Towse: views from the hill

September 14, 2005

Mass. Legislature votes 157-39 to reject constitutional amendment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:38 pm

Mass. Legislature rejects proposed amendment banning gay marriage
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer | September 14, 2005

BOSTON –A year after the nation’s first state-sanctioned same-sex marriages began taking place, the Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to ban gay marriage but legalize civil unions.

It was the second time the Legislature had confronted the measure, crafted as a response to a 2003 court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Under state law, lawmakers were required to approve the measure in two consecutive sessions before it could be put on the 2006 ballot.

After less than two hours of debate, a joint session of the House and Senate voted 157-39 against the measure, far more than the majority vote needed.

[and the article continues …]

Grade The News

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:14 pm

Grade The News: Evaluating Print and Broadcast News in the San Francisco Bay Area from A to F (a project of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State).

Interesting stuff, including

1) Make the Call — What would you do if you were the editor?

2) Bouquets and brickbats

3) Articles include

SF Examiner and Independent agree to end payola restaurant reviews.

The Examiner used some restaurant reviews as an advertising tool.

After San Francisco Examiner and Independent restaurant columnist George Habit told Grade the News he is really an ad salesman who uses the column to reward advertisers and solicit ads from eateries, the newspapers have decided to label the column as advertising. Mr. Habit described how payola works in the news business. [...]

By John McManus
Posted Sept. 13, 2005

4) More!, including The Coffeehouse, an online discussion forum.

Men’s Vogue — is his nibs au courant or what?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:11 pm

his nibs received the premiere copy of the new quarterly, Men’s Vogue, in the mail earlier this week.

How he got so lucky is anyone’s guess, but it might be because of other Conde Nast magazines we subscribe to (Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit, CN Traveler, Gourmet, House & Garden, The New Yorker, Wired …) (most of which we won’t be renewing because we want to save the efforts of our through-storm-and-sleet mail deliverer and Save The Trees …).

Trust me on this, though, he is as much the proper target audience for the magazine as I am the target audience for Lucky.

Lewis Lazare on "the Target issue" of the New Yorker

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 6:36 pm

Anyone see the August 22, 2005, issue of the New Yorker?

Lazare of the Chicago Sun Times sez,

New Yorker dodges a bullet

It surely will go down as a black mark in the annals of the American Society of Magazine Editors. On Tuesday, ASME’s 14-member board of directors agreed not to issue any letter of reprimand or otherwise censure the New Yorker magazine for what, by the ASME board’s own admission, was a breach of the organization’s editorial guidelines for an issue of a magazine supported by a sole advertiser.

The subject of Tuesday’s ASME board discussion, the New Yorker Aug. 22 issue, included a number of illustrations in the style of New Yorker cartoons and illustrations that were, in fact, copyless Target ads inserted throughout the magazine without any tag identifying them as advertisements. The ASME guidelines state a single advertiser issue should include a letter of explication from either the magazine’s editor or publisher, but the New Yorker’s Aug. 22 issue had none.


How anyone reading that issue could not have been fully aware that the whole issue was wrapped around and with Target is beyond me. A letter from the editor explaining that this was so would’ve been a waste of the ink.

(I even stashed the issue away because I thought all the Target tie-ins and unlabeled “ads” were an entertaining advertising exercise.)

My first thought (knowing what one of the puny New Yorker half-inchers cost) was, gee, that must’ve cost an arm and a leg.

My second thought was, why? Hereabouts, we’re getting the ad campaign (sponsored by California Consumers United which is ticked at the $$$ that Target has given to organizations supporting Schwarzenneger’s agenda) telling seniors and tweenies not to shop at Target.

Target defends their contributions, saying they work with both major parties.

The New Yorker issue appeared about the same time a batch of senior-oriented “Don’t buy your drugs at Target” ads started up on Bay Area radio. Connection? Well, no. Probably not. Coinkydink? Probably.

While the ASME board might have discerned no improper advertiser influence, numerous others beyond the realm of ASME’s self-serving board of directors could see problems. “What troubled me about the Aug. 22 issue was the lack of transparency about what was going on with the Target ads,” said Bob Giles, curator of Harvard University’s prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

‘Lack of transparency’? Man, anyone who couldn’t see that the entire issue was sponsored by Target would have to be =very =unaware. Should the New Yorker have made mention of something so obvious?


September 10, 2005

Google Earth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 3:37 am

Google Earth. The newest generation of Keyhole software. It includes several new features: – Integrated Google search for finding businesses and more – Driving directions – Drawing tools for annotating the earth – Sharing of places and images via Gmail – Ability to load data from GPS devices – Data import from CSV files

If your computer can support it, download it. This app is frickin’ extraordinary.

September 9, 2005

Houston Independent School District in need of help

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 8:07 pm

The younger younger guy has been spending time on another Katrina-related project, after hearing from his friend beri, who is from Houston.

beri told him that HISD is one of the fastest growing school districts in the US and also one of the worst. “how they are going to properly educate these kids is beyond me,” beri said.

(One of the worst? Really? I thought. But wasn’t HISD Rod Paige’s school district? The school district that was touted as the model for No Child Left Behind?)

Well, perhaps the miracle of Houston was not so miraculous.

