Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a phone that won't stop ringing, a double-drunk-driver, and a series of broccoli burglaries.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Ready To Drink Toilet Water


Yes, that's a dog in scuba gear. The chihuahua's name is Mondex, and he just won a canine fashion show in the Phillipines, barely beating another chihuahua dressed as a cowboy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Worth A Link

  • Channel 4's Larry Conners views the Miley Cyrus photo controversy from a father's perspective
  • Dr. Arthur Caplan argues that it's not immoral to want immortality
  • Mark Evanier on Jimmy Fallon replacing Conan O'Brien replacing Jay Leno

Dick Van Dyke Blooper Reel

All TV shows have outtakes, and most of them produce a reel of mistakes and bloopers at the end of the season to share among the cast and crew. Here's one from one of the all-time great sitcoms...


Monday, April 28, 2008

Aaron Barnhart on TV

In today's podcast, I talked with TV critic Aaron Barnhart about:

  • the Miley Cyrus photo controversy
  • whether Jimmy Fallon is the right guy to replace Conan O'Brien
  • how well Craig Ferguson did at the WH Correspondents dinner
  • the CW's latest reality-sleaze fest, "Farmer Takes A Wife"

Listen.


Aaron is the TV critic for the Kansas City Star and is online at TVBarn.com. If you have a TV question you'd like us to discuss, click the e-mail link on the right side of this page and send it to me

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include armed men in a Wal-Mart, a carjacker who asked for directions, and a woman who thought a movie actor looked too familiar.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Canister in the Can

Here's some video that is not safe for work, but you'll watch it anyway, and then forward the link to your friends.

It's footage of Phillipine doctors doing surgery to remove something from a man's butt -- a six-inch long canister of body spray. The surgeons and nurses are in trouble because you can hear them laughing and cheering during the procedure. The doctor in charge even shouts "Baby's out!" and then opens the canister and sprays the contents towards others in the operating room.

As for the 39-year-old patient, his lawyer says the guy was too drunk to remember how the body spray canister ended up in his body, but it happened during a drinking spree on New Year's Eve and a one-nighter with a male partner.

The patient is threatening a lawsuit, and more than ten people are under investigation for their role in this, with suspensions of their medical licenses possible -- but wouldn't you react the same way to this bizarre medical scenario?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Abstaining From Evidence

Rationality and reason were under attack again this week on many fronts.

In Phoenix on Monday night, thousands of people reported seeing some eerie red lights floating in the sky, and many assumed it must be some sort of alien spacecraft. By Wednesday, a man came forward and admitted that it was all a hoax he'd perpetrated. He had used fishing line to attach road flares to helium-filled balloons, then lit the flares and launched them a minute apart from his backyard.

Although witnesses have confirmed his story, including one who saw him launch the balloon-flares, lots of Arizonans don't believe him. For them, it's easier to buy that some life form from distant space traveled all the way to Earth to hover over Phoenix, than it is to accept that a human being was responsible. Occam's Anti-Razor: maybe the aliens came to watch the Diamondbacks beat the Giants that night.

Meanwhile, in Washington, health groups testified to Congress -- again -- that abstinence-only sex education in schools continues to be ineffective. Dr. Margaret Blythe of the American Academy of Pediatrics told the House committee, "There is evidence to suggest that some of these programs are even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active." Other experts from the American Public Health Association and U.S. Institute of Medicine testified that scientific studies have found that abstinence-only teaching does not work, that it does not reduce pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or the age when sexual activity begins.

But facts don't matter to some members of Congress, like Tennessee Republican John Duncan, who wants to continue funding this failed program: "it seems rather elitist that people with academic degrees in health think they know better than parents what type of sex education is appropriate."

The elitism defense: those pesky people who bothered to get an education and spend time studying what works and doesn't work, what do they know? Evidence doesn't matter, only opinions do, and nothing's gonna change mine! Why should I listen to experts? To paraphrase Randy Newman, smart people got no reason to live.

