News Archives

July 15, 2013

Spitzer changes his mind

Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, unlikely political candidates

Many thoughts spring to mind about Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer entering this year's NYC elections. Can a politician come back after resigning in shame? And do voters even care about embarrassing sex scandals? (In the case of Mark Sanford, I guess not.)

What's also springing to mind are the icky details and images we all have of these guys' gross, inappropriate, and/or illegal sex lives, unavoidably returning to our consciousness. I never wanted to think about, for example, black socks in relation to Eliot Spitzer again, for example, but there they are, rising from the dark corner where I had mostly repressed it. (Even if that detail turned out not to be true.)

I've also been thinking about a really good interview from Spitzer in Vanity Fair from 2009, just over a year after the scandal and resignation. In conversation with John Heilpern, he reveals a surprising level of sincerity and regret about his actions and how he betrayed his family and the public. When I first read it, I actually felt a little sorry for the guy:

"I make no excuses," he emphasized, staring at me earnestly. His contrition was palpable. He explained that he tried to do good as governor and before that as attorney general. "Then I sinned and created trauma."

"You knew the risks. Either you felt you were above the law or you had some kind of death wish."

His response was that neither was the case. "It's a story that has been repeated since our earliest days as a species. It's both obvious and not susceptible to an answer," he insisted. "Nonetheless, we are led down a certain path. It wasn't hubris or a death wish--but frailty, temptation, and common miscalculation."


"Do you think the scandal will ever go away?," I asked.

"No. My obituary's written," he replied with shocking finality. "And that is a very hard thing to live with." When he turned away, I could see he was in tears.

When asked if he'd ever return to politics, he said, "I've a hard time seeing politics as a career. I wouldn’t want to put my family through the agony." Well, his family's agony must be less of a concern these days, because I'm sure they've had a horrible week since he announced he was running for office again.

Spitzer's name recognition alone is probably what landed him at the top of a recent poll, though he does have certain qualities that would make him a perfect candidate for the job. He's not afraid to stand up to powerful corporate interests in protection of the public good, which these days is so unusual that it's automatically appealing. But he went about his vigilance against wrongdoing in a hyper-aggressive, asshole-ish kind of way, making the entire financial sector hate his guts. I half love this about him and half think it shows a stunning lack of judgment. When it turned out he was hiring hookers while fighting publicly against sex trafficking, the "asshole with bad judgment" characterization got a lot of extra points.

Given the uninspiring list of candidates we're looking at for major offices, Spitzer's immoral/criminal past alone might not be enough for him to lose the primary, but the entire financial sector gleefully mobilizing their resources to bring him down probably is. A Crain's article about corporate bigwigs responding to the Spitzer (and Weiner) candidacy shows a fascinating combination of nervousness and salivation. "This is very serious business," one business leader said last week. "The mayor is a very serious thing. Comptroller is very serious. And they have a big impact on the economy and quality of life. So the question is, do either of these guys deserve to do that, or would they be good at it?" "Neither one of these guys has any friends in the business they were in," said one business leader. "That's part of the reason they fell so hard," he happily recalled.

I doubt these guys could care less about the prostitution scandal, but they'll use it however they can to remind voters about those black socks.

May 1, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Dead Spy in a Bag

Gareth Williams, dead spy in a bag

You might have already read about the strange case of MI6 agent Gareth Williams who was discovered dead in his apartment last year, inside a duffel bag that was inside his empty tub. The inquest is happening now in the UK, and I thought I'd share some details surfacing about what is quickly becoming my favorite story of the year.

The Times seems to be enjoying the story, too, reporting from the inquest about the growing suspicion that Williams was not murdered as some sort of retaliation for his work at MI6, as his family suggests, but instead was part of a claustrophilic episode gone wrong. Attempts at recreating a scenario where Williams would have gotten himself closed up inside a locked bag all failed (see photos above), suggesting that other people were involved. And then there's this excellent paragraph:

Investigators also discovered that he had more than $30,000 worth of women’s high-fashion clothing, including Christian Louboutin shoes and Christian Dior dresses, in carefully packed bags in his apartment. Much of the clothing was brand new, but some of the 26 pairs of shoes had been worn, and a bright orange woman's wig was found over the back of a chair, along with a pair of newly pressed men's underpants, in Mr. Williams's otherwise sparsely decorated but conspicuously tidy bedroom.

"Sparsely decorated but conspicuously tidy." That is some beautifully insinuating journalism, there.

Williams had also visited bondage websites and his landlords report that they were once awakened by his screams. From his Wikipedia page: "Apparently he had managed to tie himself to his bed, and required assistance in releasing himself. The testimony was that Williams had claimed at the time that he had done it just to see if he could free himself and that he promised not to try this again. Nothing further had been said about the incident since, between Williams and his landlady."

The landlady reports that she and her husband cut him loose. "I said, 'Gareth, I can't have you doing this,'" she told the court. That was three years before he ended up dead in the duffel bag.

It just so happens that a friend of a friend wrote the book on claustrophilia. Cary Howie's book, Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in Medieval Literature chronicles people's love of enclosed spaces and physical constraints through the ages. The Daily Beast tracked Cary down for an article on the case, since he's pretty much top dog in the world of claustrophilia theory. In explaining this predilection that maybe isn't as uncommon as you'd think, he says, "Imagine all the ways in which limitation produces or heightens sensation, from tight clothes to the formal constraints of certain kinds of writing, and then imagine how this works in space." Or in a duffel bag. Sexy!

The story also makes me admire the spies at MI6 for keeping up with the times. Britain's spy agencies, as the Times says, "are no strangers to scandals that have involved the sex lives of some of their greatest talents." Cold War-era spy novels, John Le Carré, etc., -- the sex lives of spies have always been a topic of fascination. If you were going to have a shocking secret sexual identity back in the '70's, it was good enough to just be gay. But times have changed, and the stakes are higher. Now you've got to own a bigger and fancier collection of women's shoes than any woman I know, be able to tie yourself to your bed, and, tragically, dabble in duffel bag enclosure.

Williams' body didn't show any signs of fear or struggle when he was found in the bag, so it sounds like he was cool with whatever was going on, until it all went horribly wrong.

April 19, 2011

Oil spill victims

Victims of the BP oil spill in Mathews, LA

This is my favorite photo related to the BP oil spill. It was taken at a meeting about compensation claims. I love these guys. All the anger, desperation, and weary determination that people in the Gulf Coast have been experiencing for the last year is all over their faces.

The photo is part of an article about the anger people in the region have for Ken Feinberg and the shoddy treatment they're getting in the compensation claims process. By many accounts, the process has been inconsistent, opaque, slow, and generally ineffective in helping people affected by the spill. Feinberg's law firm has been running the victims' fund since July, and in that time have given out less than 20% of the total fund. And they recently got a raise from BP. It seems like whatever hatred people had for BP when it all started a year ago has now been transferred to Feinberg.

