Archive for September, 2006

Bill Clinton
September 26, 2006

We all have a bad day every once in a while, and sometimes we take it out on other people. Sunday wasn’t Bill Clinton’s day, and he made this known to the world by berating news-anchorman Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. When Wallace asked Clinton if he believed he had done enough to address the mounting threat of terrorism during his Presidency, Clinton snapped, accusing Wallace of committing a “conservative hit job” under the orders of Fox Commander-in-Chief, Rupert Murdoch. He continued, suggesting that the Fox Corporation had a plan for bringing him on the air under false pretenses and then attacking him….. He noticed, and he wasn’t going to sit there and take it. (read entire transcript) Naturally, the politicos in the blogging community had a field day.clinton-wallace.jpg

Most everyone agrees he went a little overboard, but on the substance of his attack, opinions diverge. Clinton-loving Fox haters applauded the former President for finally taking a formidable stand against the Bush administration and its cheerleaders. Clinton-hating Fox watchers, on the other hand, used the outburst as ammunition against him and any liberal who identifies with him.

Chris Wallace appeared shocked and a little bit hurt after the interview, but Fox took advantage of the face-off’s hype value and promoted the program before it aired on Sunday with the tagline: “Clinton Gets Crazed.” Crooks and Liars posted the video on its site before the network replaced the commercial with something less sensationalistic.

Not only have bloggers joined the peanut gallery, but thanks to several online surveys, lots of people have taken the opportunity to express their views about both whether Clinton crossed the line and whether he did enough while in office to protect the United States from terrorist threats.  Apparently results of the latter survey will be delivered directly to Clinton himself.

Advertisements

Tickle Me-X Elmo
September 24, 2006

Zealous parents, already thinking of holiday shopping as the leaves begin to change, have recently been (re)-introduced to Sesame Street’s most lucrative fuzzy friend. Ten years after the Tickle Me Elmo craze swept America’s toy stores in 1996, Fisher Price has released TMX Elmo – which can either stand for Tickle Me Ten (to honor their double-digit anniversary) or, more appropriately, Tickle Me Xtreme. The frenzy of ’96, you may remember, got so wild that cutthroat competition to land an Elmo left one unfortunate Wal-mart employeetmxelmo-secret.jpg suffering injuries when a shopping spree (read: stampede) went awry.

Months of anticipation – during which no one was allowed to preview the product – made September 19 a very exciting day for toy collectors and gift-givers alike. That Tuesday morning, the new and improved Elmo made his first public appearance on Good Morning America, and as the toystores opened their doors, he surfaced on shelves across the country. Lucky for those hoping to make an educated decision before dropping $39.99, a tech-savvy TMX Elmo owner has already posted a video on YouTube where we can watch the wriggling giggle-machine do his thing. Not only have lots of people watched this video, but lots of bloggers are linking to it, too, and adding their two-cents on Tickle Me Elmo 2.0.

According to Amazon’s product review, TMX Elmo has three “tickle spots”: one on his belly, one under his chin, and one on the top of his foot. Set one of these off, and Elmo loses it. He slaps his stomach, hunches over while guffawing loudly, and finally topples backward in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

Then, he stands up and collects himself, and then urges his owner for another go-round. “Again, again!” he cackles. Apparently, tickle tortures #2 and #3 incite even more riotous laughing attacks. He even lies flat on his belly at one point and pounds the floor with his fists. It’s all just too much.

According to the HuffPost, finding a TMX Elmo so your child will have a happy Christmas is already presenting a challenge reminiscent of ’96. However, a quick search on eBay for “TMX Elmo” brings up a solid 6715 hits (at the time of this post). A collectors set of three Elmos, each in a different type of box, has been listed at, no joke, $300,000. One seller is asking a cool million for a single unopened TMX-E…promising that 70% of the proceeds will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Given that it’s only September, the race is almost certainly just beginning. Forget slow and steady and start sprinting to the finish line…right….NOW.

Bin Laden
September 23, 2006

osama-med.jpgA stream of rumors are (again) circulating that Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden may no longer be among the living, though the stories aren’t quite adding up to anything resembling a conclusive announcement. According to an article that appeared today in the French newspaper L’Est Republicain, Saudi intelligence officers have confirmation that Bin Laden fell victim to typhoid fever on August 23. L’Est Republicain allegedly gained access to confidential French foreign intelligence files, which cited these reports of Bin Laden’s death. However, CNN now claims they have received word from a Saudi intelligence operative that Bin Laden has contracted a “water-borne illness,” but is still alive.  TIME magazine reports that they, too, have inside sources confirming the water-borne illness, but they are suggesting that Bin Laden may already have died….Reuters reports that neither the French nor the U.S. government can confirm any reports at this point.