Of course Duncan is in favor of a program that denies vital biological information to America's students -- because having information is "elitist," and we can't have that. If you keep'em stupid, they'll never know how stupid you are.

Congressman, if you truly believe in abstinence, you can do your country a great service whenever issues like this come up -- by abstaining.

Finally, there's this, from the website of the GOP presidential candidate, who wants to institute a Summer Gas Tax Holiday: "Hard-working American families are suffering from higher gasoline prices. John McCain calls on Congress to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day."

You can always get Americans to love you by reminding them how hard-working they are. Otherwise they forget. But let's look at this on a personal level.

Say you fill up your 20-gallon gas tank once a week. At 18.4 cents a gallon, you're saving $3.68/week. Over the fourteen weeks of summer between the two major holidays, your total savings will be $51.52. Sure, it would be nice to keep those bucks in your pocket, but for that relatively small amount, should we buy this cheap political pandering ploy?

The downside is that, when you tell Americans that gas will be cheaper because the federal tax will be suspended, you take away the incentive to conserve (that's conserve, as in "conservative"). In doing so, you increase demand, which the speculators see as a positive for the oil market, which results in high prices for a barrel of oil, which in turn means prices at the pump go up. Then, instead of the money being collected as a tax -- about $10 billion, which is used to rebuild our highways and other infrastructure -- the increased expenditure ends up in the coffers of ExxonMobil And Friends.

Would you rather have that $51.52 go to their shareholders, or towards fixing that bridge on your commute that's in desperate need of repair?

There I go, being elitist again by using information to gain perspective. As we've seen time and time again, it doesn't matter what's right and what's wrong -- it only matters whether you can sell the story. If enough people want to believe aliens have visited us, you give them that. If people want to believe that simply telling teens to keep their legs crossed will keep them from having sex, you give them that. If people want to believe that the government can solve the gas price problem with a tax holiday, you give them that.

While we're at it, maybe we should ask those aliens how they got so many light years per gallon with their space fuel, and how they kept their youngsters from reproducing on the trip.

Worth A Link

TV Land has added a large collection of classic movie trailers to its website, like this one for "10."

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a mugging by cologne, an unauthorized tire swap, and an intruder who got more than he bargained for.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Backwards Bus


How's you like to see this through your front windshield? That's not the front of the bus -- it's an ad for an insurance company on the back of the bus in Holland.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Knuckleheads at the Right Speed

I've had several readers complain that some of my recent podcasts were playing back at the wrong speed in the embedded player, making me sound like a chipmunk. I couldn't hear it on my end, but thanks to your input, I have debugged the problem and all of those files should be repaired now. If the problem recurs, please let me know.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's story include a stubborn driver, a yacht in the yard, and an odd gas station customer.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

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Aging President

Every year in office seems to age a president more than the average person. So, what will our next president look like by the time 2012 rolls around? This site played around with PhotoShop to come up with possible aged versions of Obama, Clinton, and McCain (for whom the whole exercise may be redundant).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a wife in a car with a husband on the car, a guy who should have checked his pockets, and a drunk teenage burglar in the shower.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Phil Plait on Mars

Phil Plait has begun a series of astronomy videos that are posted on Hulu, in which he combines his ability to put galactic concepts into layman's terms with some remarkable images, like these from the surface of Mars...


Phil has more on his Bad Astronomy blog. He also just shot a TV pilot called "The Skeptologists," along with Michael Shermer, Yau-Man Chan, Kirsten Sanford, and others.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

College Rejection Rejected

Frank Trampe got perfect scores on his SAT, very high marks on his AP exams, and has a near-perfect GPA at MICDS, one of the top private schools in the St. Louis area.