In response to complaints that the claims system doesn't work, the article says that Feinberg admitted "there may be inconsistencies. But I think those inconsistencies are relatively rare."

I'd like to see him stand in front of these guys from Mathews, Louisiana and say that to their faces.

There's a really good series of short articles about different people affected by the oil spill in the Times, including a restaurant owner, a shrimper, and a Vietnamese shipyard worker.

March 9, 2011

NPR and our screwed up news industry

Vivian Schiller from NPR, on Fox News

If I don't think about it too hard, I can almost understand today's ouster of Vivian Schiller, the CEO of NPR. Even if she wasn't the one who got suckered by a team of fake donors and made negative comments about the Tea Party, Republicans, and, awkwardly, the Jewish-controlled media, (though there's "not too much Jewish influence at NPR",) and even if the person who did make those comments made it clear that he was voicing his own opinions and not those of NPR, she's still the boss, so she's ultimately responsible for how NPR is perceived.

But at the same time, it makes me want to bang my head against a wall. This is in part because I personally agree with some of what Ron Schiller said while he was secretly recorded by con artists--the Republican party really has been hijacked by some extremists, and a lot of those extremists really do seem to be xenophobic.

It's also because members of the right-wing media loudly announce their irrational negative beliefs about Democrats and the left all the time. Roger Ailes can say that NPR is run by Nazis, and hosts of Fox News programs can call the Wisconsin pro-union demonstrators "union thugs" spewing "vitriol and violent rhetoric".

What makes Vivian Schiller's ouster sort of understandable is that NPR gets public funding, and Fox doesn't. OK. But that funding is only 1% of NPR's budget, and 9% of member stations' budgets. And the guy who made the questionable statements isn't a journalist or involved in news in any way; he's a fundraiser who's on his way out to his next job, and, frankly, he's probably already sort of mentally checked out.

In my opinion, NPR does real, thoughtful, high-quality reporting, without any identifiable political agenda. In my opinion, Fox News often falls far short of that. But Fox also seems to understand that there really isn't any such thing as pure, unbiased reporting. There never has been. The wealthy classes have always controlled major media in this country, and business interests are always central to news agency operations. I sometimes admire that outlets like Fox can so wholeheartedly embrace this, and not even try to pretend they're impartial.

But NPR and other public news services seem to strive for a noble, if ultimately illusory, concept of neutrality in reporting. I guess that's why Schiller had to resign: any evidence of bias in reporting lessens your credibility, if you believe that reporting can ever be free from bias.

What I really wish had happened is this: if all that separates Fox News and NPR and the standards we apply in the personal opinions their staff are allowed to voice is the little bit of public funding that NPR gets, I wish Vivian Schiller had stepped up and said that NPR was returning all the public funding it's received this year, and would no longer accept public funds. Let the public funds go only to local nonprofit stations, not to NPR itself. Yeah, it would be financially difficult, member stations would suffer, and her board would hate it. But if that financial freedom allows NPR to do its good work without getting harassed by a Congress that doesn't see the value of real reporting, it's worth it.

August 4, 2009

Please don't let Ling and Lee fly home on one of Bill's party planes

Bill Clinton is a red-blooded American man, as we all know. We're sure he was delighted to do his patriotic duty and go to North Korea (as a private citizen of course) to try to secure the release of these two nice ladies who Al Gore hasn't really been able to help. We are terrified of what kind of favors Bill Clinton thinks he might be due in return from these just pardoned journalists.

As you can see from the picture, Bill Clinton apparently had to hang out with all these important people at the world's ugliest banquet hall, complete with special mural and lovely carpet. He's all "Oh my god, when are they sending some honeys over, I can't believe I'm doing this" and Kim Jong-Il is all "Ha! They sent Bill crawling to us."

Looking forward to the tell all, which will undoubtedly be an Oprah exclusive when we will find out whether Ling and Lee were really in a labor camp or a guest house.

Update: Ling and Lee are apparently flying home on Bill's private plane. He will skeeve all over them. Here's hoping Bill does the honorable thing and leaves them alone to nap.

April 27, 2009

Scary NY indeed

This morning I happened to be on the phone with someone who has spent decades as an airplane mechanic. He spotted the low flying 747, escorted by fighter planes, while we were on the phone. Mid-sentence he stopped and said "Oh My God." He confirmed what the audio above says: "that's not normal."

City room confirms that this was some kind of strange photo-op with an Air Force One lookalike and that “the photo op was approved and coordinated with everyone.”

Everyone, that is, except the people who were evacuated from most tall buildings in lower Manhattan.

December 19, 2008

New Hampshire learning lessons from Katrina

HELP sign in Brentwood NH

A huge ice storm wiped out a lot of New Hampshire last Friday, and a majority of the state lost power. Something like 30,000 people, mostly in remote areas, still don't have electricity or water a week later, and NH gets pretty freaking cold in the winter. (Disclosure: both Cushie and I have family that were without power for 6 days, and in some cases 8 days and counting.)

A few trends have started to emerge as people deal with the aftermath of the storm that are sad reminders of 2005 and the weeks and months (and years) that followed Hurricane Katrina. That crisis seems to have created a kind of blueprint for what happens after large scale disasters.

(Note: we're not trivializing all the horrors that people in New Orleans and the surrounding areas went through and are still dealing with. At all. We're drawing some parallels between situations that have some similarities but are totally different in scale.)

While most people in New Hampshire have gotten their power back, a few isolated areas are still waiting, and were told yesterday it might not happen until after Christmas. People in Brentwood, NH have started making signs asking for help that doesn't seem to be coming:

Residents frustrated with the conditions on the road, where trees and wires still obstruct traffic in a number of places, have placed a sign on a barrier that reads "Help" and "Forgotten by Unitil and Exeter DPW."

Just give it a few more weeks, people of Brentwood, and you might come up with signs as memorable as those we saw along the Gulf Coast ("We Are American, Where Is FEMA?", "Still Heer"), like the infamous big dog, claw hammer, ugly wife guy in NOLA.

Some looting has also started to happen in abandoned houses and businesses with non-functioning burglar alarms, but of course, with a special New England twist:

In the 12-hour period between house checks, someone had forced entry into the home and stole numerous items. Police captain Raiche said some of the stolen items included seven rifles and shotguns, jewelry and two high-definition, plasma televisions.

Another burglary occurred Friday night at the popular restaurant and nightspot Kelley's Row, located on Central Avenue in Dover. Police say someone forced entry into the restaurant while much of Central Avenue was in the dark that night.

"They have a burglary alarm but they didn't have power, so the alarm didn't matter," Raiche said.

A flat-panel television and $100 worth of lobster meat were stolen.

"We have very few leads at this point," Raiche said.

And there are problems with FEMA and resources sitting in a warehouse somewhere, not reaching the people who need them:

Dover resident Jim Alty told the Herald he had been told there were 53 generators, along with several pallets of water, at Pease national guard base. He said he was concerned they weren't getting to the people who needed them.

