Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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December 2004
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Happy New Year, and Goodbye Holidays

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 2:18 pm

You know, I’m honestly not ready for the holidays to end…but then, I never am. I get depressed when the day after Christmas the radio stations go back to their regular rotation (am I the only one who finds the irony that we all sing about, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but after one day we dive out to get ready for the New Year?), it’s getting harder and harder to find my egg nog, and some stores are setting up Valentine’s Day promotions already, for heaven’s sake.

Me, I’m still looking at the Christmas tree, thinking about how good Santa was to the Katester this year (see, the runway lights I set up on the ground outside to guide the sleigh to the perfect landing really work!) and how magical this time of year really is. I get depressed just thinking about all the tax stuff that I have to do in the next month or so, and after this weekend everyone will go back to being constantly grumpy with each other, riding out the cold that is to come (today is another beautiful day out there, pushing 60-degrees with a brilliant sun and warm breeze), and generally forgetting the magic that passed all too quickly.

I keep telling the Katester she needs to keep the Christmas magic in her heart, since that’s the best place for it to live and grow. I just wish the rest of the world would be in a little bit less of a hurry to dump the winter holiday season into the past, along with the year we’re reflecting on now…

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‘Law and Order’ Actor Jerry Orbach Dead at 69

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 12:30 pm

From Reuters: Actor Jerry Orbach, longtime star of the “Law & Order” television series, died from prostate cancer on Wednesday, his manager told a local New York City radio station. He was 69.

He should be remembered for his stage work, but unfortunately is best known as Lennie Briscoe.

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Merry Christmas Spam

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 8:01 pm

I dunno what’s going on this evening, but there has been a whole bunch of comment spam posted to this blog this evening. They are all from “zombie” machines (windows machines which have been taken over by the bad guys due to Microsoft’s non-existant security), and they’re from all over (clearly dynamics in,,, well, you get the idea) in what has to be a coordinated, if ineffective, attack. It’s odd, though - they aren’t selling anything, instead there are randomly-generated characters in the URL which don’t resolve (ok, the few I’ve checked don’t resolve, anyway). But all forty of them (so far) are composed of a single random-character “word” holding a randomly-generated URL as a link, followed by a second random-character “word.”

It’s annoying to run through and delete them, but at least thanks to comment moderation they aren’t getting through to the publically-viewable blog.

10:06pm - Just deleted another 36 of the annoying things. What a waste of a bunch of zombies…

12/28/04 6:58pm - Just deleted another 128 bogus comments; this is getting a little old. I need to see if I’m being targeted (other than wasting my time deleting them, I’m not sure what the point would be), or everyone running Wordpress. Hum…looks like I’m not alone…check out

12/29/04 12:16am - Deleted another 53 of the d*mned things, and added programming to the wp-comment-post.php file which should hopefully catch the specific format of these annoying spams. Won’t know until tomorrow, though, to see if the log shows posts where there are none in the moderation queue.

12/29/04 1:23am - Yeah! The additional code changes to wp-comment-post.php are effectively eliminating the blog spam from ever entering the database - a side effect is that “real” posters may not have an URL as the first thing in the comment field, but that seems a small enough price to pay for the silence I’m getting. Lord, I love programming…

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We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 12:00 am

…the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

  Dear Editor, I am 8 years old.
  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
  Papa says “If you see it in The Sun it’s so.”
  Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
         Virginia O’Hanlon
         115 West Ninety-fifth St.

VIRGINIA, Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge

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A Response to the NPR Ombudsman

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 2:33 am

The NPR Ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, posted this week an entry on the NPR website titled, “The Year in Review.” I was so annoyed by some of his comments that I felt compelled to respond:

1) The man’s name is Bob EdwardS, not Bob Edward. He hasn’t been gone so long that you should have made that mistake. But then, NPR always gets a little…goofy…when discussing him.

2) You seem to be alone thinking the current NPR Morning Zoo holds a candle to the show prior to 30 April. I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks the “Barbie and Ken” happy-talk nonsense is a reasonable substitute.

