Monday, August 31, 2009

SF Chronicle - a plan to help the newspaper

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I happened to run upon an article in today's edition of "Editor and Publisher" which reported that the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper ( is the Chronicle website) was planning more layoffs after Labor Day. It may not happen, let's pray not, but staff reductions could come as soon as next week.

Apparently, even after the last round of job cuts about two months ago or so, the newspaper is still losing $1 million a week or about $4 million a month, or a whopping $48 million-a-year loss.

That's really, really sad news as a paper is nothing without the personalities who made it, but I think there's something that can be done to at least save some jobs and stem the tide of revenue losses.

There are as of this writing 2,780,000 pages that make up My idea is simple: add a donate button to each one of them.

The button would be at the top left of each page. A person could donate as little as $1 and as much as $1,000, but let's say the average donation was $2. draws about 9 million monthly unique visitors according to this press release issued earlier this year. That comes down to about 290,000 unique visitors a day.

Let's say that just 30,000 people or about 10 percent of the daily visitor count posted a donation of $2 each. (in the video I mistakenly said 180,000 visitors and 10 percent.  That's wrong.) Over the course of a month that could be as much as $1.86 million per month in revenue. That's almost cuts the $4 million deficit in half and helps maintain newspaper staff.

That's really it; the idea's that simple.

Donation is better than news pay

I'm not a fan of the idea of charging for news, as Hearst Corporation is considering of late. It invites a process where one website can feed its content with news from the paysite, and then offer other sites and blog with the chance to link to their site rather than the paysite. Plus, with all of the journalists losing jobs, there are more people out there who know how to get a story and compete with the paysite.

The free news sites will always outnumber and outperform the paysites, regardless of how many big brands do that strategy.


Let people donate if they wish. But backing the effort with an aggressive marketing campaign and a well-designed donation button system will generate new revenue and help save the jobs of a lot of great people at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Academy to use "preference voting" for Oscar best picture

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I just got an email from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that a new "preference voting" system will be used to select the Best Pictute for the 2010 Oscars. That news plus the fact that now there will be not five but 10 pictures in contention for the award means the category is essentially being returned to a hybrid of its design of a period between 1936 and 1943.

The difference is then, preference voting was used for the final ballot of the selection for Best Picture. In 2010 it applies to the voting process as a whole.

Academy President Tom Sherak said “Instead of just marking an 'X' to indicate which one picture they believe to be the best, members will indicate their second, third and further preferences as well. PricewaterhouseCoopers will then be able to establish the Best Picture recipient with the strongest support of a majority of our electorate.”

That creates the prospect of a really controversial outcome on 2010. Let's say we have one movie that gets first choice of all picts of 50 percent of all votes. But then let's say we have another movie that gets second choice for all votes cast, 100 percent. That means the second choice movie would win, even if it didn't get a single first place vote. The academy didn't indicate to what degree the weight between first and second choice would be, so stay tuned.

Chevron Ecuador Judge Nunez bribery scandal - implications

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In a blockbuster development, Ecuador Judge Juan Nunez, the key legal figure in the Chevron Ecuador environmental damage case, is captured in a video shown here explaining that he plans to rule against the oil giant and for an award of $27 billion "more or less". The judge explains that the verdict will happen and that Chevron will be blocked from filing an appeal of his ruling. In that segment of the video, the Judge explains he's only there to talk about the verdict, not about "the other stuff" which refers to a $3 million payoff request. Later in the video its implied that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will benefit from the bribe amount.

On video today I talked to Chevron Media Relations representative Sean Comey about the video and Chevron's investigation.

In the video Judge Nunez, Aulo Gelio ServioTulio Avila ("Avila"), and Pablo Almeida and are talking with two gentleman, Wayne Hansen and Diego Borja who are environmental remediation contractors and in the Judge's chamber in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.  Hansen and Borja have pen-installed camcorders in their shirt pockets.  Diego Borja has worked for Chevron before, Hansen has not, according to Chevron.

Judge Nunez (on the left)

The idea of the meeting was for the Judge and his political associates to be paid by the environmental company for business that would come to them as a result of the Judge's planned verdict.  Here's what the Judge said from the video and the Amazonpost website:

Núñez:             “Any other questions for me as a judge?”
Hansen:           “Oh no, I, I know clearly how it is, you say, Chevron is the guilty party?”
Núñez:             “Yes Sir.”
Hansen:           “And the, the, the act (decision) is October or November of this year?”
Núñez:             “Yes Sir.”
Hansen:           “And it’s….?”
Núñez:             “No later than January.”
Hansen:           “January 2010. And the money is twenty-seven (billion dollars)?”
Núñez:             “It might be less, and it might be more.”

The Judge says "I have nothing to do with that other part" which is not explained in full but Garcia below fills in "the blanks" later, explaining that the Judge will be paid part of $3 million from the consulants.

 Patricio Garcia

The second part of the video has an operative Patricio Garcia (photo from the Amazonpost website) who's reportedly a member of Ecuador's ruling party talking about how the $3 million would be delivered and transfered. This is what was said by Garcia:

Borja: “OK. Of the three million … one million is for the judge?”

Garcia: “Yes.”

Borja: “One million for the presidency…?”

Garcia: “Yes.”

Borja: “And one million for the plaintiffs?”

Garcia: “Yes, that’s right.”

Borja: “But, Loco, for the plaintiffs, who gets the money? Fajardo?”

Garcia: “No. The thing is, we’re going to handle it here.”

Borja: “You mean Alianza PAIS would receive the payment here?”

Garcia: “Right.”

Here's the 30 minute version of the video (the full two hour version is here):

But there's more to this video than what's reported in the press thus far. The focus here is on President Rafael Correa, who's office is named by Patricio Garcia as a beneficiary of the planned bribe money as is "his sister" as stated in the video above. As of this writing Correa has not issued a statement, but his reputation has already come under attack.

The second part of the video was filmed at Alianza PAIS (which means "Proud and Sovereign Fatherland" according to the Wikepedia listing)  Offices June 22, 2009.   PAIS is a political movement led by President Correa.   Who Patricio Garcia is beyond his appearance in this video and his role in PAIS is still basically unknown as of this writing. 

Garcia says that the President's sister  Pierina will be helpful (presumably in making sure that the businessmen get their piece of the planned $27 billion pie) and will meet with "The Gringo" (that's Hansen).  I checked and "Prierina" is indeed  described here as "Pierina Correa, the president's sister and an Alianza País leader in Guayas province".  That confirms my assertion that Garcia is tied to the President and his family as he states in the video.


Chevron wants Nunez taken off the case

The implication here is that as Chevron Media Relations representative Sean Corney said in my video above, Chevron wants Nunez taken off the environmental damage case.  But given that Chevron has informed the U.S. Department of Justice, the revalation could have deeper implications.  

