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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I Can't Wait

I will occasionally go to Barbra Streisand's website for a few giggles. Babs is always good for a little paranoia and wackiness, and I find her to be very entertaining, unlike any of her movies of old. The same can be said about Michael Moore. Both provide good material for my weblog, what with their rantings about the Republican party, the rich (I didn't say these two fabulously wealthy people made good sense), capitalism, Christianity, and the American way of life.

Theirs is a world far removed from mine. Heck, they are both far removed from reality, if truth be known, and that's what makes them so darn entertaining. I enjoy them immensely. They're funny.

That having been said, I'm really looking forward to this;
A Boldface Name Invites Others to Blog With Her
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, New York Times

LOS ANGELES, April 23 - Get ready for the next level in the blogosphere.

Arianna Huffington, the columnist and onetime candidate for governor of California, is about to move blogging from the realm of the anonymous individual to the realm of the celebrity collective.

She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9.

Among those signed up to contribute are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman. (link)
Yes, it will be a dull day when Arianna posts Vernon Jordan's musings to her site. What's he going to talk about? The women he and his great buddy Bill Clinton once had creepy sex with? And the day she provides us with what will become known as the Arthur Schlesinger blog rant, I'll be reading my next Clive Cussler novel. Sorry, Art. I thought you were dead.

But Walter Cronkite, whose ship left port long ago, is always good for a laugh. And Warren Beatty, whose politics died at about the same time as did "Splendor In The Grass" (starring my favorite actress of all time - Natalie Wood) is readable only because he is so passionate about Democrats and their chances of winning an election - somewhere - someday. And Norman Mailer. I'll bet he's been busting with a need for attention. Nobody's turned to him for his pithy insights regarding current events since the Bolsheviks defeated the Mensheviks. And he's so full of hatred - towards us. He'll be a hoot.

So I'm adding Ms. Huffington's website - to be called the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com) - to my list of Favorites. Expect to read a lot more from this bunch. It's going to be so much fun.

Google To Change Advertising Approach

I never complain about pop-up ads on my computer. Except perhaps at online.wsj.com, the Wall Street Journal internet address. I find the pop-ups to be annoying as much as everyone else on earth. But I always try to keep in mind this thought; I'm reading the New York Post for free. I'm browsing the History News Network for free. I'm checking out my NYSE accounts for free.

But the Wall Street Journal I pay for - dearly. So they can stop the irritating pop-up ads right now.

With that in mind, today's headlines bring us this news;

Google to Sell Ads Not Related to Searches
By SAUL HANSELL, New York Times

Google, which has built a huge business out of small ads related to what people are searching for on the Internet, is now entering the larger and more competitive market of advertising for things people do not know yet that they want to buy.

Starting today, Google will test changes to its advertising program that will give advertisers more control over where their ads are shown, how they pay for them and what they look like.

For Internet users, the most visible change will be an expanded use of ads with graphics and animation on many of the Web sites for which Google sells advertising, rather than the short text ads that have been Google's hallmark.

For advertisers, the biggest shift will be the option to pay Google simply to show an ad on these sites to a certain number of people, rather than paying only when an Internet user clicks on the ad and is sent to the advertiser's Web site. (link)

My response? I'm all for it. More pop-up ads? Fine. Dancing bears wearing the Mercedes Benz logo floating across the monitor screen? I'll get over it.

It's free.

I know it is only a matter of time before all my favorite newspapers will be charging for me to read them each morning on line. The New York Times has already announced its intention to pursue that course. Some I'll probably pay to read. Certain papers I'll bid bon voyage to. It's a competitive world and I'm on a budget.

So, if Google wants to put unrelated ads on its search site, I say go for it. And if advertisers are foolish enough to pay for it, I say good luck to them as well.

'We need to cover this city in latex'

There are experts who will still argue that a few more condoms distributed strategically to the inhabitants of New York City's alleyways, subways, and backstage hallways will end the scourge of Aids. Of course, these same experts have gotten rich from saying such mindless things, so keep their ruminations in perspective.

CONDOM PLAN SET TO UNROLL
By FRANKIE EDOZIEN, New York Post


The Bloomberg administration is launching a major new program to distribute free condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, The Post has learned.


"We need to cover this city in latex," Scott Kellerman, Mayor Bloomberg's newly named point man on HIV and AIDS, quipped in an interview last week.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden poached Kellerman, a noted HIV expert, from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to head up the Health Department's revamped bureau of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Kellerman began his new job soon after city officials announced the discovery of a middle-aged gay man with a superstrain of HIV resistant to most drugs.