So when he wasn't accepted to his dream school, MIT, Frank was more than disappointed -- he wouldn't take no for an answer. Since the letter from MIT's Director of Admissions explained the reason for rejection was a lack of space at the school, Frank responded with a letter of his own (I have left his extra hyphens unedited):

I have no need of this so-called space of which you assert such an unfortunate lack. I require no room, no bed, no parking space, no computing time-share, and no internet connection. Ever the skilled and experienced nomad, I would be quite happy to live in the streets of Cambridge, foraging for food an occasionally attacking a McDonald's take-out customer. My grand-mother has an extensive collection of card-board boxes, and I'm sure that I could find one in the collection that provides adequate shelter for me and at the same time does not block the entire side-walk. If given weekly access to bathing facilities, I could keep myself tidy enough for infiltrating Starbucks for free electricity and Internet access for my trusty notebook.

As for space in actual classes, I can assure you that my unusual tastes (even for an Institute student) should generally keep me out of classes that tend to fill to capacity. If I do happen to enroll in a class filled to capacity, I would be quite happy to stand or hang from a light fixture by one hand as I attempt to take notes....

If you accept the offer, I cannot ask much more and certainly don't require a response to this letter. Unless I hear from you before then, I'll see you in the fall.

See Frank's entire letter -- page one here, page two here.

Pigasus

The James Randi Educational Foundation has announced the winners of its annual Pigasus Awards for unscientific achievement.

Knuckleheads In The News ®


That's the butter knife that became lodged in Tyler Hemmert's head after another kid threw it at him. It's one of the rare stories that qualifies for both Knuckleheads and Picture Of The Day.

Listen for details, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Aaron Barnhart on TV

In today's podcast, I talked with TV critic Aaron Barnhart about:

  • Whether viewers really wanted to see Gibson and Stephanopolous play "gotcha" with Obama and Clinton at last week's debate
  • Now that "John Adams" is over, what's next for HBO?
  • Aaron's campaign to get the NFL Network to hire Pam Ward to replace Bryant Gumbel as its play-by-play announcer
  • How Stephen Colbert ended up an exhibit at The Newseum
Listen, then add your comments. If you have a TV question you'd like us to discuss, click the link on the right side of this page and e-mail it to me.

Worth A Link

  • The NY Times expose on the connection between the Bush administration and those military "experts" espousing not-so-independent analysis on TV and radio
  • Ken Levine on how he and other writers come up with names for the characters on TV shows like "M*A*S*H," "The Simpsons," "Cheers," "The X-Files," and more.
  • David Bianculli on the behind-the-scenes of Tim Robbins' speech to the NAB
  • Joel Makower on "the bounty of public opinion polls on green topics that seems to sprout every spring in time for Earth Day"
  • Who needs a dry cleaner when you can wash your suit in the shower?

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's three-minute collection of stories includes a roaring lion, a backseat alligator, and a man's first car crash.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

The Ed-Word

Forget appearances by Clinton, Obama, and McCain. This was the best comedy cameo by a politician this year -- John Edwards on "The Colbert Report" Thursday night in Philadelphia...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hagaddah Song For You

The Passover Seder Symbols Song, by Barry Levy. Dayenu!


[thanks to Ed and Barbara Barbarash for the contribution]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earthquake!

Just before 4:40am, I was awakened by a noise. The closet door was banging against its frame, and the handles on the dresser were clinking against the wood. In my sleepy condition, I didn't know what was going on, but surmised that some heavy truck was rolling by, or the wind was blowing so hard outside that it was shaking the house. I glanced out the window into the darkness and couldn't see a truck, but noticed that the trees weren't moving at all. What the hell? After a few seconds, everything returned to normal, and I fell back asleep.

When I awoke for the day hours later, I learned that I had lived through an earthquake. The 5.2 temblor was centered in Belmont, Illinois, some 130 miles east of us, so we didn't take the brunt of it, but it's the first time I've felt my home shimmying on its foundation. We got a replay around 10:20am when an aftershock hit and I felt more of the same.