It could cost the country its Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) status, which was just renewed in June of this year.  Whatever the case, this news sends a clear message that doing business in Ecuador is not the "clean" experience it should be. Until now, blogs have reported the problems of corruption in Ecuador and with respect to President Correa's involvement in the Chevron case, but now we have visible evidence to back those claims.

The news also forever destroys the claim made by Ecuador lawsuit legal advisor Steve Donziger and others who say that the lawsuit against Chevron has nothing to do with the Ecuadorian Government and is brought by citizens of the Amazon. But Correa has appeared with Donziger in public and has been interviewed about the case.


One can see that the bribe money's not going anywhere near those groups of people Donziger claims to represent; the political party PAIS would get it and "handle it" as Garcia said in the video.  The question is, did Donziger or his associates in Ecuador and America know about this bribe plan?  Was he to be one of the plaitiffs that would get the bribe money? In the Amazon Defense Coalition statement today, he does not address the possibility that he may be involved, instead he said "As the facts come out it's going to backfire heavily on Chevron."

Amazon Defense Coalition defends Judge Nunez

Karen Hinton of the Amazon Defense Coalition told Reuters that the video shows Judge Nunez resisting the bribery matter. (This is Hinton's full statement.)  In point of fact, the video shows the judge saying that he's speaking in the role of Judge and "does not know about that other matter" which is a way of saying he does know but does not want it to be officially said that he does know.  It's called "plausible deniability ." 

Stay tuned.


Full video transcripts:

Meeting 1 Transcript (228 KB)
Meeting 2 Transcript (195 KB)
Meeting 3 Transcript (218 KB)
Meeting 4 Transcript (217 KB)

I'm a Video Blogger, not a journalist

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There are some people who are very confused about the role of bloggers versus journalists. Some think that bloggers like me are supposed to follow some ethic of journalism. That's wrong and its confining. Plus, it's just plain boring!

I'm a blogger, a video blogger, not a journalist. Moreover, I don't want to be a journalist. I have the greatest respect for journalists, but that's not where I live. I blog. Freely and often, I blog. I use videos more than others and that makes me a vlogger. I'm not subordinate to a journalist; I'm media. I have a point of view and I share it. I'm not a journalist.

I have over 2,000 posted videos and 10,000 blog posts. I'm a video-blogger.

Blogging ethics

Ironically, it was Jay Rosen, a noted professor of journalism at New York University, who correctly explained "blogger ethics". He wrote:

If “ethics” are the codification in rules of the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are—which is how I think of them—then journalists have their ethics and bloggers have theirs.

* Good bloggers observe the ethic of the link.

* They correct themselves early, easily and often.

* They don’t claim neutrality but they do practice transparency.

* They aren’t remote, they habitually converse.

* They give you their site, but also other sites as a proper frame of reference. (As with the blogroll.)

* When they grab on to something they don’t let go; they “track” it.

And Rebecca Blood has a definition of weblog ethics that would curl the hair of a journalist, if they had any. But in her case she hugs and embrases the idea of the free-form blogger. Still she has another set of rules:

1. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true.
2. If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.
3. Publicly correct any misinformation.
4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.
5. Disclose any conflict of interest.
6. Note questionable and biased sources.

If I write about a friend, like Oakland City Attorney John Russo, you know it, because I wrote or said so as I did here:

If I was given something, I say so. If I purchased lunch for someone you know it. It's up to you to either watch or go elsewhere. But on that, I've found I get the best interviews when someone talks with a full stomach.

My rule is that I insist on making quick blog update and corrections and I do so where necessary. I track an issue. And I'm biased. I use video because its authentic as I did in this one about the Harry's bouncer and the patron:

In short, I give you the World through my eyes. I give a person a platform on video, but still its through my camcorder. I talk to people I don't agree with and you know it; I talk with people I do agree with and you know it. That's my style. I insist on smart conversation but punish personal attacks. I love a good debate. I hate cyberstalkers. I'm a video-blogger not a journalist. And I'm proud of it.

Tom Hayes: Have Town Halls jumped the shark?

The town hall format is attracting a lot of attention, but people obviously come based on partisan goals, emotions run high, and political reporters determine how the story is played in the media.

The Washington Post, for instance, recently ran with
"The DNC kickoff rally in Phoenix attracted about 1,200 reform supporters, but a raucous meeting on the other side of town hosted by Obama's former presidential campaign rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) attracted hundreds more -- most of whom were loudly opposed to Democratic reform proposals."
This at best inconsistent with the reports from the Associated Press, which indicated McCain faced a hostile town hall crowd in favor of health care reform. Quoting, again,
"After McCain opened it up to questioning, one man angrily pointed at him and asked the senator why he deserves a better health care plan than him."
A more academic setting where the focus is on facts rather than carefully scripted appearances intended to mimic open forums quite probably does more to forward any discussion. Given how adept partisans and pundits of both sides are at dismissing any assertions advanced by their opponents, the chance to have a voice from outside politics, an experienced respected scientific researcher, discussing facts is overdue.

Recognizing that, Dr. Morrison Hodges, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine (and formerly the Director of Cardiology at Hennepin County Medical Center) will describe the forces that shaped the U.S. health care system in a lecture on September 17, 2009. He intends to cover how we arrived at a "market based health care system funded by employers" and how well is it's working in comparison to other countries. Dr. Hodges will explain the history of U.S. health care and how it compares in quality and cost to other functioning systems. Dr. Hodges believes has can outline how the United States can cover everyone with quality health care "without breaking the bank."

The town hall format has done much to illuminate how central the problems with our health care insurance system are in our communities. With one in six citizens uncovered, we've all come to realize that we end up paying for their medical problems anyway, be it through increased premiums, or more subtly when they're forced to file for bankruptcy protection (over half of personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. are triggered by medical costs.) We've come to resent that money collected to pay health care premiums is spent at a rate of over a million dollars per day just to support lobbyists seeking to continue "business as usual" in D.C., and resent paperwork that drives up costs and bureaucrats that countermand medical decisions without improving outcomes.

It's time to peel back the rhetoric, to get past the sound-bites and the spin-mongering "pundits" -- to stop pretending this is about death panels or a way to cover illegal immigrants, and find a way to preserve our American way of life by insuring that every citizen can afford decent medical care as needed. I applaud Dr. Hodges and those who have made it possible for him to share his knowledge in an academic setting, even if it doesn't make for such dramatic TV coverage.

For more information about the Hodges lecture, see:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oakland Mai-Tai Day Party at Conga Lounge in Rockridge today

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Last night I happened by the Conga Lounge Tiki Bar in Oakland's Rockridge District and the owners Mano and Michael Thanos treated me to a great Mai Tai and a cool t-shirt, and informed me that on Sunday (today) they're having a party to celebrate the creation of that tasty cocktail.

