Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Unioned out

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 11:58 AM

I am completely state-of-the-unioned out. Listening to and reading pundits’ anticipatory blah blah about it. Writing about it beforehand. Watching it. Taking notes. Listening to post-speech blather from FoxNews and MSNBC, not to mention the senseless “Republican response” from the governor of Virginia who’s been office like 30 seconds. Getting up in the middle of the night (6 a.m.) to make it to WCCB, barely on time, for a back-and-forth with some conservative guy I don’t know. Looking and sounding as if I was half-conscious, which I was. Enough, already.

If you want something interesting to read about the Prez’s speech last night, check out Media Matters, which has a good rundown of reactions from across the political spectrum. Particularly interesting to North Carolinians are comments by John Hood of the ultra-conservative John Locke Foundation, who sometimes pens op-eds for the Observer. This time around, while sharing with fellow righties, Hood eloquently opined that Obama “looks like a jerk,” has a grating voice (huh?), and is arrogant. Now there’s some substantial commentary for you. Good thing the right doesn’t dabble in soundbites, huh?

Locke Foundation's John Hood, aka "Mr. Smirky," thinks Obama has a grating voice
  • Locke Foundation's John Hood, aka "Mr. Smirky," thinks Obama has a grating voice

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Can the iPad save the media?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Hell no. The iPad will offer new ways to consume media, sure. But only the media can save the media, and so long as the old guard white-knuckles antiquated business models and people keep saying things like "I don't like to read" the media's future will continue to look grim.

Now, the hard part.

Before it existed, Apple’s iPad was infused with the wishful expectations of a thousand hopeful constituencies, none with more at stake than a host of media businesses still grappling to find a killer app in the digital domain. Now that we know what the iPad does, though, it’s still an open question how the much-heralded device will actually improve their fortunes.

The good news is that book publishers, magazine publishers, newspapers, the recorded-music industry, television studios, game developers and film studios — all of whom need some form of lifeline, some desperately — each have a place at the iPad table.

But in the advertiser-supported niches, print analogs still command higher advertising revenues than their digital equivalents. So, the question will turn on two issues: Will publishers get to control the customer relationship to a greater extent than has been possible with iTunes? And will publications be the kind of shiny eye candy that advertisers crave, but now delivered on a bright, crisp, LED-backlit touchscreen instead of heavy-stock glossy paper.

The answers are mixed, simply because this versatile device offers the same myriad distractions as the average computer does, or maybe even more. In order for anything to succeed on a platform like that, it will need to be perfectly designed and contain top-notch content with interactive features and automatic updates wherever they make sense (in magazines, perhaps, but perhaps not in books).

Read the rest of this Wired article, by Eliot Van Buskirk, here.

Now, let's talk about the new product's goofy name. Who but "MadTV" could cover this topic?

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Today's Top 5: Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Jan. 28, 2010 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Grey Gardens at Duke Energy Theatre

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Second Annual GayCharlotte Film Festival at The Lesbian and Gay Community Center

Christabel and the Jons at Double Door Inn

NoDa Stand-Up Comedy Showcase at Prevue Music Hall

Works by Gordon C. James exhibition at Cornelius Arts Center

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Opening Friday

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 11:48 PM

When in Rome
  • When in Rome

Crazy Heart - Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Edge of Darkness - Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone

When In Rome - Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel

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Top 10 craziest things Pat Robertson's ever said

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Cue the theme from "Psycho."

I'm not going to lie to you, I think Pat Robertson is looney toons. Why people continue to patronize the old man instead of strapping him into a straight jacket and force feeding him anti-psychotic medication, I have no idea. Not only does he seem bent on making people out to be in cahoots with el Diablo, he seems to get off on scaring the crap out of his viewers.

Listen folks, we've got to take a stand against this kind of nonsense. It's one thing to pat, pardon the pun, the old geezer on the head and pretend he's got something worthwhile to say — it's something else entirely to sit idly by without reminding people he's bat-shit crazy.

With that, Ranker.com has compiled the 10 craziest things Robertson has ever said. You can read the entire list here.

For a taste of what to expect, here's number 10:

[Starting at] 0:49 -- So, he calls the China earthquake, tornadoes in California and other natural disasters "birth bangs" for a pregnant earth ... then starts talking about a new order?

The craziest and scariest thing is how happy he seems to be about the concept of the biblical apocalypse happening soon ... very soon.

If you haven't already, check out Bill Maher's movie "Religulous":

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N.C. GOP hearts hazardous coal ash

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 6:16 PM

In case you were under the delusion that N.C. Republicans in Congress don’t worship at the shrine of big business, please read this article from the Institute for Southern Studies. It’s by Sue Sturgis, a terrific investigative reporter in Durham, and in it she reports on GOP members of Congress who are actively opposing efforts to declare coal ash a hazardous substance. Or, as BlueNC puts it, “they oppose efforts to declare hazardous substances as hazardous.”

