And now this at Glasgow Airport:
GLASGOW, Scotland - Two men rammed a flaming Jeep Cherokee into the main terminal of Glasgow airport Saturday, crashing into the glass doors at the entrance in what appeared to be the third attempted terror attack on Britain in two days, witnesses said.
Are these incidents some sort of terror protest against Gordon Brown?
I remember flying into Glasgow Airport over spring break in 2005 when I went to visit a friend. The flight attendants on the regional jet from Heathrow had charming Scottish brogues and we descended out of the cloud and mists onto the runway just south of the River Clyde, a golf course nearby. I flew out - barely - on Easter Sunday, having caught the last train out of Dundee after missing the doubledecker bus due to an unexpected time change.
It's not a huge airport - somewhere between Dane County Regional and Mitchell Field. It's white and not much to write home about architecturally.
It's also eight miles east of downtown Glasgow, away from population centers, so it seems largely symbolic. But eyewitnesses make it sound like more than a mere vehicle crash:
"This was no accident. This was a deliberate attack on Glasgow Airport."
The BBC has more.
I'm not really sure why there is so much of a problem or even what triggered the ban, but I assume that someone at WDVA was spending too much time online. It also looks as though LIB has some good company on the list. Althouse and Charlie Sykes were both banned, as well as Dane 101, Jenna, GOP3 and OOTM.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I didn't see Dorshorst or the Hippie on the list, maybe they aren't rousing enough rabble...
I wonder how they made the list anyway.
H/T: Boots and Sabers
He wasn't there, but he lingered in the air. Steve S, ever the indie evangelist, got some of us interested in Cloud Cult a while back, and so we couldn't resist a trip to the water's edge.
After experiencing them at the Orpheum Stagedoor and live at the Terrace last night, I continue to find Cloud Cult worthy of boosterism like no other band on the scene these days.
They're regional (from the Twin Cities). They're memorable (two paintings unfold onstage during the shows). They're real (I bumped into them chilling behind their U-haul last night in the dark before the show. It was like talking to old friends.) They're musically unique (read indie/emo/rock/low-fi/electronica/hard rock/etherea with smart, open lyrics backed by strings and the occasional chorus). They're destined for bigger things.
The band debuted a new song for the baby boy of leadsinger Craig Minowa and his wife, who's also in the band (she was very pregnant the last time we saw them).
"Chemicals Collide" off the band's latest album, The Meaning of 8, marked the highpoint of the evening, however. It sounded kind of like this:
From the chit chat, a number of Terracegoers new to the band went away fans.
I should have more latitude to post freely during the day from here forward (for better or for worse).
Get ready for a few things coming down the pike in the near future:
- Retrospectives on life in Madison (Get ready New Orleans)
- A whirlwind trip abroad (I still need one critical visa!)
- A new business venture (The products are fun)
- And more...
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows: SECTION 1. 100.55 of the statutes is created to read: 100.55 Sale and distribution of elastic yo－yos prohibited.
(1) In this section, "elastic yo－yo" means any toy known as a "yo－yo waterball" or any similar toy consisting of a rubber－like object that is attached to an elastic cord. (2) No person may sell or distribute an elastic yo－yo to a person in this state. (3) A person who violates sub. (2) may be fined not more than $1,000. Each sale or distribution of an elastic yo－yo is a separate violation.
An entire post could be dedicated to making jokes about how AB 148 would shut down local businesses (Red Letter News…) or lead to mass interrogations of Cardinal Bar patrons once a month, but this bill can be used to make a much more important point.
I’m willing to bet this whole idea started because a couple of children got injured from choking on a “yo–yo waterball.” And I sympathize with these parents—hurting children is a bad thing. However feeling guilty because a bad thing happened, doesn’t justify a bad law.
If they feel this is such a horrible toy they should petition Toy’s-R-Us to stop selling them, they should educate parents on the harmful effects this toy can have on children, or picket with massive cardboard signs. I’d be there right next to them, if they asked me; and my sign would be the biggest most fluorescent/bold/pastel colored sign ever in the history of all yo-yo waterball protests. I digress.
I didn’t make any bad decisions, so please don't dam up my yo-yo water-fun.
Shostakovich's cello concerto stole the show last night in my opinion. Featuring young soloist Stephanie Smith and a creepy but funky bass line - sort of a Rage Against the Machine/Tool midcentury sound in strings - the people on my blanket could tell you that yes, it can be head-banged to.
Interesting, too, how much alcohol was out on the grass. I was waiting to be accosted in good Mifflinian fashion if I slipped off my blanket.
At one point, an altercation escalated nearby at an alarming rate. One lady crept up to some med. students sitting near us and waved one of the lawn signs at them in some juvenile attempt to remind them to be quiet. Raising the juvenile ante, one of the supposed talkers threw the sign backwards when the lady rested it on his blanket, tossing it into a different lady typing on a laptop in a chair. The husband of the initial lady then got up, approached the student and had an intense whisper convo that I feared was going to end in blows. Although it was really entertaining set to live classical music.
Tracks seem a bit more disparate than usual, too. A White Stripes album will always have its range of songs from hardcore to poppy to oddball (Blue Orchid/Little Ghost or Black Math/Acorns). They, all, however seemed to retain some essential messy blues distinctively Stripsian core.
Icky Thump is built around songs with this same basic motif, but a few, like the cover of mariachish "Conquest" and the strange bagpiped "St. Andrew" (which injects the necessary bit of lingering Catholicism into the project), almost make me wonder if Jack and Meg shouldn't do a sort of "Midnite Vultures" album to toss a bunch of random fun stuff into, making for a really neat, colorful bauble and otherwise more cogent albums. And yes, there's a requisite song with "Little" in the title - Little Cream Soda, a near-metal frenzied guitar piece with a free form lyrical style reminiscent of some of Muddy Waters' stuff.