A call to Sherri Pierce, spokeswoman for the 157th Air Refueling Wing, confirmed they were there. "But they are not under our control," Pierce said. "They are under the control of FEMA."

If things keep getting worse, hopefully we'll get New Hampshire natives Adam Sandler or Sarah Silverman to say "George Bush doesn't care about rural people" on live TV.

October 24, 2007

San Diego and New Orleans now have at least one thing in common

Big fancy burned houses

Once the fires stop burning, San Diego and surrounding areas will be left with a lot of charred houses and a lot of displaced people. Reports are talking about 1,500 homes destroyed as of right now. A lot of them were probably very big houses, like this photo of the remains of a multi-million dollar house in Rancho Santa Fe.

Comparisons are already being drawn between this disaster and the hurricanes of 2005. The Times has put together a simple chart comparing the populations of New Orleans and the areas around San Diego that were evacuated, and as you can probably guess, the people in San Diego are a whole lot richer, whiter, and have more cars to evacuate in. The Red Cross estimates that 350,000 homes were destroyed in Katrina and Rita.

But there are some things that these two very different regions of our country share: a take-no-prisoners approach to defending one's home against the perceived threat of looters.

In a article that compiles comments posted by San Diego-area readers, the Times quotes Jason S., whose family members made their way back into their evacuated neighborhood in Poway:

"Last night, my brother snuck past police barricades to check on our family home and watch for looters," he wrote. "Despite the risk, I think everyone is really proud of him for doing this."

After he returned from the home, his brother reported that a neighbor was camped out on another lawn with a shotgun and a sign that read "Looters will be shot."

"Looters will be shot"... where have we seen that before? Oh, hey! It's that guy! From New Orleans!

New Orleans looters beware

He must have moved to Southern California to get away from natural disasters and find a prettier woman.

April 2, 2007

New Yorkers Vote for the Worst

A few weeks ago, Howard Stern interviewed the founder of Vote for the Worst, a self-explanatory internet campaign intended to bring American Idol to new lows of mediocrity. Since then, site visits have skyrocketed. Vote for the Worst fever is spreading across the nation as frustrated television viewers call American Idol's hotlines in support of Sanjaya Malakar, a 17-year old performer who would resemble a young, Indian Michael Jackson if only he could carry a tune.

In fact, the Vote for the Worst campaign is so pervasive that even respected news outlets are are using it as a touchstone for actual political events. Take, for instance, this recent NY1 Snap Poll in response to Rudy Giuliani's announcement that if elected President, he'd have his wife Judi sit in on Cabinet meetings:

Judi Giuliani or Sanjaya

The winner?

New Yorkers Prefer Sanjaya to Judi Giuliani

Clearly, Sanjaya Malakar.

March 15, 2007

Tell It Like It Is

If there's one thing Americans can agree on, it's that punching old ladies in the face is a despicable act. Last weekend's assault on 101-year-old Rose Morat, who was punched repeatedly in the face and robbed of $33 on her way to church, has caused an uproar from concerned citizens, community groups, Queens residents, seniors, the police, legislators, the press - you name it. Even worse is the fact that this seems to be a habit. The mugger allegedly also beat and robbed an 85-year old woman, Solange Elizee, shortly afterward. Ms. Elizee lost $32 and her wedding band. The reward for the attacker is currently up around $18,000.

But the question remains - what kind of a person would do this? What kind of a person assaults old ladies in their homes for just a few dollars?

punching old ladies is bad

Also, apparently, the kind of person who wears a fur jacket and rides a pink bike.

January 19, 2007

The People's Paper

Finally, a New York Times lifestyle story just for me!

Did you know that there are literally tens of New Yorkers out there facing a heartbreaking ordeal? They can't get the high-end appliances in their weekend homes serviced, because all the bumpkins in upstate New York and Vermont shop at Sears!

Oh, the tragedy of installing a "luxury Australian-made Regency VSA oven" and not being able to get the hinges fixed! The horror of "spending about $1,000 [to cajole] Sub-Zero into sending a repairman on the 40-minute drive from Albany!" And what if your vacation home is on Fire Island? Did you know they don't even have cars there?!

Sadly, many of these folks are now turning to sub-par brands like KitchenAid and G.E. (which seem, curiously, to not break down as frequently). I mean, why even bother being an "executive vice president for luxury real estate sales" or a "vice president at the Corcoran Group real estate company" if you have to keep your Berkshire pork cold under a fucking block of ice in the backyard?

Oh, boohoo. Relevance aside, this article isn't even interesting. Appliance repair? How did this pitch even make the first editorial cut?

Congratulations, New York Times, for the most useless news article of 2007 so far! And to think I had my money on New York Magazine.

April 22, 2006

Thank Heaven

Since I consider myself something of a snack specialist, I thought that the best place to learn about cutting-edge snack innovations would be at the recent snack food manufacturers' trade show, SNAXPO™.

I was wrong. Screw conferences. You want to study snacks? Wait until a 7-Eleven opens on your street.

Now, I grew up with a choice between Store 24 and Cumberland Farms, in an area where convenience stores could only be successful by a) selling gasoline or b) supplying a parking lot for teenagers to hang out in and pay homeless men to buy wine coolers for them. So when the 7-Eleven opened on 42nd Street, I thought, how could a store that gives away free coffee with every breakfast sandwich possibly succeed in an enormous retail space in one of the highest-rent areas in Manhattan?

After I returned from SNAXPO™, still unable to bend my fingers due to salt consumption, I decided to investigate for myself. And that is when I realized that 7-Eleven is SNACK NIRVANA. For one thing, not only does the store stock the most creative brand extensions around, it also employs some of New York's most knowledgeable and aggressive salespeople.

Emily: What is this....some new kind of Tic-Tac? Tic-Tac BOLD™?
Clerk: Yes! They're very good!
Emily: Hm...they look neat - but I don't really like Tic-Tacs.
Clerk: Oh, these are much better than regular Tic-Tac.
Emily: Really?
Clerk: Oh yes! Much better! But we still have the old kind, too.
Emily: Ok, I'll take one of each. And those Chile Picante Corn Nuts.

Besides Tic-Tac BOLD™, which comes in a pleasing squeezable container updated for the 21st century, my 7-Eleven is currently featuring:

Seven flavors and shapes of Cheez-its™, including Fiesta Cheddar Nacho™ and Twisterz Cheddar and More Cheddar™ (don't bother; they're really just regular Cheez-its™ with a coating of Kraft Mac and Cheese powder)

so many cheezits

A wide assortment of my favorite candy ever, Laffy Taffy™, in bold flavors such as "Sparkle Jerry Cherry", which is not only approximately two feet long, but ALSO has a sparkly sugar coating

so much laffy taffy

and Heineken Mini-Kegs for $19.99.

the bounty of 7-Eleven

But 7-Eleven's boldest, most daring product - I dare say, even more creative than Burger King's Chicken Fries, which are designed to fit in your car's cupholder - is almost too much to comprehend.

