Monday, January 31, 2011

HTC Thunderbolt 4G Smartphone Features Discussed In Video

It's interesting to read the recent various articles and blog posts on the HTC Thunderbolt's features, because many of them were introduced in my CES 2011 video.

But for some re-introduced news, the much anticipated smartphone is will have a mobile hotspot, simultaneous voice and data transfer, and the rumor is that it will be available for sale at Best Buy on Valentine's Day, February 14th.

But will it out-do the iPhone?

It depends.

If it's released with the mobile hotspot and simultaneous voice and data transfer, it's got a good chance. But some blogs report that it may be released without those features.

Stay tuned.

Person WIth Gun At Oakland Unified School District La Equelita School

I just got a horrifying email. This one:

We have just been notified of reports of a person with a gun at the Oakland Unified School District facility, La Esquelita School @ 1100 3rd Avenue. The OUSD school facilities have been locked down, and the Laney Childcare Center staff are being informed of appropriate precautions. Please steer away from any area adjacent to lower 10th Street and 5th Avenue. The Peralta Community College District new parking lot at East 8th Street and 5th avenue, (with solar panels, next to baseball field) is being used as a staging area for La Esquelita School families to pick-up their children, while the Oakland Police Department has the matter under control.

More later...

The History Channel Airs Silly Bohemian Grove "Visit" By Brad Meltzer

The History Channel did a real disservice to its own moniker by airing Brad Meltzer’s Decoded episode on The Bohemian Club and The Bohemian Grove.

It reminded me of Vanity Fair's Contributing Editor Alex Shoumatoff's ill-fated attempt to "infiltrate" the Grove in 2008 - he got arrested. I've still got his mug shot here!

The Meltzer / The History Channel TV segment was embarrassingly bad and devoid of any real information about the club, except to repeat old and false statements about rituals and sacrifices that are alleged by both left and right wing extremists like Alex Jones.

Without breaking the gentlemanly code of silence at The Bohemian Club, I have been there, I'm a friend, and I'm obviously black (in case you're keeping score) and I can tell you the club is about friendship, jazz, theater, the arts, poetry and current events.

The only "sacrifices" that go on are the state of one’s liver and wasteline from the drink and food that are copiously consumed.  (Seriously.  It's one reason I've cut back on drinking!)

I contacted The Club after seeing The History Channel story and asked if they provided any information about the history of the organization, the annual ‘Cremation of Care” ceremony at the Grove, to Brad Meltzer or The History Channel. The Club said they declined to be interviewed on camera, but gave The History Channel a backgrounder that explains the Club, its ceremonies and its history.

It’s too bad The History Channel and Brad Meltzer didn’t read the materials they were given or looked online at The Monte Rio Show, the annual fundraiser the Bohemian Club puts on the Monte Rio community in which The Grove is located.

That website explains the Club’s background. And if The History Channel and its Decoded crew (which decoded nothing) had read that perhaps they would not have been arrested for trespassing at heavily guarded Grove during their filming of the show.

A little research goes a long way.

Where are the jobs, Mr. Boehner?

Just what are the leaders of the GOP doing with their new-found Congressional majority? We all know they took the symbolic vote to repeal the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA or sometimes just ACA) complete with a provision explicitly naming their own bill "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" without proposing any alternative. We all know the majority of U.S. citizens like the reforms, and the savvy have noticed that the only part being challenged in the courts is, in fact, the mandate inserted to win GOP support in the first place and protect insurance company profits -- and that they managed not just one but two responses to the President's State of the Union.

But what are GOP leaders actually doing?

OK, fair enough, House Speaker John Boehner did take to the airwaves on Sunday, to warn FOX viewers that it, "would be a financial disaster not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy," if the U.S. defaulted on its debt, because, "You can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt." That could happen, according to some estimates, sometime between March and May due to - what? Inaction by Congress. So he's talking to pundits, which isn't exactly doing nothing.

But neither this rhetoric nor talking to pundits is creating one job. Meanwhile, Rick Ungar of Forbes and others argue that the repeal they voted for would actually be a job-killer itself. The ironies seem lost on most who fashion themselves as speaking on behalf of GOP voters.

Here's an excerpt from Ungar's Policy Page at Forbes:
"The primary, most enduring complaint of the opponents of the ACA has been that the law is deathly bad for small business.

Apparently, small businesses, and their employees, do not agree.

The next argument has been that the PPACA is a job killer.

If these small businesses found the new law to be so onerous, why have so many of them voluntarily taken advantage of the benefits provided in the law to give their employees these benefits? They were not mandated to do so. And to the extent that the coming mandate obligations might figure into their thinking, would you not imagine they would wait until 2014 to make a move as the rules do not go into effect until that time?

Of course, there is the nagging banter as to how Obamacare is leading us down the road to socialism.

Let it go, folks."

Rick Ungar,

So the pundits are permitting the politicians - particularly those leading the GOP - to play familiar partisan games, posturing for the cameras while criticizing every nuance of the President's stance and efforts, but what's the impact? Wasted time.

What does the country need? What do we want our elected leaders to actually do? Act responsibly, behave like adults, get to work and fix the problems for Main Street like they did for the fat cats on Wall Street who contribute to their campaign coffers - we need jobs.

There are millions of us, millions of hard-working citizens - and voters - out of work watching jobs move overseas and foreclosures ruin our neighborhoods, yet the politicians prefer to pretend that what matters most are symbolic votes, the profit margins and bonuses on Wall Street, and criticizing without proposing solutions, or even alternative initiatives? What's next, Mr. Boehner, holding your breath until your face turns blue?

It's enough to make a grown man cry.

Thomas Hayes is an entrepreneur, former Democratic Campaign Manager, strategist, journalist, and photographer who contributes regularly to a host of web sites on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community. You can follow him as @kabiu on twitter.

SAG Awards 2011: The King's Speech Ready For The Academy Awards

The Academy Awards are now weeks closer and more into focus; the SAG Awards 2011 helped to bring all into crystal clear view: The King's Speech, barring a shocking upset from The Social Network, will be The Academy Awards winner for Best Picture.

The movie produced by The Weinstein Company already got Outstanding Cast For A Movie at The Screen Actors Guild Awards tonight, and Tom Hooper, it's director, scored Best Director at the Directors Guild Awards Saturday night.

On top of that, Colin Firth got a well-earned Best Actor award, and now is well on his way to an Oscar win for the same category.

The emergence of The King's Speech over the once favored The Social Network is shocking, but when one considers all of the talk of the movie about Facebook being "not the real story," that may have impacted the movie's SAG and Academy Awards fortunes.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ernest Borgnine, Betty White Stars Of SAG Awards 2011 #SAGAwards

The 2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards is history and while The King's Speech, Modern Family, and Boardwalk Empire took top honors in several categories, the SAG social media buzz is about two octogenarian acting and comedy legends, Ernest Borgnine and Betty White.

