaundice? If I was the tin-foil hat type, I’d say someone is trying alter our perceptions of Hillary. But who’d be stupid enough to try and pull that crap? Oh yeah.

Real Life Wait Cursor

This funky watch has to be the coolest thing to come out of Korea since Kalbi. A company named Funshop has released this wonderful, retro accessory much to the delight of pixel geeks everywhere. I especially love how the face is true to form and forgoes any numbers which would only detract from the pixelish illusion. Not sure if you can order it yet, but even if you could, you’d have to be a huge nerd to actually wear it in public. Something tells me this would be better off on a shelf as a great conversation piece, at least until they come out with the inevitable Marble of Doom inspired pocket watch.

Hat tip to: NOTCOT.

Blue Is Bustin’ Out All Over!

The numbers are in for one of the red stronghold states, namely South Carolina, and the results are not pretty for either Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson. Thompson came away with less than half of the votes that McCain did, which is bad considering he was supposed to clean up in SC. Rudy did even worse and again came in behind “fringe candidate” Ron Paul, 15,773 to 9,112. In fact, Paul has managed to beat Rudy Giuliani in 5 of the 7 states that have held caucuses or primaries so far. Quite a feat when you consider that, as Rudy is constantly reminding us, he was the mayor of New York during 9/11. The guy who was center stage during the greatest disaster in our country’s history is being beat by a man who some say is in the pocket of the KKK. Ooouch!

What’s happening on the GOP side is that true conservative Republicans are being pushed towards candidates that they are loathe to support. Rudy and Feddo were their go-to guys, but both will most likely be out of the race come Super Tuesday. Ron Paul represents libertarian ideals and has stated that he’s anti-war. Mitt Romney’s religious background and record in Massachusetts puts him outside the “comfort” zone of most right-wingers. And while McCain is the stand-up ex-veteran that would seem to be just the GOP’s type, he still has moments of unpredictability that makes voting for him risky.

The net result is that there is no “good” choice on the Republican side of the isle and GOP voters (so far at least) are staying home in droves because of it. From Crooks and Liars:

“In 2000 McCain took 237,888 votes in South Carolina. Tonight he has just over half those number of votes with 134,474 as I write this. Republican turnout will be well below where it was in 2000. More than 100,000 votes short.”

The evidence is clear that the general populace is sick and tired of Bush’s Republican policies. They really do want change, even if it comes from someone on the edge like Ron Paul. So no matter what happens on the GOP side, it is looking increasingly likely that 2008 will be a rout for Democrats.

There’s only one small problem – Hillary. Nominating her to the ticket would surely throw the balance back to the GOP side of the equation. The vast majority of moderate Dems and Independent voters hate her enough that if she wins the nomination, they’ll be the ones staying home on November 4th, I know I probably will. I think this is why we’ve seen a rash of right-wing news organizations suddenly supporting Hillary. The only viable GOP strategy is to make sure that McCain goes up against Clinton and not Barack, hence the “new love”. No matter what happens, I have to say that this year’s election is shaping up to be one of the most memorable and exciting of the last quarter century. It’s about time.

UPDATE: Want more proof that the far-right hates John McCain? Look no further than this article from the Washington Post which reports on Rush Limbaugh and Tom Delay’s attempts at derailing his campaign. The right’s getting nervous and desperate and I’m loving every minute of it. Hat tip to Ed Cone.

UPDATE II: Why wait for Super Tuesday? CNN reports that Thompson is officially hanging up his hat in the race. He never really had a chance anyway, despite what some people though. As my friend David Miller points out, one half of the “Frudy” team is gone. I wonder how long Mr. Unbeatable himself has left.

