Monday, May 30, 2005

Koran protests fail to achieve full irony

Thousands of Muslims around the the world threw tomatoes at pictures of President Bush, spit on the American flag and burned copies of the U.S. Constitution in the protest over allegations of Koran mistreatement by Gitmo interrogators, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Goodness. If only they had tossed a few copies of the Bible on the bonfire, the irony would have been complete.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda members in Iraq have yet to repond to charges they don't even provide copies of the scriptures to their Christian and Jewish captives before murdering them.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Integrity in journalism -- this is refreshing

High marks to Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe and Thomas Lipscomb of the Chicago Sun-Times for questioning a statement by Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley that the U.S. military is deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq.

This is similar to the comment made at the Davos conference earlier this year by CNN Exec Eason Jordan, who was subsequently fired. But this time someone actually has it on tape.

"Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq," said Foley. "What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq."

Both Bray and Lipscomb demand that Foley provide some proof. In response, Foley has quibbled and dissembled. First she tried to draw a distinction between the U.S. military and actual troops, as if the two are divisible. Then she refused to comment at all.

For Foley, who represents more than 35,000 journalists, to make such an remark with any substantiation is outrageous. For her do so after the Eason affair is incredible. I know this may seem harsh, and I don't throw this word around casually, but clearly she's an imbecile.

I don't know Lipscomb, but I've dealt with Bray a couple of times over the years and found him to be a dogged reporter capable of deep understanding of an issue and unafraid to ask probing questions.

In the wake continuing screw-ups and blatantly bad reporting (CBS, Newsweek, etc.), public trust in traditional media is sinking. If that trend is to be reversed it will take more reporters like Bray and Lipscombe who have the guts and integrity to question their own and demand a higher standard be applied to their profession.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Carvin II: We Meant To Do That

Well, I received my five-string back from Carvin last night.

Same problem with the bridge -- bridge saddles hanging off the front of the adjustment screws, some barely hanging on by a thread. They did manage to correct the intonation though.

I called for Marco in customer service -- one of the folks I've been dealing with on this -- was told he was out. Asked to speak with his supervisor. Was told Marco was as high as I could go -- apparently Marco is president of the company now.

It gets real fun after that -- they've now opted for the "we meant to do that" defense.

The customer service rep proceeded to tell me the bridge is supposed to be adjusted like that. When I asked why it wasn't like that when I bought my Carvin seven years ago, he said the manufacturer of the bridge (Hipshot) had changed the spec.

Uh huh.

To be fair, I checked a bunch of pictures of their basses, and the saddles do appear to be adjusted pretty far forward on most of them. But in more than 25 years of playing, I've never seen a bass bridge set up to this extreme -- leaves absolutely no room for adjustment if any of the strings are flat at the 12th fret.

Their latest response leaves some open questions too. Like, why didn't they tell me this before I shipped it back to them more than a month ago? And why did it take them a month to fix it?

Frankly I'm dubious of the answer. I think they're just making things up to get rid of me at this point.

NBD. Life goes on. I'll use the bass for now, but I'll eventually dump it and get one from a manufacturer that actually cares about its products and customers.

Reputations are so hard earned and so easily lost.

Carvin? They're dead to me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Carvin: From the "can't get out their own way" department....

Still awaiting the return of my Carvin LB75 five-string bass -- nearly four months later.

It developed a terminal neck problem and I shipped it back to the factory for a rebuild in February (my hardware and elex to be mounted on a new neck and body). Called to follow up, emailed to confirm. "It's all good, be about four to six weeks," they replied.

After a month, I checked in to see how it was going. "Oh, um, we never processed your order -- it'll be about four to six more weeks."

Finally got the bass back in mid-April. Problem -- major intonation issue, couldn't be adjusted at the bridge. Sent it back.

They said it would require another rebuild -- and another four to six weeks.

Checked with them again last week, and they said "Oops, didn't need a rebuild after all -- we fixed it. Should ship within the next day or so."

Still waiting. Still waiting.

Are my expectations of customer service hopelessly unrealistic, or at this point should they be falling all over themselves to get this right and make me happy?

Probably the last thing I'll ever buy from them.

Al Qaeda -- Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss...

Iraqi officials now confirm that top Al Qaeda terrorist there Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been wounded , and there are reports of a succession plan conflict, says Reuters.

The report says that an Islamic Web site initially reported that a trusted deputy had assumed interim command until al-Zarqawi recovers, but the statement was later withdrawn. There have been additional reports of jockeying among various members of the terrorist faction.

See? This is what happens when you don't have an organization based on democratic principles to ensure a smooth and orderly transition of power.