"Why waste all this space on our hot dog roller grill," 7-Eleven marketing executives must have said to themselves, "When we could appeal to people who want hot, cylindrical foods other than hot dogs? And what do Americans love more than hot dogs? Pizza!"

And so, the 7-Eleven Twista™ was born. (Not, of course, to be confused with the Cheez-it Twisterz™ mentioned above)

the greatest snack food in the universe

While the Twista™ and its roller-grill companion snack the Taquito still appear to be in the pilot phase, I applaud 7-Eleven's ingenuity. I can only hope that these are but the first of many snack foods, like the Chicken Fry, that are tailored with our unique American cultural tastes* and habits** in mind.

*By which I mean, salt and fat
**By which I mean, laziness and gluttony

April 7, 2006

PR Rule Number 1

When promoting your new show, make sure you send releases to ALL of the Post's gossip columnists.

Cindy Adams, 04/06/06:

"For two years, National Geographic has secretly worked on a project dealing with religious history. Their deep pockets financed an architectural dig in biblical desert land. Its ultimate was to yield a scriptural trove and, in fact, has unearthed what they will soon proclaim are ancient scrolls.....These scrolls have painstakingly been translated by a group of scholars, and the revelation is that they deal exclusively with Judas...For more, for answers, questions, facts, widening of this information, you are directed to spokespersons at National Geographic."

Liz Smith, 04/06/06:

"On Sunday, the National Geographic Channel airs "The Gospel of Judas," which purports to show us the authentic carbon-dated manuscript of a book definitely left out of the New Testament. This gives a new view of the villain who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Judas Iscariot is given a makeover as the deus ex machina behind the Crucifixion, necessary for the Resurrection and the beginning of Chistianity. I've seen these documentaries, and they are absolutely marvelous!"

March 10, 2006

Tasteful Coverage from the New York Post

Oh, New York Post! What would we do without you? It makes my heart proud that when, say, a Restaurateur-to-the-stars is charged with domestic abuse, you'll handle the story with.....class. And sensitivity.

Tasteful new york post cartoon

December 20, 2005

Audio and Video of Call to Strike

roger toussaint

For posterity's sake, perhaps you'd like a digital copy of TWU President Roger Toussaint calling for the general strike.

So, yeah, you can download it for your iPod, but now that there's no subway, where are you going to listen to it?

ps. If somebody could mirror these and post the location in the comments, we'd appreciate it.

These files should play on anything that can handle mpeg4 files. Download the latest version of Quicktime if you are having trouble playing them.

September 23, 2005

Botched evacuation, take 2

Wilma Skinner and Dageneral Bellard in Houston

How have our nation's emergency preparation systems learned from the failure to effectively evacuate the Gulf coast in advance of Hurricane Katrina, resulting in needless loss of life? Let's look at an AP piece on what's happening in Houston.

Wilma Skinner would like to scream at the officials of this city. If only they would pick up their phones. "I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," she said, standing in blistering heat outside a check-cashing store that had just run out of its main commodity. "Everyone just says, 'Get out, get out.' I've got no way of getting out. And now I've got no money."

"All the banks are closed and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty paycheck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people, all of them black or Hispanic, fretted in line. "This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that?"

Some of those who did have money, and did try to get out, didn't get very far.

Judie Anderson of La Porte, Texas, covered just 45 miles in 12 hours. She had been on the road since 10 p.m. Wednesday, headed toward Oklahoma, which by Thursday was still very far away.

"This is the worst planning I've ever seen," she said. "They say, 'We've learned a lot from Hurricane Katrina.' Well, you couldn't prove it by me."

On Bellaire Boulevard in southwest Houston, a weeping woman and her young daughter stood on the sidewalk, surrounded by plastic bags full of clothes and blankets. "I'd like to go, but nobody come get me," the woman said in broken English. When asked her name, she looked frightened. "No se, no se," she said: Spanish for "I don't know."

Her daughter, who appeared to be about 9, whispered in English, "We're from Mexico."

Skinner, accompanied by her 6-year-old grandson, Dageneral Bellard [Ed. note: This kid has an awesome name], would settle for a bus.

"They got them for the outlying areas, for the Gulf and Galveston, but they ain't made no preparations for us in the city, for the poor people here. There ain't no (evacuation) buses here. I got nowhere to go."

OK, so there are still people stranded in Houston. What about those who have cars and followed orders to evacuate? The NY Times reports:

Heeding days of dire warnings about Hurricane Rita, as many as 2.5 million people jammed evacuation routes on Thursday, creating colossal 100-mile-long traffic jams that left many people stranded and out of gas.

"The question is how many people will be gravely ill and die sitting on the side of the freeway," said State Representative Garnet Coleman, Democrat of Houston. "Dying not from the storm, but from the evacuation."

Timothy Adcock, 48, a Houston landscaper who was in the 15th hour of inching to Tyler in a companion's pickup truck after his car broke down under the grueling conditions, said, "I never saw anything so disorganized."

"We did everything we were supposed to do," Mr. Adcock said, "secure our house, left early, checked routes, checked on our neighbors." But he said, "when we got out there we were totally on our own."

A high-occupancy vehicle lane went unused, he said, and they saw no police officers. At one point, Mr. Adcock said, he called the Texas Department of Transportation for an alternate route, but the woman who answered could not find a map.

Officials in Texas also said they recognized a serious situation had arisen in the evacuation, with many people stranded on traffic-choked highways, without gas and without water. The state had promised to send gas trucks to relieve the problem, Houston Mayor Bill White said, but he could not say how long it would be before those trucks arrived.

Mayor White deflected questions from reporters asking him to assess who was to blame for what happened Thursday, specifically the lack of gasoline where needed.

"This is not the time to look at who should have done what on the emergency," the mayor said. "This is not the time we're going to get into who should've done what."

Yeah, this is not the time for the blame game! That was three weeks ago! I know it's almost impossible to tell the difference between the two, but come on, people, get your disasters straight.

Somebody get Anderson Cooper down there to start laying into some officials.

September 8, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans

Now that those affected by Katrina are mostly either staying somewhere safe or dead, media attention is turning to long-term recovery. Should New Orleans be rebuilt? Will people ever want to live there again? And some people are asking what I think is the real question here: what the hell are hundreds of thousands of evacuated people with no home, no job, and no money going to do for the next 6 months to a year while everybody discusses the first two questions?

Clearly, the government can't support the entire populations of New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and all those other ruined cities, for months on end. The evacuees' self-preservation instincts and the desire not to live in a football stadium in Houston has kicked in, and as of yesterday only about 3,000 evacuees are still in the Astrodome. Other shelters also report greatly reduced populations. Those $2,000 debit cards being given to evacuees should help more people get to other cities to stay with family and friends.