AP Prepares Britney’s Obituary

Evidently the Magic 8-Ball isn’t the only one who thinks Britney Spears isn’t long for this world. News out today from USMagazine that the Associated Press has begun working up Spears’ official obituary. You know, just “in case”. While this may seem rather heartless on the surface, it really does make sense. Given her penchant for running people over, her constant drug and alcohol abuse and her wild emotional mood swings, and you can hope for the best, but common sense says fear the worst. I’ve heard that her family is actually exploring legal options to have her committed in order to force her to get help. That doesn’t actually sound like a bad idea to me. Maybe, just maybe, the story about AP’s gruesome preparedness will snap her back to reality long enough to get a grip regarding her destructive ways. Then again she’ll probably just go back to sleeping with the paparazzi. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

More Than I Needed to Know

Being the huge Apple fan boy that I am, I live for Steve Jobs’ keynote speeches. Like millions of other devoted Mac users, seeing Steve take the stage and throttle up the Reality Distortion Field is a special pleasure. There’s something about the man that makes you believe in miracles. Call it charisma, call it vision, but whatever it is, he’s got it and Bill Gates doesn’t. As much as I love Steve’s keynotes, I love surprises even more. Sadly, thanks to the ever present leaks, educated guesses and prognostications of the Macintosh community, this year’s Macworld keynote was almost 100% devoid of surprises.

As all of us at the Iconfactory huddled around the Macbook Pro to watch MacRumors’ live keynote feed earlier today, I started to get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Point after point in Steve’s address seemed like old hat. Corey even managed to guess several of the next words out of Steve’s mouth before he spoke them. Apple TV, check. iTunes movie rentals, check. iPhone firmware update, check. Macbook Air subnotebook computer, check. Check!?

If you paid attention to the Mac sites late last week and over the weekend, then you probably knew the Macbook Air was coming, as did iTunes movie rentals and all the rest too. About the only thing in the entire keynote that was a surprise was Time Capsule and the fact that all the major movie studios were on board for rentals. While I’m very impressed with just about everything Apple announced today, I felt disheartened that I already knew most of it. It totally took the fun out of the keynote and dampened my spirits as everything was laid bare. John Gruber’s prediction piece right before the keynote was so accurate, I was actually sorry I read it after Steve left the stage.

Growing up, one time while my parents were out, I carefully unwrapped a few of my Christmas presents to get a sneak peek. I was quite proud of myself when I even managed to play a copy of Asteroids for the Atari 2600 and then successfully re-wrap it without my mother so much as suspecting anything. It felt great to blast chunks of pixelated rock days early, but faking my surprise on Christmas morning ended up taking all the fun out of it. Given how I felt watching today’s keynote, I think for next year I’ll leave the presents wrapped and my rumor web surfing habits under the tree where they belong.

Mythbusters Minus the Good Stuff

Take one super successful TV show and mix in greedy network executives. Next, assume your audience has the collective IQ of a school of goldfish, add some big explosions, plus a cute, “geeky” female co-star and you have The Discovery Channel’s latest attempt at lighting in a bottle – Smash Lab. Think of it as Mythbusters minus all the things that makes the show great like science, likable cast members, humor & having a point. Only after watching the first episode online did I start to appreciate what the executives at Discovery are trying to force feed their viewers.

Smash Lab premieres this Wed., Jan. 16th at 10pm on The Discovery Channel and I can’t remember the last time a network so blatantly ripped off its own property. Unlike Mythbusters where Jamie, Adam and crew propose common fallacies or myths and then set out to either prove or disprove them, Smash Lab’s main purpose seems to be blowing stuff up just for the fun of it. They’ve couched the premise of the show as “picking apart tech and piecing it back together for new and better uses”, but don’t let that fool you. Smash Lab producers obviously needed a science angle to justify the show’s obvious parallel to Mythbusters. But judging from the harsh comments on the Smash Lab blog about the lack of science and shamless product tie-ins, they’ve even managed to screw that up.

The thing that bothers me most about Smash Lab is that the people at The Discovery Channel must think Mythbusters fans will lap up anything, as long as it has C4 strapped to it. Sure, I howled when Adam and Jamie packed 2 tons of high explosive into a cement mixer and basted it into a million little pieces. I loved seeing a hot water heater become a ticking time bomb, and I went ga-ga over rocket powered cars. Despite all this, I have no plans to tune into Smash Lab.

Adam and Jamie were the first, and the best at what they do. Along the way they somehow managed to pick up Tori, Kari and Grant, three of the funniest, smartest and most resourceful sidekicks any TV host could ask for. If Discovery wanted a Mythbusters spin-off, they should have given this terrific trio their own show and let Adam and Jamie fill the ranks with the fabled Mythterns. This new show seems like a giant end run around the Mythbusters, whom I’ve watched loyally now for over five years. I’m sure the suits at The Discovery Channel hope Smash Lab will launch to the stratosphere, but I have to say, I’m hoping it’ll just sit and explode on the pad.

