Friday, March 26, 2004

Is Blogging just the tip of the iceberg?

I’ve often worried that blogging is just a fad that will eventually go out of fashion. If Blogger were to shut down in a year or so I would lose all of my archived blog entries (not that that would be a great loss) and the Internet would become a lot less interesting.

But there are apparently some folks out there who see the trend going the otherway. Jason Calacanis at Weblogs Inc. thinks blogging will catch on the same way e-mail did and soon everyone will have one.

“It’s becoming clear to me that blogs are not simply journals or editorial. They are, in fact, the new email address. They will be the most important piece of data on anyone’s business card. Want to email me and don’t know my email address? Visit my blog — which you will find by Googling me — and fill in my contact form. Try finding someone’s email address using Google — good luck.
Everyone will have a blog in ten years or less and I mean everyone. The way everyone has an email address today and so few people had email in 1994, the same will happen to your blog address. Why? Blogs are simple, as flexible as the Internet itself and they are rich. You can’t fit the same depth of information on a vcard.
Now, I’m sure some people said this about homepages back in 1994. However, back then people were not as tech savvy as they are now, and certainly only a fraction of them were online. In the past ten years online publishing technology has become easier, more powerful and more ambitious. Like many things, the second or third time is a charm.
Blogs are hyped, but the truth is they will ultimately surpass and transcend the current hype — the same way the Internet did.
As much as it may seem they are overexposed, blogs are underrated.”

So are we bloggers on the cutting edge of something big? Or are we part of a fad that will soon be overtaken by the next big thing - whatever that may be?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Doubts about new "Alamo" movie

I hope that the new “Alamo” movie is good, but I have my doubts. I’ve always loved Texas history and as a resident of San Antonio I would love to see the movie become a big hit. However, I’m afraid it will be hampered by a serious case of the “might have beens” thanks to the arrogance, incompetence and stupidity of Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

The film was supposed to have been helmed by Ron Howard fresh off of his Academy Award win for “A Beautiful Mind.” Howard had reportedly spent a year working on the project and had lined up Russell Crowe and Ethan Hawke to take prominent parts in the movie. There were even reports that Sean Penn was considering accepting the role of Jim Bowie.

But then Eisner stepped in and vetoed the project reportedly because he was afraid it might get an R rating for violence. So Howard dropped out and when he left so did Crowe, Hawke, Penn and anyone else of significance who might have thought about coming aboard.

So Disney brought in rookie director John Lee Hancock whose most prominent film to date was the feel-good Disney baseball flick “The Rookie” that starred Dennis Quaid. Not surprisingly, Quaid was also brought on to replace Russell Crowe in the role of Gen. Sam Houston. Unfortunately for Quaid, the latest reports say the Sam Houston role was trimmed back significantly to cut the length of the movie down from 3 hours to about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The only other actor of note to sign up was Billy Bob Thornton in the role of Davy Crockett.

Quite frankly, I’m dreading finding out how they handle the Crockett character in the film. If they give credence to that bogus story about Crockett being captured and executed by Santa Anna, well that would pretty much end it for me right there.
But I’ll wait and see what happens. Maybe Hancock will surprise everyone the way Peter Jackson did and come out with an extraordiary film. Or maybe I’ll just go down to Wal-Mart and pick up the old John Wayne version instead.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Daschle sums up the latest Bush outrages

I swiped this from Eschaton because it was too good to pass up.

Excerpt from statement by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle:

“When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill stepped forward to criticize the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, he was immediately ridiculed by the people around the President and his credibility was attacked. Even worse, the Administration launched a government investigation to see if Secretary O'Neill improperly disclosed classified documents. He was, of course, exonerated, but the message was clear. If you speak freely, there will be consequences.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson also learned that lesson. Ambassador Wilson, who by all accounts served bravely under President Bush in the early 1990s, felt a responsibility to speak out on President Bush's false State of the Union statement on Niger and uranium. When he did, the people around the President quickly retaliated. Within weeks of debunking the President's claim, Ambassador Wilson's wife was the target of a despicable act.
Her identity as a deep-cover CIA agent was revealed to Bob Novak, a syndicated columnist, and was printed in newspapers around the country. That was the first time in our history, I believe, that the identity and safety of a CIA agent was disclosed for purely political purposes. It was an unconscionable and intolerable act.

Around the same time Bush Administration officials were endangering Ambassador Wilson's wife, they appear to have been threatening another federal employee for trying to do his job. In recent weeks Richard Foster, an actuary for the Department of Health and Human Services, has revealed that he was told he would be fired if he told Congress and the American people the real costs of last year?s Medicare bill.
Mr. Foster, in an e-mail he wrote on June 26 of last year, said the whole episode had been "pretty nightmarish." He wrote: "I'm no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policymakers for political purposes."
Think about those words. He would lose his job if he did his job. If he provided the information the Congress and the American people deserved and were entitled to, he would lose his job. When did this become the standard for our government? When did we become a government of intimidation?

And now, in today's newspapers, we see the latest example of how the people around the President react when faced with facts they want to avoid.
The White House's former lead counter-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, is under fierce attack for questioning the White House?s record on combating terrorism. Mr. Clarke has served in four White Houses, beginning with Ronald Reagan's Administration, and earned an impeccable record for his work.
Now the White House seeks to destroy his reputation. The people around the President aren't answering his allegations; instead, they are trying to use the same tactics they used with Paul O'Neill. They are trying to ridicule Mr. Clarke and destroy his credibility, and create any diversion possible to focus attention away from his serious allegations.

The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people.
The people around the President don't seem to believe that. They have crossed a line -- perhaps several lines -- that no government ought to cross.
We shouldn't fire or demean people for telling the truth. We shouldn't reveal the names of law enforcement officials for political gain. And we shouldn't try to destroy people who are out to make country safer.
I think the people around the President have crossed into dangerous territory. We are seeing abuses of power that cannot be tolerated.
The President needs to put a stop to it, right now. We need to get to the truth, and the President needs to help us do that.”

I would just add that every one of these abuses by the Bush administration is far worse and more detrimental to civil society than any of the pseudo-scandals that Ken Starr and his right-wing cabal spent $70 million of taxpayers’ money investigating in the 1990s.