Interestingly, my daughter's guinea pig didn't make a sound either time. You always hear how animals are so much more attuned to nature than we are, how they feel the beginnings of a natural disturbance like a quake before humans do. Maybe that's true of animals with four feet on the ground or the floor, but this one, in its cage atop a bookcase in my daughter's bedroom, didn't make a sound. Neither did my daughter, who was furious when she got up for school and learned she had slept through the quake.

Most of the news media slept through it, too, so they're now playing catch-up. With no major damage to report, they have reporters doing live shots from university geology departments (with that very exciting video of a seismograph with the pen scratch from the shock wave that happened hours ago) or from buildings here and there that lost a couple of bricks or developed a slight crack in one wall. Fox 2 and NewsChannel 5 are both showing a loop from a few seconds of convenience store surveillance video that shows the place shaking a little bit and one bottle of Diet Coke toppling over. News 4 has a live shot from under the elevated Highway 40 section that most resembles the Bay Area highway that collapsed in their huge quake nearly two decades ago -- but there's no damage.

They all have the usual cavalcade of earthquake experts and insurance professionals getting their few minutes of camera time, but every one of those outlets wishes they had footage like this (in Sensurround!)...


Unfortunately, even in the YouTube era, the only other contemporaneous footage is from a TV station in Evansville, Indiana, that was on the air at the time of the tremor...

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man who traded his wife, a voter disgusted by politicians, and a baseball coach begging for mercy.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Jenny

Jon Michelson contributed this video of Flight Of The Conchords, the comedy-music duo whose HBO show went bust: "This was the first Conchords thing I had seen, so I was excited to see their show. Alas, the video seems to be their best work."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a forking lawn prank, a coin deposit gone wrong, and another reason why tobacco is bad for you.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Divorce on Park Avenue

Philip Smith is the multi-millionaire head of the Schubert Organization, one of the largest theater owners on Broadway. He's filed for divorce from Tricia Walsh Smith, who is 25 years younger than he is. As part of the pre-nup she signed, he has the right to kick her out of their Park Avenue apartment with 30 days notice, and bequeath his estate to his daughters, not her. But Tricia isn't going so easily. Watch her eyes...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a cheap bank robber, bad bail money, and an unusual way to inflate balloons.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Really Select Soccer

Let's see your kid do this with a soccer ball...


[thanks to G. Vortz for the contribution]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a mom involved in a candy caper, a man who didn't belong at a memorial service, and a guy with a guitar in his pants.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Quirkology Paperback

To promote the UK paperback edition of Dr. Richard Wiseman's book, "Quirkology," he's produced another prediction video...


For my interviews with Wiseman, plus more videos, click here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Footloose for Jefferson

What happens when 20 people show up at the Jefferson Memorial, wearing iPods, and dancing on the steps to celebrate our third president's birthday? Why, they get arrested by the Park Police, of course!

Aaron Barnhart on TV

It's been a couple of months since Aaron Barnhart and I had our weekly discussion about TV, and we both missed it, so we've decided to start it up again as a podcast (via Skype) which you can listen to on both of our sites.

Today, we talked about the fate of Katie Couric at CBS News, whether anyone can save the evening newscast, and what she should do next. I also asked Aaron about the shockwaves that must have gone through NBC when Craig Ferguson passed Conan O'Brien in the late-night ratings recently.

Listen, then add your comments below.


Want to subscribe to all of my podcasts for free via iTunes? Click here.

Another Movie You Might Not Know

Just added to my Movies You Might Not Know list...

"My Kid Could Paint That" is a documentary about Marla Olmstead, whose abstract paintings created controversy in the art world. At only 4 years old, was she was in fact the artist or did her father, Mark, a frustrated painter, have more to do with them than he admitted? The documentarian, Amir Bar-Lev, is there when Charlie Rose and a "Sixty Minutes" crew do an expose on Marla, and captures the family's reaction to the show when it airs. He also captures the tension between Marla's parents as her mother begins to have doubts about the origin of the artwork.