Now, the blogosphere is teeming with speculation: Is Osama Bin Laden really dead this time? If he is dead, are we safer? Or should we watch our backs for acts of vengeance? Or, is this just the Bush administrations latest scheme to win the trust of the American people?

Microsoft
September 23, 2006

winvista_h_web.jpgMicrosoft (or its King Gates) always manages to make headlines for some reason or five. This week, the buzz can be attributed to the long-awaited release of the final pre-release beta version of Windows Vista, Microsoft’s new visually-rich,windows-vista.jpg user-loving, “breakthrough computing experience.” Scheduled to hit the market in early 2007, Vista version “5728,” can – as of yesterday – be downloaded on a single disk by Microsoft’s usual tester crowd, as well as 100,000 randomly selected users chosen for their Customer Preview Program. Bloggers are already reacting to the new product’s every feature, from how “realistic” the details look on each of the 4562 new icons (one mesmorized analyst insists that the journal icon looks like real leather) to the start-up sound options (the post addressing the ping preferences on Scobleizer received over 700 comments).

Of course, Vista wasn’t Microsoft’s only announcement of the week that started the technophiles talking. Grateful gamers welcomed reports that Microsoft has agreed to fix old Xboxes for free, zuneblack.jpgand some new viral marketing efforts promoting Microsoft’s iPod challenger, Zune, also created a stir. Gizmodo offers the most comprehensive leakage on Zune – including videos that reveal the user interface and footage illustrating how users can share songs with other nearby Zuners. Though the product won’t be released until the holidays, the hype is building, and at $229.99, Zune saves consumers a full twenty bucks over iPod’s $249 price tag. Should Apple be biting their nails?

Grey’s Anatomy
September 23, 2006

greys-anatomy.jpgTrue fans of Grey’s Anatomy, ABC’s hit show tracking the heart-stopping drama in the lives of five surgical interns at Seattle Grey Hospital, don’t restrict their passion to one hour a week. The pop-gazing portion of the blogosphere has Grey’s running through its veins, especially this week, gearing up for the much anticipated season premiere, which aired on Thursday night. Regulars have been waiting for months to find out whether Izzie will come back to work (even after Denny’s tragic sudden death) and whether Meredith will choose Derek or Finn after the scandalous, secretive prom night hook-up.

Speculation also abound over who would come out on top in the networks’ Thursday night primetime prizefight– Grey’s gut-wrenching hospital trauma or CSI’s heavy-hitting detective drama on CBS. But MD-wannabes turned out in numbers, and Grey’s came out on top with an impressive 25.14 million viewers, though CSI went down swinging with a respectable 22.04.

In post-premiere commentary and analysis, Grey’s vital signs were good. Most had an optimistic outlook for season three’s chances of success, though bloggers debated the merits of the episode itself and asked whether it sufficiently resolved the cliffhangers from Season Two’s tear-jerking finale.

Lucky for the latecomers, those just joining the Grey’s parade can now catch up with seasons one and two on DVD or on iTunes. If you don’t have the time to watch all the episodes, read comprehensive synopses at ABC’s official website.

Facebook
September 22, 2006

 

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article reporting Yahoo’s potential acquisition of facebook, a wildly popular social networking site for college students, set the blogosphere afire with speculation and debate. A myriad of “people familiar with the matter” confirmed rumors that the terms of the deal may approach the 1 billion dollar range. Though facebook’s traffic doesn’t quite compete with its rival site, News Corp-owned MySpace, it’s highly loyal user base and desirable demographics could give Yahoo a much-needed entry point into the social networking arena, as well as access to a younger set. Given Yahoo’s recent announcement of poor online advertising sales and dropping stock prices, a risky buy like facebook could be a major play for the industry giant who is losing more and more ground to Google.

yahoo-logo-normal.jpg

facebook.gif

A two and a half-year-old start-up founded by 22-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, facebook has seen its numbers skyrocket steadily since Zuckerberg launched the site – mostly for kicks – out of his Harvard dorm room before later dropping out to puruse life as a full-time entrepreneur. However, with a membership of only 9 million users compared MySpace’s 50+ million, facebook doesn’t present Yahoo with the same revenue potential that News Corp and Google are seeing from their relationships with MySpace.