What's good in the mix? The title track bleeds a raw, new sound. "300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues" finds a corpse in some crypt in the aboveground blues graveyard and makes it bounce and headbang. "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" brings in bagpipes. "I'm Slowly Turning Into You" grind along through an organ-based molasses, almost bringing Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" to mind. "Catch Hell Blues" screams and rivets, but makes you smile.
Jack White's sharp lyrics and the jangling, rockin', drum bass blues-drenched sounds succeed once again.
Overall, if you've enjoyed any of the Stripes earlier material, this is a must-purchase. I bought it last Thursday and was suddenly contemplating painting my car red, white, and black and embarking on a last-ditch roadtrip to Thunder Bay, Canada for the July 3 show.
Jack and Meg are still making things loud and esoteric with some crazy cool new embellishments.
I was hanging out in an office at the Wisconsin State Capitol last night, listening to the squawk box, when this happened:
Democrats on Tuesday pushed through the Senate a budget with historic tax increases, a $15.2 billion universal health care plan and a broader role for state government in the lives of every Wisconsin resident.
Given the split legislative houses, it's going to be one long slog through the conference committee over the next few months. And Assembly Republicans may stall the vote even after that. I wouldn't blame them. Overall state spending would rise 23% over the next two years - or a 9% rise even if the universal healthcare provision is jettisoned.
In the past five years, it's been difficult to find a party working toward tangible reductions in government spending and the size/influence of government at the federal level. At the state level, it hasn't been terribly different, on the whole, for two decades.
The present situation, however, with the GOP-controlled Assembly promising to dump the universal healthcare proposal and tax increases in the budget, creates an opportunity for clear contrast with a $66 billion behemoth.
Unfortunately, unlike the beast from the book of Job, this behemoth was made not by Yahweh, but by Senate Democrats, who have tacked as much blubber onto the JFC version as they could.
Making good on all those campaign platitudes can be a grotesque thing.
Encumbered by the great Bush albatross round their necks, Wisconsin Republicans have a chance to prove their party still stands for more reasonable tax and fiscal policies despite national attitudes to the contrary. We'll see.
Much to my surprise - and initial disappointment - the new Hilldale location is prohibited from selling their beer thanks to a bizarre law dating back to shortly after Prohibition. I was surprised that such a law would exist in beer happy Wisconsin, and I am now very happy to see that Sen. Risser and Rep. Newcomer are working together to end such an antiquated law.
Still, before it goes into effect, I would suggest making a trip to the Great Dane at Hilldale to sample some of the premium import beers they do have on tap. I would particularly recommend the Aventinus - it was explained to me that this beer is the reason that the owner of the Great Dane got into brewing himself.
This is great news for the UW and the state. Hopefully the work done at UW will actually make ethanol and biodiesels a legitimate and cost-effective alternative to traditional fossil fuels.
As I walked away, I couldn't help but think of Henry Kissinger.
Jeremi Suri, one of my former UW history professors, recently unveiled his new book, Henry Kissinger and the American Century. I'm anxious to get my hands on a copy. Suri mentioned his work on the project to our honors section several times, and his anecdotes from interviews with the man fascinated us:
Author: "What are your core moral principles - the principles you would not violate?"
Henry Kissinger: "I am not prepared to share that yet."
Suri is a solid, nuanced writer who tries to get at the heart of complex figures and events while strenuously trying to maintain an unbiased perspective. I think he's the perfect person to try to unravel the towering enigma crouched at the center of America's foreign policy web for the past half century.
From Vietnam to his immortal cameo on The Colbert Report, Kissinger looms large, his shadow creeping up even on a sunny morning walk to the post office. I'm eager to get past the glare and see what's really casting it out across the sidewalk.
A blogger get-together at the Terrace.
A protest that drew rainclouds and lookers-on (including a gent named Bubba who was a regular drinker at Law Park).
Good friends gathered...
...for a Good Times band.
Birds and beasties.
Some fine folks at the Farmers' Market.
And a special thanks to all those who've been there for and with me while I did all this. Online and off, you guys have been great, and you all deserve a tip o' the hat.
The press release from Senator Breske's office outlines the Healthy Wisconsin initiative, and at first it sounds like some sort of Utopian dream world. Everyone would have the freedom to choose their own doctor, their own plan - everything is decided by the patient and doctor.
Think about it - no more red tape, no unapproved procedures, no more heartless bureaucrats denying a claim. Michael Moore should be wetting himself.
Except none of those promises are possible. In fact, the only part of the plan that will work exactly the way it's supposed to is the way we will all pay for it. This is how it's explained:
HEALTHY WISCONSIN ensures both employers and employees pay only their fair share for access to quality care. Employees’ contributions will be 4 percent of social security wages while employers will contribute 10.5 percent of social security wages. This would amount to an average monthly health care cost of just $140 to the employee and $370 to the employer. All employers will be relieved of the burden of paying premiums, unpredictable premium increases, yearly negotiations to try to stave off double-digit increases and unexpected denials of claims. Sole proprietors or those with other sources of income will pay 10 percent of income up to the social security limit.
Here's what they don't mention: "Social Security wages" are gross wages up to $97,500 per year. That's right, unless you have one heck of a good job, 14.5% of every dollar you make is going to go to the state to pay for everyone in the state to have health care. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it.