The party runs from 5 PM to 10 PM at 5422 College Ave (above Cafe Rustica), and Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan (At-Large) will arrive to official read the proclamation proclaiming The Mai Tai "The Official Drink of Oakland" but here's some background.

According to Mano Thanos, the Mai Tai was created in Oakland in 1944 by Victor Bergeron, the owner of the famed Trader Vic's Restaurant chain. His experiment, which you can read about in detail on the Trader Vics's website, and the growth of his restaurant chain led to the word-of-mouth re-creation of the drink around Oakland and eventually around America and the World.

Last night, Thanos said that with all of the bad news about Oakland and crime, it was necessary to have something that presented a fun and good side to Oakland. I agree. Oakland's chronic low self esteem has presented this news from reaching the general public for decades. No more. The Mai Tai was born in Oakland. Time to celebrate today! Come to the Conga Lounge for $5 Mai Tai's, hula dancers, free appetizers, and fun (don't drink and drive)!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Battle of NY

Jets vs. Giants: The classic battle for the Crown of NY-Even if it's only pre season Football( or how i learned to become a Football Writer/Scout) By Dr. Bill Chachkes-Football Reporters Online

For years growing up lots of fans of the "older" generation(read: my late Father and his cronies) would blast the notion of "wasting time" on attending a pre season NFL game. My dad would always say "this is your only chance this season to take your friends" or "I'll give you some money for each of the pre season seats you sell, and you can afford to go and have a good time"(i was a teenager and it was the 1970's).

He has his subliminal reasons. My dad used to publish something he called "The Sheet" or the "Game Sheet." Since he was one of our street's "involved" parents, he was the "Football Coach/Scout" of our block, and for the most part, our development (we grew up in NYC Housing back when it wasn't a "stigma" or considered urban blight). "The Sheet" consisted of his observations on the up coming game and some briefs about the match ups between the teams. He typically passed them out at his workplace( a Federal Law Enforcement agency where he would eventually become a supervisor).

This was in no way intended for gaming purposes. It was strictly for your enhanced enjoyment of the game. My father never dreamed of being a writer of any type. "Half these clowns writing about the teams for the papers don't know squat anyway" he would always say. " I know more about the team from one day a year at practice" would always be his next line. It was also my "duty" as his first born son to "help" him by "taking those seats off his hands," since he went to "every other game they were going to loose that season." I would also have to take notes for him at those games, and since my handwriting stunk as a teenager, I would have to come home and type them (remember typewriters?) so he could read them.

My dad was fortunate enough that in his job he would have enough vacation time each year to take off a month, which was usually from the first or second week of August right through labor day. This was so we could attend the training camps of the Giants (first at Fordham University, then at Pace University's main campus in Westchester, and later on we'd add a day trip out to Long Island for the Jets Camp).

This was so my father could "Scout" the teams, but little did i know he was also teaching me about the game. "Watch and Learn" he would say "and try not to run your mouth too much while i take notes." Such was his manner, being an ex-soldier as well as a Fed. What he was really teaching me was how to evaluate a player's skill, and improve my communication skills at the same time. He was also teaching me that even though it wasn't worth the extra time on his Saturday night in August to actually go to the Jets-Giants game when he "could stay home and watch it on his color TV and not spend extra money on concessions," It was still important.

Tonight's game has never been more important for both teams then it is this year, although Coach Coughlin will tell you as he told a group of reporters in training camp " It's the Third Preseason game, That's what it is," as his way of downplaying the importance.

Both teams have a slew of unanswered questions coming into the regular season. The Jets have a new Head Coach, a new defensive scheme, and as of right now, a new starting QB. Questions abound with regards to weather this is the right choice. Some may think that the "we need to win now" theory applies here, but I'm not so sure. I also wonder if the Jets would have still made the trade for Sanchez if Brett Farve were still in N.Y. and Healthy enough to get through this season. The Jets still have two other QB's on their roster(three if you count WR Brad Smith, who only threw for well over 5,000 yards at in four seasons at Missouri). The Jets are also 0 for the preseason again thus far, and last week the Wonderkid didn't exactly look that good against the Raven's first team.

The Giants have plenty of receivers to "pick up" the mantle so to speak, from Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, but no veteran depth at the position unless you count in David Tyree, who is on the brink of being released from the squad. They also have lots of gaps on the defense right now because of injuries, even though they had a very busy off season. Also missing from tonight's line up for the G-Men are Antonio Pierce(foot), Chris Canty (hamstring), Michael Boley (Hip/ placed on Pup), Jay Alford (knee), DB's Aaron Ross (Hamstring), and Stoney Woodson (ankle) and on the offense, Tyree (hamstring), RB Andre Brown (Achilles Tendon), and OL Orrin Thompson (Strained Quad).

While the Giants are Playing it down, we can be sure the Jets are playing up the rivalry, and looking for a confidence booster of a win tonight.

Ted Kennedy and Mary Morris Lawrence

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Mary and some of her colleagues in the 40s

As I write this I'm sitting here watching the funeral for Senator Ted Kennedy and preparing myself to attend the memorial service for Mary Morris Lawrence.

This is a hard day. To start, it's a day that marks the passing of two incredible people; one I never got to personally know, the other I did personally know. Both changed the society they were in.

It's hard for me to accept the passing of Mary because her spirit was so powerful I can't see her as anything but here and alive. I suppose that's why it took me so long to write anything about this moment. Aside from the fact that this has been my sixth memorial or funeral this year, it's just something that's plain hard to acknowledge.

Mary was America's first female photojournalist, and one who knew many, from Orson Wells to Humphrey Bogart. But to me, Mary was always the bright buzzing light in the room that could make one statement which cut through all of life's crap and got to the point: "Zennie. I want to talk to you about that ridiculous column you wrote," she's loudly say at some gathering.

Orson Wells and Carl Sanburg (Mary Morris Lawrence)

At the time from 1993 to 1996 I was a columnist for The Montclarion here in Oakland, and like today, I weighed in with my opinions on Oakland, politics, news, and sports (tech came later). Mary read my work and kept me in check, and I loved every second of it.

Mary was hard to miss. You felt her presence in the room. For me, she was the closest thing to royalty in Oakland.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Maria Muldaur finds her "Jug Band" roots in new CD

Maria Muldaur
I had the wonderful pleasure of befriending legendary singer Maria Muldaur last year during the 2008 presidential primary and through a mutual friend and Obama supporter, Brent Turner and Joel Jaffe of Studio D in Sausalito, CA. 

