Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yahoo News Headline Bias?

For those of you who use Yahoo e-mail: have you ever noticed the news headlines that appear on the page after you logout of your e-mail? Have you noticed any trends in those headlines? I log in and out of my e-mail multiple times a day and so get a pretty good feel for those headlines. I certainly have no solid data to back me up, but it seems to me these headlines show a very distinct conservative bias.

For example, recently I've seen headlines touting positive poll results for McCain and Hillary (the conservatives choice for an opponent on the Dem side since they think McCain has a better chance against her in the general election), but none for Obama. In the primary battles, they seem to show a lot of positives about Hillary's wins, but very little for Obama.

Here's another subtle thing I just noticed while typing up this post: in most WYSIWYG interfaces (like Microsoft Word, the post entry box on Blogger, Yahoo e-mail text boxes, etc.) the words Hillary, McCain and Clinton are all ok according to the auto-speller (and using the manual spell-check), but Obama gets automatically underlined (with those annoying red dots) as a possible spelling error. Why is that?

Am I imagining this, or is this a powerfully subtle and serious media bias going on here? Since Yahoo e-mail is by far the most used program in the U.S., if not also around the world, just putting these headlines in front of millions of people on a daily basis, regardless of whether they click through to the stories, can have a very large impact on public opinion. Am I just turning into a crazy conspiracy theorist?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We are the bad guys and we are a military-industrial-ruled nation

Do you know what Cluster bombs are? They are very insidious and indiscriminate killing machines normally dropped over huge areas of land in massive quantities from the air. A large percentage of these do not explode upon impact and can remain active for a wandering child to detonate by mistake for decades. It's victims are overwhelmingly civilians, especially children. To date it has been estimated that over 100,000 civilians have been killed or maimed by these weapons alone in the past couple decades. The United States is the primary manufacturer, seller, and user of these weapons.

As we speak, more than 100 civilized nations (not including the US, which is not participating) are negotiating to ban the use of these weapons of mass destruction amongst themselves and there is legislation pending in Congress to more tightly control their deployment. Yet at every turn, these seemingly no-brainer actions to promote peace and get rid of weapons of mass destruction are being successfully sabotaged and vigorously opposed by our own United States and the powerful military-industrial corporations that our current system of government is now ruled by...

Do you think it's ok for our government to use these weapons and even oppose their banning by other nations? You can take action to help ban these weapons here:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Namoli Brennet / Liz Stahler Concert Review

I am definitely not a good review writer, so bear with me. This Progressions Concert Series show took place tonight at 8 at the CDGLCC home base, about 2 blocks from us just off Lark St. in Albany. We arrived about 7:45 and were the first there (we are such geeks!). But anyways, only about 25 people showed up - these awesome musicians deserve bigger crowds!

Liz Stahler took the stage first and launched into an excellent set of softly plucked folk songs about bad relationships and true love. She tells good stories, both in her songs and with between-song banter in a plain-spoken, upfront manner. I bought her CD and am psyched to listen to it.

Humble folk guitar goddess Namoli Brennet played second and did not disappoint (we saw her play months ago in Troy and I bought all 3 of her most recent CDs then). Evocative, thoughtful lyrics with a powerful voice compliment her soulful, perfectly played, driving guitar structures. They always make me want to simultaneously go on a trek through some beautiful desert on a quest for inner peace, and pick up my guitar and start playing again. I so hope she breaks into the big time - she is such a talent and deserves it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Genderfuct Football

There is an interesting article in the NY Times today about women and breaking gender barriers (and the abuse they face when they do this), specifically through their own tackle football leagues:
Taking Aim at Gender Barriers in a Full Contact Sport

I wonder if they allow transwomen to participate in those leagues? If only I were 10 years younger!

Namoli Brennet in Albany this Saturday!