So, not only do state Democrats want to increase taxes on cigarettes, hospitals, gasoline, selling a home or real estate, iPod/iTunes sales online, and a myriad of fee increases - but they also want to take another 14.5% from every employee and employer in the state. Do they honestly think that we pay too little in taxes in this state?
Let's add it up:
Average state income tax rate: 6.5%
Average federal income tax rate: 25%
Social Security contribution*: 12.4%
Healthy Wisconsin contribution**: 14.5%
Total taxes: 58.4%
*Includes 6.2% matching rate by employer
**Includes 10.5% contribution by employer
Yes, those figures are accurate. Those are the payroll taxes that are taken out of every employee in the state of Wisconsin would stand to have taken from them if the Healthy Wisconsin plan passes. I included the employer contribution because that money could go to private health care plans, retirement plans or higher wages for the employees. Money out of an employer's pocket is money out of the employee's too.
Also, I didn't include Medicare and Medicaid taxes, nor did I include property taxes, registration fees, and a number of other ways that the taxpayers in this state get hammered by irresponsible politicians in Madison. Can you imagine what the percentage would be then?
Don't you think it is time that state Democrats stop trying to take your hard-earned money away from you? I sure do.
The Supreme Court on Monday said ordinary taxpayers don't have the legal standing to challenge a White House initiative helping religious charities get a share of federal money.
The 5-4 decision dealt with a suit by a group of atheists and agnostics against Bush administration officials including the head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
It'll be a tough day for the folks over on the corner of West Washington and Henry.
While, as I said before, I wasn't enamored with Flast as precedent, as it would've been intriguing to see how the court fell on the heart of the matter - state funding of religious organizations.
Politically speaking, generally, I would like to see less spending by the federal government across the board. And what do religious charities gain from federal funds in the long run? It seems to me they would merely allow government strings to be attached, thereby endangering their independence as religious organizations and the truly charitable nature of their services.
Judicially speaking, it all turns on First Amendment considerations and readings of precedent.
And...this just in (this is turning into a simul-blog)...
In other Supreme Court News, Free Speech went for a wild ride today, as "Bong Hits for Jesus" kid got shot down.
The Court, however, also loosened Federal Election Rules for political speech prior to elections.
I'm heading Up North today on a fishing trip, so I'll post this while I can:
Farewell, Steve S, and best of luck in Azerbaijan with the Peace Corps.
I hope, in your two and a half years on the ground there, you will cement your place as the founder of the Azeri indie music scene. And be sure to inject a good deal of American hipster slang into the language.
Have a safe flight this weekend. Keep in touch and take lots of pictures!
We just rolled down State from Ian's Pizza, where a bunch of us enjoyed some pizza and good conversation ranging from blogging rights in Azerbaijan to Althouse's obsession with onion rings. Stephen Colbert Elementary anyone?
At one point, State Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson, D-Janesville, walked past Ian's. I waved and got up to invite her and her companion in, explaining what was going on. Her laughing response: "We're blogs and we don't want to be rounded up." Okaay?
Steve S, Mike H, Dorshorst, Dial F for Fay, and Jesse from Dane101 are here. JM from Eating in Madison A-Z is here, but out looking for his wife. Miles Per left us earlier, as did commenters Jordan S and Frank H. Hastings from POST popped in for a bit at the very beginning, too.
A few others are slated to plunk down in sunbursts before the night is out. It appears the first two pitchers are Spotted Cow and Stella. 'Til then.
UPDATE: Opiate, Drifting by a Weil, and Hippie Perspective showed up to round the night out, as did commenter Julie A, as the band wailed along in an 18 minute plus Dire Straits cover. Senator Mark Miller, D-Monona, was walking out of the Rathskellar, pitcher in hand at one point. The Senate Dems must've had a hard day.
Other conversation from the evening as a whole (from my perspective):
Law Park Alcohol Ban (what was the actual vote? it wasn't in the State Journal story, Konkel talked of a unanimous vote on some motion related to it, someone thinks 13-4); Bloomberg the candidate, Soglin versus Mayor Dave as characters (pragmatic versus never agitated about anything good or bad); GoogleAds, the Peace Corps, the Mallards win over the Isotopes; George Hesselberg; whether summer estivation causes a slowdown in blogging; a potential Student version of Dane101; should Angelina Jolie play Dagny in the Atlas Shrugged movie; WisOpinion has been paying more attention to student blogs as of late; what is Austin King doing next; Ron Paul's chances in the GOP primary; where did commenter Bill Anderson go; the McCain and Fred Thompson wives; Transformers; what to rename Vang Pao Elementary (Stephen Colbert Elementary, of course!); whether the Daily Cardinal should have bloggers in-house; POST's excepting controversy; what's up with Jenna; the Catholic Church; the grand coalition in Madison that opposes gambling.
Third time's the charm.
Stop in for a rousing good time at the latest (and, for some of us, last) gathering of the isthmusphere bloggers:
Starts 6:30 p.m. Ian's Pizza on State for a late supper, heading down State Street to arrive at the Memorial Union Terrace by 8:30 p.m. where we'll no doubt continue the conversation for a few hours.
Bring a commenter. Bring a friend. Bring your alderman. We've pre-ordered 1 pie that's half steak 'n fries/half chicken penne alfredo, as well as a second that's half pepperoni/half spinach and feta.
And Jill Klosterman, it's your final chance to see Steve S before he leaves for his long stint in Azerbaijan...
See you tonight!
Fortunately, my alder, Marsha Rummel, is against the proposed ban:
Thanks for your letter Brad. I agree with you.
