Friday, December 31, 2004

A Blogger's New Year Resolutions

This may have been the biggest year of my life in many ways, and I am grateful that I discovered blogging. It’s nice knowing that a new year is coming, even if writing “2005” at the end of a date is going to take some getting used to. Before I tell you what my goals are for next year, let’s do a recap of the biggest news events of 2004:

1. The election
You knew it would be first. Everything about this election was big, from Howard Dean’s berserker howl to John Kerry’s classy concession speech. Through all of it, President Bush still came out on top and was named Person of the Year by TIME. It was ugly at times, it was nerve-racking at times, and it was controversial all the time, but it was important.

2. Rathergate
The forged National Guard memos may have added a few votes to the Bush column and turned CBS into a laughingstock. While bias may or may not exist in all forms of American media, this was the most glaring example of liberal (or, for that matter, any) bias in recent memory. From the perspective of a journalist, this story may deserve the number one spot on the list. It was one of the reasons I (and many others) started blogging, and its shockwaves will be felt across the media landscape for years to come.

3. The Thailand tsunami
It will go down as one of the worst natural disasters in modern history.

4. Red Sox win the World Series.
The curse of the Bambino was lifted. On a side note, hell froze over, but no one noticed because of all the pigs flying around.

5. “Fahrenheit 9/11”
No matter how factually accurate or partisan this film was, its very existence has opened a new medium for political propaganda: movies. If Thomas Paine had been able to make Common Sense into a motion picture, except with Bush as the target instead of the British, it might have looked a little bit like Michael Moore’s “documentary”. It’s kind of water under the bridge since Bush won, but even I can’t deny that it opened a passage into uncharted territory.

And now, my resolutions as a blogger for the New Year are:

1. More original reporting, less punditry.

2. Update consistently.

3. Don’t let blogging get in the way of other things I want to do. (Yes, it can be addictive!)

I wish you all a happy New Year, and I hope you make resolutions that you are capable of keeping.

Friday, December 24, 2004

And They Say I'm the Amateur Journalist

David Kuhn, the "Chief Political Writer" for CBS, is apparently clueless. I would comment on the article I just linked to, but trust me: You must read it for yourself. No witty comment I could make would compare with how hysterical this is already.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

On Vacation (Sort Of)

Right now, I’m back at home in Martinsburg. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to post every single day (I forgot what dial-up feels like), but I’ve got a few things worth blogging about before the end of the month. My researching skills are much weaker without a broadband connection, so I’ll probably have a few more straight opinion pieces than usual. Posting will be slightly impaired until I return to WVU (around Jan. 9), but don’t go anywhere, because I’m still updating at least every other weekday. Granted, that’s a lazy schedule for a blogger, but it is Christmas. Get off your computer and spend some time with people you care about, and I wish you all the happiest of holidays.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Merry Christmas, Indeed

This is the reason why I love Blogads. I'm still not sure if I'm ever going to put their ads on here, but these products are absolutely great. Besides, they make for great conversation pieces!

...Then again, I wouldn't wear them to the Inaugural Ball or anything.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bizarre Post of the Year

The McRib: Is it more myth than a sandwich? (Columbia Missourian)

I've never had one. Heck, I practically swore off Mickey D's ages ago. I wonder if anyone's ever been mugged for their McRib? I can see it now: Some guy walks down the street holding a McDonald's bag when, out of nowhere, a Ribhead tackles him, takes two McRibs out of the bag, and runs off.

You know, maybe McRibs are special like brownies...It would explain why people are flipping out over them. You've got to love the mystery meat that is used in a boneless rib sandwich.

Or maybe people just feel empty and need something to get excited about.

UPDATE: On a more serious and sensible note, at 11:09 tonight, the blog cracked 500 page views. (I don't count the SiteMeter total because it doesn't block my own visits, which greatly inflates the count.) Thanks to ClickThru, Free Republic, and the people who keep coming back. The best is yet to come! (No, the best does not include this post...but I reserve the right to post Diversions every now and then.)

TIME's Man of the Year Leaked

Betsy Newmark is reporting that TIME will name President Bush Man of the Year. We bloggers almost got on the cover, but we're still getting a decent write-up (particularly PowerLine). I've got a good feeling this info is legit, as the blogosphere has a way of knowing these things. But then again, I felt like Bush would have been a shoo-in. What other man would you put on the cover, Dan Rather?!?

(Instapundit beat me to this one by a day and then some. Did you really think I'd have enough time to find a new blog without coming in on the InstaLanche?)

UPDATE: Ironically, Young Pundit has some thoughts on Dan Rather being chosen. Now that's comedy!