Mr. Borgnine, at 94 years young, was on hand to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from his SAG colleagues. What was so neat for this blogger, watching the telecast in Georgia with Mom, was to hear her say "He called United Airlines and I made his reservations for him."

That happened, as she recalled, in 1976, and she remembers that Ernest Borgnine was "so nice." "He thanked me for helping him," she said.

That made watching this legendary actor get his award through a standing ovation, so much fun. Moreover, it brought spiritual meaning to the moment: nice people finish first.

The same is true for Betty White, last year's Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award Winner at 89 years old, who won for Outstanding Female In A Comedy Series and for her work in Hot in Cleveland. Upon setting her eyes on the statue of a naked buffed man, she rubbed it and said "OHHHH..."

That was funny.

(Makes you wonder what some would do if it was a statue of an athletics naked woman with big breasts, but I digress.)

Biden tells Jobless: Hang in there

Last week a totally out of touch Joe Biden told American jobless to "Hang in there" - and included other moronic comments and pearls of wisdom such as: "Don't smoke, eat healthy, do not consume junk foods," he said. "I know that sounds silly, but it's very practical in terms of your own health and well-being, and also on the impact of the cost of maintaining the health care system in the United States."

Well Mr. Vice President I have a reality check for you, since you are seemingly clueless to the plight of real hurting Americans.

  • Millions of American UI exhaustees have been hanging on for far too long and have nothing left to hang on to period.
  • The term you used is most insensitive "Hang in there" as most are hanging by a thread and many have chosen the noose - as in suicide, sir.
  • It is damn difficult to eat healthy when you must rely on insufficient food stamps monthly allotment when the $1 fast food menu will fill up your stomach for less money. WE ARE HUNGRY!

Obama had the opportunity to alleviate the suffering some last December, but chose instead to cater to the wealthy and forgo helping to ease the suffering within the 99er Nation. Then he easily could have given hope to millions living in abject poverty in the USA today (not just the 99ers) but he chose to ignore the 52 million in America living below the poverty line, leaving them out of the SOTU speech - but he sure as hell did not forget to mention the illegal immigrants now did he?

This administration has had it's head in the sand (or up somewhere which prevents clear vision) for too long and your feigned internet explanations on what is happening in America and why are too weak and so lacking in knowledge, understanding or information concerning current events and developments it is just appalling!

I do not wish to appear disrespectful to either the President or the Vice President, but I for one am tired of being disrespected and ignored by the lot of the Washington elitists. You all make me sick. In fact, Joe, I wish you'd take that thumbs up thing and put it where your head has been hiding for so long.

[The donation button below is for Paladinette. If you like what I write please donate so I can keep on fighting for the 99ers! Thank You!]

DGA Nod Means The King's Speech In Line For Oscar Best Picture Win

The King's Speech (where Colin Firth is pictured) will win Best Picture at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards over The Social Network.

Last night, The DGA shocked a number of observers when it gave the director of the movie about overcoming personal handicaps, Tom Hooper, the prize over the favored David Fincher, who's movie made Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg even more famous.   That sealed the deal for the Oscars.  

Here's why.

UPDATE: Here's my video on The Social Network vs. The Kings Speech at The Oscars:

If you're predicting which films the 5,744 voting members of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS) will pick for the 24 nominating categories in the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, here's a tip: the winner of the Director's Guild of America (DGA) Best Director Award has won the same prize at The Oscars all but six times in history going back to 1948.

Plus, the film of the winner of Oscar Best Director generally wins Oscars Best Picture. On only 21 times in Oscars history has the Best Picture winner not snagged the Best Director Prize, going all the way back to 1927.

Last year, Kathryn Bigelow won DGA Best Director for The Hurt Locker, and went on to get both Best Director and Best Picture for the war movie at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

If The Social Network, which to date has won more awards than any other movie, wins Best Director and Best Picture, or at least manages a split here, it will be a rare achievement, but don't bet the ranch.

Now, to make it clear, the Academy voting members already made their choices and turned their ballots in on or before January 19th.  Someone, somewhere in the World knows who won in all of the Oscars categories.

Academy Website Database

If you're interested in Oscars Awards stats, there's no better place to go online than the database at the AMPAS website, here.

Also, Peter Knegt of INDIEwire has put together a great article tracking movie awards to date.

Stay tuned!

Civil Unrest Riots In Egypt: 99ers - Is USA Next?

After watching days of civil unrest riots In Egypt, the 99er Nation asks: Is USA Next?

Clashes erupted as Egyptian authorities tried to prevent demonstrations in Cairo where protesters chanting “liberty” and “change” assembled to demand the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Rallies began yesterday at points across the city of 17 million but violent protests throughout Egypt have continued for days.

Authorities restricted internet and cellphone access and detained senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition group, before nationwide demonstrations were scheduled to begin. Four French journalists were arrested on Friday in Cairo, France’s Foreign Ministry said.

Among the Egyptians on the streets of central Cairo was Mona Abdelaziz, 30, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and earns a living by selling tissues by the roadside.
“The country has gone to ruin,” Abdelaziz said. “Everything is expensive. How will my son marry, get an education, set up a household? There are no jobs, only for a select few. We have no hope.”
We have no hope. Sound familiar? Those millions in the 99er Nation have no hope these days. No jobs, no income, nowhere to turn and no hope of things getting any better anytime soon.
In fact a recent YouTube video By a certain Congress woman in Texas echoes the lack of urgency among members of Congress when it comes to saving the 99ers.

NOTE TO CONGRESS: We cannot wait until March for you to begin to debate what you will do to save our lives. WAKE UP as what is happening in Egypt can happen here.
Quote of the Day - by Bud Meyers: "They're rioting in Egypt because a vast majority of the people are living on $2 a day. Yet the 99ers are living on less, so why aren't they rioting?"
Well Bud, I can’t tell you why it has not happened here yet or what it is finally going to take for the 99er Nation to get out of their homes and take to the streets to fight for their right to live, but I feel strongly it is just a matter of time before they do.

I hope Mr. Obama is paying attention. However in his speech on Friday on the violence in Egypt, though Obama di say: “Govt MUST be responsive to their citizens” it is clear he just does not get it that our government is NOT being responsive to America's own citizenry.

Friday’s speech prompted me to Tweet the President and many members of the media as well as Congress the following - @barackobama YES American Govt MUST be responsive to their citizens SO WHY do you ignore the #99ers??????????

NOTE to the PRESIDENT - pay very close attention to what is happening in Cairo and Alexandria Egypt today Sir - it is about to erupt right here in America.... and YOU & CONGRESS have no one but yourselves to blame.

When times are bleak and the news is full of sorrow, I simply must unplug and find something to laugh about. The video below is a hoot and hopefully it will bring a smile to your face.

[The donation button below is for Paladinette. If you like what I write please donate so I can keep on fighting for the 99ers! Thank You!]