For those of you who have not heard of Maria, you may have heard of the classic song Midnight at The Oasis, it was she who wrote and sang it in 1973, around the time Lars, Bill, and I were kids using BART to get around.

Last year the Marin County dweller created this cool song, a tribute to then-Senator Barack Obama called "Yes We Can"; I created this video around it for her:

After Obama's presidential win, Maria, now in her 60s but looks to be in her 40s, continued to perform concerts at local venues around the Bay Area. Today, she sent an email annoucing that she's returning to her "Jug Band" roots in her new CD and fall concert tour called "Maria Muldaur and her Garden of Joy". Maria explains:

After years of exploring many different forms of American Roots Music, I recently decided to return to my original roots – Jug Band Music! As some of you may know, I first recorded in the early ‘60’s as a member of both the Even Dozen & the Jim Kweskin Jug Bands. Here, in my “Garden of Joy”, I have reunited with several of my former jug band mates and recorded many tunes from the classic jug band era (late ‘20’s early ‘30’s) as well as two hilarious, newly penned gems by Dan Hicks.

Special guests on the album include John Sebastian, David Grisman, Taj Mahal, Fritz Richmond, Suzy Thompson, my sensational new discovery Kit Stovepipe (who plays absolutely amazing ragtime guitar!), and that illustrious ultimate hipster, Dan Hicks!

Muldaur says the new album is right for the times. "Jug band music," she explains, "which tends to be lighthearted, humorous and zany, emerged out of a period of hard times as a way of lifting people’s spirits."

The concerts start tomorrow Saturday August 29th with a performance in Seaside, California, then at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival September 19th. All other dates can be seen at her website

California's economy shrinks; Schwarzenegger smokes

It's agreed that the planned March 2010 closure of the Fremont New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant is a huge economic loss, but the elimination of 4,700 jobs only scratches the surface of the problem.

That coupled with the stoppage and possible closure of the Chevron Richmond refinery, which already cost 1,100 jobs and we have a total of 5,700 direct jobs lost and over 29,000 total people thrown out of work or unable to get work in a San Francisco Bay Area that can't afford this economic hit at this time.


Yeah. 23,000 jobs. See, there's a multiplier impact with business operation such that an office or a manufacturer contracts with other businesses for supplies and services.

The action of a small business owner walking down to the local store to buy printer paper is part of the multiplier effect because that small expenditure helps the retailer run his or her business. Or that person's employee - even if it's just the owner - eating lunch at the local cafe helps keep it a "going concern."

It's well-known amoung urban planners that manufacturing jobs have larger multipliers than service jobs. The Alliance for American Manufacturing reports that for every one manufacturing job lost, there are four more lost in other areas of the economy. The Bay Area has been losing such "basic industry"  jobs  - and energy counts here - at a frighteningly rapid pace.

No Sense of an Economic Emergency

What bothers me is there's no one acting like there's an economic emergency with the exception of California Senator Diane Feinstein, who called the plant's loss a "devistating blow" to California. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seems not to care, stating:

"Today is a sad day in the history of Fremont as California joins the ranks of states adversely affected by the bankruptcy of General Motors and the worldwide collapse in demand for automobiles. ... We continue work already in progress ... to ensure appropriate employee severance, proper environmental remediation and assistance in transforming the site to alternative uses."
Alternative uses?  Like what? A parking lot?   The governor says nothing of retaining and establishing jobs at the wage levels the NUMMI workers have today.   Awful statement to release.   The word "Jobs" does not appear once in it.&

Meanwhile the Toyota jobs are to go to Canada and Texas, which means that perhaps 50 percent of the employment opportunities are leaving America at a time when we're supposed to reverse that trend. If the Chevron plant closes, the jobs move south to Southern California, but it spells curtains on the Bay Area's set of jobs for low skilled workers.

Objective: Jobs for everyone

I'm really sick of the idea that everyone has to be trained to be a brain surgeon, then sit back at home waiting for a job and hoping that more in the population have something wrong with their skull. After World War II and into the '60s America had the objective of full employment - a job for everyone, period. You don't hear that kind of idealism expressed by politicians today.

That must change.

It has to start with California rediscovering economic development and doing whatever it can to save jobs and build on them. Governor Schwarzenegger needs to show the fire in the belly necessary to do this. Right now, the only fire he give off comes from one of his expensive cigars.

Which, I might add, are not made in California.

Perez Hilton calls Miley Cyrus "Disney Slut"

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 Perez Hilton and Miley Cyrus 
Wow, leave it to Perez Hilton to dish out the back-handed complements, this one to Miley Cyrus. Just when he's praising the teen singing star for her "mature" singing direction, the acid-tongued celeb blogger can't help but toss out an insult that I guess he thought was going to slip in under the radar:
"We can't believe we said all that! Oh well, check out the Disney Slut's latest song, When I Look At You, below."
Yikes. Well, my God I have no idea what he's referring to...

Ok.. I do.
Perez Hilton just shot down Disney's recent attempts to place distance between the Mouse and Cyrus by issuing this statement ran by and
"Disney Channel won't be commenting on that performance, although parents can rest assured that all content presented on the Disney Channel is age-appropriate for our audience — kids 6-14 — and consistent with what our brand values are."

Plus, Perez has been all but in Miley's PR face, insulting her whenever he got the chance:

"She just seemed to do nothing right. She started off poorly with pictures, leaked from her cellphone, of her in the shower. Then the Vanity Fair shoot, the trashing of her fellow costars, dating a 20-year-old when she's only 15 . . . but, whether we like it or not, she's a superstar. She's very crafty at getting our attention."
But all that aside, all of this elaborate marketing plan to get our attention wouldn't work half as well if Miley Cyrus didn't have a voice that's out of this world. Folks, you've got to hear her sing When I Look At You.
Until I did, and frankly due to a visit to Perez' blog, I really didn't think much of her talent; no more. Miley takes this song into orbit. Take a listen, please:

Meanwhile, Hilton's making nice with Cyrus. After hearing her other latest song "Obessesed" then posting a link about the song (calling her "Slutty" in the process) on Twitter he tweets:

@mileycyrus Got it! Damn that's good too! Damn you, Cyrus! I'm starting to become obsessed with you! Ha. In a good way! xoxo

And yes, Perez is right on - Miley's rocking the house!

That Miley takes all of his playful(?) insults in stride - thanking him on her Twitter page - says much about her and the realization that it's all one big socio-economic game.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swing and a miss for Rep. Michelle Bachmann's health care forum - Tom Hayes

Minnesota’s 6th district congressional Representative, Michelle Bachmann, missed a golden opportunity this afternoon to step back from the partisan talking points and rumor-mongering before an overflow crowd at her town hall meeting in a Junior High School auditorium in Lake Elmo. Fresh from criticism that she had been much too quick to depart an event earlier in the week in St. Cloud, Bachmann responded to virtually every question or comment from the crowd with long-winded recitations of her already familiar litany: that the U.S. has the best health care system in the world despite outcomes surpassed by many other nations, and that the government would be interfering in and controlling medical decisions in some vast bureaucracy that was somehow worse than the actuarial and profit-driven bureaucrats at insurance companies who already countermand medical orders.