But wherever the evacuees go, before too long they'll have to find more permanent places to live, and jobs. The instantaneous unemployment of hundreds of thousands of people in all sectors is a huge deal, unlike anything our country has faced in recent years. New Orleans was a city with a lot of serious social problems before the hurricane hit, but social problems can be fixed through careful policymaking, time, and money. In the late '70's, New York was going down the tubes; today it still has some big problems, but it's a totally changed city.

A history of poverty is no reason for not rebuilding a damaged city, like Jack Shafer suggests on Slate. It's a reason to rebuild it into a better city, as David Brooks writes in the NYT. There's also a fantastic piece in the New York Press, which is usually full of reactionary garbage, about how the rebuilding of New Orleans "is an unprecedented chance to create something new and vital, to sow equality where there has been segregation, democracy where there has been corruption, and beauty where there has been ugliness."

Also, New Orleans is one of our country's most important ports. You can't just move the place where the Mississippi River ends. We're still a country largely dependent on shipping, both for imports and exports, and that's not going to change.

Another silver lining: the new request that Bush sent Congress for $51 billion in relief money is the start of a larger reassessment of some of the administration's biggest goals in social and economic policy. The Washington Post reports, "The disaster has forced the Republicans to temporarily set aside a planned fall agenda of tax relief, spending cuts and retirement savings initiatives, as well as to react to public outrage over the government's slow response to the crisis." Some of those spending cuts were to be for Medicaid, which is now where many evacuees will probably get their healthcare coverage for awhile. Looks like the plan to gut our government's social programs has been derailed, maybe for the next three years.

September 3, 2005

Hell isn't over: Photo ops, PR not enough to end violence, mayhem +++

See multiple updates below.

As everyone else celebrates the arrival of the troops and supplies, Reuters tells the stories no one else wants to:

Other survivors recounted horrific cases of sexual assault and murder.

Sitting with her daughter and other relatives, Trolkyn Joseph, 37, said men had wandered the cavernous convention center in recent nights raping and murdering children.

She said she found a dead 14-year old girl at 5 a.m. on Friday morning, four hours after the young girl went missing from her parents inside the convention center.

"She was raped for four hours until she was dead," Joseph said through tears. "Another child, a seven-year old boy was found raped and murdered in the kitchen freezer last night."

Several others interviewed by Reuters told similar stories of the abuse and murder of children, but they could not be independently verified.


Earlier tonight, Nightline did a good job of reporting that despite all of today's positive spin, the hell is far from over, and no effective civil command structure is yet in place.

Meanwhile, here's FEMA chief Michael Brown:

I actually think the security is pretty darn good.

Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.


Update: As of Saturday morning, evacuation of the Superdome has been suspended, possibly until tomorrow, leaving 2,000 people there, and until a couple hours ago no one had been evacuated from the convention center. Officials said they want to evacuate the Dome first, but then diverted all buses to the convention center. Why they are not clearing the two in parallel is beyond me.

Oh, and here's one for you, from the AP:

At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line -- much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.

''How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?'' exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

Update (6 pm): And now more bad news. This Reuters article quotes people who say the National Guard and the police have killed two innocent people, one of whom was trying to report a gang rape. One soldier says they found a girl who had been raped and murdered, and that the crowd killed the perpetrator. Reuters reporters who attempted to reach a makeshift morgue were threatened with beatings by the Guard.

This article says 2/3 of the New Orleans police dept have abandoned their jobs. That leaves them with, what, around 500 officers? Meanwhile, federal law enforcement agencies imply everything is fine by saying, "The worst is behind us."

Update (10pm): Superdome and Convention Center are reportedly cleared. 100,000+ refugees in Houston.

September 2, 2005

New Orleans, Zombie City

As the situation on the ground in New Orleans has crumbled into complete chaos, danger, violence, and a failure by the powerful to protect the vulnerable, people have turned on each other with increased viciousness, moving through the city looking for safe shelter and fighting over scarce supplies. "We're just a bunch of rats," said Earle Young, an evacuee waiting to be taken out of the destroyed city by bus.

It seems not real. We normally only see people fighting for their lives in this way in movies about zombie attacks. Take a look at these pictures. One is from 2004's Dawn of the Dead. The other is from yesterday in New Orleans. Which is which? With these, and with others, it's too hard to tell.

save us from the zombies!

save us from the looters!

In movies, zombies represent us turned against ourselves -- humanity is stripped away, social order breaks down in the face of fear and chaos, and nothing matters anymore except survival. Of course, when you have 100,000 people stranded in a city with dead bodies everywhere, with no food, water, electricity, or medical supplies for four days, I don't see how they could be expected to act any other way.

Political leaders are encouraging the zombie attack metaphor by abandoning efforts to rescue people and threatening to kill anyone caught breaking the law -- treating citizens as if they were the living dead, things to be controlled and exterminated, rather than helped and saved. Governor Kathleen Blanco said that the National Guardsmen who are coming into the city are fresh from Iraq, ready for more: "They have M-16's and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."

Just be sure they shoot the zombies in the head, Kathleen, it's the only way to kill them. Or have the National Guard drop 100,000 copies of The Zombie Survival Guide onto the city, which I'm sure would delight all the starving, sick, exhausted evacuees for whom we should have "zero tolerance."

When Early Print Deadlines Make You Look Like An Asshole

Us Weekly Video Music Award Coverage
September 12 edition:

"With the hurricane, I didn't want to do anything too extreme," [Gwen Stefani] told Us of her high, sleek ponytail."
Best '60s Hair: Gwen Stefani

"When a flash of rain threatened to soak the event, partiers dashed to the hotel lobby for cover. But five minutes later, everyone was back outside busting a move!"
Jessica Alba Parties with Us!

"6:30 PM: As Hurricane Katrina whips up 75 mph winds, Diddy gambles and drinks champagne in his dressing room. "Turn up the music!" he says. "No one's going anywhere." Meanwhile, Missy Elliott tells Us, "I spent the hurricane at my crib. Everybody was drinking Bacardi!"
What You Didn't See

August 24, 2005

MSNBC: Bringing you the most current news....from 1989

MSNBC rock news

August 22, 2005

A Helpful Current Events Quiz from Ämy's Röböt

In these uncertain times™ of rapidly shifting priorities, Amy's Robot is proud to introduce a new feature: a pop quiz to test your knowledge of important happenings around the globe.

We present...

World Event, or Mötley Crüe Concert?™

Question 1: Iraqis rioting for improved public services, or "Shout at the Devil"?

a)Iraqi riot

b)Shout at the Devil

Question 2: World Youth Day, or "Home Sweet Home"?

a) Home Sweet Home

b)candles at world youth day

3) Metal detectors in Sudan, or New England?

a) land mine detection

b) Vermont metal detector

Click below for the answers

Continue reading "A Helpful Current Events Quiz from Ämy's Röböt" »

August 5, 2005

We're back

After a long, lonely week of work travel, vacation, and ADM suffering a total communications-device meltdown, we're back. Nice to see you.