We'll see how the others fall. Here's the e-mail I sent to the council list:
Dear Alders -
Please vote against the proposed ban on alcohol in Law Park.
As someone who uses the park regularly for a variety of reasons, including running and angling, I hope you will agree with the advisory vote of the Parks Commission.
I do not think the proposed alcohol ban represents a solution narrowly tailored to deal with the specific problem of disorderly behavior by a handful of homeless people. Citizens looking to drink responsibly at a lakeside picnic should not be penalized.
I thought of Bethlehem Steel. Then I wondered what someone from Bethlehem would find interesting on our blog; the visit wasn't just a bounce, going several pageviews deep and over a minute long (see the accompanying screenshot).
The visit came from the Lehigh University network - and the visitor linked in via a google search for former UW-Madison administrator Paul Barrows.
Barrows, who no longer works for the university, reached a settlement with the UW last week in the longstanding feud centering on his relationship with a graduate student and subsequent parade through backup jobs.
Curious by now, I checked out the Lehigh University webpage to see if there were any job openings that might fit the Paul Barrows mold.
There was one position description that looked like a perfect match for Mr. Barrow's experience and interests:
Academic Director, Joint Multicultural Program, Provost Office
Job Function - Develop and provide leadership for programs to improve the undergraduate experience of students from underrepresented groups, and participate in both teaching and scholarly work within Africana Studies and/or Latin American Studies, and/or related field.
Shortly thereafter, I ran into State Representative - and longtime Barrows critic - Steve Nass at the post office. He made it sound as if Barrows had tried to apply again at UW-Madison only to find the university quite adamant in refusing to take him back onboard.
I subsequently called Lehigh University's Human Resources Office to inquire as to whether Mr. Barrows had applied. I was asked why I was interested. Stating that I contributed to a Madison web log, I was told, not suprisingly, that such information could not be made available to third parties.
I'm interested as to whether Barrows will find a new administrative position in academia - the waters surrounding his name have been so muddied that I would frankly be quite surprised if he did.
Why hasn't anyone made a concerted effort to ban it in Wisconsin until now?
The few people I've run into who have tried the legal hallucinogen haven't reported a very pleasant experience.
It was meant to be a spontaneous, leisurely afternoon canoe trip on the Wisconsin River out of Sauk City.
And it certainly was. But somehow, we morphed it into a Civil War re-enactment, a bizarre literary goosehunt for the house of "Auggie" Derleth, a meal at the first Culver's restaurant, and a stop at the historic Missouri Tavern (HT/JA). Go figure.
I reported on something that came up amongst a group of Madison blogger types last night, namely that "The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal have never done a piece on the student blogosphere." I made the initial statement at the gathering, nobody countered it at the time, and I posted it, so I'll claim it as my own.
Prima facie, I was wrong.
The Wisconsin State Journal, as a commenter constructively critiqued, did a frontpage story in December 9, 2004 on blogging by UW students and faculty, focusing almost exclusively on the UW law school, but mentioning a few national examples as well.
The paper didn't cover any student bloggers in a January 2006 piece on political blogging. Here are the Capital Newspaper archive results for "blogosphere" since 2000 if you want to dig further.
Now, as George Hesselberg of the WSJ sneered with self-righteous disdain in the LIB comments, I could have made a clean break at this point. Note the error. End of story.
Usually I would. I like when blogs get winnowed. See the RIAA filesharing post. But I'm not going to. There's much more to talk about.
As far as the thrust of the statement in question, namely insufficient coverage of the student blogosphere, I don't think it's all that far off the mark. Calling the 2004 student blogging piece adequate is, given the rate of change, almost like saying that an article on Madison at the time of Peck's Cabin is a sufficient story on Madison.
But let's stipulate that I was wrong for the sake of moving on. And to keep George Hesselberg from getting his undies in a bundle again, as unlikely as that may be (funny, I only recall his name from one benign LIB comment and a hack job of a report on James Block's '04 run for State Assembly).
Speaking as a graduate of the UW School of Journalism, I believe Madison mainstream media coverage, with the two major papers in mind, failed to cover adequately the UW-Madison student blogosphere as a phenomenon and part of the Madison community since 2005 - the multi-year period in which the phenomenon has truly blossomed. And if that period coincides with the lifespan of this blog, then so be it.
Here are my thoughts from earlier in the comments:
A great deal has changed in the student blogosphere since December 2004. It has become far more of an actual community, or cog in the larger community culture (actually talking about, analyzing, and debating issues of importance in the local/student community). It goes beyond the thoughts of a few relatively isolated individuals.
Admittedly, maybe we at LIB set up our soddie homestead in January 2005 just as the blogging frontier closed, so to speak. But it was precisely when that frontier closed that UW-Madison moved from "blogs" to the "blogosphere," if you ask me.
Perhaps I overestimate the importance of the student blogosphere.
Or perhaps others underestimated it.
And rightly so.
But it's still going before the full Council next Tuesday.
Protest kegball game by the lake on Monday night, anyone?
But there is a gulf between budget provisions supported by the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican Assembly; many of the Assembly's 52 Republicans have pledged not to vote for a budget that raises taxes.
Why no mention of Owen at Boots and Sabers?
Clearly, he is and has been the chief instigator of a movement to block any budget that raises taxes. The omission intrigues me and begs a number of questions.
Earlier tonight, I was talking with some Madison area bloggers. A few interesting realizations about the relationship between traditional media and "new" media came up:
- The UW-Madison campus papers, The Mendota Beacon excepted, have never done an all-out piece on the student blogosphere as a general phenomenon.
- The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal have never done a piece on the student blogosphere.