I don't get abstract art, so I don't know what's good or bad, but I can't help but smirk as I watch some of these smug art buyers musing about the brilliance of the painter, and how the Marla story influences their thinking about how much one of these "pieces" is worth now and will be worth in the future. It's as if none of them knows the story of the Emperor's New Clothes.

In addition to raising an eyebrow towards the entire art culture, from critics to gallery owners to art buyers, "My Kid Could Paint That" forces you to decide for yourself whether these people -- the Olmsteads and the rest -- are motivated by art, greed, ego, or a simple con job.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a security guard fired for stopping a shoplifter, a man on a chain in a basement, and a woman tangled up in her own belly button ring.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Ella


We've just returned from The Rep's production of "Ella," starring Tina Fabrique as Ella Fitzgerald.

From the moment the spotlight first hit her, I gasped at how much Fabrique looks like Fitzgerald -- but when she opened her mouth and sang, I was even more stunned. She has the act down, right to the scat-singing that made Ella so famous.

The show takes place on the day of a Fitzgerald concert in Nice, France, with the first act setting up some of her personal history, and the second act a re-creation of that night's show. The performance came at a time of crisis in Fitzgerald's life, just days after her beloved sister Francis had died, and that thread weaves its way through the show's thin storyline.

She also discusses how Ella's looks kept her from getting some early gigs and later roles in movies. I couldn't help but wonder whether, despite her amazing voice, someone who looks like her -- heavyset and wearing glasses -- could become a star today, or even pass an "American Idol" audition.

How did Ella do it? Simply by singing like no one else, and in the show, Fabrique's vocals are the real star, too. She and the four-piece band, whose members double as some of the other men in Ella's life, absolutely swing throughout the show, right up to the mandatory standing ovation at the finale.

Fabrique has been touring in this show across the country, and if it comes near you, I'd recommend it. It's not Ella live, nor is it Memorex, but it's the next best thing.

Wanna see Fabrique in action as The First Lady of Song? Click here.

And here's Ella in action herself, in 1983 at age 66, doing Cole Porter...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Anchor Away

James Poniewozik is right on the money in his Time magazine piece on the Katie Couric controversy (will she be fired? will she quit? will it matter?)...

The cold, hard fact is: nobody is presently worth $15 million to anchor a network newscast. Not Brian, not Katie, not Diane, not Oprah. Katie was brought in on the premise that she and her star power -- plus a revamping of the newscast format -- could bring in new viewers to the evening news, rather than just steal a few hundred thou from the competition. She cannot. God cannot. It is a losing proposition. As I have written before, Couric's newscast has been an expensive final refutation of the desperate belief that it is possible to reverse the slow, inexorable decline of network news.

Fewer Americans have the time or inclination to watch a half-hour TV newscast at 6:30 in the evening; those who do will ultimtately die; those who do not presently are not -- unlike the generations before them -- developing the habit as they get older. Period. No star will fix that. No salary will fix it. No new set, no new format will fix it.

Of course, if CBS had dumped Katie and her $15 million/year salary a few months ago, they might still be able to afford me. Ahem.

Not So Free Speech

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has awarded its 17th annual Muzzle Awards, one of which is a lifetime achievement award to the FCC for "its inconsistent and unpredictable standards for determining what constitutes 'indecent' broadcasting." Others cited by the Center include:

  • FEMA, for staging a fake news conference about federal assistance to victims of the California wildfires, where FEMA employees pretended to be reporters and lobbed softball questions, real reporters were essentially shut out.
  • the New York Department of Motor Vehicles for recalling a man's vanity license plates, which read GETOSAMA, for no valid reason. He sued and won a settlement allowing him to keep the plates).
  • the Scranton Police Department for charging a woman with disorderly conduct for screaming profanities at an overflowing toilet inside her own house. Her next door neighbor, an off-duty cop, heard her exclamations and arrested her. That case was dismissed by a judge, too.
  • The Texas Democratic Party for refusing to allow Dennis Kucinich on the presidential primary ballot because he wouldn't to sign a pledge to fully support the eventual Democratic nominee.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a student suspended for sniffing a Sharpie, a man who got jail time over a six-pack of soda, and a boulder that crushed a toilet.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