Here's a photo of Russian Navy spokeman Igor Dygalo, speaking about the stranded Russian mini-sub that will hopefully very soon be triumphantly pulled up from the ocean floor by a U.S. remote operated vehicle "Super Scorpio." Or a British one. Looks like Igor has such empathy for his endangered sailors that he has acquired a sympathy frozen-and-dead demeanor.

Russian Navy spokesman

We hope the rescue missions get there in time, and we hope someone gives Igor a hug.

May 26, 2005

ABC Characters Maybe Not Learning Important Lessons from Real Life

Anyone who paid attention to the Lower East Side murder of Nicole Dufresne earlier this year knows what you're not supposed to say to someone with a gun. So how to explain not one, but two ABC characters making the same error in judgment in their respective season finales?

Desperate Housewives, 5/22/05
Susan to Zack: "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

Lost, 5/25/05
Michael to Sawyer: "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

At least Michael has the excuse of being trapped on a tropical island all season. Susan - I know you're self-absorbed, but surely they have newspapers in Fairview.

May 17, 2005

Post Copyeditors Show Enormous Restraint

Since you know they've been itching to use this one since the day the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Holy Shiite!

April 7, 2005

The metaphysical properties of Chapstick

chapstick of the spirit world

Fans of movie trailers for psychological thrillers, especially those that completely fail to portray these thrillers as the taut edge-of-your-seaters that they wish they were, certainly remember the best and funniest non-scary, non-taut trailer ever: the one for The Mothman Prophecies. [Watch the trailer here.]

This movie featured Richard Gere driving around in the dark on country roads, terrorized by some disembodied mothman/evil force/whatever that was somehow connected to the death of his wife. The trailer goes along OK, until one snippet of Richard Gere on the phone with this mothman thing, which whispers to him in a creepy, hissy voice that it was watching him. "What's in my hand, then?" Richard Gere asks, opening his hand to reveal a tube of Chapstick to the camera.

"Chaaaaapstiiick," the mothman thing hisses through the phone.

Richard Gere recoils in horror.

Calling people up on the phone and hissing "Chaaaapstiiick" at them became my favorite new game. Trying to imbue a tube of Chapstick with other-worldly menace is just a bad idea for a movie, and a ridiculous idea for a trailer.

Anyway, the good old Daily News today brings us a story about Steve Jacobs, who works in a Brooklyn nursing home, who says his life was saved by a blessed tube of Chapstick. Two guys with guns (actually one of the guns was a BB gun, for reasons the article does not explain) were shooting each other outside the nursing home, and a bullet flew threw a window and would have blasted right into poor Steve, had he not at that very moment bent over to pick up his Chapstick from the ground.

"I was very fortunate," the doctor's assistant said. "God was with me, no question."

It appears that both God and evil disembodied mothman phantoms can work in many mysterious ways, but both seem to prefer using Chapstick as their vehicle for earthly intercessions.

April 1, 2005

Race to the Pearly Gates*

In the excitement of this Sweeps Week of Death, one passing has slipped by without much notice - poet Robert Creeley died on Wednesday. I have a particular soft spot for Creeley, because "I Know a Man" is the first poem I ever learned by heart:

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, - John, I
sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what
can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,
drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.

At my tender age, I didn't know what the hell this poem meant. I just knew that my dad, who studied with Creeley at SUNY Buffalo, liked it a lot. Also, it had a swear word in it. (For the record, these are the same reasons I liked "Taxi Driver" at an age where any responsible parent would never have let me watch it.)

Not everyone enjoyed Robert Creeley as much as my father did; John Simon famously said about his poems: "They are short; they are not short enough." Which is how I feel about most Simon reviews, so I guess we're even.

Creeley, Johnny Cochran, Frank Perdue, and probably by tomorrow, the Pope. I can't imagine a better card game than that.

My father adds: I've been reading the obit in the Times as it has evolved from note to notice, the photo - that's as he looked when I was in his "Thematic Developments in American Poetry" course. His first day, he shrugged, "I don't know what that means."

(* tx Kathleen)

February 11, 2005

"Public Enemy Number 1" Comes to New York

Wal-Mart happy face
Oh ho! It looks like the working man's friend, Wal-Mart, is looking into opening its first New York City location in 2008. And New Yorkers couldn't be more enthusiastic:

Wal-Mart builds communities!
Says Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, "Wal-Mart has blazed a path of economic and social destruction in towns throughout the U.S."

Wal-Mart creates jobs!
Brian McLaughlin, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, adds that "Wal-Mart has come to represent the lowest common denominator in the treatment of working people."

Wal-Mart brings people together!
Richard Lipsky, spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, says, "There will never be a more diverse and comprehensive coalition than this effort against Wal-Mart...It will include small-business people, labor people, environmental groups, women's groups, immigrant groups and community groups."

Interestingly, this news comes just after Wal-Mart announced it will close a Canadian store close to unionizing, citing "unreasonable demands" from labor organizers that would make the store unprofitable to operate. And I'm sure it would. As this interesting* New Yorker piece points out, Wal-Mart is stuck: its own business model makes it impossible to pay fair wages, because the low pricing allows such a small profit margin (according to the article, an average of 4 cents on every dollar of sales).

But here's another curious thing. Why are the same New Yorkers who courted Target so vehemently opposing Wal-Mart? After all, they're both big-box stores that sell products at discount prices, affecting local retailers in their communities. Target might have a hipper ad campaign and cooler opening parties, but are the differences betwen the two real or perceived? Sure, Target promotes corporate giving, but Wal-Mart also operates community programs, just as Target also employs a staff of largely part-time, non-union workers. Can we really be won over so easily by cheap designer clothing? Will labor and community leaders** look the other way, as long as it means access to cute kitchen accessories?

* Interesting, but ultimately incorrect: Surowiecki concludes that as big-box stores and manufacturers like Proctor & Gamble/Gillette continue to grow, economic power lies with the consumer - which is a theory I can't subscribe to.
**Disclaimer: I'm as guilty as anyone on this, I love me some Target.

January 27, 2005

Commie-baiting makes a comeback

Now, I'm a girl who lives to call corporate 800 numbers and write letters to the editor, but my efforts pale beside those of Patricia Goldstein, who recently embarked on a personal crusade against a New York City weekly, The Riverdale Review.

Disturbed by the paper's editorial policies, Goldstein wrote in a few months ago accusing The Review of catering to "Jewish Bolsheviks" and "red-diaper doper babies." Publisher Andrew Wolf felt "compelled to respond," so he printed the letter, eliciting a sea of which Goldstein responded which more people responded...and suddenly, you've got Goldstein praising McCarthy and crowing about "pinching the Bolsheviks in their tuchis," and poor Wolf wishing "the whole thing would just go away."

Does Goldstein have a point? Probably. Her main complaint was that The Review had become boring. Is she also a total nutter? Well, as letter-writer Stuart Eber says after meeting her in person, "On a personal level, she's nice enough...But at one point she pulled out of her purse a list of people who were Communists and had infiltrated the State Department. That was sort of strange."