- The UW-Madison campus papers don't utilize in-house bloggers or blogging.
- The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal have never really done a piece on the local blogosphere (although they've focused on a few high profile instances, such as the search for Dennis York).
It's an interesting thing to consider at this stage in the game, now that blogging has clearly emerged as a part of the local cultural scene on a number of fronts. Hopefully there will be more discussion to this end in the near future.
Again, the event is open to anyone even tangentially connected to blogging - bloggers, readers, commenters, post targets, public officials, ad infinitum.
Professor James “Prof Baugh” Baughman
Same Time, Same Station: Creating American Television 1948-1961
Borders West, Madison, WI– June 12, 2007
I heard my old Journalism professor Jim Baughman had written a new book on the history of television. Always the boisterous, gangly character with his bow-tie, pipe, and aviators, Baughman gave some of the best lectures on campus. Impersonations of FDR. Improvisational dance. Obscure references to Ohio. It was a guaranteed side-splitting laugh per day. And he gave me a good grade on my honors semester paper on the NYT’s coverage of William F. Buckley’s 1965 run for Mayor of New York City.
So, all those bales in the barn, I figured I couldn’t miss his book talk at Borders West. Here's the transcript from my vantage point:
7:10 – A crowd of thirty or forty fills a sector of the second floor at Borders. A few collegiate student types, but mostly older folks, including Professor Emeritus Booth Fowler and Professor Donald Downs (talk about having a triumvirate in the room). A gentleman, Michael, is doing the introduction. He says he’s looked online to see what students think of Jim. “There seems to be remarkable consistency in giving Jim an A+ in coolness.”
Same Time, Same Station – “rigorous, incredibly thoughtful” Intro man says it’s also charming, witty, and fun. “The early days of TV will need to be studied, just as the early days of print were.” Baugh’s book has gotten four pages in The New Yorker. Talks about Baughman stalking through the neighborhood looking for his Times…
7:15 - Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, Professor James Baughman:
Baugh: “I’m not obsessive about the Times, it should just be there, dammit.” (laughs)
No household technology ever spread so quickly. Including radio, the telephone, and the personal computer.
Baugh Q: How many of you are or have been teachers? Quite a few hands go up.
The audience is shown a clip of “Mr. Peepers” from the 1950s on a television. It’s pretty freakin’ random. Black and white. Mr. Peepers is apparently a nasally, dweebish science teacher. “I’m very happy here.” There appear to be some primitive sound effects at work. A weebly, annoying mosquito sound and some flashing lights. Oh, it was supposed to be a fly. And then an intro into the commercial “your friendly Ford dealer.”
Baugh: A couple of things that were interesting, or maybe not. It was broadcast live. The quality isn’t very good. It was filmed in a theater in New York City before a live audience.
TV in the 1950s. It’s (Mr. Peepers) very different from…I Love Lucy. Mr. Peepers was representative of what TV was trying to figure out. What would audiences respond to?
Executives had two questions:
1. Would people buy televisions? Yes.
2. Will people stop watching it if you didn’t program it a certain way?
TV’s cultural aspirations would be limited after, I would argue, 1957. The rules were emerging.
TV would aspire for the largest possible audience. Those rules would hold into the 1990s. Of course TV would move into recorded programs.
My book is about the crafting of those rules.
(Audience laughs at a string of jokes about Baughman’s non-existent friends in film studies)
They aren’t going to show opera on Sunday afternoon if you have the NFL. If you air a show live, how can you accrue secondhand revenues?
"Now historians, as my wife notes, tend to be an applauding lot. We don’t dance. We don’t assume much when we do our research. Or we shouldn’t." How did the advertising and television executives view things?
(Audience giggles irregularly throughout)
“Avoid the conceit of the living.”
TIME Inc. refused to buy ESPN in the 1980s. Clearly TIME, Inc. dropped the ball.
About something with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s: “Were you wringing your hands in Chomskyesque fashion?”
Sixty years ago, mass communicators didn’t know what television would look like.
"There were alternative visions of television in 1950, 1955. "
Two philosophies – two networks: CBS, NBC
1. NBC – Programming decisions crafted by Pat Weaver (“brilliant and funny – father of Sigourney Weaver – for which men of a certain age are eternally grateful – and who once left me a voicemail") – back to Weaver. He was a rule breaker. He plotted to break the power of sponsors over programming. He believed TV had to be different. It had to be distinctive. Weaver never believed in the situation comedy, a radio staple. He never developed a stable of programs. If he had been smart, he would have given Mr. Peepers the production attention of I Love Lucy.
2. CBS – Played the conservative hand, largely because it had to, since it didn’t have the cash sources NBC did. NBC was like the New York Yankees. CBS was more like the Minnesota Twins or maybe the Milwaukee Brewers. They had to run a tighter ship. CBS’s greatest hits were modest ones like Gunsmoke or variety shows like Ed Sullivan…
"Pat Weaver had another contrarian instinct. He believed the Post-War mass audience would have higher aspirations for culture." We were going to come out of World War II with higher educational aspirations for television. Weaver hated soap-operas. He hated quiz shows. He came up with the program matinee theater. Weaver was convinced it would appeal to housewives who weren’t watching soaps or quizzes. He came up with The Today Show (he wanted to call it Rise and Shine). And today? It’s the largest source of revenue for the network today.
And for the younger people in the audience, soaps weren’t racy the way they are now – it was just a lot of organ music. Music, I want to stress… (audience chortles)
The emphasis on live…in retrospect, that seems sentimental or daft. In 1953, “live” justified the networks. Networks worried about competition. Particularly, a potential film network.