So as the Iraqi Al Qaeda faction descends into chaos, may we wish Mr. al-Zarqawi a long convalescence. A long, long, long, perhaps not entirely successful, convalescence.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fili-busted II

The filibuster deal agreed to by both parties indicates that even Congressmen -- when pressed -- can actually behave like adults and do the jobs they were elected to do.

But will it last? Newsday asks the question.

I know I can expect "restaurant manners" from my five-year-old for only a set period of time. And my expectations are even lower for members of Congress.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The voice of Tony the Tiger, Thurl Ravenscroft, died Sunday as a result of prostate cancer. "They're GREAT!" Mr. Ravenscroft proclaimed for more than 50 years. Other claims to fame included voiceovers for classics The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and The Lady and the Tramp, as well as Disney World attractions Pirates of the Caribbean, the Enchanted Tiki Room, Splash Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion. Posted by Hello

Maher Mars G.I.s

Just when you think Bill Maher can't say anything more outrageous, he does, referring to U.S. servicemen and recruits as "low-lying fruit" on his HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Remember Bill? He's the guy who praised the heroism of the 9/11 hijackers, leading the cancellation of his previous show, "Politically Incorrect."

Congressman Spencer Bachus has called Maher's latest comments treason, although I think that's a bit over the top. If making stupid, unpatriotic remarks was treason, we'd have put "Minuteman" Michael Moore in jail a long time ago.

No, fortunately, even insensitive, outrageous, imbecilic remarks like this one are Constitutionally protected.

The obvious question is: who keeps giving Bill Maher his own television shows?

A reporter takes responsibility -- sort of...

Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff took a step toward accountability for the Gitmo Koran Desecration story fiasco, admitting on the Charlie Rose show that he had not properly corroborated his source, reports AP.

Could this be the moment, when a major news medium steps up and takes responsibility for its reporting. Are they finally going to say, "It was us. We blew it. We're responsible. We'll do better and try to make it right"?


Isikoff then steps back, saying, "It's thrown us off our game for a little bit. I think this will end up being a blip."

Nice. How many ruined reputations in an off game? How many dead people in a blip?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Newsweek does the "Tighten Up"

Newsweek has tightened up its policies on the use of anonymous sources in the wake of the Koran-Desecration flap, USA Today reports.

Only "top" editors will now be allowed to sign off on the use of anonymous sources. Kind of makes you wonder who was signing off on them before.

Also sort of reminds me of that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indiana Jones is asking the government agents what they've done with the Ark of the Covenant. They reply, "we have top people working on it...TOP people."

I feel so reassured.

Editor Mark Whitaker wrote that the episode "has been a sobering reminder of how much reach and resonance Newsweek has around the world, and the responsibility that carries with it."

Sobering, huh? Yeah, I suppose drunkeness is as good an excuse as any for the screw-up.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dean Judges, You Decide

Dem Chairman Howard Dean says that Senator Tom Delay should go to the hoosegow, reports the Associated Press.

"Tom DeLay is corrupt. No question about it," Dean said Friday, with much certainty and conviction, adding that Delay probably deserves to go to jail. Nevermind that Delay continues to deny any wrongdoing, and has not had his day in court yet.

"No question about it" -- isn't that nice? Now, bear in mind folks -- this from the same guy who said when running for president we couldn't positively conclude Osama Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks, despite videotaped statements from Bin Laden himself boasting to the fact.

"I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials," Dean said in 2003.

So, apparently admitted mass-murderers deserve their day in court. U.S. Senators do not. Nice.

Saturday -- Car Care

Oil changes today on the cars. I try to do both cars at the same time, so I only have to clean up once. I do them very three months, regardless of mileage, which is always below the factory specs anyway.

One thing that's a pain -- they use different grades. It was easier when the wife and I both drove Chrysler minivans, which used the same grade of oil -- 5w-30. But the '95 Olds my in-laws gave us last fall uses 10w-30. Oh well.

Another thing -- oil-pan capacity. The Olds takes five quarts, which is a little odd. But the Town & Country takes 4.5 -- what's up with that?

Speaking of oil, doesn't look like we're gonna get a break on prices anytime soon.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Superhero Superdebate

Can a five-year-old wear Batman underpants beneath Superman pajamas?

It was quite the contentious debate at bathtime the other night.

Unfortunately, we get no guidance on this from the Justice League of America.

Star Wars Premiere

Took the big kids to the Star Wars Episode III premiere last night. Pretty good overall -- nicely tied up the loose ends of the series. And the kids enjoyed it

The one part I didn't care for was when Senator Bail Organa started a filibuster to block Chancellor Palpatine's appointment of Anakin to the Jedi Council -- geez, I felt like I was watching C-Span.