More Fun Than the Oscars

17th Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting (Media Research Center)

The MRC's completely on the right and darned proud of it, but this is still hilarious. The Quote of the Year is from Dan Rather, but it has nothing to do with any forged memos (you'll see...). My personal favorite is the gratuitous Abe Lincoln reference that won the Blue State Brigade Award. I hope some liberal media group (or for that matter, a balanced one) releases something similar, because I love to laugh at my own party.

You'd Be More "Progressive" If You Opened Your Eyes

Ohio Judge Throws Out Election Challenge (AP)

Politics get funnier every day from my corner of the world. An excerpt:
"The complaint questioned how the actual results could show Bush winning when exit-poll interview findings on election night indicated that Kerry would win 52
percent of Ohio's presidential vote."

Wait a minute...these people believed the exit polls?!? You fools!
"Without listing specific evidence, the complaint alleges that 130,656 votes for Kerry and John Edwards in 36 counties were somehow switched to count for the Bush-Cheney ticket."

Around here, we call that switch "freedom of choice." I know it's hard to believe anyone would vote for Bush, considering your personal friends and co-workers are all liberals. And people wonder how bias in the media happens...If I had a dollar for every vote that "should have been" for Kerry this election, I could buy a LOT of Heinz ketchup. Spare me.

Now if only this wasn't certain to be refiled. To the courts: the next time Rev. Jesse Jackson backs a complaint, do yourselves a favor and RUN FOR IT. I know I wouldn't want the Alliance for Democracy on my doorstep...*snicker*

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Who Didn't See This Coming? (A Defense of Fox News)

Zell Miller to join Fox News

This is one reason why it angers me that my dorm cable doesn't carry Fox. It's practically a conservative's playground, and although I wish all of the networks knew how to be impartial, Fox remains the counterpoint to the left-of-center CNN and way left MSNBC.

(If you don't believe me on MSNBC, just sit down and watch the network during prime-time on a weeknight. If you think the commentary's liberal, then you weren't watching the news segments during the 2000 election!)

Coincidentally, out of all three stations, guess which one airs at every Morgantown restaurant and bar? That's right...Fox News. Keep in mind that this is a college town that knows how to party, and the student body seems to be predominantly liberal. (The election maps can't tell you much, because WVU students did most of their voting in their hometowns or via absentee ballots.)

I guess the reason why I don't mind Fox's bias as much is not because I agree with it more; instead, whenever you see their bias, it doesn't feel like the political undercurrent that marks a loss of objectivity. When you hear a conservative opinion on Fox, it's obviously an opinion. Imagine a magazine like TIME, except right-wing and televised, and that's what Fox News is to me. Their opinions aren't supposed to be universally accepted as correct, as is often the case with other forms of the mainstream media. Besides, I honestly feel like they could stand a chance at becoming more moderate -- and therefore more popular with the left -- if Democrats weren't so antsy about appearing on the network. Some of them say they decline out of principle; I say they decline because they know Fox people aren't going to throw softball questions at them. When you can't get the left to show up, you can only show the other side.

But back to the main point: Zell Miller has enough fire to be a perfect choice for the network. Something tells me MSNBC didn't want him...but that's another story. Miller has readily admitted that Bush is the only Republican presidential candidate he has ever voted for, so he should bring a fresh perspective that might keep other Dems from getting cold feet with Fox.

Simply put, Zell Miller is a step in the...err, right direction for Fox.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I Didn't Need to Be There to Imagine What It Looked Like

Michigan student hurls entire contents of dorm out the window

The only reason he didn't light it on fire is because he's not a drunken fan at West Virginia U. Don't even think I'm joking...

"It Was Perhaps a Senior Moment..."

Vote for Edwards instead of Kerry shocks Minnesota electors

Absolutely priceless. Seriously, this may be the funniest thing I've seen all year. I know it was supposedly accidental...but what if it wasn't?

Relating this back to my state: One of the electors in West Virginia had considered witholding his ballot if Bush took the state, but because he won by 13 points, he apparently changed his mind. I guess public ridicule didn't sound like fun to him.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Calling All College Bloggers

I've been thinking for a while...is there really a blogring on the Web that caters to political college blogs? No, I don't mean the same old diaries from college students; what I mean is, blogs by students and professors that cover current events and issues of the present day. I'm quite willing to join one or even start one. If anyone is interested and can help out, or if anyone knows of one that already exists, please e-mail me at unknownblogger@yahoo.com.

A side note: This is finals week at WVU, so I probably won't be able to post as much as usual. Thursday is going to be my most intensive day, so if I update at all then, it'll likely be a quick link post.