And re-runs. Who knew we would watch Seinfeld episodes eight times. “The marbled rye…yeah, yeah…”
They didn’t run re-runs of I Love Lucy for the first few summers. They had replacement programming. They imagined running the re-runs only in off-network hours.
Desi Arnaz thought re-runs would only be popular overseas in his home country of Cuba.
In 1952-1953, “Everybody Loves Art” would be a commitment to 39 episodes..."Ozzie and Harriet – which wasn’t funny even in 1955."
(laughter again, Baughman notes for the younger members of the audience that he has just done an impression of Jack Benny, or, as his wife knows, an impression of his mother doing an impression of Jack Benny)
(audience hoots as Baughman says something about Downs and not worrying about how you look, when you were in radio)
(makes a reference to blogging, nods back this way) two points street cred - it's always fun to see how a journalism professor interacts with blogging
So why did the weekly shows triumph, why did the cultural aspirations of Weaver fail?
You may think it was class bias. You may think TV was owned by a bunch of people from Shorewood, Wisconsin (aside: I think that’s were Mrs. Baugh is from).
“That was Milton Burl imitating Jimmy Duranti…” (another impression)
"There was not as much class bias as regional bias when it came to owning a television. Class and racial lines didn’t matter. TV changed because that big city bias broke down."
As TV moved into smaller towns in the south and west, audiences rejected this metropolitan emphasis (i.e. Milton Burl).
The smaller town folk wanted Lawrence Welk… as opposed to Sid Cesar.
On his book: is less about the end product, the program, and more about the decisions of what to air.
Should Lucy be shown smoking during her pregnancy? She and Desi were chain smokers. Her sponsor was Phillip Morris. They said she should not. And that was in 1952.
talks about research "...I got to spend some time in Salt Lake City…where I learned it isn’t that hard to get a drink…"(laughter)
Baughman continued to talk about the methodology of his research and the sources.
Baughmann gets a bit furious about assertions over deregulation in the 1950s: The networks did concern themselves with regulators and Congress. And they worried about us (audience members) more than they do now.
"When my tv set broke in 1976, I did not care. I simply read more..."
“The age wasn’t golden.” Even Murrow made mistakes. The resolution of the play was uncertain.
Baughman is now holding a Martini glass at the podium and imitating Percy someone…takes a sip…classic
A Dr. Black. In response –
“I’ll bet you a Burning River, a pitcher of Burning River, at the Big Ten Pub…”
On a student who did some research...“Poor kid, I think he was from Tomah…”
“Being from northern Ohio…to hell with culture…”
Discussion on the demise of the variety show.
Some guy talks about writing Channel 3 to put the Muppets back on in the early, early morning when the station signed on. Criminy.
Baugh: “Such a secular community. In northern Ohio, it was a prayer.”
Baugh wonders why the Western disappeared. Says don’t even mention Deadwood.
Q: Was there ever a golden age of TV?
Baugh: "There was a ten year period of cultural aspiration." At stations and even at ad agencies.
Prompted by a gentleman in a Brewers hat, we end on sports, fitting for Baughman. Stations had heavy sports coverage 1947-48, mostly as filler, but pulled back and didn't really resume until the 1960s.
(Fine - A good show as always)
The feral beast is raged against...
Ingenious, fitting for the Canadian tour, and all around sweet...!
Another facet of law school to look forward to...
Guess who was in town last week...and had some things to say...
It appears Steve S left the hemisphere early...
I agree that the Georgia law under which he was originally sentenced was somewhat silly by modern cultural standards, even if his behavior was unwise and unseemly:
Wilson, 21, was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, during a 2003 New Year's Eve party in Douglas County, just west of Atlanta, Georgia.
Wilson was also charged with raping a 17-year-old girl at the party -- who prosecutors maintained was too intoxicated to consent -- but jurors acquitted him on that charge.
The fact that committing consensual oral sex instead of consensual sex ratcheted the penalty from misdemeanor to felony was bizarre. But the coverage and mob reaction to the case has also disturbed me. I can't find a single item online item discussing the bona fide legal merits of the case that is not laced with passion. News reports, by and large, paint Genarlow as a tragic hero and spend a sentence or two bashing the DA or Attorney General as villains.
The Georgia Legislature changed the law, but didn't apply it retroactively. That's key:
Under the state law in effect at the time, Wilson received a mandatory 10-year sentence and has already served more than two years.
Partly as a result of Wilson's conviction, state legislators changed the law to make such consensual conduct between teenagers a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. But that change wasn't made retroactive, so it did not affect Wilson.
The Georgia Supreme Court later upheld the law. People were subsequently furious when the prosecutor refused to re-open the case following the law change. Still, why isn't there any discussion about constitutional prohibitions on ex post facto laws?
"The sentiment that ex post facto laws are against natural right, is so strong in the United States, that few, if any, of the State constitutions have failed to proscribe them." - Thomas Jefferson
Or about whether minors should be charged as adults at all? Or if Wilson was really seeking some sort of martyrdom by eschewing a chance at a plea bargain?
I believe the use of discretion is warranted in the case, although I've read that Governor of Georgia holds fewer direct pardoning powers than the Wisconsin executive. Still, I think a gubernatorial pardon is the rightful locus for such a decision. A single judge overturning the sentence after all that has elapsed seems just and proper in the thick of things, but is it really truly hinging on actual cruel and unusual punishment? The executive should serve as the last resort escape valve in cases such as these.
The mandatory minimum punishment originally meted out in Wilson's case did not well fit the crime. The Georgia Attorney General is probably unwise, from a PR standpoint, to have filed an appeal.