The tone was set early on, when despite the moderators admonitions that the only topic open to discussion was health care, Ms. Bachmann launched into such a long-winded, wandering opening statement that the crowd grew restless. The session was obviously scripted to limit both the questions/comments and her need to respond, complete with a Texas congressman who also responded to virtually every question, yet evidently hadn’t gotten the “death panels” talking points from Bachmann’s staff. If the Congresswoman was really interested in hearing from her constituents she might have talked less, but alas like so many D.C.-based politicians she relied on posturing at length and repeatedly for the media and her base after paying lip-service to listening as the lines of questioners grew restless.

Ms. Bachmann had the chance to reach out to those looking for real information, she even repeated her recent notion that there would have to be a “safety net” for those without insurance (divining how this differs from a public option is left as an exercise for the voter, evidently,) after assuring the crowd that everybody wants the system reformed. Then, however, she resorted to amateurish theatrics (at least we didn’t see the Grassley dragon) and cheer-leading for unsupported assertions while cherry-picking points to assure her already-confirmed supporters that she wouldn’t let taxes on their children reach 80-90% to pay for reform (which she is in favor of, make no mistake about it) without addressing what she would do, or even suggest, to improve matters. All in all, while her base was delighted with the Obama-bashing, for the vast majority of those in attendance, including the dozens who couldn’t ask their questions, or thought they might hear ideas about how to address the skyrocketing costs of health care insurance, it was a waste of time.

The one accomplishment was the ratcheting up of polarization, in utter contrast to the Representative’s stated goal of attaining a bi-partisan solution. She lacks the rhetorical polish, and the quick familiarity with the facts, that her wingman (Congressman Burgess, R-TX, a self-described “McCain surrogate”) displayed, which made her look under-prepared, if not outright insecure. From the outset it was clear that the crowd was split, and while the majority were Bachmann loyalists that didn’t mute the opposition, which roared their own approval as one questioner started out by declaring she’d turned him from a Reagan voter into a Democratic (DFL) activist.

One has to marvel at the staunch GOP line regarding government ineptitude coming from those who have controlled the White House for such a large fraction of the last quarter century, at times complete with majorities in the Congress. Still, it’s clear that Ms. Bachmann spares little time for examining her positions logically; perhaps it’s all that special interest money she gets that keeps her aiming partisan criticism at the very institution that writes her paycheck, provides for a very generous retirement, and – ironically enough – provides and pays for her health care insurance plan.

Zennie and Lars on BART to Berkeley: 1975

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Ha! This is the beauty of being a local in Oakland and the Bay Area. Having friends who have old photos of you and them in action. In this case the photo below is one of Lars Frykman, Bill Boyd and myself on BART in 1975. (In case you're wondering where Bill is, he's the photog here.)

Zennie and Lars - 1975

Bill found this photo and put in on his Facebook profile page; now it's on mine too. But I couldn't resist sharing it as it's a small window into the Bay Area of the past. I mean, I had a small "'fro" and Lars was sporting the Rolling Stones' hair look. But that was as much hair as I wanted; no longer. No big 'Fro for me!

The only place I can think of where we may have been going at the time was Berkeley and to the Federation Trading Post (FTP) on a weekend or San Francisco just to ride through the then-new BART tube. That was a store located within a building that's still on Telegraph Avenue between Blake and Parker avenues.

One could go the FTP for book like "The Star Trek Technical Manual" and costumes and replicas of set props like 'Phasers'. I'd bet money that's where we were headed, but I'm wondering if our friend Craig Pryor was with us too.  I seem to remember that he was, sitting next to Bill in that lounge seat area.

As to our expressions we were probably talking about the business of the club; that's the only thing that could get all of us worked up at some point in a conversation.  Ha.  Funny thing is, Lars then looks just like his son Kyle today.

BART was new then.  It opened in 1972 and transbay service (under the San Francisco Bay from Oakland to San Francisco) started in 1974.  What was neat about BART at that time was everything was automatic: the doors opened and the train didn't even have the monitors that are in each one today. As I recall, the problems didn't start mounting up until 1976.  But even with that it was a smooth almost soundless ride; the tracks have worn so much that such an experience is a thing of the past. 

Well, in any case, my same friends are the ones who joined me to see the new Star Trek Movie last May, on the day it came out. Here we are in front of the Grand Lake Theater, in this video singing the Star Trek theme after seeing the flick.

Wow.  I forgot how big my glasses were back then!

Did RTL make fake "Michael Jackson alive video" as ad sales fell?

Two days ago a video surfaced that claimed to show Michael Jackson being escorted out of an LA County Coroner's ambulance in a dark tunnel.  Given that few had the actual footage of the vehicle entering the hospital, and the design of the one in the video, it was hard to tell if it was real or fake. 

The video made the rounds to many outlets around the World, and was the basis for my blog poll and video here. 

I was waiting for a statement by the LA County Coroner's Office to officially debunk the matter, but now we have the forum-based news being propagated that German TV organization RTL created the fake video.   I note it in this way because RTL has not as of this writing issued an official statement or press release; it's internet chatter.  But given RTL's economic woes, it's logical they would do this.

UPDATE: Press release by RTL (in German)

What's RTL? 

RTL Group Europe's largest broadcast company, and RTL Television is a division in it.  I discovered that Berlin-based RTL's facing a massive ad sales crisis, which undoubtedly led to the creation of this elaborate hoax.  Over the last six months, RTL has lost $150 million.  Gaining eyeballs around the World is RTL's desire and this "fake" project would be the perfect way to do it.  But now RTL needs to make an official statement and post it under the keywords "rtl michael jackson" before this gets even more out of hand. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Michael Jackson still alive? Take my poll

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This has been a hard day to say the least with the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, but harder still is the idea that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson may still be alive.

You read that correctly.

There's a video flying around the Internet that strongly claims to show Michael Jackson being assisted from the back of what looks like and apparently is a Los Angeles County Coroner's Office ambulance. The vehicle is captures on camera driving in a dark tunnel of sorts. A chain fence door closes as the camera approaches, keeping it from getting any closer to the ambulance.

The camera person has the presence of mind to zoom in and as the person did, a person walked around from the right and opened the door, assisting a small person dressed in a white shirt and black pants and what appears to be a kind of black shall covering their head. If it wasn't Jackson, the person was built like Jackson looks.