FOR CLICKTHRU USERS: Welcome! If you're looking for the HotSpot, it's a text link at the bottom of the blog. I'm not trying to sell anything here, I'm just looking to increase my audience and encourage discussion. Please bookmark this site; you won't regret it. Keep in mind that my political views are right-of-center, and if you have comments, questions, or submissions, you can e-mail me at the address listed above.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rock Gets a Shock

"Dimebag" Darrell killed onstage by gunman

I don't really know what to say. For those of you who don't know, "Dime" was a majorly influential thrash-metal guitarist who played with Pantera and later Damageplan. Pantera rose to prominence in the midst of the grunge-dominated 1990's and managed to appeal to both the metalheads and the Gen Xers. When Pantera broke up, Dime continued on by helping to form Damageplan. If you haven't clicked the link above, please do so; it explains the circumstances surrounding his murder much better than I can. He was 38. Ironically, he died on the anniversary of John Lennon's death.

Although I don't claim to be a die-hard fan of Pantera, I can tell you that Dime was one of the most influential guitarists of his day. He and fellow metalhead Zakk Wylde were once considered to be the last of the rock guitar heroes for their technical proficency and musicianship. The trend is starting to reverse thanks to newcomers like Los Lonely Boys guitarist Henry Garza, but that doesn't diminish Dime's contribution in the least. Think about this: Pantera was actually Grammy-nominated at one point. They weren't exactly your average metal band.

Some people who don't like metal probably wouldn't see the big deal here. I hadn't heard a Pantera song until I listened to "Cemetery Gates," which may be one of the best modern rock tracks ever recorded. It's not as abrasive as the title would suggest; rather, it starts as a fairly mellow ballad that turns into a blistering anthem that rocks as hard as a melodic song can. That, and it holds your interest for seven minutes. I strongly encourage you to listen to it if you enjoy a virtuosic guitar performance.

As a guitarist and aspiring rocker myself (I do have other interests besides journalism, believe it or not), the weight of this completely shocks me. I didn't know it had happened until about 9:00 tonight. I was suspicious, however, when I saw a sign reading "R.I.P. Darrell Abbott" over Dime's photo on a Damageplan poster at local campus hangout The Den. I didn't ask the clerks about it (thinking it might have been the owner's weird sense of humor), but I went home and starting looking through the Web. I realized I hadn't looked at Drudge all day, which is where I found the AP article. Considering that being at Dime's level has long been a dream of mine, this is a major wake-up call for me and a motivation for other musicians of all styles to pick up where he left off.

For his sake, I am at least glad that he went out doing what he loved the most. MTV has a much better story than the AP article, in which one man's account talks of fans surrounding Dime, "kissing his hands and his feet and trying to give him CPR." That alone should tell you how much Dime will be missed by his fans. His life was short, but I'm sure he did more living than many people twice his age.

R.I.P., Darrell Abbott.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The NSVG Gets Nuked

Back in October, I blogged about an obscenely biased mini-paper circulating around colleges entitled the "National Student Voter Guide." I even linked to their website, which was even worse than the original "newspaper." Well, I was going back through some of my old e-mails when I saw the letter I sent to Nathaniel Smith (who, of course, blogs as Lancelot Finn). Since the organization made it seem like they wanted to start doing more things like this, I figured I'd go to the site and see if it still exists.

Are you ready for this? The NSVG, Post-Nuke. No really, there's a link to the blogging tool Post-Nuke on there. It's hard to tell if someone else bought the space or if the people running the site were using Post-Nuke (I don't know much about it, but it looks fairly powerful). Either way, the original site is dead; however, so long as it doesn't give a 404 error, I'll be watching.

((My original post on the NSVG is here.))

UPDATE: Get ready to laugh...I registered to get a homepage on the old NSVG site. I was trying to figure out how to work the system when I somehow broke half of the site. Oh well...

SECOND UPDATE (12/9/04): Good news and bad news on the first update. The good news is, I didn't break the site, so I can't take heat from the admins; plus, the website now has a link to here on it! The bad news is, I seriously screwed up my account, so I'm getting an error every time I try to log in. Needless to say, I can't do anything unless they fix my account or get another one.

The person who registered there before me links to www.drugwaramnesty.com, which is obviously an activist call to release non-violent drug offenders. I'll gladly provide a conservative voice to the NSVG if they want me, but judging from the original site content and the guy (or girl) who already signed up, I don't expect them to come knocking.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

That's the Sound of a Baby Crying

McAuliffe uses Pearl Harbor to slam GOP - (United Press International)

I'm not saying this just because I'm a Republican, but Terry McAuliffe honestly angers me. It's not because of his viewpoints, it's because he sounds like a robot! He's constantly on the attack without explaining himself or his opinions, and he uses every single opportunity to spin an event into an attack on the GOP. From what I've seen, he is the single most abrasive figure in politics and one of the reasons why I chose a party instead of voting independently. He is the embodiment of everything I would never want to be. When you sound like a baby having a temper tantrum every time you comment on something, I'm not sending you any fanmail.