North Carolina members of Congress Reps. Sue Myrick, Patrick McHenry, Howard Coble and Howard Jones, as well as Sen. Richard Burr, all signed on to a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson opposing the reclassification of coal ash, since it would put an end to the recycling of the substance, and interfere with its “beneficial uses” such as filling in abandoned mines, structural fill, or fertilizing crops.

As Sturgis points out, the EPA has documented 24 proven cases of environmental damage and 43 cases of potential damage caused by coal ash, as it is presently disposed of. Three of those cases are in North Carolina, including at Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Station, which contaminated Belews Lake, in what experts call "one of the most extensive and prolonged cases of selenium poisoning of freshwater fish in the United States." In addition, there are at least two documented cases in NC of groundwater contamination from structural fills that used coal ash. But that’s OK, apparently, with Myrick, McHenry, Burr, Coble and Jones. After all, what’s a few dead fish, or dead North Carolinians for that matter, as long as coal and energy money keeps pouring in?

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Meanwhile, while John Edwards hides in Haiti

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 4:29 PM

More news about former N.C. Sen. John Edwards' genetic link to pond scum:

A former aide to John Edwards says in a new book that the two-time presidential candidate told him he thought about leaving his wife but also cited his love for her as a reason to keep details of an affair hidden, according to a newspaper report Tuesday night.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site that Andrew Young says Edwards asked him to go into hiding with Edwards' mistress, in part because of his wife's health.

Young wrote that Edwards concluded "that if I helped him, I would make Mrs. Edwards's dying days a bit easier. 'I know you're mad at her, Andrew, but I love her. I can't let her die knowing this.'"

Elizabeth Edwards has an incurable form of cancer that returned in 2007.

Young's tell-all book says Edwards asked him to help cover up the affair and promised to take care of him in the future. Edwards acknowledged for the first time last week that he fathered a child with Rielle Hunter.

The book, "The Politician," is not due out until Saturday, but the Journal said it purchased a copy Monday at a Washington-area book store.

Read the rest of this Associated Press/ Charlotte Observer article here.

In related news: Everyone, welcome Rielle to the Q.C. She's reportedly moving into the Eastover 'hood.

You know the ladies over at "The View" have something to say about John Edwards' pig-like lifestyle:

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Dirty biz in the dirty South

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Listen up business owners: In times like ours, when everyone is pinching pennies until Abraham Lincoln uses his safe word, customer service counts — big time.

You can't go around tickin' people off so bad that they call the Better Business Bureau on your sorry ass if you expect your company to thrive in the Great Recession and beyond. Step up. Offer a little more. Be friendly. Do what you say you'll do.

And, while you're at it, treat your employees well. They are your company's face after all. If they're not happy, they're not going to go out of their way to make your clients and customers happy.

Here's one more tip: Don't be like the 12 businesses The Charlotte Business Journal called out for not responding to customer complaints:

The Better Business Bureau of the Southern Piedmont Inc. has identified the 12 Charlotte-area businesses with the most unanswered consumer complaints in 2009.

Last year, consumers filed 16,251 complaints with the bureau against businesses in the Charlotte region. That was up from 14,972 complaints in 2008.

The businesses of the bureau’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list are:

You'll have to click here to find out. Here's a hint: two gyms, two Internet businesses, four service providers, two door-to-door sales companies and two auto parts suppliers.

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Hitchcock series: Schedule & poster gallery

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 2:31 PM

The Main Library concludes its nearly year-long celebration of Alfred Hitchcock with its third and final series devoted to The Master. Late Hitchcock, Fake Hitchcock features three films made toward the end of the brilliant director's career, as well as four movies made by other directors but clearly influenced by Hitchcock's output. Following are the dates for all films, along with the original poster art. All films start at 6:45 p.m. in the Wachovia Playhouse at ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St. Admission is free. Details: 704-416-0252.

marnie1

Feb. 1: Marnie (Hitchcock)

Continue reading »

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Is that a lizard in your pants?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 2:23 PM

In news you can't make up ...

A German reptile collector has been jailed for 14 weeks and must pay a 5,000 New Zealand dollar ($3,540) fine for plundering New Zealand's wild gecko and skink populations, a judge  ruled Tuesday.

Hans Kurt Kubus, 58, is to be deported to Germany as soon as he is released from prison, Judge Colin Doherty ordered.

Kubus was caught by wildlife officials at Christchurch International Airport on South Island in December, about to board an overseas flight with 44 geckos and skinks in a hand-sewn package concealed in his underwear.

Fourteen of the 15 adult female geckos and 12 of the 14 female skinks were pregnant, officials said.

Kubus admitted trading in exploited species without a permit and hunting protected wildlife without authority, pleading guilty to two charges under the Wildlife Act and five under the Trade in Endangered Species Act.

Department of Conservation prosecutor Mike Bodie told Christchurch District Court that Kubus could have faced potential maximum penalties of 500,000 New Zealand dollars and six months in prison.

Bodie told Doherty that the department sought a deterrent sentence for "the most serious case of its kind detected in New Zealand for a decade or more."

Read the rest of this MSNBC.com article here.

Most people try to keep lizards out of their pants, like this fool:

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