TED: JJ Abrams

One more TED conference video for now. This is JJ Abrams -- the man behind "Lost," "Alias," and "Cloverfield," to name a few -- explaining how he was inspired as a boy by magic, his grandfather, and his still-unopened Mystery Box...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man looking for a drinking buddy for his father, a couple whose wedding night didn't turn out the way they wanted, and a postal poultry problem.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Online On The Road

In 1999, on the eve of Y2K, I was talking with my longtime friend Bill Sobel -- one of the most connected media people I've ever known -- about the technological advancements we expected to see in the first decade of the new century.

Bill foresaw the advent of easier-to-use video cameras, made small enough that consumers could use them anywhere anytime. Now, just a few years later, they're here. Some cell phones have built-in video functionality. Last year, Bill introduced me to the remarkable Flip camera, designed specifically to capture content, transfer it to your computer, and share it with the world. That development has transformed the way events in our lives are collected, including caught-by-consumer news footage that is now a mainstay of virtually every TV newscast, not to mention much of what's uploaded to YouTube.

My prediction was that, as broadband's expansion continues, we'd see car dashboards that included internet access. It wouldn't just be used for visual information and GPS mapping, but would affect the audio you listened to, as well. With iPod-like technology built in, your car could download podcasts for you to listen to on your commute, or you could listen live to any audio source you wanted, whether it was an online-only stream or a terrestrial radio station, local or not.

Today, Mike Stern at Radio and Records reported this item:

Both Chrysler and BMW have announced plans for Internet access in their vehicles. Chrysler will be able to add the feature to existing cars at the dealer level and plans to make it a factory installed option by 2009. BMW's plans include a dash mounted display that will only work when the engine is off but full-time access for passengers in the backseat.
This advancement will be a boon for consumers, offering almost limitless choices. Audio services will proliferate, both free and via subscription. As in-car internet access expands, XM and Sirius will have to figure out a new business model -- they won't need their satellites anymore as they could provide all of their content online.

According to a new survey, 33% of American adults have listened to internet radio, and more than half have done so in the last month. Naturally, the younger you are, the more likely you are to embrace this distribution method. You've lived your life in an antenna-less world, where content on demand and myriad choices -- with little commercial interruption -- are the norm.

The downside will be for terrestrial radio stations, which for decades held a virtual monopoly in providing live in-car audio, competing only with pre-recorded formats from cassettes and 8-tracks to CDs and mp3 players. Now, they'll have to fight for consumers' ears even more, at a time when the industry is already struggling economically in an infotainment-laden media world.

Many consumers are already using this techonology on their PCs and laptops, not to mention cell phones with the ability to stream live audio. While on the air here in St. Louis, I had listeners in Portland and Columbus and Dallas enjoying my show online at their desks. Bill used to listen to me on his Motorola cell phone while commuting home on the Long Island Rail Road. If you like a local radio personality in one city, you'll be able to listen to him/her in your car, anywhere in the world. What will that do to the business of radio syndication, when you don't need multiple broadcast outlets and transmitters to reach listeners?

Apple, Amazon, and companies like them will also have another business opportunity to exploit. The two-way internet connection will allow consumers who like a song they hear to click a "buy" button and download it. Or order a book by an author they hear interviewed, delivered to their home or downloaded as an audiobook for listening on demand. Or bookmark the website of a business whose commercial grabs them for later review. And on and on.

Unless broadcasters grasp the importance of this platform, and embrace consumer-friendly digital distribution, they are destined to be left behind. This is the future of in-car audio, not HD radio, which is headed for the dead technology pile, right next to "quad."