Tech bloggers love arching their backs, pulling out the claws, and getting catty about facebook, so it’s no surprise that the blogosphere is going to town asking itself a) is facebook worth that kind of cash and b) would this move really fix Yahoo’s problems? These questions are titilating enough to inspire Om Malik to post a poll on his blog, asking folks to vote on what they predict will happen.

To sell or not to sell, that is the question Mark Zuckerberg is asking himself right now, and college students, geeks, and VCs alike are on the edge of their seats.

Daniela Cicarelli
September 22, 2006

Number one searched for tag today: Cicarelli. Perhaps not a regular household name, but it’s really not too surprising that news of a recently released sex-tape featuring Daniela Cicarelli – former Maxim cover girl, MTV veejay, and ex-wife to national soccer cicarelli.jpgstar Ronaldo (a.k.a. Queen of Brazil) – is going to garner some interest…maybe even crash a few servers…. As if a semi-clad Brazilian beauty fooling around on camera were not enough to drive the traffic, the action going down between Cicarelli and her new boy-toy, Tito Malzoni, takes place on the beach…and sometimes...in the water. If you’re hoping to take a peek, you may be out of luck, as Fleshbot reports that as soon as the video gets posted on YouTube it’s immediately taken down.

This isn’t Cicarelli’s first time caught in a compromising position. In 2004, a Brazilian magazine published a series of photos of a scantily-clad Cicarelli. This being her second offense with public nudity, it might be safe to say Daniela has a hint of exhibitionist in her DNA. Not everyone, however, is thrilled about her latest Internet release. It appears that the suits at General Motors, with whom Cicarelli had brokered a deal to strut her stuff in a marketing campaign for Chevrolet, felt like the heat was cranked up a little bit too high. Auto blog Jalopnik, citing reports from the Brazilian site O GLOBO ONLINE, wrote that GM has decided to cut her contract as a result of this latest scandal.

Cicarelli might not have to worry, though. There’s a fair chance Maxim will be ringing again soon.

Hugo Chavez
September 22, 2006

chavez-un.jpgVenezulan President, Hugo Chavez, made himself heard on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday when he unabashedly referred to President Bush as “the devil” who left the room smelling of sulphur. Not only did Chavez engage in some serious mudsling at the President, but he also used the high-profile platform as an opportunity to accuse the United States of being “the false democracy of elites…a very original democracy that’s imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.” Joined by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinjad, Chavez viciously criticized American foreign policy and attacked the United States for its imperialistic approach towards other nations. Chavez later repeated his message at other public appearances in New York City, including a speech made yesterday in Harlem.bush_devil.jpg

Bloggers initially responded in a firestorm to the incindiary comments themselves, (see the entire transcipt of Chavez’s U.N. speech), but the issue quickly and inevitably became a field day for bipartisan banter, especially after well-known Bush critics, led by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Charlie Rangel (D-New York), came to Bush’s defense and condemned Chavez’s comments as offensive and inappropriate. Rangel, remembered for having called Bush a “Bull Connor” in the past, even went so far as to appear on Fox News to defend the President and denounce Chavez’s gall to make such remarks on American soil.

Some have expressed their outrage with what they view as blatant hypocrisy on the parts of Pelosi and Rangel, while others have applauded the Democrats support of Bush, which they perceive as an encouraging sign of political unification. However, not all Democrats have been so willing to defend their Commander-in-Chief. Most seem to agree Chavez’s comments were out of line, but not everyone disagrees entirely with the spirit of his critique. Though he didn’t fully endorse Chavez’s comments, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin voiced a more balanced reaction on Radio Iowa, empathizing with some of the Venezuelan president’s complaints about U.S. foreign policy. Peter Fredson has published a post at Daily Kos querying just how much of Chavez’s speech is truly in err; after a line-by-line analysis of the speech, Fredson concludes that “much of what was criticized [by Chavez] was actually warranted,” and other bloggers argue that much of the international left harbors these same grievances against the United States.

citgo-protest.jpg

Some of the response has manifested itself in more concrete terms with simultaneous conservative boycotting and liberal “buycotting” of Citgo, the Venezuelan-owned gas and oil company.