Squirrel Funeral For The World's Greatest Squirrel - Be Kind To Animals

A squirrel managed to get into our indoor - outdoor den while we were away. A few days after we returned, the poor lost thing turned up dead in a corner of the room. Since it's more outdoor than in, and has a screen door, it must have entered in hybrid way that I didn't anticipate. At any rate, it seems to have electrocuted itself in our house, then froze during the great Georgia freeze of two weeks ago.

So, I thought it appropriate to give it a burial and funeral, and make a vlog of it.

The reason is simple: all too often we are exposed to images of people shooting animals. The latest example being Sarah Palin shooting moose in Alaska, then rubbing America's nose in it. It's helping to producing hard attitude among us, where we don't care about life. It's a horrible message to send to our kids.

So I made a place in a remote part of our yard, named the squirrel "World's Greatest Squirrel," buried it while it was in the double-wrapped plastic bags and with an air chamber in the smaller one, and had a ceremony.

What's a wee bit bothersome are some of the video comments on YouTube. Without sharing them, I'll just say this modern habit of coming up with a stupid argument to justify heartless acts - from the use of guns to racial discrimination - is getting beyond the pale.

I'm sick of it.

Life, in all forms, is to be celebrated. Just because we hunt for food doesn't mean the animal being hunted wants to be in that position. Moreover, we're conditioned to think that animals don't "think," but really how the hell do we know, anyway?

Some of us don't seem to think either.

So, this is my bid to right things. Yes, I'm a meat eater. I'll admit that. But also use meat alternatives when they're available. And just because I eat meat doesn't mean I have to want to hunt or not feel sad if an animal is killed, especially on my property.

And that's not supposed to happen.

We can draw the line. We should draw the line.

It's the civilized thing to do.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg and Andy Samberg On SNL (Video)

NBC just released and posted the video from the Saturday Night Live (SNL) opening monologue featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Andy Samberg, and Facebook Founder, President and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

As you may know, Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg in the six-Oscar-nominated movie The Social Network. Andy Samberg is an SNL cast member who commonly plays Mark Zuckerberg. There was much speculation that Mark would not show up on tonight's SNL episode, but he did.

Kudos to NBC for getting the video compressed and uploaded so fast. The show's not even over!

As a note, the Oscar voting period closed on January 19th, so it's far too late for this show to have an impact on Academy Awards voting.  The Oscar best picture has already been selected by the 5,744 voting members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), it's just a matter of counting the votes before the ABC telecast on February 27th.

Mark Zuckerberg And Jesse Eisenberg On Saturday Night Live

Mark Zuckerberg did it. He appeared on Saturday Night Live just about five minutes ago. After much media speculation today, the founder, President and CEO of Facebook appeared alongside the actor who portrayed him in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg.

The segment started off innocently enough, with Eisenberg coming out to a good audience ovation and explaining that he's really not who he appears to be - he's actually confident. And much different than the person he plays in The Social Network. That would be Zuckerberg.

Then SNL Actor Andy Samberg comes on stage saying that he's Mark Zuckerberg. As that's happening, the real Mark Zuckerberg is back stage with SNL's legendary producer Lorne Michaels. Mark explains that he should be out there because "I'm the real guy."

Cutting to the next scene, Eisenberg and Hader continue talking about which one played Zuck better, when Mark comes out on stage. Hader leaves almost immediately after explaining that the pairing of the two of them, Mark and Jesse, is "awkward."

So it's just Zuckerberg and Eisenberg. After some conversational dancing, Mark says he was "impressed" with Jesse's interpretation of him in The Social Network.

For a guy who's not an actor, Mark did an OK job of saying his lines. Look, he was stilted , OK. A bit robotic, to say the least. But give him credit - major props - for coming on the show and making it a memorable classic.

Stay tuned for the Twitter report!

YouTube And Facebook Beat Old Media At Davos

YouTube and Facebook beat Old Media at The World Economic Forum at Davos!

An amusing but, for Old Media journalists, horrifying tweet on Twitter by Matthias Lüfkens and re-tweeted by Randi Zuckerberg appeared today:

Davos Moment: Journalist to Minister: Can I interview you? Later, I am doing @YouTube and @Facebook first. :) #ouch #WEF

That underscored how far media has come away from the days when print journalists held sway in the trenches of what we now call content development.  In fact, in these times when a person can use a Flip Video Camera or a smartphone with a Qik app that permits live stream video production, it's down right funny to watch someone try to interview a person with just a pen and paper.  If I were the interviewee, I'd worry about being misquoted.

Today, people want to see the subject much more than they want to read someone else's interpretation of what the person said.  YouTube, Facebook, and Qik provided heads of state and business with quasi-instant access to hundreds, thousands, and millions of people.  Print media can't match that at all.

Julie Schenecker Shoots Mouthy Children

People Magazine Online reports that Julie Schenecker, wife of US Army colonel Parker Schenecker, has admitted to police in Tampa that last Thursday night she killed her daughter and her son:

She first shot son Beau, 13, twice in the head with a .38 caliber pistol for "talking back" as she was driving him to soccer practice in suburban Tampa, according to the arrest affidavit.

 The police report says she then drove to her $448,000 family home and shot her daughter Calyx, 16 – a high school cross country running star – in the face as she sat studying at the computer.

Reuters Online reports that her 48-year-old husband is stationed at Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and was out of the country on duty when he found out about the killings.

Oakland Councilmember Jane Brunner Wrong On Chief Batts

Oakland City Councilmember Jane Brunner (District 1 - North Oakland) is unfortunately just plain wrong in her comments on Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, and shows why many say there has been a "leadership void" that Oakland's elected officials have not effectively filled.

This is what Cecily Burt quoted Councilmember Brunner as saying in The Oakland Tribune regarding why Batts elected to try and leave Oakland:

"I don't even know if that is the reason. We don't know if there are other issues, it's not clear...He is very popular, we think he is a good chief, but in my opinion, he needs to want to be here. And if there are things that are preventing him from wanting to stay, he needs to be in the room to have that discussion...If he's going to stay, he needs to work with us as a team."

No. Councilmember Brunner has it backwards.   It's her job to make sure working conditions are excellent for a person who is essentially one of her employees.

To ask the employee (think about that) to lobby for improved working conditions says little good about the employer.  The employer is supposed to take responsibility to improve working conditions for the employee.

And she wonders why Batts would consider leaving?

Chief Batts has talked to the media (including this blogger several times), to local officials, and to anyone who would listen regarding the Oakland Police financial situation and the need to improve it.  But it's Jane Brunner's job, as one of the Oakland Councilmembers who hired Batts let alone as a senior member of the Oakland City Council, to set up a meeting such that the Brown Act is not violated, and determine what problems there are and pledge to help him solve them.

That's what leaders do and Jane's certainly capable of doing that.  In fact, I'm surprised she'd allow herself to express such weakness.

Complaining about Batts in the media was the wrong action to take.   I understand what she's saying, but it didn't come out the right way.  Politically, it was better left unsaid.

Chief Batts is not some one to fear, and anyone who might paint him in that way, as someone that a person needs to "stand up to" - thus calling up age-old American white fears of black men - should be ignored and shunned.