But the law is not supposed to be about PR, not supposed to swing in the whims of a media circus with Jimmy Carter in one ring, Mark Cuban in another, and the NYT editorial page in the third. More rational, fact-based media coverage and discussion of the actual legal concepts at play would be helpful in fully assessing what appears to be a miscarriage of justice.
I was out on Lake Okauchee with some friends yesterday when our pontoon boat took some massive waves over the bow, bringing a dangerous amount of water onboard, soaking everything and almost everyone.
It immediately brought to mind the pinnacle of college political hijinks - the time we attempted a nighttime maritime protest against Michael Moore when he came to the Memorial Union Terrace on October 2004.
Never heard of it? Not many people have.
Let's just say that it was a crazy night on the lake, trying to tack a heavily-laden pontoon boat (with ten people, a generator, lights, signs, sirens) through raging whitecaps on Lake Mendota in 40 mph winds and near-freezing temperatures in the dark. We started at Marshall Park in Middleton, rounded Picnic Point and surfed in to just off the Union Terrace and then beat a desperate haphazard retreat in the face of a real tempest, tacking for agonizingly long hours all the way to Tenney Park as huge waves crashed over the sides, the boat barely managing to stay afloat as it was broadsided, coming close to wrecking onshore at times.
I, to this day, can't believe someone didn't die in the process. One person onboard cried and everyone was a bit traumatized, but the adventure brings a certain head-shaking smile to my face these days in the comfort of retrospect.
Maybe you were onboard?
-- Mark Twain
Tornado Club. Interactive art. Ask for Lloyd next time.
DMV. Overheard: "You looked better when you were on speed. I mean, you were crazier..."
Lucky 13. Socket scent.
Living Room. DJ Mantis. Didn't know you could do that with Beck.
Dartboard. Fuel for the fire. Shroud for the pyre.
Farmer's Market. Crystal Palace high rise rescue.
Grounds. Look mommy, it's death!
Square. V Sketched out. Hoping it's Natalie Portman.
Despite a field that I think is actually quite strong - once you take out the crazies like Gilmore, Tancredo, Paul and Hunter - many conservative bloggers and talk show hosts are lamenting a lack of a "true conservative" in the race.
My question is, what's wrong with Mike Huckabee?
I know he isn't a "top tier" candidate, but look at his performance in the debates. He has consistently been the guy with the quickest wit and smoothest delivery of the bunch. He was a successful governor for 10 years in Arkansas, and is an ordained Baptist minister. How is that not conservative enough? Proof of his conservative credentials were rather obvious in his response to a question about evolution at Tuesday's debate in New Hampshire.
I realize that many may not like his answer, Mark at OOTM has been rather vocal about his feelings on the subject, but you can't deny that his answer was a heartfelt response and that Huckabee certainly has the courage of his convictions.
The more I think about the clamor for a "true conservative" to enter the race, the more I realize that the pundits and talking-heads are being entirely unreasonable. They want another Reagan when such a candidate does not exist. I like Fred Thompson as an actor and as a senator, but what makes him qualified to be president? The fact that he plays a tough guy on TV?
Most often, conservatives denounce liberals and Democrats for bowing to the whim of polls and focus groups, yet now they are vilifying Giuliani and McCain for not listening to their polls and op-eds. I thought that we conservatives cared more about leadership and standing up for what you believe in than about saying what is popular to get elected.
Among some conservative circles I know, Mitt Romney is the favored choice as a conservative candidate. While his positions certainly look appealing, I really have to question the sincerity of those beliefs. The timing of his changes in opinion seem awfully, shall we say, convenient.
But let's look at Giuliani for a minute. George Will, a man who no one can claim is a RINO or a moderate, wrote that America's Mayor ran the most conservative government of the last 20 years. Sure, he is out of the mainstream of the Republican party when it comes to social issues like abortion and gay rights, but are two issues enough to disqualify him from consideration?
Then there is McCain. Although I did have problems with the z-visa and a few other parts of the immigration bill, I admire his commitment to a real-world solution to illegal immigration, rather than the, unfortunately more popular, "deport them all" approach. I think that it is sad that a man like McCain, who has been right on so many national security issues over the last few years, is being shunned by a party that prides itself on its national security credentials.
The bottom line is that the Republican party has a clear choice in 2008: Either they choose a candidate with experience and who has shown true leadership, or they can choose a candidate who says everything they want to hear. The latter will most likely bring defeat, the former will almost certainly bring victory.
Mayor Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin gearing up to run for governor against Piyush "Bobby" Jindal.
William Jefferson as Congressman for New Orleans. Maybe a fun race to replace him.
Spike Lee coming to town to make movies about post-Katrina life.
It will make for a good gumbo.
You'd think Wisconsin was antebellum South Carolina with all the voices ardently defending the belief that some individuals are entitled to more privileges than others based on nothing more than skin color.
Hippie Perspective has been shaking his pom-pons most vigorously in support of race-based university admissions, arguing that refusing to categorize people by their race is naive:
I think it is a noble goal, but one devoid of reality. I was under the impression that liberals were supposed to be idealistic, but it seems Republicans like Grothman refuse to see the numerous racial problems still inherent in our society. While, yes, it may not be to the level of the 1960s, there is still a huge racial gap in this country.
What is this gap? He goes on to point to numbers of people - classified by their race - as a sign that the university is not diverse enough:
Although minority students increased from 7.5 percent to 9.4 percent of undergraduates since 1998, the gap in retention increased 2 percent to 8.7 percent.