TED: Isabel Allende

Here's another stunning speaker from a TED conference. This is novelist Isabel Allende, talking about feminism, strong women in other cultures, and her experience carrying the Olympic flag with Sophia Loren...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a professor fed up with text-messaging students, a house so full of weapons there was no place to sleep, and a woman-bites-dog story, too.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

TED: She's A Dancer

There's an annual conference in Monterey (and occasionally elsewhere) called TED, which stands for Technology Entertainment Design. Some of the world's top thinkers, inventors, entrepeneurs, performers, scientists, and others gather to share information and give presentations that each last about 20 minutes, on a variety of subjects.

I've never been to TED, but have been enjoying videos of many of their speakers. Here's one that particularly stayed with me, from February, 2006. It's Sir Ken Robinson, author of "Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative," with some great points about how important it is for parents and teachers to recognize our children's real talents...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Poker and Fire and Water

I'm just back from a weekend in Louisville, where a World Series of Poker circuit event was taking place at Caesar's Indiana, and I went to play in some of the cash games around the tournament.

The drive to and from Kentucky offered a shocking view of the damage done by the recent flooding. Driving along I-64, the various overflowing rivers and lakes would have covered the highway if it were not elevated a few feet on a berm. To the right and left, water covered everything in sight, burying farmland and ranch houses. In many areas, the only thing I could see above the water were trees and the tops of the many oil pumps that dot the landscape of southern Illinois and Indiana. Noting how many were out of action and not moving any oil, I wondered what effect this would have on the price of gas during my trip.

By the time I got to Louisville, it seemed like I'd left the flooding behind, but the water was just working its way downstream.

Unlike most St. Louis casinos, which used to be on riverboats but have now moved to more sturdy foundations, Caesar's is still docked on the banks of the Ohio River, in New Albany, Indiana, where they draw plenty of crowds from casino-free Kentucky. There's open boarding, so you never have to wait to enter, which is why I was surprised on Sunday when I arrived and found some 200 people lined up at the entrance and not moving.

I asked the couple in front of me what was going on, and the husband replied, "they're resetting the boat," in a way that implied I should know what he meant. I didn't. The wife explained that the river was still rising, so the boat was higher, and the ramps from the land-based building to Deck 2 of the boat, where I had entered the two previous days, were being reset so the entrance would be on Deck 1 (of 4). I asked what would happen if the river kept rising. The couple looked at each other and said, matter-of-factly and in unison, "they close the boat and kick everyone off." This apparently happens with some regularity.

Wonderful.

Some 20 minutes later, the reset boat ramps were ready. Once the people already on board were allowed to exit, we were allowed to enter. Since Deck 1 is where the poker room is, I was right where I wanted to be.

With limited entry and exit access, you have to think about these things. Watching the people exiting the boat -- who had been unable to leave for about a half hour -- I remembered an incident from the afternoon before.

I'd been sitting in a no-limit hold'em game for a few hours when the guy next to me leaned over and asked "Do you smell something burning?" Yes, I did. I also noticed some smoke rising to the lights in the ceiling above us. Several other players noticed it, too.

Deep in the heart of a crowded riverboat when a fire broke out, surrounded by several hundred poker players, not to mention the other casino patrons at the slots and table games, all with only one possible exit, didn't seem like a safe place to be. There was a definite sense of unease in the room, with some players taking a few steps towards the door, just in case. But most of us stayed put to see what was going on.

I thought maybe someone had snuck a cigarette in and dropped it into the waste basket. The floor staff checked the two cans nearby, but found nothing. My fellow players and I checked the floor under our table to see if something was smoldering -- as did those at the two or three nearest tables -- but no one found anything.

As the mystery and the burning aroma because more intense, the guy sitting in Seat One at my table suddenly jumped up and yelled. Next thing I knew, several other people were stomping something out on the floor next to him. The excitement lasted mere seconds, and when it was over, Seat One looked down at his right leg to see a four-inch-diameter hole burned in his jeans, right at his calf. Fortunately, his flesh was untouched, but he had no idea how his pants had spontaneously combusted. Since he'd just come back from a meal break, we guessed that someone had thrown a cigarette on the floor outside, but it had somehow stuck to his jeans and glowed there for awhile before becoming hot enough to ignite the denim. The boat's EMTs came over to check things out and see if the player was okay, but he waved them off and said, "Deal the cards."