That aside, Councilmember Brunner's job one is to set up a direct dialog with Chief Batts, and stop waiting for others to do it.

That's what leaders do.

Oakland News: Oakland A's, Chief Batts Back, KPFA Ratings Drop

A lot of Oakland News presented from bed in Georgia, where this blogger's keeping Mom company and working.

First, a big thanks to my long time friend and Oakland's new District Four (Montclair - Oakland Hills) Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who nomninated bloggers Rebecca Saltzman, Jonathan Bair, Aimee Allison, Debbie Richman and Echa Schneider, and me, Zennie Abraham for the "Making Democracy Work" award. It's a high honor to be considered in this way.

I'm particularly happy with the blog and vlog work everyone did during the Oakland Mayors Race last year. The sum total was we got out a lot of information about the candidates, disagreed on some, and contributed to the community in a big way by fostering discussion.

On the day of the award I'm going to be in New York City for the NFL Draft, so I'm going to ask Susan Mernitt of, another great Oakland blog, to attend and represent me. Susan's done a great job in building a local media brand from scratch and creating some work for local bloggers, so I'm going to share my award with her.)

Second, and on the matter of Oakland bloggers, Aimee Allison of and the now-cancelled KPFA Morning Show can say she was responsible for 16,000 monthly listeners to KPFA. Why? Because that's how many listeners the Berkeley-based Pacifica Foundation legend of a dysfunctional media company lost in just one month.

The latest radio ratings delivered thank to Rich Lieberman via email reported a lot, but what jumps out is way down in the chart: KPFA had 120,700 listeners in November, and 106,500 in December, and an even worse 104,000 during the Holidays.

So, for all of the back-and-forth yada-yada about budgets and costs and personalities and politics, the business that is KPFA is suffering. Care to bet on if listenership dips below 100,000 at some point? Maybe KPFA need to have Aimee on interviewing Oakland Police Chief Batts.

Because he's back.

And it's a good thing for Oakland, and reports about rank-and-file officers not supporting him are just a load of horse mess. A plant of news by a person who was out for no good, done where that person believed it would be shared. It's false. Don't believe it. Oakland cops have Batts back, now the Oakland City Council has to show him some skin.

(It's also great to see Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Chief Batts together, as covered by

Third, and on the matter of "skin," if California Governor Jerry Brown gets his way and sacks California Redevelopment Agencies (which I still assert is a really dumb idea), there may not be a new ballpark for Oakland at all because skin will be harder to come by. (And I use the term "dumb" because Jerry's a smart guy; using that term is the only way to get it in his head that he's going in the wrong direction here.)

(Oh. I discount San Jose as a media creation because a number of journalists don't want to get their heads around the complicated legal and business issues standing in that city's way, not to mention the MLB Major League Agreement. So when Columnist Mark Purdy or anyone with the San Jose Mercury News starts yappin about a stadium for San Jose, Laugh. Hard.)

Other Oakland Stuff

On the Libby Schaaf info train, she's having her first office hours at various Oakland District Four cafes, to help them with business. A cool thing. Here's the schedule: Dimond: First Thursday of the month, 9am at Caffe Diem, Laurel: First Saturday of the month, 9am at World Ground Cafe, Redwood Heights: Third Saturday of the month, 10:30am at Cafe Galleria Melrose: Fourth Wednesday of the month, 3:30pm at Melrose Library, Montclair: Fourth Sunday of the month, 9am at the Farmers Market.

And on the matter of lawyers, as Libby is one...

Dan Siegel, a good guy who's currently on the other end of the legal issues around Oakland Gangs and against another good guy, Oakland City Attorney John Russo, is the target of a movement to get him kicked off the KPFA Board for being an advisor to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.  Seriously.  The reason, according to Matthew Hallinan, was that it amounted to a "political appointment," and Matt's ready to go to the "matt" of court to protect Dan and maintain SaveKPFA's majority on what's called the "Local Station Board."


Doug Boxer has resigned from the Oakland Planning Commission.  Mayor Quan will appoint a replacement.


Mayor Quan needs to stop playing political games with the Oakland City Attorney's budget.  Hiring outside counsel is expensive, so stop forcing the office to do it by cutting the budget.  Quan needs to walk away from this one.

Friday, January 28, 2011

YouTube New Ideas Week: Is YouTube For Kids Like Totlol?

YouTube invited TechCrunch' Jason Kincaid to their offices to show what they're working on and how they roll out the new products during what is called "New Ideas Week." There are two new creations of note: one called "YouTube for Kids" and the other for the kind of "Qik-like streaming" I did at CES 2011, except that I actually used

But "YouTube For Kids" reopens a really thorny issue that, when re-consumed, causes one to wonder why YouTube would re-open a matter in such a way as to run the risk of placing it in a bad light. As a YouTube Partner, I'm not comfy about what I'm about to present. Blogging about this is not fun, but it's got to be done, and now.

The Brief Story Of Totlol

The December 29th 2009 TechCrunch featured a blog post by Erick Schonfeld called "The Sad Tale Of Totlol And How YouTube's Changing TOS Made It Hard To Make A Buck."

Totlol was a platform created by Developer and Entrepreneur Ron Ilan, that consists of videos from YouTube that were created by parents for kids. Cool, except that Ron created Totlol using YouTube's API (Application Program Interface), and Erick reports that Google "just happened" to change YouTube's Terms of Service (TOS) to prohibit the creation of something like Totlol or any system using its API for commercial use on the same day that YouTube featured Totlol on it's Google Code widget.

In other words, Google stepped in at the time and said, "OK, now no one can make something that makes money using our product that we didn't create ourselves." On the face of it, that would seem to not impact Totlol, which was first created in 2008. Right?

Well, not exactly. The change in the YouTube TOS hurt Ron's ability to make money because he could not place ads on Totlol anymore. He asked for permission from YouTube, but got no response at first.

Then a YouTube rep did reach out to Ron in June of 2009, and tried to understand how to avoid such a situation in the future as well as "What types of business models would we need to support in order to make this worth a developer’s while?," but nothing benefiting Ron came of the meeting.

In an account that is no longer available online, even in its cached version, Ron explains what he thinks was "up" at Google, according to TechCrunch:

When the YouTube API team saw Totlol they liked it. At about the same time someone else at Google saw it, realized the potential it, and - or similar implementations may have, and initiated a ToS modification. An instruction was given to delay public acknowledgement of Totlol until the modified ToS where published. Later an instruction was given to avoid public acknowledgement at all.
Now, Ron's site is down, as is any indication of criticism of YouTube, and the one bit of evidence that he created Totlol is on his Linkedin Page, which reads:

Founder / Creator
(Internet industry)
February 2008 — September 2010 (2 years 8 months)
Totlol was an award winning, community-moderated Video Website designed for kids and powered by YouTube.

