Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Let's Be Frank (and Geek Wednesday)

Jon Stewart reveals the Iraqi "gratitude bunker" (click the graphic and watch).

Some would say you're a jerk, honey: I lack cable TV, but I get a five minute dose of CNN's early evening fare at the deli next door, where I stop after work. Tonight, that lady anchor at the Lou Dobbs program was introducing the story of the Venezuelan oil deal with China. She gravely announced that "some say this relationship is the same as that between Soviet Russia and Fidel Castro's Cuba."

Now, how could I respond to that politely? And would you believe it, CNN is one of the CATV networks deemed "liberal" by the neocon chorus in the MSM. If you don't believe me, you can check my source: Alterman's book.

What's scary is how quickly the woman swung that remark into our consciousness. I turned around to the other people in the store and asked, "did anyone notice what that woman just said about Chavez?" Nobody had picked it up...consciously, anyway.

This is why, whenever the opportunity arises, I like to try and advocate on behalf of responsible journalists (they're out there, if you look for them). So our new campaign is on behalf of Mr. Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter With Kansas?, and currently a "guest columnist" at the New York Times.

Well, I've read three of four of his pieces for the NYT, and I'm ready to see him go from guest to permanent. Get rid of Friedman, Brooks, or Tierney—I don't care which. But they need to make this man Frank a regular part of their stable. Check out this quote from a recent column:

K Street’s money keeps wages low and prescription drug costs high; K Street’s “superlawyers” fight to make our retirement insecure; K Street’s deregulation gurus turn our electric utilities into the plaything of Wall Street. What K Street wants from government is often the opposite of what the public wants. And yet what K Street wants, far too frequently it gets — if not by the good offices of Bob Ney, then by the timely disappearance of the now useless Bob Ney.

The title of his column today speaks for itself: G.O.P. Corruption? Bring In the Conservatives. It's about the dangers of voter apathy and citizen despair in the wake of corruption scandals like the Abramoff affair, with compelling historical proof.

So let's start a letter writing campaign to get Mr. Frank an offer from the NYT to become a full-time columnist. Here's the contact info you'll need to write to the Times:

The New York Times
229 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-556-1234
Fax: 212-556-3690
D.C. Bureau phone: 202-862-0300

Letters to the Editor (for publication):
Write to the news editors:

If you go the email route, here's some sample text that you can copy and paste into your message:

This is a vote to have the Times make Thomas Frank a regular columnist in its op-ed stable. If you'd like to save money, get rid of the icy, snide, and usually wrong Friedman; or that living, writing cure for insomnia, David Brooks; or the ditzy and superficial Tierney (but don't you DARE touch Krugman, Herbert, or Rich). In just four columns, Mr. Frank has shown a clear perception of K Street decrepitude and neocon corruption, all in a context that is fact-based and positive in terms of the takeaway message for the reader. He deserves to be more than a "guest." Hire him now.

Geek Wednesday

Doh! Vista keeps XP's pimples intact: Yes friends, in technology, the only constant is change...except when it comes to bugs, flaws, and security vulnerabilities. For those, you can rely on Microsoft, generation after generation. But you can have Vista at a discount, bugs and all, if you take advantage of their holiday (oops, sorry Mr. O'Reilly—I meant Christmas) offer. As long as you a month or more for them to finish fixing it.

But we do believe in equal time for the bashing of corporate tech giants, even if we happen to be writing on their efficient computers equipped with their outstanding operating system. For not only has Apple discovered some minor problems with overworked employees at its Asian iPod factories, it has also locked out independent labor investigators. So how do we know that Apple's on the up, saying it's found some small trouble and has already fixed it, and no, they don't need anyone else to check it out?

We don't. C'mon Steve, don't act like the Bushies, saying that you're squeaky clean and expecting the press to parrot the claim. Let some people who can really authenticate your ethics do the job. I promise: you do that, and I'll buy another Mac. Deal, Steve?

But just in case you can't or won't deliver, I'm putting Ubuntu back on my Intel machine. And if this Nike/child labor/secretive bullshit keeps up, this Mac is my last; and I won't leave you alone here, either.

And since we're busy mashing Apple, we might as well toss this in, the story of some of Steve's herd who did the unthinkable—got their hands on developer's copies of Leopard and dared to talk about it.

I've worked in corporate America for upwards of 20 years, and I know that this is all run of the mill. When you work for a corporation, you're owned like a cow or a dog. Everything you say, do, and think is watched and recorded. There are no such things as employees anymore (if there ever were); we are all property. It's true where I work; it's true at Apple; and apparently at AOL too. The brand goes on your ass as your nose is pushed to the grindstone.

In fact, the only place where you're allowed to totally screw up and still keep your job is in the government (or the media, provided you pipe the former's tune correctly); and in that case, you've got an unlimited pass. The rest of us live with our daily dose of fear and the occasional pink slip.

But there is, I feel, a way free of it all...get this book and read the third chapter.

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