The Bush Era in a nutshell

U.S. Poverty Rate Was Up Last Year – New York Times:

Even as the economy grew, incomes stagnated last year and the poverty rate rose, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. It was the first time on record that household incomes failed to increase for five straight years.

A rotten record that even exceeds the indifference toward the lot of the average person of the Hoover Administration.

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This Just In is just in with U.S. agency privacy reviews and the Katrina/Guard piece

Here’s the second installment of This Just In, my news commentary program. Today’s installment (actually produced yesterday, as I am working on process) is on U.S. government privacy findings and the role of the National Guard in times of domestic crisis.

Again, the files are available in three formats, two free untargeted Audible files, which give you a much more compact file and more control over the listening experience (bookmark support, etc.) and the big old MP3 file.

Here are the links (if anyone has a convenient way to manage multiple feeds of multiple programs, let me know):

Audible voice-optimized file (941KB)

Audible high-quality audio file (1.8MB) YOUR BEST CHOICE, IMO.

MP3 file (7.3MB)

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Must be a video iPod….

Macworld: News: Apple plans “special event” on Sep. 7:

Apple on Monday sent out invitations to select media and VIPs for a “special event” planned on September 7, 2005 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, Calif.

The e-mailed invitation shows a pair of denim jeans. At the top of the image reads a caption, “1000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again.”

Even money that this is the video iPod announcement. My guess is it will initially support synchronized playback of images, like the photo iPod does but in this case synchronized programming will be created and offered to customers, with audio and video downloaded from an iTunes-like portal…..

UPDATE: Peter Van Dijck agrees, with additional detailed thoughts on the features.

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Evolution Media debuts

After lots of preparation, I’m returning to audio production with two new programs. The first, This Just In, made its debut Thursday and will be an almost daily news commentary and, dare I call it such, comedy program.

The other project is much more like the old Adventures In Technology program I did for Audible back between 1997 and 2001. Evolution Media, which makes its debut today, will feature long-form commentaries—the first is about the need for more bridges between new and established media producers—with some occasional interviews and discussions.

An important note: I am releasing these programs in an untargetted Audible file, meaning they are freely playable by anyone with iTunes, an AudibleReady portable player or the Windows AudibleManager program. There are several reasons for this, the first is that the .AA format is far more compact than MP3. For example, the MP3 version of the first installment of Evolution Media is 53 MB, compared to 10.6 MB for the MP3-comparable quality .AA version or 5.3 MB for the voice optimized version.

So, you have your choice and I am going to be tracking total downloads of each format, but I urge you, both for convenience and because it will save you lots of storage space (and me, bandwidth), to try the .aa files. If you can’t be troubled to listen, the text version follows—but it does not include any of the ad libs that pepper my programs; you also don’t get the original music arrangements, another first for me.

Here’s the link for the high-quality Audible file (10.6 MB)

Here’s the link for the voice-optimized Audible file (5.3 MB)

and here’s the MP3 file (53 MB).

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Continue reading “Evolution Media debuts”

Our Guard is down

I was deeply struck by the images of people lined up outside the Superdome in New Orleans, hoping for shelter from Hurricane Katrina because they didn’t have the ability to escape the region.

Where is the National Guard, which used to show up with trucks to get those in greatest need out of a disaster area?

Of course, the answer is “They are in Iraq, protecting us.” The State Police are heading the evacuation, even though the state is already a Federal disaster area, which allows deployment of the National Guard. In the West, firefighting has been hampered by shortages of personnel once filled by the National Guard—it’s not a regional problem but a national one that we can see most clearly in a crisis. Unfortunately, this is a crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of people—many of whom appear to have wanted to leave but can’t—in the path of a huge storm.

According to reports, the Guard is standing ready to help people after the storm, but many people who could have been evacuated with the appropriate resources are being left behind. This despite the fact that there is a mandatory evacuation going on.

The transformation of the Guard from homeland defense to offensive force for the first time since World War II has depleted the resources people have been able to depend on at home during a disaster. Currently almost half the Army National Guard is deployed and re-enlistment is down overall, leading to a tighter squeeze on regional disaster response. Moreover, the equipment and vehicles that would be broken out in response to a hurricane are unavailable, as they too are in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The “transformation” of U.S. military strategy has taxed local economies and, in Louisiana, among many other states, special arrangements have had to be made to keep enlistment high enough to staff a war; but the core mission of the Guard, to be available for governors’ to call upon for service in or near their home state is now neglected by Federal planners.

We have to rethink this use of the National Guard, both because of the severe consequences of having a shortage of citizen soldiers available to respond to disasters and the recognizable shortage of homeland defenses, where borders, shipping and other points of entry for would-be terrorists go unguarded. While President Bush argues this week that if we don’t fight the terrorists over there, they’ll attack us at home, we also have to take into account the consequences of his policy on people who don’t see the National Guard when they are needed at home.

I was born in Baton Rouge and have my fingers crossed for the folks down there.

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What’s Google’s Ad Agenda?

A couple weeks ago, I posted a piece criticizing President Bush that attracted Google AdSense ads soliciting Republican singles. I mocked that. Now, after posting a critical comment about telejihadist Pat Robertson, every Google-served ad on my site is skewed Christian, offering to tell the story of Jesus, art for Christians, Christian credit counseling, advice on planning for the Rapture—everything that doesn’t fit with my critique of Rev. Robertson and the general tone of this blog toward organized religion (Jesus said great stuff, it’s much of the history of what is done in his name that is revolting).

I was going to chalk it up to really bad natural language analysis, but then, I wondered, is it simply that Google is targeting or, more likely, is used to target commentators, burying their messages under pro-conservative, pro-fundamentalist advertising?

There is no rational reason for placing these ads here, as it is highly unlikely that Republican singles or Christian fundamentalists are reading this blog, except in anger or as they assemble their lists of people destined for the camps, so what gives? Is Google really that bad at ad placement or is it a vast right-wing conspiracy (the tongue planted firmly in my cheek will be missed by the right, but there it is)? I know Google claims to be “not evil,” but I didn’t realize they were taking sides in the ecclesiastical debates….

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