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June 2007
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August 2007

Merv Griffin's Crosswords

Well, naturally I can't say much, because I signed a non-disclosure. But I think I can tell you this much; it is the toughest game show I've ever been on, and that includes Jeopardy! Also, Ty Treadway is tied with Pat Sajak for the best game show host I've ever met. Sweet, humble not arrogant, intelligent, friendly. His persona on the E! Entertainment Channel is the same one he exhibits on stage to the contestants during the many breaks. He is smooth, intelligent, witty, and will prove, once more, that Merv Griffin is the best host picker in the world.

Beware of Hackable Voting Machines

As we've been trrying to tell you here for years, electronic voting machines cannot be trusted.

Recent official reports indicate there is no longer any reasonable basis or reason
for voters, public officials, or candidates to rely upon vulnerable computer/printer
combinations (Direct Recording Electronic voting machines) in conducting elections.
Any party or person interested in honest elections should support either locally
programmed optical scan machines with results counted and posted at each precinct
election night or paper ballots hand counted in public view with results posted at
each precinct election night (in either case, used under stringent procedural

The reports requested by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen (dated July
27, 2007): overview, diebold, hart, sequoia.

See also, University of Connecticut report on voting machine fraud (July 16, 2007),

Contrary to the misrepresentation fed by industry officials in light of the
California reports to (and published by) The New York Times (July 28, 2007, page
A11, Scientists' Tests Hack Into Electronic Voting Machines in California and
by Christopher Drew): "Industry executives said that the tests had not
been conducted in a realistic environment and that no machine was known to have
been hacked in an election," there is proof that the industry executives' allegation
is incorrect.

In fact, as previously noted by PSACOT, the first and only documented article or
report establishing actual electronic fraud in the certified results for the 2004
Presidential election in Ohio ("Official States Electronic Voting System Added Vote
Never Cast In 2004 Presidential Election; Audit Log Missing
," The Free Press,
November 1, 2006, by Peter Peckarsky, Ron Baiman, and Robert Fitrakis).

"An electronic vote counting system included votes never cast in the total vote
count reported for the 2004 Presidential election according to an official directly
in charge of conducting the election, the Republican Director of the Miami County
(Ohio) Board of Elections. The audit log for the system is missing all information
for the 2004 Presidential election."

As far as can be determined from "Democracy At Risk: The 2004 Election In Ohio,"
issued by the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute on June 22,
2005, the Democratic National Committee panel never sought, reviewed, or considered
the appropriate documentation (upon which the article revealing electronic voting
fraud in Ohio was based) from Miami County (Ohio) or similar data from anywhere else
in the state. Unsurprisingly, after failing to seek or find the key documents (all
of which were legally available to the public at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 3,
2004 (the morning after the election and well before Democratic candidate John Kerry
conceded)), the DNC panel (a number of whom were responsible for trying to win Ohio
for the Democrats in 2004) concluded "there is no evidence from our survey" that
Kerry won Ohio.

Interesting Groundhog Day Thought

Like me, Stephen Segall is a Top Five contributor. He writes:

I was glancing at your site regarding Groundhog Day. I couldn't agree more. That story is reminiscent of Robin Williams' character in The Fisher King, which, incidentally, I liked very much because it's one of several movies that portray the same life lived different ways and what that teaches: Groundhog Day, It's A Wonderful Life, and Regarding Henry also come to mind. Or, similarly, movies that feature a parallel or alternate reality that become difficult to distinguish from ordinary reality such as 24 Hours and Total Recall. Competing realities.

The thing is, I never made those comparisons, but I think he's right. While I still think Groundhog Day is unique, even on this list, for the intellectual breadth and moral underpinnings of its basic trope, it is more similar to these movies than to your average American film.

Lasusa Links, Daniel Dern: Studio 60 Commentary, Dan Grobstein File

Tom Lasusa surfs the web so you don't have to:

Guitarist Zak Kim plays the Simpsons Theme...on two Guitars!Criminals Google 'How To Open Safe' In Middle Of BurglaryMortal Kombat -- the MusicalAquafina labels to spell out source - tap water… (right, because we all thought that bottled water comes from the crystal clear springs of Narnia and is protected by nubile water nymphs and Centaurs)… Amerca's Army recruiting game coming to arcades (hey kids -- let's take your thirst for killing zombies and dinosaurs and turn it into something much more productive -- like killing people for real!)… Remember what Epcot was SUPPOSED to look like?While we're talking about Epcot...mmmm genetically enhanced Mickey Mouse shaped tomatoesWhat Does the "Future" hold for some of the Harry Potter Characters -- JK Rowling knows (Warning, DO NOT READ if you haven't finished Book Seven yet. Like me. Who finished it in less than 48 hours. That's right. God, I'm that pathetic.)… The Strangest Sights in Google EarthPot may hike psychosis risk, study says (Personally, I think the report is crazy. No you don't. Yes I do. Shut up! I'll Kill you! Wait, who's talking now?)… Hard Drinking Space Jockeys and sabotage aboard Starships? Is this NASA or BattleStar Galactica?

Daniel Dern passes along this amusing commentary on Studio 60 characters at the Television Without Pity website.


Dan Grobstein File

  • ARTS / ART & DESIGN | July 25, 2007
    Retired Muppets Will Move to Atlanta
    Kermit, or more precisely one of the many puppets that have played Kermit, will be retired to Atlanta on Wednesday, part of a major gift being made by the Jim Henson Foundation.
  • ARTS / TELEVISION | July 25, 2007
    Drew Carey Ready to Take on 'The Price Is Right'
    The comedians’s first reaction to the offer to fill Bob Barker’s shoes on the venerable game show was, "Get somebody else."