Okay, that didn't really happen, but you'd think it did from some of the news reports about the real filibuster flap in Congress.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Here's my current amp -- the Eden Traveler WT-550. This bad boy produces 500 watts at four ohms. I'm currently running two cabs with it -- the Eden D115XLT and D210XST. And the tone? Like budda. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

60 Minutes II Gets Eighty-Sixed

CBS says cancelling the news show 60 Minutes II had nothing to do with the botched story last fall on President Bush's National Guard service, citing instead poor ratings.

While never a ratings leader, the show showed a precipitous decline over the past year, dropping 14 points. Still, I wonder if that story --which led to firings for several staffers and a disgraced exit for Anchor Dan Rather -- didn't accelerate the drop.

Can you say "cause and effect"? Sure you can.

Actress Jessica Alba -- she's pretty. Maybe that will drive visitors. Posted by Hello


With the filibuster flap over President Bush's judicial nominees, Congressional Democrats have once again done what they seem to have an amazing talent for -- painted themselves squarely into a corner.

Here's how it seems to play out. If they actually filibuster, they pretty much position themselves as nothing but obstructionists, contributing nothing, merely holding things up. Sort of like a five-year-old who doesn't want to take his bath.

If instead the Republicans deploy the "Nuclear Option" -- that's pronounced "nucular" incidentally -- the nominees will steam through committee to vote, will be approved overwhelming, and the Democrats will be completely sidelined, with no input to the process. Sort of like a five-year-old who's been put in timeout for not taking his bath.

What could the Dems do instead? Discuss. Debate. Negotiate. Compromise. Participate. You know, like adults. Like elected public servants are supposed to do.

Will they? Who knows. CBS News sees some hope.

The Boring Page

Actually quite funny, really.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek Response "Lukewarm"

The Westchester Journal-News characterizes as tepid Newsweek's response to its Gitmo/Koran-Desecration flub.

"[Editor] Whitaker's lukewarm response is in stark contrast to the apparent zeal his reporting and editing staff used in publishing the original account, in which the Koran allegedly had been flushed down a toilet," says the paper in an editorial.

The Journal-News goes on to describe its own policy on using anonymous sources. Read it all.

Eddie jamming -- is that an F-16 he's playing? Posted by Hello

Newsweek Retraction

Newsweek has now retracted its story on Koran descecration at Gitmo. This is a significant shift from Sunday, when they merely said they couldn't prove the allegation.

Could they have learned a lesson from what happened last fall when CBS stalled for more than a week over its National Guard documents story?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Oily hypocrisy

So I'm driving home on 684 this evening, and I pass a car with a bumpersticker that says something like "Would you sacrifice your child for oil?"

And I thought, "Well obviously YOU would -- cuz that's not a dual-fuel biowaste-fired/lunar-powered eco-moped you're driving. It's a gasoline-guzzlin' mo-tor vee-hi-cle."

By their nature, bumperstickers tend to run to the shallow and one-dimensional side. But I think this one pretty much hits the low-point for intellectual content.

If you must boil your philosophy or worldview down to ten words you can smugly display on your car, you really should try to not make it so ironic.

And if you're going to complain that the war is all about oil, you better be getting around town on a unicycle, a pogostick, or your Keds. Otherwise you're just a hypocrite.

Star Wars -- Big Dad at the Dinnertable

I should be reasonably popular at home this evening. I just bought tickets for my older kids to the new Star Wars movie ( on opening day, Thursday.

I'll be sure to check the overnight polls tomorrow morning.

Custom Fender '78 Jazz Bass Posted by Hello

Newsweek -- Oopsy!

Newsweek has backed away from a story saying U.S. military interrogators at Gitmo desecrated a copy of the Koran. ( Oops, sorry about that.

They're hedging their apology though. For openers, they haven't said the story was false -- they've merely said they didn't have sufficient proof that it was true.

Gee, I wonder why. Could it be because they only had a single source, who never offered any proof of the allegation? Once again, the rush to get a story first means getting a story wrong -- this time with tragic results.

Mind you, the story contributed to rioting in Muslim nations, resulting in more than a dozen deaths.

Who edited this story -- CBS?

Seems like Newsweek owes more than an "oops" here. Someone needs to be fired.

First Post

This should be interesting. I can't guarantee what you'll see in this spot -- my interests range from media to music to politics to business. You might see stuff about everything from lawn care to health care. And I make great omelettes.