That is the problem - continuing to see people as skin color statistics is what makes for an "unwelcoming campus climate." The ultimate goal needs to be an admissions system that wisely rejects the popular, politically correct notion of diversity and recognizes that race does not automatically equate to a certain socioeconomic status and disadvantaged life experience.
Even if there is a statistical correlation with race, advocates should focus on solving the actual barriers to opportunity for large sectors of people - poverty and the state of Milwaukee schools, for example. But even there, the state of the Milwaukee schools should be the responsibility of parents and taxpayers in that district. Not the state legislature. Not the UW System.
Continuing to give some individuals an easier route to college because of their race is as ridiculous as legacy admissions. Factors beyond academic achievement and personal activity/involvement suddenly count. It merely perpetuates feelings of race-based animosity and creates a structural inequality in the admissions system. And it continues to say race matters (which contradicts what most people agree is the ultimate goal). But that's what Erik wants:
With such a racial disparity in education in this state -- and across the country -- some people really do need a leg-up. They need a helping hand and they need preference in order to get into college. This country was founded on very individualistic terms. We believe that anyone can rise up and do what they want with their lives if only they work hard. We believe in this power of the individual. But then reality sinks in.
If you're living in inner-city Milwaukee and go to a run-down school, chances are your family cannot afford to send you to college. Actually, under those conditions, it doesn't really matter how smart you are because you're never going to get the opportunity you deserve. You won't have the newest books or the best teachers. You won't be able to go to school without seeing gang violence. Until we can fix the education system in Wisconsin, we need some program to allow these people to get a college education.
"Reality sinks in..." - ? Reality sank in for me when I graduated from high school; my parents weren't able to contribute more than a small stipend for food each month. But I pursued a boatload of scholarships, some of which came through because I worked hard in high school. In fact, I worked my tail off and got good grades. I worked multiple jobs during high school. I worked multiple jobs during college. And I chose to live frugally while at university.
Not many people from my high school go to UW-Madison, so I wasn't on some automatic popular feeder school track. I decided where I wanted to go, I worked toward it, and I financed my education, coming out of my four years with a financial surplus.
And I know I had fewer resources behind me than some students of Indian descent in Brookfield - whose parents had more money, whose schools were nicer, and whose neighborhoods were posher than my own. But the difference between brown skin and white skin means so much. From the Hippie Perspective.
"we need some program" - ? No, we don't. We need people to work arduously for goals they want to achieve despite obstacles - and without extra help from government. Those individuals make for real stories of triumph. Those individuals help to solve social race problems by succeeding in a system of real, gritty, I-refuse-to-have-my-hand-held equality.
I genuinely don't care what color or race people are. Beyond lingering ethnic and cultural heritage traces that might inform us through family stories - and make for good conversation on certain occasions - they really don't matter.
My final gripe with affirmative action and racial preference is its compound nature in today's society. Preference helps some people get into college; the playing field is leveled. Preference then gives some people scholarships for the color of their skin; the playing field is tipped. Preference gives someone admission to a graduate school; the playing field is skewed. Preference gives someone a job over a more qualified applicant; the playing field is terribly out of wack. U-rah-rah, diversity!
I, too, hope that by Justice O'Connor's 2028 date we no longer use racial preferences in college admissions. But I live in the reality of 2007 where the irony of affirmative action is enshrined in law because people keep trying to separate us based on our skin color to make us equal.
I'll admit it's at the very least an interesting proposal, but I couldn't find any bill at the state legislature's website. I wonder what counties would get consolidated. Would it be based on population or geography? Also, I am just a little bit nervous about the possibility of state legislators drawing up new county boundaries. I mean, look at the mess that they can make with congressional districts...
According to Stephanie Schuelke, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service, the increased demand for passports is reflective of new passport requirements for air travel to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Central and South America. These requirements took effect this year on Jan. 23 as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. By Jan. 1, 2008, a second phase of the law will take effect, requiring passports for Americans traveling by land or sea to the same locations.
As security gets tighter, I suppose, there are more opportunities for bottlenecks in the system.
And there's also more room for creepyness. And ugliness.
As Steve S heads off to Azerbaijan, I head down to law school in New Orleans, and Mike H heads into his golden year here at UW-Madison, it's time to look to the future of Letters in Bottles.
While I believe we'll continue posting here in some form, we'd like to keep the blog based, at least in part, here in it's historic stomping grounds at the UW-Madison scene and, to that end, we're looking to expand. We want you!
We are looking to offer a contributor spot (or possibly spots) on a trial basis this summer to the right individual. We don't have any stringent requirements for the position, other than a desire that the candidate bring something new to the blog, as well as a commitment to blog on a near-daily basis.
We would be handing the individual an instant audience and established communications platform. We would also lend our sage advice to any new contributor.
Although none of the current LIB contributors would even quite fit the bill, it doesn't hurt to have an ideal model. A perfect candidate would be:
- A sophomore or junior at UW-Madison this fall
- An excellent, creative writer
- Broadly knowledgeable in news, history, politics, journalism, culture, music, etc.
- Excited by the prospect of blogging about campus, local, and state politics
- Actively engaged in life on a variety of fronts
- Politically in the Bermuda Triangle bounded by conservative, libertarian, and independent
- Witty, original, audacious, and fun
- Web savvy, familiar with internet and html
- Familiar with Letters in Bottles and the local blogosphere
Again, none of these qualities should be seen as a disqualifier. We may add more than one person, we may decide to add nobody. It is, however, a decidedly rare opportunity.
If you are interested in joining Letters in Bottles, or if you know of anyone who would make a great contributor, please contact me at Brad[dot]Vogel[@]gmail.com.
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