The person who put up the video at the YouTube channel LosAngelesCot24 wrote:

This video shows that Michael was still alive after his dead body was transported to the Los Angeles Dept. of Coroner I checked the license plate number and it looks like the King of Pop is jumping out of the same van, his dead body has been in. I got the original video tape from a trustworthy source. I know him for years. And I am sure it´s real and Michael is alive.

It's also the only video on that person's YouTube channel, below are other videos that report to show the bodybag Jackson was in moving. Frankly, it's hard to tell anything from those videos, but the LA Coroner video's another story.

Look at this photo:

Photo courtesy of
This is a real picture of the LA County Coronor's staffers placing what's supposed to be the body of Jackon in the van.  Look closely at the van itself.  Notice the doors and how the blue stripe comes to a pointed end at the nearside door on the car's left.  Also, take note of the top light over the doors.  And the same license plate on that side.
Now, look at this still from the video claiming to show Jackson's alive:

It has the same license plate in the same area, same painting scheme.  Basically it looks like the same vehicle.  I can't read the numbers on the license plate, so it's hard to tell if it really is the car, but someone should have these videos and photos analyzed.  Also, the L.A. County Coroner's Office should issue some kind of statement.  
What does this mean?
I really don't know what all of this means except that this is something that should be looked into if only to debunk it.  It's all over the news, from the Chicago Tribune to the website Associated Content and  Those outlets are trusted sources such that they do appears to believe this should be looked into.    
In the end, for some reason the words "Maybe now they will leave you alone" keep ringing in my head.   
What do you think?  Take my poll:
create a free poll on

Mary Jo Kopechne - Ted Kennedy was punished; leave him alone

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For some reason that I attribute in part to lack of knoweldge and to crazy right-wing extremist, and to Internet trolls looking for the next nasty thing to write, the topic being searched is not "Ted Kennedy" but "Mary Jo Kopechne", and her name's all over Twitter and a top search term as of this writing.

That's a shame.

I find that the vast majority of people engaging in the subject just leave inane comments without any real knowledge of the incident or what Kennedy did and why it's over. Let me help here.

Mary Jo Kopechne was a campaign worker to Robert F. Kennedy and in 1969 (July) was one of several women invited to a party at the island called on Chappaquiddick, near Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Jack Crimmins, Kennedy's driver had brought Kennedy's car, a black Oldsmobile, to the Vineyard as well as alcohol for the weekend: cases of beer, and vodka, Scotch, and rum.

Reportedly, Kennedy annouced that he was leaving the party and Kopechne wanted a ride back home, so rather than get driver, Kennedy elected to drive her himself. Now, reading between the lines, it seems the two may have been looking for a dark place to fool around in the car, but since they may have been tailed by a deputy sheriff and according to this research didn't remain parked when his car pulled up, they didn't find one.

Then Kennedy took a wrong turn at dark, unlit road without guardrails called Dike Road and put on the breaks, not knowing where he was, but accidentally drove into a body of water reportedly called Poucha Pond. The car was upside down; Kennedy said it was black and water was all around coming into the car.

He turned for Kopechne who too was struggling, and then tried to open the door but it would not budge. Finally, just when he thought that was it, with an apparent burst of adrenaline he escaped and swam to surface.

Kennedy said, and it was confirmed, that he did swim back underwater to look for Kopechne. Moreover, other associates did too, but the current was too strong for them to complete their mission. She passed on.

Fearful of his future, Kennedy failed to call the police, thinking that his friends who helped look for her had done so.

Kennedy: "I was the driver"

Senator Kennedy admitted he was the driver of the car and pled guilty to the charge of leaving the scene. Sighting his contributions to the community Judge James Boyle agreed with his lawyers request to suspend his sentence.

Kennedy made a mistake but made up for it

Accidents happen to everyone. It's sad to see people write about this who, if they were caught in the same circumstances don't know how they would have handled it, don't know what they would have done. If you're one of those people, the Internet trolls running around today, don't get upset if people treat you like you're treating Senator Kennedy after his death.

I for one, will not clap in glee at your tragedy.

Get this straight: Ted Kennedy had his day in court 40 years ago, was sentenced, and that was excused by the judge. You can't retry a case decades later and double jeopardy is a violation of Kennedy's constitutional rights.

Moreover, such efforts smack of the best of President Richard M. Nixon, who was obsessed that a Kennedy would come back to beat him in another election and showed a greater than normal interest in Chappaquiddick for the purpose of polluting an ever-gullible American public with false information on Ted Kennedy. That was Nixon's tactic: take the truth, bend it beyond recognition, then feed the result to people who don't care to vet it but will certainly repeat it.

Ted Kennedy was a hero

In 1964 when it was unpopular to do, Ted Kennedy worked to get rid of the poll tax. What was that? It was a charge on African Americans in the South of $2 just to cast a vote. In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Kennedy took a position to help blacks that was unpopular and within my time. I was born in 1962.

It's easy for some to sit on the outside, forty years later, after Kennedy has died today, and point a finger. But it takes a basic level of character and empathy that's lacking in Internet trolls to take a look at a person's great life's work after a mistake and give credit to them for a job well done.

Such should be done for Senator Kennedy.

Senator Barbara Boxer on Senator Kennedy

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I just received this email from the Office of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) containing Senator Boxer's statement on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy:

Senator Barbara Boxer

Dear Friends,

I was heartbroken to hear of Senator Ted Kennedy's passing and my deepest sympathies go out to Vicki, his children and the entire Kennedy family.

I will always think of Senator Kennedy as the lion of the Senate. From his seat in the back of the beautiful Senate chamber, he used his powerful voice to speak out for the voiceless. He could always be counted on to champion justice, fairness and compassion — and to challenge all of us to do the same.

Personally, I will miss Senator Kennedy's warm and engaging presence, his bellowing laughter and the way he reached out to all senators in friendship.

No one will ever be able to fill his shoes, but we must honor his extraordinary legacy by continuing his life's work. The most fitting tribute we could give Senator Kennedy is to carry on his fight for a quality education for all our children, affordable health care that families can rely on, an economy that works for everyone and equal rights for all our citizens.

Barbara Boxer

Ted Kennedy to be buried 95 feet from RFK

I just listened to CNN's Barbara Starr explain that Senator Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy ,who passed way this morning after a battle with brain cancer, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery just 95 feet from his brother Robert F. Kennedy, and near President John F. Kennedy.

John, Robert, and Ted

Starr briefly mentioned the requirements for being buried at Arlington National Cemetery , so I checked for more information.

Part 553 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations sets the criteria for burial at Arlington. The website lists the "eligibility for internment" and the list mostly covers those who served in the Armed Forces and Presidents of The United States.