- Sole developer.
- Identified the market opportunity, defined product use cases, architecture and UI. Preformed several feedback and usability driven upgrade cycles.
- Features included access to 10s of thousands of videos, extensive personalization, an Age Optimizer for content and multiple Age Optimized Interfaces. Web application was available in custom mobile versions for iPhone and iPad.
- Drove product marketing and positioning as first website of its kind and leader of the segment. Website been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today.
- Distinction and awards: Google Code Featured Project, Apple Featured Web App, PC Magazine Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites, Webby Awards Official Honoree.
- Working environment: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Zend Framework, YouTube Data API, Google Data API OAuth, JS, HTML/CSS and YouTube Chromeless Player.

Judging by the timing of things, where he shut down September of 2010, perhaps some kind of settlement was reached between Ron and Google / YouTube. One hope's so. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that "YouTube For Kids" is...

"a fully revamped version of YouTube designed specifically with children in mind. Heckmann says that children tend to use YouTube differently than adults, and obviously there is content on the site that kids shouldn’t be exposed to. What’s worse, sometimes kids stumble across this content accidentally because of the way the site’s automated suggestions work.

To remedy this, YouTube is building a version of the site that’s been reworked to have absolutely no text, save for the YouTube logo. Videos that do appear will be based off of whitelists, so there won’t be any chance of accidentally stumbling across something unsavory or scary. At this point it sounds like the project still has a ways to go (it was initially created during a New Ideas week last summer), but it’s on the way."

One clue to the current relationship between Ron and YouTube comes from his Twitter Page @ronilan. By the looks of tweets, he's got a cordial (ie: non-flaming and re-tweeting) Twitter relationship with YouTube CEO Chad Hurley and Project Engineer Hunter Walk, who's an all-around good guy, so by appearances it seems that Ron walked away happy, the case was closed, and YouTube's working on something based on what Ron developed.

I really hope I'm correct.

Stay tuned.

Soluto CEO Tomir Dvir Talks Startup, Has Fun At The Crunchies

Soluto's a company you've probably not known of until now. It started as an idea by Tomir Dvir. who's now its CEO, and his business partner and with a boffo presentation at TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 New York City, rapidly gained fans and funders. Now, with over 1 million users in less than a year, the Israel-based company is on its way toward Tech startdom.

(What's interesting is I met Tomir and his people over lunch at Tech Crunch Disrupt, and before their Startup Battlefield presentation.  It's interesting, and yet a standard habit if you're involved in the Tech Community in the Bay Area in some way, to meet a group of people - or be involved with that group - who are unknown but have a good product idea and company around it, then watch them "hit the match stick," where that company gains in popularity, then funding, then growth.  Such is the path Soluto's on.)

You use Soluto to get ideas on how to solve problems with your PC. Tomir says the idea was to access the brains of "the Geeks" as he says, to help solve anyone's problem via crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is giving or "outsourcing" a task usually done by one person to a group of people. The Internet provides a great foundation for crowdsourcing efforts, and Soluto's platform accesses its user base to help a person deal with their computer problem. PC World reports that Soluto actually shortens PC boot times.

I caught up with Tomir at The 2011 Crunchies, the annual Tech awards show, where, as much as Tomir's a business person, he's also a lot of fun to hang out with and talk to. A runner up at The Crunchies, Tomir said "It's like the Oscars, but more fun."

And part of the fun was the party at The Exploratorium, which provided a great backdrop to talk about his company.

On the subject of Soluto's growth, he said "It's been amazing. We passed a million downloads already. TechCrunch Disrupt was the kick start for that." And now with investor backing, Soluto has a small staff that handles its day to day operations and issues.

Soluto Coming To Mac, Android

Right now, Soluto's only for the PC and not the Mac because the PC "represents 90 percent" of the computer market, he says. But, eventually Soluto will expand to include the Apple MacBook, and he specifically mentioned the Android mobile platform, as well.  

Yes, the iPhone OS too.

Stay tuned.  

Jersey Shore Season 3 Episode 5: Abusive Relationships

Jersey Shore picks up from last week with JWoww and Snooki at JWOww's place getting all her belongings. Ryder shows up at the house at Seaside and Vinny coincidently answers the door - remember now, those two smushed and Snooki walked in.

The group is planning to celebrate Ryder's birthday.

The title of the episode is "PUNCH DRUNK LOVE."

Things go insane from here - extremely insane. There's so much to comment on.

Sammi gets upset with Ronnie talking to a girl at the club, which - although having no experience with those types of clubs, why would a boyfriend be chatting with another girl in the first place? Well, whatever the case Sammi was very upset by this.

Meanwhile Vinny is trying to get with Gina, but her uncle is being a "cockblock." He compares his situation to Romeo and Juliet, ha.

Back at the house the "grenade whistle" is blown, how funny.

Image Courtesy of
Ronnie throws Sam's belongings telling her to GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT JUST LEAVEE!
Why does it still have "Sweetheart" next to Sammi's name? No one calls her that.

Then Sammi and Ronnie fight and Ronny talks to JWoww about this. Sammi goes crazy and repeats over and over "ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH HER?!?!?" Which is followed by a nice punch in his jaw, now this clip has been analyzed thoroughly and this girl knows what she is doing. She stepped back and really went in for it - that was not just a rookie shot, that was the kind of punch that really takes some effort.

Courtesy of
Jenni tells Ronnie that the ONLY reason SHE wrote the note to Sammi about what he did in Miami was so that Sammi would go home. Becoming friends with JWoww just like that after a fight with Sammi was not bright, especially after what went on. Big hugs? Too soon.

Ronnie cries a lot after being punched. Seriously, that punch was epic.

Meanwhile at the barbershop there is a rumor that Dean started that Deena likes to BLEEEEEP BLEEEP BLEEEP. All the "BLEEEEP"-ing was so confusing that it was difficult to understand what they were saying, but after consulting with others the general consensus is that Dean was basically saying that Deena likes to.. suck on butts... well, that was awkward to type. Yes, and then Deena saw Dean at the club after Mike confronted her at the gym and she confronted Dean and it was all just messy.

Snookie pays over $200 to get a stripper pole for the house with Vinny.

Sammi threatens to go home - she packs her bags and everything and even calls her mom.
But then she stays and she ends up cuddling with Ronnie -- talk about dysfunctional.

JWoww then offers to be friends with Sammi - oh boy, this will lead to something insane.

A common theme in this season is that it seems like there is less "smushing" or "hooking up" in reference to Situation and Pauly D. This episode Roger and JWoww got it on, and JWoww was annoyed with her puppies during that time.

Image Courtesy of MTV
The episode was epic - that punch was just, wow.

Vinny was the voice of reason saying, "You need sucky things in life to make you stronger." He also went on about Sammi's ego.

His tweets were quite hilarious and made it known that this would be quite the episode. However, this episode was not as good as last weeks, but it did have a lot of drama - violence in relationships, dysfunction; next Thursday will be another JERSDAY.

P.S. Ryder gets a birthday cake.