That Shit Won’t Fly at Macworld

So Editor Brian Lam and the crew at Gizmodo.com apparently pulled a slew of pranks at the C.E.S. expo in Las Vegas this week. They got their hands on a gadget called the TV-B-Gone that lets you turn off virtually any TV remotely and went around the show switching off all manor of flat panel displays right in the middle of presentations. As one might imagine, show organizers, sponsors and naturally presenters were furious and have called for firings as well as banning Gizmodo from future admission at C.E.S. We know how much Brian likes to have fun, but after viewing the video that they themselves made, I find myself pretty upset.

The people who attended C.E.S. went to see the very stuff that Gizmodo screwed with. If I had been in the audience and monitors started blacking out every time I sat down, I’d be raising bloody hell to the organizers too. This group of bloggers saw fit to waste people’s time and money on a puerile joke that that isn’t even that funny. David Pogue wrote this week that Gizmodo crossed the line and I happen to agree with him.

“Why do the exhausted, hard-working booth reps deserve to have their demonstrations ruined? Why did the audience deserve to have its time wasted? Besides: if Gizmodo’s beef is with the C.E.S. organizers, why punish the presenters and their companies?”

Imagine if they had tried to pull this at Macworld instead of C.E.S. What do you think would have happened then? Unlike some wishy-washy people in charge of C.E.S., I would bet my right arm that Steve Jobs wouldn’t let them set foot in another Macworld expo for at least 3 years. In addition, Mac users would probably hoist Lam and company to the top of the highest yard arm and have their way with them seven ways to Sunday online. However, the Gizmodo crew isn’t stupid, and so the chances of them attempting a repeat performance next week in San Francisco are slim to none. After all, I don’t think even Brian Lam is crazy enough to come between the faithful and their Macs. For his sake, let’s hope so.

UPDATE: The more I think about what Gizmodo did, the more upset I get. Apparently some people think we should all just “lighten up” and have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Hardly. The folks at Gizmodo want to have access to people like Bill Gates, the most successful CEO in history, so they can post video interviews of him and lure eyeballs. At the same time, they run around C.E.S. pulling vandalism worthy of 5th graders. You can’t have it both ways boys. Thankfully an opposing view point at ZDNet seems to get it right. As anyone who’s watched The Amazing Race knows, karma’s a bitch.

Update II: A reader points out, not only are they jerks, but they’re hypocrites too. Check out Gizmodo’s original review of the TV-B-Gone. Irony much?

Mr. 9/11′s Cheap Too

Not only is he way behind in the race for the GOP nomination, but Rudy Giuliani won’t be paying campaign staffers for the entire month of January. There seems to be some disagreement from CNN whether this was mandated or voluntary:

“Two sources in the campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted the campaign was not in dire financial straits. A third campaign source, however, said “things are starting to get tight” and that “it was more telling than asking” the senior staff to forgo paychecks beginning the first of the year.”

The way I look at it, either you have enough money to run a proper campaign or you don’t. It appears that Mr. Unbeatable doesn’t. Maybe he should just pack it in now and save all those would-be campaign donors their hard earned cash.

Next Up: Arcade Daze System

They say you never forget your first true loves. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve recently gravitated to the pixel-click world of Arcade Daze once again. When I released the first Arcade Daze set back in August of 2006, it managed to combine two of my favorite things: video games and icons. I’m not talking about the photo-illustrative, super real creations that pass for icons today. I’m talking about good old fashion 16×16 and 32×32 pixel-clicked pieces of hand crafted art. Back before some of you who are reading this used a computer, icons were limited in the number of pixels AND colors they could contain. Placing each dot in the canvas was critical to the success of the final icon and something I thoroughly enjoyed doing.