The unidentified man had progressed to full-blown AIDS within two months, stunning officials. (link)

I have a better idea. Why not try a message that has been proven effective for centuries?

(1) Fight the deviant urges; you're not gay.
(2) Find and maintain a monogamous relationship.
(3) Keep it in your pants otherwise.
(4) Or plan on jail time.

You want to get serious about Aids? A proven plan guaranteed to produce a successful outcome.

Katie Couric's Days Are Numbered?

She was once referred to as the "perky" Katie Couric. These days the "Today" show host seems, based on what I'm reading of late, to be more the curmudgeonly Katie Couric. This does not bode well for the little princess of morning television.

'Today' Seeks Yesterday's Glory
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY, New York Times

Something has to be very wrong with NBC's "Today" if viewers are turning to ABC's Diane Sawyer as a refreshingly wholesome, down-to-earth alternative.

For more than a decade Katie Couric has reigned as the Everywoman of morning television. NBC considered her so critical to restoring the pre-eminence of "Today" after the disaster known as Deborah Norville that in 2001 the network gave her a $60 million contract over four-and-a-half years to keep her from defecting. Inevitably, Ms. Couric's on-air persona changed, along with her appearance and pay scale. But lately her image has grown downright scary: America's girl next door has morphed into the mercurial diva down the hall. At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights.

Or, at least, change the channel. At its height, "Today" had two million more viewers than ABC's "Good Morning America." Now NBC's most profitable program may be in danger of falling behind: for the first time in years, the gap between "Today" and "Good Morning America" recently narrowed to just 270,000 viewers.

The strained chemistry between Ms. Couric and her colleagues - Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Ann Curry - could be one reason. But network karma is also to blame. After years of dominance, NBC is trailing in fourth place, while ABC is suddenly sparkling with hot new shows and momentum. "Good Morning America" parades the stars of "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" in front of its viewers. The "Today" audience has to brace itself for yet another interview with a fired contestant from "The Apprentice." (link)

Ouch.

I can't say I'm surprised. In fact, I lost interest in the show long ago. Katie Couric's career skyrocketed during Gulf War I when NBC News sent her over to Saudi Arabia to interview - and banter - with the troops preparing for the invasion of Kuwait. I remember the smile. The giggle. The joy. The seeming wonderment.

Then she was thrown onto "Today" with Bryant Gumbel.

I think the last time I watched the show, Bryant was interviewing Spike Lee. The latter must have had a new movie coming out. I don't think it would surprise anyone if I said Bryant had this hatred that he brought with him to the show. It wasn't just directed toward Republicans, although that was when he was at his snarling, haughty best. He had plenty of venom for the rich in general, corporations in particular, and America as a whole.

Oh, and he wore his blackness on his sleeve. Gumbel and Spike Lee were talking about the problems of black youth. The last question I ever heard Bryant ask a guest was: "Do you think it's possible for young black men to ever achieve the American dream?" Spike Lee answered, "no." I laughed at the TV and yelled at the two of them, "Two of the richest and most accomplished people on earth - who were both black - are wallowing in self pity. Give me a break." I turned him off. Forever.

When I'm able to watch the morning news, I'll now go to Fox.

As for Couric, it didn't take her long to get right with the powers that be. Interviews with - or about - Newt Gingrich were full of scorn and derision. Discussions with or about Hillary Clinton or Wild Bill were sympathetic and supportive. I don't know if she was always the rabid liberal or if she simply understood the gig, but Katie fell in line with the Manhattan crowd quickly and well.

When I left "Today," she was not missed.

Later, I would occasionally hear her mentioned on the news. There was the (in)famous segment on the show when she agreed to have a colonoscopy performed on live television for all the world to see (her husband had died of cancer). She was lauded for her bravery and sacrifice. I wake up in a cold sweat occasionally, thinking about what I had witnessed. Please don't anyone ever do that again. There are certain parts of the anatomy, particularly the female anatomy, that I want to remain a mystery.

So now Katie's days are numbered. "Today" is struggling in the ratings and that spells doom. My days of watching the show are over forever; it is foreign to me now. But I might offer the show's producers some advice.

Why not bring on some diseased hooker who can make balloon animals and can sing "Dixie" through her unhealed appendectomy scar as Katie's replacement? You can turn "Today" into another insufferable reality show. That'll get you back into the ratings game.