The vlog to accompany this post mostly deals with the abuse that went on within the episode and other thoughts:

Georgia Ban On Sunday Beer Sales May Fall Due To Economy

If you wanted to buy beer in Georgia on Sunday, known as the seat of The Bible Belt, you had to go to an Atlanta Falcons game to do it. But that may end as the Georgia Legislature considers removing the ban next week.

It's something that new Governor Nathan Deal is expected to approve into law if it passes, and it looks like it has the votes.


The economy here is at 10.3 percent and store business owners are tired of seeing Georgians hop the boarder between Georgia and Tennessee just for beer on Sunday.

The whole deal with liquor here is whacked. Some counties allow you to purchase hard liquor and others don't. If the Sunday beer ban falls, local counties and cities will have a choice regarding maintaining the law, but given the need for revenue and jobs, it's hard to see too many local municipalities doing that.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sarah Palin: Tracy Morgan Says She's "Good Masturbation Material" On TNT NBA

Overall, Sarah Palin's had a rough two weeks, and for all practical purposes, 30 Rock's Tracy Morgan added the icing on the cake when he said Palin was "good masturbation material," before the start of tonight's NY Knicks vs. Miami Heat game, and much to the shock and amusement of TNT's Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley.

 The result, thanks to social media, was "Tracy Morgan" became a Twitter Trend at Sarah Palin's expense, and gives the media something new to chew on for Thursday.

TNT's apologized for the "event," but the damage is done already. Palin's got to feel like the Lord punishing her because a number of negative events have happened since U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot at point blank range by Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Arizona.

First, Palin was hammered for her infamous "crosshairs" map that marked Gifford's Tucson district, then she made her image worse by defending it,...Which I complained about in this vlog:

...then used a term offensive to some in the Jewish community while working to get publicity on the day of the Arizona Shooting Memorial, then her husband, Todd Palin was fingered by The National Enquirer as allegedly involved in a sex scandal, and on Tuesday, Palin used the wrong historical reference in complaining about President Obama's State Of The Union Adress, and now this.

The best action for Governor Palin is to pray for forgiveness, because all of this is happening too fast to be of coincidence.

Meanwhile, Tracy Morgan's legend grows.  That man will say anything, anywhere, at anytime.  

SFO To Fresno To Las Vegas On A United Propjet

CES 2011 was an interesting trip for this blogger. It resulted in the first trip ever using a prop jet, and twice: SFO to Fresno to Las Vegas on a United Propjet

What happened was that the flight from SFO (San Francisco International) to Las Vegas that left out of Gate 92 at the International Terminal was so tight no standbys got on it at all. So we were sent to another flight to Fresno, with a connector to Las Vegas.

What wasn't made clear was that it was a prop jet. That brings up all kinds of images of projets in the movies with failing engines and ratty interiors. So, this alternative wasn't the best choice, but it seemed to be the only one.

The first leg, SFO to Fresno went 40 minutes quick. What was memorable was that it felt like every vibration the plane might make came through the passenger seat. Seriously. But, with all of that, the ride was smooth, if loud, and the landing quick and neat. Impressive.

The layover in Fresno was for 3 hours, and in a facility that's a small airport designed to look like a much bigger one. The end result is something like a weird aviation movie set, but with real working airplanes and propjets.

And there was reason to think one of the airplanes was going to be the next one to Vegas.


It was another United Airlines Propjet.

This right was significantly longer and more cramped. Not in the exit row seat, I turned my body sideways to fit better and worked to sleep off the journey. What kept me awake from time to time was the scenery: the snow-covered Rocky Mountains are a breath-taking site to see, even if it brought up every horror of (again) prop jets crashing into mountain ranges.

For some reason, the sheer beauty of it all took that fear away.

Eventually, we hit the Nevada desert and landed in Las Vegas, smartly.

In all, not a bad trip and this blogger would do it again. Still, the preference here is for a 737, or even one of those real small Brazilian planes United Express also flies.

But I got their in one piece, and CES 2011 was a blast!

Sammi Slaps Ronny

There will be a much longer in-depth analysis of tonight's episode of Jersey Shore (which is not over yet) - just thought that there should be an image out there of what just happened. Sammi just punched Ronny in the face because she found out he's friends with JWOWW. Jenni was saying that she told Sammi about Ronny cheating and did the note so that Sammi would leave, not to be a good friend. Snooki's intentions were not that way.

Don't worry, Sammi comes to her senses.

Kim Kardashian Wrong: President Obama Has More Twitter Followers

Kim and Kourtney Kardashian are on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight as this blog post is written, and Kim's pumped up her image in more ways than one. Kardashian told Piers she's got more Twitter followers than President Barack Obama.

Kim Kardashian's Wrong.

President Barack Obama at @BARACKOBAMA has, as of this writing 6,454,206 Twitter Followers, versus 6,046,312 for Kim at @KimKardashian.

So Kim's just over 400,000 Twitter Followers behind, not ahead, of The President Of The United States.

There ya go, Kim.

MacWorld 2011 Gadgets ArtRage for iPad and RingO

MacWorld 2011 is underway and while the iPad, iPhone, and Macbook take center stage, there are gadgets for those products to be had and in some cases at discount prices.  Two of them are ArtRage and RingO.

During Macworld 2011, ArtRage for iPad will be available at a discounted rate of only $2.99 (normally $6.99) here at the Apple iTunes Store.

ArtRage for iPad lets you become a mobile digital artist, providing the experience of actually “painting” digitally on a computer canvas with oil painting effects that smear and blend and watercolor strokes that merge to create soft, wet gradations, just as they would in a traditional art studio.

An ArtRage - enabled iPad, tablet, or touch-screen laptop allows artists of all levels to bring their computer everywhere they go to be ready to spontaneously unleash their creativity on the spot by drawing, sketching, and painting in a wide range of artistic styles with tools that interact on the screen just as they would with real paint, ink, chalk, pen, or pencil.

RingO iPad Mount at Vogel's Booth #650

Vogel's at, the European market leader in Audio/Video & TV mounting solutions, announced today the RingO Universal iPad Mounting System from Vogel's, the "Ipad on the Wall" at

Introduced today at Macworld, RingO is reported to keep your iPad safe by securely mounting it and other tablets everywhere you go: at home, at work and in the car. It lets you use your iPad to watch movies in the car or as a home media control system in front of your television.  You can also listen to music or display a modern themed alarm clock in your bedroom.

Check out ArtRage and visit Vogel's booth to see RingO at MacWorld 2011.

San Francisco News: Local 2 Unite Here, Mike Casey, Losing SF Hotel Negotiations?

Local 2 Unite Here Union Leader Mike Casey's reportedly facing problems according to a vast number of sources to this blogger.  Mr. Casey needs to pay better attention to World economic events, and have a better understanding of the dynamics of the hotel business.