3) Not everyone trusts NPR - lord knows the network has worked very hard to destroy any trust we once had in it. There are many of us so disillusioned with the current state of NPR that we are cheerfully finding other places for our ears…and our dollars. Unlike the good-old-days when you had a monopoly and we’d listen whether we liked it or not, there are many other options today. Many of us are finding them, and leaving you behind in your search for higher ratings. When a single member station can put together an afternoon news magazine that blows the NPR offering out of the water, it’s clear NPR is not only one option of many, but not necessarily the best choice.

4) Someone suggested in a posting I read you might change your title to “The Ombuddy.” I think that’s too harsh, but at the same time you do tend to be an apologist for the network. Not that they don’t consistantly need one, of course, to try to explain their bizarre decisions…

Charlie Summers

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Biting the Hand That Feeds You

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 9:59 pm

From FilmForce: Biting the Hand That Feeds You

This is a must-read article, dealing with how poorly NBC/Universal is handling their screwup in allowing SKY One to broadcast the new Battlestar: Galactica months before the domestic Sci-Fi Channel. But it goes deeper, and looks at Hollywood’s bizarre view of the world as a whole.

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DRM at its worst? Here’s a prime example

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 4:44 pm

From Hardware Analysis - DRM at its worst? Here’s a prime example

Want to know what you’re in for if (when) the entertainment industry gets its way and places restrictions on everything they sell you? Read this, and be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Man, It’s Cold; and Bob Edwards on C-SPAN

Filed under: General, Television, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:08 pm

Man, is it cold out there! Here in the northeast, fall has been milder than normal - but man, did we get nailed this morning. The Katester looked like an icicle waiting for the bus; it was so cold I took the car down the quarter-block and let her sit inside while waiting. Yipe.

Bob Edwards’ self-titled XM Radio show was simulcast this morning on C-SPAN television as part of today’s Washington Journal. I got to my email unusualy late this morning, and so missed most of it (much thanks for the heads-up, Andy!).

And now I’m a little ticked off at the President of the United States. His press conferences have been, to date, as rare as hen’s teeth; so of course, today he decides to hold one, which cut off the rebroadcast of Edwards’ hour at the half. I’ll keep checking the schedule, but it doesn’t look good for getting the 10-minutes or so I’m missing between the two recordings. Fortunately, XM Radio includes C-SPAN Radio, which is scheduled to rebroadcast Washington Journal beginning at 8:00 pm in the east, 5:00 pm in the west, so we can at least hear the show. (I gotta find the IR codes for the Roady2, so I can have the computer automatically turn on the unit and change the channel. Yeah, I’m lazy, but having the computer handle the “heavy lifting” would keep me from missing a lot of things I want to hear and forget all about…)

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Spammers ordered to pay $1 billion!

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 12:18 pm

From CNN: A federal judge has awarded an Internet service provider more than $1 billion in what is believed to be the largest judgment ever against spammers.

Even though the guy will never see any of it, it is a way cool thing to see that courts are siding with the victims of spam. Also nice to see RICO used against the scum.

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I’ll See Your Link, and Raise You…

Filed under: News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 9:12 am

My buddy Jim Widner posted in a comment a link to a blogpage gushing over the BBC’s experiment in downloadable MP3 files. I thought perhaps I should counter with a few links I found in my bookmarks that I used after building the audio computer as a starting-point to the automated download/storage of the things I routinely listen to (or at least try to listen to, anyway). This is not to get everyone to run out and build a linux machine, only to show that this has been done before.

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Microsoft May Charge to Remove Spyware

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 6:52 pm

From Digital Connect News: Microsoft may charge customers to rid themselves of spyware following the company’s acquisition of New York-based Giant Company Software.

“Like a drug dealer, where the first fix is free, Microsoft may seed its market by offering the spyware solution free, but reserve the option to charge for future versions.” Good deal…engineer security holes into your operating system, then charge to patch them.

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Even THAT is ruined…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 11:29 am

One of the very few NPR-distributed shows I still listen to is Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the news quiz and comedy program. But today, they even ruined that by having as the “not my job” guests, the “Ken and Barbie” show from NPR’s new morning zoo.

I admit they need the publicity, since surely the numbers are down after these incompetents took over, but do they need to ruin one of the few shows I still listen to? Why not stick them on Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk,, or one of the other insipid programs I cannot stomach?