I'm much more interested to see how the whole chicken-killing controversy pans out, frankly.

December 28, 2004

Supermodel tsunami

sri lanka

Faced with the horror of 44,000 people dead, millions more displaced and homeless, villages destroyed, survivors at risk of epidemics of disease, the shaky economies of poor nations blasted, and the fresh water supplies of many islands potentially ruined by salt water contamination, is there any way that our media can still work in a story featuring some pictures of a foxy girl in a hot little outfit?

Why yes! Yes there is.

ABOVE: Non-supermodel Sri Lankan women walk the catwalk of despair.

December 1, 2004

New Subway Rules of Conduct

The New York City subway system has had a code of conduct for many years, with common sense rules about how to behave on the subway. No alcohol, no littering, no panhandling, no smoking, things like that. A new set of regulations recently published adds a few more prohibitions to the list. Now subway riders aren't supposed to put their feet on the seats. Or ride a skateboard, or walk between cars (this is a very common practice, but a dangerous one. Remember when that guy died a few years ago when he walked between cars while riding the subway with his fiance, on their way to get a marriage license?) The possible banning of photography has been raised again.

The Times article says these new rules "are are enforceable by police officers and transit workers, and violations can result in a summons and a fine, or prosecution and a jail sentence." We can think of some other behaviors we would like to see limited on the subway, such as:

  • ass grabbing
  • pole leaning (this one has famously incited violence among subway riders)
  • fingernail clipping (personally, this one fills me with totally irrational levels of anger)
  • loudly complaining about how crowded the subway is and how people are touching you every single morning during rush hour. If you don't like riding the subway, which you pretty much know will always be crowded, take a cab
  • changing your baby's diaper. Yes, I have witnessed this. It was almost impressive enough that I would consider allowing it, but really, people. Keep that diaper on until you get home

November 24, 2004

From the Department of Oversimplification

U.S. Fails to Explain Policies to Muslim World, Panel Says

"WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 - A harshly critical report by a Pentagon advisory panel says the United States is failing in its efforts to explain the nation's diplomatic and military actions to the Muslim world, but it warns that no public relations plan or information operation can defend America from flawed policies." [NY Times]

Clearly, these people are infidels if they can't even be swayed by the most American of all solutions, advertising.

November 23, 2004

AFP Effectively Combines Sight Gag, Understatement

Bush in a poncho

"World leaders, visibly uneasy, donned brightly colored blanket-style ponchos instead of sober suits in an annual 'fashion show' for an Asia-Pacific summit in Chile."(AFP/Tim Sloan)

November 19, 2004

A Warm Welcome For President Bush

Santiago protests

This is the fourth straight day of protests in Santiago, Chile against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (you know the members of APEC better as "our masters").

“We are protesting not only because of APEC," one protester said, "but also because Bush is coming, who is the No. 1 terrorist of the world. And he is coming to do his utmost to ensure that they keep impoverishing people.”


You know how every now and then, you get those letters from your credit card company that are all, "Hey! You're such a valuable cardholder that we're raising your credit limit!" and you're all "Fucking yeah! Now I can buy that X-box!"

That's why today, Americans are totally psyched that Congress raised President Bush's credit limit by $800 billion! Our new $818 trillion borrowing cap is 70% of the entire U.S. economy! And you know what that means? Even after you drop $577 million on storing nuclear waste in Nevada, you still have like, a bajillion dollars to spend at Banana Republic! Is this country great, or what?!!!

Unrelated: Europe Pleads with U.S. to Bolster Dollar

Update: Although not expected until Monday, Bush signed the increase into law this morning before leaving for Chile. Phew! Now he can cover that Andean silver jewelry for the girls, and take Laura on the cruise she's always wanted. Ka-ching!

October 15, 2004

What if you weren't allowed to vote?

This article about immigrants who will be denied the right to vote in the upcoming election is from earlier in the week, but I'm so surprised at the lack of coverage on this issue that I'm posting it now. Because of an unprecedented backlog in application processing at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, previously the INS, and now part of the Department of Homeland Security), 678,000 immigration cases are currently pending nationwide. In New York City alone, this means that 60,000 foreign-born people will not be voting on November 2.

Margie McHugh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition states the obvious: “With the margin of victory in the presidential race expected to be razor-thin in many states, the massive loss of votes caused by the immigration service’s failure to process these cases could certainly have an impact on the outcome of the presidential election."

The official explanation is that the backlog is the result of increased post-September 11 security measures. USCIS recognizes that people are starting to get pissed (especially because application fees have increased as well), so they've developed a strategic plan [pdf] to eliminate the backlog – by the end of 2006.

Clearly, people like Ms. McHugh and other advocates who need the support of the next administration don't want to come out and say what they must be thinking. But I will. I think the government doesn't feel any urgency about solving this problem because immigrants vote. And they vote for Democrats*.

According to a study [big pdf] by the National Council of la Raza, the number of registered foreign-born voters grew 20% between 1996 and 2000, compared with 1.5% for the general population. 87% of foreign-born registered voters actually voted in the 2000 election, a higher percentage than white or black voters (86% and 84%, respectively). The study, published in 2002, goes on to say that “If immigrants who are currently in the naturalization pipeline, as well as an additional one-fourth of those already eligible for citizenship, were to naturalize by 2004, the immigrant voting-age population would increase by nearly 20%. At current rates of voter registration and turnout, this would mean roughly one million new immigrant voters in 2004.”

This is an issue I've been hearing about for some time, because many of the people I work with are in the process of applying for citizenship. Most have lived in this country since their teens. Some are homeowners. All have jobs and pay taxes. They're having a rough time, and I can't help thinking it might be in part because they work for an organization that has put millions of dollars into defeating George Bush.

One coworker just received her final swearing-in date after being postponed twice due to DHS "concerns". (She is from the terrorist-harboring nation of Panama, although she has now lived in the U.S. for 20 years). The date, unsurprisingly, is December 2.

Is the timing of this backlog just a coincidence? Maybe. But it’s a coincidence that’s going to keep almost 700,000 people from voting on November 2.

Luckily, one thing it's not going to do is keep my coworker quiet. She's volunteering at the phone bank and going to Philadelphia on election day to get voters to the polls. Because if she can't vote, she's damn well going to make sure everyone else does.

* This is speculation, since there is no comprehensive data on party affiliations of foreign-born voters. But a recent Pew Hispanic Center study on registered Latino voters shows:
"Among registered Latinos, about half identify as Democrats (49%), with one-fifth saying they are Republicans (20%) and another fifth identifying as Independents (19%). Among registered voters, Latinos are twice as likely as whites to self-identify as Democrats (49% and 24%, respectively), but less likely than African Americans (64%)."

October 8, 2004

Pre-Debate Recap of Recent News

British Hostage is Beheaded in Iraq

Baghdad "Safe Zone" Proves Vulnerable in Attack

Job Report Casts Doubt on Economic Gains

Death Toll Expected to Rise as Israelis Return Home after Egypt Blasts.