Senator Kennedy served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1957 and was senator, which qualifies him for burial at Arlington. Moreover, and this is not within regulations but according to CNN's Starr something the Kennedy family discussed with Arlington officials, his brothers are buried there and when his conditioned worsened last year, efforts were made to form a plan for burial at Arlington National Cemetary.

Video on CNN

Ted Kennedy's legacy: please don't tarnish it

After I learned of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy I created my video blog on YouTube at around 1 AM today and later found a bunch of really nasty comments about Senator Kennedy on my YouTube channel's video page.

Comments referring to events of the past and assumptions about him based on reports of his battles with the bottle of long ago. I could go on about these, but I will not. I eliminated those comments and in some cases banned the people who wrote them. I ask you all to have respect for those who have passed on, even if one can't see you or know who you are online.

Show class.

Ted Kennedy has passed on to Heaven; let him rest on his journey.

Ted Kennedy did great deeds on earth and today many will remember those acts from one who was the third longest serving senator in our history. From the creation of the Violence Against Women Act to the Children's Health Care Act, Kennedy wrote 2,500 bills, 300 of which were made into law.

According to the Boston Globe, Kennedy specialized in the art of compromise, and learned that he would have to win small battles, in a process that for me recalls learning about "incremental planning" in college at Texas-Arlington and Berkeley.

Kennedy was 'relentless' here, introducing more legislation to achieve overall objectives than most any other U.S. Senator. And he managed to do this while not making enemies. Republican Senator John McCain just said on CNN that he "could do battle with you in the Senate, and then after all the speech-making was over, he could walk over, put his arm around you and let you all know we were friends."

Senator Kennedy was a great man.

For those of you who feel moved to write something nasty, I ask that you don't. Take at least one day, heck this whole week, to chill on your primal urge to be mean. Try being nice. What good does it do anyone, including yourself, to feel your negative energy, expressed in words, for all to see? None. So don't do it.

Please respect Senator Ted Kennedy in his passing. Please respect yourself and others today.

Senator Ted Kennedy dies - a great American in my life

I happened to wake up in the middle of the night, well, at around 1 AM, looked at my email, and saw the CNN news alert that Senator Ted Kennedy passed away of brain cancer at 77 years old. So I got out of bed and made this vlog.

I did so because Ted Kennedy was a big part of my life and generation. No. I never met him; always wanted to but I didn't place a high priority on making that happen. Frankly, the idea of Senator Kennedy passing on just wasn't one I could wrap my mind around.

But it happened.

Ted Kennedy is one of the greatest elected officials of our time. He's great because he cared and fought for people who did not have what he had. He's great for his staying power. And, yes, he's great because he was a Kennedy.

Senator Ted Kennedy

He's the last of "the brothers" to grace our time and my life. JFK was killed one year after I was born. Bobby Kennedy was murdered in 1968. JFK jr. - who I had high hopes would become, and really did achieve the level of, a force in "entrepreneurial politics" with the magazine "George" passed suddenly in a plane crash with his wife in 1999. Then there was Ted, the survivor.

Ted Kennedy for me will be remembered for a number of great acts and legislative works. One of them, The Violence Against Women Act that he co-wrote and worked to improve over the years.

But for me, Senator Kennedy will always be remembered for endorsing then-Senator Barack Obama as 44th President of The United States, when many believed he would back then-Senator Hillary Clinton. His move changed the course of the 2008 presidential primary and history, too. Barack Obama became the first African American president of the United States.

Ted Kennedy. A great American in my life. A sad day it is.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why the UFL has a better shot at success then prior attempts at Professional Football Leagues.

Welcome to another session of Dr. Football's class called "Viewing Pro Football 421", a 4th year undergraduate class. Today's topic: Will the UFL be successful in todays market?

Sure it's been done before. Another Pro Football League, you laugh. No one can touch the NFL, you say. But what if The UFL isn't trying to "compete" with the NFL, but rather enhance the ability of people to watch live the greatest game ever played?
So you think I'm nuts too don't you?You must think I'm inhaling too much field chalk. But look at it this way: when was the last time you went to an NFL game? Do you remember how much you paid to get in? To buy your kid a pennant (or if you were lucky, a game program!) or a T-shirt? Don't even think about a jersey! Or NFL licensed Baby Booties! Forget it!! (before i obtained a press credential i was paying $70 per ticket, 5 dollars for a game program and 5 dollars for a 32oz. bottle of water. I hear it's $80-$85 now for the cheapest seat in the Meadowlands).

The UFL changes all of that. Tickets for 20 Bucks a game, in quality venues! Affordable prices(for today at least) at the concessions. No Kid, you're not dreaming, this is the real UFL and if you Live in NY it's coming to your house soon.

Ok so it's in the middle of the week, but didn't you say you were football starved? You just can't watch another season of the local college teams. You don't think you can put up with the team in Green and White that can't seam to make up their minds about who the QB is. The team in Blue with the shortage of starters even though they had a great draft and did well in free agency already missing too many players in training camp. Not that I'm saying "don't follow your favorite team anymore," hardly that. I'm just saying open yourself up to the possibility of another pro football league being able to entertain you this fall.

Let's step away from NY for a moment. Did you ever think Las Vegas would get an NFL franchise? For years the NFL wanted no part of the Sodom and Gomorrah that is the gambling culture of Vegas, yet now they allow teams to back state run sports themed lottery tickets(that is for discussion in another article). Give the UFL head honchos credit for jumping all over the Vegas market, as well as Orlando. The Vegas team will attract fans from parts of California, Arizona, and Utah as well. As for Florida, a former co-blogging partner of mine who spent a good deal of time growing up there once told me "you can never have too much football in Florida."
Although Orlando is only 105 minutes from the greater Tampa area, there is a huge void to be filled there and in other parts of the country with the loss of the Arena Football League as we knew it.

Let's sum it up for today shall we: More pro football is good, not bad, as some would suggest. It doesn't "water down" or "short change" the great game, as a few suggest. It gives the fan(and Player and Coach!) more options on more days of the week to watch the game, as well as for you young folks to learn about the game. Why would anyone argue with me about that? Class dismissed, now go watch some football!

Vlogger Saran Austin's back in SF Poken party

Vlogger Sarah Austin - who looks like a (she's gonna kill me for this) kind of cross between Britney Spears, Chelsea Clinton, and Heidi Montag - invited me to her coming back to San Francisco party Monday evening. (Yes, yesterday!)

Now, you may be saying "Who's Sarah Austin" - good question. She's a micro-celebrity tech vlogger who gained her fame from appearing first on and now has a livecasting show on Mogulus. The difference between what I do and what she does is she's not a political commentator and focuses more on tech. To that end, she started her own site and has drawn a range of guests from the tech industry and has Ford Motor Company (she's an "agent" of The Ford Fiesta Movement), Virgin America, Perkett PR and TechCrunch news blog as sponsors.