Headed for LA

My apologies to my friends in LA who won't be seeing me on Tuesday. I am arriving late Monday night, heading for the Tribune studios in LA on Tuesday at 7:30 AM, and returning Tuesday night whenever the taping is done. In other words, it's all about the gameshow taping. Be thinking a nice thought or two about me after 7:30 AM (10:30am Eastern) next Tuesday. I expect to win thousands of dollars on Merv Griffin's Crosswords (premiere's Sept. 10). I know I am going to win and win big. I am due on this, my fifth game show appearance.

Why the short trip? I leave for two days in Oregon Aug. 1, and three weeks in North Carolina on Aug. 4, and I just found out I'm teaching a period of 7th grade world history this year. Lots to do, very little time in which to do it.

Election Fraud, Shredding the Constitution

Some unknown party (or parties) managed to undercount Democratic votes in the November 2006 election by about 3 million votes. It appears that absent a shift in public opinion toward the Democrats in October (after the programs for the voting machines were written), the Republicans would have remained in control of the House and Senate.

The unlawful activity appears to have been enough to cost the Democrats 16 seats in the House and possibly 1 in the Senate.

That makes four national elections in a row which have been stolen in whole or part from the Democrats. One wonders which person or institution might have an interest in doing this. One also wonders what, if anything, the Democratic Party plans to do to prevent a recurrence in 2008.


You wish to urge various members of Congress to abide by their oath of office to protect the Constitution as opposed to any personal inclination to support any temporary federal employee.

From a New York Times editorial:

The next question is how Congress will enforce its right to obtain information, and it is on that point that the administration is said to have made its latest disturbing claim. If Congress holds White House officials in contempt, the next step should be that the United States attorney for the District of Columbia brings the matter to a grand jury. But according to a Washington Post report, the administration is saying that its claim of executive privilege means that the United States attorney would be ordered not to go forward with the case.

. . . The White House’s extreme position could lead to a constitutional crisis. If the executive branch refused to follow the law, Congress could use its own inherent contempt powers, in which it would level the charges itself and hold a trial. The much more reasonable route for everyone would be to proceed through the courts.

. . . Congress should use all of the tools at its disposal to pursue its investigations. It is not only a matter of getting to the bottom of some possibly serious government misconduct. It is about preserving the checks and balances that are a vital part of American democracy.

Implicit advice: if the Bush Administration blocks a judicial remedy, then the Congress must proceed to inherent contempt proceedings. Either that, or shred the Constitution and use it for kitty litter.




by Craig Reynolds

Tunable reflective color: this struck me as very cool tech, a reflective material like paint, whose hue can be adjusted: Chameleon liquid could outshine LCDs ("...opposing forces of electrostatic repulsion and magnetic attraction result in the particles arranging themselves into a colloidal 'photonic crystal' [in which] the spacing between neighboring particles in the structure is equivalent to the wavelength of light...tuning the spacing slightly alters the exact wavelength, or color, of light that is reflected...") See also: Magnets Change Crystals' Tint.

RIAA ordered to pay defendant in downloading case: oh, this was sweet! RIAA pursues its bizarre legal strategy to increase business by suing customers. They ran into a stretch of bad luck in Oklahoma where Judge Lee R. West "criticized the RIAA's lawyers' motives as 'questionable,' and their legal theories as 'marginal'": RIAA Directed To Pay $68K In Attorneys Fees and RIAA Says It Shouldn't Have To Pay Legal Fees Because Woman Didn't Settle; Judge Says Think Again. Judge West is my hero! Judge Kelly also fights the good fight: Judge deals another blow to RIAA's war against on-campus filesharing.

OLPC and Intel, friends at last: just last month Intel still seemed set on its odd strategy to "compete" in the marketplace of people who can't afford computers. Thankfully they now have decided to help rather than oppose the One Laptop Per Child foundation: Intel, in Shift, Joins Project on Education and Intel and $100 laptop join forces. Back in May on 60 Minutes Negroponte was righteously indignant about Intel's interference: Negroponte: "Intel should be ashamed of itself" for dumping its low cost PC (transcript and video).

Face tech: Emotion-Recognition Software Knows What Makes You Smile and Looking for Signs of Life ("New facial-recognition software features a test that can root out fraudsters trying to pass off a photograph as a real person.").

Downtown robots: DARPA Urban Challenge Site Visits and How Stanford's Robotic Car Passed Its Driving Test.

Checkers is solved!: it took 18 years, but now a computer can play a perfect of checkers: Computer Checkers Program Is Invincible, Checkers computer becomes invincible and Computers Solve Checkers—It's a Draw.

Technobits: Powerset Anti-hype --- Gecko glue exploits mussel power --- Defending free will: A fruit fly makes choices --- research survey seeking serious game players: The Mental Space of Game Genres.

Neal Vitale Reviews: Evan Almighty

2.5 stars out of 5

The reviews of Evan Almighty have suggested it is dreadful, so I was pleased - however ironically - when it wasn't quite as bad as all that. This film is simple, gentle, and mildly humorous, with nary a hint of complexity or darkness. Steve Carrell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Wanda Sykes (lots of TV, Monster-In-Law), and Jonah Hill (Knocked Up and the upcoming Superbad) are all a bit amusing in different ways, and the handling of the inevitable pairs of animals is cute. But there is no avoiding the fact that Evan Almighty has a one-dimensional and predictable storyline, and what laughs there are are more chuckles than guffaws.

Coquet: "Ace in the Hole" Released, Dan Grobstein File

From Peggy Coquet: Presence of Malice: Billy Wilder tours journalism's pus-filled heart in the long-lost Ace in the Hole.

If it piques your interest, check out my commentary on Ace in the Hole.

Dan Grobstein File