Have a good time tonight, George!

Love, Amy's Robot.

October 6, 2004

I'm a little smug today+

Hey, remember when I predicted that Howard Stern would change the face of radio by going over to satellite?

Well, Stern just signed a 5-year, multi-million dollar deal with SIRIUS (that's the one not tied to his archenemy Clear Channel), starting in 2006:

"It has been my dream to have the top-rated show in radio since I was five years old," said Stern. "SIRIUS -- the future of radio -- will take this dream to a whole new level as I bring my fans my show my way. It will be the best radio they will ever hear."

Says SIRIUS CEO Joseph Clayton: "When you look at his enormous existing fan base, all we need is for Howard to bring in a small fraction of his weekly audience for this agreement to pay for itself."

That's right, Clear Channel bitches! Let's see how smug your corporate asses are come 2006!

Update: Let's check in and see how our friends at SIRIUS (blue) and Stern's current employer Viacom (red) are doing today, shall we? Ouch! Good news for some...not so good for others.

Sirius Viacom stock quotes

The NY Times also points out today that Stern will most likely take his advertisers with him over to satellite radio. That's right - although SIRIUS loves to brag about being COMMERCIAL FREE, that's just the music stations; talk shows have about 5 minutes of advertising each hour. However, Sirius hasn't decided how much advertising time they'll allow Stern. My prediction: a lot, especially considering his grip on the deeply coveted 18 - 26 year old male population.

Let's just hope his regular sponsors take the plunge, because frankly, a morning without waking up to Howard singing the Car Cash jingle is a morning you might as well not wake up.

August 30, 2004

Amy's Robot Republican Convention Policy

As our readers surely know, this week the Republican National Convention will take place within blocks of the Amy's Robot Midtown Bureau. We are sure all of our readers are anxiously awaiting our comprehensive coverage of the event.

However, it has become clear to us in recent weeks that the Republican party is determined to include no factual information or content in this convention, or to address the reality of any of the very serious issues that our country faces.

Therefore, unless one of the RNC speakers presents something of substance, for the next week Amy's Robot will cover current events happening in and around Dover, New Hampshire.

For our first day of coverage, we'll leave you with this picture of Dover's own Olympian, Jenny Thompson, cavorting on the beaches of Greece with Michael Phelps. This picture is particularly tragic for the 2/3 of Amy's Robot who might have also had the opportunity to pose for this picture in their bikinis, had our parents just moved one freaking town over so we could attend a high school that had a pool and a swim team. -Emily

Also, we bring you coverage of the 23rd Annual Hay Day Celebration in Farmington, NH. Governor Craig Benson (R) lead one team in the bizarre Hay Day Bed Race, in which teams of participants push hay beds along a course, and "the driver dismounts their beds at certain points to dig medals out of buckets full of ice-water, Jell-O, and sand." -Amy

July 12, 2004

New Yorkers "Get Suspicious"

After last week's warning of imminent terror threats, New Yorkers are really stepping up to the plate, determined to protect their city through the time-honored tradition of beating the shit out of people wearing turbans.

Potential suicide bomber, or just some middle-aged guy on his way to dinner in Queens? Better safe than sorry, I say!

June 2, 2004

The Future of Radio

Howard Stern has spent the past few days waxing poetic on the great debt he owes his boss, Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin. With yesterday's formal announcement that Karmazin is leaving Viacom, Stern has pretty much promised that he will leave Infinity Broadcasting when his contract is up. Stern has openly dumped on corporate radio since his FCC fracas earlier this year, so much so that his website even has a countdown to the second his contract expires.

Love him or hate him, the power of Stern is undeniable. If, as he has hinted, Howard takes his show to satellite radio, millions of listeners will follow. Stern is at a point now where he could single-handedly change the future of radio.

While Clear Channel's stock prices have sunk lower and lower, the subscriber base for both XM and Sirius satellite radio is steadily growing. Although XM is currently the larger of the two, its ties to Clear Channel (which owns 3% of the company) may not help in the future. Stern's vendetta against Clear Channel makes it more likely that he will go to Sirius if he makes the leap.

Stern's listeners are more than loyal, they're fanatical. Will they pay $10 - $13 a month to hear about Chynna Phillips? lesbian experiments? Hell yes, they will. And at the same time, they'll have access to a new kind of broadcasting: commercial-free (in Sirius' case), wide-ranging, and uncensored.

May 6, 2004

Highway Robbery

People are unbelievable.

Sure, I致e borrowed my sister痴 dress without asking, maybe pocketed a Snickers from the Cumberland Farms, but it never occurred to me to steal things like electricity and guardrails [login required]. That really takes balls.

While New Jersey has apparently been losing miles of aluminum guardrails to the tune of $2.5 million "like termites silently devouring the wooden beams of your house", Con Edison has been enduring thievery from customers that ranges from street vendors stealing currents from lamp posts, meter tampering, and building false walls to hide electric wires.

I壇 say that people will steal anything that痴 not nailed down, but guardrails and lamp posts are nailed down, aren稚 they? Or bolted? Or soldered?

For me, these crimes raise many questions, such as: is it wise to try to save money by cutting open live electrical wires? And, do you seriously expect me to believe that no one notices people yanking sections of guardrail off the highway?

Officials seem to take all this thievery in stride. New Jersey is compensating by replacing stolen aluminum guardrails with steel. And Con Ed痴 top inspector, Charles Mormilo, rationalizes, "New Yorkers are stealthy�But my inspectors are New Yorkers, too."

May 4, 2004

Don't forget to tip your driver

Oh, how New Yorkers are weeping and wailing about the taxi fare hike. Although the average trip will now cost only about $1.70 more than it did last week, many riders are showing their disapproval by tipping drivers less or not at all.

Well, I've got news for you whiners: stiffing your taxi driver is not "protesting". It's cheap. Your cab driver makes about $120 on a 10 -12 hour shift with no health or pension benefits. Even with the increase going directly to drivers, that's still not a lot of money.

That $1.70 won't even cover your latte on the way to work. If you have a legitimate problem with your driver, then get his or her identifying information and file your complaint here.
If the rate increase offends you that deeply, take the damn bus. If you take a cab, tip your driver!

April 22, 2004

In the News...

What an exciting time to join the Amy's Robot staff here at the Midtown Bureau. There's always news here in our fair city; it seems that even when boats are finally docking safely, you turn around and devious eight-year-olds who are high on sugared drinks are cheating on tests.

Why, it almost makes you want to blog pictures of wet cats instead.

ps. This is Emily's first post, and we're still picking out a color scheme...sorry if it's not perfect. -ADM

January 31, 2004

Violins in the News


Wow, it's been an unusually big week for violins in the news.

September 9, 2003

Miscellaneous Links

Since the Link Factory is unreliable during our server problems, here's some stuff:

About News

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Amy's Robot in the News category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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