It was yet another instance where I realized that, no matter how long I play poker and think I've seen everything around the table -- from bad beats to bad players to amazing suck-outs to incredible bluffs to drunken near-fights -- something new will come along to prove me wrong.

As the room returned to normal and breathed a sigh of relief as the game continued, the floor supervisor got on the PA and reminded everyone, "This is supposed to be a smoke-free poker room!"

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a not-so-bloody crime scene, a man who lived in a shopping mall, and thieves who gave advance warning before robbing a gas station.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes for free!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Lost: What?

And the winner for Word The "Lost" Writers Use Most Often Is....What?

This could have been half as long, but thankfully, Hurley has two savers:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Worth A Link

  • Did two of these three boys deserve to be kicked out of high school for a year and a half for touching a gun brought on a bus by the third kid?
  • It turns out the Smithsonian Institution is not smarter than a fifth-grader
  • Christine Brennan on this being the first baseball season since 1986 to start without Barry Bonds and/or Roger Clemens on a major league team's roster

Outlook E-Mail Problem

Once again, I turn to the readers of this site for help with a computer problem.

When I address a new e-mail in Outlook to someone already in my Contacts list, the message doesn't get sent. When I check the Outbox, there's the message, and in the delivery address (To:) box, the addressee's name and e-address now appear in single quote marks, which I didn't type. This was obviously generated by Outlook when I chose the recipient from my Contacts list, but it's causing the mail to hang and sit in the outbox. However, if I re-type the same message with the same addressee info manually, the message will be sent immediately. Since I use the Contacts list often, this is a pain.

Any idea what the problem is? Is there an option inside Outlook that I can toggle off to fix this? Anyone else run into this?

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a subway passenger who smoked when he shouldn't have, and a teen who mugged the wrong guy, and a case of mistaken identity.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Balloon Burst

Water balloons bursting in ultra-slow motion for a soda commercial. Notice how the water hangs there and retains the balloon shape for a moment...


[thanks to Tony Carletti for the contribution]

Friday, April 04, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a guy who gets his kicks by getting kicked, a drunk who woke up in the wrong place, and a man whose car just wasn't clean enough.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

The Job Market

From the folks at Screaming Frog Productions...


[thanks to Paul Downey for the contribution]

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a phony phone call that brought the SWAT team, a football rivalry that spoiled a hamburger, and a man with a bonfire for an odd cause.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Flash Face

This is so creepy it's cool. Unfortunately, I can't embed it, so you'll have to visit the link.

She's not a real woman. She's all-CGI, thanks to a Brazilian design firm. Watch her for a few seconds, then move your mouse around. Then remind yourself that she's not real.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include the TSA vs. a woman with nipple rings, a man's odd relationship with his patio furniture, and a guy who just wasn't tough enough for his friends.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Lettermontana

David Letterman does very few interviews, but Fred Pfeiffer, a TV weatherman in Montana, has been bugging him for years to sit down on camera, and Letterman finally agreed. This is the extended one-on-one, a remarkably personal discussion about Letterman's earliest TV job, how Tom Brokaw turned him onto living in Montana, why he doesn't live in the same part of the state as other celebrities, how his show changed after 9/11, and how his life changed after the birth of his son Harry.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

No April Fools here, but I do have stories about a woman who was sure it was a man who broke into her apartment, a drunk airline passenger who met his match, and a different kind of fast-food millionaire.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Bumbling Burglar

As seen on "Dateline" Sunday night, here's the story of Larry Curtis Bynum, a burglar who had almost as much trouble breaking into a liquor store as he had getting out -- almost.


[thanks to Tom Sullivan for the contribution]