Ah, well, I suppose I can console myself with the knowledge that these two local-tv-news-happy-talking-heads showed themselves to be as empty and as far removed from reality as I’ve suggested in the past…good grief, Barbie didn’t even know what the overnight shift is called. She was also unusually un-perky, leaving to Ken most of the gufawing and laughter.

One for three on the quiz, by the way, and that because it was a softball.

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Bill Moyers Interview

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 9:18 am

If you currently have XM Satellite Radio, and missed this morning’s interview with Bill Moyers on The Bob Edwards Show, make sure you’re listening tonight at 9:00pm EST, 6pm in the west. If you don’t subscribe to XM, run out now, buy a radio, and activate it before tonight’s rebroadcast…or subscribe to the Internet feed at XM Radio, where you can get a free three-day ticket.

Listening to these two broadcast journalists discuss the state of reportage today is absolutely fascinating. Edwards, doing what he does best, asks the questions on the mind of the listener and then gets the hell out of the way of the answer, a talent regrettably rare in a broadcasting system where showing off the preperation of the interviewer is considered paramount.

And Moyers, who has been called the “conscience of television,” speaks about the public’s right to know, and the difficulties in fufilling that goal. While headed by Edwards as, “a parting shot,” it becomes instead a roadmap for how to fix the problems he describes.

What I admit is a little strange is to hear these two giants, both now outside the “mainstream” public broadcasting systems, promote the very systems that chewed them up and spit them out.

Seriously, if you listen to no other interview this year, listen to this one.

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Podcasting…ain’t nuthin’ new here…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 10:11 pm

My friend Jim Widner makes the main contention that “podcasting” is a really cool new thing, where I maintain we’ve been doing it forever in Internet years. He also suggests it’s a great thing for distributing OTR, where I think that’s a serious mistake. If you haven’t read his posting in the Internet OTR Digest, please go off and do so now, since I’m not going to duplicate it here.

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Well, it’s official…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 10:23 pm

…Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep, otherwise known as NPR’s Barbie and Ken happy-talk non-depth local-tv-newsteam-transported to morning drive-time radio, are no longer interim hosts of NPR’s new morning program. It’s unfortunate that while removing interim, they can’t remove inexperienced, vacuous, or annoying.

Remember what you’ve lost the next time your local station comes asking you to pay for the new, chipper, and useless morning program. Then take the money you save, pick up a satellite radio, and subscribe to XM Radio the home of XMPR and The Bob Edwards Show.

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Christmas Came a Little Early…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 12:13 pm

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been feeling under the weather for a while now…and now that Katie’s sick again (she unfortunately passed her strep test, pretty standard for a first grader, although taking the test at home is a little unusual), I’m really busy between my own coughs and hacks. So Friday afternoon over lunch while Annie was home to keep an eye on the Peanut I had my first chance in weeks to get downtown to the Post Office, and when I got there I found some early Christmas presents…with a hint of cinnamon…

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Famous People…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 6:42 pm

My six-year-old daughter came up to my wife the other evening while doing her homework, and asked her to help spell Hal Stone’s name. Now for those of you not immersed in Old-Time Radio lore, Hal is the actor who portrayed the character of Jughead in The Adventures of Archie Andrews. Annie, always the curious sort, asked her why she needed to spell his name, whereby the Katester handed her the booklet she was writing in. The question written there was:

What famous person would you like to meet? Why?

My wife reminded her that she already met Mr. Stone (thick as thieves, the two of ‘em, after about five minutes), and Kate wandered off back to the table. After a bit of thinking, she called to Annie, “Have I ever met Bob Hastings?” Bob is probably best-known as Elroy Carpenter on McHale’s Navy, or for his long-running stint on General Hospital, but among his radio roles was the title role of Archie Andrews. When told that she had not yet met Mr. Hastings, she proceeded to sound out his name and write it in her book. Her answer to “Why?” “Because I think I would like him.”

So don’t let anyone kid you that Old-Time Radio is only for the over-fifty crowd. There’s at least one cute little redhead who thinks Archie and Jughead are pretty hot stuff.

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