The younger younger guy came up with a plan. He decided students at his university should gear up to collect school supplies for school districts that will be educating the children evacuated from the Katrina-ravaged Gulf region. Next he started contacting people in different schools around the United States, telling his contacts they should start similar drives at their schools.

So far his posse includes students from two small schools in Rhode Island, one at San Jose State, one at Santa Clara, and one at Saratoga High School. Next up: Stanford, Berkeley and NYU. He’s talked other people at his school into contacting their friends and their parents (seeing as some are educators around the state). Viral fund-raising, eh?

He’s partnered up with the head of the student body and the head of a group called Help Now. Help Now was set up to raise money and gather supplies for victims of Hurricane Katrina but, he says, had no idea yet what sort or for whom. He offered to combine efforts so they all could focus on the evacuated kids and their school needs. (Appropriate for university and college students, wouldn’t you say?)

The drive might move beyond HISD to other schools in need, but the basic groundwork is still in process. He’s contacting HISD to make sure they’re ready and willing to take supplies collected. I suggested he contact DHL, UPS, FedEx and others to provide comp’d shipping. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, got Matson and APL (you see their container ships coming into Oakland from our perch) to donate trucks to haul the donations collected in Oakland over the weekend.

As part of his project, he asked me to post the HISD link and I promised I would.


Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 7:58 pm

I’ve stayed for years trying to bring a modicum of sense to the land of outlandishness, but some things (Karl Rove comes to mind) are just too hard to align yourself with.

I’ll have to drop out of the Republicans for Choice and stop being one of those sorts that my Dem friends use as an example that all Republicans aren’t nutcases.

I decline to state a political party.
My ethnicity is White
I am requesting to become a permanent absentee voter.

I will be at least 18 years old on or before the next election.

I am not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.

… and so it goes.

Next, the Registrar will send me paperwork to confirm the change, which I need to vet and sign and send back.

September 4, 2005

You know you’ve done something right

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 5:55 am

You know you’ve done something right when

(1) you get a note from the younger younger one saying, “I am trying to find ways I can help out the hurricane victims and since you told me once not to donate money cause you would do that and really its kind of your money anyways, I was wondering if you know of places I might be able to help out in boston, i already asked the red cross but they have a lot of people helping already. Even if its me helping in a soup kitchen in boston, i looked and couldnt find anything”

I told him he should check with my uncle — the ex-Massachusetts pol with more knowledge than I’d ever have of local Boston good causes — but he should also check with the local Second Harvest folk. America’s Second Harvest is good folk.

The Greater Boston Food Bank
99 Atkinson Street

(2) Next note from him was a BCC: a few hours later of something he’d posted to the college server in which he offered living space to the Tulane University students that his college is offering space to: “I live in a larger sized single that has a kitchen and a bathroom and am willing to add a bed, a desk and a person into my room.”

My first thought was, man, we are paying a bucketload extra this year to give him a singleton space for his last year in school and he’s offering some stranger a space in the room he’d just sent us e-mail about earlier that day: “my room is awesome, i love it. its actually kind of big and I have lots of wall space. I bought my books today and they dont take up much room so thats good. Have you mailed my boxes?”

He’s a good kid with a good soul and the thought that he’s offering to share his space with someone he doesn’t know who has had a bucketload of sorrow makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

We did something right. He’s a really =really= good kid. I’m very proud of him.

September 1, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 2:09 am

A lot has been said about the insured damages from Katrina. $25b, they say. What about those uninsured damages? Another $4b, $10b, $25b, they say. How many people had flood insurance? The National Flood Insurance Program has coverage, but how much? How many people will just walk away from their battered homes and the mortgages that cover them? How about the renters? How about the landlords who rent to the renters who walked away? Where will they find new renters? How will they make the payments on their income properties? Will they just walk away?

How much money do the mortgage lenders have in reserve to cover the foreclosed mortgages on homes that aren’t homes anymore? And even for those with insurance, will it cover enough? State Farm is the largest homeowner insurer in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. What happens to State Farm? What happens to Allstate, who is the runner-up in the insurance competition? How much paper did the insurers have covered by reinsurers? Is Warren Buffett still carrying that risk? Others?

What about industry and jobs? How goes the guy who teaches school with no school to teach in, the woman who works the casino, when the casino is toothpicks, the guy at the dry cleaner, the one who delivers food to the stores that aren’t open, flips burgers, drives a taxi, installs cable? What about jobs? And when your job is gone and with it your health insurance, if you had any, and you were already living on the hairy edge, what then?

Schools. How can a school district afford to take in the kids whose parents left NOLA or elsewhere and probably won’t be going back for a while, if ever? How can a state afford to educate another state’s kids? How can Louisiana afford to deal with the damage done? How can the feds afford to help out the states with billions already spent elsewhere?

And the Mississippi and all its bustle … the port of New Orleans is out of commission for a long while.

And the basics. … No power for a million, two million people. Scarce drinking water. Contamination. Pollution. Gas out of supply. Batteries. Food.

An editorial in the Biloxi Sun Herald.

Tony Ridder, my local boy whose publishing empire publishes the Sun Herald, also had something to say.

And us’ns and USns … what happens when the next straw is placed on the camel’s back?

Washing away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Towse @ 1:39 am

A prescient report. “Washing Away” from the Times-Picayune. Five-part series from 2002 which begins, “It’s only a matter of time before South Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Billions have been spent to protect us, but we grow more vulnerable every day.”

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