The legendary and largely popular Casey's got a problem: hotels need to cut costs in the face of what have been in some cases dramatic revenue declines, even with occupancy improvements. Hotel workers want to keep their jobs, which should mean accepting pay cuts. But Casey, who would have an easier time of it when the economy was better as it was in the early 2000s, is seen by some as standing in the way of a good resolution to the problem of maintaining hotel jobs, let alone San Francisco getting new convention business as well as maintaining existing events.

What Casey and his charges want flies in the face of most of what other workers have realized reasonable agreements on, from the union's website: Affordable, high-quality health care; Modest increases in wages; Modest improvement in pension.

The one outlier is health care, which even some hotel managers agree should be maintained in some effective way; beyond that a "Modest increases in wages" and "Modest improvement in pension" seem like political pipe dreams today, when even some hardline progressives dare talk of the need to cut pensions for public service workers.

This is why Casey's reportedly having a problem in effectively mobilizing his troops this time around. (And a number of members of his own union are sporting the "Mike Casey's Union NO, Union Yes!", button around San Francisco.) Membership in the union has decreased 30 percent from 13,000 to 9,000 in three years.  The union's contract with the hotels expired  August 2009.

Hyatt Hotels Fights Back

Casey's efforts have targeted the following hotels: Grand Hyatt, Hilton San Francisco, Hotel Frank, Hotel Metropolis, Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, Le Meridien, Palace Hotel, Westin St. Francis, and the W Hotel. The union asserts that hotels like the Hyatt have realized occupancy gains; the hotels assert that they're trying to counter rising costs and tightening margins in a still-tight economy.

It's more than occupancy rates, which have increased since 2008, but room rates. While the occupancy rates are better, overall revenues are not and that's due to, in many cases, dramatic decreases in room rates just to capture those occupancy rates.

In this, the Hyatt Hotels fought back, filing National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) charges against Local 2 Unite Here on January 19th 2011, and for allegedly violating the collective bargaining agreement and say the union "quietly diverted money [two cents an hour] from the Child & Elder Fund [to the Legal Fund], without bargaining with Hyatt."

That issue aside, the real matter is in how Mike Casey is handling this issue. It's not, with all due respect, an intelligent approach.  Mr. Casey needs to understand that hotels are businesses.  He needs to focus on how to help the hotels recover a better level of net operating income which will assure the maintenance of jobs and improve the overall standard of living for his union employees at the same time.  

If Mr. Casey created a giant online simulation of the fiscal dynamics of the SF hotel industry, took that into discussions, and used it it as a tool for the crafting of a resolution that works for everyone, he would find better conversational weather with hotel managers frantically trying to avoid losing money.

But if he continues his anti-intellectual, 1960s, and in some cases thug-like approach, he will serve neither his members or the San Francisco Hotel Industry well, and the current negative management / labor climate will continue, possibly with job cuts to follow.

No one wants that.

Mr. Casey would do well to follow the conversation at The World Economic Forum in Davos.  The World's industrialized nations are struggling with lower revenues, enormous debt, and fears of a double-dip recession.  This the climate Mr. Casey is in today.

Stay tuned.

San Francisco News: Good Discussion Of Progressives Future At The Wall

What's the future of San Francisco (and really SF Bay Area) Progressives (preference here for the term "liberals") in the wake of an economic climate that calls for lower taxes and spending? That's the subject of a terrific forum conversation at The Wall SF, also called Able Dart's Bathroom Wall.

The main point is that it's harder to be an effective common Progressive elected official because of San Francisco's enormous deficit of over $300 billion (as of this writing). The result is, and has been, a paving of the way for more "moderate" San Francisco political voices to take the place of some progressive voices.

One poster, "Chrysippus" summed it up best, writing:

Our local progressive sect has become just another fixture of a failed status quo. The moderates cater to big corporations, developers, and banks. The progressives cater to the unions, the nonprofit political complex, and the cannabis capitalists. Both sects overlook the ordinary person struggling to get through daily life in the neighborhoods.

The overall fact is we've spent a generation now chasing manufacturing out of the SF Bay Area in favor of industries like biotech, which has jobs that only a handful of people who live here can qualify for.

It wasn't always that way.

During the 70s and 80s the SF Bay Area Economy was far more balanced, with well-paying manufacturing jobs that only called for a GED to get, as well as higher-skilled and well-paying positions.

The job of government here during that time was to maintain the lower skilled jobs against foreign competition, but that didn't happen. In many cases, economic development officials dropped the ball and now the whole State of California's weaker for it.  

In fact, California stopped fighting for new large scale economic development projects long ago.  That's how the state lost the competition to have the largest atom smasher long ago.  Now, the World's Largest Atom Smasher is beneath the Swiss / French boarder; California's best known Atom Smasher's a roller coster ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Now, "the ordinary person struggling to get through daily life" just wants government to create jobs.  Period.   And by any means necessary.  

Jay Cutler Walks Around Mall In LA, Upsets Chicago Bears Fans

Chicago Bears Jay Cutler, who's image has already been destroyed on Twitter, was captured on video by while walking around an LA shopping center with his girl friend, Actress Kristin Cavallari.

The TMZ video person, obviously not in tune with pop culture news, failed to ask Cutler how his knee was coming along. But the video shows he was walking around without hesitation, bringing up the question of "Exactly how hurt was his knee?"

We may never know.

But the real issue for Jay and the Chicago Bears should be as much Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz as it is Jay Cutler. This blogger thinks Cutler basically got tired of being left as a sitting duck due to a bad offensive game plan.

And even when backup QB Caleb Hanie came in to replace Todd Collins and Cutler before him, Martz play calling was questionable - especially that end-around he called with 1:27 left in the game.

That play ran something like six seconds off the clock and gained no yards. Plus, he called it on third down and something like 10 yards to go.

It's a wonder Bears fans aren't calling for Martz head. But it's because people tend to react to what they see; since offensive coordinators are seldom in the public eye, they commonly escape blame for a quarterback's bad game.

Academy Awards "Whitest In 10 Years?" Means American Media Grew Up

For a time today, searching for "Academy Awards" results in Google News revealed a shocking result: CNN and The Huffington Post, to name some of the major outlets, pointing out that there are no major black award nominees at this year's 83rd Academy Awards.

While that news is sad, the fact that more mainstream media outlets are pointing to this is something to be celebrated.

Since many such news outlets are mostly white, it means a new generation of young white writers and bloggers are not afraid to hold up a collective mirror at an American Institution, as the Academy Awards are, and say "You need to diversify, dude!" The question is, what can or will AMPAS, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, do to make up for this problem?

What AMPAS can do is have more presenters of color. The Academy just sent a press release announcing that Hugh Jackman will be a presenter. Ah, good for the talented Jackman, but that's not solving the diversity demographic problem.

It's logical to assert that if the 83rd Academy Awards are seen as "too white," people may not watch it to the degree that they did last year.  Think about it: we're seeing the emergence of a group of young white people who really embrace diversity and not just as an idea, but as an ideal.   That means if they think the Oscars are too white, they just may not tune in at the levels that AMPAS would like to see to do better in ratings than for 2010.

AMPAS has a problem.