Of course, there's a dark irony in McAuliffe's remarks. He's a lame duck DNC chairman who will probably be replaced with Howard Dean within the next few months (or days...who knows?). Although I don't like Dean much better, he does have a certain degree of charisma and, unlike McAuliffe, doesn't always sound like an ideologue. Besides, he makes me laugh.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I Openly Plug Another Website in This Post

I found an unusually cool website called Blogthings (www.blogthings.com). I took their blogger type quiz and their political type quiz. The blogger quiz results were flattering:




You Are a Pundit Blogger!



Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few
.



That's probably pushing it, but I'm still kind of proud of that result...

I think the political type result is a bit off, though.




You Are a Liberal Republican



When you tell people that you're Republican, they rarely believe you.

That's because you're socially liberal - likely pro-choice and pro-gay rights.

You're also not so afraid of big goverment, as long as it benefits people and not politicians.

You are the most likely of any Republican type to swing over to the Democrat side sometimes.





Umm...problem. I'm completely moderate on abortion (in my opinion, both sides have valid arguments), and I'm not pro-gay rights at all. The latter is not because I'm homophobic, as longtime readers (all two of you...) know. Rather, I have serious problems with how the gay rights issue is handled. I don't like turning on Headline News and seeing multiple gay couples kissing, and I don't like how pro-gay activists are trying to force the underground gay culture into the mainstream. Some would say that makes me anti-gay; I say that homosexuality would be accepted faster if people stopped making a big deal out of it. But I know people won't stop pushing it, and they push me away in turn. I assume the gay-rights portion of my results come from
the first quiz question, which asks for my opinion on whether consensual sex should be regulated. I don't, but if you think that makes me pro-gay rights, you're missing the point entirely.

Why MTV is in Trouble

I recently read an article online stating that record company Universal is looking into starting their own music channel to compete with MTV. Apparently, the company is tired of giving videos to MTV for practically no cost, then watching as the channel runs episodes of "The Real World" and "Pimp My Ride" for hours on end. Warner has also expressed interest in a new channel.

The whole point of the labels giving MTV videos is so they can gain exposure, but since the videos aren't getting much airtime, the recording industry is threatening to make MTV start paying for music. I know it's ironic that MTV would be second on the list after KaZaA users, but that's beside the point. MTV only pays for exclusivity rights (in other words, so Fuse can't air those videos), but if a video is only going to air before noon and after midnight, it's no wonder the labels want them to start paying up. I recently TiVoed a 3-hour block of music videos to see what the big deal was.

First of all, the earliest time slot in which music videos were being aired was 3:00 that morning. This is the worst possible time slot for ratings (short of school hours), but MTV was probably running "Punk'd" reruns until then. The block kicked off with an exclusive from Snoop Dogg, and for the most part, it was all downhill from there. Most of the videos being played were videos that have been in heavy rotation for a while. Another exclusive aired about 90 minutes later, this time a Green Day video. The video itself was unusually good in terms of camera work and effects, making most of the other videos around it seem ridiculous. A fairly decent patch of videos followed, and my hopes for the network were rising. Sadly, it was not to be.

At 5:00, the "EXCLUSIVE" sign came on. I was hoping it might be a new video, but the minute the Snoop Dogg beat kicked up, I knew the network was running out of ideas. The Green Day video returned less than half an hour later, and I was left speechless. I now realize that MTV's most played videos aren't necessarily ranked by how well they do on "Total Request Live;" anything that is tagged as an exclusive becomes one of the most played, if not THE most played, of all videos on the channel. I don't know what Fuse does to get their videos, but they are gaining popularity because of how different their programming is. At this point, it's like MTV is making up for a lack of variety by adding more "Road Rules" episodes.

For music junkies like me who don't get Fuse or even MTV2, the only other options are VH1 and (maybe) CMT. VH1 has an awful lot of original programming right now that, while better than most of what MTV is offering, still can't quite replace MUSIC. I'm not too sure about whether having a single label control a station is a good idea, but at this point, anything would be an improvement.

Please wake up, Viacom. You're losing me.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Google Creates Discussion

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

This link shows the most popular searches in Google. It's kind of frightening; Matt Drudge is the second-most popular male celebrity (behind Usher), CNN was searched for more than Fox News and MSNBC combined, and dragons are more popular than cats and puppies.

Ironically, John Kerry was one rank higher than George Bush in Google News queries, which was probably the result of bloggers trying to find new reasons to post...