Today: another unformed focus-free mass of bitter drivel, written while attempting to get the #($*#$ modem to work. Key words: Car, LGF, radio-blog nexus, and the guy who played Dorothy Stratton’s killer

So close. So very close. This was almost the perfect day, the acme of 03: morning with Gnat, off to work, homemade spaghetti sauce for lunch, agent returns the phone call, return to work w/ Gnat for general cooing and oohing from the female coworkers, then a trip to Target - our first together in a while - and a trip to the grocery store, culminating in soft tacos with three kinds of cheese, sour cream, and freshly diced tomatoes. What could ruin such a day?

Hideous ear-piercing shrieks from your auto’s axle, that’s what. I’ve no idea what happened. One moment, everything’s Honda-fine. I park the Gallileo, head into the grocery store; when I start up and head out there’s the most ungodly wail from the back of the car - it sounds like a handful of King Gillette’s finest tossed in a blender. It sounds like I’m sharpening a scimitar on a millstone rotating at a speed previously reserved for stars in their death-throes. Ease up, Ripley. The transaxle’s gone. It sounds like C3-P0 fed to a metal shredder. And everyone’s looking at me: what manner of man would make such a painful racket? Zounds, my good fellow! So I had to adopt a permanent wince as I drove along, nodding my head as if to say I’m very sorry I’m making your dog bleed from the ears. I suspect this is related to the rear-endedness I experienced last month; it will be amusing to see if the garage agrees.
Stay tuned.

It’s another night on technical support. Superspiffy blindingly fast DSL worked great last night, worked great today, and worked great right up until 8:07 PM, at which point it donned the black glasses and white cane, and couldn’t find a PPPoE server if you rubbed it with a wet skunk and put it in its lap.

We went through the various items in the house that can interfere with the DSL signal. Phones, for example. Well, who needs phone when you have the internet. Satellite dish? Yes, I have one. But who needs TV when you have the internet? I’ll cancel my service tomorrow. Dimmer switches? GOOD LORD, MAN, I have ten of those around the house; are you telling me I have to sit here in the dark with no phone and no TV just so I can watch incredibly subtle, keeps-ya-guessing political satire at speeds up to 21% faster than before?

Argh. Apparently DSL has intimacy issues. Stay away! Don’t touch me! I can’t concentrate! Someone turns on a blender up the street, I get bumped off. So tonight I’m back to dial-up - which, after DSL, is like doing jumping jacks underwater.

You know those moments where you just think DIE, INTERNET! DIE! Don’t think that. The internet is happy to oblige.

Turned on the Prager show Wednesday and caught half of Charles Johnson’s interview. He’s the webmaster of LGF, your one-stop shopping center for terrorism updates. He sounds exactly like I’d imagined, although I can’t say why - his writing often bores in like a woodburning tool, but I always suspected the man himself was mild in temperament. Something about the combination of web designer / bike fan / musician / Zappa admirer spelled laaaaiiiid back, and that’s what he was: calm, even, and decent. The guy who writes Merde in France called - from France! - as well as a troll banned for shouting DEATH TO ISRAEL trillion times in the comment section. It was an interesting intersection of two similar media - and it showed why they’re still quite different.

Radio lives in the moment; the web lives in the moment, the future and the past. If a talk radio show has a dull rambling caller, you can’t scroll ahead to the next one. If a caller makes a good point about something the host said five minutes ago, and you just tuned in, you can’t scroll back to hear what the host said. But radio is based on the mouth and the ear; the web is still confined mostly to the eye. Perhaps in a few years all chat rooms and comment sections will have vocal avatars that synthesize voices and read the things people have written. You could configure a page to read aloud the comments of two people having a running argument; you could override the writer’s preferences and assign an avatar that reads their text in the voice of a braying donkey. But you still won’t have the personality of the host shaping the show, and that’s a significant difference. Prager’s voice, - and the aspects of his character the audience has inferred from his previous shows - dominates and controls the program. Likewise, Charles’ voice sets the tone for the main LGF page - but it evaporates in the comments section, which are like a talk-show without a host to interject, praise, slap down, and go to a break.

It’s all fascinating stuff. Why should I watch TV? All it has is pictures.

After Prager came one of the more amusing, and painful, interviews I’ve ever heard. Medved interviewed the actor Eric Roberts, he of Star 80 fame. Apparently Mr. Roberts had issued some political manifesto; apparently Medved had treated it with less than boundless respect; apparently Roberts fired back an email to Medved that contained many provocative contentions. The only one I heard was this: Republican budget cuts were responsible for that old man who plowed his car into the Santa Monica farmer’s market.

As I understood Mr. Robert’s explanation, we spend too much money on the military, which is “killing people all over the world,” and not enough on programs that would drive seniors to the grocery store or the doctor. Medved - who sounded as though he was doing the interview with a big, silly, incredulous grin - asked what that had to do with the old man, who was well-off and had no need of any such program. Roberts - by then desperately out of his league - insisted that the lack of such a program to stop seniors from driving when they were past the age of 77 and provide state-funded chauffeurs was “a crime against humanity.” I am not making this up, as a certain fellow says.

Then came the break. I thought: does Eric Roberts realize that he can just hang up the phone? Sometimes it’s best just to realize that you are being disemboweled, and give up. What’s the worst the show can do - call you back with that extra-angry ring? don’t answer. Take the dog for a walk. Have a smoke.

Back from the break. Medved asks a question about these budget cuts, and to everyone’s surprise he’s answered by a female voice. It’s Eric Roberts’ wife. He couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t want to be “soundbited.” So he gives the phone to his wife and says you do it. The entire nation gets the image of Eric Roberts in the next room curled up in a beanbag talking to Mr. Teddy. The wife is feisty, though, and she’s more than willing to mix it up. Later her mother comes on. Eventually Mr. Roberts rejoins the conversation, and -

That’s where last night’s Bleat ended. I was all set to post it as usual, but every phone in the house had ceased to work. No dial tones anywhere. After 15 minutes of trying this and that I just said to hell with it and went to bed. At least I got the DSL working again. Last night I was working with a tech who wanted me to move the modem to another room and plug into another jack. Which I did. It wasn’t until I picked up the phone that I realized I’d unplugged the base unit for the remote handset I’d been using. D’oh. Call ‘em back. This time the tech suggested that since the modem worked better in the outlet in another room, perhaps I’d best use that one all the time.

“You want me to run a phone cord across the room, out the door and into the bedroom? Permanently?”

“Well, not necessarily; you could get a longer Ethernet cable.”

When you can’t tell if the tech is dead serious or yanking your chain, it’s time to hang up. And read a book.

Modem manuals do not count. Ever.

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