Sarah is a study in how to make vlogging a business and her party was no exception to her example. Held at the office of ZaudHouse Design Group in Portrero Hill, it attracted a group of about 50 friends and family members, and almost all of the friends were in tech. There were the usual suspects like my friend Cathy Brooks, who manages to turn up at every single tech event in the Bay Area. And there were folks I didn't expect to see like my friend digital video producer "Turbo Ted" - Theodore Terbolizard - who must be Oakland's only Republican!

But what was fun for me was to see this new product called Poken. I'm going to feature it in another blog post, but the idea is to exchange information with someone else as you would switch business cards. In this case, let's say you and someone has this small device called Poken. It's designed like a tiny plastic four-finger hand. When you and the other person touch the hands - "Hi Four!" - green LEDs in both light up, meaning you've exchanged information. When you go back to your home or office and plug into the USB port of your computer, the site is called up where you can sign up and if the other person signs up or is already there, you have their business contact information.


The party became a kind of "Hi Four" fest for a time, until we got to the part where the raffle was held (I won another Poken), and then we had an auction to take Sarah out on a date. The winning bid of $375 was made by a man, but he was almost beaten by a dog named Truman, who barked his bid during the proceedings. (Ok, he was coaxed by Cathy Brooks, but Ted counted it anyway!)

The party was also to benefit Summer Search, a national leadership development program. They gained $500 from the event.

In all, a fun time, and a learning experience too. The party was the perfect mix of business and fun. Here's an example: most parties have a host or no host bar - this one had a wine sponsor Gary Vaynerchuk, who's doing his live show as I type this, and the winery was Titus Vineyards near St. Helena. So, the wine gains not just the exposure from the party, but from this video-blog too. And that's true for Poken as well. What we have is the first stage of a kind of marketing model that should cause more to discover vlogging.

I hope.

Michael Jackson was killed

Sadly, and it's hard to escape what happened to Michael Jackson as even today I was listening to "Thriller" with a friend while working out at the gym, it's reported that Michael Jackson death was a homicide. The L.A. County Coroner reports that Jackson was given a lethal combination of drugs by his doctor Conrad Murray, but also that another doctor Arnie Klein may be involved, too.


Monday, August 24, 2009

'Skank' Blogger v. Google and "The Violence Against Women Act"

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YouTube, Metacafe and DailyMotion

Rosemary Port is the blogger (and fashion model student) who for some reason believed it was ok to call fashion model Liskula Cohen a "psychotic, lying, whoring...Skank," under the blog post title, "Skanks of NYC" and from under the cover of a name not her own. On Wednesday August 19th, a U.S. Federal Judge ordered Google to identify the name of the person who we now know as Ms. Port.

Rosemary Port

But for some weird reason I can only attribute to a lawyer with a super large ego, Rosemary Port thinks she can win a lawsuit against Google for $15 million.

No way.

And it's not because she's suing Google; it's because in using her blog to make malicious fun of Cohen, Rosemary Port unknowingly violated a provision of "Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act" that was passed in 2006.

Liskula Cohen 

The little-talked-about law has three sections that specifically concern cyberstalking Sections 113 (Preventing Cyberstalking), Section 114, and Section 2261 A . This is what is posted at for the purpose of this discussion. The entire bill section reads in summary:

Section 113. Preventing Cyberstalking ... Whoever ... utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet ... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person ... who receives the communications ... shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

The punishment for this is not less than a year in jail and the charges can be brought forth by the Department of Justice. This, then, is the law Ms. Port has ran up against. Given what she was doing against Ms. Cohen, Rosemary Port is in clear violation of this law and could see jail time if Ms. Cohen or the Department of Justice, or for that matter Google, pressed the issue.

I really think Ms. Port's lawyer is giving her some terrible counsel.

Cyberstalking is not free speech

Some are under the impression that the kind of blogging Port was doing is free speech. Nothing could be further from the truth. Classic free speech is standing on a corner and talking about something using your mouth to blast your voice into public airspace.

A blog is not really public to start with: everything from the web page to the internet service provider is privately owned, so they can control the content that gets out there - it's not the place for free expression. I think what's happened is that the relative ease of blogging has seduced some into thinking that they can write whatever they want, whenever they want, thus believing they have the right to free speech.  Not so.

People are jailed for cyberstalking

Something else Ms. Port must consider is the timing of her actions could not have been worse.  They not only come after 2006 and the laws against cyberstalking, but at a time when there's a war against the act and the people who do it.  In England, a teenager by the name of Keeley Houghton is facing three months in the juvenile detention system for harassing and threatening Emily Moore, eventually writing that she was going to kill her.

And law enforcement has been active in America, too.  In Southwest Florida in 2008 a teenager was arrested for the act.  In Louisiana a pastor recently turned himself in after an arrest for cyberstalking.  In that case, he was accused of "sending several anonymous, sexually-explicit e-mail messages" to a 21-year old woman who attended his church. 

And more and more states and cities are installing their own versions of the law, and police departments are adding cyber crime units, so the infrastructure to stop this behavior is being created.  It's about time. 

I'm cyberstalked on a daily basis, as I have several blogs and video channels (10 channels with an average of 200 videos on each one, and over 600 on YouTube)  and am on and the Examiner and CNN's iReport.  I get racist emails, and comments that lie about me, insult me, or threaten me every day. 

To say I'm tired of it is an understatement but I'm not going away.  In 2008 I was twice the subject of a death message (and got such a comment on this year), leading me to make this video:

And vloggers like MelissaJenn (who I referred to in my video) have been treated terribly, with people stalking her and taking photos not just of her but of her dwelling then sending the photo to her writing "I know where you live."  That's sick.  Just plain ill.  She stopped making vlogs for a few months after that, then came back to her normal schedule of vlogging.  But the bottom line is we're tired of this and fighting back. 

Blogs, news outlets and other online information outlets must beware of this war, because it they're not policing their sites, they too could be the focus of a huge lawsuit by someone who's life was threatened or just plain made to suffer emotionally.  It's not right.  

And now we have the legal tools to use, and will do so. 

Rosemark Port should appologize to Liskula Cohen rather than going through a legal path that will only do her more harm than good.   Port's not the victim here; she's her own worst enemy.  She's not going to beat Google and moreover, she's not going to overturn that provision of  "The Violence Against Women Act".   Ironic that a woman would run up against that law, eh?

Still, I think it's time for some healthy and civil talk about where we go from here.  I don't think teenagers should be jailed for these acts, and I do believe that more training is needed to save people, well, from themselves.   Stay tuned.