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Stateside With Rosalea: SunChronicity

Stateside With Rosalea Barker


For a couple of months now, I've had a trial home delivery of the San Francisco Chronicle. During the week, while waiting at the bus stop, I split out the sports, cars, classifieds, and San Francisco news and leave those sections in the recycling part of our famously theft-worthy street rubbish bins, and read most of the rest on my way to and from work.

In addition to all the usual sections, the heavyweight Sunday edition is packed with advertising sheets and coupons, so I split those out too and give them to my neighbour, who passes them on to a woman who puts them to good use saving on food and treats for her grandchildren. Even without all those sections I pass on to him, I'm left with a mighty stack of reading for a Sunday.

Here's a couple of thoughts about what's there this Sunday.

::Holy industrial sabotage, Batteryman!::

The back page of the business section has a column entitled Product Recalls. Reading it is not for the faint-hearted. From scooters whose "handlebars, wheels and brakes can break and detach" to climbing harnesses whose faulty webbing "could cause climbers to slip out of the harness and fall" to motormower blades that can crack and break into pieces "posing a serious hazard" (are you kidding!), there is not one recall that doesn't make you wonder how the hell these products got on the market in the first place.

And then there's the 4.5 million lithium-ion batteries for laptop computers being recalled by Dell and Apple because they allegedly catch fire. Not that I'm a paranoid conspiracy theorist or anything, but I find the timing of this awfully suspicious. Sony made those batteries and presumably Sony will have to suck up the cost of replacing them. Just when it's about to launch an exciting new WiFi product (the Mylo) that will suck the wind out of the sails of companies manufacturing MP3 players and handhelds reliant on the big telecommunications companies to deliver downloads anywhere any time via cellphone access to the internet.

I mean to say, fancy Apple's Steve Jobs being in bed with this guy:

::Pluto has left the house::

In the Insight section of "ideas, opinion, commentary", one of the Chron's regular columnists has a funny memo To: Pluto, From: The Solar System about the erstwhile ninth planet's recategorisation as a dwarf planet. With total insensitivity to the smaller folks among us, CW Nevius calls it a "demotion"--no doubt he'll be hearing from somebody's lawyer some time soon.

But in fact, a letter to the editor got the jump on this subject earlier in the week. Its writer wondered what was going to happen to all the Scorpios of the world now that their planetary sponsor is no longer a planet. Indeed! How will the entire foundation of astrology cope now that Pluto can no longer be the planet in your house of whatever house it's in at the time?

If we could have voted on who got tossed off the solar system, I'd have gotten rid of Mercury. It's forever going retrograde and making me lose my house keys or gum up the computer.

::Is that a hare brain under those rabbit ears?::

Among the magazine-style sections in the Sunday Chron is SelectTV, a TV Entertainment Magazine. It contains the TV listings for the coming week in a grid format, along with celebrity news and a crossword. Truth is, I already get my TV grid from a website called because I can limit the grid to the few analog stations my rabbit ears can get.

Thankfully, summer is nearly over—school’s back next week—so the season for “TV” being the acronym for Totally Vile might conceivably be an at end. This summer, television seemed to have turned to the vaudeville acts of centuries gone by as its inspiration, with shows like America’s Got Talent and harebrained stunt shows supplementing the usual ghastly Survivor, Big Brother, and Idol spin-offs.

Not that I watch much television on my television. TitanTV has cut a deal with Fox to stream the first three episodes of four of its Fall series on-line for free. On Saturday night, I watched the first episode of Vanished, which is about a US Senator’s wife who goes missing, and was aired first on television mid-week.

The way it was presented on my DSL-fed Apple cinema monitor was with two small screens, one showing the uninterrupted program and the other having a combination of Google ads and a Flash ad for an insurance company constantly cycling. You soon tuned out the ad panel. And got used to the small size of the image, which streamed without a hitch. The sound quality was excellent.

Assuming that’s the size image I’d see on a handheld device, it’s certainly a preferable way to watch primetime television for someone like me who doesn’t want to have to sit through a bunch of crap in the early evening just to get to what might conceivably be an even worse bunch of crap after 9pm.



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