Archive for February 8th, 2007

*happy sigh*

Me, almost two years ago:

The other two legs [of the Republican triangle], election manipulation (whether via rigged electronic voting or just plain old gaming of voting rights and opportunities) and complicit media, are still in perfect health, seemingly unafflicted by the tumors of fair play and accountability. The Democrats are strangely passive on electoral reform, and they seem resigned to the media’s preferential treatment of Republicans as a fait accompli.


Is it possible that in their blind efforts to race to the bottom common denominator, that [the media] will begin to see a backlash, wherein more and more people become disgusted with the fluff and the spin, and begin to avail themselves of the copious alternatives available in cable television’s expanded basic wasteland?

Oh, the media hacks would misread the signs at first, and frantically crank up the volume while cranking down the content in a vain effort to rekindle interest, but that would only accelerate the rate of desertion. Any network with a safe harbor of solid, reliable, in-depth news could clean up in such a scenario, although the greater probability is simply that fewer people would watch any news at all, at least until the news media finally caught on.

Or, alternatively, instead of driving people away in disgust, which is, quite frankly, difficult to do in this country, we could have the equivalent of an Enron or Watergate scandal…. I’m talking about evidence of a deliberate media whitewash or coverup of a big, important, damaging-to-Republicans story… preferably with some juicy memos or phone calls showing that Rove or other significant Republicans were applying the pressure.

The effect might only be temporary, but for at least a few years, the media would be a lot more wary about getting into bed with the Republicans, or even appearing to be. Of course, the tricky part would finding a way to propagate an anti-media story without the help of the media – blogs can only do so much.

Eric Boehlert, Tuesday (by way of Christy, today):

So as the facts of the White House cover-up now tumble out into open court, it’s important to remember that if it hadn’t been for Fitzgerald’s work, there’s little doubt the Plame story would have simply faded into oblivion like so many other disturbing suggestions of Bush administration misdeeds. And it would have faded away because lots of high-profile journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NBC wanted it to.

In a sense, it was Watergate in reverse. Instead of digging for the truth, lots of journalists tried to bury it. The sad fact remains the press was deeply involved in the cover-up, as journalists reported White House denials regarding the Plame leak despite the fact scores of them received the leak and knew the White House was spreading rampant misinformation about an unfolding criminal case.

And that’s why the Plame investigation then, and the Libby perjury trial now, so perfectly capture what went wrong with the timorous press corps during the Bush years as it routinely walked away from its responsibility of holding people in power accountable and ferreting out the facts.

I don’t think this is going to be enough to fully expose the media for the right-wing tools they are, because I don’t believe that most people are paying close attention to the details and subtext of the trial, but I think it’s enough to start making a dent. If nothing else, it’s a pretty dramatic demonstration of just how big a joke the “liberal media” myth is, and we should bring it up every time the Republicans start whining about how they can never catch a break.

February 8th, 2007 at 10:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Libby/Plame,Media,Republicans

Thursday Toyblogging


If only I were 25 years younger…

LEONARDO DA VINCI’S 15th-century vision of mechanical flight apparently never included fixed wings assisted by propellers or jet engines. His chief inspiration was birds, reflected in drawings of a flying machine fashioned to stay aloft by flapping its wings.

More than 500 years later, WowWee, a robotics and entertainment products company, shares that vision. Next month, it plans to release a mass-produced, functional ornithopter, a device that flies in birdlike fashion — in this case, a radio-controlled toy that mechanically flaps its Mylar wings.

The inspiration — besides Leonardo’s work — is an insect, said Sean Frawley, the 22-year-old inventor of the toy, the FlyTech Dragonfly.


During demonstration flights of the Dragonfly last month at the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual technology showcase in Las Vegas, the fluttering, footlong bug was an enormous hit. Throngs of onlookers clamored for a chance to buy the $50 toy on the spot. At the time, none were for sale.

The robotic Dragonfly will take flight again at the American International Toy Fair, the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, which begins Sunday in New York. But it will hardly be alone there in its use of technologies that are giving a new generation of toys extraordinary capabilities to fly, float, walk and roll — almost always inexpensively — in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.


Executives at Mattel, which owns Tyco, are placing their bets on a new kind of radio-controlled three-wheeled vehicle it is calling the Tyco R/C Terrainiac. Scheduled to go on sale in the summer for about $80, the Terrainiac is a futuristic-looking vehicle powered by a single rear wheel that is a complex treaded ball, referred to by its makers as a “sphere drive.”

The body of the vehicle has been engineered with a controllable joint that allows the Terrainiac to pivot or twist like a human torso. The results are radical turns at high speeds as its high-torque electric motor drives the vehicle over practically any sort of terrain; thus its name.

But George Benz, director of marketing for Tyco Radio Control, said the toy will not be limited to solid surfaces. The sphere drive is hollow, helping to provide buoyancy as well as locomotion when the Terrainiac takes to the water.

“The tricky part of development is making these toys have tremendous performance on land and really deliver when it gets wet,” he said.

WowWee, whose previous creations include the robotic toy Robosapien, is also working on a radio-controlled vehicle for release this year that walks on four spidery, multijointed legs. It is called Roboquad and is expected to cost $100.

There’s also a remote-controlled spymobile with an onboard video camera (which is a bit creepy, IMO), a flying wing thing, a 6″ foam helicopter, and there was also brief mention of a remote-controlled blimp.

I had Legos, Capsela, and Darda Cars. Actually, I guess I made out pretty well – although I remember being bummed that I missed Transformers by about 5 years.

4 comments February 8th, 2007 at 07:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Aerial Urban Photoblogging

Since I had occasion to be in the moderately tall building, I took some photos…

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The roof of another building. A short, puny building.

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A view of the street.

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A view of the park. I just really like those fountains…

2 comments February 8th, 2007 at 07:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

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