Why not invite an entertainer like Beyonce or Lee Daniels (The Producer of Precious) to be a presenter? Why not Zoe Saldana from Avatar? Yes, The Academy would be seen as dealing with a diversity problem, but so what?

That's the way people should think.

Bravo to American Media for noticing this Oscars problem and pointing to it.

Now, if the New York Times would say something about this, we'll throw a party!

Goals & Hope

An update from Nikky Raney, Executive Editor.
Lack of posts have been from some very important things that have been going on that have been quite.. intense and time consuming.. but there will be a Jersey Shore recap tonight.

MTA to Restore Service in Aftermath of Storm

At the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities are working hard to restore their services. For quite a few residents in New York the transit and metros are their only means of transportation from place to place other than taxis - so having a lack of public transportation has really become something detrimental for those in the area.

The site says:

The MTA is working hard to restore service in the aftermath of a storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of the region. Service is suspended in parts of the system as crews continue to remove snow and ice from tracks, switches, stations and roadways. Please check back to for the latest updates, allow extra time and be careful when walking and boarding.

The site then lists specifics for each transit including New York City Transit,  MTA Bus, Long Island Railroad, Long Island Bus, Metro-North Railroad, and others.

CBS gave an update that many of the services have been restored, but to keep checking on the actual site for more information that is up-to-date.

Academy Awards News: Oscars Social Media Effort Slammed

After a lot of badgering in 2010, and by emails from folks like this blogger, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is finally stepping out and giving social media a go (even has a Twitter account @TheAcademy). But the problem is that while AMPAS effort shows all of the typical markings of the Hollywood organization that just doesn't get it, it is to be congratulated for at least giving it a go, and the tech pubs aren't playing along with that idea.

Now, here's what AMPAS did wrong. (And why it's a bad idea to send press releases to snarky tech publications.)

First, AMPAS must realize the whole idea behind social media and new media is to quickly and cheaply disseminate information. Period. As one who's been involved with this since before "social media" became a term, and Marc Canter, arguably the inventor of the social network, was talking to me about the "People Aggregator" way back in 2002, the idea was as much about sharing info as connecting with people.

That means, in this case, AMPAS has to do one thing: produce content. That means The Academy must have its own blog - it doesn't.  And that's a sure sign the social media efforts not going to work as well as it could. A blog, connected to @TheAcademy twitter page, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Hi5, and other platforms, like FriendFeed, will allow it to rapidly distribute information. It can even use the contents from its own press releases.

And AMPAS effort has totally forgotten its YouTube page (which hasn't been updated in a month). So while the revamped website will have "cams" for the "winners walk" and the "dressing room," and all for $4.99, it will not have new videos uploaded to its YouTube page, then sent to its blog, then Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.  (Plus, it lacks a Twitter follow button at the top!)

In other words, AMPAS has totally missed the fact that social media is really about sharing your content. And to do that, it means you've got to what?

That's right: produce content.

The other thing AMPAS missed was that it sent a press release targeted at tech publications and totally avoided its press base, where its fans are, which are far less likely to be nasty about AMPAS efforts.  I didn't get a press release on this, or even an email, and this news isn't popping up at Awards Daily.   That's a HUGE error.


Because by issuing a press release to the tech pubs, AMPAS is acting like an unattractive cougar placing herself on the lap of a disinterested 20-year-old: all that will come from the act is a set of snarky comments, and that's what Fast Company ("Academy Awards nominees were just announced--but Oscar hyperbole is already in full swing.") and TIME's TechLand ("Oscars Revamp Website, Realize Social Media Exists") have provided.

And that shows the biggest problem, one that's typical in Hollywood today: segregationist thinking applied to tech. That is, "I've heard of you, there for you must be the right publication." People, especially Hollywood PR folks, make this mistake all the time.

The 21st Century reality is that the PR person is supposed to know how to use tech to share information with a wide audience and always starts with their base - their fans - who are in a lot of cases more well-connected online and know tech as well as the tech pubs.

That's true for the people on AMPAS press list, but The Academy just ignored them!

So AMPAS should have sent a press release out to its list, and then created a blog and a video that it placed on YouTube,, and other video platforms using Tubemogul, then distributed it with Twitter and Google Buzz. The idea is a simple one: make your own news, share it with your friends, and spread it around.

And AMPAS has a lot of news to share.

In the case of Tech, AMPAS forgot its friends, and that's why it failed in this initial effort. But the good news is The Academy can always get back on that horse and ride again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oakland's Jack London Inn Called "Second Dirtiest Hotel" In America

Oakland, California's Jack London Inn could use better publicity than this, but at least it's getting noticed. This YouTube video presents the hotel in a condition that reportedly is far afield from normal, which is to say "clean."

Gawker called the place right across the railroad tracks from Jack London Square the "Second Dirtiest Hotel" in America.

Moreover, the blog post includes an at best unflattering and at worst horrifying example of what a guest is likely to witness if they stay at the JL Inn:

Because the Jack London Inn has that mirrored film on the windows, I didn't notice the 4 VERY salty cops in the lobby conducting an investigation of what sounded like a murderous brawl until I was standing among them in the cramped lobby. A person I inferred was a WITNESS was handcuffed to a chair. The cop was basically telling a nervous young man in a ghetto fab ensemble, "Look, if we take in we'll have to process you for this huge, no-bail, extradition warrant out for your arrest. Or, we can take you in the back and you can give us GOOD INFO about what happened up there and you can handle your business before you get arrested again, 'cuz next time you go away, it's gonna be for a long time." I was kind of surprised they would be doing this in a publicly accessible area, but they seemed as surprised to see me as I was to see them. This shit was straight out of "Training Day."

That should give the managers and owners of the JL Inn cause for concern.  But maybe they just don't have the cash for improvements?  Regardless, the hotel needs to clean up its image.

The Jack London Inn is a great example of why we have and need the California Redevelopment Agencies California Governor Jerry Brown wants to wrong-headedly get rid of. The area's blighted and Oaklanders know it.   The JL Inn needs to be declared a safety hazard, sold, and rebuilt.

U-Cubed Response to Obama's State of the Union Address

Here is the U-Cubed response to Obama's State of the Union Address yesterday. It is short and directly to the point (so unlike my own 99er response on YouTube earlier today).

From the U-Cubed Website:

Last night President Barack Obama issued a BURN NOTICE for jobless Americans. They are to remain in limbo — without jobs, without relief, without hope — until long after his term ends. Their careers, credit, savings and homes are forfeit. And the government he leads will do little to alleviate their distress.

For the 99ers whose benefits are exhausted and the 62 percent of the jobless who never qualified for unemployment, President Barack Obama had neither kind words nor new policies. In fact, he spoke as if they did not exist.

As a result, millions of jobless Americans were left to their own devices. Now they must rely on friends and family to simply survive. And survive they will. But they will never forget nor will they forgive the BURN NOTICE issued during this State of the Union.

Acting Executive Director,
Rick Sloan

Wow - very well put!

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