Please get down to Albany this Saturday to see a talented musician, Namoli Brennet, play in an intimate, acoustic setting at the CDGLCC, along with Liz Stahler. Namoli is an awesome folk artist and happens to be trans as well. Details:

When: Sat. 5/17, 7pm
What: Progressions Concert Series w/Liz Stahler
Where: CDGLCC, 332 Hudson Ave, Albany, NY
How Much: $10

Friday, May 09, 2008

Best comic book superhero movies

Jenn and I saw Iron Man last night, and while it was an excellent movie, I just simply don't buy it as the best comic book superhero adaptation. It may be in the top 5 or 10, but that's it for me. So here is my own list for this (note: for major movie superhero adaptations only, so it discounts great movies like I Am Legend, Ghost World, V for Vendetta and Sin City):
  1. Batman (the original and still the best, I just don't buy that Batman Begins was that great. It was ok, but that's it in my book)
  2. Blade (silly in parts, but so effective and to me, ground-breaking + it has Vampires and kick-ass music!)
  3. Spider-Man
  4. Hellboy (can't wait for the sequel!)
  5. Iron Man
  6. Spider-Man 2
  7. Blade 2
  8. X-Men (I love the X-Men comics, but Hollywood managed to fuck up this franchise royally)
  9. Darkman
  10. Superman (the 1978 original. As much as I dislike Superman in general, this was a good movie for it's day)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Iron Man v Batman

Hopefully I can convince Jenn to go see Iron Man with me tonight. I'm psyched!

Funny video (via For the Love of Comics blog):

Friday, May 02, 2008

Jason Webley and Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band Show at Red Square

On Wednesday night Jenn and I were privileged to be able to see two enormously talented bands at the nearby Red Square in downtown Albany: Jason Webley and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.

We got to Red Square very early (7pm) and were the first ones there. So we stayed and had a few drinks. A little later Jason wandered in and I offered to buy him a drink (he declined since he only drinks after his shows). But he chatted with us for a little while and Jenn was loving it since he is totally infatuated with him :-). He's such a cool guy though.

We had both seen Jason Webley before about 6 months prior in Maine, when he played with Amanda Palmer, of Dresden Dolls fame. Jenn had turned me onto Jason a while back and that show blew me away; I was hooked. I would describe him as a sort of cross between early Tom Waits and Belle and Sebastian. He is just such an innovative, experimental, interactive, fun performer. He creates a real sense of community in the crowd during his shows, really getting everyone involved and laughing and dancing and singing together.

And this show was no exception. There were only about 20 people in attendance (most of whom were there to see Rev Peyton and had not yet witnessed the brilliance of Mr. Webley!), which sucks because he deserves much bigger crowds, but was cool for us select wise people there because he decided to ditch the stage and come out into the crowd and play amongst us; no mics, no lights!

His brief set started around 9:30 and was, of course, awesome. He played my fave song, "There's Not A Step We Can Take That Does Not Bring Us Closer" and he ended the set by bringing everyone in closer and playing an improv version of Mayday while we all (including him) danced the "Gnomie Dance" with our shirts pulled over our heads.

Next came Rev Peyton. Jenn and I had gone to their MySpace page and listened to their music and I knew on the spot I'd like them. They play balls out Delta Blues, ala John Lee Hooker, RL Burnside, Muddy Waters, with a smattering of Cajun music (Rev's wife plays the washboard) and Psychobilly thrown in for good measure.

They ripped into a lightspeed version of Aberdeen and really never let up. Everyone there was up front and dancing furiously throughout. The show ended with Jason joining them onstage. They had written some songs together a while back and played a few. The closed the set with the amazing "Two Bottles of Wine," which they played twice - the 2nd time at a blistering pace so fast Jenn and I almost collapsed from exhaustion trying to keep up with the dancing and yelling of "Two Bottles of Wine" at the top of our lungs as the required crowd chorus.

Finally, some pics from the show:

My Muxtape

haha - I've finally gotten around to creating a Muxtape - check it out and then go explore others - it's a great way to find music you've never heard of before (some artists from my mix: Jason Webley, The Cliks, Sam Roberts, Rockets and Cars):

Some other great mixes I've found today:
This tool is such a great idea - every up and coming musician should be on here - not only does it get your sound out there but it promotes people buying your music as well through the "buy this MP3" links...