Over the holiday break I started working on a new system replacement icon set for CandyBar based on Arcade Daze and I have to say it’s been a blast. I still have a way to go until it is completed, but I can already tell it will be one of my favorite sets. Every item in the collection is based off a 14×15 pixel click icon that then gets super-scaled up by various factors to flesh out all the sizes up to Leopard’s 512x512s. With Anthony’s help, I managed to create a series of Photoshop actions that take a lot of the grunt work out of creating Arcade Daze System. Thanks to these actions I’ll be able to include more icons in this collection than I’ve ever done before.

So stay tuned to the Iconfactory and in the meantime, head on over to my Flickr page for a sneak peek at what the pixelated future holds. This is gonna be fun!

Outlook Not So Good

Magic 8-Ball, I have some questions about Britney Spears. You know, that singer that used to be a cute little Mouseketeer and is now allergic to underwear. Did you see her latest episode where she was taken into medical custody for “being a danger” to herself and her kids?

You may rely on it.

Is this like that time she shaved off all her hair just to get attention?

Reply hazy, try again.

I mean, is she so screwed up that she’d risk losing visitation rights with her kids to help boost the sagging sales of her latest album in some kind of crazy stunt?

Better not tell you now.

Well, if she really is sick then isn’t Cedars-Sinai Medical Center run by a bunch of heartless monkeys who released her two days earlier than was originally planned?

Signs point to yes.

Can Dr. Phil’s 15 minute hospital visit really help the Britster get the broken pieces of her life back together?

Don’t count on it.

I mean by convincing her to go on his show, isn’t he just taking advantage of Britney and using her as his own personal publicity stunt?

It is decidedly so.

Okay, so if the hospital let her go early and Dr. Phil thinks of her as a meal ticket, who’s gonna get Spears the help she needs?

Ask again later.

Oh, come on! There has to be somebody that cares enough about her to stage an intervention or something, right? How about her bodyguard her lawyer or even her family?

My sources say no.

What about her mom? Will Lynne Spears really keep trying to sell books about her awesome parenting skills while she sits back and watches her daughter burst into flashbulb induced flames?

You may rely on it.

Sigh.

Just one more question then Magic 8-Ball. If things keep going the way they are, a year from now, will the paparazzi still have Britney Spears to kick around?

Outlook not so good.

Bless Him & Keep Him Safe

Media outlets are reporting tonight that Barack Obama has won the Democratic Iowa caucuses by a definite margin over his rivals Senator Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. I had been keeping my fingers crossed for Barack for months leading up to this night, but didn’t dare to hope until all the votes were in. Although the true race for the 2008 Presidency is just getting started, this small victory for Obama is a signal of hope for all of us progressives that want to break the cycle of Bush/Clinton that this country has been caught up in for almost two decades.

I’ve admired him ever since his inspiring 2004 Democratic National Convention speech. Like so many other Americans, I’m ready for change in this country and for me, Barack is the very embodiment of what is possible. All eyes now turn to my home state of New Hampshire and then onto states like South Carolina, Florida and others. If Obama can continue to appeal to young, fresh voters and find his voice on matters like foreign policy and national security, he might just pull this thing out.

Yet, in the midst of my hope, I also feel fear. I fear for the safety of Barack Obama because of what he represents. He is a man with a background and upbringing that some twisted individuals feel threatens their patriotism or social status. These extremist views have no place in a true democracy, but I sense they might be heard by others who refuse to sit by while Barack ascends the ranks.

I pray to God that he will keep Mr. Obama safe under his mantle and help those who feel hatred towards him for racial or religious reasons, see Barack for what he really is… a person just like you and me. His family raised him with love and respect for other’s beliefs, determination and a sense of self-respect that has given him unique vision. He is the embodiment of the American dream, a United States senator born to a Kenyan father and an American mother. He is a role model for young adults of all colors, religions and creeds, and he deserves a chance to show us how he would lead this country into the next decade. I only hope we all, every single one of us, give him that chance.

JibJab Does 2007 Up Right

Okay, just one more year end retrospective and then we’ll get on with the business of 2008. The folks over at JibJab have been hit or miss lately with their online videos, but their “In 2007” entry is one for the books. Love the “OJ took his crap back” and of course “Steve Jobs invented the iPhone”. Bravo guys, well done!

Hat tip to Jen Segrest for this one!