April 2014 Archives

David Gregory is Terrible

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David Gregory is the host of NBC's Meet the Press. Recently, it was reported that NBC News has been using a psychologist to find out how to improve the show, which Gregory has taken from a longtime first in the ratings, down to third.

I will tell them why, for free.

First, the viewership is changing. They want more polarization, which is why Bob Schieffer -- easily the most closed-minded, incurious, and biased of the Sunday show hosts -- is doing so well. (I've got plenty of examples of his carelessness: they often involve his explicitly stated surprise, when interviewing conservatives, that anyone could possibly believe what millions of conservatives believe, like when Michele Bachmann stated the fact that not increasing the debt limit wouldn't necessarily result in default on the federal debt.)

But Gregory himself is a big part of MTP's problem. He is not very smart or prepared, for starters. He may try to prepare, he may work hard at preparation, but at the end of the day, he isn't well-prepared. He doesn't ask insightful questions, at least, no more insightful than any of their average viewers could come up with. He is overshadowed by pretty much everyone on the show, guests and journalists alike. And he has a very clear ego problem, and often tries to insert his own opinions into a discussion, rather than trying to moderate the discussion.

That's not to say he's terrible. It's easy to find clips in every show where he is doing a fine job, certainly better than Schieffer. But when he asks dumb questions, when he inserts himself, when he doesn't understand his interview subject well, he is going to lose viewers. And it happens regularly.

A great example of how to do it the right way is George Stephanopolous. He is the one guy who, recently in his career, was a leftist spokesman for a Democratic President. But he is, far moreso than Schieffer and Gregory, well-prepared and fair and understanding about his conservative interview subjects.

Personally, my favorite is Chris Wallace, not because he is more conservative, but because I think he's the best moderator and best interviewer of the bunch. But Stephanopolous takes a close second. Gregory doesn't even get an honorable mention. Schieffer has a negative score.

President Obama is currently en route to Paine Field in Air Force One, where he will go up to Oso to visit with locals, including Snohomish County Councilman Dave Somers. Oh, but Somers isn't a local: he's from South Snohomish County. The Councilman who actually represents the district, Ken Klein, who lives just a few miles from Oso, wasn't invited. Somers is a Democrat, and Klein is a Republican. Maybe it's not directly partisan: maybe Somers just has connections (which are probably partisan, to a large degree). But if the President is going to spend a ton of money coming out here and tying up traffic, shouldn't he at least invite the only local representative that the Oso residents have?

The don't have any municipal representation, and while they have three fine state legislators in the 39th Legislative District -- Senator Kirk Pearson, Representative and Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, and Representative Elizabeth Scott, all Republicans, none of whom were invited -- who have been up there almost every day since the slide, Klein is the one guy who is most important to the residents in representing their interests to the government. After Klein, though, it's those three who matter most.

He has also invited other Democrats, all of who make sense: Representatives Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, and, of course, Governor Jay Inslee. They are all important to Oso's residents. But the four closest representatives who matter the most aren't there, and it just so happens all of them are Republicans.

This looks to me like nothing more than a convenient Earth Day photo op (and how much are we betting that he blames the slide on global warming?). It isn't going to help anyone or accomplish anything. I've never been a big fan of presidential visits to disaster sites. While Bush at Ground Zero was an important event, generally, he just gets in the way. I never understood why it mattered that Bush didn't visit New Orleans: I figured it was best for recovery efforts that he stayed away. Obama has put enough time between the event that he won't significantly impact recovery efforts, but it's still not helpful for him to be here, and the fact that he is not even meeting with any of the state or local representatives for Oso just highlights that this is about himself, not Oso.


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I have an office/recording studio at home. There's a RECORDING light on the wall outside the door to tell people to leave me alone because I'm busy. There's a switch on the wall inside the room, to turn this light on and off.

It works great, but I want be able to easily toggle the light without getting up. So I replaced the switch with an X10 switch, which I can toggle with my server using heyu. I could install heyu in lots of places, but it's simple enough to just run a command with ssh.

That works great, but I want to be able to toggle it quickly, and running a command in the terminal is a bit slow. So I wrapped the command in an AppleScript.

That works great, but it still requires me to stop what I am doing and use the mouse to select the AppleScript from a menu. So I made it into a Service that I can run with a keyboard command (a Cocoa AppleScript applet that registers itself as a Service and saves the toggle state in its plist file).

That works great, but if I am playing guitar, even a keyboard command can be a bit cumbersome. So I have this MOTU 828mkII FireWire audio device with a configurable pedal feature, and a BOSS FS-5U pedal connected to it, and I configure it to execute the keyboard command the Service uses.

That works great, but even though the light switch has an audible "click" when it toggles, I can't necessarily see from where I am sitting whether it toggled on, or off. So I have the AppleScript also send a Growl notification to tell me whether the light just switched on, or off.

So now I just tap the pedal, and the light turns on or off, and I get a notification to tell me which it did, so I don't have to turn my head or use my hands.

That's a lot of work just to turn a light on and off, with the switch four feet away from me. But you probably wish you did it. I just wish I could've done it in a sane language like Perl, but the startup costs were just a little high compared to running a compiled AppleScript, and considering all the other costs (pedal -> device -> key command -> launch app -> ssh to server, which then sends a signal over USB to a serial device that sends a radio signal to a receiver that sends a signal over the power lines to my switch), I decided to just keep it simple.

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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